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Thread: The US 2020 Presidential Election

  1. #346
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    How a bill co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren and signed by Trump could reshape the next presidential transition

    WASHINGTON — In approximately 10 months, a new presidential administration will take shape. It could be a second term of the Trump administration, or an entirely new one led by Joe Biden. It may come as the coronavirus epidemic still rages or, more likely, in the epidemic’s fraught aftermath.

    And just how that administration takes shape could have great consequences in the years to come. That’s why there’s reason to cheer a little-noticed bill that could ensure that the transition is conducted with the proper ethical strictures in place — the kinds of strictures that did not exist in 2016.

    No, the transitions bill won’t cure the coronavirus, but advocates of the legislation say it’s an unlikely success story, particularly given who championed it.

    President Trump branded one of them “Pocahantas,” while she, in turn, calls him Vladimir Putin’s “elf on the shelf.” Earlier this month, in an unlikely act of bipartisanship, Trump signed a bill written, in part, by Elizabeth Warren, one of his most stinging critics in the Senate. What’s more, the bill seems to directly address the accusations of corruption she has leveled against him.

    Trump may not have even known he was signing a bill written by Warren.

    That’s because the bill, the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, was principally sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who is a Democrat, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a Republican. The legislation is identical to a bill Warren and Carper had earlier introduced that was also supported by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman who recently died. Cummings was as determined an adversary of Trump as Warren has been.

    The bill would require every presidential transition to have — and release to the American people — an ethics plan. In effect, the new law amounts to a codified message that incoming presidents have to take ethics seriously.

    Crucially, the law must also say what the president will do to resolve his or her own conflicts of interest. The measure was obviously written with Trump in mind, and was a provision especially dear to Warren. Like many Democrats, she remains dismayed by the president’s nebulous arrangement with the Trump Organization, the real estate and marketing business he founded, which is now operated by his sons.

    Trump promised that his business interests would be placed in a “blind trust” after he took office, but he does not appear to have followed through with that promise.

    Even supporters of the president admit the Trump transition was chaotic, ethically challenged and not always confidence-inspiring. “We could have done a much better job,” former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon remembered in 2018. “Absolutely, much better job. It's one of the things that Trump didn’t fight,” he said, referring to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” that was official Washington and to stock his White House with “the best people.”

    This turned out to be difficult for a campaign that had made little preparation because it thought it had little chance of winning. “The swamp draining, we had all these potential things,” Bannon lamented of lost opportunities to enact an agenda aligned with his populist principles, which had helped Trump win the White House. “They just got ground up, and it just turned out not to be a priority.”

    The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent, which means there were no objections to the measure. It then passed the House with a voice vote, as its passage was never in doubt.

    The legislation — the 15th law signed this year by a president who has spent most of 2020 fighting off impeachment and, now, the escalating coronavirus outbreak — places greater ethical strictures on how a president-elect puts in place key members of an administration in the critical weeks between election and inauguration. It amends the original 1963 law on presidential transitions and is part of a broader, yet-unrealized government ethics proposal introduced by Warren. That proposal would put strict new rules on public service, thus probably leading to the kind of swamp-draining Trump had promised. But that broader ethics plan is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, given Republican opposition to such measures.

    The new law, relatively modest in scope, requires every presidential nominee to have a concrete, public ethics plan, one that will stipulate how the campaign will handle the hiring of lobbyists, potential conflicts of interest and restrictions on access to classified information during the transition period. It also stipulates how the candidate will address his or her own conflicts of interest if elected president.

    Trump signed the bill into law on March 3. Warren had hoped to be the first president to have to abide by the new ethics provisions, but she ended her campaign two days after those provisions became law. Trump could also be the first who is subject to its strictures, since incumbent presidents have transitions.

    While it may lack teeth — a president could simply create a plan that suits his or her own needs — the legislation will at least force the incoming administration to address potential conflicts of interest in a transparent fashion.

    Trump and Warren did not celebrate with a round of golf at Mar-a-Lago. Instead, Warren noted the bill by bashing the man who signed it. “The Trump transition team was absolutely awash in conflicts and corruption, and now the American people can celebrate new rules to ensure that never happens again,” the Massachusetts senator told Yahoo News.

