Good morning Austin:
Texas delegates streamed into town yesterday arriving at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, a very nice hotel next to the Convention Center that is the delegation hotel, albeit it not where Texas reporters are staying. Apparently, it’s too nice.
The Texas delegation is less well situated on the floor of the convention. The bests spots, closest to the podium, belong to California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – Trump country in the primaries, or what Texans refer to as Deep Blue America.
In 1976, in Kansas City, the Texas delegation – a Reagan delegation – was also in the back of the hall, underneath President Gerald Ford’s family’s box. Members of the Texas delegation heckled the Fords throughout the convention and, toward the end of the convention, one or more of Ford’s sons dumped trash – actual, bona fide trash – on the Texas delegates.
I don’t know who the Texas delegation will be seated beneath this time. Once again, the delegation finds itself on the losing end – a predominately Ted Cruz delegation at what Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, said Sunday will be, from beginning to end, a “Trump convention.”
I spoke to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on his arrival. Patrick chaired the Cruz campaign in Texas. With Gov. Greg Abbott sidelined by injury and unable to make it to Cleveland, Patrick will presumably be chairing the delegation. He sees the party rallying behind Trump.
Every day I see more Republicans coming together behind Trump. I’m seeing more donors step forward, I’m seeing more grassroots people stepping forward. I didn’t expect to see it happen overnight. I can’t see that any Republican worth his or her salt can possibility vote for Hillary or sit this out. I’m frustrated with those congressional representatives, those in the U.S.Senate and those in the Congress, who aren’t attending the convention.
“I realize there’s a lot we don’t know about Donald Trump,” Patrick said. But, “I don’t have a lot of patience for representative in office who aren’t supporting him. It’s time to put their personal considerations aside and do what’s in the best interests of the party and the country.”
What about Sen. Cruz, who will be speaking to the convention Wednesday night but has yet to endorse Trump?
That’s up to him, but I think the fact that Sen Cruz had already said, two weeks ago, that he had a very good conversation with Donald Trump, the fact that Donald Trump offered him a prime speaking spot and Sen. Cruz accepted it, I think that says a lot.
Patrick arrived in the wake of the terrible news about the shooting deaths of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I think it continues taking us down the path of anarchy and violence against the police until enough voices, starting at the top, at the White House, and from other elected officials and from whose who lead the protest movement, speak out that this has to end now and will not be tolerated, that this hateful rhetoric against the police and the idea that shooting police is something acceptable has to end. And the president, it’s on his watch.
From Sean Collins Walsh in the Statesman, on Patrick’s appearance on the ABC Town Hall on race and policing last week with President Obama.
On Thursday night, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick participated in a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama on policing and race.
The Texan appeared to get under Obama’s skin for a moment when he said the president wasn’t supportive enough of police in his public statements since the Black Lives Matter movement began.
He also asked for the president to put blue lights on outside the White House as a sign of support for the police, as Gov. Greg Abbott did at the Governor’s Mansion, following the deaths last week of five Dallas police officers in an ambush-style attack at a Black Lives Matter protest.
After that incident, Patrick drew national attention when he told Fox News that the protesters were “hypocrites” for running away from the sound of bullets while expecting police to protect them.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick challenged President Barack Obama Thursday to more loudly back America’s law enforcement community, a suggestion that prompted an annoyed Obama to contend that he already has.
Patrick questioned Obama at a town hall gathering convened by ABC in the wake of last week’s violence across the country. Protests around the country erupted a week ago in the wake of the shooting deaths of two black men, one in Louisiana and one in Minnesota, at the hands of police officers. At one such protest in downtown Dallas, a gunman opened fire on police officers, killing five and injuring nine more in addition to two civilians.
The Texas lieutenant governor stood next to Cameron Sterling, the son of the man killed in Louisiana, as he asked the president if he would “strongly condemn violence” against law enforcement and if he would cast blue lighting onto the White House at night in honor of law enforcement.
A somewhat perturbed Obama responded that he has “been unequivocal in condemning all rhetoric against police officers” and that Patrick would have to search for any message that did not include a strong endorsement for law enforcement.
“You’d have to find any message that did not include a very strong support for law enforcement in all my utterances dating back to Ferguson because I rely on law enforcement to protect me and my family,” Obama said.
“I’ll be happy to send it to you,” Obama offered to Patrick of his previous comments on law enforcement.
Patrick said he didn’t like the way ABC edited the broadcast when it pared it down from 90 to 60 minutes.
“I think part of the problem was they didn’t want to edit the president,” said Patrick, who would like ABC to post the full footage. “I just wonder if he had any interference saying I don’t want that part of the tape in.”
