UPDATE: Speaker Paul Ryan, House Republicans to Meet With Trump Next Week

House Speaker Paul Ryan and members of the House Republican leadership with meet with Donald Trump in Washington D.C. next Thursday, May 12. After the meeting, Ryan and Trump will privately meet with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

"Having both said we need to unify the party, Speaker Ryan has invited Donald Trump to meet with members of the House Republican leadership in Washington on Thursday morning to begin a discussion about the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November," Ryan's office released Friday. "The Speaker and Mr. Trump will also meet separately, along with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus."

Earlier this week Ryan said he is not ready to support Trump's candidacy for president and put the responsibility of unifying the Republican Party on the presumptive GOP nominee. Trump responded by saying he isn't ready to support Ryan, either.

Inevitable: Harsh Trump Critics Now Lining Up to Endorse Him

Following up on Katie's post, as I wrote on Wednesday, partisan tribalism is a powerful thing. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry gave a brutal anti-Trump speech months ago, in which he called Trumpism a "cancer on conservatism."Allahpundit notes that the text is still live on his website. Remember this?

Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing movement. He espouses nativism, not conservatism. He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic. He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds. He has piqued the interest of some Republican voters who have legitimate concerns about a porous border and broken immigration system. But instead of offering those voters leadership or solutions, he has offered fear and soundbites. This cannot stand. Conservatism doesn’t foment agitation through identity politics. That’s what Democrats do. But as a supporter of socialized medicine, the stimulus package and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump is quite suited to follow the Democrats’ example. I, for one, will not be silent when a candidate for the high office of president runs under the Republican banner by targeting millions of Hispanics, and our veterans, with mean-spirited vitriol...Resentment is the poison we swallow that we hope harms another. My fellow Republicans, don’t take the poison.

That was then. This is now. How's "the poison" tasting, Rick?

“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” he added, saying Trump knows how to market and brand like no one he has ever seen…When asked if Perry would consider being Trump’s running mate, he left the door wide open. “I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no,” Perry said.

Perry joins a long list of current and former GOP elected officials who are lining up to support the party's presumptive nominee, with the number of the temporary and permanent holdouts dwindling. My friend Peggy Noonan -- who just days ago penned a moving lamentation about the dreadful choices Americans face in 2016, referring to Trump as a "crazy man" -- has now turned around to chide #NeverTrump conservatives:

As someone who will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in November, I don't share the view of some fellow conservative anti-trumpers who seek to ostracize and shun any Republican who is now jumping on the bandwagon. I understand all of the sound reasons to back the party's standard-bearer, as I always have up to this point. To my surprise, it turns out there is a line I won't cross in the service of party loyalty, and Donald Trump is it. Others' line either doesn't exist, or lies elsewhere. Though I stand by my reasoning, I don't think it's productive for #NeverTrump to view the large majority of Team Red that will rally behind the nominee as the enemy. While I will not forget those who actively helped him secure the nomination during the primary process when he could have been stopped, the case for General Election coalescence is understandable.  But I'm not sure I follow Noonan's derisive barb about re-making the GOP as a 'slash-the-entitlements' party in a post-Trump era. Dealing with the dangerous, destructive national debt is a mathematical proposition, about which only one party has been remotely serious. Paul Ryan has worked tirelessly to fashion an innovative and desperately-needed reform program that was politically palatable to the general public. He worked hard to sell his party on it, then proceeded to demonstrate that it wasn't electoral anathema. Donald Trump is in denial about the problem, and opposes real solutions. His latest proposal to deal with the debt is truly reckless and ludicrous; it would be savaged and ridiculed mercilessly by conservatives if a prominent liberal floated anything like it. Is Noonan suddenly so comfortable with Nominee Crazy Man (her words) that she's willing to blithely nudge the Republican Party into joining the Democrats in Debt Fantasyland? I'll leave you with this:

It was a spirited, respectful, and lengthy debate. Most of the audience members who raised their hands as 'Never Trump' at the conclusion? Women.

Romney: I'm Not Voting for Trump Or Clinton

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said on Thursday that he not only doesn't plan on running for president as a third-party candidate, he also doesn't plan on supporting either presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

From the Washington Examiner:

"I see way too much demagoguery and populism on both sides of the aisle and I only hope and aspire that we'll see more greatness," Romney said.

Asked about a possible independent run, he said, "No, I'm certainly going to be hoping that we find someone who I have my confidence in who becomes nominee. I don't intend on supporting either of the major party candidates at this point."

