Donald Trump

Don’t Discount Donald Trump

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POLITICO MAGAZINE

Donald Trump’s loss in Iowa wasn’t just a victory for conservatives, but a loss for the mogul’s routinely low and dishonest style of campaigning.

The rap on a stereotypical career politician is that he will do or say anything to win. Trump has mastered the method and, true to form, done it with a grotesque garishness.

There was nothing subtle about his disgraceful attacks on Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for president, although Trump at times tried to wrap them in a hilariously transparent tissue of concern about Cruz’s welfare. He accused Cruz of being in the back pocket of Goldman Sachs for an above-board loan (Cruz failed to disclose it on one form, but reported it on others), even though Trump’s own highly leveraged business career would have been impossible without ungodly bank loans. He pandered all he could on ethanol, stopping just short of promising to fuel Trump Force One with the stuff.

And yet Trump lost. He came in a relatively weak second after saying he would win and leading almost all the polls in the final weeks.

There was no doubt that the disappointment stung. Trump managed to control himself for about 36 hours. He dragged himself through a brief concession speech Monday night. He stayed off Twitter in the early-morning hours after the caucuses, avoiding a meltdown and, through his absence, briefly elevating the nation’s political discourse a notch or two.

Then, he returned with a message to anyone who thought he might acquit himself more rationally and honorably after kicking away an Iowa lead, in part, with low-rent melodrama: Never gonna happen. Trump blew through several political norms — against acting like a sore loser, against making ridiculously unfounded allegations, and, as always, against juvenile name-calling — by lashing out at Cruz for allegedly stealing the Iowa caucuses in the political crime of the century.

The basis of the charge is that Cruz’s team used a CNN report about Ben Carson leaving the campaign trail to suggest that Carson was exiting the race and caucus-goers shouldn’t waste their votes on him. It turns out Carson was just getting a change of clothes (no suitable haberdashers can be found in Iowa or New Hampshire, apparently). The Cruz tactic wasn’t admirable, yet it is hardly unprecedented for campaigns to spread rumors favorable to their interests. The Carson vote had been falling for weeks regardless, and the retired neurosurgeon finished almost exactly where you would have expected from the polling.

The cheating charge is typical Trump, who has a reptilian political conscience. If he thinks something will work, he’ll use it, truthfulness or integrity be damned. In this case, it’s hard to know where the line is between political calculation (regaining control of the media narrative, driving a wedge between Cruz and Carson, etc.) and the elemental desire for revenge against a competitor who bested him.

As far as I am concerned, Trump the political candidate can’t go away fast enough. But his critics shouldn’t get carried away with Monday’s results, nor should Republicans yearn for a rapid restoration of the pre-Trump status quo.

First, Trump is not dead as a candidate, even if we now know that he won’t be a runaway train. You would expect New Hampshire to tighten after his unexpected Iowa loss, but he has built a big cushion there and the state should be more favorable to him than Iowa.

Trump won among moderates in the Hawkeye State, but they were only 14 percent of the electorate, whereas in the 2012 New Hampshire primary 47 percent of voters were moderate or liberal. Trump beat Cruz among independents, but they were only 20 percent of the Iowa electorate, whereas they were 47 percent of voters in the New Hampshire primary in 2012. In other words, Trump could well benefit from a less conservative, less Republican environment in New Hampshire, which, after all, voted twice for another dissenter from conservative orthodoxy, John McCain, in 2000 and 2008.

If Trump wins in New Hampshire, he probably would have as good a shot as anyone to win South Carolina and, at the very least, make a run deep into the primary season.

Even if Trump fizzles, though, the passions and discontents that have fueled him shouldn’t be ignored. This would be tempting, given that Trump himself is such a disreputable politician, but it would still be a mistake.

The fact is that the Republican Party can’t be dependent on working-class voters at the same time that it’s default economic agenda has little to say to them. If Trump has opened up the space for a conversation in the GOP about how to connect with these voters and their concerns, then his carnival show will have had some significant upside. If he goes down and the Republican political class carries on as if nothing had happened and conservative pundits who have twisted themselves into knots to justify Trump go back to hewing to the verities of the 1980s, nothing will have been gained except a more entertaining primary season than usual.

In this scenario, Trump voters will have been ill-served by his buffoonery, and the gatekeepers of the Republican Party will have been ill-served by their own lack of imagination. What Donald Trump has identified out there in the country is too important to be left to Donald Trump.

RICH LOWRY (Rich Lowry is editor of National Review)

WATCH: Donald Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Because Why Not

Photo Credit: Andrew Cline/Shutterstock

ALTERNET

Trump received a bit of good news after what has been a terribly disappointing week thus far. After finishing dismal second place in the Iowa caucus despite his putative frontrunner status, Trumpwas nominated Tuesday for a Nobel Peace Prize along with the likes of Pope Francis, Colombian peace negotiators and Edward Snowden.

