Breaking News Emails
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...[snip]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.[snip]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. 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.