The Daily 202 – Kentucky governor, not sold on Trump, embraces his role as a Clinton foil

The Daily 202 – Kentucky governor, not sold on Trump, embraces his role as a Clinton foil

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Kentucky governor, not sold on Trump, embraces his role as a Clinton foil
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin watching thoroughbreds train before daylight at Churchill Downs in Louisville&nbsp;last week.&nbsp;(AP Photo/Garry Jones)</p>

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin watching thoroughbreds train before daylight at Churchill Downs in Louisville last week. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

THE BIG IDEA:

As she campaigns in Kentucky ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly slammed Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on everything from health care to education.

The businessman, elected unexpectedly last fall with promises to shake up Frankfort, has signaled that he wants to dismantle the state health exchange set up by his Democratic predecessor and move Kentuckians into the insurance market managed by the federal government. He’s in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

When Clinton brings up Bevin at rallies, Democratic crowds boo. “I am saddened by what I hear may come out of the governor’s office here in Kentucky,” she said in Louisville this week.

She even went to a family health center in Louisville to talk with doctors and draw attention to the issue. “I have to tell you, it just brought tears to my eyes,” she recalled to a crowd later in the day. “People who are getting health care for the first time in years … and it is so distressing to me when anybody in public life, who has all the health care he or she needs, wants to take it away from poor people, working poor people, small business people, and others who don’t have the health care they need.”

Bill Clinton knocked Bevin yesterday during a three-city swing across the Bluegrass State, and his wife plans to do so again when she returns on Sunday and Monday.

As she tries to finish off Bernie Sanders, this is a play to the base that dovetails nicely with Hillary’s broader strategy to localize the presidential race as much as possible. Her goal is to show progressives that she’s a fighter who is on their side and to demonstrate that she cares deeply about the issues that directly affect people’s lives.

Hillary Clinton speaks with Bill Wagner, executive director of Family Health Centers, during a tour of his facility in Louisville on Tuesday.&nbsp;(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)</p>

Hillary Clinton speaks with Bill Wagner, executive director of Family Health Centers, during a tour of his facility in Louisville on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Bevin, in an interview with the 202, pushed back strongly against the Clintons. He argues that he’s not trying to take health coverage from anyone but working to make care more affordable and accessible. “An insurance card does not make you healthy,” he said. “You can crow about expanding this and that, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t improve outcomes. … And at the end of the day, it does have to be paid for. It’s not cheap.”

“The Clintons have been surrounded by corruption their entire political lives,” the governor said. “I don’t use the term corruption lightly. … Go back to Arkansas and follow the trail. … Go back to Whitewater. Look at the foundations. Look at the pay to play.”

Bevin is a self-made millionaire who owns several businesses. “People like them have become extremely wealthy by milking their connections,” he complained.

He also said Clinton attacks him on health care so that the media does not cover her gaffe about putting lots of coal miners out of work. “She wants to destroy a key part of our state,” he said. “She wants to see coal wiped off the face of the Earth.”

“Gov. Bevin can resort to personal attacks, but Hillary Clinton is going to remain focused on laying out how she’ll fight for Kentucky families as president,” her spokesman Ian Sams responded. “Her commitment to tackling the challenges that young and working families face in accessing affordable health care and child care is quite a contrast with a Republican governor intent on taking away people’s health insurance and cutting critical funding for higher education.”

Donald Trump arrives for his meeting with Paul Ryan yesterday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)</p>

Donald Trump arrives for his meeting with Paul Ryan yesterday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

— Though few other elected officials still talk this way, Bevin maintains that no one has the Republican nomination definitely locked up until the convention in Cleveland, which he plans to attend. “Let me see who it will be,” he said, when asked whether he will support Donald Trump. “More than the party, I’m interested in people who are conservative. Sadly, the most conservative people are no longer in the race.”

I asked Bevin if he considers Trump a conservative. “I’ll let people make their own determination on that,” he said. Then he referenced Matthew 7. “You can judge a tree by the fruit it bears,” he said.

While Bevin may not be sold on Trump, his dripping disdain for both Clintons is genuine and deep. This, he made clear to me, will eventually get him off the sidelines. It may also be one of the reasons why so many elected Republicans ultimately unite behind The Donald.

