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Saturday, October 22, 2016
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  • SOUTH BEND –  Lynn Coleman’s seemingly long-shot candidacy for Congress is “emerging,” described that way by the most important national evaluator of his 2nd District race against Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. The evaluation comes from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC has played a key role in determining the fate of Democratic challengers in the district, going back to when it didn’t give a cent to Sen. Joe Donnelly when he first challenged then-Congressman Chris Chocola – Chocola won big – but then poured resources into the district as Donnelly trounced Chocola on a second try. The attention of the DCCC, while not yet guaranteeing big resources, was a factor in the Cook Political Report’s change of its rating of the district from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican,” meaning that the nationally regarded report now regards the race as competitive, not a sure thing for Walorski. “We can win this election,” Coleman says, confident now that he will have funding to keep running TV spots until election day and that Democrats will have a far superior get-out-the-vote effort.
  • SOUTH BEND – President Lyndon B. Johnson was a big man, 6-foot-4 and heavy-set, very heavy. I know. He once stepped on my foot. Accidental. Not because of anything I wrote. Happened as he toured devastation in Elkhart County from the 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes. Secret service agents kept pushing me along right beside the president, either because he wanted the interview or because I provided a nice shield. LBJ was a big man also in presidential accomplishments, especially in civil rights, although he was diminished in stature by the war in Vietnam, one he couldn’t win but couldn’t figure out how to escape without being branded a loser. He didn’t escape and was branded a loser, leaving office with such low voter approval that he declined to seek another term. Last weekend, while in Austin, Texas, for a football game, exciting but featuring a seemingly defenseless Notre Dame team, I toured the LBJ Presidential Library and the nearby LBJ ranch, now a national park. While his foibles and problems with Vietnam weren’t neglected in the presentations, it was the focus on the persuasive power of Johnson to get things done in Congress, including passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, that was of special interest to me.
  • SOUTH BEND – The spring edition of debates over debates is history, distinguished by deliberations over such issues as the size of Donald Trump’s hands, whether to discuss “your damn emails” and which candidates would have to sit at the children’s table rather than be in the big event. Now come debates over debates, fall edition. Locally, there’s the question of whether Congresswoman Jackie Walorski will consent to debate her Democratic opponent, Lynn Coleman, somewhere, anywhere, in a televised format or any format resembling a debate. Nationally, there’s speculation over whether Trump really will appear at all three of the scheduled presidential debates. He already has complained about the timing. And he’s sure to raise questions about whether the events are “rigged.” The vice presidential nominees will debate once, even though most of the nation isn’t paying attention to either of them.
  • SOUTH BEND - Gov. Mike Pence will not be governor of Indiana next year. Nor will Pence be vice president, unless there are monumental events to avert the looming defeat of Donald Trump in the presidential race. Q. So, where would that leave Pence? A. Perhaps closer to his goal than he would have been if he had declined the vice presidential nomination and had run instead for re-election as governor. Q. Really? Losing for vice president, maybe with the GOP ticket trounced, could leave Pence still viable for his goal of president? A. Quite possibly. In fact, it could be argued that the worse the trouncing for Trump, the better politically for Pence. Q. Won’t Pence share blame if the Trump-Pence ticket is demolished? A. No. Pence would get no blame. It wouldn’t be his fault. Pence would get credit from Republican leaders for trying to hold the party together and save Republicans in governor, senator and House races. They would think of how much worse things would have been if Pence wasn’t there to clean up after Trump’s messes. Many Republicans now lament that it’s not Pence leading the ticket. And that’s his goal - someday, preferably in 2020, to lead the ticket, to be the presidential nominee and win.
  • SOUTH BEND - Do you wake up at night frightened that Hillary is coming to take your guns? Do you break out in a cold sweat when you see a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, even if allegedly a Gold Star mother? Are you often depressed, frequently angry and unable now to envision what once was your American dream? You may be suffering from Hillaryitis Aggrevitis, known as H.A. Don’t suffer any longer from H.A. Trump Elixir can make you feel great again. So great. Believe us. Trump Elixir is a cure discovered by Dr. D.J. Trump. Only he knows the formula. Only Dr. Trump can make you feel great again. Rigged medical advertising regulations, enforced by dishonest establishment bureaucrats, require disclosure that Dr. Trump is not a medical doctor. But he knows so much more than those doctors. They’re losers. If they know so much, why didn’t THEY make America feel great again? Such losers. Believe us. Trump Elixir stops those Hillary nightmares. Gives you courage to push that Muslim woman off the street before she detonates a bomb. Restores your faith in the American dream. Believe us.
