The Canaries in the Collapsing Trump Coal Mine
Pro-Trump down-ballot Republicans find their fortunes sinking

There was a time in the early summer of 2016, after Donald Trump seemed to have locked up the Republican presidential nomination but before he attacked an Indiana judge as “Mexican” and picked a ruthless fight with a Gold Star family, that embracing Trump as a down-ticket candidate seemed like a gamble worth taking.

For newcomers, it would be a way to both get early media attention and surf off the best of the Trump brand to tell voters they were a new kind of candidate, too. For incumbents, going full-Trump was the path of least resistance — a way to stay loyal to the party and its likely nominee, and associate with the man who was, against all odds, clobbering the competition in their states.

Rising Stars in Short Supply at DNC and RNC
Party gatherings featured faces of the past and present

PHILADELPHIA — When Barack Obama spoke at his final Democratic convention as president Wednesday night, it was impossible not to remember the night in 2004 when his first speech to the DNC in Boston launched him onto a lightening-fast path to the White House.  

He was just a state senator then, but convention speeches can do that for a person who is able to match his rhetoric to the moment. It happened for Sen. Marco Rubio after he spoke to the Republican National Convention four years ago, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who can trace his spot on the short list for vice president this year to the speech he delivered as the mayor of San Antonio to the 2012 DNC.  

What If Joe Biden Had Run?
Middle class grit and ability to connect could have made him a formidable candidate

When Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, he delivered an explosive indictment of Donald Trump and a passionate endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president.  

"Everybody knows she's smart and everybody knows she's tough," he said. "But I know what Hillary is passionate about."  

Bernie Struggling to Contain His Revolution
But it's not clear that he's in control of the movement he began

Bernie Sanders started a political revolution in 2016, but it became immediately obvious on the first day of the Democratic National Convention that Sanders is not entirely in control of the movement he began.  

The first signs of a mutiny in Bernieland came hours before the convention was gaveled to order in Philadelphia, as Sanders addressed a group of supporters eager to get their marching orders. When he signaled that the time had come to move on from battling Hillary Clinton and shift the focus to Republicans, Sanders could not rein in their anger.  

Daddy Issues Blow Up the GOP in Cleveland
Blood ties trump principle and values in dictating critical decisions

As recently as last year, decisions within the Republican Party were largely dominated by conservative principles and traditional values — a checklist of small-government, often religiously inspired, goals that sometimes prevented legislative progress, but at least bound the party together with ideas most Republicans seemed to share.  

But at the GOP convention in Cleveland this week, the driving force behind some of the most consequential developments affecting the party's future were driven by old-fashioned family dynamics. And it turns out nearly everybody at the top of the party has major daddy issues.  

Peter King Unloads on Ted Cruz and his 'Lizard Smirk'
Pair clashed over Cruz's debate line about 'New York values'

New York Republican Rep. Peter King has never been a fan of Sen. Ted Cruz. But in an interview with Roll Call in the hours after Cruz refused to endorse fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump, at the Republican National Convention, King unloaded on the Texas senator as a "liar and a self-centered fraud" who should never be considered again for president of the United States.  

"I was sitting in the front row, dead center, with the New York delegates and they're all shouting at him and yelling at him, "Endorse! Endorse!"" King said, recounting the moment Cruz spoke to the Republican National Convention. "And the guys are shaking their fists. And he has that lizard smirk on his face."  

Ted Cruz Buries the Hatchet — In Donald Trump's Back
Non-endorsement stokes belief senator will run for president again

Months after he started calling him Lyin' Ted, Donald Trump appeared at a May rally in Indiana and suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, had been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  

"What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting?" Trump asked. "It’s horrible.”  

Melania Trump's Speech Wasn't a Crime. But What About the Cover-Up?
Lies and conspiracy theories should worry all voters

CLEVELAND — The fact that Melania Trump's convention speech was partially lifted from one that Michelle Obama gave in 2008 is embarrassing, but mistakes, even big ones, happen on inexperienced, understaffed campaigns like Trump's.  

Eric Schnure, a former speechwriter for Al Gore, said that the first step for a major address like Mrs. Trump's would be a review of other spouse's previous speeches. But Schnure, who also teaches speechwriting at American University and Johns Hopkins, said any student who turned in an assignment with the same level of duplication would likely be suspended for plagiarism.  

Speech Scandal Adds New Twist to Unpredictable Campaign
Melania Trump's address echoes Michelle Obama's 2008 speech

Melania Trump's speech Monday night was polished, personal and very warmly received by the delegates at the Republican National Convention. But Mrs. Trump's speech also had at least two passages that bore significant similarities to the speech that Michelle Obama delivered to the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Jarrett Hill, a Los Angeles-based journalist, first made the comparison on Twitter in the moments after Mrs. Trump finished her remarks.  

[ 2 Paragraphs From Melania Trump's Speech Sound Alot Like Michelle Obama's ]  

Trump's Post-Pick Pence Panic
But presumptive GOP nominee ended up with running mate he needs

If anything proved the rightness of Donald Trump's decision to choose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate, it was Trump's own panic that he might have made a terrible mistake in settling on Pence in the first place.

The process itself was a mess, from the last-minute timing to the hurried final Indiana auditions to the early word that Pence was the pick, first reported by Roll Call.

Trump Picks Mike Pence
Formal announcement postponed to Saturday due to violence in France

Donald Trump announced Friday that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is his choice for his vice presidential running mate.  

That followed an exclusive report by Roll Call on Thursday that Trump was planning to announce that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be his choice for his vice presidential running mate, according to a Republican with direct knowledge of the decision.  

Could Bayh and the Reruns Reboot the Senate?
Veterans understand process, art of give-and-take

Evan Bayh wants his old job back. So does Russ Feingold, who is mounting a rematch against his old foe, Sen. Ron Johnson, in Wisconsin. And Marco Rubio, who just last year suggested Senate votes mean nothing, has changed his mind, too, and now wants to stay.  

Feingold, Rubio and Bayh are the left, right and center of American politics, but together their collective decision to run for the Senate again could help the troubled institution get its groove back, by putting experience back in. It's an ingredient both the House and Senate have lost precipitously over the past four election cycles.  

In Search of a Hero
Week of horror shows need for a voice of reason and guidance

We need a hero, America. After a week of killings, retribution, broken hearts and breaking spirits, our country needs leadership larger than the problems in front of us. We need someone to hold us together when we're only falling apart, to spark hope in a world descending into darkness. But even a glimpse of the events on Capitol Hill Thursday showed us what we’re about to get instead.  

Donald Trump was in town to meet with congressional Republicans, ostensibly in an effort to unify the party behind his presidential nomination. Instead he took the opportunity to press House Republicans to say nice things about him in the press (“It would great if you could say we had an unbelievable meeting," he coached. "'Trump loves us. We love Trump.’ It’s going to be so good. Okay?”  

A 'Trumptastic' GOP Convention
GOP establishment's absence will allow billionaire to liven up the show

It’s easy to dismiss Donald Trump’s plans for the Republican convention as a joke. With former presidents and current congressmen refusing to go, Trump is reportedly planning to fill the vacuum with Bobby Knight, Don King, and a host of sports stars, has-beens, misfits and B-to-C list celebrities.  

Trump has said we should also expect speeches from four of his five children and his third wife, Melania. And, if his Trump Tower penthouse is any indication of his taste level, we should probably brace ourselves for a truly obscene display of razzle-dazzle.  

How Google is Ruining Politics
Why take a lawmaker's word for something when you can look it up yourself?

Have you noticed that everyone is an expert in everything these days, or thinks they are? Patients diagnose themselves with cancer after a WebMD search of their symptoms, only for their doctors to thankfully tell them they have something far less fatal.  

Cab drivers can't go two blocks without the guy in the backseat opening Waze and disclosing the fastest way to get across town, even though the cab driver knows that some of the "fastest routes" are one-way streets, going the wrong way.  

No Way to Treat Veterans
Saying thanks should include addressing IVF discrepancy

The Radical Islamist Rifle Association
Work of this nonexistent lobby group is already being done by others

Everybody seems to have an association in Washington these days, so let’s pretend Islamist terrorists have one too. Travel and visas aren’t an issue for them, since American citizens are increasingly planning and carrying out terror attacks. So their No. 1 issue would probably be making sure that terrorists have easy access to the weapons they need for such attacks.  

It’s true that terrorists have used box cutters and pressure cookers to strike at Americans in the past, but because guns have been used for the majority of attacks since 9/11, let’s name the association accordingly: the Radical Islamist Rifle Association.  

Do Something, Congress
Americans want to know lawmakers are taking action to make them safe

On the night of September 11, 2001, 150 members of the House and Senate stood on the Capitol steps  singing “God Bless America” in unison to signify to the world that Americans stood together in the face of terror.  

On the day after Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and opened fire on hundreds of innocent people at an Orlando nightclub, the House floor devolved into near chaos as Democratic members walked out of the chamber after a moment of silence for the victims. Instead of unity in the face of danger, Congress stood divided and polarized, politicized to the point of collapse after years of gridlock and bitter partisan fighting.      

Does Paul Ryan’s GOP Still Exist?
Speaker's framework is about incremental, polite change

Somewhere in America, or maybe somewhere in time, there is a party for Paul Ryan to lead, but it may not be today’s Republican Party.  

Last week, the House speaker unveiled his plan to address persistent poverty called “A Better Way.” In any other year, “a better way” would be an explicit reference to Democrats’ way of solving problems. Instead of Democrats’ big-government prescriptions, the argument usually goes, there is a better way.  

Roll Call Columnists on Tuesday's Primaries
Who was that delivering Donald Trump's speech for him?

Melinda Henneberger : Hillary Clinton didn’t so much play the woman card as a whole darn deck of them, and given the historic nature of the night, that was as it should be.  

But who was that delivering Donald Trump’s victory speech for him? Haven’t seen that guy before, though the real @RealDonaldTrump did show up just long enough to make a pee pee joke and promise that as president, he'd take the best possible care of "our African Americans." And among other pressing questions, why did Melania and Ivanka look so grief-stricken? Somebody had a serious Come To Jesus, and it seems to have inspired fear.