A new set of Senate polls from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling shows close races for three closely watched Democratic-held seats.
In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has 44 percent support, against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner with 43 percent, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent. The poll was conducted from July 17-20. The pollster's analysis describes the political mood in Colorado: "The Democratic incumbents aren't very popular, but their Republican challengers aren’t exactly setting the world on fire either."
In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan leads Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis, 41 percent to 34 percent, plus another 8 percent support for Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh. The survey was also conducted from July 17-20, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. The pollster's analysis attributes Hagan's lead to the unpopularity of the state legislature: "The big question though is whether she’ll be able to sustain this bigger lead once they’ve gone home," or if the race will tighten up again.
And in Montana, Republican Rep. Steve Daines leads Democratic Sen. John Walsh — who was appointed to the seat earlier this year — at 46 percent to 39 percent. This survey was conducted July 17 and 18, with a margin of error at plus or minus 4.1 percent. In a somewhat interesting twist, the last time PPP checked in on this race was way back in November of last year — and previously had Daines leading Walsh by an even wider margin of 52 percent to 35 percent, showing that Walsh might be starting to at least close the gap a little. Eric Kleefeld
Nearly a million immigrants applied to be legal citizens last year in time for this November's election, a surge that is now looking insurmountable for the federal agency in charge of the process. "With the agency now reporting that it takes up to seven months to complete the process, Obama administration officials are reluctantly admitting that many — perhaps most — of the immigrants in the backlog will not become citizens in time to vote," The New York Times writes.
In places like Florida, which saw a 40 percent increase in immigrants seeking to naturalize over a year earlier, the backlog could theoretically cost Hillary Clinton the state. Translated to a potential block of about 66,000 voters, polls have shown Latinos in the battleground state prefer Clinton to Trump in overwhelming margins.
"I've been checking my mail every day, but I haven't heard anything," Francisca Fiero, a Mexican immigrant in the battleground state of Nevada, told the Times. "I'm starting to get very worried." She applied in January; voter registration is due in Nevada on Oct. 18.
With the 23 percent surge in legal immigrant applications over the previous year, officials say they had "anticipated that there would be a spike in applications this year, but the increase has exceeded expectations," according to Jeffrey T. Carter, a spokesman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. As of June 30, 520,000 applications had not yet been looked at. Jeva Lange
First lady Michelle Obama has been hitting the campaign trail for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and at a rally this week, she made an affirmative case for why Clinton should be the next commander in chief. She also made the opposite case, why Republican Donald Trump should not be president — but watch how Obama rhetorically kneecaps Trump without once mentioning his name. For a man who loves to put his name in gold letters on buildings and steaks and real estate courses, that's gotta sting. Peter Weber
Donald Trump's presidential campaign is struggling to deal with Trump's comments about a 1996 Miss Universe winner's weight, but that's a pointless endeavor, Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. "The thing we're learning about Donald Trump every day is that he doesn't just treat beauty pageants like beauty pageants," he said, he also treats his rival candidates that way, and employees. "Experience doesn't matter," Noah said after showing a clip of Trump explaining how he hired a novice waitress because of her beauty. "If Trump thinks you're hot, then you're hired."
Noah made his case with a couple of other clips, including one where Trump and second wife Marla Maples tell Robin Leach which one of them 1-year-old daughter Tiffany takes after. "I don't care how many times you watch that, it never stops being creepy," Noah said. "There is no context in which Trump will not zero in on a woman's looks." He then turned to Trump's comments on the radio in 2004 after a 23-year-old female teacher was arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old male student. "I mean, wow, is there anything Trump doesn't judge by how hot the woman is? God forbid America, under President Trump, is ever invaded by Sweden!"
Trump isn't alone in being a looks-obsessed creep, Noah said. "A lot of men probably have the same reaction to this hot-teacher story, but a lot of men also probably shouldn't be president. Especially a man who thinks life itself is nothing more than a beauty contest, where every woman alive is a contestant, whether they want to be or not. Because let's be honest here, folks, there's only one pig in this whole story, and it's the one that got slaughtered at the debate on Monday." Watch below. Peter Weber
On Friday, Israel buried former leader and elder statesman Shimon Peres at a funeral in Jerusalem attended by world leaders, including President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Britain's Prince Charles, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who sat in the front row at the service. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a hardliner, praised Peres, Israel's most prominent dove, as "a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world. Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him." He added, "I loved you. We all loved you. Farewell Shimon. Dear man. Great leader." Clinton remembered Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate, as a "wide champion of our common humanity."
