Posts tagged with "Donald Trump"

Trump no longer can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue

June 7, 2024

During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump once infamously claimed, regarding his unwavering supporters, that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” At the time, it just seemed like more self-aggrandizing hyperbole from America’s most outlandish presidential candidate,—but in the years since, a great many of us have wondered if maybe he was right. Now, New Yorkers can finally rest easy, reports New York Magazine.

CNN reported on Wednesday, June 5, that, according to a senior police official, the NYPD plans to revoke Trump’s license to carry a gun in the city on account of his recent felony conviction: Trump’s New York concealed carry license was quietly suspended on April 1, 2023, following his indictment on criminal charges in New York, the official said.

Two of the three pistols he was licensed to carry were turned over to the NYPD on March 31, 2023, and a third gun listed on Trump’s license “was lawfully moved to Florida,” the person added … The NYPD’s Legal Bureau will complete its investigation “that will likely lead to revocation of his license,” the senior police official said.

Trump could seek a hearing challenging the revocation. Trump has had a license from the NYPD to carry a concealed firearm for more than a decade, according to multiple law enforcement sources, but because Trump’s application came with a request for confidentiality, they are exempt from public records requests, according to the NYPD’s guidelines and New York State law.

What will happen with his gun in Florida is not clear. The Trace reports that, after Trump’s hush-money trial conviction is formalized, it would violate federal gun laws for the former president to continue packing heat in the state—at least for now, since the gun-rights lobby continues to mount legal challenges against the federal ban on felons owning guns.

So, it’s still possible that Trump could gun someone down in cold blood outside Mar-a-Lago, and that his voters might shrug it off as a necessary cost of making America great. But it appears that innocent bystanders on Fifth Avenue, and everywhere else in New York, are finally safe from this supposed thought experiment.

Research contact: @nymagazine

Stormy Daniels walks Trump trial jury through alleged sexual encounter

May 7, 2024

Former President Trump came face-to-face with adult film actress Stormy Daniels on Tuesday, October 7 when she took the stand in his hush-money case, reports The Hill.

Daniels is so far the highest-profile witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s prosecution of Trump over a $130,000 payment made to her to keep quiet about allegations of an affair with the former president.

Daniels recounted her first experience meeting Trump during a celebrity golf tournament in 2006 near Lake Tahoe. She said their first interaction, when she was introduced to him, was “very brief.” She said Trump told her she must be “smart” after he learned she also directed films.

She said his security detail asked if she would like to have dinner with Trump at the time, to which she said no. The adult film actress says she ultimately agreed to have dinner with Trump, but despite “really nice restaurants” in the hotel, Trump’s bodyguard sent instructions to take a specific elevator up to the penthouse floor. That ultimately led her to Trump’s hotel room, she testified.

“That was my only expectation, that we’d have dinner,” Daniels said.

The sexual encounter with Trump

Daniels testified that Trump’s hotel suite was three times the size of her apartment. When she walked into the foyer, she said Trump met her in silk or satin pajamas.

“I told him to go change, so he obliged, very politely,” Daniels said.

The porn actress said she and Trump then sat down at the dining room table in the suite, where Trump asked her various “get to know you” questions. He also asked about how the adult film industry worked, including a query about whether Daniels had been tested for sexually transmitted infections. Daniels responded that she had and was negative. Daniels has publicly recounted these details multiple times previously. But now, she is under oath, testifying in an historic trial.

After dinner, Daniels excused herself to powder her nose. She said that the alleged sexual encounter with Trump began after she exited the bathroom, where she said she found Trump on the bed wearing boxer shorts and a T-shirt.

She said she thought at one point, “Oh my God. What did I misread to get here?” She said the “intention was pretty clear” when someone is “stripped down to underwear, posing on the bed and waiting for you.”

She said Trump did not approach her in a “threatening manner” and that she did not have any alcohol or drugs that night.

Daniels said “yes” when asked if the sexual encounter with Trump was brief. She also testified that Trump did not wear a condom but she did not say anything about it to him.

Afterwards, the porn actor struggled in getting dressed again as she tried to depart as quickly as possible, she testified.

