Saturday, October 08, 2016

Race for the White House- Volume 93

30 Days Until Election Day

As if there was any doubt, the Presidential election now really looks to be over.

Yesterday afternoon, an "October Surprise" hit the media and it has sent the Donald Trump campaign reeling. A very short time later, Wikileaks released documents of Hillary Clinton speeches to Goldman Sachs, which she had fought so hard to prevent in the primary, in which she said things that would certainly cause huge political headaches under normal circumstances. These are not those circumstances though. The Trump campaign might have been dealt a death knell yesterday and one certainly has to wonder if even worse is yet to come out.

This news came when there was some belief that the Trump campaign had at least "stopped the bleeding" after a really bad first Presidential debate and the aftermath of it. By just about all accounts, GOP Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence got the best of Democrat Tim Kaine, in the little watched Vice Presidential debate. It was odd for me to watch a debate and not have anyone to root for. Even the week before, I could not help myself in rooting for Clinton as long as she was on the stage with Trump.

Kaine's strategy was botched though, mostly by his own uneven performance, which included Trump like attempts at interruption. Pence remained smoother and more in control but basically took a pass at defending many of the blows Kaine leveled against Trump, or Pence just dismissed them inaccurately. That would be for the fact checkers to determine though. To those watching on tv, Pence was better and Democrats should be quite upset that Kaine blew such an easy assignment. Of course, Pence has no choice but be shameless in defending the Trump campaign, but at times, he did sound like an actual Republican and an actual conservative and there was some wistfulness on my part, as well as many others,  about what could have been with a different GOP nominee. Unlike his boss, thee Indiana Governor was prepared, knew his stuff, and articulated it fairly well. Imagine that! Even Pence on his own, might be leading Clinton this year. Many also remarked that Pence's debate strategy means he was pretty much looking past this year's election and setting himself up as a conservative choice for Republicans in 2020. If that is what he wanted, he could have done himself a lot of good, although the stench of Trump is going to linger, and might now be worse than ever. One has to wonder just how upset Trump might have truly been to see Pence get better reviews than he did, or with all the speculation about Pence only caring about 2020.

Clearly, much is on the line, with the Town Hall Debate scheduled for tomorrow night in St. Louis. On Thursday night, Trump had a "practice session" with pre-selected audience members, but that still did not go well and he stopped early and denied it was ever a practice session. Maybe something was on his mind.

So, yesterday afternoon, the Washington Post broke the story and included audio of Trump speaking back in 2005, on a hot mic, in an extremely lewd way about women, while filming a segment on Access Hollywood. Four years ago, it was Jimmy Carter's grandson that filmed the 47% remarks that proved damaging to Mitt Romney, and ironically enough it was Billy Bush, the nephew and cousin of former Presidents himself, to whom Trump had made these comments. Billy comes across pretty badly himself and has apologized. I think his cousin Jeb and his SuperPAC might be wondering where was Billy to tell them about this incident back when it might have mattered in the primaries.

There is really no need for me to state the specifics of what Trump said, (whether jokingly or not) he has done to women or would do to women, but it is clearly unacceptable in every way. This is why people like me have been warning against Trump and refusing to support him, even with his opposition so bad itself, this whole time. Trump simply seems to be a terrible person and this was further proof. Several prominent Republicans since last night, and continuing throughout today have denounced Trump's comments in undeniable terms and some have now renounced their endorsements of him and others have called for him to drop out of the race. I always knew something like this would happen towards the end and I think there may even be worse stuff out there to surface this month.

This situation is very bad for the Republican Party, and while it has been positive that so many Republican candidates have appeared to successfully distance themselves from Trump in regards to their own down-ballot races, this makes it even more crucial for them to speak out against him. Paul Ryan cancelled plans to have Trump join him at a Wisconsin rally today. In the past hour, John McCain has said he will no longer vote for Trump, and with McCain's general election poll numbers in Arizona looking pretty good these days, I guess he finally made the decision he could do so. I think others will follow suit and there continue to be stories about people calling on Trump to leave the race, despite the fact that ballots are printed and people in several states are already voting. Many want him to turn the campaign over to Pence and try to salvage whatever is possible. Trump (and apparently the RNC is standing by him) is defiantly saying he will never quit, after releasing a terse video statement last night in which he did something pretty unusual for him, which was to apologize. It is clear his strategy will be to say that what he said was just words and that Bill Clinton, the husband of his opponent, has done worse, and somehow that is Hillary Clinton's responsibility. Trump's initial response was to say that Bill Clinton had told him far worse on the golf course. Whatever his issues with women (and I am inclined to believe Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey), I doubt he would have been stupid enough to say those thing to Donald Trump back when they were buddies.

The pressure will continue for Trump to drop out, even though I do not expect it. He probably is deluded enough to think he can survive anything. For the sake of the country and the Republican Party, I definitely want him out, as I have all along. Everyone in the the Republican Party will ultimately have to be judged by how they responded to Trump in 2015 and 2016. I know I have stood on principle from Day 1, in concert with honorable leaders like Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Jeb Bush. My United States Senator, Mark Kirk, who faces a very uphill reelection struggle in Illinois, and who has opposed Trump for months said it well, "DJT is a malignant clown."

If the debate goes on as intended tomorrow night, it is going to be compelling television, although tragic in many ways. How can parents even allow their young children to watch it? How can young children want to watch it with their parents? Hillary Clinton will certainly have something to say about Trump's predatory remarks and Trump is expected, with nothing to lose at this point, to call her husband a rapist, and her an enabler. The fact is that that like Bill Clinton, Trump has also had unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault made against him and it just so happens the particulars of those allegations include the specific things he bragged about to Billy Bush.

Never Trump has never felt so prescient.