Cortney O'Brien - 2016 RACE ROUNDUP: Inconsistent Polling and Big Stakes Produce a Fascinating Indiana Contest
Posted: 5/2/2016 2:45:00 PM EST

Inconsistent polling out of Indiana indicates that Tuesday will be anyone’s primary to win or lose. Some polls show Donald Trump cruising to a comfortable win, while others have Ted Cruz as the clear victor. The stakes are high in the Hoosier State for the first time in 40 years. A little over 24 hours from now, could we have a Republican nominee? A win for Hillary Clinton in Indiana could convince Democrats that Bernie Sanders' momentum has stalled indefinitely, but she has a harder road ahead as she enters coal country thanks to her anti-coal comments in March.

Republican Primary

Donald Trump: “If we win Indiana, it’s over,” Trump said at a campaign stop this week. The businessman is leading by 15 points in the Hoosier State over Cruz, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another poll the businessman is likely to reference in his speeches is this Rasmussen Reports survey that shows him beating Hillary Clinton by two points nationally. Trump is urging the Republican Party to unite behind him so he can start focusing on the presumptive Democratic nominee. He has already hinted on how he’ll challenge Clinton’s credentials, accusing her of using the “women’s card” to gain votes. “If she were not a woman, she wouldn't even be in this race," Trump said. 

Ted Cruz: Cruz has plenty of endorsements heading into Indiana on Tuesday, but does he have the votes? The Texas senator received the support of 50 state clergy and faith leaders, who say he stands for family principles, not political expediency. His campaign released a few ads highlighting Gov. Mike Pence’s endorsement, including “Pence for Cruz,” which highlights Gov. Mike Pence saying he’ll vote for Cruz because the Texas senator is pursuing the “Reagan agenda.” Cruz is also reminding voters he has the governor’s support in a radio ad. A Club for Growth Action ad, meanwhile, called “Imagine,” is telling voters that Cruz is the only candidate who can plausibly repeal Obamacare. He hasn’t forgotten about his foe Donald Trump, however. The Cruz campaign just released an ad called “Lying,” accusing the businessman of lying about Cruz’s record. The senator won a majority of delegates at the Virginia GOP convention this weekend.

John Kasich: Kasich’s own state of Ohio wants him to drop out of the 2016 race. Like Cruz, the Ohio governor has no mathematical path to the nomination, but he is banking on the RNC to declare him victor at a contested convention. During a campaign stop this weekend, Kasich again condemned Trump’s policy to deport 4 million illegal immigrants. Republicans, Kasich said, will not win the general election by “scaring every Hispanic in this country to death.”

Democratic Primary

Hillary Clinton: Clinton is hoping that her pledge to put coal companies "out of business" in March is long forgotten as the 2016 primary enters coal country. Unfortunately, those scars haven't healed. Activists interrupted Bill Clinton during his speech this weekend in West Virginia, while officials in another town wrote a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin insisting the Clintons and their anti-coal agenda were "not welcome." The Wall Street Journal also weighed in on Clinton's controversial coal remarks, writing that she has some "explaining to do" before she attempts to win over voters in the region. There is some good news for Hillary on the financial front, however. For the first time in 2016, Clinton has outraised Sanders in donations. Clinton’s April totals amounted to $36 million. Clinton is averaging about 7 points higher than Bernie Sanders in Indiana.

Bernie Sanders: Sanders can force Hillary to a contested convention, pundits argue. Yet, his underdog status may be too much to overcome, at least as far as the delegates are concerned. Can momentum be enough to propel him to the nomination? His donations fell steeply from March. Sanders’ donation totals fell steeply from $44 million in March to $25.8 million in April. Judging by Sanders’ rhetoric, though, he and his team are not letting these numbers stop them. Sanders’ wife, Jane, has been making media rounds defending her husband and even telling the FBI to hurry up already with its investigation into Hillary’s emails. 

