Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gillespie And Trump Are Both Embarrassed Of Each Other! Who Could Blame Them?


Trump's approval ratings might get better-- but that's unlikely. They just keep sinking... and they are, as Jonathan Bernstein explained for Bloomberg readers, really, really bad already. Señor Trumpanzee is, in short, being judged to be the worst president in modern history. He's "back in last place in approval ratings at this number of days after being sworn in of any president in the polling era. And his 'net' approval (subtracting disapproval) has been the worst among those 13 presidents every day of his presidency, and it's never been particularly close. Currently he's within a single percentage point of same-day Gerald Ford in approval, but at -18.3, his net approval is 9 percentage points worse than Ford's, and every other president was in positive territory at this point. All of that with the more-or-less peace and something very close to prosperity-- the two things that generally drive whether U.S. citizens like their presidents or not."

As you probably know, on November 7 Virginians will be electing a new governor and their entire House of Delegates. Democrat Ralph Northam is about as conservative as you can be and still be a Democrat and Republican Ed Gillespie doesn't stand for anything at all other than personal ambition. It's a pretty putrid race. There are plenty of House seats being decided that are far more important to progressives (as long as Gillespie is defeated). Every single poll since early June shows Northam ahead, with the exception of one outlier last month predicting a tie. The most recent poll, last week, by Emerson College has Northam leading 49-44%.

So why doesn't Trump get his fat, sagging ass down to Virginia to campaign for Gillespie (who he did endorse in a weird tweet a couple weeks ago)?I t's a reasonable-- if inelegantly phrased-- question-- and Jonathan Martin explored it yesterday for the NY Times. Gillespie and Trump are dancing around each other warily. Remember, Virginia was the only state that joined the Confederacy that Trump, the improbable Confederate candidate, lost last year.

Gillespie wants the Trump supporters to turn out for him of course-- Trump lost to Hillary last year 49.73% to 44.41% (virtually identical to the gubernatorial polling numbers last week)-- but there were still 1,769,443 Virginians willing to debase themselves and their country by voting for Trump. But Gillespie doesn't want the negatives around Trump to influence independent voters in their gubernatorial decision.

And meanwhile Trump is a little gun-shy too. He's embarrassed that his candidate, Senator Luther Strange, who he backed so strongly, lost so badly. And, like Strange, Gillespie is a swamp-dwelling part of the Republican Party establishment. He founded one of DC's sleaziest lobbying firms, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, whose marquee client was Enron. He was also chair of the RNC, which is a pretty swampy position in the minds of many hardcore Trump voters. But, more than anything, Trump doesn't want to deal with the stench of another ego-damaging electoral defeat.

Martin wrote that Trumpanzee "has so overwhelmed a campaign waged by a pair of bland candidates lacking signature proposals that, much the same way he does across the Potomac, he has made himself and his incendiary style of politics the central issue." For Gillespie there is also the little matter of how Trump's mental health would impact him, especially if there's a rally like the insane one Trump did for Luther Strange a few days before the Alabama election.
“There is so much focus on the activity and the machinations in Washington,” said George Allen, the former Republican governor and senator who ran statewide four times. “With President Trump, whatever he tweets becomes the news till whatever he tweets next.”

With the president rampaging through news cycles seemingly every day, the biggest question looming before Mr. Gillespie is whether it is worth the risk of trying to harness Mr. Trump’s total-eclipse-of-the-sun attention-getting skills to rouse conservative voters.

His campaign and the Republican Governor’s Association signaled to the White House at a meeting this spring that they preferred the reliable hand of Vice President Mike Pence, who campaigned with Mr. Gillespie on Saturday, over Mr. Trump in a state where the president is loathed in the vote-rich population centers but well-liked in many rural areas.

But trailing in every public poll, Mr. Gillespie is now engaged in a robust debate with his advisers about whether he should ask the president to stump with him, according to multiple Republican officials familiar with the conversations.

