• Corker Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
• Ernst Also Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
• The Anti-Semitic Tweet that Would Not Die
• Trump Delegate Math Getting a Little Hairy
• Rubio Will Skip GOP Convention
• Democrats Getting Very Angry with Sanders
• Clinton-Sanders Endgame Appears to Be Underway
• Did Comey Abuse His Power?
• Cruz Working Hard on His 2020 Race
At the start of June, Donald Trump's campaign was basically broke. But in June he raised $26 million from online and mail donors and another $25 million at events done jointly with the RNC, for a total of $51 million. Although smaller than Hillary Clinton's $69 million dollar haul for June, it should reassure Republicans that he is capable of major-league fundraising and will be able to run a real campaign. Trump got money from over 400,000 donors, who, like those of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are fervent supporters of their candidate. Trump also contributed another $4 million himself, bringing the total to $55 million.
As we have often pointed out, in politics a week is a long time. This week we have had two major events. First, Hillary Clinton is not going to be indicted, which is a huge disappointment to both Republicans and Sanders' supporters. Second, Trump raised almost as much money as Clinton and will probably be able to run a more-or-less normal campaign. At least he will have the cash to carpet bomb the swing states with attack ads. A week ago it looked like he would be helpless in the face of the Clinton onslaught, but now it is clear that won't be the case. (V)
In a surprise announcement yesterday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said that he was not available to be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. He said there were other people more suited to the job and he was more suited to doing other things. In particular, Corker, who is something of a policy wonk, does not relish becoming an attack dog, the traditional role of the vice presidential candidate.
One of the things Donald Trump has said he wants in a running mate is someone who can help him actually govern—that is, someone with Washington experience. Corker has that and is also on good terms with most other senators, which could help a lot in a Trump administration. With Corker out of the running, Trump's choices are most likely Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who has no Washington experience; former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has lots of Washington experience, most of it bad and all of it long, long ago; Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), who has Washington experience as well as executive experience; and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is often named but brings little to the table. Of this group, Pence makes the most sense logically, but logic hasn't always played much of a role in Trump's campaign. (V)
First-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) also said yesterday that she wants to focus on Iowa and was not so interested in the Veep job. Although her name has been bandied about a lot, she has very little Washington experience. Her main qualification for the job is being a woman, and that probably is not enough. (V)
In April of 1961, the United States suffered one of the worst embarrassments in its history when the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba turned into a fiasco. John F. Kennedy had only been in office for a few months, and could have tried to pass the buck, or sweep the incident under the rug. Instead, he called a press conference, gave a full accounting to reporters, and accepted sole responsibility for the incident. "There's an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan," he observed. It could have become a massive scandal, but there was really nowhere for the story to go from there, and so it faded from view fairly quickly. It's a valuable lesson, one that many politicians would be wise to learn.
Of course, the JFK approach is not exactly Donald Trump's style. His now infamous anti-semitic tweet was sent three days ago. There is little doubt as to its anti-Semitism; beyond the juxtaposition of money/a Star of David/corruption, it was created by a vocal white supremacist and posted to a hate site. If The Donald had responded to the controversy by deleting the tweet and saying something like, "Whoops! Should have looked at that more closely, apologies to my Jewish friends!" then it would have been a one-and-done story. Instead, by altering the image, then deleting the tweet, then defending himself with a myriad of excuses and justifications, Trump is just giving the story legs. On Wednesday, he said it was not different from the cover of a Disney book of Frozen-themed stickers, since that too has a six-sided star (though no money, nor any suggestion that Princess Anna is corrupt). He also said that anyone who sees anti-Semitism in the image—the same image that he knows was created by an anti-Semite and posted to an anti-Semitic website—is "sick."
Besides being a bit thin-skinned, and almost completely unable to admit to making a mistake, Trump clearly revels in the chance to rail against political correctness. And his supporters eat that up. But they surely already knew where he stood on that subject, and by taking this opportunity to remind them, he's also kept the phrases "Donald Trump" and "Anti-Semitism" together in the headlines for the better part of a week. And that's just not smart politics. (Z)
Randy Evans is a lawyer and a Republican National Convention delegate, with ties to both the GOP's leadership and to the Trump campaign. He decided, with the help of a group of Young Republican volunteers, to assess where each of the delegates to the RNC stand on Trump. The answer, in short: The future is hazy.
To be completely safe, The Donald needs to have the full support of 1,237 delegates. That means people who will vote for him as the Party's candidate, and who will also oppose any efforts to change the rules or to otherwise dump Trump. Evans estimates that only 888 delegates fit that description, while 682 favor rules changes that will allow the convention to choose an alternative candidate. That leaves 903 delegates whose intentions are unclear, and who might go either way. Similarly, the all-important rules committee appears to have 74 Trump loyalists, 18 Trump dumpers, and 20 whose feelings are unknown. Sending a "minority report" in favor of a rule change to the full convention would require the support of at least 10 of those 20.
Evans' best guess is that if Trump can avoid making too many waves before the convention, he will be safe. But if he has another Gonzalo Curiel-style mishap, he could be in big trouble. (Z)
For the last month or so, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been on the fence about attending (and possibly speaking at) the Republican convention. He is on the fence no longer, however. On Wednesday, he announced that he will be too busy campaigning for re-election to find time to travel to Cleveland.
It's not too hard to read between the lines here. The guy who was ambivalent about attending the convention was Rubio the 2020 presidential candidate, and he was trying to figure out if the national exposure was worth the lingering Trump-scented stench that he might acquire. Now, he is Rubio the Senate candidate, fighting a pitched battle in a state with a lot of women, a lot of Latinos, a lot of Jews, and a fair number of Muslims. If he hopes to secure another six years in Washington, he can no longer touch The Donald with a 20-foot pole. The good news is that this may just open up a speakers' slot at the RNC for another one of Trump's kids (Barron, are you available?) (Z)
Now that it is clear that Hillary Clinton is not going to be indicted, virtually every Democratic leader in the country thinks that Bernie Sanders has zero chance of being nominated, so it is time for him to stop acting like a sore loser and concede. In a private meeting yesterday with House Democrats, they told him that in no uncertain terms. Some reports say that when he spoke, House members booed him. Others said that they merely groaned. Either way, the House Democratic caucus has had it with Sanders. He got some of his ideas into the Democratic platform, such as a $15/hr minimum wage and a plank saying that Democrats want to revive the Glass-Steagall Act. But Sanders wants more. Either he doesn't realize that losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a margin of 57% to 43% is a crushing defeat, or he is extremely clever in leveraging his waning power for all it is worth. Either way, other Democrats are beginning to get quite angry with him and it is only going to get worse. (V)
Perhaps it was the lack of an indictment, or maybe it was the sideways glances in the halls of the Capitol, or maybe it was the (alleged) boos. In any case, a number of campaign insiders say that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are negotiating a joint appearance in New Hampshire next week, at which the Vermont Senator will officially endorse his primary opponent.
The development that broke the logjam, officially speaking, was a proposal that Clinton made on Wednesday—a commitment to try and reduce the burden imposed by student loans while also making in-state tuition at public universities free for families earning less than $125,000. When Clinton issued forth with the idea, Sanders may have realized that he had gotten about as much of his platform as he was going to get. Or, he may simply have decided that this was his last chance to declare victory, and to leave the campaign on his own terms, without his tail between his legs. We'll never know for sure, but either way, it certainly looks like this particular chapter of the 2016 campaign is about to come to a close. (Z)
Imagine that the FBI had just spent a year investigating the Koch brothers to see if they had violated any campaign finance laws and then the director of the FBI gave a press conference saying that they had not broken any laws, followed by a 15-minute speech explaining why they are deplorable people and detailing all the things they had done wrong that didn't technically qualify as crimes but were still pretty reprehensible. In the Washington Post, former Justice Dept. public affairs director Mark Miller has written a piece in which he lashes out at FBI Director James Comey for the way he attacked Hillary Clinton while at the same time saying she was innocent. That is not the way the FBI is supposed to work. If someone is innocent, then the FBI is not supposed to besmirch that person's reputation. If the target is guilty, then he or she should be indicted; otherwise, the investigation should be closed with a simple statement that no charges will be brought. Until now, this was always the way the FBI worked.
Miller also makes the point that public figures should not be given any special advantages but should also not be treated worse than private citizens. If the concept of "everyone is equal before the law" is to have any meaning, it has to apply to everyone, including public figures such as politicians, suspected terrorists, swindlers, and heads of big banks.
Miller also takes issue with Comey's saying that the FBI uncovered no "direct evidence" that foreign powers had hacked Clinton's email server. Did he have indirect evidence? Any evidence at all? If not, how is that different from his saying: "In another investigation, we have uncovered no 'direct evidence' that Donald Trump paid millions of dollars in bribes to the mafia for labor peace at his construction sites." If there is no evidence, the FBI is not supposed to even bring up the subject. Miller's point is that Comey's speech was political grandstanding, not proper law enforcement. (V)
Back in the old days, presidential campaigns lasted only 4 years. Now that barrier has been shattered. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is already hard at work on his 2020 campaign, 4½ years before the 2020 general election. He is busy integrating his policy, political, and financial teams so he can make a smooth start campaigning on Nov. 9, no matter who wins this year, since Cruz opposes both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump equally.
The core of his operation will be two nonprofits, one a 501(c)3 and one a 501(c)4, which have different rules about donations and disclosures. He is also hiring staff to run them. Cruz's national political director, Mark Campbell, will be executive director of both. Cruz's chief of staff, Paul Teller, will become the senior adviser to both groups. These moves indicate that there is no doubt Cruz is already running for the 2020 nomination. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul06 Republicans Take Non-Indictment Poorly
Jul06 Sanders Still Won't Quit
Jul06 A New Proposal for Conservatives: Don't Run Anyone for President
Jul06 Clinton Gets Obama's Email List
Jul06 Trump Praises Saddam Hussein
Jul06 Clinton Either Crushing Trump or It's Tied
Jul05 Trump Wants an Unconventional Convention
Jul05 Trump's Swing State Problems
Jul05 Trump's Son-in-law Is His De Facto Campaign Manager
Jul05 The Top Ten Senate Challengers
Jul05 Tech Industry Likes Clinton and Dislikes Trump
Jul05 Not Many Ex-felons Are Registering To Vote in Virginia
Jul05 Kaine May Not Be in the Right Place on Abortion
Jul05 Sanders Still Being Protected by the Secret Service
Jul04 Was the American Revolution a Mistake?
Jul04 Sanders Is Not Happy with the Democratic Party Platform
Jul04 Cory Booker Cagey about Veep Vetting
Jul04 Trump Says Convention Lineup is Set
Jul04 Cabinet Secretaries Won't Speak at Democratic Convention
Jul04 Johnson Calls Trump a Racist
Jul04 Image in Trump Tweet Came from White Supremacist Site
Jul04 Kennedy Dynasty May Resume
Jul03 Trump's Meeting with Pence Spurs Veep Rumors
Jul03 Gingrich: No Evidence Trump Is a Racist
Jul03 FBI Interviews Hillary Clinton about Her Email Server
Jul03 Trump Just Can't Help Himself
Jul03 Poll: Neither Clinton Nor Trump Will Be a Good President
Jul03 Trump Claimed a Net Worth of $4.2 Billion in 2011
Jul03 Clinton Ads Running Most Heavily in Orlando, Denver, and Raleigh
Jul02 Princeton Election Consortium: Clinton in Excellent Shape
Jul02 Democrats' Platform Veers Leftward
Jul02 An In-Depth Look at a State Department Leak
Jul02 Trump Dirt Du Jour: He Bought Himself a $12,000 Helmet with His Charity's Money
Jul02 Today in Trump Non-Surprises
Jul02 The Clinton Money Machine Keeps Chugging Along
Jul01 Clinton Steps In It
Jul01 Christie and Gingrich Being Vetted
Jul01 Trump Campaign Invisible in Pennsylvania
Jul01 As the Senate Turns
Jul01 Trump Mystified By His Poll Numbers
Jul01 Is Ryan's Career in Ruins?
Jun30 Poll: Clinton Trouncing Trump in Swing States
Jun30 Are Polls Biased Against Trump?
Jun30 The Clinton and Obama Show Will Soon Hit the Road
Jun30 Silver Makes His First Projection
Jun30 Trump Hustling to Raise Funds in Europe
Jun30 The Trump Dirt Just Keeps Piling Up
Jun30 Trump Not a Credible Candidate
Jun29 Trump Hires Top Staffers