“He said, ‘Oh, it was great, let’s get together again honeybunch,’ and I just wanted to leave,” Daniels said.

Trump looked straight forward as Daniels described the alleged encounter, which he denies, with little visible reaction.

Another meeting

Daniels said she met Trump again while in public at a nightclub at her hotel the day following the alleged sexual encounter.

She said Trump introduced her as his “little friend Stormy,” and described the nightclub as “dark” with “loud music.” She said Trump told her he would figure out how to get her on his reality show “The Apprentice” once he returned home.

She added that Trump would call her once a week, or maybe two to three times a week, after meeting him. She said Trump always called her “honeybunch” and asked when they could get together again.

An interview

Daniels confirmed that in 2011, she sat for a ten- to 20-minute interview with In Touch Weekly, a celebrity gossip magazine, about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Daniels said she participated to control her narrative.

The adult film actress said she was supposed to be paid $15,000 but the story never ran. She said “not exactly, no” when asked by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger if she knew why it didn’t publish. It reportedly was killed after Michael Cohen threatened to sue.

Hoffinger also asked Daniels if she told the magazine all the details.

“No. I tried to keep it fairly lighthearted and to the point,” Daniels responded.

But that didn’t protect her: Telling a story she has recounted for years, Daniels told the jury about how a man threatened her a few weeks after she was interviewed by the magazine.

The encounter happened in a Las Vegas parking lot while she was with her daughter going to a mommy and me workout class, according to Daniels. But she did not go to the police, and there is no documentary evidence or other witnesses who have come forward to corroborate her claims.

“I thought he was the husband or something of one of the other women, and he approached me and threatened me not to continue to tell my story,” Daniels testified.

Trump’s Access Hollywood debacle

Daniels said that everything changed after the release of the Access Hollywood  tape. She then learned that Trump and his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, were interested in buying it, Daniels told jurors.

“They were interested in paying for the story, which was the best thing that could happen, ’cause my husband wouldn’t find out, but there would be a documentation,” she said.

Daniels connected the timing of her hush-money negotiations in October 2016 to that year’s upcoming presidential election, indicating she wanted it settled before the polls closed.

“I was afraid that if it wasn’t done before the nomination I wouldn’t be safe,” Daniels said, before correcting herself that she meant “the election.”

“Or he would never pay and there wouldn’t be a trail to keep me safe,” she added.

To secure a conviction on the felony charges, prosecutors must prove that Trump falsified business records with an intent to commit or conceal some other crime. Prosecutors have cited alleged campaign law violations—portraying the hush-money arrangements as an unlawful conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s lawyers have maintained that Daniels’s testimony, while salacious, does not matter because she has no personal knowledge of the business records that correspond to Trump’s charges.

Research contact: @thehill

Federal appeals court swats down Trump’s immunity claims

February 7, 2024

Former President Donald Trump can’t lean on his expired credentials to avoid criminal charges for his attempt to stay in the White House after losing the 2020 election, a federal appellate court ruled on Tuesday—stripping him of any alleged presidential immunity, reports The Daily Beast.

“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump,” the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled, noting that “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

The historic decision puts Trump on a direct path to the Supreme Court, which is expected to ultimately decide whether Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith can put the former president on trial—and potentially ruin his 2024 campaign by branding him a convicted felon.

D.C. Circuit Judges J. Michelle Childs, Karen L. Henderson, and Florence Y. Pan wrote the decision after hearing arguments last month, including one Trump team theory that stunned them: The idea that presidents are afforded such unbelievable, sweeping power that they could get away with ordering a SEAL team to kill a political rival.

In their decision on Tuesday, February 6, the appellate judges went further than simply knocking down Trump’s bid to claim this near-limitless immunity. They also established a clear and direct relationship between Trump and the insurrection.

“The rally headlined by President Trump resulted in a march of thousands to the Capitol and the violent breach of the Capitol Building,” they wrote, noting that “Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results were unsuccessful.”

The 2024 Trump campaign immediately vowed to appeal the decision, reiterating his legal team’s argument that exposing Trump to criminal charges will clear the way for future prosecutions.

