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Posts tagged as “Donald Trump”

Idaho’s preference

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Soon, courtesy of all Idaho’s taxpayers, Republican voters will march to the polls to state their preference for the nation’s next commander-in-chief.

Whether this exercise has any impact upon the presidential sweepstakes remains to be seen, especially since Idahoans will be voting one week after Super Tuesday, the big enchilada that will see over a third of the delegates being selected.

With Michigan and Mississippi also holding primaries, it’s a safe bet the national media will congregate that night in Detroit, not Boise.

Still, it is fascinating to examine which aspirant is being supported by which major Idaho Republican figure. To date one could say Idaho has covered itself with prominent Idahoans having spread their support across most of the candidates.

The one big exception is the current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. He has a posted list of 860 supporters, but who they are and how well organized they are remains to be seen. It is doubtful that endorsements by any one figure will carry real influence. Far more likely is the scenario that the one or two top winners in Super Tuesday will likewise do well in Idaho.

In 2008 and in 2012 Idaho Republicans went with the eventual party nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. In 2016, Idaho GOP rules for selecting delegates to the National Convention in July in Cleveland will probably result in more than one candidate picking up Idaho delegates.

If one candidate receives over 50% of the vote he will garner all 32 delegates. If the winner has less than that, to receive delegates, the threshold is more than 20%. This will guarantee that Idaho has a split delegation at least for the first round of balloting in Cleveland.

In late February the Idaho race appears to be shaping up as a contest between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Mr. Trump with Florida Senator Marco Rubio closing in on the frontrunners.

Rubio has two aces in his hand - U.S. Senator Jim Risch and the “shadow shogun” of Republican politics, Idaho Falls billionaire businessman Frank VanderSloot. Risch and Rubio serve together on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. Both are devout Roman Catholics.

VanderSloot is a member in good standing of the LDS Church. Speculation as to why he would support Rubio over Cruz goes right to the heart of the major difference between Cruz and Rubio regarding the issue of illegal immigrants, who Cruz would ship back, but Rubio would allow to remain if they go to the back of the line of those applying for citizenship.

VanderSloot reportedly employs a goodly number of legal immigrants at his Melaleuca company. A major fund-raiser last time around for Mitt Romney were the National Convention to be brokered one could expect VanderSloot to switch back to Romney.

Approximately one-third of the Idaho electorate belong to the LDS Church. These voters tend to be quite conservative, but some would argue this does not mean they would go for Cruz. After all several million evangelicals stayed home in 2012 rather than vote for Mormon.

This fact alone caused some to arch an eyebrow when First District Congressman Raul Labrador threw his endorsement to Cruz following the collapse of Rand Paul’s campaign. Other Cruz supporters include former party chair Norm Semanko and State Treasurer Ron Crane.

Jeb Bush enjoys the support of former Governor, U.S. Senator and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, as well as that of former Attorney General and Lt. Governor David Leroy. Phil Reberger, former Kempthorne chief of staff and major domo in his own right in GOP circles is also thought to be a Bush supporter.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has the support of two Idaho state legislators, Merv Hagedorn and Robert Anderst.

Idaho’s other major officeholders - Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Senator Mike Crapo, Second District Congressman Mike Simpson and Lt. Governor Brad Little are all remaining studiously neutral.

To this writer’s thinking, the best of the GOP lot, and indeed the best of the whole bunch is the Ohio governor, John Kasich.

As to the Democrats, they caucus on March 22nd. Last time around Hillary Clinton’s team overlooked Idaho and to their chagrin Obama’s team captured a majority of Idaho’s delegates.

This time around Idaho will be a contest that will come down to whether the young voter’s adoration for Senator Sanders translates into attendance at their caucus vs. the Clinton team’s ability to turn out her base.

One word of caution to Senator Sanders - he’d best back off of his plank calling for free higher education to be treated as a birthright. Universities in states like Idaho or California, where there are private religious affiliated schools, would rapidly be driven from the field - the College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene, BYU-Idaho, and Gonzaga simply could not compete against public schools offering free higher education.

First take/Trump

Where we are post-Nevada GOP is this: Donald Trump has a clear and obvious glide path to the Republican presidential nomination. Stopping him, which still looked plausible as recently as the beginning of this month (with his second-place Iowa results), no longer does.

There is a tendency in the nomination process for voters to move toward candidates who do well: Once a candidate becomes a clear front runner on the basis of voters, a mentality toward joining with the probably winner starts to take over. Historically, this tendency has been visible in both major parties, and likely will recur this year in both.

And most dramatically on the Republican side. The significance of the Nevada result wasn't just Trump's win but the size of it - approaching half of the overall vote in a field of five contestants, three of them well-funded, highly-visible and strongly-supported. As many have said elsewhere, if the front runner were a conventional politician instead of Donald Trump, the contest would more or less be called over already. The infamous and garbagey Drudge Report (which has been in Trump's pocket for months) has "called" him the Republican nominee, and it has to be said in this case there's good reason for saying so.

Little time remains for anyone else to figure out a way to solve the Trump problem. Next Tuesday, March 1, is "super Tuesday," when not one but a whole mass of states - Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming - make their decisions. They will make those decisions in large part on the basis of national perceptions, and presumably for some of the same reasons the states voting so far have done so. Trump is by far best positioned to present himself as the nominee-in-waiting, will doubtless be regularly described as such between here and there, and he stands a good chance of sweeping nearly all those states. (The biggest exception could be Texas, but if Trump wins there, which seems plausible, he could destroy Ted Cruz' candidacy.) And if he does sweep those states, his delegate lead could become hard for anyone else to catch up to.

The Republican contest isn't quite yet a done deal, but this time a week from now, barring a case of late concerns or buyer remorsem it might be. - rs

First take/three

The many people who have wanted the Republican presidential campaign to boil down to a manageable number have got what they want - almost.

There's now three, nearly. Five, for the moment.

Because the catch is, John Kasich and Ben Carson are still in.

Neither of them will be the nominee, and probably they are well aware of that. But neither is inclined to leave. Both seem to be doing well enough in fundraising - and they occupy distinctive enough niches - that they can keep on offering messages for a while. (Kasich seems to want to stay in until his home state of Ohio votes.) In the process, they will keep on typing up blocks of votes. Small blocks, but possibly significant anyway.

As it stands, Donald Trump seems well positioned for the nomination. If as polling indicates he wins Nevada in tomorrow's caucuses, his track record will be three wins and (in the distant Iowa past) a second place, enough to position him as a clear frontrunner and create a bandwagon effect for the massive SEC primary on March 1, barely a week from now. If the national narrative going into that is that Trump is running well ahead of everyone else, he will become very hard to stop.

If anyone does stop him, that would have to be Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, who more or less share a second-place spot. But aside from a Cruz win in Texas and Rubio in Florida (and Trump could very well win both of those states anyway), it's getting ever harder to see where they break through and actually beat the Donald.

Time is getting short. - rs

First take/New Hampshire

The establishment of both political parties had a very bad night and must be having a rugged morning after.

On the Democratic side, the New Hampshire primary win by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was certainly no surprise; most polls there have for several months shown him leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The size of the win was something else, though - that was beyond what nearly any poll had predicted. Sanders wound up with a true landslide, a 60% win, beating Clinton not just substantially but by more than 20 percentage points. He was advantaged in being a next-door neighbor, of course, and demographically as well, two reasons why a win was predicted. But a win on this scale has to involve other factors as well, including connecting with the tenor of the times in a way Clinton has not.

A month from now, there's a real possibility this point in the process may be a distant memory; the upcoming states will not represent such favorable ground for Sanders. But he has shown some real strength for his brand of progressive politics. He has tapped into something, and Clinton will ignore that at her peril. She is said to be spending time the next day or two recalibrating her campaign. If that involves such things as staff shakeups, you'll know that the interest is more in scapegoating than in problem solving; her chief problems do not appear to include staff weaknesses. But if you see changes in campaign style, tactics, and messages, you may get a sense they're actually adapting to conditions as they are on the ground.

On the Republican side - well, principally it was a night for businessman Donald Trump to prove that the polls weren't lying, and that any establishment attempt to take on him and Texas Senator Ted Cruz remains hopelessly incoherent, and will for at least a while longer.

