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“No One Wants To Speak At The GOP Convention”: Trump’s Toxicity Is Swaying Top Republicans From Even Attending

Seemingly no one wants to speak at the Cleveland convention that will elect Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate:

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a rising star who helped to write the GOP platform at the 2012 convention, “will be in her district working for her constituents and not attending the convention,” said a spokesman. Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell, a former Army lieutenant colonel who helped capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, “has no plans to be a speaker at the convention,” said his office. North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, who’s frequently talked about as a potential future statewide candidate, “won’t be at the convention.” Mia Love, the charismatic Utah rep seen by many as the GOP’s future, is skipping Cleveland for a trip to Israel. “I don’t see any upsides to it,” Love told a reporter on Friday. “I don’t see how this benefits the state.”

Reporters at Politico reached out to “more than 50 prominent governors, senators and House members to gauge their interest in speaking” there and found almost no takers. So, I took a look at the list of speakers at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and guess what I found?

Pretty much anyone who was anyone had a speaking slot there, from Speaker John Boehner, to House members like Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Marsha Blackburn, to up-and-comers like Mia Love, to senators across the ideological spectrum, to pretty much every major Republican governor in the country.

Romney made sure that Latino governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada were given primetime slots. Govs. Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mary Fallin, Bob McDonnell, and John Kasich all made appearances, most of them prominent.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire spoke four years ago, but this time around she’s not even going to attend the convention.

The convention is being held in Ohio, and that’s awkward.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will attend the convention and host several events in Cleveland over the course of the week. But a spokesman, Kevin Smith, said “no announcements” had yet been made on whether he would speak. A spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Trump primary rival who has pointedly refused to endorse the presumptive nominee, declined to comment on whether he wanted to deliver a speech.

I don’t want to be a “nasty, nasty guy,” but it’s pretty evident that Trump is toxic.

Even the GOP leaders in charge of maintaining the party’s congressional majorities — Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and Oregon Rep. Greg Walden — wouldn’t say whether they’d take the podium…

…“Everyone has to make their own choice, but at this point, 70 percent of the American public doesn’t like Donald Trump. That’s as toxic as we’ve seen in American politics,” said Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist who helped to craft the party’s 2012 convention. “Normally, people want to speak at national conventions. It launched Barack Obama’s political career.”

Just to give an idea of the scope of the problem, in primetime of the first night of the 2012 convention, there were 18 separate speakers and a video. I don’t know how Trump is going to replicate their firepower.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Trump And The Power Of Denial”: Wake Up GOP, The National Leader Of Your Party Is Donald Trump

I hate Donald Trump and much of what he represents. But do you know what I hate even more?

Denial.

The right has been deep in denial for years. Honed under the last Republican president into a sure-fire method of inspiring confident resolve in the face of adversity, denial of reality has by now become almost second nature to many party apparatchiks and their intellectual compatriots in the right-wing media. Of course we’ll find weapons of mass destruction! The occupation is going just fine! It’s not Bush’s fault that New Orleans got caught with a bull’s eye on its back when Hurricane Katrina blew by! You can’t expect the president who’s been in office for seven and a half years to take responsibility for the worst financial crisis in seven decades!

Coulda happened to anyone.

And now, after seven more years of denial — this time about Barack Obama’s popularity, the Affordable Care Act, and much else — the instinct to close eyes and cover ears in the face of what most people would consider very bad news has settled into the slow-motion car wreck of the GOP primaries.

Donald Trump has now won 26 states. (His nearest competitor for the nomination, Ted Cruz, has won 11.) Trump prevailed in all five northeastern states that voted on Tuesday, all five of them with over 50 percent of the vote, and some with over 60 percent. (Cruz appears to have finished in third place in four of the five states.) Trump is now on track to reach or come extremely close to the magic number of 1,237 delegates by the end of primary season. (Cruz will be nearly 400 delegates behind him after Tuesday’s totals are sorted out.) If Trump falls a little short — because, say, his 17-point lead in California shrinks a bit — he is extremely likely to lock up the remaining delegates in the weeks between the last primaries on June 7 and the start of the Republican convention on July 18.

Barring some unforeseen event that completely upends the race over the next six weeks, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2016.

How do I know this? Because it’s been painfully obvious for a long time now that the Republican electorate prefers Trump to any of the alternatives running for the White House.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Was it obvious from the start of the primary season? No. But it was a lot less impossible to imagine than a dismayingly large number of conservative pundits seemed to think. Trump bounded to the front of the pack very quickly after announcing his candidacy last summer, and his polling lead has never seriously wavered in the intervening 10 months. While columnists and commentators spent the fall gaming out the caucuses and primaries to come, convincing themselves that Rubio or Bush or Christie was the real frontrunner, Trump stayed firmly in the polling lead.

