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In this July 14, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaks during a campaign event in Las Vegas. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

Walker struggles to win over his own constituents

08/21/15 08:42AM

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Republican presidential campaign isn't quite where it wanted to be at this point in the process. The far-right governor entered the race as a top-tier contender, a credible choice for the GOP nomination, and a clear favorite to win the Iowa caucuses.
 
But as August nears its end, Walker's standing isn't nearly as strong as many expected and his once-dominant position in Iowa has slipped, thanks largely to a certain New York real-estate developer.
 
Walker could really use some good news. Yesterday, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, he received the opposite.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker still leads the GOP presidential primary field in his home state, but his job approval level has dipped and he trails Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in a head-to-head matchup here, a new poll from the Marquette University Law School shows.
 
So far, Walker's presidential run is proving no gift to his standing at home.
The Marquette poll, generally considered the best source for Wisconsin surveys, is a bit of a disaster for Walker. It shows, for example, the governor's approval rating dipping to 39% less than a year after his successful re-election campaign. He leads the GOP's 2016 field, but only 25% of Wisconsin Republicans -- a group that should arguably represent Walker's ardent base -- choose their own governor as their preferred presidential candidate.
 
All of which leads us to the gut-punch: in a head-to-head match-up against Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, Scott Walker trails by double digits -- 52% to 42% -- in his own state. A PPP poll released in the spring showed Walker trailing Clinton in Wisconsin by nine points, suggesting things aren't getting any better for the governor among the voters who know him best.
 
As if that weren't quite enough, the Marquette poll shows Jeb Bush more competitive against Clinton -- again, in Wisconsin -- than Walker (Bush only trails by five).
 
It creates an awkward dynamic for Walker and his national campaign. If a GOP voter asks, "Why should I vote you if you're losing in your own state?" there's no easy answer to the question.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., heads to the Senate subway following a vote in the Capitol on Jan. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Tom Cotton puts bad information to good use

08/21/15 08:00AM

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) issued a press release yesterday afternoon with a provocative headline, no doubt intended to raise eyebrows: "Cotton Statement on the Revelation that Iran will be Permitted to Inspect its Own Nuclear Facilities." It quoted the far-right freshman saying:
"Allowing Iran to inspect its own nuclear facilities is reckless and illustrates yet again that this deal is little more than a dangerous list of concessions made by the United States.... This revelation should be the last straw for any undecided Members of Congress. [...]
 
"Entrusting Iran to verify itself turns what is a bad deal into a farcical one. And the only ones laughing are the ayatollahs."
Well, not the only ones. Anyone who read Cotton's press release who's also aware of reality probably got a chuckle, too.
 
All of this stems from an Associated Press report from Wednesday that, at least initially, claimed Iran had struck a side deal with the IAEA about Iranians inspecting its own nuclear site. The problem is the AP article turned out to include several key errors -- an issue that became even more alarming when key paragraphs went missing from the AP piece without explanation.
 
Some news consumers may not remember this, but we saw similar dynamics unfold in 2002 and 2003 -- someone would leak misleading information related to national security to major news outlets; the news outlets would publish mistaken reports; and war proponents would exploit those reports to further an ideological cause.
 
Referencing the AP's flawed report this week, Borzou Daragahi, a reporter based in the Middle East, said the press is "starting dangerous fires."
 
And in Tom Cotton's case, politicians desperate to derail diplomatic solutions -- and a little too eager to start yet another war in the Middle East -- are only too glad to fan those flames.
Jeb Bush candidacy far short of expectations

Jeb Bush candidacy far short of expectations

08/20/15 09:23PM

Steve Kornacki, host of Up with Steve Kornacki, talks with Rachel Maddow about why Jeb Bush is performing so poorly as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and whether the problem is circumstances or the candidate himself. watch

Thursday's Mini-Report, 8.20.15

08/20/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Egypt: "A large bomb exploded early Thursday near a national security building in the Shubra neighborhood of Cairo, wounding at least six people including at least one police officer, Egyptian security officials said."
 
* The Korean Peninsula: "North Korea fired a projectile towards a South Korean loudspeaker that has been blaring anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts -- and South Korea fired back, officials said. Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement that the South Korean military responded by firing 'tens' of 155mm artillery rounds."
 
