• Kaine Tears into Trump
• Trump, Clinton Respond to Attacks in Nice
• Republican Unity Talks Break Down
• Trump Has an Odd Lineup of Convention Speakers
• Big Republican Donors in Disarray
• Hoosiers Could Be Blue in November
• Battleground State Polls Are All Over the Place
• Sanders Is Writing a Book
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Donald Trump's running mate will be Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). While it's possible that the inside sources who leaked this information were trying to lead the media off the trail, Pence flew from Indiana to New York on Thursday night and is staying in Manhattan. So either he's the guy, or he's part of a very elaborate con. The formal announcement of Pence was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. today, but the press conference was postponed after a terrorist attack in France left more than 80 people dead. Despite this, we will almost certainly know today because Pence is (or was) running for re-election and the deadline for exiting the gubernatorial race is noon today and state law prohibits any candidate's name from appearing on the ballot more than once.
There have been many stories about feuding within the Trump campaign about the selection of the running mate. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is his de facto campaign manager, supposedly favors Newt Gingrich, but others in the inner circle don't like the former Speaker at all. Pence makes sense. He is an experienced politician with a long history in the House on top of his time as governor. He is popular with his former House colleagues, is respected by evangelical voters, and is good at fundraising. He also brings some sanity and calm to the ticket and one can easily imagine him doing well in the vice presidential debate against Julian Castro or Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), any Republican would have trouble because she is extremely sharp.
One historical role of the #2 that Pence is not likely to fulfill is that of attack dog. In 1990, Pence swore off negative campaigning for good after a bruising loss in a House race. Becoming an attack dog is not likely for someone who often says he is a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order. (V)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has no such qualms about being an attack dog, and demonstrated it yesterday as he campaigned with Hillary Clinton and auditioned for the role of rabid canine—oops, make that running mate. As expected, Kaine kept swinging at Trump while Clinton took the high road and talked about how she wants to unite the country and help people. Kaine also spoke in Spanish, a language in which he is fluent as a result of the time he spent as a Catholic missionary in Honduras.
Kaine hit Trump for the failed Trump University, his trash talking, the way he dumps on religions, world leaders, American allies, and NATO. He attacked Trump for wanting to be commander-in-chief after calling the American military a disaster. And he went on and on like this. If Clinton wants an attack dog, Kaine certainly showed his fangs yesterday. (V)
Thursday's violence in France took place during the afternoon/early evening for Americans, which meant there was plenty of time for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to make the rounds of the evening news/talk programs. And so they did, each giving what have become their standard responses to tragedies like this.
Trump, for his part, offered the standard thoughts and prayers, but was also on the warpath. Appearing on both Greta Van Susteren's and Bill O'Reilly's programs, he railed against Syrian refugees, talked about the need to get tough on terrorism, and said that the United States should declare war on ISIS. Never mind that declaring war on ISIS would make little sense (as we discussed here), as well as the fact that there is not yet evidence that the attacker had any connection to the group.
Hillary Clinton was, of course, very measured in her response. She too appeared on O'Reilly (her first time on the show in nearly 10 years), as well as on Anderson Cooper's program. She stressed the need for better intelligence gathering, expressed concern at the risk of getting sucked into a ground war in Syria, and flatly refused to use the term "radical Islam," preferring instead to declare, "We're at war against radical jihadists who use Islam to recruit and radicalize others in order to pursue their evil agenda."
In a manner of speaking, then, the political news here is that there is no political news. Many months ago, following the incidents in Paris and San Bernardino, Americans learned what they would get with Trump and Clinton when it comes to crisis responses. Thursday night did nothing to change those lessons. (Z)
Secret unity talks between the RNC and conservatives that had been going on all day yesterday broke down late yesterday afternoon. The sticking point was—surprise, surprise—power. Grassroots conservative activists want more of it and the party establishment was in no mood to give it to them, lest they foist someone like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the GOP in 2020. Cruz is even less popular with party leaders than Trump.
Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative leader, said that there was agreement on some issues, but not all. One item everyone agreed on was to change the terms of RNC members so they didn't end at the national convention. There was also agreement on the role of the Republican "superdelegates" (the 168 RNC members, all of whom can vote at the convention). Activists want them bound to their states' winners, not be free agents as they are under current rules.
Oddly enough, the talks fell apart over an issue on which both sides agreed, namely, giving states bonus delegates if they ran closed primaries. Conservative activists don't want independents and Democrats voting in their primaries because they rarely vote for Cruz-like candidates. The party leaders don't really mind open primaries because it leads to more moderate—and thus more electable—nominees, but they were willing to meet the conservatives part way on this. But when they started talking about how many bonus delegates to award each state for closing its primary, the two sides were far apart and neither was willing to compromise. For many conservatives, "compromise" is just a synonym for "betray our principles."