“If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. Without complete immunity, a president of the United States would not be able to properly function! Deranged Jack Smith’s prosecution of President Trump for his Presidential, official acts is unconstitutional under the doctrine of Presidential Immunity and the Separation of Powers,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in his statement.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan previously rejected Trump’s immunity claims—sparking the current appeal. The appellate panel affirmed Judge Chutkan’s December 1 ruling that “former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability.”

However, Trump can still claim some sort of victory in that this appeal has already slowed down the case. Chutkan had initially set the trial to start March 4, the day before the important “Super Tuesday” presidential primary elections in more than a dozen key states across the country. But the specious claims laid out by Trump’s legal team put the case on hold as it makes its way through the nation’s higher courts.

Days ago, Chutkan took steps that make clear she no longer thinks the trial will take place as soon as she’d hoped, scheduling other matters in March.

While the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the fate of the case, Tuesday’s ruling lays the groundwork for a decision that could leave Trump vulnerable to being the first ever former American president to end up in prison—and possibly bankrupt.

Trump is facing four criminal charges in the D.C. case for his involvement in a concerted effort to lie to the American public about the 2020 election results, a scheme that sought to interrupt the congressional certification of electoral ballots on January 6, 2021, in order to cement the victory of President Joe Biden. But he’s also facing multiple civil lawsuits for his role in leading and inspiring the attack on the Capitol by thousands of his MAGA supporters—one that cost the lives of five police officers who died after defending the seat of Congress from the raging mob.

The appellate judges reiterated the established legal precedent that an American president is “absolutely immune from civil liability for his official acts,” a notion that Trump’s legal team is trying to use as an impenetrable shield against the indictment and civil lawsuits. But, as the DOJ itself has noted in a legal memo last year, Trump’s decision to urge his followers to attack Congress fell far outside of the scope of his official duties.

In their December 6 decision, appellate judges noted that “both sitting and former presidents remain civilly liable for private conduct.” And they even tore away the shield Trump keeps trying to wield, writing that “the separation of powers doctrine may immunize lawful discretionary acts but does not bar the federal criminal prosecution of a former President for every official act.”

The appellate judges stressed that past presidents have tacitly acknowledged that they can be held accountable, evidenced by the fact that President Gerald Ford in 1974 saw it fit to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon—something that “both former presidents evidently believed was necessary to avoid Nixon’s post-resignation indictment.”

The landmark court decisions in Nixon’s Watergate scandal have played a pivotal role in Trump’s current legal woes—solidifying longtime comparisons between the 1970s political crook and the billionaire real estate tycoon whose entire presidency was mired in ethics scandals.

Research contact: @The_DailyBeast

Haley camp seeks to convince top donors that Trump would cost GOP the House

February 1, 2024

Nikki Haley’s campaign manager warned influential donors on Tuesday, January 30, that the GOP would lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives if Donald Trump were the party’s presidential nominee—leaning into concerns about down-ballot races as some anti-Trump Republicans view the fight over Congress as a better investment than the presidential race, reports The Washington Post.

Speaking to the same group behind closed doors, one of Trump’s top advisers delivered a data-heavy presentation about why Republican financiers should get on board as he barrels toward the nomination—charting out how he could win enough delegates to clinch the nomination early this spring.

Susie Wiles, who gave the presentation in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, and other top Trump advisers have argued that Haley has no path forward and that money spent to elevate her diverts resources that could be used to beat President Joe Biden in the general election.

The dueling presentations, which were described by people with knowledge of the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private comments, reflected the starkly contrasting positions the final two Republican White House hopefuls are in after the first two nominating contests.

Trump is in a commanding position and looking to further consolidate his power after a pair of dominating wins, with many party leaders seeing him as the presumptive nominee. Haley, fighting for her political survival with a path to victory that has all but closed in the eyes of many strategists, has ramped up her attacks on Trump, trying different lines of attack aimed at raising doubts about how he would fare in November. She faces long odds—even in her home state of South Carolina, where she’s now focusing.

