June 24, 2014
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Sen. Thad Cochran has just pulled off one of the biggest political comebacks of the year, winning tonight's Mississippi Republican primary runoff against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel — after having trailed McDaniel in the original primary vote three weeks ago.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Cochran has 182,507 votes, or 50.6 percent, against McDaniel's 177,709 votes, 49.4 percent. The Associated Press has projected Cochran as the winner.

McDaniel, a state senator, led in the initial primary with 49.5 percent against Cochran's 49.0 percent. But because no candidate reached over 50 percent of the vote, with a little-known third candidate taking the balance, under Mississippi election law the two contenders were then pushed through to a runoff.

Cochran aggressively attacked McDaniel's past career in talk radio, presenting him as undignified and not fit to serve in the U.S. Senate. And the Cochran campaign reached out heavily to African-American voters, who normally vote Democratic, to vote in the Republican runoff in order to stop the more extreme McDaniel.

Moreover, the Cochran campaign also had a finely tuned message in its campaign ads: That as the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, as well as the powerful Appropriation Committee's defense subcommittee, only he could continue to bring home the federal projects that are really so vital to the state's economy.

As the Jackson Free Press pointed out, Cochran also ran a cleverly bifurcated outreach. In white areas, campaign literature touted his many votes against the Affordable Care Act and his support for gun rights; in black areas, he touted his work on behalf of historically black colleges and universities, and his support for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps, a program that is not too near and dear to Republican primary voters. Eric Kleefeld

3:49 p.m. ET

A Texas high school student is claiming that he's the victim of gender discrimination after being forced to cut his hair to comply with the school's dress code, The Daily Mail reports. Mickey Cohen spent two days in in-school suspension because his hair extended beyond the top of his T-shirt collar, a rule that doesn't apply to female students. "This is gender-biased," Cohen said. The Week Staff

3:25 p.m. ET
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Zac Blair is having a rough day. After missing a birdie in the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday, the 25-year-old golfer hit himself in the head with his putter out of frustration. Then he used the same putter to tap the putt in.

Only, when smacking the putter against his head, Blair slightly bent it — and thus used a "non-conforming club" that had been damaged "other than in the normal course of play" to knock the ball in, which disqualified him according to the PGA's rules.

Blair, at least, had a sense of humor about the whole thing, tweeting a GIF of Woody Austin doing a head bang in reply to the PGA's announcement of his disqualification:

Now has anyone asked how his head is doing? Jeva Lange

3:05 p.m. ET
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London is poised to welcome its first-ever Muslim mayor to office Friday. While the votes are still being counted from England's "Super Thursday" races, Labour Party candidate Sadiq Khan is currently projected to win the contest. Khan, the son of a Pakistani bus driver and seamstress, has 44 percent of the vote, while the Conservative Party's Zac Goldsmith has 35 percent.

Khan's win would offer a powerful voice to Britain's Pakistani community, as well as a larger challenge to the increasingly prevalent anti-Muslim rhetoric in the West. Final results are expected to be announced later Friday. Becca Stanek

2:38 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Donald Trump said that as president, he might seek to reduce the national debt by convincing creditors to accept less than a full payment. "I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal," Trump said, in comments that the The New York Times claimed "have no modern precedent" coming from the mouth of a major presidential candidate. "If the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can't lose," Trump continued.

Experts have dismissed the idea that creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, no matter how good a businessman Trump might be. In fact, it might be because he's a businessman that Trump thinks the scheme could actually work:

Repurchasing debt is a fairly common tactic in the corporate world, but it only works if the debt is trading at a discount. If creditors think they are going to get 80 cents for every dollar they are owed, they may be overjoyed to get 90 cents. Mr. Trump's companies had sometimes been able to retire debt at a discount because creditors feared they might default.

But Mr. Trump's statement might show the limits of translating his business acumen into the world of government finance. The United States simply cannot pursue a similar strategy. The government runs an annual deficit, so it must borrow to retire existing debt. Any measures that would reduce the value of the existing debt, making it cheaper to repurchase, would increase the cost of issuing new debt. Such a threat also could undermine the stability of global financial markets. [The New York Times]

What's more, history shows that spooking investors away from taking a chance on relatively safe Treasury securities ends up costing taxpayers an arm and a leg. Read more about Trump's unprecedented plan — and what economists have said against it — in The New York Times. Jeva Lange

2:36 p.m. ET
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) penned a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Friday, accusing her of tipping the convention in Hillary Clinton's favor. Sanders says that out of the 45 names he submitted to serve on Democratic National Convention committees, Wasserman Schultz only appointed three, and filled the committees mostly with Clinton supporters:

I believe the composition of the standing committees must reflect the relative support that has been received by both campaigns. That was why I was so disappointed to learn that of the over 40 people our campaign submitted at your request, you chose to select only three of my recommendations for the three standing committees. Moreover, you did not assign even one of the people submitted by our campaign to the very important Rules Committee of the Democratic National Convention. [Bernie Sanders]

Sanders also wrote that if the issue was not resolved, he would have his delegates move to change the party platform and the convention rules. The DNC quickly responded, assuring Sanders that both candidates would be fairly represented at the July convention. "Because the party’s platform is a statement of our values, the DNC is committed to an open, inclusive, and representative process," the DNC said in a statement. "Both of our campaigns will be represented on the Drafting Committee, and just as we did in 2008 and 2012, the public will have opportunities to participate." Becca Stanek

1:39 p.m. ET

Many Latinos are offended by what they believe were Hillary Clinton's unsubtle attempts to win them over in East Los Angeles on Thursday, when the former secretary of state visited the historically Mexican-American neighborhood to host a Cinco de Mayo rally — and brought an eight-piece mariachi band with her.

Clinton's 13-minute speech on immigration was interrupted by six different protesters inside the building, Fusion reports; outside, more than 1,000 protesters tensely eyed dozens of police in riot gear and on horses. "We only matter when it's Cinco de Mayo," one protester's sign read.

Herbert Siguenza said he was at the protest because he "couldn't believe Clinton was in East L.A. on Cinco de Mayo. The Hispanic pandering is obvious." Another protester started yelling during Clinton's speech, holding up a sign with a quote from 2014, when Clinton said unaccompanied minors should not be allowed to stay in the States. Clinton has since reversed her stance to say minors would need legal representation to stay in the country.

"I was nervous, but then I saw the mariachis and it made me angrier. She was pandering," the protester, Jasmin Pacheco, told Fusion. Jeva Lange

12:40 p.m. ET
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Following the weakest job report in seven months, President Obama spoke to the press Friday about the economy and publicly called for Congress to raise the minimum wage.

"To reward some of the hardest working people in America, Congress should raise the minimum wage," Obama said, pointing out that by raising paychecks, people would also spend more and boost business.

Obama further asked Congress to "pass smart new trade agreements" to crack down on foreign competition as well as reform the tax code by closing wasteful loopholes. In addition for his call for action, Obama also explained the positives to the job report, which you can watch below. Jeva Lange

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