Earlier in his remarks, Romney cited a commencement speech former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made last week in which he blasted demagogues.

Romney also made it clear that he does not plan on attending the RNC this July in Cleveland. He spoke earlier this year about how he is not a fan of Trump.

Could Romney be a proverbial canary in the coal mine? If he's refusing to support either candidate, he can't be the only one.

While the Republican primary is all but wrapped up, it appears as though this election season is only getting more and more interesting.

Rick Perry Called "Barking Carnival Act" Trump a "Cancer," Now Wants To Be His Vice President

Nearly 10 months ago former Texas Governor Rick Perry referred to rival Donald Trump as a "cancer on conservatism," and a toxic "barking carnival act" that will "lead the Republican party to perdition."

Perry's repeated attacks on Trump weren't simply about policy differences, but about proving Trump doesn't have the temperament or the character to be president. 

Today, not only is Rick Perry taking the advise of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to unite around Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee seriously, he wants to be Trump's vice president

Rick Perry would be open to being the vice presidential candidate on a ticket with Donald Trump, CNN reported Thursday.

“I will be open to any way I can help. I’m not going to say no,” the former governor of Texas and two-time presidential candidate told Dana Bash, who recounted a phone conversation she had with Perry earlier that day on “Erin Burnett Outfront.”

I'll leave you with this: 

Trump Causes DC Lobbyists Depression: "Oh Gosh, This Is Not a Dream"

There were many lobbyist in Washington, D.C. who probably woke up Wednesday morning to some unsettling news.  According to The Hill, there were plenty of people who influence lawmakers not necessarily happy with the startling reality that Donald Trump had in fact won the Republican primary.    

“A lot of people woke up and went, 'Oh, gosh, this is not a dream,’ ” said Jeff MacKinnon, a principal at Farragut Partners. “I don't think downtown was really prepared for it happening so quickly. It did catch people off guard.”

For the thousands of workers who tied their careers behind establishment politicians such as John Boehner and George W. Bush, depression may soon start to kick in.  

“As a Republican, I'm depressed,” said Tom Korologos, a strategic adviser for DLA Piper who supported Jeb Bush and then John Kasich during the race.

Korologos said he had lunch with other lobbyists and that, “They were all depressed.”

“Everyone is scrambling for relevancy right now,” MacKinnon said. “Everyone wants to be a player on some level but they don't even have a uniform on right now — they're still trying to figure out which one to wear, or if they'll even be put in the game.”

However, others have positive outlooks on a Trump presidency.  

“I think that as Donald Trump’s campaign progressed and you got to… listen to the excitement he was generating and the non-conventional aspect of the campaign, I think his message is something that resonates,” says David Urban, a president at American Continental Group, who has been volunteering for the Trump campaign.  

“I do believe there needs to be massive change in Washington. It resonates with me personally," he said.

ICYMI: Obama's New Syrian Training Program Has CIA-Backed Militias Firing On One Another

The Obama administration may not want to admit it, but our troops serving in an advisory capacity in Iraq and Syria may be doing more than just offering training. As Katie wrote yesterday, video footage showed quite explicitly that our forces are engaging the Islamic State directly in Iraq. Earlier this week, a U.S. Navy SEAL, Charles Keating IV, was killed in action while embedded with peshmerga fighters. So, mission creep seems to be occurring, and some have argued was going to be an inevitable consequence against an enemy that’s determined and organized.

Across the border, in Syria, things are more chaotic. In fact, one could argue that it’s total disaster in the sense that CIA-backed militias have been firing on one another. The Chicago Tribune reported in March that our intelligence assets have no control on what’s occurring on the ground:

Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter 5-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

[…]

The attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

[...]

President Barack Obama recently authorized a new Pentagon plan to train and arm Syrian rebel fighters, relaunching a program that was suspended in the fall after a string of embarrassing setbacks, which included recruits being ambushed and handing over much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to an al-Qaida affiliate.

The Tribune added that this comes after President Obama reauthorized a new training program for Syrian rebels—the administration had scrapped the previous one last October after the $500 million program failed to achieve any of its goals. One of the most embarrassing aspects was that this program only succeeded in training “four or five” Syrian fighters to take on ISIS.

It would appear that this new program is equally embarrassing.

