GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

donald_trump-GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

Washington (CNN) Top Republican officials and donors are increasingly worried about the threat Donald Trump’s attack on a judge’s Mexican heritage could pose to their party’s chances in November — and about the GOP’s ability to win Latino votes for many elections to come.

Trump is under fire for repeatedly accusing U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University, of bias because of his Mexican heritage. Those concerns intensified Sunday after Trump said he would have the same concerns about the impartiality of a Muslim judge.
House and Senate GOP leaders have condemned Trump’s remarks about Curiel, while donors have openly worried that losing Latino voters could doom them in key down-ballot races. Other important party figures, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, are urging Trump to change his combative, confrontational style before it’s too late.
Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson warned this weekend that GOP leaders who have endorsed Trump “own his politics.”
“You own his politics,” Wilson wrote in a column for Heatstreet, adding later, “You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth.”
The GOP’s deepest fear: A Barry Goldwater effect that could last far longer than Trump’s political aspirations.
Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the 1964 GOP nominee and a leader of the conservative movement, alienated a generation of African-American voters by opposing the Civil Rights Act — opening the door for Democrats to lock in their support for decades. Republicans fret that Trump could similarly leave a stain with Latino voters.

GOP: ‘Concerned’

“I am concerned about that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday.
“America is changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84% of the electorate was white,”McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This November, 70% will be. It’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. And they’re an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country.”
“I hope he’ll change his direction on that,” said McConnell, who first made the Goldwater comparison last week in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
That hasn’t happened yet. In interviews Sunday, Trump wouldn’t back away from his assertion that Curiel’s parents’ birth in Mexico has left the judge angry over Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and biased in the legal case over Trump University. Trump even went further, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he’d have similar concerns over a Muslim judge, since he has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump’s remarks led to condemnations from the same leading Republicans that in recent weeks have embraced him — and accepted that the party’s fate in November is inextricably linked to his.
“I don’t agree with what he had to say,” McConnell said.
“This is a man who was born in Indiana,” McConnell said of Curiel. “All of us came here from somewhere else. Almost all Americans are either near-term immigrants like my wife, who came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English, or the rest of us whose ancestors were risk-takers who came here and made this country great. That’s an important part of what makes America work.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, just a day after announcing his endorsement of Trump, bashed him on a Wisconsin radio station.
“Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind,” Ryan said Friday on WISN in Milwaukee. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”
The criticism from McConnell and Ryan was predictable: Both preside over GOP majorities that are threatened thanks to competitive races in Latino-heavy states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.
More surprising was the condemnation from Gingrich, who has transparently jockeyed for a spot on Trump’s ticket.
“I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care,” Gingrich told The Washington Post. “His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”
Gingrich was even sharper on “Fox News Sunday,” calling Trump’s remarks “inexcusable.”
Trump responded to Gingrich’s critique on Monday, telling “Fox and Friends” that the former House Speaker’s comments were “inappropriate.”

‘One of the worst mistakes’

“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” Gingrich said.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman who has provided key Republican support for Trump’s foreign policy stances and is also often named as a prospective vice presidential candidate, rebuked Trump’s comments about the judge on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think that he’s going to have to change,” Corker said of Trump’s overall behavior and campaign tactics.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has been outspoken about his opposition to Trump, tweeted Monday: “Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of “racism.”
Trump’s campaign downplayed the impact of his assertion that the judge’s Mexican heritage could preclude him from delivering fair rulings in the Trump University case.
Another campaign adviser laughed when asked if Trump officials can talk to the candidate about watching what he says.
Alberto Gonzales, who led the Justice Department under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday that Curiel’s Mexican heritage shouldn’t be enough to disqualify him from overseeing the case. But, Gonzales said, Trump is entitled to a fair trial, and the appearance of impropriety could be enough for him to reasonably request that Curiel recuse himself.
Trump thanked Gonzales for his support.
Inside the Republican Party, campaigns and donor circles, fear over the damage Trump’s remarks could do to the party’s relationship with Latino voters was palpable.
“Awful,” a top Republican official said of Trump’s attack on the judge. “We are all beside ourselves.”
The official went on to say that “you have to feel for Paul Ryan,” who had just announced his support for Trump.

