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Friday, June 17, 2016

Donald Trump is Squirrel Nuts Crazy

Donald Trump prepared to go it alone if GOP won’t get on board

GOP leaders have yet to abandon Donald Trump, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said this week he’s ready to kick them to the curb and go it alone against Hillary Clinton if they don’t man up.

In some of his most dismissive comments yet, Mr. Trump said other Republicans need to either get behind him or “just be quiet” — adding to the increasing heartburn among Republicans, particularly those on Capitol Hill whose electoral fortunes are tied to the erratic billionaire.

“You can’t make this up sometimes,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said at a press briefing Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Trump’s admonition came after several weeks of chiding from fellow Republicans who decried his proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and who said his attacks on a federal judge’s ethnicity were unbecoming. Mr. Ryan had called it “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

“The Republicans, honestly, folks, our leaders, our leaders have to get tougher. This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what? I think I’m going to be forced to. I think I’m going to be forced to,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday.

Clinton losing interest in accommodating Sanders and his liberal followers


Progressive leaders are still hoping to force likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to the left, but a party insider said Thursday she’s rapidly losing interest in accommodating any more demands from Sen. Bernard Sanders and his followers.

The insider, who requested anonymity, said the struggles of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump give Mrs. Clinton far more room to maneuver, leaving her less beholden to the liberal voters who backed Mr. Sanders.

That could leave her on a collision course with progressives, who are still pressing for Mrs. Clinton to drift further toward Mr. Sanders‘ positions on everything from a national $15 minimum wage to stiffer action on climate change.

“The real issues are finally on the table. Expanding Social Security. A $15 minimum wage. Single-payer health care, tuition- and debt-free public college, and reining in Wall Street.  Dozens of other common sense ideas, on everything from racial justice and ending mass incarceration to ending fossil fuel subsidies to combat climate change, to 12 weeks of paid family leave, to pursuing diplomacy over war,” Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn. Org Political Action, said this week.

His organization has formally backed Mr. Sanders, and he and other progressive leaders say the energy within the Democratic Party is coming from their side, not from the center — and so the party should move in that direction.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan says he won’t vote for Donald Trump

Maryland’s Republican governor said Wednesday that he doesn’t plan to vote for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

“No, I don’t plan to,” Larry Hogantold The Washington Post when asked Wednesday whether he would cast a ballot for Mr. Trump.  “I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.”

The first-term governor said he isn’t “pleased” with any of the candidates in the presidential race.

“I don’t think either party has put up its best candidate,” he said.

Mr. Hogan has repeatedly said he doesn’t support Mr. Trump, but declined to say whether he would vote for the real estate mogul until now, The Post reported.  Mr. Hogan said he does not plan to attend the Republican National Convention.

Elizabeth Warren tells Clinton she must beat Trump: ‘Don’t screw this up’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren put pressure on Hillary Clinton on Friday, telling the former first lady in no uncertain terms she must prevail in the fight against Republican Donald Trump.

“Don’t screw this up,” the Massachusetts senator told Mrs. Clinton during a meeting at Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn, according to reports in the Boston Globe and other media outlets.

Ms. Warren’s trip to New York seems to offer further proof that the liberal populist senator is being heavily considered to be Mrs. Clinton’s vice presidential pick. Ms. Warren endorsed Mrs. Clinton last week.

While inside Clinton headquarters, Ms. Warren reportedly talked to Clinton staffers about protecting President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and keep in place the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations. Reining in Wall Street is the issue for which Ms. Warren is best known.

Choosing the senator as her running mate could help Mrs. Clinton secure the backing of progressives who had flocked to Sen. Bernard Sanders’ campaign and remain skeptical of the former secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, among other things, have given many liberals pause.

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 6 points: poll


Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads likely GOP nominee Donald Trump by 6 points, according to a national poll released this week.

Mrs. Clinton was at 43 percent in the CBS polling released Wednesday and Mr. Trump was at 37 percent. The 6-point lead for Mrs. Clinton is the same margin from last month.

The survey was conducted from June 9-13, and most of the interviewing was done before the terrorist attack in Orlando early Sunday. Mrs. Clinton effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination by winning four of six states that voted on June 7.

With Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson added to the mix, Mrs. Clinton was at 39 percent, Mr. Trump was at 32 percent, and Mr. Johnson was at 11 percent.

Mrs. Clinton, however, still faces hurdles with the private email server she set up for use as secretary of state.

About two-thirds said she did something wrong when she set up the personal email address and server for work. Forty-one percent said what she did was illegal, 25 percent said it was improper but not illegal, and 26 percent said she did nothing wrong.

Trump Is a Man on an Island -- and He's Sinking

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Trump is a man on an island -- and losing
Yesterday, we saw President Obama and Hillary Clinton deliver a tag-team slam on Donald Trump over the presumptive GOP nominee's reactions to the tragic Orland shooting. "Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently?" a visibly angry Obama asked. "Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith?" 

Almost at the same time, Clinton added this: "One day after the massacre, [Trump] went on TV and suggested that President Obama is on the side of the terrorists. Now just think about that for a second.  Even in a time of divided politics, this is way beyond anything that should be said by someone running for president of the United States." 

Trump delivered his own counterpunch at his rally in North Carolina. "I watched President Obama today and he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter." But as the Democratic Party has rallied around Clinton (save for Bernie Sanders -- more on that below), Trump is pretty much all alone here in his reaction to Orlando. 

"I'm not going to be commenting on the presidential candidates today," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, per Benjy Sarlin. "I am not going to spend my time commenting about the ups and downs and the in-betweens of comments," added House Speaker Paul Ryan. And then there's this: "Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., paused a moment after being asked by NBC News whether he had any thoughts on Trump's response to Orlando. 'You know…hmm,' he said. Then without another word, he walked onto the Senate floor."  Hmm indeed.

GOP leaders pull a Marshawn Lynch

The Republican reaction was akin to Marshawn Lynch declaring to the media at the Super Bowl, "I'm just here so I don't get fined."   Two other GOP comments stood out to us yesterday.  There was Sen. Lamar Alexander declaring that Trump isn't the party's nominee -- yet.   "We do not have a nominee until after the convention," he said.   And Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2-ranking Republican in the Senate said he's done talking about Trump.   "Wish me luck," he said, according to Politico.

And on top of it all, Trump is losing.  After our NBC|SurveyMonkey poll showed Clinton now with her biggest lead over Trump, a new Bloomberg poll from yesterday found Clinton ahead by 12 points, 49%-37%.   As we wrote last week, Trump has the rest of this month to calm his party.   If he doesn't, the GOP is in big trouble -- and all bets are off.

Obama spoke out against Trump for international reasons as much as domestic ones.

One final point to make about Obama's slam on Trump yesterday: He responded to Trump for international reasons as much as domestic ones. Obama wanted to counter Trump's post-Orlando speech for an international audience.

Bernie Sanders hasn't played his hand well -- at all

Well, the 2016 primary season came to an end last night with Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders in DC, 79%-21%. And it came to an end without Sanders conceding or endorsing Clinton, although the two met last night and released positive-sounding statements. 

Here's the reality: Sanders hasn't played his hand well. Many of his demands from yesterday (wanting Debbie Wasserman Schultz out of the DNC, ending superdelegates, having more open primaries) seem small. By not conceding a race he trails by every measure possible, he seems even smaller. 

And smaller still is the real leverage he holds, especially after losing eight out of the last 11 contests, after Obama and Warren have already endorsed Clinton, and after polls show Clinton increasing her lead over Trump. The irony here is that Sanders already won -- he performed better than anyone imagined, and he already effectively moved Clinton and her campaign to the left. 

But one of the arts in politics is declaring victory after you've already won. But Sanders continues to march on… Here's the delegate math after last night's DC primary:

In pledged delegates, Clinton is ahead by 392 delegates

Clinton 2,217 (55%)
Sanders 1,825 (45%)
In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton leads by 925 delegates

Wasserman Schultz doesn't 100% guarantee she'll remain at the DNC through November

As for DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she refused to 100% guarantee that she would remain in her job through November, per her interview on "MTP Daily" yesterday.

TODD: Do you feel as if your job is part of this negotiation between Clinton and Sanders?
SCHULTZ: No. What I know is that we are working hard to make sure that we have the best nominating convention that any political party has ever put on that will launch our nominee to the White House...
TODD: So would you say definitively you're not leaving this job before the end of November, period?
SCHULTZ: No. I am going to continue to be focused on electing a Democratic president.
TODD: One of my producers isn't fully -- you are -- you plan on being the chair of the DNC through the election in November?
SCHULTZ: I am planning on continuing to focus all the way through the election to the end of my term on making sure that we can elect Democrats up and down the ballot.

The Democratic race, by the numbers

With the Democratic primary season now over, here are some additional numbers to chew on:

Total votes won: Clinton 16.0 million, Sanders 12.3 million

Total states and territories won: Clinton 34, Sanders 22

Total number of primaries won: Clinton 28, Sanders 10

Total number of caucuses won: Sanders 12, Clinton 6

Total spent by campaign: Sanders $202 million, Clinton $174 million

Portman flips on federal gun ban for those on terrorist-watch list

"U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday he favors a federal ban on weapons sales to those on the U.S. terrorist watch list, even though he voted against a similar proposal last year," the Plain Dealer writes. It's worth watching to see what other vulnerable GOP senators up for re-election this fall do - like Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, and Pat Toomey. All of them voted against the legislation last December.

On the trail

Hillary Clinton delivers a speech on national security in Hampton, VA at 1:15 pm ET… Donald Trump holds a rally in Atlanta, GA at noon ET.

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