While there are around 200 nominations a year, it is worth nothing that not just anyone can nominate someone, but there is a list of “thousands” afforded the privilege. The person who nominated Trump was identified simply as a “U.S. politician” who nominated Trump based on “his vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, Isis, nuclear Iran and Communist China.”

Trump has called for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ethnically cleansing undocumented immigrants and banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

The Nobel Peace Prize has a long history of goofy nominations. Even some of the winners have courted controversy, including noted warmonger Henry Kissinger who won in 1973 despite being responsible for bombing raids over Cambodia that killed hundreds of thousands.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, were also among the nominees in serious consideration. Trump is not expected to be “one of the candidates who actually has a chance of winning” according to Kristian Berg Harpviken, a Nobel watcher and head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. But it’s good to know he has a fan other than himself — assuming, of course, he’s not the “U.S. politician” in question.

Update: It appears one cannot actually nominate themselves. Maybe it was Sarah Palin?

Ted Cruz’s Tour Bus Gets Towed In Iowa – Has To Hitch A Ride (IMAGES)

ADDICTING INFO

This is not how Ted Cruz must have envisioned his campaign would end up heading into the nation’s very first caucus in Iowa on Monday. His “Cruzin to Victory” tour bus wasn’t exactly the epitome of its name, either. While he visited the Johnson County Fairgrounds earlier, it needed to be towed after getting stuck in the mud.

This is very ironic, indeed. Just a bit over a week ago Ted Cruz was quoted as saying, “I’m not going into the mud with personal insults and attacks (on Donald Trump).”

Well, Senator, you just went into the mud, quite literally.

Cruz Bus

According to a report by Phillip Elliott from Time magazine, Cruz had to hitch a ride with aides to his next tour stop while his bus was towed. That’s not the kind of image you want to project just before the voters of Iowa nominate the next future President of The United States. It certainly can’t be good public relations; draw as many analogies as you must.

Tour bus 2

Cruz needs every bit of good press he can get right now. Virtually every poll shows Donald Trump having a huge lead on him. And – Cruz can’t afford that. Whoever wins Iowa would get a must needed head start in the race. With Trump up in practically every state, Iowa is the momentum Cruz has been desperately seeking. Unfortunately, the only momentum Cruz is getting right now is coming from the back of tow truck.

You’d think the Cruz campaign would, at least, try to play damage control and be the first to report it, instead of being outed by the media. It’s possible they could have made a joke out of it – but they didn’t. They didn’t even mention it. That’s no way to run a campaign.

Antiphon Freeman

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Slams Fox News’ Double Standard For Boycotting Debates

MEDIA MATTERS

From the January 27 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes:

CHRIS HAYES (HOST):

Fox News has been pulling a similar trick insisting on their own steadfast righteousness in the face of Trump’s cajoling. A spokesperson said in a statement last night “Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.” A high-minded principle no doubt. But it didn’t stop Fox from joining the pile-on after the CNBC debate in October where the moderators were raked over the coals by the candidates and the conservative media who didn’t like their questions. It certainly didn’t stop Fox from using the backlash to promote their own debate on Fox Business a couple weeks later.

Trevor Noah: Trump’s stab for attention by ditching debate worked — but he’s still an ‘a*shole’

Trevor Noah hosts 'The Daily Show' on Jan. 27, 2016. (Crooks and Liars)

Trevor Noah hosts ‘The Daily Show’ on Jan. 27, 2016. (Crooks and Liars)

THE RAW STORY

Trevor Noah stepped out from behind the Daily Show desk on Wednesday to offer Donald Trump some grudging praise on his decision to skip Fox News’ next Republican candidate debate.

“From one perspective, Trump dropping out seems like the act of a petulant child,” he observed. “But I think, honestly, he’s a complete genius. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump has won the only fight that matters to him — the fight for attention.”

Noah argued that while taking part in Thursday’s debate would not increase the amount of coverage Trump has been receiving, picking a fight with the conservative network — and Megyn Kelly in particular — would bring him even more attention.

“It’s like Deflategate, crossed with a natural disaster, crossed with a celebrity sex tape,” he explained.

Noah then recapped Trump’s ongoing attacks on Kelly, including his Twitter boast that he couldn’t call her a “bimbo” because it wasn’t “politically correct.”

“It’s the same way we won’t call you an a*shole because we, too, are constrained by political correctness. A*shole,” Noah said in response.

