Clinton 2310
Sanders 1542
 Needed   2383
Trump 1239
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Libertarian Party Nominates Johnson and Weld
      •  Hillary Clinton Doesn't Know How to Handle Trump
      •  Daisy Ad's Creators Have Some Suggestions for an Updated Version
      •  Arnold Schwarzenegger Declines to Back Trump
      •  Rubio Speaks Up
      •  With Sanders Out, Clinton's Numbers Will Rise
      •  Cue the Clinton E-Mail Conspiracy Theories

Libertarian Party Nominates Johnson and Weld

At its convention yesterday, the Libertarian Party officially nominated former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson for president. Normally, third-party nominations aren't worth much, but this year the Libertarians might play a spoiler role. In 2012, Johnson—then making his first run as the LP nominee—got 1,275,000 votes, or just shy of 1% of the total. Recent polls have put him at 10%, which is impossibly high, but even if he gets 3% in some swing states, that could make a difference, especially since nearly all of his votes are likely to come from disaffected Republicans who can't stand either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Disaffected Democrats, especially supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are far more likely to vote for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, who also ran in 2012 and got about one third as many votes as Johnson. Johnson is well aware of where his support will come from and, while the ink was still drying on the nomination paperwork, blasted Trump and his policies, specifically calling The Donald's immigration plan "just racist."

Johnson's nomination was not too controversial since he was a conservative two-term governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. In the end, he got 56% of the vote. In contrast, the vice presidential nomination was more contentious, as Johnson's preferred running mate—former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld—is only a recent convert to the Libertarian Party. Further, during his tenure, Weld did some very un-Libertarian things, like increase gun control and grow the size of the state's government. Many of the LP rank and file preferred New York business consultant Larry Sharpe, who has no political experience, but has been a Libertarian activist for many years. Weld came up just short of the total needed for nomination on the first ballot, but then cleared 50% on the second, thus making Johnson-Weld official.

Pollsters and the media will have some interesting choices to make as regards this ticket. To start with, the following "who are you voting for" formulations would all be justifiable based on current information:

  • A. Trump     B. Clinton     C. Someone else
  • A. Trump     B. Clinton     C. Johnson     D. Someone else
  • A. Trump     B. Clinton     C. Johnson     D. Stein     E. Someone else

The first formulation would likely tend to hurt Johnson's numbers, while the second would help them, and the third would help him and Stein (a little). The second is probably the most correct, given current polling numbers, but would also have the effect of implicitly promoting Johnson as the only viable alternative to Trump.

Similarly, the hosts of the three presidential debates and the one vice-presidential debate will have to decide whether or not to include Johnson. He is already making noise about being given an invite, and the polling numbers would appear to support that position. If he is actually up on stage, that gives the Libertarian ticket enormous visibility and publicity. It also probably means that Trump would be getting hit from both sides. For these reasons, simply including Johnson could de facto translate into taking 1% or 2% of the vote away from Trump. That's pretty momentous, especially given that the media who will be making these decisions are supposed to report on the news, and not make it. (V & Z)

Hillary Clinton Doesn't Know How to Handle Trump

By nature, Hillary Clinton is a very careful and cautious person. She could probably run an excellent campaign against Mitt Romney, but doesn't have any idea of how to run against Donald Trump. He says outlandish things that would instantly sink any other candidate, like reducing the federal debt by partially defaulting on it. He clearly has no idea that the dollar and the bond markets would instantly collapse if he were President and said that while in office.

Democrats have a tendency to panic early and panic often and are certainly doing that now, although in late May 2008 Obama's lead over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was about the same as Clinton's is over Trump now. Clinton is getting lots of (contradictory) advice from all quarters, but most of it says she should hit Trump much, much harder than she is now, more like Lyndon Johnson's famous Daisy ad, which implied that the election of Barry Goldwater would lead to nuclear war and everyone's death.

Instead, she issues very mild criticism of him, such as saying that he is unfit to be President. Rev. Al Sharpton said that Clinton thinks she is in a professional boxing match when actually, "this is a street fight with a guy with a razor and a broken Coca-Cola bottle." The one thing she has going for her is that a large percentage of the voters haven't really tuned into the general election yet and she could still define him as a bully, a con artist, a liar, a woman-hater, or some other things, even if she has to decide which it is going to be. Trying all at once is too much for people to remember.

Clinton's advisers also have another piece of advice for her: Ignore Trump's attacks and focus on what she wants to do for Americans. They believe that if she talks about rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of jobs in the process and he talks about her email server and Benghazi, she will win. Some Democrats have suggested that she appoint a high-profile person to respond to his tweets within minutes, hitting below the belt (or below the ankles), if need be. If Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were willing to do the dirty work, it would have the extra added attraction of helping win over Sanders' supporters.

Clinton has another secret weapon that has not yet been deployed: President Obama. His popularity has surged upward in the past six months and he is clearly chomping at the bit to begin campaigning as soon as the Democrats officially pick their nominee. He remains popular with younger voters, many of whom do not like or trust Clinton, so he could also play a role in trying to win them to her side. (V)

Daisy Ad's Creators Have Some Suggestions for an Updated Version

Speaking of the famous Daisy ad, Politico spoke with two of the people involved with its creation, Sid Myers and Lloyd Wright, and asked them how they would make an ad to take down Donald Trump. One thing they did then and would do again is use the candidate's opponent's words against him. In another of their 1964 ads against Goldwater, they showed the garbage on the floor after the Republican National Convention, including signs from Goldwater's opponents, with the voiceover quoting them saying how horrible a Goldwater presidency would be. There is no shortage of video clips this year of other Republicans lighting into Trump.

Another ad, inspired by Goldwater's comment that the country would be better off if the Eastern Seaboard were sawed off and allowed to float out to sea, actually had an invisible arm in the ocean saw the Eastern Seaboard off a map and let it float out to sea. The idea this time would be to take something Trump said and visualize it. He wants to deport 11 million people, so how about an ad showing Customs and Border Protection agents violently ripping parents away from their hysterical American-born children, throwing the parents onto trucks willy nilly and driving off, with the children running frantically trying to catch the trucks? The soundtrack would just be the parents yelling (in Spanish) and the children screaming "Mommy come back" (in flawless English) until the end, when an ominous voice intoned: "This is Donald Trump's immigration reform plan." It's not Clinton's style, but boy would it have an impact.

Both Myers and Wright are full of ideas of how to make ads as devastating as Daisy. They are just waiting for Clinton to hire them. It might not be a crazy idea for her to do it. (V)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Declines to Back Trump

While some high-profile Republicans are getting behind Donald Trump, not all of them are. Yesterday, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to support Trump, but said he would eventually make an endorsement. First he wants to study the candidates and see what they represent. If he doesn't know by now, he probably hasn't been paying attention. More likely, he can't stand Trump and is somewhat conflicted, since he has been married to Maria Shriver, President Kennedy's niece, for 25 years, although they separated in 2011. Schwarzenegger is the kind of moderate Republican that typically has no use for Trump. Perhaps it is some kind of karmic symbolism, but since Trump can no longer host the reality television show "The Apprentice," the producers needed to find someone else and they hired...Arnold Schwarzenegger. (V)

Rubio Speaks Up

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sat for an extended interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, in which he dwelled at length on the failures and errors of his presidential campaign. He acknowledged that he did not really have a clear base of support, and that he erred in spending too much time raising money and not enough time on the campaign trail. Rubio also lamented his nastier interactions with Donald Trump, particularly the crude remark at the expense of Trump's manhood. The Florida Senator acknowledged that it was not apropos for him to make a joke like that about a member of the Republican Party, said he has already apologized to The Donald, and now has given his full support to the GOP nominee.

Rubio also commented on his future, saying that he doesn't want to run for the Senate again and has no intention of running for governor of Florida in two years when Rick Scott's (R) term is up. He may run for president again, but what he really wants to do is become commissioner of the NFL. Perhaps that has something to do with the $30 million paycheck (not to mention a generous expense account, complete with credit card). The overall impression given off by the Florida Senator is that while we might not have seen the last of him in public life, we probably have. (Z)

With Sanders Out, Clinton's Numbers Will Rise

At the moment, most national opinion polls have Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a point or two. We have cautioned, many times, against putting any stock in these numbers. It's very early, first of all—there are still too many "known unknowns," to borrow a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld. Beyond that, the presidency is decided by the Electoral College, not a national preference poll. And finally, one candidate is still fighting for her party's nomination, while the other is not, which means that comparing Clinton and Trump is comparing apples to (very orange) oranges.

On the latter point, NBC's statisticians have crunched the numbers and tried to project exactly how much Bernie Sanders is cutting into Hillary Clinton's numbers. Their best guess, which seems reasonable, is that Clinton would be +5% in a Sanders-less race. Keeping in mind that the largest popular vote margin in American history was 26% (Warren Harding in 1920), and that every election since Reagan's landslide in 1984 has been settled by less than 10% of the vote, that number is enormous. Our advice remains that you should ignore those national preference polls, but if you do not, then make a mental correction so as to make them more realistic. (Z)

Cue the Clinton E-Mail Conspiracy Theories

The Clinton e-mail controversy does not appear to be going away anytime soon. For some, however, it is not enough to suggest that she was stupid, or dishonest, or that she violated State Department policy. No, their suspicions run deeper, and their pronouncements are more grandiose. In this group is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who thinks that, "You have to assume that our enemy [sic] and adversaries had to have had access to every email that ever went over her private server." Johnson also believes that the knowledge gained through such chicanery may well have led to the Russian invasions of Crimea and the Ukraine.

It is remarkable that Johnson can say such things with a straight face. To start, there is every reason to believe that America's enemies did not, in fact, have access to Clinton's email server. It is true that it was not as secure as a government-run machine, but it's also the case that its existence was not widely known until after her term as Secretary came to an end. The Russians, Chinese, etc., cannot crack a server if they don't even know to be looking for it. Beyond that, if Vladimir Putin is making major strategic decisions based on what he learns from non-classified information that passes through the hands of one government official, he's not the shrewd operator we thought he was. Indeed, it is hard to even imagine what kind of information Clinton could even theoretically have that might affect his thinking. Maybe, "Dear HRC: If Putin takes part of Ukraine, we're gonna leave him alone. Just FYI, BHO." In any case, Johnson is not the first person to engage in this kind of wild speculation, and he won't be the last. And if we're just going to blame every bad thing that happened in the world between 2009 and 2013 on Clinton's email server, well, then she's got some questions to answer about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the outbreak of the Ebola virus, and the mysterious death of Whitney Houston. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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May29 Trump's Veeps
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