Democratic Attacks On Trump And Vietnam Open Door To Scrutiny Of Biden Avoiding Draft

Two veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have taken aim at President Trump over his four Vietnam draft deferments for being a student and a medical one in 1968 for a bone spur.

But their ultimate target might be Joe Biden, the early Democratic front-runner who avoided Vietnam service in a strikingly similar way by securing five student deferments and a medical one in 1968 due to childhood asthma.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a Navy veteran of Afghanistan, last week accused Trump of draft dodging. "I have a pretty dim view of his decision to use his privileged status to fake a disability in order to avoid serving in Vietnam," he said.

Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts representative and a former Marine officer who served in Iraq, blasted Trump on the same grounds. "This is a president who used his father's connections to lie about bone spurs to get out of serving in a war," he said this month. Moulton revealed this week that has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his combat experience.

Joe Trippi, a veteran Democratic strategist, said he saw the attacks on Trump as a "legitimate way for veterans like Buttigieg and Moulton to contrast their life experience with Biden and others in the race."

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell predicted Democrats would start to attack Biden more explicitly, but to do so in a way that did not undermine the Obama administration's record. The Vietnam issue “is a good issue to go after him on because in no way does it implicate Obama,” he said, noting Obama’s high approval among the Democratic electorate.

Read more from Emily Larsen from the Washington Examiner 

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Mueller's Final Statement Could Bring Democrats Closer To Impeachment

In his final statement on the report that has sparked controversy for two years, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday signaled the possibility that President Donald Trump committed a crime, but stopped short of saying it definitively.

If we had "confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said at a press conference.

Mueller added that he found "insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy" on whether there was interference in the election, and announced that he would step down.

Mueller's statements seemed to indicate he suspected wrongdoing but could not prove it, prompting some key Democrats to ratchet up calls to impeach Trump.

The Mueller investigation -- which sought to find evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to clinch the 2016 elections -- took nearly two years and was concluded several months ago without finding a smoking gun. Democrats, however, are still convinced that Trump committed a crime, and continue to investigate.

Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua: "We didn't hear anything that wasn't in the report and contrary to the fanfare in the media, Mueller didn't say Trump was guilty of anything."

"In our legal system you are innocent until proven guilty," he added, noting that hard proof and facts are required in the U.S. rule-of-law system.

"What he's done here is to throw Democrats a political bone," O'Connell said of Mueller.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua 

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Few 2020 Democrats Urge Caution In Upending Electoral College

After coming out on the losing end of the system in 2016, most of the two dozen Democratic candidates running for president in 2020 say they’re open to abolishing the Electoral College.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to get rid of it entirely, saying the current system is set up so that solidly red states such as Mississippi or blue states like Massachusetts get short shrift once it comes time for candidates to campaign in the general election.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has said the Electoral College “needs to go,” which would require a constitutional amendment.

But there are naysayers, too.

The Electoral College is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and was intended partly as a compromise to ensure that less-populated states had a say in choosing the president.

State “electors” technically elect the president every four years and are generally supposed to follow the wishes of the voters in their respective states, most of which have a “winner-take-all” system.

More than a dozen states, which tally up close to 200 Electoral College votes, have voted to join a national popular vote “compact” that would kick in when the threshold hits 270, which is what it takes to secure the presidency.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, though, said there’s not much chance of action, and Democratic candidates are merely playing to an outraged base, “selling their voters fool’s gold.”

“And they’re doing it because they hate Trump literally that much,” he said. “And voters don’t realize it will take a constitutional amendment to change that, which is literally impossible given the electoral environment.”

Read more from David Sherfinski at The Washington Times

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Trump Feels Squeeze In Tax Return Fight

President Trump is being squeezed in the fight over his tax returns.

House Democrats are expected to initiate a court case in the near future to obtain the documents. And a series of recent developments may not bode well for Trump’s efforts to keep lawmakers from seeing his returns.

Democrats see several actions that took place last week as positive signs for their efforts.

Federal judges made rulings that sided with Democrats in two other cases where they issued subpoenas to obtain the president’s financial information.

Additionally, The Washington Post on Tuesday reported about a draft IRS memo written last fall finding that the Treasury secretary has no discretion when it comes to requests for tax returns made by the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees. That memo wasn’t finalized and doesn’t specifically mention Trump, but Democrats see it as confirming their interpretation of the law.

And New York state lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees to request the state tax returns of Trump and other federal, state and local officials.

Republicans say that they don’t think Democrats’ efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns will hurt the president politically.

