We're just four weeks out from Election Day, and the first polls are rolling in from the October Surprise stage of the campaign. The head-to-head results range from Donald Trump up by 3 to Hillary Clinton up by 14 ... so the actual mood of the country is somewhere in that narrow 17-point window, right?
The GOP's Red Rover team continued to fall apart Monday as team captain Paul Ryan suggested that, hey, not everyone had to link arms with Trump if they didn't really want to. The speaker of the House told Republican colleagues on a conference call yesterday that he wouldn't campaign with Trump over the next four weeks, and that individual candidates for Congress should support or denounce Trump as they saw fit. Ryan's mindset appears to be that Trump likely won't win the White House, and that preserving GOP control of the House of Representatives should be the primary goal. Why the switch? An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted after the Trump tapes but before Sunday's debate showed that voters prefer Congress to be controlled by Democrats, 49% to 42%.
Still, Ryan's "decide for yourselves" decree didn't go over well at all with conservatives hoping to win the White House and Congress. Republican pollster Frank Luntz, whose focus group declared Trump the winner Sunday night, said Ryan's Monday morning call killed any chance of momentum for Donald. "Trump's debate performance was strong enough to keep him viable, but Paul Ryan's decision trumps Trump," Luntz said. And you know who else wasn't thrilled with the decision? Donald Trump.
Still on board the Trump Train: Mike Pence, who unnamed sources said was considering leaving the ticket. “I don’t condone what was said, and I spoke out against it. But the other part of my faith is, I believe in grace,” Pence said at a rally in North Carolina. “I’ve received it. I believe in it. I believe in forgiveness.” Rep. Mark Amodei, Trump's chair in Nevada, also is standing by his man. "I choose not to tear my party of choice apart because Donald Trump said and did some frankly awful things in his past," Amodei said in a statement. "It is worth noting that during some dark days in Secretary Clinton’s past, her party has closed ranks and defended their nominee, even when the facts were compelling regarding character."
Stepping off the Train: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who said Sunday, “It is time for the good of the nation and the Republican Party for Donald Trump to step aside and let Gov. Mike Pence assume the role as the party’s nominee."
So is it all over? Not quite. Staffers on NBC's "The Apprentice" say there are still more embarrassing outtakes from Trump's years with the show, but everyone from NBC to show producer Mark Burnett to MGM, the new owner of the footage, say they're powerless to release anything.
Note to WikiLeaks: We're not here to try to tell you how to leak things or wiki things or whatever, but remember last week when you had tens of thousands of viewers tuned in online for anniversary livestream and then didn't bother to announce any leaks? That's probably when you should have leaked stuff.
Good lord, Julian Assange. It's like you had a post-Super Bowl time slot, and then decided to hang on to your best stuff to air on the TV Guide channel at 3 a.m. the following Tuesday.
So is it all over? You got us. Apparently we need someone to hack into your strategy emails to try to figure out what's going on over there.