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.
Again? That was our initial reaction to last night's tragic terrorist attack in Nice, France. Indeed, it was just a week ago when we were sifting through the deadly July 7 shooting in Dallas. Before that was the Istanbul airport attack on June 28. And about two weeks earlier, on June 12, came the mass shooting in Orlando. That's all in one month -- international terrorism, domestic terrorism, racial strife. And those collective, sustained, and numbing events are bound to affect the psyche of American voters. But we aren't going to pretend to know who benefits, politically, from the terror shellshock. Is it Donald Trump, because voters will want change -- any kind of change -- from this constant stream of violence? Or is it Hillary Clinton, because Americans would prefer a steady and experienced hand? The one thing we're sure of is that these events will impact November's election.
Still a matter of sus-Pence
Raise your hand if, after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence arrived in New York late yesterday afternoon, you thought there would still be some doubt who Donald Trump's running mate would be. But here we are -- less than four hours before the deadline for Pence to remove his name for re-election to be Trump's VP. And we're still not 100% sure Pence is the guy. There are two ways to interpret Trump's "I haven't made my final, final decision" to Fox News last night. One, the pick is definitely Pence, but Trump didn't want the attack in France to overshadow the VP announcement, so he played coy. Or two, there's some serious second-guessing going on with Trump. And if so, you have to conclude there's a divide with Trump's professional political team and Trump himself -- either Trump got cornered into the Pence pick, or the staff got ahead of him. To say the least, this hasn't been an artful VP pick rollout. (Why cancel your VP announcement event because of France, but then call in, twice, to Fox?) On Fox News this morning, Trump's top political aide Paul Manafort said, "[Trump] isn't prepared to announce it until he announces it… I don't know if he's having second thoughts, but he hasn't announced it yet."
Trump surprised and "irritated" about the Pence leaks
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell has more reporting here: "Sources tell me that Donald Trump was watching news coverage from his Beverly Hills home Thursday and was described as surprised and 'irritated' that leaks were identifying Gov. Pence as his choice early in the day. Sources said that by mid-afternoon, after initial news reports on Pence, he had 'not informed' Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie that a final decision was reached. He spoke to Gov. Christie after 4pm in what was described as a 'tense' conversation where a Pence pick was discussed but a final decision was not communicated. By about 5:00 pm ET, sources said Trump had not personally made the offer to Gov. Pence to join the ticket. Even though by that time, other signals, movements and Gov. Pence on a private plane appeared to show the choice was made. Later, Christie sources, stung by the lack of clarity, indicated they did not expect to see Trump move away from Pence despite the unresolved conversation. Gingrich sources did not specify what he had been told about the status of the running mate selection. He has not said publicly he was fully informed."
Last night's Rules Committee showdown: a win for Team Trump and the final defeat for #NeverTrump
So yesterday/last night was a mess for Team Trump. (And let's not even get into the Tim Tebow debacle.) But they did have one clear win -- at the convention's Rules Committee. NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Jaffe: "Donald Trump received a major victory Thursday as delegates overwhelmingly opposed last-ditch efforts to derail his nomination. In the wonky Rules Committee meeting ahead of the Republican National Convention next week, a whip team assembled by the Trump campaign worked closely with officials at the Republican National Convention to defeat anti-Trump delegates' efforts. The RNC and Trump whip teams erupted into applause behind a section-off portion of the cavernous hall when the committee adjourned. Trump's top aide Paul Manafort immediately declared victory on Twitter — adding to only 15 tweets he's ever posted on his account."
NBC/WSJ/Marist polls: Clinton leads in CO, FL, NC, VA
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in four of the most diverse presidential battleground states, according to brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls. Clinton is ahead of Trump by eight points among registered voters in Colorado, 43%-35%. In Florida, which decided the 2000 presidential election, she's up seven points, 44%-37% percent. In North Carolina, a state Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, Clinton leads by six points, 44%-38%. And in Virginia, Clinton's advantage is nine points, 44%-35%. Here's a rundown of all of the battleground polls we've seen in the last 48 hours:
- Colorado: Clinton 43%, Trump 35% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Clinton 48%, Trump 35% (Monmouth); Clinton 44%, Trump 34% (Fox)
- Florida: Clinton 44%, Trump 37% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Trump 42%, Clinton 39% (Quinnipiac)
- Iowa: Clinton 42%, Trump 39% (NBC/WSJ/Marist)
- North Carolina: Clinton 44%, Trump 38% (NBC/WSJ/Marist)
- Ohio: Clinton 39%, Trump 39% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Clinton 41%, Trump 41% (Quinnipiac)
- Pennsylvania: Clinton 45%, Trump 36% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Trump 43%, Clinton 41% (Quinnipiac)
- Virginia: Clinton 44%, Trump 35% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Clinton 44%, Trump 37% (Fox)
- Wisconsin: Clinton 43%, Trump 37% (Marquette Law)
Don't miss the latest edition of VP Watch… NBC News reports that Mike Pence is Donald Trump's choice of a running mate, but Trump abruptly postponed the big event announcing the choice after yesterday's terror attack in France… Leigh Ann Caldwell writes that the reported Pence pick isn't enough to get the Koch brothers off the sidelines… Newt Gingrich said "every person here who is of a Muslim background" should be tested to determine if they follow Sharia law… Chris Christie says he'll be an adviser to Trump whether he's on the ticket or not… Alex Seitz-Wald lays out how Democrats will attack Mike Pence… POLITICO asks if Pence is tough enough for Trump… Tim Kaine revved up a home state crowd alongside Hillary Clinton yesterday… And the Washington Post picks up on the Vilsack buzz we've been reporting.
Countdown to GOP convention: 3 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 10 days