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Danziger: Canary In The GOP Coal Mine

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at

Trump Takes On ‘Corrupt System’ By Bullying Delegates

Despite ever-increasing resistance to his looney campaign, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump remains on the right path to win the Republican nomination. But in fighting what he views as a corrupt establishment, his campaign has engaged in rampant bullying to get delegates’ support.

A few days ago, Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide who is now working for the Trump campaign, went to Delaware to pressure the state’s 16 Republican delegates to support Trump, should this summer’s convention go to a second ballot and they become freed to support whomever they’d like. It turns out he may have pushed too hard. According to Politico, the delegates complained that Uddo was abrasive from his first phone call, criticizing the state party’s delegate rules and threatening Twitter reprisals from Trump.

“One of our delegates is just a little old lady,” said an anonymous source to Politico. “This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees.”

In a deeply Democratic state, Republicans have a much smaller, less professional batch of potential delegates to draw from. Delegates are often older party faithfuls with a track record of helping Republicans get elected in the state.

Despite counting as one of the smallest primary prizes of the election cycle, Trump is keen on winning over as many of Delaware’s delegates as he can. But the arm twisting employed by his campaign could result in delegates not honoring the primary results beyond the first ballot.

Uddo wasn’t the first Trump surrogate to use coercion to pressure the delegates necessary to win the nomination on a second ballot. In early April, Trump surrogate Roger Stone said he would publish the hotel room numbers of delegates who were planning on voting against Trump at the convention on a second ballot, if they had been pledged to him on the first ballot.

“We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal… I have urged Trump supporters: Come to Cleveland, march on Cleveland, join us in the Forest City,” said Stone.

There is a widespread fear among Trump supporters that anything beyond a first ballot contest would spell the end of his campaign, effectively stealing the nomination from him, they say. In Wyoming, Ted Cruz secured all 14 delegates up for grabs at the state’s Republican convention. The Texas senator had previously won the state’s popular vote, receiving 9 of 12 delegates.

The troubled, and potentially short-lived Kasich-Cruz coordination effort is another attempt by #NeverTrump Republicans to stop him from securing the nomination.

This war, between Trump supporters and the so-called Republican establishment, has been brewing for months, the latter clearly alarmed by the rise of the former. Polls have repeatedly shown the party would lose in a landslide with a Trump ticket. The divide has been further exacerbated by Trump’s accusations of corruption in the political process, which he has tied to his outsider status.

“You’re basically buying these people,” he said. “You’re basically saying, ‘Delegate, listen, we’re going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you’re going to use the spa, you’re going to this, you’re going to that, we want your vote.’ That’s a corrupt system.”

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to give a victory speech after the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primary elections during a news conference held at his Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida March 15, 2016.   REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Approaching 2016 Campaign Kickoffs A Blend Of Pageantry, Calculation

By Anita Kumar and David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton is expected to launch her long-anticipated campaign for the White House this month, making another attempt to become the first female president in the nation’s history.

The question now is where? And does it matter?

Clinton’s aides are assessing where she could make the biggest impact as she embarks on what she hopes will be a successful 20-month journey to the White House.

Is it Illinois, where she grew up? In New York, which she represented in the Senate? In a pivotal early-voting state such as New Hampshire or Iowa?

For the next several weeks, presidential-candidate announcements will be trumpeted as big news. After determining dates, the hopefuls will pick spots they say reflect their values and backgrounds, perhaps hometowns, perhaps rallies with thousands in key states.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, kicked off the announcement season last week at Liberty University, a Christian school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell in the swing state of Virginia. Clinton and a parade of Republicans are expected to follow. Up next: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who plans a rollout in Louisville on Tuesday. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is set to be next.

But does any of this hoopla really matter on Election Day?

“Nobody’s going to say, ‘I voted for that person because of his announcement,’ ” said Andrew Kohut, founding director of the Pew Research Center.

That doesn’t mean the campaigns won’t devote time and energy to well-crafted events that will make headlines around the globe.

Clinton is expected to announce her second run for the White House by the end of April, according to those knowledgeable about her plans but not authorized to speak publicly.

The former secretary of state, senator and first lady remains the presumed front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, though she continues to be dogged by ethical questions about her family foundation’s acceptance of foreign donations, as well as her use of a private email account to conduct government business. Clinton’s timetable to announce was not moved up or back because of the barrage of negative publicity, said those familiar with her plans.

Supporters in some states have been urging her to announce her candidacy soon to confront the accusations and to start fundraising. But others who are close to Clinton say she’d prefer to delay the announcement since she has no problem with name recognition and could avoid the daily fray of campaigning.

Lou D’Allesandro, a veteran state senator and Democratic operative from New Hampshire, said he always encouraged candidates to come out early. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. But Kiki McLean, a senior adviser to Clinton’s campaign in 2008, said delaying until a candidate was ready showed a disciplined strategy.

In the meantime, Ready for Hillary, the political action committee that’s helping to lay the groundwork for a second presidential run, has collected more than 3.5 million names on a supporters list. Staffers are quietly being hired in early states, though they aren’t being paid yet. Supporters have started training and canvassing.

