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Is Carly Fiorina A Contender For Director Of National Intelligence?

(Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump spoke on Monday to former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina about the job of director of national intelligence, the New York Times reported, citing a senior Trump transition team member.

Fiorina, once a rival for the White House Republican nomination who clashed with Trump during primary debates, visited Trump Tower, his transition team said on a conference call.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

IMAGE: Former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina (L) walks with Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager and senior advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Trump’s ‘Celebrity Candidate 2016’ Will End — Even Without A Concession Speech

Practically speaking, it doesn’t really matter if Donald Trump accepts the results of the November election. No concession speech—can anybody imagine the big blowhard delivering one?—is legally required. The Electoral College will certify the vote in December and the new president will be sworn in on January 20, 2017 whether Trump likes it or not.

That goes for his more fervid supporters too.

According to a recent CBS News poll, upwards of 80 percent of Texas Republicans claim to believe that only voter fraud can prevent Trump from winning. Florida Republicans too. Numbers like those prompted the Washington Post’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin to urge anti-Trump Republicans not to make the mistake of staying home on November 8.

“The bigger the margin by which he loses,” she writes “the more preposterous Trump’s claim that the election is fixed. Indeed, it’s more important for Republicans — if they want to get back their party — to vote against Trump than it is for Democrats.”

Rubin’s surely correct about the absurdity of the GOP candidate’s posturing. However, I think it’s a mistake to take rank and file grumbling about voter fraud too seriously. Large percentages of Texas Republicans also claim to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, climate change a Chinese-sponsored hoax, and a thousand similar absurdities. They’ve regarded every Democratic president since 1992 as illegitimate.

Did you know that the 2016 Texas GOP platform calls for quitting the United Nations, expelling its headquarters from the USA, and abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency?

But they haven’t gotten up off their Barca-loungers to do anything about it, and they’re not going to do anything but grumble this time either. These are essentially metaphysical complaints—political non-starters.

See, before it’s anything else a US presidential election—particularly THIS presidential election—is essentially the world’s longest running “reality TV” show. It’s “American Idol” with pollsters; or “Celebrity Apprentice” with stadium rallies, and so forth.

The cable news networks helped make it so back in the summer of 2015, when they began to cover Trump, a publicity-hungry playboy who impersonated a tycoon on TV, like a figure of real significance. CNN, MSNBC and the rest covered his arrival at airports as if he were the Pope—breaking into regularly-scheduled programming to broadcast his speeches live.

Suffice it to say they didn’t cover “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Little Marco” Rubio, Carly “Would anybody vote for that face?” Fiorina, or even “Crooked Hillary” Clinton like that. They gave Trump immense free publicity. It was only ever about one thing: ratings.

No, two things, ratings and money. Trump could be provocative and amusing in a coarse way. He gave good TV. So they made him a star.

Except now the show is about over. So long as he was only seeking the applause of a certain kind of Republican, Trump looked invincible. But he never made the transition to the broader electorate. The novelty wore off. His insults and gibes grew steadily less amusing. Like many of his supporters, he appeared never to have grasped that it’s no longer possible to win national elections without black and brown voters.

Not to mention women. After he derided Hillary Clinton as a feeble little old lady, she made him look foolish in three debates running. By the end, she was the one doing the taunting, while Trump pouted and seethed. His repertoire of middle-school putdowns was no longer adequate to the task.

Trump would be losing even without his videotaped boasts about groping women, which merely confirmed what many instinctively suspected. He’s the kind of bully a woman can’t risk getting stuck in an elevator with.

So now “Celebrity Candidate 2016” is about to be canceled. What’s more, there’s no audience for repeat broadcasts after everybody knows who won.

Or, to put it another way, sorry Coach Trump, but the clock ran out with your team trailing by three touchdowns. Yelling at the refs only makes you look like a crybaby.

It follows that striking a defiant pose wouldn’t confirm Trump as the leader of the GOP resistance at all. Within a week, he’d become a laughingstock, a figure of fun, and the punchline of the national joke. Many of those he has humiliated along the way would enjoy mocking him. You think “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” Paul Ryan or any of the rest will demand a recount?

Not a chance.

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall has correctly diagnosed Trump’s motives. “For all the damage and destruction of Trump’s effort to undermine the legitimacy of the election,” he writes, “I believe it’s mainly been about preemptively managing the shame of defeat. If Trump just loses, it kills his brand and would I suspect be insupportably crushing in personal terms.

“But if he’s cheated, he becomes a martyr, a political martyr.”

Except that Americans just don’t do martyrs.

Time to grow up.

Trump Vows: ‘I Will Never Drop Out Of The Race’ Despite Lewd Taped Remarks

By Emily Stephenson and Ginger Gibson

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With his campaign in crisis, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed on Saturday to stay in the race despite calls from more than two dozen prominent Republicans for him to drop out following the release of a recording of him making lewd comments about women.

Both Trump’s wife and his running mate criticized his words, saying they were insulting and indefensible.

“The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN!” Trump wrote on Saturday afternoon on the social media website Twitter.

The video was the latest calamity for Trump, who had hoped to revive his flagging campaign in the face of a recent drop in polls with less than a month until Election Day.

Trump is due to appear alongside Democrat Hillary Clinton on Sunday in their second debate in the run-up to the general election. Clinton is not expected to address Trump’s video before then.

The 2005 video of Trump talking on an open microphone showed the then-reality TV star speaking about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. The video was taped only months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.

In a statement, Melania Trump called her husband’s words “unacceptable and offensive to me.”

“This does not represent the man that I know,” she said. “He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”

The backlash over the video was swift and widespread.

More than 60 prominent Republican current and former officeholders issued statements condemning Trump’s remarks about women, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and John McCain, the party’s standard bearer in 2008. More than 20 called for Trump to end his presidential bid.

In an unusual move, his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence issued a critical statement of Trump’s words, saying on Twitter that he “cannot defend them.”

“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump,” said Pence, who is governor of Indiana.

Pence indicated he would continue to support Trump, despite calls from several Republicans for Trump to step aside and let Pence be the nominee.

There is no precedent for a major party to replace its nominee this late in the campaign and it was unclear if there was an avenue to force him out. Voting has begun in several states, including swing states Virginia and North Carolina.

A recorded apology by Trump early on Saturday did not stymie an avalanche of calls from members of his party to quit.

Trump huddled on Saturday in Trump Tower with senior advisers, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Despite previous scheduling, Giuliani will appear on five major Sunday morning news programs, a rare round robin reserved for major news events – replacing Republican Chairman Reince Priebus on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on “Fox News Sunday,” a last-minute switch. No reason was given for the bump of Conway. A CBS news release said the RNC asked to replace Priebus because Trump’s operation wanted “a campaign person” to appear on the program.

Trump left the building briefly to greet a small crowd of supporters, saying “100 percent” he would remain in the race. Before returning to a bank of elevators, he told reporters, “Tremendous support.”

He quickly moved to do damage control in Saturday’s video in which he declared himself a changed man and attempted to shift the focus to his opponent Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. On Twitter, Trump posted critical statements from Juanita Broaddrick, a woman who has accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her.

“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize,” Trump said in his video statement, posted on his Facebook page.

Trump has struggled to win over women voters, and the video was expected to further feed Democratic criticism about his past behavior toward women. Trump’s support has suffered among suburban women and white, college-educated women, groups that Republicans have traditionally won.

In the recording that triggered the firestorm, Trump said of one woman, “I did try and fuck her. She was married.” He went on to discuss his attraction to others.

“I just start kissing them,” he said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it.”

“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” Trump said.

On Saturday afternoon, CNN published a separate report detailing remarks Trump made over the course of several years while appearing on Howard Stern’s radio program.

The remarks included discussing the size of his daughter’s breasts and that he once had sex with three women at the same time. Trump was asked if he would have sex with a black woman and responded, “It depends on what your definition of black is.”

The remarks were the last straw for some Republicans who have stuck with him through a series of controversial remarks, including calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals,” calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants, attacking a judge of Mexican descent, attacking the Gold Star family of a Muslim soldier killed at war and saying Senator John McCain was not a war hero because he had been a prisoner of war.

House Speaker Paul Ryan disinvited Trump to a scheduled appearance on Saturday in Wisconsin. Pence declined to speak in his place.

The list of Republicans announcing they would not vote for Trump or calling on him to step aside grew on Saturday: Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowsi, Dan Sullivan, Mark Kirk, Jeff Flake, John Thune, Mike Crapo, Shelley Moore Capito and Mike Lee; House members Jason Chaffetz, Mia Love, Joe Heck, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby and Barbara Comstock; and Governors John Kasich, Dennis Daugaard and Gary Herbert.

Additionally, former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Trump to quit.

“Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy,” McCain said in a statement.

While Democrats largely remained silent, opting to let Republicans attack one of their own, Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter, “The words are demeaning. Such behavior is an abuse of power. It’s not lewd. It’s sexual assault.”

Some prominent Republicans indicated they would stick with Trump. Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, said they would continue to support him.

“I think 10 years ago he was a different man,” said Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia. “I am very glad that he quickly apologized.”

(Additional reporting by Grant Smith, Amy Tennery, Jeff Mason and Emily Flitter in New York, Ayesha Rascoe in Chicago, Steve Holland, Amanda Becker, Eric Beech and Mohammed Zargham in Washington; Writing by Ginger Gibson, Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by James Dalgleish, Toni Reinhold and Bernard Orr)

The Definitive List: Who Deserves Blame For The Nomination Of Donald Trump?

This week, the Republican Party wrapped itself in the white flag.

Donald Trump has won enough delegates to to guarantee that he will clinch the GOP nomination. And one of his fiercest opponents, Marco Rubio, cozied up to him, almost begging for a chance to speak at the GOP convention — even after Trump attacked the party’s most prominent Latina.

While a few stray #NeverTrumpers can be heard in the distance, complaining that the self-proclaimed billionaire “makes George Wallace look like Churchill” and vowing to never ever vote for a candidate who is the choice of pretty much any strutting online anti-Semite you can find, resistance is futile.