Trump Already Proving He Doesn't Think Congress Really Matters

Some of the greatest concerns and criticisms conservatives have held for years surrounding now presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump revolve around the candidate's disregard of the U.S. constitutional system. Trump rarely, if ever, talks about the constitution or the role of government. His statements and positions indicate little cooperation with Congress, if any at all. Congress of course serves as an important check on the executive and represents the American people at a much closer level than the Oval Office. Members of the House in particular are constantly flying home to their congressional districts to hear directly from their constituents. 

Just days after winning Indiana and becoming the only remaining candidate on the Republican side of the race for the White House, Trump is already proving he doesn't have much regard for Congress. 

Yesterday House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper he wasn't ready to support Trump's candidacy. Trump fired back by saying he isn't ready to support Paul Ryan, either. Disagreements over policy and agenda are healthy and as Ryan said, it's up to Trump to unify the Party. 

The problem and disregard for the process came this morning when Trump Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said during an interview with CNN that if Ryan can't support Trump, who has been a Democrat until just a few years ago, then he's unfit to be Speaker. 

“If the Republican speaker of the House does not come around to supporting the Republican nominee, do you think that Paul Ryan is still fit to be speaker?” CNN’s John Berman asked Friday.

“No,” Pierson responded, “because this is about the party.”

This is the best way to unify a Party? By classifying a popular Speaker, who took the job for the country when no one else wanted it, and former Vice Presidential candidate as "unfit" for the position? 

It isn't the role of Congress to fall in line with the President, regardless of Party. It is the role of the President, however, to respect disagreements with Congress and to work on finding solutions. 

Obama: Trump ‘Has a Long Record that Needs to Be Examined’

President Obama’s White House press conference on Friday was supposed to center on the economy. He spent a few minutes telling reporters that he is intent on closing tax loopholes for the wealthy (who need to pay their “fair share”) and he wants to require banks to report on who owns companies they deal with. Little did he mention that the U.S. economy experienced the slowest job growth in seven months.

Yet, the conversation quickly turned to the 2016 election and what the president thinks about Donald Trump now all but securing the GOP nomination.

“He has a long record that needs to be examined,” Obama said. “This is not entertainment. It’s not a reality show.”

Every candidate, every nominee needs to be subject to scrutiny and standards, he continued. They need to have solutions to problems that are actually “plausible.”

In particular, Obama is concerned that the media is not doing its job to provide the American people a narrative that is focused on facts, not sensationalism.

“I’m concerned about the degree to which reporting emphasizes the spectacle on the surface,” he said. “The American people have good judgment as long as they are given good information.”

Asked about whether Bernie Sanders should drop out of the Democratic primary and pave the way for Hillary Clinton, Obama said to “let the process play itself out.”

The president then weighed in on Speaker Paul Ryan telling CNN he is "not ready" to support Trump, saying “there is no doubt that there is a debate taking place” in the Republican Party into what they are and what they represent. “It’s up to the voters,” he said, to make a decision about whether this is a guy who speaks for and represents them.

As You Would Guess, There Are No Republicans In the White House Press Corps

As you would expect, there are no registered Republicans in the White House Press Corps, though 60 percent aren’t even registered at all. This survey was included in a Politico piece on President Obama’s relationship with the press around the time of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (via WFB):

Of the journalists surveyed, more than a quarter are registered Democrats and 13 percent are not members of any political party. Sixty percent are not registered to vote, but 72 percent of those polled said they think reporters should vote in elections they cover.

Twelve survey respondents said they plan to vote for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Three said they support her rival Bernie Sanders. Two plan to vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) and one supports Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Nearly 9 in 10 respondents said they expect Hillary Clinton to be the nation’s next president.

A separate survey of campaign reporters revealed a bit more partisan diversity, but Republicans are still widely outnumbered among the 80 journalists surveyed.

And this is why we have groups, like the Media Research Center, to keep an eye on these folks.

RNC Chief to Broker Meeting Between Trump and Paul Ryan Next Week

Yesterday House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper he isn't ready to support Donald Trump's candidacy for President, but that things could change down the road.

"I'm not there right now and I hope to be there and I want to," Ryan said. "The bulk of the burden of unifying the Party will have to come from our presumptive nominee."

Trump fired back by saying he isn't ready to support Paul Ryan. 

"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people," Trump said in a statement. "They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"

Now, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is stepping in and will host a meeting between the two in Washington D.C next week.

The meeting will likely take place Wednesday at the Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill.

Republicans Gingrich, Hannity, and Carson Fire Back at Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan decided to make a controversial statement Thursday afternoon by saying, "I'm just not ready to support (Trump) at this point."

Donald Trump immediately responded by saying "I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda."

Sean Hannity went after Ryan in several tweets and said on his Fox News show that, “I’m not ready to support Speaker Ryan anymore... I’m thinking we may need a new speaker.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joined Hannity on his show Thursday night and sided with Trump.

“First of all, Donald Trump may turn out to be the most effective anti-left leader in our lifetime. He is against political correctness. He is against bureaucracy. He places American nationalism first which I think we desperately need. I’m tired of being told we have to have phony agreements and phony efforts.”

Ben Carson weighed in on the subject early Friday morning.  “You don’t have another choice,” he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."   

"You get behind the choice that you have, whether you like them or not, if in fact you’re a believer.”

Trump 'Ruling Out' Democrat as VP Pick

Former presidential candidate-turned-Donald Trump-surrogate Ben Carson suggested on Thursday that Trump may consider a Democrat or an independent as his running mate.

“We would consider people who are Americans and who put America first,” Carson said.

On “Fox and Friends” Friday morning, however, Trump said Democrats were not an option.

“I would rule them out,” Trump responded without hesitating.

“We want to have a great ticket,” he continued, arguing that we’ve had Democrats behind the wheel for too long and all they’ve managed to do is tank the economy.

“I’m going to pick a great Republican,” he said. “We’re going to have a tremendous victory. We’re going to win.”

One particular Republican Trump appears to be considering for VP is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Unbound delegates in Louisiana who support Rubio indicated they will only back Trump if he takes a look at Rubio, “Fox and Friends” anchor Ainsley Earhardt pointed out.

“I like Rubio,” Trump said, before dismissing their “one-month spat” on the campaign trail.

The businessman also mentioned Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who gave Trump a surprise endorsement on Thursday, calling him one of the “most talented” people who has ever run for president. It was a far cry from last summer, when the governor called Trump a “cancer on conservatism.”

We won’t know who Trump has chosen as his running mate until the RNC convention. We do know, though, that it will not be another outsider, but someone with an impressive amount of political experience

Unemployed Coal Miner: Clinton Sounded Joyful When She Attacked Us

Bo Copley, the unemployed coal worker who confronted Hillary Clinton over her promise to put the industry out of business, doesn’t believe her non-apologyapology.”

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Copley said he felt Clinton lied to his face. And more proof that she really meant what she initially said about putting “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” is the fact that she seemed so joyful when saying it.

“She lied to you. Right to your face when she said that, didn’t she?” Hannity asked.

“It would seem so, or at least the way I took it, it was,” he replied.

“But, you know, she did say that she’s trying to bring clean energy into the coalfields. But the tone that she had when she said we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and … and co-operations out of work, really, yes, it just seemed like it was a lot of joy in her voice when she said it,” he added.

Trump, meanwhile, portrayed himself as a friend of the coal industry while at a campaign rally in West Virginia on Thursday, and it seems to have worked. The West Virginia Coal Association later voted to endorse the presumptive GOP nominee.

“Trump has said he will reverse the Democratic regulatory assault that has cost the coal industry more than 40 percent of our production and jobs since 2008,” Bill Raney, the group’s president, said in a statement.

“In contrast,Hillary Clinton’s proposals essentially double-down on the job killing Obama policies,” he said. “West Virginia can’t afford that and neither can the nation.”

Rick Perry Endorses Trump

Former Texas governor and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry has endorsed Donald Trump for president and fully intends on supporting him throughout the campaign.

Perry, speaking by phone from his hometown of Roundtop, Texas, acknowledged Trump is not his ideal choice. When Perry was a candidate for president earlier in the 2016 cycle, he was the first to come out and criticize Trump and question his conservative credentials.

"He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them," Perry said.

Perry, who has been urged to run as a third party candidate, dismissed that notion as "quixotic."

"I believe in the process, and the process has said Donald Trump will be our nominee and I'm going to support him and help him and do what I can," Perry said.

"He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen," he added.

Perry's endorsement is a stark contrast to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he was not ready to support Trump for president just yet.

Carson: Trump's Considering Democrats, Independents For VP Pick

Update: 

Donald Trump on Friday morning said he would rule out choosing a Democrat as his running mate. "I’m going to pick a great Republican,” he said. “We’re going to have a tremendous victory. We’re going to win.”

Original Post: 

With Donald Trump becoming the presumptive GOP nominee, focus for many has shifted to who he will end up picking to be his running mate. But one thing that’s been assumed based on the names thrown out is that Trump is only considering Republicans.

According to Ben Carson, this is may not be the case.