  • SOUTH BEND – Todd Young had it won. Until . . . Young, a Republican congressman from Bloomington, trounced another GOP congressman, Marlin Stutzman, the Tea Party favorite, in the May primary, capturing the party’s nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat at stake in Indiana. Baron Hill, the Democratic nominee, with little name recognition, little funding and little chance, was written off by Democratic fundraisers and political analysts in Indiana and around the nation. Young had that seat won. Until . . .  Until Hill dropped out in July, replaced by Evan Bayh. Young now faces a candidate with high name recognition from Bayh’s two terms as governor and two terms in the Senate, mostly favorable recognition. Young’s fundraising advantage is gone. Bayh has $9.3 million in funds from past campaigning. Analysts now see the race as a “toss-up,” maybe even with advantage to Bayh.
  • SOUTH BEND - Eric Holcomb presents a different and potentially more difficult target for John Gregg in Indiana’s race for governor. If Gregg, the Democratic nominee, is able, however, to convince voters that Holcomb, the new Republican nominee, really isn’t much different than the old target, difficulty lessens and victory prospects brighten. The old target for Gregg was Gov. Mike Pence. Polls showed that Pence was vulnerable, an inviting target with a sagging job approval rating and high negative poll percentages lingering from the dispute over intent of a religious freedom bill and education issues. When Pence became the Republican nominee for vice president, abandoning his quest for reelection as governor, Gregg lost an opponent with high negative ratings. Republicans selected Holcomb, who had been running for lieutenant governor, as their new nominee for governor.
  • SOUTH BEND – The Democratic National Convention is over. Just as at the conclusion of the rival Republican event a week earlier, questions remain. Q. Was the Democratic convention a success for Hillary Clinton? A. Success is in the bounce of the beholders. The beholders who count are the voters. Despite the critics that found the Republican convention too negative, too dark and gloomy, too disorganized and too divisive, Donald Trump got a significant bounce in the polls, not just catching up but pulling ahead in some samplings of American opinion. Negative works. Whether the optimistic view of America in the Democratic convention worked for Clinton will be shown now in new polls. Did she bounce back? Big? Barely? Or not at all? Q. How was Clinton’s acceptance speech? A.  Good, especially in drawing a contrast with Trump in qualifications for commander in chief and leader of the free world. But, as was to be expected, she didn’t approach the soaring oratory of convention speakers on the night before. She also seemed to be concerned more with appealing to the sometimes hostile portion of Bernie Sanders supporters in the hall than to the wider audience on television, perhaps losing a chance to sway more of the wavering Republicans and independents watching on TV.
  • SOUTH BEND – The Republican National Convention is over. Questions remain. Q. Was the convention a success for Donald Trump? A. There were ups and downs for Trump. No matter what the TV pundits say, the verdict that counts is being delivered this weekend in the polls of Americans showing whether Trump got a convention bounce in support and, if so, whether he has caught up in the presidential race. Q. The most important event was Trump’s acceptance speech. Did he hit a home run or strike out in seeking to convince voters that he is presidential, not a buffoon; a steady leader, not a loose cannon? A. No home run. His speech lacked the cadence of stirring oratory and dragged on at times, no doubt losing viewers in many homes around the nation as he spoke for over an hour and a quarter. But he didn’t strike out. Trump touched all the areas of fear and anger that won decisive support in the primaries. He didn’t let down those primary supporters. Nor did he go off script with some controversial insult. Let’s say he hit a double, getting halfway there. Now he needs to move to third base and home in the debates and campaigning in order to score the winning run. Q. How did Indiana Gov. Mike Pence do in his speech accepting the nomination for vice president? A. Great. Pence spoke clearly and confidently about conservative principles.
  • SOUTH BEND – Voters don’t always vote in their own self-interest. Sometimes, in anger or ignorance or a combination thereof, they vote to rescind their nose to spite their face. So it was in Britain, where a majority of voters chose to leave the European Union. Now, already, buyer’s remorse settles in as Britons see their stock market crash and the value of their pound and their investments plummet. A prior forecast for growth is replaced by fears of lost jobs and recession. The nation’s credit ranking tanks. Trade deals must be renegotiated from a position of weakness. There is concern over whether Scotland and Northern Ireland will remain in the United Kingdom. Then England loses to Iceland 2-1 in the European Soccer Championships. Iceland? Iceland! Little Iceland? Little Iceland! Blame it on the Brexit voters? They are blamed for everything else. Rightly so, in most cases. So, maybe they even made their national team colder than Iceland.
