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“Just Another Day On The Campaign Trail”: Donald Trump To Republican Lawmakers: Hey, Losers, Vote For Me

Donald Trump spent his day on Capitol Hill calling fellow Republicans losers, complaining that the media is just too mean, and doubling down on his defense of Saddam Hussein.

So basically, just another day on the campaign trail for the GOP nominee.

It’s just 124 days til the election and less than two weeks until he gets officially nominated, and Trump’s stop on Capitol Hill proved that—while he’s won some converts—Republican unity is still very theoretical.

Some of his relationships here are complicated. Others are simple. You can put his dynamic with Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the latter category.

The Washington Post reported that Kirk skipped Trump’s Capitol Hill huddle, and that Trump called him a “loser” in the closed-door meeting. The mogul also predicted that Kirk will lose his re-election bid, but that Trump,  himself, will win Illinois—a state which hasn’t voted for the Republican nominee since 1988.

Kirk told reporters, flatly, that he thinks Trump is wrong.

“I’ve never been defeated in Illinois,” he said.

Then he added that he thinks Trump will bomb in Illinois, predicting that he will do about as well as Alan Keyes did in 2004—when he only got 27 percent of the vote in the Senate race against then-state Sen. Barack Obama.

Kirk wasn’t the only Senate Republican to tussled with Trump. Sen. Jeff Flake, of Arizona, confronted him in the meeting, according to the Post, criticizing him for belittling Sen. John McCain’s time as a POW in Vietnam. Next on Trump’s “to alienate” list:  Sen. Ben Sasse for criticism.

Sasse is a dogged, long-time opponent of Trump, and called him a “megalomaniac strongman” on the Senate floor last December. He left the meeting long before his fellow Republican colleagues did, and was blank-faced and silent as reporters swarmed him with questions.

Later, his spokesman released a statement saying the 2016 contest “remains a dumpster fire. Nothing has changed.”

Trump’s courtship of House Republicans didn’t seem to generate that level of fireworks. But it also wasn’t a lovefest.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio in the primary, told reporters that Trump’s overtures left him unmoved.

“It was a lot of stream-of-consciousness again,” he said of the mogul’s remarks, “like what you’d hear at the rallies but with less cheering.”

Multiple members told reporters that Trump doubled down on his comments on Saddam Hussein. When asked how it felt to hear the Republican presidential nominee say nice things about the late Iraqi dictator, Kinzinger gave a one-word response:


He added that he thinks giving him credit as a terrorist-hunter is “disgusting and despicable.”

“To somehow give him credit for killing terrorists—he also killed a lot of innocent people, fed them into acid and did some really terrible things,” he said.

And Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from a swing district in Pennsylvania, also told reporters that when a member asked Trump how he would reach out to Hispanic voters, he gave an answer we’ve all heard before.

“He said Hispanics love him,” Dent said.

Dent added that the polls do not back up that assertion, and that Trump also said he is “all for trade.”

When asked if Trump’s remarks about supporting trade were persuasive, Dent chuckled.

“No!” he said.

Other members said they were charmed.

Rep. Peter King, who once joked he would leave politics if Republicans nominated Trump, said the mogul got a warm welcome. He added that his daughter, Ivanka, got even more applause. She attended the meeting along with her husband, Jared Kushner. And Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said he’s made a complete 180 on Trump. He was a longtime detractor, but now said he’s enthusiastic about the candidate.

“I may have been one of Trump’s most vociferous opponents in the primary, and I am now one of his most committed supporters,” he said, “partially because I understand the profound significance of the coming election. If I tell you that the party’s coming together, you can believe it. Because I’m living proof.”

Kirk and Flake probably beg to differ.


By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, July 7, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Party Of One”: Ted Cruz Flips Off The GOP And The Country

Only a week ago Politico introduced us to a new Ted Cruz. The freshman senator who brought his party to historic public-approval lows by forcing last fall’s government shutdown had since worked on “thawing” his relationship with fellow Republicans. In “Ted Cruz plays nice,” we learned the effort was paying off: The firebrand was already “getting along reasonably well with most of his GOP colleagues.”

That was then. Now Cruz is promising to filibuster the debt-ceiling bill passed by House Democrats with 28 GOP votes. He wasn’t expected to scuttle the deal, but he will force at least five of his GOP colleagues to join the Senate’s 55 Democrats to get it passed. Already, as the Senate votes, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell and Texas’ John Cornyn, both facing primary challenges from their right, had to flip no votes to yes to defeat the filibuster. The actual measure still hasn’t passed. (Update: The Senate evaded the filibuster with additional Republicans joining Cornyn and McConnell to make the final vote to advance the bill 67-31; then all 43 Republicans voted against it.)

“Under no circumstances will I agree to the Senate’s raising the debt ceiling with just 50 votes. I intend to object and force a 60-vote threshold,” Cruz told reporters Tuesday. “They don’t have to vote for it, I think Republicans should stand together and do the right thing. We should have every Republican stand together and follow the responsible course of action, which is to insist on meaningful spending reforms before raising the debt ceiling.”

So what happened to Politico’s new Ted Cruz? Well, he’s probably looked over at Chris Christie and realized that another 2016 contender has self-imploded more spectacularly than he did. Although Cruz saw his own national-poll standing drop after his shutdown histrionics, it was nothing compared with Christie’s plunge. Tragically for Christie, he now trails Hillary Clinton, in a hypothetic 2016 matchup, by more than the wildly polarizing Cruz does.

In a February Texas Monthly profile, Cruz hardly seems worried about the enmity of his fellow Republicans. He’s unapologetic about his role in the hugely unpopular government shutdown. He considers himself vindicated by the Affordable Care Act troubles that emerged after the shutdown, from glitches in the website to the controversy over canceled plans. And he remains the most popular statewide figure in Texas politics.

Politico’s case for a kinder, gentler Cruz was never convincing anyway. The only evidence mustered was that he’d dined with Sen. John McCain, who famously called him a “wacko bird” last year, and cracked jokes with Sen. Lindsey Graham, who subsequently praised him to reporter Manu Raju.

It’s clear that Cruz has 2016 fever again, and a debt-ceiling filibuster is just what he needs to cement his status as the Tea Party standard-bearer (he’s in a virtual tie with Sen. Rand Paul in the latest Tea Party polls). Cruz is heading to Iowa yet again next month, and in April he’ll visit the first-primary state, New Hampshire, for a “Freedom Summit,” along with Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.

A few Republicans have criticized Cruz’s debt-limit showboating. “Maybe Ted Cruz should spend a little time trying to win the Senate instead of attacking his fellow Republicans,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Tuesday.  “I thought that Ted Cruz was past [that], but maybe he isn’t.”

On CNN’s “Crossfire” Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller also opposed Cruz’s filibuster plan. “I don’t think it’s right,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to pass a clean debt ceiling increase with Ted’s or without Ted’s support, with my support or without my support. But at the end of the day, there’s going to be a debt ceiling increase and it’s going to be clean.”

That’s true. We now know one thing: Ted Cruz is no longer playing nice. He forced 12 of his fellow Republican senators effectively to go on record in favor of hiking the debt limit, votes that will put them on the bad side of Tea Party primary challengers and the nihilistic right-wingers at Heritage.  Ted Cruz has proved that he’s a party of one, unable to work effectively with his fellow Republicans, or on behalf of his country.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, February 12, 2014

February 13, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Old Fashion Muscular Tough Guy’s”: Christie Scandal And A ‘Feminized Atmosphere’

It stands to reason that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) admirers are going to defend him as the bridge scandal unfolds. There’s even a predictable defense: the governor wasn’t responsible since he wasn’t aware of his aides’ alleged misconduct.

But some of the arguments Christie’s allies have come up with are more striking than others. Fox News’ Brit Hume, for example, was asked yesterday about the governor’s reputation for bullying those who disagree with him. Hume responded:

“Well, I would have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old fashion tough guys, run some risk. […]

“By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like a kind of an old fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which he operates. This guy [Christie] is very much an old fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”

Perhaps this is the best Republican media can do given the revelations?

I’ll confess I didn’t see that one coming. The Christie administration is accused of abusing its power, seeking petty political retribution against perceived enemies, using public resources as a weapon that endangered the public, and then lying about it.

Leave it to Fox’s senior political analyst to explain that the governor is the actually victim – he’s the muscular tough guy being treated unfairly because of his old fashioned masculinity. Team Christie isn’t “thuggish,” Hume assures us, it only appears that way because of the darned “feminized atmosphere.”

Apparently, we should feel bad for the terrible burdens the Republican governor must feel, being so tough and muscular in an environment that doesn’t fully appreciate a “guy’s guy.”

Elsewhere on the Sunday shows, the RNC’s Reince Priebus, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and Rudy Giuliani all equated Christie’s bridge scandal with the IRS story from last spring, apparently unaware that the comparison is remarkably stupid.

The RNC’s Sean Spicer added that last week’s developments in New Jersey are proof that Christie is “what America is yearning for,” a point echoed by Karl Rove, who said the governor blaming his staff is emblematic of “what we want in a leader.”

None of these folks, by the way, appeared to be kidding. These are their actual talking points.

Kathleen Parker, meanwhile, believes Christie may ultimately thrive because conservatives will think journalists and news organizations are being “mean” to him. “What is certain is that the only thing the Republican base hates more than a liar and a bully is a bullying media,” she wrote. “Once that common enemy is established, the perceived victim often becomes the victor.”

It would appear for many Republicans in media, efforts to address Christie’s controversy on the merits are over. Indeed, they never really started in the first place.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 13, 2014

January 14, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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