Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh


Reposted from RealClearPolitics on Oct. 16, 2020

Since 1975, I have remained a proud, loyal member of the Republican Party through decades of winning and losing. But with Election Day fast approaching, my requested mail-in ballot from the nation’s most decisive battleground state – Florida – remains unopened after nearly three weeks.

A permanently sealed ballot would stand as a personal time capsule to what I believe was an egregious strategic error perpetrated upon this nation by my party on Feb. 5, 2020. That day Senate Republicans failed to convict President Donald J. Trump on the articles of impeachment approved by the House, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Given all that American voters have endured since — the double scourge of an out of control, mismanaged pandemic, resulting in great economic harm —Trump’s impeachment has largely been relegated to ancient history. Although only the third U.S. president to be impeached, Trump is the first to run for reelection after acquittal.

And because he was not convicted and removed from office, and legally allowed to run for a second term, I consider the Senate’s not-guilty vote to be the most egregious strategic error of 2020. Hence, if only the GOP had acted responsibly, today my sealed ballot might read the name of Michael R. Pence on top, in place of Donald J. Trump.

Before my fellow Republicans stop reading, let me explain and defend myself.

First, I know many Republicans will take umbrage with my suggesting that Trump was rightly impeached and should have been convicted over a “phone call” with the president of Ukraine. However, I believe the specific charges were emblematic of the president’s “anything goes,” “I can do no wrong,” and “no rules apply to me” attitude. This same attitude accounted for how he comported himself pre-impeachment and further emboldened his post-impeachment behavior and authoritarian-leaning tendencies.  

On display now is how this “Trumpian” attitude is backfiring, especially among suburban women, evidenced by him pathetically asking voters at a Pennsylvania rally, “Will you please like me?” Well, they don’t.

That helps explain why the words “Biden and landslide” are increasingly linked in polling and news reports. And, why Drudge Report headlines recently screamed: “BATTLEGROUND MAP EXPANDS, SHOCK POLL: BIDEN +17,  ‘91% CHANCE’ OF WINNING.”

Furthermore, check out the RealClearPolitics “No Toss Up States” Electoral College map projecting Biden to overwhelm Trump by 375 to 163 electoral votes. Might it look more balanced if Pence had replaced Trump?

And what if the actual results are close to that RCP projection? I will point to the root cause as a self-inflicted wound from the trigger pulled on Feb. 5 by Republican senators, primarily out of fear.

Not all, but enough GOP senators voted to acquit Trump fearing blowback and name-calling attacks, especially those facing tough reelections. After seeing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announce his intention to convict and the Trump treatment he received, they understood that casting an acquittal vote was a safer and quieter decision.

Many senators also feared retribution from Trump-supporting MAGA constituents about being “primaried” and voted out of office. Ultimately, those senators prioritized their political careers over what I believe was best for America. While selfishly doing so, they set an unimpeachable, unconstitutional behavioral precedent for future presidents to exploit. (Looking back to 1974, applying this 2020 standard to President Richard Nixon means that he might not have been forced to resign.)

Second, I am well aware that it is revisionist history to imagine “President Pence” topping the GOP ticket and most likely accompanied by a woman VP nominee. Still, I am confident that Pence would have successfully stepped in and made a valiant attempt to unite and heal the nation. Perhaps other Republicans think that Pence would not have been the strongest candidate to replace Trump on the ticket. However, in February 2020, keeping Pence in place as the new incumbent president would have been the more prudent and stable choice.

Had that happened, RCP’s “no toss up” map might now be displaying more “red,”  and RCP’s Senate “no-toss up” seat projections might not show the GOP losing control of the chamber.

If only 19 more Republican senators had voted “guilty” on Feb. 5. Then Americans could have been spared what has evolved into a daily “theater of the absurd” — a chaotic White House reality show starring “Superman.”

Worse are childish and desperate statements from Trump’s Twitter account, or directly from his mouth. With utterances and behaviors more associated with banana republic dictators, Americans have come to accept and ignore them as “Trump being Trump.”

Here are three recent episodes that stand out and should not be ignored.

First, last week Trump asked (or rather, insisted) on national cable television  that Attorney General William Barr issue indictments against Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Just another “normal” day on the campaign trail! But in America, an incumbent president does not ask for his predecessor and current opponent to be indicted. Sadly, Trump’s astounding request was not treated as a major news event. 

Second, on several occasions and at the presidential debate, Trump has refused to state that he would leave office if he disagreed with the election results. He also has said that the only way he could lose is in a “rigged election.” Such outlandish remarks have prompted many Americans to hope Biden wins in a landslide so that GOP leaders will be forced to assist in a peaceful transition of power.

Fortunately, all Americans believe that a “peaceful transition of power” is a hallmark of who we are as a nation. The pride embodied in this foundational concept is always on display during the inaugural swearing-in ceremony when the incumbent (defeated or term-limited) is present, along with all former presidents physically able to attend. 

Third, information leaked from Trump’s tax returns reveal that he is in severe financial distress. The president owes $400 million coming due during his second-term time frame. But unknown is to whom — persons, groups, corporations, banks, or even countries (friendly or unfriendly) — does he owe these millions.

The Trump financial revelation prompted Mike Morell, former acting director of the CIA, to write a Washington Post op-ed headlined: “Trump is in debt. We can’t ignore the national security risks that come with that.” Morell noted that if the president were instead an applicant seeking a sensitive job, “Trump would have been denied a [security] clearance” over concerns that “high levels of debt would create an unacceptable counterintelligence risk.”

Still, matters such as these three and many more are of no consequence to my GOP friends (who might not be my friends after reading this piece). I have written twice during 2020 that my party has turned into a “Trumplican” cult of personality where reasonable, educated, successful, patriotic Americans dismiss or rationalize Trump’s behavior for reasons spelled out in a recent text sent to me by a VIP Republican and longtime friend:

“Quite frankly, Myra, I don’t know how you can call yourself a Christian and not support Trump. Pay attention to ISSUES, not personalities. You judge a tree by its fruit, not how pretty its flowers are.”

As I see it, the truth is Trump only cozied up to Christians for political expediency and certainly does not comport himself as one. But yes, a big yes, is how his policies and judicial selections have been pleasing to conservative Christians. Nonetheless, I know Mike Pence is a Christian — a real-deal prayer warrior and humble man of God. But, because Pence’s name is in second place on my unopened ballot, I cannot, in good conscience, vote to reelect Trump after supporting him in 2016.

Conversely, neither can I bring myself to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. That would be a vote to support a future beholden to the anti-Christian left — transforming the American economy and culture into one with socialist leanings and empowering a Democratic Party that worships at the altar of climate change and secular humanism. 

“Thy will be done” is my response to my friend.

On Election Day or soon after, I fully expect my party to lose the White House and Senate, stemming from the controversial consequences of the majority of GOP senators’ reckless decision back on Feb. 5.

Finally, it pains me to write that I will not be casting a presidential vote for the first time since age 18. Instead, I will pray on Election Day that God helps and blesses our nation.


Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept. 18, 2020

Those who follow politics know that the future is uncertain for an overwhelmingly white Republican Party, due to clear-cut demographic trends. Voters who identify with the GOP are more likely to be male, over age 50, have no college degree, live in rural areas, and worship as Christians.

I joined the College Republicans in the aftermath of Watergate when the GOP was also in decline. Yet, our handful of student members were optimistic that conservative governing principles would eventually prevail. In 1980, that is precisely what happened: Ronald Reagan was elected.

Forty years later, conservative governing principles are largely passé, and Republican gatherings resemble a focus group of aging white Americans. Moreover, in 2020 whites are projected to be 66.7% of the voting total, dipping from 70% in 2016 and down steeply from 88% in 1980.

In the last three presidential elections, the Republican nominees lost the popular vote but won the shrinking white electorate by sizable margins. Trump in 2016: 57% to 37%. Romney in 2012: 59% to 39%. McCain in 2008: 55% to 43%.

Turning to the current White House race, a recent national Fox News poll found a significant shift in white voters’ presidential preference. Among likely white voters, President Trump is leading Joe Biden 54% to 43%. But Biden’s campaign is celebrating that 11-point gap because, in 2016, Trump won whites by 20 percentage points over Hillary Clinton. If these Fox poll percentages hold, Trump’s nine-point decrease among two-thirds of the electorate will make it statistically challenging for him to win the popular vote and, more importantly, the Electoral College.

In the meantime, election reporting is fixated on the Hispanic vote, and for good reasons. This is the first election when Hispanics are projected to be the nation’s largest minority voting group, at 13.3% of the electorate, surpassing the projected 12.5% for African Americans.

Compare those percentages to 2016 when Hispanics were at 11%, just behind African Americans at 12%. (In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama boosted African American participation to 13%, a record high.)

I vividly recall when the national Hispanic vote was only 7% around the turn of the century – and the mantra among anxious GOP strategists was “We can’t lose the Hispanic vote like we lost the black vote.” And in the next breath came some variation of “or we will go the way of the Whigs.” The strategists were fearful because “safe” red states such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Florida had growing numbers of Hispanic voters who were voting Democratic at 60% or more. Unfortunately for my party, the continuation of that trend is exactly what has happened.

Since around 2000, when the Hispanic vote started to gain traction, the Republican Party’s success in attracting this group has been dismal. Over 60% of Hispanics have voted for the Democrat presidential nominee in every presidential election starting with 1992, shown below with one sub-60% exception.

What follows are Hispanic presidential voting percentages since that year and their share of voting totals shown in parentheses.

2016: Clinton 66%-Trump 28% (11%)

2012: Obama 71%-Romney 27% (10%)

2008: Obama 67%-McCain 31% (9%)  

2004: Kerry 53%-Bush 44% (7%)

2000: Gore 62%-Bush 35% (7%) 

1996: Clinton (record holder) 73%-Dole 21% (5%)

1992: Clinton 61%-Bush 25% (2%)

Currently there are numerous reports about how Biden is not attracting Hispanic voters compared to previous Democratic incumbents and nominees — especially Hillary Clinton. Therefore, the Trump campaign should be encouraged since numerous polls, such as the one cited earlier from Fox News, show that among likely Hispanic voters, Trump is earning 41% compared to 57% for Biden. (Remember that nationally in 2016, Trump only won 28% of Hispanics.)

But among registered Hispanic voters, the Fox poll shows Trump dipping to 38% with the same 57% for Biden. In a national You/Gov poll, again measuring registered Hispanic voters, Trump sinks to 30% with 52% for Biden and 12% “not sure.”

Next, let’s look at battleground Florida, where it is almost imperative that the president win the state’s 29 electoral votes if he hopes to secure a second term. Last week a St. Pete poll of likely voters had Biden winning the Hispanic vote 53.3% to Trump’s 41.5%.

This week, a Monmouth poll of registered voters shows Biden leading Trump among Florida’s Hispanics 58% to 32%. To compare, in 2016 Clinton lost the state to Trump by 1.2 percentage points, but won Florida’s diverse Hispanic vote 62% to 35%. So this survey is not good news for either candidate since both are down from 2016 percentages, but Trump’s deficit of 26 points mirrors his gap four years ago.

Now let’s examine the 2020 battleground states through the lens of 2016 Hispanic voting by party along with their percentage of the state’s voting total. Note that the states listed below are likely to increase their percentage of Hispanic voters by about two points or more this year. The states selected are all “toss-ups,” according to the RealClearPolitics 2020 Electoral College map and presented in order of the largest Hispanic electorate.

Texas: (D) 61% (R) 34% (24%)

Florida: (D) 62% (R) 35% (18%)

Nevada: (D) 60% (R) 29% (18%)

Arizona: (D) 60% (R) 30% (16%)

Pennsylvania: (D) 74% (R) 22% (6%)

Michigan: (D) 59% (R) 38% (5%)

North Carolina: (D) 59% (R) 39% (5%)

Wisconsin: (D) 63% (R) 34% (4%)

Ohio: (D) 68% (R) 28% (3%)

All we know for sure in mid-September is that 2020 will be another step up for the growing Hispanic electorate’s clout in close battleground states and, ultimately, the national election.

Circling back to the GOP’s “losing the Hispanic vote” mantra of decades ago, there was much discussion about how Hispanics “should be Republicans.” The thinking was that, in general, Hispanics are conservative, family-oriented, and religious, with many starting and owning businesses. However, in the ensuing years, this bloc has remained in the Democrat fold, likely because of immigration issues and “not feeling welcome” in the GOP.

By now, their two-thirds support for Democrats is a well-established voting pattern. That, combined with Asian voters also trending toward Democrats, the shrinking (and always split) white vote, and African Americans virtually in lockstep with Democrats, suggests a daunting long-term future for the Republican Party. But I remind myself that after President Ford’s 1976 election loss, I had the same thought.  

Of course, there is always the possibility that a GOP presidential candidate will emerge who “looks like the new America.” Already, three prominent Republicans come to mind, but let’s save that discussion for after November.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci


Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept. 11, 2020

This week in September 2016, I wrote a report headlined “Confirmed by Trump insider: ‘Trump TV’ is Plan B after election.”

Four years later, but not confirmed by any “Trump insiders,” the same conclusion seems appropriate for similar reasons — it makes both good business and political sense for Donald Trump to launch a “Trump TV” media venture should he suffer a reelection defeat. It’s an assessment based on the president’s narrow path to winning 270 electoral votes, which grows statistically more daunting by the day.

(Cue “There you go again” — Ronald Reagan’s iconic pronouncement from his October 1980 debate with President Jimmy Carter.)

Briefly, here are two key reasons to dust off and update “Trump TV as Plan B.”

First, students of politics know the phrase “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” It’s a well-deserved maxim, since the 1960 presidential election was the last time Ohio did not vote for the winning candidate.  

In 2016, Trump won the Buckeye state and its 18 electoral votes by a whopping margin of 8.1 percentage points — seemingly securing a “safe” spot atop the 2020 red-state column. Instead, the current Ohio RealClearPolitics poll average has Joe Biden leading Trump by 2.4 percentage points, a statistical tie bringing the state back to its traditional battleground status. Despite scant media attention, Trump’s Ohio slippage is an ominous sign.

Second, RCP’s Electoral College map is a reality check for Team Trump, where Biden is credited with 212 votes, either “solid” or “leaning,” compared to Trump’s 115. Remaining, and spread among 16 states — several of them traditionally reliably “red” — are 211 electoral “toss-up” votes. Biden needs to win only 58 to reach 270 and remove “vice” from his former title. Conversely, Trump must draw the political equivalent of a royal straight flush in poker to win 155 out of the 211 remaining votes to reach 270. Not favorable odds for an incumbent.

However, the president could eventually “win” by losing should he launch Trump TV on popular delivery platforms with a wide range of programming.

Here is a concept paper for such a venture:

In 2016, Trump earned 62.9 million “popular” votes. For our purposes, let’s assume he wins close to that number in November, so even 10% of it would account for a potentially substantial audience.

By comparison, according to the Fox News Channel, in August “Hannity”  was “the most-watched show on cable news, averaging 4.7 million viewers for the show’s best month ever.” In second place was “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” averaging 4.4 million viewers. Therefore, it is plausible that Trump TV programming, geared to his loyal base, could easily compete with the most popular Fox prime-time shows.