Delegate Count


Trump - 996

Cruz - 565

Kasich - 153


Clinton - Pledged delegates: 1,645; Super delegates: 520

Sanders - Pledged delegates: 1,318; Super delegates: 39

Primary Schedule

Tuesday - D/R Indiana primaries

Leah Barkoukis - Puerto Rico to Default on Debt Payments, Begs Congress for Help
Posted: 5/2/2016 2:10:00 PM EST

Puerto Rico’s economic troubles continue, as the island will default on $422 million in debt payments Monday by close of business.

“Faced with the inability to meet the demands of our creditors and the needs of our people, I had to make a choice,” Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said Sunday in a televised address. “I decided that essential services for the 3.5 million American citizens in Puerto Rico came first.”

Monday’s default could ramp up pressure on policymakers in Washington to move forward with legislation that would let the island restructure its debt, as well as establish an outside fiscal control board to monitor its finances.

At the end of 2015, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) set a March 31 deadline for action to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. That deadline slipped, and lawmakers are now on a weeklong recess with no bill as Puerto Rico suffers its largest default yet.

Attention now will turn to July 1 as the next potential deadline for action. On that date, the island is supposed to make roughly $2 billion in debt payments, and experts do not believe those payments will be made.

Padilla went on to blame Congress, saying he’s been warning Washington for close to a year now about the island’s financial situation.

“In our efforts to avoid a humanitarian crisis, we have repeatedly traveled to Washington to convey the urgency of the situation,” he said.

He also called on House lawmakers to get over the “internal partisan and ideological divisions” and move forward with the issue, singling out Speaker Paul Ryan to “exercise his leadership.”

The House Natural Resources Committee is still working on crafting a relief bill after progress on the measure stalled back in April.

García Padilla also reserved some scorn for investors in Puerto Rican debt that have lobbied hard against any legislation that would allow the island to restructure its debts.

Many lawmakers were spooked after the Center for Individual Freedom, a dark money group that does not have to disclose its donors, began running ads blasting the bill as a “bailout,” even though no federal money goes to the island under it.

Many believe Puerto Rican investors opposed to any deal helped finance the ads, and García Padilla said “pure greed” by “vulture funds and their lobbyists” was behind efforts to defeat the bill.

In closing, Padilla hailed its citizens’ commitment to America, noting the sacrifice many Puerto Ricans have made fighting in U.S. military conflicts.

“We have proven with blood our shared values with the United States. Now, Congress must show this commitment is mutual,” he said.

Christine Rousselle - ESPN Edits Curt Schilling Out Of Documentary On Red Sox/Yankees Rivalry
Posted: 5/2/2016 1:15:00 PM EST

ESPN has edited out footage from Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" game in the 30 for 30 documentary Four Days in October. The documentary now skips from game five to game seven, completely omitting any mention of Schilling's performance. Schilling was recently fired by ESPN.

Apparently Schilling also thinks that ESPN counts among the reasons why Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his four-game suspension reinstated by a federal court. But what set him off Sunday was hearing that the evening’s telecast of “Four Days in October,” ESPN’s 2010 documentary about Boston’s stunning comeback from a 3-0 deficit against New York to reach, and eventually win, the World Series, was missing his crucial Game 6 performance.


The recounting of that performance, and Game 6 in general (including Alez Rodriguez knocking a ball out of reliever Bronson Arroyo’s glove), takes up about 17 minutes of the original version of the hour-and-five-minute-long documentary. ESPN apparently wanted to trim “Four Days in October,” which aired on ESPN2 after an Arizona-Oregon softball game and was likely timed to precede a live Red Sox-Yankees telecast on the main channel, down to fit into an hour-long time slot, with commercials.

While ESPN claims that the segment featuring Schilling was edited for time reasons, this seems a little suspect. (Full disclosure: despite her New England upbringing, this author is actually a fan of the New York Yankees.) The bloody sock game was a huge deal and it was a major turning point in the series. It doesn't make any sense to omit that from a documentary about the rivalry and that season.

