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April 22, 2014

He's down in the polls and bleeding campaign staffers, but Kentucky Senate candidate Matt Bevin has a secret weapon in his arsenal to defeat Sen. Mitch McConnell in the upcoming GOP primary: some incredibly cute kids.

Nine of them, to be precise (four of whom Bevin and his wife adopted from Ethiopia).

"Mitch McConnell is telling a bunch of lies about my dad," the commercial begins.

A very good ad, no doubt. And quite clever, since kids are like Kryptonite to politicians (they can get away with saying things — bragging about their dad; calling his opponent a liar — and there's not a damn thing anyone can do or say about it).

So far, this might be the highlight for Bevin's campaign, but time is running out for him.

If only the kids were on the ballot... Matt K. Lewis

9:03 a.m. ET
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump's top adviser Paul Manafort says the Trump campaign has good reason for not considering any women or minorities for the position of vice president. "That would be viewed as pandering, I think," Manafort said in an interview with The Huffington Post, ruling out both groups as potential contenders.

Rather than limit its selections to this or that demographic, Manafort said the campaign will focus its attentions on finding "an experienced person to do the part of the job [Trump] doesn't want to do." "He sees himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO," Manafort said.

So does Team Trump have a certain dream veep in mind? Right now, Manafort said, there is a "long list of who that person could be ... and every one of them has major problems."

Head over to The Huffington Post for Manafort's perspective on other aspects of the race — including why his boss is definitely "gonna win," and easily. Becca Stanek

8:11 a.m. ET

Morning Joe host and part-time rocker Joe Scarborough somewhat inexplicably put Donald Trump in the terms of indie rock on Thursday, saying the presumptive Republican nominee would never reach the status of the Montreal band Arcade Fire.

"He's basically playing a gig where he gets 2,500 really intense fans, and they come out, and they scream every night and they think he's the greatest indie band in the world. But he wants to get to the hockey arenas...but he can't ever discipline himself and be Arcade Fire," Scarborough said during his bizarre, somewhat convoluted analogy:

Outspoken Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler, for what it's worth, ironically donned Trump 2016 clothes at a recent concert in Florida. "If you guys wanna move to Canada when Trump gets elected, we'll welcome you with open arms," he told the crowd. Jeva Lange

8:03 a.m. ET
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A Santa Fe, New Mexico, restaurant briefly turned into a debate stage Wednesday when Bill Clinton stopped in. The former president and husband of the current Democratic frontrunner ended up focusing his attention on one table in particular, where 24-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter Josh Brody was sitting. For 30 minutes, Brody tore into the problems with Clinton's administration in the '90s, questioning his ties to Wall Street and his approach to welfare reform. And for 30 minutes — despite aides' five attempts to get Clinton to move on — the former president stayed to argue each point that Brody brought up,

The exchange began when Clinton approached Brody's table, where he was eating with three of his friends. When Clinton reached out for a handshake, Brody declined, instead asking a question about "aid to families with dependent children." He then told Clinton that under his administration "basically" every federal agency — specifically the Department of Education — shrunk.

"That's just wrong. I doubled education," Clinton said. "You have cherry-picked facts, which contradict the truth."

Brody also accused the nation's 42nd president of gifting Wall Street with "a golden parachute straight from the Treasury Department," to which Clinton replied, "It's a nice little narrative."

Read the rest of the testy exchange over at BuzzFeed. Becca Stanek

7:45 a.m. ET

President Obama told reporters at the G-7 Summit in Japan on Thursday that world leaders are "rattled" by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Obama, who has tended to prefer criticizing Trump obliquely rather than speaking about him head-on, minced no words in calling the candidate "ignorant of world affairs" and guilty of displaying a "cavalier attitude."

"[World leaders] are paying very close attention to this election," Obama said. "I think it is fair to say they are surprised by the Republican nominee." Watch the rest of his solemn address, below. Jeva Lange

7:29 a.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

U.S. productivity is set to drop for the first time in over three decades, the Financial Times reports.

"Last year it looked like we were entering into a productivity crisis: Now we're right in it," think-tank Conference Board's chief economist Bart van Ark said.

Gross domestic product per hour is projected by Conference Board to drop by 0.2 percent this year. Output per person grew only 1.2 percent around the world in 2015, a drop from 1.9 percent in 2014. U.S. growth in output per hour skidded to just 0.3 percent last year, down from 0.5 percent in 2014. From 1999 to 2006, the pace was 2.4 percent.

Productivity growth lies at the heart of economic progress. Without an improvement in output for every hour worked, economies can grow only if people work harder and longer or more people find jobs. A downturn in productivity growth in one year does not matter much because economies will go through ups and downs as technology changes, but a persistent decline is a much more serious prospect. [Financial Times]

"Companies really need to invest seriously in innovation. It is time for companies to move on the productivity agenda to turn this story around," van Ark said. Jeva Lange

6:37 a.m. ET
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled into a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in California's June 7 Democratic primary, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday night. Clinton leads Sanders among likely voters, 46 percent to 44 percent, within the poll's margin of error; a poll from the institute in March had Clinton leading 48 percent to 41 percent. Among Democrats, Clinton leads 49 percent to 41 percent, but there has been a surge of independents registering in California; unaffiliated voters can vote in the Democratic primary.

Clinton will almost certainly clinch the Democratic nomination on June 7, whether she wins California or not, but her campaign will start airing ads in the state on Friday. Sanders is also running commercials in California, and is spending almost all his time there until the primary. For Clinton, "big wins on the last major day of the campaign would hasten the party unification she will need if she is to defeat Trump in November," the Los Angeles Times explains. "A Sanders win on June 7 would revive at least in part his long-shot argument that party superdelegates should flip to him to increase the odds of a Democratic victory over Trump. More realistically, a solid victory would strengthen his hand in debates over the Democrats' future." The poll included 996 likely voters; it has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points. Peter Weber

5:52 a.m. ET
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, the House approved a measure banning the federal government from paying contractors that discriminate due to sexual orientation or gender identity. The amendment to energy and water spending legislation, proposed by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), passed, 223-195, with modified language from Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) dictating that the White House "must not run afoul of the 1st amendment, the 14th amendment, and Article One of the Constitution" in anti-discrimination actions. The House also passed, 233-186, a measure from Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) that shields religious groups from President Obama's directives on transgender bathrooms in schools and anti-LGBT federal contractors. Last week, the House nearly passed Maloney's measure, but fell one vote short after unusual parliamentary maneuvering by Republicans. Peter Weber

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