Currently, Trump TV (not labeled as such) is already operating with show production values rivaling cable television while hosted on the campaign’s official website. Campaign events are live-streamed and in-person ticket registration is offered. (Similar to the arena rallies of old, these events are primarily used to gather voter contact information.)

If Trump loses, he and his family could stay politically relevant and ripe for a comeback by offering counter-programming to the Biden administration. “His family” is the operative phrase. Ivanka, currently a White House senior adviser, also courts the limelight with a domestic lifestyle brand rivaling Kim Kardashian’s, while Don Jr. appears to have caught “Potomac Fever.” In an extensive August profile, the New York Times Magazine requoted him saying, “It’s sort of cool if you’re at a stadium of 15,000 people and they start chanting ‘46’ when you’re speaking.” (Donald Trump is the 45th president.)

Speaking of the Kardashians, it was widely reported this week that after 14 years and 20 seasons, their reality show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” is ending in early 2021. What fortunate timing for launching the Trump TV network’s first reality show. (My suggested working title: “Keeping Up With Trump’s America.”)

Mirroring the Kardashians are the Trump family’s “star” spouses. First and foremost is Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner. History could view him, at age 39, as the second most powerful man in Washington, and perhaps the world, during the Trump administration. How then, does he go back to being a run-of-the-mill NYC real estate developer/socialite after spending four years as the de facto White House chief of staff; secretary of state; head of domestic and legislative policy; pandemic CEO; Middle East peace envoy; the Trump campaign’s 2016/2020 chairman; and most trusted adviser to the president of the United States?

Henceforth, Jared’s new perch could be as president of the Trump TV Entertainment/ Lifestyle Brand/Data Services/News Network and Make America Trump political party. (His father-in-law would be CEO.) Jared could manage and exploit Trumpism to foster a political dynasty well into the 21st century. (Trump has 10 grandkids.)

Ready to assume a leading role on Trump TV is Don Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, currently head of major donor fundraising for the reelection campaign. She is already a seasoned television personality after spending 12 years on air at Fox News. (A made for Trump TV subplot involves Guilfoyle’s ex-husband Gavin Newsom. He is currently the governor of California and is believed to have national political ambitions, so one can imagine a Gavin vs. Don Jr. presidential race.)

Another telegenic Trump spouse is Lara, wife of Eric. She also comes to the family from television, where from 2012 to 2016 she was a story coordinator and producer for the CBS news magazine “Inside Edition.” Lara Trump’s title is senior adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. She is also a campaign media surrogate, often seen promoting her father-in-law on Fox News.

Once the family is decoupled from the White House, a Trump TV enterprise offers the perfect opportunity to reposition and reload for whatever comes next. But what platform could be acquired? Since the Fox News Channel is so successful and not for sale, I suggest two conservative network options.

First is One America News Network. Although OANN attracts a small audience to the right of Fox, President Trump is its No. 1 fan. At times, he has unabashedly promoted the fledgling outlet when Fox has not supported him 100%. Now there is much talk about a rift between Trump and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch, with Trump making accusations of “unfair treatment” and how the network is “going rogue.”

Second is NewsmaxTV, owned and led by Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend. Maybe for the right price, Newsmax TV could be rebranded as Trump TV? Or, at the very least, host some pilot programming?

But does Trump TV really need a cable network? If millions of MAGA supporters are already clicking — the campaign’s official URL — then after the election, the site can be repositioned into the family’s all-encompassing platform.

Trump TV offers endless programming possibilities, starting with polishing the 45th commander-in-chief’s legacy while he builds his presidential library. (“Buy your personalized gold-plated MAGA bricks now!”) Moreover, international/domestic lifestyle/travel/golf/spa/real estate programming will help rebuild, promote, and sustain what was formerly a lucrative revenue stream: licensing the Trump name.

Non-political family-specific programming could include Melania hosting a modeling and fashion design show called “Be Best Dressed.” Ivanka could make cameo appearances on every show every day, no matter the topic, but she and her children might star in their own series, “Size Four Mother of Three.” Barron, now a tall, handsome teenager and a magnet for young ladies, might emcee video game championships at Trump hotels around the world.

(Another lineup possibility: Roger Stone as host of a dirty-tricks game show titled “Pardon Me!”)

The former president could continue his regular schedule — chatting up friends and loyal supporters while touring and playing his golf courses, all presented on-air. Between swings, he would surely remind viewers of his greatest presidential achievements that Biden is now dismantling.

For “news” purposes, the former president could hint at a 2024 comeback, unless he passes the torch to the next generation. They, in turn, will battle it out for the nomination, driving up ratings on “Keeping Up With Trump’s America” — which by that time is a hit reality show — proving that losing the White House means winning prime time. But, since we all know that Trumps never lose, stay tuned.

Credit: Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun via AP


Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept. 3, 2020

A veteran GOP political strategist told me he likens the current state of America to pressure building inside a volcano and predicts, “It will blow its top immediately after the election.”

Living in Florida, perhaps I watch too much of The Weather Channel, but my own election natural disaster analogy resembles the tracking of a monster hurricane as it moves closer to the U.S. mainland. Based on present conditions, we know at least a Category 3 will strike late on Nov. 3 and gather strength on Nov. 4 or 5. Virtually everyone is aware of the potential for devastation, and millions are taking pro-active precautions — buying guns and ammunition.

Last month, Fox Business reported, “Gun sales surged 135% year-over-year in July to about 2 million and have already matched all of last year, according to a report released earlier this week by research consultancy Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting. Sales were up 145% in June, 80% in May and 71% in April.”

A Brookings Institute report based on data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System found, “In just the first six months of 2020, approximately 19 million firearms have been sold, representing more than one firearm for every 20 Americans.”

Notably, gun sales dramatically rose in response to the George Floyd protests, resulting in 150,000 per day on June 2 and 3. August gun sales, to be reported in about a week, are projected to set another record — contributing to surpassing the total 2019 U.S. gun sales in only eight months. Women are part of this national gun buying spree, comprising 40% of first-time owners, according to NSSF, the trade association for the firearms industry.

More detailed information about female owners can be found in a recent survey by A Girl & a Gun Women’s Shooting League. A fast-growing national organization with 138 chapters, AG & AG promotes gun ownership, safety, training and “encouragement,” while redefining “girls night out” with shooting range social events. What about “suburban women” — that highly sought-after voting group? Some will be “packing heat” on Election Day, just as they do every day in their attractive “carry purses.”

All this gun-buying data reminds me of a song lyric — “Paranoia strikes deep/ into your life it will creep” — from 1967’s “For What It’s Worth.” This protest anthem by Buffalo Springfield was recently resurrected during the Democratic National Convention, but performed with a modern twist.

Americans have become paranoid about Election Day since the daily violence and upheaval we are seeing could be perceived as a warm-up for post-election chaos when either Joe Biden or Donald Trump “wins.” My quotation marks are in anticipation that determining the next president could take days, weeks, or even months — plunging our nation into levels of civil unrest not seen since the Civil War. We can expect various mail-in ballot controversies, along with potentially millions of rejected or fraudulent ballots to trigger something resembling the “Election Lawyers Full-Employment Act” with endless lawsuits at every state and local level.

The critical question is when the winner is ultimately announced, will the losing candidate accept defeat and calm his supporters? Will they listen to him anyway? In the interim, if both sides are claiming victory, chaos could reign. Municipal police departments, as we’ve already seen, are ill-equipped to handle large numbers of violent protesters. And based on explosive gun sales, these mobs might be armed.

With paranoia striking deep, unprecedented small arms sales have caused a nationwide ammunition shortage. In a July NRA report headlined “Manufacturers Struggle to Keep Up With Soaring Ammunition Sales,” a spokesman from Brownells, a weapons and ammo company, said, “Ammunition continues to fly off the shelves.”

The August edition of NRA Shooting Illustrated was headlined, “Ammo Shortage May Last Until 2021” and mentioned Winchester Ammunition experiencing a 17% increase in orders over the last three months.