In his eulogy, Obama compared Peres to Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, "leaders who've seen so much, whose lives span such momentous epochs, that they find no need to posture, or traffic in what's popular in the moment, people who speak with depth, with knowledge, not in soundbites." Instead of obsessing over "polls or fads," Obama said, Peres "knew better than the cynic that if you look out over the arc of history, human beings should be filled not with fear, but with hope." Peter Weber
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson did not make the first presidential debate, but he earned a prime spot on Thursday night's Late Show, for better or worse. "Johnson is the former governor of New Mexico whose platform includes a variety of small-government policies, but the only one you care about is, he wants to legalize marijuana," Stephen Colbert said. "Now, libertarians have long been waiting for a smart, respectable candidate to represent their values — and the wait continues. Because Gary Johnson says some crazy-ass stuff."
Colbert went through Johnson's recent greatest hits, including his strange tongue-biting interview on MSNBC; his unorthodox, long view on global warming; his inability to name a foreign leader he likes or respects — "That is clearly and 'Aleppo moment,' because bombing that bad should be a war crime" — and the original Aleppo moment, when Johnson was baffled at the mention of the war-torn Syrian city. "Obviously he's just kidding," Colbert said. "It's a joke: Knock, knock. Who's there? 400,000 refugees. No surprise Johnson is polling at nearly 37 percent among military service members, because if the president doesn't know about Syria, there's no way he's sending you there."
"Obviously, Gary Johnson's ignorance, crazy ideas, and strange tongue exercises make him the most laughable candidate out there — or it should," Colbert said, flashing a photo of Donald Trump. But Colbert began the segment by noting that Johnson is actually a much bigger problem for Hillary Clinton, since he is siphoning off so many millennials. Not that Clinton isn't trying to win them back.... Peter Weber
Donald Trump name-checked Howard Stern in Monday night's first presidential debate, and Stern, who says he was watching the debate in bed, was tickled. "I hung in until about 10:30 almost, heard my name mentioned, and I went to sleep," he said on his radio show Wednesday. "It was kinda thrilling... Well, it always comes up because, you know, Trump was on our show years ago and said yeah, you know, he was kind of for the Iraq War, us going into Iraq. He was saying he really wasn't for it, and so they were forced to mention my name... Now I can check that off on my bucket list. I've officially been mentioned in a presidential debate."
You can listen to Stern's new summation of Trump's 2002 comments at BuzzFeed News. On CNN Thursday, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny told Don Lemon that "it's hard to know if anything is damning or not with the truth scale that Donald Trump operates under here. I mean, it is clear, the record is clear, that at the time of the invasion, that he supported it." Zeleny is skeptical Stern's new comments will change the minds of any Trump supporters, and you can watch the clip below. Peter Weber
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) September 30, 2016
On Wednesday, the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override President Obama's veto of a law that will allow the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed reservations about the new law and said they were open to rewriting it to deal with problems that Obama had warned them about, and then Congress adjourned until after the November election.
McConnell blamed Obama for not warning Congress earlier. "I told the president the other day that this is an example of an issue that we should have talked about much earlier," he told reporters on Thursday. "It appears as if there may be some unintended ramifications of that and I do think it's worth further discussing." Obama had called McConnell about the bill on Monday, then sent him and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) a warning letter on Tuesday (Reid was the lone senator to vote against the override).
"Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but no one had really focused on the potential downside in terms of our international relationships. And I think it was just a ball dropped," McConnell said. "I hate to blame everything on him and I don't; it would have been helpful if we had a discussion about this much earlier than the last week."
Senior officials, including CIA director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Secretary of State John Kerry, had urged Congress not to approve the bill, because, as Obama explained in his Sept. 23 veto statement, it "could encourage foreign governments to act reciprocally and allow their domestic courts to exercise jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. officials — including our men and women in uniform — for allegedly causing injuries overseas via U.S. support to third parties." That was the concern Ryan raised on Thursday.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest rolled his eyes at Congress' "case of rapid-onset buyer's remorse," calling it "an abject embarrassment." "It's hard to take at face value the suggestion that they were unaware of the consequences of their vote, but even if they were, what's true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress," he said: "Ignorance is not an excuse." Peter Weber