    “I know he would be proud today,” she said of Cummings.

    The bill received praise from the Partnership for Public Service, a bipartisan center focusing on good governance. A policy director there described it as an encouraging sign that a Capitol Hill that can agree on almost nothing found it can agree on something, and that that something turned out to be presidential ethics reform, of all things. Upon passage of the bill, the group praised legislators for codifying “lessons learned in the 2016 transition.”

    Those lessons could probably fill a legal tome — and have already made for several popular books about how the days and weeks after Trump’s victory resulted in chaos in the months and years to come.

    Trump’s transition was spearheaded by then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who did not believe Trump would win. Christie was fired after the election, and his plan — however flawed — was discarded. The transition was then divided between presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager and Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon and incoming chief of staff and GOP head Reince Priebus.

    The transition was a “shallow hole,” says one campaign staffer who stayed on with Trump and served some time in the White House.

    Because none of the three had high-level executive branch experience, Washington and Wall Street got to shape an administration that had promised to be beholden to neither. “The time we needed to put an apparatus around Trump, that gave him some time to work himself in to be commander in chief,” Bannon explained in 2018. But that involved many Republican operatives who had spent the previous eight years working in private industry. They were the very “deep state” whom Bannon feared, the people Trump was never going to pick.

    “Here’s the brutal reality,” Bannon said. “There is not a deep bench of talent that could step into the government and run things.”

    Once in office, Trump signed an executive order that would have seemed to close the revolving door between private industry and public service. But he has routinely granted waivers to officials with industry ties, robbing the executive order of any power it may have had.

    What motivated him to sign a new ethics bill is not clear, though it may be that Johnson is a Trump ally, Carper is not a nemesis and Warren’s hand in the legislation simply went unnoticed by the White House. The White House declined to talk about the bill.

    Warren, conversely, has wanted to talk about this since roughly the day Trump was elected. “Within days of your election, you have elevated a slew of Wall Street bankers, industry insiders, and special interest lobbyists to your transition team,” she wrote to him on Nov. 15, 2016, as the new administration was starting to take shape at Trump Tower.

    And she reminded him of the now-famous refrain that had become the rallying cry of his campaign’s final stages. “Maintaining a transition team of Washington insiders sends a clear signal to all who are watching you — that you are already breaking your campaign promises to ‘drain the swamp’ and that you are selling out the American public,” Warren wrote. Trump did not answer.

    _____

    Of course, laws mean nothing if they aren't enforced. But Trump has known this his entire life.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  2. #347
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    Republicans block most aid to help states plan for presidential election amid coronavirus pandemic

    WASHINGTON — Voting reforms that would make it much easier to cast ballots by mail in the fall presidential election were left out of the $2 trillion rescue package that was unveiled Wednesday, but key lawmakers vowed to keep pushing for a series of measures that would prepare the country for an election in the likely scenario that the coronavirus will still be a major presence in the country.

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that while the $400 million included in the current package is “a step in the right direction,” it fell well short of what they and other Democrats had pushed for.

    The money included for now will be available to states “to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll workers,” one House Democratic staffer told Yahoo News.

    But it’s a fraction of the $4 billion that House Democrats had pushed for. Those measures, along with the reforms in the “Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act” proposed by Klobuchar and Wyden, would radically expand the ability of Americans to vote by mail in this fall’s elections, and would also expand early voting for up to two weeks prior to Election Day.

    It’s still not clear where the country will be with the coronavirus pandemic in November, but one thing is certain: There won’t be a vaccine. Given that reality, these moves would be aimed at avoiding any kind of large gatherings at polling places this fall, to help prepare states for a nationwide election with outbreaks still happening.

    “In times of crisis, the American people cannot be forced to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” Klobuchar and Wyden said in a statement. “We must enact election reforms across the country as well as secure more resources to guarantee safe and secure elections. We will continue to fight to pass the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 to ensure every eligible American can safely and lawfully cast their ballot.”

    On Monday, Wyden told reporters on a conference call that “it’s either going to be vote-by-mail or nothing if we have to deal with a worst-case scenario.”

