Republicans bought into Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed negotiating skills as a “dealmaker” when they accepted that he would become the next president and leader of their party.
Now, after nine months of broken agreements and failed deals they now consider him untrustworthy, chronically inconsistent and too easily distracted to stay on point.
An irritating example is the deal to keep subsidies in place on Obamacare until a better solution came along. Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray thought they had Trump’s agreement to support the effort. Then he backed off.
“There was a lot of momentum building for Lamar’s effort, until the president changed his mind after encouraging him twice to move ahead,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told The Washington Post. “You know, who knows where he’ll be? Maybe where he is this very second?”
Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote “The Art of the Deal” with Trump, says the negotiating tactics of the billionaire is not always ethical.
Schwartz says Trump believes “I am relentless and I am not concerned that what I’m doing is ethical or truthful or fair.”
Trump promised quick actions on repeal of “Obamacare” along with rapid construction of his Mexican border wall and creation of jobs.
None of it happened. He blames his many failures on Congress, especially the Republican party he expected to genuflect before his every wish.
Lawmakers shrug off his charges, answering that he’s a neophyte who does not understand the system.
“He shouts a lot. He threatens people, insults them and then expects you to call him ‘great,” says one Senator. “That’s not going to happen with most of us in this chamber.”
“He’s a guy who, you know, comes from the business world and he’s in a hurry to get things done,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) tells the Post. “Around here, that’s hard. You know, things take a while. So it’s a process — and sometimes, kind of a slow and painful one.”
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota says she has met with Trump five times to discuss his tax plan.
“I still don’t know what it is,” she says.
Schwartz says the best way to deal with Trump is by appealing to his large ego. He has to dominate every conversation and be “perceived as having won.”
“Trump is motivated by the same concern in all situations, which is to dominate and to be perceived as having won,” Schwartz adds. “That supersedes everything, including ideology.”
An envelope containing a suspicious white powdery substance caused a scare when it was opened at a campaign office of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but it later was deemed to be harmless.
The envelope was mailed to Manhattan’s Trump Tower, near Central Park, police said. A campaign staffer opened the envelope Thursday night and immediately called police.
Five Trump staff members working in the office and a police officer who responded were temporarily isolated and evaluated. The substance was tested, and a few hours later authorities said it wasn’t hazardous but it would need to be tested some more for them to determine what it is.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks referred questions about the brief scare to the U.S. Secret Service, which didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Powders sent through the mail have been cause for concern since at least 2001, when anthrax-tainted letters were sent to media outlets and offices, killing five people.
In March, an envelope that contained a non-hazardous white powder and a threatening letter was mailed to the apartment of Trump’s son Eric Trump, who has campaigned for him. The handwritten note, postmarked from Boston, said: “If your father does not drop out of the race, the next envelope won’t be a fake.”
Two days later, a threatening letter was sent to Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry, a judge who sits on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Pennsylvania. The FBI said at the time it was working alongside the Secret Service and the Marshals Service to investigate.
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has been criticized by some political rivals and voters for his comments on topics including women, refugees and immigrants, such as when he said some Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally are “rapists.”
Trying to get the rollout of her presidential campaign back on track, Hillary Rodham Clinton says she should have used a government email address while working as the nation’s top diplomat — an admission that sought to quell a political furor some Democratic allies say she could no longer avoid.
The focus on Clinton’s emails has jumbled what had been expected to be a smooth glide toward the kickoff of her presidential campaign next month. The former secretary of state had planned to spend March promoting her work on women’s equality, a signature issue for someone who could become the nation’s first female president.
Instead, questions about Clinton’s email habits have dominated her activities in the past week, following revelations that she used a personal email account at the State Department and did so via a private server kept at her home in suburban New York.
While Democrats have dismissed of the notion that Clinton’s emails are something voters will care about come Election Day 2016, her silence — aside from a late-night tweet sent last week — had led several of her former colleagues in the Senate to urge her to tell her side of the story.
During a news conference Tuesday at the United Nations, after she had delivered a previously scheduled speech on women’s rights, Clinton pledged that all her work-related email would be made public “for everyone to see.” But she also acknowledged that she deleted messages related to personal matters. She refused calls from Republicans to turn over the email server she kept at her home to an independent reviewer.
