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“Lazy And Ineffectual, But He Wants Her Endorsement”: Trump Decides He Likes New Mexico’s Governor After All

During the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump was so unimpressed with Ted Cruz, he gave the senator a nickname: Lyin’ Ted. Yesterday, however, Trump held a rally in California where he announced a change of heart.

“Ted Cruz is no longer a liar,” Trump declared. “We don’t see ‘Lyin’ Ted’ anymore. We love Ted, we love him.”

The Texas senator evidently isn’t the only beneficiary of Trump’s magnanimity. The Republican presidential hopeful is apparently mending fences with Karl Rove – who called Trump “a complete idiot” in the recent past – and the Sante Fe New Mexican published a report overnight that suggests Trump is even ready to cozy up to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

In a stunning reversal of rhetoric and tone, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday said he respects New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and wants her endorsement. Trump’s comments in a phone interview with The New Mexican came just days after he castigated Martinez in front of 8,000 people in Albuquerque, saying her job performance was so poor that he might have to run for governor of New Mexico.

Trump’s criticisms of Martinez turned to praise Thursday, signs of their months long war thawing to a détente.

“I’d like to have it,” Trump said in a phone interview when asked if he wanted Martinez’s support. “I respect her. I have always liked her.”

Well, “always” appears to be an overstatement. It was literally last week when Trump appeared in New Mexico and told a local audience that Martinez, the nation’s first and only Latina governor, was lazy and ineffectual.

“We have got to get your governor to get going,” he said. “She’s got to do a better job, okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job…. She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on, let’s go, governor.”

Three days ago, Trump was asked about why he targeted Martinez. Apparently referring to the governor’s stated reluctance to appear with him publicly, Trump told reporters, “She was not nice. And I was fine – just a little bit of a jab. But she wasn’t nice, and you think I’m going to change? I’m not changing, including with her.”

That was Tuesday. Yesterday, however, Trump called the governor’s home-town newspaper, said he is changing his attitude towards Martinez, and he’d like her endorsement.

At a certain point, shouldn’t Trump’s erratic temperament warrant some scrutiny?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 2, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New Mexico, Susana Martinez | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Reince Priebus Has A Conundrum”: How Donald Trump Trapped The Republican National Committee

On Fox News Sunday, Reince Priebus promised that Donald Trump will “bring an earthquake to Washington.”

At the least, he’s put the RNC chairman on shaky ground.

Priebus, the top official in the Republican Party, has a conundrum. His party’s presumptive nominee is making it extremely hard for him to attack Hillary Clinton, as Priebus’s most recent Sunday morning TV tour made excruciatingly clear. For years, the Republican Party has been developing talking points and strategic attacks to use against Clinton.

And one by one, Trump seems to be rendering them useless.

Priebus’s walk of Sunday shame came in the wake of a brutal few days for Trump. The Washington Post produced audio of Trump allegedly pretending to be his own PR flack, The New York Times released a scorching report about Trump’s creepy and predatory treatment of pageant contestants and female employees. On top of that, Trump spent the week arguing that he doesn’t have a responsibility to release his tax returns and that nobody wants to look at them anyway.

The tax returns—which Trump has said he will probably release at some point—are a uniquely thorny issue. When Face the Nation host John Dickerson asked Priebus whether Trump should release his tax returns, the chairman replied that voters don’t really care either way.

“This sort of traditional review and analysis of individual candidates has not applied to Donald Trump,” Priebus said—without saying why Trump should be immune to that scrutiny.

“Now, whether or not his taxes are disclosed or not is something I don’t think is going to move the electorate,” he added.

People aren’t that interested, Priebus argued.

But when it comes to transparency from Democrats, Priebus is a purist. He released a statement after the April 26 Democratic primaries needling Hillary Clinton for her refusal to release transcripts of speeches she made at Goldman Sachs.

“Whether it’s her secret email server that jeopardized national security, stonewalling on releasing the transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street banks, or deliberately misleading voters on nearly every issue, America cannot afford to have Hillary Clinton’s long track record of dishonesty and reckless judgment in the White House,” he said.

Americans are extremely curious about Clinton’s Wall Street speechifying—but tax returns, which would show how much money Trump earns and how he got it? Boring!

Priebus spent the rest of the interview—arguing that any effort to get a third-party candidate would be a “suicide mission” and that Paul Ryan will get along with Trump because they both oppose abortion. He was able to sneak in a reference to “the Benghazi,” but besides that the Democratic frontrunner went unmentioned. This isn’t a one-time thing. Some of the RNC’s favorite attack lines against Clinton could ring hollow, given the similarities between their guy and her.

Almost exactly two years ago, Priebus said Clinton’s health and age were “fair game” for her critics. He made the comment after Karl Rove reportedly suggested Clinton suffered from brain damage, as Newsweek reported.

“I think that health and age is fair game,” Priebus said on Meet the Press on May 18, 2014. “It was fair game for Ronald Reagan. It was fair game for John McCain.”

But it’s not a particularly fun game for Republicans, given that Clinton is one year younger than Trump. He’s 69, and she’s 68. Trump, in fact, was the only competitive Republican presidential candidate older than Clinton. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich are, respectively, 63, 44, 45, and 64 years old. So much for the age card.

In fact, Trump embodies many elements of the Clinton persona that Priebus used to love to rip. On June 10, 2015, for instance, he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that Clinton was “unrelatable” to typical Americans, dinging her for her wealthy lifestyle.

“She doesn’t live a life that’s even remotely close to any actual average families that are out there in Ohio that are going to be voting,” he said confidently. “And that’s going to be her Achilles’ heel.”

It’s certainly true that Clinton’s lifestyle doesn’t have much overlap with your typical soccer mom from the Toledo suburbs. The former secretary of state raked in millions by giving private speeches, and headed a foundation that kept her connected to global elites.

“The Clinton’s lifestyle has and always will be a liability because they play by their own set of rules,” said RNC spokesperson Lindsay Walters when reached for further comment. “They have enriched themselves and even their friends through any means necessary, whether it be raking in speaking fees from foreign governments or using the State Department and their family foundation for their own personal gain. If Clinton is going to claim to be a crusader against Wall Street on the campaign stump, people deserve to know what she got paid to tell them in private.”

Speaking of planes, don’t expect to hear Priebus criticize Bill Clinton for being a frequent passenger on a plane owned by sex-offending billionaire Jeffrey Epstein (nicknamed the Lolita Express). Epstein faces lawsuits from upwards of a dozen alleged victims, according to Vice. And in 2002—as Vice highlighted—Trump told New York magazine that he was a big fan of Epstein’s.

“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” he said at the time. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

It’s excruciating. And, by Priebus’s standards, it’s fair game. On Feb. 24, 2015, the RNC released a memo complaining that “there was hardly a single headline over Bill Clinton’s travels with Jeffrey Epstein.”

A few weeks later, Priebus told Bloomberg Politics that he had serious concerns about Clinton’s relationship with Epstein.

“I’d like to know what he was doing with Jeffrey Epstein, how many trips did he take, where was he going, what did he do when he was with this guy?” Priebus said. “When you hang out with a guy who has a reputation like Jeffrey Epstein, multiple times, on private jets, on weekends, on trips, on places at least where it’s been reported not very good things happen, it would be good to know what our former president was doing, especially because it appears he’s going to be part of a campaign ticket on the other side of the aisle.”

Vice noted that Epstein’s brother, Mark, testified that Trump took at least one flight on the Lolita Express. Awkward.

The more we learn about Trump, the less Priebus can say about Clinton—and the more uncomfortable his Sunday show swings will likely become. Thanks to Trump, Priebus is permanently on defense.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, May 16, 2016

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Reince Priebus | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Spectacularly Stupid Strategy”: Why Trump’s ‘Woman Card’ Attack On Clinton Is Sheer Lunacy

I have no idea what kind of discussions go on when Donald Trump is talking to his campaign advisers, though I suspect there’s a lot of “You were terrific, Mr. Trump!” and “That’s a great idea, Mr. Trump!” But it’s hard not to wonder what they’re telling him about how enthusiastically he’s been going after Hillary Clinton for allegedly playing the “woman card.”

This seems on the surface to be spectacularly stupid as a strategy, yet Trump won’t stop saying it. So I have a theory about what he’s up to, but even if I’m right, he’s going about it in exactly the wrong way.

Here’s what he said yesterday on Fox News Sunday when Chris Wallace asked him about it. It starts with Wallace telling Trump that people in both parties think Trump is being foolish in attacking Clinton this way, to which Trump replies, “Really?  OK.  Well, I’m my own strategist and I like that — what I said and it’s true.  I only tell the truth and that’s why people voted for me.” Then he recites a bunch of poll numbers about how well he’s doing against Ted Cruz, and goes on:

“I mean, Bernie Sanders, what he said was a lot worse than what I said and I’m going to use that. We’ll have that teed up. But Bernie Sanders said she shouldn’t be allowed to run, that she’s not capable.

“And, you know, what he said is incredible. It’s a sound bite. It’s an — in fact, as soon as he said it, they broke in and they said, I can just imagine Donald Trump watching these statements Bernie Sanders has made — is making about Clinton.

“So, look, she’s a strong person. She’s going to have to be able to take it. The fact is, the only card she has is the woman’s card. She’s done a lousy job in so many ways and even women don’t like her.  They don’t like her.

“But it is the woman’s card and she plays it, and I’ll let you know in about six months whether or not she plays it well. But I don’t think she’ll play it well. I don’t think she’ll play it well at all. And it’s true, if she were not a woman, she wouldn’t even be in this race.”

For the record, Bernie Sanders never said Clinton “shouldn’t be allowed to run.” Trump’s assertion that “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote” led multiple commentators (see here, here, and here) to wonder just how well someone with Trump’s lack of experience and colorful history and ideas would fare in a presidential race if he were a woman, and the answer is pretty obvious. And you couldn’t find a worse candidate to make this argument, given that Trump’s unfavorable ratings among women in recent polls have ranged from 67 percent to 74 percent.

So how can he possibly think this is a good argument to make? Here’s my hypothesis: Trump is trying to execute a version of a strategy Karl Rove used so effectively throughout his career. That strategy says that you don’t go after your opponent’s weakness, you go after her strength. The most well-known case was that of John Kerry, where Republicans took the fact that Kerry was a war hero with multiple citations for bravery during his service in Vietnam, and convinced voters that not only wasn’t Kerry a hero at all, he was almost a traitor. In another colorful example from earlier in Rove’s career, he had a client opposing a candidate known for his volunteer work with children, so he spread rumors that the opponent was a pedophile. Suddenly, pictures of the candidate with kids he was helping took on a different meaning.

If this is what Trump is trying to do, it starts from an accurate premise: Clinton’s gender may indeed be one of her greatest strengths. She enters the general election with plenty of weaknesses, particularly since she’s been embroiled in an endless string of controversies over her quarter-century as a national figure. Yet her election as the first woman president would be truly historic, and the closer we get to the election, the more salient that fact may become to women voters (and many men as well). And Clinton isn’t hamstrung by many of the unfair questions that many female candidates have to endure. She’s viewed as strong and competent, and since her daughter is grown, no one is asking why she isn’t at home taking care of her family (a question female candidates with children get, but male candidates never do). There has been a significant gender gap in recent presidential elections, but this election could see the widest one in history, particularly if Democrats can succeed in turning out single women, one of the groups they perform best with.

But if Trump is trying to undermine Clinton’s ability to use her gender to her advantage, he’s going about it in exactly the wrong way. Instead of arguing that a Clinton presidency would actually be bad for women, he’s actually using sexist tropes against her, tropes that women voters find all too familiar. When he says she’s not qualified, every woman who’s ever held a job will be reminded of how she had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as her male colleagues. They’ll also laugh at the idea that being a woman confers some kind of unfair advantage, in politics or anywhere else. And we’re talking about someone who was a senator and secretary of state, whatever else you might think of her. Trump has never worked a day in government and doesn’t understand the first thing about policy, but she’s the unqualified one? It’s as though the 2004 Bush campaign, instead of “swift boating” John Kerry to convince voters he was no war hero, instead said, “Sure, John Kerry is a war hero, but bravery and service are stupid and military experience should disqualify you from the presidency.” You can imagine how well that would have gone over.

The challenge for Clinton is to figure out exactly how to react to Trump’s blundering attacks. Her initial response — “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!” — was her way of saying that there’s a substantive basis to this argument, that it’s about more than just rudeness. But she needs to keep women motivated to vote against Trump for emotional reasons, too: in the best scenario for her, women are so disgusted by Trump that they register and vote in unusually high numbers. And as some early political science research shows, there’s a wrong way to do it: celebrity endorsements touting Clinton as a strong, accomplished woman have little effect, while a recitation of Trump’s vulgar statements about women move voters powerfully against him.

Of course, it’s also possible that Trump doesn’t have any Rovian strategy in mind when he tells voters that the only reason anyone supports Hillary Clinton is that she’s a woman. It could be that Trump is just a misogynistic jerk who can’t help himself, and isn’t following any strategy at all.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, May 2, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, War On Women, Women in Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Megyn Kelly Made Up With Donald Trump”: Everyone Else On The Right Will Do The Same

Fox News and Donald Trump are reaching a detente at last; yesterday Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower for an hour-long meeting she described as allowing “a chance to clear the air,” after which Trump went to the Fox offices to have lunch with network chief Roger Ailes. This comes after Kelly had the temerity to ask Trump about sexist remarks he had made in the past, which led him to unleash a months-long campaign of insults at her (The Donald doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by a woman).

The time had obviously come for Kelly to make nice, and more importantly, Fox needed to smooth over any conflict with Trump, given that he’s likely to be the Republican nominee for president soon.

Though Fox is a unique and complicated media outlet, this is a preview of what’s to come from many quarters on the right. People and organizations which have criticized and even attacked Trump, some in the harshest possible terms, will come around. They might not start praising him to the heavens, but they are going to join in the effort to get him elected. Because the alternative will be irrelevance, the last thing anyone in politics wants.

Let’s take, as a first example, our old friend Karl Rove. Politico reports today that while Rove has been criticizing Trump in public, behind the scenes he and American Crossroads, the super PAC he helped found, are telling donors that Trump can beat Hillary Clinton, so everyone needs to be prepared to get behind him. Now why might that be?

Consider that American Crossroads and its sister “charitable” organization Crossroads GPS are together the premier vehicle for rich Republicans to play in elections. In 2012, they spent $176 million on the campaign, more than any other group. If Trump is the nominee and American Crossroads said, “Forget about this election — we won’t support Trump,” where would that leave them? On the sidelines, with no role to play (at least in the presidential race), no contributions coming in, no salaries for their staff, no commissions for their consultants, and no influence. When there’s a presidential election going on, the last thing political players like them want is to be left out of the game.

American Crossroads goes after the big money, but there is a whole universe of operators and organizations who depend for their incomes on convincing conservatives that by handing over $20 or $50 or $100 they can fight today’s bête noir, whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that with their contributions they can push back on social change and turn America back to the place it was when they were young. Once your name and address are on one of their lists, they’ll be bought and sold again and again, so you can be targeted with appeal after appeal for donations to do your part in fighting the good fight. It’s a gigantic grift — many of the organizations spend little on actual political work, and the contributions help line the pockets of the people who run them. In the last couple of years, even some conservatives have gotten uncomfortable with this gigantic grift. But too many people are getting a taste for it to be dismantled.

Even for those who aren’t just fleecing rank-and-file conservatives to get rich, Trump becoming the nominee (presuming that happens) changes the calculation, making attacking him no longer worthwhile. Those who have criticized him up to now will have to justify their change in tone, but with the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming, it won’t be that difficult.

That applies even to those who have been most vociferous in their criticisms of Trump. He has been attacked in the strongest possible terms by numerous outlets of the conservative media, like National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That can partially be explained by the fact that they appeal to an elite conservative audience, the kind of people who are horrified by Trump and his supporters and would like to get back to a time when the rabble were brought along with more subtle appeals and genteel Republican officials focused on the truly important work of cutting capital gains taxes. While they might be hesitant to sing Trump’s praises too loudly given what they’ve said up to now, they’ll likely just ignore him (for the most part) and spend the summer and fall telling their readers why Hillary Clinton was spat from the very fires of hell to complete Barack Obama’s work of destroying America.

Fox News, on the other hand, has a more downscale audience, one that will want to hear not just about Clinton’s villainy, but also why Trump is a terrific guy who’s going to make America great. After all, if you’ve spent years watching Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, you’ve heard Trump’s arguments a thousand times: America is in decline, immigrants are destroying everything, black people need to shut up and pull up their pants, the white man can’t catch a break.

You can already watch fawning interviews of Trump on the network, but in the end, everyone — including Megyn Kelly — is going to have to get on board Trump’s train. When he’s the nominee, that’s what will be in the best interests of the network itself and the Republican Party, and Roger Ailes’ genius has always been his ability to serve both at the same time. And if Kelly doesn’t like it, she’ll have to get a job somewhere else.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Donald Is Trumping The #NeverTrumps”: Can Ted Cruz Or John Kasich Stop The Trump Train?

Terrible tag-team, murder-suicide or surrender? Those are the options available for the ill-named, ill-executed and probably ill-fated #NeverTrump movement.

The Ides of March were unkind to retiring Sen. Marco Rubio, whose hope-not-fear, praise the lord farewell speech could just as easily have been a brief Et tu, Florida? Then fall Marco! Rubio had played Brutus to Jeb Bush, his former governor and mentor, and then it was retired reality TV star Donald Trump, who doth bestride the party like a colossus, who administered the coup de grace against Rubio in the Sunshine State.

