• How to Watch the Debates: Turn the Sound Off
• New Hampshire Union Leader Endorses Johnson
• Trump Explains His Economic Plans
• Trump, Jr. Has New Excuse for Why Dad Won't Release Taxes
• Trump Reverses Course on Birther Claims...Sort Of
• Ford Fires Back at Trump
• Trump Is Rising, but What Goes Up Can Also Come Down
• Virginia Supreme Court Sides with McAuliffe on Reenfranchising Felons
• Dr. Oz Show Edited Out Trump's Remarks about Kissing Ivanka
• Kochs Shift Gears
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
Millennials really don't like Hillary Clinton. Many of them say she is a corporate stooge and (almost) as bad as Donald Trump. If they stay home on Election Day, or vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, she has a very big problem. Two recent polls show that 30% of voters under thirty plan to vote for either Johnson or Stein. The ones who love Sanders' proposal for a $15/hr minimum wage would probably be quite surprised to learn that Libertarians want to repeal the minimum wage law and let the free market determine what people are paid, not the government.
So, how is the 68-year-old Clinton trying to win the kids back? She is sending in their favorites, the 67-year-old Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the 74-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The duo are being sent on a tour of college campuses in Ohio to pitch Clinton's plan of making community college free and providing scholarships for needy students so no one graduates with debt. She doesn't want to have tuition at state schools be zero, because she thinks that Donald Trump's kids ought to be paying their own way.
One thing Clinton has going for her is a much better get-out-the-vote operation than the Republicans. This is especially important for getting out the millennial vote, since those voters are not self propelled, like older voters.
Clinton has one other thing going for her with the kids: They despise Donald Trump. As long as they are convinced that Clinton will win, they can indulge in the luxury of a wasted vote for Jill Stein to make a point. But if it is really close in November, a lot of them will be scared witless about a President Trump and will hold their collective noses and vote for Clinton. (V)
For the most part, it doesn't matter what the candidates say in the debates. What matters is how they look. No one remembers what Al Gore said in 2000, but a lot of people remember him sighing, as if to say: "Why did they make me debate this moron?" When Rick Perry couldn't name the three federal departments he wanted to abolish, the real damage wasn't done by the brain freeze. It was the deer-in-the-headlights look he had on his face. He knew he had screwed up, and badly. When Lloyd Bentsen informed Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate that he was no Jack Kennedy, Quayle looked like a scolded child.
For Hillary Clinton, it would be nice if Donald Trump stumbled on a major policy issue—for example, insisting that Russia would never invade Ukraine because his buddy Vlad told him that. When the moderator then pointed out that Russia did this two years ago, Trump would look ignorant. But Clinton can't count on a stumble of this magnitude. Instead, her best strategy is to act presidential and calm, but get under Trump's skin and make him explode. The image of a calm Clinton and a fuming Trump would stick with everyone. What Trump needs most of all is to dominate everyone. If Clinton starts out by dominating him, he is going to react badly. That is what she needs.
For Trump, the best strategy is to trade insult for insult with Clinton. He calls her a crook, she calls him an idiot. He says she is untrustworthy, she says he is a con man, and so on. If she gets down in the gutter with him, she loses the advantage that people can envision her in the Oval Office. Once that is gone, she is in big trouble. Former Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley described Trump as a monkey with a machine gun. He is completely unpredictable, so she has to be ready for anything. (V)
The conservative New Hampshire Union Leader, which has endorsed Republican presidential candidates for over 100 years, broke the streak this year. It endorsed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. The editors called Hillary Clinton a selfish, self-centered, sanctimonious prig. But that is pretty mild compared to what it had to say about Donald Trump:
The man is a liar, a bully, a buffoon. He denigrates any individual or group that displeases him. He has dishonored military veterans and their families, made fun of the physically frail, and changed political views almost as often as he has changed wives.
Earlier this month, the Richmond Times-Dispatch endorsed Johnson as well, but it has yet to become a flood of endorsements for the Libertarian candidate. (V)
After being criticized for months about the sketchiness of his plans to improve the economy, Donald Trump finally made a speech about them. But the speech got off to a slow start, because Trump v2.0 is not supposed to talk off the cuff any more. He is supposed to read, from a teleprompter, the words that his speech writers want to put in his mouth. And the teleprompter didn't work. He made small talk for a while and finally gave up and began reading his speech from paper. When the teleprompter finally began working, he started using it and bragged about how seamless his transition was.
In his plan, Trump talked about how he would create 25 million new jobs in a decade, something that has never been achieved before. He would have the economy grow at 4% annually in order to achieve this job growth. His main tools for achieving these goals would be:
- Give everyone a tax cut
- Scrap many federal regulations that hamper businesses
- Get rid of trade agreements that hinder GDP or job growth
- Achieve energy independence
Few economists believe that 4% annual GDP increase is possible. In recent years, it has been around 2%. Tax cuts are not a miracle solution; George W. Bush slashed them and we wound up with the worst recession since the Great Depression. In short, most economists doubt that Trump could do what George W. Bush tried and failed to do. (V)
Until Thursday, Donald Trump's oft-repeated explanation for why he will not release his taxes was that he is under audit. Recently, however, journalists have been pushing back at that story in two ways. The first is by pointing out that being under audit does not stop a person from releasing their taxes (Richard Nixon, for example, released his taxes while under audit in 1973). The second is by asking for evidence that this audit is really happening, and is not just a fiction created by The Donald. Possibly sensing that they were headed for a debate disaster, the Trump campaign has unveiled a completely new explanation for the tax secrecy, courtesy of Donald Trump, Jr. In a Thursday interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he said that his father is not releasing his returns, "Because he's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create...financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would distract from (the campaign's) main message."
The "12,000-page" bit is a red herring; Trump surely wouldn't release his tax return even if it was 100 pages. As to the rest, Trump, Jr. is effectively confirming what we and others have been saying for months: There are things in those returns that would be very embarrassing for the Republican candidate. One wonders if Trump, Jr. actually intended to give such a frank answer, since it was at the tail end of an interview with a fairly minor publication. It will be interesting to see if the campaign, as a whole, adopts this new line of reasoning.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are weighing various strategies for compelling Trump to disclose. The president has the authority to release the tax returns of anyone whom he wishes, per Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. However, to do so would risk backlash, and a White House spokesman said on Thursday that Barack Obama was unlikely to issue such an order. Meanwhile, several Democratic senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), have sponsored a bill that would require all presidential candidates to file three years' worth of tax returns with the FEC, to then be released to the general public. The bill is languishing in committee, and is likely to stay there as long as the GOP controls Congress. The strategy most likely to produce results, really is the one being pursued by Elizabeth Warren; she's calling him a "chicken" for not releasing his returns. That's hitting Trump where he really feels it. (Z)
The presidential debates are 10 days away, and it certainly seems like the Trump campaign is trying to shut down certain avenues of inquiry. There's the new explanation for The Donald's taxes (see above). And late Thursday, a campaign spokesman released a statement declaring that Trump now believes that Barack Obama was born in the United States. In fact, they even gave The Donald credit for "resolving" the controversy:
In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised.
It takes real chutzpah to suggest that the "birther" movement was created by Hillary Clinton and debunked by Donald Trump.
Interestingly, at precisely the same time his campaign was giving him credit for bringing the issue to a close, the candidate himself refused to say that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Sitting for an interview with the Washington Post, Trump was asked where Obama was born, and said, "I'll answer that question at the right time. I just don't want to answer it yet."
It is remarkable how rare it is for Trump to be straight about anything—his health, his taxes, Melania's immigration history, whom he wants to deport, his views on Obama's birthplace. At this point, it's clear that this is the very core of the Trump campaign's strategy. He creates enough of a fog to give himself cover, regardless of which audience he's speaking to. This is the only way he can hope to keep disparate constituencies, with very different and often hostile points of view, on the same bandwagon. For mainstream Republicans and independents, he's disavowed the kooky birther conspiracy, but for the fringe he hasn't done so personally. He's committed to deporting 11 million people, except when he's only committed to deporting 4 million, or maybe 2 million. He's revealed some information about his health and about his wife's immigration history, so he can claim transparency if asked, but both sets of data are incomplete and were filtered through several intermediaries. He would love to release his taxes, but it's just not possible, for this reason or that. If Trump manages to walk this many fine lines successfully, it will be one of the greatest demonstrations of political skill and moxie in American history. (Z)
Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, Donald Trump took aim at an American institution: Ford Motor Company. He claimed that the automaker planned to "fire all its employees in the United States" and move its operations to a new plant opening in Mexico. He said he would punish them for this by slapping a 35% excise tax on any cars coming from Mexico into the United States. This continues a recurring theme of his campaign: Ford as a symbol of everything that's wrong with the American economy.
Naturally, Ford is not pleased to be used in this way. And on Thursday, they fired back at The Donald. Spokeswoman Christine Baker said that while there is indeed a new plant opening in Mexico, this will not lead to the loss of a single American job. "Ford has been in the United States for more than 100 years. Our home is here. We will be here forever," she declared. Baker noted that the Mexican plant would be producing Ford's most economical models, which are not as profitable. That means that if Trump were to follow through on his 35% tariff, he would be increasing vehicle prices for working-class Americans, who are more likely to buy a Fiesta or a Focus than a Mustang or a C-Max Hybrid. Governing is a tricky business, indeed. (Z)
There is no doubt that the gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has gotten smaller in the past two weeks. This is largely due to Clinton being hammered, rather than Trump rising. But Trump's lead could easily be ephemeral and vanish like the snows of April after the first debate. Politico gives five reasons why Trump's newfound gains may prove fleeting:
- Everything has gone Trump's way for weeks and he is still behind
- The media (and the debate moderators) may start seriously vetting him
- Trump is getting cocky and may start being the old uncontrollable v1.0 Trump again
- Terrified Democrats may start really contemplating President Trump and rally around Clinton
- The third-party candidates may collapse, as they normally do in the fall
And the clincher is Harold Wilson's famous remark: "A week is a long time in politics." (V)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), a close confidant of both Clintons, earlier this year issued an order restoring the voting rights of 200,000 Virginia felons who have served their time. Republicans took him to court on this, and the court said that state law did not permit a blanket reinstatement of voting rights for all felons. It told him he would have to restore them one at a time. So he got out his (auto)pen and restored them one at a time. Naturally, the Republicans sued him again. Only this time, McAuliffe won. If a large number of the ex-felons exercise their newly-restored right to vote, it could help the Democrats, because many black, Latino, and poor voters would get their voting rights back, and they tend to vote Democratic. (V)
The editors of "The Dr. Oz Show," whose episode with Donald Trump aired yesterday, edited out a interesting remark that Trump made. He said he kisses his 34-year-old daughter, Ivanka, as often as he can. Earlier this year, he said that if Ivanka were not his daughter, he would like to date her. Despite these edgy remarks about incest, Christian conservatives seem to like the man. Perhaps incest isn't as big a deal as it once was. Or maybe everyone these days is just a big fan of Lot, who, according to Genesis 19:30-38, had relations with both of his daughters. Of course, he was drunk at the time, while Trump is a teetotaler. (V)
The Koch Brothers are already out of the presidential race this year, as they both despise Donald Trump. Instead, their focus is on the Senate; they hope to use their wealth and influence to keep the upper chamber in GOP hands. To that end, they had planned to invest $42 million in television ads, particularly in Indiana and Pennsylvania, where the Republican candidates are in grave danger. Now, however, the Kochs are adjusting their strategy: They will be focusing on ground game and get-out-the-vote operations. Also, they will be adding North Carolina and Missouri to their list of targets, as they are nervous about the unexpectedly successful campaigns being run in those places by Democratic challengers.
This is not good news for the blue team. The Kochs are almost certainly correct that their money is better spent on getting people to the polls than on television ads. Given that older voters tend to be set in their ways, and that many younger voters avoid TV (or watch in ways that are commercial-free), there is surely less bang for the buck in TV ads this year than in any presidential election of the last half-century. Meanwhile, North Carolina is one of the most expensive states in the country to campaign in, given its population distribution (several large cities, scattered across the state). The Kochs' money will be a very welcome assist for Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). (Z)
As noted earlier in the week, we try to be inclusive about polls, only omitting them if there's a very good reason. Since we have no reason to believe Texas Lyceum is biased, or is doing things wrong, they make the cut, even though we're very skeptical that the Lone Star State really is close to being in play. We're also doubting Emerson College's numbers that say Hillary Clinton is in danger in Colorado. (Z)
|Arkansas||29%||57%||5%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Colorado||38%||42%||13%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Georgia||39%||45%||6%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Georgia||42%||46%||10%||Sep 14||Sep 14||Opinion Savvy|
|Iowa||37%||45%||8%||Sep 12||Sep 14||Monmouth U.|
|Michigan||38%||35%||10%||Sep 10||Sep 13||EPIC MRA|
|Missouri||34%||47%||7%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Ohio||39%||42%||4%||Sep 12||Sep 14||Suffolk U.|
|Texas||32%||39%||9%||Sep 01||Sep 11||Texas Lyceum|
|Virginia||40%||37%||8%||Sep 06||Sep 12||U. of Mary Washington|
Again, the Colorado number is very hard to swallow. Darryl Glenn has no money and no organization and is very far to the right in a state that's mostly liberal and libertarian. (Z)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Arkansas||Conner Eldridge||30%||John Boozman*||44%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Colorado||Michael Bennet*||46%||Darryl Glenn||39%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Georgia||Jim Barksdale||32%||Johnny Isakson*||48%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Georgia||Jim Barksdale||34%||Johnny Isakson*||47%||Sep 14||Sep 14||Opinion Savvy|
|Iowa||Patty Judge||39%||Chuck Grassley*||56%||Sep 12||Sep 14||Monmouth U.|
|Missouri||Jason Kander||42%||Roy Blunt*||40%||Sep 09||Sep 13||Emerson Coll.|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||31%||Rob Portman*||39%||Sep 12||Sep 14||Suffolk U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep15 President Trump Would Cost the U.S. $1 Trillion
Sep15 Both Candidates' Health Still Partially Shrouded in Mystery
Sep15 Melania Trump's Immigration History Still Shrouded in Mystery, Too
Sep15 New York Times Wants to Unseal Trump's Divorce File
Sep15 Springfield Ohio, A Town with No Hope
Sep15 Clinton to Return to the Campaign Trail Today
Sep15 RNC Was Hacked...or Not
Sep14 The Deplorable Duel
Sep14 About Clinton's Unforced Error
Sep14 Candidates and Aides Get Sick All the Time on the Campaign Trail
Sep14 Supreme Court Refuses to Reinstate Ohio's Golden Week
Sep14 Middle-Class Incomes Grew at a Record Pace in 2015
Sep14 Trump Unveils Childcare Plan
Sep14 Details of Trump's Dr. Oz Appearance Revealed
Sep14 Today in Dissembling: Kellyanne Conway
Sep14 Republicans Privately Panicking about a Possible Trump Win
Sep14 More DNC Documents Leaked
Sep14 Colin Powell Gets Hacked, Too
Sep14 Senate Democrats Already Worried about 2018
Sep14 Absentee Ballots Are the Weak Link Fight against Voter Fraud
Sep13 No Chicken Little, The Sky is Not Falling
Sep13 Clinton Will Release More Information on Her Health
Sep13 David Axelrod Hits Clinton for Her Obsession with Secrecy
Sep13 The Looming Debate Disaster
Sep13 Trump Faces New Type of Pressure on Tax Returns
Sep13 Why Does Donald Trump Get a Pass from the Media?
Sep13 NCAA Pulls Championship Games from North Carolina over Bathroom Bill
Sep13 Obama's Approval Numbers Are Soaring
Sep13 Nate Silver Gives GOP Donors a Secret Presentation
Sep13 Pence Doesn't Want Duke's Support, but Doesn't Think He's Deplorable
Sep13 Bill Clinton's CIA Director Endorses Trump
Sep13 Why Are Some Red States Turning Pink?
Sep12 Clinton Stumbles at 9/11 Memorial
Sep12 Clinton Was Wrong: Only 42% of Trump's Supporters Are Racist
Sep12 Trump, Jr. Shares Questionable Deplorables Parody
Sep12 Group May Give Real-Time Reports on Election Day
Sep12 More Wikileaks Could Come This Week
Sep12 Trump Got Award, Painting for Donating Other People's Money to Charity
Sep11 Clinton Says Fraction of Trump Supporters Who Are Racist Is Not 0.5
Sep11 Obama Will Not Hit the Campaign Trail until October
Sep11 Trump Speaks at the Values Voters Summit
Sep11 Pence Visits 9/11 Memorial
Sep11 Pence: About that Putin/Obama Comparison...
Sep11 Kaine Believes Catholic Church Will Change Position on Gay Marriage
Sep11 Weekly Standard Attacks Washington Post's Deplorable Behavior
Sep11 The White House Phone Rarely Rings at 3 a.m.
Sep10 Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Straight-Ticket Voting in Michigan
Sep10 Trump Also Donated to Try to Stop New York's Investigation of Trump University
Sep10 Election Could Get Even More Unpredictable