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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:



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.



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.



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.”



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.

Jac VerSteeg: Donald Trump develops a taste for Mexicans

Donald Trump wants the Hispanic vote so badly he can taste it.

On May 5, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee tweeted a picture of himself celebrating Cinco de Mayo by digging into a huge, meat-filled taco bowl.

“I love Hispanics,” Trump tweeted.

Presumably in a Twilight Zone, “It’s a cookbook!” kind of way. Our advice to Trump: Beware of Hispanic kitchen staff in your various hotel and casino restaurants studying tracts titled “To Serve Trump.”

Trump is the candidate, after all, who accused Mexicans of being murderers and rapists. Protesters at his rallies are roughed up by Trump supporters who don’t need no stinking badges. He viciously attacked both Hispanics who were his rivals in the GOP primary, deriding Marco Rubio as “Little Marco” and Ted Cruz as “Lying Ted.”

After the Rolling Stones called on Trump to stop using Start Me Up at his campaign rallies, the odds-on favorite to replace it involves selections from Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

He never explained how he was going to get rid of those 11 million illegal immigrants living in America. Experts have pointed out there’s no feasible way to deport them.

But it looks like he might have a plan that involves turning them into taco filling. Then everybody can love Hispanics. Yum, yum.

The taco bowl gambit, of course, was just the first step in The Donald’s detailed plan to win favor with Hispanics. We have obtained the top-secret internal memo that spells out his full strategy. Here are some promises voters should expect to hear over the coming months from the Trump for President Campaign:

  • To defeat ISIS by carpeting the desert with La Bambas.
  • To have Trump’s comb-over styled by the Barber of Seville.
  • That Trump will import his next foreign wife from Tijuana.
  • To change the name of New Mexico to Trump Mexico.
  • To celebrate Dia de los Muertos by binge-watching The Walking Dead.
  • To ditch those trucker hats and print “Make America Great Again” on thousands of sombreros.

It’s a long list, but Trump has a lot of ground to make up if he is going to win Hispanic votes on Election Day – or as it will be known by the new Hispanic-loving Trump – Ocho de Noviembre.

Trump will be hoping to celebrate a win, of course. A better outcome for the nation and the world: Montezuma’s revenge.


Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida

Darryl Paulson: Donald Trump the demagogue: Have you no sense of decency?

(First of three parts)

With Donald Trump‘s victory in Indiana and the withdrawal of his last two opponents, he is assured a first-ballot victory at the July convention in Cleveland.

The good news is there will be no riots, as Trump threatened with a deadlocked convention. The bad news is Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch was testifying before the Army/McCarthy Hearings in Washington. Welch was chief counsel for the U.S. Army while that branch of the service was under investigation for communist activities before Sen. Joe McCarthy‘s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

During the hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, an attorney in Welch’s law firm. While a student at Harvard, Fisher had joined the Lawyers Guild, identified by the FBI as a communist-front organization.

Fisher had notified Welch of his “youthful indiscretion,” and did not participate in the hearings. Nevertheless, McCarthy persisted in his attacks. Welch asked McCarthy not to “assassinate this lad further, Senator.”

McCarthy continued his assault on Fisher. Welch interrupted and berated McCarthy. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s confrontation with McCarthy attracted national attention. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and McCarthyism. Within three years, McCarthyism was dead and so was the senator.

Has Trumpism now replaced McCarthyism? Right before the Indiana primary, Trump went on Fox and Friends and attacked Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz. Trump accused the elder Cruz of being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Trump told Fox viewers that “this was reported and nobody talks about it.” Who reported the story? The National Enquirer, long known for its exposés on Hollywood starlets and their Martian babies.

David Peeker, CEO of the Enquirer, is a Friend of Trump and has endorsed his candidacy. The Enquirer previously ran a story accusing Cruz of having affairs with five women.

McCarthy and Trump both destroy lives based on little or no evidence and a lot of lies. As long as their goal is advanced, it matters not what happens to the wrongly accused.

New York Times columnist David Brooks has called Trump the “most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetime.” Trump is “oblivious to accuracy.” In a position that demands the highest level of maturity, we are left with a childish man lacking a moral compass.

Here are a baker’s dozen of reasons why Trump is unqualified to be president:

  1. Trump has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” Forget that it means 1.2 billion individuals and violates both U.S. and international law.
  2. Trump accuses Mexican illegals as “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump wants to deport all 11 million illegals, but offers no plan on how to do it.
  3. Trump’s proposal to eliminate ISIS is very simple, and I mean that in the worse way possible. Trump says he would “bomb the shit out of them.” Now, that’s a plan.
  4. Carly Fiorina has an “ugly face! Would anyone vote for that?” Megyn Kelly asks a tough question of Trump and he accuses her of being unbalanced due to her period.
  5. Trump accuses Ben Carson of being “pathological” and, thus, unfit to be president. He stretches Carson’s youthful temper tantrums by comparing it to child molesters. Child molesters are “pathological” and “you don’t cure a child molester.”
  6. Trump attacks John McCain as not being a war hero because his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
  7. When asked to renounce the endorsement of longtime Klansman David Duke, Trump responded that he doesn’t know anything about Duke. Strange. In 2000, Trump wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times saying he was leaving the Republican Party because of its ties to Duke.
  8. Trump frequently asks participants at his rallies to raise their right arm and pledge allegiance to him. The salute reminded many of salutes to Adolf Hitler when he controlled Germany. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man,” and the leader of a “hate-filled movement.”
  9. Trump encourages torture against terrorists and the killing of families of terrorists. Both would violate U.S. and international law. At his rallies, Trump spoke of wanting “to punch protesters in the face.” After a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  10. Trump’s language seeks to divide Americans rather than unite them. Trump talks about “you” and “we” needing to attack the dangerous “them.” His opponents are branded as “stupid,” “weak,” or “losers.”
  11. Trump often attacks people and then denies doing so. He said he would never “call Megyn Kelly a bimbo because that would be politically incorrect.” He called her a bimbo and then said he would never do it.
  12. Trump consistently distorts the truth, changes positions and lies. PolitiFact called Trump’s collection of misstatements the “lie of the year.” It found that 76 percent of the 77 Trump statements were False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire.
  13. Trump is the first and only presidential candidate to defend the size of his penis in a debate.

I wish reason would be sufficient to sway individuals from supporting Trump, but I know that reason seldom succeeds. Like in most mass movements, Trump’s supporters will deny Trump ever said or did the things he has done. They will rally to his defense.

Trump is not fit to be president. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner we can end this national nightmare that is Donald Trump.

Part II on Monday: Democracy and Demagogues will examine why demagogues so frequently emerge in democracies.


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

Linda Cunningham: Ignore politics for a few months, enjoy the summer

What a blessed relief. Presidential political junkies are down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, down to the Cinderella finalists and we can take the summer off.

OK, I know Bernie Sanders is still hoofing the “I want to live in the White House” shuffle, but he’s not going to be at the top of the donkey ticket come November, so I’m not counting him. I know. If you’re not wanting President Trump, you’re gonna have to vote for that woman. You’re mad. Get over it.

Now, back to the giddy deliciousness of not having to look at Ted Cruz’s smarmy, Eddie Munster face — made worse for the past week with Carly Fiorina’s baleful eyes counting every sweating pore of the man’s face at news conferences.

Back to not having to explain why John Kasich could never be the candidate-of-choice for right-leaning Democrats and moderate Republicans, despite the national media pundits contorting themselves to the contrary. Let Ohio have him back.

Oh, blessed relief. We know the red and blue names on the presidential ballot. While there will be angst and hand wringing all summer, the likelihood of substantive political developments is minimal. Crass though it be, unless one or both of these candidates is abducted by aliens (the real kind, not the immigration variety), it’s going to be The Donald and Hil in November.

Trump’s already creating the to-do list for his first presidential 100 days. He’ll ramp up the charm, he says, warn corporate execs not to send jobs overseas, design the wall between us and Mexico, appoint an Antonin Scalia-style Supreme Court justice and repeal the Affordable Care Act. I assume he’ll take a breath on day 101.

Clinton’s likely got her own first 100 days list, but she’s got to be a bit more coy than Trump since Sanders is still in her rearview mirror. It’s a safe bet her list resembles Trump’s only in the “ramp up the charm” item.

So, if we know the candidates and we’re pretty sure of their platforms, what the heck’s going to keep us junkies fixed for the next six months?

Who’s voting for whom? That’ll be the hot weather speculation and we’ll be at it right up to the last poll closing, when the question will shift to “who voted for whom?”

Hillary voters made up their minds in 2008. They’ve been awaiting validation for 10 years. Donald voters joined the chorus this year, but as soon as they donned that red ball cap, there wasn’t a chance they’d vote any other way.

That leaves millions of registered voters with squirm-worthy choices. Consider the Democrats who’ve hung their stars on Sanders and can’t imagine not feeling the Bern.

Are they willing to “just vote blue, no matter who”? Heck, there are still Elizabeth Warren Democrats wishing she were on the ticket.

There are all those “anyone but Trump” Republicans, who with the departures of Kasich and Ted Cruz, are left with no one but Trump. Can they hold their noses and vote for Clinton?

And, then there are the undecided voters. Political junkies cannot imagine there are undecided voters left, not after the tsunami of multi-platform media. But they’re wrong.

While one would have to have been living under the clichéd rock to be unable to identify Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,  “real people” are not the least bit like we junkies. They turned down — or tuned out — the incessant political rhetoric months ago.

They know they’ll need to make a decision by November, but these voters won’t tune back in until sometime in late September. They’ll pay little attention to the shifting headlines that will shape the summer’s news coverage. But by September, when Labor Day is past, school’s back in session and the weather up north is turning cool, then they’ll listen up.

The undecided voters will choose the Trump and the Clinton who are in the headlines in late September. Not before then. In the meantime, the undecided voters are going to enjoy summer.

Perhaps we should, too.


Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media, a digital solutions company for small businesses. She made up her mind back in 2008 and expects to enjoy her summer.

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