THE BIG IDEA:
The elites in Washington almost uniformly believe Hillary Clinton will be elected president in November. The conventional wisdom underlying coverage of 2016 is that Donald Trump will go down in flames and probably take the Republican Senate with him.
The presumptive GOP nominee has a well-documented history of misogyny, xenophobia and demagoguery. He has alienated women, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans. He has mocked the disabled, prisoners of war and Seventh-day Adventists. The speaker of the House and both living former Republican presidents are withholding endorsements.
It should be a slam dunk for HRC, right?
But, but, but: Six months is an eternity in politics, and a year ago no one in the chattering class –— including me –— believed Trump had any real shot at becoming the Republican standard-bearer. With Clinton struggling to sew up the Democratic nomination against a socialist septuagenarian –— she’s expected to lose tomorrow’s Kentucky primary –— we cannot foreclose the possibility that she will botch the fall campaign against the billionaire businessman.
The presidency is hers to lose, but here are a dozen ways Clinton can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory:
Remember the Michigan primary? Every poll showed Clinton up double digits, but she lost to Bernie Sanders. One reason is that supporters and field staffers believed she had it in the bag.
The campaign has been using last week’s Quinnipiac polls showing tight races in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania to shake a greater sense of urgency into donors and activists.
Clinton is at her worst when she thinks she’s at her best. She tends to rise to the occasion only when her back is against the wall. Remember 2008? Or recall last summer, when Sanders looked like nothing more than a nuisance and polls showed her ahead by more than 50 points, how she joked about wiping her server clean with a cloth and how her handlers literally used ropes to corral journalists at a parade. Over time, she found herself neck-and-neck with Sanders, who is a weak candidate by most traditional measures. Under heavy pressure in the days before Iowa, when it looked like she could lose the caucuses, she temporarily became a much better campaigner –— then backslid after her wins in Nevada and South Carolina.
2. Unforced errors
When Hillary goes off her carefully scripted message, she has a tendency to gaffe. One reason she is expected to lose Kentucky tomorrow is her declaration at a town hall this spring that, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Don’t forget about her other gaffes, like when she invoked 9/11 to defend her coziness with Wall Street, when she called Republicans the enemy or when she said she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001.
And there was the time Clinton incensed the gay community by praising the Reagans for starting “a national conversation” about HIV/AIDS, prompting a quick retraction.
3. Not inspiring
Clinton cannot just make this election a referendum on Trumpism. She must outline a compelling vision for where she wants to take the country to fully activate the coalition that powered Barack Obama.
“I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama," Clinton said at The Post’s debate in March.
The presumptive Democratic nominee campaigns in prose, not poetry. And she does not always try to be uplifting in her speeches.
It’s part of the explanation for why so many millennials, including young women, have spurned her for Bernie. While Sanders promises tuition-free college, she talks about extending an obscure tax credit. As my colleague David Fahrenthold explained in a story about Clinton’s wonkiness last week, this credit can be worth up to $2,500: “But only if students find their Form 1098-T, then fill out the relevant portions of Form 8863, then enter the amount from lines 8 and 19 of Form 8863 in lines 68 and 50 of their Form 1040.” That is not going to send a thrill up Chris Matthews’s leg….
4. Not being “likable enough”
My colleagues Dan Balz and Anne Gearan spoke with more than a dozen Clinton allies about her biggest weaknesses for a piece on today’s front page. “I bring it down to one thing and one thing only, and that is likability,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who has conducted a series of focus groups for the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Hart said this is “about the lowest bar” for a candidate, and yet Clinton has lower likability numbers today than she did when the campaign began.
Balz and Gearan report that Clinton advisers are working to soften her stiff public image by highlighting her compassion and playing up her problem-solving abilities. “I mean, we can’t give her an injection to make her an energetic candidate,” one longtime Clinton family supporter and donor said on background. (Read the full piece here.)
This may be the best photo from Mrs. Reagan's funeral. pic.twitter.com/kX1WZP9mwi— David Chalian (@DavidChalian) March 14, 2016
5. Moving too far to the right
The Sanders campaign has circulated stories about Clinton forces reaching out to top Jeb Bush donors to convince them that “that she represents their values better” than Trump.
Clinton, who used to brag about being a Goldwater Girl in 1964, will be very tempted to appeal aggressively to moderate Republicans who are turned off by Trump. On paper, the Democrat will actually be more of a hawk and more willing to use military force than the Republican. The Donald is all over the place on policy, but Clinton is presently to his right on trade and campaign finance.
She needs Sanders supporters to unite behind her. If it looks like she’s shifting rightward to win votes, she will look inauthentic and many Bernie people will stay on the sidelines.
6. Moving too far to the left
Clinton has treated Sanders with kid gloves recently. She wants him and his people to fall in line after the July convention in Philadelphia, and she calculates that antagonizing him is not worth sewing up the nomination earlier.
The Vermont senator has made clear he wants significant concessions, including very liberal policy planks in the party platform. The Clinton people will be inclined to give on a lot because the platform is not binding. Just last week, for instance, she embraced several reforms to the Federal Reserve that are sought by the progressive wing of the party.
But, if Hillary continues to lurch leftward to satisfy the Bernie people, it will be harder to win those in the middle and woo disaffected Republicans.
You might think it’s unfair to say Clinton cannot go too far left or too far right. But everyone running for president has this problem. It is a difficult needle to thread, yet the Clintons have proven deft at triangulation. Now, Hillary needs to be Goldilocks.
7. Bungling her VP selection
There’s no perfect pick, and candidates who look great on paper might turn out to fall flat –— or have skeletons in their closet.
Citing four people close to the campaign, USA Today reports this morning that “Clinton is considering a running mate who could make a direct appeal to supporters of Sanders, bridging a generational and political divide” and that “Clinton’s chief requirements include a candidate’s resume and a fighter capable of hand-to-hand combat with Trump. The campaign’s vetting also prioritizes demographics over someone from a key swing state as she seeks to unify the Democratic voting base.”
There are parts of every would-be number two’s record that will upset at least some portion of the Democratic Party. Take this story that just posted on Politico: “Targeted by progressive activists hoping to kill his chances of being picked as Clinton’s running mate, Julián Castro is set this week to announce changes to what’s become a hot-button Housing and Urban Development program for selling bad mortgages on its books.”
8. Allowing herself to get defined as an insider
Clinton lost to Obama in 2008 by underestimating the electorate’s hunger for change. Once again, Hillary risks coming to represent the status quo in the eyes of voters who want a renegade.
“Right now, about 6 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump.… But the country is faring even worse. … 64.9 percent think we are heading down the wrong track,” The Post’s Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt noted last week in a column warning Democrats not to celebrate Trump. “So what if even voters who respect Clinton’s competence reject her as the embodiment of business as usual? And what if even voters who do not like Trump’s bigotry or bluster care more that he will, in their view, shake things up? … I do have faith in the American voter, I really do. But when two-thirds of the country is unhappy, a rational outcome can’t be taken for granted.”
9. Not directly engaging with Trump’s attacks
In trying to stay above the fray, Clinton could find herself defined by Trump. Remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? John Kerry didn’t push back forcefully enough early on, and he paid a price.
Last week, Trump called Clinton an “enabler” of her husband’s behavior. While objectively offensive, the Democratic front-runner steadfastly refused to respond. “I’m going to let him run his campaign however he chooses,” she told reporters. “I have nothing to say about him.”
Trump gives a whole new meaning to term “bully pulpit.” And there is very conventional logic in not responding to every insult and attack: it leads to more repetition of the original charge and keeps it in the news.
Hillary dislikes the media. Her impulse is to keep the press away, to only give the appearance of access and to focus her attention on friendly outlets that will engage in puffery.
Trump, to his credit, talks to basically everyone. It gets him in trouble, like when he told Chris Matthews that women who get abortions should be punished. But the tradeoff is that he has often gotten to set the terms of the debate. If he repeats something enough times, however preposterous, some may come to believe it.
10. Bill going “off the reservation”
“I have a lot of experience dealing with men who sometimes get off the reservation in the way they behave and how they speak,” Hillary recently said on CNN. A few days later, she clarified on MSNBC that she was not referring to her husband –— but Rick Lazio and Vladimir Putin.
The former president has caused fewer headaches for his wife’s campaign than he did in 2008, when he called Obama’s bid “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen,” said the other side was playing the “race card,” and downplayed a loss in South Carolina by noting Jesse Jackson Jr. had won there too.
That does not mean he has not ruined news cycles for his wife in 2016 –— or has the ability to.
Remember his outburst on the eve of the New Hampshire primary when he accused Sanders of being dishonest and his supporters of being sexist?
Or when he got into an on-stage argument with Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia last month, defending his crime bill and his wife’s 1996 comment about bringing “super-predators … to heel”? The next day, he said: “I almost want to apologize.” But then didn’t.
The campaign must manage WJC appropriately. It’s hard to control any spouse; a former president – especially “The Big Dog” – is even harder.
Trump will try to make Hillary own all the unpopular elements of the Clinton era. Expect to hear a lot about Marc Rich’s pardon and the Lincoln Bedroom.
