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A Deftly Moderated Debate Bottles Trump

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There were no surprises at the final Presidential debate of 2020, in Nashville, on Thursday night. There may be no surprises left in the campaign. The explosion the President had planned concerned the overseas business dealings of his rival’s son, Hunter Biden. But, when it was Trump’s turn to explain why Americans should vote for the President based on their view of the business arrangements of Biden’s adult son, he couldn’t seem to remember the details. Trump had invited to the debate hall a former business partner of Hunter Biden, the magnificently named Tony Bobulinski, but Bobulinski was never invoked. In the first debate, the President had called attention to Hunter Biden’s history of drug abuse, and for a moment he seemed to head down the path again. Hunter Biden left “the military service,” Trump began. Then, perhaps recalling the bad reviews this attack had received several weeks ago, he pulled back. “I won’t get into that.”

Had Trump . . . mellowed? At least, he seemed to be adjusting to a changed environment. In response to Trump’s interrupting performance in his first debate with Biden, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided for this one to mute each candidate’s microphone while his opponent was talking at the beginning of each segment. But mostly it was shaped by Kristen Welker, the NBC News anchor, who spoke with the rat-a-tat efficiency with which business broadcasters read off the stock reports. Especially in the debate’s first half, each time Trump began to drift into conspiratorial speculation or hyperbole, Welker was there to shepherd him back to pasture.

“I guarantee if I spent one million on you, Joe, I could find plenty wrong,” Trump said to Biden.

All right . . .” Welker said, the first word an eye roll, the second an arrow pointed back to the topic at hand.

The effect on Trump was not instantaneous, but it was quick.

“I have to respond to that,” the President of the United States said, holding up a hand and hunching his shoulders.

“Very quickly,” Welker said.

Even Trump seemed taken with Welker’s moderating: “I respect very much the way you’re handling this, I have to say.” For the first time in many years, a stage on which the President appeared was not dominated by him. It belonged to Welker, which is to say, to the news.

A decisive exchange came after nearly an hour. Welker mentioned a story that broke this week: of the thousands of migrant children who were taken from their parents at the southern border, at Trump’s directive, more than five hundred still have not been reunited with their parents, many of whom were deported back to their home countries, while their kids remained. Trump argued that these children had been brought here by coyotes, or human smugglers, but Biden, once it was his turn, snapped back: “Coyotes didn’t bring them over. Their parents were with them.” Biden described the situation of a child on the banks of the Rio Grande, in the company of their mom and dad. Did the child have any option but to cross? Now, without their parents, Biden said, “Those kids are alone. Nowhere to go.”

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r, the President and his allies kept insisting that the uprisings and violence in some cities were part of “Joe Biden’s America,” when, in fact, the country has been under Trump’s control for nearly four years.

Trump’s last campaign, and what he told those crowds to excite them, and what he did to try to deliver on that excitement, is now bedeviling his reëlection effort. Having insisted that the experts could not correct the nation’s course, that, as he said at the 2016 Republican Convention, “I alone can fix it,” Trump ignored the advice of doctors and health-policy officials and blithely allowed covid-19 to spread. Having promised a “beautiful” health-care plan that would replace Obamacare, Trump could not conjure one. Having campaigned, more than anything, on getting tough on immigration, Trump has had no recourse when his family-separation policy horrified many Americans. In this debate, tellingly, it was Biden who made the emotional connection that previously was Trump’s strength, of empathy with working-class suffering. It was Biden, not Trump, who spoke about men and women who have lost a spouse to covid-19 and who insisted that the country needs to do more to honor its essential workers. Biden said, “People are making six, seven, eight bucks an hour—these first responders we all clap for as they come down the street, because they’ve allowed us to make it. What’s happening? They deserve a minimum wage of fifteen dollars.”

Not that Biden was exceptional. By the end, it was no easier to picture a Biden Administration than it had been before. But Biden is winning handily, and if Trump has a plan to turn this race around, he gave no sign of it on Thursday night. The evening’s most significant exchanges involved Welker and Trump, not Biden, as she kept finding ways to point out that the President was still running as though he were the insurgent of 2016, not the person responsible for the country. Trump insisted that a coronavirus vaccine would be available within weeks, but under questioning from Welker he revised the date to the end of the year, and she pointed out that this was far more optimistic than what even his own health advisers had suggested. When Welker asked Trump why there has not been a second stimulus, he tried to blame the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, even though the House passed a large stimulus bill at the beginning of May.

“But you’re the President,” Welker said.

For now.

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Trump bashes Biden for rejoining WHO, Paris Climate Accord

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Former President Donald Trump slammed President Joe Biden Sunday for rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris Climate accord — and overpaying to do so.

“It is so sad,” Trump said about the US rejoining both organizations during remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference — after he pulled out during his term in the White House.

“They really are puppets for China,” he said of the WHO as the crowd booed.

“They called and they wanted us to stay in,” Trump said. “I said, ‘How much are we paying?’ ‘Approximately $500 million.’ ‘How much is China paying — a much larger, in terms of population, country?’ ‘Sir, they’re paying $39 million.’”

“I say ‘Why are we paying $500 million and they’re paying $39?’” Trump said. “I can tell you why. Because the people that made the deal are stupid.”

Trump also chided Biden for rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, calling the pact “very unfair and costly” to the US — and “without negotiating a better deal.”

“They wanted us back so badly,” he said. “I’ll tell you they wanted us. I was getting called from all of the countries. ‘You must come back into the Paris Accord.’ I said, ‘Tell me why? Give me one good reason?”

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The former president went on to highlight the double standard for America and developing countries in the deal, blasting Biden for not negotiating fairer terms upon rejoining.

