Dem 48
image description
GOP 52
image description
New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Three Days Too Late and Under Pressure, Trump Denounces White Supremacists

Yesterday, 3 days after white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia's campus, triggering a riot that ultimately left three people dead, President Donald Trump said: "Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans." His remarks took just 5 minutes and were preceded by him touting his administration's economic success. He didn't mention anything about domestic terrorism.

Trump made his remarks grudgingly and under great pressure, as his tone and body language made clear. Many Republicans had been calling on him for days to act presidential and denounce the KKK and neo-Nazis in no uncertain terms. Instead, Trump said that "many sides" were to blame. That didn't go down well with the media or most Republicans. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) responded to Trump's initial statement with: "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home." Hatch isn't going to like it when he sees that Trump doubled down on Twitter on Monday evening, making clear who the real bad guy is here:

So, there is simply no doubt that Trump feels that what he said on Saturday was sufficient, and that he really didn't want to offer any additional remarks on Monday.

And in case Trump isn't already in a bad enough mood, there's also this: The tweet that Barack Obama sent out after the mess in Charlottesville has over 2.43 million likes, making it the second most popular tweet in Twitter history. It just surpassed Ellen DeGeneres' famous Academy Awards selfie with Bradley Cooper, and is within reach of the #1 all-time tally, the 2.71 million likes received by the tweet Ariana Grande issued after the terrorist attacks in Manchester. By contrast, Donald Trump's initial Charlottesville tweet has 187,000 likes, or about 7% of Obama's total (the other Trump tweets on the subject have even fewer). The current President might take a lesson or two from his predecessor, like noticing that Obama never disparages anyone on Twitter. Perhaps #44 finds such behavior...undignified? Inappropriate? Tawdry? This may help explain why Obama's favorability rating is currently at 65%, which—if our math is correct—is almost double 34% (see below). Of course, Trump doesn't take lessons from anyone, much less Barack Obama. So, rather than use this as an opportunity for growth, it's more likely that he'll trot out Sean Spicer one last time to explain how you're misreading it, and that 187K actually means 2.9 million. Period.

Meanwhile, the white nationalists are already planning another rally, for September 11. At least, they were, until Texas A&M pulled their permit. It's unclear if Richard Spencer & Co. will attempt to move to another location. If they do succeed in staging an event on the anniversary of America's worst terrorist attack, it's not likely to end well. (V & Z)

Trump Attacks Business Leader He Praised Last Month

Three weeks ago, Donald Trump praised Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier as a "business genius." Yesterday, Frazier resigned from the president's Manufacturing Council because Trump failed to call out the racists in Charlottesville by name. Trump responded immediately by tweeting

Since Merck has not changed its prices in the last 48 hours, Trump apparently does not realize that he just informed us that he has no problem including a person he thinks of as a ripoff artist in his administration.

Later in the day Monday, two other CEOs quit the manufacturing council as well. "Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics," said Kevin Plank in his exit statement, while Intel's Brian Krzanich declared that, "We should honor—not attack—those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values." Most of the others have just kept quiet and are hoping it all blows over. All of them want to influence government policy in areas that affect their companies. Profiles in courage these are not.

Some of the executives have gone further than just keeping quiet. Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove has a planned fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and has no plans to move the fundraiser, even though the contract hasn't been signed yet. (V & Z)

Trump May Pardon Arpaio

Donald Trump has told Fox News that he is seriously considering issuing a pardon to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is facing prison time. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt when he refused to obey a judge's order to stop detaining people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. Trump praised Arpaio, saying: "Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?" Arpaio said: "I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty." Translation: "I would accept the pardon, because I am 100% not wanting to go to jail, particularly one with inmates I used to torment."

If Trump pardons Arpaio, the pardon will go unquestioned legally, but could open a whole can of worms politically. Letting Arpaio off the hook on a contempt charge would be small potatoes compared to pardoning, say, Jared Kushner or Michael Flynn. Once Trump starts pardoning people, the whole subject of the pardon power is going to become a major news story in itself. The biggest question of all is whether a president can pardon himself. That question has never been tested in court. (V)

Trump's Approval Falls to Lowest Level Ever

In Gallup's tracking poll, Donald Trump now has an approval rating of 34% and a disapproval rating of 61%. This is his lowest approval rating ever. The poll was taken from Friday to Sunday, right in the middle of the Charlottesville news story, but before Trump's attempt at damage control yesterday. So, he could be lower in the next release of the poll, and the 20s are now officially within shouting range. (V)

Strange Election in Alabama Today

Although Luther Strange was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions' seat when Sessions became attorney general, it is not really his to keep for the rest of his life, as with most Senate seats. He has to first win a primary and then a general election. The first round of the primary is today. Judge Roy Moore wants the seat, presumably so he can post the Ten Commandments in his Senate office, as he did in his courtroom, despite being ordered by a federal court not to do so. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) would like a promotion to the Senate. It's been an ugly race, with all three men sniping at one another over self-dealing, corruption, and how the others are too much a Democrat and are too soft on terrorism. Perhaps the loudest arguments, however, have been about who loves Donald Trump the most, and who is most supportive of his approach to Charlottesville. Polls suggest that nobody will reach the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a runoff.

Despite the almost foregone conclusion that come January, some Republican will be sitting in Sessions old seat, there are some important questions relating to the race. Politico has a list of five big ones:

  • Where does Strange land and what does it mean?
  • Will Trump's endorsement of Strange matter?
  • How high will Moore go?
  • What does the outcome signal for the runoff?
  • What about the Democratic primary?

Moore is expected to come in first, but the battle for second place—and an admission ticket to the runoff—is close. Polls show Strange second, but if Brooks, a fiery conservative, manages to come in second, it will be an enormous defeat for both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who really, really, really, do not want either Moore or Brooks in the Senate. Both are loose cannons and would team up with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to give them heartburn. If Strange barely beats Brooks and makes it into the primary, he will look wounded and may not be able to win the runoff on Sept. 26, especially since he's still being hurt by the shady circumstances under which he acquired the job in the first place (it certainly looked like a quid pro quo in exchange for dropping his investigation of then-governor Robert Bentley). If Moore becomes senator, it will be a double whammy for the Republicans. First, they get an unmanageable senator to deal with. Second, it will become clear that having the combined power of Trump and McConnell and all the establishment's money against you isn't a problem. Republicans up in 2018 (which includes all the Republicans in the House) will surely take note.

The Democrats have a primary with seven masochists competing with one another. The best known one is Doug Jones, an attorney who prosecuted the perpetrators of a 1963 bombing of a black church. The good news for him is that he has the full support of the Party establishment. The bad news is that he has no money, and Alabama is ruby red. The other Democratic candidate who has done well in polls is Robert Kennedy, Jr., though some suspect that is based on respondents choosing a name they recognize from amongst a group of unknowns. If that is indeed the voters' thought process, well, this Kennedy has nothing to do with the dynastic family and, in fact, is black. Whoever emerges on this side of the contest may have some small reason for hope, since the Republican candidates all have some pretty serious baggage. However, it's still a long shot. (Z & V)

Utah Also Has an Election Today

In Utah, three GOP hopefuls want to replace Jason Chaffez, who resigned his seat in the House of Representatives. The candidates are Provo mayor John Curtis, former state assemblyman Chris Herrod, and businessman Tanner Ainge (son of NBA executive and former player Danny Ainge). Curtis is a moderate and a one-time Democrat; attack ads have suggested he's still a Democrat, merely cloaked in elephant's clothing. Herrod and Ainge are both much more conservative than the Mayor, and will split the right-wing vote. Curtis will have the moderates to himself, is quite popular, and is the most experienced of the trio, so he is expected to prevail. Utah does not require that a candidate collect 50% of the vote, so whoever leads after the ballots are counted on Tuesday will advance to the final round in November against Kathryn Allen. Like Doug Jones in Alabama, she has the full backing of the Democratic Party. Unlike Jones, she's got a boatload of money—$500,000, which is a veritable fortune in the Beehive State. The bad news is that in UT-3, Republicans outnumber Democrats 5-to-1. So, her only real hope is that one of the right-wingers prevails, and then drives away all the moderates with some choice remarks about "legitimate rape" or macacas. In other words, Allen shouldn't give up her day job. (Z)

"Kid Rock" May be Ineligible to Appear on the Michigan Senate Ballot

Robert Ritchie may run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in Michigan next year, but there is a good chance that Kid Rock won't be on the ballot. How does that work, since Ritchie is Kid Rock? Michigan state law deals with the question of how a candidate's name is listed on the ballot. A person named, say, Robert James Ritchie could be listed as Robert James Ritchie, Robert Ritchie, James Ritchie, Bob Ritchie, Rob Ritchie, R. James Ritchie, Bobby Jim Ritchie, and various other combinations, but the only other names allowed are recognized diminutives. For Robert, Bob, Bobby, Rob, Robby, and maybe a few others would qualify, but "Kid" probably wouldn't, although the Michigan Bureau of Elections would have the final say.

Of course, it is possible that Rock/Ritchie might want to run as a more serious candidate and be listed as Robert J. Ritchie, but then be would lose nearly all of his name identification as well as his identification as a celebrity outsider.

There has been endless speculation whether celebrities can just show up and win elections now. Maybe, but it is also possible that Trump is sui generis. For example, evangelicals, who generally don't vote for nonreligious people who brag about committing sexual assault, might have made an exception and voted for Trump because they didn't want Hillary Clinton filling the Supreme Court seat of the late Antonin Scalia. If that is the reason, Rock/Ritchie is unlikely to get their votes. Also to be considered is that it is still early and term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) will be unemployed in Jan. 2019. He might decide to run in the Republican primary. The fact that Trump knocked off serious politicians in the Republican presidential primary doesn't mean that any celebrity can pull off that trick. (V)

Mooch Chats with Colbert, Bannon Death Watch Underway

Anthony "Mooch" Scaramucci sat with Stephen Colbert on Monday for his first interview since being shown the door of the White House. We didn't learn much that we didn't already know (or suspect), but he did confirm that: (1) He wasn't really cut out to be communications director, (2) there's "no love lost" between him and Reince Priebus, and (3) He loathes Steve Bannon and wants to see him fired, the sooner the better.

This marks the second time in as many days that Bannon has taken a hit on national television. On Sunday, NSA Herbert McMaster was interviewed on "Meet the Press," and was three times asked if he could work with Bannon. Each time, he danced around the question, with meaningless statements like, "I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president's agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people." McMaster was almost as reluctant to say Bannon's name as Donald Trump has been to say "white supremacists."

In any event, all of this is coming as Donald Trump is reportedly very, very unhappy with his adviser—tired of Bannon's self-promotion, and suspicious that he is behind many of the White House leaks. The former Breitbart editor has been on thin ice before, but it's never been quite this public. It's also well within the realm of possibility that Trump blames Bannon for the Charlottesville fiasco, since Trump is blaming pretty much everyone, and since it's likely that Bannon had a lot to do with the original, limp noodle statement that generated so much blowback on Saturday. Add it all up, and some are predicting that the Senior Adviser won't last the week. We shall see; cashiering him would cost Trump dearly with sizable parts of the base, not to mention the support of his biggest donor, Bannon's close friend Rebekah Mercer. Mercer would also be unhappy about the termination of Stephen Miller, an event that would surely follow quickly on the heels of Bannon's ouster. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug14 Trump's Advisers Try to Stem Fallout from Trump's Remarks about Charlottesville
Aug14 Trump Has Other Defenders, Too
Aug14 Tax Reform Will Probably Be Tougher than Health Care
Aug14 Senate May End Blue-Slip Courtesy
Aug14 CNN's "Jeffrey Lord Problem"
Aug14 Donald Trump Is Making People Sick
Aug14 Trump To Roll Back Obamacare Protections for Transgender Individuals
Aug13 Trump Condemns Violence in Charlottesville but Doesn't Mention Who Started It
Aug13 Bannon on Thin Ice
Aug13 Republican Representative Is Holding a Ticket Lottery for His Town Hall
Aug13 The 86 Million Reasons Trump Can't Win a Battle with McConnell
Aug13 RNC Has Adopted Bernie Sanders' Fundraising Approach; the DNC Hasn't
Aug13 Trump Hotel Turns a $2M Profit
Aug12 Report: China Would Not Help North Korea If It Attacks the U.S.
Aug12 Trump Threatens Venezuela
Aug12 Republicans Come under Pressure at Town Halls
Aug12 Manafort Changes Lawyers as Mueller Turns the Screws on Him
Aug12 Wall Street Growing Bearish
Aug12 Kyrsten Sinema Is Considering a Run Against Flake
Aug12 Secretary of Energy...Joe Manchin?
Aug12 McConnell Is Backing Kid Rock in Michigan Senate Race
Aug11 McConnell and Trump Are Taking Potshots at Each Other
Aug11 Kim and Trump Are Also Taking Potshots at Each Other
Aug11 Trump Thanks Putin for Expelling Diplomats
Aug11 Trump's Legal Team is Completely Outmatched by Mueller's Team
Aug11 Mercer Donates $300,000 to Take Down Flake
Aug11 Indiana Made it Easier for White Voters, Harder for Black Voters, to Cast Ballots Early
Aug11 Poll: Half of Republicans are OK with Postponing 2020 Election
Aug11 Poll: Trump's Finances Are Fair Game
Aug11 Northam Leads Gillespie in Virginia Gubernatorial Race
Aug11 It's Open Season on the Environment
Aug11 Rohrabacher Steps in It
Aug10 FBI Agents Raided Paul Manafort's Home in July
Aug10 Transgender Soldiers Sue
Aug10 Colbert Scores First Interview with Mooch
Aug10 Obama Donors Think Biden Is Too Old
Aug10 Kelly Believes in Climate Change
Aug10 How Long Can McMaster Last?
Aug10 Johnson Insults McCain
Aug10 Trump Drops in New Poll
Aug10 Who Said It?
Aug09 Trump Threatens North Korea with "Fire and Fury"
Aug09 Kelly's Main Challenge May Be Trump's Tweets
Aug09 Justice Dept. Agrees that Ohio Can Purge Inactive Voters
Aug09 Pence Hires Top Strategist
Aug09 Heller Gets Primary Challenger
Aug09 Anti-Trump Independents Are Starting to Organize
Aug09 Trump Endorses Strange
Aug09 Trump Organization May Be Pursuing Casino in Asia
Aug08 Trump Goes after Blumenthal