Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president, criticizes Donald Trump's remarks on punishment for abortion, and criticizes the media for fixating too much on Trump's distractions and not focusing enough on issues of substance. watch
Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president, talks with Rachel Maddow about his campaign's intention to convince Democratic super delegates to switch their support from Hillary Clinton, and the importance for Democrats to campaign with a 50-state strategy. watch
Rachel Maddow asks Hillary Clinton about whether her involvement in the Clinton Foundation presents the potential for ethical conflict despite the good works it does, because of potential overlap between campaign donors and foundation donors. watch
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, talks with Rachel Maddow about President Obama's nomination for the vacancy on the Supreme Court and the importance of putting more Democrats in the Senate. watch
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, explains that she respects the primary process and intends to fight for votes through to the convention, but sometimes she is compelled to address Republican candidates out of sheer outrage. watch
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, talks with Rachel Maddow about the perils she sees in Donald Trump's foreign policy positions when it comes to forming valuable international coalitions. watch
Hillary Clinton, Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination, talks with Rachel Maddow about how she is competing against Senator Bernie Sanders and the peculiarities of the party's delegate system. watch
* Commutations: "President Obama backed up his calls for reforming the way society punishes non-violent criminals on Wednesday by commuting the sentences of 61 prisoners -- a third of them lifers."
* Obama has now commuted the sentences of more people than the last six presidents combined.
* Alabama scandal, Part I: "Rebekah Caldwell Mason has resigned from her post as senior political advisor to Gov. Robert Bentley, she said in a Wednesday afternoon statement."
* Alabama scandal, Part II: "Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday reiterated that he has no plans to resign from office, a week after admitting to making inappropriate sexual comments to his top adviser."
* Minneapolis: "No charges will be filed against the two Minneapolis officers involved in the shooting death last fall of Jamar Clark, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday, citing DNA and other evidence showing Clark was not handcuffed during the altercation and he refused to let go of an officer’s holstered gun during the late-night struggle outside an apartment building."
* FDA: "The Food and Drug Administration stepped into the politics of abortion on Wednesday, relaxing the requirements for taking a medication that induces abortion, a move that is expected to expand access to the procedure."
* Climate crisis, Part I: "The North Pole's ice is disappearing as we watch: This year, the Arctic sea ice had the lowest winter maximum extent on record. Every year the ice melts in the summer and grows in the winter. Although the specific date varies, it generally reaches its maximum amount in March. In 2016, that maximum was likely reached on March 24, with an extent measured at 14.52 million square kilometers. The problem is that this number is the lowest on record."
* Climate crisis, Part II: "Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday."
* More fallout for North Carolina: "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined other government officials in banning nearly all official travel to North Carolina because of the state's law halting anti-discrimination rules."
In every presidential election since Roe v. Wade, the Republican nominee has opposed abortion rights. GOP candidates have differed on some of the details, but broadly speaking, national Republican candidates have said largely the same thing about one of the nation's most controversial social issues.
That said, when a presidential hopeful talks about "punishment" for women, it's something altogether different. NBC News' Ali Vitali reports:
Donald Trump believes that there should be punishment for women who undergo abortions if the procedure was outlawed, but indicated he has yet to determine what that punishment should be.
In an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, the GOP front-runner described himself multiple times as "pro-life" but struggled to define what the legal ramifications of that position would be if it became the law. When continually pressed for what the answer is regarding punishing women who would break any theoretical ban, Trump said the "answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah."
The full interview will air this evening, but note in the interim that Trump didn't seem eager to answer the question. Chris Matthews asked the GOP frontrunner whether women should be punished for trying to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and Trump spent a fair amount of time trying to avoid answering.
Eventually, however, the Republican candidate said abortion has to be banned and there "has to be some form of punishment" for women who seek abortions. And what might this punishment be?
"I don't know," Trump said. "That I don't know." He added this is "a very complicated position."
Don't bother the candidate with substantive details. He prefers to be more of a "big picture" guy.
Just yesterday, Hillary Clinton aides made clear to reporters that Bernie Sanders has a pretty good chance of winning the Wisconsin primary. This should have been clear for quite a while.
Back in January, when most polling showed Clinton in good shape in many Midwestern states, a Marquette University Law School poll showed Sanders down by only two points. A month later, the same pollster found Sanders taking the lead in the Badger State, and as of today, that advantage remains.
On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads frontrunner Hillary Clinton, 49-45. [...]
Sanders has the largest lead in the Madison region, but he also has a slight advantage in the Milwaukee region.
This shouldn't surprise anyone. At this point in the race, analysts are able to start drawing up demographic models, predicting where candidates will do well based on the electorate's makeup. The New York Times' modeling, for example, considers Wisconsin "one of Bernie's best remaining primaries," projecting a five-point advantage for the Vermont senator.
That's due in part to the fact that the state's African-American population is below 7%, and Clinton has fared far less well in states with fewer black voters.
And while a win in Wisconsin will no doubt give Sanders another fundraising boost and a round of positive headlines, the challenge for the senator's campaign remains the same: he doesn't just need a win in this state, he needs to win by a lot. At this stage in the race, the difference between a narrow victory and a narrow loss is inconsequential -- it matters when it comes to bragging rights and creating a sense of "momentum," but not when it comes to delegate allocation, where Sanders has so much ground to make up.
As for Tuesday's other Wisconsin primary, it seems Sanders isn't the only underdog well positioned in the state. The Wisconsin State Journalreported:
The New York Timesreported yesterday on the electoral challenges facing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) in New Hampshire this year, given the factors in the 2016 race, some of which the incumbent senator can't control. The headline read, "Tough Re-election for G.O.P. Moderate Is Getting Tougher."
She may not always telegraph it, but Ms. Ayotte, a freshman senator, is locked in a herculean battle with the state's popular Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan. As one of five Senate Republicans running for re-election in states that supported President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, Ms. Ayotte is seen as particularly vulnerable this November. [...]
Six years ago, Ms. Ayotte was part of a Republican wave.... For Ms. Ayotte and other Republicans from that class, 2016 was always going to be a difficult year to run for re-election because more Democrats vote in presidential years. But with the possibility that Donald J. Trump, the most divisive Republican presidential candidate in a generation, will be at the top of the ticket, the party's task may be all the more arduous.
The broader assessment seems entirely right: the GOP incumbent faces a strong Democratic challenger in a year in which Republicans in competitive states are likely to struggle. Walking the electoral tightrope will pose challenges.
But it's the wording of the headline that jumped out at me: since when is Kelly Ayotte a "moderate"?
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.