Hillary will take credit for the popular elements of her husband’s tenure and take umbrage when Trump tries to pin the unpopular parts on her, as she already has with the crime bill and Wall Street deregulation.
11. Being overly secretive
Clinton is not widely seen as trustworthy. Her refusal to release the transcripts of her speeches at Goldman Sachs will continue to dog her. Asked during a debate why she received $675,000 for three short appearances, she replied: “Well, I don't know. That’s what they offered.”
But Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns –— along with his evolving answers and lame excuses –— neutralizes this potential problem for the Clinton campaign.
12. Getting indicted
“Investigators have found scant evidence tying Clinton to criminal wrongdoing, although they are still working on the case and charges have not been ruled out,” my colleague Ellen Nakashima reported last week. “They have also been interviewing former aides to Clinton, including Cheryl Mills, who served as chief of staff while Clinton was secretary of state. Prosecutors and FBI agents hope to be able to interview Clinton as they try to wrap up the investigation.”
Among other potential problems identified by supporters in Balz and Gearan’s story today: “Clinton’s unpopularity with white men, questions about whether her family philanthropic foundation helped donors and friends, and lingering clouds from her tenure at the State Department, including … the Benghazi attacks in which four Americans were killed and her support for military intervention in Libya.”
-- Don’t forget, history is not on Hillary’s side. Since World War II, only once has a party controlled the White House for three consecutive terms. (George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan by beating Mike Dukakis in 1988.)
-- Bottom line: Clinton is more likely than not to be president at this time next year, but the election will probably be closer than you think and Trump could actually win if she doesn’t play her cards right.
GET SMART FAST:
- Mark Zuckerberg is inviting prominent conservative media figures to Silicon Valley for a meeting to discuss alleged suppression of conservative news stories in Facebook’s “trending” section. Confirmed attendees include Glenn Beck, Dana Perino, SE Cupp and Arthur Brooks. (CNN Money)
- Residents of a neighborhood in Concord, Calif., were forced to spend much of the weekend inside after swarms of aggressive bees overtook their streets, killing two dogs and hospitalizing several people. (San Jose Mercury News)
- The Texas bus company involved in a Saturday crash that killed eight and injured 44 had twice been ordered by state inspectors to take one of its buses off the road to fix brake and emergency-exit problems. It is unclear if that is the bus involved in the deadly crash. (AP)
- Two Egyptian courts sentenced to prison more than 150 people who participated in a street protest, sharply escalating a campaign to suppress political dissent in the country. (New York Times)
- French officials said they will “continue to press on” with plans to host a multilateral Middle East peace conference in Paris this year, despite Israel’s continued opposition to the idea. (William Booth)
- ISIS claimed responsibility for a Baghdad gas plant attack that killed at least 10. (CNN)
The U.S., South Korea and Japan will hold their first joint military training exercise next month, focused on cooperating to detect signs of missile activity from North Korea. The drills are set for the end of June. (AP)
Venezuela may be headed toward an all-out popular uprising that could lead to the overthrow of its government this year, senior U.S. intelligence officials tell Karen DeYoung. Clashes erupted last week between security forces and demonstrators protesting food shortages, power blackouts and political gridlock.
Warren Buffett is backing a consortium vying to buy Yahoo’s internet assets, joining the ranks of an increasingly competitive pool of bidders that includes Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. (New York Times)
- Amazon is rolling out a new line of private-label brands for Prime customers – including the site’s first broad push into perishable foods – which could start appearing online in a matter of weeks. (Wall Street Journal)
- A Los Angeles television station has come under fire after a male anchor handed his female colleague a cardigan, mid-broadcast, so she could cover her bare shoulders. (Travis M. Andrews)
- Father-and-son tourists at Yellowstone were ticketed after loading a bison calf into their SUV over concerns that the young animal was cold. (East Idaho News)
POTUS WADES IN:
-- President Obama delivered an aggressive refutation of Trumpism during his commencement address at Rutgers University, calling on graduates to reject politicians who “hark back to better days.” From Greg Jaffe: “He mocked Trump’s call to ‘Make America Great Again,’ saying that there was never a better time to be alive on the planet and in America. College graduation rates were up, he said. Crime rates had dropped, and more women were in the workplace than ever before in the country’s history … [He also] slammed Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the country’s southern border, saying the world is becoming ever more interconnected and ‘building walls won’t change that.’ At one point, clearly referring to Trump and other congressional Republicans who have decried efforts to combat global warming, Obama warned that, 'In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue. ... That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you are talking about.’”
-- “Obama is expected to begin campaigning for Clinton in earnest as early as June, when she is expected to lock up the nomination,” Balz and Gearan report.
