Democrats build a wall to keep Donald the barbarian at bay




Good day Austin:

The Gettysburg Address was 272 words long.

Khizr Khan’s address to the Democratic National Convention last night was 270 words, and like the Gettysburg Address, was a marvel of elegance, simplicity and oratorical power speaking to American identity at a moment of crisis.

Khan is a Muslim immigrant who lives in Charlottesville, Va.. He was flanked by his wife in her head scarf, who stood silently while her husband delivered his remarks with exquisite dignity.

Their son, Humayun S. M. Khan was a University of Virginia graduate and enlisted in the U.S. Army. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving the United States in the ten years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Two passages amounted to the most effective attack on Trump at a convention largely devoted to attacks on Trump.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.



Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

But really, watch and read the whole speech.

Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.

Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.

Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”

If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.

We are Stronger Together.

And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.

Khan’s address was so effective because it distilled the case against Trump – that he is unAmerican and beyond the pale, that while he says he wants to make America great again, he doesn’t get what America is all about.

It is the Democratic critique of Trump, but it is also the Ted Cruz critique of Trump.

Ted Cruz as an adolescent memorized the Constitution and, as part of a group called the Constitutional Corroborators would, essentially, perform the Constitution before civic groups.

Khan’s question – has Donald Trump ever read he Constitution – cuts to the quick because it’s a good question.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez had another great moment.

I have just spent the last week covering the Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia and before that two weeks in Cleveland, covering the Republican National Convention and the GOP rules and platform committee meetings the week before.

So, I suppose, the time has come to make some assessments about the relative success of each, with the proviso that perhaps the best place to assess the success or failure of a convention is in front of your TV at home and the worst place may be amid the tumult of actually being there.

But here goes.

Trump’s message in his acceptance speech was: “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

The Democrats’ message was that this man is an existential threat to the United States, that Trump truly is an outsider, but in a dangerous way, in that he is outside the bounds of decency and legitimacy, that he is not so much a populist as a barbarian, and that their purpose in Philadelphia was to build a wall to protect the (it takes a) village and all its decent folks, and keep the barbarians and their Genghis Khan at bay.

noun: barbarian; plural noun: barbarians
  1. 1.
    (in ancient times) a member of a community or tribe not belonging to one of the great civilizations (Greek, Roman, Christian).
adjective: barbarian
  1. 1.
    of or relating to ancient barbarians.
    “barbarian invasions”

To that end, the convention morphed in its last two days from a Democratic Convention to  a Never Trump convention.

There was Michael Bloomberg, representing centrist independents.

Given my background, I’ve often encouraged business leaders to run for office because many of them share that same pragmatic approach to building consensus, but not all. Most of us who have created a business know that we’re only as good as the way our employees, clients, and partners view us. Most of us don’t pretend that we’re smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves. And most of us who have our names on the door know that we’re only as good as our word. But not Donald Trump.

Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us.

I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one.

There was Doug Elmets, a lifelong Republican and Reagan speechwriter;

I haven’t just voted Republican. I worked in President Reagan’s White House. I recently led an effort to place a statue of Ronald Reagan in California’s capitol. I’m here tonight to say: I knew Ronald Reagan; I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.

And the Democrats cheered.

And, suddenly equipped with large American flags, the delegates waved those flags and roared their approval as retired Gen. John Allen, flanked by a coterie of military types the size of a small junta, declared Hillary Clinton the only strong and safe choice for president.


Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 9.28.45 AM

It should be noted that during Allen’s speech = and during Hillary Clinton’s – there were some heckling chants from diehard Bernie supporters in the hall, chanting slogans like, “No More War,”  but they were strategically drowned out by chants of USA USA USA! from surrounding delegates.

I feel sorry for that chant. Once it had some edge. It was a right-wing riposte to left-wing protest.

Then, this past year, at Trump rallies it was used, as it was last night, to drown out protesters.

And now Democrats find themselves chanting it to make sure some peaceniks didn’t get a word in edgewise.

USA USA USA!  has become the quicker-picker-upper of American politics. Got a spill in aisle six? Chant USA USA USA!




Finally, from Vice President Joe Biden to Hillary Clinton, Trump was cast as a schoolyard bully not temperamentally fit to be president.

From Clinton’s acceptance speech:

Ask yourself:  Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief?  Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign.  He loses his cool at the slightest provocation.  When he’s gotten a tough question from a reporter.  When he’s challenged in a debate.  When he sees a protestor at a rally.  Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons. 

And how did Trump respond Thursday?

With bullying.

From ABC News:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday afternoon he wanted to “hit” some of the Democratic National Convention speakers “so hard” while watching them last night, including a “little guy…so hard his head would spin.”

“You know what I wanted to. I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” Trump said. “I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor.”

Trump didn’t immediately clarify what he meant, but he said he was made particularly upset by an unspecified person he called a “little guy.”

“I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy,” he said. “I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”


Trump repeated the sentiment at a rally hosted in Cedar Rapids several hours later, and expressed his desire to “hit this [little] guy so bad.”

He said that he was urged to think of his fight against “Crooked Hillary” instead, and that he was advised “don’t punch down.”

The “little guy” presumably is Bloomberg, the diminutive former New York mayor whose wealth is to Donald Trump’s is what Donald Trump’s is to mine.

All this wold not seem to bode well for Trump,

And yet even as Clinton says Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign, he virtually single-handedly seized the Republican nomination, took over one of America’s two major parties, and, going into the Philadelphia convention, had actually opened a slender lead on Clinton in the CNN poll.


What Trump still has going for him is that the Democrats, post-Philly, are more than ever now the party of the status quo in what is begging to be a change election, and Trump remains ever more the outsider who has defied expectations every step of the way.

Which brings us to Garry Mauro’s caution as he was leaving the convention last night in the video at the top of First Trump’s genius, his success, has been in dominating the news cycle day after day.  Unless Clinton can disrupt his ability to do that, she could face the ignominy of losing to Donald Trump.




About last night. Democrats hug it out.

Good day Austin:

The third day of the Republican convention culminated in the booing of Ted Cruz.

The third day of the Democratic convention culminated in the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton hug.





It would have been cool if he had gone for “the kiss,” another great moment in Democratic Convention history.

But that didn’t end so well. Gore won the popular vote but lost the election, and, ultimately Tipper.

For both Obama and Clinton this, even more than his appointing her as his secretary of state, amounted to hugging out the hard feelings of 2008 when, in a famous scene in New Hampshire, Obama allowed to Clinton, “You’re likeable enough.”


The ultimate purpose of last night was to invite as many Americans as possible into a group hug, to leave Trump, and his supporters, looking like bitter, isolated outsiders who “don’t get” America, and don’t understand what makes it great, to seize the vast wide swath of mainstream American public opinion.

On occasion, Obama and the other speakers indulged in some hyperbole, one after another suggesting that Clinton was the most qualified candidate for president ever.

More qualified than Bill or Obama, maybe, though Bill was a governor. But what about George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and George Herbert Walker Bush?

If Donald Trump is elected president it will be a personal triumph of the highest order. He will pretty much single=handedly have taken over the Republican Party. He will have demonstrated an understanding, or an intuition, or an instinct for what the American people think and believe, that defies all the hugs, oratory, music and production values of an exquisitely executed Democratic convention.

Here are some impressions of last night from University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus:

Overall comparisons:
The Republicans didn’t seem to be having any fun at their convention.  They peddled primarily in fear and fire and brimstone.  The Democrats’ convention has a breezy style with Broadway singalongs and Daily Show-style clips making fun of Trump.  This makes the Democrats’ show more watchable, and the ratings seem to reflect this.
The Democrats have been better at developing a closing argument than the Republicans.  Campaigns are about designating a problem, a villain, and a hero to save us.  There is a narrative arc to campaign stories.  The Republicans identified the villain (Clinton, sometimes Obama) but did not credibly make Trump the hero.  Democrats have a full screenplay on display.
Big  Speeches, Day 3:
Biggest loser tonight:  Michael Bloomberg.  Never known as a firebrand, the speech was well received but flat.  An opportunity to develop for crossover appeal for moderate Republicans was squandered.
Biggest winner(s):  Earthy and gritty to the finish, Joe Biden made a strong case for Clinton optimism and delivered a punch square to Trump’s nose.  He tied with the President who did the best job of any speaker to date to spotlight the spirit of America and leveraged his credibility to criticize Trump.  

The President’s bar was high but he gave as energetic a speech we’ve seen since 2008.  This is Obama unleashed, and a good signal of what he’ll look like on the stump.  He would have pulled ahead of his Vice President if he didn’t describe Hilary Clinton’s success as an echo of his own success in office.
Hardest luck:  Tim Kaine, sent from central casting for the vice presidential role, who was squeezed between great speeches by Biden and Obama.  The bio video also stole much of his thunder by previewing some of the more interesting parts of his speech.  This is not to take away the humble, personable, and direct quality of his remarks.  His Trump impression, however, needs work.

Here is another take on Wednesday’s night’s show from Josh Scacco, an expert on political communication at Purdue University who got his PhD at the University of Texas. Josh’s take in many respects complements Brandon’s, though he has quite the opposite take on how Bloomberg did.