“I’ve been very, very, very clear from the beginning until now. In no way, shape or form do I want to see Hillary—or Bernie—get elected,” Bevin said. “The future of America is on trial. … We get the government we deserve.”

Sheldon Adelson reads a deposition while testifying in a former employee&#39;s&nbsp;wrongful termination suit on April 28.&nbsp;(Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool)</p>

Sheldon Adelson reads a deposition while testifying in a former employee’s wrongful termination suit on April 28. (Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool)

— Even Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson outlines his support for Trump with an an op-ed in today’s Post: “I am endorsing Trump’s bid for president and strongly encourage my fellow Republicans — especially our Republican elected officials, party loyalists and operatives, and those who provide important financial backing — to do the same.”

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost’s morning newsletter.
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck) Sign up to receive the newsletter.

A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathroom&nbsp;at Oval Park Grill in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)</p>

A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathroom at Oval Park Grill in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— The Obama administration is instructing schools across the nation to provide transgender access to facilities – including bathrooms and locker rooms – that match their chosen gender identity. From Juliet Eilperin: “The letter from two top administration officials … effectively puts state and local officials on notice that they could lose federal aid if they confine students to areas or teams based on the gender that matches their birth certificate. Citing Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at schools that receive federal funding, the two officials warn the law imposes an ‘obligation’ on schools ‘to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns.’”

Meanwhile, the White House says it will not decide whether to withhold federal funds from North Carolina until dueling lawsuits over its “bathroom bill” are resolved. The decision gives the Tar Heel State a temporary reprieve from the threat of losing billions of dollars in education funding. (Matt Zapotosky)

— A federal appeals court granted an Alabama prisoner a stay of execution just hours before he was set to die by lethal injection. The inmate’s attorneys argued he was not competent to be executed. Then, late last night, an evenly divided Supreme Court left the stay in place. It’s another reminder of how high the stakes are in the fight over Merrick Garland. (Mark Berman)

— 88,200 gallons of oil leaked from a Shell flow line into the Gulf of Mexico, about 90 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The U.S. Coast Guard says the leak has been secured and cleanup crews are on the way. There is a miles-long sheen on the water. (AP)

— Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia just announced that its top military commander in the Syrian civil war died in a mysterious blast in Damascus, dealing a major blow to the powerful Iranian-backed group. “The killing of Mustafa Badreddine, 55, comes as Hezbollah struggles to balance combatting its traditional nemesis, Israel, with its costly intervention in the Syrian conflict to bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the rebellion,” Hugh Naylor and Suzan Haidamous report. “He was linked to deadly attacks in 1983 on U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait, and was among four people indicted by a U.N. tribunal for involvement in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. Trump’s longtime former butler called for President Obama to be killed in a Facebook post, prompting a Secret Service investigation. The Trump campaign disavowed the statement. (Elahe Izadi)
  2. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will not appeal his 15-month prison sentence for violating banking reporting rules. (Matt Zapotosky)
  3. Pope Francis told an international conference of nuns that he wants to create a commission to study the possibility of “reinstating” female deacons, potentially signaling a historic shift for the Roman Catholic Church. (Julie Zauzmer, Anthony Faiola and Michelle Boorstein)
  4. The EPA finalized the first federal regulations to govern emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry, the next step in Obama’s effort to combat climate change. (Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis)
  5. Damage control: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to meet with influential conservatives to discuss allegations that the site prioritized left-leaning content in its “trending” section. “I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible,” he said in a statement.
  6. The Senate struck a bipartisan deal over Zika funding, agreeing to provide $1.1 billion to battle the mosquito-borne virus. The compromise breaks a months-long standoff over how much spending is needed to address the growing public health threat. Now the House needs to act. (Kelsey Snell)
  7. Someone on a list of Bridgegate “co-conspirators” is anonymously trying to get a judge to prevent the list from being released, arguing that its publication will “unfairly brand them a criminal.” (AP)
  8. Iran is suspending participation in the hajj pilgrimage as its relationship with Saudi Arabia chills. The two countries failed to agree on how pilgrims would receive visas. (Paul Schemm)
  9. U.S. troops have been stationed at two Libyan outposts since last year, tasked with lining up local partners in advance of a potential offensive against the Islamic State. (Missy Ryan)
  10. A sailor has died in three out of the last four Navy SEAL training classes, raising questions over the safety and supervision of the grueling program. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Adam Goldman and Dan Lamothe)
  11. Former New York Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in federal prison after being convicted on corruption charges. It’s another big win for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. (Matt Zapotosky)
  12. No integrity: The former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory said dozens of Putin’s athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics, including “at least 15 medal winners,” were part of a state-run doping initiative to ensure dominance in Sochi. “The director … said he developed a three-drug cocktail of banned substances that he mixed with liquor and provided to dozens of Russian athletes, helping to facilitate one of the most elaborate — and successful — doping ploys in sports history.” (New York Times)
  13. France’s Socialist government survived a no-confidence vote after it forced a controversial labor law through Parliament in a last-ditch attempt to curb unemployment before next year’s presidential election. (James McAuley)
  14. Apple said it has invested $1 billion in the Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing, an Uber competitor. It’s a rare investment aimed at reinvigorating slugging sales in the country. (Reuters)

