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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Does Donald Trump truly want to be president?

Several times during the 2016 Republican presidential race I’ve advanced a theory on Donald Trump that I haven’t seen repeated a whole lot in the major media, namely that he ran for president to further the Trump legend but doesn’t necessarily want to win the race and actually serve as president.

Sure, he would no doubt love the power, but presidents aren’t necessarily popular people and Trump is a man who plainly thrives on being adored – at least by his fans. He also wants to leave a legacy of tall buildings Donald Trump Chris Matthewsnamed after him and a persona that’s larger than life.

The buildings part is probably safe. But the Trump persona would almost assuredly suffer under the intense world glare that follows the American president everywhere he goes. The prospect of being long despised after he’s gone scares him and that fright might be revealing itself through his dwindling desire to win.

It turns out I’m not the only who’s given this notion some thought. John Fund of National Review writes, “To all outward appearances, Trump seems to be engaged in a form of self-sabotaging behavior in which people both move toward a goal and then from deep within do things to defeat themselves.

“Even Trump’s friends are wondering what’s going on. ‘I can tell you, having worked for Trump for almost forty years, on and off, no one puts words in his mouth,’ longtime Trump strategist Roger Stone told GQ magazine this week. ‘Trump is better than his campaign. . . . So only Trump can tell you why Trump does the things Trump does.’”

In his article, Fund tells of former Trump campaign associates who doubted he ever actually desired to win the nomination, instead wanting only to take part in the race and steer the direction of the Republican Party.

As time went on and Trump continued to do well in the polls, however, his ego may have changed his mind – a little. But there’s still that element of reservation there. Does Trump really want to be president?

The events of the past week indicate Trump is pulling back. Little clues are everywhere. For example, when he’s asked about his “pledge” to support the eventual nominee, he repeatedly says he only wants to be treated fairly. In contrast, when he’s asked about the possibility of losing the nomination because of a delegate revolt after the first ballot, he hardly seems bothered by the prospect.

The real “desire” to win might not be there, but Trump desperately wants to protect his brand and public image at the same time. In other words, if he ends up losing in what is considered a fair fight, he seems to be okay with it.

The question between now and Cleveland is how he’ll manage these competing interests and still save face. His intensely personal feud with Cruz of late isn’t helping things. It certainly looked in the beginning as though Trump would have held up Cruz as his candidate of choice if and when his own candidacy came up just short.

Then came several months of “Lyin’ Ted” accusations and last week’s tasteless and insulting tweets about Heidi Cruz. Any goodwill that once existed between the two is gone. Forever? Who knows…but it would be up to Trump to pave the road to redemption if there’s going to be one.

Oddly enough, Trump seems open to the prospect of amnesty-loving Paul Ryan being elevated at the convention. When asked by Anderson Cooper if he’d be okay with Ryan being brought in, Trump replied, “See, he was very nice.  He called me the other day, last week, and he was very nice.  But then I read reports that he's having meetings with people about, you know, some clandestine things.  Let's see what happens.

“But he was very nice when he called.  And I assume he was being straight with me.  I hope he was being straight with me because what he said was very appropriate.  I'm the front-runner by a lot.  I'm beating Ted Cruz by millions of votes.  Millions of votes.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Speaker, but hardly a “definitely no.” It’s about as close as Trump gets to saying yeah, Paul Ryan would be okay.

As a lover of numbers – poll rankings, TV ratings, dollar tallies – Trump certainly sees his downward spiral in public opinion. That’s the last thing he wanted out of running for president – for Americans to almost universally despise him. He’s got a family business to run, after all.

It’s not going to get better in office, either, when Trump recognizes he can’t keep some of the more outlandish promises he’s made to his fans. Perhaps The Donald has realized it’s time to take a step back and let the process play itself out.

And if he ends up losing…at least he gave the public the impression he tried his best. That’s the most important thing, right?

Even if the math favors Trump, the delegates themselves may not

In our media-driven horse race obsessed world, one of the vastly underreported aspects of this year’s primary season is the human element involved with being a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

You know, they’re those people you see on TV wearing funny hats and gobs of buttons that cheer and chant throughout speeches and ham it up during the roll call of the states. They’re not just a mob of robotic party supporters – they’re real people with real preferences on who should lead the party.

Instead of reporting on the multitude of variables delegates represent, it’s much easier for the media to encapsulate the race into the push for delegate numbers in hopes of reaching the “magic number” of 1237 (or a majority). The problem with such shallow and incomplete coverage is delegates aren’t mindless drones – and many of them appear to oppose Donald Trump.

Most states require their delegates to commit to voting for the “winner” of their primary on the first ballot. After that, the “human” delegates are free in many cases to vote for whomever they choose.

It’s not looking good for The Donald if he goes into the convention without sufficient commitments to win on the first ballot.

