Trump won’t win. In fact, the US could be on the brink of a liberal renaissance Michael Cohen – The Guardian UK

Trump won’t win. In fact, the US could be on the brink of a liberal renaissance

Michael Cohen – The Guardian UK

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

For much of the past year, Donald Trump had lived something of a charmed political life.

Sure, he scapegoated Mexican immigrants and Muslims (not some, but all). He lobbed crude insults at a female journalist and another with a disability. He attacked his opponents with monikers such as “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco”, mocked Jeb Bush for being “low energy” and compared Ben Carson to a child molester. He even went after previous Republican presidential nominees, including 2008 nominee John McCain, who he said was no war hero because the North Vietnamese captured him. And he demonstrated, repeatedly, that he was immensely unqualified for the job of President of the United States of America.   

Yet none of it seemed to matter to Republican voters. Trump’s poll numbers steadily increased, his primary and caucus victories steadily piled up and one Republican opponent after another fell by the wayside, unable to stop him. Even recent polls showed him neck and neck with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

But last week, when Trump launched a vicious and nakedly racist attack against Gonzalo Curiel, the judge in his Trump University fraud case, the halo around Trump began to crack and fall down around his neck and began to choke him – and it offered a useful reminder as to why Trump has practically no chance of winning the presidency. Quite simply, the Republican electorate looks nothing like the rest of the American electorate.

Trump’s broadsides against Judge Curiel certainly crossed a line. The presumptive GOP nominee suggested that the judge’s “bad decisions” against him were not the result of Curiel’s interpretation of the law, but rather because, as Trump put it, he’s a “Mexican” (Curiel was born in Indiana). Since Trump has a harsh view of illegal immigration from Mexico, Trump alleged that Curiel’s ethnic heritage made it impossible for him to offer unbiased judgments on Trump’s case. This is, as even Republicans have pointed out, the textbook definition of racism.

Trump also intimated that Curiel should be investigated and that if he wins the White House he might even retaliate against the judge directly. That he is openly attacking the federal judiciary, as he runs for an office with the responsibility of appointing federal judges, represents a fundamental disrespect for the rule of the law and raises legitimate issues as to whether Trump, as president, would enforce court orders with which he disagrees.

Still, it’s hard to see how Trump’s comments about Curiel were any worse than his earlier comments about Mexican criminals or his proposed Muslim ban. They practically pale next to his sinister pledge to investigate Amazon, because its CEO also owns the Washington Post and Trump has been unhappy with some of that paper’s coverage of him. In the American constitutional system, this would be an impeachable offence.

What has changed is that Trump has shifted his attacks from foreign targets to actual American citizens, making it harder for even Republicans to defend them. Moreover, the context in which they were delivered was completely different. During the Republican primaries, GOP voters were not much concerned about Trump’s xenophobic and bigoted attacks. All of his fellow presidential aspirants were calling for Syrian Muslims to be banned from entering the USA, regularly railed against illegal immigration and more than a few implicitly called for the USA to commit war crimes in its fight against the Islamic State. Trump just went a step further and there’s significant evidence that they helped him among the Republican rank and file.

But today, Trump is not battling for support among Republican voters – he’s trying to win over Democrats and Independents. Rather than facing opponents who were largely unbothered by Trump’s bigotry, he’s now in a fight against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. They have a very different view on these matters.

This, in a nutshell, is Trump’s problem: to win the Republican nomination he needed to take extreme positions on a host of issues. He needed to demonise illegal immigration. That strategy doesn’t work among non-Republican voters. Indeed, for all the concerns raised by liberals about the possibility that Trump could win, less attention has been paid to the fact that Trump is a uniquely unpopular figure – strongly disliked by Democrats, Independents and even many Republicans.

The reason has much to do with demographics: Trump has systematically alienated the demographic groups that he will need to win the White House. Four years ago, when Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in the presidential election, he won by 5 million votes. Starting from that baseline, Trump needs to win back at least 2.5 million votes just to break even in the popular vote. But to do so he would need to improve on Romney’s dismal 27% support among Hispanic voters. That will be hard for Trump, considering that, according to some polls, he has only 20% support among Hispanics.

