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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Lindsey Graham — the hawkish Republican senator from South Carolina — announced that he would suspend his campaign for president in a video message released Monday morning, but pledged his commitment to continue to push his doctrine of “security through strength.”

In his announcement, he noted that the centerpiece of his campaign had been his unwavering devotion to strong military action abroad, highlighting his own military experience and expertise gleaned from some three-dozen trips to the Middle East. The next president, he said at last Tuesday’s debate, would be a wartime president.

Graham noted that when the race began, he had stood apart from many GOP candidates, insisting that ground troops in Iraq and Syria would be necessary to “secure our homeland.” In the intervening months, terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, refocussed the major debates of the Republican primary around national security. As he exited the race, Graham observed that most GOP candidates had heeded his call and now supported the notion that ground troops will be a necessary part of any successful military strategy.

Despite his forceful approach, Graham never achieved primacy in the polls, being relegated to the undercard at each Republican debate (or not being invited at all, as was the case in November). When he quit the race Monday, he was twelfth in the national polls.

Graham was one of the first GOP candidates to enter into a public feud with Donald Trump, calling him representative of “the dark side” of American politics, peddling demagoguery and lies, and calling him out for his inflammatory comments about women, immigrants, and President Obama’s birthplace. When asked in August about his poor standing behind Trump in a South Carolina poll, Graham vowed that, when his early-voting home state’s day came, he would “beat [Trump’s] brains out.”

Trump responded to Graham’s attacks by reading what he claimed was his private cell phone number at a public rally.

In another sign of how on the outs he was within his party, Graham was one of the few Republican candidates that acknowledged the urgent need to address climate change.

In October, Graham expressed his exasperation on Morning Joe that he was trailing so far behind other candidates, specifically Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who utterly lacked foreign policy and military bonafides, and put forth solutions he considered unserious and insane: “On our side, you’ve got the number-two guy trying to kill somebody at 14, and the number-one guy is high energy — and crazy as hell. How am I losing to these people?”

Shortly after the announcement, his former Republican rival Jeb Bush tweeted out a message of support, praising Graham’s “clear-eyed” vision on how to beat ISIS, and encouraging the party to heed his advice.

“This is a generational struggle that demands a strategy and the will to win,” Graham said Monday. “I will continue to work every day to ensure that our party and our nation takes on this fight. I’m suspending my campaign but never my commitment to achieving security through strength for the American people.”

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]