    Klobuchar announced Monday that her husband, John, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Among Republicans who actually run elections at the state and local level, there is growing recognition of the need for such planning. A number of Republican elections officials signed a letter to Congress this past weekend calling on lawmakers to “include substantial funding in the coronavirus stimulus package so that we have the ability and resources to ensure that our voters can participate safely and with confidence in our elections.”

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had proposed $140 million in the current package for elections, but state and local officials said this was “simply not enough.”

    The idea of broadening access to voting by mail has yet to be embraced by Republican politicians in Washington. No GOP members of Congress have backed the reforms, and some hard-line Republicans have railed against the idea.

    Conservative think tankers said universal mail voting would “make it easier to manipulate election outcomes and commit fraud.”

    “The next president would be determined by ballots that have been marked behind closed doors by who knows who, perhaps collected and dropped in the mail (or not) by another who knows who, and then swiftly processed by the U.S. Postal Service, the same organization that routinely delivers us our neighbor’s mail,” wrote Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation and J. Christian Adams of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

    Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted that “universal vote by mail would be the end of our republic as we know it.”

    The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group at New York University, has already warned that Congress is wasting precious time by not immediately deploying resources to plan for the fall.

    “They need the money now,” Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, told the Washington Post. “If we wait a couple of months, it will be too late. They won’t be able to use it effectively or make the changes needed to avoid significant chaos on Election Day.”

    The Brennan Center has released a detailed plan for how to safeguard the ability of all citizens to vote in the fall without fearing contagion of the coronavirus. Their proposal estimated a cost of at least $2 billion, and includes conservative cost estimates for each provision: between $54 and $89 million for printing mail-in ballots, $413 million to $593 million for prepaid postage, $82 million to $117 million for secure drop boxes and $120 million to $240 million for equipment to facilitate a massive influx of mail-in ballots.

    “Implementing that plan,” the Brennan Center said, “must begin now.”
    _____________

    Can't make it easier for people to vote, no matter if their life is on the line or not.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  3. #348
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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  4. #349
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    Trump camp threatens local TV stations over Democratic ad

    https://apnews.com/5251611364ef032adb1de2d467f15726


    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is threatening legal action against local TV stations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin if they don’t pull a Democratic anti-Trump commercial that uses clips of the president talking about the coronavirus outbreak. The campaign says the ad is false. ISN'T THAT RICH

    Priorities USA Action Fund, the Democratic super PAC that created the 30-second spot and supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, responded by soliciting financial contributions to keep the ad on the airwaves.

    Trump’s campaign said the commercial contains the “false assertion” that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax.”

    The ad strings together audio of recent comments by Trump in which he attempts to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, including a snippet in which he says “this is their new hoax.”

    Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it had delivered “cease and desist” letters to the stations demanding that they pull the ad or face legal action. The stations were not named in a news release announcing the action or in a copy of the letter accessed by a hyperlink included in the emailed release.

    Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, tweeted Wednesday that Trump wants to block the ad “because he doesn’t want Americans to know the truth.” He included a link for donations to pay to keep the ad on the air.

    Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among states where Trump’s is spending heavily in his bid to win a second term.

  5. #350
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    More on Joe’s “Me Too” event (digital penetration included).
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=14tfnIkQ-qU

    https://www.theblaze.com/news/joe-bi...-believe-women
    Last edited by surfgun; 28 Mar 20, at 18:54.

  6. #351
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  7. #352
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    Took him long enough. *smh*
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  8. #353
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    More on the “me too” allegation.
    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/san...ation-credible

  9. #354
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Last edited by surfgun; 25 Apr 20, at 14:22.

  10. #355
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    So, are you keeping score?
    I make it one to a dozen, in “favor” of Putin’s BFF.
    Trust me?
    I'm an economist!

  11. #356
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    So, are you keeping score?
    I make it one to a dozen, in “favor” of Putin’s BFF.
    One sided score, yes. Can't defend Donald Trump on...anything. (Let's face it, he was seriously musing about using disinfectant internally on COVID patients.)

