Tag Archives: GOP campaign

Is this when Trump’s campaign unravels? Hold that thought

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The Sunday television talk shows are full of discussion this morning about Donald J. Trump’s horrible week.

He provides three to five positions on abortion in the span of 48 hours.

Trump refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against the Islamic State — even in Europe!

His campaign manager is arrested and charged with battery against a reporter.

He’s been pilloried, punched and pounded¬†over all of this — and more!

Is this the end of the Donald Trump Phenomenon? Do not take this to the bank.

My own thoughts on this man’s presidential candidacy have been blown aside by almost every unpredictable circumstance imaginable.

I thought he was toast when he:

Denigrated U.S. Sen. John McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War.

Got into that hideous feud with TV journalist Megyn Kelly over her questioning his views on women during the first GOP presidential debate.

Made fun of a journalist’s physical disability.

Declared his intention to ban Muslims from entering the country because of their faith.

Announced his plan to build a giant wall along our entire southern border.

Insulted a former fellow Republican presidential candidate over her physical appearance.

Engaged in that childish series of debate put-downs with Sen. Marco Rubio.

What have I missed?

He keeps returning stronger than before. He energizes those who like how he “tells it like it is.”

I’ve seen the polling about how women view him unfavorably. I’ve read all the data about how this guy loses to Hillary Clinton big in a general election matchup.

None of it seems to matter to the Trumpsters who are as angry as he says he is.

Is this the most bizarre election cycle any of us ever have seen? For my money, uhh, yes … it is!

For that reason, I am not going to declare Donald Trump’s candidacy “dead at the scene.”

 

Let’s just see one Trump, the real Trump

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Dr. Ben Carson, barely two weeks gone from the Republican Party presidential primary trail, has endorsed Donald J. Trump to be his party’s nominee.

The man who Trump called a “pathological liar” now says Trump has another side. The public sees the bombastic Trump, the one who declares Mexican immigrants are rapists, who says John McCain isn’t a “real” war hero, who says Islam “hates America.”

There’s another Trump lurking under the public man’s skin, Dr. Carson said. It’s more nuanced, more thoughtful, that he’s “malleable.”

Can you believe that?

Well, I can’t.

Carson’s endorsement of Trump sounds about as authentic as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement. Recall that Christie said Trump is “unfit” to be commander in chief; he said Trump is campaigning as “entertainer in chief.”

Now he’s on board. He’s all in.

Christie must be angling for a spot somewhere —¬†I shudder to say this out loud —¬†in a Trump Cabinet.

And Carson? There might be a vice-presidential spot in the good doctor’s immediate political future.

As for his assertion that the “other” Donald Trump is much more likable and implicitly electable, I’ll just add this: If he’s out there, my hunch is that the bombastic and boorish¬†Trump would have given way long ago.

 

America is still great

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Hillary Clinton might have punched the perfect campaign theme button when she declared victory in this past weekend’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.

She took dead aim at Donald J. Trump’s pledge to “make America great again.” The Republican primary frontrunner keeps asserting that the United States no longer is the greatest nation Earth, that it has ceded its greatness to trade rivals such as China and, get this, Mexico. He asserts that foreign governments no longer “fear” this country.

Clinton has a different view. It is that the United States “always has been great,” and she declared it to her fans while basking in the victory glow in South Carolina.

Indeed, the Trump message — depending on how you interpret it — can be seen as a supreme insult to the men and women who serve t protect us. It also insults the career diplomats, foreign service officers, domestic agency staffers and all the rest of those who serve within the public sector at the will of the American taxpayer.

Did I say “insult”? I almost forgot. That’s how Trump has endeared himself to those who claim to be Trumpsters.

I choose not to march to that cadence.

Trump’s fear-mongering, negativity and the message that borders on bigotry might play well among those who have swallowed the notion that we are in steep decline.

Others, though, should keep reminding us — just as Ronald Reagan did so eloquently while proclaiming it was “Morning in America” — that our nation’s best days are still to come.

That’s a big part of Hillary Clinton’s victory message.

There’s no need to “make America great again,” she said.

We’re still the greatest nation on the planet.

 

GOP frontrunner getting softened up for Democrats?

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Donald J. Trump is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

I’ll concede that much.