This year, an estimated 30% of the US electorate will be non-white. Trump will likely do worse than Romney and win a small fraction of those votes. Then there are his problems with women voters. In 2012, Obama won them by 11 points over Romney. Recent polls show Clinton winning this group by more than 20 points. Of course, while there are no guarantees that these numbers will hold up, if Clinton does as well as Obama did four years ago, she will be very difficult to beat. Right now, she’s outperforming Obama.

There is also the Democrats’ advantage in the Electoral College: The fact that Trump doesn’t have much campaign money and virtually no campaign infrastructure and the fact that many Republicans are trying to distance themselves from him is telling. Indeed, it’s so hard to see how Trump can win that the real issue for 2016 may not be the White House, but rather Congress, which Republicans currently control and, in the case of an electoral bloodbath for the GOP – they could potentially lose that control. If that were to happen, Hillary Clinton would have a Democratic Congress and the opportunity to push through dozens of pieces of progressive legislation.

Ironically, Trump’s rise, rather than signalling a turn toward nativist, authoritarian politics in the USA, could, in the electorate’s rejection of him, usher in a more progressive political era.

Michael A Cohen is author of Live From the Campaign Trail: The Greatest Presidential Campaign Speeches of the 20th Century and How They Shaped Modern America.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On June 12, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Donald Trump Is NOT Winning Enough White Voters

    by Harry Enten – senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight. – ESPN

    There is a belief, which I don’t share, that the growing share of non-white voters in the population, particularly Latinos, is giving Democrats an enduring advantage in winning elections.

    The theory — known to some as the “Emerging Democratic Majority” — works only if voting patterns stay the same and Republicans don’t gain among either minority voters or white voters.

    Republicans could very well add to their share of white voters, which is why I think Donald Trump CAN WIN the presidential election this year: HE COULD RUN UP THE SCORE WITH WHITE VOTERS, even if non-white voters don’t like him.

    It’s also why I found a new analysis by Nate Cohn of The New York Times so interesting. Cohn looked at census data, voter files and pre-election polls and found that “more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day.” In other words, Trump might have a somewhat friendlier electorate to work with than we thought.

    THAT’S GOOD NEWS FOR TRUMP. But here’s the bad news for his campaign: The evidence so far suggests Trump isn’t taking advantage of that possibility. Four years ago, using a similar method to Cohn’s, I argued that Mitt Romney could win with a lower percentage of whites in 2012 than many thought.

    Of course, Romney didn’t pull it off – just because something is possible doesn’t mean it will happen. And polls show Donald Trump IS NOT IN A STRONGER POSITION THAN ROMNEY to pull in enough white voters to win.

    Trump has trailed Hillary Clinton in every national poll for roughly the last three weeks. He’s led in only three of 34 polls since knocking Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the race in early May. In fact, the only two pollsters who had Trump ahead and have released more recent polls (Fox News and Rasmussen Reports) now show him trailing by 3 and 4 percentage points, respectively.

    One big reason Trump is trailing — by an average of 4 to 6 percentage points, depending on which aggregator you use — is because, despite all the bluster, he isn’t doing any better than Romney did among white voters. According to Cohn’s estimate, based on pre-election surveys, Romney beat President Obama by 17 percentage points among white voters. To win, Trump would need to improve on Romney’s margin by a minimum of 5 percentage points if the electorate looked exactly the same as it did in 2012 and every other racial group voted in the same manner as it did in 2012.

    Not surprisingly, Trump led Clinton overall in the two polls in which he had the biggest advantage with white voters, leading Clinton in that group by 24 percentage points in both. But, if you consider the other polls, Trump is winning white voters by an average of 17 percentage points, matching exactly Romney’s margin from four years ago. That’s not good enough, especially considering that the 2016 electorate will probably be more diverse than 2012’s. Trump probably needs to do even better than a 22-point lead among white voters, or he will have to pull in more minority voters than Romney did in order to win.

    Donald Trump could still improve his standing among white voters enough to take the election. There’s plenty of time.

    And Trump is already doing far better than Romney among white voters WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE, as Cohn noted.

    But in politics, as in physics, every action has a reaction. As Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report has pointed out, Trump is also doing CONSIDERABLY WORSE THAN ROMNEY AMONG WHITE VOTERS WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE.

    That makes sense, GIVEN DONALD TRUMP’S DIRECT APPEALS TO WHITES WHO DO NOT HAVE A HIGH LEVEL OF EDUCATION, and his penchant for shunning intellectuals.

