Ted Cruz Archives - Page 5 of 71 - Florida Politics

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.

Ted Cruz endorses Marco Rubio’s re-election

A onetime opponent is throwing his support behind Marco Rubio.

On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz said he was “glad to support” Rubio in his re-election bid. Cruz, a Texas Republican, was one of more than a dozen Republicans who ran for president earlier this year.

“Marco Rubio is a friend and has been an ally in many battles we have fought together in the Senate. I’m glad to support him in his bid for re-election,” he said in a Facebook post shortly after Rubio’s announcement. “Marco is a tremendous communicator and a powerful voice for the American Dream. At this time of great challenges, we very much need strong leaders in the Senate who will fight to restore economic growth, to defend our constitutional liberties, and to ensure a strong national security for our nation.”

According to Elaina Plott with the Washingtonian, Rubio reached out to Cruz to confirm he intended to run. The Washingtonian reported Rubio asked Cruz to send out a statement urging the Miami Republican to run for re-election, but Cruz declined because he didn’t want to be seen as pushing Rep. Ron DeSantis out of the race.

DeSantis has not said publicly what he plans to do, but many expect him to end his Senate bid and run for the House.

Rubio announced Wednesday he was planning to run for re-election, reversing a previous commitment to return home at the end of his term in January.

While Rubio said he made the decision at home with his family, not in Washington, he did have the support of several top Republicans.

Rubio also appeared to get support from Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, another one-time presidential opponent. In a tweet Wednesday, Kasich said “keeping (Rubio) serving in the Senate is good news for the people of FL & our entire nation. Good luck, Marco!”

DIVIDED AMERICA: Evangelicals feel alienated, anxious

Pastor Richie Clendenen stepped away from the pulpit, microphone in hand. He walked the aisles of the Christian Fellowship Church, his voice rising to describe the perils believers face in 21st-century America.

“The Bible says in this life you will have troubles, you will have persecutions. And Jesus takes it a step further: You’ll be hated by all nations for my name’s sake,” he said.

“Let me tell you,” the minister said, “that time is here.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story is part of Divided America, AP’s ongoing exploration of the economic, social and political divisions in American society.

___

The faithful in the pews needed little convincing. Even in this deeply religious swath of western Kentucky — a state where about half the residents are evangelical — conservative Christians feel under siege.

For decades, they say, they have been steadily pushed to the sidelines of American life and have come under attack for their most deeply held beliefs, born of their reading of Scripture and their religious mandate to evangelize. The 1960s ban on prayer in public schools is still a fresh wound. Every legal challenge to a public Nativity scene or Ten Commandments display is another marginalization. They’ve been “steamrolled,” they say, and “misunderstood.”

Religious conservatives could once count on their neighbors to at least share their view of marriage. Those days are gone. Public opinion on same-sex relationships turned against conservatives even before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Now, many evangelicals say liberals want to seal their cultural victory by silencing the church. Liberals call this paranoid. But evangelicals see evidence of the threat in every new uproar over someone asserting a right to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages — whether it be a baker, a government clerk, or the leaders of religious charities and schools.

America’s divisions — right-left, urban-rural, black-white and more — spill daily into people’s lives, from their relations with each other, to their harsh communications on social media, to their decisions in an acrimonious presidential election campaign. Many Christian conservatives feel there is another, less recognized chasm in American life, and they find themselves on the other side of the divide between “us” and “them.”

Clendenen, preaching on this recent Sunday, reflected on the chasm between his congregants and other Americans.

“There’s nobody hated more in this nation than Christians,” he said, amid nods and cries of encouragement. “Welcome to America’s most wanted: You.”

___

For evangelicals like those at Christian Fellowship, the sense of a painful reckoning is not just imagined; their declining clout in public life can be measured.

The turnabout is astonishing and hard to grasp — for them and for other Americans — since the U.S. remains solidly religious and Christian, and evangelicals are still a formidable bloc in the Republican Party. But a series of losses in church membership and in public policy battles, along with America’s changing demographics, are weakening evangelical influence, even in some of the most conservative regions of the country.

“The shift in the last few years has really been stunning,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of Lifeway Research, an evangelical consulting firm in Nashville, Tennessee. “Nobody would have guessed the pace of change. That’s why so many people are yelling we have to take our country back.”

The Protestant majority that dominated American culture through the nation’s history is now a Protestant minority. Their share of the population dipped below 50 percent sometime after 2008.

Liberal-leaning Protestant groups, such as Presbyterians and Lutherans, started shrinking earlier, but some evangelical churches are now in decline. The conservative Southern Baptist Convention lost 200,000 from its ranks in 2014 alone, dropping to 15.5 million, its smallest number in more than two decades.