And you know what? That meant Trump was winning.

Of course I realize that no votes had yet been cast. And that no modern party has ever elected a candidate like Trump. But the numbers weren’t lying. We learned that for sure once the voting began and it became clear that people weren’t simply threatening to vote for the man: They were actually going through with it. That meant the polls were measuring something real.

And that something hasn’t gone away.

It was there when Trump faced a dozen opponents. It was still there when he was competing against six. And it’s been there since the field narrowed to three.

It was there when Marco Rubio tried to strike a deal with Cruz and Kasich to deny Trump wins in Florida, Ohio, and Missouri, and Trump ended up winning all of them except Ohio (which, of course, was won by the sitting governor of the state — a candidate incapable of winning anywhere else).

And it’s there now, with Cruz and Kasich working desperately to find some way, somehow to keep Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates.

Oh, have I mentioned that on Tuesday morning Trump reached 50 percent for the first time in NBC News’ national weekly tracking poll? (Cruz languishes at 26 percent.)

I get the importance of resolution in practical endeavors. I understand the psychological necessity of driving doubts from one’s mind in order to lift morale and keep focused on achieving a goal. If you’re a committed Republican or movement conservative who hates the thought of the party nominating Trump, you may find it necessary (or at least helpful) to convince yourself that he’s bound to lose, that someone else can surely prevail against him, even if it requires banishing evidence to the contrary from your mind. In such a situation, the belief that victory is possible can make victory far more likely.

But there comes a time when all the pep talks and desperate rationalizations (like calling Trump’s wins a “hostile takeover” of the party) start to sound ridiculous. That’s when even those who’ve become addicted to denial should be able to recognize that it’s doing far more harm than good.

That time has now arrived.

By all means, help Cruz prevail in Indiana next Tuesday. Do what you can to keep Trump’s delegate total down. But please, Republicans, wake up from your self-induced slumber and begin to confront what reality has wrought.

The national leader of your party is Donald Trump.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, April 27, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Issues Are Not Even Close To Parallel”: Tax Transparency: Jane Sanders Goes Back On Disclosure Promise

Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, backtracked Tuesday on promises both she and the senator made to release the couple’s complete tax returns for the years 2006 through 2013, making a red herring excuse.

The returns will be released, Jane suggested, when Hillary Clinton provides transcript of her lucrative speeches to Wall Street firms. Clinton should absolutely release the transcripts and she should have done so long ago, but the issues are not even close to parallel.

Two wrongs do not a right make. And being a good guy politician does not exempt one from criticism from those who favor many of his policies, including me.

In comments to Wolf Blitzer on CNN midday Tuesday, Jane Sanders revealed that she and her husband either lack an understanding of the historic reasons it is crucial that presidential candidates release many years of complete tax returns, that they lack a broad regard for integrity in government or that they have something to hide.

The latter concern grows from Jane Sanders’ own conduct. First, she falsely asserted that the couple had repeatedly released tax returns, an assertion with no basis in fact as my April 13 National Memo column showed. Then there was her role as the president of a small, financially struggling nonprofit college, where she reportedly funneled $500,000 to her daughter and may have made false statements on bank loan papers.

But even if the Sanders tax returns are clean as a whistle, we should care about the Sanders tax returns. That the one nearly complete return they have made available, for 2014, is pretty standard for a couple in their age and income brackets is entirely beside the point.

We should care because we want every single person running for president to make public their complete tax returns – including schedules, statements and worksheets – for many years so that we do not ever again have an unindicted felon in the White House or an admitted tax cheat just a heartbeat away.

If a white hat politician like Sanders will not follow a tradition dating to the corrupt, tax-cheating presidency of Richard Nixon and his first vice president, Spiro Agnew, it gives aid and comfort to those who want to hide their black hat conduct.

Sanders runs as Mr. Transparency, railing against what goes on beyond closed doors when Wall Streeters and CEOs meet with politicians. Yet the junior Senator from Vermont seems willfully blind to how his own conduct undermines his important arguments, which have received far too little attention in the mainstream news.

If Sanders will not walk his talk he cannot credibly challenge those whom he says, with good reason, are rigging the economy for their benefit. That loss of credibility is terrible because Sanders is raising issues that need our attention, about policies that must change or the wealthiest Americans will grow ever richer by diminishing the income and assets of the vast majority, as I have been documenting for more than 20 years.

But much worse than damage to Sanders’ credibility is the aid and comfort he gives to politicians, including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich who have released nothing (Trump) or only summaries (Cruz and Kasich). Cruz and Kasich are both rich thanks to Wall Street. Heidi Cruz is a Goldman Sachs-er and Kasich made a fortune fast at Lehman Brothers, the overleveraged firm whose collapse set in motion the Great Recession.