— Obamacare will be a major issue for a fourth election cycle in a row after Republicans won their most significant legal victory in years in the fight to eviscerate the law: A federal judge struck down a portion of the Affordable Care Act yesterday, ruling that Obama exceeded his authority in unilaterally funding a provision that sent billions of dollars in subsidies to health insurers. Spencer S. Hsu, Greg Jaffe and Lena H. Sun: “In a 38-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer … put her ruling on hold pending the administration’s certain appeal. … The House GOP argued that the administration’s decision to subsidize deductibles, co-pays and other ‘cost-sharing’ measures was unconstitutional because Congress rejected an administration request for funding in 2014. Obama officials said they withdrew the request and spent the money, arguing that the subsidies were covered by an earlier, permanent appropriation.”

  • “The ruling, if upheld, could undermine the stability of the program because of the added financial burden it would place on insurers.”
  • “Under the ruling, in order for the subsidy payments to be constitutional, Congress would be required to pass annual appropriations to cover the subsidies’ cost.”

The Clinton-Bevin feud I mentioned up top also underscores the extent to which health care will again be a front-burner issue this year.

Unaccompanied migrants&nbsp;in Texas (Rep. Henry Cuellar&#39;s Office/Handout via Reuters/2014 File Photo)</p>

Unaccompanied migrants in Texas (Rep. Henry Cuellar’s Office/Handout via Reuters/2014 File Photo)

— Even if Trump was not the GOP nominee, immigration would still be a major issue too: “U.S. immigration officials are planning a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally,” Reuters reports. “The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the Obama administration this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. …Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day ‘surge’ of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States … The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age.” Both Hillary and Bernie strongly condemned this yesterday.

In 1991 interview, Trump spokesman sounds a lot like Trump

The best story you will read today –> “The spokesman who knows Trump best: Himself,” by Marc Fisher and Will Hobson: “The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, ‘I’m sort of new here,’ and ‘I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes.” … A recording obtained by The Post captures what New York reporters who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with ‘John Miller’ or ‘John Barron’ — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself. In 1991, People’s Sue Carswell called Trump’s office seeking an interview. Within five minutes she got a return call from Miller, who immediately jumped into a “startlingly frank,” detailed explanation of why Trump dumped Marla Maples. “He really didn’t want to make a commitment,” Miller said. “He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially.” “Actresses,” Miller said in the call to Carswell, “just call to see if they can go out with him and things.’”

Donald Trump&#39;s motorcade&nbsp;leaves the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters.&nbsp;(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)</p>

Donald Trump’s motorcade leaves the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

MR. TRUMP COMES TO WASHINGTON

— The roiling feud between Trump and Republican leaders reached a turning point with Thursday’s meetings, as the two sides declared their willingness to gloss over substantive policy differences and work together to defeat Clinton in November. But behind the public facade of harmony, House members and senators confronted Trump with concerns over specific policies or controversial statements that could hurt Republicans in the fall, including on foreign policy, immigration and paying down the national debt. In the Senate meeting, Trump listened as senators took turns raising issues of concern about his raucous campaign so far. Few would specify what details were discussed, preferring to emphasize that the gathering was cordial in tone. (Jose A. DelReal, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane)

