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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Will the uniquely awful Hillary Clinton melt the iciest of #NeverTrump hearts?

After a week’s worth of intense news media speculation on what might transpire when Donald Trump and Paul Ryan met face-to-face for the first time since Trump all-but locked up the Republican nomination, the meeting finally took place yesterday in Washington.

And predictably, both leaders said good things about it.

Awful HillaryGabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports, “House Speaker Paul Ryan and Donald Trump said they found ‘many important areas of common ground’ after their first major meeting together, and said they intend to meet periodically in the coming months.

“’[It] is critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall. With that focus, we had a great conversation this morning,’ Ryan's office wrote in a joint statement with the Trump campaign Thursday morning.”

Nothing really to see here. The statement just as easily could have been (and probably was) written before the meeting even took place. We aren’t privy to what Trump and Ryan really talked about during their time together and what they say in public probably differs markedly from what was exchanged behind closed doors.

It’s hard to decipher what each man looks to gain from the other. Trump would certainly like to have the party establishment behind his candidacy, if for nothing else, they’ll be paying for what promises to be a very expensive political war against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Yet Trump also can’t appear to be too chummy with Ryan and the rest of the establishment. His main appeal during the primary season was the impression he gave people that he would be a different kind of president. If he meets with Ryan, Reince Priebus and Mitch McConnell on the same day and then starts talking about adopting the establishment’s policy agenda, he’s finished.

Politically speaking, Ryan probably needs Trump more than the other way around. Republican congressional leaders aren’t too popular these days and it’s going to very difficult for the elites to please the big government interests of the party without some cooperation from the chief executive.

The best thing Trump could do now is use his considerable sway over public opinion to pressure Ryan and the others to finally keep their promises to the grassroots by reducing the power of government, cutting spending and protecting American traditions and individual freedoms.

Ryan and Trump make for an odd combo. We’ll see how this works going forward in the coming months.

The uniquely awful candidacy of Hillary Clinton melts the iciest of hearts

Even as Donald Trump was huddling with Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus and the rest of the Republican establishment during yesterday’s meetings at Republican National Committee headquarters, the real intra-party struggle continued on all throughout America as conservatives come to grips with the almost certain nomination of Trump as the GOP presidential candidate.

Many of us are looking for clues that Trump will keep his campaign promises and populate his administration with new and fresh thinking people as well as govern as a conservative. Others are wrestling with their publicly expressed oaths to never vote for Trump under any circumstances.

While the #NeverTrump group’s resolve remains strong by and large, there are signs some of them may be open to changing their minds. And it’s all thanks to Hillary Clinton, the uniquely awful Democrat who could bring even sworn enemies clamoring to the same side.

Still suffering Ted Cruz supporter Chris Skates writes in The Resurgent, “I was literally sickened when Ted Cruz dropped out. I remain in shock that these two are what this nation, a nation in crisis, has chosen to put forth as our candidates (thank you John Kasich). And yes I do wonder if this choice is but the first sip from the bitter cup of God’s judgement upon this nation.

“But right now, I feel that anything I do, including writing in a third candidate’s name, will only succeed in advancing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. We have six months. I pray that a viable third party candidate can prevent both Trump and Hillary from reaching 270 electoral votes. But until I see that candidate emerge, and if I am honest with readers about where I now stand, I cannot be dogmatic that I will never vote for Trump. And it sickens me to say so.”

It should be noted that Skates’ post appeared on the same home page as #NeverTrump leader Erick Erickson’s daily column which reiterates the reasons he’ll never vote for Trump.

In his piece, Erickson shares a number of hate-filled emails he’s receieved from Trump supporters, providing a sample of the type of vindictive the #NeverTrump people are enduring at the hands of their fellow party members, former friends turned enemies. We here at have also received more than our share of spite from Trump supporters about our supposed failures to jump on the bandwagon – and we are not and have never been part of the #NeverTrump movement.

I’m not going to shame people for their deeply held beliefs, but it’s sad how the level of discourse has deteriorated to the point where personal insults are the norm rather than the exception merely for expressing opinions on candidates contrary to someone else’s preferences.

It seems like “agree to disagree” doesn’t satiate some people anymore. When that happens, we can always talk about the weather and the fortunes of the local sports teams. Beyond that, the mere mention of politics is akin to lighting a gas burner that’s been spewing fuel for several seconds before striking a match.

Oddly enough, I don’t blame Donald Trump solely for the fading civility, though he’s certainly had a hand in accelerating the decay. I place the blame squarely on the leftists in society who, starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan (at least in my memory), consistently cut down conservatives or believers in limited government and the Constitution as somehow stalling “progress” in society.

It’s gotten so bad these days that now we’re forced to debate whether men dressed as women should have the “right” to use a public restroom of their choosing on any given day.