Patrick said in the hour before the taping began he developed a fast friendship with Cameron Sterling.
“I gave him on my Texas flag pins with the cross on it,” said Patrick. Sterling pinned it on his sleeve.
Sterling was nervous.
“Hes just a 15-year-old boy. I put my arm around him,” Patrick said, who asked Sterling about standing side by side with him, the black teenager whose father had been killed by police and the conservative white lieutenant governor, to call on the president to end the violence.
Perry keeps it simple
Ken Herman captured Rick Perry’s arrival at the Marriott, and his very simple explanation of why he’s backing Trump, who he once called a “cancer of conservatism” who would send the Republican Party the way of the Whigs:
Even the University of Texas guys would be for the Aggies if they were playing for the national championship. I was certainly for the University of Texas when they were playing for the national championship. This is the national championship. Their team. Our team. Supreme Court decisions. That’s all you really need to know.
The Munisteri Moment
When the history of the 2016 Republican Convention, is written, Steve Munisteri may be remembered as the man who delivered the death blow to the free the delegates/stop Trump movement.
As I wrote after the Rules Committee’s marathon session:
The debate culminated and was crystallized in an exchange between Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee, who is Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz’s best friend and closest ally in the Senate, and former Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, an ally of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
“At the end of the day, I hope that whoever our nominee is going to be this time will win over the delegates,” said Lee, who isn’t supporting Trump, as the committee was voting to keep delegates bound. “Rules like this are not going to help. This problem, this angst, as we will see in a few days, is not going to go away, just because we paper over it with rules.”
“So I say to Mr. Trump and those aligned with him: Make the case. Make the case to those delegates who want to have a voice. Make the case that they should use that voice to support him,” Lee said. “Don’t make the case that their voice ought to be silenced. That is not going to help elect him president. That is not going to help him in the long run.”
“I have great respect for Sen. Lee,” Munisteri said. But, Munisteri said that, while Lee purports to represent the grass roots, “you want to ignore what is really the grass roots, which is millions of millions of voters that voted for Donald Trump. If we’re really representative of the grass roots, and we’re really representative of conservatism, we listen to those voices.”
“Sir, there is nobody else running for president in this party than Donald Trump,” said Munisteri, who began the campaign season as a senior adviser to Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul. “The most important thing is not to let the left wing take over our country this fall, and the only thing that’s standing between that happening is our victory with our nominee and our ticket. It is time, sir, for you and everyone else to come together, to say this party is united and we will defeat the Democrats.”
Don’t take my word for it.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Donald Trump dodged a bullet and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took one when the Republican National Convention’s Rules Committee overwhelmingly rejected a move to let delegates pick any presidential candidate they wanted.
Lee, the highest-ranking public official on the committee, became a leading voice for the “conscience” effort, which sought to remove a rule requiring delegates to mirror the primary or caucus vote in each state.
It failed Thursday evening on a vote of 87-12. Lee and his wife, Sharon Lee, were in the minority.
Lee, who has refused to endorse Trump and has criticized him publicly, argued delegates should have autonomy and that conventions shouldn’t simply be “pep rallies” for the nominees.
“The angst, as we will see in a few days, isn’t going to just go away just because we paper over it with rules,” he told the committee. “So I say to Mr. Trump and those aligned with him, make the case — make the case to those delegates who want to have a voice, make the case that they should use their voice to support him — don’t make the case that their voices should be silenced. It is not going to help. It is not going to help elect him president. It is not going to help our party in the long run.”
Enid Mickelsen, a Utahn and former U.S. House member, led the committee and turned the floor over to former Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, who took direct aim at Lee.
“What I don’t understand about your logic is that you want to ignore what are really the grass roots who are millions and millions and millions of voters who voted for Donald Trump, and instead transfer the opinion and the expression of that opinion through a vote to a couple thousand delegates,” said Munisteri, who is a consultant to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “Sir, there is nobody else running for president in this party right now than Donald Trump.”
And here from Jonathan Easley at The Hill, on the winners and losers at the Rules Committee meeting:
The second-place finisher in the GOP primaries wasn’t in Cleveland for the gathering, but he had a strong contingent of supporters eager to position him for a 2020 run.
Cuccinelli’s main goal was to close the primaries to independents and Democrats — a move that could have bolstered Cruz’s prospects for the next go-around.
Cruz allies believe Trump’s win can be attributed in part to independents and Democrats backing him. Cruz’s support, they say, came from traditional conservatives.
Cuccinelli says he struck a deal with the RNC to incentivize states to only allow Republicans to vote in the primaries. The party backed out at the last minute, he said.
It’s possible the RNC was looking to avoid headlines about a big win for Cruz heading into the convention.
A rule to increase the number of delegates from congressional districts held by Republicans also failed. And the GOP punted on changes to the primary calendar, which also was believed to have benefited Trump more than Cruz in 2016.
The strength of the “Never Trump” movement appears to have been vastly overestimated.
No one expected a proposal to pass the Rules Committee that would unbind delegates from the results of the caucuses and primaries so they could revolt against Trump on the convention floor.
But it attracted such little support — only about a dozen or so on the 112-member panel — that it now appears the group will fail to meet the low threshold of 28 signatures on the proposal so that it gets an up or down vote on the floor of the convention Monday.
The “Free the Delegates” movement looks dead.
They will instigate skirmishes on the floor of the convention next week. But the RNC and the Trump campaign appear organized enough to quickly snuff those out.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
He first stood to speak on behalf of a rule that would strip the RNC of power to make changes to the primary process in between conventions. The proposal went down hard.
Then late Thursday night Lee suddenly threw his weight behind the “Free the Delegates” movement — even after it became clear their efforts would go down in flames.
It was a puzzling move that came in the dark of night at too late a stage to make a difference.
Texas RNC committeeman Steve Munisteri rebuked Lee and called into question his grassroots bona fides.
The Utah senator is now one of the faces of the fading “Never Trump” movement.
Munisteri said his riposte to Lee was unplanned and unscripted.
What set him off, said Munisteri, was when Lee said, whoever our nominee is, as if that were still in doubt.
Celebrities? Yes. But A list?
Donald Trump promised this convention would not be the bore that past conventions have been. He promised some celebrity shine.
Today that would be Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson, and General Hospital’s Antonio Sabato Jr.
Also, Scott Baio, of Happy Days and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, though I remember him most fondly from Bugsy Malone.
Would be cool if it were a little bit more out of the box, mabye opening with a Jimi Hendrix-style rendition of the National Anthem, as recalled at the Rock and Hall of Fame, where the convention welcoming party was held Sunday night.
But I was rocked to sleep last night by the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd
at a nearby amphitheater performing Give me Back My Bullets.
Been up and down since I turned seventeen
Well I’ve been on top, and then it seems I lost my dream
But I got it back, I’m feelin’ better everyday
Tell all those pencil pushers, better get out of my way
Gimme back my bullets
Put ’em back where they belong
Ain’t foolin’ around, ’cause I done had my fun
Ain’t gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets
Oh put ’em back where they belong
Gimme back my bullets
What are they trying to say.
I went to a message board that interprets the meaning of important songs.
Here were two salient comments:
Actually “Gimme Back My Bullets” is a reference to the Billboard charts. Do me a favor all of you, look up what a bullet is and then come back and respond to the true meaning of the song. Look deep into the lyrics of the song, Ronnie just wants to get back on top.
They had to stop playing this live since fans would throw live bullets on stage causing a safety problem.
Do Conventions Matter?
From a recent story in which I quoted from University of Texas political scientist Chris Wlezien on that question.
For all the denigration of conventions as having devolved into little more than four-day infomercials without much actual function or drama, Wlezien said the conventions play an outsized role in determining who is ultimately elected president.
“What they do is they are focusing events, getting people to engage, to take stock of things in the country, of the course and the direction of government and to take a look at the two candidates and to see what positions they have on offer,” Wlezien said.
In four presidential cycles since 1952, the lead shifted after the convention, with the candidate who had led going into the conventions coming out the other end behind.
It happened to the Democrats, with Vice President Hubert Humphrey, after the 1968 Chicago convention. It happened to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who, in 1988 surrendered his advantage to Vice President George H.W. Bush, and happened to Bush four years later, when he was overtaken by Bill Clinton.
And it happened in 2000, that great asterisk of American electoral history and presidential forecasting. Vice President Al Gore, who went into the conventions behind, came out ahead, and, in fact, went on to win the popular vote in November — a win of sorts for forecasters, who had called it for Gore, often by a big margin.
But it wasn’t a win for Gore, who lost in the Electoral College after the Supreme Court’s December 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore.
Here are polls from week before conventions, two weeks after, and then the vote, all incumbent party cand two-party shares, in years with most consequential movement:
Year Before After Vote
1968 53.24675 44.28571 49.59
1988 46.74168 52.98343 53.9
1992 52.88992 43.79409 46.6
2000 47.37773 54.26398 50.18
2004 49.24525 53.10546 51.25
And, in case you’re wondering, here are numbers for 2012:
2012 50.26 51.49 52
But the bumps have grown smaller in recent cycles.
From University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee political scientist Thomas Holbrook’s Politics by the Numbers site: