Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
For a picture of irony, it’s tough to beat the aerial shot of Donald Trump scurrying up a scrubby embankment in Burlingame, California on Friday. Hundreds of protestors had amassed at the main entrance of a hotel there to disrupt his appearance at the California Republican Convention, so the GOP frontrunner was forced out of his motorcade to sneak in the back entrance. The resonance of the image, looping on cable networks all afternoon, wasn’t lost on the anti-immigration hardliner. “That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” Trump said, once inside. “It felt like I was crossing the border, actually.”
This was the week that Trump, with his wall-based candidacy, consummated his own gatecrashing of the Republican Party. After a categorical victory on Tuesday — he not only won all five of the Eastern states that were voting, he carried every county — the billionaire drew within spitting distance of securing the 1,237 delegates he needs to bag the nomination on the first ballot. Some in the party signaled they’re finally ready to take the hint, with no less an old-guard archetype than Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the president pro tempore of the Senate, declaring, “It looks to me like he’s going to win, and if he does, I’m going to do everything in my power to help him.” Others, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, aren’t yet willing to yield. Cruz flopped badly in the Tuesday contests and nevertheless tried to bounce back Wednesday, naming former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate in a ploy that looked more desperate than decisive.
But those Republicans hoping a clinch by Trump might at least begin to suture the wounds from the primary before the party’s July convention are likely to be disappointed. If Cruz can no longer win, he’s got no less to lose. The GOP’s last contested convention, in 1976, pitted Gerald Ford, the presidential incumbent, against Ronald Reagan, a two-term governor who’d spent more than a decade on the national stage. Each, in his way, was deeply invested in the party. Trump and Cruz alike have little use for it, and both will march into Cleveland backed by armies of impassioned supporters similarly untempered by any fealty to the organization. That should make for a rowdy convention, no matter the delegate count going in — and an extended migraine for party leaders.
Even Trump, whose self-interest now should point him toward reconciliation, apparently can’t resist trashing the edifice he’s scaled. Addressing the crowd Friday after his hike through the dirt, he said, “There should be and there has to be unity. Now, with that being said, would I win, can I win without it? I think so.”
• Insiders Say Clinton Trumps Trump
Now that it looks almost certain that the November election will be a face off between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, political insiders in swing states across the country are gauging each candidate’s chances of securing the 270 electoral votes necessary to capture the White House. Politico held a caucus this week to take the temperature of political insiders, finding that 90 percent are predicting a Clinton win, including 75 percent of Republicans.
• Trump Courts Bernie Voters
Trump’s best bet at winning in November, then, might be leveraging fissures in the Democratic Party. As the GOP front-runner turns his attention toward Hillary Clinton, he’s betting that he can court discontented Bernie Sanders supporters, arguing that she is a “crooked” politician whose questionable ties to donors in the financial services industry make her unqualified to be president. These attacks echo arguments Bernie Sanders has made, and Trump insiders say that the candidate thinks he can connect with these voters on issues like money in politics.
• Texas voter ID is constitutional—for now
The Supreme Court ruled Friday to keep Texas’ controversial voter ID law in place, at least for the time being. 18 months ago, a federal judge ruled that the Texas law—which requires voters to present one of seven forms of government-issued identification before being allowed to vote—was a violation of the voting rights act because it was intentionally discriminatory. An appeals court put that decision on hold so that it wouldn’t affect the 2014 election, but has yet to resolve the merits of the case. The Supreme Court set a July 20 deadline to act, presumably so that the issue can be resolved in time for the November election.
Around the Water Cooler
• The Trump Budget Makes No Sense
Donald Trump talks a big game when it comes to his ability to get the economy going again, but he’s never been one for specifics. Within a matter of weeks, Trump has gone from claiming that he will completely eliminate the national debt in 8 years to saying that paying down the debt shouldn’t be a top priority. Fortune tried its best to imagine what a Trump budget would look like given his many contradictory statements, but the results were not very heartening.
• Now you can play the woman card, too.
Following last week’s claim by the GOP frontrunner that Hillary Clinton was only having success because she can “play the woman card,” many Trump sympathizers cringed. Given the fact that women make up more than half of a presidential electorate, it didn’t strike them as the best line of attack, and it appears the Hillary Clinton campaign agrees. The campaign is now offering to send campaign donors and offical “woman card” as a way to poke fun of the Trumpian claim that a woman candidate might get an unfair boost in America because of her sex.
• Who will be the next Treasury Secretary?
After an election campaign that was dominated by disagreements over trade policy, the federal government’s relationship to Wall Street, and how to get the economy back to full strength, the most important cabinet appointment the next president makes could be Treasury Secretary. Bloomberg takes a stab at predicting who will be the nation’s head economic policy maker next year, and its choices show just how divided the American electorate is these days. We could get either a swashbuckling corporate raider like Carl Icahn in a potential Trump adminitration, or a buttoned-down academic like Robert Reich, if Bernie Sanders is able to stage a comeback.