 The Democrats are attempting, and in many ways succeeding, in setting up a tonal contrast with the Republicans in their convention. Speakers emphasize one of the Clinton campaign’s big themes, “Better Together,” the podium is filled with well-known celebrities, and there is a surprising amount of substantive issue discussions alongside traditional biographical and narrative information. Democrats have officially co-opted the visuals and Americana that Republicans trademarked wholly at the beginning of the Reagan era.


The surprisingly good speech of the convention has been former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s promotion of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy from the perspective of an Independent. Much as Senator Ted Cruz’s speech did during the Republican convention, Bloomberg played to an audience beyond the immediate convention hall. The former mayor spoke from a position of an independent, businessman – providing a counterweight to Donald Trump. Most Americans are not ideologically consistent in the way we understand “conservative” and “progressive.” Bloomberg occupied this political sweet spot and adopted a compelling message that could resonate with disaffected Republicans and Independent voters.

Bill Clinton:

The former president took on a new role America has never seen before in his convention speech – first spouse. Instead of the rhetorical stemwinding, policy-focused speech Clinton traditionally employs with ease, he emphasized his perspective as husband and father in a speech focused on the Hillary Clinton he knew before the glare of the political spotlight. Should Clinton get elected president, there will need to be an expectations adjustment on the part of America to Bill Clinton in the role of “first gentleman.”

Barack Obama:

The first of many send-off speeches for President Obama mirrored Ronald Reagan’s farewell address in January 1989. Obama thanked those who had “made the journey with him,” just as Reagan thanked the men and women of the Reagan “revolution.” His rhetorical call to arms, “don’t boo, vote” and exhorting the public that “homegrown demagogues” always fail raised the stakes of an election he will frame as democratic governance versus authoritarianism. Obama made sure to frame his cause on the side of the angels – the democratic experiment known as America.





Making history: On Hillary Clinton, Luci Baines Johnson and Sissy Farenthold




Good morning Austin:

Last night, Hillary Clinton made history becoming the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States by  a major party. I spoke yesterday with two Texas women who were in Philadelphia for the occasion who know something about being witnesses to history and about making history – Luci Baines Johnson and Sissy Farenthold.

“Daddy always said America’s greatest untapped resource was its women. We just tapped into it,” said Johnson, who arrived in Philadelphia yesterday and sat with the Texas delegation last night.

Remarkably, for the daughter of one of the most consequential Democratic presidents in American history, this was only the third Democratic National Convention Johnson has attended.


She was there, at 13, at the Los Angeles Convention in 1960 when her father sought the Democratic presidential nomination and ended up as John F. Kennedy’s running-mate.

She was there was at 17 in 1964 in Atlantic City, where her father was nominated for a full term. She recalled, at 17, hosting a clam bake on the beach to divert the press, before her father’s arrival, while he attempted to hammer out a compromise on the seating of the Mississippi Freedom Democrats challenging the legitimacy of the regular party’s all-white delegation.

“That was my last convention,” Johnson told me.

It was not for a lack of interest.


“I’ve watched them all as a consumer. I’m a public service junkie and political junkie. I watched them all on television.”

She had not attended one in person since 1964 for a simple reason. She had not been asked.

“I never turn an invitation down,” she said.

This year Ben Barnes extended the invitation.

“I was honored to have the invitation extended and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”


Barnes, a former Texas speaker of the House and lieutenant governor, is an éminence grise in Democratic political circles in D.C. and Austin

From a 1979 Texas Monthly profile of Ben Barnes by Richard West:

Barnes was anointed the heir apparent in a remarkable Texas political dynasty that began in the thirties: Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, John Connally, Ben Barnes. At a Barnes fundraising bash in August 1970, Johnson, mixing gospel lyrics with a World War II slogan, told the 3000 cheering guests, “Where you lead us, we will follow,” and “We have enlisted for the duration,” ending the paean with a prediction that “Ben Barnes will someday be the next president of the United States from Texas.” Other important Texas politicos agreed. At Ben Barnes Day at San Antonio’s HemisFair, U.S. Ambassador to Australia Ed Clark said, “I would not be surprised if history records that between now and 1980 the U.S. would have two presidents from Texas and I have you in mind, Mr. Barnes.” Robert Strauss, while treasurer of the national Democratic party, said, “He is the best politician I have seen in my career. There is nothing to keep Lieutenant Governor Barnes from any elected post he wishes.” Nothing, it turned out, but Sharpstown.

Enter Sissy Farenthold, who will turn 90 on October 2.


When Farenthold was elected to the Texas House in 1968, she was the only woman in the House. Barbara Jordan was the only woman serving in the Texas Senate.

Four years later, Farenthold ran for governor.

From University of Texas Law School history of Farenthold.

In 1972, as the political fallout from the Sharpstown Bank scandal resonated across the state, Sissy Farenthold launched her first campaign for governor. She hadn’t planned to run for the office, in deference to U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough, the leader of the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party. But when he decided not to run, she entered the gubernatorial race.

Farenthold’s campaign was buoyed by the bank scandal and the ethics reform movement she had led in the Legislature.

“Our present state leaders have run Texas like a cash register,” she said in a TV campaign ad. “The governor profits from the Sharpstown stock swindle. The lieutenant governor makes a fortune on private deals with special interests. Another candidate is a banker who is a back-up man for the big-business interests. It’s time to take Texas from the special interests.”

Farenthold competed against three candidates in the Democratic primary for governor, including a favorite of the state Democratic machine—Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, a protégé of former Governor John Connally. Barnes commanded the state Senate during the Sharpstown scandal. He was not implicated in the case, but his association with the politicians linked to the scandal tainted his reputation. The other candidates were Governor Preston Smith, who had profited from the stock deal, and Dolph Briscoe, a businessman who was not in state government at the time.

Farenthold shocked political observers when she outpolled Barnes and Smith, and forced Briscoe into a runoff election. Briscoe defeated Farenthold in the runoff with 54 percent of the vote. But “That Woman,” as critics called Farenthold, had established her political drawing power with 46 percent of the vote.

As remarkable as her run for governor was, it was not even Farenthold’s most significant contribution to political history that year.



More from UT:

This heightened role for women at the convention, which was held from July 10-13 in Miami Beach, Florida, came as they were entering a new period of political activity. About a year earlier, the National Women’s Political Caucus had been founded at a conference in Washington, D.C. And Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was running for the presidency, the first African American from a major political party to run for the position.

Farenthold was recruited to run for the vice presidency when Chisholm, who didn’t have the votes to win the presidential nomination, turned down the Caucus’s offer to back her as vice president. Farenthold had attended the convention as the leader of the Texas delegates for U.S. Sen. George McGovern, who went on to clinch the party’s presidential nomination. But it wasn’t the first time her name had been mentioned for the vice presidency. Before the convention, a handful of students from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, had circulated a national petition to nominate her, and they brought 2,000 “Sissy for VP” posters to Miami Beach.

The campaign for vice president was a rushed three-day affair. A team was quickly formed. Farenthold’s campaign committee officers were Drue Pollan, Bob Bass, and Larry Patty, all Texans.  Former Texas Observer editor Larry Goodwyn, who was at the convention to support presidential candidate Terry Sanford, became Farenthold’s speechwriter.

Her announcement to the media gathered in the lobby of the Doral Hotel, headquarters for the McGovern campaign, addressed gender head on: “One avenue open to victory is unique to my candidacy. As a woman, I alone could appeal to the women of all parties. By November 1972, the women voters of this country will outnumber the men by a margin of 8 million votes. Women will probably remain the voting majority for the rest of the century. I believe it is time this majority has representation at all levels of government, including the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee.”

After the announcement, Farenthold, U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug of New York, Gloria Steinem, founder and editor of Ms. magazine, and Betty Freidan, author of “The Feminist Mystique,” met in the ladies room of the hotel to choose who would nominate her on the convention floor. The ladies room was the only place where they could avoid the mostly all-male press corps, Farenthold said.

The group decided that Steinem would nominate Farenthold. Fannie Lou Hamer, the African-American organizer from Mississippi whose protests at the 1964 Democratic National Convention forced the state to end the practice of sending a white-only delegation to the national convention, would second the nomination, while Allard K. Lowenstein, a former U.S. representative from New York who led the 1967 “Dump Johnson” movement, would provide the third nomination.

Farenthold received 407 votes, coming in second to U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton in a field of seven candidates. She received little support from the 171 members of the Texas delegation, led by Dolph Briscoe, Farenthold’s competitor a few months earlier in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.


Farenthold was not the first woman nominated for vice president by a major party, but she was the first whose nomination was voted on by the delegates.

“I had a call from Judge Sarah T. Hughes,” Farenthold said. “She said you’re not the first woman. Her name was put in nomination but they withdrew it because they didn’t want to aggravate the men.”

It was also Hughes, a federal judge in Texas, who swore in Lyndon Johnson as president of the Unite States on Air Force One after the assassination of President Kennedy – the only woman in history to have sworn in a president, the job usually of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, a position not yet held by a woman.

From an oral history interview with Hughes from the LBJ Library.

Sarah T. Hughes — Interview I — 11
F: You’ve known Congressman Rayburn for–
H: Yes, I had known Congressman Rayburn for a number of years. As a matter of fact, you
know my name was placed in nomination for Vice-President in 1952 and I had to get Mr.
Rayburn’s consent to have it placed in nomination. He was the chairman, you know, and
he wouldn’t recognize anybody unless he knew what they were going to say.
F: Let’s go back and pick that up for a moment. Who put your name in nomination and why?
H:You know, I think this is more about me than it is about President Johnson.
F: But we’re getting a world of President Johnson–a lifetime.
H:I  was president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women Clubs at
the time. We had been active in supporting women for public office. In that year a
movement had started to get the name of a woman nominated for Vice-President in both
the Democratic and Republican parties. And at the national convention in 1952, the
national convention of Business and Professional Women Clubs, the convention endorsed
Margaret Chase Smith’s Republican nomination and endorsed me for the Democratic
nomination. Then they passed the hat around and collected a little over a thousand dollars
to be spent by the two candidates for Vice-President.
F: That’s quite a Vice-Presidential kitty, isn’t it?
H:It is. Most Vice-Presidents don’t even have any kitty.
She [Mrs. Smith] was unable to go to the Republican convention because her
mother was ill at the time, so I had the whole thousand dollars to spend for myself. I don’t
think I ever had more fun than at the Democratic convention. I had a platform and a press
conference. I visited some of the delegations and I’m glad it wasn’t finally put to a vote
because I only had 2 1/2 votes.
F: Who placed your name in nomination?
H: A woman–and I can’t think of her name–from Montana.
F: Did you get a man to second or did you–
H: I couldn’t get any man to second. I had another woman from Idaho to second the
nomination, and Mr. Rayburn would only permit the nomination if I would immediately
withdraw it. So as soon as the nomination was made, he recognized me to go on the
platform and withdraw it.
 F: The Republicans then didn’t get a woman that year?
H: No.
F: Are you the first woman of a major party–
H: No, I’m not the first. As a matter of fact, another woman was nominated at the
Democratic convention–what is her name? She was a committeewoman at the time and
national vice-chairman of the Democratic committee. She’s very active this year–
F: India Edwards?
H: India Edwards, yes, her name was placed in nomination.
F: And she withdrew?
H: And she withdrew. We were both very gracious auki

From Farenthold’s Wikipedia page:

Farenthold was the third woman whose name was put into nomination for Vice President of the United States at a major party’s nominating convention. The first was Lena Springs, who was not a public official and whose 1924 nomination was a gesture of affection. The second was India Edwards in 1952, whose nomination was also a gesture of gratitude for her influence over Harry Truman. At the Democratic National Convention in 1972, Farenthold came in second to the presidential nominee’s choice, U.S. Senator Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri. She garnered more delegate votes (404.04) than then-U.S. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, and future U.S. President Jimmy Carter of Georgia, among others.

Farenthold said that the vice presidential nomination caught her by surprise. She said came together because of the National Women’s Political Caucu, and three students from Baylor who had worked on her gubernatorial campaign.

I went on antibiotics I had kind of walking flu.. I was not well,  to put it mildly.

It was an open race for VP. It was totally new and it was never tied again. And I think there is probably sense to that because they (the president and vice president) work together.

She said she won some votes from delegations when women seized the moment.

In the instances of two delegations, the chair went off to visit different people and women took over, because I couldn’t understand why I carried Oklahoma and Arkansas – Carl Albert and Dale Bumpers – wandered off while this mundane weird process was going on.

(John Kenneth) Galbraith told me to move acclamation, that was the proper thing to do . That’s what Mrs. Clinton did with Obama in ’08.

And that’s what Bernie Sanders did with Hillary Clinton last night.




Farenthold watched the convention last night from the Texas delegation hotel.

Farenthold did not come to Philadelphia for Clinton and her historic moment.

I’m here actually to meet the Bernie Sanders people here from around the country. I am interested in the idea that they intend to carry on. There was talk of this when Obama first came and then it sort of disappeared, dissolved. But the Sanders people are saying that’s what they are going to do , so that is the reason basically I came to meet them.

Farenthold was a Sanders designee on the convention’s Rules Committee. She hasn’t actually met Sanders, though she once passed him in Washington, and called out a question of concern to which he offered a gruff response and kept going.

She was drawn to Sanders by the issues.

The issue he brought to the foreground that have been there that have not been talked about. I have been concerned ever since I’ve read the economist (Joseph) Stiglitz, at least the last five, six, seven years, on the inequality that’s grown with time, and nothing was being said about it, and the issues he brought were very much right now but they weren’t being discussed, or being discussed but not in an in your face right out in front.

I mean the thing about wages and how people on minimum wage are on food stamps, and those jobs – you can say the recession is part of it – but those jobs used to be for teenagers, but people are trying to hold together families on that, two or three jobs. That’s something that needs to be addressed.

Farenthold backed the Sanders campaign like many of his supporters did.

With those $27 checks, yes I was involved in that way and I went to the things I could in Houston, but everything was done with a computer and I’m near illiterate with the computer so I miss things. I’m a telephone person.

Farenthold said she is happy about Clinton’s history-making, even if she wasn’t her candidate.

“She’s a very able person.” said Farenthold, who said she met her once – at the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco, when she ran into Bill and Hillary. She had met Bill once before and remembered him as exceedingly polite.




Luci Baines Johnson feels a kinship for Clinton, that they’ve led “parallel lives,” same age, crossed paths, same political priorities.

She appreciated that, back during the 2008 primary campaign, Clinton rose to LBJ’s defense in the debate about the centrality and genuineness of his history-making on civil rights.

And what about Trump?

My mother always focused on the positive and there is so much more for me to be for for Secretary Clinton. That is where I want to spend my energy, applauding her diverse experience. There is no substitution for experience in terms of your ability to make the difference in your ability to make the difference for positive change.

She has a reputation for working as a senator across the aisles and bringing persons of diverse position to recognize that you want one position, I want another, that compromise doesn’t mean compromising your principles. It means finding common ground. She has a lifetime of trying to work together to try find common ground, to try to make positive progress, And I am frightened by those who want to focus on pitting Americans against each other.


`I don’t feel like I’m welcome in the Democratic Party.’ An Austin Sanders delegate’s lament

Good morning Austin:

Julie Ann Nitsch, a Bernie Sanders delegate from Austin, will cast her ballot for Sanders today, as Hillary Clinton is nominated for president. Presumably.

I still have a slight, minuscule, microscopic hope that the Super Delegates are going to wake up and realize that Hillary can’t beat Trump and that Hillary herself doesn’t want the humiliation of losing to a reality =TV star, and not even a good reality TV star.



I had written about Nitsch last September at a Bernie Man event in Austin. At the time she was a volunteer, though, in January, she joined his campaign staff in Texas. Last night I talked to her outside the Democratic National Convention after what for her had been a long, emotionally grueling day.


I pretty much went from being a huge Bernie supporter to eat, sleep, live and breathe this campaign.

It’s been an intense experience – really rewarding at times, but very emotionally trying, very upsetting. I think like a lot of Bernie supporters I feel  really disenfranchised, watching what happened from state to state, watching how the media portrayed Bernie Sanders, the way they portrayed our message.

Then to find the DNC was actively working against us the entire time was really incredibly hurtful. It really changed my view of the party.


Nitsch arrived at the convention in the aftermath of the WikiLeaks dump of the Democratic National Committee emails proving that the national party was, as the Sanders campaign had charged, helping the Clinton campaign at their expense. They knew all along that the system was “rigged” against them, she said. They knew that there were “moles” in the Sanders campaign. “We could feel it. We could see it.”

“We finally had proof and I really thought that a lot of people in the party would be upset with this,” she said.

Instead, she said, the Sanders supporters were treated as interlopers at a Clinton event, “that it’s their party and their convention.”

They’ve ostracized us, they’ve mocked us and they’ve actively worked against us and then they claim that our party represents all of Bernie’s values.

At yesterdays’ Texas delegation breakfast, Glen Maxey, a top state party official, said any delegate who booed at the convention would have their credential pulled.


At the convention itself, the program was all Hillary, interspersed with anti-Trump.

All day all we heard is there is only one person who should be president, there’s only person that has the experience and the leadership skills and the integrity, there is only one person who deserves to be the Democratic nominee and our president, and again and again and again we are told the person is Hillary Clinton.

Every speaker told us that only one person deserved it, and that’s a slap in the face, when what really needed to happen was for somebody to stand up and apologize. But they aren’t willing to do that, and that’s what shows leadership, that’s what shows accountability, that shows, `you know what we made a mistake.’ JFK did that. Own your mistakes.

They should have opened this convention up with, `There are going to be changes. We want to apologize to the Bernie delegation.’ They should be ashamed of what they did but all they did all day long was speech after speech after speech after speech praising Hillary Clinton in every way.

It doesn’t create unity. What would have created unity was apologizing for having actively worked against us. …

It’s all “Hillary is the only one who deserves this,” “Trump is evil,” “Republicans are fear mongers.” Well aren’t you all fear mongers?



Nitsch said it is clear that it is Sanders, not Clinton, who could beat Trump. She faults the super delegates for not taking Trump seriously enough to pick the candidate with by far the better chance to beat him.

The Democratic Party had an opportunity, a wonderful opportunity, an amazing opportunity to bring in millennials, progressives, environmentalists.

And the Clintons?

What they fail to recognize is that a lot of us have done our research.

They destroyed Glass-Steagall, they privatized the prison industry, they have taken copious amounts of money from people they are supposed to be against. I don’t understand how she can say she’s going to take on Wall Street when she’s taken that much money from them. She’s adopted Bernie Sanders’ stump speech because that’s what people want to hear and it appeases Bernie Sanders supporters.

The idea that most Bernie Sanders supporters are ready to support Clinton is wrong, she said. While delegates, like her, pledged to support the nominee as the price of admission, “Everyone else I know, they are voting Jill Stein, they are not going to vote now. They volunteered, they gave money. Now they’re done.


On Sanders’ speech.

It felt like watching a family member lie.

It felt like he was forced to do this, obviously, because their values don’t align.

He is going to let us cast our votes. We’re still standing strong.

A lot of people before the primary said they were voting for Hillary because Bernie can’t win. I think it’s a lesson, you should always vote your conscience, because if everybody had voted their conscience, Bernie Sanders would have won. And we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now with Hillary Clinton losing against a reality television star. We would have had a nominee who would have beaten him, who would have just destroyed Donald Trump.

She is not a viable candidate. I’m terrified we’re going to end up with a Trump presidency.

I want a woman president as much as anyone else. I don’t want it to be Hillary.

I don’t feel like I’m welcome in the Democratic Party.

The system really is rigged.













Democratic Convention opens amid WikiLeaks dump and Trump bump

Good morning Austin.

Left Cleveland. Stopped in Pittsburgh. Now in Philadelphia.

The prime time Democratic Convention should get off to a rip-roaring rhetorical start with speeches tonight by First Lady Michelle Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But the convention opens on the heels of Sunday’s announcement by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz that she will be stepping down, amid evidence, via a WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails, that DWS’s DNC, which Sanders and his supporters always felt had its thumb firmly panted on the scales for Clinton, actually had its thumbprints on the scale. Also, as of this morning, new polling indicates that for all the conflicts at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump emerged with a significant bump, a more favorable image, and a lead over Clinton.

On DWS, From the New York Times:

PHILADELPHIA — Democrats arrived at their nominating convention on Sunday under a cloud of discord as Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, abruptly said she was resigning after a trove of leaked emails showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

 The revelation, along with sizable pro-Sanders protests here in the streets to greet arriving delegates, threatened to undermine the delicate healing process that followed the contentious fight between Mr. Sanders and Hillary Clinton. And it raised the prospect that a convention that was intended to showcase the Democratic Party’s optimism and unity, in contrast to the Republicans, could be marred by dissension and disorder.
The day also veered extraordinarily into allegations, not easily dismissed, that Russia had a hand in the leaks that helped bring down the head of an American political party.


I understand why Texas wasn’t up front at Donald Trump’s  Republican Convention in Philadelphia. It was the largest Cruz delegation. California and New York had the pride of place of being right up in front of the podium – two states with huge Trump delegations but no recent history of voting Republican in the general election and little likelihood this time.

The reverse logic applies in Cleveland. Texas presumably gets rear seating because it is a such a red state. But, by Trump logic, Texas ought to have been up front because, like New York and California for him, Texas is the richest trove of delegates for Clinton.

Garry Mauro, leader in Texas of the Clinton forces – and its whip operation –  explains.

“The only thing that matters in a convention setting is how many delegates you have to the plus side. We actually had 72 delegates on the plus side (the number of Clinton delegates minus the number of Sanders delegates)  – the most of any state in the nation,” Mauro said.

New York had a 67-vote Clinton margin, and California a 63-vote margin.

“We are providing Hillary with her biggest delegate advantage in the country,” Mauro said. “We played a huge role in maintaining her lead.”

The positioning of the delegations matters.

Cruz’s speech to the Republican Convention might have ended differently if he had not been in direct eye contact and earshot of an angry, taunting New York delegation immediately in front of him.

Then again, I think Cruz reveled in the moment. If Trump loses in November, or is elected and proves a disaster as president, Cruz in four years will be able to run ads of him being booed at the Republican Convention when he refused to endorse Trump and instead said that Republican voters should follow their conscience, with a voice over pointing out that when all Trump’s other rivals were bowing before him, Cruz alone stood up to Trump and he boos of the mob.

The day after the convention, Trump was still on the warpath against Cruz, and it continued on Meet the Press Sunday with Chuck Todd asking Trump about his threat Friday to fund an anti-Cruz super PAC.

From Meet the Press:


All right. Ted Cruz, I’m going to amend it, are you really going to fund a super PAC to help defeat him–


Well, it’s not the number one thing on my mind. Look, what’s on my mind is beating Hillary Clinton. What’s on my mind is winning for the Republican Party. With that being said, yeah, I’ll probably do a super PAC, you know, when they run against Kasich, for $10 million to $20 million, against Ted Cruz. And maybe one other person that I’m thinking about–


Who’s that other one person?


–but I won’t tell you that. I mean, he’s actually such a small person, I hate to give him the publicity. But yes, I will probably do that at the appropriate at time. But I’m not going to do that until–


Oh, give me the small person here.


No, no, don’t worry about it. We’ll give it to you another time.

Small person, small person, small person. Hmm. Who could that be? Little Marco? Nah. He endorsed Trump. Must be South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.




From Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa:

“Texas Democrats thank Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her hard work, leadership, and commitment to our great party. She has fought heart and soul for our party, and we are well poised to succeed in November because of her efforts.

“In our humble opinion, Texas Democrats believe that both Julian and Joaquin Castro have what it takes to pick up the reins and move the party forward. It would be remarkable to have the first Hispanic Chair of the Democratic National Committee.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s  fall from grace recalled another Clinton convention and another fall from grace, in Chicago, 1996.

From the New York Times.

CHICAGO — Dick Morris, President Clinton’s chief campaign adviser and the central force behind the emphasis on family values that had its apex at this week’s Democratic convention, resigned Thursday after a tabloid reported that he had a relationship with a call girl.

More than a strategist, Morris had come to be known as a confidant and alter ego of Clinton, and his departure marred Clinton’s appearance Thursday night, the big moment of a convention scripted to be his star vehicle.

Beyond his role in helping shape Clinton’s address, Morris is widely credited for orchestrating the president’s move to the political center. Morris, whose consulting fees were paid by the campaign and not the government, liked to say that he was going to have Clinton run more as “pope than president,” by acting as a moral guide for the nation, especially its teen-agers.

The culmination of that effort was to be unveiled here at what until Thursday was a jubilant convention that had gone largely as scripted.

In a statement he issued after he and his wife, Eileen McGann, left Chicago this morning for their home in Connecticut, Morris did not rebut the accusations or address them specifically.

“While I served I sought to avoid the limelight because I did not want to become the message,” he said. “Now, I resign so I will not become the issue. I will not subject my wife, family or friends to the sadistic vitriol of yellow journalism. I will not dignify such journalism with a reply or an answer. I never will.”

Morris had already created unease and jealousy in the White House by a self-promotional campaign that gave him the cover of Time magazine this week with an article suggesting he was the puppeteer of a presidential makeover. His final statement as a campaign strategist reflected the degree to which he saw himself as Clinton’s Pygmalion.

“I was deeply honored to help this president come back from being buried in a landslide and to make it possible for him to have a second chance at a second term,” Morris said.

But this morning, Morris found a far less flattering article about him splashed on the front page of The New York Post. It was based on an upcoming story in Star magazine, the same publication that staggered Clinton’s campaign in 1992 with its disclosure of Gennifer Flowers’ claims of a longtime affair with the then-governor of Arkansas.

The Trump Bump






From CNN:

(CNN)The bounce is back.

Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.
There hasn’t been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN’s polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
The new findings mark Trump’s best showing in a CNN/ORC Poll against Clinton since September 2015. Trump’s new edge rests largely on increased support among independents, 43% of whom said that Trump’s convention in Cleveland left them more likely to back him, while 41% were dissuaded. Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein.
The poll also reflects a sharpening of the education divide among whites that has been prevalent throughout the campaign. Among white voters with college degrees, Clinton actually gained ground compared with pre-convention results, going from an even 40% to 40% split to a 44% to 39% edge over Trump. That while Trump expanded his lead with white voters who do not hold a college degree from a 51% to 31% lead before the convention to a 62% to 23% lead now.




Jackie Soliz-Chapa, on the left, Austin Council Member Leslie Pool, in the center, and Mary Ann Neely, who has been Democratic Party precinct chairwoman in Barton Hills since 1980, on the right. Soliz-Chapa is a Clinton delegate, Poole is a Clinton whip and Neely is a Clinton alternate.


Trump puts the Q in LGBTQ

From Trump’s acceptance speech.

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. No good. We are going to stop it. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me.

And I have to say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.

From Vox:

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s Republican convention speech had a genuinely surprising, sincere moment.

It came when Trump brought up the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. He said, “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted [the] LGBTQ community. No good. And we’re going to stop it. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.”

The crowd cheered and clapped — not exactly a sure thing with a Republican audience when it comes to protecting LGBTQ people’s rights. And Trump, in an unscripted moment, acknowledged the crowd’s surprising reaction: “And I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.”

It’s long been said that Trump doesn’t care much about LGBTQ or other cultural issues. (Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel said as much in his Republican convention speech.) To the extent that Trump opposes same-sex marriage, it’s out of political convenience. This brief moment in the speech provides a sign that may be true.

But the rhetoric Trump is using has some ugly roots: It’s essentially a European right-wing strategy to pit LGBTQ people against Muslims. As my colleague Dylan Matthews explained, European right-wingers often use Middle Eastern countries’ horrific records on gay rights to try to foster Islamophobic sentiments among LGBTQ communities — a sentiment they can tap into to garner restrictions on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. It’s effectively pro-gay Islamophobia.

The crowd’s reaction also does not mean that Republicans have progressed on gay rights or LGBTQ issues more broadly. Despite some LGBTQ advocates’ hopes that the party would drop these types of battles after losing on same-sex marriage, the 2016 platform includes continued opposition to marriage equality, support for North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom law, support for anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy, and a tacit condemnation of same-sex parents.

But at the very least, the Republican convention will clap and cheer for ending anti-LGBTQ murder.


The “Q” can stand for Questioning and/or Queer:

  • Questioning refers to individuals who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Queer is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities excluding heterosexuality. The term was originally used as a slur but has been reclaimed by younger generations to also refer to political ideologies not adhering to heteronormativity or a gender-binary.


Where Trump came up with the “Q” I don’t know. Maybe Ivanka.

Whatever the back story, it was a moment when, in the context of the Republican Convention, Trump was truly politically incorrect, and struck a blow for those not adhering to heteronormativity or a gender-binary.

Rachel Hoff, a D.C. delegate at the Republican Convention, the first openly gay member of a GOP National Convention platform committee, and the founder of the Barry Goldwater Society at the LBJ School at UT, sought to include something very much like what Trump said in the party platform, but was slapped down.

From Pema Levy at Mother Jones:

Rachel Hoff, a delegate to the Republican National Convention from the District of Columbia, begged her fellow delegates drafting the party’s platform in Cleveland this week to recognize the LBGT victims of “radical Islamic terrorism.” No such luck.

The issue arose when a delegate from Rhode Island, Giovanni Cicione, proposed language that specifically noted terrorists’ targeting of LGBT people. Other delegates quickly suggested adding “Christians, Jews, and women” after LGBT. Hoff, who is a lesbian and had introduced a similar amendment in a subcommittee, spoke in favor of these changes.

“This is about standing up for the basic human rights of gays and lesbians—in this country and around the world,” she said. “If you do support me and people like me, then can you not at the very least stand up for our right to not be killed along with these other groups by people who want to bring harm not only to our country but to people based on their identity?”

She continued, “We saw that in the terrorist attack in Orlando—it was one month ago today—that was a targeted attack on the LGBT community for simply living in freedom as who they are. And it’s important that we as a party—that you stand with me now, that you stand up for basic human rights [for] the LGBT community, Christians, Jews, and women.”

Most of her fellow delegates disagreed. The language pertaining to “LGBT individuals, Christians, Jews, and women” was struck and replaced with a condemnation of “the brutal assault on all human beings.”

This is not the first time Hoff has tried to get her party to be more inclusive toward LBGT people. On Monday, Hoff, who is the first openly gay Republican to sit on the GOP’s platform committee, put forward language calling for a “thoughtful conversation” on same-sex marriage. “We’re your daughters, your sons, your neighbors, colleagues, and the couples you sit next to you in church,” Hoff said, close to tears. “Freedom means freedom for everyone, including for gays and lesbians.” That amendment was shot down by the platform committee, but it appeared to get enough support to put it to a vote before the full convention for next week.

Also on Tuesday, Hoff, who works at a national security think tank, proposed language supportive of women serving in combat positions in the military. Again, her fellow delegates disagreed, voting to keep in place language that opposed women serving in combat—even though Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened combat positions to women last year.

I stood with the Texas delegation while Trump delivered his speech. They applauded when he applauded the convention for applauding him and his mention of LGBTQ. No one seemed bothered by it.

After Trump’s speech I mentioned to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired the Texas delegation, that Trump had added the “Q” to LGBT.

“Twice,” said Patrick, with a smile.




`I am your voice.’ Donald Trump ups his game.

Good day Austin:

I admit, I am a sucker for a classic Donald Trump campaign ramble – the Marco Rubio water bottle speech in Fort Worth, the Ben Carson knife attack speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Good, gripping, bizarre, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it, I can’t-believe-this stuff.

But last night’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was something entirely different. It was not nearly as enjoyable. But, with it, Trump proved he could speak, at length, on message, from a teleprompter, a serious and well-crafted speech and come across as plausibly presidential.

He crossed a major threshold.

Here is some reaction from people who know about this sort of thing.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

That’s the greatest speech I’ve heard anyone give at any convention. Didn’t miss a beat, covered every issue, keeping that energy level up for that long is amazing, and considering how new he is to this. This speech tonight, the Democrats tonight have to be on their heels knowing they are in for a tough ride because he has upped his game tonight. He had to deliver and he did.


Brandon Rottinghaus. University of Houston political scientist.

Trump strummed the law and order theme hard, especially on illegal immigrant violence and border security.  Nativism aside, the speech was his most organized, coherent, and affecting as any we’ve seen so far.  The specifics were light but the directness was apparent.  It took a year, and was a little uneven, but he sounded more like a major party nominee for the presidency than an outsider.  
The address wrapped up — and merged — most of the Trump and Republican campaign themes.  His jeremiad on protectionist trade (especially China), the border wall, judicial selection, and rising crime hits the sweet spot for Republicans and leaning Republican voters wary of Clinton and eight years of Obama.  The appeal to independents may be less palpable.  The populistic message has modest appeal but only in opposition to Clinton.  But there wasn’t much for those in the middle to grab onto.  Trump missed his opportunity to present himself as a business-minded fixer like Romney did in 2012.  The election may very well turn on whether or not the Trump campaign, billionaire at the helm, can sell the idea of the Republican Party as sympathetic to the working class and those struggling economically.  

Josh Scacco. professor of Media Theory & Politics in the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

There is a powerful appeal in Donald Trump’s message of humiliation. Using the language associated with liberation will appeal to segments of the electorate felt left behind or cast out by federal policies. His argument sets up America as a hostage that can only be saved by one person, or as Trump said “I alone can fix it.”

  • His speech was Trump-centered and took symbolic power from the crowd with phrases like “I am your voice.” When the crowd began chanting “Trump is on the way,” it completed his major argument about unitary leadership.
  • The tone of the speech was negative and quite dark. Usually the more positive candidate wins elections. If this still holds with the electorate, then Donald Trump did not reach the middle 10% of the public he needed to with this speech.


Jennifer Mercieca. professor of communication and director of the Aggie Agora, Texas A&M University. (Jen wrote this for  The Conversation)

Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for the presidency in a speech destined to be remembered by history as the “I am your voice” speech – a phrase that Trump repeated several times to tie together his themes of economic renewal, military strength and government honesty.

As a scholar of American political rhetoric, I have written about how presidential candidates will often use campaign speeches to depict a nation in crisis, with themselves as the saviors. True to tradition, Trump’s speech contained a narrative of crisis and heroism.

He also fulfilled the expectations for a typical presidential nomination speech by arguing for a united party, explaining his political philosophy, and appearing presidential. Of the many topics addressed in his wide ranging speech, he was at his best when he railed against government corruption.

Make America isolationist again?

The culmination of four days of speeches organized around the themes of keeping America safe, putting America to work, putting America first, and making America one, Trump’s speech offered a new version of American Exceptionalism. Since 1980 our understanding of American Exceptionalism has been framed by Ronald Reagan’s famous Republican Party acceptance speech:

“Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe freely.”

Trump’s version was less tied to this sort of “divine” exceptionalism that’s welcoming of all people.

Nor was his American Exceptionalism grounded in America’s unique role as a “exemplar of liberty,” as this year’s Republican Party Platformdeclared.

Instead, Trump’s American Exceptionalism was more isolationist and protectionist, devoting the first half of his speech to this theme under the guise of “America First.”

“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” he said.

Speaking for the forgotten

Consistent with his campaign so far, the speech was largely vague about his plans for accomplishing his campaign promises and specific about his criticisms of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His overarching criticism of Clinton is that she is “corrupt” and rhetorically his speech was most coherent in its critique of Clinton’s and government’s corruption.

His motivation for seeking office is to protect the “forgotten men and women”:

“Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been neglected, ignored, and abandoned.… These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.”

Perhaps drawing an analogy between the hardships of the Great Depression and the hardships of the Great Recession, Trump may have borrowed the “forgotten man” figure from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s April 7, 1932 Fireside Chat in which he explained:

“These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

Like FDR, Trump positioned himself as an empathetic leader as well as defender of the downtrodden: “I AM YOUR VOICE,” he boomed.

Corrupted logic

We don’t see the word “corruption” used frequently in presidential nomination addresses. To the best of my knowledge only Al Smith and Dwight Eisenhower used the word. Smith used it to talk about Prohibition and Eisenhower used it to rail against the federal government:

“Our aims – the aims of this Republican crusade – are clear: to sweep from office an administration which has fastened on every one of us the wastefulness, the arrogance and corruption in high places, the heavy burdens and anxieties which are the bitter fruit of a party too long in power.”

Like Eisenhower, Trump argued that he is motivated to become president because our current politicians are too corrupt to help people:

“I have embraced crying mothers who have lost their children because our politicians put their personal agendas before the national good. I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens.”

He then pointed his finger directly at the establishment.

“Remember: all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place.”

So far, so good: Trump has laid out his argument that there’s widespread corruption and we know who to blame for it. However, what makes Trump the right hero to save the nation from corruption?

He never really gives a coherent answer.

According to Trump, he’s the nominee even though corrupt media and pundits said that he would not be; therefore, Donald Trump has been right all along and the system is “rigged.” It’s an awkward logical construction that equates his detractors being wrong with their being corrupt – which, of course, isn’t the exact same thing.

What evidence does Trump give to support that he is the right hero for stopping corruption? Again, his speech makes an odd logical leap. Trump argues (with a wink) that because he once got involved in corrupt dealings himself, he knows how it works.

He doesn’t specify how or why he’s no longer corrupt, however, and the audience is left to wonder whether and if his “conversion” has taken place. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” he boasted. “I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders – he never had a chance.”

Despite reverting to some of his vague rhetoric, Trump did a much better job, stylistically, of performing his speech from the teleprompter than in the past. Only going off script occasionally, he delivered the speech with great energy, rousing the crowd to chant, at various points:


“Build a Wall!”

“And, Lock Her Up!”

To that last chant Trump responded, “Let’s beat her in November.”


Kirby Goidel. Professor in the Department of Communication and the Public Policy, Texas A&M.

Other than being far too long, I thought the speech played well in the convention hall but probably didn’t win over any new supporters or expand his base of potential support. The emphasis on law and order to tie the rigged political system, immigration, and anxiety over recent events was interesting but probably not overly convincing outside the base. I also thought the “I am your voice” and the fighter motif has some potential to broaden his appeal, particularly if he could tie it to larger values like equality and fairness which he attempted to do  in part, but it didn’t seem as much like a central theme as another way to express anger.

Overall, anger remains the central element of his appeal, and stylistically it felt like being in room with Frank Constanza, someone who just seems mad at the world. I have been wrong about Trump throughout but it seems like there needs to be something uplifting or something to give some bit of optimism about the future. In this sense, he seems to be the antithesis of Ronald Reagan. 


Brendan Steinhauser. Austin political consultant, partner, Steinhauser Strategies, prime move in the national tea party movement.


Trump gave a brooding speech filled with anger, fear, and a bleak view of our country. He shouted and grimaced his way through the speech, but mostly stayed on his message. There was no optimism, and smiles were scarce. Republicans love Ronald Reagan’s cheery hopefulness, but none was to be found here.
Trump is trying to win the election by focusing on law and order, trade protectionism, shutting down illegal immigration, and bringing back manufacturing jobs. He was not talking to conservatives tonight, but rather, a broad segment of middle class voters who are angry, struggling economically, and contemptuous of political elites. He delivered a simple message that might well resonate with many Democrats and Independents in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. He wants voters to see him as a strongman that will protect the average citizen from terrorists, illegal aliens, corrupt businessmen, and crooked politicians. I think it’s fair to say that Trump’s candidacy is a volatile blend of Andrew Jackson, Pat Buchanan, and Richard Nixon. Perhaps that is what many Americans are looking for in 2016. They certainly do not trust or like Hillary Clinton. 


WrestleMania at the Quicken: Cruz and Trump finally get their cage match

Good morning Austin:

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 3.39.26 AM

Sen. Ted Cruz, with his wife, Heidi, returned to the Cleveland Downtown Marriott at Key Center – the Texas delegation hotel – at around 1 a.m., conquering heroes to most of those they encountered in the hotel lobby.

Here is some rough footage of the scene.

Of course, not everyone was so enamored of the Texas senator’s performance, which started with a thunderous ovation from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd, and ended in a hail of boos and jeers that is certain to go down in the annals of convention history.

Cruz had spoken at the invitation of Donald Trump even though he had not agreed to endorse Trump, an arrangement either rare or unique in convention history, for reasons that last night help explain.

Wow is right. I don’t know how he does it.

Trump’s got the same 140 characters to work with that everyone else does, but he runs the range of emotions in one tweet – Shock. Condemnation. Betrayal. Magnanimity. Nonchalance. Indifference.

So, at long last, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump finally got their cage match.


Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 5.14.22 AM

Here is the top of the New York Times report:

CLEVELAND — The Republican convention erupted into tumult on Wednesday night as the bitter primary battle between Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz reignited unexpectedly, crushing hopes that the party could project unity.

In the most electric moment of the convention, boos and jeers broke out as it became clear that Mr. Cruz — in a prime-time address from center stage — was not going to endorse Mr. Trump. It was a pointed snub on the eve of Mr. Trump’s formal acceptance speech.

As hundreds of delegates chanted “Vote for Trump!” and “Say it!” Mr. Cruz tried to dismiss the outburst as “enthusiasm of the New York delegation” — only to have Mr. Trump himself suddenly appear in the back of the convention hall. Virtually every head in the room seemed to turn from Mr. Cruz to Mr. Trump, who was stone-faced and clearly angry as he egged on delegates by pumping his fist.

Mr. Cruz was all but drowned out as he asked for God’s blessing on the country and left the stage, while security personnel escorted his wife, Heidi, out of the hall. One delegate yelled “Goldman Sachs!” at her — a reference to the company that has employed her, a job that Mr. Trump attacked during the primaries.

A short while later, Mr. Cruz faced insults as he made his way down a corridor — one woman yelled “Traitor!” When he tried to enter the convention suite of the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, he was turned away.

The commotion on the night that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Mr. Trump’s running mate, later gave a well-received speech, was a jarring demonstration of just how divided Republicans remain and a stunning departure from modern political conventions. The uproar over Mr. Cruz’s refusal to endorse Mr. Trump recalled an earlier political era, such as when the moderate Republican Nelson Rockefeller was heckled for using his speech at the 1964 convention to criticize Barry Goldwater, the party’s nominee that year.

“I’ve seen some crazy things,” said Brandon Bell, the chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, who was still stunned as he absorbed what had happened on the convention floor. “I don’t think this is going to play well.”

Mr. Cruz, who has all but declared that he wants to run for president again in 2020, especially angered Republican leaders who had been counting on him to keep his pledge that he would support the eventual nominee, a vow that other leading Republican contenders also made last fall.

From my story:

For most of Cruz’s typically well-crafted and well-delivered speech, the 45-year-old Texan, who had made a strong run for president in his first term in the Senate, seemed to have finessed his dilemma, congratulating Donald Trump on his nomination the night before, and stressing the importance that Republican values prevail in November, without explicitly endorsing his bitter rival.

But then, as his 22-minute speech was drawing to a close, he managed to take a sentence that began with what seemed a plea for a Trump vote into what sounded like the opposite.

“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said. “Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

“Conscience” had been the rallying cry of a fierce minority of delegates – mostly die hard Cruz supporters – who were thrashed by the Trump campaign and the national Republican Party in their effort to thwart Trump’s nomination by passing a rule that would have given delegates pledged to Trump a “conscience” escape clause.

Cruz’s delivery of the word “conscience” set the Trump majority into a frenzy.

Suddenly the hall was enveloped in roaring mix of cheers overwhelmed with hoots and boos that left an indelible image of Cruz — brave or foolish, martyr or ingrate — under siege. As Cruz was being bombarded with vitriol, Trump himself emerged in the arena, cameras and attention swiveling in his direction, attended by a burst of cheers.

Cruz finished his speech amid a sea of commotion.

Indeed, talking to delegates at the Marriott, both Trump and Cruz forces felt that the other candidate and at least some of that other candidate’s supporters had behaved in a despicable manner last night, indeed all yesterday, beginning with a Cruz thank you reception for his delegates at Shooters in the Flats, where the Cruz faithful booed when Cruz noted the nomination of he-who-he-would-not-be-name, and chanted “2020, 2020, 2020, 2020,” even as, it seemed, the Trump campaign had sent a Trump plane to buzz the gathering. Really?


From my story:

Cruz’s convention speech came at the invitation of Donald Trump, who, as Cruz noted wryly, was the only one of his 16 GOP rivals for the party nomination that he didn’t beat, and who was nominated in a roll call vote Tuesday night.

“Our party now has a nominee,” Cruz said to a crescendo of boos, even as a Trump plane flew by and Cruz, looking around to see it, joked, “that was pretty well orchestrated,” calling out to campaign manager Jeff Roe, to ask whether he had arranged it.

Earlier, Roe had said that the invitation from Trump to let Cruz speak was “a very nice gesture,” even as Cruz hadn’t endorsed Trump.

At Shooters, Cruz talked about values and conscience and his campaign as a moral crusade, recalling the opening of the movie “Patton,” in which the title character, standing in front of a giant American flag, tells his soldiers that when they are asked what they did in the great war, they can reply, “I wasn’t shoveling crap in Louisiana.”

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler, who had campaigned for Cruz, said another erstwhile Cruz rival, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, had told him that he knew of no other example of a vanquished candidate being given speaking time at a convention without having endorsed the nominee. Gohmert said that that said something good about Trump.

But Gohmert said that Cruz’s decision on whether or not to endorse Trump was entirely his own to make, and to live with.

And fund-raise off of.

This arrived just as the elevator door was closing behind Ted and Heidi.

It was an honor to speak to the delegates at the Republican National Convention.
As our cause goes forward, I want to remind you about the stakes.
Americans are furious—rightly so—at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises and ignores the will of the people. 
But there is is a better vision for our future: a return to freedom.
If we choose freedom, our future will be brighter. 
Freedom will bring back jobs and raise wages.
Freedom will lift people out of dependency and to the dignity of work.
47 years ago today, America put a man on the moon. That’s the power of freedom.
Our party was founded to defeat slavery.
Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
We passed the Civil Rights Act, and fought to eliminate Jim Crow laws. 

Those were fights for freedom, and so is this. 

This fight has never been about a particular candidate or campaign, but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids, that we did our best for their future, and for our country.









From Kirby Goidel at Texas A&M.

Wow! What a speech. Give Ted Cruz this much credit, he doesn’t mind get booed on principle. Aside from the non-endorsement though, I thought it was a good speech, touching on race, gay rights, and emphasizing freedom, and this is the sort of setting Cruz excels in. Hard to see how it plays out in the long-term but – in my view – if Trump falters, he put himself in good position for 2020. Particularly if you compare it to the Rubio, Walker or Christie speeches. 

From Brandon Rottinghaus at the University of Houston.

The non-endorsement wasn’t as big a problem for Cruz as the way he did it.   Ted Cruz didn’t dispel the myth that he’s out to serve Ted Cruz and not the Party.  
After a few months of Trump coverage as the defaced nominee and a few days of convention splendor, Ted Cruz may be a step behind the Party faithful in falling in line behind the nominee.  This may hurt Cruz more with the party than help him if he’s seen as selfish and not a team player.
The party faithful has clearly taken a seat on the Trump jet while Senator Cruz is still deciding what airline to fly.  This lag makes him look out of touch at best and selfish at worst.
Bucking the party has been a hallmark of Ted Cruz’s rise and this has served him well with a wing of the party.  This honest disunity washes in a primary but makes him look like a faithless dissenter in a general election.
The content of the speech hit the mark of a strong Cruz oration, personal but dogmatic about core principles.  It was a distilled stump speech, but a very effective set of issues, nearly served with a twist of flavor involving recent events.
He’s set himself up for a reelection bid in Texas — albeit perhaps a primary challenge and perhaps a Castro matchup the general — but another run at the White House might be tough after this fractured election and the scorched earth politics of the end of his campaign.  

From Jennifer Mercieca at Texas A&M:

He had them cheering for freedom and other platitudes throughout the speech and then they turned on him when it was clear that he wouldn’t endorse Trump. I suppose it was wise in the long-term to not endorse if Cruz has calculated that Trump will lose. It seems short-sighted in the near term. Perhaps it would have been wiser to decline to speak rather than put yourself in the awkward position of having to endorse a candidate who you despise?  Perhaps the crowd wouldn’t had turned on him if the convention were going better? 

From University of Texas political scientist Joshua Blank:

Cruz has really given a lot of Republican elites with a negative attitude about him the chance to publicly knife him. It might test the resilience of the outsider label. But at least he may have upstaged Trump one time, alas far too late.

This is epic. At least for the next 24 hours.




From a Texas Trumper: `A deep sense of satisfaction that we got a man who reverberates with the real America.’

tepper1Good morning Austin:

Of all the members of the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention, no one had more reason to celebrate last night than Carl Tepper, the Lubbock County chairman, a native New Yorker (Long Island, like me) and former Austinite. Carl was, as far as I know, the first prominent Texas Republican to back Trump.

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Tepper.

FR: What drew you to Trump?

CT: When he started talking about immigration and the wall, and I thought, why don’t we just build a wall? And you can’t build it across the whole border but certain choke points, you could increase the choke points, the heightened vantage points for immigrants coming over, and then he really sealed the deal with me when he started talking about trade.

My farmers in Lubbock, with cotton and peanuts and sunflowers, farmers have been very annoyed with our trade deals with China and Brazil, the stockpiling of cotton, not only have the trade deals been unfair trade deals, but they’ve been cheating, so we are the 800-pound gorilla, the United States, and we think we should bring these trade deals back to the table. We’re all about trade, but it has to be fair trade.

You still can’t sell a Buick in Tokyo, but they sell hundreds of thousands if not millions of Toyotas and Nissans here, so what is the problem with these trade deals? It is not reciprocal. So when he started talking trade and these terrible deals, he sealed the deal with me.

FR: Were you already a Trump fan?

CT: I’d read his books on business, I’d watched the Apprentice.

I’m also in commercial real estate, so he’s not a novice in politics, I assure you.. When you’re in commercial real estate you’re involved in city councils all day long – the planning commission, zoning board of adjustments, the city council, sometimes the state legislature, so I wasn’t very surprised when he found himself floating around politics as easily as he did the real estate and the media world.

FR: What about Ted Cruz?

CT: I had been a very strong Ted Cruz supporter and quite inspired by his role in the United States Senate.

We’ve had some downsides. We haven’t seen him in Lubbock in a long time. My farmers have been wanting to speak to him.

So I think we needed a stronger change of direction than the usual government bureaucrat could give us. Ted Cruz rails against government but he has worked for the government his entire life in one way or another. Here (with Trump) was the true outsider who could maneuver in the political realm quite easily.

By the way, you don’t have to be a genius to be in politics, as I have learned the deeper I get in, how untalented some of these people really are. On the other hand, in my commercial real estate life, I’m against sharks every day, very clever people and very inspiring people. I mean they are building things that will last for generations. The people I work for have redeveloped a a big part of Lubbock, the largest privately-funded redevelopment ever in the country, sometimes I think they take for granted what they do. These developers are incredibly talented people, whether you are building a house, a strip center or a giant office tower, it’s hard.


FR: Did you take the Trump campaign seriously from the start?

CT: I thought it was a joke. I thought he was going to be an also ran. I saw him addressing a handful of volunteers on the television in New Hampshire and I thought, what a joke.

Scott Walker was my early-on favorite. Scott Walker or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. I liked all three of them. But Trump vented our own frustrations into the media. Remember the Teflon Don? He was sort of the Teflon candidate, and the stronger and more bombastic he got the more popular he got, and it wasn’t hard for me to see there was something afoot in the American psyche.

I was also looking at the crowds. They were doctors, lawyers, developers, electricians, police officers and firefighters. I think there’s wisdom in the working men, and then I was invited to one of the rallies in Forth Worth and the crowd was incredible – black, white, Hispanic.

The Lubbock County Republican Party has a booth at a lot of events around town. One of the biggest ones is the gun show. It comes around every quarter. We’re stars of the gun show, and we could not keep the Trump signs in stock, the yard signs, and it was all black and Mexican construction workers who were remodeling our civic center and were grabbing these signs and bumper stickers and we could not keep them in stock. We had to keep running back to the headquarters, and they were clearly expressing the same frustrations that Donald Trump was expressing, and I just knew something was afoot.

I felt it in the air and he laid down the safe speak – saying everything in a safe, politically correct manner. He was saying things in a bombastic way and it was a much more fun campaign.

FR: But what about all the times he said and did things that people said would surely be the end of his campaign?

CT: I cringed. When he talked about John McCain, I cringed. When he talked about Carly Fiorina, about her looks, I cringed. I find her quite attractive, by the way.

So, yeah, I cringed. but Donald Trump talks in a manner like you’re hanging around the construction site. It’s bar talk or construction site talk, and it’s talk that you usually don’t broadcast. It’s talk that the guys talk around the construction site. You certainly don’t do it in public or in an interview, but he’s a billionaire, he doesn’t care. He says what’s on his mind, and it’s refreshing. So I would not have said the things he said and I don’t agree with some of the things he said, but we just appreciated the naked honesty and we hope to move onto the issues again of immigration, trade.

When Vladimir Putin started bombing ISIS, Trump said, “Great, let them use their bombs and spend a few billion dollars,” that absolutely reverberated with me.

FR: But is Trump presidential?

CT: I started looking at some presidential history. Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, very bombastic characters, very loud, sometimes obnoxious, and extremely successful.

I’m a big Teddy Roosevelt fan. I don’t trust the government and I trust big corporations little more. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was desperately needed in its time, because corporations can abuse people as easily as government abuses people.


FR: Growing up on Long Island, do you have higher tolerance for Trump’s New York personality?

CT: Yes, I do have a higher tolerance for that New York personality. Quite frankly, Texas politics is not that tough. It’s very polite, compared to other states. Whereas South Carolina, New York are much more rough and tumble, so I have a much higher tolerance. Texas politics is very genteel. Austin politics isn’t that tough.

I’ve seen candidates who have gone negative and it’s absolutely sunk their campaigns. They don’t like negative politics in Texas.

FR: This is your first national convention. How are you liking it so far?

CT: It’s much more interesting than I thought it would be. Mostly because there is the Ted Cruz contingent that will just not accept Donald Trump as the nominee. And the Texas delegation is certainly more divided than I expected. The anti-Trump or the Never Trump contingent of the Texas delegation is very effective and very strong, and some of the best activists I’ve seen in a while.


The delegation is not as friendly, it’s quite divided, its not as spirited – many of the inspiring speeches so far, they are staying in their seats. They’re still coming to terms with Donald Trump as the nominee. They may never come to terms.


The Texas delegation is much more ideologically driven. The ideology with them comes before the personality, and they are committed to Ted Cruz. There is no changing their mind. They are Never Trump.


FR: Did you see the effort to change the party rules as part and parcel of the anti-Trump campaign?

CT: No, some people have been fighting for rules changes for years, but they also got caught up with the Never Trump movement. They found an unexpected ally in the Never Trump people. So they wanted it both ways. They wanted the help of these Never Trump people in the rules changes. On the other hand, they didn’t want to be identified as Never Trump people. In the end the party wanted to settle on its nominee and they didn’t get any of the changes they wanted, and they’re very upset and of course, the Never Trump people are very upset.

A lot of them were very thoughtful rules changes, which I would have supported.

FR: So, if it had come to a roll call vote, would you have supported the Rules Committee report, or voted “no” with the rules reformers?

CT: I would have prioritized for the nominee, I would have voted yes.

It’s a year where the sensitivity is very high. I’m a Trump supporter. We’ve got to get our nominee through, and I would have absolutely have voted yes, and been disappointed that it’s going to take another four years to get those desperately needed rules changes through.



FR: What did you make of the brief bit of chaos on the floor on the rules vote?

CT: If you’ve been to a county or a state convention, that’s part of the process and part of the fun of being in politics, and a very small part of me enjoyed it. It made the convention a little more interesting. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I thought it was kind of fun. I thought it was interesting the way the RNC handled it. They were not really prepared. I know two dozen county chairman in Texas who would have handled it a lot better on a county or a state stage than they did on national stage.

It’s County Chairman 101 and they failed.


I got in trouble because I tweeted the Art of the Deal and everybody’s really annoyed with me. I said three states dropped out – The Art of the Deal.


They dropped out. I don’t know why. Welcome to be the Big Leagues.

FR: What about complaints that Trump, the outsider, was now relying on the smoke-filled room?

CT: He’s a businessman. He’s maneuvered this entire primary season. Someone complained to me on my Twitter – “He’s just manipulated the system.” Yes, that’s what you do in politics. You manipulate the system.

FR: What do you think about his choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for VP?

CT: Donald Trump was my first choice, Pence was not my first choice.

The feedback I’ve gotten back home has been very positive. It made them reassured. He will be able to walk into the Oval Office and say, `Mr. President, I’d like you to reconsider something,” on the basis of some kind of conservative notion , and he’s going to be more effective in guiding Trump toward an ideology that’s more conservative.

FR: Who would you have preferred?

CT: Gingrich.

FR: Wouldn’t Trump and Gingrich have been too much?

CT: No. How much is too much in politics? Star power. New Gingrich is clear, concise, intelligent, entertaining, experienced, so I’d lie if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. Pence was an unknown factor to me, but he’s proving to be  advantageous to the campaign.

FR: Who did you support for the 2012 nomination?

CT: I loved Herman Cain. 999. I loved it. I was starting to get Herman Cain bumper stickers. I thought he had something. Of course it all fell apart when we learned about some of his dalliances, it seems, alleged, but yeah I guess I am attracted to that same character. Yeah, I love Herman Cain. I think I ended up voting for Ron Paul.

I was never a Mitt Romney fan, at all, not a John McCain fan, at all. Nonetheless, I would put up the bumper stickers, the signs, walk the blocks. We do what we do as a political party.

I think we need to talk about that for a minute. I am very disappointed in the Never Trump movement. I feel that they are breaking the social contract. If Ted Cruz had become the nominee I would have happily walked the blocks, gone on a Strike Force to New Mexico or Ohio or wherever they wanted me to go. I am very disappointed that they have not reciprocated. I feel like it has been hypocritical, really feelings are hurt and I’m not sure I would reciprocate again, because I feel like I’m the only idiot who would have fallen in line like we’re expected to .

FR: Is it important that Ted Cruz endorse Trump when he addresses the convention Wednesday night?

CT: That’s what everybody is holding their breath for. What will the Cruz speech be? Will it be about America and values and ideology, or will he gave a full-fledged and enthusiastic endorsement of Donald Trump.

I’ve been very disappointed by the lackluster endorsements – “Well, it’s about the Supreme Court’s at stake, or lower taxes at stake.” I’ve been telling some local officials, “Don’t give an endorsement if it’s not an enthusiastic endorsement of Mr. Trump and making America great. If it’s not one of those endorsements, don’t bother. But if it’s going to be a full-fledged endorsement, we’d like to really highlight that.”

FR: But politically, would it be in Cruz’s own self-interest to endorse Trump?

CT: His own self-interest should not be considered right now. It’s the interests of the country. You can’t be selfish. You can’t worry about your self interest. That’s disgusting.

We believe the country is at stake. That’s why we put in all these hours and thousands of dollars and time and walking blocks and energy. It’s about the good of the country. What we believe is best for the country. Obviously, the Democrats see it a different way. So any politician who doesn’t have the country as their first interest needs to leave office.

FR: But the Trump-Cruz race got extraordinarily personal.

CT: I don’t remember any primary that doesn’t get personal at some point. They all steal each other’s signs. All kinds of silly things happen and we get caught up in it and we move on. I’ve been involved in all kinds of county commission races, countless congressional races, countless gubernatorial races. You fall behind the nominee enthusiastically for the interest of your city or your county or the city or the nation.

Certainly, we’re really beyond the turning point for the nation. Really, four years ago was the turning point and we lost, and so all this talk about self-interest and maneuvering needs to be put down for the good of the country.

FR: How do you like Trump’s chances against Hillary Clinton?

CT: Very bullish. I think he’s going beat her handily. I think the American public is not comfortable with Crooked Hillary. I think she has a long record of failure – from First Lady and Travelgate,and very mediocre U.S. senator, and her failures as secretary of state – Russia, Benghazi, ISIS. She was a failed presidential contender, beat by a no-name from Illinois. She almost got beaten for this nomination by a guy who wasn’t even a Democrat – Bernie Sanders. So she’s been a failure at everything she’s touched.

For her, thank God for Bill. I’m shocked she’s gotten as far as she has and the adjustments of the Trump campaign have been very sharp and I think he’s going to roll over her through the summer and into the fall.

(Lubbock delegates Carl Tepper and Greg Lewis on the convention floor after the roll call.)
(Lubbock delegates Carl Tepper and Greg Lewis on the convention floor after the roll call.)

FR: How do you think Trump will balance his usual free-style delivery with the demands of giving a presidential acceptance speech Thursday?

CT: We expect Donald Trump to be a little bombastic. We want Donald Trump to be a little bombastic. So Donald, please be Donald.

FR: What are you feeling as your candidate is about to claim the nomination?

CT: A deep sense of satisfaction that we got a man who reverberates with the real America.

JFK and Nixon changed politics with their debate. Reagan spoke around the mainstream media directly to the people, and Donald Trump has mastered the media, 24/7. I see a new candidate for a new age. This is a new era of politicians who have to be on all the time. It’s not relegated to the evening news anymore. They are in our Facebook. They’re on our tweets. They’re part of our lives, 24/7 now. We follow them as we would athletes or Hollywood movie stars.

He’s a new candidate for a new age.


Paul Ryan: “When you advance to a national championship don’t you root for a Longhorn if you’re an Aggie?’

Good morning Austin:

House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared before the Texas delegation at their breakfast at the Republican National Convention today.

He said something that I tweeted.

The answer,  apparently, is no.









Dan Patrick: `I can’t see that any Republican worth his or her salt can possibly vote for Hillary or sit this out.’

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.


Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.13.36 AM


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.”

Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manfort, with arms folded
Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, with arms folded


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.

From  Politico.

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.”

Steve Munisteri and Morgan Graham
Steve Munisteri and Morgan Graham

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:


Ted Cruz

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.

Never Trump

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)

Lee, a Cruz ally and the highest ranking elected official on the Rules Committee, lost every battle he waded into.

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.

(Audience Applause)

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.

Probably not.

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.

From Wlezien:

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:




1.  Candidates generally get a bump of some sort.  The size of the bump is highly variable but virtually all candidates leave their convention doing better in the polls than when they went into the convention.
2.  The size of the convention bump does not predict the overall winner very well.  Just ask Presidents Goldwater,  Mondale, Dole, or Gore, all of whom had bigger bumps than their competitors.  One of the reasons for this is that candidates running way behind in the polls have an easier time gaining ground during their conventions.  For instance, in 1964 Barry Goldwater was so far behind in the pre-convention polls (averaging 21% of the vote) that it was easy for him to improve his standing by thirteen points during the convention, though he still never come close to being competitive.  At the same time, Lyndon Johnson went into his convention with 69% of the vote in pre-election polls and left the convention with no bump but still with a substantial lead.
3.  Convention bumps aren’t what they used to be (see figure below).   Prior to the 2000 election, convention bumps averaged more than six points, but that has fallen to just over two points from 2000 to 2012.  One potential explanation for this change lies in the scheduling of conventions. The 2008 and 2012 conventions were held in late August and early September and were also held on back-to-back weeks.  The norm in other years had been to hold the conventions in late July or early August and to separate them by two to three weeks.  What is probably most important here is holding the conventions on consecutive weeks, which means that the convention messages end up overlapping and may cancel out each other.  Another potential explanation lies in the increased polarization of the electorate.  It is possible that partisans are so much more committed to their candidates now than they were before and there is a much smaller persuadable electorate that can be influenced by events like the nominating conventions.
So what does all of this mean for the 2016 convention bumps?  One of the the key features of the 2016 conventions is that they follow the recent scheduling trend of back-to-back convention weeks, so this might limit the size of the bumps.  On the other hand, since the conventions are being held in late July rather than late August, there might be more persuadable voters than in 2000, 2008, or 2012.   One other factor that could lead to more substantial convention bumps is that both candidates have problems within their own party and the conventions present them with an opportunity to rally the base in a way that no other campaign event can.  The key for both candidates is to have a smoothly run convention that heals rather than exacerbates existing party wounds and projects a positive message to the rest of the country.