What if Senate Republicans Save Trump From Himself?
Ticket-splitting may not be dead, it might just be sleeping

To hear Donald Trump tell it for the last year, Senate Republicans were weak, dumb losers, and not just the ones he ran against for president. He infamously called Sen. John McCain “not a war hero” and tweeted that Sen. Jeff Flake was “a very weak and ineffective senator … Sad!” He lambasted Sen. Mark Kirk as “dishonest” and a “loser,” and told an Atlanta rally that he wished Republican leaders in Washington would “just please be quiet” so he could win the race by himself.

He tagged Sen. Lindsey Graham “a disgrace” and “one of the dumbest human beings I have ever seen.” Sen. “Little Marco” Rubio was “just another Washington, D.C., politician” with “the biggest ears I’ve ever seen.” Sen. Rand Paul was “truly weird” and Sen. “Lyin'” Ted Cruz was not only dishonest, but by Trump’s suggestion, his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

Partisan Lines on Gun Safety Shift ... Subtly
Could some Republicans keep their jobs by embracing new controls?

For anyone following gun control (or gun safety) as a political issue, it would be easy to dismiss 2016 as just another year when a whole lot happened, but nothing changed. 

There have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, including the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the July attack on Dallas police officers. After every major incident, Washington followed the now-familiar script of outrage, calls from Democrats for gun restrictions, denial from Republicans that guns are the problem, and then, as usual, gridlock.

Decoding the Suburban Women's Vote so You Don't Have to
Most seem ready to settle for someone who won't lie to them

It’s fall, people, and you know what that means, right? Kids are back in school, Congress is back in session, and since it’s an election year, the political industrial complex of America has just remembered the oft-forgotten fact that women make up more than half of the electorate and, therefore, probably should have been more than half of what politicians and campaigns were thinking about and talking about for the last three and a half years.

What’s done is done. So, let’s not harp on the fact that most elected officials are men, most political consultants are men, and most political pollsters are men. Or the fact that many men have a habit of forgetting anything they don’t really want to remember. They’re going to know when the Redskins are playing on Monday Night Football, but will they remember parent-teacher night? My sources are skeptical.

Forget About Great People, Where Are the Good Ones?
Two seriously flawed candidates are on the cusp of becoming president

I saw a documentary last weekend about John F. Kennedy Jr. and the primary goal that he began to pursue in his adult life. He told a close friend that he knew he was expected to be a “great person,” someone who would do important things and maybe even lead the country. But, he added, he believed the harder challenge in life might be trying to be a good person, someone who treated other people with kindness and was faithful to his family.  

What struck me about JFK Jr.’s hope was how foreign the concept seems to be in either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton’s thinking, but how common the sentiment is among everyone else I know or meet covering politics. We try to teach our kids to be good people. We aspire to it ourselves, too, even if we often fail. At some point, we used to also expect the same thing of our leaders.

Gay Marriage Stand Won't Cost Ohio GOP Senator His Seat
Portman begins to pull away in battleground state

When Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his decision to support marriage equality in March of 2013, he explained that his change of heart on the issue came after learning that his college-age son, Will, is gay. “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have," Portman told local reporters.

The immediate question at the time was how the Ohio freshman senator’s reversal on gay marriage would affect his re-election chances in 2016. Running in the battleground state of Ohio would guarantee a close race no matter what. Going it alone as the first Republican senator ever to support marriage equality meant Portman could be risking his seat, if not his career.

No Family Favors for Senator's Daughter and EpiPen CEO
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia

Is there anything members of Congress love more than the chance to haul a wayward CEO to Capitol Hill to lecture them about their companies’ un-American transgressions? The CEOs of the Wall Street banks got the indignant Hill treatment in 2008 after the mortgage meltdown. The CEOs of the Big Three car companies did too, only to be scolded at a later hearing for flying private jets to Washington for the first one.

Man-child and bad boy pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli sat in front of House members for hours during a House Oversight hearing in February while angry committee members unloaded on him for price gouging, spurred on by the fact that Shkreli had taken the Fifth at the start of the hearing and called them “imbeciles” on Twitter before and after he appeared in Washington.

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.