The Wall Street Journal reports

While rank-and-file conservatives are searching for a signal that Mr. Trump shares their values, Ben Carson, a former GOP rival now helping the presumptive Republican presidential nominee pick a running mate, said Thursday Democrats may be among those considered.

Asked if Democrats and independents may be on the target list, Mr. Carson said “Yes,” then added, “We would consider people who are Americans and who put America first.”

Mr. Carson is the public face on the search process, while top campaign aide Paul Manafort is maintaining overall tight control, according to people familiar with the campaign.

Later, however, a spokesman for Carson said the retired neurosurgeon “fully expects Mr. Trump to choose a Republican as his running mate.”

Still, if Republicans aren’t supportive of his pick, some say it could cause chaos at the convention in Cleveland.

Given that Republican National Convention delegates aren’t bound to abide by his choice, Mr. Trump could face an arena of delegates rebelling against his running mate choice if he sends the wrong signal. “He could get to Cleveland and designate someone as his vice president and have the convention lose its mind,” said Erick Erickson, an anti-Trump conservative activist.

“Three weeks ago, I was on a call with some conservative activists and this topic came up,” Mr. Erickson said. “The consensus was that if you couldn’t get Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio on the ticket, that they would give a Shermanesque refusal to Trump’s pick,” he added in a reference to two of Mr. Trump’s former presidential rivals.

Such a plan would almost certainly have to be led, publicly, by Mr. Cruz, who has so far shown no inclination to do so.

On Thursday Trump said there’s “probably a 40 percent chance” he’ll choose one of his 16 GOP presidential opponents, but indicated it was “unlikely” to be Kasich.

In addition to choosing someone with political experience, Trump said rapport will also play a significant role in his decision. 

“I think having somebody that can get legislation through and help me with that would be good,” Trump told CNBC. “Of course, always the first reason is if something should happen, somebody that can serve and serve well and be a great president. And that’s always—you always start with that. And after that, it’s really a question of rapport. I think rapport is very important.”

Report: FBI Interviews Huma Abedin as Part of Email Investigation

The FBI has begun formal interviews in its investigation over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. According to an Associated Press source, the agency has already spoken with top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. 

As reported in March, the interviews are meant to determine whether Clinton’s aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified information over the unsecure email system.

The FBI has interviewed Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, as part of a federal investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, a person familiar with the probe said Thursday.

The person insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The FBI and Justice Department have been investigating whether sensitive information that flowed through Clinton's email server was mishandled.

Abedin was one of Clinton's closest aides during her tenure as the nation's top diplomat, serving as deputy chief of staff. 

Although a date for an interview with Clinton herself has not been set, officials say it will happen “in the coming weeks,” according to CNN

FBI Director James Comey has made it clear that there is no timetable for wrapping up the investigation. The agency’s focus, he said, was on conducting the investigation “well and promptly.” But between the two, he said, doing it well was more important. 

"From the start, Hillary Clinton has offered to answer any questions that would help the Justice Department complete its review, and we hope and expect that anyone else who is asked would do the same," Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told the AP. "We are confident the review will conclude that nothing inappropriate took place."

FBI officials overseeing the probe now expect to complete their work in the next few weeks and then turn over the findings to the Justice Department, which will make a final decision on whether to bring charges against anyone. Prosecutors from the Justice Department's national security division and from the U.S. Attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., have helped coordinate the FBI probe, closely overseeing investigative steps, the U.S. officials say.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus said the FBI interviews demonstrate that Clinton shouldn't be president. 

“These FBI interviews are another reminder of the gross negligence Hillary Clinton displayed as Secretary of State when she set up an off the books email server that exposed classified information on thousands of occasion," Priebus said in a statement, reports The Hill. 

"This reckless attempt to skirt government transparency laws put our national security at risk, and underscores just how big of a risk a Hillary Clinton presidency truly is."

As Expected, Donald Trump Trails Clinton By Double-Digits

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are gearing up for battle this November, but the former first lady is ahead by a landslide in a head-to-head matchup. If the election were held today, Clinton leads 54/41, which would have her  nabbing 347 electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s 191. This is a disaster, but a lot could happen in 6-8 weeks. If there’s anything we all learned this cycle, it’s that Trump is unpredictable—and that quality has usually yielded significant political dividends in the long run (via CNN):

The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July.

Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would.

Almost 9 out of 10 voters in the poll called the economy extremely or very important to their vote for president, outranking any other issue tested in the poll.

Clinton has the edge on a range of other issues. She is more trusted than Trump on terrorism (50% Clinton to 45% Trump), immigration (51% to 44%), health care (55% to 39%), the income gap (54% to 37%), foreign policy (61% to 36%), education (61% to 34%) and climate change (63% to 30%).

Overall, voters are evenly split on their opinion of Clinton -- 49% see her favorably and the same share unfavorably. But a decidedly larger group (56%) see Trump unfavorably than see him favorably (41%).

Where things get a bit disconcerting is that Trump is trailing Clinton (54/41), while he already clinching decent Republican support 82/12. About 28 percent of self-identified conservatives are breaking for Hillary, so Trump needs to get his ground game operations going, his running mate vetted, and his grand campaign to convince the #NeverTrump crowd to take a rise on him. We know what Hillary Clinton would do with a Democratic Congress, are you really saying that’s worse than a hypothetical Trump administration working with a mostly Republican one? The debate continues. Yet, while Trump has to shore up with conservatives, he need to improve with women voters. He’s underwater with them by a whopping 23/70 (favorable/unfavorable), which in any other cycle, would be a general election killer. Then again, time after time, we’ve heard about Trump’s pending doom and his low ceiling, which only ended with him winning the Republican nomination.

If Trump manages to boost his polling margin by ten points, he’s the one coming out on top with an electoral landslide over Clinton, 305-233. That’s banking on him winning Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. States that are incredibly competitive, some of which have high Hispanic populations, and one that hasn’t gone Republican since 1988. Mr. Trump has a lot of work ahead of him, which is typical of national campaigns, but more so than other Republicans in the past.

Shocker: Liberal Graduation Speakers Outnumber Conservatives 4-to-1

Liberal bias? What liberal bias?

According to Campus Reform, out of the top 100 universities, 40 of them are featuring explicitly liberal speakers at their commencement ceremonies. Only 10 are hosting speakers who are either openly conservative or who have donated to conservative/Republican politicians. (Several schools have not yet announced their commencement speakers or have speakers who are apolitical.)

Overall, Campus Reform found that 40 of this year’s commencement speakers espouse liberal philosophies. Only ten, however, champion conservative ideologies, meaning this year’s liberal speakers will outnumber conservatives at a rate of 4 to 1. A majority of America’s top schools, though, have either not announced a speaker or are hosting a speaker whose public political views do not strongly correlate with one political party.

Notably, not a single active conservative politician was invited to speak at one of the nation’s top schools. However, seven active members of President Obama’s administration will deliver commencement addresses this year, including Obama himself, who will speak to three graduating classes.

It's no wonder why colleges are churning out special snowflakes who are completely unprepared for the real world.

New: Ryan Tells CNN He's 'Not Ready to Support' Trump

House Speaker Paul Ryan joined Jake Tapper on CNN Thursday to discuss whether or not he’ll endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 election, now that he’s the presumptive GOP nominee. Mitt Romney, who chose Ryan as his running mate in 2012, has already indicated he won’t support Trump, opting to skip this year’s RNC convention. 

What about Ryan?

“To be perfectly candid, I’m not ready to support” Trump at this point, Ryan told Tapper.

“I don’t want to underplay what he accomplished,” Ryan continued. But, to unify the party, we need to do more than say it, we need to actually "advance our conservative principles," he insisted. 

As of now, he's not sure Trump can do that.

Ryan’s comments perhaps come as no surprise, considering he has repeatedly denounced Trump’s campaign behavior since assuming the speakership. For instance, although he says he didn’t want to weigh in on the primary, Ryan made an exception in March after Trump proposed to ban Muslims from entering the country. That plan, Ryan said, “is not conservatism.”

Ryan noted he didn't think he'd have to make a decision so soon, expecting the race to at least last until June. As the chair of the GOP convention, Ryan hopes Trump will have proved by then he can unify the party.

"I hope to support his candidacy fully," he said.

Rolling Stones Tell Trump To Stop Playing Their Songs At Rallies

The Rolling Stones aren't supporters of Donald Trump, and they don't even want to be peripherally associated with the candidate. The group recently ordered Trump to stop playing their songs at various campaign events, saying that they had never granted the candidate permission to use them.

The legendary British rockers have "never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately," a spokesperson said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been soundtracking his events with at least two Stones songs — "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Start Me Up" — since launching his White House bid almost a year ago.

"Start Me Up" was most recently played on Tuesday night, when Trump celebrated his Indiana primary win at Trump Tower in New York City.

Aerosmith has also asked Trump to refrain from using their songs at rallies.

Personally, I think this is a bit dumb. Music is music--it's not an endorsement unless the artist says so.

Backlash: Khloe Kardashian Goes to Cuba, Poses Under "Fidel"

Khloe Kardashian, sister of the famous Kardashain clan, recently took a trip to Cuba with her sisters Kim, Khloe and a friend. 

Yesterday, Khloe shared a photo on her Instagram and Twitter pages posing under "Fidel", which is etched under a quote on the wall. Fidel, of course, is the iron fisted dictator who has ruled over Cuba for decades. He is the same dictator who, along with his brother Raul, throws political dissidents into prison, including a man who dared to wave an American flag as the first cruise arrived on the island this week. He is responsible for the murders and deaths of ten-of-thousands of Cubans. 

Havana ????

A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on

The outrage was swift, with many of Khloe's fans educating her about who Fidel Castro is and what he did to their families.

"Wow. Really?! Posing with Fidel....I used to adore you. I am Cuban and my family has known people who were MURDERED by this man. Disgusting!" one fan wrote. 

"Fidel?!!!! Wtf really? As much as I like you I think this is disgusting!!! Cuban American over here," another said in outrage. 

"Posing with that pig's name over you is disgusting. I had to leave my beautiful country of Cuba when I was two years old because of political reasons and that was 36 years ago. That pig ripped families apart, including mine," another detailed.

No word on whether the Castro regime allowed Khloe and her pals use the internet to post their photos while they were in Cuba, or if they had to return to the U.S. to log back on.

Here's Donald Trump's Cinco De Mayo Greeting

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump issued a Cinco de Mayo greeting on Twitter today, boasting that the best taco bowls in the world are made at Trump Tower. Trump also said that he loves Hispanics.

Reactions to the tweet were varied:

While Trump claims to love Hispanics, they're not really returning the favor. Over three out of four Hispanics have an unfavorable view of the candidate.

UPDATE: The plot...thickens?

UPDATE II: Judd Legum of ThinkProgress has found the taco bowl/salad. They're apparently a seasonal item at Trump Café.

This post has been updated.

Mitt Romney Is Skipping the RNC

This July, hundreds of prominent Republicans will descend upon Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, will not be among them. A Romney spokesperson confirmed that the former Massachusetts governor does not plan to attend the convention.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, plans to skip this summer's Republican National Convention in Cleveland where Donald Trump will be officially nominated — an unusual move that underscores the deep unease many Republican leaders have about the brash celebrity mogul as their standard bearer.

A Romney aide told The Washington Post on Thursday morning, "Governor Romney has no plans to attend convention."

Romney has been one of Trump's chief critics this spring. He delivered a searing, point-by-point indictment of Trump in March — from his business record to his character to his divisive campaign-trail rhetoric.

Donald Trump endorsed Romney in 2012, but it's pretty clear the love isn't flowing both ways.

The RNC is scheduled to take place from July 18-21.

2016 RACE ROUNDUP: Trump Mulls VP Pick, Mocks Hillary for Not 'Putting Away' Sanders

Now that Donald Trump is the last Republican candidate standing and the eventual nominee, the media is starting to guess who he will choose as his running mate. Meanwhile, Trump’s all but securing the nomination is bad optics for Hillary Clinton, who still hasn’t managed to put away democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. That doesn’t mean she isn’t setting her sights on the general, however, attacking Trump repeatedly in her media appearances on Wednesday.

Republican Primary

Trump Fallout: Now that Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, angry "Never Trump" Republicans have been burning their registration cards and vowing to vote third party. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) even dropped hints he may run as the alternative nominee. Or, will libertarian candidate Gary Johnson siphon those lost Republican votes?

Then, on Thursday, Mitt Romney, who already told us how he feels about Trump, noted he will not be going to the convention. It seems there’s no love lost, if Trump’s interview with The Washington Post last month is any indication.

“I don’t care,” Trump said. “He can be there if he wants.”

How many Republicans will take Romney’s lead and refuse to support Trump?

Ready to Take on Hillary?: In a conversation with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, the businessman noted how embarrassing it is for Clinton to still be battling for the Democratic nomination. He compared it to a football team that couldn’t get the football over the end zone. He has also slammed her for using the “woman card.” If she wasn’t a woman, he said, she would be nowhere near the presidency. His rhetoric indicates he’s more than ready to take on the struggling female candidate.

VP Rumors: Sen. Marco Rubio? Gov. Susana Martinez? Both names have been thrown around by pundits. Could the Florida senator, however, accept the title, after being dismissed by Trump as “Little Rubio” on the campaign trail? Why not? Ben Carson is now a Trump surrogate even after the business mogul mocked his violent childhood. As for New Mexico Gov. Martinez, the media notes she could help his image both with women and Latinos. Other names that are surfacing include Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich, the last of whom Trump said he’d be “interested” in vetting.

We don’t know who Trump will choose as his running mate, but we do know who’s going to help vet the candidates. Dr. Carson will be on the vice presidential selection committee.

Democratic Primary

Hillary Clinton: Clinton called Trump a “loose cannon” a handful of times during her interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. Electing him, she said, would pose a danger to the country. She also had some criticism for the media, whom she said has failed to ask Trump any tough questions. 

Bernie Sanders: Several Thursday headlines feature the word “why” in reference to Sanders’ never-ending campaign. Yet, despite his superdelegate deficit, Sanders is not quitting. He told CNN he will continue his “uphill” battle against the establishment candidate. 

Primary Schedule

Saturday, May 7 - Democratic caucus in Guam

Precious Snowflakes Targeted Black Cartoonist For Criticizing Black Lives Matter

Oh, here we go again. Precious snowflakes in college griping about how they’re offended and expect the school’s administration to do something about it because they’re ignorant of free speech. It’s a typical tale, and this one from Wesley College in Dove, Delaware isn’t any different. In this case, a black cartoonist criticized Black Lives Matter (oh yeah, the kid went for the gold on this one), which initiated a cupcake nation alert that led to the illustrator being labeled a…racist. So, progressive softies tried to make the case that a black person is racist for going against the grain and offering some criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement—sadly, this seems in keeping with their authoritarian mindset (via Campus Reform):

Bryheim Muse, a black student, published two cartoons in the Whetstone, one critical of what he calls the Black Lives Matter movement’s hypocrisy on abortion, and one of a black man making a comment on attire.

“I was trying to make a point, showing the hypocrisy behind the Black Lives Matter,” Muse told WDEL, explaining that “in one way we’re saying ‘Black Lives Matter, but in another way, we’re aborting our children and we’re saying it’s okay.”

The other cartoon, he says, was based off a Biblical scripture about being known by your clothes.

“I was making a point that the way you dress defines who you are,” he stated.

His main point is that “Black Lives Matter is not the solution to our problems, protesting, begging other people to fix our problems, the solution to our problem is keeping God’s commandments. Black-on-black crime, if we kept the law on ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ we wouldn’t have that.”

Senior Tiffany Griffin disagreed, saying that BLM and abortion are two separate issues.

Griffin alleges that there is a strong racial divide on campus, citing an incident in which separate cookouts for white and black students were allegedly held by the college. Muse disagrees and says there is no racial divide.

Following the release of the cartoons, the college held an open discussion forum.

Muse feels he was targeted at the event, saying that the students were there to just talk about how they hated the cartoon, and they only showed up to argue.

[…]

“We have worked hard, especially black women, to defy and break down all of the stereotypes that were thrown at us,” Shaylynn Bivens told HuffPost. “It is humiliating to know that we were dehumanized by a fellow African-American male. He essentially gave the white students a reason to disrespect and think less of us. That comic promotes hate speech.”

Reform added that Griffin and a few other snowflakes demanded that first-year president Richard Clarke II condemn the cartoon, which he did, and increase the percentage of black staff and faculty at the school by 10 percent. Right, because that will totally make everything better. There’s no issue here. None. Zip. A kid drew a cartoon he didn’t like—get over it. This is in no way similar to the “slap a Jap” posters drawn during World War II. That was legitimate racism. Regardless, the fact that the cupcake legions used this to push a diversity initiative says all there is about campus progressives. Demonize conservatives, blame the administration for allowing them to exercise their right to free speech, complain, and then demand the administration increase the level of diversity within the faculty. Some schools, like Mizzou, even have required “diversity intensive” courses that are needed to graduate. I say well done, Mr. Muse for challenging the vicious nature of American progressivism, and that of the Black Lives Matter movement. You had an opinion, you put that to paper, and the pitchforks came out. That means you have to draw another one soon. Don’t let these snowflakes scare you; for God’s sake your classmate thinks that black deaths by abortion isn’t as big an issue (certainly not on the same level, which is sad) as a death at the hands of law enforcement. For liberals, the latter is just a much more juicier fruit to sink your teeth into than abortion.