“First of all, China doesn’t click in for 10 years,” Trump said. “Russia goes by an old standard which was not a clean standard.”

“But we get hit right from the beginning where is costs us hundreds of thousands and millions of jobs, it was a disaster, but they go back in. I could have made an unbelievable deal but I didn’t want to do that, surrendering millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to all of these other countries, almost all of them that were in the deal.

Trump continued, “what good does it do when we’re clean but China’s not, and Russia’s not, and India’s not.”

“They have favorable treatment,” he added “We don’t have favorable treatment.”

“[Biden] could have made a great deal– if they were going to go back in that’s fine– but they could have made a great deal. Instead they say, ‘we’re back in.’”

(NYP)

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Donald Trump hints at run for US president in 2024, repeats election lies

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Former US President Donald Trump hinted at a possible presidential run in 2024, attacked President Joe Biden and repeated his fraudulent claims he won the 2020 election in his first major appearance since leaving the White House nearly six weeks ago.

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, Trump vowed to help Republicans try to regain majorities – lost during his presidency – in the US House of Representatives and Senate in 2022 congressional elections and dangled himself as a possibility for president in 2024.

“With your help, we will take back the House, we will win the Senate and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. I wonder who will that be?” he said, smiling. “Who, who, who will that be, I wonder.”

Trump’s weeks away from Washington do not appear to have dimmed his anger at Republicans who voted to impeach or convict in a failed congressional effort to hold him responsible for inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

He singled out several such Republicans by name, like Senators Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey and House lawmakers Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and suggested he would support candidates who opposed them in Republican primaries.

“Get rid of ‘em all,” he thundered.

Trump repeated lies he has told about his November 3 presidential election loss to Biden, and offered a withering critique of his Democratic successor’s first weeks in office.

“They just lost the White House,” the Republican former president said after criticizing Biden’s handling of border security. “But who knows, who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

Trump and his allies spent two months denying his election defeat, and claiming without evidence it was the result of widespread voter fraud, before his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 seeking to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s win.

A civil war has erupted within the Republican Party, with establishment figures such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eager to put Trump in the rearview mirror, and others, like Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, believing the party’s future depends on the energy of the pro-Trump base.

Trump declared the Republican Party united behind him, with opposition coming only from “a handful of Washington, D.C., political hacks.” When he mentioned McConnell’s name, the crowd booed.

He said he had no plans to try to launch a third party, an idea he has discussed with advisers in the past couple of months.

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“We’re not starting new parties. We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be united and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party,” he said.

In a straw poll, 55% of CPAC conference participants said they would vote for Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential nominating race. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second at 21%.

Without Trump, DeSantis led the field with 43%, and other potential Republican candidates had single digits.

But not everyone supported Trump. A separate question on the poll asked whether Trump should run again in 2024, with 68% saying he should and 32% opposed or having no opinion.

Still, Trump fervor at the four-day CPAC event was so strong that Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., declared it “T-PAC” and participants rolled out a golden statue of the former president.

Trump’s flirtation with another run could freeze the Republican field for 2024 as other potential candidates try to decide whether they will have to compete against him. Many of those 2024 possible candidates spoke during the CPAC event.

The Biden White House dismissed Trump’s speech.

“While the GOP casts about for a path forward, President Biden is going to remain laser-focused on crushing the virus, re-opening schools, and getting Americans back to work,” White House spokesman Michael Gwin said after the speech.

An hour into his 90-minute speech, Trump dove deeply into his unfounded claims of election fraud, going against the advice of confidants who believe he needs to look to the future.

“We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that has to be fixed immediately. This election was rigged,” Trump said. “And the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”

“You won! You won!” the crowd shouted. Trump’s campaign and his supporters brought dozens of failed lawsuits trying to overturn the results of the election, which Biden won by more than 7 million votes. The fraud claims were repeatedly rejected by state and federal officials.

In the short term, Trump is making plans to set up a super PAC political organization to support candidates who mirror his policies, an adviser said.
(Indiatoday)

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Trump aides have a list of topics they hope the ‘all over the place’ ex-president will keep to himself in CPAC speech

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According to Politico Playbook’s Tara Palmeri, aides to former Donald Trump have been working with him on his CPAC speech all week — to be delivered Sunday afternoon — and left one meeting wondering what will come out of his mouth once he gets going before an adoring crowd.

With an eye on keeping his hints of another presidential run in 2024 from being bogged down by more controversy and grievance-mongering over his belief that the 2020 election was stolen from him due to voter fraud, aides hope that he will stick to a script that preaches Republican Party unity.

According to the Politico report, Trump has been discussing the speech that will be his return to the public square since he lost re-election and, since he no longer has access to Twitter, aides fear that the pent-up Twitter commentary that used to keep him in the headlines will come pouring out.

As Palmeri writes, there is a list of topics advisers are hoping will not rise to the surface if the president goes off-script — which is highly likely.

Outside of complaining that he feels he was robbed of a second term due to voter fraud, the report states that his aides hope he won’t “Gripe about how he thinks he was unfairly blamed for Jan. 6,” with the NYT’s Maggie Haberman reporting, Trump has been “cautioned by advisers not to say anything that might make him a larger target for the various prosecutors considering or pursuing investigations related to him.”

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Additionally, his advisers are okay with him taking shots at Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), but want him to draw the line at publically criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with Palmeri reporting, “A Trump adviser said they got Trump to take a McConnell dig out of the script, but who knows what he’ll say.”

She added, “Sources tell me that there was a lot of nodding and agreement at a strategy meeting on Thursday between Trump and his closest aides on how to wield his power via endorsements and messaging. But some left the room feeling like their hair was on fire because, according to one of the aides, Trump was ‘all over the place.'”
(Raw Story)

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