The real estate magnate’s plan, Noah said, only confirmed his observation last October that Trump was actually behaving more like an African dictator, as he pointed out that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni — also a billionaire — also ditched his own country’s presidential debate last week.

“Welcome, America. Welcome to my world,” Noah said.

Watch Noah’s commentary, as posted by Crooks and Liars on Wednesday.

Cruz challenges Trump to one-on-one debate

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POLITICO

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA — Ted Cruz criticized Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Thursday night’s presidential debate and challenged the businessman to debate one-on-one in the coming days.

“Give the Republican primary voters the right to see a fair and policy-focused debate, not simply insults,” Cruz said on the Mark Levin radio show Tuesday night.

He proposed a 90-minute debate to happen before the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump said at a press conference here that he would not participate in Thursday’s Fox News debate because he believes co-moderator Megyn Kelly is biased against him and because he found Fox’s response to his concerns childish.

Cruz said that decision cast doubt on Trump’s ability to serve as commander in chief. “If he thinks Megyn Kelly is so scary what exactly does he think he’d do with Vladimir Putin?” asked the senator.

Levin, who initially embraced Trump’s candidacy, has recently turned against the businessman over his questioning of Cruz’s constitutional eligibility for the presidency, and Cruz allowed for the possibility that Trump would object to Levin’s involvement.

“If he’s scared of you, he can name his own moderator,” Cruz told the host.

Levin proposed a free-for-all debate format, with no moderation except to intervene for commercial breaks, which he likened to both the Lincoln-Douglas debates and “a cage match.” Levin called on the Trump campaign to accept Cruz’s challenge.

At the end of the segment, the host also opened the proposed debate to the rest of the field. “Well that’s two presidential candidates,” he said. “Anybody else listening? You can come in too.”

“I would encourage Marco Rubio to call in if he wishes. Or Kasich or Jeb Bush,” added Levin after the break.

Representatives of Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cruz’s challenge.

 

Why Trump Is Winning Over Christian Conservatives

Supporters of the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump pray while waiting to hear him speak at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on January 2, 2016 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Spencer Platt—Getty Images

TIME

He’s leading with values voters, even if he doesn’t always share their values

Donald Trump sprinkles his stump speeches with profanity. He used to support abortion, and says he’s never sought forgiveness from God for his sins. He memorably referred to communion, the Christian sacrament commemorating Jesus’ last supper, as drinking “the little wine” and eating “the little cracker.” The thrice-married mogul calls the Bible his favorite book, but when pressed he couldn’t name his best-loved verse. He says he likes the Old and New Testaments about the same.

This is not the profile of an especially devout man, let alone a presidential candidate cut out to court Christian conservatives.

And yet national polls suggest that Donald J. Trump has forged a real connection with this voting bloc. In a recent New York Times/CBS News survey, the Republican front runner earned the support of 42% of evangelicals, far outpacing the rest of the GOP field, including his top rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who garnered 25%. A January NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll also showed Trump with the deepest support among white evangelicals, at 33%.

Of all the head-scratching elements of Trump’s rise in the GOP nominating contest, his success with the religious right may be the most confounding. In a field that features a Baptist preacher (Mike Huckabee), a candidate with a tithe-based tax plan (Ben Carson) and staunch social conservatives such as Cruz and Rick Santorum, a mainline Presbyterian has managed to grab the largest share of the party’s famously demanding values voters.

And nobody is more baffled by this campaign twist than social conservative leaders. “Frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump,” says Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. “To my ear, he simply is not one of them. He is obviously unfamiliar with the Bible and does not speak in the vocabulary of most evangelicals I know.”

Whatever Trump is preaching, the faithful seem receptive. On Jan. 18, he received a glowing welcome from Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr., during a visit to Liberty University in Virginia, the world’s largest Christian college. “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment,” Falwell said, shortly before Trump mispronounced the name of one of the Bible’s prominent books.

Blessings like these that have helped Trump make inroads with a voting bloc his rivals are counting on, especially in places like Iowa, where 57% of GOP caucus-goers identified as evangelical in 2012. If Trump can maintain his share of support among values voters, the Republican front runner will be tough to beat.

Some rivals have sought to undermine Trump’s courtship of Christian conservatives. As the Iowa draw closer, Cruz has been assailing his “New York values,” tying Trump to the “socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage” views of the Big Apple.

But interviews with prominent evangelicals suggest this line of attack may be missing the meaning of Trump’s connection with social conservatives. “Donald Trump basically gave voice to the idea that Washington is broken and needs to be fixed,” says Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa evangelical leader supporting Cruz. “People right away resonate with that.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, believes many evangelicals feel “beaten down” by political correctness, especially on issues such as gay marriage. “Now they see Donald Trump, who is taking on that same elitist politically correct mindset and not backing down,” Perkins says. “They find common cause in this guy, even though he comes from a completely different world.”

