Mitt Romney

Phil Quin on Trump’s proposed appointments

Phil Quin comments on Donald Trump’s proposed appointments and gives, for a lefty, some reasoned advice:

US President-elect Donald Trump is said to be considering one of his most vocal internal critics, Mitt Romney, as Secretary of State.

Howls of outrage, left and right, predictably ensued since the the GOP’s 2012 nominee ? a mainstream Republican from Central Casting ? berated Trump mercilessly in the lead-up to the recent election. He couldn’t even bring himself to vote for him.

And yet, at this turbulent moment, as Trump installs one far-right figure after another to his cabinet, accusations of hypocrisy against Trump and Romney ? fair game in the normal course of events ? should be set aside.

Trump would be wise to offer the Secretary of State post; Romney should accept it; and the Senate should rush to confirm him before the wildly erratic President-in-waiting changes his mind. Here’s why.

While no doubt Mitt Romney retains his view, expressed as recently as August, that Trump is a “con man” and “fake” who threatens to bring “trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny” to America, the stakes are too high to allow politics as usual to get in the way of what would be a profoundly reassuring appointment.

Romney at the State Department would go quite some way to quelling fears among US allies, in particular NATO, that the Trump presidency is set to redraw the geopolitical map in terrifying and unpredictable ways.

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Can Trump win from a TV studio?

Donald Trump has confounded commentators, political insiders and most people mildly interested in politics.

He has been accused of all sorts of things, but most damningly from political insiders it was the lack of a campaign team and a ground game.

No one thought he could beat Ted Cruz’s ground team, but beat them he did.

Now Karl Rove has joined the chorus of people thinking Donald Trump can’t win.

In this most unusual of elections, conventional wisdom has often been wrong. Donald Trump is betting the presidency that the trend will continue.

For starters, Mr. Trump believes that fundraising and TV advertising are overrated. ?I just don?t think I need nearly as much money as other people,? he told Bloomberg. ?I get so many invitations to be on television.? But consider a hypothetical: Say Hillary Clinton?runs a week of TV spots in Tampa/St. Petersburg, a key media market in Florida, and Mr. Trump counters by appearing on cable shows.

Counting only adults, 314,000 viewers might see a Clinton ad during ?60 Minutes? on Sunday, according to Nielsen data. Nearly 190,000 would see one during ?Dancing With the Stars? on Monday; 248,000 during ?NCIS? on Tuesday; and 120,000 during ?Hawaii Five-0? on Friday.

Mr. Trump?s appearances on Fox News would reach only a fraction of those numbers: 82,000 adults for a segment on ?The O?Reilly Factor? and 61,000 for one on ?The Kelly File.? An appearance on CNN?s best-viewed evening program would reach 33,000.

Granted, people who watch cable news are more politically active and likely to vote. Still, it?s unclear whether Mr. Trump can counter an advertising onslaught with free news coverage alone.

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Can Trump actually win?

There are plenty of pundits saying no, he can’t win. But can he?

The Hill reports:

In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won 206 electoral votes to President Obama?s 332 electoral votes. This was an improvement over 2008 when the Republican candidate, John McCain, won only 173 electoral votes and Obama won a whopping 365.

To win the 270?votes needed to claim victory in the electoral college, Trump will have to keep every single state won by Romney ? including Arizona and Georgia ? and find 64 more electoral votes somewhere.

The question is where? If Trump holds all the Romney states and carries Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, he still loses.

?Every preliminary electoral-map forecast this spring paints a bleak picture for Donald Trump in his effort to win the presidency against Hillary Clinton,? Dan Balz recently wrote in the Washington Post.

Balz pointed to separate forecasts from three veteran political handicappers who make the same prediction: Trump is going to get crushed by Clinton in an electoral college landslide.

The problem I have with that analysis is that it presumes that Trump will follow in Romney’s footsteps in campaigning. I’m not so sure he will, everything we have seen so far suggests the play book should be ripped up and we should write one along the way. ? Read more »

Cam, why are you backing Trump?

Last night I received this email from “a reader”:

Cameron you seem to be backing Trump. I reckon this; Hillary Clinton goes to bed every night praying Trump is the Republican nominee. Farrar posted on this didn’t he and I think he is right.

But the big guns know this too and what I think will happen, that is just beginning to happen now, is that Cruz and Rubio will keep Trump out but beat themselves to a standstill doing it, and Kasich will be the nominee as the only one with a chance to beat Hillary.

Yet again, someone has mistaken my calling of events as I see them as endorsement or support for one candidate or another. This happened last election in the US where people thought I was supporting Barack Obama because I kept on saying that Mitt Romney couldn’t beat him. I even had a very public bet with Leighton Smith over this. Readers commented, just like this correspondent, that I should be pushing Mitt Romney.

I am not into wishful thinking…you saw that with the gay marriage debate, calling the US election for Barack Obama and, more recently, on the? flag debate.

No amount of wishful thinking on my part or that of commenters on this site, or indeed wishful thinking from John Key, can make the truth of the matter go away…the referendum will vote to retain the existing flag.

I call things as I see them, based on a combination of my gut feeling, my assessment of the general public sentiment, polling and canvassing my connected, and not-so-connected, networks of friends across the political and business spectrum. ?? Read more »

The Republican Party and Trump: They’re not worried; they’re terrified

The GOP establishment are going all in to try to stop Trump, but until they can convince Ted Cruz to quit they won’t be able to do it.

For anyone wondering if the big wigs in the Grand Old Party (Republicans) are actually worried about Donald Trump as nominee – or if it is just a media beat-up, the answer is simple:

They’re not worried; they’re terrified and appalled and genuinely fearing for the future of the party.

Republican nominee for the 2012 election Mitt Romney didn’t hold back on Thursday, calling Mr Trump a phony and a fraud.

He’s not alone. After the Massachusetts primary, the state’s Republican governor Charlie Baker said he hadn’t voted for Trump in the primary and “I’m not going to vote for him in November”.

Mel Martinez, former Republican National Committee chair told The Wall Street Journal “I would not vote for Trump … If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there”.

Nebraskan senator Ben Sasse went further, saying “if the Republican Party becomes the party of David Duke, Donald Trump – I’m out.”

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Sledge of the Day

Mitt Romney made an impassioned, if somewhat desperate, speech against Donald Trump.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, delivered a sharp broadside against Donald Trump on Thursday, slamming the GOP’s leading candidate as “a phony, a fraud.”

In a forceful, top-to-bottom indictment of Trump, delivered as pandemonium sweeps the GOP, Romney urged fellow Republicans to reject the billionaire businessman’s candidacy in an election “that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country.”

“His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”

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Labour = Republican Party?

Liam Hehir at the Manawatu Standard hass cast a critical eye over the Labour party and found that they have remarkable similarities to the Republican party in the US….not in policy rather in form.

No analogy is ever perfect but more and more New Zealand’s Labour Party puts me in mind of the political conservatives in the United States Republican Party. Here are four reasons why.

1. It is in thrall to party activists.

Like the Democrats, the Republican Party selects its presidential candidates by way of primary election. This has the acknowledged weakness that primary voters are disproportionately drawn from party activists. Such people tend to have stronger ideological views than the general voting public.

This creates the temptation to pander to primary voters by flaunting one’s ideological purity.

The danger is, of course, that doing that can alienate moderate voters in the general election.

David Cunliffe is popular with the membership and loathed by the public.

2. It appears to be in denial about polling.

In the months leading up to 2012, polls showed Obama firmly in the lead. Conservative pundits were incredulous. After all, it was obvious to them that the incumbent was a spectacular failure. The polls must have been wrong and it was decided that the reason was over-representation of Democrats in polling samples. In their reporting on the polls, allowances were made for this supposed phenomenon.

The next time a poll shows National with a sizeable lead over Labour and the Greens, head over to This is New Zealand’s foremost Left-wing website and a gathering place for Labour activists – Cunliffe boosters in particular. I can promise you that you will see dismissals of what is apparently either the thousandth “rogue poll” since John Key took over as leader or a subterfuge by the “corporate media” to ensure National stays in power.

This isn’t helped by at least 3 authors at The Standard actually working in Cunliffe’s office…so cognitive dissonance sets in.

3. It is banking on turning out the base.

“What would be the reason that 3 million voters didn’t show up? . . .

“A number of Republicans are tired of moderate nominees. They’ve sent the Republican Party money for years and said: To hell with it. If you’re gonna eschew conservatism, I’m not giving you any money, and I’m not voting for you.”

Those were the words of Rush Limbaugh, popular American radio host and staunch conservative, in the wake of Mitt Romney’s comprehensive defeat at the hands of Obama. Who needs the middle?

If only the Republicans had offered an even more “severely conservative” candidate, those missing voters would surely have risen up to smite Obama!

The sentiment is echoed by proponents of the “missing million” theory of New Zealand politics.

There simply isn’t a missing million.

4. Its weakness is temporary.

There is a tendency to extrapolate present circumstances way out into the future. Both of Obama’s presidential elections set off vicious recriminations within the Republican Party. This prompted speculation as to whether the Republicans would ever win the presidency again – at least without conceding nearly all matters of principle.

If Labour loses this election (which I think is probable), expect to hear much of the same. After all, it has been more than six years since the party has regularly polled close to 40 per cent. It has been closer to 30 per cent most of the time.

They have been hoping on this for a strategy for 7 years now…how is that working out for them?


– Manawatu Standard

There is hope for Labour yet, evidence from US suggests dirty tactics work

The Atlantic has an article that examines dirty political tactics, of the type Trevor Mallard or Winston Peters use on a daily basis, and the evidence that it seems to work.

Karl Rove now denies reports that he said Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. ?I never used that phrase,??he said on Fox News. True. What Rove said was, ?Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she?s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what?s up with that.?

In other words, Rove didn?t say Hillary Clinton has brain damage. He hinted it, thus giving himself deniability while ensuring that the slur lingers in the public mind. Which is what he?s been doing his entire career.

In 2004,?Joshua Green reported?in?The Atlantic?that Texas insiders accused Rove of spreading allegations that his rival, Republican consultant John Weaver, had made a pass at a young man at a GOP event. Green also?quoted?an aide to a 1994 state Supreme Court candidate in Alabama who accused Rove of having quietly insinuated that his boss was a pedophile. Similarly, when George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas that same year, rumors swirled about the sexual orientation of incumbent Ann Richards. ?No one ever traced the character assassination to Rove,??wrote Bush biographer Louis Dubose, ?Yet no one doubts that Rove was behind it.? Most famously, when Bush was fighting for his life against a surging John McCain in South Carolina in 2000, fliers, emails, and push polls accused McCain of having fathered an African-American ?love child? (he had actually adopted a girl from Bangladesh) and of suffering from mental instability as a result of his incarceration in Vietnam. McCain staffers, and McCain?s daughter, have?accused?Rove of orchestrating the rumors; Rove?denies?any involvement.

Why does Rove allegedly smear his opponents this way? Because it works.

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Should there be a source shield law?

In the US there is a move afoot to further protect press freedoms by extending protection of sources further.

It is an interesting discussion and one well worth having, especially where sources could suffer a clear and present danger to their well being from those who would seek to identify them.

Geoffrey R. Stone writes at The Daily Beast:

The press isn?t free if it has fear of prosecution for leaks. It?s time to give reporters the same type of privilege attorneys and doctors have.

The?Guardian?and?The?Washington Post?were each awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for their reporting based on classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. This will no doubt annoy many in the intelligence community who believe that Snowden,?The?Guardian, and the?Post?have done serious damage to the national security of the United States.

Unlike most disclosures of classified information, this reporting has not raised any central issues about the legitimacy or value of a journalist-source privilege, because Snowden chose to make no secret of his identity. Nonetheless, the bestowal of the Pulitzer Prize presents a good moment to reflect on the appropriate relationship between the government, the press, and source.

The issue is particularly timely at the moment because Gabriel Schoenfeld,?a senior fellow at theHudson Institute?and a former adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, recently published an article in the journal?National Affairs?in which he concludes that for Congress to enact a federal journalist-source privilege would be ?a bad idea.? Although I admire and respect Schoenfeld, in this, he is wrong.? Read more »

Is this happening here? Pretty sure it is

In the US demographics and polling data suggests that the Democrats have a problem with young people.

I wonder though if the same could be said here. Like the US it has always been assumed that young people are Labour or Green supporters…the evidence suggests this isn’t necessarily true.

I’d love to compare membership sign ups of Young Nats vs Young Labour vs Young Greens.

A new Pew Research Center?report?on millennials has been receiving well-deserved attention. For politics, the prevailing interpretation of the report?seems?to be: Republicans are screwed. Millennials are more liberal and Democratic-leaning than older generations, and because most millennials will outlive those older generations, the country?s future is largely defined by the politics of millennials. And that future, the argument goes, is bad for Republicans.

In fact, the story is much more equivocal. Lurking within this broad category of millennials is a group that isn?t quite as keen on liberalism, Democrats, or President Obama: Millennials who actually entered the electorate during the Obama presidency. These youngest millennials may yet demonstrate why it is dangerous to assume that subsequent generations will be loyal Democrats.? Read more »