The trend is reflected in the highest reaches of public life. The U.S. Supreme Court is now comprised completely of Jews and Roman Catholics. In the 2012 presidential election, the Republican nominees were a Mormon, Mitt Romney, and a Catholic, Paul Ryan.

“We’ve lost our home field advantage,” Stetzer said.

At the same time, the Bible Belt, as a cultural force, is collapsing, said the Rev. Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist public policy agency.

Nearly a quarter of Americans say they no longer affiliate with a faith tradition. It’s the highest share ever recorded in surveys, indicating the stigma for not being religious has eased — even in heavily evangelical areas. Americans who say they have no ties to organized religion, dubbed “nones,” now make up about 23 percent of the population, just behind evangelicals, who comprise about 25 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

Christians who have been only nominally tied to a conservative church are steadily dropping out altogether. When Moore was growing up in Mississippi, any parent whose children weren’t baptized by age 12 or 13 would face widespread disapproval, he said. Those times have passed.

“People don’t have to be culturally identified with evangelical Christianity in order to be seen as good people, good neighbors or good Americans,” Moore said.

Politically, old guard religious right organizations such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition are greatly diminished or gone, and no broadly unifying leader or organization has replaced them. In this year’s presidential race, the social policy issues championed by Christian conservatives are not central, even amid the furor over bathroom access for transgender people.

Clendenen said many in his church backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who had positioned himself in the Republican primaries as the standard bearer for religious conservatives. Chris Haynes, a church band member and communications professor, said he voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Some congregants now support presumptive nominee Donald Trump — a thrice-married, profane casino magnate with a record of positions at odds with social conservatism. “It’s like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel,” for candidates, said Haynes’ wife, Brandi, who teaches at the Christian Fellowship school.

White evangelical voters remain very influential in early primaries. About two-thirds of Iowa caucus voters this year said they were born-again Christians. In Mississippi, eight in 10 primary voters were evangelical. And they turn out at high rates in general elections.

But white evangelicals can’t match the growth rate of groups that tend to support Democrats — Latinos, younger people and Americans with no religious affiliation. In 2004, overwhelming evangelical support helped secure a second term for President George W. Bush, a Christian conservative who made social issues a priority. In 2012, evangelicals voted for Romney at the same rate — yet he lost.

This is a far cry from 1976, which Newsweek declared the “Year of the Evangelical,” when born-again candidate Jimmy Carter won the presidency and more conservative Christians were drawn into politics. Four years later, Ronald Reagan famously recognized the emerging influence of the religious right, telling evangelicals in Dallas, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you and what you’re doing.”

No issue has more starkly illuminated conservative Christians’ waning influence than the struggle over same-sex marriage.

Evangelicals were “all in” with their opposition to gay rights starting back with the Moral Majority in the 1980s, said Robert Jones, author of “The End of White Christian America.” In the 2004 election, Americans appeared to be on the same page, approving bans on same-sex marriage in all 11 states where the measures were on the ballot. When President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, just four in 10 Americans supported gay marriage.

But three years later, support rose to more than five in 10. And now the business wing of the Republican Party is deserting social conservatives on the issue, largely backing anti-discrimination policies for gays and transgender people. Younger Americans, including younger evangelicals, are especially accepting of same-sex relationships, which means evangelicals “have lost a generation on this issue,” Jones said.

“This issue is so prominent and so symbolic,” said Jones, chief executive of Public Religion Research Institute, which specializes in surveys about religion and public life. “It was such a decisive loss, not only in the actual courts, the legal courts, but also in the court of public opinion. They lost legally and they lost culturally.”

Clendenen said he saw “a lot of fear, a lot of anger” in his church after the Supreme Court ruling. He said it made him feel that Christians like him had been pushed to the edge of a cliff.

“It has become the keystone issue,” he said, sitting in his office, where photos of his father and grandfather, both preachers, are on display. “I never thought we’d be in the place we are today. I never thought that the values I’ve held my whole life would bring us to a point where we were alienated or suppressed.”

Trump uses rhetoric that has resonance for Christian conservatives who fear their teachings on marriage will soon be outlawed as hate speech.

“We’re going to protect Christianity and I can say that,” Trump has said. “I don’t have to be politically correct.”

___

If culture wars and the outside world once felt remote amid the soybean and tobacco farms around Marshall County, Kentucky, change of many kinds is now obvious to Clendenen’s congregants.

Latino immigrants are starting to arrive in significant numbers, drawn partly by farm work. Muslims are working at chicken processing plants in the next county or enrolling at nearby Murray State University. On a recent weeknight, a group of women wearing abayas shopped in a Dollar General store near campus. Some gays and lesbians are out in the community, and Clendenen says he occasionally sees them at Sunday worship.

It was on the other side of Kentucky, in Rowan County, where clerk Kim Davis spent five days in jail last year for refusing on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples since the licenses would include her name. Gov. Matt Bevin recently tried to defuse the conflict by signing a bill creating a form without a clerk’s name.

In New Mexico and Oregon, a photographer and a baker were fined under nondiscrimination laws after refusing work for same-sex ceremonies. Daniel Slayden, a Christian Fellowship member and owner of Parcell’s, a popular bakery and deli near the church, has never been asked to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple but already knows how he’d respond.

“If a homosexual couple comes in and wants a cake, then that’s fine. I mean I’ll do it as long as I’m free to speak my truth to them,” said Slayden, taking a break after the lunchtime rush. “I don’t want to get (to) any point to where I have to say or accept that their belief is the truth.”

The problem, many religious conservatives say, is that government is growing more coercive in many areas bearing on their beliefs.

They say some colleges — citing a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that required school groups to accept all comers — are revoking recognition for Christian student clubs because they require their leaders to hold certain beliefs.

Some faith-based nonprofits with government contracts, such as Catholic Charities in Illinois, have shuttered adoption programs because of new state rules that say agencies with taxpayer funding can’t refuse placements with same-sex couples.

And religious leaders worry that Christian schools and colleges will lose accreditation or tax-exempt status over their codes of conduct barring same-sex relationships.

A 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the IRS to revoke nonprofit status from religious schools that banned interracial dating. In the Supreme Court gay marriage case, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the government, was asked whether something similar could happen to Christian schools, which often provide housing for married students. He responded, “It’s certainly going to be an issue,” causing a meltdown across the evangelical blogosphere.

It has come to this: Many conservative Christians just don’t feel welcome in their own country.

They say they are either mocked or erased in popular culture. “When was the last time you saw an evangelical or conservative Christian character portrayed positively on TV?” Stetzer asked.

“The idea of what we call biblical morality in our culture at large is completely laughed at and spurned as nonsense,” said David Parish, a former pastor at Christian Fellowship and the son of its founder. “The church as an institution, as a public entity — we are moving more and more in conflict with the culture and with other agendas.”

How to navigate this new reality? Most conservative Christians fall into one of three broad camps.

There are those who are determined to even more fiercely wage the culture wars, demanding the broadest possible religious exemptions from recognizing same-sex marriage.

There are those who plan to withdraw as much as possible into their own communities to preserve their faith —an approach dubbed the “Benedict Option,” for a fifth-century saint who, disgusted by the decadence of Rome, fled to the forest where he lived as a hermit and prayed.

There is, however, a segment that advocates living as a “prophetic minority,” confidently upholding their beliefs but in a gentler way that rejects the aggressive tone of the old religious right and takes up other issues, such as ending human trafficking, that can cross ideological lines.

Clendenen is cut from this mold. Now 38, he came of age when the religious right was at its apex, and he concluded any mix of partisan politics with Christianity was toxic for the church.

A congregant once lobbied him to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an annual conservative effort to defy IRS rules against backing politicians from the pulpit. Clendenen stood before the congregation and endorsed … Jesus.

He prays for President Barack Obama, considering it a Christian duty no matter his opposition to the president’s policies. But Clendenen believes few Americans who support same-sex marriage would show him or his fellow evangelicals a similar level of respect. “On any front that we speak on, we’re given this label of intolerance, we’re given this label of hate,” Clendenen said. (He said evangelicals are partly responsible for the backlash, however, because of the hateful language some used in the marriage debates. “I don’t see the LGBT community as my enemy,” he said.)

He uses the word persecution to describe what Christians are facing in the U.S., even though he feels strange doing so. He has traveled extensively to help start churches in other countries, and knows the violence many Christians endure. A map of the world is posted in his office with pins in the places he’s visited, including Romania and Kenya. And yet, he feels the word applies here, too.

He ruminated on all of this as he prepared to head into his sanctuary to lead the Sunday service.

Some good may come of these hard times, he believes. Conservative Christians who have been complacent will have to decide just how much their religion matters “when there’s a price to pay for it,” he said. Christianity has often thrived in countries where it faces intense opposition, he noted.

Preaching now, Clendenen urged congregants to hold fast to their positions in a country that has grown hostile to them. And as the worship service wound down, he issued a final exhortation.

“Don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t let your light go out.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Michael Richardson: When truth is the loser

Nobody would claim that elected officials are an inherently truthful breed. Even the honest ones, of whom there are many, are required to stretch the truth, engage in hyperbole, bite their tongues, avert their eyes, and sometimes even spout little white lies in order to get elected or re-elected.

This is due in no small measure to the burgeoning legion of ill-informed, irrational, quick-tempered and narrow-minded citizens, coupled with two increasingly polarized major political parties that both must try to appeal to folks with widely divergent political viewpoints in order to remain relevant and competitive at the ballot box.

Nowadays, far too many people have adopted strident political opinions on almost every political issue of the day regardless of how little time they actually spent educating themselves and thinking about the issues. It is harder and harder to find people who take the time to become adequately informed about public policy issues.

Of course, this would entail regularly reading articles and opinion pieces from across the political spectrum, and instead, people are spending more and more of their free time engaged in everything but that.

Unfortunately, today’s pinpoint-targeted media outlets and self-reinforcing social media networks have made it too easy for us to rely on only one or two information sources that simply regurgitate back to us what we already think we know.

A product of this disturbing trend toward political parochialism is a willingness on the part of far too many voters to ignore bald-faced lies spouted by their favored elected officials. It is disconcerting enough when voters reflexively dispute every claim that their candidate is skirting the truth, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence from multiple reputable authorities.

Worse still is the sheer number of people who proudly admit their candidate has a habitual problem with the truth, but don’t care or think it matters one whit.

The 2012 and current presidential cycles have been particularly rife with truth-challenged political candidates. To discourage or counteract the spouting of political falsehoods, numerous news organizations have devoted considerable resources to ferreting out, investigating, and spotlighting the most egregious whoppers.

While a number of repeat offenders are regularly awarded an infamous 4 Pinocchios or Pants-on-Fire designation for their political misstatements, no one comes remotely close to the multitude of shameful demerits awarded Donald Trump in his relatively short stint as a politician — not even “Lyin” Ted [Cruz] and “Crooked” Hillary [Clinton].

Yet, so far, Trump’s supporters have been unfazed by his nearly nonstop string of lies, big and small.

If Trump continues to campaign in the same disgraceful vein over the next several months and wins in November, truth will be the biggest loser.

And if that happens, the demise of our democracy can’t be far behind.

___

Until retiring in 2011, Michael Richardson was assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs under Gov. Charlie Crist. He has also been a committee staff member in the Florida Senate, a policy adviser to Govs. Bob Graham and Bob Martinez, and from 1990 through 2006, a self-employed management consultant to state and local governments.

Donald Trump’s campaign investment tops $43 million

Donald Trump poured more than $7.5 million of his own money into his presidential campaign in April, bringing his total personal investment to more than $43 million since he declared his candidacy, new campaign finance reports filed late Friday show.

The billionaire businessman, who swatted away 16 Republican rivals and relied heavily on wall-to-wall media coverage of his outsized personality and often inflammatory remarks, reported spending about $56 million during the primary, which lasted until his final two rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, dropped out of the race at the beginning of May.

In April alone, Trump spent nearly $9.4 million, according to his monthly filing with the Federal Election Commission. Trump’s largest expense in April, about $2.6 million, was for advertisements. The campaign also spent more than $930,000 on direct mail. Other big-ticket items included roughly $585,000 in airfare paid to Trump’s TAG Air Inc.

While much of Trump’s money has come from his own pocket, he reported about $1.7 million in donations last month. Those contributions have come largely from people buying Trump’s campaign merchandise, including the red “Make America Great Again” ball caps, and giving online through his campaign website. Trump didn’t begin developing a team of fundraisers until recently, after he became the presumptive GOP nominee.

Almost all of Trump’s personal investment has come in the form of loans. That leaves open the possibility that he can repay himself now that he’s aggressively seeking donations. A new fundraising agreement he struck with the Republican National Committee and 11 state parties explicitly seeks contributions for his primary campaign.

Yet Trump said in a statement this week that he has “absolutely no intention” of paying himself back.

Instead, he will be able to use any primary money he raises, in increments of up to $2,700 per donor, on expenses such as salaries, advertising and voter outreach over the next nine weeks. After the GOP convention in late July, Trump will officially become the nominee and be restricted to spending money that’s earmarked for the general election.

His likely rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has a head start on building a war chest for the November election. She partnered with Democratic parties months ago and has been raising millions of dollars for them. In April alone, she collected almost $800,000 in campaign money for the general election.

By contrast, Trump will hold his first campaign fundraiser next week, an event in Los Angeles where the minimum price of admission is $25,000, according to the invitation. Those donations are to be split among Trump’s campaign and his Republican Party allies.

In addition to the Trump campaign’s financial health, the filings also show that when Cruz dropped out, money wasn’t the issue: He had $9.4 million in his campaign coffers at the end of April, just days before his defeat May 3 in the Indiana primary prompted him to end his bid. At the time, Cruz said he left the race because he saw no path forward.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Darryl Paulson: Donald Trump goes a-courting

On May 18, 2016, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump releases a list of 11 judges that he would “most likely” use to select his appointees to the Supreme Court.

The list of 11 names included 11 whites and eight males. Six of the 11 were appointees of George W. Bush, and the other five are currently serving on their states’ supreme court.

The average age of the potential nominees is 50, compared to the average age of 68.75 on the current court. The youngest nominee is David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Stras, if nominated, would be the youngest candidate put forward for the court since the FDR administration.

The response to Trump’s list of potential nominees was as expected. On the political left, Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, said the nominees “reflect a radical-right ideology that threatens fundamental rights.”

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the list “a woman’s nightmare,” and said the judges would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Conservative attorney John Woo praised Trump for starting to unify the party. “Everyone on the list,” noted Woo, “is an outstanding legal scholar.” Woo called the selections a Federal Society all-star list of conservative jurisprudence.”

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, said the nominees have “a record of putting the law and Constitution ahead of their political preferences.”

The Trump campaign said the list was “compiled, first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican Party leadership.”

The following is a quick summary of Trump’s potential nominees to the Supreme Court:

Stephen Colloton: Member of the Court of Appeals 8th Circuit since 2003. Clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Allison Eid: Colorado Supreme Court justice since her 2006 appointment by Rep. Governor Bill Owens. Clerked for Clarence Thomas.

Raymond Gruender: Appointed to Court of Appeals for 8th Circuit by George W. Bush in 2004. On the Heritage Foundation list of possible conservative Appointees to the Supreme Court.

Thomas Hardiman: On the Court of Appeals for 3rd Circuit since 2007. Appointed by George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed. Clerked for Antonin Scalia.

Raymond Kethledge: On the Court of Appeals for 6th Circuit since appointed by George W. Bush in 2008. Clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Joan Larson: Appointed to Michigan Supreme Court in 2015 by Rep. Governor Rick Snyder. Clerked for Scalia.

Thomas Lee: Associate Justice on Utah Supreme Court since 2010. Brother of Utah Senator Mike Lee, a Trump critic, and backer of Ted Cruz.

William Pryor: On Circuit Court of Appeals for 11th Circuit since 2004. On Heritage Foundation list of conservative appointees to the Supreme Court.

David Stras: On the Minnesota Supreme Court since 2010. Appointed by Rep. Governor Tim Pawlenty. Clerked for Clarence Thomas.

Diane Sykes: On Circuit Court of Appeals for 7th Circuit since 2004. Previously on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Ex-wife of conservative radio host Charlie Sykes, who was an outspoken critic of Trump during the campaign.

Don Willett: Appointed to Texas Supreme Court by Rep. Governor Rick Perry in 2005. Willett was a frequent Twitter critic of Trump during the campaign. Among his Tweets: Can’t wait till Trump rips his face Mission Impossible-style & reveals a laughing Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Aug. 27, 2015) Low-energy Trump University has never made it to #MarchMadness. Or even the #NIT. Sad! (March 15, 2016) We’ll rebuild the Death Star. It’ll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it. (April 8, 2016)

Whenever lists are announced, there is an interest in both who is on the list and who has been left off. Missing from Trump’s list of possible court nominees are Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit Court and former Bush Administration Solicitor General Paul Clement. Both Kavanaugh and Clement appear on most lists of conservative court nominees.

It is unusual to put out such a list before assuming office. Why would Trump put out such a lengthy list at this time?

First, it is an attempt to solidify support among the Republican base, in particular among those who are skeptical of Trump’s conservative credentials.

Second, Trump may be trying to show he is open-minded by selecting several individuals who clearly were not Trump supporters during the campaign.

Finally, several of Trump’s nominees come from battleground states such as Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas that Trump needs to win if he hopes to get elected.

Although many conservatives and Republicans were pleasantly surprised by the names on Trump’s list, some are still skeptical. Conservative writer Charles Krauthammer noted that Trump said that nominations “would most likely be from the list.”

“Most likely” leaves too much wiggle room for many of Trump’s critics, who note he has flip-flopped on many issues during the campaign and, sometimes, on the same day.

___

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

Donald Trump’s questioning of the value of data worries Republicans

Donald Trump says he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality, not by leaning heavily on complex voter data operations that have become a behind-the-scenes staple in modern presidential campaigns.

Shortly after Trump explained his approach in an Associated Press interview — data is “overrated,” he said — one of the presumptive Republican nominee’s top advisers tried to clarify the remarks. Rick Wiley told AP the Trump campaign will indeed tap the Republican Party’s massive cache of voter information.

The national Republican Party has spent massive sums of money to develop the database since President Barack Obama‘s election set a new standard for using data in national campaigns, from deciding where to send a candidate and how to spend advertising dollars to making sure supporters cast a ballot.

The back-and-forth in the Trump camp leaves Republicans and Democrats alike wondering just how committed the candidate actually is to what has become accepted wisdom among political professionals. Some Republicans worry that Trump risks ceding potential advantages to likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if he’s not willing to invest the money required to keep updating the data, and then use it effectively.

“It’s a big risk,” said Chris Wilson, who ran an expansive data operation for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s stiffest competition in the Republican primaries. Jeremy Bird, who worked for President Barack Obama’s data-rich campaign, said: “Flying blind is nuts.”

The use of data has evolved over the past several presidential campaigns into a shorthand for using information — starting with simple lists of potential voters, then mated with extensive details about their habits and beliefs — to guide a campaign toward its ultimate goal: the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

In his AP interview, Trump discounted the value of data: The “candidate is by far the most important thing,” he said. He said he plans a “limited” use of data in his general election campaign and suggested Obama’s victories — universally viewed by political professionals as groundbreaking in the way data steered the campaign to voters — are misunderstood.

“Obama got the votes much more so than his data processing machine, and I think the same is true with me,” Trump said, explaining that he will continue to focus on his signature rallies, free television exposure and his personal social media accounts to win voters over.

Buzz Jacobs, who was on the losing end of Obama’s success in 2008 as an aide to GOP nominee John McCain, said Trump oversimplifies the president’s victories.

“We lost in large part because Obama’s ability to use data was so much better than ours,” Jacobs said.

According to South Carolina’s Republican chairman, Matt Moore: “Elections to a great degree are won on … that last 1 or 2 percent that shows up or stays home. That group on either edge turns out because of data and digital. That’s a known fact.”

Republicans and Democrats with experience running campaigns question why Trump would give up a chance to reinforce with data his ubiquitous presence on television and inarguable success with large-scale rallies — a platform of personality that Clinton has yet to match.

Bird, whose consulting firm now works for the Clinton campaign, said Trump is giving himself a false choice.

“At a big picture level, sure, Barack Obama got the votes — his bio, his policies, his ability to communicate,” Bird said. “But we wanted to do everything we could to get him and get his message to the right people.”

Jacobs, who worked this year for a former Trump rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said Trump is an outlier in being uninterested in data. The RNC and private groups, such as the billionaire conservative activist brothers Charles and David Koch, have spent hundreds of millions on their data programs since Obama’s election.

“It would be silly to leave those on the sidelines,” Jacobs said.

To be sure, Trump has not wholly abandoned data. His campaign spending disclosures show payments to multiple data firms, and the campaign maintains contact information collected when voters register for tickets to his rallies.

Wiley, a recent addition to the Trump team who previously worked for the national party, said he is “working with the RNC, putting together a state-of-the-art program.” He predicted it would be able to match what “Obama was able to do in 2008.”

But Trump’s in-house data shop is thin, and the candidate has said that he does not give priority to the ground game. Trump’s most significant loss of the primary season came in the leadoff Iowa caucuses, a victory for Cruz that was largely credited to the Texas senator’s sophisticated campaign effort to turn out voters.

Wilson said he used the Cruz campaign’s data to run nightly “models” leading up to the caucuses, which predicted turnout and outcomes and allowed the campaign to adjust its approach every day.

That means if Wiley and Trump’s other campaign staffers are able to persuade him to pay attention to the data, they’ll also need to persuade him to raise and spend the money to use it effectively in competitive states.

“He has to be convinced,” South Carolina chairman Moore said. Then again, he said, “We’ve all been wrong about Trump for pretty much this entire campaign.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

On more than one issue, Republican Donald Trump sounds like a Democrat

As he tries to charm Republicans still skeptical of his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump has a challenge: On several key issues, he sounds an awful lot like a Democrat.

And on some points of policy, such as trade and national defense, the billionaire businessman could even find himself running to the left of Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic rival in the general election.

Trump is a classic Republican in many ways. He rails against environmental and corporate regulations, proposes dramatically lower tax rates and holds firm on opposing abortion rights. But the presumptive GOP nominee doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional ideological box.

“I think I’m running on common sense,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I think I’m running on what’s right. I don’t think in terms of labels.”

Perhaps Trump’s clearest break with Republican orthodoxy is on trade, which the party’s 2012 platform said was “crucial for our economy” and a path to “more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living.”

Trump says his views on trade are “not really different” from the rest of his party’s, yet he pledges to rip up existing deals negotiated by “stupid leaders” who failed to put American workers first. He regularly slams the North American Free Trade Agreement involving the U.S, Mexico and Canada, and opposes a pending Asia-Pacific pact, positions shared by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

“The problem is the ideologues, the very conservative group, would say everything has to be totally free trade,” Trump said. “But you can’t have free trade if the deals are going to be bad. And that’s what we have.”

Trump long has maintained that he has no plans to scale back Social Security benefits or raise its qualifying retirement age. The position puts him in line with Clinton. She has said she would “defend and expand” Social Security, has ruled out a higher retirement age and opposes reductions in cost-of-living adjustments or other benefits.

“There is tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, but I’m leaving it the way it is,” Trump recently told Fox Business Network.

It’s a stance at odds with the country’s top-ranked elected Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who has advocated fundamental changes to Social Security and other entitlement programs. But it’s also one that Trump argues keeps him in line with the wishes of most voters.

“Remember the wheelchair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your vice president?” Trump told South Carolina voters this year, referring to then-vice presidential candidate Ryan’s budget plan. “That was the end of that campaign.” Ryan was Mitt Romney‘s running mate in 2012.

Complicating the efforts to define Trump is his penchant for offering contradictory ideas about policy. He also has taken recently to saying that all of his plans are merely suggestions, open to later negotiation.

Trump’s tax plan, for instance, released last fall, called for lowering the rate paid by the wealthiest people in the United States from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Trump described it as a massive boon for the middle class. Outside experts concluded it disproportionately benefited the rich and would balloon the federal deficit.

Close to clinching the nomination, Trump now appears to be pulling away from his own proposal. While he still wants to lower taxes for the wealthy and businesses, he now says his plan was just a starting point for discussions and he would like to see the middle class benefit more from whatever changes he seeks in tax law.

“We have to go to Congress, we have to go to the Senate, we have to go to our congressmen and women and we have to negotiate a deal,” Trump said recently. “So it really is a proposal, but it’s a very steep proposal.”

Trump has a similar take on the minimum wage. Trump said at a GOP primary debate that wages are too high, and later made clear that he does not support a federal minimum wage. Yet when speaking about the issue, he says he recognizes the difficulty of surviving on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“I am open to doing something with it,” he told CNN this month.

On foreign policy, Trump already appears working to paint Clinton as a national security hawk who would too easily lead the country into conflict.

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump said at a recent rally, He listed the countries where the U.S. had intervened militarily during her tenure as secretary of state and pointed to her vote to authorize the Iraq war while she was in the Senate.

Trump’s own “America First” approach appears to lean more toward isolationism. One of his foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, recently described it as a “third way.”

“This doesn’t fit any of the boxes,” Phares said.

Clinton has advocated using “smart power,” a combination of diplomatic, legal, economic, political and cultural tools to expand American influence. She believes the U.S. has a unique ability to rally the world to defeat international threats.

She argues the country must be an active participant on the world stage, particularly as part of international alliances such as NATO. Trump has criticized the military alliance, questioning a structure that sees the U.S. pay for most of its costs.

“The best thing about Donald Trump today is he’s not Hillary Clinton, but he’s certainly not a conservative, either,” said GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus and a Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 race, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Ed Moore: Where fantasy is fact

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less,” said Humpty Dumpty in “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll.

A perplexed Alice responded, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Politicians using language to mean many things is an age-old problem.

This passage came to me while reading an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Chris Cillizza, in which he lamented the “dismal state of our politics.”

He cited a recent commencement speech by Post Executive Editor Marty Barron, focusing on this passage:

“What has taken hold is an alternate reality, a virtual reality, where lies are accepted as truth and where conspiracy theories take root in the fertile soil of falsehoods.”

Apparently we must also have traveled through the looking glass with Alice as it becomes increasingly difficult to separate fact from fancy and fiction from reality.

The Post has a useful feature for fact checking in which journalists evaluate statements made by politicians and grade them along a one-to-four truth scale using Pinocchios. The more Pinocchios, the bigger the lie.

Using this character is most appropriate in our era, since so many running for office would be exaggerated Dumbos by now based on the size of their proboscis.

Cillizza pointed out that the fact-checkers awarded Donald Trump four Pinocchios for 70 percent of his statements. Imagine someone being caught telling fabrications 70 percent of the time being hired for any job by anybody.

Yet he is lining up to be president of the United States.

Cillizza’s lament is that Trump, his staff or his volatile supporters do not seem to care about this at all. Of course, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and others all lie to some extent, but that will be saved for another column.

More troubling is Trump’s propensity to abruptly change positions. First he is pro-life, then maybe not so much. Then he is pro-Israel, then maybe not so much. Now he waffles on how to manage our national debt.

Bankruptcy is not an option for a great country, although it does seem to be a catching on in countries of lesser stature. Maybe honoring debt will go the way of truth.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once stated, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

This is something we must continually remind ourselves in this era of abundant punditry. Moynihan also said, “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it is so rare.”

We should also keep this in mind.

For all of us political junkies preoccupied with this vital election, Lewis Carroll offered us some balm in Alice’s dialog.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice. “Oh you can’t help that,” replied the Cat, “We are all mad here, I’m mad, you are mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” asked Alice. “You must be or you wouldn’t have come here,” replied the Cat.

Could it be that we are all mad?

In my youth, a favorite band was the Amboy Dukes. One of their hits was a song called “Journey to the Center of Your Mind,” which contained the lyrics, “For it’s a land unknown to man where fantasy is fact. So if you can, please understand, you might not come back.”

It seems we have taken a journey, not to the center of our minds, but to a land where fantasy has become fact. Somehow we must come back to expecting truth from those who would seek to lead us.

Clayton Christensen’s book, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” contains this passage: “If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person.”

Much the same can be said about our country.

***

Ed H. Moore resides in Tallahassee, Florida, where he is perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Stunned Donald Trump foes face diminished options at GOP convention

Still shaken by Donald Trump‘s triumph, Republican and conservative foes of the billionaire can still cause headaches for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee at this summer’s GOP convention. But their options are shrinking by the day.

With Trump’s last two rivals — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — abandoning their campaigns, there’s no remaining talk of snatching the nomination away from him with a contested, multi-ballot battle when Republican delegates gather in Cleveland.

Instead, anti-Trump forces are trying to figure out how to use this July’s GOP meetings to keep him from reshaping the party and its guiding principles, perhaps with fights over the platform or even his vice presidential pick.

Many expect Trump to build momentum as the convention nears, narrowing his opponents’ options. Even so, here’s what may be in store:

___

IT’S OVER? WHAT NOW?

Trump’s foes concede he’s likely to arrive in Cleveland exceeding the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee. Yet many are still reeling from the contest’s unexpected finale last week and are just starting to think about what they could do at the convention that would be productive.

“There’s going to be a lot of thinking, a lot of praying and a lot talking between all of us,” said Kay Godwin, a Cruz delegate from Blackshear, Ga. “I wish I could give you an answer right now but I think if I did, it would be out of emotion.”

“There are probably some who hope Trump will stick his foot in his mouth or some scandal will come out and that they’ll be able to rally everybody at that point, but at this point there’s really nothing they can do” to block his nomination, said Jason Osborne, a GOP consultant.

___

CONTAINING THE DAMAGE

Many Trump opponents see the Republican platform, the party’s statement of ideals and policy goals, as a place for a stand in Cleveland. The convention’s 2,472 delegates must approve the platform before formally anointing the presidential nominee.

All — including those chosen to support Trump — can vote however they want on the platform. Many conservatives say they will use that vote to keep Trump from reshaping GOP dogma against abortion, for free trade and on other issues.

While it seems likely Trump would prevail, a showdown could be an embarrassment he’d seek to avoid by not pushing divisive changes.

“If the party walks away from any of its clearly cut social, family values issues, it will be an issue,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council and GOP delegate from Louisiana. “We’re not just going to fall in line because he’s the nominee.”

Trump has said he would seek to include exceptions for rape and incest to the GOP platform’s opposition to abortion. He’s also flouted the party platform by repeatedly criticizing trade deals and calling NATO obsolete.

“We’d want to make sure the platform is protected from Donald Trump,” said Rory Cooper, senior adviser for the Never Trump political committee.

Trump aides did not return messages seeking comment on his views about the platform.

___

A RUNNING MATE

Trump has said he’d like a vice presidential candidate with government experience.

Yet, as with the platform, delegates can vote as they please in choosing Trump’s running mate. Some opponents suggest they may challenge his choice, either as a protest or to try forcing him to make a different selection.

Recent GOP conventions have formally approved vice presidential candidates by acclamation and no roll call. But if delegates make enough of a fuss, a roll call with plenty of votes for a rival vice presidential candidate is possible.

“He’ll probably pick somebody, and that person is not going to have the automatic ratification status that’s been traditional,” said Roger Stauter, a Cruz delegate from Madison, Wis., who said he would never support Trump.

Others said the convention would likely defer to Trump’s thinking about a strategically smart choice.

“He could pick somebody we’d all get pretty excited about,” said Shane Goettle, a Cruz delegate from North Dakota.

Conservative talk show host Erick Erickson, a Trump opponent, said he expected delegates to accede to Trump’s selection, saying that by July, “the phases of depression and anger” will subside as Republicans accept “their coming defeat.”

___

MUST-WATCH TV?

Many expect Trump — star of his own TV reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” — to run a more watchable convention than usual.

Beth Myers, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s campaign manager in 2012, was not a Trump supporter during the primaries. But she said Trump knows TV and expects his convention to outshine the Democrats’ in stagecraft and draw millions more viewers than usual.

“My guess is that the Republican convention will not be a chaotic, contested convention,” she said. “Rather, it will be a production of Trump, Inc., and it will be pretty good live television.”

Some of that glitz may not be by choice. Many Republican bigwigs are expected to shun the convention and avoid giving primetime speeches on Trump’s behalf.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons