Ted Cruz Archives - Page 7 of 72 - Florida Politics

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:


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.


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!”


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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.”


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.

#NeverTrump founder Rick Wilson: ‘Never means never’

The Florida GOP media consultant and campaign adviser who founded the #NeverTrump movement says he will continue to oppose Trump to the bitter end — and will support the nascent push for a conservative third-party candidate he says better reflects Republican values.

“I am willing to look at a conservative third-party option, even if that candidate can’t pull this thing off and win,” Rick Wilson told WJCT.

“And I’m willing to undervote if I have to, and not fill in that line on my ballot.”

Wilson, who has called Trump everything from a “narcissistic sociopath” to a “draft-dodging blowhard” (and those were some of the kinder comments) says #NeverTrump must continue, if only to save Republican candidates in down-ballot contests who now have Trump as their standard-bearer.

“Never means never,” said Wilson. “The nominee of our party is not qualified in any dimension to be the nominee, and his ideas, philosophies and temperament are dangerous, not only to the future of the party, but of the country.”



John Kasich dropping out of prez race; Donald Trump on clear GOP path

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is leaving the Republican presidential contest, giving Donald Trump a clear path to his party’s nomination.

Kasich will announce the end of his underdog White House bid on Wednesday, according to three campaign officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the candidate’s plans. The decision comes a day after Trump’s only other rival, Ted Cruz, dropped out.

With no opponents left in the race, Trump becomes the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee to take on the Democratic nominee in November — presumably Hillary Clinton.

Though armed with an extensive resume in politics, the second-term Ohio governor struggled to connect with Republican primary voters in a year dominated by anti-establishment frustration. Kasich was a more moderate candidate who embraced elements of President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and called for an optimistic and proactive Republican agenda.

Even before news of Kasich’s decision surfaced, Trump signaled a new phase of his outsider campaign that includes a search for a running mate with experience governing and outreach to one-time competitors in an effort to heal the fractured Republican Party.

“I am confident I can unite much of” the GOP, Trump said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today Show, as several prominent Republicans said they’d prefer Democrat Clinton over the New York billionaire. In a shot at his critics, Trump added: “Those people can go away and maybe come back in eight years after we served two terms. Honestly, there are some people I really don’t want.”

His comments on several networks came a few hours after Trump, once dismissed as a fringe contender, became all-but-certainly the leader of the Republican Party into the fall campaign against Clinton. The former secretary of state suffered a defeat Tuesday in Indiana to her rival, Bernie Sanders, but holds a definitive lead in Democratic delegates who will decide the Democratic nomination.

The Republican competition changed dramatically with Trump’s Indiana victory and Ted Cruz’s abrupt decision to quit the race. Trump won the Indiana contest with 53.3 percent of the vote, to Cruz’s 36.6 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 7.6 percent, according to unofficial results.

Some Republican leaders remain acutely wary of Trump and have insisted they could never support him, even in a faceoff against Clinton.

“The answer is simple: No,” Tweeted Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who has consistently said he could not support Trump.

What’s their plan moving forward?

“Prayer,” responded Republican strategist Tim Miller, a leader of one of the GOP’s anti-Trump groups. “Donald Trump is just going to have an impossible time bringing together the Republican coalition.”

Some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with him in the fall. Such Republicans worry about Trump’s views on immigration and foreign policy, as well as his over-the-top persona.

Hours before clinching victory in Indiana, Trump was floating an unsubstantiated claim that Cruz’s father appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Trump defended his reference to the Enquirer article on Wednesday morning as “Not such a bad thing,” but the line of attack was the final straw for some Republican critics.

“(T)he GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” Mark Salter, a top campaign aide to 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. He added Clinton’s slogan: “I’m with her.”

On finding a running mate, Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’ll “probably go the political route,” saying he’s inclined to pick someone who can “help me get legislation passed.” Trump didn’t identify any of the names under consideration.

He also said he’s hoping to decide within a week how to fund a general election campaign, but said he didn’t want to accept money from super PACs. He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he would begin to accept more political donations.

“I’m really looking at small contributions, not the big ones. I don’t want anyone to have big influence over me,” he said.

A prominent Cruz donor, Mica Mosbacher, quickly signaled support for Trump and urged others to follow.

“I call on fellow conservatives to unite and support our new nominee Trump,” said Mosbacher, widow of a member of George H.W. Bush‘s cabinet. “My heart goes out to Cruz who has a bright future. He did the unselfish thing to drop out.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders eked out a victory over Clinton in Indiana, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. But the outcome will not slow the former secretary of state’s march to the Democratic nomination. Heading into Tuesday’s voting, Clinton had 92 percent of the delegates she needs.

“I know that the Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said defiantly in an interview Tuesday night. But Clinton already has turned her attention to the general election.

She and Trump now plunge into a six-month battle for the presidency, with the future of America’s immigration laws, health care system and military posture around the world at stake. While Clinton heads into the general election with significant advantages with minority voters and women, Democrats have vowed to not underestimate Trump as his Republican rivals did for too long.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Carlos Beruff calls on Republicans to unite behind Donald Trump

Carlos Beruff has a message for Republicans: It’s time to back Donald Trump.

In a statement Wednesday, Beruff urged Republicans to unite behind the likely Republican nominee. He also called on his U.S. Senate rivals to also commit to supporting the New York Republican.

“Like Gov. Rick Scott, I urge all Republicans to unite behind Trump and I urge my opponents to commit to supporting him as the Republican nominee,” said Beruff. “This election is too important for our party not to be united behind him to defeat Hillary Clinton.”

Trump all but clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a victory in Indiana that knocked rival Ted Cruz out of the race. He still needs more than 200 delegates to formally secure the nomination, but Cruz’s decision to end his campaign removed his last major obstacle.

“Beating Hillary Clinton in November should be the first goal of all Republicans,” said Beruff. “Donald Trump is the nominee of our party, and I am committed to voting for him and supporting him so that we can take our country back from the liberal policies of Obama and Clinton.”

Beruff faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary. The five men are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Darryl Paulson: Picking a VP: Criteria, candidates for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

As we close out the presidential nomination phase, attention is now shifting to the selection of possible running mates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This will be the first important decision that the candidates must make as they enter the general election phase of the campaign.

Let’s examine some of the criteria that have been used in selecting a vice president in the past. Vice presidents are sometimes selected to unite the party. Ronald Reagan selected George H. W. Bush in an attempt to unite the conservative and eastern establishment wings of the party. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts picked Lloyd Bentsen of Texas to try to unite the northern and southern wings of the Democratic Party. It failed.

A vice president may be selected to appeal to a certain demographic group. For example, that’s what Walter Mondale‘s choice of Geraldine Ferraro of New York as the first female vice president of a major political party was all about. Her selection was designed to energize women voters and to win New York. Neither happened.

A vice president may be selected to win a crucial state. Both Bentsen and Ferraro failed to deliver their home states, just as Paul Ryan was not able to win Wisconsin for the Mitt Romney ticket.

A final factor is to add gravitas to the ticket. It was concern over Reagan’s qualifications that, in part, led to his choice of Bush. He had experience in Congress, was the head of the Republican Party, ambassador to the UN and China and Director of the CIA. Strangely, it was concern over Bush’s intellect that led him to pick Dick Cheney as his vice president. Cheney had served in Congress, was White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense and a prominent businessman. He added those experiences to the ticket.

Vice presidents can make or break a campaign or administration. In 2004, John Kerry narrowed his vice presidential options to Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina or Missouri House member Dick Gephardt. Kerry picked Edwards and lived to regret the choice.

Kerry believed that Gephardt would have helped in winning Ohio, whereas Edwards failed to carry North Carolina. Democratic consultant Bob Shrum also believed Gephardt would have performed much better in the vice presidential debate.

In 2008, many believed that John McCain‘s selection of Sarah Palin weakened his chances of victory. Richard Nixon selected little-known Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew as his running mate. Agnew would go on to have the distinction of being the first vice president forced to resign due because he accepted bribes while governor.

Among Clinton’s possible candidates are two Hispanics, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Housing Secretary Julian Castro.

Perez is well-regarded by liberals, but is virtually unknown to most Americans. He has no foreign policy experience and his only elective office was as a county council member.

On paper, Castro is one of the favorites. He is young, telegenic and a rising star in the party. But his only government experience prior to becoming Labor Secretary was being mayor of San Antonio.

Former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges hopes Clinton will pick a woman as vice president. “It would be formidable and create a huge buzz with female voters,” he said.

The leading females include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren is certainly better known and a favorite of progressives, but Warren refused to endorse Clinton.

Three other possibilities are white males: Sens. Tim Kane of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bill Nelson of Florida. Kane comes from a critical swing state, speaks Spanish and was one of the first to endorse Clinton for president in May 2014.

Brown is a favorite of progressives and might help win the critical swing state of Ohio. But Brown is up for re-election and Democrats want to win control of the Senate. That might work against him.

Nelson’s strengths are that he comes from the swing state of Florida and he’s not seen as ambitious. He would be a vice president whose focus would be on the job and not running for president in the future.

For Trump, there are probably more people who don’t want to be his vice president than those who want to be considered. John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez are among the many who have distanced themselves from Trump. Being Trump’s vice president is “like buying a ticket on the Titanic,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham said.

Among his possible vice presidential possibilities are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former presidential candidate Ben Carson. Sessions and Christie were among the first elected Republicans to endorse Trump.

Trump has personally praised three Republican governors: Kasich, Christie and Floirda Gov. Rick Scott. Kasich and Scott come from “must win” states, but a Kasich spokesman said there is “no chance” of him running with Trump. Scott, like Trump, comes from a business background and was one of the first to openly support him.

Trump has surprised everyone during the nomination process. It should not be surprising to see him surprise us once more in choosing a vice president.


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

Donald Trump wins in Indiana

Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential primary in Indiana, continuing his surge toward clinching the GOP nomination over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Trump took a major step toward sewing up the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a victory in Indiana’s primary election, dashing the hopes of rival Cruz and other GOP forces who fear the brash businessman will doom their party in the general election.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were vying for victory in the Democratic primary, though it was too early to call the race as votes were being tallied. Clinton already is 91 percent of the way to her party’s nomination.

While Trump can’t mathematically clinch the GOP nomination with his victory in Indiana, his path now becomes easier and he has more room for error in the remaining primary contests. The real estate mogul will collect at least 45 of Indiana’s 57 delegates, and now needs less than 200 more in upcoming contests.

Cruz, who hasn’t topped Trump in a month, campaigned vigorously in Indiana, securing the endorsement of the state’s governor and announcing businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But he appeared to lose momentum in the final days of campaigning and let his frustration with Trump boil over Tuesday, calling the billionaire “amoral” and a “braggadocious, arrogant buffoon.”

Trump responded by saying Cruz “does not have the temperament to be president of the United States.” Earlier Tuesday Trump had rehashed unsubstantiated claims that the Texan’s father, Rafael Cruz, appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Cruz has vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries in June, clinging to the possibility that Trump will fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs and the race will go to a contested convention. But he now could face pressure from donors and other Republicans to at least tone down in attacks on Trump in an attempt to unite the GOP heading into the general election.

Whether a united Republican Party is even possible with Trump at the helm remains highly uncertain. Even before the Indiana results were finalized, some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with Trump in the fall.

Only about half of Indiana’s Republican primary voters said they were excited or even optimistic about any of their remaining candidates becoming president, according to exit polls. Still, most said they probably would support whoever won for the GOP.

Clinton, too, needs to win over Sanders’ enthusiastic supporters. The Vermont senator has cultivated a deeply loyal following in particular among young people, a group Democrats count on in the general election.

Sanders has conceded his strategy hinges on persuading superdelegates to back him over the former secretary of state. Superdelegates are Democratic Party insiders who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of how their states vote. And they favor Clinton by a nearly 18-1 margin.

Exit polls showed about 7 in 10 Indiana Democrats said they’d be excited or at least optimistic about either a Clinton or Sanders presidency. Most said they would support either in November.

The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

A fall showdown between Clinton and Trump would pit one of Democrats’ most experienced political figures against a first-time candidate who is deeply divisive within his own party. Cruz and other Republicans have argued that Trump would be roundly defeated in the general election, denying their party the White House for a third straight term.

Republican leaders spent months dismissing Trump as little more than an entertainer who would fade once voting started. Cruz was among those who actively tried to align themselves with Trump and called him “terrific.”

As Trump began to pick up wins, Cruz became more critical of his rival’s policies. Still, his torrent of attacks Tuesday was by far the most pointed and personal of the campaign to date.

Trump has now won seven straight primary contests and has 80 percent of the delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. With his victory in Indiana, Trump now has at least 1,041 delegates. Cruz has 565 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 152.


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump far behind in preparing for general election

The Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights, yet Donald Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election.

The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He’s sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign.

“He may be able to get by on bluster and personality during the primaries, but the general election is a whole different ballgame,” said Ryan Williams, a veteran of Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaigns. “They’re essentially starting from zero heading into the general election.”

Trump’s early campaign efforts — fueled in the primary season by the sheer force of his personality and free media coverage — have defied all who predicted they would fall short of what’s required to win the nomination. He

Yet the billionaire’s aides acknowledged they’ll tap into the resources of the party’s establishment — the Republican National Committee, above all — as the scale and scope of the 2016 contest grow exponentially. That’s even as he rails daily against his party’s establishment as corrupt, and they predict his unique success so far will pay off again in November.

“Our ability to run a different type of campaign against Hillary Clinton in a general election is unique to the success that Mr. Trump has shown in the primaries,” said Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager.

Trump’s late start marks a sharp break from past Republican campaigns and that of Clinton, who is already beginning to shift resources to the November election. The Republican front-runner’s organizational disadvantage marks another warning sign for GOP officials who already feared he was unelectable this fall — even if he were well-prepared.

Trump has taken steps in recent week to add experienced political staff to expand his bare-bones organization. Yet the team has been consumed by playing catch up with Republican rival Ted Cruz, devoting almost no energy or planning to the next phase. Trump hopes he can score a victory in the Indiana primary Tuesday that can effectively end Cruz’s bid.

Lewandowski and other aides have also signaled a willingness to work closely with the Republican National Committee should Trump claim the nomination — “hand in glove,” in Lewandowski’s words.

Ed Brookover is working from a recently opened Washington-area office that is tasked with developing Trump’s detailed policy prescriptions and working with allies on Capitol Hill.

“From all reports — we’ve not gone in and kicked the tires yet — the RNC’s got a larger ground game already in place than ever before,” Brookover said. “And they’ve been investing an incredible amount of money on data.” He said that’s “going to be incredibly helpful.”

Indeed, the Republican National Committee has been expanding its national footprint and accumulating detailed information about millions of general election voters since soon after the GOP’s disastrous 2012 election. With only a few employees on the ground at this time four years ago, the RNC now has more than 200 in general election battlegrounds such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado.

“We are so far ahead of where we were,” said RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer. “Whether it’s Trump or someone else, that’s going to be a huge advantage.”

On the Democratic side, Clinton has already begun to send waves of campaign staffers to battleground states. Advisers are starting to consider locations for a splashy convention rally in Philadelphia and lawyers are scrutinizing more than two dozen possible vice presidential picks. The Democratic front-runner also has a well-established donor network and is planning lucrative fundraisers in New York, Michigan, California and Texas later this month.

Trump has lashed out at other candidates for raising money from wealthy donors, but GOP leaders anticipate he will need to do the same thing in the coming months. Many Republicans are skeptical that Trump has the willingness or the capacity to cover the estimated $1 billion cost of the campaign ahead.

Absent a massive personal investment, Trump and his party will be tasked with raising millions of dollars a day to match spending levels from the past election. The Romney campaign spent years developing an extensive fundraising network and collected general election cash long before his primary contest was decided.

For now, though, the Trump campaign concedes it has done little to prepare for the fall fight.

“Once we are the nominee, we will look at all the options,” Lewandowski said of fundraising.

Trump still has staff on board in battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida, though employees and volunteers have been consumed by the primaries.

“We’re focused on winning Indiana and then going on and winning California and New Jersey and anything in between,” said Stephen Stepanek, Trump’s co-chairman in New Hampshire, which is a perennial swing state. “Then we will start talking about the general election.”


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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