“The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities, and the server will remain private,” Clinton told reporters who crammed into a hallway to ask questions at her first news conference in more than two years.
Some Democrats fretted that she had yet to put the issue to rest.
“This is something that is going to be discussed until the State Department releases the emails,” said Boyd Brown, a Democratic National Committee member from South Carolina.
“Then House Republicans will have a study committee to look at them, and then that will turn into an investigatory committee. Folks are going to be Clinton weary, and that’s the point of this from the Republican standpoint, to make people tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton,” Brown said.
Not long after Clinton spoke, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chairman of a House panel investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, said he was “left with more questions than answers” and that he planned to call her to appear before his committee at least twice.
Gowdy said one appearance from Clinton would be needed to “clear up” her role in using personal email, while the second would be to answer questions related to the Benghazi attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Those appearances are likely to come after Clinton returns to politics as a presidential candidate, creating an unwelcome distraction for the leading contender for her party’s nomination.
Clinton said Tuesday she had exchanged about 60,000 emails in her four years as President Barack Obama’s top diplomat, about half of which were work-related. None contained classified information, she said, and her private email system did not suffer any security breaches.
But since the emails were sent to and from her personal server, there is no way to independently verify her assertion they were, as she said, “within the scope of my personal privacy and that particularly of other people.”
Clinton insisted she did not break any rules, but she does appear to have violated what the Obama White House has called “very specific guidance” that officials should use government email to conduct business.
Republicans also needled Clinton for her explanation that she used the private email account out of “convenience” — a way to avoid carrying one device for work emails and a second for personal messages. They pointed to Clinton’s appearance last month in California’s Silicon Valley, when an interviewer asked her if she preferred Apple’s iPhone or a phone running Google’s Android platform.
“iPhone. OK, in full disclosure, and a BlackBerry,” Clinton said, adding: “I’m like two steps short of a hoarder. So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone and a BlackBerry.”
Democrats defended Clinton, saying it was reasonable to want to carry just one device. Jerry Crawford, a co-chair of her 2008 campaign in Iowa, called her response “a very commonsense explanation that Americans will appreciate.”
“The only people I know who want to carry two devices are my kids,” Crawford said. “Ordinary folks get the hassle of that.”
Still, Crawford and other Democrats appeared girded for a lengthy confrontation with Republicans over the issue. Clinton, meanwhile, brushed off suggestions that the email controversy might hurt a presidential campaign.
“I trust the American people to make their decisions about political and public matters,” she said.
Pace reported from Washington.
Follow Ken Thomas and Julie Pace on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KThomasDC and http://twitter.com/JPaceDC
Gay marriage is on its way to approval in the Hawaii next week and could become law soon, the head of that State’s Senate said Saturday.
Sen. Clayton Hee said he will recommend passage to Senate Democrats, who outnumber the body’s long Republican dissenter 24-1, after the body reconvenes Tuesday following the Monday Veterans Day holiday.
“There are very few opportunities to participate in government in decisions that define your career and this is one of those decisions that will define the careers of all of the members of the legislature.”
Hee said he expects the Senate to approve the measure passed by the Hawaii House late Friday night after two long and sometimes bitter floor sessions.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
Both Hee and Abercrombie said they approved changes in the bill by the House and Hee said he expects the revised bill to pass the Senate 20-4 — the same margin on an earlier version of the bill approved by the Senate on Oct. 30.
If the bill is passed, Hawaii would join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing gay marriage. Similar legislation in Illinois awaits the governor’s signature there.
Charles and David Koch, the ultra conservative energy brothers who already control the Republican Party and want to control the nation as well, brought in the usual suspects to deliver the standard right-wing lines to their following of rich conservatives who gathered covertly just outside Albuquerque, New Mexico last weekend.
Among those who spoke and laid out plans for the upcoming mid-term elections next year and the Presidential contest in 2016 were tea party puppets like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and failed vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
What details did they provide to the right-wing rich? Nobody is saying for sure, but sources close to the gathering — one of two that the Koch brothers host each year to map out the conservative campaign for absolute control say both Cantor and Ryan were “well received” and mapped out plans that they feel will achieve success at the ballot box.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, one those anointed as a right winger who has her “head on straight,” also spoke to the gathering at the ultra-expensive Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo where hired security blocked off roads and turned away reporters from Albuquerque and national media.
