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The stage is displayed on a television monitor prior to the start of the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on Oct. 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty)

The Final Debate Open Thread of 2016

10/19/16 08:00PM

In about an hour, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off in their final presidential debate of 2016. If you’re not near a television, you can still watch MSNBC’s live feed of the event online right here.

In addition to MSNBC’s pre-event coverage, which is already underway, Rachel will help cover the post-debate analysis and commentary on the air, and we’ll have plenty of follow-up in the morning. In the meantime, I thought I’d create an open thread for readers to weigh in before, during, and after the big showdown.
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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.19.16

10/19/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Afghanistan: "Two Americans -- a service member and a civilian -- were killed Wednesday in an attack near a coalition base in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the U.S. military said. Senior defense officials said a gunman opened fire at a checkpoint near a military ammunition supply point, killing the two Americans. The gunman was later killed."

* This is why pre-combat announcements are made: "More than 900 civilians have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul across the border into Syria, the United Nations said Wednesday as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces continued to advance on the ISIS stronghold."

* Korean Peninsula: "The United States vowed on Wednesday to do 'whatever is necessary' to defend itself, South Korea and other allies against the "grave" threat posed by North Korea, which has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches this year."

* Georgia: "A federal judge has denied a request for a second extension of the voter registration deadline for Georgia counties stricken by Hurricane Matthew."

* Maryland: "A Maryland police officer was suspended Tuesday after a woman snapped a photograph of a hat promoting the Oath Keepers militia group displayed on the rear deck of his police cruiser."

* ACA projections: "Obama administration officials are predicting that the number of Americans with private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will grow by about 1 million in 2017, an upbeat final forecast for the president's signature domestic achievement before he leaves office."

* The broader, multi-year trend has moved in an encouraging direction: "The number of law enforcement officers killed by suspects declined last year, falling to the second-lowest number of such deaths during the Obama administration, according to FBI data released Tuesday."

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump motions to the crowd after speaking at a rally, Oct. 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pa. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

Did Trump pick the wrong guy for the wrong job?

10/19/16 04:57PM

Donald Trump created quite a controversy with baseless allegations that the U.S. elections process, right down to some individual voting precincts, has been corrupted. The whole system, the Republican insists without evidence, is "rigged" against him.

And with that in mind, Trump and his campaign want his core supporters to not only vote, but also to volunteer to "monitor" voting in areas where Republicans fear irregularities. Some on the far-right have responded to the call, vowing to identity people of color and "make them a little bit nervous." There is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate encouraging "groups of vigilantes to hang out at polling places" in order to make people uncomfortable while casting ballots.

The Guardian reported yesterday that Team Trump has even hired someone to oversee the efforts.
Donald Trump's "election protection" effort will be run by Mike Roman, a Republican operative best known for promoting a video of apparent voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers outside a polling place in 2008.

Roman is to oversee poll-watching efforts as Trump undertakes an unprecedented effort by a major party nominee by calling into question the legitimacy of the popular vote weeks before election day.
Roman reportedly led "an 'intelligence agency' connected to the Koch brothers' Freedom Partners network, Politico reported in 2015, that sought to monitor the election-related activities of Democrat-supporting groups."

But it's that New Black Panthers video that stands out for a reason.
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Kellyanne Conway, new campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 17, 2016. (Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP)

Even Trump's campaign manager rejects his 'rigged' argument

10/19/16 12:43PM

Donald Trump isn't just heavily invested in arguing that the U.S. system of elections is "rigged" against him, he's also dumbfounded as to why other Republicans aren't endorsing the thesis.

"Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day," the GOP nominee said on Twitter this week. "Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!"

As it turns out, Trump hasn't necessarily persuaded his own campaign manager. Kellyanne Conway sat down this morning with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle and the interview began with an interesting exchange.
RUHLE: Without talking about the media or Hillary Clinton, just voting, going to the polls in this country, do you believe there will be widespread voter fraud?

