Chris Christie Archives - Page 3 of 29 - Florida Politics

Give a politician a hug

Hugs may be attempting a comeback in politics.

For several years now, they seemed to be dangerous. Just ask Charlie Crist. Just ask Chris Christie. Just ask Carlos Beruff, who seems to think they still are dangerous. He sent out a news release slamming his U.S. Senate Republican primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and featuring an old picture Beruff’s campaign dug up of then-Speaker of the House Rubio and then-Gov. Crist sharing a man hug.

The news release was entitled, “The Hug.”

And it included that picture of the very moment that Crist likely spread political cooties to Rubio.

But that image as a warning from Beruff just might be so ancient history now. Certainly, no one in Orlando begrudges anyone’s hug.

Orlando may be a special case. Since the horrific June 12 massacre at the city’s popular gay nightclub Pulse, everyone is hugging everyone in the City Beautiful.

President Barack Obama is hugging Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and then hugging Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a Republican. There’s Jacobs and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat, sharing a nice, warm embrace. There’s Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan and other city commissioners, and Orange County commissioners, hugging everyone in sight. There’s Gov. Rick Scott … wait, what? … fondly putting his arm around Jacobs.

OK, Scott and Jacobs are both Republicans. But still, isn’t it possible she caught political cooties from one those earlier hugs, and might she be contagious? And who else has he hugged?

Most political professionals are skeptical and dubious of the hug. Context of hugs matters. So does the reality that there always are political enemies. Pictures are forever, and once they fall into the wrong hands, well, anyone you hug can and will be used against you in the court of politics.

There have been too many infamous political hugs. Crist and Obama. Christie and Obama. John McCain and George W. Bush. Caitlyn Jenner and Hillary Clinton. Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro. Ted and Heidi Cruz. Plenty more.

Scott Widmeyer, former communications adviser to Jimmy Carter and Jay Rockefeller and a managing partner in Finn Partners public relations agency, advises clients: “the political stage is a politician hug-free zone.”

And yet; can there really be anything in wrong with something that feels so good?

We’re already seeing the rise of U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham as a likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Graham is a notorious hugger. If and when she starts her campaign, no one in the state is likely safe from a hug.

Still, we should probably draw the line at letting Joe Biden kisses becoming the next trend.

Many experienced GOP strategists unwilling to work for Donald Trump

Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that to best compete against Hillary Clinton he needs more than the bare-bones campaign team that led him to primary success. But many of the most experienced Republican political advisers aren’t willing to work for him.

From Texas to New Hampshire, well-respected members of the Republican Party’s professional class say they cannot look past their deep personal and professional reservations about the presumptive presidential nominee.

While there are exceptions, many strategists who best understand the mechanics of presidential politics fear that taking a Trump paycheck might stain their resumes, spook other clients and even cause problems at home. They also are reluctant to devote months to a divisive candidate whose campaign has been plagued by infighting and disorganization.

“Right now I feel no obligation to lift a finger to help Donald Trump,” said Brent Swander, an Ohio-based operative who has coordinated nationwide logistics for Republican presidential campaigns dating to George W. Bush.

“Everything that we’re taught as children — not to bully, not to demean, to treat others with respect — everything we’re taught as children is the exact opposite of what the Republican nominee is doing. How do you work for somebody like that? What would I tell my family?” Swander said.

Trump leapt into presidential politics with a small group of aides, some drafted directly from his real estate business, with no experience running a White House campaign. An unquestioned success in the GOP primaries, they have struggled to respond to the increased demands of a general election.

As in years past, the primary season created a pool of battle-tested staffers who worked for other candidates, from which Trump would be expected to draw. But hundreds of such aides have so far declined invitations to work for him.

They include several communications aides to Chris Christie, as well as the New Jersey governor’s senior political adviser, Michael DuHaime, who has rejected direct and indirect inquiries to sign on with the billionaire.

Chris Wilson, a senior aide to Ted Cruz, said the Texas senator’s entire paid staff of more than 150 ignored encouragement from Trump’s team to apply for positions after Cruz quit the presidential race. Wilson said that even now, many unemployed Cruz aides are refusing to work for the man who called their former boss “Lyin’ Ted.”

That’s the case for Scott Smith, a Texas-based operative who traveled the country planning events for Cruz, and earlier worked on presidential bids for Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“It’s very clear that none of us are going to work for Trump,” Smith said. “Even if I wanted to work for Trump, my wife would kill me.”

Smith, like many experienced strategists interviewed for this story, noted the intense personal sacrifice required of presidential campaigns. Many advisers do not see their families for long stretches, work brutal hours on little sleep and enjoy no job security.

With Trump, Smith said, “I would feel like a mercenary. I can’t be away from my young children if it’s just for money.”

Trump’s need for additional staff is acute. His paltry fundraising network brought in less than $2 million last month. He has just one paid staffer to handle hundreds of daily media requests and only a few operatives in battleground states devoted to his White House bid.

Last month, Trump fired Rick Wiley, who was the campaign manager for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a former 2016 candidate, and was brought on to run Trump’s nationwide get-out-the-vote effort. On Monday, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who acknowledged he lacked the experience needed to expand Trump’s operation.

“This campaign needs to grow rapidly,” Lewandowski told the Fox News Channel. “That’s a hard job and candidly I’ve never grown something that big.”

Trump credited Lewandowski with helping “a small, beautiful, well-unified campaign” during the primary season. “I think it’s time now for a different kind of a campaign,” Trump told Fox.

Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the campaign’s hiring. A former adviser, Barry Bennett, played down any staffing challenges, suggesting the campaign should be able to double its contingent by the party’s national convention next month.

Trump announced four new hires in the past week, including a human resources chief to help with hiring, to supplement a staff of about 70. That’s compared with Clinton’s paid presence of roughly 700, many of them well-versed in modern political strategy.

Trump’s senior team, including campaign chief Paul Manafort and newly hired political director Jim Murphy, largely represent an older generation of political hands more active in the 1980s and 1990s. The campaign’s new Ohio director, Bob Paduchik, led state efforts for Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

A new generation of top talent active in more recent years has shown little interest in Trump. In Iowa, experienced operative Sara Craig says she will not work for Trump or even support him. “I am more interested in working on down-ballot races,” said Craig, who helped elect Joni Ernst to the Senate from Iowa and directed a pro-Bush super political action committee.

Ryan Williams, who worked on Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaigns, said he’s happy working for a consulting firm, where he’s involved with various other elections across the country, as well as with corporate clients.

“When you sign up for a campaign, you’re putting your name on the effort. Some of the things that Trump has said publicly are very hard for people to get behind,” Williams said.

But Paduchik offered the kind of positive perspective expected of a campaign on the move.

“It’s been great, the response I’ve gotten,” Paduchik said. “Republicans in every corner of Ohio are excited about Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: Florida Republicans just can’t let go of Marco Rubio

When it comes to Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Party leaders are starting to sound like a jilted lover that can’t quite let it go.

They ignore that Rubio was beaten soundly by Donald Trump in 65 of the state’s 66 counties in the Florida Primary, causing him to drop out of the presidential race. They ignore that he has repeatedly trashed his job as a senator in both word and deed.

They ignore a recent Quinnipiac poll that showed 49 percent of Floridians disapprove of his performance while only 42 percent approve. They’re willing to look past his stumbles on the presidential campaign trail, especially the way Chris Christie made him look foolish and ill-prepared during the New Hampshire primary.

None of this seems to matter.

They are practically crawling to Rubio, all but begging him to change his mind and run for re-election to his seat in the U.S. Senate after he repeatedly said he wouldn’t. Given his serious and considerable baggage, the fact that they see Rubio as their champion says a lot about what they think of their chances to keep that seat in the GOP column.

And while Rubio’s words say “no, no, no” his actions say, “um, maybe … if you ask me real nice.”

For instance, he told CNN he might consider changing his mind if his good friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera wasn’t in the race.

“I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it,” Rubio said.

Of course, friendship didn’t stand in the way of running against Jeb Bush for president. That friendship was strained, too; after he dropped out, Bush refused to endorse Rubio, even after pushing for him to be the vice president for Mitt Romney in 2012.

And while he was still in the campaign, Bush told The Washington Post, “Let me ask you, what has (Rubio) accomplished? What has he done in his life that makes you think he can make the tough calls, develop strategy?”

Good question.

What has Rubio accomplished, other than express disdain for the job he was elected to do? He has name recognition, sure, but as the Quinnipiac poll shows that can cut both ways.

None of that apparently matters to Republicans casting a longing eye in Rubio’s direction. Maybe it should.

___

Joe Henderson has had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. He covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. Henderson was also City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. He served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and has two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

Florida Republicans querying donors on possible vice president choice: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

So whom do Florida Republicans want to see Donald Trump pick as his running mate? The Republican Party of Florida is asking, in an informal poll attached to a fundraising pitch Monday.

Republican backers are getting a chance to pick from 11 prospects including four of this year’s former presidential candidates such as Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, and some reputed rising stars in the national party such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott makes the RPOF’s list or prospects. So does former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a 2012 presidential candidate. So do 2016 presidential candidates Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The list also includes few other emerging names and a couple longer-term lawmakers in the GOP, including Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and three women: Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

No Jeb Bush.

No Ted Cruz.

“Now that Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, all attention has turned to who he’ll choose as his nominee for vice president. Thankfully, our party has no shortage of qualified candidates for the job,” the RPOF states in its email.

“Mr. Trump has said that — beyond being ready to be president — there are two main factors he’s looking for in a VP nominee: He’s looking for a ‘political person:’ someone who can work with Congress and help him pass his agenda, and someone who he’ll have great chemistry with.”

The party promises results as soon as they’re completed.

Darryl Paulson: Candidate’s running mate rarely affects outcome of presidential election

The national conventions are less than three months away and, as the nomination phase comes to a close, attention will gravitate toward potential vice presidential candidates.

Let’s focus on the factors that have been used in selecting vice presidents.

Most conventional wisdom is wrong. To begin with, most people and many presidential candidates select a vice president who they believe will help them win the election. Few vice presidents have had any effect on the election results.

Jack Kemp did not help carry his home state for Bob Dole and Paul Ryan did not win Wisconsin for Mitt Romney. On the Democratic side, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was not able to carry Texas for Michael Dukakis, nor did John Edwards help the Democrats win South Carolina or other southern states.

One of the few times a vice president actually helped a president carry a state was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy picked Sen. Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. If Kennedy had not won Texas, Richard Nixon would have won the presidency.

In like fashion, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide regional balance, although there is no evidence that this helps. When Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked fellow southerner Al Gore as his vice president, many thought this unbalanced regional ticket was crazy.

When the Clinton-Gore team captured the electoral vote of four southern states, something that Democrats had been unable to do in recent presidential elections, Clinton’s choice looked like genius.

In addition to regional balance, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide ideological balance. With increased polarization in recent years, this is becoming a less important factor.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan announced Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his vice presidential choice prior to the convention. Reagan hoped to alleviate the fears of some that he was too conservative and needed a moderate to balance the ticket. More importantly, Reagan hoped that picking Schweiker would convince some Pennsylvania delegates to support his candidacy over incumbent Gerald Ford. The pick of Schweiker did not help Reagan and Ford went on to win the nomination.

Many Democrats in 2016 see Hillary Clinton as too conservative and too establishment and have urged her to choose a progressive as vice president. In addition to Bernie Sanders, other progressive names being floated are Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

A vice president is sometimes selected to stimulate participation by a particular group. Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro to get more women to vote. That pick didn’t provide much help. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia against Reagan.

Vice presidents have been picked to add gravitas to the ticket. Concerns about Reagan’s limited government experience led him to pick George Herbert Walker Bush as his vice president. Bush had been a member of Congress, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to China, head of the Republican National Committee and head of the CIA prior to his selection.

Bush’s son, George W., picked Dick Cheney as his vice president to add heft to his ticket. Cheney had served as Chief-of-Staff to Ford, been a member of the House, and served as Secretary of Defense for George W’s father. In fact, Cheney headed George W’s vice presidential selection team and concluded he was the best candidate.

Do any of these factors help a presidential candidate win? The answer is no.

A study by two political scientists, Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, analyzed 11 presidential elections between 1968 and 2008 and found the net effect of a vice president was 1 percent at most.

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she may pick a progressive or choose someone like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Although not well known, Castro’s youth and Hispanic background might help stimulate Hispanic turnout.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, it is easier to put together a list of people he would not select than those he would. There is little chance that “lying Ted,” “little Marco,” or “low energy Bush” would want to join forces with Trump.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is one possibility since he dropped out of the nomination race early before Trump had the opportunity to insult him. Chris Christie is another option because he was the first major candidate to endorse Trump after Christie withdrew. Another option is Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Florida is a “must win” state and Scott endorsed Trump as a “businessman outsider who will shake up the status quo in Washington.”

Although most of the factors in the vice presidential selection process have been shown to have little impact, there are two general rules that no president should ignore.

First, pick someone you feel comfortable working with. Second, and most important, pick someone who is ready to be president. Nothing else matters.

***

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Candidate’s running mate rarely affects outcome of presidential election

The national conventions are less than three months away and, as the nomination phase comes to a close, attention will gravitate toward potential vice presidential candidates.

Let’s focus on the factors that have been used in selecting vice presidents.

Most conventional wisdom is wrong. To begin with, most people and many presidential candidates select a vice president who they believe will help them win the election. Few vice presidents have had any effect on the election results.

Jack Kemp did not help carry his home state for Bob Dole and Paul Ryan did not win Wisconsin for Mitt Romney. On the Democratic side, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was not able to carry Texas for Michael Dukakis, nor did John Edwards help the Democrats win South Carolina or other southern states.

One of the few times a vice president actually helped a president carry a state was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy picked Sen. Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. If Kennedy had not won Texas, Richard Nixon would have won the presidency.

In like fashion, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide regional balance, although there is no evidence that this helps. When Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked fellow southerner Al Gore as his vice president, many thought this unbalanced regional ticket was crazy.

When the Clinton-Gore team captured the electoral vote of four southern states, something that Democrats had been unable to do in recent presidential elections, Clinton’s choice looked like genius.

In addition to regional balance, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide ideological balance. With increased polarization in recent years, this is becoming a less important factor.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan announced Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his vice presidential choice prior to the convention. Reagan hoped to alleviate the fears of some that he was too conservative and needed a moderate to balance the ticket. More importantly, Reagan hoped that picking Schweiker would convince some Pennsylvania delegates to support his candidacy over incumbent Gerald Ford. The pick of Schweiker did not help Reagan and Ford went on to win the nomination.

Many Democrats in 2016 see Hillary Clinton as too conservative and too establishment and have urged her to choose a progressive as vice president. In addition to Bernie Sanders, other progressive names being floated are Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

A vice president is sometimes selected to stimulate participation by a particular group. Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro to get more women to vote. That pick didn’t provide much help. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia against Reagan.

Vice presidents have been picked to add gravitas to the ticket. Concerns about Reagan’s limited government experience led him to pick George Herbert Walker Bush as his vice president. Bush had been a member of Congress, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to China, head of the Republican National Committee and head of the CIA prior to his selection.

Bush’s son, George W., picked Dick Cheney as his vice president to add heft to his ticket. Cheney had served as Chief-of-Staff to Ford, been a member of the House, and served as Secretary of Defense for George W’s father. In fact, Cheney headed George W’s vice presidential selection team and concluded he was the best candidate.

Do any of these factors help a presidential candidate win? The answer is no.

A study by two political scientists, Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, analyzed 11 presidential elections between 1968 and 2008 and found the net effect of a vice president was 1 percent at most.

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she may pick a progressive or choose someone like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Although not well known, Castro’s youth and Hispanic background might help stimulate Hispanic turnout.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, it is easier to put together a list of people he would not select than those he would. There is little chance that “lying Ted,” “little Marco,” or “low energy Bush” would want to join forces with Trump.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is one possibility since he dropped out of the nomination race early before Trump had the opportunity to insult him. Chris Christie is another option because he was the first major candidate to endorse Trump after Christie withdrew. Another option is Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Florida is a “must win” state and Scott endorsed Trump as a “businessman outsider who will shake up the status quo in Washington.”

Although most of the factors in the vice presidential selection process have been shown to have little impact, there are two general rules that no president should ignore.

First, pick someone you feel comfortable working with. Second, and most important, pick someone who is ready to be president. Nothing else matters.

***

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

 

Donald Trump’s abortion flub shows risks of “winging it” on policy

It was a question sure to come up at some point in the Republican primary campaign.

“What should the law be on abortion?” asked MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Donald Trump at a town hall event in Wisconsin.

“Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?” Matthews pressed. “This is not something you can dodge.”

Trump’s bungled response — an awkward, extended attempt to evade the question, followed by an answer that, yes, “there has to be some form of punishment” — prompted a backlash that managed to unite abortion rights activists and opponents. It also brought an unprecedented reversal from the notoriously unapologetic candidate less than a week before Wisconsin’s important primary.

The episode demonstrated the extent to which Trump has glossed over the rigorous policy preparation that is fundamental to most presidential campaigns, underscoring the risks of the billionaire businessman’s winging-it approach as he inches closer to the Republican nomination.

“Well, bear in mind I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming” and didn’t have a chance to really think about it, said Ben Carson, a former Trump rival who has since endorsed him, in an interview with CNN.

He should have, said political professionals.

“When you’re just winging it, that’s what happens,” said Kevin Madden, a veteran of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney‘s campaign. “Running for president, it’s not a take-home exam.”

This wasn’t the first time Trump’s approach has gotten him in trouble.

He raised eyebrows during a debate when he appeared unfamiliar with the concept of the nuclear triad, an oversight his opponents happily pointed out.

At a town hall on CNN this week, Trump appeared to falter when asked to identified what he believed were the top three priorities of the federal government. Among his answers: health care and education. Trump has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama‘s landmark health care law and gut the budget of the Department of Education.

The lack of preparation extends beyond policy. This week, Trump called into a series of radio stations in Wisconsin, apparently unaware the interviews were likely to be combative.

At the end of a remarkable interview in which he compared Trump’s behavior to that of “a 12-year-old bully on the playground,” WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes asked Trump if he was aware he’d called into someone unabashedly opposed to his candidacy.

“That I didn’t know,” Trump said.

During a recent rally in Vienna, Ohio, Trump delivered his usual indictment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and blasted American companies that have shipped jobs overseas.

But he seemed unaware that Chevrolet, which builds the Chevy Cruze sedan in nearby Lordstown, had recently announced that it was planning to build its 2017 hatchback model in Mexico. It was the kind of local knowledge that requires research and legwork, and could have helped Trump connect with his audience and others in the state.

For most presidential candidates, especially those new to it all, getting up to speed on the intricacies of domestic and foreign policy is a process that begins early. While Trump’s campaign did not respond Thursday to questions about the kind of briefings he receives, it’s clear he has done things differently.

Who does he consult on foreign policy?

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” Trump said on MSNBC this month. He’s also said he gets information about international affairs from “the shows” and newspapers.

He announced members of his foreign policy team only this month and met with them Thursday as part of a series of appointments in Washington.

Out on the trail, Trump largely skipped town hall events in the early-voting states that were the hallmarks of several rival campaigns. Chris Christie and John Kasich, for example, held dozens of the events, fielding hundreds of questions on every topic imaginable.

Trump might well note that most of his GOP rivals are gone, and he’s still the front-runner.

But what about his abortion comments?

“None of the other candidates would have made that mistake,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-abortion legislation and candidates.

Michael Steel, an adviser to former Trump rival Jeb Bush, said that candidates and presidents have to be able to respond to issues as they arise, which requires a “tremendous amount” of work behind the scenes. It’s one reason major candidates from both parties typically have government experience.

“I think we’ve seen in a variety of venues including the debates that he doesn’t seem to have the knowledge and background on important policy issues that you would expect from a presidential candidate,” Steel said.

Bush spent the months after he announced his candidacy last summer developing a comprehensive domestic and foreign policy platform. Campaign employees assisted by more than 100 outside advisers briefed him in frequent sessions, said Justin Muzinich, the campaign’s policy director.

“He took policy extraordinarily seriously,” Muzinich said.

Dannenfelser, the abortion opponent, said there is still time for Trump.

“The question is, will he be able to get to the point of confidently communicating his position to contrast with Hillary Clinton in a way that helps?” she said. “I think it’s possible.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

 

Martin Dyckman: Cruzing to a police state?

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith memorably said that politics “consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

But what if the only choice is between the disastrous and the disastrous?

That’s the predicament of establishment Republican politicians who think John Kasich, the only decent human being who remains in their presidential primaries, is either too liberal (i.e., he accepted the Medicaid money) or too unlikely to limp to the finish line at the Cleveland convention.

Chris Christie, ever the opportunist, forgot every truth he had told about Donald Trump’s spectacular lack of qualifications and endorsed him. You could say he sold his soul for a Cabinet post, but that would raise the question of whether he had one to sell.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, admitting out of one side of his face that Kasich would make the better president, out of the other endorsed Ted Cruz.

That is the same Lindsey Graham who, while supporting Jeb Bush, said that if “you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Mitt Romney came out for Cruz too. He all but begged Kasich to quit the race.

Then Bush himself, whose noblest characteristic was that he’s no bigot, endorsed Cruz, who’s just as dangerous a bigot as Trump. Bush called him “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”

Only a few hours later, that “principled conservative” called for a Castro-style police presence in American Muslim neighborhoods.

Turkey has suffered more bombings recently than any other of our NATO allies. Just this month, at least 41 people died in blasts at Ankara and Istanbul. But Cruz said nothing about that outbreak of terror. Perhaps it was because most of the victims were Muslims.

Then came the terror in Brussels.

That’s when he called for American police to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

What would be next? Gated ghettoes? Special ID cards? Yellow crescents to be sewn on their clothing?

President Barack Obama, referring to his just-completed visit to Cuba, had the perfect putdown for Cruz.

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” the President said.

Trump, meanwhile, used the Brussels tragedy as yet another opportunity to indulge his sick fascination with torture. His Sadean fixation with hurting people is becoming a subject more for psychiatry than political science.

Anyone who talks like either Cruz or Trump is unfit to be president. Any politician who endorses either of them is clueless as to what a “principled conservative” really is, and can hardly be considered one himself.

There’s one principle, though, that Bush and Cruz apparently share. It’s to cut taxes for the rich and raise them on the poor. Citizens for Tax Justice calculated that Cruz’s scheme, more extreme even than Bush’s, would cost $13.9 trillion over 10 years either as added debt or a demolished government. It also would give the top 1 per cent an average tax cut of $435,000 a year.

Interestingly, that doesn’t seem to be endearing Cruz to the billionaire Koch brothers and the other big-money Republican establishment campaign contributors.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t think even Cruz can stop Trump. And Trump is their worst nightmare — someone they doubt that they could control.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Koch network is considering investing most of its $900 million campaign budget on protecting what it can control — its Republican allies in the Congress.

“A key element of the strategy,” the newspaper said, “will be a springtime wave of television ads that slam Democratic contenders and tout Republican incumbents as attuned to hometown concerns. Strategists hope the efforts will help inoculate congressional candidates against association with Trump’s incendiary remarks.”

For example, the article said, one super-PAC in the Koch network is spending $1 million to prop up New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while another is attacking Ohio’s former Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, who’s running against Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

It means they figure Trump for a general election loser who would cost them the Senate and many seats in the House.

It’s a cynical strategy that makes perfect sense. It should have made sense to Graham and Bush too.

In that scenario, continued Republican control of one or both houses would frustrate anything that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would want to do — such as appointing any moderate to liberal Supreme Court justice.

Just as they have frustrated nearly everything Obama has wanted to do.

***

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Steven Kurlander: Donald Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president, so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions. In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already. He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer. He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York.

Steven Kurlander: Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president http://www.legacy.com/life-and-death/the-liberty-era.html  so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions.  In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already.  He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer.  He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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