Republican strategists also say that voters care more about other issues than they do about Trump’s tax returns. And they said that Democrats' aggressive efforts to investigate Trump on his tax returns and other issues could end up backfiring.

“It’s clear that [Democrats are] going above and beyond oversight,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “They’re playing a political game to take Trump down.”

Read more from Naomi Jagoda at The Hill

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Democratic Groups Gear Up To Use Abortion Rights As Attack On GOP In 2020

Democrats are gearing up to use abortion rights as an attack against Republicans in 2020, seeking to paint the party as too extreme after the passage of sweeping laws restricting the procedure by GOP legislatures across the country.

Presidential contenders, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), are already taking the issue head-on, most recently joining the Democrats’ condemnation of a comprehensive abortion ban signed into law in Alabama that bans the procedure in almost all circumstances, including rape and incest.

Democratic groups are mobilizing as well, hoping to put the abortion debate front and center in state and local races in 2020 as they look to put Republicans on the defensive at a time when the GOP lost the House last year, in large part by losing suburban female voters.

Abortion was already expected to be a key issue in 2020 as anti-abortion rights advocates grow hopeful of overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in the Supreme Court after the appointment of two new conservative justices by President Trump.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump will likely to focus on the issue of restricting late-term abortions, which are generally unpopular with the public.

“Trump’s been talking about this since the last year-and-a-half. He’s been saying late-term abortion is a travesty,” O’Connell told The Hill. “He’s going to stick to the late-term abortion and the federal judges.”

The president is also likely to continue to campaign on his promise of appointing more conservative judges and justices after the appointments of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch gave conservatives a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court. 

The abortion issue has proved to ignite evangelicals, a voting bloc that has remained loyal to Trump throughout his political career.

O'Connell said that if presented properly by Trump, the abortion issue could help Trump win vital swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — but also acknowledged the rise in enthusiasm from the left.

“If this is framed properly by the White House, it can be a very powerful issue,” he said. “When it comes to this issue, you’re watching both parties try to shake the bushes to make sure that they have full turn out on every possible issue that’s important to their coalition.”

Read more from Julia Manchester at The Hill

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It's Joe Biden's 2020 Presidential Nomination To Lose

We may be several months from the first ballots being cast for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but former Vice President Joe Biden is running away with the race. Yes, anything conceivably could happen between now and when the Democrats officially select their nominee next summer, but Biden is firmly entrenched in the catbird seat and will likely stay there barring a major turn of events.

According to the most recent RealClearPolitics average of national surveys, Biden is leading the 20-plus candidate field by more than 16 points. Biden is also leading in the Democrats’ first four February 2020 nominating contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Now, contrarians, on both the left and the right, have and will continue to argue a litany of reasons why Biden won’t win the nomination. They claim that not only is Biden a white male, but he’s also too old to be the nominee. They contend that history is against Biden given that this is his third quest for the Democrats’ highest nomination. They assert Biden is gaffe-prone and the energy and future of the party lies with the progressive wing, not with a swamp creature with a 36-year-long Senate career of appeasement to corporate interests. Or they will say that Biden is simply just the beneficiary of high name identification. They also insist it is way too early to make such a proclamation because there are still 12 sanctioned primary debates on the calendar. All of these rebuttals are wishful thinking.

Biden is the undisputed Democratic frontrunner, period.

One could even argue that Biden is in a stronger position than President Trump was late in 2015; Trump himself has suggested as much. As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo rightly points out, “[w]e’re past the point where Biden’s strength can be chalked up to name recognition.” Let’s remember, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “has near universal name recognition too,” and his poll numbers are steadily dropping. Yes, Biden certainly faces some perils in his quest to be the blue team’s standard barrier, but his position is a lot stronger than most seasoned political observers realize.

It won’t be easy and may even require a tag-team effort on the debate stage, in the media and on the campaign trail. To pierce the Biden veil of inevitability, a successful candidate will have to do two things. First, he or she will have to peel off minority voters, specifically black voters, by prodding Biden without hitting Obama or his cherished liberal legacy; certainly a tall task. Finally, he or she will also have to convince older Democrats that despite the current national polls — some of which show Biden up by double-digits on Trump nationally, Biden is in fact the Democrats’ “worst foot forward in the general election” when it comes to beating President Trump.

Failing this, we are all-but-guaranteed a Trump/Biden 2020 showdown.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Americans’ Confidence In Job Market Hits New High: Poll

CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O’Connell and Payne Capital senior wealth advisor Courtney Dominguez discuss why Americans are more enthusiastic about the job market.