Those in favor of bringing Mr. Trump in for a rally argue that Mr. Gillespie will be linked to Mr. Trump regardless and, in a state where turnout plummets in nonpresidential years, that the president can jolt his supporters who may have been indifferent about the race or uneasy with an establishment-aligned candidate such as Mr. Gillespie, a former George W. Bush adviser and Republican National Committee chairman.

But the camp urging Mr. Gillespie to keep his distance from Mr. Trump counters that it would be malpractice to embrace a polarizing president who failed to win even 30 percent of the vote in Fairfax County, the most populous jurisdiction in the state and once a suburban battleground.

As they consider their options, Gillespie supporters have an object lesson: Mr. Trump’s ill-fated rally for Senator Luther Strange in Alabama, where he could not resist veering off-message. At that rally, Mr. Trump started his feud with the N.F.L. while offering a backhanded endorsement of Mr. Strange’s rival, Roy Moore.

“Having watched what a great job he did for Luther Strange, I’m not sure I’d want that,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former state attorney general, suggesting that the president could bring up the bloodshed in Charlottesville with little warning. “Trump rallies are about Trump.”

Then there is the president’s calculation: Would he even want to risk attaching himself to a potential loser so soon after the Alabama race, in which he felt burned, according to White House officials. West Wing advisers say Mr. Trump is willing to record automated calls for Mr. Gillespie but is not clamoring to fire up Air Force One for the trip to Roanoke.

Mr. Trump has tweeted twice about the Virginia race, including on Saturday night, when he wrote that “Democrats in the Southwest part of Virginia have been abandoned by their Party,” as Mr. Pence was on the way to the region.

Yet whether Mr. Trump sets foot here or not, his success at motivating voters with culturally and racially tinged appeals has worn off on Mr. Gillespie. Once one of the loudest voices in his party for an inclusive message, Mr. Gillespie is now assailing Mr. Northam over the Democrat’s opposition to a state measure that would have banned “sanctuary cities” and targeting him for supporting the removal of the state’s many Confederate statues.

The Republican chafes at questions over whether he is adopting a Trumpian message and forgoing his own advice in 2006 that Republicans should resist the “siren song” of anti-immigration rhetoric, insisting he is running as “who I am and what I believe in.”

“The great thing about a governor’s race in Virginia is the people who vote in it are focused on roads and schools and jobs and the opioid and heroin epidemic,” Mr. Gillespie said.

But his advertising reflects what he thinks will actually move the electorate: He is spending the bulk of his money on commercials focused on the statues, which make no mention of his view that the South was “on the wrong side of history,” and illegal immigrants. One of his immigration ads features amply tattooed Salvadoran prisoners meant to be members of the menacing gang MS-13, a target of the president’s.

Asked if he still supported a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants, which he once vocally championed, Mr. Gillespie unenthusiastically confirmed that he did, deflating his answer by noting that “the debate is 10 years old from my perspective.” (He did more readily note that he supported “accommodating those who were brought here as children illegally,” the so-called Dreamers.)
This week, Northam is enthusiastically campaigning with Obama, who won Virginia both times he ran (53-46% against McCain and 51-47% against Romney). In the end, Trumpanzee will probably be too embarrassed to stay away and will, in all likelihood, waddle down to Roanoke, which is pretty safe territory for him. He lost Roanoke City (56.1% to 38.5%) But he won Roanoke County 61.5% to 33.5%. If Trump does one of his crazy rallies they can bus rubes in from Franklin, Botetourt, Bedford, Craig, Henry, Floyd, and Giles counties, all blood red and filled with Trumpist crackpots addicted to Fox News, Hate Talk Radio and opioids. That way Trump can claim even though Gillespie lost the state, at least he won the backward area Trump campaigned in. Just watch.

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At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot speak for Gillespie, but trump lacks the genes required to feel embarrassment. If he had those genes, he'd have eaten a bullet decades ago. He's never been anything but an embarrassment.


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