Quite frankly, the Democrats started this mess. Though the entire Reagan presidency was a non-stop campaign on behalf of the left to take down traditional American values and institutions, the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court was the beginning point for the sleazy political class to commence smearing someone’s character simply to advance their own political agendas.

Politics has always been a nasty business and the practice of sliming an opponent goes back much farther than our times – but the Founding Fathers didn’t have social media and hundreds of electronic news outlets to do their bidding at the push of a few buttons.

These days, reputations can be ruined within the span of a few minutes.

But as difficult to accept as much of the Trump supporters’ behavior would seem to be, if you’re #NeverTrump, all you have to do is contemplate the thought of Hillary Clinton taking the oath of office – and suddenly, The Donald doesn’t seem as repulsive.

Not only would Americans be subject to four more years of public shaming at the feet of the arrogant left, there wouldn’t be much left of our bureaucracy or court systems once they were done with them. Hillary’s idea of American greatness is abortion of demand, same-sex marriage and income redistribution. Not to mention unfettered immigration from war-torn Muslim countries and Latin America.

No one’s saying Trump is the antidote to the left’s campaign of destruction. But one thing’s for sure, he seems to genuinely value the country, even if he has an odd way of showing it. Disliking his loutish behavior must not be the end-all in sizing up the whole of his candidacy. His methods may be unacceptable, but Hillary is indeed worse – much worse.

It’s something that maybe even the #NeverTrump folks are starting to recognize.

Unity among the people may ultimately be possible, but not with Trump’s former rivals

While many conservatives are still sticking to their guns in refusing to support Trump or are simply waiting for more time to make up their minds, a former adversary of The Donald’s is coming to his defense on the issue of releasing his tax returns.

Nick Gass of Politico reports, “Former presidential rival Mike Huckabee laced into Mitt Romney on Thursday, a day after the Republican Party's 2012 nominee resurfaced his criticism of Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns…

“’I am especially disappointed in Mitt for this latest attack,’ Huckabee [wrote in a post on his website]. ‘He’s not only trying to sink his own party’s presumptive nominee, but he’s factually incorrect and he’s making the same unfair attack on Trump that was launched against him in 2012.’”

There’s an interesting dynamic at play here. Huckabee has the rare privilege of being on the losing end to both Romney and Trump, a quality he shares only with fellow 2016 loser Rick Santorum.

Huckabee’s dislike for Romney is legendary, the two of them having feuded continuously in 2008 as both vied to be the not-McCain candidate who could challenge the eventual winner one-on-one. Huckabee seemed to eventually get over his animosity towards Romney in 2012, having endorsed the former Massachusetts governor once it was clear he’d won the nomination.

But it’s also clear that Huckabee still harbors some ill feelings towards Mitt – much more so than with Trump who seems much farther apart from Huckabee’s socially conservative worldview. Huckabee warmed to Trump in the waning days before Iowa, even joining the New York reality TV star at his rally opposite the final Republican debate prior to the caucuses.

One wonders if “bitter” Huckabee would have come to the defense of Ted Cruz if the Texas senator had emerged as the presumptive nominee. Both he and Santorum made their disdain for Cruz well-known before bowing out of the race after the Iowa vote.

I think all – or most – of these men will eventually come around to supporting Trump (note: the endeavor will likely be aided by Ben Carson, who’s agreed to lead the outreach effort to former rivals). But I wonder if they’ll all be willing to bury the hatchet when it comes to forgiving each other for past campaign snubs.

Marco Rubio’s vote for Trump draws bitter rebuke from #NeverTrump

Finally this week, with “unity” the theme of the day, former Marco Rubio supporters aren’t happy that the Florida senator and former Trump opponent has publicly announced that he’ll vote for The Donald, but not endorse him.

For some in the #NeverTrump group, that’s akin to treason.

Jay Caruso of RedState writes, “[T]he question still remains: What are you thinking? Rubio has criticized Donald Trump on nearly every front. He has criticized his foreign policy, domestic policy, his stances on social issues, his flip flopping, his corruption, his temperament, his bankruptcies and more. He has questioned Trump’s fitness for office. Rubio is saying all of this yet saying he’s still going to vote for Donald Trump.

“What is the point? Some people will argue that Rubio is holding to his word and the GOP pledge by voting for Trump. I get that, but something has to give. Would you call somebody a liar, con man, thief, and a jerk only turn around and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll go into business with that guy.’”

I’ll answer for Rubio. No, you wouldn’t go into business with that guy. But when faced with an either/or choice between handing a political office to a former competitor who’s said a boatload of horrible things about you and Hillary Clinton, the decision isn’t as challenging.

Trump must continue to provide assurances to conservatives and tone down his act on the campaign trail, but eventually everyone must choose one of three alternatives: vote for Trump, vote for Hillary or don’t vote at all (which is the same as voting third party, effectively).

Will Trump make “great deals” with conservatives at his side? We’ve got less than six months to try and figure it out.

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