Republicans Consider Intervention Or Replacing Trump As Nominee

Real Presidential Candidates

While Donald Trump’s act worked better than most pundits predicted in the Republican nomination race, he is clearly not prepared for a general election campaign. He came out of his convention leading Clinton in some polls. If he had stuck to the message given at the convention (regardless of whether accurate) that he is a successful businessman who can get things done, and ran as an outsider against gridlock and against Hillary Clinton and her history of corruption, he might have won. Instead he has made blunder after blunder, leading to the point where Republicans are talking about an intervention, and possibly a change in candidate. NBC News reports:

Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.

Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.

ABC News has looked at what it would take to replace Trump:

First, Trump would have to voluntarily exit the race. Officials say there is no mechanism for forcing him to withdraw his nomination. (Trump has not given any indications that he no longer wants to be his party’s nominee.)

Then it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to choose a successor, though the process is complicated.

One Republican legal expert has advised party officials that, for practical reasons, Trump would have to drop out by early September to give the party enough time to choose his replacement and get the next nominee’s name on the ballot in enough states to win.

Even if they could get Trump to step down and get another name on enough ballots, this would leave the Republican Party in a very weak position. Anybody coming into the race this late would be far behind on organizing and fund raising. The party would be badly fractured, with some Trump supporters refusing to vote for anybody else. Replacing Trump might be more about preventing a loss of historic proportions and about preserving down ticket races as opposed to actually winning the general election.

It is really bad when the former president from your own party is speaking out against you as George W. Bush did on Tuesday. It is less surprising considering that Trump has (correctly) criticized Bush over the Iraq war and other policies.

Republicans are right to consider dumping Trump, or at least deny him their endorsement, and deserve some credit for this. I wish some Democrats would show some honor in also opposing the election of someone as unfit to be president as Hillary Clinton. CNBC has addressed the Democratic Party rules for replacing the candidate. Should there be more revelations which harm Clinton further (always possible) and Clinton steps down (extremely unlikely), the Democratic National Committee would chose the new candidate.

If Trump does manage to remain in the race and keep the election close, there is another twist which could affect predictions based upon the electoral college. An Republican elector from Georgia has said he would not vote for Trump. Twenty-one states legally allow electors to cast their vote different from the vote in their state, and it is questionable if laws in other states would really prevent electors from changing their vote.

In 1972 one elector voted for the Libertarian Party ticket rather than for Richard Nixon. The Libertarian Party, as well as the Green Party, could attract enough votes to affect the outcome this year with both candidates being so unpopular. There has even been speculation as to one long-shot route for Gary Johnson to become president. If he can win in some states, such as New Hampshire and western states, he might deny both Clinton and Trump a majority of electoral votes. The election would then be decided in the House of Representatives, with each state being able to vote for the top three candidates. Johnson’s hope is that Republicans who see Trump as unstable would vote for him, with Democrats also seeing the socially liberal Johnson as preferable to Trump. It is a real long shot, but so many strange things have happened this year that this cannot be entirely ruled out.

A Day In Conservative Stupidity: Three Examples


The conservative movement has become totally divorced from reality, often denying science and facts to make their positions. Here’s just three examples from the past day.

Conservatives Hate Historical Facts

Conservatives hate actual American history as the facts contradict so many of their claims. As Joseph Ellis has explained, the Founding Fathers established a secular state with overlapping sources of authority and a blurring of jurisdiction between federal and state power. Conservative claims of states’ rights and claims that the United States was founded as a Christian nation do not hold up. Oklahoma has a unique answer to teaching all those inconvenient facts in Advanced Placement History classes. Republicans there want to eliminate the AP classes and replace them classes which include the Ten Commandments and three speeches by Ronald Reagan.

Some Conservatives Still Think Obama Is A Muslim

The American Thinker is still making the conservative claim that Obama is a Muslim. Their evidence is a picture of Obama with a raised finger:

Is President Obama a Muslim?  A lot has been written about this, but if photographs speak louder than words, then a photo taken at last August’s U.S.-African Leaders’ Summit in Washington D.C. might shed considerable light.

It shows Barack Hussein Obama flashing the one-finger affirmation of Islamic faith to dozens of African delegates.

Steve M. gathered pictures of several other people who are also Muslims by this logic. The pictures include: Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Andrew Breitbart, and Pam Geller. Who knew that the conservative movement was infiltrated by Muslims to this degree.

Conservatives Still Lack Any Actual Facts To Support Their Arguments Against Obamacare

Bill Maher called them Zombie Lies. Conservatives lack any real facts to dispute what a tremendous success Obamacare has become so they tell the same lies over and over, even when repeatedly proven to be lies. They are lies which just don’t die, because conservatives don’t care about facts. Jonathan Chait reviewed the latest claims from Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation. See the full article to see how Chait shows that Moore’s claims are demonstrably wrong and that, “There is not a single substantive claim in this column that appears to be true.”

Mitt Romney Admits He Didn’t Believe What He Said

“What I said is not what I believe.” –Mitt Romney in interview with Fox

Romney was specifically referring to the 47 percent comment but this quote has attracted considerable attention today for what it says about Mitt Romney’s entire political career.  As First Read commented, “Folks, that one sentence sums up Romney’s two failed presidential bids.”

Ironically, the 47 percent comment appears to be about the only thing Romney really believed during the campaign. He even showed this mind set during the same interview.

In a polarized political world, disgust over Mitt Romney’s dishonesty is a rare thing which many on the left and right agreed about. Liberals objected to the manner in which Romney repeatedly lied about everything from Obama’s positions to economic statistics to questions on his own background during the campaign. Steve Benen documented 917 falsehoods during the campaign (and over the course of the year I noticed a few more which didn’t make the list).

Conservatives also distrusted him, believing that his conversion to far-right conservatism was opportunistic and not sincere. They were also right to mistrust him. Take this assessment of Romney from Daniel Larison at  The American Conservative:

Of course, it never mattered whether Romney “really” believed what he was saying, because it became clear years ago that he would have said almost anything to win. In that case, it was a good bet that Romney was always more likely to lie to his audience than not, and for that reason he disqualified himself through sheer, overwhelming dishonesty. When in doubt, it was safe to assume that Romney was lying, and it was usually safe to assume the worst about his intentions. If there was a chance that he might cave in to hard-liners and ideologues in his party, there was no reason to believe that he would ever stand up to them. When the 47% remarks came out, it didn’t matter whether he believed what he had said, because he had been willing to say it and he had done so because he was so desperate to appeal to the worst elements in his party. As it was, everyone assumed that he didn’t believe what he was saying, but we attributed it to his unprincipled willingness to pander, which simply made his awful statements seem that much worse.

Romney told more falsehoods than most politicians, but other conservatives were coming close. To a considerable degree Romney’s falsehoods echoed the false narratives which are common in echo chamber of the conservative movement, as they falsely portray liberals as supporters of big government and out of control spending when this is a better description of actual Republican policies when they are in power. Newt Gingrich is often as out of touch with reality as any conservative, and at other times provides an accurate insight into politics. He was honest in an interview with Salon:

…I think conservatives in general got in the habit of talking to themselves. I think that they in a sense got isolated into their own little world. So our pollsters, many of whom were wrong about turnout. No Republican pollster thought you could get 87 percent turnout in Milwaukee. You just sort of have to say that to some extent the degree to which we believed that the other side was kidding themselves, it turned out in fact in the real world – this is a part of what makes politics so fascinating – it turned out in the real world we were kidding ourselves.

Reality intruded into predictions of the election outcome. Does Gingrich realize that the same isolation from reality applies to virtually all the noise now coming out of the conservative movement? Being out of touch with reality, as well as the beliefs of most Americans, is why the Republicans are now unable to win a national election.

Romney-Ryan Fairy Tales On The Economy and Medicare

While we’ve heard a lot about Paul Ryan’s economic views over the past few days, the fundamental take away message is that his plan is a con. Ryan’s proposals are just another variation on what we get from every Republican these days: cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy while increasing taxes on the middle class and increasing the deficit to pay for this. David Stockton calls this Paul Ryans Fairy-Tale Budget:

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.

I previously noted how James Fallows  has explained that Ryan’s economic proposals are not serious. The manner in which Ryan sought stimulus funds while attaching the program does not help Ryan’s credibility. It does provide another example of the typical conservative hypocrisy of attacking government programs for political benefit regardless of their value.

The biggest government program which Ryan is attacking is Medicare, proposing changes which would end the program as we know it. Some who have not paid close attention to his plan are under the misconception that Ryan is being brave by fighting such a huge entitlement program. As Ezra Klein points out, Ryan’s plan does not save any more money than Obama’s plans. Ryan even supports the same alleged cuts to Medicare which Obama has made–such as cuts to subsidies to insurance companies as opposed to cuts in services. Other Medicare cuts come from decreased payment to hospitals to compensate for caring for the uninsured as there will be far fewer people without insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Obama has actually increased services to Medicare beneficiaries by having Medicare provide many preventative services at no charge and by phasing out the donut hole on prescription drugs.

Republicans have two basic ideas to save money on Medicare–privatize the system and increase out-of-pocket costs among beneficiaries. Privatization does not work. We found with Medicare Advantage plans that it costs between 12 and 20 percent more to care for patients in private plans compared to the government plan. That really shouldn’t be all that surprising. Private plans have added expenses for things such as marketing, and they must make a profit.

Making Medicare patients pay more out of pocket is not a good idea either. The result is that patients avoid preventative studies and avoid routine treatment for chronic diseases, leading to higher costs in the long run. However, even if this was a good idea. there is no reason to privatize the system. The current Medicare system is more cost effective than private insurance companies Changes in payment policies could be made for the government Medicare program. While not a good idea, Medicare payments could be restructured to have higher copays and deductibles and Republicans want without giving up the greater efficiency of Medicare compared to private insurance companies. There is just no reason fiscal reason to dismantle Medicare as the Republicans would like to do.

While Republican ideologues are thrilled by the choice of Ryan, often preferring ideological purity over electability, Republican pros are terrified, as described in this story from Politico. Normally I’d shy away from a story entirely based upon politicians speaking off the record, but it does make sense that Republican pros who see the choice of Ryan as a disaster for the party would give the ticket their support in public. Along the same lines Howard Kurtz asks, Is Paul Ryan a Ticking Time Bomb as Mitt Romney’s Running Mate? 

Ryan may have energized the right—Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch appear ecstatic about his elevation—but the congressman has a long paper trail that could alienate moderate swing voters. If Newt Gingrich could assail Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right-wing social engineering,” little wonder that the Obama team is salivating over the prospect of hanging the Ryan record around Romney’s neck.

Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, adopted by the House, could wind up costing future retirees $6,000 a year as medical costs outpace the fixed benefits, according to independent studies. Conservatives are pushing back against this assessment, with National Review publishing several pieces Monday on the Democrats’ “Mediscare” tactics.

But the details—that Ryan has changed his original plan, that seniors would have a choice of plans and some would be subsidized by the government—are complicated. Kind of like the way that Obamacare is difficult to explain. And if the voucher plan didn’t cost elderly recipients a dime, how much money would it save?

Ryan’s response is that his plan is preferable to the Democratic approach of doing nothing (though how does that square with the charge he and Romney make that the president wants to cut $700 billion from Medicare?).

Romney insists the duo is running on his proposals, not his VP nominee’s. On Monday, he declined to discuss the differences between his Medicare plan and Ryan’s, saying, “We haven’t gone through piece by piece.” But that won’t wash. Even Fred Barnes, while praising the choice in The Weekly Standard, says: “Now Romney must actively promote and defend the Ryan plan. As of today, it’s the Romney plan.”

Then there is Ryan’s support for a “personhood” bill that would declare life begins at conception. Not a great help to a presidential candidate who wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood.

Ryan also has pushed to privatize Social Security, which George W. Bush, despite the congressman’s help, couldn’t even get to a vote. Think that will play well in Florida?

And as the Times noted, Ryan has voted against requiring more stringent background checks for buyers at gun shows, and against federal funding for NPR.

The best case scenario is that the Romney/Ryan Ticket To Destroy Medicare winds up nationalizing the race, taking many Republicans in Congress down with them as people really think about how much harm Republicans would do to the country. With Congress tying an all time low approval rating of 10 percent, it might not take much to get voters to throw out the Republican House majority they voted in two years ago.

Team Obama Playing “Whack A Mitt” With Video Responses To Romney Lies and Whining

Although Mitt Romney is whining about attacks from Obama and appearing all over television (unfortunately without any more tax returns), the Obama team is hitting Romney hard this weekend. There’s the ad above, The ad hits Romney hard on his out-sourcing and tax shelters, but I think the background message is just as strong: Romney’s a goofy guy who sees a point in singing the America the Beautiful and other patriotic songs out of tune at campaign rallies.

This ad hits Romney for his Bain Capital lies.

And here is Obama’s response to Romney asking for an apology–a video showing what a dishonest hypocrite Romney really is. Even Newt Gingrich agrees. It is a great video, but it might have been better if it briefly debunked the long string of lies about Obama which make up Romney’s stump speech. I imagine that its producers believe that Romney’s lies are so outrageous nobody who has not been brainwashed by Fox will believe them. Ending with Newt pointing out what a liar Romney is makes the point.

Mitt Romney Remains A Weak Candidate, Except Among The Very Religious

Last night’s primaries, occurring after Rick Santorum left the race, turned out to give pretty much the same picture as when there was more of a contest: Mitt Romney will be the nominee, but many Republicans would prefer to vote for someone else. Smart Politics points out the weakness of Romney’s victories:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.

