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  • Rubio skipped the lunch, but he was later buttonholed on the Senate floor by Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
    Wicker told CNN that the prospect of Rubio running for re-election is "certainly within the realm of possibility."
    "It is a very real development," Wicker said.

  • It's a remarkable reversal for a former 2016 presidential candidate who earlier this year tweeted using the #NeverTrump hashtag, indicating he'd joined the ranks of Republicans who would refuse to vote for the presumptive GOP nominee no matter the circumstances.
    Asked specifically if he'd speak on Trump's behalf if Trump asked, Rubio said: "Yes."

  • But pressed further whether he might change his mind and file for the seat by the June 24 filing deadline, he replied: "I don't think so. Look, I enjoy serving with my colleagues, I respect them very much, I'll always listen to what they have to say. But I don't think anything's going to change."

  • The crowded primary fight in Florida has GOP officials fretting that the winner will be so damaged and depleted of cash that he will be unable to compete with Reps. Alan Grayson or Patrick Murphy, who are competing for the Democratic nomination.

     

  • The conservative movement’s takeover of the Republican Party — begun by Barry Goldwater and completed by Ronald Reagan — was an impressive tactical victory. However, the movement never convinced regular voters of the wisdom of its anti-government message.

       

  • Running a principled conservative candidate in the general election would only shine a spotlight on what the Trump campaign has already revealed: Conservatism, as the ideological movement defines it, is not a mass movement. It does not have widespread popular support.

  • This was a comforting notion, but it hasn’t panned out. “The Jeb Bush guys wrote the autopsy,” says a frustrated Republican strategist who works with the RNC. “Then Jeb Bush ran the worst campaign in presidential history.” By obliterating Jeb, Trump redefined the Republican Party’s identity off the top of his head. And his vision of the GOP’s future is in many ways the diametrical opposite of what Priebus and the party Establishment had imagined. Many politicians, Trump told me, had privately confessed to being amazed that his policies, and his lacerating criticism of party leaders, had proved such potent electoral medicine. Trump says this was obvious, but craven Republicans wouldn’t acknowledge it. So he called bulls---. “It’s funny,” he told me, delighted by the swift triumph of his influence. “It’s like the paper clip: a very simple thing. But one guy got rich, and everyone else said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ ”

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  • Some of these consultants even today are quoted in magazine articles about how, "You know what? This Limbaugh thing is a fad! It isn't gonna last. It isn't gonna last. He's not gonna last! He isn't gonna last." Even 28 years later, they're out there saying, "It isn't gonna last!" They're out there saying, "It's over," doom and gloom. So my point is... These are not my friends.  I don't have consultants.  I have never had a consultant.  Since this show started live, there has never been a consultant.  I'm talking about when I worked at radio stations that had hired consultants. 

  • This is what happens when the original values for which Captain America stood – American pride and patriotism, defense of Constitutional freedom – become unpopular with the left. They either have to convert Cap to leftism, or make clear that he was the villain all along. Because America must either be converted to leftism, or it was the villain all along. As Brevoort says, “Captain America, because he’s draped head to toe in the flag, has more of a larger, more symbolic meaning than many other characters. In an allegorical fashion, you want to make his adventures about where America and where the world is.”

  • A Ban On Muslims: Democrats and many Republicans have hammered Trump on his call to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. until some unspecified future time when he deems it safe to do so.

     

    “He’s already started moderating on that,” Manafort said. “He operates by starting the conversation at the outer edges and then brings it back towards the middle. Within his comfort zone, he’ll soften it some more.”

     

    “He’ll still end up outside of the norm, but in line with what the American people are thinking.”

  • Trump doesn’t read briefing papers, but he is a magnet for information, Manafort said. “He reads the newspapers, and he talks on the phone and to office visitors in a never-ending stream. You’re sitting there in his office and you realize that he is constantly picking up stuff as he goes.”
  • The campaign probably won’t choose a woman or a member of a minority group, he said. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think.”

      
     

  • Three Republicans with ties to the RNC said they have heard from operatives who are looking to leave the RNC to work on key congressional races. People who are described as “committed to the Republican Party, just not committed to Trump.” Other conservatives say most party operatives will fulfill their commitment and that it’s not odd that some to want to leave because they might be layered by the Trump campaign or asked to do a job they’re not passionate about.

    One party operative, a lifelong Republican, told BuzzFeed News they plan to leave to go work on down-ballot races. “I’ve always supported conservative principles, but when I look at the things I align with, they do not align with Trump.”

    “We put a lot of time and hard work when it comes to this business,” the operative said. “Early mornings, late nights, tough deadlines, stress, we sacrifice a lot — to do this for a person, for a cause I don’t believe in, I can’t do it.”

    But if Trump really plans to do this, Latino evangelicals and their aversion to some Democratic stances on social issues would be a good place to start.

  • In the documentary, we see Tom, AKA Spot, take part in the Mr Puppy Europe competition in Antwerp, a mix of beauty pageant, talent show and Crufts; David, AKA Bootbrush, talk to camera in a leather dog mask; two pups walk through London pretending to wee on lampposts to raise awareness of their identity; and lots of men jumping up for “treats”, barking and wagging their mechanical tails.

     

  • When I speak to Tom, he is keen to point out that puppy play is about more than just outfits and surface-level power games: it’s about being given licence to behave in a way that feels natural, even primal. “You’re not worrying about money, or food, or work,” says Tom, who works as an engineer in a theatre. “It’s just the chance to enjoy each other’s company on a very simple level.”

     
         
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  • For David, a writer who works in academia, puppy play is an escape from the analytical world. “It’s so totally non-verbal,” he tells me. “It’s pre-rational, pre-conscious. It’s an instinctive, emotional space. But within every puppy is a person. This is part of my identity, but it’s only part. I’m also a vegetarian, play the piano; I have a parrot. I was planting tomatoes on my allotment this morning. I can go months without going into pup space.”

     

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  • In one possibility that members of the Republican National Committee have floated, the early voting states, also known as “carve-out states,” would retain their special status. But to bring more states into the process earlier, each would be paired with a nearby state that would vote on the same day. So Iowa would still hold the first contest in 2020, but on the same day as Minnesota. New Hampshire would vote next, but on the same day as Massachusetts. And the same-day pairings would change: In 2024, Iowa would be twinned with South Dakota, and New Hampshire with Maine.

  • Other changes under consideration include ones that would abolish the early state system as it now exists and replace it with a rotating set of states that would vote together based on a host of shared factors like population size and geography.

  • One of the most fraught discussions taking place inside the party is whether to restrict voting in presidential primaries and caucuses to registered Republicans. The impetus is the impending nomination of Mr. Trump, a former Democrat who holds some views that are far out of line with mainstream party orthodoxy.

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  • Sanders would still face the same sore-loser laws and ballot access issues as would a conservative independent – if he didn’t have an established party to back him. Unlike conservatives, who lack such a nationally established option, there is at least a possibility that Sanders could appeal to the Green Party. The Greens will hold their convention a couple of weeks after the Democrats do, in the first weekend of August.
  • A Sanders defection could also help the Greens win a fight over ballot access. As it stands now, though, Sanders could get on enough ballots to have a major impact on the general election. New York, California, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado are among the 20 states where the Green nominee will get a spot on the ballot no matter what. Those seven states represent 144 Electoral College votes that went to Democrats in 2012. If Sanders split the Left in those states, it might push those states to the GOP; if Sanders actually won those states, it would throw the election to the House of Representatives, where Republicans would control the outcome.

     

  • “He's going to people and saying, 'I need your help. We need to get rid of Paul,’ ” said the Republican.
  • Stone said he had “nothing to do with” the planting of the item and is “not responsible about anything Sam says or does.” He acknowledged emailing the Page Six item to some of his associates after it posted, but suggested that was in service of Trump. “It didn't reflect well on the candidate,” Stone said. “I don’t like anything that's harmful to Donald's candidacy.”

     

  • “Donald loves to fire people. Why can’t he just say it to Corey?” said Nunberg, who blamed Lewandowski for his own firing from the campaign last summer over a years-old racist Facebook post.

     

  • Hicks, in her errant email, attempted to warn Michael Caputo, not to directly contact the RNC researcher, Michael Abboud, with research requests. But Hicks’ email suggested the researcher may soon be joining the campaign team, which has mostly lacked a robust in-house research operation.

     

    “He is still an employee of the RNC and we need to be sensitive to that until he comes over to our team full time,” Hicks wrote in the email accidentally sent to Marc Caputo.

  • "Hey folks — just an FYI that reports this morning of imminent political news from Paul are not true," top Ryan aide Brendan Buck wrote to his colleagues Wednesday morning. "Just bad reporting. Carry on, and happy Wednesday."

    Story Continued Below

     
     
     
     
      
     
     

  • Martinez, who is the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association, has thus far remained mum on whether she’ll back Trump. Her stance has drawn scrutiny from national Democratic groups, who have called on her to state a position.

  • Mike Lonergan, Martinez’s press secretary, responded to Trump’s attacks in a statement late Tuesday night: “Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t realize Governor Martinez wasn’t elected in 2000, that she has fought for welfare reform, and has strongly opposed the President’s Syrian refugee plan. But the pot shots weren’t about policy, they were about politics. And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans. Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her – she cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. She didn’t hear anything about that today.”

  • Martinez’s press secretary, Mike Lonergan, responded with a blistering statement: “Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t realize Governor Martinez wasn’t elected in 2000, that she has fought for welfare reform, and has strongly opposed the President’s Syrian refugee plan. But the pot shots weren’t about policy, they were about politics. And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate … Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her – she cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. She didn’t hear anything about that today.”

  • Telling the audience that he "can't be bought," Trump raised Bush as a candidate who was under the thumb of big donors and special interests. "They have total control over this guy." As he has in the past, Trump pointed to the Bush campaign's finance chairman, Jets owner Woody Johnson, a member of the family who founded Johnson & Johnson, as an example of a wealthy donor who would control his candidate if elected to the presidency.

      

  • Currently, the RNC political team employs 287, including 223 on the ground in the states. Buttressing them are more than 3,200 trained volunteers in 31 states. Carr said that this capable group of RNC volunteers renders immaterial the Clinton campaign's so-called personnel advantage.

      

    Including unpaid volunteers, the RNC's field program has deployed 1,614 neighborhood team leaders; 1,499 additional team members, plus another 2,624 that are active in some capacity at least once a week. The RNC data and digital department employs 44, including data directors employed to each battleground state. Five staff members are focused on technology.

  • "The ground game is worth 2.5 points," said a Republican strategist who advised one of Trump's primary opponents. "In a presidential race, guess what the margin usually is?"
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