POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - White-On-White Crime Plagues GOP Campaign

A Marco Rubio staffer punched a Rand Paul staffer and it was a big story today, even though Scott Walker has been punching himself for weeks. Donald Trump backed out of a political conference to make a "business transaction," which we imagine is what he says when he has to go to the bathroom. And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani explained that "Death to America" doesn't really mean "death" to "America," it's just Iranians' way of saying "keep America safe." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, September 18th, 2015:

HOUSE DEFUNDS PLANNED PARENTHOOD - They may yet find a way to shut this whole thing down. Tarini Parti: "Some House conservatives aren’t satisfied with the largely symbolic passage of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood on Friday -- and the threat of a government shutdown doesn’t seem to be enough to hinder their efforts. The bill to defund Planned Parenthood for a year -- unless the group stops performing abortions -- passed 241-187. The House also approved another abortion-related measure that would strengthen laws protecting infants born alive after failed attempts at abortions, and the Senate is expected to take up a bill next week banning abortions after 20 weeks." [BuzzFeed]

PAUL GOSAR THINKS THE POPE IS A DUMBASS - Jen Bendery: "Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is boycotting Pope Francis' address to Congress next week because of reports that His Holiness plans to focus on the 'fool’s errand of climate change.' In a Thursday op-ed on the conservative website Townhall.com, the Arizona Republican said he doesn't want to listen to the pope talk about climate change, since the planet's climate has been changing 'since first created in Genesis' in the Bible. 'If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend,' Gosar wrote. 'When the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.'" [HuffPost]

AMERICA DECLARED WINNER OF THIS FIGHT BY TKO - Some doughy, punchable bro who works for Rand Paul is a tattletale. Chad Livengood: "Grand Rapids consultant John Yob, who is Paul’s national political director, said early Friday he was assaulted in a Mackinac Island bar by a man he and a witness identified as working for Rubio." [The Detroit News]

BUT HOW DO YOU WIN SOUTH CAROLINA WITHOUT RACISM? Brown people living in the Palmetto State are complicating Republicans' time-tested campaign strategy. Kate Linthicum: "But while Republicans must answer to far-right voters now, they also face a future electoral force -- one just coming into focus in parts of Greenville, a city of about 60,000 nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In some neighborhoods here, strip malls have been transformed by cafes, carnicerias (meat markets) and hair salons catering to the region's rapidly growing Latino population, which increased 866% between 1990 and 2013. [LATimes]

TRUMP BECOMING LOSER - Ben Schreckinger: "After a summer of spectacle and saturation coverage, signs are accumulating that, for the public and the media, the onset of Trump fatigue has begun. Mentions of Trump on both television and radio have been trending downward for a month from their post-Fox debate high. His share of Twitter conversation relative to other candidates has declined in recent weeks, and his odds in political prediction markets have dipped in the hours since Wednesday night’s debate." [Politico]

CLINTON CAMPAIGN IN HUGE TROUB-- YIKES, THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY - Somebody still loves you, Hillary Clinton. Gabriel Debenedetti: "The super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton has brought in $25 million in commitments since July 1, a senior Priorities USA Action official told Politico. It's a big haul after a scuffling start that left Clinton and her top staff panicked. With the new commitments, Priorities' 2015 total rises above $40 million." [Politico]

Ana Marie Cox, Tim Carney, and Kevin Roose joined HuffPost's "So That Happened" Podcast this week. Cox talked about the debate, Roose explained Liberty University, and Carney Popesplained. Get the podcast on iTunes HERE.

CARLY FIORINA IS FEMALE - Jeremy W. Peters: "With a debate performance that was steely and at times deeply personal, Carly Fiorina appears to have improved her standing in the race to be the Republican nominee. But even if she falls short, she took a big stride toward filling a role her party badly needs: a credible antidote to the gender gap and the Democrats’ claims of a Republican 'war on women.'" [NYT]

Fiorina really won't back down from that verifiably false thing she said about the Planned Parenthood videos. So weird.

Haircuts: Devon Kearns (h/t Alexa Combelic)

DELANEY DOWNER - Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is tired of able-bodied food stamp recipients zipping around on snowmobiles instead of looking for jobs. The state announced this week that it will disallow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for childless households with certain assets worth more than $5,000. Home equity and a person's primary vehicle won't count against the limit, but the state has issued a list of things that could: "bank accounts, snowmobiles, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers," and other valuables. "Hard-working Mainers should not come home to see snowmobiles, four wheelers or jet skis in the yards of those who are getting welfare," LePage said in a statement. [HuffPost]

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POOR JEB - David Weigel and Ed O'Keefe: "Jeb Bush’s first post-debate political rally started a few minutes early, in a rec center room built for 200 but only half-full. He started with an in-joke, about a candidate who would not be named and whose rallies were at least a basketball stadium larger. 'I hope that I am so brilliant and so eloquent and so high-energy that you feel compelled to caucus for me,' Bush said as chairs were put down to fill out space." [WashPost]

HuffPost Hill Facts of Life: Jeb's name is actually John Ellis Bush and his nickname comes from his initials, so when people call him Jeb Bush it's like they're saying John Ellis Bush Bush.

AARON SCHOCK'S DECORATOR MUST BE VERY SUCCESSFUL - Come on, Mark Kirk. Are you serious with this? John Gregory: "U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is the target of an ethics complaint over supposedly having his office redecorated for free by the same designer who worked on former Congressman Aaron Schock's office." [Ilinois Radio Network]

IT'S POSSIBLE THEY JUST THINK 'MUSLIM' IS A GENERIC INSULT - Donald Trump is almost as gross as the people who want him to be president. Marina Fang: "Donald Trump on Thursday fielded a question from a New Hampshire man alleging that President Barack Obama is a Muslim and was not born in the United States. In the process, the reality television star and real estate mogul proved that he himself still believes those falsehoods." [HuffPost]

The thing is, Republicans do this ALL THE TIME.

And the White House is kind of loving this.

'RONALD REAGAN WAS ALSO A LOSER' TURNS OUT TO BE A WEAK ARGUMENT - Scott Walker, man. David Weigel: "[I]n 1980, Reagan never fell as low as Walker is now. A June 1979 Washington Post poll found Reagan lapping the field, with 43 percent support to just 16 percent for then-fast-fading former Texas governor John Connolly. A September 1979 poll, which asked voters how they'd lean if former president Ford entered the race, found Reagan at 29 percent and Ford at just 21 percent." [WashPost]

You know who never had to reassure his nervous donors? Ronald Reagan.

AT LEAST JOHN KASICH IS A TIPPER - Kurtis Lee: "Sharing an anecdote Thursday at a campaign event as he spoke about Republicans trying to attract Latino voters, Ohio Gov. John Kasich got tangled up on the details….'A lot of them do jobs that they're willing to do and, uh, that's why in the hotel you leave a little tip,' said Kasich before a small group inside the Shady Canyon Golf Club, nestled in a gated Irvine neighborhood." Weird! [LA Times]

MR. SPEAKER? YOU CAN HAVE MY ANSWER NOW, IF YOU LIKE. MY FINAL OFFER IS THIS: NOTHING - Nancy Pelosi can't pop enough popcorn for this. Lauren French and Anna Palmer: "So far, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders haven't settled on a strategy for how to capitalize on a collapse of Boehner’s powerbase. The minority leader is keeping her cards close - even some of her closest confidantes say they aren't sure what she's thinking. The issue hasn't been brought up during leadership meetings Democrats hosted this week and Pelosi has brushed aside public questions on her plans." [Politico]

THIS IS ODD, SINCE BEN CARSON IS ONLY LIKE THE FIFTH MOST BORING CANDIDATE - Ben Carson has too much chill. Trip Gabriel: "'Carson’s demeanor is beginning to make him look weak,' said Mary Whisenand, an insurance executive in Des Moines. 'It isn’t that I think every presidential candidate needs to get out there and do hellfire and brimstone, but the optics are starting to work against him.'" [NYT]

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: BIDEN-COLBERT 2016 - Uncle Joe stopped by the Stephen Colbert program and then people clicked on some links about him. Evan McMorris-Santoro: "An internal memo circulating among supporters of a Vice President Joe Biden 2016 run for president shows that Stephen Colbert’s new CBS late-night show is still the home of the 'Colbert Bump.'" [Buzzfeed]

OBAMA MAKING ANOTHER HISTORIC NOMINATION - Department of Defense official Eric Fanning on track to be the first openly gay secretary of a branch of the armed services. Greg Jaffe: "President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services." [WashPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The Onion straight murdered Jeb Bush today. RIP Jeb Bush.

GEE THANKS, PRESIDENT OF IRAN - "Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tells Steve Kroft that his countrymen's chant of 'Death to America' is a condemnation of U.S. policy rather than a death wish for Americans." [CBSNews]

COMFORT FOOD

- Cat is really good at Jenga.

- Puppy caught eating paper decides killing witness only way out.

- Two-week-old leopard kitten snuggles.

- These new photos of Pluto are bonkers.

TWITTERAMA

@meechone: gonna be a long year the girl who sits next to me at work's daughter just started kindergarten and she keeps calling it "kindeee-garten"

@EvanMcSan: “That’s not a real bar fight” - dudes who have the CSPAN app on their iPhones

@emmaroller: I know what a *real* punch looks like, because I am a political reporter who spends 8 hours a day on Twitter. Also I love Hemingway.

@JustinNXT: Someone at the WSJ must pay for this.

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