A banner atop Winchester’s website reads:

PRODUCT DEMAND NOTICE: Like many manufacturers in the shooting sports industry, we are experiencing an extremely high demand for our products. We are continuing to manufacture and ship our high quality products on a daily basis. We appreciate the support and thank you for choosing Winchester.

John Fischer, CEO of Winchester parent company Olin, was quoted saying, “We expect this elevated level of demand to continue at least until the end of the year.” And why is ammo demand predicted to remain “elevated”? NRA Shooting Illustrated cited perhaps the understatement of the year:

“A Presidential election in November will have an impact on the prediction.”  

Circling back to election weather analogies, the most optimistic forecast is a “political hurricane” goes “out to sea.” Imagine a clear winner is declared late on Nov. 3 or early into the next day. There are peaceful coast-to-coast celebrations for our newly elected or re-elected president, and all is well across the “Armed States of America.”

Conversely, the hurricane could strike as a mild regional tropical storm or, worse case, strengthen to a Category 5. If the latter, our nation could “blow its top,” resulting in disrupted supply chains and nationwide curfews. There might be widespread deployment of the National Guard or the most dreaded scenario — President Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, deploying federal troops and declares martial law.

After seeing that A Girl & a Gun has a chapter near me, it might be time for a “girls night out” at the gun range because November is coming.

Credit: Ralph Alswang/Public domain


Reposted from RealClearPolitics – August 21, 2020

Since the end of World War II, there have been 18 U.S. presidential elections, 11 of which involved incumbents. Eight of those presidents won reelection, demonstrating the power of incumbency.  

Conversely, the familiar tag line “past performance does not guarantee future results,” heard at the end of financial ads, is equally applicable. Subjected to that devastating truth were the last three one-term presidents — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush, all forced to join the “exclusive club” Donald Trump is fervently trying to avoid.

Examining the failed reelection campaigns of 1976, 1980, and 1992 may offer lessons for the current Oval Office occupant.

Election of 1976 Vote Share:  Gerald Ford (48% of the popular vote) vs. Jimmy Carter (50.1%)

Electoral College: Ford 240, Carter 297  

Why Ford Lost: First, he was an unelected incumbent, and his unpopular pardon of disgraced predecessor Richard Nixon dogged his campaign. (Over the years, however, the pardon decision was viewed more favorably.)

Second, Ford presided over what was perceived as a lackluster economy with high unemployment/inflation and slow growth. In the same vein, Ford’s much-derided Whip Inflation Now initiative still ranks high among domestic policy blunders. (During my after-school job as a Woolworth’s cashier, management pinned a WIN button on my blouse.)

Third, the dramatic fall of South Vietnam occurred on April 30, 1975. The helicopter evacuations from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon left a devastating image that not only stained Ford’s administration but negatively impacted American foreign policy for decades.

Fourth, even with the economy showing signs of improvement in 1976, Ford could not escape the general feeling that voters thought it was time to put the calamitous Nixon/Watergate/Vietnam years in the rearview mirror.

Enter Jimmy Carter, a little known one-term governor and peanut farmer from Georgia. He was positioned as an unblemished “outsider” when Washington’s leadership represented scandal and failure at home and abroad. With the slogan “A Leader, for a Change,” Carter parlayed that prevailing national attitude to his advantage, while famously saying, “I will never lie to you.” 

Ford’s Last Job Approval Rating Before the 1976 Election50%.

Ford Campaign Ad:  “Peace With Freedom.”

Lessons for Trump: A similar “time to move on” national attitude must be messaged against, but in a positiveunifying way. 

Election of 1980: Jimmy Carter (41% of the popular vote) vs. Ronald Reagan (50.7%)

Electoral College: Carter 49, Reagan 489

Why Carter Lost: A majority of Americans had come to the conclusion that he was a weak leader who was not up to the task.

Voters were fed up with a disastrous negative-growth economy (-0.3 GDP). There was high unemployment (7.2%); hyper-inflation (13.3% in 1979, 12.5% in 1980); record-high interest rates (average mortgage interest rate: 13.7%) and an energy crisis.

All of the above was coupled with seemingly out-of-control international events perceived by voters as rooted in flawed presidential leadership responsible for America’s diminished global standing. The national ego was battered by the Iranian hostage crisis, including a deadly desert rescue debacle;  Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan; and America’s absence at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. 

The stars were aligned for two-term former California Gov. Ronald Reagan to win a dramatic landslide. Reagan presented himself as a strong, principled leader with an optimistic vision of the future. Contributing to Reagan’s success was an ability to connect with Americans through his extraordinary communication skills (especially compared to Carter’s), honed by his years as a Hollywood actor and leader of the nation’s most populous state.

Reagan’s campaign slogan was “Let’s make America great again.” (Sound familiar?)

Most Memorable Campaign Moment: At the end of the only debate between Carter and Reagan, held on Oct. 28, 1980, the challenger looked straight into the television camera and asked, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Since then, that question has been raised in nearly all presidential campaigns by both parties.

Carter’s Last Job Approval Rating Before the Election33%   

Carter Campaign AdsHerehere, and here.

Lessons for Trump: Carter was perceived as reluctant leader, poor communicator, and generally not up to the demands of the job. Forty years later, Trump views himself as strong, tough, and decisive at home and abroad. But there is a YUGE gap between Trump’s perception and that of many voters, which must be bridged if he is to be reelected in this time of grave national crises.

Election of 1992:  George H.W. Bush (37.4% of the popular vote) vs. Bill Clinton (43%) vs. Ross Perot (18.9%)

Electoral College: Bush 168, Clinton 370, Perot 0

Why Bush Lost:  First, a now-iconic campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” was brilliantly hatched and executed by Clinton’s team. The economy was in recession through much of 1992, and Clinton’s message discipline was solid.

Second, Bush’s defeat could be couched as “passing the torch to a new generation.” (A classic phrase from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address.) Clinton was a charismatic Arkansas governor who, at age 46, was the first baby boomer to be nominated by a major party.

Third, Clinton out-campaigned and out-maneuvered President Bush, who had successfully led the nation through the Persian Gulf War. Team Clinton created and implemented “rapid response” messaging along with a “war room.” They hammered the perception that the president was out of touch with the times, including pop culture. But Clinton was “hip,” and when he played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” presidential campaigns were changed forever.

Fourth is the most contested factor that might explain Bush’s defeat — Ross Perot’s role as the third-party candidate. But the enduring question is to what degree, since Perot won nearly 19% of the popular vote. Upon Perot’s death last year, RealClearPolitics elections analyst Sean Trende revisited this quandary in a piece headlined “We Don’t Know Whether Perot Cost Bush in 1992.”

Most Memorable Campaign Moment: In truth, there were few memorable moments from that campaign, but one brief gesture by the incumbent forever enshrined itself in presidential debate history. Here is a U.S. News & World Report headline: “George H.W. Bush Checks His Watch During Debate With Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.” The subhead: “Where Bush appeared impatient, ‘Clinton steps in and empathizes, empathizes, empathizes.’ “

That innocent wristwatch glance crystallized the perception that President Bush’s time was up.

Bush’s Last Job Approval Rating Before the 1992 Election34%   

Bush Campaign Ad“Agenda” from October 1992.

Lessons for Trump: Don’t be outmaneuvered on the campaign “trail,” which is even more challenging this year with no physical “trail.” Have a clear, concise pitch and institute “message discipline.” Feel the pain of your people. Bill Clinton mastered that act with Bush perceived as being less empathic to the struggles of average Americans. Trump is plagued with a similar problem as the entire nation struggles to deal with the coronavirus and crippled economy. 