The GOP is now officially Trump’s party. Yet at the same time, “Very Serious People” want us to absolve the GOP for delivering us a candidate whose great public accomplishments include getting rid of the talent portion of beauty pageants, using racism to undermine America’s first black president, and winning a major party’s nomination by vowing to ban 1.6 billion people from entering the country.

Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle tells us not to blame the Republican party for Trump, rejecting the notion that this insecure conman is a “monster that Republican leaders created” and now “broken free of its chains and was hell bent on destroying its former master.”

McArdle seems to reject the notion that conservatives should be responsible for the ideas they’ve advanced over the past 50 years, because voters ultimately ignored the “horrified pleading of conservative leaders and intellectuals” and backed Trump anyway. As if a few months of caution from the “establishment,” which conservatives have been training primary voters to reject since the inception of the movement, was supposed to be more effective than generations of feeding voters carefully coded messages designed to stir up racial and religious resentment.

We know Republicans are responsible for Trump, because you can be assured they’ll take credit for him if he wins. So here’s a quick review of who deserves the most blame.

  1. Republican voters.
    Trump hasn’t expanded the Republican Party — he has exposed it. Almost no who hadn’t been voting Republican for decades showed up to back Trump in the primary. In times past these Republican-leaning voters sat out the primaries and let the party activists decide whom they would back. Very Serious People caution against suggesting that anyone who backs Trump is bigoted. Economic issues are motivating them, we’re told — even though they tend to be richer than the rest of America and consumers in general are about as confident in the economy now as they were before the recession. If you believe in personal responsibility, you must acknowledge that Trump voters are at least tolerant of bigotry in pursuit of whatever they think he’s promising.
  2. The Republican Party
    McArdle rejects the notion that with the Southern strategy, the GOP “cynically decided to go after the South’s angry white racist vote.” She suggests that it was a logical if opportunistic approach to rising crime in America — that just happened to abandon the black vote for generations. But the Republican National Committee’s chairman admitted the underlying racism of its approach in 2005, back when the party was still trying to expand its base. “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Ken Mehlman said in 2005. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” Trump’s constant lying and self-revision appear as “honest” to the GOP base, because he says aloud the same things that the party has been hinting and dog-whistling for generations. And the base had been primed to elect someone with no record of or inclination toward public service. “Normally voters might oppose Trump as flat-out unqualified for the job, both by lack of relevant experience and lack of knowledge of government and public affairs,” Jonathan Bernstein responded to his Bloomberg colleague. “But by giving a megaphone to people like Pat Robertson, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, Republicans showed their voters what counts as a ‘normal’ Republican presidential candidate — and it isn’t all that different from Donald Trump.”
  3. Fox News and “the media.”
    Trump has no actual credentials to be taken seriously as a candidate for president. But he had the most important credential to be taken seriously as a conservative — an open invitation to appear on Fox News. You can argue that the most popular news channel in the United States took a hostile view of his early candidacy. He was never denied a chance to show up on the channel for more than a few days, however — despite launching what the channel called “an endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults” against its biggest female star. Now it has all but become an informercial for Trump, with the occasional appeals to sanity from Chris Wallace. Trump had been trying to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate for decades; before the 2000 election he got so serious about his possible Reform Party run that he withheld alimony from his ex-wife when she threatened his ambitions. Birtherism made him a conservative hero and when Fox News gave him a platform for this baldly racist attack on Obama, the network trained conservatives to take him and his outrageous conspiracy claim seriously (which may be why many still believe it today). The remaining media haven’t been much better. You are more likely to see an empty Trump podium on CNN waiting to be graced by our Putin with a weave, than a speech from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The media legitimize Trump by ignoring his complete lack of policy knowledge, constant mendacity and refusal to release his tax returns. And no interviewer even dares ask about his birtherism now for a simple reason: Mr. Trump doesn’t want to talk about it.
  4. Mitt Romney
    The last Republican nominee for president is one of the few noble #NeverTrumpers who remain steadfast. Why? “I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Good for MItt. But it’s the least he could do. When he stood on stage to accept Trump’s endorsement as Trump was still in the midst of his full birther heat, he legitimized the reality star in a way that Fox News never could, all so he could shake off the “challenge” from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
  5. Ted Cruz and the rest of the Not-Ready-for-2016 Players.
    If there was one man who had the credibility with the conservative base to have stopped Trump before he really got going, it was Ted Cruz. Instead, he kept calling Trump “terrific” right up until the point that Donald went birther on him. Then the Texas Senator looked like a conned fool as Trump questioned his faith, called his wife ugly, and suggested his dad was involved in the JFK assassination. He got what what he deserved and so did Jeb Bush, who shied away from attacking or even defending himself against Trump months earlier. The silence and shrugging of Marco Rubio, who occasionally disagreed with Trump but never condemned his wholesale bigotry and complete unreadiness for the job until it was too late, allowed the casino mogul to build momentum. A dozen men who should have known better allowed their party to became the vehicle for the ambitions of a man who has proved the Republican Party has the immune system of an earthworm.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst