Ted Cruz Archives - Page 6 of 71 - Florida Politics

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.

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.

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 half 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 rear view mirror. It’s a safe bet that 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 was not 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 pay attention.

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. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Darryl Paulson: Donald 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 that there will be no riots as Trump threatened with a deadlocked convention. The bad news is that 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, the 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 means 1.2 billion individuals and that it 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 long-time 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 that 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. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

How Donald Trump broke the rules of modern politics, and won anyway

Polling? Who needs to do that? Fundraising? Can’t be bothered. Parse your words? Fuhgetabout it.

Donald Trump took the rules of modern politics, trashed them and became the last man standing for the Republican nomination anyway.

12 ways Trump did it his way:

SAY ANYTHING

It’s what Trump’s supporters love about him: He blurts out whatever pops into his head. He rejects “political correctness.” He insults rivals and critics. He has fun. After one particularly salty salvo, Trump explained, “That’s what I mean about being politically correct, every once in a while you can have a little fun, don’t you think?” Plenty of candidates may think it, but Trump said it: “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said of one protester. To listen to a Trump speech from start to finish is to enter an alternate grammatical universe. Sentences veer off in unexpected directions as Trump has a new thought. When he interjects his trademark “by the way,” there’s no telling where he’s headed next.

CHEAPSKATE

The billionaire is proud to campaign on the cheap, milking free media in a way that other candidates could only envy. He functioned through most of the primaries with a bare-bones staff. He has no national finance chairman. He never set up a traditional fundraising operation. Sure, he has “donate” buttons on his website, and raises millions hawking hats and other gear. But forget the chicken dinner circuit. Or charging donors $1,000 for a grip-and-grin photo. Or asking supporters to “bundle” contributions from friends and neighbors. Early on, Trump tweeted: “So, I have spent almost nothing on my run for president and am in 1st place. Jeb Bush has spent $59 million & done. Run country my way!”

NO POLLING

The poll-obsessed candidate doesn’t have a pollster. Other candidates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on surveys to poll-test their words and messages, and track their standings in primary states. Trump goes with his gut and mines public polls for intel. He often tells crowds that he relies on his wife, Melania, to help him take the temperature of voters. “She’s my pollster,” he said, adding, “She’s really smart.”

CONSISTENCY

Most candidates recoil from the dreaded “flip-flopper” label. Trump unabashedly changes his mind — not just week to week or day to day, but sometimes even within the same speech. He frames it as an asset. “I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible,” Trump said at one GOP debate. “You have to be flexible, because you learn.”

POLICY GAPS

Candidates love to trot out five-point plans and lofty position papers — some more detailed than others. Trump, not so much. His outline for replacing Obamacare is more aspirational than detailed. His recent “America First” foreign policy speech was a broad-brush endeavor. Trump makes a virtue of leaving enemies guessing about U.S. intentions. “We have to be unpredictable, starting now,” he says.

POTTY MOUTH

Trump salts his speeches with vulgarities — although he’s dialed it back a bit after a scolding from Melania. Lots of politicians use profanities, of course, but typically not in public. Trump has publicly lip-synced the F-bomb, blurted out the S-word and hurled an offensive term at rival Ted Cruz. He fires a steady string of put-downs at other candidates whom he labels pathetic, liar, loser, nasty, evil and more. Oh, and not many candidates use the debate stage to refer to the size of their genitals.

DISSING SUPER PACS

It’s become routine for candidates to rely on independent super PACs stocked with former aides and allies to play a strong supporting role for their campaigns, spending millions on political ads. Trump didn’t go that route in the primary, and was proud to proclaim he didn’t have a super PAC, although a few have sprung up to back him anyway. He said in his speech entering the race: “I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. … I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.” Now that the general election race is under way, though, he’s warming to the idea.

GREED IS GOOD

Remember how 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney was tarred by critics as a ruthless corporate fat cat? Trump has turned greed into a campaign asset. “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” he said at a rally in Iowa. “I grabbed all the money I can get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”

INSULTS

Women. Hispanics. Muslims. Trump kept winning even as he rolled out a stream of remarks that could be a turn-off to huge swaths of the electorate. It started with his campaign-announcement speech, when he said illegal immigration from Mexico is bringing rapists, drugs and crime to the U.S. Then came his pledge to bar foreign Muslims from entering the country. Throughout his campaign, he’s had harsh words for women and their appearances, mocking the looks of Carly Fiorina, retweeting an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz and accusing Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman’s card.” Trump voters love that he “tells it like it is.”

POUTING, PICKING FIGHTS

Trump isn’t afraid to pick a fight, even with a conservative powerhouse like Fox News Channel. He refused to participate in a Fox-sponsored debate in January after Fox refused to remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator. He was irked that Kelly had asked him in a previous debate about statements that he had made about women. Trump isn’t afraid to make up, though. He’s agreed to an interview with Kelly later this month.

PRESIDENTIAL? MAYBE LATER.

Trump keeps promising he’ll act more “presidential” when the time is right. But, for now, he’s having fun — and so are his supporters. “I can be presidential,” he said at rally last month. “But if I was presidential, only about 20 percent of you would be here because it would be boring as hell.”

THE HAIR

Trump’s distinctive hairstyle may be in for a makeover if he’s elected president. “I would probably comb my hair back. Why? Because this thing is too hard to comb,” he said at an appearance in Iowa last summer. “I wouldn’t have time, because if I were in the White House, I’d be working my ass off.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.5.16 — Requiem for a would-be contender

John Kasich dropped out of the Republican race for president yesterday, conceding he won’t be the “White Knight” fantasized by #NeverTrump acolytes over the past few months.

The Ohio governor’s departure came less than 24 hours after Ted Cruz “suspended” his campaign, so now we have a full half-a-year to contemplate a TrumpClinton showdown in November.

Although at times it seemed a bit embarrassing, Kasich’s decision to remain in the race despite the fact that he only captured one state and ultimately finished with fewer delegates than Marco Rubio always made sense. That’s because of one simple fact: public opinion polls consistently showed that unlike Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush or any other Republican running, Kasich actually had enough general election potential to become president. If you were to have a contested convention, why not just choose the man who had hung in the race and was a candidate who could go the distance (although the RNC Grand Poohbahs would have had to have changed the rules about the nominee having to win eight primaries or caucuses).

However, like every other Republican other than Trump, GOP primary voters simply weren’t compelled to vote for him.

Kasich was the last Republican to officially to enter the race, announcing his candidacy last July. He immediately jumped to the forefront of what at the time was considered the serious, top-tier candidates who had the credentials to go far.

You know, that same list that included, Bush, Rubio and Scott Walker.

But as CNN reported, whether it was his plan to use a New Hampshire win to vault himself into contention in the states that followed (he finished second), or a big win in Michigan to vault him into his Midwest swing (he finished third), or the clear advantage he claimed to hold in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic (second or third in all), seemingly little that Team Kasich predicted would occur actually happened, other than taking his home state of Ohio.

If folks are mentioning Rubio as a possible running mate (and they are), you can bet they’ll throw Kasich in the mix. The fact that he was an operator on Capitol Hill for a long time and, yes, he’s from the crucial battleground state of Ohio, will keep his name in the media until he vows he doesn’t want it to be. And with the RNC taking place in Cleveland, he’ll be a presence at the convention.

Speaking of Rubio, the Florida senator was hammered for missing so much time on his day job in Washington, but curiously, you rarely heard criticism of Kasich taking so much time off from his duties as Ohio governor to do the same thing.

So if nothing else, Kasich can now get back to work and actually do his job, and hopefully, do it well.

In other news …

The economic analysis paid for by the Tampa/Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission says the county commission’s $250,000 incentive plan for the producers of the upcoming film, “The Infiltrator” provided a nearly 4:1 return on investment.

The West Central Florida Federation of Labor has opted not to endorse in the three-way battle for the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine to propose raising the minimum wage so that everybody who works in his city will make at least $13.31 an hour.

Philip Stoddard, the Mayor of South Miami, says he’d like to build a “Wall of Shame” in his region for all the Florida lawmakers who’ve done nothing to fight climate change.

Now that Eric Lynn is out of the race for Congressional District 13, Rick Kriseman is now on the record as backing Charlie Crist in that contest.

Mark Ober’s fundraising numbers are up in his race for re-election for Hillsborough State Attorney, and he’s got powerful businessman John Sykes asking his supporters for more.

And Lake Worth activist Cara Jennings has more to say to Rick Scott in a new video.

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