politics

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign staff, after a series of missteps that led to slumping poll numbers.

Trump has tapped Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News to serve as chief executive of the campaign. Pollster Kellyanne Conway was promoted to campaign manager. Paul Manafort will stay on as Trump's campaign chairman. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

"I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years," Trump said in a statement. "They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win."

Bannon has been in charge of Breitbart News for a period in which it has been a strong platform for the kind of populism and fierce opposition to illegal immigration that gave rise to Trump's candidacy in the Republican primaries. A campaign release highlighted that Bloomberg Politics has called Bannon the "most dangerous political operative in America."

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More than 36,000 Kentuckians have used the Commonwealth’s online voter registration system -- setting a new record five months since its launch.  

More than 10,000 people used the portal GoVoteKY.com to register to vote for the first time, including more than 2,700 18-year-olds.  

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says online voter registration improves the accuracy of voter rolls and will lead to a major cost savings for the state.  

"The energy surrounding our new online voter registration system is amazing," said Grimes. "These new numbers prove that Kentuckians are excited about online registration." 

More than 26,000 have used the system to make a change or update to their registration. The system's oldest user was a 98-year-old.

Donald Trump's missteps since the conventions have put Hillary Clinton in a dominant position.

If the election were held today, according to the latest NPR analysis of polling, demographics and on-the-ground reporting, Clinton would win in a landslide of 2008 proportions. She has solidified her leads in key battleground states and crosses the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House in the NPR Battleground Map with just states where she already has a significant lead.

The Death Penalty In Kentucky: Stayed And Uncertain

Aug 12, 2016
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The mention of “death row” conjures images of inmates pacing in their cells, awaiting executions. But in Kentucky, defendants have little reason to fear the needle.

Most, if not all, of the state’s death row residents will never see the execution chamber.

Lengthy appeals and a shortage of lethal injection drugs mean Kentucky’s death row inmates remain in prison indefinitely. And even if inmates want to be executed, the state’s court system would not allow it.

While this delicate death deliberation plays out, millions of public dollars are spent each year to sentence defendants to death, though legislators, criminal justice experts and others know such a sentence is mostly futile.

This process plays out as the United States continues to grapple with capital punishment amid a sea change of sorts. Executions across the country reached a 24-year low in 2015. Legislators in several states, including Kentucky, are considering bills to repeal the practice. Polls show public support of the death penalty is waning, wrongful convictions are in the national conversation and lethal injection drugs are under heavy scrutiny.

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Hillary and Bill Clinton paid $3.2 million in federal income tax last year, a rate of 34.2 percent. Their 2015 return was released today by the Clinton campaign, almost five months after they signed it for filing.

The Clintons overpaid the Treasury and got a refund of more than $1 million.

The couple's income plunged last year. Adjusted gross income for 2015 was $10.6 million, compared to $27.9 million for the previous year. Charitable contributions accounted for 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Clinton is releasing the returns for two reasons: transparency and the opportunity to bash Donald Trump. The Republican nominee has refused to make his 2015 tax data public.

"Donald Trump is hiding behind fake excuses and backtracking on his previous promises," said Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he still supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, despite the latest firestorm that has erupted over Trump’s most recent remarks about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

McConnell addressed the Middletown Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Many say Trump encouraged violence this week when he suggested “maybe there is” something supporters of the Second Amendment could do to stop Clinton from choosing Supreme Court justices. Trump’s campaign said he was referring to the political weight of the National Rifle Association and gun-rights advocates.

Met with laughter from the crowd, McConnell declined — tongue-in-cheek — to respond when asked what he thinks about Trump.

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After decades of defending capital punishment, some conservative Republicans are walking away from the death penalty.

In Kentucky, lawmakers such as Rep. David Floyd, a Nelson County Republican, now oppose executions on grounds of fiscal responsibility and pro-life values.

For Floyd and others, the decision pits two traditional Republican planks against each other: a tough-on-crime, law-and-order platform versus a conservative fiscal approach.

In red states both big and small, bills to abolish the death penalty are becoming more common.

“There’s been a complete change of discussion nationally,” said Marc Hyden, the national advocacy coordinator for Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. “These are some very strong feelings of fiscal responsibility and pro-life views.”

Floyd’s bill to abolish the state’s death penalty has never made it past committee, but there are signs that more Republican support could help turn the tide in their favor.

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Editor's note: NPR fact-checked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's economic speech on Monday.

Trump delivered an address Monday to the Detroit Economic Club, outlining a plan to cut taxes and get rid of regulations. Today was Hillary Clinton's turn, where she argued that her plan would boost the middle class while Trump's plan "would give trillions in tax cuts to big corporations, millionaires, and Wall Street money managers."

Clinton spoke at Futuramic Tool & Engineering, an advanced manufacturing facility in Warren, Mich. Clinton has been talking about her jobs plan for weeks now, visiting factories and small business. Her address was meant as a contrast to Trump's dark vision of the state of American manufacturing and focus on coal and steel, industries that have been in steep decline for more than a generation.

As she's talked about the economy, Clinton has faced a couple of challenges; convincing white working class voters that she feels their pain and condensing her five point economic plan into something simple, catchy and satisfying.

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A fresh batch of previously unreleased State Department emails are raising new questions about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during the years Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

The conservative group Judicial Watch released 296 pages of email conversations from Clinton's private email server that it says show that "Clinton's top aides' favors for and interactions with the Clinton Foundation seem in violation of the ethics agreements that Hillary Clinton agreed to in order to be appointed and confirmed as Secretary of State."

The group says 44 of those pages had not been previously turned over to the State Department.

Allegations that the Clinton Foundation, a global charitable organization created by former President Bill Clinton, worked to compensate donors by providing access at the State Department has cast a shadow over the current Democratic presidential nominee for years.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Republicans will once again try to take over the state House of Representatives this fall.

The 100-member House is the last chamber in the south controlled by Democrats and is the only roadblock in the way of Republicans commanding the path that legislation takes on its way to becoming law.

GOP Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said he feels “really good” about the party’s chances.

“Fundraising is going extremely well for us,” Hoover said. “Our candidates are working hard. We feel like we’ve got a great opportunity.”

The Republican Party of Kentucky had $1,607,707 on hand at the end of June, compared with the Kentucky Democratic Party’s $72,651.

The fundraising edge comes after a change in the political control of Kentucky — the state has a Republican governor for just the second time since 1971, and the GOP took control of most statewide constitutional offices last year.

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Kentucky is one of six states that have an inheritance tax. It generates about $50 million in revenue each year by taxing money or property bequeathed to a deceased person’s relatives — though not close relatives like children or a spouse — and others.

Some, including Gov. Matt Bevin, have proposed eliminating the tax. During the race for governor last year, as part of his “Bevin Blueprint” proposal, he said repealing the tax would allow “family members to pass on their businesses and property to their descendants without having part of it taken away by the state government.”

The governor made no mention of repealing the measure or any other taxes during his budget address in January this year, but a legislative committee will be discussing the inheritance tax during a hearing on Friday.

Jim Waters, executive director of the libertarian-leaning Bluegrass Institute, said that taxing inheritances is “not the way the government should be generating revenue.”

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Updated at 9 p.m. ET

Donald Trump has been saying for months that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wants to "abolish the Second Amendment," but now the Republican presidential nominee has gone even further.

At a rally in Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday afternoon, Trump repeated that charge and then appeared to many observers to suggest taking up arms against his rival.

"Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish — the Second Amendment," Trump said. "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know."

You can watch that portion of Trump's speech here:

NPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, are attending a fundraiser at a private home in Evansville next week.

Monday’s event is being hosted by businessman Steve Chancellor, the CEO of American Patriot Group, which makes field-ready meals for military personnel.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is also scheduled to attend the fundraiser.

The minimum donation for a couple is $10,000. Photo opportunities and access to VIPs will cost more—between $25,000-$250,000.

Trump and Pence are trying to keep Indiana’s 11 electoral college votes in the Republican win category. Republican Mitt Romney beat President Obama by 10 percentage points in 2012.

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Editor's note: NPR will also be fact-checking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's planned economic speech this Thursday.

Donald Trump is coming off a week of disastrous headlines and cratering poll numbers. His major economic speech on Monday at the Detroit Economic Club, a vision described by his campaign as "Winning the Global Competition," was a chance to turn the page.

During an address of just over an hour — which was interrupted multiple times by protesters — the GOP presidential nominee unveiled a new iteration of his proposal to reshape America's tax system. It has just three tax brackets (one fewer than the tax plan he released in September, which was removed from his website in the past 24 hours), would limit taxes on all forms of business income to 15 percent, would end the estate tax and would "exclude childcare expenses from taxation."

Other highlights include a proposed moratorium on all new federal regulations and would "remove bureaucrats who only know how to kill jobs [and] replace them with experts who know how to create jobs," according to a preview released by his campaign. It's unclear exactly what that means or how it would work, but there are currently about 2.7 million civilian federal employees.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman says his party needs to tone down some of its rhetoric about illegal immigration, and better explain how its economic policies could help those coming to the country legally.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio Monday that the GOP is missing opportunities to appeal to immigrants who arrived in America legally in search of jobs and a better life.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., and has called for a wall to be built between the U.S. and Mexico. Guthrie says Republicans can’t afford to be painted as a party unwelcoming to immigrants.

“We as a party can’t look like we’re against people coming here legally,” Guthrie said. Instead, the Warren County lawmaker said Republicans need to reach out to immigrants wanting to “invest in the American Dream and the American future. Guthrie said he thought “some of the rhetoric gets hot,” leaving some voters with a negative impression of the party.

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