    So, resort to deflection and whataboutism. Same ol' story, different day.
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

  12. #357
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Former Clinton advisor calls on Biden to withdraw from the race.
    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/cli...lt-allegations

  13. #358
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    Former Clinton advisor calls on Biden to withdraw from the race.
    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/cli...lt-allegations
    OMG.
    A Bernie Bro wants Biden to quit.
    Who would have thunk it?
    https://newrepublic.com/article/1558...ned-peter-daou
    https://www.politico.com/news/2019/1...rs-2020-074723

    (Pro Tip of the Day: Next time, ignore Fox News!)
    Trust me?
    I'm an economist!

  14. #359
    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    Last edited by surfgun; 26 Apr 20, at 14:29.

  15. #360
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    Nervous Republicans See Trump Sinking, and Taking Senate With Him

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

    The scale of the GOP’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.

    Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super political action committees plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.

    Perhaps most significantly, Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage.

    His daily news briefings on the coronavirus outbreak are inflicting grave damage on his political standing, Republicans believe, and his recent remarks about combating the virus with sunlight and disinfectant were a breaking point for a number of senior party officials.

    On Friday evening, Trump conducted only a short briefing and took no questions, a format that a senior administration official said was being discussed as the best option for the president going forward.

    Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, said the landscape for his party had become far grimmer compared with the previrus plan to run almost singularly around the country’s prosperity.

    “With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment, and it’s a total shift from where we were a few months ago,” Bolger said. “Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us.”


    Trump’s advisers and allies have often blamed external events for his most self-destructive acts, such as his repeated outbursts during the two-year investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia. Now there is no such explanation — and, so far, there have been exceedingly few successful interventions regarding Trump’s behavior at the podium.

    Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the president had to change his tone and offer more than a campaign of grievance.

    “You got to have some hope to sell people,” Cole said. “But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim.’”

    There are still more than six months until the election, and many Republicans are hoping that the dynamics of the race will shift once Biden is thrust back into the campaign spotlight. At that point, they believe, the race will not simply be the up-or-down referendum on the president it is now, and Trump will be able to more effectively sell himself as the person to rebuild the economy.

    “We built the greatest economy in the world; I’ll do it a second time,” Trump said earlier this month, road-testing a theme he will deploy in the coming weeks.

    Still, a recent wave of polling has fueled Republican anxieties, as Biden leads in virtually every competitive state.

    The surveys also showed Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine trailing or locked in a dead heat with potential Democratic rivals — in part because their fate is linked to Trump’s job performance. If incumbents in those states lose and Republicans pick up only the Senate seat in Alabama, Democrats would take control of the chamber should Biden win the presidency.

    “He’s got to run very close for us to keep the Senate,” Charles Black, a veteran Republican consultant, said of Trump. “I’ve always thought we were favored to, but I can’t say that now with all these cards up in the air.”

    Republicans were taken aback this past week by the results of a 17-state survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee. It found the president struggling in the Electoral College battlegrounds and likely to lose without signs of an economic rebound this fall, according to a party strategist outside the RNC who is familiar with the poll’s results.

    The Trump campaign’s own surveys have also shown an erosion of support
    , according to four people familiar with the data, as the coronavirus remains the No. 1 issue worrying voters.

    Polling this early is, of course, not determinative: In 2016 Hillary Clinton also enjoyed a wide advantage in many states well before November.

    Yet Trump’s best hope to win a state he lost in 2016, Minnesota, also seems increasingly challenging. A Democratic survey taken by Sen. Tina Smith showed the president trailing by 10 percentage points there, according to a Democratic strategist who viewed the poll.

    The private data of the two parties is largely mirrored by public surveys. Just last week, three Pennsylvania polls and two Michigan surveys were released showing Trump losing outside the margin of error. And a pair of Florida polls were released that showed Biden enjoying a slim advantage in a state that is all but essential for Republicans to retain the presidency.

    To some in the party, this feels all too similar to the last time they held the White House.