Overall Lessons for Trump From the Last Three One-Term Presidents:

If the election verdict is “time to move on,” be graceful and accept the will of the people.  A hallmark of our nation is its smooth transition of power.

But if defeated, look forward to “doing good” as an ex-president. Americans have a remarkably strong and consistent record of liking their ex-presidents (reelected or not) more than when they were in the Oval Office.

And please never again say, “It’ll end up being a rigged election” or I should get a third term.” Both statements practically guarantee that Jimmy Carter will personally welcome you to his lonely, exclusive club where he is the only living member.

Credit: Arelis R. Hernandez/The Washington Post via AP


Re-posted from RealClearPolitics – August 14, 2020

Question: What is the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the U.S. electorate?

If you answered “Hispanic,” you would be wrong. Instead, it is Asians. According to Pew Research Center, from 2000 to 2020 the number of Asians eligible to vote grew by 139% — compared to 121% for Hispanics.

This week, when Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris to be his running mate, Politico referred to the California senator as “a Black and South Asian woman.” (Harris’s mother emigrated from India; her father, from Jamaica.) And Biden’s list of prospective vice presidential nominees also included Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is of Thai descent.

Will such high-profile Asian American women leaders help usher in a new era of influence for the increasing number of voters with Asian roots? Asians in America already wield economic power with the highest median income of any race or ethnic group at $87,194 — compared to $70,642 for Caucasians, Hispanics with $51,450, and $41,361 for African Americans.

There are 22.4 million Asian Americans, 5.6% of the population, according to U.S. Census estimates. In November’s election, eligible Asian voters are projected to be 4.7% of the electorate, up from 4% in 2016. Theoretically, if they were strategically concentrated, Asians could potentially influence swing state outcomes when considering that in 2016, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, Wisconsin were all won by margins of 1.2 percentage points or fewer.

However, since these voters are not concentrated in battleground states, they are usually overlooked by both parties as a growing voting bloc (an unfortunate consequence of the Electoral College).  

The data explains why – by detailing where Asian voters are primarily located. Starting with the 2008 presidential election, the nine states listed below have all been “blue” with a high probability that they will again vote Democratic in 2020. The states are ranked by their percentage of eligible Asian voters (with Electoral College votes also indicated).

Hawaii 38% (4)
California 14% (55)
Nevada 8% (6)
New Jersey 7% (14)
Washington 7% (12)
New York 7% (29)
Virginia 5% (13)
Maryland 5% (10)
Massachusetts 5% (11)

Furthermore, how Asians vote is revealing.

Almost across the board, 2016 exit polls showed 65% of Asians cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, compared to 27% for Donald Trump. Worrisome as those percentages are for the GOP, they fall short of exit polling from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, as reported by NPR. That data shows Clinton won 79% of Asian voters with only 18% for Trump.

This high percentage of Asians choosing the Democratic presidential candidate mirrored the pattern of Hispanic voters, who, by 66% to 28%, preferred Clinton over Trump.

Parenthetically, it is important to note that the Hispanic vote continues to increase steadily. In 2020 Hispanics are projected to be 13.3% of the electorate, up from 11% in 2016. The fact that millions of Hispanics live in battleground states leverages and accentuates the importance of this traditionally Democratic voting bloc.

But similar to Hispanic trends, Asian population growth eventually will spill into, and likely impact, traditionally “red” and swing states since Asian support for Democratic candidates appears to be solidifying and consistent.

How did the overwhelming preference that Asians had for Clinton in 2016 compare to past presidential elections?

What follows is data from the last seven presidential elections, showing the Asian vote as a percentage of the total electorate along with the percentage of that vote received by the candidates. (1992 was the first year Asians were listed in exit poll data.)

2016: (4% of electorate) Clinton 65%-Trump 27%
2012: (3%) Obama 73%-Romney 26%
2008: (2%) Obama 62%-McCain 35%
2004: (2%) Kerry 56%-Bush 43%
2000: (2%) Gore 55%-Bush 41%
1996: (1%) Dole 48%-Clinton 44%
1992 (1%) Bush 55%-Clinton 31%

The trends are clear, the increase in Asian voters has favored Democratic candidates.

Speaking as a longtime Republican, my party can’t just write off this group of voters because they primarily live in blue states. Conversely, imagine how much reporting there would be about “courting the Asian vote” if it were a factor in either candidate winning, say, Florida, Michigan, or Pennsylvania? Potentially losing the Asian vote again by two-thirds or more portends a larger long-term issue. The GOP cannot survive as a national party heavily dependent on white voters since this majority — itself fractured — is shrinking relative to other groups. For example, in 2020 whites are projected to compose 66.7% of the electorate. Compare that to 70% in 2016 — down from 72% in 2012, 74% in 2008, and 81% in 2000.

My party must undergo a dramatic course correction to attract non-whites, including a concerted effort to stop the hemorrhaging of Asian voters before they grow into another double-digit, overwhelmingly anti-GOP voting bloc. And if the current polls prove correct,  there will be a forced course correction with an assist by the first “Black and South Asian woman” on the national ticket.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster


Re-posted from RealClearReligion July 16, 2020. By Myra AdamsRCP Contributor

According to practically every polling and data metric (except fundraising and enthusiasm among President Donald Trump’s base), the president’s reelection prospects look bleak. Nonetheless, his loyal supporters predict victory while continuously reciting these popular mantras:

“All the polls in 2016 showed him losing.”

“Trump supporters lie to pollsters.”

“Polls do not reflect Trump’s secret support.”

On Tuesday, the president reaffirmed those sentiments in a Rose Garden “press conference” that sounded more like a rally speech. Confident of reelection, he also said, “I think we’re doing very well in the polls, and I think you have a silent majority, the likes of which this country has never seen before.”

Trump’s base, armed with that same optimism and great faith, trusts that American voters will keep the incumbent in the White House. The alternative is unthinkable — dystopian havoc, the “end of America” as we know it — if “radical-left socialists” and their “puppet” Joe Biden take power.

Practically the same fears were voiced by the same people in 2016 when, leading up to Election Day, Hillary Clinton was all but officially coronated.

Then, on Nov. 8, against all odds, Trump won a stunning victory. Supporters widely attributed the upset to divine intervention. Count me among them, evidenced by a piece I wrote the following day, “President Trump: Divine Intervention Is the Only Explanation.”

Coordinated prayer efforts encouraging Godly intervention were intense, massive, national, and international — especially in Jerusalem — facilitating the desired outcome exactly when needed.

Chronicling the “coincidental timing” was a Nov. 9 report on the conservative news site World Net Daily headlined “Signs of Divine Intervention in Trump victory.” The title image was captioned, “New York Times graph displaying ‘Chance of Winning Presidency’ in real time.” The graph prominently showcases 9:20 p.m. EST when the election results turned in Trump’s favor and the article quotes some prominent religious and political activists who were involved with the coordinated prayer events.

But that was a “simpler” time. Now our nation has dramatically shifted and changed. No one knows what the heck is going on, what plans to make, or what to expect. Thus, whenever my husband and I discuss the presidential election, he usually concludes with the same refrain, “God is in control.” And I agree, prompting the question:

If Trump was elected due to divine intervention, then would his loss mean that God did not intervene? Furthermore, would a Trump loss be interpreted as the Lord rendering judgment on him?

Statistically speaking on a more earthly plane, if Trump wins — given his dismal mid-July job approval rating — that would be “miraculous” compared to the last two reelected presidents at this same time in the campaign cycle.

According to Wednesday’s RealClearPolitics polling average, President Trump’s job approval is 41.9% with 55.1% disapproving of his performance, a -13.2 percentage point spread.

On July 20, 2012, President Barack Obama’s average job approval was virtually tied at 47% with 47.6% disapproving.

President George W. Bush’s job approval average on July 18, 2004, was 47.1% while 48.5% disapproved, a tiny -1.4 percentage point difference.