Schilling, to his credit, had jokes:

So what do you think? Is ESPN "whitewashing history?"

Cortney O'Brien - SCOTUS Denies Local Seattle Franchises’ Challenge to Minimum Wage Law
Posted: 5/2/2016 12:50:00 PM EST

In a blow to Seattle businesses, the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the state’s controversial $15/hour minimum wage law. The law, which went into effect in April 2015, demands that a business franchise of 500 employees or more honor the minimum wage hike. It was the first state in the nation to make such a wage jump.

At the time of the law’s passage, IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira called it discriminatory.

“Hundreds of small, locally-owned businesses and thousands of their employees are unfairly threatened by Seattle’s new law. We are not seeking special treatment for franchisees, we are just seeking equal treatment. The city’s minimum wage statute arbitrarily and illegally discriminates against franchisees and significantly increases their labor costs in ways that will harm their businesses, employees, consumers and Seattle’s economy,” said Steve Caldeira, IFA president & CEO. “We hope the court will block the ordinance to save jobs and prevent Seattle from unfairly singling out one type of business – a franchise – for punitive treatment.”

In International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle, local franchises argued the law would place a heavy burden on local businesses, placing them in the same boat as larger companies like McDonald’s, instead of allowing them to continue operating as independent entities. Union officials pushed back, arguing franchisees enjoy special advantages that aren’t offered to other businesses. Luckily for the "Fight for 15" crowd, the hike doesn't look like it's going anywhere after SCOTUS put the case to a halt. 

Seattle is also reeling from May Day protests, where angry pro-unionists carried Molotov cocktails, bricks and other weapons to “peacefully” demonstrate on behalf of workers’ rights. 

Justin Holcomb  - Trump Tops Clinton In New Poll
Posted: 5/2/2016 11:15:00 AM EST

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters finds Donald Trump with 41 percent ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 39 percent. Fifteen percent prefer some other candidate, and five percent are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Trump leads 37 percent to 31 percent.  

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 27-28 with a margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.  The poll also found that 89 percent of Republicans see Trump as the presumptive nominee.

Expect to see more polls change over the next few weeks as the presidential campaign 'resets' and transitions from primary to general election mode.

Cortney O'Brien - Mrs. Sanders Wants FBI to Speed Up its Hillary Investigation
Posted: 5/2/2016 10:45:00 AM EST

The Sanders campaign has left its “damn email” days far behind them. When Bernie Sanders told the media to stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails” at an early Democratic presidential debate, everyone thought he had missed a prime opportunity to strike her Achilles heel. Instead, he seemingly gave her a pass on one of her biggest scandals. Now, months later, as he has proven to be a worthy competitor, Sanders and his team may have altered their strategy and decided the FBI investigation is kind of a big deal after all.

During an appearance on Fox Business last week, Jane Sanders told Neil Cavuto she and her husband want the FBI probe to proceed sans politics, yet also noted she wants it to speed up.

“It would be nice if the FBI moved it along,” she said.

Clinton has suggested there’s nothing to see here in regards to her emails and has rolled her eyes at any questions about them. Yet, anyone with knowledge about national security knows that it was jeopardized when the former secretary of state handled classified information on an unsecure private server. It was unprecedented in State Department history, the DNC chairwoman even admitted.

The Sanders have indicated they are not going to sit idly by and watch the Democratic nomination be handed to Hillary, the party’s “anointed” candidate. The Vermont senator has challenged her to release her Wall Street transcripts and has exposed her waffling on the minimum wage. Thanks to his new offensive tactics, Clinton has been booed at just about every Sanders rally as of late.