In an election driven more by foreign policy than social issues, “fear is dominating more than faith,” Perkins continues. “Fear of what has happened to our nation, and fear of what may happen.” It is an odd twist, especially since the Bible cautions against an attitude of fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” the apostle Paul wrote in a New Testament letter to his disciple Timothy.

Randall Balmer, a religious historian at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, says Trump’s support illustrates that self-identified values voters still assess candidates through a pragmatic lens. In the holy trinity of politics, power and faith, “religion is at the bottom,” Balmer says. “It’s about politics, and it’s about power.”

 

 

Trump Warns WaPo Reporter If They Run Story About Casino Bankruptcy, ‘I’m Suing You’

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MEDIAITE

The Washington Post has a very in-depth report tonight about his role in the bankruptcy of his Taj Mahal Atlantic City casino back in 1991. They concluded that Trump has repeatedly “play[ed] down his personal role” in its downfall.

And Trump responded by warning the paper he might sue them.

The Post––which chronicles Trump’s history in the casino business––obtained documents showing plenty of the people he interacted with at the time were very bitter because of unfulfilled promises.

At one point, the report features Trump’s testimony before the Casino Control Commission years before, in which he argued to get a casino license. He said at one point, “It’s easier to finance if Donald Trump owns it. With me, they know there’s a certainty they would get their interest.”

And when asked if anything could go wrong, Trump mused, “We can have a depression. The world could collapse. We could have World War III. I mean, a lot of things can go wrong. I don’t think they will.”

The Taj opened in 1990, but in July 1991 the casino filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And Trump had reportedly described himself as the “sole shareholder.”

Trump defended himself in a recent interview with WaPo, saying that his casinos were not the only ones that suffered at that time, and things got, well, very Trump-ian at one point:

He said the bankruptcy was the result of external forces beyond his control, specifically an extremely bad economy in 1990. He said he had “the prerogative” to change his mind about using junk bonds in the financing.

“I didn’t want to have any personal liability, so I used junk bonds. I accept the blame for that, but I would do it again,” he said. But Trump vehemently denied that the deal represented a personal failing or affected his personal wealth.

“This was not personal. This was a corporate deal,” he said. “If you write this one, I’m suing you.”

You can read the full WaPo report here.

Battle Between Trump And Cruz Goes Nuclear

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

THINK PROGRESS

The bromance between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is officially over. The two leading candidates for the Republican nomination had previously pledged not to attack each other. Now, all bets are off.

In a series of Tweets over the weekend, Trump blasted Cruz — who accused Trump of representing “New York values” — as a hypocrite, a pawn of special interests and a Canadian:

Then on Sunday, Trump took things a step further, casting Cruz as nasty and unlikable:

Cruz is now Trump’s closest competitor, and has pivoted to direct attacks on the frontrunner, after months of tepid support. In a comments to POLITICO, Cruz’s campaign chairman suggested Trump was only pretending to be a Christian:
I think it’s interesting that Trump … basically said at [a] family values forum he’s never asked for forgiveness, but yet he is Christian. I would ask most Christians the question, “What is the first thing you do to become a Christian?” Christians know what the answer to that question is.

Cruz is also pushing a 1999 video of Trump on Meet the Press saying he is pro-choice and supportive of gay rights, stances he has now disavowed, and attributing his politics to his New York upbringing:

Cruz is now Trump’s closest competitor, and has pivoted to direct attacks on the frontrunner, after months of tepid support. In a comments to POLITICO, Cruz’s campaign chairman suggested Trump was only pretending to be a Christian:

I think it’s interesting that Trump … basically said at [a] family values forum he’s never asked for forgiveness, but yet he is Christian. I would ask most Christians the question, “What is the first thing you do to become a Christian?” Christians know what the answer to that question is.

Cruz is also pushing a 1999 video of Trump on Meet the Press saying he is pro-choice and supportive of gay rights, stances he has now disavowed, and attributing his politics to his New York upbringing:

The attacks represent a change in the Republican presidential race. While Trump has pulled no punches during his months-long reign at the head of the polls, Cruz is a new target — and Cruz has been careful up to this point about not alienating Trump’s legions of supporters. (Emphasis mine…ks)

As recently as December, Cruz commended Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Cruz’s campaign manager told Politico the candidate is now trying to show the differences between the evangelical Christian and the blustery business mogul.

“Iowa is three weeks away,” Rick Tyler said. “People want to know how you’re different. It’s time to tell how we’re different.”

SAMANTHA PAGE