Chaos In Trump Land And The RNC As Donald Trump Continues To Fiddle While Rome Burns

Donald Trump continues to be Donald Trump. Which is quickly turning into a political disaster.

Trump And GOP Elephant

After a Republican National Convention that ran far less smoothly than officials would have hoped, a week in which the Republican nominee has spent more time attacking the parents of a solider who died saving the lives of his fellow service members, and poll numbers that clearly seem to indicate that Hillary Clinton is regaining her momentum, the media is full of reports that indicate chaos inside the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee as the campaign creeps closer to Labor  Day. CNN, for example, reported this morning that advisers close to Trump are growing increasingly frustrated by the candidate’s apparent refusal to stay on message and refrain from the kind of off the cuff speaking that has gotten him in trouble in the past:
Donald Trump aides and people close to his campaign are increasingly frustrated by his insistence on waging various fights that steer him off message:

Sources close to the campaign are describing a series of missteps that are trailing the GOP presidential nominee, most prominently his now multi-day battle against Khizr Khan, the Muslim father of a killed US soldier.

Trump has spent the days since the Democratic convention litigating whether their son is a hero, and on Tuesday only moved onto an equally unhelpful news cycle: whether he supports House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the 2008 presidential nominee, John McCain, in their primaries.

A knowledgeable Republican source told CNN that some of Trump’s campaign staff — even campaign manager Paul Manafort — “feel like they are wasting their time,” given Trump’s recent comments. And two sources close to the Trump campaign said privately they wished Trump would apologize to the Gold Star family, even though the Khans attacked Trump from the stage at the Democratic National Convention last month.

“(Manafort) has made clear no one can help him if no one believes he will do what it takes to win,” said a senior trump aide.

To put the current situation into context, consider the fact that Trump has wasted nearly half of the general election doing things that clearly aren’t helping his campaign:

It has been 91 days since John Kasich dropped out of the presidential race, handing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump and giving him the opportunity to transition to the general election. It is currently 97 days until Election Day.

So Donald Trump has wasted just shy of half of his general election push. If Trump still needs to adjust to the general election, he’d better hurry up, or he’ll adjust at about midnight on Nov. 7. Compare Trump’s position to his opponent’s: Hillary Clinton was raising money and lining up support for the general before Bernie Sanders conceded, to the annoyance of Sanders supporters. Trump didn’t start raising money until a month and a half after all of his opponents dropped out.

There are two slightly overlapping efforts to get Donald Trump elected. There’s that of Trump and his team, and there’s that of the Republican Party. One would not be surprised to learn that members of the latter — folks who’ve run and won campaigns in the past — are a bit panicky. Trump’s indifference to annoying his ostensible party is one thing, but his failure to run any semblance of a campaign is another thing entirely. Wewent over this Tuesday, but a quick review is in order:

  • Trump had $1.3 million on hand at the end of June. Clinton had $42.5 million.
  • Trump had just over 70 people on payroll in June. Clinton had 10 times as many.
  • Trump has disavowed a broad data-field operation. Clinton’s campaign is continuing its robust operation from the primaries.
  • Trump has lost or fired a number of staffers in recent weeks.
  • Trump has no TV ad time reserved; a PAC supporting him has committed under $1 million in a couple of states. Clinton and PACs supporting her have reserved nearly $100 million.

If you’re used to running political campaigns, those are coronary-inducing numbers. And that doesn’t even include the fact that the candidate keeps throwing boulders in his own path.

None of this has really mattered to Trump, though, because he and his team have been moving along in lock-step. Trump clearly thinks that the process he used to crawl past the competition in the Republican primary will work again in the general, and it’s not clear that anyone in his close orbit disagrees — or, perhaps, can convince him that he’s wrong.

ABC News, meanwhile, is reporting that top Republican officials are so frustrated by the current state of Trump’s campaign that they have started talking about the RNC’s options if Trump decides to drop out of the race altogether, including the implication that there might be some discussion of trying to force him to give up the nomination if he isn’t going to run a serious campaign for President. In reality, of course, these discussions are largely a waste of time. Regardless of how lackadaisical he has been in his campaigning of late, Donald Trump is not going to give up at this point in the race and the RNC has essentially no authority to force him out of the race absent some evidence of fraud or evidence that he is not eligible to hold the office he was nominated for to begin with. Since no such evidence exists, discussions about replacing him on the ticket in the manner that Democrats replaced Edmund Muskie as the 1972 Vice-Presidential nominee are really nothing more than a waste of time and yet another sign that Republican powers that be still haven’t come to terms with the fact that whatever chance they had to stop Donald Trump slipped away a long time ago. As Philip Bump notes, then, these latest reports about some behind the scenes effort to remove him from the can largely be dismissed as the sheer fantasy they largely are. As Bump puts it:

Donald Trump is your Republican nominee for president and he will almost certainly be the Republican nominee for president on Nov. 8. Unlike with a Zune or a Tebow, there’s no eBay and no Eagles to let the party push the problem to someone else. As with an eBay auction, the moment to keep Trump from being the nominee was right before you clicked “Buy It Now.”

It’s not like some of us didn’t try to warn you guys. But did you listen? Of course not. Now, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourselves.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    I wouldn’t be absolutely sure that Trump might not drop out. He appears to be hinting at such an action, given his recent comments about rigged debates and rigged elections. There’s very little chance he can win in November, and remember, Donald Trump never loses.

    Recall also that he said he might go third party if the Republicans weren’t nice to him. I don’t think he’d do that at this point, because even he knows that’s too late.

  2. Jen says:

    There has to be an upside in it for him, for Trump to drop out now. I’m now thinking that he might just decide to run with the “rigged” thing, lose, and then sell books (written by someone else, obviously)/launch his cable network, etc., and make bank on selling this conspiracy junk to his supporters.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  3. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    The “upside” for Trump might be in not losing badly to a woman. If he bails now, he can always say it was because the election was rigged; otherwise he’d have won in a landslide. It might be harder to maintain the charade if he goes all the way to November.

    I wonder, though, how much his brand has been burnished. He’s got the crackpot misogynist xenophobe racist buffoon contingent locked up, but will that make him much money?

  4. Mikey says:

    CNBC and NYT reporter John Harwood tweeted this yesterday afternoon, which would indicate some big problems in the Trump campaign:

    longtime ally of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager: “Manafort not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.”

    This morning, The Hill’s Johnathan Swan tweeted:

    Just got off the phone with a top Trump donor and fundraiser. At wit’s end. Expletive after expletive. Can’t fathom what Trump is doing.

    The wheels may be coming off in a hurry.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    It’s dangerous to try to divine the inner workings of anyone, and that goes double for Donald Trump, but there was something he said recently that made me think he was reaching an internal breaking point. Something to the effect that “You may not like Donald Trump, you may hate Donald Trump but you still will have to vote for me. You’ve got no one else”. To me this sounded like something you hear in business all the time – “personalities don’t matter, if you want to buy my property you have to buy it from me”. But in this context it seems desperate and flailing, because it just doesn’t connect with reality. It seems like he is trying to morph the situation into something that he is used to, something that he can relate too. We are in between “denial” and “bargaining” here…

  6. Pete S says:

    The strange thing is that there seemed to be a recurrent theme from some mainstream media outlets late Monday, genuinely questioning Trump’s mental health. Then he had the day he had yesterday, attacking Republicans and sending out surrogates to say really stupid things on TV. His Washington Post interview was a piece of work as well. If the campaign professionals had any influence at all they would have convinced him to at least act sane for a day.

    This really stopped being funny long ago. The Republican leadership who still have not withdrawn their endorsements of Trump need to be confronted about this by reporters every day.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: And even that attitude really only holds for one-of-a-kind purchases, such as large chunk of immobile real estate.

    You try to sell a commodity with that attitude, you know what you’re going to get? A big “EFF YOU” and determination on the part of the putative client to purchase from someone else.

    Someone should point out to Trump that no, he isn’t the only choice, even for dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. They can vote for someone else. Or they can do a write-in. Or they can stay home.

  8. Andrew says:

    And now we see why he can not run a casino. It seems it was only a matter of time, when the spotlight was directly on him and no one else, before he cracked.

    Also in recent news Atlantic City Trump Taj Mahal is closing due to the strike. Costing 3000 people their jobs.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    I always thought Trump had a severe personality disorder, (or two), now I’m wondering if this is what it looks like when a psychopath develops Alzheimers.

    Of course he may drop out. His actions are random, disconnected from any goal. He could get pissy in the middle of some call-in interview and quit. He’s nuts.

  10. Jen says:

    It’s interesting that there is now an open discussion on “here’s how.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/03/the-rnc-can-legally-dump-donald-trump-but-it-has-to-act-fast.html

  11. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    He could be all lizard brain and no limbic system. That would explain a lot.

  12. J-Dub says:

    @CSK: Most of his supporters already own their survival kits, bunkers, and AR-15s. I guess he could always market a line of bullets soaked in pig’s blood.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s not like some of us didn’t try to warn you guys. But did you listen? Of course not. Now, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourselves.

    No Doug, they blame Obama, and Clinton, and the other Clinton, and Nixon, and Reagan, And Bush (both of them) and Cheney, and….

  14. J-Dub says:

    @Pete S:

    If the campaign professionals had any influence at all they would have convinced him to at least act sane for a day.

    As Stephen Colbert said last night, “I really don’t want to start every show talking about Donald Trump but words just keep coming out of his face”.

  15. Lit3Bolt says:

    Of course, let’s not forget the 13.5 million people who voted for this nutcase, seeing Churchill-ian “toughness” in free association bigotry and narcissism. Apparently 13.5 million people out there in America need Daddies to point at the bad people and give them permission to hate.

    But hell, let’s game this scenario out. What these stories and leaks are in disguise are STRONG HINTS from the GOP establishment for Trump to pack it up, or at least go away for the duration of the Olympics, maybe even longer. He’s hurting the brand.

    If the RNC tries to remove Trump by declaring him unfit, the Alex Jones crowd (not to mention Trump) will go apesh!t. They’ll want their pound of flesh, even if it means ensuring a HRC election and a Dem Senate and SCOTUS.

    If the RNC waffles and just uses the typical political leaks and media attacks, like they’ve been doing, then time will be up. The states are already making their early voting ballots. Within one or two weeks, it will be too late to back out of having Trump’s name on at least a decent number of states. The litigation prospects are enough to make a lawyer’s heart skip a beat.

    This political fantasy fapping also begs the question: Who will be an appropriate replacement for Trump? His wife(ves)? Mike Pence, taking one for the team? Newt Gingrich, taking one for his book deals? Paul Ryan, sacrificing his political career for a mess not of his making? Not to mention the howls of “cuckservative” ringing from sea to sea against whoever steps up.

    It’s too late. You’ve had your convention. You’ve made the buttons. It’s August and the election is in November. You’ve motivated and energized an otherwise lethargic Democratic opposition, not to mention there’s no money (NONE) for anyone besides Trump.

    It’s over, GOP. Hillary will be the first woman President of the United States. And she thanks you for your unwitting help.

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: As said, it’s the rally of the “It isn’t MY fault I’m a loser” brigade…..

    Plus, am quite positive a lot of the guys voting for Trump wish they could do what he does with his wives, i.e., as soon as one of them starts to look a little shop-worn or starts mouthing back, find a younger, more naive replacement.

  17. CSK says:

    @J-Dub:

    You raise an interesting question here. I’m trying to imagine how the Trumpkins would react if he bailed or was forced out of the race. Would they grab those guns and start shooting? These are very, very angry people, and they’re about as rational as Trump, which is to say, not very.

    Most Trumpkins are former Palinistas. She was going to save them and America, but then she quit on them. (That is not how they see it, of course.) So they transferred all their hopes and dreams to Trump. Balked a second time, what will they do? I don’t think violence is totally out of the question. They talk a lot about it.

  18. Jen says:

    @CSK: I think–I could be wrong–but those two scenarios would have different outcomes.

    If Trump quits, they’ll rally around him, agreeing with him that the game was rigged from the get-go, and either stay home, vote for him in protest (where available, depends on when he drops out, see the Daily Beast link for details), and generally stomp their feet, squawk about a third party in 2020, etc.

    If he’s forced out, I think that’s when there’s potential for Bad Things to happen.

  19. Actually no matter if someone doesn’t know then its up to other people that they will help, so here it
    happens.

  20. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    I wouldn’t be absolutely sure that Trump might not drop out. He appears to be hinting at such an action, given his recent comments about rigged debates and rigged elections.

    Trump will not “lose” the election. He will either win the election or else the election will have been stolen from him. The latter scenario will provide the basis for his next career, which could be some sort of Trump TV thing in which he plays the hero-martyr.

    In other words, he wins either way.

    Trump won’t drop out, as that would hurt his brand. For him, being a quitter would be the worst outcome of all.

    I remain fairly confident that Trump will lose and I’m not convinced that he actually wants to win. But I wouldn’t expect him to quit, and I don’t think that he’ll lose by much.

  21. J-Dub says:
  22. J-Dub says:

    It’s a slow day in Trump-town. The best thing to come out of it today is this quote: ‘Nobody knows construction better than I can’

  23. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve been trying to find a difference between the current Trump campaign and one deliberately designed to lose the election.

    Still trying.

  24. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    Good point, but here’s the thing with the Trumpkins: Even if he quits voluntarily, they’ll still see it as him being forced out by the “global elitists,” just as they did with Palin. (Did you know that Romney’s evil minions threatened her children if she didn’t bail on the 2012 race? Well, you do now.) That’s the way these people think. Everything’s a conspiracy directed at them and theirs.

    @Pch101:

    You may be making the all-too-common mistake of looking at this rationally. Trump isn’t just a loose cannon; he’s an armed nuclear warhead (a device, by the way, for which he seems to have an inordinate affection).

  25. Scott says:

    Trump had $1.3 million on hand at the end of June. Clinton had $42.5 million.

    Fund raising must be going down the tubes right now. Who in their right mind would send him a dime?

    Just got my fundraiser letter from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. Had a postage paid envelope with it. Another mistake, it is being mailed backed empty. I know it’s childish but there is a certain satisfaction to add, in small way, to his negative cash flow.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    @psychics Directory:…

    “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
    “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
    “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
    “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
    Lewis Carroll

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Scott:..it is being mailed backed empty.

