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“Threatening Twitter Reprisals”: Trump Takes On ‘Corrupt System’ By Bullying Delegates

Despite ever-increasing resistance to his looney campaign, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump remains on the right path to win the Republican nomination. But in fighting what he views as a corrupt establishment, his campaign has engaged in rampant bullying to get delegates’ support.

A few days ago, Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide who is now working for the Trump campaign, went to Delaware to pressure the state’s 16 Republican delegates to support Trump, should this summer’s convention go to a second ballot and they become freed to support whomever they’d like. It turns out he may have pushed too hard. According to Politico, the delegates complained that Uddo was abrasive from his first phone call, criticizing the state party’s delegate rules and threatening Twitter reprisals from Trump.

“One of our delegates is just a little old lady,” said an anonymous source to Politico. “This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees.”

In a deeply Democratic state, Republicans have a much smaller, less professional batch of potential delegates to draw from. Delegates are often older party faithfuls with a track record of helping Republicans get elected in the state.

Despite counting as one of the smallest primary prizes of the election cycle, Trump is keen on winning over as many of Delaware’s delegates as he can. But the arm twisting employed by his campaign could result in delegates not honoring the primary results beyond the first ballot.

Uddo wasn’t the first Trump surrogate to use coercion to pressure the delegates necessary to win the nomination on a second ballot. In early April, Trump surrogate Roger Stone said he would publish the hotel room numbers of delegates who were planning on voting against Trump at the convention on a second ballot, if they had been pledged to him on the first ballot.

“We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal… I have urged Trump supporters: Come to Cleveland, march on Cleveland, join us in the Forest City,” said Stone.

There is a widespread fear among Trump supporters that anything beyond a first ballot contest would spell the end of his campaign, effectively stealing the nomination from him, they say. In Wyoming, Ted Cruz secured all 14 delegates up for grabs at the state’s Republican convention. The Texas senator had previously won the state’s popular vote, receiving 9 of 12 delegates.

The troubled, and potentially short-lived Kasich-Cruz coordination effort is another attempt by #NeverTrump Republicans to stop him from securing the nomination.

This war, between Trump supporters and the so-called Republican establishment, has been brewing for months, the latter clearly alarmed by the rise of the former. Polls have repeatedly shown the party would lose in a landslide with a Trump ticket. The divide has been further exacerbated by Trump’s accusations of corruption in the political process, which he has tied to his outsider status.

“You’re basically buying these people,” he said. “You’re basically saying, ‘Delegate, listen, we’re going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you’re going to use the spa, you’re going to this, you’re going to that, we want your vote.’ That’s a corrupt system.”

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Presidential Nominee | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Convention Chaos”: The Next Three Months Will Be Awful For Republicans — And Good For Democrats

Three months from now, on July 18, the Republican Party will open its convention in Cleveland, to be followed a week later by the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. A lot is going to happen in those three months.

But it’s not too early to predict that most of it is going to be good for the Democrats and bad for the Republicans.

At this point in the campaign, both parties have a straightforward, though by no means easy, set of tasks. They each want to get their nomination settled, unify and motivate their own voters, and start making their case to the broader electorate that will vote in the general election. Democrats will have an easier time on all counts.

While we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in the upcoming primaries, at the moment we can say that Hillary Clinton will almost certainly have the Democratic nomination wrapped up by the end of the primaries in June. Donald Trump, on the other hand, may or may not have the Republican nomination in hand at that point. Right now FiveThirtyEight’s projections show Clinton running at 108 percent of what she needs to meet her target for the nomination, while they have Trump at 95 percent of what he needs, meaning he could well fall short.

The possibility that he won’t win 1,237 delegates, triggering a contested convention with multiple votes, is consuming the Republican Party (and the media) right now. That means that all of the discussion on the Republican side is about the process, with Trump complaining about unfairness, Ted Cruz supporters talking about their plan to snatch the nomination on the second or third vote, and everyone speculating madly about the drama that will ensue in Cleveland.

