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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Reince Priebus is right, GOP primary losers need to back Trump now

Looking back, the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination unofficially ended on the evening of May 3 when Donald Trump soundly defeated Ted Cruz by 17 points in the Indiana primary, forcing the Texas senator to suspend his campaign. It is true that Ohio Governor John Kasich was still in the race at that moment, though his third place finish (with only 7.6% of the vote) in The Hoosier State, which borders his own territory, was bad enough for even him to call it quits the next day.

Therefore, all organized resistance to Trump in the Republican Party basically capitulated by early May. Sure, Trump pollthere were then as there are now bands of #NeverTrump guerillas sniping at the GOP pack from dark places out of sight, but they’ve caused little damage to the party’s efforts overall. In the process, these naysayers have definitely hurt themselves, but that’s a story for another time.

Even though it’s been over four and a half months since Trump effectively secured the GOP nomination, the deep wounds from the contentious primary season still have not healed. Three of the party’s top candidates, Cruz, Kasich and former Florida governor Jeb Bush remain on the sidelines, having not endorsed Trump and leaving no signs that they will do so anytime soon.

Party chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday (on CBS’ Face the Nation program) indicated that there may be future repercussions for the holdouts should they fail to come around before the November election.

Priebus said, “Those people need to get on board. And if they’re thinking they’re going to run again someday, I think that we’re going to evaluate the process – of the nomination process and I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them.”

The lingering sorry band of #NeverTrump squawkers in the media didn’t care much for Priebus’ not-so-veiled threat, but essentially what the chairman was talking about concerns the “Pledge” each candidate signed last year to support the Republican nominee regardless of who ended up winning. And then there are the “sore loser” laws some states use to bar delegates to a candidate who didn’t sign such a pledge.

The Pledge is a legal matter and it’s complicated. But it doesn’t need to be. Priebus clearly wasn’t threatening any legal actions against the holdouts, but he also was essentially warning them that if they want to run again in four or eight years it would be in their best interest to at least have the party’s goodwill behind them when they do it.

Priebus is the leading figurehead of the GOP establishment and I would normally argue he could be mostly if not completely ignored, but in this case I think Reince has offered sound advice to the disgruntled clique. Ted Cruz certainly shot himself in the foot with his ill-advised non-endorsement speech at the Republican convention two months ago and Kasich didn’t even show up for the event despite it being held in his own state.

I highly doubt Jeb Bush would ever consider running again so he isn’t really part of this conversation. Once was enough for the youngest Bush brother and there’s no way political conditions will have improved so much for him to endure another terribly embarrassing almost certain loss down the road.

But John Kasich could give it a shot, no matter how long the odds would be. Kasich didn’t take kindly to Priebus’ cautionary words, either.

As reported by Kyle Cheney of Politico, “Ohio Gov. John Kasich's war with the national Republican Party exploded into the open Sunday night, when his top adviser thrashed GOP leader Reince Priebus and hinted that the presidential election may be out of reach for Donald Trump…

“’Thankfully, there are still leaders in this country who put principles before politics,’ said John Weaver, Kasich's adviser, adding, ‘The idea of a greater purpose beyond oneself may be alien to political party bosses like Reince Priebus, but it is at the center of everything Governor Kasich does.’”

First of all, John Weaver himself has no principles, so he shouldn’t be talking about the subject. And neither should his boss, a man who arguably ran his campaign two months longer than he should have and all but allowed Trump to consolidate enough delegates to win by taking anti-Trump voters away from Ted Cruz when he needed them most. Kasich won only his home state and crawled into the convention with only 161 total delegates which still put him in fourth place behind Marco Rubio (who wisely got out on March 15).

Kasich became the de facto establishment candidate after Bush and Rubio left the race and still couldn’t muster a serious challenge to Cruz and Trump. He remains a political lightweight and a crybaby who lied about the possibility of supporting Trump if the nominee’s “tone” changed.

Well, Trump’s changed his tone and his standing in the polls has improved accordingly. All the momentum is on Trump’s side now and one way or another, it looks like the election will at the very least be competitive in November.