The only one of the Final 5 who has fully released is Hillary Clinton. Her and Bill’s complete tax returns to 1992 are posted at taxhistory.org as are many other partial and complete tax returns dating back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administrations.

We really need to see the full tax returns of those three before any one of them is nominated by their party, but Sanders is making it easy for them to say no to disclosure.

Think ahead to the elections of 2020, 2024 and beyond, especially if the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision stands, enabling the wealthiest Americans to pour unlimited sums into elections. Some of that money will be to persuade. But as presidents including John Adams and James Madison warned, the business aristocrats will also trick people when it is in their interests to do so – and with Citizens United they can do so with abandon.

Plenty of people who want to exercise power over us from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will want to keep their tax returns out of public record now and for as long as the United States of America endures. Many of them who have something to hide will cite Sanders as their model. Some because their tax returns will show they paid little or no income tax for many years (Romney in 2012, Trump in 2016). Others may have taken aggressive positions that raise questions about their character and conduct. Still others may have unreported income, which we might learn if they disclose fully for many years and disgruntled business associates, mistresses or others come forth with cancelled checks, financial statements and other proofs.

What does it tell us that Sanders and his wife, who knew full well a year ago that they would be asked for their complete tax returns at least since 2007, have played a game of “hide the documents”? What does it tell us that Jane Sanders made an unconditional promise on Mark Halperin’s Bloomberg television program and now dishonors her word? What does it tell us that a man who rightfully demands transparency from others will not hold himself to the same standards?

And if there is something the Sanders need to hide – and I sure hope not — we need to know that, too. Why? Because even if Sanders fails to get the Democratic Party nomination for president, we don’t want crooks in the Senate any more than in the Oval Office.

 

By: David Cay Johnston, The National Memo, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Presidential Candidates, Tax Returns | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump’s Fabricated New Image”: The New Trump Took Less Than Two Weeks To Fabricate

If authenticity is your calling card, how do you become authentically inauthentic?

Welcome to the New Donald Trump, a marvel of the Twitter-Cable-Facebook Non-Industrial Complex and the age of minuscule attention spans.

It took Richard Nixon prodigious feats of hard work between 1962 and 1968 to create the New Nixon who got himself into the White House. But in an era when “brand” is both a noun and a verb and when “curating” is the thing to do, why should it surprise us that the New Trump took less than two weeks to fabricate?

After the wild, undisciplined and offensive period leading up to his April 5 loss in the Wisconsin primary to Ted Cruz, Trump decided he needed to curate his brand big time.

Shoved aside were key staffers, including his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who had reveled in the, shall we say, forceful approach to politics that was supposed to be part of Trump’s authenticity. Trump is trying to banish offensive talk about women, the gratuitous fights with television anchors, the uninformed comments about abortion.

Trump is going as establishment as he can. He’s even forgoing opportunities to hawk his product line, including Trump-blessed slabs of red meat, on primary nights. He bizarrely indulged in this in early March after his victories in Michigan and Mississippi.

Trump’s restrained victory speech Tuesday night after his New York primary blowout led Bloomberg News’s John Heilemann to offer an eloquent three-word obituary on “Morning Joe” for the Old Trump: “No Steaks Sold.”

But any doubts about The Donald deciding that being himself is overrated are erased by a visit to what has been sacred Trumpian space, his Twitter account. Consider this message that crossed my screen at 8:42 a.m. Wednesday: “Ted Cruz is mathematically out of winning the race. Now all he can do is be a spoiler, never a nice thing to do. I will beat Hillary!”

What’s shockingly extraordinary about this was how thoroughly ordinary it was. “Mathematically” is not an adverb we are accustomed to seeing from @realDonaldTrump. The Trump Show’s recurring villain, Lyin’ Ted, was gone, replaced by a boring guy named Ted Cruz.

So jarring was this cast change to many of the 7.7 million of us who faithfully follow Trump’s Twitter drama that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior campaign adviser, appeared on CNN’s “New Day” to offer comforting words. “I wouldn’t be too sure to erase that,” she said of “Lyin’ Ted,” using language suggesting that Trump is trying to “erase” a lot of other things. She added: “My guess is it’ll still pop up from time to time.” Happy day.

Her efforts to reassure the fans may have been the most significant post-New York pronouncement from Team Trump, which has simultaneously created a long-running, highly rated TV show — it might be called “Celebrity Candidate” — and manufactured a durable niche product.

The campaign must know that altering a story line abruptly in the middle of a television season unsettles viewers who hate to see their favorite themes ditched. Changing a well-known brand is risky business because customers start thinking that their preferences are being ignored.

Many devotees of “The Good Wife” never recovered from the murder of Will Gardner, the tough lawyer/love interest played by Josh Charles, who disappeared from the show. The New Trump may prove to be as problematic a commercial gambit as New Coke was three decades ago.

It’s true that the Trump product is lucky enough to be in a space where the competition is weak. Cruz may yet bump up his market share when the race moves to Indiana and California, but his negatives rival Trump’s. John Kasich can be appealing, but in a goofy way, and he is selling a moderate spirit to a GOP customer base whose dominant preference is ferociousness.

But there is another major brand to worry about, Hillary Clinton, who immensely strengthened her hand in the Democratic race with a 16-point victory over Bernie Sanders in New York.

It’s practically written into the news scripts that Clinton has an authenticity problem. The paradox, as one Clinton partisan argued to me recently, is that she has been unwilling to go full-bore in competing with Sanders’s visionary big offers because she just doesn’t believe that’s the way the world works. She can’t be anything but a practical pragmatist, this supporter insisted, and that’s how she’ll run.

It would be a lovely irony if the retooled, restrained, professionalized New Trump made the same-as-always Clinton into the true representative of authenticity.

 

By: E. J. Dionne Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 20, 2016

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“An Outdated Myth — An Illusion”: How The Media Created, And Then Killed, Political Momentum

Feel The Bern! Trump Train! Cruz-mentum!

There’s so much talk in the 2016 presidential race about momentum — the “Big Mo,” as it’s been dubbed for a quarter century. But here’s the truth: The power of momentum in politics today is an outdated myth — an illusion.

Ted Cruz supposedly had all the momentum after his Iowa victory. Then he got creamed in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Cruz had the Big Mo again after he pulled off a strong win against Donald Trump in Wisconsin. No dice. Now that Trump has won big in New York, has he ridden a tidal wave of momentum to achieve a significant bounce in, say, Pennsylvania or California? Nope. A similar effect is playing out in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He won more than a half dozen contests in a row. Then Clinton crushed him in the Empire State. Momentum, shmomentum.

John Kasich’s entire candidacy was premised on the idea that strong showings in New Hampshire and Ohio would give him the momentum to outperform in, well, the other 48 states, where he had no infrastructure or reason to win. That hasn’t panned out.

Of Marco Rubio, the less said the better. He kept hoping that each primary would deliver that vaunted “momentum” that would push him to the next primary. Instead, like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff, he kept running until he realized there was nothing under his feet, and crashed back to earth.

Why do political campaigns continue to put such faith in momentum despite the prevailing evidence that it simply doesn’t exist?

To answer that question, it’s instructive to wind back the clock to the greatest “momentum” story in recent American politics: Bill Clinton’s come-from-behind second-place finish in New Hampshire, which ended up propelling him to the Democratic nomination in 1992, and thence to history. People mocked Rubio for giving speeches after second-place finishes where he sounded like he’d won the nomination, but, hey, it worked for Clinton, didn’t it?

Well, why did it work? Because the idea of momentum works in tandem with a narrative. Bill Clinton branded himself “the comeback kid.” The media bought it. His unexpectedly strong showing prompted voters to give him a second look. Success breeds success. People want to support a guy who’s winning.

There used to be a lot of truth to this idea. But no more.

What changed? The media.

After Clinton won New Hampshire in 1992, every channel’s evening news and every non-right-leaning newspaper (meaning almost every newspaper) promoted the narrative that Clinton’s second-place finish was a big deal. The media telling voters that the candidate has done something unexpected that will give him momentum gets the voters to give the candidate a second look, to view him more favorably (he’s winning!), which drives up polls, which gives you another cycle of momentum, and so on.

The media-driven narrative of momentum used to be able to create actual momentum. But that only works when you have a unified media narrative to get the snowball effect started. And a unified media narrative is precisely what America no longer has.

Rubio did nothing to warrant winning a “comeback kid” designation in 2016. But imagine if he had, and then had been christened “the comeback kid” by CNN, and even maybe by Fox News. He still wouldn’t be called that by Rush Limbaugh, and certainly not by Breitbart (in the tank for Trump), or The Blaze (in the tank for Cruz), or MSNBC (in the tank against whichever Republican looks most electable).

The media today is fractured, fragmented. A consistent and coherent media narrative is very difficult to form around a candidate. And when it does happen, it’s in a way that is much harder to translate into momentum.

Political momentum in 2016 is a myth. And it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week, April 22, 2016

April 23, 2016 Posted by | General Election 2016, Media, Momentum | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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