* Political tumult in Greece: "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned on Thursday, calling snap elections in his economically embattled nation in a bid to combat dissent within his own party's ranks."
 
* Missouri: "A black 18-year-old fleeing from officers serving a search warrant at a home in a crime-troubled section of St. Louis was shot and killed Wednesday by police after he pointed a gun at them, the city's police chief said."
 
* Two brothers from South Boston ambushed and badly beat an older homeless man because he's Hispanic. It's a gut-wrenching story, with an unfortunate political twist: "One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump."
 
* California: "Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by roughly 15 to 20 percent, scientists said Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up."
 
* On a related note: "For planet Earth, no other month was as hot as this past July in records that date back to the late 1800s, NOAA says. And the globe is well on its way to having its hottest year on record."
John Kasich

Kasich identifies a new target: teachers' lounges

08/20/15 04:19PM

While watching the race for the Republican nomination, it's quite common to hear some pretty conservative rhetoric about education. Some candidates want to eliminate public schools altogether. One candidate wants teachers to be punched in the face.
 
But as Politico reported, John Kasich broke unexpected ground yesterday with a whole new area of concern.
While some Republicans have called for abolishing the federal Education Department, Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday set his sights on a smaller target: the teacher's lounge.
As the Ohio Republican explained it, he believes school teachers congregate and, while talking among themselves, express concerns to one another about lost benefits and pay cuts.
 
And Kasich apparently sees this as a problem -- not the threat of lost benefits and pay cuts, but rather, the fact that teachers have these "negative" conversations, driven by "the unions."
 
"If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers' lounges where they sit together and worry about 'woe is us'," the GOP presidential candidate said.
World powers pose for a group picture at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015. (Photo by Carlos Barria/Pool/AP)

Hopes slipping away for opponents of Iran deal

08/20/15 12:50PM

If congressional Republicans have any chance at all of derailing the international nuclear agreement with Iran, they're going to need quite a few Democrats -- or more specifically, red-state Democrats who are most inclined to break party ranks.
 
That strategy is already unraveling. This week, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) of Indiana, one of Congress' most conservative Democrats, announced his support for the diplomatic solution. This morning, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri, widely seen as an on-the-fence member, also backed the deal. The Kansas City Star published the senator's endorsement.
"I've spent weeks digging into the details of this agreement. And I've had extensive conversations with both those countries who are part of the negotiated agreement, and those countries currently holding Iran's sanctioned money.
 
"It is clear to me that there is no certainty that Iran's resources will be withheld from them if America rejects the agreement. Instead, I believe it likely that the sanctions regime would fray and nothing would be worse than Iran getting an influx of resources without any agreement in place to limit their ability to get a nuclear weapon."
McCaskill is convinced that it is "more dangerous to Israel, America and our allies to walk away in the face of unified world-wide support" for the agreement.
 
At this point, the arithmetic is hard to ignore. As we've discussed, congressional Republicans, no matter how intense their zeal, cannot kill the policy on their own. GOP lawmakers will need no less than 44 House Democrats and 13 Senate Democrats to partner with far-right members to crush the international agreement.
 
As of now, the grand total of Senate Dems opposed to the deal is two, while in the House, there are 12 Democrats siding with Republicans.
 
Are there enough undecided Democrats remaining to possibly tilt the scales in the right's favor? Not really.

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.20.15

08/20/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* A new Quinnipiac poll shows Vice President Biden doing about as well as Hillary Clinton against leading Republicans in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
 
* According to a newly released invitation, Jeb Bush will headline a fundraising event in Texas this fall along with his former president brother and former president father. The "I am my own man" rhetoric from the spring seems almost quaint now.
 
* Steve Deace, an influential conservative Iowa radio host, announced his support yesterday for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. "In my view, he's what we've been waiting for," Deace told his audience. "He's an end to the false choice between principles and electability."
 
* Jeb Bush, campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday, made his most direct criticisms of Donald Trump to date.
 
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, Ben Carson is apparently willing to make deadly drone strikes over American soil, targeting undocumented immigrants along the border.
 
* Hillary Clinton's campaign released a new television ad yesterday, emphasizing her focus on economic inequality. "When you see that you've got CEO's making 300 times what the average worker's making, you know the deck is stacked in favor of those at the top," Clinton says in the spot.

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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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