News from the Votemaster
• Republican Contest Gets Uglier and Uglier
• Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Pennsylvania
• Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Rhode Island
• Clinton Campaigning Vigorously on Gun Control in Connecticut
• The Problems with Sanders' Superdelegate Strategy
• Will the Contests Committee Trump the Rules Committee?
• Libertarian Bid for a Failed Republican?
• Betting Has Started on the Veep Slot
• Rubio Doesn't Want to Be Vice President
• Members of Congress Are Glorified Telemarketers
In a move that many expected to come weeks (or even months) ago, Donald Trump's remaining opponents are finally joining forces in order to make sure the GOP candidate is #NeverTrump. Late Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) issued statements within minutes of each other announcing that each would spend this week focusing on the states where they are the most viable. Cruz's statement, for example, explains:
To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico.
Kasich's statement uses nearly identical verbiage, and commits to the same strategy.
Trump, as one might expect, was not happy about the news, and took to Twitter to give his response:
"Wow, just announced that Lyin' Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION! ... Lyin' Ted and Kasich are mathematically dead and totally desperate. Their donors & special interest groups are not happy with them. Sad!"
If Trump is not the nominee, or even if he is, these kinds of maneuvers are just going to add fuel to the argument that the Republican Party is not interested in respecting the will of its voters. Meanwhile, the Cruz-Kasich partnership has thus far been confirmed for only three states. Whether the delicate truce will hold for the latter weeks of May and into June is anybody's guess. (Z)
As the fight for the GOP nomination has gotten more and more desperate, it's also gotten more and more ugly. Ted Cruz, for his part, is learning that the National Enquirer is not a good enemy to have. Two weeks ago, the tabloid was labeling him a serial adulterer. Now, in a story that is getting international attention, they claim to have discovered footage that links Cruz's father Rafael to Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of JFK, during a brief period when the two men were both supporters of Fidel Castro. The Cruz campaign labeled the story "garbage" and denied the veracity of the images. Of course, even if that is Rafael, Sr. (and the experts in photographic evidence who were asked think it is), the fact that he spent time in the presence of Oswald doesn't mean that he had anything whatsoever to do with the JFK assassination. Nonetheless, the association creates a general air of sordidness, which is all the Enquirer is looking for.
The Texas Senator, of course, blames Donald Trump for the story. So, at a rally on Sunday, Cruz took a shot at The Donald: "[L]et me make things real simple, even if Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he shouldn't be using the girl's restroom." The remark, characteristic of Cruz's general tendency towards transphobia, attacks Trump's stated position on the issue while also poking fun at his masculinity. And, as a "bonus," it also hits Hillary Clinton and transgender Americans. So, it's a win-win-win as far as Cruz is concerned.
Such statements, however, are also part of the reason that Cruz will not be getting elected, and help illustrate why even much of the Republican base dislikes him. On Saturday, we got a preview of Charles Koch's interview with "This Week," in which he suggested that Hillary Clinton might be a preferable president to the Republican candidates. On Sunday, the interview actually aired, and it was brutal for the GOP candidates. Koch declared that Trump and Cruz are both "terrible role models" who seem only interested in "personal attacks and pitting one person against the other." He singled out, in particular, Cruz's "frightening" promise to "make the sand glow" in the Middle East, and Trump's "monstrous" rhetoric on Muslims, "reminiscent of Nazi Germany."
The upshot is that, short of bringing Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, or Ronald Reagan back from the grave to be the GOP candidate, nobody is going to be putting the pieces back together again in time for November. Though Reagan/Christ '16 does have a nice ring to it. (Z)
Tomorrow, five states along the East Coast go to the polls. The biggest prize is Pennsylvania, which has 71 Republican delegates and 189 Democratic delegates at stake. A new NBC/Marist poll released yesterday gives Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton large leads, as follows:
The Democratic delegates are divided up proportionally, as usual, but the Republican primary is very unusual with 54 delegates formally unbound. They can vote for anyone they want to on the first ballot. The idea behind this strategy is to give Pennsylvania a lot of clout at the convention. Imagine that someone—say, Donald Trump—comes in 50 delegates short of a majority. What would he be willing to promise to get those 54 delegates? A lot, probably. New airports for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh? Just use your imagination. (V)
Rhode Island also votes tomorrow. It has 19 Republican delegates and 24 Democratic delegates. A new Brown University poll has Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with big leads there, too, as follows:
A recent poll of Maryland puts Trump and Clinton ahead in those states as well. (V)
Hillary Clinton has been campaigning hard in Connecticut on one theme: gun control. The subject resonates in Connecticut because almost everyone there still remembers the Sandy Hook shooting in which 20 six- and seven-year-olds were murdered along with six adults. Clinton is constantly going after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as weak on gun control. She has been aided by former representative Gabby Giffords, herself a victim of gun violence. Whenever Sanders attacks Clinton for not standing up to Wall Street, she responds in kind by accusing him of not standing up to the gun lobby. In Connecticut, this issue could help her a lot. (V)
For many months, Bernie Sanders and his supporters railed against the Democratic Party's superdelegate system, arguing that it "rigged" elections, and substituted the will of party insiders for that of the people. Now that flipping superdelegates appears to be the Vermont Senator's only path to the nomination, however, the tune has changed. Sanders' new argument is that the party insiders should support him, because he is the more electable candidate. As the Los Angeles Times' Joseph Tanfani writes, it's a hard sell, on many levels.
To start with, the shift from anti- to pro-superdelegate carries with it more than just a tinge of hypocrisy. And for the superdelegates themselves, it's personal—they have not forgotten the rhetoric that was hurled at them in the not-too-distant past. "You're trying to woo us now, but we remember when you were trashing us," says one. Another recalls his life being threatened by a Sanders supporter.
Beyond that, the argument that Sanders is more electable rests on polls of hypothetical general election matchups. In the past, however, such polls have proven to be highly unreliable and not at all predictive. Most obviously, nobody has truly turned the attack dogs on Sanders yet, while it's been open season on Clinton for more than 20 years.
And finally, as we have noted before, the superdelegates are party loyalists and insiders. It is inconceivable that hundreds of them would jump ship on an ultra-establishment candidate in favor of someone who is not even a member of the party. "She is the candidate, in my view of the Democratic Party," says former representative and now superdelegate Tony Coelho. "Bernie is not even a Democrat."
The bottom line, then, is that Sanders' only path to the nomination is some sort of development—FBI indictment, health crisis, etc.—that removes Clinton from the race. All other avenues are closed. (Z)
A lot of attention has been focused on the 112-member Rules Committee, which will set the rules for the Republican National Convention. One much-discussed rule is 40(b), which states that only candidates who have won majorities in eight states or territories may be nominated. No doubt the Rules Committee will continue to get a lot of attention, and rightly so.
The Contests Committee, made up of nine members whose names aren't even publicly known, will be as big a battleground, maybe even bigger. This committee rules on which delegates may be seated and which can be sent home due to irregularities in the selection process. In 2012, the Contests Committee sent half of the Maine delegates home, even though Ron Paul won 21 of the 23 delegates. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's new de facto campaign manager, has already said that Trump will be filing protests over the Missouri slate, the Colorado slate, and certainly others. For his part, Cruz could try to unseat Trump's 50-person-strong South Carolina slate on the grounds that Trump has reneged on his promise to support the Republican ticket, something required by the South Carolina Republican Party rules. No doubt other slates will be challenged as well by both candidates.
States have to certify their delegates by June 13. All challenges have to by filed within five days. Then the wrangling begins. The Contests Committee will send its recommendations to the 112-member Credentials Committee, which then prepares recommendations to the full convention, where all 2,472 delegates get to vote. On credentials votes, all delegates are unbound and can vote as they choose. This weekend, Ted Cruz managed to get 19 of his supporters elected as delegates in Maine, with only one Trump supporter (the governor) being chosen. On the first ballot, nine of the delegates have to vote for Trump, but on credentials fights, they can vote as they please, which, in practice, means voting whichever way Cruz tells them to vote.
Credentials fights have affected the nominee in the past. In 1952, neither Dwight Eisenhower nor Robert Taft had enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Eisenhower challenged some of Taft's delegates, who were not permitted to vote on their own seating. Absent this maneuver, we might have had a President Taft (or a President Stevenson) elected in 1952. (V)
The most obvious way to block Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is at the GOP convention. Another way to do it, however, would be through a third-party bid. And given the challenges in getting on all 50 ballots as an independent, the most efficient way to mount a third-party campaign would be to get chosen as the candidate of the Libertarian Party, which is already on the ballot in 31 states (and working on more). Indeed, according to Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark, at least one former GOP candidate has already inquired (though he's not saying which).
This would not be a path to the White House, but it would give a candidate more visibility and would broaden his base a bit, while also doing a favor (of sorts) for the Republican Party. For an also-ran who aspires to another run in 2020 or 2024, it could be a good gamble to take. The Libertarians may be a little leery of nominating someone who was, until very recently, a Republican, but they surely would recognize that there is big potential here for the party to get national attention (and matching funds in 2020). The Libertarian convention is at the end of May, however, so the two (or three) losers of the Trump-Cruz-Kasich battle are not an option, unless the Libertarians decide they are willing to toss their duly-chosen nominee (currently expected to be former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson) overboard. (Z)
PaddyPower, an Irish betting firm, is accepting bets on the Republican Veep nomination and the Democratic Veep nomination. Here are the probabilities the bettors have assigned to the top 11 candidates for each party:
Rubio has taken his name out of consideration (see below), but some bettors think he may change his mind. Needless to say, these guesses are very preliminary. The new partnership between Cruz and Kasich points in the direction of a Cruz/Kasich ticket if Cruz manages to wrest the nomination from Trump before or during the convention. However, it makes Trump/Kasich less likely because Trump is now hopping mad at Kasich for teaming up with Cruz. Trump is so toxic that Republicans who want a future in the Party may be hesitant to play ball with him. Christie (and maybe Rudy Giuliani) probably don't care what the Party thinks of them, but Haley and Martinez might have to think about it carefully before accepting an offer. (V)
Despite the fact that the Vice President earns $230,700 and doesn't actually have to do anything other than make a phone call every morning (unless the Senate is tied), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who will be unemployed in January, said that he didn't want the job, although he didn't compare it to any container of liquid, as a previous occupant of the office did. He also said he wasn't releasing his 173 delegates, which seems a bit inconsistent, since offering his delegates to another candidate would be the ideal bargaining chip to get the Veep slot. He also said he was not going to be the white knight who comes riding in to save the party. In short, he seems to be leaving politics, at least for the moment. (V)
In case there were any doubts about the importance of fundraising in modern politics, particularly after Citizens' United, a report broadcast on Sunday's installment of "60 Minutes" puts them to rest. The story reveals that, from the moment they arrive in Washington, new members of Congress are expected to spend four hours a day making cold calls to potential donors, with a daily fundraising goal of $18,000.
Because it is illegal for members of Congress to use their government-provided offices and phones to raise money, the cold calling takes place at phone banks that have been set up by both parties across the street from the Capitol. CBS managed to gain access and captured footage of the interiors using a hidden camera. The bland offices, cubicles, and telephones could be anywhere in America, but for the tote board with members' names that advises who is meeting their goals and who is lagging behind. Naturally, all members hate this aspect of the job, which helps explain why some of them walk away from what could easily be a "for life" job that has a lot of prestige, a good salary, and great benefits. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
Apr24 Trump's Argument That the System Is Rigged Is Working
Apr24 Anti-Trump Groups Collide with Cruz and Kasich
Apr24 Donald Trump: LGBT Champion
Apr24 Trump Sinks in Maine
Apr24 Koch Says Clinton May Be Preferable to Republican
Apr24 Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest?
Apr24 Sanders: I Am Losing Because Poor People Don't Vote
Apr24 Clinton Is Beginning to Look for a Running Mate
Apr23 Trump Still Doesn't Understand How the Game is Played
Apr23 Indiana Could Be Cruz's Last Stand
Apr23 Fisking the Fundraising Reports
Apr23 RNC Is Scaling Back Down-ballot Commitments
Apr23 Trump Has a Huge Lead in California
Apr23 Trump Has 378 Companies Registered in Delaware
Apr23 Politics in the 21st Century
Apr23 Sanders Has His Own Personal Holy Grail
Apr23 So Much for Little Marco
Apr23 McAuliffe Restores Voting Rights to 206,000 Ex-felons
Apr22 Trump Might Have a Money Problem in the General Election
Apr22 Sanders Is Forcing Clinton to Spend All Her Money on the Primaries
Apr22 Trump Way Ahead in California
Apr22 Trump to RNC: It Was All an Act
Apr22 RNC Rejects Robert's Rules of Order
Apr22 Trump Is Affecting the Electorate
Apr22 Republican Veepstakes Begin
Apr22 Surprise: Not All Votes Are Angry
Apr22 Surprise: Not All Voters Are Angry
Apr22 New York Didn't Change Anything
Apr22 Clinton-Warren 2016?
Apr22 Emily's List Is on the Air for Donna Edwards
Apr21 Trump Might Just Make It
Apr21 Trump Triumphed Across the Board in New York
Apr21 Who's Voting For Trump?
Apr21 Clinton Beat Sanders in Many Demographic Groups, but Not All
Apr21 Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Redistricting
Apr21 Southern Democrats Feeling Berned by Sanders
Apr21 Kos Has Had It With Bernie Fans
Apr21 Kasich Says GOP Doesn't Like Ideas
Apr21 Trump's Plane Is Not Registered
Apr21 May Hearing Set for Release of Trump University Lawsuit Documents
Apr21 Laughing at Ted Cruz
Apr20 Lousy Night for the Republican Establishment
Apr20 Great Night for the Democratic Establishment
Apr20 Clinton and Trump Have Big Leads in Maryland
Apr20 Married Women Don't Like Trump
Apr20 Neither Party Really Wants the White Working Class
Apr20 Democrats Are Winning the Battle of Garland
Apr20 Bribing Delegates is a Felony in Ohio
Apr20 Ryan Tells Republican Officials To Attend Their Own Convention