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“If You Have To Ask…”: Trump’s Baffled; ‘Why Am I Not Doing Better In The Polls?’

Last weekend, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and expressed nothing but confidence about the state of the race. Chuck Todd noted recent polling showing Hillary Clinton leading and asked Manafort whether he’d concede that his candidate was trailing. “No,” he replied, adding, “[W]e’re confident that we are not behind the Clinton campaign.”

Obviously, the polling evidence is readily accessible, but more to the point, Manafort doesn’t appear to have convinced his boss. Politico had this report yesterday on Trump’s appearance on Mike Gallagher’s conservative talk-radio show.

“Well, you know, I really feel it, Mike. I go to Ohio, we were there two days ago, and Pennsylvania and near Pittsburgh and we – I was in West Virginia, the crowds are massive. And you know, I walked out of one, and I said, ‘I don’t see how I’m not leading,’” Trump said, invoking the size of his crowds.

“We have thousands of people standing outside trying to get in, and they’re great people and they have such spirit for the country and love for the country, and I’m saying, you know, ‘Why am I not doing better in the polls?’”

First, the fact that Trump is even asking the question is notable, given the campaign’s pretense that Trump is doing just fine in the polls. “I don’t see how I’m not leading” is the sort of thing a candidate says when he knows that he’s … not leading.

Second, and more important, is the fact that the first-time candidate doesn’t seem to understand the difference between having fans show up at public events and actually winning at the national and statewide level. Bernie Sanders also saw “massive” crowds, and as impressive as that was, the senator still came up short in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Every major presidential candidate can draw an audience. That doesn’t mean he or she is going to win.

That said, these comments from Trump aren’t just amateurish, they also shed light on why he assumes the polls are wrong. In the Republican’s mind, if the surveys were correct, he wouldn’t have thousands of people showing up to cheer him. That doesn’t actually make any sense, but from his perspective, it’s easier to believe “crowds = victory” than to accept polls showing him trailing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, Junly 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort, Presidential Polls | , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Hypocrisy At The Heart Of Trump’s Campaign”: Paul Manafort, A Paragon Of The GOP Washington Establishment

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, had a message to deliver.

“Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment; she’s been in power for 25 years,” he informed Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday.

When Trump, Manafort added, “says he’s going to bring real change to the country, voters believe him — unlike Mrs. Clinton, who has been saying that for 25 years and in those 25 years, the only changes that have happened have made people’s lives worse.”

But then, at the tail end of the interview, Manafort slipped when discussing evangelical Christians’ support for Trump. “In my 40 years in politics, I have never seen such a broad-based base of support within that community for one candidate.”

Forty years in politics? But it’s Clinton’s 25 years that make her the “establishment”?

If that weren’t enough, Manafort was giving the interview from the Hamptons — playground of the eastern elite.

This is the hypocrisy at the heart of the Trump campaign, now under Manafort’s undisputed control. Manafort’s inspiration, which Trump has embraced, is to portray Clinton as the embodiment of the establishment. But Manafort (not unlike Trump) has been the voice of the wealthy and the well-connected for four decades, building a fortune by making common cause with the world’s most avaricious.

Among Manafort’s boasts: representing kleptocrats Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko and Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi, defending Saudi Arabia’s interests against Israel’s and Pakistan’s against India’s, and making the case for a Nigerian dictator, a Lebanese arms dealer and various and sundry Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He successfully lobbied to arm a Maoist rebel in Angola, needlessly extending fighting that killed thousands.

It’s Manafort’s right to represent dictators and thugs and regimes that torture. He has, for decades, helped autocrats who battle human rights and democracy. But now this man, who made his fortune helping the rich and powerful get more so, is setting up a general-election campaign that portrays Trump as a man of the people and Clinton as the captive of special interests.

Manafort has been widely credited with this week’s speech by Trump laying out his general-election theme: that Clinton is the defender of the big-money interests and the “rigged” economy.

“Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft. She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes,” Trump argued. “Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death. . . . Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.”

