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The Washington Report July 22, 2016

22 Jul 2016

The Washington Report July 22, 2016

Convention Wrap-up…and Other News

THAT’S A WRAP CLEVELAND Skimm “Last night Donald Trump and the Republican Party sealed the deal with the soundtrack of “USA,” ‘lock her up” and “build the wall.”  TRUMP CLAIMS THE PRIZE Politico “Exactly 350 days after Donald Trump stood in Quicken Loans Arena at the first presidential debate and refused to endorse the eventual Republican nominee if it wasn’t him, he accepted that same Republican Party’s nomination – and vowed to keep winning all the way to the White House. In the biggest address of his unlikely, divisive and meteoric political career, Trump on Thursday night sought to bring together a party that he helped fracture in an ugly primary that left divisions that were apparent all the way through a tumultuous four days in Cleveland. The Manhattan mogul sold himself as the champion of a downtrodden working class – ‘America’s blue-collar billionaire’ as one speaker called him earlier in the evening – promising to restore ‘law and order’ and casting himself as a change agent against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.” NYT: “Donald John Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination … with an unusually vehement appeal to Americans who feel that their country is spiraling out of control and yearn for a leader who will take aggressive, even extreme, actions to protect them .. With dark imagery … Mr. Trump portrayed the United States as a diminished and even humiliated nation, and offered himself as an all-powerful savior who could resurrect the country’s standing in the eyes of both enemies and law-abiding Americans.”

“RIP REAGAN REPUBLICANISM” (h/t Edward Luce, Finanical Times) Playbook “At an hour and 15 minutes, Trump’s speech was long. Republicans who emailed Playbook said some variation of “it was aimed at the base.” It was a dark picture of America — crime-ridden, poor and humiliated abroad. Trump didn’t say exactly how he would turn the situation around, but promised he would, telling the crowd to “believe him,” because things will be taken care of quickly. … Will Trump get the convention bump out of this week in Cleveland? … The week was… in the long run, a net neutral for Trump. There were no major instances of violence, and despite a series of embarrassing hiccups that illustrate the amateur and clumsy nature of Trump’s campaign, the news cycle – and our memory – is short.”
5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SPEECH Politico
1. What a bummer. Trump’s closest advisers often compare him to Ronald Reagan. But the candidate who took the stage Thursday night was less the sunny President Ronnie who summoned the optimism to rally a dispirited country in 1980 than the dour California governor of the 1960s whose dark vision of national decay earned him a gloomier-than-Dick-Nixon reputation.
2. Ivanka’s appeal. After days of long-winded paeans of praise from the sleek Trump boys (who seemed destined for future congressional candidate-dom), the nominee’s poised, elegant and socially liberal daughter delivered a convincing case for her dad as a tolerant, nonpartisan leader. She stayed on message, articulated cogent points — many of which might seem more comfortable at a Democratic convention.”
3. Mayor of the USA. Ivanka is the face Trump wants to project. But the thematic heart of Trump’s law-and-order, America-on-its-knees message is borrowed from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose 1990s crusade to reverse urban decline most closely mirrors Trump’s 2016 attempt to stem what he believes to be the nation’s downfall. If conventions are supposed to be about expanding a candidate’s appeal beyond the party base, Trump’s tough message — of a piece with his Muslim ban and Mexico wall — has proven to be a crossover flop with Hispanic and black voters.
4. Populist pay dirt. Trump was most effective — and devastatingly so — when he stuck closest to the classic insurgent’s cookbook and eschewed his signature off-script flourishes casting himself as Bernie Sanders’ revolutionary soulmate, attacking a corrupt and elitist Democratic cartel headed by the Clintons.
5. He’s learning how to play the game. Trump is nothing if not a fast learner. If the preceding three days were amateur hour, Trump’s speech had the whiff of a proto-professionalism — and that could be bad news for Clinton. It was too long, too dark and too narrow, but it was a reasonably well-delivered speech, and to his target audience — fed-up, working-class, swing-state independents — it could pass as presidential. Plus it was insult-free — with nary a reference to “Crooked Hillary.”
The question going forward: Can Trump sustain the under-control dignity of Thursday — without losing the edge that made him so appealing in the first place?”
SOCIAL 2016 — per Facebook: “In the last 24 hours, 12.2 million people on Facebook in the U.S. generated 45.1 million likes, posts, comments and shares related to the convention and the candidates. And from the beginning of the GOP Convention to now, 27.9 million people on Facebook in the U.S. generated 167.5 million likes, posts, comments and shares.”
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ON FOREIGN POLICY Politico Donald Trump … delivered a speech with significant chunks dedicated to foreign policy that slammed Democrat Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state and made his case for defeating the Islamic State, rebuilding the military and taking care of veterans. While his speech didn’t tackle the specifics for accomplishing his goals,Trump effectively rewrote Republican foreign policy as he blamed Clinton for policies endorsed by many Republicans:

“Twelve years after George W. Bush dedicated much of his 2004 Republican nomination acceptance speech to the cause of ‘advanc[ing] liberty in the broader Middle East,’ Donald Trump ripped into Hillary Clinton for advocating a ‘failed policy of nation building and regime change … in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria.’ Trump’s words underscored a sudden and dramatic shift in direction for a Republican Party once proudly associated with military intervention and democracy promotion in the Arab world.
“The biting speech … also directly blamed Clinton for multiple world crises.Trump made his case with a string of eye-opening statistics. But while some of those stats were spot on, others are misleading due to a lack of context — or are outright falsehoods.”
TRUMP TALKS FOREIGN POLICY. AND CAUSES A WHOLE LOT OF CONTROVERSY. MorningD “… [Prior to his speech] Donald Trump gave an interview to The NYTs that’s already prompting a new round of eyebrow raising and protests in GOP foreign policy circles. Trump said Wednesday that “if he were elected, he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties,” the Times reports. “The United States, he said, has to ‘fix our own mess’ before trying to alter the behavior of other nations He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back. For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations ‘have fulfilled their obligations to us.'”
WHAT IS ARTICLE 5 OF THE NATO CHARTER? It mandates that member nations come to the defense of allies if one is attacked. WashPost “It’s hard to explain just how remarkable Trump’s words sound to Europeans who have believed in American values and the security guarantee that backed them. It’s also difficult to overstate how dangerous they are. If NATO is no longer a deterrent, then there is nothing to stop Russia from using military or political tools to destabilize European states, as it has already proved it is willing to do. If the United States is no longer a voice for democracy, but rather a country focused on its own “mess,” then it can’t serve as an example or an inspiration, either, and dictators such Putin, among many others, sleep easier. And the reaction at home, in the Republican Party that once stood for democratic internationalism and American power?  … Everyone moved on to other things. I know, I realize that Ted Cruz’s speech and Melania Trump’s plagiarism matter more, to the U.S. electorate, than the security guarantee that has kept Europe safe for seven decades. But maybe that’s how a Manchurian candidate really wins an election, and maybe that’s how an era of U.S. global influence comes to an end: not with a bang but a shrug and a whimper.”
It’s Official: Hillary Clinton is Running Against Vladimir Putin” The Atlantic. Fulfilling what might be the Russian autocrat’s dearest wish, Trump has openly questioned whether the U.S. should keep its commitments to NATO. Click here.
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CRUZ BURIES THE HATCHET, IN DONALD TRUMP’S BACK
“If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience.”
– Sen.Ted Cruz (TX), runner-up for Miss GOP America this year, failing to endorse Donald Trump in his speech at the RNC (theSkimm)
CRUZ’S STUNNER Politico “Turns out that when you bully a guy for months, suggest his wife is unattractive, insinuate that his dad participated in the JFK assassination, call him ‘Lyin’ Ted,’ dispatch your bouncer-like emissaries to coerce an endorsement – then give him a prime-time speaking spot on the third night of your nominating convention – well, you get the picture.”
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DEFENSES OF MELANIA’S PLAGERIZED SPEECH THAT NOW LOOK EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS [The Trump campaign] wasted 38 precious hours … insisting this was a trumped-up — ahem — media story when, in fact, you knew all along it wasn’t. For some unknown reason, the Trump campaign spent all of Tuesday defending a position that they knew they could never hold.  And then they gave up on it. … This episode will be long forgotten but, if conventions are about building momentum throughout their four days — and they are — then the Trump campaign wasted a very precious 38 hours.”
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WHAT WE LEARNED IN CLEVELAND Politico “The GOP remains divided on ideology, united on attitude”: “For the last eight years, Republicans have behaved less like a conservative party than an anti-Obama party. They waged war against the president from his first week in office – not only over progressive priorities like subsidized health care, Wall Street reform, climate action, and tax hikes on the rich, but over Common Core educational standards, infrastructure projects, small-business tax cuts, and other federal initiatives that Republicans traditionally supported. So it made sense that the GOP electorate turned to Trump in 2016. There were 16 more conservative candidates in the primary, but he was the ultimate anti-Obama candidate, questioning not only the president’s policies but his citizenship.”
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PRESIDENT TRUMP’S JOB DESCRIPTION The Fix “Donald Trump prides himself on hiring the best people who, in turn, make the best deals. But how would that philosophy translate to the White House if he is actually elected president? We got something of an answer to that question in Robert Draper’s New York Times piece describing the search for Trump’s vice president. This passage, in particular, stood out to me:
“… according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?
“Making America great again” was the casual reply.”
It’s easy to roll your eyes at the sloganeering and the sense inherent in these comments that Trump and the people in his inner circle just don’t think being president is all that hard. …That division of labor shouldn’t surprise anyone who has closely followed the campaign Trump has run. He has repeatedly expressed little interest or curiosity in the nuances and intricacies of policy, and he’s made clear he thinks most average Americans don’t care either. Trump views the job of being president as akin to being a movie star. He is the big name in bright lights. Other people handle the details of his life and, occasionally, he pops in to make a big decision. But most of the time, he focuses on being as much himself in as many public settings as possible.That’s a fascinating conception of what a president can and should do in the 21st century.”
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IS AMERICA SAFE?WashPost “… If we’re going to make America safe “again,” the implication is that America was safe at some point in the not-too-distant past. But the problem with this notion is that, from the standpoint of crime statistics, America today is already safer than it has been in decades. In fact, today’s homicide rate is about as low as it’s been at any time since at least 1900  (according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports).  For most of the first half of the century, the homicide rate hovered between six and 10 murders per 100,000 residents. That figure fell precipitously starting in the late 1930s, and by the early 1960s had bottomed out around 4.5 homicides per 100,000.
Starting in the late 1960s, the murder rate began to climb again, hitting an apex of 10.2 homicides per 100,000 in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House. There was another spike in the early 1990s, but since then, the homicide rate has again fallen precipitously. In the past several years, the rate has hovered around the historic lows last seen in the early 1960s. BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT “NATIONAL CRIME WAVE?” It’s true that the FBI’s preliminary statistics for the first half of 2015 — the latest period for which there is data — shows an uptick in murders year-over-year: a 6.2% increase. But if we assume that increase held steady throughout the second half of 2015, that would give us an annual homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 — roughly on par with 2012’s figures, and lower than the rate in nearly every single year over the past century plus. New York is enjoying historically low murder rates this year. Homicides in Baltimore are about on par with last year’s numbers. Homicides in Chicago, on the other hand, are surging. But none of this really suggests that we’re in the midst of a national crime wave. Despite city-to-city variation, the big picture remains the same: The homicide rate is historically low. Statistically speaking, you were more likely to get murdered in the 1950s than you are today. America, in other words, is already safe. Policymakers should worry about how to keep it that way.”
