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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:

“Awkward.”

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

“And The List Goes On”: Some #NeverTrumpers Have Already Committed To Voting For Hillary Clinton

Some of the most principled members of the conservative movement woke up Wednesday morning to an unrecognizable party — what had been an organization advocating fiscal and social conservatism has turned into something else entirely: a cult of personality. Populists. Know Nothings.

The new reality facing #NeverTrump Republicans became even more apparent following campaign suspension announcements of Ted Cruz and John Kasich. The Texas senator shut down his campaign before the votes had even been fully counted in Indiana. John Kasich waited until this afternoon. With no one left to lead the anti-Trump movement in the presidential nomination race, some Republicans have done the unthinkable — pledge to support Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

The social media statuses and official announcements came flooding in last night as soon as it became clear that Trump had won the Indiana primary, effectively guaranteeing that he would be the Republican nominee.

“If it’s a competitive election, I probably will be compelled to vote for Hillary,” said Leon Wolf, editor of Red State, a conservative digital news site, to The Daily Beast. ” I wouldn’t go to bed every night worrying about a mushroom cloud opening up somewhere in the world because of some insane thing Trump had done.”

Fellow Red State editor Ben Howe simply tweeted:

#ImWithHer

— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) May 3, 2016

Former John McCain advisor Mark Salter also tweeted:

The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level. I’m with her.

— Mark Salter (@MarkSalter55) May 3, 2016

The Clinton campaign is already capitalizing on Trump’s victory, sending out a campaign email with an exhaustive list of conservatives and Republicans who have said they would never vote for Trump. Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, one of the most prominent voices of the #NeverTrump movement, said in a Facebook post, “Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. … I can’t support Donald Trump.”

Trump’s victory in Indiana only solidified already existing conservative opposition to his candidacy. In March, former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman said, “While I certainly don’t want four more years of another Clinton administration or more years of the Obama administration, I would take that over the kind of damage I think Donald Trump could do to this country, to its reputation, to the people of this country.”

David Bernstein, a professor at George Mason University, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, “I’d rather Hillary Clinton win. I’d rather (and I never thought I’d say this) Barack Obama serve a third term. I’d even rather Bernie Sanders win, though if it came down to Sanders vs. Trump it might be time to form a breakaway republic. If Trump wins the nomination, I will actively seek to prevent him from becoming president.”

Even in the realm of international affairs, Trump’s promise to commit war crimes and “bomb the shit out of” America’s enemies has turned away even the most ardent neocons. “She [Clinton] would be vastly preferable to Trump,” said Max Boot, a conservative foreign policy analyst, to Vox. Boot had previously advised the McCain, Romney and Rubio campaigns on foreign policy.

The list goes on. But the reality is that while Trump may have a mandate from the 10.6 million people who have voted for him in Republican primaries, he has earned a lot of powerful enemies in his usurping of establishment power in the party. In heralding the start of a new, post-Reagan Republican Party, Trump’s army has spurred an exodus of its old guard. And while these are the last people to support a Clinton presidency, their seeming willingness to cross party lines shows just how desperate a place Donald Trump’s America would be.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 4, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When #NeverTrump Becomes #ImWithHer”: Pulling The Lever, How #NeverTrump Became #NeverEverTrump

Some of the right’s most prominent conservatives are getting Ready for Hillary.

Donald Trump is now the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted tonight.

And the conservative activists who adamantly oppose him are now in the process of making peace with backing the Democrats’ eventual nominee. Because there’s one person they fear and loathe more than Hillary—and they say they won’t blink.

Leon Wolf, the editor of the conservative site RedState.com, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he’s considering a Clinton vote.

“If it’s a competitive election, I probably will be compelled to vote for Hillary,” he said.

“Hillary is ideologically not where I am,” he continued, adding that he thinks she did a poor job heading the State Department. “But I do feel pretty confident that she would actually be a better president than Trump. I wouldn’t go to bed every night worrying about a mushroom cloud opening up somewhere in the world because of some insane thing Trump had done.”

Ben Howe, a RedState contributing editor and prominent conservative activist, said he will work to stop Trump from winning the general election—and that he realizes this means he’ll be helping Hillary.

“If it came down to it and I knew that my vote might make a difference, or that Hillary might be able to defeat him in my precinct, then yes, I’d pull the lever,” he said. “Either way, I have to make peace with helping her by default. Pulling the lever would basically be a technicality.

“I said I’m Never Trump,” he added. “I am.”

Glenn Beck, a proxy religious zealot who feverishly backed Cruz to the point where he was fasting on his behalf recently, was also disappointed with the available general-election options. Jonathan Schreiber, a representative for Beck, told The Daily Beast “NO WAY!” when asked if Beck would consider voting for Clinton over Trump. When pressed as to whether Beck would resign himself to backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Schreiber wrote “#nevertrump.”