Yet the Kasich-type sore losers continue to warn of an election catastrophe with Trump at the top of the ticket. Weaver further said in the statement, “The Governor is traveling the nation supporting down ballot Republicans and preventing a potential national wipeout from occurring on Reince's watch.”

Pfft. Again, who would even want John Kasich to campaign for him or her? Maybe John McCain…that sounds like a good fit. Guys like Kasich are looking down on people for supporting Trump now and others are losing friends because of their views. It’s ugly.

In contrast to Kasich, Cruz has a better leg to stand on for his refusal to publicly back Trump, but as I’ve said many times before, if Ted truly wants a future in the party and to potentially run for president again years from now, he needs to show he’s doing everything he can today to defeat the certain disaster that would be Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.

And that means Cruz needs to say, like radio host Mark Levin did recently, that he’ll vote for Trump.

Cruz’s political future is not contingent on a Trump victory this year, but it does depend on his willingness to gain support for something other than battling the party establishment. Trump was seen by Republican voters as the better candidate in this regard. Cruz has to show he can be a team player and still advocate for his conservative beliefs.

Ample evidence that Trump is not only bringing in new voters, he’s adding new donors

Regardless of whether the former Republican presidential candidates end up on Donald Trump’s side in this year’s election, it looks like he’s now enjoying some increased support from a traditionally Democrat constituency that he’s been actively courting of late.

Rudy Takala of the Washington Examiner reports, “Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has seen a groundswell of support from black voters over the last week, according to the results of a tracking poll released over the weekend.

“Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton experienced a nearly 20-point decrease in support from the same demographic between Sept. 10-16 according to the poll, which was conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California. The survey found Trump's support from black voters increased from 3.1 percent to 19.6 percent over the period, while Clinton's declined from 90.4 percent to 71.4 percent.”

Trump leads by about seven points overall according to the LA Times/USC poll, showing his largest margin from any national survey.

While the seven-point gap is huge for Trump, the potential groundswell of support from black voters is even more satisfying. His growing total from African-Americans shows his outreach efforts are helping him spread his message to a group that has been underserved and abused by Democrats for generations.

If the support holds among black voters, there is virtually no way Crooked Hillary can win the election…the numbers just won’t add up for her. This is one number we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, African-American voters aren’t the only ones who see some value in supporting Donald Trump. With the race having entered the stretch run, Trump is getting record monetary support from the grassroots as well.

Not only does it appear that Trump is bringing in new voters, he’s also adding new donors.

Shane Goldmacher of Politico reports, “Donald Trump has unleashed an unprecedented deluge of small-dollar donations for the GOP, and one that Republican Party elders have dreamed about finding for much of the last decade as they’ve watched a succession of Democrats — Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Hillary Clinton — develop formidable fundraising operations, $5, $10 and $20 at a time.

“Trump has only been actively soliciting cash for a few months, but when he reveals his campaign’s financials later this week they will show he has crushed the total haul from small-dollar donors of the last two Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney — during the entirety of their campaigns.”

Goldmacher’s article indicates Trump may have passed the $100 million mark from people contributing less than $200. One party operative even described him as the “Republican Obama” in terms of receiving money from backers in small bundles.

There is simply no better indicator of the grassroots enthusiasm for a candidate than people who give a little of their hard-earned money to a candidate in the belief he or she will work to make their lives better.

The above poll and monetary contributions haul also suggests the “secret” Trump vote may be coming out from hiding. Now that Americans think it’s “okay” and acceptable to support Trump, they’re doing it in ways that are showing up to the news media.

It will be interesting to see how the reporters handle the new reality since it differs so much from what they’re used to talking about.

Even with Trump’s rise in the polls, his detractors still say the Electoral College will sink him

It’s safe to say the people at Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters must be giddy with delight at the recent polls showing their candidate having erased Crooked Hillary’s post-convention advantage. The Real Clear Politics average now shows Hillary leading by less than a point over Trump.

This poll resurgence has brought new life to Trump’s hopes of winning on November 8. But make no mistake there are still plenty of people out there saying he’ll lose because of Hillary’s intrinsic advantage in the Electoral College.

Tim Alberta writes in National Review, “Is Clinton still a prohibitive favorite? Are blue states such as Michigan and Wisconsin suddenly in play? Does Trump now have a clear path to 270 electoral votes?

“No, no, and no.

“It’s true that Trump has the wind at his back, thanks to Clinton’s worst stretch of the race and several weeks of mostly error-free campaigning on his part. But it’s also true that the Republican nominee remains a decided underdog, even as he surges in the polls of several battleground states.”

In his article, Alberta further explains that the all-important swing states are mostly toss-ups at best for Trump and even if his national popularity surge happens to be real it won’t put him over the top in enough states to beat Crooked Hillary to the 270 Electoral Vote threshold.

The writer then provides a detailed analysis of several states concluding that they’ll almost universally fall towards the Democrat side, reasoning they’ll do so mostly because they always vote Democrat when push comes to shove in presidential elections.

There are a host of stories similar to Alberta’s that essentially go like this: “Yeah, Trump’s poll surge is real but she’ll still get him where it counts. He has no chance in any of these states because of reasons x, y and z. He’s finished. Get ready, President Clinton part deux.”

Such analysis could be relevant if the election was held today, but it’s not. By the time the second Tuesday in November rolls around, undecided voters and fence-sitters will have made up their minds and have to either vote for one of the candidates or not at all.

The only poll that matters is on November 8. I still think as the election nears that Americans will vote against the incumbent party – and history is on my side on this one. (Here’s one extremely well-reasoned story in The American Conservative that makes the argument that most signs indicate Trump will win.)

It’s far too simple for Alberta -- or anyone -- to conclude that Hillary will win because of current polls or the history of the Electoral College. Clinton is a once-in-a-lifetime bad candidate and Trump is growing into the role of being “presidential”. Trump may still be considered the underdog today, but I think Democrats are the ones who will be howling when the time comes.

Trump town hall in black church will be must-see TV on Wednesday night

Finally today, given Donald Trump’s apparent recent inroads with black voters, it would behoove him to keep up the conversations with the voting group right up until Election Day.

Thankfully, it looks like he’s going to.

Joe Concha of The Hill reports, “Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a town hall event with Sean Hannity of Fox News at a black church in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The Republican presidential nominee will be hosted by Reverend Darrell Scott, an outspoken Trump supporter, at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights.

“The network indicates the event will specifically ‘discuss the core issues and concerns surrounding African-Americans this 2016 election cycle.’”

If this event gets any play in the media, which it should, it will help Trump spread his message to African-Americans and other minority communities who might not find the concepts so terrifying if it comes straight from the candidate himself rather than a media talker. I for one hope Trump receives a lot of tough questions in the forum because if the audience is too easy on him it will look like a set-up.

While Trump’s numbers are certainly improving with black voters, let’s not forget that at least four out of every five don’t favor him. Not only that, there’s a great deal of hostility towards the Republican Party as well, with African-Americans having been led to believe Republican policies are responsible for many of their problems.

It’s going to take years of outreach for Republicans to try and break the Democrats’ stranglehold on the black vote. Mitt Romney didn’t do it. John McCain didn’t do it. Trump is doing it – and hopefully his fellow party members will take his example and follow suit.

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Accept Least Objectionable Label

Rendall wants Republicans to say that they will vote for Trump.

In contrast to Rendall’s savvy political commentary, it is an unreasonable request, especially when Trump dishonestly referred to you as lyin’ Ted, ridiculed your wife’s appearance, and insinuated that your father participated in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the absence of a public confession by Trump of his transgressions against his primary competition, it should be enough for the Republican fealty pledges to 1) concede to Trump the Republican nomination for President, 2) not run an independent campaign for President, and 3) not endorse a candidate competing with Trump for President.

Perhaps, Rendall’s demands need to be more modest of Republican support for Trump. The requirement for Republican support of Trump could start with attesting that Trump is the least objectionable candidate running for President. With that, Rendall may get some takers from those refraining from endorsing Trump, even from the #NeverTrump bunch.

Such an approach would free him to focus his ire on those Republicans truly deserving of it; those who unabashedly favor crooked Clinton.

The list should start with those who are shown criticizing Donald Trump in an ad released on Saturday, September 10, 2016: Mitt Romney, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. Such a counter offensive provides a useful rebuttal to real campaign initiatives against Trump by his opponents.