Sanders’ only problem? Those pesky superdelegates

Guy Benson - NBC/WSJ Poll: Trump Running Away with Indiana
Posted: 5/2/2016 10:30:00 AM EST

On Friday, we expressed skepticism over a new poll showing Ted Cruz leading Donald Trump by 16 points in the Hoosier State, the only public survey showing the Texan ahead. Yesterday, a fresh NBC/WSJ/Marist poll found nearly the exact opposite result, with the controversial billionaire up by double digits. Trump's RCP average lead has swelled to more than four points; he appears to be on the verge of defeating Cruz in what virtually everyone agrees is a must-win state for the conservative Senator's campaign:

On Megyn Kelly's show Friday evening, I concluded that if Cruz loses Indiana tomorrow, that would basically be "all she wrote" for the GOP primary. Even if that new poll is off by ten points, this race will effectively end when the Indiana victor is declared tomorrow evening -- though Cruz would likely fight all the way through June 7.  The Cruz campaign is out with a new television ad in the state, casting Trump and Clinton as 'two sides of the same coin' and a pair of 'big government liberals:'

Trump does support raising taxes, and has recently attacked conservative leaders for refusing to do so.  He has also supported sweeping gun control legislation in the past, part and parcel of his long history of holding lefty views on virtually every issue.  He was -- and remains to this day -- a Statist, who openly  doesn't care about conservatism or the principle of limiting the scope and power of government.  Cruz's ad may be most off-base on the transgender bathroom issue, about which the Senator has been dinged by fact-checkers over his characterizations of that kerfuffle.  Trump has adopted more of a 'who cares, is this really a problem in need of a law?' approach, echoing Charles Krauthammer and others.  Incidentally, the same poll finds the Mitch McConnell and Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate holding a commanding lead over a conservative challenger.  Much of the moderate 'establishment' also backs Trump, who is deeply tied to the current status quo system.  They're winning.

Christine Rousselle - General Mattis: Count Me Out For 2016
Posted: 5/2/2016 10:24:00 AM EST

Retired General James Mattis will not be launching an independent bid for the White House. Mattis had been urged by a variety of conservative figures to consider running for president as an alternative candidate.

Two allies of Mr. Mattis sent emails to associates on Friday notifying them that the retired general had closed the door on a campaign. William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, said Mr. Mattis had decided “after much consideration” not to proceed.

“The thoughtfulness and patriotism — and for that matter, the modesty — Jim showed as he reflected on this decision make me more convinced than ever that he would have made a truly admirable president, and also a good candidate,” Mr. Kristol wrote. “But it’s not to be. So we won’t have a President Mattis.”

Joel Searby, a Republican strategist involved in laying the groundwork for a potential Mattis campaign, wrote in a separate email that Mr. Mattis had “decided definitively not to pursue a run for president.”

While it was incredibly unlikely that a third-party campaign for president could be successful, Mattis' potential candidacy was intriguing. Alas, it's just not meant to be.

Leah Barkoukis - WATCH: The Biggest Gaffes, Most Awkward Moments of Obama's Presidency
Posted: 5/2/2016 9:00:00 AM EST

Before handing President Obama the mic to speak at his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, the press made a tribute of sorts to the 44th president of the United States.

In a video that began with some of Obama’s more serious accomplishments as POTUS, it then took a comedic turn when CBS' Major Garrett, who narrated the video, said "it hasn't all been a smooth ride."

That’s right—the video below highlights Obama’s most awkward moments and biggest gaffes during his presidency.


Christine Rousselle - Indiana Primary Preview
Posted: 5/2/2016 8:35:00 AM EST

On May 3, residents of the Hoosier State will head to the polls in what is a surprisingly important primary. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ceded the state to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in their pact, but frontrunner Donald Trump is still doing fairly well in the polls.

Who is voting?

Both Republicans and Democrats are voting on Tuesday in open primaries. A person does not have to be a registered member of a party to vote in the primary.

When are the polls open?

Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., local time.

Where do I go to vote?

Click here.

What are the polls looking like?

All over the place, but Trump has a double-digit lead in the latest NBC/WSJ/Maraist poll. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by about six points on average.

How many delegates are up for grabs?

There are 57 Republican delegates. Thirty of those delegates go to the winner of the state, and the other 27 are divided up by the state's nine congressional districts. There are 92 Democratic delegates.