  • LaPORTE – When Blair Milo, elected mayor of LaPorte at age 28, won a second term last fall, with Democrats choosing not even to oppose her, she was viewed as a potential Indiana Republican superstar, likely to run for higher office. Milo is running. For sure. But not for higher office. At least not yet. Nor is she running a political course in accord with current Hoosier GOP political wisdom. She doesn’t endorse Donald Trump. She does support a wheel tax, saying it’s vital to fix crumbling streets in her city. Milo is running. The course she ran in May was in “toughman” competition, running a half marathon, 13.1 miles, biking 56 miles and swimming 1.2 miles. “My two goals were to finish and not die,” Milo laughs. She achieved both goals. She is used to challenges – a couple of marathons and in more serious matters in five and a half years of active duty in the Navy, including stationing on a vital Iraqi oil platform protected by the Navy and being sent to a dangerous part of Pakistan in “what was not my favorite time in the Navy.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Donald Trump had only nice things to say about Hoosiers when he wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination in Indiana, vanquishing his last challenger in the state’s May 3 primary election. Now, his “racist” attack on a native Hoosier threatens to diminish the value of that nomination. The description of his tirade against Gonzalo Curiel as racist comes from Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as from Democrats. Republicans are the ones most worried about the ramifications. If their presidential nominee blusters on with insults of myriad groups and individuals, he could bring defeat to more Republicans than just himself. Democrats are pleased with those prospects. Instead of focusing on presidential issues, national and international, Trump relentlessly pursued a grudge from his business dealings with a personal attack on Curiel, the federal judge in one of the lawsuits alleging fraud and a scam in past operations of the defunct “Trump University.” Trump showed, as columnist George Will writes, “eagerness to plumb new depths of destructiveness.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Many readers say they just don’t understand what’s happening politically these days, especially how the GOP became the GOT. Yep, from Grand Old Party to Garden of Trump. So, it’s my responsibility to answer their questions and explain clearly the politics of 2016. Q. Will the Republican National Convention in Cleveland really be staged like a party honoring Donald Trump? A. Yes. Trump, with all the delegate support he needs for the presidential nomination, will orchestrate the convention as an event in his honor. Huge. Q. Is it true that a lot of prominent Republicans – governors, members of the House and Senate and former presidents – won’t attend? A. Yes. Seems that many have conflicts that won’t permit them to attend, such things as need to rearrange sock drawers. That’s important. Think of the political damage to a senator appearing in public with socks that don’t match. Q. Well, they must be like Marco Rubio, who called Trump a con artist, a liar and a threat to the republic and made jokes about “small hands.” He’d never endorse Trump, right?
  • SOUTH BEND – If the election is a referendum on Gov. Mike Pence, he will lose. That’s why the governor needs to shift the focus away from him and get voters to look critically at Democratic challenger John Gregg. But Gregg seeks to keep the focus right where it is, on Pence and the controversies during the Pence administration. Polls show trouble for Indiana’s Republican governor as he seeks a second term, dangerously high disapproval percentages and many voters, especially women voters, saying they would prefer a new governor. Those controversies, particularly over education and the religious objections law that Pence signed, have taken a toll. “He cannot run on his record,” Gregg said as he talked about his rematch with Pence during a South Bend stop to introduce his running mate for lieutenant governor, State Rep. Christina Hale. “He will have to take the focus off his record,” Gregg said.
  • SOUTH BEND -  A New York television crew was at Notre Dame recently for interviews about campus reaction to the university’s invitation to a nationally known Catholic, a political figure publicly criticized by some bishops for not fighting against “choice” on abortion. No, not Vice President Joe Biden. Biden was at Notre Dame commencement Sunday to receive, along with former House Speaker John Boehner, the Laetare Medal, described as “the oldest and most prestigious honor accorded to American Catholics.” The New York television station was looking farther back, nearly 32 years ago, when the late Mario Cuomo, a Catholic then New York governor and widely regarded as a future Democratic presidential nominee, spoke at Notre Dame, explaining where and why he drew a line between faith and law on abortion. Cuomo’s views then were similar to Biden’s now. Similar views brought similar reaction, similar debate among Catholics, at Notre Dame and elsewhere: Should a Catholic political figure go beyond personal opposition to abortion and push for governmental action to ban all abortion?