    No! No! No!
    What you do is tape it to a brick. As far as I know the USPS has to deliver it.

  28. CSK says:

    @Scott:

    Oh, lucky you. I’ve received two emails from him so far today telling me that if I give him $148 he”ll send me a signed copy of The Art of the Deal.

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Throw in a glossed copy of the Corpus Iuris Civilis in the original Latin and I might think about it.

    (based on the prices I’ve seen in abebooks I’ll be ahead by about $7852 plus.)

  30. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Has anyone checked up to see if Trump actually ever did contribute to his campaign the amount he said he would? He made a big noise about “forgiving” the amount he had “loaned” the campaign, but I never saw any evidence that he had actually done it….

  31. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    On June 23, he announced that he had forgiven the loan.

    On June 30, the FEC announced that it had not received the paperwork forgiving the loan.

    His spokegal Hope Hicks said they would be filing the papers with the FEC for the next quarter. That means Trump had until August 1 to reimburse himself from donations.

    Cute.

  32. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    I’m sorry but I don’t think you understand Trump.

    Trump is ultimately a bulls**tter. He has made a career out of telling people what they want to hear and building himself into a larger-than-life figure, without any concern whatsoever about delivering what he promised. In essence, he’s a stereotypical sociopath who is so confident in his own supposed brilliance that he can just wing it.

    You can criticize aspects of his business acumen, but the guy has done a brilliant job of creating a brand based upon this persona of his. A lot of people like that persona, you probably just don’t know that many of them. (Certainly, few of them are posting on this website.)

    There will be even more people who aren’t necessarily impressed by Trump yet will vote for him anyway. Trump articulates a fear of foreigners, Muslims and economic insecurity to which many people can relate, and Trump projects the image (at least to some) that he’s a doer. Don’t assume that his fruitcake demeanor automatically disqualifies him from winning a large number of votes.

  33. steve s says:

    What you do is tape it to a brick. As far as I know the USPS has to deliver it.

    that sounds like an urban legend.

  34. Tyrell says:

    The worst presidential race since the 1856 three candidate debacle of James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and John C. “Pathfinder” Fremont ! Maybe worser !

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @steve s:..that sounds like an urban legend.

    We did it in 1972 when Nixon was running on the advice of two of my college roommates who had carried the US Mail as summer help.
    I can’t believe that they would jive me like that, would they?

  36. ptfe says:

    @Mister Bluster: Won’t this just help him build The Wall?

  37. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    Oh, I understand what Trump is, and I accept that a lot of people have fallen for the con. We could, I suppose, argue about the number of people who’ve fallen for his line.

    But here’s the thing: If we can extrapolate from his recent behavior, which is really just a heightened version of his behavior all along, that he’ll act more and more irrational as the campaign progresses, he’s going to lose support. Partially that will be because he’ll start contradicting himself on the issues his supporters hold most dear. He already has done that; last June he said that his immigration proposal would have more “heart” than anyone’s else’s. That is not what the Throw-’em-Out-and-Build-the-Wall contingent wants to hear.

    But my real interest at this particular moment is whether he bails. I think it’s possible, if his poll numbers start really going south.

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Paul Ryan seems to be the name that comes up as a replacement for Trump, should that become possible. It’s going to be interesting to see how the press deal with Ryan in future. They’ll likely double down on Ryan as the reasonable conservative in contrast to Trump. But one may hope Trump has broken them of their habitual both-sides-itis and at least some will portray Ryan as the innumerate huckster he really is?

  39. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    The Trumpkins will go totally insane if Ryan replaces Trump. Ryan is their absolute villain in chief. They hate him worse than they hate Obama, because they see him as doing nothing but selling out to Obama.

  40. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    At this point, the Trump supporters who genuinely like him are more interested in his tone that the details of what he says.

  41. Moderate Mom says:

    @Andrew: Blame that one on Carl Icahn. He owns it. Trump sold it a good bit ago, retaining only 5% ownership and another 5% for the Trump name emblazoned on the building under a licensing agreement. He has sued Icahn to have his name removed because the hotel and casino has fallen into such disrepair, in violation of the licensing agreement.

    That said, Trump is the biggest BS artist I’ve ever heard and I cannot fathom why anyone would vote for him. I understand some people being unhappy and wanting change in DC, but not by voting someone that seems mentally unstable.

  42. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    If you’re talking about the hardest hardcore, I don’t disagree. But say that every single person who voted for him in the primary is still with him. That’s–what? 15 million? He needs a lot more than that to win, and raving lunacy probably won’t draw in a lot of independents.

    And I have the feeling that a lot of people who’d vote for Trump because he’s not Hillary will reconsider if he descends into gibbering.

  43. Jen says:

    What fascinates me in this whole Trump/Ryan kerfuffle is that should the Electoral College end in a tie (the NYT put together a reasonably plausible map showing how this could happen and with third-parties pulling votes in swing states, it’s not that far-fetched), does Trump realize that it’s RYAN who would decide the election?

    I’ve said it before, this campaign has been great to pull out all of the wacko scenarios for a test spin.

  44. Hal_10000 says:

    The GOP is stuck, unfortunately. Trump will not quite the race; he’s enjoying the ego boost too much. And they can’t force him out; it would cause a rebellion. No, they’re going to have to ride this horse right over the cliff.

    Were I in charge of the GOP, I’d just abandon Trump. Don’t give him any money, don’t appear at any events, don’t endorse. Pretend like he doesn’t exist and that we really have a parliamentary system. Throw all your resources into Congressional and state level races. And then vote Johnson just to be sure.

  45. Concerned UK Citizen says:

    @ptfe:

    Love it! Hilarious,

  46. PJ says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Were I in charge of the GOP, I’d just abandon Trump. Don’t give him any money, don’t appear at any events, don’t endorse. Pretend like he doesn’t exist and that we really have a parliamentary system. Throw all your resources into Congressional and state level races. And then vote Johnson just to be sure.

    And the Trump will run against every Republican candidate who doesn’t support him.
    He will just tell his supporters to ask their GOP candidates if they support him, and if they don’t, then they shouldn’t vote for them. Because then they are crooked, bought by Clinton.

  47. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    Trump will get a lot of votes just because he’s the nominee of a major political party or perceived as the lesser of two evils. That alone probably gets him close to 40%.

    Then he’ll win some others based upon message. I don’t think that some of you realize that his message can be appealing and not just among our Klansmen in training. A lot of Americans are scared of something, and some of them will either see Trump as a guy who can get it done or else are willing to give him a shot even if they don’t expect much.

    And honestly, I believe that a lot of you are underestimating the fear of Islam. Just because they’re not burning crosses and wearing pointy hats doesn’t mean that they aren’t nervous about Muslims.

    A lot of Americans don’t “hate” Muslims or wish to round them up and ship them off to camps. But they don’t quite trust them, either, and there is this vague fear that Muslims want to kill and/or convert us. The Democrats’ decision to go out of their way to have a Muslim serve as a voice against Trump will support that fear among those who are inclined to feel that way.

    I’m willing to bet that if you conducted a poll about attitudes towards Trump’s remarks about Khan that a majority would disapprove. Yet I would also guess if you had asked them instead whether they had changed their votes over the last week that virtually none of them would have. Even among those who disapproved, there will be more than a few who think that Trump took things a bit too far but that his overall concerns are reasonable. The country is not as enlightened as you think.

  48. Tyrell says:

    I would not use the word fear, but maybe cautious. A lot of this is fed by the sensationalized, over hype “breaking news” networks. Every few days some general or security chief comes on and talks about the spread and increase of ISIS and terrorism. And everytime we enter a sporting event, airport, concert, or theme park rigorous searches are made. But if you ask a bunch of parents with teen drivers, they are much more worried when their kids are out on the roads, highways, and byways
    In reality the chances of a person being killed or injured by terrorists in this country are still quite remote..

  49. bill says:

    sour grapes make bad whine.
    i cant wait for the debates- will hillary come out as a feeble granny type looking for trump to make her a “victim”? or maybe she’ll play tough and such, hopefully not hack/cough throughput.

  50. CSK says:

    @Pch101: The country is not as enlightened as you think.

    “But isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  51. Jen says:

    @bill: I see you are assuming Trump will actually show up for the debates.

  52. Concerned UK Citizen says:

    Why is it that, every time I hear DT, Lewandoski et al, I hear the theme tune of The Twilight Zone……..?

  53. MarkedMan says:

    I have no clue whether or not The Donald will drop out. And I strongly suspect he doesn’t know either, as he doesn’t seem to be able to understand or control his own motivations. The only thing he has been consistently clear about is “If someone hits me, I have to hit them back. And what is wrong with you that you don’t understand that?”

    On the “He will drop out” side are all kinds of things, but maybe most importantly is that he may be really hurting his business.

    On the “He will never drop out” side is just personal experience with a few guys that really remind me of Trump. And one thing all three had in common was a not-unfounded belief that if they made everything unpleasant enough for long enough everyone else would be driven from the field and they would get what they wanted. That actually can work in business, but at a personal cost I, and most people, would never be willing to pay. I suspect for Trump it is just a normal days work.

  54. An Interested Party says:

    i cant wait for the debates…

    Yes, a lot of us can’t wait for the debates…what’s he going to do, keep calling her crooked? She’s going to wipe the floor with this buffoon…it’ll be very nice to see him go up against a debate opponent who isn’t afraid of him, unlike all the Republican losers…

  55. Kari Q says:

    @Jen:

    Contrarian view, and quite possibly totally mistaken, but I wonder if Trump really believes he is a good debater. After all, didn’t he win the GOP debates? Shouldn’t it be easier for him to beat a woman than a bunch of men? Maybe he’s actually thinking he’ll win the debates and be elected on the strength of that?

  56. Pch101 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    John Kerry ran circles around George W. Bush in the 2004 debates. That worked out well.

  57. Mister Bluster says:

    @ptfe: +10!
    (Bricks aren’t just for walls.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npfQqxxqA18

  58. michael reynolds says:

    Check out the latest Fox News poll. I don’t normally go to Fox for a fun time, but there is just so much happy on this one page I almost can’t stand it. 10 point lead. And all the other numbers are as bad or worse.

    It almost defies excerpting because there’s just so very much good stuff. But here’s one bit:

    Trump is the choice among whites by 10 points (49-39 percent), men by 5 (45-40 percent), white evangelical Christians by 50 (69-19 percent), and whites without a college degree by 16 (52-36 percent).

    Right now he’s underperforming his 2012 counterpart. Romney won whites by 20 points (59-39 percent), men by 7 (52-45 percent), white evangelicals by 57 (78-21 percent), and whites without a degree by 26 (62-36 percent).

    That’s right, he’s doing worse than Romney in his own key demos. But wait, there’s more:

    Qualified to be president? Sixty-five percent say Clinton is vs. 43 percent Trump. Fifty-eight percent feel he isn’t qualified, including 45 percent who say “not at all.”

    On temperament, 64 percent say Clinton has it. Just 37 percent say Trump does. And 72 percent think Clinton has the knowledge to serve effectively, while 40 percent say the same for Trump.

    45% of voters say Trump is not even a little bit qualified. Wow. Yeah, baby, that is some sweet, sweet polling. I’m not sure at this point that even another 9-11 could get Trump elected. 61% say Trump does not have the temperament to serve as POTUS versus 34% for Hillary. And it’s only just begun, because this is going to deepen and then it’s going to set like concrete.

    The ads have barely begun. The Jim Crow, er, I mean of course the “Voter ID” laws, are falling like dominos. The slow drip, drip, drip of prominent Republicans defecting has only begun. The effect of week after week of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Tim Kaine and so many others out on the stump has barely begun. The sophisticated Clinton GOTV effort will go up against the. . . um, nothing, because the Great Businessman has zero GOTV effort.

    Cheetoh Jesus can’t even beat Mitt Romney, let alone Hillary “I’m Still Standing” Clinton.

    So, who do the Republicans turn to when a month from now (or a week, or a day, or five minutes ago) Trump announces on a call-in to some random right-wing talk radio show that he’s quitting to focus on his business? Everyone’s thinking Paul Ryan. But Ryan has the Trump stink all over him. The ads would write themselves. They’ll have to go to Kasich or back to Mitt. When this is over the only Republicans with a future will be those who refused to endorse.

  59. Kari Q says:

    @Kari Q:

    Just to clarify my own post, I meant that Trump in his own thoughts probably thinks a woman would be easier to beat in a debate. I think it’s clear that Hillary could humiliate him in a debate, but I don’t think Trump realizes it.

  60. Jen says:

    @Kari Q: I think he does realize it, which is why he refused to debate Cruz and Kasich toward the end of the Republican primary. He knew that focus on him was diluted when there were a bunch of people onstage. He’s also known Hillary personally for years and has probably seen or heard her speak on issues firsthand. I truly think he knows he’s in trouble.

    The thing is, with Trump, either one or both of us could be right on any given day. He is just that erratic.

  61. Buffalo Rude says:

    @steve s:

    that sounds like an urban legend.

    I dunno about a brick, but I’m pretty sure they do have to pay the weighted postage if you mail it back. I used to put those metal strips used to weigh down model trains in the return envelopes, or cram them with blank sheets of paper, when I would receive solicitations for donations from groups I didn’t like.

  62. Buffalo Rude says:

    @PJ:

    He will just tell his supporters to ask their GOP candidates if they support him, and if they don’t, then they shouldn’t vote for them. Because then they are crooked, bought by Clinton.

    And thats the ultimate Catch-22. If the party somehow takes the nomination from the Short Fingered Vulgarian, at least 27%, or more, of their voters will walk and the GOP can kiss the Senate goodbye and possibly the House (though I’m not convinced that could happen, but a boy can dream.)

  63. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    John Kerry ran circles around George W. Bush in the 2004 debates. That worked out well.

    John Kerry had been trailing Bush by around 5-10 points prior to the first debate. After the first debate, his numbers rose until he was nearly neck and neck with the president. And that’s more or less where they stayed until Election Day, when he lost by a hair (about 100,000 votes in Ohio, to be precise). The debates may not have caused him to win the election in the end, but they certainly helped him.

  64. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    There had been times earlier in 2004 when Kerry was leading the polls. That never occurred at any point after the debates. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2004/president/us/general_election_bush_vs_kerry-939.html#polls

    Kerry lost the election, which is a good indication that the debates weren’t enough to get him there. He was the smartest guy in the room, but he ultimately lost the debate because Bush was running as the folksy anti-terrorism president (in spite of his failures in that regard) and Kerry let him get away with it.

    Kerry should have highlighted the Bush administration’s failure to capture or kill Bin Laden as a profound failure, but he didn’t do it. Kerry should have pledged to get it done, but he didn’t. Republicans are perceived as being stronger on foreign policy, and Kerry didn’t alter that perception during a time of war.

    And unfortunately, Kerry probably came off as being a bit too intelligent. A lot of Americans don’t care much for smarts without folksiness — they presume that being articulate and thoughtful is the same as being weak. Which was the point that I was making earlier: Making the Republican look dumb doesn’t win the election because many voters don’t consider that to be a virtue.

    The debates were a lost opportunity. One does not earn bragging rights for coming in second in an election.

  65. An Interested Party says:

    John Kerry ran circles around George W. Bush in the 2004 debates. That worked out well.

    Bush ran as a war president that year…Trump has no similar advantage this year…

  66. Pch101 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Liberals need to understand that being more clever than Republicans not only doesn’t clinch the election but it can backfire.

    Trump’s biggest fans like him because he’s a reactionary, not in spite of it.

  67. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    There had been times earlier in 2004 when Kerry was leading the polls. That never occurred at any point after the debates.

    But the debates weren’t the cause of his decline; that decline happened long before the debates with the Swift Boat attacks, a barrage of negative ads, and a weak Democratic Convention (where they actually didn’t bother to attack Bush at all!).

    The debates were a lost opportunity. One does not earn bragging rights for coming in second in an election.

    You seem to be committing one of the commonest fallacies of post-election analysis, where everything the losing candidate did is retroactively interpreted as having been negative or a “missed opportunity.” Bush was a terrible president, but it’s easy to forget that he was still fairly popular in 2004. His approval rating on Election Day was comparable to Obama’s in 2012 (just over 50%), and his average approval rating all year was higher than Obama’s. That doesn’t mean he was unbeatable, but it does mean that anyone who challenged him was by default an underdog. So Kerry’s narrow defeat wasn’t such a great indignity. He certainly made errors during the campaign, but all the available evidence suggests the debates improved his standing compared to where it had been immediately before the debates. It didn’t bring him into the lead, but his poll numbers definitely rose. It was, in fact, one of the strongest post-debate bumps recorded in the modern era. The idea that he could have won the election with a better debate performance is scarcely less delusional than the right-wing claim that John McCain could have won in 2008 by bringing up Bill Ayers more. It hurts to lose, and partisans are always predisposed to blame the candidate when it happens, which is what leads to these silly narratives about how John Kerry was some horribly weak nominee and that someone else would have blown it out of the park.

  68. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    silly narratives about how John Kerry was some horribly weak nominee and that someone else would have blown it out of the park.

    Strawman much? I know that you want to score points, but kindly go put words into other peoples’ mouths, not into mine.

    The point remains that there were talking points that Kerry could have used but didn’t. Kerry was ahead earlier in the race but never recovered.

  69. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    The point remains that there were talking points that Kerry could have used but didn’t. Kerry was ahead earlier in the race but never recovered.

    That is a patent non sequitur. There’s no way to know for sure how Kerry would have fared had he used other talking points, but the fact is that he scored one of the largest post-debate bumps ever recorded, and (unlike Romney’s 2012 bump) it never subsided before Election Day. To measure the impact of his debate performance using his poll numbers from months before the debate as the baseline is absurd.

  70. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Well, when someone doesn’t use an obvious talking point that could potentially turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness, then I would fairly conclude that it was probably a mistake. I saw it at the time, and I’m wiling to bet that you didn’t.

    And again, I will remind you that elections have only one winner, and Kerry had an advantage for a time that was not regained by the debates. An action that does not produce the desired outcome cannot be branded as a success.

  71. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump is the choice among […] white evangelical Christians by 50 (69-19 percent)

    This disgusts me more than anything else about the Trump campaign. Trump is the embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins. He is personally immoral, theologically ignorant, and fickle in his affiliations. Evangelical Christians (of whatever race, gender, or species) should be united against him to an unprecedented degree.

    The explanation for why this is not the case is… unflattering in the extreme to white evangelicals.

  72. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    In the United States, conservative evangelical Christianity is often rooted in America’s “traditional values” of racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Trump is quite good at those, so it is no surprise that they like him.

    Let’s remember that antebellum Southern protestants used the Bible to justify slavery. The linkage between Christianity and discrimination runs deep in the US. Religion provides a veneer of legitimacy.

  73. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    Well, when someone doesn’t use an obvious talking point that could potentially turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness, then I would fairly conclude that it was probably a mistake.

    But saying it “could potentially turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness” is nothing more than speculation. Candidates try out attacks on each other all the time, and getting one to stick isn’t a simple matter of uttering it at a debate.

    And again, I will remind you that elections have only one winner, and Kerry had an advantage for a time that was not regained by the debates.

    What are you “reminding” me of? I specifically addressed that very point in my last response. And you totally ignored it.

    Kerry had a polling lead months before the first debate. That is, by definition, not a valid baseline from which to judge the effectiveness of his debate performance.

    Why do you have this habit of ignoring people’s rebuttals and then simply repeating the point under contention, preceded by a condescending “I’m going to remind you”? Saying it more than once doesn’t make it more convincing.

    An action that does not produce the desired outcome cannot be branded as a success.

    The logic of your argument implies that we can never judge anything a losing candidate did as having been effective, because none of it caused him to be elected president. That’s absurd.

    On the day of the first debate, Kerry was trailing Bush by over 5 percentage points in RCP’s average. By Election Day, he lost the popular vote by just 2.4 points. That’s a significant increase. It wasn’t sufficient for him to win the election, true. It also put him in a stronger position toward winning than he had been immediately before. Therefore, it is not valid to conclude that the debate performance was a failure. It’s quite possible he got as big a boost as he possibly could from the debate. The fact that he lost the election does not in any way suggest otherwise.

  74. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    But saying it “could potentially turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness” is nothing more than speculation.

    Well, of course it’s speculative, thanks for pointing out the obvious. Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine that would transport us back and see exactly what would have happened.

    At the same time, if you really want to have a debate about whether it’s wise to exploit an opponent’s weakness, then I know that you’re just looking to argue for the sake of it. You may as well be shocked that a football team that didn’t try to score touchdowns has lost the game.

    Kerry could have attacked a vulnerability that was at the heart of Bush’s presidency yet he didn’t. Try to learn from that instead of fighting it.

  75. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m not sure at this point that even another 9-11 could get Trump elected.

    I will root for no events testing this proposition before November, thank you.

  76. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    In the United States, conservative evangelical Christianity is often rooted in America’s “traditional values” of racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Trump is quite good at those, so it is no surprise that they like him.

    Yes, yes, that’s very glib and makes a nice simplistic just-so story.

    I’m reasonably certain that I’m more familiar with American protestant evangelicals than you are. Your… caricature of them lacks explanatory power. Of course the racist xenophobic bigots are backing Trump. The horror in the numbers is that large numbers of conservative evangelicals who are NOT (normally) racist xenophobes must ALSO be backing him, despite the fact that he represents everything they would ordinarily despise. That’s important, and calls for a more nuanced explanation than “well, their ancestors defended slavery 150 years ago”.

  77. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You seem to be presuming that a racist is some guy with a burning cross, pointy hat and a bad attitude.

    There’s an enormous amount of casual racism that isn’t particularly fiery but runs deep. And I do some business in the South, so I have experienced this first-hand, seeing it coming from people who manage to peacefully coexist among darker folks and even liking a few of them but without necessarily respecting them very much.

    All of the gripes today about “political correctness” should be a red flag. These people are annoyed that they simply can’t use the slurs that were commonly used by their predecessors. It’s not that complicate — it’s part of a general sense of entitlement, their belief that their tribe is more worthy than the others.

  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    There’s an enormous amount of casual racism that isn’t particularly fiery but runs deep.

    Your mansplaining makes it all clear! How could I have missed this!?

    Unlike you, I am talking about an actual rich personal acquaintance with actual people. You “do some business in the South”; I have known these people for decades. Wanna guess whose interpretation I am going to go with here?

    Pro tip: when commenters here try to lump together “blacks” or “immigrants” or “Muslims” as some kind of homogeneous blob of humanity that can be characterized as a bloc, they are rightly dismissed and vilified. When you try to do likewise for “evangelical Christians”, you are committing a comparable act of bigotry. Swap the labels, and you sound exactly like Jenos at this point. That should bother you.

  79. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    OK, so you “have known these people for decades” yet you can’t figure them out.

    Perhaps you don’t know them as well as you’d like to think. Or more to the point, you’re in denial about who they are.

    The GOP has been playing the Southern Strategy for almost 40 years, which has included the courting of the former Dixiecrats and Religious Right. And now you’re offended that someone would have the audacity to claim that these people are racists?

    Get real. Just because you like them and they’re nice to you and they don’t burn crosses does not mean that they aren’t inclined to be racists. If they’re Trump supporters, then it should be obvious that at the very least that his positions on these matters aren’t so bad that they find them to be a turn off.

    So what would you call someone who doesn’t give a s**t that their preferred presidential candidate has a habit of trashing minorities? And what would call those who go further and find it to be appealing?