The Iowa results were less conclusive in this respect. There, in the difficult caucus environment, Trump underperformed, the well-organized Cruz did about as well as expected (or maybe a little better), and the established appeared to found its guy in the form of Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Now this scenario has been completely upended. This time, Trump matched his polling, or maybe did even a little better, ending the hope that his poll-reflected support wasn't real. It's real, all right, even if it may be reflected to various degrees in different kinds of states. Cruz fell to third place this time, though he probably wasn't feeling too bad about that; he had a first-place win (in Iowa) in his back pocket, and third place in a state as non-amenable to his form of evangelical and militia activist organization wasn't awful. Like Trump, he emerged well positioned to go on.

The real punch-out, strategically, was to the "establishment candidates" - Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich. The mainstream of the national Republican organization badly needs one of them to emerge as its champion to slay Trump and Cruz, but the odds of that happening aren't promising right now.

Christie, finishing in sixth place, had invested heavily in New Hampshire and just couldn't gain traction, and now is nearly out of money; he probably drops from the race today. Bush, who saw an uptick in New Hampshire in the final days, did just well enough to justify continuing on, and can since he still has money and organization - even though there's no evidence of any enthusiastic support, or reason to think he'll be competitive with the top two. Rubio, the former organization champion, emerged badly bloodied after his "Marcobot" fiasco, and will have to rebuild enthusiasm for his campaign from the ground up - with hardly any time left to accomplish that. And Kasich, the one of the group who really did do well in New Hampshire, a state that was about as amenable to him as any in the country, spent practically every resource he had - time, money, personnel, energy - for months specifically in that state, and has little to nothing left over to pour into any other place. He has to be hoping his second place win Tuesday will translate to more money and support, and he may get some, but he remains a very long shot.

In all, the Republican race looks very much as it did a month ago. The clearest paths to the nomination are those pursued by Trump and Cruz; their nearest competitor, whoever that turns out to be (and that identity is far from clear right now) will have to clear out a lot of brush along the way. - rs

First Take/Trump ban

As I write this, the parliament of Great Britain is debating a proposal to ban Donald Trump, the front-running Republican candidate for president of the United States, from their country.

Across the pond, he has been called "a buffoon" and "poisonous," and even a "wazzock" ("a stupid or annoying person"). They're not fans.

Jack Dromey, a leading minister for the Labour Party, said "I don't think Donald Trump should be allowed within 1,000 miles of our shore." Another MP said, "I draw the line at freedom of speech when it imports a violent ideology." That's a definition of Trump growing up now in a number of quarters.

This was not simply the result of a few MPs playing politics. It happened because a million citizens signed petitions asking for the ban; under British law, Parliament had to consider the idea. (Might something like that be a good idea for us too?) So it represents the views of a lot of constituents.

All of this has generated some debate over on our shores. What if, for example, Trump actually won the presidency?

And then there's the whole idea of banning people, which ought to give all of us pause. On Facebook, one friend remarked a few hours ago, "And while I find this funny, it's not the right precedent to set for develop worlds to ban loud mouth jackasses from their country. I find it better to have very strong freedom of speech protections so that when those loud mouth jackasses start spewing vitriol we others have the freedom to call them out for what they really are."

First take/fistfight

The Republican presidential debate last night was the most contentious of any so far, and for understandable reasons. Donald Trump at one point happily accepted the "mantle of anger" of his candidacy, but the whole stage seemed suffused by it.

The focus clearly was on Trump and Senator Ted Cruz; none of the others could wrest it away for long. Senator Marco Rubio had some inconclusive jabbing back and forth with Cruz; neither seemed to decisively trounce the other, which good enough for Cruz, he being ahead in the polls. Jeb Bush tried to take on Trump on Muslims and other matters, but seemed to be flailing in the wilderness, to the point that Trump didn't even bother to insult him and even threw him a semi-compliment at one point. Governor Chris Christie took some serious jabs at Rubio, his competitor in the middle-stream category and something of a motormouth in this debate, but probably none did much real damage. The others barely registered.

I just finished reading a string of political pieces this morning, and they all have the same tenor: With a couple of weeks to go until the caucusing in Iowa, it looks like a two-man race: Trump and Cruz.

And after the way they opened up on each other last night, I wouldn't expect the battle between them to ease off real soon. - rs

First take/’bye ’15

As we tick away the hours left in 2015, maybe a reflection or two on this year when some new things happened.

Nationally, it was a time for insurgents to take center stage in politics. It was most obvious on the Republican side, where the backers of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and to a point Ted Cruz were backing people at war with the establishment. People like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and even Rand Paul (running as, maybe, a kinder, gentler libertarian?), who at year's beginning seemed to be lapping the field, were being ground down near the end. Well, maybe not Rubio, if the other establishment guys all quit the race first. But the race, for most of 2015 and now as 2016 begins, is with Trump types. A month from now, when the actual voting begins, that may change, but for now that's the status.

Less dramatically there's some of this on the Democratic side too. the tone and feel and substance of the Bernie Sanders campaign is a lot different from Trump's, but it has the same sense of insurgency and lack of identification with the establishment. Sanders for now seems to be hitting his head against a too-low ceiling, and Hillary Clinton has the odds, but Sanders' campaign still generates the excitement.

Oregon was most notable this year for two big news stories: A new governor (Kate Brown) and legal pot. Both were bigger stories before than after the fact. The governor change happened after a stunning cascade of very personal scandal on the part of John Kitzhaber, who should have known better, didn't, and wound up having to resign. Brown has not been so major a newsmaker in the nearly year she's been in office, which is just as well, but she has gotten (with one major recent exception relating to public records) good marks, and is well positioned for election next year. In the case of marijuana, the big headlines were mostly in the runup to legalization. Without arguing that there's been a pot utopia since, it's been remarkable how few headlines it has generated in the months since legalization, how few serious problems have arisen or been noted. What's the downside to the decision? See if, in another year, we find any then.

Idaho was a more subtle case, but there too a new office holder made for something of a sea change. Under the former superintendent of public instruction, Idaho public schools were an ideological battleground, with lots of ugly messes over money, contracts and - a year ago at this time - a serious problem concerning broadband in the schools. The new superintendent, Sheri Ybarra, who came in with no serious administrative or political experience and might have been expected to make a bad situation worse, instead listened to the people on the ground, got the broadband problem resolved (through local solutions) and turned the battleground into productive turf again. That may have been the most remarkable change of the year in Idaho, the less noted maybe because it involved a reduction rather than an increase of political battling. But note also the arrival of Idaho's new wilderness area, the climax of a long-running battle, the sort of political achievement that many people have come to expect is no longer possible. Representative Mike Simpson showed that it is. - rs

First take/police state

We still encounter people here and there - and nationally, there seem to be a lot of them, though thankfully a long way from a majority - who say they support Donald Trump. What they like about him are phony assets (he'd be independent, though he's already been hat in hand fundraising, for example). But do they listen to what he says?

Timothy Egan of the New York Times has, and here he outlines what a Trump administration would look like.

In wrap: "Take him at his word — albeit, a worthless thing given his propensity for telling outright lies and not backing down when called on them — Donald Trump’s reign would be a police state. He has now outlined a series of measures that would make the United States an authoritarian nightmare. Trump is no longer entertaining, or diversionary. He’s a billionaire brute, his bluster getting more ominous by the day."

Campaign promises are often enough hot air, or undeliverable. But watch what a presidential candidate says on the stump: It usually does reflect what they at least try to do. Which in Trump's case is beyond scary. And beyond un-American. - rs

First take/Trumped

Live by the way too far out there - I mean, we're into honest-to-God fascist territory here - and don't be surprised if a heavily-armed rebuttal comes your way.

Shut down or big mosques? Track people because of their religion? Badges for Muslims (not proposed but not rejected either)? Just part of the plan for Donald Trump, who has gone beyond trash-talking groups of people to issuing this warning:

"We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it…. And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

President Barack Obama has weighed in on some of this, to a point, in the last few days. A satiric piece out on the web on Sunday had him linking on Twitter to "realdonaldtrump" saying, "Perhaps ignorant racists should wear special ID badges too. I'll have one made up for you."

That was satire. But don't be surprised if the real-world responses get a lot tougher.

Today on Daily Beast writer Michael Tomasky quoted former Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who stood up to Joseph McCarthy, as saying about his accusatory movement and the fact that so few Republicans then were standing up to it: "The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” - rs