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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Pulling the chair out from #NeverTrump at the conservative table

Have you ever had a friend betray you and after a period of time pretend like nothing ever happened and then expect you to move on and be okay with him or her from that point forward?

If the good folks at #NeverTrump are to be believed, this is precisely what they’re assuming will happen in November after the election. In reading their daily rantings against the Trump-Pence ticket, they seem assured of a few things:

Trump in LouisianaFirst, that Trump and Pence will lose. Today is August 22nd. School hasn’t even started for much of the country’s kids, Labor Day barbecues are still unlit and already #NeverTrump is swearing on their (lack of) honor that Hillary Clinton is going to be president.

Second, the never-ever Trump people insist the blame for Trump’s future loss lies not with them but with the people who back Trump now. And it’s not just those who preferred Trump from the beginning of the primary process that earns their ire; no, the fault is with any Republican and conservative who supposedly abandoned principle to get behind a man that the naysayers are certain will destroy the Republican Party and conservative movement at the same time.

Lastly, #NeverTrump thinks everything will be hunky dory after the election when conservatives will finally be Trump-free and everyone will then let bygones be bygones and come together to forge a new coalition that will unite behind some unnamed candidate and defeat Hillary Clinton’s reelection bid in 2020.

Perhaps most humorously, the #NeverTrumpers insinuate they’re going to lead this effort and they “may” let everyone else back in their good graces.

This belief shows an astonishing blindness to reality. As gently as I can put it to you #NeverTrumpers, you folks are full on mental ward if you think you’re going to lead any future movement if Trump ends up losing.

As an example of the nuttiness, leading #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson wrote at The Resurgent late last week, “[Trump's] supporters are now fixated on the idea that those of us who warned them of the consequences of their actions are to blame for those consequences. It is akin to being blamed for a death when you warned the person the gun was loaded so they shouldn’t point it at their head and pull the trigger…”

Then, after Erickson blamed the conservative movement for being stuck in a 1980’s mentality with Reagan’s ideas, he continued, “These are all conversations conservatives were on the verge of having until Trump.

“Now we can, at least, have them without having to give the Trumpeteers seats at the conservative table. They’ve chosen nationalism and rejected conservatism. They’ve chosen the strong man, not the strong citizen. Conservatives should remember the American dream is for everyone, not just for those already here. Conservatives should deny seats at the table to those who believe we need a strong man in Washington to solve our problems instead of strong citizens solving their own problems while government keeps them safe.”

A strong man in Washington, Erick? Seriously? What happens if Trump loses? There will be a strong and corrupt woman in the White House trampling on our rights and bankrupting our country all at the same time.

Reading Erickson’s work the past couple months, you really have to wonder what happened to him. He’s basically picking on anyone who now supports Trump because the nominee embodies ideas like border enforcement and fair trade policies. It’s more than just a personal assault – Erickson is against any kind of change and in the process has become an ardent defender of past candidates like Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Further, Erickson’s got a lot of nerve to talk about “seats at the table” when the people he’s talking about (conservatives who support Trump) aren’t going to want to let him in the front door, let alone sit down with him. #NeverTrumpers are going to be awful lonely after the election (if Trump loses) because the vast majority of the conservative movement has already recognized the threat Hillary represents and have rallied around Trump accordingly.

And to a large extent, Trump is finally showing signs of giving conservatives the candidate we’ve wanted all along, a man who fights and still is big enough to concede he isn’t perfect.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote on Friday, “In general, in a campaign filled with controversial statements, it's fair to say Donald Trump doesn't do apologies and he doesn't do regret. Which is why it was extraordinary that in his speech in Charlotte Thursday night — one of his first under a new campaign management — Trump did that rarest of things: he expressed regret for rhetorical excesses of the past and conceded that they may have caused pain for some people…

“Trump's speech in Charlotte suggested a candidate willing to take a new approach to the formidable problems he faces in this race. Perhaps the old Trump will come roaring back at any moment. But Trump in Charlotte was something entirely new.”

If Trump wants to win, I’m thinking the “new” Trump is here to stay. Trump is well liked by those who know him on a personal level; he just needs to bring those qualities to the national stage.

Does a changed Trump mean everyone’s going to drop their long-held opinions of him? No. But if he sways three or four people out of every hundred, he’s back in the game.

But it doesn’t sound like the #NeverTrumpers will budge on the issue no matter what. They’ve got their own agendas, though I’m not sure what they are anymore. Openly taking a position that could lead to a Crooked Hillary victory isn’t likely to get them that seat at the conservative table Erickson was talking about.

And forgiveness will come very dear, indeed.

The problem with Erickson’s and other #NeverTrumpers’ reasoning (that they will be included in the post-election rebuilding effort) is that the betrayal involved here isn’t something personal like failing to pay on a bet or show up at your weekly Happy Hour. These things are a matter of degree and don’t really go towards your friend’s character as much as they convey an apathetic attitude towards things that are important to you.

What #NeverTrump has done this year is throw the entire country under the proverbial bus in the name of simple stubbornness and petty personal bickering.

This is one dinner party that doesn’t end well for them if they continue on as they have been; someone might just pull the chair out from under them at that future conservative table.

Political candidate Trump becoming the new normal

While the heavy political news over the weekend was largely focused on the resignation of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with the appropriate level of snickering from the media and #NeverTrump to go along with it, there were also stories concerning the “change” in the Republican nominee’s strategy and behavior since Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon took over his campaign operation.

It just goes to show even a few days can make a big difference – at least in terms of press coverage.

Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports, “The Republican nominee has been giving more scripted speeches and spending less time at rallies, where his off-the-cuff style often resulted in controversy.

“He has been tweeting less, doing fewer interviews and spending more time on retail campaigning, this week visiting local police departments and meeting with flood victims in Louisiana.

“And after getting swamped by tens of millions of dollars in ad spending from Clinton and her allies, the Trump campaign purchased its first television ad buys this week, placing $4 million in spots that began airing in key battleground states on Friday.”

In other words, it appears as though the “new normal” in Trump-land is a presidential candidate doing what party nominees do – spend a lot of time on photo ops, broadcast commercials and carefully control the message. It’s what Hillary Clinton has been doing for over a year now – how else could she possibly hope to win?

Trump didn’t do these things in the GOP primary season because he didn’t necessarily care what the media reported as long as they were talking about him. In the general election battle with Crooked Hillary, however, Trump certainly must have realized that truckloads of negative media were killing his candidacy.

Something needed to be done…and he did it. In not only delivering more content themed speeches as well as targeting black voters and finally expressing “regret” last week, Trump signaled a willingness to try and squelch the torrent of hate that was coming his way, all of it behavior related.

Trump took the focus off Trump. That must be a hard thing for a celebrity to do. Ronald Reagan used to say “I was not a great communicator, but I communicated great things.” The same can be true of Trump if he’ll stay on message.

The question now becomes whether he can keep it up until Election Day and beyond. I think he can.

Naturally the establishment is betting it won’t last. Steven Shepard of Politico reports, “Fewer than a third of Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 key battleground states — believe Trump’s reshuffling will move the campaign in the right direction. Just as many, 31 percent, say the installation of Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as campaign CEO and pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, represent a turn for the worse…

“Nearly a half-dozen GOP insiders compared the changes to ‘rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic’ — a reference to Trump’s significant deficit in the polls.”

For what it’s worth, Newt Gingrich said Trump had his best campaign week yet – and even predicted Trump would win.

I can only reiterate here that there’s a long way to go until Election Day. On November 8, few are going to remember what Trump said in July about Khirzr Khan or that he was brash and hurtful during the primaries.

But if they have over two months of message discipline, good performance in the debates and communication of “great things,” voters will see the “new” Trump as the one they’ve gotten used to.

If that happens, I think Newt Gingrich might just be correct in his prediction.

Regardless of the “new” Trump, people seem to be loving the same old Mike Pence

It’s often said that a presidential candidate can and should be judged by one of the first and most consequential decisions he (or she) makes as the head of a party: choosing a running mate.

By that measure, Donald Trump is a winner, because even the media is acknowledging that Mike Pence has performed as the perfect complement to the Republican nominee.

Scott Wong and Jonathan Easley of The Hill report, “The Republican Indiana governor and former congressman has been projecting a kinder, gentler Republican Party as he’s hopscotched across the country during his first month as the vice presidential nominee.

“His brand of compassionate conservatism is a stark contrast to Trump's combative and often highly offensive style, helping to soften the image of the brash GOP presidential nominee and appeal to the establishment wing of the party, which has been completely put off by Trump.”

Of course when the word “compassionate” is linked to conservatism, you think of George W. Bush and big government Republicanism. But I don’t think Pence is really being seen as “compassionate” as much as he represents conservatives in a way we should be viewed, as championing individual liberty and responsibility as the path to a tranquil society.

Mike Pence embodies that ideal.

Wong’s and Easley’s story mostly praises Pence as being everything Trump is not and implies he has even helped correct some of the top guy’s media gaffes. I don’t see it that way at all. Trump didn’t get to be where he is without offering voters a lot of what they want, namely a return to the type of leadership that doesn’t bow to political correctness when a black and white solution is right in front of your face.