Depth of concerns

In a series of interviews with donors, fundraisers and congressional officials, the depth of the concerns about what Trump’s latest attacks underscore become clear.
“Honestly? My worst fear. Call me stupid — I was one of the guys who figured he’d do the whole pivot thing,” said one donor, referring to an often-used strategy of moving more to the middle after securing the nomination.
The donor, who had been active for several candidates during the primary, said he was “ready to get in line” once Trump signed the joint-fundraising agreement last month with the RNC. The bold names associated with the joint agreement — people like businessman Woody Johnson — were enough of a sign, the donor said.
Now? “Not so much.”
But it may be bigger than that, according to several GOP officials. Republicans are defending 24 seats in the Senate while holding a slim four-seat majority. While the House majority is significantly more robust — 58 seats — there are members in that chamber who saw their seats move into riskier positions the day Trump locked up the nomination.
The solution — one that top GOP officials on Capitol Hill have been repeating in the weeks since — has been to make sure top donors dump cash into the down ballot races.
Up to this point, they’ve done just that. One fundraiser with ties to one of the two primary GOP congressional super PACs said donors have been “burning up the phone lines” trying to figure out how to help protect GOP majorities in Congress.
The primary Senate GOP super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, had more than $16.3 million on hand at the end of April, the last time numbers were reported with the FEC. The group raised more than $4 million in March and April alone — a number that, according to the fundraiser, will increase “significantly” in the months ahead.
The top House super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, nearly doubled its 2015 fundraising in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
“The concern is — do we get to the point that all the money in the world doesn’t matter?” asked another donor, who said his whole goal this cycle was to protect House and Senate candidates. “We’re obviously not there right now, but stupid s— like this really makes you wonder.”
Democrats are certainly trying to make each Trump comment sting. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are firing out a steady clip of press releases attempting to tie each vulnerable candidate to Trump. Democrats make clear those comments will be featured heavily in the fall in attack ads.
Perhaps more noticeably, over the weekend, talks between top GOP figures about the future of the party have become more urgent. Several Republican officials pointed to McConnell’s comments to Jake Tapper on CNN last week, where he first voiced concern about Trump’s effect on Latino voters mirroring that of Goldwater’s effect on black voters.
Yet those same officials watched McConnell go to great lengths not to say that Trump’s attacks on the judge in the Trump University case were racism.
“That was just painful,” said one Republican official who served in George W. Bush’s administration. The official added that the reality is McConnell — and Ryan and every Republican in a leadership position or facing an election challenge — “will be stuck dealing with the latest Trumpism every interview of every day, of every month until November.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated which committee Sen. Bob Corker is the chairman of. It is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Will the GOP Defy Its Own Voters?

March 16 at 7:37 PM  
With the increasingly loud talk of a contested Republican convention, the obscure process of picking who actually gets to be a delegate is about to get underway in states across the country — with an urgency that has not been felt in decades.These are the 2,472 people who will be filling Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in July, many wearing silly hats and waving placards. Normally little more than props in a week-long infomercial, delegates could instead be the power brokers who determine the nominee at the GOP convention this time around.Nearly all will be required to vote for a specific candidate on the first ballot, based on the results of the primaries and caucuses in their states. But if no candidate wins enough delegates to clinch the nomination, there will be subsequent rounds of voting. In that scenario, the vast majority of delegates would be free to vote as they please.The potential for intrigue is enormous. State delegations who vote for one candidate on the first ballot could actually turn out to be sleeper cells for another as the voting proceeds.

Nor are they bound at any point to support the candidate to whom they are pledged on fights over rules, credentials, the platform or the vice presidential nominee. Those kinds of battles can determine whether the convention is an orderly coronation or a street fight, possibly even putting new names in contention.

Here’s why Donald Trump isn’t a sure bet to win the GOP nomination

Donald Trump will almost certainly be the delegate leader heading into July’s Republican National Convention – but that doesn’t mean he’ll win the nomination outright. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

If it comes to that, a nominating campaign that has already defied every expectation and every norm would go even deeper into uncharted territory. The Republican electorate would be further splintered, jeopardizing the party’s chances to win in the fall and its ability to restore any semblance of functionality.

The identities and loyalties of individual convention delegates could become the subject of intense interest and scrutiny. The process of selecting them will be crucial and will be the subject of hand-to-hand combat in nearly every state over the next few months. In the Internet era, there is no such thing as a smoke-filled backroom; once-anonymous delegates could find themselves feeling the heat from all sides.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore said he has already warned those who may represent the Palmetto State as delegates: “Expect every person in America to have your cellphone numbers and email addresses.”

Only a handful of delegates have been named so far across the country. Most will be selected at local and state party gatherings, which means that the picks will be heavily influenced by the GOP establishment in those states — governors, party chairmen, elected officials, donors and longtime activists.

Usually, the mechanics are of little consequence, given that the nomination is locked up well in advance of the convention.

