Ryan instructs Republicans to follow their "conscience" on Trump: In his interview for "Meet the Press" that will air on Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan essentially gave every Republican license to follow their conscience in whether or not to support Donald Trump.
TODD: Do you think it is that members in the House Republican conference follow your conscience? If you don't want to support him, don't. do it --
RYAN: Oh, absolutely. The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn't do that. Look, believe me, Chuck. I get that this a very strange situation. [Trump is] a very unique nominee. But I feel as a responsibility institutionally as the speaker of the House that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party. Because you know what I know that'll do? That'll definitely knock us out of the White House.
Translation: We are getting very close where it will be every Republican for himself. The rest of the interview will air on Sunday.
Conservative writer says GOP should win a "Darwin Award" for backing Trump: The Washington Free Beacon's Matthew Continetti writes that the Republican Party is destroying itself by backing Trump -- so much so that it should win a "Darwin Award" for removing itself from the political gene pool. "By supporting the least qualified, least knowledgeable, most unsuited major-party nominee for president in history, they are engaged in an 'astounding misapplication of judgment.' Every week that Donald Trump remains the Republican nominee, the party comes closer to removing itself from the presidential gene pool. Self-selection is at work here. Trump's supporters are choosing their party's demise."
Clinton's ad blitz is now up to $17 million: Yesterday, we wrote that Hillary Clinton's battleground state ad blitz - in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia - had a price tag of $7 million. Well, scratch that -- the buy is now up to $17 million over the next few weeks. Once again, we'll stress how Clinton has the battleground airwaves all to herself. Here are the markets:
Ohio: $4.5 million
Cleveland: $1.6 million
Columbus: $1 million
North Carolina: $3.6 million
Charlotte: $1.5 million
Greenville-New Bern: $324k
Florida: $3 million
West Palm Beach: $671k
Ft. Myers: $465k
Panama City: $96k
Virginia: $1.8 million
Nevada: $1.6 million
Las Vegas: $1 million
Colorado: $1.1 million
Colorado Springs: $281k
Iowa: $1.1 million
Des Moines: $477k
Cedar Rapids: $420k
New Hampshire: $830k
Trump veers away from the battleground states: As Clinton begins her battleground-state ad blitz, Trump campaigns for a second-straight day in Texas -- after visiting Georgia the day before. The reason? Fundraising, the New York Times says. "Donald J. Trump's campaign schedule is being driven by his fund-raising needs, prompting him to appear in heavily Republican states like Georgia and Texas and diverting his attention from battlegrounds where Hillary Clinton is spending her time. Mr. Trump's aides, scrambling to raise money to compete against Mrs. Clinton's cash juggernaut and extensive donor network, have scheduled fund-raisers in places like Georgia, North Carolina and Texas this week. The private events for donors were often scheduled first, followed by his campaign rallies, according to two people involved in Mr. Trump's fund-raising who insisted on anonymity." In fairness to Trump, he hits Nevada tomorrow. And he was in New Hampshire (on Monday) and North Carolina (on Tuesday). But Texas isn't where the presidential election will be won.
Report: British gunman had ties to U.S.-based neo-Nazi group: "The man detained by police in connection with the killing of a rising star of British politics had longstanding ties to a U.S.-based neo-Nazi organization and, in the past, had ordered a how-to guide for assembling a homemade gun, according to a watchdog group that tracks extremist behavior," the Washington Post writes. "The revelation came as police on Friday continued to investigate the motive behind the killing of the British lawmaker, Jo Cox, who was stabbed and shot midday Thursday in an attack that stunned the nation and led to a suspension of the European Union referendum campaign just a week before the vote. Cox had been a strong advocate of an inclusive and multicultural Britain amid a wave of hostility toward immigrants that is helping to fuel the anti-E.U. campaign." Folks, this is a big vote -- for Britain, Europe, and the United States. It's hard to see how this assassination doesn't impact it, one way or another.
Dissenting U.S. State Department officials call for U.S. airstrikes in Syria: NBC News: "Dozens of U.S. diplomats have reportedly called for airstrikes against the government of Syria's President Bashar Assad in an internal memo that amounted to a scathing critique of White House policy. The 'dissent channel cable' was signed by 51 State Department officers who have been involved with U.S.-Syria policy, an official familiar with the memo told The Wall Street Journal. The document repeatedly called for 'targeted military strikes' against Assad, who with the backing of Russia and Iran has been fighting a collection of rebels — including ISIS — for over five years, the newspaper reported late Thursday."
On the trail: Donald Trump holds a rally in The Woodlands, TX (outside of Houston) at 8:00 pm ET. On Saturday, Trump hits Las Vegas and Phoenix. Don't forget to check out the political unit's rolling minute-to-minute coverage of all the latest 2016 developments at the On the Trail liveblog at NBCNews.com.