In this insane campaign year, Hillary doesn’t even need an oppo-research team digging up nasty stuff about her opponent’s record. She just has to stand there and wait for Trump to open his mouth. Or to wait for his wacky entourage to weigh in. Asked on CNN about his undulating immigration position, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson offered this classic bit of spin: “He hasn’t changed his position on immigration. He’s changed the words that he’s saying.”
Via an editorial in the Washington Post:
Republicans supporting Mr. Trump, explicitly or tacitly, cannot reasonably claim that they do not know who he is and what he has been doing.
Before running for president, Mr. Trump was the king of the “birthers” who questioned President Obama’s place of birth. He started his campaign by calling Mexican migrants rapists, then spoke approvingly of the inhumane 1950s deportation program known as “Operation Wetback” and delivered a convention speech that described a country overrun by violent foreigners. As Ms. Clinton recounted, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called Mr. Trump’s attack on a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Add in the Republican nominee’s proposed Muslim travel ban, his false aspersions on the U.S. Muslim community, his long history of belittling women, his dissemination of an anti-Semitic graphic, and a clear picture was visible long before Ms. Clinton approached the lectern.
In more recent days, Mr. Trump has attempted to salvage his image with appeals nominally aimed at African Americans. Instead, he only dug himself deeper, depicting African Americans as desperate people living in abject squalor with nothing to lose. He hired a new campaign chief executive, Stephen Bannon, a man who has called the Civil War the “war of Southern Independence” and who ran a website that warned the Obama administration is “importing more hating Muslims.”
Unsurprisingly, polling shows that a majority of Americans believe Mr. Trump is biased against women and minorities. Whether Mr. Trump is a genuine bigot or just cynically appealing to bigoted sentiment is not a question we can answer. Certainly not everyone who supports Mr. Trump is a bigot. But Mr. Trump has attracted the support of assorted American bigots, once thought ejected from mainstream U.S. politics.
Maine’s Governor Paul LePage loses his shit in a nasty voicemail:
Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You… I need you to… Just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.
LePage also offered these comments to the Portland Press Herald:
When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825. And we would have a duel. That’s how angry I am. And I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you; I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward.
Donald Trump is currently running an ad in four swing states that graphically depicts the southern border as being overrun by dark hordes. It flatly states that in Hillary Clinton’s America, the borders will be “open.” And it promises a hyper-tough response from President Trump, which is illustrated with cops carefully scanning the border and images of helicopters patrolling for fleeing invaders.
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But in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, in which he responded to reports that he’s backing off of his vow of mass deportations — a promise he’s made many times — Trump basically admitted the whole story he’s been telling about immigration for the last year is a big scam.
Asked directly by O’Reilly whether he is “really rethinking your mass deportation strategy,” Trump replied: “I just want to follow the law. What I’m doing is following the law….We’re going to obey the existing laws.” Trump added:
“The first thing we’re gonna do, if and when I win, is we’re gonna get rid of all the bad ones. We have gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country…they’re gonna be out of this country so fast your head will spin. We have existing laws that allow you to do that. As far as everybody else, we’re going to go through the process. What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.”
At another point, Trump was pressed on whether he agreed with President Eisenhower, whose Operation Wetback, as O’Reilly said, “rounded them up” and “took them out.” Trump replied: “I don’t agree with that. I’m not talking about detention centers.” What that means: What Trump called “everybody else” — i.e., lower level offenders with jobs and ties to communities — will remain subject to removal, but will not be targeted by proactive, stepped-up deportation efforts.
Much more here. It is now extremely clear that Trump’s plans for immigrants are nothing like what he has claimed for his entire campaign so far.
Watch the Trump voters fall all over themselves.
Via The Washington Post, this is the just the latest crazy attempt by Trump to court black voter support:
At a rally Friday night in Dimondale, Mich., Donald Trump repeated a version of a plea to black voters that he’d offered 24 hours earlier in Charlotte, N.C.
“No group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton’s policies than African-Americans,” he said, apparently pointing to individuals in the crowd. “No group. No group. If Hillary Clinton’s goal was to inflict pain to the African-American community, she could not have done a better job. It is a disgrace.”
“Detroit tops the list of most dangerous cities in terms of violent crime, number one,” he said from a city 90 minutes away from Detroit with a population that is 93 percent white. “This is the legacy of the Democratic politicians who have run this city. This is the result of the policy agenda embraced by crooked Hillary Clinton.”
He went on.
Trump Organization special counsel Michael Cohen did not want to believe Trump is losing in the polls.
I am the son of a World War II and Korean War veteran. As a young man, the men I respected most were my father and my uncles, who collectively fought in the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, D-Day, Iwo Jima and Inchon. I came of age in the service of our nation. I never had a draft card. I entered the U.S. Naval Academy before my 18th birthday and served in the Navy for five years. My older brother volunteered as well. Simply put, it was expected. We were raised in a good Catholic home and believed in God and country. My wife of 44 years and I have sought to pass these values to our kids and grandkids.
And I have always voted for Republicans for president. Not this year.
The compelling rationale behind this decision: leadership. A good leader must demonstrate such qualities as competence, integrity, empathy, character and temperament. Hillary Clinton has these essential qualities. Donald Trump does not.
Trump simply lacks the competence to serve as president of the United States. His knowledge of economic policy and foreign affairs is rudimentary, at best; his views are misguided. His threat to impose prohibitive tariffs on trade would repeat mistakes that contributed to the Great Depression. His words and actions have rattled our European and Asian allies at a time when Russia and China are resurgent. He has demonstrated neither the capacity nor the inclination to learn from experts in global economics.
— Daniel Akerson, who was chairman and chief executive of General Motors from 2010 to 2014 and was vice chairman and special adviser to the board of directors for the Carlyle Group from 2014 to 2016. More here.
I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t wanna change. Everybody talks about, ‘Oh well, you’re gonna pivot, you’re gonna’ — I don’t wanna pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.
— Donald Trump
Jennifer Rubin offers this take:
Listen, Republicans. He could not be more clear. There will be no professional campaign. There is no sticking to script. There will be no presidential tone. There will be no end to the conspiracy theories, to the infatuation with Russian President Vladimir Putin or to the lies about what his positions used to be (e.g. his initial stance on the Iraq War). Republicans can no long mollify themselves or remain in the good favor of Trumpkins by waiting for Trump to become something he is not.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has told him endless times to use a teleprompter. He does, but then reverts to free association in interviews and speeches.
Republicans have told him to stop spending time in blue states like Connecticut. He won’t.
Republicans have told him to release his tax returns and force his Russia-connected advisers to reveal their financial ties. He won’t.
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Republicans have deluded themselves long enough. He’s not stable, coherent or knowledgeable. The man who never apologizes and thinks he has run a perfect campaign will not shift gears. If anything, he is doubling and tripling down. If Republicans cannot declare him readyright now to govern and recommend Trump as he is right now — not after being sprinkled with presidential pixie dust — they should leave him to his own devices and get on with the business of trying to save the House and Senate majorities.
Donald Trump seems to be going on all in on taking no prisoners and refusing to “pivot” to more effective campaigning.
Robert Costa has the grisly details on Trump’s shakeup. Trump has installed at the top one Stephen Bannon, who runs Breitbart News, while relegating Paul Manafort to a lesser role. Here’s Costa’s account of the internal thinking, based on conversations with Trump aides:
Trump’s stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation and pitch for the general election. And it sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real-estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side….
While Trump respects Manafort, the aides said, he has grown to feel “boxed in” and “controlled” by people who barely know him. Moving forward, he plans to focus intensely on rousing his voters at rallies and through media appearances.
Trump’s turn away from Manafort is in part a reversion to how he ran his campaign in the primary with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski’s mantra was “let Trump be Trump” and Trump wants to get back to that type of campaign culture, the aides said.