And what are the consequences of that discussion? The first is that it prevents Republicans from talking about issues. This came up earlier this week when Ted Cruz was being interviewed by Sean Hannity, who asked Cruz about his efforts to persuade delegates to shift their votes on a second or third ballot. Cruz responded: “Sean, with all respect, that’s not what people are concerned about,” and tried to shift the discussion back to issues. Hannity was having none of it: “I’m asking you more than a process question, it’s an integrity of the election question, and everybody is asking me this question.” That’s a microcosm of the entire Republican race at this point.

There’s some of that kind of talk on the Democratic side, but not nearly as much. Which means that while Clinton and Bernie Sanders are talking about issues — which can at least in theory win more voters to the Democratic cause — voters only see Republicans consumed by these process questions.

That’s not to mention the fact that the process argument serves to divide Republicans, stoking longstanding resentments and making Trump supporters dislike Cruz and Cruz supporters dislike Trump. The debate on the Democratic side, even if it highlights some differences between Clinton and Sanders, still reminds Democratic voters of what they all have in common and what differentiates them from Republicans, while the debate on the Republican side only deepens their internal divisions.

Don’t be surprised if in the coming days you hear Hillary Clinton talking much more like a general election candidate, reaching out to all voters and contrasting herself with Donald Trump. She’s already shifting to unifying rhetoric; in her victory speech last night, she said, “To all the people who supported Senator Sanders: I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us” (though she also repeated her now oft-used line about how identifying problems is not enough, you also have to propose solutions, which is a jab at Sanders).

So while Trump is complaining about being treated unfairly and predicting chaos in Cleveland, Clinton can talk to voters about raising the minimum wage, supporting clean energy, reforming immigration, and a whole range of other issues where the Democratic position is more popular than the Republican one.

And she’ll have help: Priorities USA, the most well-funded Democratic super PAC, is planning on spending $90 million on broadcast ads and another $35 million on online ads promoting Clinton in swing states over the summer. My guess is that they’ll spend a lot of that money reinforcing people’s negative opinions of Trump, to make it harder for him to pivot away from everything he’s said in the primaries in order to present a friendlier face for the general election.

Even little things, like the selection of a running mate, will probably work to Clinton’s advantage. Though that choice doesn’t have a profound effect on the final outcome of the race, Clinton will get a few days of positive news coverage out of her selection, with stories all about this person filled with admiring quotes from Democrats.

Republicans, on the other hand, may not even know who their vice presidential nominee is until the convention, if Trump hasn’t secured the nomination before then. The selection will then happen in the middle of all the convention’s chaos, so it won’t be the media’s sole focus for any length of time. And call me crazy, but I’m guessing Donald Trump isn’t going to pick a running mate whom everyone will agree is a terrific choice.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course. Trump could do better than he’s currently projected to and secure the nomination before the convention, and everyone in the GOP might quickly rally around him. There could be some unexpected event, in the world or on the campaign trail, that changes the race’s agenda in the Republicans’ favor. But from the perspective of today, it looks like the next few months are going to be a rough period for the Republicans, in ways that make winning the general election even harder than it already was.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 20, 2016

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Democratic National Convention, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Super Scapegoats”: Sorry Bernie Supporters, Superdelegates Aren’t The Reason Sanders Is Losing To Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders’ supporters seem to be getting their guy confused with Donald Trump.

It’s true that both are anti-establishment candidates and native New Yorkers; but despite what some Bern-ers seem to think, only one of them has a legitimate case to complain about the system potentially robbing them of the nomination or distorting the will of the people. Spoiler alert: It’s not Bernie Sanders.

Trump, the putative GOP front-runner, has been complaining for weeks about the intricate rules of the Republican Party nominating process, mostly because he apparently never gave them much thought and is now distraught to realize Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign not only did but is using them to maximum advantage. (Trump’s complaint about the unfairness of a rigged system is rich coming from someone who brags about “taking advantage” of bankruptcy laws and worked the system to get 9/11 recovery money intended for small businesses.)