-- Trump and Vice President Biden both went to the University of Pennsylvania's commencement ceremony yesterday. David Weigel was there: “For Trump, the ceremony was all about Tiffany Trump, his daughter with ex-wife Marla Maples, who also attended the commencement. Biden was there for his granddaughter Naomi Biden, the first of the family's third generation to graduate from college. … When some unexpected rain fell, Trump disappeared beneath an umbrella, while Biden kept shaking hands.”
MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:
-- A band of exasperated Republicans is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate to keep Trump from the White House BUT those involved concede that such an effort at this late stage is probably futile. Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “These GOP figures are commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources and courting potential contenders … The effort has been sporadic all spring but has intensified significantly in the 10 days since Trump effectively locked up the Republican nomination. ... But these Republicans — including [Mitt Romney,] commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson — are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action. ... and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid."
Their top recruits are Sen. Ben Sasse [who denies interest] and former presidential candidate John Kasich [who today will give his first TV interview since dropping out]. Earlier prospects included former Sen. Tom Coburn, Condoleezza Rice, and even reality-television star and businessman Mark Cuban." Many dismissed the idea as political fantasy: “Again and again, though, these anti-Trump Republicans have heard the same tepid response. ... 'I don’t see it happening,' Cuban wrote in an email."
A potential third-party candidate faces enormous risk. No one wants to be the next Ralph Nader. "The career of the individual would come to an end, and he would have a difficult spot in history for being responsible for putting Clinton in the White House," said Patrick J. Buchanan. There are also formidable logistical hurdles, with deadlines to get on state ballots fast approaching.
Spoiler alert: Some anti-Trump Republicans are downsizing their ambitions to a more focused, state-specific effort. Mike Murphy, who ran the Jeb Bush super PAC, is pushing one such proposal. "Murphy envisions an independent candidate on what he termed ‘an honorable mission’ in Colorado, New Hampshire and Ohio — three battleground states with relatively lax ballot-access rules. 'Running an anti-Trump protest candidate in a handful of swing states really appeals to me,' Murphy said. 'You could deny Trump the presidency and perhaps help important Senate and other down-ballot races by giving another choice to Republican voters who abhor Hillary Clinton and can’t cross the moral line to vote for Trump.'"
-- Reince Priebus said drafting a third-party candidate to run against Trump would be a “suicide mission” that could wreck the party for “generations.” "They can try to hijack another party and get on the ballot, but, look, it's a suicide mission for our country because what it means is that you're throwing down not just eight years of the White House but potentially 100 years on the Supreme Court and wrecking this country for many generations," the RNC chairman said on "Fox News Sunday." "I think it's very dangerous, and there's other ways to get assurances on the things that they're worried about." Priebus praised the approach taken by Paul Ryan, adding that he would be surprised if Ryan did not endorse Trump soon: "I'd be surprised if we didn't get there, not too much longer in the distant future."
-- Meanwhile, Republican activists chose unity over resistance this weekend, with party leaders pressuring the rank-and-file to fall in line behind the presumptive nominee – and even punishing those who refused. Politico’s Kyle Cheney: In all, nearly 400 delegates were selected Saturday – about one in every six that will fill Cleveland’s convention center in July.
In Maryland, a veteran national committeeman — Louis Pope — was ousted by Citizens United chief David Bossie, who is pro-Trump. (The governor, Larry Hogan, skipped the convention and has not endorsed Trump.)
- In Nebraska, Sasse was indirectly scolded for his leadership in the #NeverTrump movement.
- The Oklahoma and Montana conventions shared the common mantra: "United We Stand,” with Trump posters hung up to reinforce the theme.
- In Wisconsin, local reports indicated that even former Trump critics were nudging their allies into backing the mogul.
- Even in Texas, the statewide delegation titled toward party insiders rather than anti-Trump activists: “Gov. Greg Abbott, former Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who pleaded for party unity at the convention -- were picked to go to Cleveland.”
-- Trump warned of another 9/11-like attack if refugees continue to be admitted into the U.S: "Our country has enough difficulty right now without letting the Syrians pour in," Trump said in an interview on the National Border Patrol Council podcast. He also suggested ISIS is “paying for refugees’ cell phone plans”: "Who pays their monthly charges, right? They have cell phones with the flags, the ISIS flags on them."
-- Trump and Clinton are statistically tied in Georgia, according to a general election poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: He leads her 45 to 41 percent, within the poll’s 4.26 margin of error, while 13 percent said they were undecided or did not support either candidate.
-- A family grieving the death of an Alabama-born woman has a request for friends and relatives: Don't vote for Trump. From the AP: “Relatives of 34-year-old Katherine Michelle Hinds published an obituary Friday in the Opelika-Auburn News that includes the line: ‘In lieu of flowers, do not vote for Donald Trump.’ Hinds' mother, Susan Pool, says her daughter … feared for the future of her three young children if he's elected.”