In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.

But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.

While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

Clearly the author doesn’t consider either Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to be a credible challenger, and the assumption looks valid. Even Newt Gingrich has realized this, dropping out of the race. While Ron Paul’s chances at winning are still the same as at any other point in time,  zero, it will be interesting to see if he manages to receive more primary votes as the last candidate standing, allowing him to take a larger block of delegates to the convention than would otherwise occur.

Jimmy Carter says that, while he would prefer Obama, he would feel comfortable with Romney:

“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.”

I would refer Carter to yesterday’s post on this subject. There is certainly a reasonable chance that Romney is more moderate than he now claims to be. It is really impossible to tell what opinions Romney has, or if he even has any, considering the way he can sound sincere while taking either side of any issue. Unfortunately Romney has painted himself into a “severely conservative” corner and will have difficulty moving out. Even should he prefer more moderate positions, it is hard to see him resisting the wishes of a far right wing Congress, which is the most likely result should conditions in the fall favor a Romney victory.

It is clearly far too early to predict who will win. Polls now favor Obama, but they can change by November. I am encouraged by Obama’s strength in most of the battleground states, although he is likely to lose some states he won in 2008. Republicans who were encouraged by a narrow Romney lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll will not want to see that Obama has jumped to a seven point lead. I suspect that this is more a measure of the uncertainty among many voters as opposed to a major change in positions, but does emphasize the weakness of Romney as a candidate.

Gallup has also found that the usual partisan breakdown along religious lines still holds in a race between Obama and Romney:

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54% to 37%, among very religious voters in Gallup’s latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54% to 40%, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61% to 30%, among those who are nonreligious.

If this is viewed purely based upon religion, the results might not make any sense considering Obama’s religious views. There are two additional factors in play. Many Republicans are still fooled by the attacks from the right wing noise machine, with a meaningful number still believing Obama is a Muslim. The other factor is that the concern among many on the religious right is not whether a candidate is religious but whether they will use government to impose their religious views upon others. In this case, perhaps the religious right has a better understanding of the outcome of a Romney presidency than Jimmy Carter shows.

Quote of the Day

“Newt Gingrich gave a speech at a senior center. Or as audience members put it, ‘Unplug me.'” –Jimmy Fallon

Santorum Suspends Campaign; Romney Nomination Inevitable

It is time for Romney to shake his Etch A Sketch. Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign.  Most likely he realized that it is better to get out now as opposed to being humiliated by a loss in Pennsylvania.

Gingrich is still in but his campaign appears dead. Even Herman Cain is dropping Gingrich for Romney. Ron Paul is still in the race, running ads attacking the other Republican opponents, but he remains with zero chance of ever winning the nomination. It was already pretty clear, but in case anyone had any doubt it is now as certain as it can be before the conventions that the general election will be Romney vs. Obama.

May the honest, consistent man with integrity win.

David Letterman: Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Spending $50 On A Photo With Newt Gingrich

David Letterman: Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Spending $50 On A Photo With Newt Gingrich

10. How much have I paid for pictures with other guys named Newt?
9. Should I just photograph myself burning $50?
8. Do I look Newty enough?
7. Should I just get a free photo with some other guy who’s not going to be president?
6. Do I have to touch him?
5. Is this how Newt met his three wives?
4. Seriously, have I lost my mind?
3. Does Newt have to be in the photo?
2. What would Rick Santorum think of this idea?
1. Will Rush Limbaugh think I’m a slut?

Opponents Quickly Take Advantage Of Romney Campaign “Etch A Sketch” Admission Of Changing Positions

There is one thing which Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Barack Obama probably all agree on–Mitt Romney is a pathological liar whose political career is based upon spending huge amounts of money to try to reshape reality. I don’t know if Mitt Romney is able to distinguish fact from fiction, but if even if he is, it is clear he doesn’t care about that distinction. This makes the Etch A Sketch gaffe especially harmful for Romney, as it reinforces the fact that Romney really does act as if facts are something he can change as easily as shaking an Etch A Sketch.

The DNC released the above web ad. I bet we will see more polished versions on television in the future.

Obama staffers have been tweeting about this–and there is no doubt it will feature big in a campaign which was already to be centered around Romney’s character.

Both Santorum and Gingrich (via David Weigel) brought out their own props to respond to Romney today (but it sure is Orwellian to see an authoritarian extremist such as Rick Santorum campaign in front of a Freedom banner).

Mitt Romney showed the ease with which he lies by claiming it is the campaign organization chart which will change as opposed to his positions.