Bannon, in phone calls and meetings, has been urging Trump for months to not mount a fall campaign that makes Republican donors and officials comfortable, the aides said. Instead, Bannon has been telling Trump to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.
This appears to confirm, as I have argued, that Trump remains trapped in the mental universe he inhabited during the primaries. That was a place where the size of his crowds at rallies actually did portend victories over less colorful and entertaining opponents who failed to create a mystique to rival his. It was a place where he really could win through sheer media dominance alone, because the bigotry, xenophobia, and all around depravity and wretchedness that drove that dominance — and with it, the name recognition that allowed him to blot out his rivals — did not alienate large numbers of Republican voters in the manner he is currently repulsing key general election constituencies. Trump now appears determined to prove that the same formula — which basically constitutes whipping up white backlash through rousing rallies and a continued emphasis on ethno-nationalism (leavened a bit by pretend minority outreach gestures) — can work in the general.
From my point of view, I think this is the beginning of a total Trump collapse, with the GOP “adult supervision” jettisoned immediately. Trump seems to be unable to avoid a campaign crash.
Michael Moore believes that the Donald Trump never really expected to actually become President Trump, and is now sabotaging his campaign. It is an interesting take.
Donald Trump never actually wanted to be President of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it. I’m not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything. And I’m certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.
Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, “The Apprentice” (and “The Celebrity Apprentice”). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you’re going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.
Trump had begun talking to other networks about moving his show. This was another way to get leverage — the fear of losing him to someone else — and when he “quietly” met with the head of one of those networks, and word got around, his hand was strengthened. He knew then that it was time to play his Big Card.
He decided to run for President.
Of course he wouldn’t really have to RUN for President — just make the announcement, hold a few mega-rallies that would be packed with tens of thousands of fans, and wait for the first opinion polls to come in showing him — what else! — in first place! And then he would get whatever deal he wanted, worth millions more than what he was currently being paid.
So, on June 16th of last year, he rode down his golden escalator and opened his mouth. With no campaign staff, no 50-state campaign infrastructure — neither of which he needed because, remember, this wasn’t going to be a real campaign — and with no prepared script, he went off the rails at his kick-off press conference, calling Mexicans “rapists” and “drug dealers” and pledging to build a wall to keep them all out. Jaws in the room were agape. His comments were so offensive, NBC, far from offering him a bigger paycheck, immediately fired him with this terse statement: “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.” NBC said it was also canceling the beauty pageants owned by Trump: Miss USA and Miss Universe. BOOM.
WARMING UP THE crowd for Donald Trump on Monday in Youngstown, Ohio, former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani offered a glimpse into the alternate reality he has now signed on to by describing the presidency of George W. Bush as a time of undisturbed peace and security for Americans.
During “those eight years, before Obama came along,” Giuliani said, “we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States — they all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”
Giuliani, NYC mayor during 9/11, says there were no “successful radical Islamic terror attack” in 8 yrs before Obama pic.twitter.com/0A6qQH9clR
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) August 15, 2016
Given that Giuliani’s entire post-mayoral career has been based on the fact that he was the mayor of New York City when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001 — eight months into Bush’s first term, and more than seven years before Obama succeeded him — it was a bizarre mistake for him to make.
What made the lapse even harder to explain was that it came just seconds after Giuliani had mentioned the attack in 2001 and praised Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, for visiting the site of the collapsed towers with him that year.
But as Jeet Heer, a senior editor at the New Republic, observes, Giuliani didn’t forget about the attacks in 2001, he just doesn’t think they should count.
“According to Republicans like Giuliani,” Heer explains, “Bush can never be held accountable for 9/11, while everything that happens under Obama’s watch, from ISIS to Syrian civil war, is the president’s responsibility. This sort of partisan logic might make sense to die-hard Republicans, but it comes across as unhinged to everyone else.”