-- John Boehner will spend late July and all of August on a cross-country bus trip raising money and campaigning for House Republicans, per Politico’s Jake Sherman: “The trip — on Boehner’s bus, dubbed ‘Freedom One’ — will begin after the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and end Labor Day weekend.”
-- Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) defended his use of a derogatory term toward Japanese in a cable-news appearance, saying that he was trying to critique the “uninformed” views that Trump espouses. From Paul Kane: “King, who supports Trump nominally but is refusing to campaign for him, said that his use of the word ‘Japs’ was meant to criticize the presidential candidate’s policy positions as out of line with the ‘nuance’ required to be the leader of the free world and more in line with a working-class man at the end of a bar espousing his worldview.”
-- “Is Ben Carson the worst or the best surrogate of all time? Yes.” By Ben Terris: “Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate turned unfiltered pitchman for Trump, now part of his vice presidential search committee, sat in the back of a town car with his wife, Candy. He had just explained that he wanted no role in a Trump administration when news arrived of a new poll naming him as the best-liked of a list of potential running mates. “The most favorably regarded contenders after himself, he was told, were John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Chris Christie. ‘Those are all people on our list,’ he said. That the Trump campaign might want its potential VP picks held close to the vest didn’t seem to occur to Carson. He’s not the type to keep his candid thoughts to himself.”
Carson says he has no plan to pull a Dick Cheney and suggest himself. Carson understands he’s a lightning rod for controversy, and Trump doesn’t need help sparking fires. “He’s not interested,” said business manager Armstrong Williams. And then: “But miracles can happen … we’ve seen stranger things, right?” Yes, yes we have. Not the least of which has been watching Carson say things that would get any other surrogate benched, only to be elevated within the campaign.”
MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:
-- CONVENTION CHAOS: Tensions ran high at the Democratic state convention in Nevada, a foreboding signs for Clinton as she prepares for the national convention in Philadelphia. With Sanders partisans pushing to include delegates who had been ruled ineligible, party leaders adjourned the convention for the day. "But Sanders supporters refused to concede, remaining in the [Paris] casino's ballroom after the event had ended. Eventually, casino security and law enforcement officials entered to force the Democrats out of the space, even turning off the lights to get them to depart," Philip Bump reports.
Why the Sanders supporters were angry: The rules were seen as less favorable to the Vermont senator by his backers, as was the process for picking 12 up-for-grabs delegates to Philadelphia. Sanders supporters were outraged over the exclusion of 56 delegates – enough to swing the majority – who were denied mostly because they weren't registered as Democrats by the May 1 deadline. (Eight Clinton delegates reportedly suffered a similar fate, Las Vegas Sun notes.)
Here are some live tweets from the dean of the Nevada press corps:
Um, Bernie people, you are going to lose every motion today. (And they are now chanting in protest.)— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 14, 2016
Microcosm of Philly? I think so.
Convention ended w/security shutting it down, Bernie folks rushed stage, yelling obscenities, throwing chairs. Unity Now! On to Philly 2/2— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 15, 2016
Pharell now playing. No one here is HAPPY!— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 14, 2016
Sanders supporters retaliated by defacing the state party HQ on Sunday:
Here is how Bernie's NV supporters protested outside state Democratic HQ today -- by scrawling messages on the bldg. pic.twitter.com/Fgh78ZtZZV— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 15, 2016
-- On the trail in Kentucky, Clinton got more specific about what Bill Clinton’s White House role could be. From Abby Phillip: "I'm going to put [him] in charge of revitalizing the economy because you know, he knows how to do it," she told supporters. "And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have been really left out." Clinton, who has long made it clear she looks to her husband’s presidency as a model for how to manage the economy, often notes the job creation and increases in median household income during his administration. "When my husband was president, incomes rose for everybody," she said in Louisville.
-- Many young Black Lives Matter protestors are not voting, according to exit polling analysis from 25 primaries. From Vanessa Williams and Scott Clement: African Americans account for a larger share of Democratic primary voters than they did in 2008, but that is because of OLDER black voters. Comparing exit polls in 25 states from 2008 and 2016, “black voters older than 45 grew from 12 percent of the electorate on average in 2008 to 16 percent this year. In those same states, black voters younger than 45 made up 11 percent of voters in 2008 vs. 10 percent this year.”
