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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Trump sharpens axe for general election messaging clash with Hillary

We all know by now that #NeverTrump is getting desperate, but these latest rumors of a convention “coup” are extreme to say the least.

As I noted yesterday, the Real Clear Politics Average for the coming Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton match-up in November shows Clinton with a lead of a little less than six points. And when a four-way race (including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein) is included in the poll question, Clinton’s lead shrinks by about a half-point to 5.2 percent.

Donald Trump speechIn other words, Hillary’s advantage is hardly insurmountable with four and a half months left to the general election. And considering the torrent of negativity that Trump has endured in the past month, to only be behind by six points could actually be considered a strong position.

Rush Limbaugh made the case on his radio program on Tuesday that the Democrats – and the media – are in a panic because the lead is so small given all of Trump’s perceived flaws. I think Limbaugh’s right; if this election is so one-sided, why hasn’t the Washington establishment’s candidate opened up a larger margin against what the media likes to portray as a man who everyone hates?

Of course, the media has its own agenda. But so do a number of Republicans, who (despite polling evidence that clearly shows the party nominee is competitive going into the conventions) are intent on trying to get Trump removed.

Niall Stanage of The Hill reports on one such effort, “The push to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee at the GOP convention in Cleveland is picking up steam as concerns about his campaign multiply…

“Several factions are trying to ‘unbind’ delegates from Trump — or, in some cases, argue that they are not bound to him in the first place. They hope to deprive him of the nomination on the first ballot, opening up a window of opportunity for some other candidate to swoop in.”

It seems to me these people either have too much time on their hands or are driven by some motivation other than electoral politics. As noted above, the polls simply aren’t bad enough to justify going to the considerable bother of removing Donald Trump at the party convention on electability alone.

According to Stanage’s article, the effort is being driven primarily by several Ted Cruz supporters who are employing the same arguments many anti-Trump folks have been using all along, namely Trump isn’t a conservative and will destroy the Republican Party if he is “allowed” to run under its banner in November.

The arguments were a lot more persuasive when there were conservative alternatives to Trump. Now there aren’t.

What gets lost in these peoples' very shortsighted viewpoint is the obvious damage to the party that would be inflicted by casting out a nominee who was approved by over 13 million voters, a record total for a Republican presidential candidate.

Baffling as it may be to many Cruz supporters, myself included, Donald Trump won the nomination according to the GOP’s rules. That’s not to say he ran a conventional campaign – far from it – but the empirical part of the equation, actual vote tallies, indicate Trump got enough votes to qualify for delegates to nominate him.

It’s beyond time to get over it and make the choice -- either support Trump or Hillary Clinton will win. #NeverTrump seems to accept Clinton will prevail in such a scenario, but they keep insisting it doesn’t have to be that way, if some “good” candidate could be convinced to run now.

Aside from the delusional side of the argument that Trump could be replaced at the 11th hour by some White Knight who could then win in November, there are very real practical barriers to the insurgents’ ultimate success as well.

Posing the question, “What Would Need to Happen for Trump to Lose in Cleveland?National Review’s Jim Geraghty supplies the answer.

Geraghty writes, “The task before the rebellious anti-Trump delegates is considerable. They first need to get 57 members of the 112-member Rules Committee to affirm that they may vote their consciences and reject the candidate they have pledged to support… 

“[And] the rules decided upon by the Rules Committee must then be ratified by 1,237 of the 2,472 delegates. Right now, Trump is estimated to have about 1,542 delegates committed to him, at least on paper, in Cleveland. More than 300 would have to abandon him on a rule-change vote and a subsequent nomination vote for an insurrection to succeed…”

Geraghty is quick to point out such a revolt would be extremely difficult but isn’t completely impossible.

I disagree. It is impossible, for a few reasons. First, even though the anti-Trump factions claim they have “thousands” interested in such a proposition, how many are actually convention delegates who truly hold the power? It would certainly take all of Cruz’s, Rubio’s and Kasich’s delegates plus a healthy portion of Trump’s to tip the balance.

When push comes to shove, would these people really be willing to buck history and turn out a nominee who isn’t all that bad off with the public?

Second, such a plan discounts the furious counter-effort Trump himself would be putting on during the convention. With the RNC leadership in his corner, he’d have a huge advantage over a loosely-tied gaggle of mutineers intent on making trouble. Would there be a visible leader of the group? If so, who?

The folks mentioned in Stanage’s piece aren’t exactly household names. Could an unknown person command the attention and loyalty of thousands of people on such a wild and dangerous idea?

The one who gives the order leads the charge. Who will give the order?

Lastly and most importantly, there is no one in place to take over even if Trump is deposed. Again, this brings me back to Mitt Romney as the only realistic alternative for the #NeverTrump movement. Paul Ryan could also be considered, but I doubt the Speaker would be dumb enough to lead such a hopeless suicide mission. It would ruin his career, for sure.

But Romney has nothing to lose!

Could Romney as the White Knight convince 1237 of these newly unbound delegates to vote for him? Not likely.

Therefore, the whole proposal is preposterous and basically impossible.

Here’s what needs to happen: Ted Cruz must come forth and tell his supporters to quit engaging in this silly fantasy. Whether Cruz chooses to endorse or not is his own decision. But he’s at least got to come forward and tell these people to stop the bleeding and reaffirm that he won’t be part of any such plot.

Perhaps then, some semblance of order can be restored. Trump will win the nomination. The process will play out.

My question for #NeverTrump is, after the Republican convention next month and Donald Trump is officially deemed the Republican nominee, are you going to stop all this foolish “We need a better alternative” nonsense and start the business of choosing our next president?

We have one more month to find out.

Trump sharpens his general election message in scathing anti-Hillary speech

For all of his considerable political faults, there’s one area where Donald Trump seems to “get it,” and that’s in defining his opponent in the strongest possible terms.

Both John McCain and Mitt Romney dropped the ball in failing to make Obama’s shady past a major part of their campaigns – and both lost badly because of it. McCain early on dismissed the specter of anti-Americanism in the form of Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers and Romney similarly failed to make Obama’s role in the Benghazi debacle an election defining issue.

Trump won’t be constrained by such political niceties – at all. To him, Hillary is the issue.

Trump delivered his much anticipated anti-Clinton speech on Wednesday and left no doubt he intends to make Hillary’s corrupt and treasonous past very much a part of the conversation this year.

Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports, “Donald Trump on Wednesday hammered Hillary Clinton in a long-awaited speech, calling her a ‘pathetic liar’ who has personally profited off her decades-long political career…

“The likely GOP nominee said his Democratic rival had ‘perfected the politics of personal profit and theft’ and ‘may be the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.’”

That’s funny, didn’t Obama in his endorsement video two weeks ago say Hillary was the most qualified person to ever run for the office? What a study in contrasts.

Easley notes Trump again read from a teleprompter during his 40-minute address, demonstrating there’s going to be more message discipline in his campaign.

And there’s no doubt what that message will be – Hillary is an awful person as well as a rotten candidate.

Trump’s establishment enemies were likely cringing during his entire speech, but that’s fine. A little discomfort from the elites is a good thing because Trump is finally giving the Democrats a taste of the medicine they’ve been dishing out for decades, callously smearing the reputations at will of people like Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and even George W. Bush.

It’s about time Republicans dismissed the notion Democrats are good people who are just misguided in their policy beliefs. Some are, but most of them are self-interested political sloths who eagerly sellout the American taxpayer to benefit their own constituencies and enrich themselves along the way.

To be fair, a good many Republicans are just as bad. But we’re talking about Hillary here.

Trump’s right; Hillary is among the worst of all the offenders. Are you listening, #NeverTrump? Do you disagree with anything Trump said about Hillary?

Ted Cruz wouldn’t have gone easy on the Democrats and Hillary either and it’s good to see Trump is delivering on his promise to make Clinton the issue of the campaign.

Ataboy, Donald. Hillary is one corrupt leftist snake who isn’t going to slither away unharmed this year.

It’s official: Marco Rubio is running for reelection to his Florida senate seat

In what turned out to be the most predictable move in an otherwise unpredictable political season, Florida Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio announced on Wednesday he’ll run for reelection after all. Rubio’s announcement contradicted a year’s worth of denials that he’d run again.

The filing deadline to run for reelection is June 24, but apparently Rubio couldn’t wait another couple days to tell the world about his change of heart.

Marc Caputo and Burgess Everett of Politico report, “In an interview with POLITICO Wednesday, the first-term senator declared he’s ready to take on both Republican and Democratic opponents and even his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, if he has to.

“Rubio said the election – which could decide control of the U.S. Senate — was too important for him to keep his pledge to retire. Or, for that matter, for him to keep quiet if Trump continues to make inflammatory statements or advocates ‘bad policies.’”

In the above mentioned interview, Rubio couldn’t resist hitting Trump for his statements on women and minorities, thus shoring up his establishment ties and making sure to not give the appearance he’s defending his party nominee in any way.

Wow, what a principled guy! Instead of perhaps trying to convince some of the people who backed his presidential candidacy (who now form the core of #NeverTrump) to get onboard with the party’s effort, Marco’s up to his old “me first” political games.

I predicted weeks ago Rubio would run again, speculating that Trump was even putting him up to it. Orlando intervened and provided all the rationale necessary for his “the world needs me” announcement to run for an office he swore he wouldn’t seek.

Here’s another prediction: Rubio will once again offer to speak on Trump’s behalf at the Republican convention if it looks like it will help him win in November. In other words, if Marco senses Trump will prevail in Florida, he’ll be the first to say great things about the nominee.

Despite my many criticisms of Rubio, he seems like a decent and good man. I hope he uses the opportunity to advance the cause of conservatism and liberty rather than just see it as a way to keep his name in the news.

Results from primaries show Trump may have opening with young voters

Finally today, usually by this time in every election cycle we’re talking about how badly the Republican nominee is failing to connect with younger voters – but that’s not necessarily true where Donald Trump is concerned.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner writes, “He's no Sen. Bernie Sanders, but Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has so far won more support from younger voters than the last two GOP presidential candidates and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“A new analysis of the primary youth vote from Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life shows that in 21 primaries, Trump received 828,675 votes from those up to age 29, and Clinton 766,425. Sanders owned the category, receiving 2,052,081 votes.”

No one is claiming Trump will ultimately prevail among young voters in November, a demographic that almost always gravitates to liberals – until they get out in the real world, of course, and actually have to start paying bills. By the time they realize where their hard earned money really goes in the government, a lot of them have already voted for a host of big spenders.

I’ve never quite understood why this group values things like same-sex marriage over the ability to buy a house someday, but I guess that’s the way it is these days.

But it’s clear Hillary doesn’t connect with the kids the way “cool” Barry Obama did in 2008 and 2012. And if Trump is able to pick off a fairly sizable chunk from a usually reliable Democrat constituency, it can make a significant difference in the outcome.

This is yet another sign Trump needs to hammer home his economic message (and stay away from overly controversial statements), because the young people need jobs. After eight years of “Hope and Change,” young Americans would rather just be able to pay their cell phone bill.

We’ll see how Trump is able to exploit the opportunity in the coming months.

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Trump Could Win Through Television

It is irrefutable that Donald Trump has hurt his campaign with some of the choices he has made. One way he has hurt his campaign that is not easily recognizable, but substantially important is that Trump deprived the supporters of his Republican opponents’ an opportunity to embrace him as the leader of the Republican Party and as a leader of the nation, when he declined the debates with Ted Cruz after all the other candidates withdrew, except John Kasich. He evaded confrontations that could have cemented his leadership position in the Republican Party.

He must fix this before the convention, and reinforce his dominance after the convention. It requires him to embrace the contest, in some instances, face to face with rivals. The champion gladiator must not evade the arena. Just as his television show, “The Celebrity Apprentice”, has contestants publicly vying for dominance and one of them prevailing, so Trump must do some face to face public jousting to demonstrate that he at least belongs at the table, and preferably at the head of the table. To do this, he could leverage his television program experience, and publicly conduct/moderate policy discussions with experts, mostly friendly to him, but including some of his rivals for the nomination, where he shows that he brings vying factions together and orchestrates a promising set of policies for the country.

Trump’s goal should be to appear to be the champion for the people of the United States of America, and to look “presidential”. He is not the issue expert, but he intelligently interacts with the issue experts in constructive ways to form a consensus, if possible, concluding with action items, in some cases identifying areas for more exploration of an issue.

As a start, the issues could come from those recently presented by Paul Ryan, “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America”.

The first topic should be the “Violent, Islamist Jihad” and national security, including anti-terrorism efforts, refugee management, and government in Muslim majority countries. Soon to follow should be the economy and jobs. He could get both of these done before the convention.

As an adjunct, the TV programs could serve as part of an interview process for appointments in the U.S. Government and bring some celebrity notoriety to Republican Party policy experts, who will have to show at least some deference to Trump. But in some cases (perhaps for many) it will result in gratitude and endorsements for Trump.

It could be promoted (hyped) as the Government Policy (GovPol) Summer Slam 2016.

It could be something that Trump continues to do while President, when he wins the election, to keep that “TV magic” working for him.