That reduced the GOP field to three finalists, only one of whom – Trump – has a clear and realistic path to an acceptance speech on the final night of the GOP convention in Cleveland. In addition to Florida, he picked up wins in Illinois and North Carolina and was in a tight battle for Missouri.

The one place he fell clearly short was in Ohio, where the popular, two-term governor – John Kasich – held serve and survived the kind of existential test that took Rubio down. But, as I argued last week would be the case, dopey Don won for losing: Kasich’s victory “guarantees at least two not-Trumps remain in the field … with Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz splitting the non-Trump portion of the pie.”

Do you want more happy news, Trump-ists? Savor this: Per The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, the two states that have gotten seen the biggest anti-Trump independent expenditure efforts thus far (or at least through March 13, when the latest Federal Election Commission records were available to them) were Florida, where at least $15.7 million was spent, and Illinois, where another $5.3 million was poured in. Guess in which two states Trump ran up the biggest margins Tuesday night? That’s right – the Sunshine State and the Land of Lincoln, both places where Trump scored double-digit wins.

So where does that leave team #NeverTrump? With a series of unappealing options. In spite of Kasich’s win, this is arguably a two-man race now between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is the only other candidate anywhere near the real estate tycoon in terms of delegates. But Cruz faces a number of problems, starting with his own alienating personality and approach to politics. The non-Trump GOP may yet coalesce around him, but it’ll do so holding its collective nose. Anyone who hadn’t made a virtue of accumulating enemies in Washington would already have the not-Trump field to himself by now.

And the time it took to winnow the field can be marked off in the Southern states and more heavily religious electorates that have cast their ballots already. Here’s where the campaign trail leads for Republicans: the Arizona primary and Utah caucus next week; Wisconsin two weeks later and New York two weeks after that; and then a week later most of the remaining Northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Where does Cruz notch his next victory? Trump’s going to be strong in Arizona, with former Gov. Jan Brewer and immigration nut Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his corner. Maybe the freshman Texas senator can score a victory in Utah but the map looks bleak after that. Can he go oh-for-April and survive until Indiana on May 3?

As FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik observed Tuesday night, polls show that Trump is stronger vis a vis Cruz in states that haven’t voted yet:

Trump led Cruz by 17 points in places with votes on or before March 15, according to data provided by the online-polling company SurveyMonkey, based on its interviews of 8,624 Republican registered voters from Feb. 29 to March 6. But Trump’s lead expanded to 24 points in places that vote later.

In a hypothetical head-to-head against Cruz, Trump led by 1 point in places that had voted by today, but by 8 points everywhere else. As our delegate tracker indicates, Cruz needed a lead over Trump by now to be on track for a majority of delegates, because the voting gets tougher for him from here.

And that brings us back to Kasich. Appearing on CNN after winning the Buckeye State, the governor was spouting some fairly high octane spin: “I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else,” he said. “There’s 1,000 yet to pick.” Here’s the thing: Even if Kasich – who has less delegates than the dear-departed Rubio – wins those 1,000 or so delegates, he won’t get to the 1,237 needed for the nomination. And the guy whose first win in 31 tries just came in his home state isn’t poised to win the next 1,000 delegates anyway.

At this point Kasich’s sole hope – and arguably sole purpose – is to deny Trump delegates where Cruz is ill-equipped to do so. It’s the carve-up-the-map strategy offered last month by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove laid it out on Fox Tuesday night: “Look at the contests coming up: We have bunch of Western states where Ted Cruz is probably likely to do well,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of Northeastern states where he hasn’t been doing well where he hasn’t been doing well where John Kasich has done well. So you’ve got Cruz who could cover you know Utah and Arizona and Montana [on June 7] and you could have Kasich who could challenge Trump in places like Connecticut and Delaware. … It gets us to an even more contested convention. In chaos is opportunity for the little guy.”

This is what we’ve come to: Rove is trying to chart a path into chaos for his party in the hopes of benefiting the GOP establishment, or the “little guy” as he puts it. This is, by the way, the third of the five stages of Trump: the first two are the convictions that he could be stopped before or during the primaries and the third is the hope of a convention battle.

So the #NeverTrump-ists and their allies – specifically the Cruz and Kasich campaigns – have to decide quickly whether the last not-Trumps can either tag-team the front-runner before he recedes entirely from their view or at least stay out of each other’s way; the alternative is to continue competing with each other in the grim game of winnowing while more contests slide inexorably past them into Trump’s column.

Because sooner is becoming later and before they know it, the #NeverTrump will be faced with its own existential test: Whether to morph into #NeverTrumpUntilHeFacesHillary.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 17, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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