President Obama, in his commencement address last weekend at Howard University, praised young black activists for bringing new energy to the movement for racial justice and equality, but he said: “You have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes.” Obama’s comments echoed continuing concerns that some young black activists involved in the current wave of political action do not share the belief in the critical importance of the right to vote:
Younger Americans are the least likely to turn out in elections: The share of eligible voters ages 18 to 29 who cast ballots fell from a record high of 48 percent in 2008 to 41 percent in the 2012 presidential election, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
Interviews with activists inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement revealed a nuanced view of electoral politics: “None advocated a total boycott of elections … At the same time, many were not enthusiastic about the value of voting, particularly in this year’s presidential election cycle. These activists argued that neither candidate had adequately addressed the issues affecting black communities. ‘Voting is definitely one way … but there are other ways of reimagining and restructuring the world, and that lies in organizing our communities,’ said Ashley Williams, a 23-year-old activist.”
SUNDAY SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:
-- The RNC chairman defended Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns: "People don't look at Trump as to whether he releases his taxes," Priebus said on ABC. "People look at Trump and say, 'Is this person going to cause an earthquake in Washington, D.C., and make something happen?' That is it. I don't think the traditional playbook applies … We've been down this road for a year … He's rewritten the playbook." (Elise Viebeck)
-- Newt Gingrich again said he’s open to being Trump’s running-mate: "I don't think it's an automatic yes," Gingrich said on "Fox News Sunday." But “I’d be hard-pressed not to say yes." The former Speaker suggested his decision would be based largely on what duties Trump would expect from a running-mate, as well as how “seriously” he takes the role.
-- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) demurred when asked if he would serve as Clinton's running-mate. “I love the job I’m doing,” Brown told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I will put real effort into electing Hillary … but as I said, I love this job, and I'm just not going to give you a different answer."
-- Trump senior adviser Paul Manafort denied that Trump ever posed as his own publicist to speak with reporters, saying he believes a 25-year-old audio recording that is clearly Trump is not actually Trump. "I couldn't tell who it is. If Donald Trump says it's not him, I believe it's not him," Manafort said on CNN’s "State of the Union." Manafort also touted the “crossover support” that his boss has attracted in traditionally Democratic states, arguing that they will “expand the map” and can win in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Trump and Manafort's denials directly contradict testimony that The Donald gave under oath in a 1990 lawsuit.
On Friday afternoon, Washington Post reporters who were 44 minutes into a phone interview with Trump about his finances asked him a question about Miller: “Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson?” The phone went silent, then dead. When the reporters called back and reached Trump’s secretary, she said, “I heard you got disconnected. He can’t take the call now. I don’t know what happened.” (Read the original story.)
Via Zignal Labs, here is a word cloud of all Trump mentions on Friday:
-- “China killed thousands of Maine jobs. Now it’s eating up the state’s lobsters,” by Ylan Q. Mui: “Little Cranberry, an island of 70 inhabitants, and China, a nation of 1.4 billion people, increasingly find themselves connected by the shifting currents of the world economy. The rise of China’s middle class has coincided with a boom in Maine’s lobster population, resulting in a voracious new market for the crustaceans’ succulent, sweet meat. Exports of lobsters to China, nonexistent a decade ago, totaled $20 million last year. … The lobster’s tale is a testament to the complexities of the global marketplace — and a reminder that the line between economic winners and losers is not always clear. China has played the villain (in 2016), blamed for … the disappearance of blue-collar jobs, including in Maine, where the closure of lumber and pulp factories have left thousands of workers unemployed. Yet the reality is more nuanced. Even as foreign competition has devastated parts of the U.S. economy, China ranks among the biggest international customers for a vast array of other industries, from ginseng to airplanes to pork. Maine lobsters are just a tiny sliver of the $116 billion in annual exports to China, a figure that has nearly tripled in the past decade.”
-- “Al-Qaeda affiliates are threatening West Africa’s most peaceful cities,” by Kevin Sieff in Dakar: “In a city where nightclubs and mosques coexist peacefully, Islamist violence long felt like a foreign problem—something residents watched on news clips from the Middle East or other parts of—Africa. But Senegal and its neighbors are facing a new threat from extremists moving far from their traditional strongholds in northwest Africa. Since November, militant groups have killed dozens of people in assaults on hotels, cafes and a beachside resort in West Africa, passing through porous borders with impunity. The attacks have occurred in countries that had been rebounding from political turbulence, such as Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Now fears of such bloodshed are growing in this pro-Western democracy, which serves as a regional hub for international organizations. ... Senegal, a former French colony that has never suffered a major terrorist incident, is now taking unprecedented security measures."