It’s interesting, though, to listen to other Republicans tear into him. It makes me wonder — not that I’m predicting it, given the wackiness of this campaign — whether the intraparty opponents will soften him up for the Democratic candidate who might face him this fall.

Marco Rubio blasts Trump for hiring illegal immigrants to build his hotels. He calls Trump a “con man.”

Ted Cruz accuses Trump of hiring foreign workers over American workers to work in his “world-class companies.”

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney challenges Trump to release his tax returns.

Lindsey Graham says his party has gone “bats*** crazy” by backing Trump.

It reminds me a bit of the 1988 Democratic primary campaign when Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee introduced the “Willie Horton” issue to voters, reminding them of how Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis signed off on a furlough for a prison inmate who then went on a crime rampage. Republicans seized on that theme and beat Dukakis senseless with it during the fall campaign that year.

And so it goes.

Nothing about this campaign makes conventional sense.

It might be that all this piling on only will strengthen the Republican frontrunner.

It’s making me crazy, y’all.

 

Rove: Trump has ‘peaked’

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Let’s be sure to take any political prediction by Karl Rove with a generous dose of salt.

Not just a grain, mind you.

I’m not willing to bet the ranch that Donald J. Trump has “peaked,” which Rove has suggested. Trump’s peak was supposed to be at the mid-20 percentage point mark. He’s now at 30-plus percent in most Republican presidential polls.

Now we hear from Rove — who “predicted” that Mitt Romney would win the presidency in a landslide four years ago — suggesting that Trump’s support isn’t going to grow.

This election cycle has produced the most maddening series of events imaginable. I cannot remember a presidential campaign that’s been weirder than this one. Not 1968, or 1972, or 1980, or 1992, or 2000.

As a friend and former colleague told me this morning at Amarillo College, we are seeing the effects of “popular culture” on the American electorate.

I don’t know if I want Rove to be right or wrong. If he’s wrong, then Trump will get the GOP presidential nomination this summer. If he’s right, then who rises to the top? To whom do Republicans turn?

Is this guy, Rove, the final authority on these things?

His recent track record isn’t so great.

 

President Gingrich, anyone?

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How decisive will the South Carolina Republican primary be after the votes are counted?

That remains a matter of considerable discussion.

Donald J. Trump is the frontrunner. The fight now is for second place.

But consider what transpired there four years ago.

Newt Gingrich won the state’s primary, which when you look back shouldn’t have been a huge surprise. The former U.S. House of Reps speaker hails from next-door Georgia. He was more or less a “favorite son” candidate of GOP voters. He then promptly flamed out.

The same theory perhaps applies to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ blowout win in the New Hampshire Democratic primary just a while ago. He represents neighboring Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt there, either.

This process remains in its early stages.

The Republican field has been winnowed considerably from that massive horde of contenders/pretenders that began the race.

For my money, though, the serious test will occur on March 1 when Texas joins several other states in that big Super Tuesday primary.

Then we’ll see who’s got the chops to keep going.

Let’s all stay tuned.

 

Weirdness overtakes reason on campaign trail

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It’s been like this for some time now.

Probably since the day in June 2015 when Donald J. Trump — the one-time reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul — entered the Republican Party presidential primary campaign.

Events of the past 24 hours, though, have brought about a level of weirdness that I don’t think many of us ever saw coming.

It involves Trump and — of all people — his Holiness, Pope Francis I, the head of the Catholic Church.

The pontiff is touring Mexico and he said that anyone who wants to build a wall to bar immigrants is “not Christian.” He said Scripture doesn’t condone such a thing. I should note that Pope Francis made his remarks in Spanish and they have been interpreted into English; I trust the translation is accurate.

Trump fired back, calling the pope’s criticism of an American politician’s faith “disgraceful.”

Trump kept up his criticism of the pope. To my knowledge, the pope hasn’t yet answered the GOP frontrunner’s criticism of him.

I am just not certain now where this campaign goes from here. Nor do I have a clue as to how it could get even stranger.

But you know what? Given that I never thought it would devolve to this level — with the pope and a leading American politician at odds over a proposal to build a wall — I am preparing myself for the weirdness level to keep escalating.

 

Gov. Christie goes out with a bang

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As I ponder the latest round of exits from the Republican Party presidential primary field, I am struck by the nature of one departure in particular.

So long, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but your bowing out is one for the books.

It’s not the statement you made. It was fairly typical.

It was your final act on the stage.

Christie managed to inflict potentially mortal political wounds on Sen. Marco Rubio during a ferocious exchange in advance of the New Hampshire primary. He exposed Rubio’s lack of experience and his robot-like demeanor. Christie questioned whether Rubio had the chops earned during his single term in the Senate to ascend to the highest office in the land.

He did a masterful job of skinning a competitor alive.

What happened then? Rubio finished far back in the field in the primary that was won by Donald J. Trump. As for Christie, he got zero bounce for his effort. He, too, finished in single digits.

I am sorry to see Gov. Christie leave the race. He’s one of the grownups in the GOP field that’s still being dominated by Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.

At least, though, another man is now making some noise: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has emerged as my favorite Republican running for president. Heck, he might even be my favorite candidate … period!

But today, however, I want to doff my cap to the fiery, feisty New Jersey governor who went down swinging.

 

Making deals = surrender? Hardly

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Fox News sent this tweet into the Twitterverse just a little while ago: “I don’t think the conservatives in SC want to nominate another dealmaker . . . ¬†someone who’s¬†going to surrender . . . our principles.”

It came about from remarks that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz made on the network regarding the upcoming South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

I think I’ll try to deconstruct that view.

Cruz, one of the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, seemed to suggest that cutting deals means — necessarily — that one surrenders principles.

I’ll take issue with that premise.

Let’s harken back to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, about eight years before the young Texas Republican was born. Some of us remember that event.

The Soviet Union began installing strategic missiles in Cuba. Our spy planes discovered them from high above the communist nation. President Kennedy received word of the missiles. He then met with his national security team and — after hearing options that ranged from doing nothing to invading Cuba — settled on a course of action: He ordered a maritime blockade of the island nation; no ships were allowed to dock in Cuba.

Finally, the Soviets “blinked,” according to the parlance of the time. They agreed to remove the missiles. JFK had warned them in a broadcast to the nation that any launch of those missiles from Cuba¬†against any nation in this hemisphere would be seen as an attack on the United States and would result in a “full retaliatory strike” against the Soviet Union.

What did the United States give up in return? We agreed to take down some missiles of our own based in Turkey.

Did the president make a deal? Yes. Did he “surrender” his principles or those of the nation he governed? Not even close.

The tough talk coming from Cruz and others on the right and far right ignore the reality of dealing in a rough-and-tumble world.

There are times when deals provide the only way out of tense confrontations.

And, yes, they can be¬†finalized without compromising one’s principles.

 

GOP now settling in on (mostly) serious hopefuls

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Let’s call it a form of political natural selection.

The presidential primary campaign slogs on from state to state and as each state’s votes are counted, the candidates at or near the pack of the pack, bottom of the heap, end of the line — whatever — find themselves with little to zero support.

Why keep fighting?

Two more Republicans threw in the towel today: Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina called it a campaign. They’re suspended, which is a nicer way of saying they’re kaput.

Now it’s up to the GOP grownups to march on.

Except that the remaining candidates isn’t composed entirely of grownups. Donald J. Trump is the frontrunner. Enough said there.

The Democrats started this race with five hopefuls. Three of them dropped out. Now it’s just Hillary vs. Bernie.

But the Republican field still comprises seven candidates. For the life of me I’m not sure why Jim Gilmore is still in the hunt. Ben Carson also must be assessing his chances of ever attaining the White House. Jeb Bush? I had high hopes for him; silly me. Before he bid adieu to this campaign, Christie did a masterful job of peeling the bark off of Marco Rubio at the most recent GOP debate.

Let’s see, who’s left . . . after Trump?

Don’t get me started on the Cruz Missile, Sen. Cruz of Texas. My disdain for him rivals how I feel toward Trump.

My main man is still John Kasich, the serious-minded Ohio governor who’s now trying to call himself a “staunch conservative,” when in reality he’s demonstrated a nice bipartisan touch that today’s hard-core right-wingers deem to be soft, squishy, RINOish.

There will be more Republican dropouts in the next few days. Then we’ll be down to the real serious contenders.

Just as natural selection works wonders in the wild, it does have its way of creating a race where only the fittest can compete.