Watch the video at Fox Business.com

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Wary Of Second Mueller Probe, Trump 2020 Campaign Decides Against Having Policy Advisers

The 2020 Trump reelection campaign has opted not to have foreign or economic policy teams, in part to avoid the type of problems in 2016 that ensnared junior advisers and led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Instead, Team Trump will follow the lead of the White House on policy, according to Trump campaign officials. It is the first time in at least two decades that a presidential candidate has decided not to have dedicated policy teams covering national security and the economy.

The campaign’s decision to avoid foreign policy advisers this time around could allow Team Trump to sidestep scrutiny over connections to foreign governments, as well as saving campaign cash.

Rather than having its own policy advisory teams, the Trump campaign follows the lead of the State Department, the Department of Defense, the National Council of Economic Advisers, and other executive departments on policies, most of which are already well established.

“His positions are known,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell of Trump. “The most important positions are going to be the economy, illegal immigration, and where he stands on tariffs, and he’s in good shape there. The only policy position he has to work on, really, is better messaging healthcare — how he’s going to protect preexisting conditions and keep medical costs down.”

O'Connell said the Trump campaign has a "huge advantage" over 2020 Democratic contenders, who will have to create new policies for a host of issues and try to make them stand out in a crowded field of 23 candidates.

And while some Democrats have rolled out attention-grabbing plans such as free college or "Medicare for all," others have been noticeably light on policy, something O’Connell was keen to point out.

Read more from Emily Ward at the Washington Examiner

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Amash's Impeachment Tweets Bring Praise From Dems And A Pro-Trump Primary Challenger

Over the weekend, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican to suggest President Donald Trump should be impeached with a series of tweets that were quickly denounced by the president and top GOP leaders.

While some skeptics question the significance of the tweets from a single Republican known for his contrarian views and longstanding opposition to Trump, others have enthusiastically embraced Amash's argument as a "watershed moment" in the national debate over impeachment.

In about a dozen tweets, Amash argued that the Mueller report revealed that the president engaged in "specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment," including obstruction of justice and "careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct."

After backlash from the right and praise from the left, Amash returned to Twitter Monday afternoon to defend his position that the president can be impeached for alleged "high crimes and misdemeanors" and violating the public trust.

The Republican Party's initial reaction to Amash was swift and severe.

President Trump took to Twitter to call Amash a "total lightweight" and a "loser who sadly plays right into our opponents [sic] hands!" Trump sniped at the five-term congressman arguing he regularly opposes his administration's policies "just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy."

Despite the attention given to Amash's tweets, the lone congressman will not have a meaningful impact on the broader debate, according to Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

"It's not the tipping point in the impeachment debate. It's fools gold," he said. The main reason Amash's calls lack traction, he argued, is because of the president's strong base of support among Republicans. "There's not a crack in the dam in terms of support for Trump," O'Connell said.

Since taking office, President Trump has rarely dipped below 75% support among members of his own party. Trump's approval among Republicans hit a historic high of 91% in April after Mueller ended his investigation and found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and announced he would not pursue obstruction of justice charges against the president.

"Amash may wind up endangering himself back home in his own primary while he seeks a greater spotlight," O'Connell noted. "This is all about Amash and his quest for media attention which it appears he wants to parlay into a 2020 libertarian bid."

Read more from Leandra Bernstein at NBC25News

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Alabama Abortion Ban Underscores U.S. Shift Toward Right

A new near-total abortion ban in the U.S. state of Alabama signals a conservative tilt in many parts of the United States, at a time when people on the left and right are increasingly divided, experts said.

On Wednesday, Kay Ivey, the state's governor, signed a new law that would ban all abortions, except in cases in which the mother's life is in danger, in the latest challenge to the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case that ruled that women have a right to have an abortion.

The Alabama law would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, and even victims of rape and incest would not be permitted to terminate their pregnancies.

The ban is the latest in a trend toward more restrictive abortion policies, with the U.S. states of Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia and Mississippi recently creating similar bans, hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the current law of the land, which considers many abortions to be a woman's right.

Some believe this is a reaction toward recent moves in states such as New York and Virginia to relax restrictions on late-term abortions.

A May 2018 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of the U.S. people believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, although merely 13 percent believed women should be allowed to terminate their pregnancy during the third trimester.

"What you are seeing is people wanting to have a test case on what are the limits of (the current abortion laws) in front of the Supreme Court," Republican strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua 

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