— In other notable signs of unity:

  • Jim Baker, the former Bush 41 Secretary of State and Reagan White House Chief of Staff, met with Trump at the offices of the Jones Day law firm. 
  • Lindsey Graham — whose cell number Trump gave out during a rally last summer — said he had a “cordial, pleasant phone conversation” with Trump, though he maintained he will not endorse him. “I gave him my assessment about where we stand in the fight against ISIL and the long-term danger posed by the Iranian nuclear deal. He asked good questions,” the South Carolina senator said in a press release.
  • NRCC Chair Rep. Greg Walden backed Trump following the RNC meeting, saying he is “better than Clinton” for the country.
  • Former Vice President Dan Quayle gave a full-throated endorsement of Trump on the “Today Show,” calling him “more qualified” than Clinton.

IN THE NAME OF UNITY, PAUL RYAN PICKS POLITICS OVER PRINCIPLE:

— Trump and Ryan struck a conciliatory tone: “While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground,” they said in a joint statement. “We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal.”

Ryan said he was “encouraged” but declined to officially “endorse” Trump at a press conference afterward: The Speaker called unifying the party a “process,” saying the efforts require more time and discussion. “Going forward, we’re going to go a little deeper in the policy weeds to make sure we have a better understanding of one another,” he said.

— This cop-out bypasses the deeper issue, Mike DeBonis explains: “It has not been Trump’s adherence to gauzy principles that has been most troublesome for Ryan and the House Republicans who elected him speaker. Rather, it is the other aspects of his candidacy — the call for a ban on Muslim immigration, the kid-gloves treatment of white supremacists, the mocking of a disabled reporter, the refusal to denounce violence at his rallies — that have prompted Ryan and other party leaders to speak out.”

For Ryan, the peril is clear: “Controversies of that magnitude are likely to persist and are certain to poison his ability to do what he sees as his life’s work: weaving small-government principles into the mainstream of American politics,” Mike writes. “Associating himself with Trump’s controversial brand may not only have consequences for his House majority, but also dent his personal political ambitions. Now, after six-month stretch where Ryan has attempted to unite Republicans in pursuit of ideas, Trump is staking his claim as GOP leader with a campaign where ideas have largely been an afterthought.”

— The upshot: Ryan will be asked to answer for every controversial thing Trump does and says between now and the election, which could be a miserable experience for him. 

— Notably, the pressure Ryan faces to cave and fall in line is primarily from House colleagues and Reince Priebus, not the grassroots. A Remington poll shows the congressman leading GOP challenger Paul Nehlen 78 percent to 14 percent in his House district.

— Ryan’s staff sought to downplay the import of his Trump detente:

— There was chaos outside the meetings. Jenna Johnson, Cristobal Vasquez and David A. Fahrenthold: The scene on the streets captured “an election where Americans became so divided, they even forgot how to disagree.”

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)</p>

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— California allies launched a new pro-Trump super PAC with a goal of raising $20 million by July. From Matea Gold: The new group, Committee for American Sovereignty, was started by a group of California-based Trump supporters. Former state senator Tony Strickland will chair the group, while GOP strategist Doug Watts, who most recently worked with Ben Carson’s presidential bid, has signed on as national executive director. Already, the organization has attracted a list of major donors … “Perhaps most significant is the participation of Nicholas Ribis Sr., the former chairman of Trump Hotel, Casino and Resorts, which will likely be read as a sign that Trump’s circle has blessed the undertaking.” The push comes in response to a massive ad campaign bankrolled by pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA, set to be launched in the coming weeks.

— Trump will NOT change his tax plan, spokeswoman Hope Hicks said yesterday, after days of confounding statements from the campaign and the candidate himself.They’re pushing back on the idea he’ll raise taxes on the wealthy.

— That stipulated, an independent analysis of Trump’s tariff proposal finds that it could cost the average U.S. household more than $6,000 per year, with much of the burden falling on households with the lowest incomes. “We find that a Trump tariff proposal against all countries would cost U.S. consumers $459 billion annually and $2.29 trillion over five years,” David Tuerck and Paul Bachman, a pair of economists at Suffolk University in Boston, write for the nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy.