What happens next is not clear. There might be new discussions today to avoid floor fights at the convention, or maybe not. In any case, it is clear that party unity is nowhere in sight yet. (V)
Since many top Republicans aren't even attending the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump had to hunt around to find people who were willing to speak there. He found them in strange places. The list of non-attendees is quite impressive, including both President Bushes, Sen. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and many other top-level Republicans. In contrast, the expected speakers are less than stellar. They include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, astronaut Eileen Collins, Colorado Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, Gov. Mary Falin (R-OK), Jamiel Shaw Sr., Dana White, and billionaire Peter Thiel. The New York Times obtained the preliminary list of speakers, which is as follows:Monday: Some border patrol agents, Shaw, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Melania Trump.
Tuesday: White, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Michael Mukasey, Lt. Gen Michael Flynn (ret.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).
Wednesday: Bondi, Collins, Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, Eric Trump, Natalie Gulbis, and the Veep.
Thursday: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Fallin, Reince Priebus, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), Thiel, Ivanka Trump, and The Donald.
On paper this all sounds fine, if a bit unconventional and rather uninspiring, but floor fights on various issues and violence outside the venue could easily throw a monkey wrench in the works. (V)
While Hillary Clinton is sucking in money like a giant vacuum cleaner and pummeling Donald Trump with negative ads in all the swing states, Trump's fundraising machine is wheezing and moving forwarded haltingly. For example, billionaire investor Thomas Barrack gathered $32 million in commitments for a super PAC supporting Trump, then at the last minute canceled the whole plan. For casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to wager $100 million on a campaign is no big deal, but this year he hasn't decided if he is going to open his checkbook. In May, the Great America PAC announced that it was going to raise $15 to $20 million to help the Republican nominee. So far it has $2.5 million.
Part of the problem is Trump's ambiguous message towards wealthy donors and super PACs. On the one hand, part of his pitch to voters is that he is so rich he can't be bought by special interests. On the other hand, he wants and needs their money. So many of them are not sure what to do. (V)
Indiana voters have a trio of big decisions to make in November: Governor, U.S. senator, and president. Though the state has trended red as of late, developments this week could make things very interesting there in the next few months.
To start, assuming that Mike Pence is indeed Trump's VP pick, he will be required to drop out of the race for governor, since a candidate cannot run for two offices at once in Indiana. This will leave the Indiana GOP scrambling for a replacement, with former governor Mitch Daniels already saying he's out. Assuming he's really out, and not just Marco Rubio out, then the Republican replacement will have just five months to raise money and campaign while facing former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg who has been doing both for over a year. Gregg has $5.8 million in the bank, a veritable fortune in Indiana.
Pence's withdrawal is not the only good news that Indiana Democrats got this week. Former Democratic representative Baron Hill dropped out of the Senate race. This was good news because while he was a solid candidate, he was promptly replaced by a superstar of a candidate, former senator and governor Evan Bayh. In contrast to whoever will replace Pence, Bayh has no issues with name recognition (not only is he famous, but he comes from a political dynasty) and has no issues with money (he still has $9 million in the bank from his previous Senate career).
Meanwhile, the above developments could cause the blue team to make Indiana a focal point for the presidential campaign. The state is not entirely out of reach for Hillary Clinton—Barack Obama won there in 2008—and Party leaders could conclude that money/campaign time spent there is a 3-for-1 type of bargain, improving their chances in three different races at the same time.
Adding (slightly) to the intrigue is that various state laws forbidding robo-polling and the like make Indiana one of the most expensive and most difficult states in the U.S. to survey. If any or all of the races above are close, we may have no idea how they will turn out until the ballots have actually been counted. (Z)
After weeks of bad polling news, Donald Trump's campaign finally got a reason to perk up a bit on Wednesday. Quinnipiac released major new polls of three swing states, and had The Donald leading 42-39 in Florida and 43-41 in Pennsylvania, and pulling even in Ohio at 41-41. The margin of error was three points, so these are essentially "tossup" results, which is a lot better than recent polls that had him down 3-10 points in all three states.
The good news didn't last long, though. On Thursday, NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist also released a batch of new polls, and it was back to being good news for Clinton. They had her up between six and nine points in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia, up three in Iowa, and tied in Ohio.
What to make of this? Well, it again underscores that the polls are so volatile at this point in the race that they don't mean a whole lot. This is why we will not be updating the map above until at least both Veeps are known. Another takeaway is that Quinnipiac's results in this cycle have regularly been at odds with most other pollsters. Something may be wrong with their model, and on Election Day, they might well have some explaining to do. Or, it may be that they've figured something out that others haven't yet, and it will be the other houses that will be doing the explaining. (Z)
Even though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Hillary Clinton, we haven't heard the last of him yet. He is going to write a book that will be published on Nov. 15, a week after the election. The book is expected to describe Sanders' experiences on the campaign trail and outline a path for progressive Democrats to follow in the future. His agenda of environmental, social, racial, and economic justice will no doubt be among the main themes. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
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