  • SOUTH BEND – Indiana’s primary election, often too late in presidential nomination selection to count, was billed as having real meaning this time. It did. So, what does it mean nationally for president and for races in Indiana for governor and the U.S. Senate? Republican presidential nomination: Indiana decided it. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. Just as billed, it was a “must win” primary for Ted Cruz and the stop-Trump effort. When Cruz was trounced, with Trump sweeping up Indiana delegate commitments for the first ballot at the Republican National Convention, the path to forcing a second ballot and then nominating somebody other than Trump was closed. Cruz, with no path to travel, gave up. Nomination decided. What happens now in remaining states with primaries doesn’t matter. Democratic presidential nomination: Hillary Clinton, though actually with a surer path to nomination than Trump had on the Republican side before Cruz bowed out, failed to knock Bernie Sanders out of the way. She really didn’t try very hard in Indiana, already pivoting toward a general election battle with Trump. Clinton didn’t spend a cent on TV in Indiana (compared to nearly $2 million spent by Sanders) and didn’t spend much time campaigning here either.
  • SOUTH BEND – “The Most Important Primary Is . . . Wait. Indiana?” That headline on a New York Times “Upshot” political analysis reflects both the significance of Indiana’s May 3 presidential primary and the surprise, nationally and in the state, that the Indiana vote, usually coming too late to matter, now is so important. The importance was underlined by Donald Trump’s decision to fly to Indianapolis for his first campaign rally after his landslide victory in New York. In the Times analysis, factoring in expectations of big wins by Trump in northeast states next week as well as a New York triumph, writer Nate Cohn cites later states where stop-Trump efforts could work. He concludes that Indiana, a tossup, could hold the key to whether Trump wins the 1,237 delegate total for a first-ballot victory at the Republican National Convention in July in Cleveland. The “most important” tag was affixed to the Republican primary.
  • SOUTH BEND –  While the national news spotlight will focus on the presidential nomination races in the Indiana primary election on May 3, there is another race in that election with possibly major impact nationally. That’s the contest for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Two Republican congressmen, Todd Young of Bloomington and Marlin Stutzman of Howe, seek their party’s nomination for a Senate seat sure to be hotly contested in the fall, when control of the Senate will be at stake. Which one would be more likely to keep the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Dan Coats under GOP control? Young, a more traditional Republican conservative with business and party organization backing who says getting things done is more important than just railing about how bad things are? Or Stutzman, a Tea Party favorite who has battled with Republican leaders in Congress and runs as an “outsider” deploring how bad things are with the “insiders” in charge?
  • SOUTH BEND – Indiana’s May presidential primary, usually coming too late to matter in selection of the nominees, will be important this year, probably for both parties. Some questions? Q. On the Democratic side, won’t Hillary Clinton already have the nomination sewed up by the May 3 vote in Indiana? A. She might be closing in on the delegate support needed for nomination, but there’s no indication that Bernie Sanders will call it quits by then. If he keeps winning, as he did in Wisconsin, some of the “super delegates” supporting Hillary could slip away. Bernie could continue on through the last big batch of primaries on June 7, still a long shot perhaps, but still trying. Q. On the Republican side, won’t Donald Trump, already with so many delegates, be unstoppable by May 3? A. Even if Trump is close to the “magic” number of delegates for a first ballot win, “stop Trump” efforts will continue right up to the Republican National Convention, with efforts to pry away some of the delegates now seemingly committed to Trump. His defeat in Wisconsin shows he is not yet unstoppable. Q. Will national focus really be on Indiana? A. Yes. Indiana is the only state with a presidential primary on that Tuesday. After a flurry of primaries in the East on the prior Tuesday, focus of the candidates and the national news media will shift to Indiana.
  • SOUTH BEND – Although the ballot this fall will list the same candidates as four years ago for governor of Indiana, Democrat John Gregg vs. Republican Mike Pence, Gregg says he challenges a different opponent this time. Now, Pence is the governor. Now, says Gregg, Pence “will have to run on his own record,” not on the record of former Gov. Mitch Daniels, the popular two-term Republican governor who preceded Pence. Now, Gregg contends, voters know that Pence is no Mitch Daniels. Back in 2012, Gregg says, Pence won their close race with support of Republicans “who wanted a third term of Mitch Daniels.” “This race is about Mike Pence and his record,” Gregg says. He predicts that many Republicans as well as Democrats will find that record one of “divisiveness and no leadership.” The governor has a different view of that record, and he will be a different candidate this time. He will hit back. Pence signaled the different style for his 2016 campaign when he dumped Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann as his running mate for the rematch with Gregg.
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  • Brooding Trump ponders 'If I lose . . . ' election
    “What a waste of time if we don’t pull this off. You know, these guys have said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. There’s never been a movement like this in the history of this country.’ I say, it matters to me if we win or lose. So I’ll have over $100 million of my own money in this campaign. So, if I lose, if I lose, I will consider this ….” - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speaking in Fletcher, N.C. on Friday. Trump didn’t indicate what he meant to say when he didn’t complete the final sentence. The Washington Post said the Trump/Pence campaign has settled into a “dark funk.”

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


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