Clinton entered the 2008 race by releasing a video in January 2007 timed to come just before President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, as a way to draw a contrast with the administration. She spent the day calling supporters, donors and friends, participating in online chats and then traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic activist who was a Clinton co-chair in New Hampshire in 2008, said it was difficult to say where Clinton would make her announcement this time since she had connections to so many places.

Donald Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who’s close to the Clintons, suggests a Norman Rockwell-esque piece of the United States, which could be many states, perhaps even an early one.

There are three common announcement locations: the symbolic event, the hometown or the visit to a key state.

Cruz followed that path by speaking in front of more than 8,000 people in Virginia at the world’s largest Christian school, where he aimed to mobilize evangelical voters.

Symbolic announcements send clear signals to the most likely supporters. “You want to mobilize your base,” said Will Rogers, chairman of the Polk County (Iowa) Republican Party. “It’s a way to create momentum.”

That worked for Barack Obama, who announced his candidacy on a freezing-cold day in February 2007 in Springfield, Ill., where he’d served as a state senator. He invoked the legacy of native son Abraham Lincoln, saying, “He tells us there is power in hope.”

More popular is the visit back home, in which candidates try to show that despite achieving great fame and power, they are still just aw-shucks folks who got some breaks. Paul plans to start his announcement tour Tuesday with a “Stand with Rand” rally in the ballroom of Louisville’s Galt House Hotel.

Going home allows the candidate a touch of humility. “Neither of my parents finished high school. They didn’t have much money,” said Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., as he announced at his elementary school in 2003. “But they saved what they could — 5, 10 dollars a week — so I could get an education and live out my dreams.”

Not all announcements are big shows. Clinton’s first rollout was that Saturday morning video. George H. W. Bush announced his 1980 candidacy at the National Press Club in Washington. Gen. Alexander Haig went to New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1987 to make it official, and raise lots of money.

The risk in a big announcement is that it goes haywire. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s 2011 event is often remembered for aides misspelling his name on reporters’ passes. Huntsman’s campaign fizzled quickly, but few blamed it on that gaffe.

“Most people don’t know about these announcements,” said Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, “and don’t care.”

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2014 Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, IA. (Gregory Hauenstein/Flickr)

Why Is Eric Cantor Afraid Of Immigration Reform?

UPDATE: Apparently, Cantor had plenty of reason to be worried. Shortly after 8pm EST, the Associated Press called Tuesday’s primary for Brat.

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) faces college professor David Brat in Tuesday’s Republican primary, the results will widely be viewed as a signal of how dangerous immigration politics can be for Republican candidates.

Cantor is almost certain to win Tuesday’s primary, given his superior name recognition and overwhelming financial advantage. But the Majority Leader is taking Brat’s challenge seriously. Brat has focused his campaign on immigration-based attacks — frequently blasting Cantor for “working in cahoots” with Democrats in an “amnesty drive” — and Cantor is clearly worried that the attacks could stick.

Although he often speaks publicly of the need to reform the system, Cantor has been sending out strongly anti-immigration direct mail in his district, boasting that “Conservative Republican Eric Cantor is stopping the Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty,” and proudly quoting an article that labels Cantor as the “the No. 1 guy standing between the American people and immigration reform.”

Cantor’s actions have matched his advertising; he has led the efforts to block even the most politically innocuous reforms from reaching the House floor for a vote.

There’s a very real reason to question what Cantor is afraid of, however. Although conservatives and pundits alike frequently warn that immigration reform is political suicide for Republican candidates, polling data does not support their concerns. The latest such survey, released on Election Day by the Public Religion Research Institute, exposes the futility of the GOP’s race to the right on the issue.

According to the poll, a 51 percent majority of self-identified Republicans support establishing a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Furthermore, the poll makes it clear that Cantor and his fellow Republicans should not expect an electoral boost from blocking reform measures. In fact, the opposite holds true:

Even among Republican voters, opposing immigration reform carries more political risk than benefit. Nearly half (46 percent) of Republican voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, while 21 percent say they would be more likely to support such a candidate. Three in ten (30 percent) Republican voters say it would not make a difference to their vote either way.

Granted, Cantor’s district in the Richmond suburbs is extremely conservative. But the available polling of the race does not suggest that its right-leaning voters make Cantor more vulnerable to immigration attacks. According to a June 6 survey from GOP pollster Vox Populi, although a vast majority of Republican primary voters oppose a path to citizenship, just 9 percent rated immigration as the most important issue to them. That leaves immigration in third place behind government spending and debt (30 percent) and jobs and the economy (22 percent). In other words, Cantor does not stand to gain very much from his nativist-themed campaign.

His efforts could come with costs, though. Democrats have repeatedly warned that time is running out for House Republicans to act on immigration reform. If no progress is made by the end of the summer, then President Obama could choose to deal with the problem through executive action — resulting in more liberal reforms than Republicans would support, and exacerbating the GOP’s already serious problems with Hispanic voters.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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