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’s good day -- but rough week
Thursday’s trip to Washington was a good day for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Yes, he didn’t pick up House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement, but other Republicans (Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, and Ryan’s deputies in the House GOP leadership) all eagerly embraced Trump, suggesting that many of the party’s leaders are warming up to him. And even Ryan had positive words about his meeting with Trump. “I think we had a very encouraging meeting,” the speaker told reporters. But for as good of a day that Trump had yesterday only emphasizes how rough the rest of his week has been since wrapping up the GOP nomination. Consider:
- The party is still divided: Not only has the sitting GOP House speaker not endorsed Trump, but the last two Republican presidents (George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush) and the previous GOP presidential nominee (Mitt Romney) are all sitting out the 2016 race. Folks, this is extraordinary and unprecedented. And while we fully expect Ryan to eventually back Trump, that we are EVEN having this discussion underscores the party’s divisions.
- The white nationalist delegate, a butler who thinks Obama should be hanged: This week, we learned that the Trump campaign had submitted a self-described white nationalist to be one of its California delegates. The campaign said it was a mistake and the man, William Johnson, says he won’t attend the GOP convention. Then we learned that Trump’s longtime butler had called for President Obama to be shot, and he later told NBC News that the president should be "hung ... from the portico of the White Mosque — it used to be the White House." The Trump campaign later released a statement that the butler, Tony Senecal, has not worked at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in years and that it “totally and completely” disavows his statements. People, these are NOT normal stories, as FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten remarked.
- Trump’s policy flip-flops: Then there are his flip-flops over the past week -- on taxes and on the Muslim ban (calling it a “suggestion” when the campaign put out a statement back in December calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”). While all politicians flip flop/backtrack on issues, Trump’s routine wishy-washiness on policy suggests someone who either doesn’t care or hasn’t thought long and hard about these issues.
Trump impersonating as his spokesman
And to top off Trump’s week, here is this story: “A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with ‘John Miller’ or ‘John Barron’ — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides.” Trump said on the TODAY Show that the voice “doesn’t sound like me” and that the recording is a “scam.” But here’s the thing: In a court case in 1990, Trump testified under oath “I believe on occasion I used that [John Barron] name.” And here is a July 13, 1990 Newsday article, via Lexis-Nexis: At one point, Trump, who spends millions of dollars advertising his name, acknowledged that he has used an alias, ‘John Baron.’ ‘I believe on occasion I used that name,’ Trump said, not elaborating.”
Hillary didn’t have a great week, either
Trump wasn’t the only one who had a shaky week; Hillary Clinton had one, too. For starters, there was her loss in West Virginia, which produced some Democratic handwringing that she’s struggling across the finish line. (Of course, Obama lost four of his final six Democratic primaries in 2008, and the general election turned out OK for him.) There were national and battleground-state polls showing a much closer Clinton-Trump race than many have been expecting. And while she has 94% of the delegates she needs to hit the 2,383 magic number, she most likely won’t get there until June 7. Here’s our delegate math:
In pledged delegates, Clinton currently holds a lead of 278 delegates
- Clinton 1,715 (54%)
- Sanders 1,437 (46%)
Clinton must win 35% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
Sanders must win 65% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 764 delegates
Clinton must win 14% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number
Sanders must win 86% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number
On the trail
Bernie Sanders campaigns in North Dakota… Bill Clinton stumps in New Jersey.