Since I am curious about the prospects of another Trump “divine intervention” while the nation is suffering through the triple scourge of a pandemic, severe recession, and racial/cultural upheaval, I turned to an evangelical expert.

Dr. Michael Brown hosts the nationally syndicated “Line of Fire” broadcast and is the author of 40 books. In his latest — “Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?” — he explores the evangelical arguments for and against Trump and then offers a 10-point strategy showing how we can vote for Trump without selling our souls in the process.

Recently, in conjunction with his new book, Dr. Brown wrote an op-ed headlined “Can Trump Be Reelected Without Divine Intervention?” The title is the flip side to his Nov. 9, 2016, op-ed: “Donald Trump, President of the United States by the Sovereign Intervention of God.”

In that earlier piece, I was intrigued by Brown’s concluding sentence:

In short, if Trump indeed is president by divine intervention, we should pray for divine restraint on his life as well, lest this divine wrecking ball wreak havoc on the nation while tearing down what is wrong. May he be a divinely guided wrecking ball!

I asked Brown if he would comment on that statement through the lens of this question: “If Trump loses in 2020, does that mean God did not intervene?” He responded:

Looking back four years later, it’s clear that President Trump has done a lot of good, keeping many of his promises tenaciously, but there has been a lot of collateral damage in the process. So, the wrecking ball has swung freely, demolishing some things that needed to come down while destroying some others that didn’t need to. But that could all be part of God’s purpose in raising up Trump. He has revealed a lot about the nation – from the extreme bias of the media to the radical leftism of the Democrats to compromise and division among evangelicals. God is the ultimate 4D chess player.

Brown also answered my second question: “If Trump is defeated, is that God’s judgment on him?”

No one said that eight years were guaranteed, or that God could not have a purpose in appointing Trump as president for one term. It’s just like God’s purpose during a sports event. It may not be that your team wins the game but rather grows in character. In the same way, God’s reasons for raising up Trump may not always align with our own perspectives. That being said, from an entirely human vantage point, I would say that if he is not reelected, he has only himself to blame, since, despite all the hostility from the left, if he behaved in a more decent way, he would not have alienated so many allies.

It is far easier to ask questions about the controversial topic of presidential divine intervention and judgment than to provide answers. Therefore, I thank Dr. Brown for his thoughtful responses, but for now, I will only answer both questions with my husband’s all-purpose and always true refrain, “God is in control.”

Trump Birthday Boat Parade – June 14, 2020 Credit: AP


Re-Posted from RealClearPolitics June 18, 2020. By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

That line comes from a June 14 Sun Sentinel newspaper report headlined “‘Trumpicans’ throw presidential birthday bash, while Joe Biden supporters are ‘Ridin’ with Biden.’ ”

Here is the quote in its entirety:

“We don’t even call ourselves Republicans anymore,” said [Annie Marie] Delgado, Florida president for Trump Team 2020. “We are Trumpicans. It is a movement that is going to ensure the re-election of Donald Trump in the state of Florida. As Florida goes so the nation goes.”

The “Trumpicans” headline caught my eye because it potentially signifies a Republican Party identity crisis that could extend well beyond Florida. The timing of the crisis will be either 2020 or 2024, depending on whether Trump wins or loses in November.

But first, some context. On Sunday, President Trump’s 74th birthday was cause for celebration among his base, resulting in a one-day fundraising record of $14 million.

In Florida, the president’s enthusiastic nautical supporters jammed waterways for what is affectionally called a “Trumptilla.” Growing in popularity around the nation, these glistening political flotillas proudly fly “Trump 2020” banners and American flags on boats of all sizes.

Delgado’s word “Trumpican,” replacing “Republican,” mirrored my observations from February’s Conservative Political Action Conference in a RealClearPolitics piece headlined “CPAC, the Trumplican Party Rules.”

What follows is a brief synopsis about how the party I first joined as a college student in 1975 evolved from Republican to “Trumpican” (or “Trumplican”). Then Delgado, as a “MAGA” Trump activist and organizer, explains why and what the word means.

Pre-Trump, my party was obsessed with the memory and “persona” of Ronald Reagan.

The 40th president was an eternal optimist who loved freedom, detested communism, and who thought that even well-intentioned government solutions had a way of backfiring. Reagan also had near-complete faith in his fellow Americans, an endearing personal quality.

During the presidential administrations of both Bushes and Obama’s eight years, there was a constant longing and complaining that the party desperately needed a “new Reagan.” This mythical leader would be strong and charismatic. He (and it was always going to be a “he”) would unite and excite the fractured base. He would attract “Reagan Democrats” while revolutionizing the Grand Old Party’s tired old brand for the 21st-century. 

Enter Donald J. Trump.

It was June 18, 2013 when I first chronicled the reality-TV star’s appeal as a serious 2016 presidential candidate. My tip-off was that on his birthday he was in the Washington, D.C., area actively courting the GOP’s evangelical Christian base. (Not much has changed in seven years!) Fast-forward to 2016. Trump, the political neophyte, slew the Bushes and then the Clintons. He unexpectedly won with votes from blue-collar Democrats in “blue wall” states, and a “new Reagan” star was born.

Over the course of Trump’s three-year reign, before 2020’s triple crises of COVID-19, economic collapse, and racial/police upheaval, the chatter among some Republican faithful was “Trump is the greatest president since Reagan.”

Playing off that sentiment, back in January I penned a RealClearPolitics piece that also compared Reagan to Trump. However, my spin was a bit more realistic, titled “If Trump Wasn’t Trump, He’d Be Reagan.” That exact quote — said to me in confidence by a Washington, D.C., radio show host at CPAC in early 2019 — was true then and more valid at the beginning of this year. 

But even with his obvious flaws, and a nation in turmoil, Trump is running for reelection with such a solid Trumpican base that any Republicans not waving Trump banners and wearing MAGA hats are ostracized, practically kicked in the butt, and called “Never Trumpers.”

Curious about Annie Marie Delgado’s take on the Trumpican Party, I reached out to her.

Although the Sun Sentinel reported that “Delgado is Florida president for Trump Team 2020,” her organization states on its Facebook page, “Trump Team 2020 Florida, LLC is not affiliated with any candidates.” This declaration stems from ongoing conflicts between the Republican Party of Florida’s charter organizations and “unofficial” clubs of Trump supporters. Delgado is mentioned. Nonetheless, she is an activist extraordinaire. She told me that her Trump Team 2020 has over “10,000 members.” Delgado also elaborated on how Trump’s June 14 birthday was celebrated across Florida:

“We not only brought out thousands of Boaters for Trump, we also had our Trucks for Trump Chapter, Florida Veterans & Bikers for Trump, Golf Carts for Trump & our newest Wings for Trump Chapter (Drones). I organized all of our chapters from the Panhandle to Miami.”

Press reports confirm this activity.

Circling back to what I believe will be a future identity crisis within the national GOP, Delgado’s thinking as an engaged Trumpican in the crucial swing state of Florida is worth noting. Moreover, I found her thoughts represent and reflect those of other “Trump influencers”  around the nation.

What follows is Delgado’s response to several of my questions, edited for brevity.

The Republican Party left us after Ronald Reagan left office. The establishment in DC took over both parties as the globalist agenda, special interest money, and lobbyists found that they could alter politics with big money. President Trump changed all of that when he could not be bought. 

If Trump loses in November (which he won’t!) the GOP will be split into establishment and Trumplicans (or MAGA). The ideology of the Trumplicans is one of integrity, determination, and true love of country with a desire to preserve the integrity of our constitutional republic as designed by our Founding Fathers.

The MAGA Movement is gaining members and stronger than ever. With each passing day, Americans are waking up to what is the truth about our country and those who’ve been in power as our “public servants.” We are recognizing that those who have been elected to serve the taxpaying constituent are not all they say they are.

Our movement and our President are a devout, diverse group of constitutional conservatives. We now know that we outnumber the establishment and if organized, can be a formidable voting bloc driving issues and making policy.

Trumplicans are resilient, and we are keenly aware of what the real issues are, who the bad actors have been, and we now understand just how our country has been sold to the highest bidder. We are not violent, but we are steadfast in our convictions, and will use law and order to peacefully assemble in order to be heard and are motivated by our constitutional values which drives our members to the ballot box to ensure the integrity of our government.

Then I asked Delgado if she sees Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a 2024 presidential candidate who could pick up the Trumplican banner. (DeSantis is a Trump acolyte.)

Her answer:

Obviously, I will support Gov. Ron DeSantis should he chose to run. DeSantis has made a significant impact in Florida by cleaning house on both sides of the aisle. He is behind President Trump and has made considerable strategic decisions in the best interest of Florida voters since taking office. Assuming Gov. DeSantis stays a staunch ally and strategic partner with President Trump and the America First Agenda, he would become the de facto Trumplican Party candidate.

Before knowing that I would hear back from Delgado, I reached out to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He is a frequent Trump media surrogate, so I was curious what Gingrich thought of an influential Florida Trump supporter saying, “We are Trumpicans. We don’t call ourselves Republicans anymore.”

More specifically, I asked, “Is such thinking a warning sign for the future of the Republican Party?” No, Gingrich answered. As for the word “Trumpican,” he said it is “clever, but the vast majority of Trump’s base is Republican.”

Finally, the former House speaker added, “Of course he has made Republican more populist.”

And to that response, I ask Republicans: “How about more ‘Trumpulist’?”

Credit: AP/Photo Paul Sancya, File


Re-Posted from RealClearPolitics June 7, 2020. By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

If a broad spectrum of news sites is indicative, Joe Biden’s shortlist for his running mate is now a face-off between California Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Val Demings from Orlando, Fla. — two women of color.

Here is the back story.

As confirmation that we live in the most gender-sensitive times, at the March 15 Democratic primary debate, Biden was prompted to announce, “I will pick a woman to be my vice president.” But he did not mention the skin color of his future VP. However, he owes his campaign’s resurrection and presumed nomination to a decisive South Carolina primary victory on Feb. 29 after a late endorsement by the state’s powerful African American leader, Rep. James Clyburn. How powerful is Clyburn, the U.S. House majority whip? Exit polls showed 47% of South Carolina voters indicated his endorsement of Biden was an important factor in their vote.

Then, on March 10, Clyburn told NPR: “I really believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where African American women need to be rewarded for the loyalty that they’ve given to this party.” He added, “So I would really be pushing for an African American female to go on the ticket.”

In late April, Clyburn softened his “demand,” telling NBC News, “I’m among those who feel that it would be great for him to select a woman of color. But that is not a must.”

Subsequently, a combined confluence of events — Biden beholden to Clyburn, the pandemic/economic crisis disproportionately and negatively impacting blacks, Biden’s controversial “you ain’t black” gaffe, racial unrest exploding on a scale not seen since the 1960s — accounts for the media recently settling on a Harris vs. Demings veepstakes face-off.

Perhaps now we can predict Biden’s choice (and possibly a future president) by applying the “Kaine criteria.” This is the model I used in April 2016 to forecast that Hillary Clinton would select Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, months before her July 22 announcement. Let’s compare how Harris and Demings stack up.

1. “Tim Kaine is the safest choice.”

Hey, President Hillary, how’d that safe choice work out?

Viewed through a 2020 lens, this first criteria seems irrelevant. Biden is not looking for a safe choice. Safe is so 2016. Rallying unenthusiastic voters and pleasing a highly influential congressman trumps “safe.” Nonetheless, Biden — turning age 78 in November, having suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms in 1988, and plagued by inartful or confused statements — might discover too late that ignoring “safe” is political lunacy.

But these days safe is relative and undefined. Both women are elected leaders and “qualified” to be president since, after the 2016 election, traditional qualifications for the nation’s highest office were declared null and void. More important is whether voters think the VP nominee is “ready” to serve on day one. (Google: Sarah Palin 2008 for how this issue can blow up a campaign.)

Advantage: Tie for the safest choice.

2. “His résumé is perfect for 2016 and beyond.”

Kaine checked all the traditional presidential boxes: senator, governor (lieutenant governor also), mayor, Harvard Law school graduate, etc.  But no one cared.

Currently, Kamala Harris’ résumé is topped by her 2016 U.S. Senate election from the nation’s most populous state. To her credit, two years from completing her first term, Harris has valuable presidential campaign experience from her own failed attempt, which translated into national exposure (both good and bad).

She rose to media prominence in 2017 after her aggressive questioning of Republican officials during Senate hearings. Then, during a primary debate last June, Harris famously and roughly sparred with Biden over his record of school busing.

Overall, Harris’ six years as California’s attorney general and seven as San Francisco’s district attorney, means Team Trump will weaponize her law enforcement record while the criminal justice system remains under fire.   

So let’s turn to Val Demings, who was elected to Congress in 2016. In January, she catapulted onto the national scene when House Speaker Pelosi selected her to serve as an impeachment manager in Trump’s Senate trial.

Prior to serving in Congress, Demings spent four years as chief of the Orlando Police Department. Today, her career resembles last week’s SpaceX rocket launch in terms of continuous positive media coverage. If Demings is Biden’s choice, start the countdown clock for Trump to try to alter her trajectory.

For Demings, just appearing on Biden’s shortlist is a win-win. If not selected, in 2022 she will be well positioned to run against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis, both up for reelection. (Unless she joins Biden’s ticket, wins, and becomes VP. But even a national loss makes her a hot property for leaderless Florida Democrats.)

Advantage: Sen. Harris

3. “His geographic and personal story has party-base and general appeal.”

In 2016, Virginia was still swinging “purple” with 13 electoral votes targeted by Hillary Clinton. Kaine, popular in his home state, spoke Spanish and had Midwestern blue-collar roots to boot.

Today, regardless of whether Harris joins Biden’s ticket, California’s 55 electoral votes are safely in the blue bag. Any additional popular votes she brings are like wasted calories. Yet, as the daughter of a Jamaican father and mother from India, Harris could help Biden increase voter margins in several battleground states with voters who “look” like her. But does her “nasty” attack-persona repel white Democrats and independent male voters?

On the other side of the nation is Demings from Florida, with 29 electoral votes that Trump won in 2016 by a 1.2-percentage-point margin. Biden winning Florida could be game over for Trump since, currently, three “blue wall” states with a combined 46 electoral votes look shaky for the president.

Moreover, when Demings was named an impeachment manager in mid-January, the Palm Beach Post reported an emotional tweet of hers from December:

“I am a descendant of slaves, who knew that they would not make it, but dreamed and prayed that one day I would make it. So despite America’s complicated history, my faith is in the Constitution. I’ve enforced the laws, and now I write the laws. Nobody is above the law.”

Advantage: Rep. Demings, a YUGE 29-vote advantage.

4. “In 2014 Kaine played the Clinton loyalty card, overcompensating for 2008.”

After Harris and Biden’s “little dust-up” in the June 2019 debate, Harris endorsed and boarded the Biden train on March 8, five days after his Super Tuesday wins. She appears “loyal” for now, or is that just VP shortlist expediency?

Demings had already endorsed Biden March 5 on CNN’s “New Day.” As reported: “Demings did not rule out being Biden’s running mate if she was asked and said she was ‘humbled’ that her name has been raised as a potential add to the Democratic ticket.”

Advantage: Tie (Loyalty? Really??)  
5. “Kaine can handle the Bill Clinton problem.”

In my 2016 assessment, I quoted Clinton advisers who warned that Hillary’s running mate “must accept and appreciate” her husband offering “expertise and guidance.”

For 2020, this criteria is two-pronged.

First, both Harris and Demings are well suited to handle “the Donald Trump problem,” having come from tough law enforcement backgrounds. Therefore, expect that Biden will unleash his running mate as an attack dog while he appears more “presidential.”

But when Trump attacks these women of color, he will need to tread lightly due to heightened racial and gender sensitivities, or he’ll likely suffer further vote loss among suburban women.

Advantage: Tie

Second, if elected (and as a former VP) Biden will be prone to offer “expertise and guidance” that both Harris and Demings must navigate. Consequentially, if Biden selects Harris, he might require a “food taster” since the senator appears more power hungry with her own agenda and less likely to accept her president’s “expertise and guidance.”

Advantage: Demings

Lastly, what about the most famous VP selection criteria adage of “Do no harm”? Between Demings and Harris, the senator’s sharp tongue might cause some “Twitter storms” on the campaign trail.

Advantage: Demings

Overall VP Prediction: Harris

Although Demings’ potential to help Biden carry Florida’s key electoral votes will be very, very tempting, she is still a political neophyte and untested on the national stage. Through the “buzz” of daily media exposure, voters are quickly getting to know her, and Demings could still emerge as Biden’s choice.

However, Harris on the ticket carries more weight with Biden, who spent nearly four decades in that esteemed body.

But most important, either choice will satisfy Rep. James Clyburn.

Myra Adams is a media producer and writer with numerous national credits. She served on the McCain Ad Council during the GOP nominee’s 2008 campaign and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. She can be reached at or @MyraKAdams on Twitter.

Credit: AP Photo/David Becker


Re-posted from RealClearPolitics May 30, 2020. By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

Curious about how the COVID-19 economic crisis is impacting the U.S. Debt Clock’s rapidly ticking numbers, I clicked, looked, and gasped out loud. (Note: All Debt Clock numbers cited here change rapidly.)

Today, our national debt — defined by the clock website as “the face amount or principal amount of marketable and non-marketable securities currently outstanding” —  is $25.6 trillion but projected to be $45.3 trillion by 2024.

For comparison, in a January 2019 RealClearPolitics piece also referencing the National Debt Clock, I noted then the total was $21.9 trillion and projected to be $25.6 trillion in four years. In only 16 months, our national debt increased by $3.7 trillion, matching the 2023 estimate!

Worse, even before the COVID-19 pandemic required the Treasury Department to borrow $3 trillion from April to June to prop up the economy — the government was “nearly $25 trillion in debt and projected to spend $1.1 trillion more than it was going to collect in taxes,” according to USA Today.

But remember, while President Trump repeatedly bragged that we had “the greatest economy in the history of our country,” rising national debt and budget deficits continued unabated. Piling on, here is another disturbing data point from the aforementioned RealClearPolitics piece headlined “Unfunded Govt. Liabilities — Our Ticking Time Bomb”: Those liabilities are future payments the U.S. government owes and promises its citizens but without the funds to fulfill those obligations. In January 2019, liabilities were unfunded to the tune of $122 trillion; today they’ve grown to $147.7 trillion. Moreover, the Debt Clock’s four-years-out 2023 projection of $157 trillion has increases to $188 trillion in 2024.

We should all gasp as this “ticking time bomb” has gone nuclear. (Note to aging baby boomers: The unfunded liabilities are all your fault.)

Even though the data is predictably gloomy, I consider U.S. Debt a “no spin zone.” The organization’s stated purpose is “to inform the public of the financial condition of the United States of America.” Also offered is the following disclaimer: “U.S. Debt is not associated with any government agency, or funded by or affiliated with any politically active party, organization or lobbying group.” That is reassuring these days when facts and figures appear to be relative, based on one’s party affiliation.

Most illuminating is the Debt Clock’s “time machine” — a feature that goes back to 1980 and ahead to 2024. Through the machine, one sees an accumulation and acceleration of national debt, illustrating a “great” nation that increasingly cannot live within its means.

Displayed below is a 40-year progression with trillions of national debt topped by the harrowing 2024 projection.

2024  $44 trillion 

2020  $25.4 

2016  $19.6 

2012  $15.2 

2008  $10.1 

2004  $7.2   

2000  $5.7   

1990  $3.0   

1980  $886 billion

But do these trillions of debt even matter? After all, we had the largest and strongest economy in the world before the COVID crisis, despite $25 trillion of debt. The U.S. also has the dubious distinction of being the greatest debtor nation in the world — currently owing $4.6 trillion more than the value of the annual gross domestic product, according to the Debt Clock.

Also displayed is that  “Federal Debt to GDP Ratio,” which offers some perspective. Currently, with GDP at $21 trillion and national debt at $25.6 trillion, the debt to GDP ratio is 121.90%. For comparison, the ratio was 57.79% in 2000, and reached a low of 34.58% in 1980. But I gasp again at the cringe-worthy 2024 GDP projection shrinking to $18 trillion, down $3 trillion from today. If the 2024 debt projected at $45 trillion holds, then the debt to GDP ratio would be a chilling 251.54%.

Perhaps the Debt Clock is a little too pessimistic about 2024? Well, maybe not. Here is a reality check from the Congressional Budget Office projection report dated May 19:

“CBO estimates that real gross domestic product will contract by 11 percent in the second quarter of this year, which is equivalent to a decline of 38 percent at an annual rate, and that the number of people employed will be almost 26 million lower than the number in the fourth quarter of 2019.”

How quickly our national economy reverses that unprecedented, steep decline is the question of the year or maybe the decade. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is creating trillions of dollars out of thin air to strengthen the credit markets, avoid economic collapse, and deal with the COVID-sparked “depression.” How can the Fed do that with trillions it created?

An abbreviated answer is that nations like Japan and China buy our debt in the form of U.S. Treasury Securities, believing in “the full faith and credit of the United States” to meet its debt obligations. Last month in Forbes, George Calhoun explained the concept:

“Today, in the language of American finance, FFC [Full Faith and Credit] signifies the absolute guarantee underpinning the borrowing power of the Federal government. In the 19th century this guarantee was less than absolute. But since America’s rise to financial hegemony after World War II, no one seriously questions the U.S. government’s guarantee to honor its debts.”

Therefore, as long as there are buyers of the Fed-created trillions of debt who believe that the U.S. will honor its debts, then the proverbial printing presses can continue to run at warp speed in good times and bad.

Subsequently, the Debt Clock will keep ticking while some leaders talk about spending MORE — for free health care, guaranteed income, and education, financed out of thin air. A trillion here, a trillion there — it’s a new mindset where the national debt no longer matters. And that concept holds as long as the U.S. remains the No. 1 superpower both economically and militarily. If and when that changeswatch out.

But, as long as U.S. Treasury bills and the dollar are unchallenged as the stable basis of global financial markets, the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government” will remain our nation’s most powerful asset, fiscal weapon, and problem solver. 

So for now, I will join my fellow Republicans who once were concerned  about such foundational GOP concepts as fiscal responsibility, debt reduction, and curbing spending, but no longer seem to care. It’s time for me to stop obsessing about the national debt, unfunded liabilities, and GDP ratios.

Instead, let’s all embrace the debt. (Interest payments on it were $375 billion in 2019, accounting for 8% of the federal budget; the Debt Clock currently shows $383 billion in interest for 2020.)

Let’s encourage our leaders to spend like there is no tomorrow during this crisis and beyond. Let’s enjoy any free money or stuff the government gives us, and “feel the burn.”

Myra Adams is a media producer and writer with numerous national credits. She served on the McCain Ad Council during the GOP nominee’s 2008 campaign and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. She can be reached at or @MyraKAdams on Twitter.