-- “Filipino children of U.S. sailors and soldiers have mixed feelings on American return,” by Emily Rauhala: “There’s a taunt that hangs over this former U.S. naval base, looming over kids who look a little different, shadowing single moms: ‘Left by the ship.’ The term is used to shame the offspring of U.S. servicemen and local women ... Nearly 25 years ago, Philippine lawmakers expelled the U.S. warships that had docked here for almost a century, vowing to ‘unchain’ the country from its colonial past …” But for decades, tens of thousands of children of U.S. military men have been fighting not to be forgotten. “Now China’s claims to most of the South China Sea have put the Philippines back at the heart of U.S. strategy in Asia. A new defense pact allows the U.S. military to build facilities at five Philippine bases, and a growing number of ships will be stopping by Subic Bay. Their return is renewing questions about what the U.S. owes Filipino Amerasians — and stoking worries that there will be more neglected children when the ships leave harbor once again.”
-- “Disagreements slow Pentagon’s plan to allow transgender service members,” by Dan Lamothe: “Months before Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon would take steps toward allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King last year became what she believes is the first openly transgender member of the infantry. While official Pentagon policy still forbids openly transgender personnel, her commanders have been supportive, she said. King even purchased a female dress Army service uniform, anticipating that she would be able to wear it soon. But four months after a deadline set Carter set for a working group to finish evaluating the change, transgender service members are still waiting. Officials say disagreements remain in the Defense Department about how to move forward, suggesting that the Pentagon isn’t close to wrapping up the review, let alone instituting any changes.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
This mural of Trump and Vladimir Putin in Vilnius, Lithuania, is going viral:
Bernie continues to enjoy himself:
Trump sought to preempt conversations on Sunday shows about his treatment of women with these tweets:
The failing @nytimes wrote yet another hit piece on me. All are impressed with how nicely I have treated women, they found nothing. A joke!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2016
Everyone is laughing at the @nytimes for the lame hit piece they did on me and women.I gave them many names of women I helped-refused to use— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2016
Why doesn't the failing @nytimes write the real story on the Clintons and women? The media is TOTALLY dishonest!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2016
Read the full story for yourself here. One of the two reporters pushed back hard on Twitter, noting that they interviewed more than 50 women:
A factually inaccurate tweet: we did interview and quote women his office suggested in the story: https://t.co/Jfu05iK5Et— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) May 15, 2016
One of the nuggets from the piece:
Trump also turned up his Instagramming about the women in his life:
Lots of jokes about Trump posing as his own publicist:
This election has everything. pic.twitter.com/yWO11kNHh4— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 13, 2016
Looking forward to Trump putting on a false mustache and getting behind the WH press room podium as his own "press secretary"— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 13, 2016
left to right: John Miller, Donald Trump, John Barron pic.twitter.com/u1Hc67xU8G— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) May 13, 2016
The Republican Party is about to nominate as its presidential candidate the Wizard of Oz. https://t.co/KoigWc8XY9— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 13, 2016
Kristol pushed back against critics of a potential third-party bid:
All the worldly & sophisticated nay-sayers about an independent bid should acknowledge they're leaving us with this: pic.twitter.com/9iBzBRmyhM— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 15, 2016
Cruz aide Josh Perry showed off his bumper sticker. These were being handed out at the Republican convention in Texas:
New sticker... pic.twitter.com/qVU9UWV6sc— Josh Perry (@MrJoshPerry) May 15, 2016
When Trump does call-in interviews with cable shows, it's worth remembering how close he lives to the studios:
Trump with yet another call in interview to Fox and Friends. Just gonna throw this out there... pic.twitter.com/ly3nZBVE6R— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) May 13, 2016
Good news ! Trump and the GOP have buried the hatchet..— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) May 13, 2016
And now, the bad news : They buried it in the skull of the United States of America
Donald Trump Jr. was in Northern British Columbia:
Good times last weekend. Missing the food and company already!!! Northern British Colombia— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 14, 2016
Repost: IG: BolenLewis pic.twitter.com/aYhZBwSQAC
Jeb Bush stopped by a gathering of new U.S. citizens:
It's graduation season and Ben Sasse is in the thick of it:
Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke at Berkeley:
While John Boehner spoke at Notre Dame:
Bryan Cranston stopped by Capitol Hill:
Joe Manchin caught a big rainbow trout:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz celebrated her twins' 17th birthday:
Finally, Jose Andres is excited about a potential paella emoji:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- National Review, “In Koch World ‘Realignment,’ Less National Politics,” by Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson: “In February, a team of political operatives arrived in Kansas hoping to turn the tide of the presidential campaign. They’d set aside $150 million to be spread across campaigns. Yet they had not been authorized to spend a dime on the White House race. Marc Short wanted to change that. He led a faction inside the Koch network that had become convinced of the need to neutralize Trump before his momentum made him unstoppable. Short had come to Wichita to present Charles Koch a detailed, eight-figure blueprint for derailing Trump on Super Tuesday when 11 states would vote, hoping to get the green light to hammer him with ads in states where he was most vulnerable. But there was an unwelcome surprise awaiting the delegation: A number of top executives from the Koch enterprise had been invited. They represented the so-called ‘corporate side’ of Koch World, which had long warred with the ‘political side’ of the empire. The meeting confirmed what some Koch insiders had begun to suspect: That the brothers’ political decision-making was increasingly being influenced by their business and public-relations interests.”
-- L.A. Times, “Roz Wyman, L.A.'s secret weapon in luring Dodgers west, is still cheering,” by Chris Erskine: “If Los Angeles has a grande dame of sports, it is Roz Wyman … At 85, she still sits in her Dodgers season seat near the umpires tunnel, cheering on players young enough to be her great-grandsons. Wyman was about their age when she helped bring the Dodgers to Los Angeles almost 60 years ago … The Dodgers' patron saint had just finished at USC when in 1953 she became the youngest person, and only the second woman, elected to the L.A. City Council, on a campaign platform that included, of all things, acquiring a major league team. At the time, baseball's far-western foul pole was St. Louis. The Brooklyn Dodgers were stacked and poised to win their first World Series, in 1955 …. [But] odds never mattered much to Wyman. ‘It all reflects Roz's courage, brilliance and tenacity,’ says former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley … These days, L.A. could use a few more movers and shakers like the Wizard of Roz.”
-- NBC News, “The Americans: 15 Who Left the United States to Join ISIS,” by Richard Engel, Ben Plesser, Tracy Connor and Jon Schuppe: “American law enforcement officials estimate that roughly 250 Americans have tried to join IS. Most of them never left the U.S … But a few dozen of those American recruits have made the trip to ISIS's heartland in Syria and Iraq. In March, NBC was given a thumb drive by a purported ISIS defector, containing names and biographical snippets of thousands of fighters who entered Syria, including at least 15 Americans who left the U.S. to join ISIS overseas.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
"Wendell Pierce of ‘The Wire’ Arrested After Fight Over Sanders,” from The Daily Beast: “The bitter Democratic primary has now led to a Hollywood actor’s arrest: Clinton supporter Wendell Pierce was detained by Atlanta police early Sunday after an alleged assault on two Sanders supporters. [A couple] said to be supporters of Sanders, said Pierce became enraged when the unknown woman declared her support for the Vermont senator. Pierce … allegedly pushed a male victim and then ‘went after his girlfriend…grabbing her hair and smacking her in the head,’ according to TMZ. The actor and political activist was arrested on battery charges.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Allies must carry Obamacare into new phase, top White House aide says,” from the Washington Times: “The White House brushed aside a growing list of political and legal threats to its signature health care law … vowing to pass the torch to Obamacare’s allies so that Americans can seek taxpayer-subsidized coverage for ‘generations’ to come. ... Yet insurers facing a sicker-than-expected customer base are preparing double-digit rate hikes for Obamacare customers.”
On the campaign trail: Here's the rundown:
- Clinton: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Ky.
- Sanders: San Juan, Guaynabo, P.R.
At the White House: President Obama hosts a Medal of Valor ceremony and meets with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. BuzzFeed News' legal editor interviews Obama live on Facebook about the Supreme Court at 2:50 p.m. Vice President Biden has no public events scheduled.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House meet at 2 p.m., with House votes on nine suspension bills planned for 6:30 p.m.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Number one, I'm not stupid, OK? I can tell you that right now — just the opposite," Trump told Piers Morgan in a televised interview that aired in Britain. "Number two, in terms of divisive, I don't think I'm a divisive person. I'm a unifier. Unlike our president now, I'm a unifier."
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
Behold -- the sun has returned to D.C.:
Ladies and gentleman, let us introduce.... pic.twitter.com/pyYOaQtOEg— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) May 13, 2016
-- No rain on the radar for today! But maybe some frost. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “If you live in some of our colder areas well west of town, don’t be shocked to awaken to some frost. So grab the fleece and the ice scraper when you head out. But the May sun should help temperatures recover fairly quickly, as they should be near 60 midday. Then, afternoon highs reach the mid-60s to near 70.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Here's what late-night comedians said about the Trump-Ryan meeting last week:
Will Ferrell, Aziz Ansari and others attended the Nordic state dinner at the White House:
Watch the toasts from the evening:
Alan Grayson was defensive on MSNBC when asked his ethics allegations and blow-up with Harry Reid:
Obama and Macklemore talked about addiction in the president's weekly address:
BuzzFeed asks: who said it, Trump or a Democrat?
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg reflected on the loss of her husband a year ago: