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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

“Following The Herd”: Voting The Wrong Way For The Wrong Reason

Late last week, in their final vote before a Thanksgiving break, U.S. House members easily approved a bill to effectively block Syrian refugees from reaching American soil. The outcome wasn’t close – supporters easily outnumbered opponents, 289 to 137, with 47 House Democrats breaking ranks and joining nearly every Republican in the chamber.

The legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate, but a nagging question remains unresolved: how many of those 289 House representatives realized this is a bad bill, but voted for it anyway?

One lawmaker in particular offers a rather extraordinary example.

Republican Rep. Steve Russell delivered a speech on the House floor this week decrying his colleagues’ “xenophobic” push against Syrian refugees in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks. “While I have focused my comments on actions we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become like them,” the Oklahoma-based lawmaker said. “America is a lamp that lights the horizon of civilized and free mankind. The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly.”

He added: “If we use our passions and our anger, fear, and we use that to snuff out her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands. Period.”

It was a powerful and compelling argument from a far-right lawmaker, reminding his colleagues about the importance of America’s best instincts and our proudest traditions.

And yet, when it came time to consider the controversial bill, Steve Russell followed the herd and voted against Syrian refugees, even after his spirited condemnation of Congress’ “xenophobic” push and “knee-jerk” reaction to Paris.

What in the world happened between the Oklahoma congressman’s speech and his vote?

TPM talked to Russell, who explained on Friday that he actually voted against the bill, before ultimately reversing course. The congressman described the scene on the floor after he cast his initial vote.

His colleagues then “surrounded” him on the floor and asked him to switch his vote since his approval would give the bill a veto-proof majority, according to Russell. He demanded that he have “seat at the table on all future discussions on this issue,” and once an agreement was met, Russell switched his vote. […]

Russell told TPM that “nobody” believes the bill passed on Thursday will be the final legislation, and that the veto-proof majority would give the House leverage when negotiating with the Senate.

For the record, there’s no real merit to such a strategy. The “leverage” of a veto-proof majority is only effective if all the relevant players believe there’s a two-thirds majority prepared to back a bad, reactionary bill. If Russell freely admits that he has no use for the bill the House passed, then the White House realizes that those 289 supporters aren’t fully committed to the legislation – which necessarily has the effect of undermining the chamber’s leverage.

Tactical considerations notwithstanding, it’s nevertheless a shame when a lawmaker wants to do the right thing, but feels like he can’t.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 23, 2015

November 25, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, ISIS, Syrian Refugees | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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