    In 2006, anger at President George W. Bush and unease with the Iraq War propelled Democrats to reclaim Congress; two years later they captured the presidency thanks to the same anti-incumbent themes and an unexpected crisis that accelerated their advantage: the economic collapse of 2008. The two elections were effectively a single continuous rejection of Republican rule — as some in the GOP fear 2018 and 2020 could become in a worst-case scenario.

    “It already feels very similar to the 2008 cycle,” said Billy Piper, a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Significant questions remain that could tilt the outcome of this election: whether Americans experience a second wave of the virus in the fall, the condition of the economy and how well Biden performs after he emerges from his Wilmington, Delaware, basement, which many in his party are privately happy to keep him in so long as Trump is fumbling as he governs amid a crisis.

    But if Republicans are comforted by the uncertainties that remain, they are alarmed by one element of this election that is already abundantly clear: The small-dollar fundraising energy Democrats enjoyed in the midterms has not abated.

    Most of the incumbent House Democrats facing competitive races enjoy a vast financial advantage over Republican challengers, who are struggling to garner attention as the virus overwhelms news coverage.

    Still, few officials in either party believed the House was in play this year. There was also similar skepticism about the Senate. Then the virus struck, and fundraising reports covering the first three months of this year were released in mid-April.

    Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed.

    In Maine, for example, Sen. Susan Collins brought in $2.4 million, while her little-known rival, House speaker Sara Gideon, raised more than $7 million. Even more concerning to Republicans is lesser-known Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Republican officials are especially irritated at Tillis because he has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million, which was more than doubled by his Democratic opponent.

    “These Senate first-quarter fundraising numbers are a serious wake-up call for the GOP,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    The Republican Senate woes come as anger toward Trump is rising from some of the party’s most influential figures on Capitol Hill.

    After working closely with Senate Republicans at the start of the year, some of the party’s top congressional strategists say the handful of political advisers Trump retains have communicated little with them since the health crisis began.

    In a campaign steered by Trump, whose rallies drove fundraising and data harvesting, the center of gravity has of late shifted to the White House. His campaign headquarters will remain closed for another few weeks, and West Wing officials say the president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, hasn’t been to the White House since last month, though he is in touch by phone.

    Then there is the president’s conduct.

    In just the last week, he has undercut the efforts of his campaign and his allies to attack Biden on China; suddenly proposed a halt on immigration; and said governors should not move too soon to reopen their economies — a week after calling on protesters to “liberate” their states. And that was all before his digression into the potential healing powers of disinfectants.

    Republican lawmakers have gone from watching his lengthy daily briefings with a tight-lipped grimace to looking upon them with horror.

    “Any of us can be onstage too much,” said longtime Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, noting that “there’s a burnout factor no matter who you are; you’ve got to think about that.”

    Privately, other party leaders are less restrained about the political damage they believe Trump is doing to himself and Republican candidates. One prominent GOP senator said the nightly sessions were so painful he could not bear watching any longer.

    “I would urge the president to focus on the positive, all that has been done and how we are preparing for a possible renewal of the pandemic in the fall,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

    Asked about concerns over Trump’s briefings, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said, “Millions and millions of Americans tune in each day to hear directly from President Trump and appreciate his leadership, unprecedented coronavirus response, and confident outlook for America’s future.”

    Trump’s thrashing about partly reflects his frustration with the virus and his inability to slow Biden’s rise in the polls. It’s also an illustration of his broader inability to shift the public conversation to another topic, something he has almost always been able to do when confronted with negative storylines ranging from impeachment proceedings to payouts to adult film stars.

    Trump is also restless. Administration officials said they were looking to resume his travel in as soon as a week, although campaign rallies remain distant for now.

    As they look for ways to regain the advantage, some Republicans believe the party must mount an immediate ad campaign blitzing Biden, identifying him to their advantage and framing the election as a clear choice.

    “If Trump is the issue, he probably loses,” said Black, the consultant. “If he makes it about Biden and the economy is getting better, he has a chance.”

    This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
    ________________

    This article is certainly interesting as a thought exercise, but it all boils down to the last couple of months and weeks prior to Election Day. And that's still a long ways off.

    Still, some pretty interesting tidbits, including an amusing admission from Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): “You got to have some hope to sell people...But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim.’”
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

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