As a result of the Trump campaign’s political malpractice, conventional wisdom for some weeks has held that a contested convention is plausible-to-likely (see Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell describing himself over the weekend as “increasingly optimistic” about the scenario coming to pass), with Trump seen as a dead candidate walking if he can’t secure the nomination on the first ballot. He will almost certainly go into Cleveland as the leader in delegates and (of symbolic importance) votes. So make what you will of Trump’s complaints – whether you think he was robbed or should have known the rules – he’ll have legitimate grounds to complain.

The same can’t be said for Team Sanders: As I noted last week, there’s simply no metric by which he is winning the race for the Democratic nomination. Here’s The Washington Post’s Philip Bump summarizing the state of play:

In fact, by every possible democratic measure, Clinton is winning. She’s winning in states (and territories) won … She’s winning in the popular vote by 2.4 million votes – more than a third more than Sanders has in total. In part that’s because Sanders is winning lower-turnout caucuses, but it’s mostly because he’s winning smaller states. And she’s winning with both types of delegates.

The types of delegates in question are pledged – those won in primaries – and superdelegates, the party’s official free agents who can support whomever they see fit. Setting aside the supers, Clinton holds a roughly 200-delegate lead over Sanders among delegates earned at the ballot box. That means, per NBC News, that Sanders must win 57 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to hold a majority of that group. Keep in mind that to date, he’s won roughly 46 percent of the pledged delegates (and that from only 42 percent of the raw votes), per FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman, so in order to pass her in pledged delegates, Sanders would have to start performing dramatically better than he has thus far. It’s true that Sanders has won seven of the last eight contests, but all states are not created equal, and because he’s been running up his win streak in small states he hasn’t been able to meaningfully close the gap in votes or (more important) pledged delegates.

To put it another way, if the Democratic National Committee passed a rule today eliminating superdelegates altogether … Clinton would still be overwhelmingly well-positioned to win the nomination because she’s won substantially more votes and thus more delegates.

And yet some Sanders partisans seem to think that – Trump-like – he is somehow being robbed of the nomination or that superdelegates are distorting the will of the people by handing Clinton the election, unearned.

Case in point is a piece that ran in Salon over the weekend under this rather lengthy headline: “Superdelegates have destroyed the will of the people: As a political activist and hopeful millennial, I won’t support a broken system by voting for Hillary.”

What follows is a bewildering argument asserting that a “broken, corrupt and unjust” system is foisting Clinton over (the barely acceptable despite being not quite liberal enough) Sanders because … well, superdelegates or something. The author cites the Vermont senator having won Wyoming by 12 percentage points but coming out behind Clinton in that contest because, per the allocation rules, they split the 14 pledge delegates and Clinton persuaded the state’s four superdelegates to support her. She goes on to quote MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski bemoaning the unfairness of such an outcome and for good measure throws in a lengthy comment from Trump about the injustice of the superdelegate system.

But if you want to indict “the system,” look at the system – don’t cherry-pick one result. As I noted earlier, Sanders has won 46 percent of pledged delegates while only winning 42 percent of raw votes – so if anything “the system” is overstating how well Sanders is doing. If anyone is positioned to complain about distortion, it’s the Clinton campaign, not the Sanders-ites.

(The Salon piece then starts to read like a parody of an earnestly self-involved millennial, with the author complaining that “voting no longer provides me the indulgence and satisfaction it once did” and analogizing her refusal to participate in the presidential political process to boycotting Walmart; the difference of course is that if enough people refuse to spend their money at Walmart it could hurt and ultimately shutter the store, while if enough progressive activists refuse to vote the system will endure and simply be run by conservatives.)

Here’s a kernel of an idea: MoveOn.org has started promoting a petition arguing that CNN should not include supers in its delegate tallies (why only CNN and not MSNBC, Fox News Channel, The New York Times and so on is unclear), because the practice is misleading since even supers who have declared for a candidate are free to switch their allegiance at any time and thus the tally overstates Clinton’s lead over Sanders. It’s important to note, by the way, the supers’ ability to switch since Sanders’ candidacy is now predicated on their doing just that – the idea being that regardless of whether he catches her in either pledged delegates or raw votes, superdelegates will flock to him on the basis of late-season momentum.