And the man who led Trump to deliver such accusations? Here’s what my Post colleagues Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger reported in April:

“In one case, Manafort tried unsuccessfully to build a luxury high-rise in Manhattan with money from a billionaire backer of a Ukrainian president whom he had advised.

“In another deal, real estate records show that Manafort took out and later repaid a $250,000 loan from a Middle Eastern arms dealer at the center of a French inquiry into whether kickbacks were paid . . . ”

“And in another business venture, a Russian aluminum magnate has accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million intended for investments, then failing to account for the funds. . . . ”

Manafort has been a paragon of the Washington Republican establishment for two generations, working on Gerald Ford’s reelection in 1976 before helping Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. He started two lobbying firms, and he has used his contacts in attempts to enrich himself. His lobbying firm recruited veterans of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, then lobbied for $43 million in subsidies for a housing project, while holding an option to buy a stake in the project.

Manafort is steeped in the racial politics Trump has exploited. As Franklin Foer writes for Slate, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation in 1980; the candidate kicked off his general-election campaign outside Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of civil rights activists in 1964. Manafort later became a business partner of Lee Atwater, who gained fame for Bush’s Willie Horton campaign in 1988.

Introduced to Trump by Roy Cohn, lawyer to Joe McCarthy, Manafort helped Trump fight Indian casinos by alleging that the Native Americans had a crime problem; Trump and his associates paid a $250,000 fine after secretly funding advertisements besmirching the Indians.

Now Trump is engaged in a general-election campaign to portray Clinton as the candidate of the establishment. That’s fair enough: She has been atop the country’s elite for a quarter-century. But the man leading this effort spent a much longer career benefiting the wealthy and powerful, including Trump, at the expense of the poor and weak. That’s rich.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Lobbyist-Of-Choice”: How Trump’s Paul Manafort Became Expert On “Crooked” Washington

Will veteran GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort bring a measure of respectability to Donald Trump and his disreputable campaign apparatus? The Republican lobbyist isn’t likely to engage in the thuggish antics made infamous by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

But when I saw Manafort yapping about “Crooked Hillary” — while assuring other insiders that Trump is merely “playing a part” on the stump — I recalled certain aspects of his resume that deserve fresh scrutiny now.

Manafort first drew public attention during the Reagan era, when he and his lobbying partners represented Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a world-class kleptocrat whose theft of enormous amounts from his country’s treasury I helped to expose in The Village Voice more than 30 years ago (with my esteemed colleague William Bastone, who later created The Smoking Gun website). Few official criminals in the 20th century were as audacious and greedy as Marcos and his shoe-fetishist wife Imelda, but when their image cratered after our investigation, Manafort gladly took nearly a million dollars to apply lipstick to those pigs.

Not content with the tainted Marcos lucre, Manafort and company also advocated on behalf of international gangsters such as Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic dictator known as the “King of Zaire”; Jonas Savimbi, the reputed cannibal and blood-diamond purveyor who tried to seize power in Angola; Said Barre, the authoritarian crook who left the failed state of Somalia to pirates and jihadis; and Ukrainian overlord Victor Yanukovych, the corrupt, Kremlin-backed autocrat thrown out by massive street protests two years ago for fixing a national election.

How did Manafort become the lobbyist-of-choice for these odoriferous characters? His reputation as a powerful Washington insider was elevated by one of the Reagan administration’s worst scandals – the looting of Housing and Urban Development funds by well-connected Republicans like Manafort, who quietly stuffed their pockets with federal funds while bemoaning “big government.” In Congressional testimony, Manafort admitted to successfully peddling influence for big money – which impressed Mobutu so much that he hired the firm. The result was that taxpayers got fleeced for hundreds of millions of dollars, over and over again, ripped off in perfectly legal fashion by Manafort and his clients. Unlike several Republicans implicated in the scandal, Manafort not only escaped indictment but actually prospered as a result of his notoriety.

But don’t worry: Trump is going to clean up Washington corruption and waste. You can tell by the company he keeps.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo,  April 25, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Lobbyists, Paul Manafort | , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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