Similarly, Dan McLaughlin, an editor at RedState.com and a stalwart against Trump, told The Daily Beast that the options were grim.

“I will not vote for either Hillary or Trump, ever,” he wrote in an email. “I will stay in the GOP to fight for its soul until a viable alternative emerges.”

He added that he would submit a “third-party protest vote” and vote “down-ticket Republican” in the general election.

The RedStaters aren’t anomalies. A recent Morning Consult poll of Cruz supporters indicates that 13 percent of the Republicans who back him will vote for Clinton, and that upward of one-quarter of them aren’t sure who to back.

Freshman Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, reiterated his opposition to Trump without going so far as endorsing Hillary.

“Reporters keep asking if Indiana changes anything for me,” he tweeted. “The answer is simple: No.”

He then linked to a Facebook post he wrote about his opposition to Trump.

And Kevin Madden, a senior adviser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he has no plans to back the Republican Party’s next nominee.

“This is a time for regrouping and prioritizing,” he said, noting that he won’t de-register as a Republican. “My attention, and I hope that of other Republicans, will be focused on helping leaders in the party focus on ideas and the big challenges that still remain. Leaders like Paul Ryan and Ben Sasse and Kelly Ayotte.

“And on voting for Trump: Absolutely not,” he added.

Erick Erickson, a conservative talk-radio host and founder of RedState, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he will de-register as a Republican if and when Trump is officially nominated.

“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” he said. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”

He added that Trump’s nomination will brand the GOP as the party of white supremacists.

“You’ve got Klan members, David Duke, the Aryan Nation supporting Donald Trump,” he said. “If the Republican Party is willing to go along with that, then I think it’s fair branding, I think it’s very fair. If Republicans aren’t going to stand up to having their party hijacked by a group of Aryan Nation-types, then they get what they deserve.”

Mark Salter, a former speechwriter for Sen. John McCain, was even less coy.

“The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” he tweeted. “I’m with her.”

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, May 4, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Obamacare Resistance Regroups”: Delving Even Deeper Into Denial

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing the federal income tax, was ratified in 1913. Still, every once in a while, the news will report the arrest of some right-wing kook who has failed to pay his income tax on the grounds that it’s illegal. Also in 1913, the 17th Amendment, requiring the popular election of senators (who before then were often appointed by state legislatures) took effect. And yet many conservatives still want to repeal it — and not just kooks, or at least influential kooks and not just completely marginal and obscure kooks. And those things happened more than a century ago.

So how long will the Obamacare resistance live on? A long, long time.

Obamacare has survived when it appeared to be dead in Congress in 2009, then even more dead the next year, and then survived a Supreme Court case, a presidential election, a rollout crisis, and another Supreme Court case. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar has lovingly tended the flickering flame of health-care repeal for years. In 2013, he predicted that barring “an unlikely fourth quarter comeback,” Congressional Democrats would soon join with Republicans to repeal the law over a presidential veto. In the wake of the King v. Burwell verdict, Kraushaar regroups with a new column laying out a path. Kraushaar refers repeatedly to the law’s “unpopularity,” which is … barely correct:

Proceeding from this shaky premise, he argues that, if they win the presidency, enough Senate Democrats might join Republicans to create a filibuster-proof supermajority:

The third group, which Sasse labels the “Replacement Caucus,” would make significant changes to the law after campaigning on a reform-oriented health care agenda in the presidential election. That’s the most tenable approach — and the fact that Sasse, a hard-line Senate conservative, is calling for something other than outright repeal is telling. (Sasse still supports repealing the law but only with a replacement plan in hand.)

If Republicans win the presidency, the political momentum — and votes for rolling back core elements of Obamacare — would be in place. In that scenario, Republicans would have won three out of four elections, and a depleted Democratic Party would be in disarray. Republicans could credibly claim a health care mandate, given how prominently the issue played in recent elections.

Kraushaar allows that these “significant changes” to Obamacare would fall short of repeal, though he does not indicate what those changes would entail. He links to a National Review column by Republican Senator Ben Sasse, which also fails to describe what changes should be implemented. The closest Sasse comes to specifying a proposal is calling for an “understandable, common-sense, patient-centric alternative.” Of course, Republicans have been urging other Republicans to come up with a common-sense, patient-centric health-care plan since the health-care debate began six years ago. They have remained stuck in the same unsolvable problem: Their actual health-care policy ideas are either all less popular than the specific policies in Obamacare, unworkable, or both. When Republicans start naming actual policy changes they would implement, they would do things like let insurance companies deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, or stop covering popular services like maternity care. That’s why the only specific partial changes Republicans actually want to vote on simply attack the law’s financing provisions. They’re not willing to eliminate Obamacare’s benefits, but they’re happy to stop paying for them. That plan (keep the benefits, oppose the taxes) is pretty much the party’s approach to other established social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. If Republicans win the presidency, they may bite the bullet and repeal Obamacare because their base demands it, but they won’t have Democrats on their side and it won’t be popular.

Even farther into denial is Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute scholar who played a leading role in promoting the King v. Burwell lawsuit. The basis for that lawsuit was seizing on an errant line of text implying that tax credits would be available only for customers using state-established exchanges, ignoring many other parts of the law, as well as massive amounts of evidence before, during, and after the debate implying the opposite. For a while, Cannon, the founder of the anti-Universal Coverage club, nurtured hopes of un-insuring 6 million Americans. He finds himself in the position of a despondent young Montgomery Burns mourning the destruction of his biological weapon (“My germs, my precious germs! They never harmed a soul. They never even had a chance!”)

Cannon, unlike Burns, does not seem to be accepting defeat. His Twitter bio continues to describe him as “the man who could bring down Obamacare,” a now-moot prediction. His new column argues, “Even in defeat, King threatens Obamacare’s survival, because it exposes Obamacare as an illegitimate law.” Cannon bases this claim on the fact that he believes, or purports to believe, that Obamacare is not what the Supreme Court says it is but a chimerical, never-implemented, doomed-to-fail alternative that will live on forever in his dreams. A century from now, right-wingers will emerge from their fortified mountain compounds, clutching Cannon’s writings and claiming to be following the True Obamacare.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 10, 2015

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, King v Burwell, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Big Split In The Republican Party”: Here Comes The Big Intra-GOP Fight Over Obamacare Subsidies

It’s been obvious for a while that congressional Republicans will be placed in a difficult position if SCOTUS strikes down subsidies for health insurance purchases under the Affordable Care Act in states that did not create their own exchanges. On the one hand, they’ll be blamed for failure to do something about the consequent loss of insurance and/or increases in premiums (at least in states that do nothing about it, either), when a one-sentence law confirming the original understanding virtually everyone had about the universal availability of subsidies would suffice. On the other hand, any reaction to such a SCOTUS decision that does not at least begin with an all-night kegger-and-prayer-vigil in celebration of this blow against tyranny will rile up The Base into a hate frenzy. Theoretically, GOPers could be ready with a full-fledged Obamacare Replacement bill that could be presented to the president on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, but despite having five years to come up with such a creature, that ain’t happening.

So as TPM’s Sahil Kapur explains today, Sen. Ron Johnson has introduced a bill, which the Senate GOP leadership has quietly gotten behind, that would extend the Obamacare subsidies until the end of 2017, in exchange for some key concessions to conservatives that fall vastly short of an alternative structure for health care reform.

The Senate’s top five Republican leaders have cosponsored legislation to extend until 2017 the Obamacare insurance subsidies that may be struck down by the Supreme Court this summer

The legislation, offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of the most politically vulnerable Senate incumbents in 2016, would maintain the federal HealthCare.gov tax credits at stake in King v. Burwell through the end of August 2017.

The bill was unveiled this week with 29 other cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his four top deputies, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Another cosponsor is Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the chairman of the conference’s electoral arm.

Such a move would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would try to blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in a King ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies.

Given the certainty that this proposal will split Republicans, what are the odds Democrats would go along with this semi-“fix.”?

Democrats would probably demand a fix to make the subsidies permanently available if they go down. But they would be hard-pressed to vote down a bill to temporarily extend them if Republicans were to bring it up.

That may depend, however, on what happens to provisions Kapur calls “sweeteners” for conservatives, including elimination of Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, and perhaps even more crucially, of the ACA’s minimum benefit requirements. Kapur seems to anticipate, and some conservative critics agree, that Republicans would cave on most of these “sweeterners” in exchange for Democrats agreeing to a temporary instead of a permanent extension of subsidies.

But you will note that the cosponsors of Johnson’s bill do not include Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, who will likely be focused on the Iowa Straw Poll at the time the decision comes down. There’s also a competing Senate bill from Ben Sasse that would instead of extending the subsidies replace them with simple tax credits for insurance purchasing that would fade away over time. And there are, according to The Hill‘s Sullivan and Ferris, several plans percolating in the House that would replace the subsidies with our without some “bridge” offering temporary relief. You can judge how much consensus there is from this remark by Republican Study Committee co-chair Bill Flores of Texas, who is one of the people working on one of the many plans:

“I’m not saying there should absolutely not be a bridge, I’m not saying there should absolutely be a bridge,” Flores said. “If we start building toward a shore, but we don’t know what that shore is, then the bridge might not work very well.”

I think we can all agree on that. And that is why despite everything you will hear from them before and after SCOTUS rules, there’s probably no group of people more avidly if silently cheering for Obama to win this case than are congressional Republicans.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 24, 2015

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, King v Burwell | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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