• Pence Got the Nod Due To Aircraft Malfunction
• Pence Could Make Trump's Problem with Women Even Worse
• Never Trump Delegates Promise "Trouble" at RNC
• Trump Finding New Megadonors for Campaign
• Clinton Promises to Propose Campaign Funding Amendment
• The Parties Are Moving in Opposite Directions on Primaries
• What Will Cruz Do at the Convention?
Although there wasn't any suspense in it, Donald Trump held a press conference yesterday in which he formally introduced his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), to the world. Eventually. But first he talked for half an hour about what is wrong with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and all of his primary rivals. When he finally got around to mentioning Pence, he called him a man of honor, character, and honesty. He also said Pence was a leader who would help them deliver a really prosperous society. After Trump finished speaking, Pence got 12 minutes, then Trump came back, they waved together, and off they went. No questions were allowed. (V)
How Mike Pence—a stiff, formal, deeply religious, Midwestern Christian—got onto the Republican ticket with a vulgar, thrice-married New York billionaire with no interest in religion at all is an odd tale. It begins, as many fairy tales do (well, not so many) with a broken airplane. Trump was in Indiana Tuesday, sniffing at Pence, someone he barely knows, to see if he was vice presidential material. Normally, The Donald flies home every night in his private plane so he can sleep in his own luxury bed. But Tuesday night, his plane had mechanical problems. Delta and American Airlines both fly nonstop from Indianapolis to New York, but their last flights had already departed. So Trump knew he was stuck there. Governor Pence offered to put him up in the governor's mansion and he accepted, but not before calling his three oldest adult children and ordering them to come to Indianapolis immediately (presumably on one of Trump's other private jets).
In the morning, the governor's wife, Karen, picked some fresh flowers and served breakfast to the two families. Pence quickly realized that if he wanted to get out of a tough reelection fight and join the national ticket, it was now or never. Besides, surely the aircraft breakdown was a heavenly omen that someone up there did not want Trump in His airspace Tuesday evening.
Pence made the most of his opportunity by tearing Hillary Clinton to bits as well as condemning her husband and the entire 1990s. Even Trump's son-in-law and de facto campaign manager, Jared Kushner, was convinced that Pence could blend with the team and spend the next four months biting Hillary Clinton in the ankles, as attack dogs are wont to do. Kushner also had a special reason for warming to Pence, namely, to keep Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) off the ticket. Kushner hasn't forgotten that Christie put his father, Charles Kushner, in prison, back when Christie was a U.S. attorney. Trump didn't make an offer that morning, but on Wednesday called him and said: "You're my guy." A few hours later he was asking his staff if he could still get out of it.
Trump first met Pence back in 2011, when Pence showed up at Trump Tower to ask for a campaign contribution. Trump was mostly interested in hearing the dirt about Pence's predecessor, former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, whose wife divorced him to be with another man, then came back several years later and remarried Daniels. Trump said he would never take back a wife who had been unfaithful, which was an awkward moment for the deeply religious Pence. Trump sent Pence a check for $2,500, but that was it. They met again on the Fourth of July this year when Trump summoned Pence for a golf game/job interview. Pence almost bragged about how great a golfer Trump was, which surely ingratiated him somewhat.
Of course, Trump also knew that however boring Pence might be, he doesn't have a lot of personal baggage that the Democrats could exploit. In contrast, Chris Christie has Bridgegate, former Speaker Newt Gingrich had as many affairs and marriages as Trump himself, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is too much like Sarah Palin, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has a history of insensitive racial remarks, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) doesn't want to be on the ticket. From all the finalists, only Pence was left. (V)
While Mike Pence has no scandals in his past, his official positions on issues of concern to women are going to make Trump's already-serious problem with women even worse. Earlier this year, Pence signed one of the nation's strictest anti-abortion laws, which bans aborting a fetus due to any disability and also due to the race, sex, or ancestry of the fetus. Furthermore, it mandates that any fetus stillborn or miscarried in a medical facility must be buried or cremated. Also, it says that any woman requesting an abortion must have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before the abortion. While he was in Congress, Pence thought up the idea of defunding Planned Parenthood and led the fight to do so. While the Republican base will cheer when they learn all this, the Democrats will have a field day going after moderate Republican women and independents, for whom Pence's positions are not good news.
Pence is also far to the right on gay issues as well. Trump is probably the most gay-friendly Republican presidential candidate ever, which is very upsetting to evangelical voters who normally vote Republican. The choice of Pence could help them get back in line—somewhat. Pence famously signed an anti-LGBT law in 2015, but when large corporations started to announce they weren't going to expand and create new jobs in Indiana, he asked the legislature to water the law down. It did, and that pleased no one. The Democrats are surely going to describe the ticket as the Firm of Bigot & Bigot. (V)
The small cadre of die-hard anti-Trump RNC delegates has tried valiantly to throw The Donald overboard. And they have been stymied at every turn, unable to summon the 1,000-plus delegates needed to nominate another candidate, or the 60 or so rules committee members needed to change the rules and unbind delegates, or even the 28 rules committee members needed to send a "minority report" recommending a rule change to the convention floor. Usually, it's three strikes and you're out, but the Never Trump folks don't see it that way. With no further procedural means at their disposal, they are nonetheless promising to do whatever they can to disrupt the convention.
The problem is that while such threats may sound impressive, and may make the anti-Trump crowd feel better, there isn't very much they can do. They could boo or otherwise make noise at inopportune times, but they are going to be drowned out. They could hold up nasty signs, but who will see them amongst the sea of other signs? Probably, their only real maneuver is to leave en masse at a pre-selected time (say, right as Trump begins speaking). That might be a little embarrassing for him, though he probably won't lose sleep over it. Probably, it's time for them to just accept that 2016 is a lost cause, and to use the convention to start laying the groundwork for 2020, as Ted Cruz is doing. (Z)
Less than one month ago, it seemed that Donald Trump's fundraising was in disastrous shape. His campaign had little money in the bank, and the big-time GOP stalwarts—Sheldon Adelson, the Kochtopus, etc.—were not interested. Then, he posted a surprising $51 million take—not quite as much as Hillary Clinton, but at least in the ballpark.
The obvious question was, "How did Trump do it?" And now that the campaign has begun releasing its donor lists, we know the answer. He's finding previously apolitical wealthy folks, some of them friends of his, and getting them to pony up. That includes Beverly Hills real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer, who gave $2 million to a Trump-affiliated super PAC; investor and Trump friend Tom Barrack, who gave $415,000, and trash-bag tycoon Carleton Allen, who gave $449,000.
This news raises two interesting questions. The first is whether or not Trump can keep it up—is there enough "new" money to replace the "old" money? The second is whether he's truly building a new Republican power base, one that could last into the 2020s and render the old donors less relevant, or if he's merely reaching people who will only give money to Donald Trump, and not to any other GOP nominee. We should, at the very least, have an answer to the first question in a couple of weeks, when the next round of fundraising totals are due. (Z)
As part of her ongoing effort to make nice with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton spoke to the progressive Netroots Nation conference on Saturday. And she used the occasion to toss some new and very juicy red meat to the liberal wing of the Party: A promise that within 30 days of taking office, she would propose a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.
Clinton also had some other, less grandiose proposals. She said she would also sign an executive order requiring government contractors to reveal political contributions, and would also push the SEC to require publicly-traded companies to disclose all political spending to stockholders. These are things that actually have a chance of getting done, while the chances of a constitutional amendment passing are slim. But Clinton knows that it's big proposals that get people excited, and so that is what she delivered. (Z)
The Republicans have a fight on their hands because the most zealous conservatives want to have only closed primaries so only Republicans get a say in who the Republican candidate will be. The Democrats have a fight on their hands because Bernie Sanders wants open primaries and caucuses, so independents can help select the Democratic nominee. He is expected to push for this change at the convention. This year, Sanders did better with independents than with Democrats, so he likes that idea going forward.
But, as usual, be careful what you wish for, you might get it. A big factor this time was that Sanders had enormous appeal to young people, many of whom are independents. But the next time, things might be different. As a general rule, independents are less progressive than actual Democrats, young voters being a notable exception. Suppose the next primary season features a mainstream Democrat—say, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)—and a very conservative Democrat like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Sanders would be most unhappy if Manchin won because large numbers of conservative independents voted for him in the open primaries he wants to create. What is so strange here is that the insurgent factions in both parties want to change the rules in precisely the opposite direction. (V)
Although Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) despise each other, in the name of party unity, Trump invited Cruz to give a prime-time speech at the convention. Probably Cruz, who is very smart, will refrain from calling Trump a "pathological liar" and a "narcissist," as he has in the past. Cruz is already running for the 2020 nomination, no matter who is elected in 2016, and he has to figure out what to say to maximize his chances in 2020. The truth of the matter is that Cruz is better off in 2020 running against President Clinton than against President Trump, so he can't be too positive about Trump. On the other hand, he knows that in 2012, Chris Christie gave a speech at the convention that was all about Chris Christie, and barely mentioned the nominee, Mitt Romney. Christie was widely panned for his speech, so Cruz has to avoid making it all about himself but also not praising Trump too much, since most of Cruz's supporters detest Trump. The big question is how he will thread the needle here. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
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Jul13 Trump Turns NAACP Down
Jul13 Kasich Getting the Full Court Press
Jul13 McConnell and Ryan Will Speak at the Convention
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Jul12 Trump Radio Clips Give Democrats Even More Ammunition
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