2016 Elections

Paul and Gray campaigns

A new political action committee is hoping to boost the chances of Kentucky Democrats winning the state’s U.S. Senate race this November.

Kentucky Moving Forward is a Super PAC that will raise money for a media campaign aimed at helping Lexington Mayor Jim Gray defeat Republican Rand Paul.

The Super PAC’s spokesman, Jared Smith, wouldn’t say how much money it has on hand or plans to raise. “I’m not really ready to get into budget requirements and how much we’re going to spend. I can just tell you we’re going to have a very healthy paid media campaign statewide across Kentucky that includes TV ads.”

Smith said the Kentucky Senate race is currently the group’s sole focus.

"Almost positive this is the only race that we will play in this year. Kentucky Moving Forward does expect to be around in other races to come down the line."

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Donald Trump has provided the political world with many moving moments over the past year, but none quite like the whiplash mood swing between his daytime and nighttime performances in Mexico City and Phoenix on Wednesday.

In the daylight hours, Trump struck his most presidential pose to date with a solemn (if somewhat grumpy) reading of prepared remarks at a news conference alongside Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto. That somber event, inside the Mexican presidential residence, epitomized the more moderate image Trump has pursued on immigration issues over the past ten days.

But as night fell in Phoenix, back in the U.S.A., Trump mounted the stage in prime time and quickly caught fire. He poured forth an hour-long harangue against all things alien, highlighting the lurid crimes of a handful of illegal immigrants as if to define the character of millions. He also promised to build "a beautiful wall" across the entire U.S.-Mexico border and create a "deportation task force" that would eventually guarantee that "the bad ones are gone."

Read: NPR Fact Checks Donald Trump's Speech on Immigration

On the subject of the wall, Trump departed from his script to assure his listeners that Mexico would indeed pay for it – adding, "They may not know it yet, but they will." In so doing, he as much as acknowledged that Peña Nieto had told him something different earlier in the day.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Hours before he is slated to make a major policy speech on immigration Wednesday in Phoenix, Donald Trump is making a bold move — he will be meeting with Mexico's president.

He tweeted the news late Tuesday night:

"I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Peña Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow."

The Washington Post first reported that Trump was considering the move and could be flying to Mexico City to meet with Peña Nieto:

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday outlining his immigration stance. Given the last week of news coverage, he could have some serious explaining to do.

An immigration policy centered around extreme positions — mass deportation of 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, plus building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — initially helped Trump stand out in the massive Republican primary field.

So it was a surprise when, last week, the Trump campaign seemed to change direction, indicating that he was open to "softening" his immigration position, and even at one point that he might be open to a path to legalization for some of those immigrants. Here's a quick rundown of some of the things the campaign has said about immigration in the past week.

Aug. 20 — Members of Donald Trump's Hispanic advisory council said Trump was open to relaxing his immigration stance, Buzzfeed reports. Trump said his solution for how to deal with 11 million people in the country illegally "must be something that respects border security but deals with this in a humane and efficient manner," according to immigration attorney Jacob Monty, who attended the meeting. The Trump campaign later released a statement dismissing the Buzzfeed report, saying that Trump's position had not changed.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell says the state legislature needs to approve a handful of conservative priorities to make Kentucky’s economy competitive with surrounding states.

The list includes repealing the prevailing wage, passing so-called “right-to-work” legislation, allowing charter schools to open in Kentucky and requiring medical malpractice claims to be reviewed by a panel before they can be sent on to court.

The priorities have long been in the sights of Republicans in the state but haven’t passed the legislature, where the Democratic-led House of Representatives has declined to take up the measures.

When asked how his congressional colleagues view Kentucky, McConnell said, “it’s a great place for the Kentucky Derby, but you’re not terribly competitive from a business view.” The Senate Majority Leader made the remarks at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce forum in Louisville on Monday.

House Republicans to Skip Tuesday Meeting on Pensions

Aug 29, 2016
Kentucky LRC

House Republicans say they will not attend a special meeting called by Democratic Speaker Greg Stumbo.

The Kentucky House of Representatives adjourned for the year in May. They are not scheduled to reconvene again until January. But last week, Stumbo announced a special meeting of all House members on Tuesday to discuss the state's public pension crisis.

Monday, House Republican leader Jeff Hoover sent Stumbo a letter blaming him for the pension problem. Hoover accused Stumbo of scheduling the meeting on the same day as a nearby Democratic fundraiser, ensuring members would have their expenses covered.

Legislators get $188.22 for each day they work. Stumbo said lawmakers who attend the meeting will be paid.

Stumbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kentucky LRC

A second Democratic state lawmaker now says Kentucky’s Republican governor asked him to switch parties.

Representative Russ Meyer says when he refused, he was threatened with political retaliation by Governor Bevin’s chief of staff.

Meyer, a Democratic House member from Nicholasville, says Bevin and his chief of staff, Blake Brickman, asked him to become a Republican shortly after Bevin was sworn into office. The alleged request came at a time when the GOP was hoping to win control of the Kentucky House.

Meyer told the CNHI news service that he informed Bevin he wouldn’t switch parties, and that the Governor responded politely. But Meyer says Brickman threatened to pull state-funding from projects in Meyer’s district, and called the Democrat an “Obama-loving baby killer.”

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

Donald Trump returned to Iowa Saturday where the race between him and Hillary Clinton remains very close. Trump was there for Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser, which features a motorcycle ride and barbeque.

Sen. Joni Ernst led the group of more than 400 riders on a 42-mile trip that started at a Harley Davidson dealer in Des Moines and ended on the Iowa State fairgrounds. Trump did not participate in the ride.

Beth Smith did. She's a small business owner in the central Iowa town of Melbourne. She and her husband Dan caucused for Trump in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. While many Republican leaders in other states are distancing themselves from Trump, Smith says she's glad Iowa leaders like Sen. Ernst are supporting him.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Reports out Thursday night reveal yet another principal of the Trump campaign in trouble.

Newly appointed CEO Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, was charged in 1996 with domestic violence against his second wife, several news outlets reported. The charges were eventually dropped, and Bannon pleaded "not guilty."

The New York Times noted that, according to the police report of the incident, there were "allegations that he threatened his then wife, the accuser, with retribution if she testified in the criminal case. ... "

The New York Post first reported the news. NPR has not independently confirmed the charges, but Politico posted the full police report here.

Here's part of Politico's write-up:

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has not held a single press conference since the start of 2016, triggering charges that she's trying to duck questions from reporters on the campaign trail.

Clinton and her senior campaign aides say that's absurd. They have pointed repeatedly to what they call the swiftly growing number of interviews she has granted. In late May, for example, Clinton told CNN's Jake Tapper she had already done nearly 300 interviews. Last Sunday, campaign manager Robbie Mook told CBS's John Dickerson, "She's been in more than 300 interviews with reporters this year alone."

A review by NPR of those numbers suggests those claims by the campaign were at once true and somewhat misleading — some were conducted by unlikely questioners and overall she favored local radio and national TV hits over granting interviews with national reporters covering her on the campaign trail and with print publications.

In preparing an earlier story on Clinton's lack of press conferences, NPR set out to secure a tally of all those interviews from the campaign, as other database searches proved incomplete. In early August, the Clinton campaign agreed to share a tally of all of its interviews from the start of the year through the end of July. NPR sifted through the list, made minor corrections after conferring with the campaign, and analyzed the results.

Gerald Herbert/AP

After signaling that his position on immigration is "to be determined" and that it could "soften," Donald Trump did an amazing thing — what amounts to almost a full about-face on the principal issue that has driven his campaign.

Trump indicated in a town hall with Fox News' Sean Hannity, which aired Wednesday night, that he would be in favor of a path to legalization for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

"No citizenship," he said. But he added, "Let me go a step further — they'll pay back-taxes; they have to pay taxes; there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them."

He continued: "Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out. But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time! It's a very, very hard thing."

Ryland Barton

Lexington Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray says the Kentucky Farm Bureau should change its policies that oppose same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues.

“I think the Farm Bureau needs to adjust and adapt to the times, and that means adjusting their policies,” Gray said after wading through a crowd of pro-LGBTQ protesters outside the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual Ham Breakfast event in Louisville on Thursday morning.

A Democrat, Gray is openly gay and running against Republcian Sen. Rand Paul in his bid for reelection.

The Kentucky Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, has demonstrated outside of the annual event for years, opposing the Farm Bureau’s stances against same-sex marriage, domestic benefits for same-sex couples and abortion.

AP

As Donald Trump has focused the messaging of his presidential campaign in recent weeks, he's centered on one key attack on Democrat Hillary Clinton: The suggestion that the Clinton Foundation was a pay-to-play front that enabled Hillary and Bill Clinton to trade government access and favors for money.

"It's impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins," Trump said Tuesday night in Texas. "It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and to them for money."

Bill and Hillary Clinton have defended the foundation's work under the intensifying attacks. "We're trying to do good things," Bill Clinton said Wednesday. "If there's something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don't know what it is. The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say about it except that I'm really proud."

Jake Ryan

Judy Johnston stood in a small office in a Fern Creek shopping center on Saturday with two Donald Trump campaign yard signs tucked beneath her arm. Her pink fingernail polish popped against the dark blue letters on the sign.

She glanced at her hand and then shook it away. Her nails needed a touch-up.

“I have a lady who does my nails that’s from Vietnam,” she said.

Johnston is a staunch Trump supporter. On Saturday, a group of volunteers opened an office in Fern Creek that’ll serve as an unofficial campaign hub for efforts to bolster support for Trump in Louisville.

The Republican presidential nominee has been sliding of late, with controversial remarks about everything from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to the family of a fallen U.S. soldier catching up to him in the polls.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Is Donald Trump considering wavering on a key campaign promise?

That's what several news reports published over the weekend suggest. And while the Trump campaign issued a statement denying any shift on immigration policy, top surrogates and campaign operatives hinted that a change just might be on its way.

The issue: what to do with the estimated 11 million immigrants already living in the United States illegally.

Since he entered the presidential race last year, Trump insisted they would have to be expelled from the country, despite the logistical and humanitarian questions a mass deportation would present.

"You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely," he told MSNBC in November 2015.

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