Trump’s blunt talk is what people want. Pence speaks candidly too, he just does so without the sometimes coarse language and gestures of Trump.

There’s little doubt at this point Trump still has work to do in bringing some Republicans around to support the Republican ticket, but his choosing of Mike Pence has been one thing he’s definitely gotten right. For his part, Pence has taken the opportunity and ran with it.

Pence will also present quite a contrast to the Obama agenda-supporting Democrat Tim Kaine in their upcoming vice presidential debate, a match-up that Republicans are almost certain to come away with an advantage.

Trump’s jab at Obama for playing too much golf is fair game in Louisiana

Finally today, everyone knows Donald Trump loves golf. One of his leading worldwide brands is his collection of famous golf clubs, many of which he’s renovated and made “great” again.

The golf course is a good place to conduct business, but it’s not where you should be when you’re the leader of the free world and a crisis is at hand.

Louis Nelson of Politico reports, “Touring flood damage in Louisiana, Donald Trump said President Barack Obama has not yet visited the state because he doesn’t want to miss any golf games during his Massachusetts vacation.

“’The president says he doesn’t want to come, he is trying to get out of a golf game,’ Trump told volunteers at a church north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to a report from ABC News. ‘He will never be under par.’”

Obama’s golf game aside, Trump effectively poked the oft-absent president for his recreational habit and penchant for ducking the duties of the office. It’s well-known how much flak George W. Bush took for not physically touching down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Obama can go on vacation and still get a pass from the media.

Trump’s visit to Louisiana was the appropriate thing to do and allowed him to meet with “real” people who are impacted by “real” problems. It also made him look presidential. If anything, Trump should thank Obama for ignoring the problem and allowing him to move in and take over the news cycle (note: Obama is going on Tuesday).

And making fun of Obama’s golf game is a safe zone for Trump. The media wouldn’t dare criticize him for it, since most people already think Obama spends way too much time away from the job.

It’s just part of the “new” Trump’s persona, one we could get used to.

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Disgraceful

The inanity of this article is so beneath your usual standards. First of all, your moral reasoning is suspect, but I will not address that now. Phyllis had the chance to support a true outsider in the primary. Several, as a matter of fact. That she glommed on to Trump will always remain a mystery. Trump's problems are not his repeated infidelity, his bankruptcies, or his other moral failings. It is that he cannot be trusted to be anything but not-Hillary. That's it. He has no core. His promises of being an outsider are laughable at face value. Do you not all see how the dreaded "establishment" has fallen in line behind him after he won the nomination? What dream world are you loving in? He has no conservative instincts. To name all his anti-conservative positions would take a novel. Hating the hateful Hillary is not a virtue. Oh. I forgot. Trump thought Hillary was a wonderful Secretary of State before he ran for the GOP nomination. I think George, and, sadly, Richard, are more like the other glommers who are bereft of a boat and choose to jump on one sinking ship that has one less leak than the other. And that's debatable. I've grown disgusted with your Trump love. How sad. I used to turn to you all as a conservative news source. Hatred of Hillary is not a virtue. I share the sentiment. But drinking the kool-aid of a disaster is not a virtue either. I watch a conflagration happening and wish I were not a future victim. Knowing I am brings me no joy. Casting my lot with one of the pyros is not an option either. Sigh.

NeverTrump or Always Hillary

Listening to the Never Trumper mentality which seems to spin on and on, you'd think Donald never got the backing of conservative leaders, never nominated Mike Pence for his VP, never got the Evangelicals at the round table such as Dr. Dobson and Michelle Bachmann, or Pastor Robert Jeffress, or even Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. We've got "Criminal Hillary" running against Trump, and we seem to be seeing the same old tired arguments of his past remarks. Though I'd admit I hate his former friends of the past, we're looking at a non-politician who played his cards carefully in order to preserve his empire.Even D'Nesh D'Souza said he'd rather vote for an unknown than a Criminal Clinton. Clinton is the Ultimate Establishment Candidate and is still knocking off her enemies in the same brutal fashion as before. Seth Rich comes to mind, as does John Ashe. We're not dealing with a normal contender, we're dealing with a woman who has all the earmarks of an Anti-Christ. I believe that the NeverTrumpers have Tunnel Vision, and seem to forget that Mitt Romney invented the ACA, but they were backing him, in the General, as though He had never said, I support a woman's right to choose. Even if Trump isn't a perfect candidate in your book of clandestine perfection, allowing an enabling Hillary is Political Suicide, and as the author has pointed out, you're all going to be Toast. Your also going to enable a big win for the Democrats in the House snd Senate, if you don't get on board. If you're NeverTrump, then vote the ticket as an Always Pence!