News from the Votemaster
During a TV interview, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said that he thinks the Donald Trump phenomenon is a net positive for the Republican Party. Of course, he's paid to say things like that. In reality, he thinks Trump is an unmitigated disaster for the Party, but he can't say that in public. Earlier this year he called Trump and asked him to tone it down. Trump said "no."
Trump poses two problems for the GOP. First, there is a very small, but growing chance that he could actually be the Republican nominee, which would lead to a Hillary Clinton landslide. Second, he is constantly saying things (e.g., about immigrants, birthright citizenship, etc.) which will be absolutely toxic in the general election. If Jeb Bush or Scott Walker is the nominee and reporters ask if he agrees with Trump a "no" will alienate the Republican base and a "yes" will alienate Latinos.
Priebus is a savvy operator and understands that the Trump show can end in one of four ways:
- Trumps stumbles badly and leaves the race with his tail between his legs
- Despite all the attention, when voting starts, he wins very few delegates and leaves quietly
- He wins some primaries, the Party gangs up on him to force him out, and he runs as an independent
- He wins the nomination
Priebus has to be very, very careful that the third scenario doesn't play out, so he has to make nice to Trump now. Behind the scenes though, he is probably doing everything in his power to get rid of Trump (e.g., make sure few Republican office holders endorse him). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been equally cagey when it comes to Trump. He has praised Trump's ideas but not the man. The idea is that when Trump stumbles or fails to get actual delegates, Cruz will be positioned to inherit his supporters. Priebus' troubles with Trump are nothing new; he had them in 2012 as well. But this time the whole campaign is like playing three-dimensional mental chess with the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland.
As Puerto Rico teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, many Puerto Ricans are deciding to leave. Puerto Ricans are American citizens and all it takes to move to the mainland is the money for a plane ticket. Thousands are arriving every month. Unlike previous waves of "immigrants" from Puerto Rico that headed for New York City, most of the new arrivals are going to Florida, especially the Orlando area, which now has about 400,000 of the estimated 1 million Puerto Ricans in Florida (out of a total population of 20 million).
This migration has clear political implications. Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico cannot vote for President because Puerto Rico has no electoral votes. But as soon as a Puerto Rican moves to the mainland, he or she can register to vote immediately. And most Puerto Ricans are Democrats, although not quite as partisan as Mexican-Americans (Democrats) or Cuban-Americans (Republicans). Still, the influx of large numbers of Democrats into the mother of all swing states can't be good news for the Republicans.
Joe Biden has wanted to be President for the longest time. He ran unsuccessfully in 1988 and in 2008. If he is to realize his dream, at 72, it is now or never. However, he has two problems, one political and one personal. The political problem is obvious: he has no natural constituency. Mainstream Democrats like Hillary Clinton a lot and Democrats to the left of Clinton have come to grips with the fact that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is not running and have decided that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is good enough. Where would Biden's support come from? Would women desert Clinton in droves? Seems unlikely. In addition, Clinton raised $45 million in the second quarter of 2015 and Sanders raised $15 million. How is Biden going to raise that kind of money so fast? A second problem is that his son just died. Does he really want to put his family through the meatgrinder of a presidential campaign while they are still grieving? It is a tough call and only he can make it.
Biden may be misled by all the talk about Hillary Clinton's email server. He may see her as vulnerable on account of it. She isn't. It is a brilliant and longstanding Republican strategy to find one weakness a Democrat has and just talk about it 24/7 for months on end. "Benghazi" didn't work because most people don't know how to pronounce it so they picked something else. "Email server" is easier to talk about (although harder to write; is it email or e-mail?). Biden doesn't seem to realize that his 1988 plagiarism of a British politician's speech would become a major campaign issue in the general election. The Republicans would scream over and over that he is a thief and a liar and can't be trusted.
Another issue would be his age. He would be 75 when inaugurated in 2017. Various pundits have floated the idea of his promising to be a one-term President. The trouble with that is Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the canny Republican leader in the Senate, would just throw up roadblock after roadblock to run out the clock and hope that a failed Biden administration would lead to a Republican victory in 2020.
Finally, Biden is surely thinking about his legacy. Does he want the history books to remember him as a successful Vice President or as a three-time loser in presidential races? He is very unlikely to jump in unless he really and truly thinks he can win. With the first Democratic debate scheduled for Oct. 13 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Biden has at most a month to decide.Email a link to a friend or share:
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