The invitation-only event is listed by the Kochs as a gathering to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”
The Kochs, of course, are the primary financial backers of the tea party movement, an interesting irony that two of the nation’s richest men back what is purported to be a “grass roots” movement of “ordinary people.”
“The Kochs are a fraud,” former tea party activist Gary Lawson tells Capitol Hill Blue. “They seek to control everything for their rich brethren and they often do so with phony movements.”
Ryan and Cantor both have deep ties to the Kochs and flew into New Mexico on a private jet owned by the brothers.
Secrecy surrounding the meeting was so tight that Americans for Prosperity, the primary political funding operation of the brothers, claimed it didn’t know anything about the event. Gov. Martinez refused to discuss any details and a spokesman for her office told the Albuquerque Tribune that the state’s governor “attended a private political event at the Tamaya where she gave brief remarks and had casual meetings with several national political leaders, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Congressman Paul Ryan.”
Albuquerque is now also the home base for longtime Koch consultant Eddie Mahe, who owned The Eddie Mahe Company, the Washington “strategic business consulting company” that created for the core groups that later became FreedomWorks a political operation that was started by former Texas Congressman Dick Armey and spawned the tea party out of another phony grassroots operation.
Capitol Hill Blue founder and publisher Doug Thompson worked for Eddie Mahe as a senior communications adviser from 1994-2002. When asked about the meeting, Thompson laughed and said “how the hell would I know? First and foremost, I’m independent media and independent media has no role or use in any activity involving the Kochs.”
When asked if he was invited, Thompson laughed again and responded “no way. I’m the enemy to those folks because I believe power in this nation belongs to the people, not the rich or the right-wing.”
Longtime New York Republican Congressman Peter King thinks he might be Presidential material — a consideration that most GOP political operatives think laughable.
“Here we go again, the beginning another round of ego-driven fantasies who think they have what it takes to get into the Oval Office,” GOP strategist Alan Mumford tells Capitol Hill Blue. “Peter King? Get serious.”
King says he is considering a Presidential run with the goal of stopping what he calls is a “dangerous shift” of the GOP towards an isolationist foreign policy.
“We have to go back to being the party of national defense,” King said in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Monday.
Polls show King is largely unknown to most Americans and internal polling by the Republican Party says he is not that popular within his own party.
“Another single-issue candidate who’s out of touch with the grassroots,” says GOP activist Sandra Lumley. “Write him off.”
New Hampshire GOP strategist Jim Merrill, who led 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire effort, calls King “a long shot at best.”
“Single issue candidates usually don’t succeed,” Merrill says.
King claims he’s not a single issue contender.
“I don’t want it to sound like I’m looking for a consolation prize,” he told The Associated Press Monday.
GOP political insiders say King would lucky to even win that.
In the kind of statement that keeps people shaking their heads about right-wingers, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul Thursday claimed American taxpayers are footing the bill for a “war on Christianity” in both the United States and in other nations.
Claimed Paul in a conservative conference in Washington:
There is a war on Christianity, Not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide. And your government, or more correctly, you, the taxpayer, are funding it. You are being taxed to send money to countries that are not only intolerant of Christians, but openly hostile. Christians are imprisoned and threatened with death for their beliefs.
Paul did not elaborate on how taxpayers are funding a war against God and Christians in the United States but said foreign aid goes to countries where burning the American flag is allowed.
“I say not one penny more to countries that burn the American flag,” he said to the annual Faith and Freedom Conference. “While they burn the American flag and mobs chant ‘Death to America,’ more of your money is sent to these haters of Christianity.”
The conference was organized by Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a close friend and partner of disgraced and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of mail fraud and sentenced to prison. Reed was part of several Abramoff schemes to make money off phony causes.
Failed Alaska Governor and equally-failed 2008 Republican vice presidential candidateSarah Palin took the stage of the annual gathering of right-wing failures — the Conservative Police Action Conference — over the weekend to call President Barack Obama a lair and delivered a tired speech of one-liners to a group that hoops and hollers a lot but makes little difference to the party.
“Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever,” sneered Palin, who ran into trouble with her own coverups while serving as Alaska governor. “Barack Obama, you lie.”
Palin resigned from office before her first and only term as governor ended. He tenure in office was tinged with scandal, investigations and charges of double-dealing and false statements.
For example, while running for vice president, Palin claimed she “was cleared” in the “troopergate” scandal that accused her of illegally using influence to dismiss a state police official. In fact, she was not cleared and never was.
CPAC is viewed by Republican party main streamers as a gathering of extremists and hardcore activists who represent what some see as the root of the party’s problems and cause of a stream of election losses.
Palin, however, urged the group to stop any attempts to change the focus of the failed party.
“We’re not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party,” Palin said. “We’re not here to abandon our principles in a contest of government giveaways. That’s a game we will never, ever win. We’re here to restore America.”
Since failing in the 2008 Presidential campaign and then resigning from office, Palin has gone from one failure to another, including a TV series idea that didn’t work and a gig at Fox News that ended in dismissal.
She aimed some of her criticism at political strategists like Karl Rove, once described as “Bush’s brain” during her tenure with former President George W. Bush.
Rove’s response? “If I was elected to office I would finish my term,” he said.
Failed Republican primary candidates for President — who preached fiscal responsibility throughout their aborted runs for office — face millions of dollars of debts from their now shuttered campaigns.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich‘s campaign owes creditors close to $5 million, according to his Sept. 30 filing with the Federal Election Campaign.
Gingrich, who used private planes and luxury hotels throughout his failed bid for the Presidency, managed to pile on another 50 grand in debt after his campaign ended, the reports reveal.
“Newt live large on other people’s money,” GOP strategist Al Waring tells Capitol Hill Blue. “That has always been his style.”
The overdue bills from the Gingrich campaign bills include fees for advertising, ballot fees, event expenses, consulting, legal fees, telemarketing, travel and web hosting. Gingrich also stiffed some states when his checks for ballot fees bounced.
Former Senator Rick Santorum, another self-described “fiscal conservative,” owes $1.13 million. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is $607,218 in the hole and Hermain Cain still owes $450,000 in unpaid travel expenses and loans.
In contrast, Texas Congressman Ron Paul ended his third unsuccessful Presidential campaign with a $2 million surplus which, is Paul follows his practice from previous campaign, will go into the foundations that support his various programs and employs members of his family.
This spring, for the first time since I started writing about politics a decade ago, I found myself completely depressed by a campaign. “How am I ever going to get through it?” is not the question you want to be asking yourself as you enter what are supposed to be the pinnacle few months of your profession.
He’s not alone. Reporters on the campaign trail tell Capitol Hill Blue that the fun has gone out of covering what used to be the Greatest Political Show on Earth.
“It’s a never ending, around-the-clock grind driven by an unforgiving 24-hour news cycle dominating by spin, partisan blogs and media manipulators,” complains free-lance writer Cal Rogers, who said this is his last campaign.
Walter Shapiro is covering his ninth presidential campaign.
“This is worse than normal, a lot less fun,” he tells Politico.
Former New York Post reporter Maggie Haberman, covering the 2012 race for Politico, says:
People are feeling grateful that it’s almost over. There has been this ongoing lack of enthusiasm. Neither side seems to be enjoying this race — not the Democrats or the Republicans, and not the reporters.
Capitol Hill Blue publisher Doug Thompson, who covered several presidential races as a newspaper reporter and worked as a media consultant in the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign, says the joylessness is a reflection of the national mood:
We see too much anger, too much bitterness, too much despair — not only in politics but also in the American psyche. People look at those seeking elected office and ask: “Is that all there is.” Reporters follow the candidates around and realize there is no substance in the national dialog, just a drone of shallowness and partisan hyperbole.
Thompson missed last week’s Republican convention when his mother died just as the GOP confab began. On Monday, he decided to skip the Democratic convention in Charlotte, just a 9-minute drive from his home in the Southwestern Virginia mountains.
I’m going to climb on my Harley-Davidson, ride the open-road, and go in search of America. It’s out there somewhere. It’s not in Charlotte, it wasn’t in Tampa and it sure as hell is not on the campaign trail.