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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Clear the ring for the Trump-Clinton grudge match

After over a year’s worth of campaigning in the 2016 presidential primary race, it’s finally over. Tuesday’s results from the five remaining states to vote only served to confirm what we already knew – namely that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the major party nominees – but there are still many questions left to be resolved on both sides.

And for many, perhaps a deep seated feeling of buyer’s remorse is setting in right about now. I can’t help but speculate a lot of people are getting up this morning with a similar hangover-like head throbbing, wondering in Boxing ringvain, what did I do last night?

For all of their multitude of flaws, it’s now Trump vs. Clinton. It’s the consummate outlandish unpredictable outsider versus the very embodiment of liberal establishment Washington. If people were seeking a clear contrast in candidates this year, they sure got one.

As the lone Republican left standing, Trump easily won in all five states (California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota) and added every single delegate up for grabs to his total. No controversy there. All of the intrigue was left for the Democrats, with nominee Hillary Clinton taking California and New Jersey convincingly but losing to Sanders in Montana and North Dakota (caucuses). She also narrowly edged Bernie in South Dakota and New Mexico.

I never thought “senile old coot” Bernie Sanders would have the stamina to make it all the way through the process, but he did. The question for Democrats is now what to make of the fact Sanders won almost half of the states (the ones without large minority populations) in a two-person race that included heavily favored Clinton.

For his part, Sanders didn’t sound like he was about to give up, either. Daniel Strauss of Politico reports Sanders told his California audience, “I am pretty good at arithmetic and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight but we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate that we can get,” right through the Democrat convention next month in Philadelphia.

Sanders will apparently keep fighting for Democrat super delegates. Every moment he stays in the race is a deep embarrassment for ‘ol Hillary. And they say the Republicans have unity problems.

#NeverTrump will no doubt continue their efforts to stop Trump – somehow – or at the very least, keep trying to convince conservatives and Republicans not to participate in this year’s real two-candidate contest. Trump’s Tuesday victory totals were impressive, but a lot of voters still aren’t convinced.

We’ll see if The Donald has learned from some of his recent mistakes and seeks to get people together rather than pound the wedge as he’s been doing for a year now.

Chicken Little #NeverTrumpers see the sky falling over Trump’s judge flap

Even though the primaries are now over, the forces of #NeverTrump are not letting up on their dire predictions of doom for the Republican Party in five months should the GOP convention delegates fail to cast off the will of the voters in favor of anointing some White Knight candidate to “save the party” from Donald Trump.

Leading #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson writes in The Resurgent, “The Republican Party is on the verge of being set back a generation because of its Presidential nominee. If Republican Party officials do not man up and publicly repudiate their nominee, the voters will repudiate the GOP as the voters did in 2006.

“This time, however, it will be far more costly with far more long term damage. Thus far Lindsey Graham is the only major Republican to walk back his pledge of support for Trump, but his views reflect those of several dozen Republican governors, senators, and congressmen too chicken to speak out.”

In his post, Erickson proceeds to lay out the usual personal attacks on Trump and touches on a few policy areas where he disagrees with the nominee, like raising the minimum wage (which Trump has waffled on but hasn’t definitively said that he wants to do it) and Trump’s America First trade policies. Erickson says Trump equates to certain death for the Republican Party unless its leaders rise up and renounce him now.

Sure, that’s likely to happen. Can’t you just see Reince Priebus in front of a lectern full of microphones announcing the Republican Party is disavowing its presidential nominee? Shouldn’t the Democrats be considering doing the same thing with Hillary’s criminal issues?

I know the #NeverTrump folks are running out of new hysteria to write about, but this latest hubbub over Trump’s “Mexican judge” comments isn’t exactly a sound basis for repudiating the entire primary campaign.

Yes, opinion polls have turned back in Clinton’s favor since Trump took a slight lead in the Real Clear Politics average a couple weeks ago. But let’s not forget, much of Hillary’s recent resurgence is likely due to getting nothing but positive coverage with the preponderance of negativity instead being heaped on Bernie Sanders for failing to clear a path for the coronation of the Democrat queen.

Not even the recent State Department Inspector General’s report on Clinton’s criminal misuse of her private email server has been enough to quell the media’s adoration of the first female major party presidential nominee.

Wow, what a story! Eight years after the first black president, America can now show the world how non-sexist it is by electing a woman!

I guess letting boys and men use women’s restrooms isn’t enough to show other cultures how insane we are, now America’s on the verge of choosing another leader based on her gender alone. These are interesting times, indeed.

Only in modern America could you have one presidential candidate who is under criminal investigation for potentially compromising national security secrets be given a free pass versus the other major presidential candidate who is being sued in a civil suit by disgruntled former clients.

The criminal is honored, the civil litigant is presumed guilty.

Not to excuse him, but Donald Trump has spent his entire life in business and not all the people he’s come into contact with are happy or satisfied with the results of their dealings. But at least there’s no evidence of possible treasonous activity in his case. What about with Hillary?

Where’s the outrage? Why are we talking about Trump’s civil court proceedings with a potentially biased Obama-appointee judge presiding when the public focus should be on getting to the bottom of Hillary’s behavior in handling top secret classified information?

Can we get a little balance here?

And perhaps the biggest sign that this flap over Trump’s “Mexican” comments is all about nothing is most of the condemnation is coming from liberals or politically correct RINOs, which includes Hillary herself and the Republican establishment.

As an example, in denouncing Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan called his comments “indefensible” and even dragged out the “r” word.

Scott Wong of The Hill reports, “Donald Trump's criticism of a judge because of his ethnicity are ‘the textbook definition of racist comments,’ Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday during an event on poverty in Washington D.C.

“’I regret these comments that he made,’ Ryan said. ‘I think that should be absolutely disavowed.’”

With friends like these, who needs enemies? Ryan and others who have been over-the-top in their treatment of Trump’s statements are mostly only worrying about their own electoral fortunes. Like the #NeverTrump movement, they see Trump as a drag on their chances to prolong their political careers rather than expand the debate to matters such as Muslim immigration.

Trump has not only opened doors to such important topics, he’s kicked them in. His bombastic style turns a lot of people off. But it at least gets folks talking…and debating.

For those who disagree, what subject has Paul Ryan EVER gotten started in public discourse? (Okay, there was the one about him pushing an old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff.) Trump has again successfully kept himself as the center of attention in this recent media storm – not bad considering everyone’s talking about him instead of Hillary clinching the Democrat nomination.

While it’s clear Trump has a unique ability to get people on both sides of the aisle riled up at a moment’s notice, it’s best to remember that what Trump was essentially saying was he questioned the judge’s impartiality in his case because Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and the judge was the son of Mexican immigrants.

Trump probably doesn’t have a strong case for asking the judge to recuse himself on this matter alone, but his comments fall far short of being racist. It’s not all that far apart from a black man claiming he can’t get a fair trial from an all-white jury or lawyers for an accused defendant excusing a potential juror because his parents were both police officers.

Bias is as old as time itself. Pat Buchanan puts it succinctly, “All of us are products of our family, faith, race and ethnic group. And the suggestion in these attacks on Trump that judges and justices always rise above such irrelevant considerations, and decide solely on the merits, is naive nonsense.”

Yes indeed. So before we should be so quick to accept Erick Erickson and the rest of #NeverTrump’s dark admonitions to forcibly remove Donald Trump from the convention stage next month or it’s all over for the GOP, it’s probably best to remember that the punishment should fit the crime.

Donald Trump is a controversial figure to say the least. But just because he fails to bow to the forces of political correctness doesn’t mean we should listen to the #NeverTrump Chicken Littles and agree that the sky is falling.

Forget John McCain, Ben Sasse is the new maverick in the Senate

Another of the #NeverTrump doomsayers is Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who was one of the first to speak out against Donald Trump’s candidacy and hasn’t wavered since.

A good many people would at least give Sasse credit for consistency, though it also appears he’s making some enemies, too.

Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett of Politico report, “The Nebraska senator — who in the past few days alone essentially called Trump a racist and said he’s open to embracing the Libertarian Party — is making enemies among Republicans back home and drawing disapproval among his Senate colleagues for his months-long anti-Trump crusade.

“The effort has vaulted Sasse out of backbencher obscurity and turned him into a folk hero of the GOP’s dwindling ‘never Trump’ constituency. But his naysayers say the first-term lawmaker, who never held elected office before he won his Senate seat two years ago, should start focusing more on his job.”

Sasse is another first-time “outsider” politician who’s made a splash in a short amount of time in Washington, largely because he doesn’t seem disposed to altering his beliefs for political reasons alone. Some see Sasse’s anti-Trump stance as naked political posturing for a future presidential run, but others say his attitude is really just characteristic of the man he is.

If the ideal in this country is to have citizen politicians, Sasse appears to take the high-minded notion seriously. He avoids Sunday talk shows, isn’t interested in party political functions and generally keeps his distance from glitzy “look at me” type events.

For a man who some think is only trying to draw attention to himself in order to run for president someday, he’s got a strange way of going about it.

Unlike Ted Cruz, Sasse hasn’t criticized party leadership directly though he did deliver a rather stinging speech on the dysfunction of the Senate as a whole last year.

If Trump ends up losing in November a lot of people are going to blame Sasse and the #NeverTrump contingent. I understand the Trump detractors’ concerns about the nominee, I just don’t agree with their solutions. Failing to take part in the process is no way to win an argument and advance their goals.

Perhaps Sasse – and Erickson – will relent at some point…but I’m not betting on it.

Ted Cruz is busy at work, still won’t say whether he’ll back Trump

Finally today, June 8 could have been a very big day for Ted Cruz had his presidential campaign gone the way he planned, but instead he’s back in the Senate doing the job he was elected to do four years ago.

Just this week, for example, Cruz argued with John McCain over defense policy. In his first floor speech since returning to the Senate, Ted proved he’s still the same principled man that many of us backed in the presidential race.

Perhaps because of those principles, Cruz still won’t tip his hand on whether he’ll back former rival Donald Trump this November.

Rebecca Savransky of The Hill reports Cruz said of Trump on MSNBC, “Like many other voters, I'm watching and listening and assessing what he says and what he does and I think that's what millions of voters are doing and that's the way the Democratic process is meant to operate.

“I think voters are going to do that from now right until Election Day, and I'm giving it time and watching and assessing.”

One part of me thinks Cruz is holding back because he’s waiting to see if Trump implodes. With Republicans all over the map in terms of their opinions of Trump, it’s still conceivable The Donald could do something to completely turn them off en masse. Erick Erickson certainly thinks so.

If that’s the case, Cruz would be in prime position to be the next candidate in line. Next to Trump, he’s got more delegates than all the rest of the others combined. And as we saw throughout the primary process, many of Trump’s committed delegates are still Ted supporters.

Or, he could be holding off on the possibility of being named Trump’s running mate, an outcome that could help some in the #NeverTrump contingent – at least the conservatives – come back to the party.

One way or another, I can’t help but think Cruz knows what he’s doing and we’ll find out how he feels when the time is ripe.

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