This year, however, there is the very real possibility that Donald Trump could reach Cleveland with a plurality of pledged delegates but be short of the 1,237 majority it takes to claim the top of the ticket on the first round of balloting.

Were Trump to arrive with the most delegates and leave without the nomination, “I think you’d have riots,” he said Wednesday on CNN.

Noting that “many, many millions of people” have voted for him, Trump added, “if you disenfranchise those people and you say, well I’m sorry but you’re 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short, I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen, I really do.”

The system, however, says otherwise. “You don’t get the nomination if you’re close. This isn’t like horseshoes and hand grenades. There are no points in close. You have to get 1,237,” said Stephen Duprey, a mainstay in New Hampshire politics and a member of the Republican National Committee.

Each state has its own peculiar system for naming delegates after the results of its primary or caucus are in.

Largely left out of the equation: The candidates themselves.

Fully 73 percent of delegates are selected without direct input from the presidential contenders, by state party executive committees or at state and local conventions, said veteran GOP campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg. “The campaigns have to be sure their people and people who are loyal to them are elected as delegates. That is a complicated process and requires on-the-ground organizing.”

Virginia is a good example. As a result of its March 1 primary, Virginia’s convention delegation will be casting 17 votes for Trump; eight for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and five for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. It will also give 16 votes for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and three for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, even though they have suspended their campaigns since the primary.

Of Virginia’s 49 convention delegates, 33 will be chosen at district conventions between now and June 1, and 13 will be picked at the state convention at the end of April. State chairman John Whitbeck and the national committeeman and committeewoman are the remaining three.

“This year, it’s like the campaigns are actually taking notice” of a normally sleepy and parochial process, Whitbeck said. “We see the most activity with the Cruz campaign in Virginia, in terms of an organized effort.”

Officials elsewhere also say that Cruz’s forces seem most engaged in state and local delegate selection.

“What we are focused on is after we won a state, to go back in and make sure we got delegates to hold their commitment to vote for our campaign. That’s a laborious process, and we are absolutely doing that,” said Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe.

Typically, “once the election’s over, [delegates] are nominated from state, county and congressional districts to be nominees to their state conventions. In that process, we make sure that we have slates of people that are supporting Ted Cruz,” Roe explained. “So that’s a county-by-county, congressional-district-by-congressional-district, state-by-state process that’s ongoing for the states that have already voted.”

The Trump campaign is putting a team in place to track the delegates who have already been designated on state ballots, said senior adviser Ed Brookover, and it will coordinate with its state staffs to monitor delegate selection.

Brookover, who is managing the process for the Trump campaign, says that skepticism of its ability to compete in this sort of process is “wishful thinking on the part of Mr. Trump’s opponents.”

He did not say how many staff members will ultimately be assigned to track delegates, but he expressed confidence that the campaign has the resources and the organizational muscle necessary to navigate the system.

Still, the process predates Trump’s candidacy in some cases. All of South Carolina’s 50 delegates, for instance, will be committed to supporting Trump on the first ballot. But to become a national delegate, someone has to have been a delegate to last spring’s state convention, which happened before Trump was even in the race.

“We have a known delegate pool,” South Carolina chairman Moore said. And their allegiances are likely to be closely tied to state officials such as Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, both of whom have tangled with Trump.

As for himself, Moore said, his decision on subsequent ballots, should they happen, will be based on which candidate has the best chance in the fall, which has the most fealty to the party platform, and possibly the selection of a running mate.

There are states where the candidates have more of a say in selecting delegates.

New Hampshire, for instance, is a rare one where delegates have already been named, and they were based on slates offered by the candidates themselves. Trump’s own campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, will be a delegate from the Granite State.

“New Hampshire is objectively one of the fairest delegate selection processes,” state party executive director Ross Berry said. “The control rests almost entirely with the campaigns and the candidates and the voter.”

Looking ahead, the campaigns will not only be tasked with tracking and lobbying delegates, but will also need to keep an eye on the emerging composition of the Republican National Convention Rules Committee. That committee of more than 100 will carry wide authority over the nominating rules at the convention, including rules over who can be nominated at all on the floor of the convention.

As it stands, one controversial rule dictates that candidates have to have won at least eight states with a majority to be nominated on the floor. Trump is the only candidate to have passed that benchmark thus far — which, ironically, was initially intended to protect establishment-favorite Mitt Romney in 2012.The composition of that committee will be decided in proxy fights between the establishment and grass-roots wings of the party at the state level. Party officials in each state will select two delegates to appoint to that committee — which is separate, and larger, from the RNC’s rules committee — and will have to balance grass-roots pressure alongside the preferences of power brokers in their regions.