— They just don’t get it: Eric Trump says Hispanic voters regularly tell him they “can’t wait” for his father to be president: “You know, I have more Hispanics come up to me telling me, ‘listen, I can’t wait for your father to be president. He’s gonna bring jobs back to the United States. He’s gonna end the nonsense,” Eric Trump said in a radio interview. “I see so little of the divisiveness, which is interesting. You watch it on TV, but you see so little of it out in the field.” (Buzzfeed)

— Shot: “No, Trump has not softened his stance on banning Muslims,” Jenna Johnson reports.

— Chaser: “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists,” David Petraeus writes in an op-ed for today’s Post.

— In the context of his adamant refusal to allow a hearing or a vote on Merrick Garland, Democrats are having a field day with this Mitch McConnell quote from a floor speech yesterday: “We’re going to give the Senate every opportunity to do the basic work of government this year. And some have said because it is an election year, you can’t do much. I’d like to remind everyone, we’ve had a regularly scheduled election in this country every two years since 1788, right on time. I’ve heard people say, well, we can’t do it because we have an election next year. And people have said, we can’t do whatever it is because we have an election this year. It is not an excuse not to do our work!”

— The Kochs pick a side in the civil war, as their political network decides to spend against a GOP incumbent. Americans for Prosperity is planning a major expenditure to defeat Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) in her June primary. This is the first time they’ve targeted a sitting Republican member of Congress. “AFP plans to target voters in Ellmers’ district with six-figures worth of advertising, including five to eight separate mailers, as well as digital ads on streaming platforms, like YouTube, Facebook and Hulu, in the four weeks leading up to the June 7 primary,” per Politico’s Elena Schneider.

MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE:

Hillary Clinton meets with medical professionals in Camden, New Jersey on Wednesday. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)</p>

Hillary Clinton meets with medical professionals in Camden, New Jersey on Wednesday. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— “To fend off Trump, Clinton moves to defend Rust Belt blue states,” by Abby Phillip: “Clinton is preparing to dispatch resources to vote-rich industrial states that have been safely Democratic for a generation. Clinton’s plans include an early, aggressive attempt to defend Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — reflecting a growing recognition inside her campaign of the threat that Trump’s unconventional bid for president may pose in unexpected places, particularly in economically struggling states that have been hit hard by global free-trade agreements. Clinton performed poorly against Sanders in Democratic primaries in this part of the country … and [similar] factors could work against her with Trump, who has criticized her positions on trade and has also found deep appeal among the working class.”

Clinton strategist Joel Benenson acknowledges Trump’s popularity among white, working-class voters, could make the country’s industrial midsection more competitive: “There is no state where they can put us on defense that we don’t already treat as a battleground. The key here is to really protect the territory we have to protect, then play offense.”

— The Clinton Global Initiative set up a $2 million financial commitment to benefit a private company partly-owned by friends of Bill, and the former president personally intervened to get a federal grant. From the Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi: The company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., was founded by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who twice ran for Congress from Nebraska. A 2009 document showed it as owned 29 percent by Kleeb and 29 percent by Julie TauberMcMahon, a close friend of Bill, who also lives in Chappaqua … The $2 million commitment to the company was placed on the agenda for a 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative at Bill Clinton’s urging. In another boost for the firm, he also personally endorsed the company to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant that year. Under federal law, tax-exempt charitable organizations aren’t supposed to act in anyone’s private interest but instead in the public interest, on broad issues such as education or poverty.”

Here is how the story is getting picked up in the Big Apple:

— Last night, Hillary attended two high-dollar fundraisers in New York City. The first, from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., was at the home of Maureen White and Steven Rattner. Approximately 15 attendees contributed $100,000+ to attend. Then, from 8:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., she went to the home of Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Another 15 people ponied up more than 100K to attend.

— In another nod to the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party, Clinton’s campaign announced that she supports REMOVING BANKERS from the Federal Reserve’s regional boards of directors. (Ylan Q. Mui)

— Democrats are also struggling with intraparty unity: “Where bean-counters point out that Sanders’s Indiana and West Virginia wins did not get him the delegates he needed to catch Clinton,” David Weigel writes, “Bernie’s army sees momentum begetting more momentum.”

A headache — and a paradox: “When they discuss the coming primaries in Oregon and in their own states, Democrats no longer conceal a desire to wrap this up. And yet, Clinton’s strategy of riding out the nomination fight — and turning her attention to the general election — may be hardening the beliefs of Sanders voters. She cannot take full advantage of the split in Trump’s GOP without a strong left flank accusing her of selling it out.”

Sanders supporters on the West Coast have almost overwhelmingly rejected the math, maintaining there is a path forward for the senator from Vermont. “He’s going to win the whole west coast,” said Angelique Orman, 44, relaxing on the lawn of a massive Sanders rally. “The conscience factor is working for him. Everyone I know there is voting for him.”

&nbsp;Sanders greets supporters during a campaign rally in Salem, Ore.&nbsp;(AFP/Rob Kerr)</p>

 Sanders greets supporters during a campaign rally in Salem, Ore. (AFP/Rob Kerr)

ZIGNAL INSIGHT: Bernie buzz is fading online. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs note that he’s getting relatively fewer mentions on social media, and his share of voice is diminished. The trend line is bad for him over several months.

This is how the conversation about the Democratic contest looked THIS WEEK:

And here is how it looked LAST WEEK:

— But, but, but: This bodes quite well for Bernie’s hopes in California: 

— The Clinton campaign sought to link Trump with George Zimmerman after the Floridian tried to auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. Trayvon’s mother is an active Hillary surrogate:

THE AIR WAR: The volume of campaign advertising in 2016 has risen by 122 percentcompared to 2012, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. Television ads have more than doubled levels of the previous election, with campaigns and outside group spending $408 million to air 480,000 ads. (By comparison, fewer than 220,000 ads had aired by this point 2012 cycle, at an estimated cost of $120 million.)

  • Sanders was featured in the highest number of ads overall, with nearly 125,000 aired since Jan. 2015. Trump, by contrast, was featured in just 33,000.
  • Republicans have increased advertising volume by 80 percent since 2012, while Democrats are roughly on par with 2008 levels. And the sources of party ad spending are very different: “While over 98 percent of Democratic ad spending was done by the candidates’ campaigns themselves, only 24 percent of Republican ad spending was candidate-sponsored. The rest came from groups, many of them single-candidate super PACs.”

— Democrats hold a registration advantage over Republicans in four of seven battleground states likely to play a central role in this year’s presidential election — even as Republicans and independents have made gains. From Bloomberg’ s John McCormick: “The party that now controls the White House is ahead in registered voters in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, while Republicans hold the lead in Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire … Three other likely battlegrounds — Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — don’t register voters by party. Obama won nine of those 10 states in 2012, with the exception being a roughly 2-percentage-point loss in North Carolina. As an expected general election contest between Trump and Clinton comes into focus, the states included in the analysis where Democrats hold a registration advantage have a combined 70 electoral votes, while the ones where Republicans have an edge account for 19.” The push to register new voters will accelerate throughout the summer and fall, with the parties, non-profit organizations, and the campaigns spending millions to try to gain the upper hand.” The push to register new voters will accelerate into the fall, with the parties, campaigns and non-profit organizations spending millions to try to gain the upper hand.

Secret Service agents stand guard outside the NRSC&nbsp;while&nbsp;Mitch McConnell and his leadership team meet with Trump. (AFP/Getty Images)</p>

Secret Service agents stand guard outside the NRSC while Mitch McConnell and his leadership team meet with Trump. (AFP/Getty Images)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Several marquee names spoke at a Las Vegas conference for guys who run hedge funds. Some highlights:

Twitter users went all-in on jokes about Trump’s butler:

Check out scenes from outside the RNC as Trump met with Ryan:

Anti-Trump protesters delivered taco salads to Republican lawmakers:

CNN’s coverage of Trump’s plane had journalists across the mainstream media up in arms:

Here’s an example of the one-on-one photo that every senator who met with Trump reportedly got:

Ryan got plenty of attention of his own following the Trump meeting:

Elizabeth Warren and Keith Ellison went on the attack:

Bill Kristol continues trying to marshal The Republican Resistance:

George W. Bush’s deputy White House press secretary:

In that vein, a joke about the opioid bills on the House floor this week:

Breitbart reporter Charlie Spiering took away this conclusion from the White House briefing:

The Arkansas senator replied this way:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Cotton will testify if Ben Rhodes agrees to appear:

The Senate Majority Whip uses bitmoji:

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) snapped a selfie with visiting students:

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), an avid photographer, has been eagerly capturing D.C.’s foggy weather this week:

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza agrees with Stewart.

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE: 

— Wall Street Journal op-ed by Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch: “Why Free Speech Matters on Campus.” During college commencement season, it is traditional for speakers to offer words of advice to the graduating class. But this year the two of us — who don’t see eye to eye on every issue– believe that the most urgent advice we can offer is actually to college presidents, boards, administrators and faculty. Our advice is this: Stop stifling free speech and coddling intolerance for controversial ideas, which are crucial to a college education—as well as to human happiness and progress. Across America, college campuses are increasingly sanctioning so-called ‘safe spaces’ … ‘microaggresions’ and the withdrawal of invitations to controversial speakers. We believe that this new dynamic, which is doing a terrible disservice to students, threatens not only the future of higher education, but also the very fabric of a free and democratic society.  The purpose of a college education isn’t to reaffirm students’ beliefs, it is to challenge, expand and refine them—and to send students into the world with minds that are open and questioning, not closed and self-righteous.”

— The Guardian, “Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithms, documents show,” by Sam Thielman: “Leaked documents show how Facebook, now the biggest news distributor on the planet, relies on old-fashioned news values on top of its algorithms to determine what the hottest stories will be for the 1 billion people who visit the social network every day. The boilerplate about its news operations provided to customers by the company suggests that much of its news gathering is determined by machines: ‘The topics you see are based on a number of factors including engagement, timeliness, pages you’ve liked’ … But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its ‘trending module’ headlines … The guidelines show human intervention – and therefore editorial decisions – at almost every stage of Facebook’s trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people.”

— Politico, “Trump campaign eyes #NeverTrump blacklist,” by Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Schreckinger: “As Trump moves to work in closer concert with the RNC apparatus, some campaign aides and allies are pushing him to block lucrative party contracts from consultants who worked to keep him from winning the nomination … The blacklist talk — which mostly targets operatives who worked for Never Trump groups, but also some who worked for Trump’s GOP presidential rivals or their supportive super PACs — strikes against a Republican consulting class that Trump has assailed as a pillar of a corrupt political establishment. If Trump’s team makes good on the blacklist, it could elevate a whole new crop of vendors, while penalizing establishment operatives who attacked him, often in deeply personal terms. But it also could put Trump’s campaign at a competitive disadvantage as it scrambles to quickly beef up capabilities in highly technical campaign tactics that it largely eschewed in the primary.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Baltimore Cop’s Defense: It Wasn’t Safe To Buckle Freddie Gray’s Seatbelt,” from HuffPost:“Thursday was the first day of trial proceedings for Nero, the second of six officers indicted in [Freddie] Gray’s death — and it was dominated by discussion of whether Gray should have been buckled up, and what discretion officers have on following the department’s policy for buckling up suspects. It’s no question that not being secured into the police van caused Gray to sustain spinal cord injuries similar to those of high-speed crash victims. There is also no dispute that securing suspects was department protocol.” One city official identified the recently-announced seatbelt amendment a “best practice.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Canadian Border Presents Its Own Security Concerns For United States,” from CBS New York: “The U.S.-Mexico border has been a topic of much debate this election season. But should our national attention be more focused toward our neighbors to the north? The Canadian border … presents its own challenges … All that separates the two countries for miles at a time is a split rail fence that you’d find in any ordinary backyard. ‘We see alien smuggling. We see narcotic smuggling. We see currency smuggling,’ Border Patrol Operations Officer Brad Brandt said. Agents said much of that activity is heading directly to New York City and our suburbs where the product is sold on our streets. ‘There is a significant amount of violence that is associated with these drugs,’” said a DEA agent.

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Here’s the rundown:

  • Bill Clinton: Paterson, Ewing Township, N.J.
  • Sanders: Fargo, Bismarck, N.D.

At the White House: President Obama hosts the President of Finland and the Prime Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland for meetings and a state dinner. Vice President Biden delivers the commencement address at Syracuse University Law School, then travels to D.C. for the state dinner.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate is not in session. The House meets at 9 a.m. to vote on an amendment to an opioid bill. Final votes expected before 12:45 p.m.

Two subcommittees of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing today on whether scrutinizing the social media accounts of federal workers should become a regular part of security investigations and if so, under what conditions. “The hearing comes as the Obama administration is preparing to announce a policy that officials have hinted will open the door to more searches of social media during those background checks,” Eric Yoder reports. “The administration last month announced plans to test how the government could use such searches in those investigations, which determine eligibility to get–and keep–the security clearances that are required for many federal jobs. Congress meanwhile is considering a bill to require that type of scrutiny during background checks of intelligence agency employees.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“If I have my way, you’ll be living here,” Joe Biden told Elizabeth Warren when she visited the Naval Observatory last year. He was trying to convince her to be his VP. (Per the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— Still foggy, still gray, still meh (but TGIF!). The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Morning patchy fog and showers are probable (80% chance) through midday. We can’t rule out a few (likely tame) thunderstorms too—especially into the early afternoon hours. From west to east we should ACTUALLY CLEAR and dry out as the cold front moves through during the afternoon. Afternoon high temperatures should still make it into the low-to-mid 70s, despite the cold front.”

A profound (and accurate) observation:

— D.C. continues its WAR ON CARS: The municipal government is readying a new parking fee structure that sets hourly parking rates at $2.30 citywide, nearly doubling the cost of parking in non-commercial areas. Officials say the increase will generate up to $2 million in 2016, which they plan to spend on the Metro system. (Luz Lazo)

— Maryland decertified the results of Baltimore’s primary election following widespread reports of fraud: Election officials said the number of ballots cast were “hundreds more” than the number of voters who checked in at polling places, and identified 80 provisional ballots that hadn’t been considered. While it does not appear likely the investigation will change results of Baltimore’s competitive mayoral primary, results in the U.S. Senate and presidential primary cannot be certified until the investigation is complete. (Fenit Nirappil)

— Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed legislation to upend traditional high school requirements in the state, aiming to prioritize career preparation and technical opportunities alongside academic goals. (Moriah Balingit)

— U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) warned that D.C. employees could face prosecution if the city council goes ahead with plans to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval, raising the stakes for the city’s renewed attempt to get statehood. (Aaron C. Davis)

— The faculty of George Mason law school passed a unanimous resolutionsupporting the decision to rename the school after Antonin Scalia.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Our colleague Dana Milbank promised to eat his column — literally — if Trump became the Republican nominee. In this video, he actually does that, in nine courses:

Watch Dana Milbank eat his words, literally

Stephen Colbert did a sketch on how Trump comes up with his nicknames:

Trump’s Chief Nickname Strategist Makes Stephen Cry

A Clinton surrogate got tongue-tied on stage:

The Pledge of Allegiance at a @HillaryClinton rally

In another cringeworthy scene, Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser of Colorado repeatedly delivers the same lines when pressed about forged signatures that allowed him to get on the primary ballot. A Fox anchor presses him four times to directly answer the question, and he just repeats the same talking points. Forever more, this sort of thing will be described as a Marco Rubio Moment:

Jon Keyser refuses to answer questions about fraudulent petition signatures

Another reporter approached Keyser afterward to ask the same line of questions, and it is even worse. Watch here. (This does not bode well for GOP hopes of toppling Sen. Michael Bennet.)

Speaking of Rubio, TMZ approached him on the street to ask how many hands he shook during the campaign. Clearly not enough, he responds gamely.

Marco Rubio — So Here’s Why I Lost

The Rubio campaign later pushed back on a Talking Points Memo report that he might run for reelection to the Senate. “It was a joke,” a spokesman said.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, a Trump supporter, hopped a fence at RNC headquarters to get around protestors who were protesting Trump’s plans to build a border fence:

Seth Meyers took a closer look at Trump and white nationalists:

Trump and White Nationalists: A Closer Look

Sanders toured Mt. Rushmore:

Sanders tours Mt. Rushmore

Here’s a lesson in how to predict (or not predict) elections, with an expert:

How to predict the 2016 election

Finally, watch random things take down drones:

Watch a guy down a drone with a spear, and other strange drone takedowns

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