    To be fair, Trump hasn’t been dealt the strongest hand. The incumbent Democratic president is becoming increasingly popular, and the economy isn’t in a downward spiral when looking across different metrics. In other words, Trump has limited electoral capital to work with.

    If the economy becomes worse, the president becomes less popular or Clinton has another scandal, then Trump’s chances will improve. Until that happens, Trump is an underdog, AND HE IS NOT YET RUNNING UP THE SCORE ENOUGH WITH WHITE VOTERS TO WIN.

    [I always believed that people who doggedly support Donald Trump are NOT too smart – let them babble. Let them advertise their ignorance.-clyde]

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 13, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I believe the Democrats have already sized up Donald Trump, after taking him very seriously – they got his measure.

    It is unfortunate that we had an interlude with a macabre distraction in Florida yesterday – R.I.P. all deceased victims – and a speedy recovery for all others. It is tough!

    But, Bertie Sanders is flat out campaigning for tomorrow’s [Tuesday, 14 June] primary in Washington D.C. even after a meeting with President Obama. I suspect the hyperbole and campaign intensity is intended to cover a lot of ground.

    One factor is the people of D.C. see themselves as the last colony still standing – taxation without representation in the USA. They need to be recognized and to be kept in the picture – If they are required to pay tax – they should have a voice and a vote, they say. Now is not the time for Bernie Sanders to back down.

    Keep the excitement, the interest and the intensity of the campaign going …. If you have more votes in November than the other guy – you get to fix this injustice.

    The first Roman Catholic President of the USA was a Democrat; the first Non-White President of the USA is a Democrat …. No doubt we are ticking off the boxes – One-at-a-Time!!

    Hold strain Washington D.C. – Things Gon’ Change – President Obama [a man of his word] promised you that!!

    Yes We Can!!

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 14, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Is there a precedent for two of the same gender running for the political office of President and Vice-President of the USA??

    Awe C’mon …..!!

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 15, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Donald Trump ERASED ALL EMAILS from 1996-2001

    By Walter Einenkel – Daily Kos

    One of Donald Trump’s greatest defenses is that he is so utterly and impossibly grotesque in every way imaginable, that stories of his grandiose awfulness have a hard time gaining traction.

    Why write a story about how full of crap Trump is if it’s going to get lost in the river of sludge that is the history and life of Donald Trump? Is Donald Trump a liar and a hypocrite? Sure. Is he a hate monger? Yes, he is. But Trump is good for one thing—dismantling the Republican Party’s patina made out of hate and lies and hypocrisy.

    Maybe Donald Trump can gain some voters based on the Hillary Clinton email situation? Trump has the personal failing for that!

    In 2006, when a judge ordered Donald Trump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.

    At that time, a Trump IT director testified that until 2001, executives in Trump Tower relied on personal email accounts using dial-up Internet services, despite the fact that Trump had launched a high-speed Internet provider in 1998 and announced he would wire his whole building with it. Another said Trump had no routine process for preserving emails before 2005.

    Trump’s lack of a paper-trail is only dubious if your business is “importing and exporting” — if you know what I mean. In a lawsuit claiming that former employee Richard Fields took intellectual property, Trump’s missing emails proved to be a problem.

    Trump sued Fields and the companies he had ended up working with on a Seminole casino, arguing that Trump Hotels should be entitled to all profits the casinos produced, which were expected at the time to be more than $1 billion over 10 years.

    The companies Trump sued argued that if it was true that Trump Hotels had been pursuing a similar deal with the tribe, there would be emails and other records documenting their discussions. The judge agreed and ordered Trump Hotels to hand over emails, financial documents, executive meeting calendars and so forth.

    This is from the guy that said he didn’t use email or even have a private computer until 2007.

    The New York Times obtained court documents containing hundreds of pages of sworn testimony from Trump over the past decade. The documents revealed that, as of 2007, the real-estate magnate didn’t use a computer at his home or in his office, didn’t send text messages, and didn’t email for a while.

    Trump just goes down to the basement and turns on a radio and a fan to have a “conversation.”

  • Gigi  On June 15, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Guiccifer 2, the hacker who hacked into the DNC server just dumped massive data and said the remaining was given to wikileaks. Here’s the link to zerohedge who posted it and suggest that you should access it before the site gets taken down. And it will. One of my treasured sites, Naked Capitalism, was out of commission for several days last week because it posted an unfavorable article on Hillary. Here’s the link and check out some of the deep pocket donors that Hillary is beholden to.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-15/hacker-who-breached-democratic-national-committee-server-posts-confidential-trump-hi

    “”Guccifer2″ he has chosen the WordPress platform as the website where to post his initial disclosure. As such we urge those readers who are interested in the hacked files to download any files locally as this server will be taken down in a matter of moments.”

  • Albert  On June 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    @Gigi Hacked files. Old news on the internet with a little research. As far as Trump is concerned he provides material daily for Clinton to use against him…..little need to research.

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Lori Mae Hernandez – America’s Got Talent:

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 16, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Where Republicans Stand on Donald Trump: A CHEAT SHEET

    A number of conservatives have turned their backs on the presumptive nominee. Is it the start of something bigger?

    by David A. Graham – The Atlantic

    Is the floodwall breaking, or have the last couple of weeks shown just how solidly it holds?

    The last fortnight has been bad for Donald Trump. First, there was the slow train-wreck of his attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who’s overseeing the Trump University case, on the basis of his ethnicity. Just as Trump was finally moving past that came the horrific attack in Orlando, which induced Trump to reiterate his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, and also to suggest Barack Obama had betrayed the country. That, in turn, again gave Republicans the jitters about Trump’s fitness for office.

    Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois had already become the first Republican to heed his colleague Lindsey Graham’s plea for Trump endorsers to rescind their backing.

    After the Curiel comments, Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada backpedalled a bit, saying he was now “not sure” he could back Trump. Since Orlando, there have been a few more shifts. Representative Fred Upton of Michigan said he would not be endorsing Trump, while former Senator Larry Pressler went a step further, and actually endorsed Clinton. And Governor John Kasich of Ohio, the final presidential rival to leave the race against Trump, finally broke his silence. He did not slam the door shut on backing Trump, but he hardly sounded like a guy who was ready to fall into line.

    “You know, it’s painful. It’s painful. You know, people even get divorces, you know? I mean, sometimes, things come out that, look, I’m sorry that this has happened,” he said on Morning Joe. “But we’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point, I just can’t do it.”

    Speaker Paul Ryan, who pointedly abstained from backing Trump for some time before announcing his backing, is not wavering. But he could sound a lot more confident about that than he does. Asked whether he’d withdraw his endorsement, he replied, “That’s not my plan. I don’t have a plan to do that.”

    Meanwhile, an increasing number of Republican foreign-policy figures are speaking out against Trump. Neoconservative figures like Max Boot and Robert Kagan had already weighed in against Trump. On June 16, Richard Armitage—a deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush and of defense under Ronald Reagan—announced he was backing Clinton.

    What’s unclear so far is whether Trump will just lose a few backers at a time, as he goes through each new incident of outrage and backlash, or if there will develop a critical mass of Republicans and conservatives who begin lining up against him. Besides, some people could switch sides. The radio host Hugh Hewitt, who just last week was calling for Trump to be dumped at the Republican National Convention, now suggests post-Orlando that his tough stance on security makes him clearly preferable to Clinton.

    How do you solve a problem like The Donald? For Republicans and conservatives, the time for hoping Trump would simply burn himself out, collapse, and go away is over. Now they have to figure out what they’ll do: Sign up with Trump in the name of party unity, and distaste for Hillary Clinton? Or risk alienating the Republican nominee and reject him?

    As the chaotic and failed attempts to stop Trump over the past 10 months have shown, there’s no obviously right choice for how conservatives should respond. But which choice are people making? Here’s a list of some major figures and where they stand on Trump—right now. We’ll keep it updated as other important people take stances, or as these ones change their views about Trump.

    George W. Bush: ABSTAIN
    The former president “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)

    George H.W. Bush: ABSTAIN
    “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics. He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)

    Mitt Romney: NAY
    The party’s 2012 nominee, one of Trump’s staunchest critics during the primary, told The Wall Street Journal, “I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.” Romney continued: “I know that some people are offended that someone who lost and is the former nominee continues to speak, but that’s how I can sleep at night.” (May 27, 2016)

    Romney previously told The Washington Post he would skip the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and said at a D.C. dinner that he won’t be supporting Trump. (May 5, 2016)

    Tom DeLay: UNDECIDED
    The former House majority leader hasn’t spoken out since Trump’s ascension, but was highly critical of him during the primary: “We have got to stop Trump. Whatever it takes without cheating or violating the rules of the Republican primaries,” he told Newsmax.

    Jeb Bush: NAY
    The former Florida governor and presidential candidate came to detest Trump during the campaign. In April, he said he would not attend the Republican National Convention. He now says he will not vote for either Trump or Clinton. (May 6, 2016)

    Karl Rove: UNDECIDED
    The former George W. Bush strategist and current Wall Street Journal columnist and PAC boss has called Trump “a complete idiot” who is “graceless and divisive.” (Trump, in turn, has asked, “Is he not the dumbest human being on earth?”) But The New York Times reports the two men met in May. (June 3, 2016)

    Larry Pressler: NAY
    A moderate and former three-term senator from North Dakota, Pressler has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. (June 14, 2016)

    Richard Armitage: NAY
    Armitage, a former Navy officer who served as deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush and deputy secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, says he will vote for Hillary Clinton. “If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton,” he told Politico. “He doesn’t appear to be a Republican, he doesn’t appear to want to learn about issues. So, I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.” (June 16, 2016)

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: NAY
    The senior member of the Florida congressional delegation, who was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States, has said she will not vote for Trump. “I will work with whomever is chosen by the American people to serve as president, because I deeply respect the American constitutional system,” she said in a statement. “In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.” (May 6, 2016)

    Fred Upton: ABSTAIN
    The long-time Michigan congressman (and, true fact, uncle of Kate) says he will not endorse Trump, though he stopped short of saying he would not vote for him. “There’s a lot of things that folks are not happy about with either of these two candidates,” he said during a radio interview. “We’re running our own race, and don’t look for me to endorse anyone in this race probably the rest of the year.” (June 16, 2016)

    Ted Cruz: UNDECIDED
    The Texas senator floated the idea—likely unrealistic—of reanimating his suspending campaign and refused to endorse Trump. “We’ll see what happens as the months go forward, I think we need to watch and see what the candidates say and do,” he told Glenn Beck. (May 10, 2016)

    Susan Collins: UNDECIDED
    The moderate Maine senator tells Time that she is in wait-and-see mode. “I’ve said from the point that it became obvious that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican candidate that I’d always supported previous presidential nominees of my party but that in this case I was going to wait and see what happened and that is what I am continuing to do.” (June 7, 2016)

    Lindsey Graham: NAY
    The South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate blasted Trump following the nominee’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, saying fellow Republicans should withdraw their endorsements. “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” he said. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.” (June 7, 2016)

    Ben Sasse: NAY
    The Nebraska freshman senator was another anti-Trump ringleader, and has been suggested as a third-party candidate. In a long Facebook post, he explained why he’s still not backing Trump. (May 4, 2016)

    Mike Lee: UNDECIDED
    Lee, a conservative Utahan and close associate of Ted Cruz, has not made his decision. “I have not supported Donald Trump up to this point, I have not endorsed him,” Lee said, according to the Washington Examiner. “I have some concerns with him. He scares me to death; so does Hillary Clinton …. I’ll make the decision as best I can, but I’m not there yet.” (May 11, 2016)

    Jeff Flake: NAY
    The Arizona senator says he cannot at this point back Trump. “It’s uncomfortable not having endorsed the Republican nominee, I have to say,” he said. “But I can’t at this point. I hope to be able to support the nominee. I certainly can’t right now.” (June 7, 2016)

    John Kasich: SOFT NAY
    The Ohio governor and final Republican challenger to leave the race has not entirely slammed the door on backing Trump, but he said he cannot do so now. “We’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point, I just can’t do it,” he said. (June 16, 2016)

    Brian Sandoval: UNDECIDED (was YEA)
    The Nevada governor, a moderate conservative, once said he would back the GOP nominee, but now says he is “not sure.” “I will only say that you can’t defend the indefensible,” he said after Trump attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel. (June 7, 2016)

    Charlie Baker: NAY
    The moderate Massachusetts governor told reporters he would not vote for Trump and doubted he’d vote for Clinton. Later the same day, a spokeswoman clarified to The Boston Globe: “Governor Baker will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.” (May 4, 2016)

    Rick Snyder: ABSTAIN
    Michigan’s governor—a rising GOP star until the Flint water scandal derailed his career—will not endorse Trump, nor will he weigh in otherwise, he said. “I’ve stayed out of the whole thing, and I’m going to continue to,” he told the editorial board of The Detroit News. “I’ve got important things I want to work on in Michigan.” (June 2, 2016)

    Scott Walker: UNDECIDED
    The Wisconsin governor, a former presidential rival of Trump’s, has been fairly quiet about the race. Although he previously said he intended to back the nominee, whoever that was, he is now hedging, lamenting the “poor choices” Americans face. He declined to endorse Trump, citing his comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel. “He’s not yet the nominee. Officially that won’t happen until the middle of July, and so for me that’s kind of the timeframe,” Walker said. “In particular I want to make sure that he renounces what he says, at least in regards to this judge.” (June 8, 2016)

    Larry Hogan: NAY (was ABSTAIN)
    The governor of Maryland told The Washington Post he does not intend to vote for Trump. “No, I don’t plan to,” he said. “I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.” (June 15, 2016)

    Susana Martinez: UNDECIDED
    The New Mexico governor was initially mentioned as a VP candidate—not the first time, since as a woman and Hispanic she’d add a lot of diversity to a GOP ticket. But she and Trump have since waged a war of words, with Trump first applauding her, then blasting her, then saying he’d like her endorsement. Martinez has not endorsed Trump, but says she will not be backing Hillary Clinton. (June 16, 2016)

    Bill Kristol: SOFT NAY
    The editor of The Weekly Standard threw his lot in with the #NeverTrump crowd with gusto, and he’s been a leading advocate for a third-party alternative. But these days, he seems a bit confused about what exactly the word “never” means: “I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I’ll say #NeverTrump, and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never. I’ll leave it ambiguous.” (May 2, 2016)

    Ross Douthat: APPARENT NAY
    After spending the primary alternately criticizing Trump and forecasting his doom, the New York Times columnist seems especially dyspeptic and despairing. (May 5, 2016)

    Erick Erickson: NAY
    The radio host, editor of The Resurgent, and former RedState editor writes: “Hillary Clinton is unfit for the Presidency, but so is Donald Trump. Some Republicans may decide it is time to be a team player, but I will put my country before my party and decline to help the voters in this country commit national suicide.” (May 4, 2016)

    Leon Wolf: NAY
    Wolf, the editor of RedState, has been a prominent Trump critic. He says he’s leaning toward voting for a Libertarian candidate. “I genuinely believe that Hillary Clinton would be a better President than Trump, and it’s not close,” he wrote. “That said, Hillary would also be a terrible President, there’s no doubt about that.” He also called on Senate Republicans to confirm Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, lest Trump do the choosing instead. (May 4, 2016)

    George Will: NAY
    The dean of conservative columnists detests Trump, and has called for Republicans to defeat him if he is their nominee: “Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states—condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.” (April 29, 2016)

    Charles Krauthammer: SOFT NAY
    The leading writer has been very critical of Trump, but in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, he left the door ajar to change his mind. “Let me just say from what I’ve seen up until now, heard from Trump and watched him, I don’t think I’d be capable of voting for Donald Trump,” he said. “Question is, what do I do? I don’t know yet.” (May 3, 2016)

    Glenn Beck: NAY
    Beck, the talker who was a Cruz backer, has remained steadfastly opposed to Trump since he became the presumptive nominee. He says Trump cannot win. “I don’t want my children to look at that man and say, ‘Yeah, he’s my President.’ I won’t have that. I will not endorse it, I will not tolerate it,” he said. (May 4, 2016)

    Max Boot: NAY
    Boot, a leading neoconservative and military historian, says that although he’s a lifelong Republican, the party is dead and he won’t vote for Trump: “The risk of Trump winning, however remote, represents the biggest national security threat that the United States faces today.” While “Clinton would be far preferable to Trump,” Boot says that right now “I only know one thing for sure: I won’t vote for Trump.” (June 3, 2016)

    Michael Reagan: NAY
    The son of former President Ronald Reagan, an influential talk-radio host and writer, said he would not vote for Trump in the California primary and added, “This most likely would be the 1st time if my father was alive that he would not support the nominee of the GOP.” (June 6, 2016)

    Robert Kagan: NAY
    Kagan, a leading neoconservative historian and writer, was among the first conservatives to back Clinton, writing way back in February, “For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.” He later wrote of Trump, “This is how fascism comes to America.” (February 25, 2016)

    Paul Singer: NAY
    The major Republican donor, who backed Marco Rubio and contributed to anti-Trump efforts, will not back Trump, NBC News reported. Bloomberg reported he’ll stay out of the presidential race. (May 5, 2016)

    Joe and Marlene Ricketts: UNDECIDED
    The billionaire couple spent at least $5.5 million on anti-Trump efforts during the primary, and Trump at one point threatened them, tweeting, “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” They have not made their stance public, though their son Pete, the governor of Nebraska, has endorsed Trump.

    Charles and David Koch: SOFT NAY
    Prior to Trump’s becoming the presumptive GOP nominee, Charles Koch said he thought Hillary Clinton might be a better president than Trump, though he made no indication that the famed pair of brothers would back her. They now say they are not backing Trump, though a spokesman did not rule it out entirely. (May 5, 2016)

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 18, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Putin clarifies Trump comment and says USA is the world’s ‘Only Superpower’

    – by Alan Yuhas – The Guardian UK

    Vladimir Putin downplayed past comments about Donald Trump and spoke about the presidential election on Friday, adding that he accepted the USA is probably the world’s sole superpower.

    “America is a great power. Today, probably, the only superpower. We accept that,” the Russian president said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. “We want to and are ready to work with the United States of America.”

    Alluding to USA-EU sanctions on Russia in response to its military actions in Ukraine, he continued: “The world needs such strong nations, like the USA. And we need them. But we don’t need them constantly getting mixed up in our affairs, instructing us how to live, preventing Europe from building a relationship with us.”

    Asked about the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Putin again described Trump as a “flamboyant” or “colourful” man, using a Russian word – “яркий” – [“yarkiy”] that can be translated with ambiguous connotations, from gaudy to striking to dazzling.

    “You see, it’s like I said,” Putin told his questioner. “Trump’s a colourful person. And well, isn’t he colourful? Colourful. I didn’t make any other kind of characterization about him.

    “But here’s where I will pay close attention; and where I exactly welcome; and where on the contrary I don’t see anything bad: Mr Trump has declared that he’s ready for the full restoration of Russian-American relations. Is there anything bad there? We all welcome this, don’t you?”

    In December, months before Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Putin called him “a colourful person, talented, without any doubt” and said: “It’s not our business to decide his merits, that’s for US voters, but he is absolutely the leader in the presidential race.”

    Trump has for months misinterpreted Putin’s comments as “a great honour” and clear praise, rather than consider the various meanings of the word.

    “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia,” he told MSNBC shortly after Putin’s original comments.

    In May Trump falsely described the comments as a compliment of his intelligence. “They want me to disavow Putin,” he said. “Putin of Russia said Trump is a genius.”

    Trump has proposed US-Russian cooperation regarding Syria, counter-terrorism and trade deals, and defended Putin’s record on eliminating a free press. The Kremlin and its allies have over 15 years dismantled independent news organizations, and the 2006 murder of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya has also been linked by activists to Putin’s Kremlin. Trump told ABC in December: “it’s never been proven that he killed anybody.”

    The businessman’s top campaign aide, Paul Manafort, was an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician who had fled to Russia after a 2014 revolution ousted him from office.

    Putin also spoke carefully on Friday about the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, saying he did not work much with her directly when she was Secretary of State.

    She probably has her own view of USA-Russian relations,” he said.

    But he praised her husband, former president Bill Clinton, saying: “We had a very nice relationship.”

    “I can even say that I’m grateful to him for several moments, when I was making my entrance into world politics. On several occasions he showed signs of attention, respect to me personally and to Russia.”

    The diplomatic remarks belie the cold and increasingly hostile relations between Clinton and Putin toward the end of her time in the Obama administration. In 2011, when he was Prime Minister of Russia and facing massive street protests, Putin accused the then Secretary of State of fomenting dissent. Clinton’s state department, he said, had sent a “signal” and “support” to opposition leaders.

    On Friday Putin insisted Russia does not interfere in other nation’s affairs, and that the Kremlin would be glad to work with any leader elected abroad.

    “We need to bring back trust to Russia-European relations and restore the level of cooperation,” he said.

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