CONWAY: No, I do not believe that. So, absent overwhelming evidence that there is, it would not be for me to say that there is.
Trump's campaign manager went on to say there are instances in the past of voting irregularities "here and there." Conway added, "But I think Donald Trump's point is a larger one."

Actually, I think Trump's point is far more specific than Conway suggests. The Republican candidate insists without proof that "there is large scale voter fraud happening" -- a baseless assertion he's made several times, in print and on the stump -- and his own campaign manager disagrees.

In the same interview, Ruhle asked whether it's fair for Trump to "mislead the American people" with rhetoric about a "rigged" election that isn't actually rigged. Conway again insisted that "everybody's missing his larger point" about the need for reforms in the system.

But if that is the message Trump is trying to get across, isn't it the candidate himself who's missing the "larger point"? The Republican nominee has spent an enormous amount of time throwing around bizarre allegations -- voting is rigged, as are the polls, the debates, the primaries, media coverage, etc. -- failing entirely to present a coherent message on systemic reforms. He then complains bitterly when Republicans dare to defend the system accurately.

Or put another way, if Conway knows American elections are fair, and the integrity of the voting system shouldn't be called into question, can she explain why her candidate keeps saying the opposite?
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Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.19.16

10/19/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, contradicted her boss again this morning, telling MSNBC, "No, I do not believe that" there will be widespread voter fraud on Election Day,

* Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), following controversial comments this week about extending his party's Supreme Court blockade past this year's election, was filmed racing away from a local reporter with questions on Monday.

* Priorities USA, a super PAC that has been focused on Hillary Clinton's election, is now poised to run ads in support of Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

* Several large Florida newspapers that endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R) six years ago -- Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Orlando Sentinel -- are now backing his opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D).

* Nevertheless, the DSCC is reportedly pulling its investments from the Sunshine State, suggesting Democratic officials expect Rubio to prevail.

* On a related note, Quinnipiac released a batch of Senate polls yesterday showing Sen. Michael Bennet (D) up by 18 point in Colorado; Rubio ahead by just two points in Florida; Sen. Rob Portman (R) leading by 13 points in Ohio; and Sen. Pat Toomey (R) up by 4 points in Pennsylvania.

* In Nevada's U.S. Senate race, a Monmouth University poll released yesterday found Rep. Joe Heck (R) ahead by three, 45% to 42%, over former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
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A voting booth at the Early Vote Center, Oct. 5, 2016, in northeast Minneapolis, Minn. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty)

The limits of the right-track/wrong-track metric

10/19/16 10:41AM

There are pundits who genuinely believe 2016 is a "change" election, with much, and perhaps even most, of the electorate eager for a radical shift in direction. A couple of weeks ago, ABC News' Matthew Dowd, a former chief strategist for George W. Bush, even offered some proof to bolster the thesis: "[T]his is a change election when 70% of country believes we are off on wrong track."

The right-track/wrong-track metric has its fans, and it's true that when the American mainstream is asked, voters by wide margins express dissatisfaction with the nation's current course.

At this point, it may be tempting to think Dowd's point is correct. After all, if more than two-thirds of the country believes we're on the wrong track, there must be an enormous public appetite for a dramatic departure from the status quo, right?

Not necessarily.

Note, for example, that right-track/wrong-track polling has been relatively consistent for many years -- Americans have thought the country is headed in the wrong direction for quite a while -- and it's offered little guidance on election outcomes.

And that's because the right-track/wrong-track question is inherently vague. If a poll respondent is unsatisfied with the country's direction, is he/she a conservative who disapproves of President Obama or a liberal who opposes the Republican Congress? Or perhaps an independent who's outraged by the rise of Donald Trump as a competitive presidential hopeful?

We have no idea what kind of "change" that voter wants and the survey question leaves his/her motivations ambiguous.
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About The Rachel Maddow Show

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.



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