Kyle Cheney and Ben Schreckinger of Politico report, “If Trump heads into the convention without the magic number of 1,237, already more than a hundred delegates are poised to break with him on a second ballot, according to interviews with dozens of delegates, delegate candidates, operatives and party leaders…

“Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has been whipping Trump in the quiet, early race to elect his own loyalists to become delegates to the convention, meaning that the Texas senator could triumph through delegates who are freed to vote their own preferences on a second ballot, regardless of who won their state.”

The Cruz campaign’s proficiency at placing their people in the right places at the right times is more than just rumor. The campaign has meticulously plotted each state and knows how to squeeze out every last delegate by canvassing party conventions and local elections.

There’s evidence Trump is catching on to the need to do the “dirty work” at the state and local level too, but it might be too late given the Cruz campaign’s huge head start.

Taken together with Trump’s decided lack of ground organizing in the early states and it looks like the candidate himself just didn’t take the process seriously – or dismissed it entirely.

Such an attitude could prove costly if Trump doesn’t hit 1237, which is becoming all the more likely if he loses in Wisconsin tomorrow.

And he can’t count on the convention rules to save him, either.

Nate Silver of writes, “The basic problem for Trump is that all the rules will be written and interpreted by the delegates, delegates who mostly don’t like Trump. They have a lot of power to wield at their discretion.

“That’s not to say the rest of the voting doesn’t matter — it would be much easier, both procedurally and ethically, to block Trump from getting the nomination if he comes into the convention with 1,100 delegates instead of 1,300.”

At this point, 1100 is looking like the more probable number. We’ll see how it all plays out in July.

Cruz poised for win in Wisconsin, but how large the victory?

Another new poll shows Ted Cruz with a lead outside the margin of error in Wisconsin.

Kyle Balluck of The Hill reports, “Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz leads rival Donald Trump by 6 percentage points in Wisconsin ahead of voting on Tuesday, according to a new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll released Sunday morning…

“Trump has a dominant 31-point lead, however, in his home state of New York ahead of its April primary, according to the new poll. The real estate mogul leads Cruz 52 to 21 percent. Kasich has 20 percent.”

Trump also has a big lead in Pennsylvania, apparently.

There a couple things to look at here. First, Cruz appears to be on his way to a win in Wisconsin. The only question is whether the margin will be large enough to allow him to defeat Trump in all of the state’s congressional districts and therefore bag the entire delegate prize.

The polls in New York and Pennsylvania aren’t entirely relevant now. Should Cruz’s win in Wisconsin be convincing, the dynamic in the race will have shifted away from Trump. That doesn’t mean Cruz will compete for a “win” in New York, but a weakened Trump needs to stop the bleeding at some point and there are two more weeks until New York votes.

The media will be all over the narrative that Trump is fading. It may or may not be true, but the longer it lingers, the more talk there will be on his fleeting chances of reaching 1237 delegates.

Pennsylvania will certainly be influenced by the results in Wisconsin and New York. It’s very hard to tell what the race will look like in three weeks. We’ll just have to wait.

Trump tells Kasich to get out of the race

Finally today, the conventional wisdom thus far has been that John Kasich’s continued presence is hindering Ted Cruz’s chances to catch up with Donald Trump in the Republican race, but apparently Trump sees it differently.

Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner reports, “Donald Trump called for GOP rival John Kasich to withdraw from the presidential race, saying that the Ohio governor's presence in the contest is pointless and hurting Trump's chances of handily winning the nomination.

“’He's taking my votes,’ Trump said Sunday while campaigning in Milwaukee, according to the Associated Press.”

Trump is right – Kasich should get out of the race – but for the wrong reasons. Kasich isn’t proving to be anything other than a distraction to either Trump or Cruz, but if he’s pulling votes from anyone, it’s Cruz.

It’s hard to tell exactly where Kasich’s support comes from. The hardline anti-Trump members of the establishment have seemingly gotten behind Cruz. And conservatives certainly aren’t interested in the culturally liberal, Medicaid expanding Kasich.

Therefore, it only makes sense that Kasich draws from those who won’t consider either Trump or Cruz, the remnants of the diehard old Republican establishment that longs for the days of Bob Dole and refuses to change.

Kasich needs to leave the race if for nothing else to force all Republicans to make a choice. The media can help things along by denying Kasich a platform to speak.

Otherwise, I fear, he’ll be whining all the way to Cleveland.

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Sadly, conservatives have again engaged in a circular firing squad that has opened the door for the establishment to win. Like Cruz or not, like Trump or not, AT LEAST they are espousing policies that align for middle class conservatism. Trump's focus of stopping illegal immigration is something we desperately NEED even if it's the only thing he accomplishes. Cruz's focus on MORAL VALUES is something we desperately NEED even if it's the only thing he accomplishes.

Kasich, in the meantime, has come out for open borders, gay marriage, and obamacare. And he is just an establishment, bush-like clone of a democrat with guilt feelings about spending too much money.

So, Conservative HQ, along with every other website known to man, is attacking 24/7 one or both of the men likely to bring this country to some semblance of America, and is playing the game assigned them by the establishment...unwittingly, I believe with excellent sites like this one has always been.