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CLINTON’S VPPolitico “Amid all the VP speculation, Hillary Clinton quietly met with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker last Friday at her home in D.C. On that same day, she met with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Also, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have emerged as leading contenders.  [Elizabeth] Warren, last night to Stephen Colbert: “I think if it were me, I would know it by now. So probably not.”
TIM KAINE SEEMS LIKELY No. 2 NYT‘s “Democrats close to … Clinton’s presidential campaign signaled strongly Thursday that she would choose Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate, rounding out the ticket with a popular politician from a battleground state … but aides cautioned that Mrs. Clinton had not yet made a final decision. Mrs. Clinton is widely expected to announce her choice in an email to supporters while on a campaign swing in Florida THIS AFTERNOON.
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SENATE 2016
GOP GROUPS SCALE BACK SUPPORT IN WISCONSIN The Hill “Two prominent groups that back Republican candidates are scrapping millions of dollars in advertisements aimed at bolstering vulnerable Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in the fall, as polls show him trailing former Sen. Russ Feingold (D). The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has pushed back reservations for pro-Johnson advertisements. Once set to begin in early August, the ads – @$1million in airtime – are now scheduled to run in October. And Freedom Partners, a conservative group tied to billionaires Charles and David Koch’s donor network, canceled $2.3 million in airtime they had reserved in the beginning of August. Democrats must net a total of four Republican-held seats to pull to a 50-50 tie in the Senate. The NRSC and its Democratic counterpart are focusing on a handful of Republican-held seats in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Hampshire, and on Democratic seats in Nevada and Colorado.”
IN THE YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP DEPARTMENT “Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is running for the open Senate seat in Louisiana.  He made the announcement in a video Friday in which he claimed credit for much of the platform of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Duke claimed credit for the “America First” agenda advanced by Trump.”
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YUP, THAT’S DISCRIMINATION ALL RIGHT Skimm “That’s what a federal appeals court said to Texas yesterday. The court ruled that the state’s strict voter ID law is illegal. The law required TX residents to show an approved form of ID. Except according to the law, things like gun permits were A-OK and things like student IDs were not. The state argued it would help prevent voter fraud. But a lot of other people said it discriminates against low-income and minority voters because certain forms of ID can be hard to get. If it was left in place, the law could have prevented about 600,000 Texans from voting. Cue the Obama administration suing the state. Yesterday, an appeals court said ‘yup, that’s discrimination alright,’ and ordered a lower court to figure out how to come up with a solution before the country has to elect a new president this fall.” FED JUDGE BLOCKS WI VOTER ID LAW The Hill “A federal judge … issued a preliminary ruling [that] will allow voters to use affidavits instead of IDs to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election. But this new system will not be in place for the Aug. 9 primary for congressional and state legislative races because … election officials needed more time to implement it.”
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GRETCHEN CARLSON DECLARES VICTORY OVER ROGER AILES Skimm “Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that Fox News CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes is stepping down. Rupert Murdoch – the 85-year-old billionaire mogul who controls 21st Century Fox and by extension Fox News – is going to fill the top job. Earlier this month, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, claiming she was fired after refusing to have sex with him. Since the lawsuit became public, more than a dozen women – reportedly including Fox News star Megyn Kelly – have come forward with sexual harassment claims against him. So now, Ailes is out. He’s been in charge since he co-founded Fox News 20 years ago. And it’s been the most-watched cable news channel for almost as long. Now, he reportedly has a $40 million severance package that should help ease the transition into retirement.”
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WHAT IS A HEAT DOME? A heat alert grew Wednesday to include parts of 21 states as a “heat dome” hovers over much of the nation. The intense weather is the result of an atmospheric phenomenon called a heat dome — a ridge, or high-pressure system, that traps hot air underneath it — creating unusually hot and humid conditions. STAY COOL.
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