In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Paul Manafort, who made his name (and fortune) as a career power lobbyist, political consultant to dictators, and veteran Republican operative, seems to have finally met his match in Donald Trump.

With news that Manafort resigned from the campaign on Friday, less than three months before Election Day, after being sidelined in favor of new hires Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Trump firmly rebuked the calls for a more professional and traditional campaign that Manafort promised to implement.

Stuck in a bad reality TV show – and with growing focus on his own dealings with pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine – Manafort jumped ship after losing his central role in the campaign. With a candidate whose persona is staked on lobbing off-color remarks over any perceived slight, speaking off script, and spinning his own controversies into news cycles, Manafort's task was perhaps doomed to fail. But maybe not this spectacularly.

In the nearly five months of Manafort’s reign, Trump managed to get into all kinds of trouble. Here are just a few of the best and worst blunders from the Manafort era and the great general election pivot that never quite arrived.

Read More →

With the departure of Aetna and other major insurers from a significant swath of Obamacare exchanges, health care industry analysts anticipate a dramatic increase in regions where competition in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces is low come the 2017 plan year. According to a report released Friday by the health care consulting firm Avalere, consumers in seven states are currently expected to have only one carrier option in their ACA marketplaces.

The report additionally compared the level of marketplace competition by geographical regions within each state.

"Avalere experts predict that one-third of the country will have no exchange plan competition in 2017, leaving consumers with few options for coverage," a press release unveiling the report said.

Read More →

North Carolina's Republican Party has had an interesting response to a recent appeals court ruling that said a number of voting restrictions passed by the state's GOP legislature were enacted with the intent to discriminate against minorities, specifically African Americans. In their scramble after the ruling, party operatives and local Republican officials have perhaps inadvertently provided more evidence that the restrictions were passed with the intent to discriminate.

The most egregious example was a memo sent by North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse to county election officials urging them to continue to push for reductions in voting access, in which he explicitly spelled out a partisan motivation.

The memo came as the state is asking the Supreme Court to reverse the appeal court ruling, and restore for November's election some of the restrictions the appeals court struck down. And it may provide additional fodder for the voting rights advocates fighting the state's restrictions.

Read More →

For the Hillary Clinton campaign, Donald Trump's most recent campaign shake-up only backed up what they've been telling Republicans: with Trump, what you see is what you get.

"What's become clear that no matter how much the establishment wants to clean Donald Trump up, get him on a teleprompter and get him on message, he has officially won the fight to let Trump be Trump," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters on a press call Wednesday. "He keeps telling us who he is, it is time we believe him."

Read More →

Call it the August awakening. Republicans are realizing Trump’s “general election” pivot isn’t coming and the damage he is doing is worse than expected.

It’s been months since Trump defeated his primary opponents, weeks since the party’s convention, and yet nary does a day go by that he doesn't engage in some sort of front-page controversy. You know the situation is dire when the Wall Street Journal editorial board is wondering whether it’s time for the GOP to dump its nominee. Vulnerable senators can’t step outside without Trump’s latest comment chasing them down the street.

Read More →

Utah has a Republican governor, a Republican state legislature, two Republican U.S. senators and four Republican congressmen. But polls show the Republican Party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is still struggling to make inroads there.

Trump's troubles in Utah became clear during the state's March primary, when he received just 14 percent of the vote—his smallest share in any of the states that had voted in primaries up to that point, according to Politico. Trump's popularity in the state remained tenuous as he emerged as the presumptive nominee, and while a recent Utah poll showed Trump leading Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was surging in his wake.

"He should be in the sixties right now and he’s not," Quin Monson, a pollster and political science professor at Brigham Young University, said of Trump's polling numbers.

Political scientists and strategists in the state told TPM they believe Trump will ultimately win there. But that doesn't change many Utahns' antipathy toward the nominee, which experts say has its roots in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The legacy of being a minority religious group that was alienated, threatened and driven from their homes is a very strong piece of the modern Mormon identity.

Read More →

Betsy McCaughey's addition to Donald Trump's council of economic advisors seems fitting: Both are conspiracy theory-floating sensationalists who have what you might describe as a hostile relationship with the truth.

Trump announced that McCaughey, along with seven other women, was joining his economic team Thursday after critics noted the council was made up entirely of men, only one Ph.D.-holding economist and four Steves among them, upon its initial rollout.

Read More →

LiveWire