Top advisers to Haley and Trump made their cases to members of the American Opportunity Alliance (AOA), which includes some of the GOP’s most influential donors. Last fall, the group summoned representatives of Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)—then seen as Trump’s most formidable opponent—to map out their strategies and how they intended to defeat Trump. But DeSantis is out of the race, and Haley’s team is trying to convince donors that they still have a path, as many Republicans rally behind Trump and turn toward the general election.

On Tuesday in Palm Beach, Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney argued that Trump would lead the GOP to further losses and hurt the rest of the 2024 ticket, according to people familiar with the presentation. Beyond the House, Ankney stressed the importance of maximizing GOP gains in the Senate in 2024, while Democrats are defending many seats, because the map will get much tougher in subsequent years, one person said.

One person familiar with the Haley campaign presentation said Ankney recapped a week in which Trump lashed out at Haley—devoting much of his New Hampshire victory speech to criticizing her—then, suffered a major legal blow, ordered by a jury to pay more than $83 million for defamation.

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a campaign memo earlier this week, Trump advisers Chris LaCivita and Wiles argued that Haley and her allies “are aiding and abetting Joe Biden by staying in the race.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump’s ‘Achilles’ heel’? Haley’s refusal to drop out infuriates ex-president.

January 31, 2024

it was a moment for Donald Trump to be gracious, magnanimous—perhaps, even presidential. Instead he lashed out at his opponent’s clothes. “When I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy, I said, ‘What’s she doing? We won,’” he said of rival Nikki Haley in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, January 23, reports The Guardian.

Trump had just won the first primary election of 2024 and all but clinched the Republican nomination for U.S. president. Party leaders and campaign surrogates are now eager to banish Haley to irrelevance, move on from the primary, and unify against Democrats. They want Trump to pivot to an almost inevitable rematch with Democrat Joe Biden in November.

Yet the 77-year-old remains consumed with rage over Haley’s unwillingness to quit the race. His petulance offers a reminder of the unhinged behavior that turned off Independent voters in New Hampshire and could prove to be a liability in a head-to-head contest with Biden. It is also at odds with what is an unusually professional and disciplined campaign operation.

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University in Rhode Island, said: “Donald Trump wants the race to be over and we see evidence of why that’s important for the Trump campaign from his speech, which was essentially a train wreck and exhibited all the worst tendencies of Donald Trump. It was an undisciplined Trump and this is what turns off independent voters.”

She added: “This is the Achilles’ heel for the Trump campaign and they know it. The sooner this gets wrapped up then he doesn’t have any more of those impromptu late-night speeches. Their worry is not that they’re not going to win the nomination; their worry is the damage that Trump having to respond to Haley will do in the general election with Independent voters.”

Indeed, according to The Guardian, Trump’s investment of emotion and energy in attacking Haley is wildly out of proportion for the minimal threat that Haley poses. He won the Iowa caucuses in a landslide—she was third—and beat her by double digits in New Hampshire. No other Republican candidate in history who won the first two contests has failed to clinch his party’s nomination. His dominance looks set to render the next five months of primaries irrelevant.

Newt Gingrich, a former House of Representatives speaker and ex-presidential candidate, said: “Trump’s best strategy is to assume he is the nominee and go straight at Biden and ignore Haley: Let her flounder around until

However, Haley’s tenacity has enraged Trump. He has branded her “birdbrain”. He has threatened to blacklist anyone who donates to her campaign. He has railed against her frequently on social media, writing: “Could somebody please explain to Nikki that she lost—and lost really badly. She also lost Iowa, BIG, last week. They were, as certain non-fake media say, ‘CRUSHING DEFEATS.’”

The insults and outbursts are a reminder of why Trump alienated moderate voters in the past. While his win in New Hampshire was historic, it also exposed general election vulnerabilities—showing him to be highly popular with Republicans but highly unpopular with Independents, who were allowed to take part in the Republican primary under the state’s rules.

There has never been such a wide gap between the Republican vote and the Independent vote in a New Hampshire Republican primary. According to CNN’s exit polls, Trump won Republican voters by 74% to 25%,; but Haley won Independents 58% to 39%.

Research contact: @guardian

Trump is privately pressuring GOP Senators to ‘kill’ border deal to deny Biden a win

January 26, 2024

On Wednesday, January 24, Donald Trump privately pressured Senate Republicans to “kill” a bipartisan deal to secure the U.S. border because he doesn’t want President Joe Biden to chalk up a win ahead of the 2024 presidential election, reports HuffPost.

Trump directly reached out to several GOP senators on Wednesday to tell them to reject any deal. The GOP presidential frontrunner also personally reached out to some Senate Republicans over the weekend, an anonymous source told HuffPost. “He doesn’t want Biden to have a victory,” said the source. “He told them he will fix the border when he is president…. He said he only wants the perfect deal.”

Trump’s meddling generated an “emotional” discussion in a closed-door meeting among Senate Republicans, as senators vented their frustrations for hours about the largely secret negotiations over emergency aid for Ukraine, Israel, and immigration. The conference is splintering into two camps—those who believe Republicans should take the deal, and those who are opposed at any cost.

“The rational Republicans want the deal because they want Ukraine and Israel and an actual border solution,” said the source. “But the others are afraid of Trump, or they’re the chaos caucus who never wants to pass anything.”

“They’re having a little crisis in their conference right now,” the source added.

A bipartisan group of senators has been working for months to craft a border deal, and Trump has made it no secret that he opposes it. On Wednesday, he wrote on Truth Social, his conservative social media site, “I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed to shut down the INVASION of Millions and Millions of people.”

What’s different now, though, is that Trump is now directly telling GOP senators to oppose any deal. His meddling has left their conference in even more disarray than it was already in, and a potential border deal in limbo.

Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) demurred when asked if he thinks it’s constructive for Trump to tell Republicans not to make any border deals: “I could probably go through any number of things that Biden is saying that are not constructive when he’s on the campaign trail, but that’s the nature of campaigns,”

Tillis said. “So I’m not going to criticize President Trump or his positions.”

But, bucking Trump, he said he supported passing the bipartisan border deal, which Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) has been working on with Democrats.

“Based on what I’ve seen and based on the work that James Lankford has put in, it goes far enough for me,” said Tillis. “If anyone’s intellectually honest with themselves, they all know these would be extraordinary tools for President Trump.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) referenced comments Trump made as president in 2018 about the difficulty of getting Democrats to agree to changes to immigration laws. McConnell, who is no fan of Trump, was making the case that Republicans should agree to a border deal now, since the likelihood of Democrats potentially cutting a deal with Trump in the White House again would be highly unlikely.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Cheney warns that a vote for Trump ‘may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in’

December 5, 2023


Former Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) offered a stark warning on Monday, December 4, to those planning to vote for former President Donald Trump—suggesting it could be the last democratic election in the United States if the former president returns to the White House, reports The Hill.

“I hope that there are options and alternatives that reflect the important challenges that we’re facing, and that reflect leadership to meet those challenges; but that choice can never be Donald Trump, because a vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in,” she told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on “Today.”

“And again, I don’t say that lightly, and I think it’s heartbreaking that that’s where we are, but people have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution,” she continued.

Cheney, a longtime critic of Trump, has been on a media blitz to promote her forthcoming book, “Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning,” which details the state of the Republican Party and its response to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. She reiterated Monday that she “will never vote for Donald Trump” and “will do whatever it takes to make sure that Donald Trump is defeated in 2024.”

She did not rule out a potential 2024 bid for the White House, saying she will make that decision over the next couple of months.

Cheney served as the vice chair of the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attacks. She later lost her August 2022 primary after becoming a frequent critic of her party and the former president.

She also said Monday that “there’s no question” that Trump would refuse to leave the White House at the end of his second four-year term if reelected.

“He’s already attempted to seize power, and he was stopped, thankfully, and for the good of the nation and the republic,” she said. “But he said he will do it again. He’s expressed no remorse for what he did.”

She added that it’s “a very, very real threat and concern” that Trump will make himself a dictator if he wins the White House.

“I don’t say any of that lightly,” she said. “And frankly, it’s painful for me as someone who, you know, has spent their whole life in Republican politics who grew up as Republican to watch what’s happening to my party, and to watch the extent to which Donald Trump himself has, you know, basically determined that that the only thing that matters is him his power, his success.”

Research contact: @thehill

Powerful Koch network endorses Nikki Haley over Ron DeSantis for president

November 29, 2023

The influential political network founded by the billionaire Koch brothers announced on Tuesday, November 28, that it is endorsing Nikki Haley  for president—providing a major lift to her Republican primary campaign as she attempts to catch up with runaway frontrunner  and former President Donald Trump, reports The Daily Beast.

Americans for Prosperity Action said it would give its “full support” to the former South Carolina governor with just seven weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses. The endorsement means that the network will now throw its considerable resources into supporting Haley—believing her to be the candidate most capable of a GOP victory in 2024.

“Our internal polling confirms what our activists are hearing and seeing from voters in the early primary states: Nikki Haley is in the best position to defeat Donald Trump in the primaries,” read a Tuesday memo from Emily Seidel, senior adviser to Americans for Prosperity Action.

“In sharp contrast to recent elections that were dominated by the negative baggage of Donald Trump and in which good candidates lost races that should have been won, Nikki Haley, at the top of the ticket, would boost candidates up and down the ballot, winning the key independent and moderate voters that Trump has no chance to win,” the memo adds.

It also argues that the United States is “being ripped apart by extremes on both sides” and that the country now needs a “tested leader with the governing judgment and policy experience to pull our nation back from the brink. Nikki Haley is that leader.”

The memo explains that the network’s parent group, Americans for Prosperity, has already been “targeting a unique universe of voters who vote reliably in general elections but not in the primaries or caucuses.” “AFP Action has now acquired that data and will encourage a significant number of these general election voters to vote in this primary,” the memo says. “So far, enthusiasm to participate is far beyond what we expected.”

In addition, memo offered “thanks and appreciation” to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is currently Haley’s closest competitor for second place in Iowa. The network said it understands some of DeSantis’ supporters “will be disappointed” with the decision to endorse Haley.

“However, as the 2024 primary season heats up, we are entering a time period that demands choices,” the memo says. “Donald Trump won the nomination in 2016 largely because of a divided primary field, and we must not allow that to happen again, particularly when the stakes are even higher in 2024.”

News of the endorsement going to Haley has apparently not gone down well with the DeSantis campaign.

“Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement,” DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo wrote on X. He went on to argue: “Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different.”

Research contact: @dailybeast

Fox News to air DeSantis vs. Newsom debate on November 30

November 28, 2023

They aren’t running against each other. Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will take their fiery feud to Fox News this week in a debate moderated by Sean Hannity—offering up a head-to-head that stretches the boundaries of traditional political programming, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After trading barbs in the media for more than a year over issues from COVID-era restrictions to immigration, DeSantis and Newsom are scheduled to face off for 90 minutes on Thursday, November 30, in Georgia.

In an interview with the Journal, Hannity—who came up with the idea—described Newsom and DeSantis as “two of the biggest, most interesting governors in the country and they have diametrically opposed political views, visions for how to run their states.”

Fox News and other cable networks air plenty of debates and town halls featuring candidates. Because Newsom and DeSantis aren’t running for the same job, the November 30 event is more akin to cable’s version of an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout for politicians—taking an interesting fight happening outside the core election race and putting a spotlight on it.

Just weeks ago, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, debated Representative Ro Khanna (D- California) in New Hampshire. The debate covered topics including the economy, foreign affairs and climate change.

The two-person debate format comes in contrast with recent Republican primary debates, which featured a crowded field of candidates—but not the front-runner for the nomination, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend.

“Trump is very present by his absence in these debates,” said Jane Hall, a professor in the School of Communication at American University and the author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has struggled to portray himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and is seeing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gain traction. Recent polls in Iowa—the first state to vote in the nomination battle—have shown DeSantis slightly ahead of Haley for second place, both well behind Trump.

For Newsom, the debate offers a chance to further establish himself as a leader of the Democratic Party on a national stage and position himself as a legitimate contender for the presidency down the line.

“It’s a chance to get a lot of viewership,” Hall said. “There’s an entertainment value in seeing people go after each other.”

In July, Hannity, a mainstay of Fox News’s prime-time lineup and the ratings leader in his time slot, held a town hall with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is now running for president as an Independent. He also said he would be eager to have more Democrats on his show.

Joe Biden, he’s at the top of the list. Kamala Harris, number two; Barack Obama’s number three,” said Hannity, who hasn’t asked any of them recently to appear on his show. “The odds of that happening are zero, zero, and zero.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Republicans set presidential debate rules that could exclude some candidates

June  6, 2023

The Republican National Committee will require presidential candidates to attract 40,000 individual campaign donors and the support of at least 1% of voters in multiple national polls to qualify for the first 2024 presidential debate with Fox News in Milwaukee this August, according to four people briefed on the plans, reports The Washington Post.

The filter, which also requires candidates to pledge support for the party’s eventual nominee, is stricter than similar rules Democrats adopted to set their own first debate stage in 2019, when 20 candidates met over two nights. Democrats allowed candidates to qualify either by meeting a 65,000-donor threshold or by getting 1% in at least three early state or national polls.

Republicans, by contrast, will require both a donor and a polling standard. The polling standard requires a candidate to be at 1% nationally in multiple polls that are deemed credible by the RNC.

“Debates are not a vanity project but a critical opportunity to find the next President of the United States. If you can’t find 40,000 unique donors to give you a dollar and at least 1% of the primary electorate to support you, how can you expect to defeat Joe Biden?” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

The rules could be challenging for the less-well-known candidates, including former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and California talk radio host Larry Elder, who have not been listed by name in some national polls.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls currently lists six candidates as polling above 1% in national surveys: former president Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina).

Other current or potential candidates, including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie; as well as Elder and Hutchinson, average 1% or less.

Some candidates are concerned that the rules could sideline their campaigns at the starting gate. The first Republican debates of the 2016 campaign season included 17 candidates in two different events.

“It seems that the RNC is going out of its way to purposely narrow the field at one of the earliest times in the party’s history,” said a Republican consultant working for one of the presidential candidates who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “And rather than finding a way for as many conservative voices to be heard by Republicans throughout the country, they are attempting to make this a two-man race.”

Republicans familiar with the process said they are seeking a standard that is not too high—but that also keeps the event from becoming a circus. The donor standard will rise for subsequent debates. RNC officials have argued that the national media, which has been covering the back-and-forth between Trump and DeSantis, is to blame for any impression that the nomination fight had become a two-person race.

Trump, as the polling leader, has suggested he may skip the early Republican debates. He has also said he will not pledge to support the eventual nominee no matter who the party selects. His team has been in negotiations with the party over debates, The Washington Post has reported.

Trump benefited from a large field of Republican competitors during the 2016 primaries, and he has recently praised some of his rivals, including Ramaswamy and Scott, as his campaign aides hope to keep opposition to his candidacy divided. DeSantis’s team, meanwhile, has made clear the Florida governor sees the race as a two-person contest.

Ramaswamy, a first-time candidate who has attracted support in early events, said his campaign already has the donors it needs to make the first debate stage. “We cruised past that a while ago. That’s in the rearview mirror,” he said during a recent interview.

Several more candidates, including Pence, Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, are expected to formally join the Republican nomination race in coming weeks.

Burgum, a former businessman with significant wealth who is not well known outside his state, said he “absolutely” will be able to meet the donor threshold, despite his plans to self-fund a portion of his campaign. Asked whether he could clear the 1% polling threshold, he said, “Yes.”

“There is some idea that this is going to be a completely self-funded thing. That’s completely false,” Burgum said in a recent interview. “I’ll invest in myself because I believe in myself.”

Advisers to Christie, Hutchinson, Sununu and Elder either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The RNC also will require debate participants to sign data-sharing and fundraising agreements with the national party, and to pledge not to participate in any unsanctioned debates.

Research contact: @washingtonpost