And in fairness, most news organizations do tend to break down the pledged-versus-super totals; but if media organizations discounting superdelegates will help bring greater clarity to the process then by all means they should do so. Because while including Clinton’s supers in her total may exaggerate her lead, Bern-er fixation with them covers up the scope of his pledged delegate deficit.

The bottom line is that Clinton isn’t poised to win the nomination because superdelegates are contravening the will of the voters, but because she’s simply winning more votes. Team Sanders needs to reconcile itself to that reality.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor, U. S. News and World Report, April 19, 2016

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Left With A Choice Of Three Varieties Of Defeat”: Republicans Are Faced With Their Worst Nightmare After Wisconsin

At long last, Donald Trump has shown the vulnerability that Republicans have been seeking for so long. Controversies over his words and ideas now trouble him like they never did before, everyone has realized how spectacularly unpopular he is with the general public, and just at the right time, he got beaten handily in Wisconsin by Ted Cruz. He has lost primaries before, but this one seems particularly wounding, as though it portends more hard times to come. Now he can be struck down, to fall with a thundering reverberation on the blood-soaked field of battle.

Or so Republicans hope. But the truth is, they may be facing the worst of all possible worlds: a terribly damaged Trump who nonetheless can’t be stopped from winning their party’s nomination.

Trump has certainly suffered in the last couple of weeks, as the horrifying farce that his candidacy represents has become more clear with each passing day. He could lose momentum and lose more primaries before the final contests in June. Then he could limp into the convention in Cleveland with fewer than the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. But for all that, it may already be too late to stop him.

Why is that? The first reason is that Trump’s lead in delegates is simply too big for Ted Cruz to overcome. Trump came into this week with 737 delegates to Cruz’s 505, a lead that will get only somewhat smaller after Wisconsin’s 42 are allocated (Cruz will get most of them, but Trump will probably pick up a few). Cruz will still need to win almost all of the remaining delegates to get past 1,237 himself, which is essentially impossible. Trump, on the other hand, needs to win around 60 percent of those that remain — difficult, but still possible.

And if he doesn’t, what happens? Everyone arrives in Cleveland with Trump having won far more primaries, votes, and delegates than anyone else. The convention can hand the nomination to another candidate, but no matter who that person might be, it will be seen as a grave injustice by Trump’s supporters, who are a clear plurality (if not quite a majority) of Republican voters.

And who would grasp that nomination? Ted Cruz, who came in second? That won’t sit right. In the current establishment fantasy, a deadlocked convention is resolved when the attendees finally give the nomination to that fine young man, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

That would be a disaster of a different sort. It would validate everything that the angry voters who have dominated the GOP for the last seven years, and who have driven this primary race around every dangerous curve, have been saying all along. Just as they feared, the party bigwigs — or what Cruz likes to call “the Washington cartel” — came in at the end to steal the nomination away from the guy who got the most votes, and hand it to an insider who didn’t even compete for the people’s favor. Trump may or may not have been right when he said “I think you’d have riots” if that happened, but you can bet that Trump’s voters — and probably Cruz’s too — would be positively enraged. They might even be angry enough not to bother voting in November.

But in the meantime, they’ll shout and scream and maybe even throw a few punches. And with the first contested convention in decades, every camera will be on the lookout for signs of chaos. The country will watch as the GOP tears itself to pieces, all before the Democrats hold an optimistic yet sedate convention at which Hillary Clinton assures the country that whatever they may not like about her, at least she isn’t some kind of lunatic like the people who populate the other party.

Up until now, Republicans had a hard time imagining anything worse than Donald Trump becoming their party’s nominee. But their minds might just be able to expand to envision an even more horrifying scenario. It’s one in which the widely loathed Ted Cruz becomes the man on whom they pin their fading hopes, and yet they are not saved. It’s one in which they are left with only a choice between three different varieties of defeat, and find themselves with no power to choose. And it’s one in which Donald Trump grows more and more unpopular even before the general election begins — and then they wind up stuck with him anyway.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, April 6, 2016

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Strategic Rift In Anti-Trump Coalition”: The Two Republican Establishments Are Split On Their Anti-Trump Strategies

The day after Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney (as the immediate past nominee of a nongoverning party, he would have once been called the “titular head” of the GOP) laid out the Republican Establishment’s game plan for stopping Donald Trump.

If the other candidates can find some common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism. Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.

Everybody outside TrumpWorld was onboard, right? Wrong. Especially following the March 5 caucuses and primaries, when he solidified his second-place position in delegates, Ted Cruz and his backers made it clear they believe the most efficient method of stopping Trump is for Republicans to unite behind his own candidacy. It’s Marco Rubio’s “anti-Trump consolidation” theory adopted by another candidate now that Rubio is struggling to survive. And thus with most of the Republican Establishment digging under the sofa cushions for funds to help Rubio beat Trump in Florida, Team Cruz was up in the air in the Sunshine State running anti-Rubio ads.

Was this a rogue action by a candidate not exactly known in the Senate as a team player? Perhaps. But more fundamentally, the strategic rift in the anti-Trump coalition is the product of two very different Republican Establishments: that of self-conscious movement conservatives, who find a Cruz nomination either congenial or acceptable, and the non-movement-party Establishment, which is as hostile to Cruz as it is to Trump.

The conservative-movement Establishment can be found in organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth and opinion vehicles like National Review magazine. Their basic mark of distinction is that they view the GOP as a vehicle for the promotion and implementation of conservative ideology and policy position rather than as an end in itself. They are virulently anti-Trump (as evidenced by National Review‘s recent special issue attacking the mogul) for all the reasons most Republicans (and for that matter, Democrats) evince, but with the additional and decisive consideration that Trump has violated conservative orthodoxy on a host of issues from trade policy to “entitlement reform” to the Middle East. Members of this Establishment do not uniformly support Ted Cruz; some are fine with the equally conservative (if far less disruptive) Marco Rubio, and others have electability concerns about the Texan even if they like his issue positions and his combative attitude toward the Republican congressional leadership. But suffice it to say they are not horrified by the idea of a Cruz presidency, and many have concluded his nomination is an easier bet than some panicky Anybody But Trump movement that at best will produce the unpredictable nightmare of a contested convention even as Democrats (more than likely) unite behind their nominee. RedState’s Leon Wolf neatly expressed their point of view yesterday:

Maybe you preferred someone who is a better communicator than Cruz or who stood a better chance of beating Hillary in the general. Sorry, but for whatever reason, your fellow voters have ruled each of those candidates out, and Rubio’s collapse this weekend pretty much put that nail in the coffin. It’s now a choice between guaranteed loser Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who might actually win.

From the movement-conservative perspective, it’s not Cruz who’s going rogue but instead elements of the party Establishment (including the members of Congress who conspicuously hate Ted Cruz) that cannot accept that it has lost control of the GOP this year and is insisting on a contested convention as a way to reassert its control behind closed doors in Cleveland. Party Establishmentarians are often conservative ideologically, too, but are dedicated to pragmatic strategies and tactics at sharp odds with Cruz’s philosophy of systematic partisan confrontation and maximalist rhetoric. And they are highly allergic to risky general-election candidates.

But there’s a fresh crisis in the party Establishment after the March 8 contests in four states, wherein Trump won Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii, Cruz won Idaho, and Marco Rubio won — maybe, it hasn’t been totally resolved yet — one delegate in Hawaii and absolutely nothing else. And new polls of Florida are beginning to come in that don’t look promising for Rubio. Even as party Establishment and even some conservative-movement Establishment folk pound Trump with negative ads, there are signs of panic. Most shocking, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, normally the most reliable of party Establishment mouthpieces and a big-time neoconservative booster of Rubio’s foreign-policy positions, publicly called on the Floridian to drop out of the race and endorse Cruz in order to stop Trump.

We’ll soon see if the divisions between the two Republican Establishments will quickly be resolved by the surrender of party types like Rubin. Some may instead try to reanimate Rubin or switch horses to Kasich, who has a better chance than Rubio to win his own home state next week. Still others may make their peace with Trump, or resolve to spend the rest of the cycle focused on down-ballot races. The confusion of the Republican Establishments now does not bode well for their unity or effectiveness if they do somehow manage to force Trump into a contested convention.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 10, 2016

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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