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Is Paul Ryan’s departure a disaster for House Republicans?

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Already, Ryan’s decision to bolt has touched off more jockeying for his job, even though Republicans admit they’re not sure whether their next top official in the House will be speaker or minority leader. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Friday that he will consider whether to run when Ryan steps aside at the end of this Congress, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., are both interested in the job.

Ryan threw his support behind McCarthy in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that airs Sunday.

Given Ryan’s departure, Republicans are in for an even more turbulent stretch before the midterm elections than they were already expecting.

“It’s the general abandoning the battlefield before the battle is fully engaged,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who survived his own re-election bid in the Republican rout of 2010. “The impact of it is demoralizing.”

Republicans say they know they’re going to lose seats if not control of the chamber.

“We are on guard,” said Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., who sits in one of the most heavily contested seats in the country. “I think we will keep the House. I think the majority might not be as strong.”

Lance, who would all but certainly be washed out if Democrats net the 23 seats they need to take the House, suggested Ryan leaving could be a good thing for some candidates.

“Because he’s not going to be our speaker in January,” Lance said, “the question may turn on who the Democratic leader may be.”

Republicans are trying to rally voters against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has been a fixture in their attacks on Democrats for a dozen years. Several Democratic candidates trying to unseat Republicans have said they won’t vote for her for speaker if they win their races.

But recent special elections and months of polling suggest that Democratic voters are much more enthusiastic about showing up to the polls and that many typically Republican voters in suburbs across the country want to put a check on President Donald Trump. In other words, Republicans may be in denial about just how bad things are for them and Ryan’s role in putting their majority in jeopardy.

“Paul Ryan’s monument will be the putrid and smoldering ruins of the Republican Party and conservative movement that he betrayed with his complicity and cowardice,” political strategist Steve Schmidt, an NBC and MSNBC contributor who was a senior aide at the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2002 election cycle, wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican whose district favored Trump 56 percent to 38 percent in the 2016 presidential election, said he doesn’t think Ryan’s announcement is a bellwether of the GOP’s chances in and of itself. But, he added, Republicans are in a dogfight. “We all know this is going to be a tough year,” he said.

Part of the problem for any majority party in reading the tea leaves of electoral catastrophe is that most incumbents will be re-elected. They are, necessarily, less worried than colleagues who are on the chopping block. That may help explain why so many Republicans either don’t see Ryan leaving as a harbinger or don’t want to admit it publicly.

“Despite Ryan’s departure, many GOPers will indeed survive and return next Congress,” Jolly said. “But it appears it will be to the minority side of the aisle.”

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12 Democratic governors vow that all votes will be counted

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LANSING, Mich. — Twelve Democratic governors issued a joint statement on Wednesday defending American democracy, vowing that every valid ballot will be counted in the election after President Donald Trump sowed distrust during the first presidential debate.

Trump claimed without evidence Tuesday night that mail voting — surging in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic — is ripe for fraud, and he refused to say whether he would accept the results. He also called on his backers to scrutinize voting procedures at the polls, which critics said could cross into voter intimidation.

Without mentioning Trump by name, the governors noted his refusal last week to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

“Any efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power are nothing less than an assault on democracy,” they wrote. “There is absolutely no excuse for promoting the intimidation or harassment of voters. These are all blatant attempts to deny our constituents the right to have their voices heard, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and to know the will of the people will be carried out.”

Signing the statement were Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Jay Inslee of Washington, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kate Brown of Oregon, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and John Carney of Delaware.

The governors said all valid ballots cast in accordance with state and local laws must be counted and if Trump loses, “he must leave office — period.”

They wrote that elections are not “an exercise in controlling power” and that disenfranchising voters “strikes at the very heart” of democracy.

“We call on elected leaders at all levels, from both parties, to speak out loudly against such efforts in the weeks ahead,” they said.

Trump campaign spokesperson Thea McDonald accused Democrats of “working to shred election integrity rules across the country to stack the deck for their lackluster candidate.” Republicans, she said, “are aiming for an election with results all Americans can trust.”

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Ohio voters react after chaotic first Trump-Biden debate

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NBC News’ Kate Snow checks back in with Ohio voters after the first presidential debate. The Trump and Biden supporters still strongly back their chosen candidate, while undecided voters say they were left disappointed.

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Brad Parscale steps down from Trump campaign to get ‘help’ after police incident

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Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has stepped down from his re-election campaign and his digital firm to focus on getting “help,” a senior campaign official confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday.

Parscale also confirmed the news in a statement.

“I am stepping away from my company and any role in the campaign for the immediate future to focus on my family and get help dealing with the overwhelming stress,” Parscale said in a statement.

Parscale, 44, was taken to a hospital Sunday after his wife reported that he was armed and threatening to harm himself, authorities said.

His wife, Candice, called police on Sunday afternoon, saying she and the prominent GOP political operative had “a verbal altercation” at their home on DeSota Drive in Fort Lauderdale, according to police.

Parscale had multiple guns when police officers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, arrived at his home. His wife said she feared he was suicidal and said she saw him load a gun before hearing “a loud bang” as she fled, police documents revealed on Monday.

Parscale was tackled to the ground by SWAT officers when he didn’t obey commands and was taken into custody under state guidelines allowing for an involuntary mental illness commitment, police reports showed.

Candice Parscale also issued a new statement on Wednesday, saying her statements about what happened earlier this week had been misrepresented.

“The statements I made on Sunday have been misconstrued, let it be clear my husband was not violent towards me that day or any day prior,” she said.

Parscale’s departure from the campaign was first reported by Politico.

Parscale had been running Trump’s re-election campaign before he was demoted in July and replaced by his deputy, Bill Stepien, also a veteran Republican operative. Weeks earlier, the Trump campaign was embarrassed by a lower-than-expected crowd at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which had been billed as the president’s major kickoff event.

In a joint statement, the couple thanked everyone for their “support during this difficult time for our family.”



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