Donald Trump Takes On ISIS

Donald Trump’s ISIS battle plan, which includes “extreme vetting” of immigrants for anti-American sentiments, had him sticking to a script one political watchdog urged him to adopt more often.

“He needs to continue to hammer home the fact that national security and economic security go hand-in-hand — and not fly off the handle before it’s time to give the next speech,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

In a speech yesterday in Youngstown, Ohio — a crucial election battleground state — the GOP presidential nominee called for halting immigration from “the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world,” as well as ideological tests to weed out those who don’t embrace western values and aren’t willing to assimilate to American culture.

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at the Boston Herald

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Clinton Happily Yields National Spotlight To Trump, Avoids Its Glare

If you haven't heard a lot about what Hillary Clinton thinks of a string of controversial comments by Donald Trump that have generated round-the-clock coverage on cable news broadcasts, there is a reason – it's by design.

Since becoming the Democratic nominee last month, Clinton has been touring toy manufacturers, visiting tie makers and dropping in on public health clinics, where if she mentions Trump at all, it is usually to contrast their policies.

Her swift condemnation at a Wednesday campaign rally of Trump's remark that gun rights activists could stop her from nominating liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices was a rare instance where she has directly engaged her Republican rival in the 2016 race for the White House.

Aides say Clinton's strategy is simple: let Trump be Trump.

Trump has slipped in opinion polls, and worried Republican Party leaders have urged him to stop making off-the-cuff inflammatory statements that generate blanket, often negative, media coverage and distract from efforts to highlight what they see as Clinton's many shortcomings.

"He's sucking all the oxygen out of the room to his own detriment," said Republican strategist and Trump supporter Ford O’Connell. It's not enough to dominate media coverage, he needs to "win" it, O'Connell said.

Read more from Amanda Becker at Reuters

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Five Things Missing In GOP Opponent’s Bid To Unseat Marco Rubio

In his long shot bid to defeat Marco Rubio, Republican Carlos Beruff has yet to ignite the type of political grass fire that two years ago took out a top Republican leader in the U.S. House and nearly claimed four U.S. senators.

Following the insurgent’s playbook, Beruff has spent more than $8 million of his own money on television ads. The wealthy land developer has leveled stinging criticism at Rubio on immigration issues. And in a year Donald Trump has stormed the establishment, Beruff has drawn comparisons between himself and the Republican presidential nominee.

Yet, nothing. Not even a spark.

What Beruff is attempting is a rare feat. Since 1970, 632 U.S. senators have sought re-election and just 20 have been defeated in a primary.

Yet while 2014 proved incumbents aren’t always safe, Beruff is missing five key ingredients from that year that were crucial in turning Republican Senate races in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas and Kentucky into knock-down drag out brawls.

1. Street Cred

Although Beruff fancies himself an anti-establishment kind of guy, he’s lacked ties with grassroots activists who championed other challengers like Republican Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, who nearly took out 36-year incumbent Thad Cochran. 

Unlike Beruff, McDaniel had deeper roots with influential tea party groups that were quick to help his campaign. Before taking on Cochran, McDaniel hosted a regional talk show, attended some of the earliest tea party rallies, and publicly took on then-Gov. Haley Barbour, a fixture in that state’s Republican circles, on big policy issues.

“He just has no street cred with those types of groups,” said Ford O’Connell, a national Republican strategist who lives in Naples.

Read more from Jeremy Wallace at The Miami Herald

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Clinton Blasts Trump For 'Casual Inciting Of Violence,' Republicans Shaken

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Wednesday accused Republican opponent Donald Trump of inciting violence with his call for gun rights activists to stop her from nominating liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Clinton's comments added to a growing outcry over Trump's remarks on Tuesday at a North Carolina rally, which some interpreted as a call for violence against his White House rival. His remarks also fueled widespread concerns about his ability to stay on track.

Trump insisted in an interview with Fox News that his remarks were a call for political, not physical, action.

High-profile Republicans and rank-and-file voters appeared shaken on Wednesday after a string of Trump misfires, struggling with how to best reject his divisive candidacy. Some pledged to withhold their endorsement and others backed Clinton.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll taken Aug. 5-8 - before Trump's latest controversy - showed that nearly one-fifth of 396 registered Republicans said they want Trump to drop out of the race and another 10 percent said they "don't know" whether the Republican nominee should or not.

Republican strategist and Trump supporter Ford O’Connell said Trump has "dug himself a deep hole" with voters and to win the election he will need to "make it a referendum on Hillary Clinton and the 'rigged system.'"

Read more from Amanda Becker and James Elephant at Reuters

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GOP: Donald Trump’s Jabs At Hillary Clinton Need A Better Focus

Donald Trump repeatedly took jabs at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally Tuesday in North Carolina, hitting her for the email scandal, the spread of Islamic State terrorism and the Iran deal.

But the scattershot attacks fell short of the singleminded assault on Mrs. Clinton that GOP strategists are recommending for the New York billionaire to regain his footing in the race and start climbing in the polls. They are urging Mr. Trump to keep his message tightly focused on Mrs. Clinton to make the election a referendum on her and whether Americans think they are better off after eight years under President Obama.

The message should resonate because Republican, Democratic and independent voters this year have demonstrated that they want to shake up the Washington establishment and break from the status quo. And Mrs. Clinton, a fixture in U.S. politics for 25 years as first lady, senator and secretary of state, embodies the establishment, the status quo and a continuation of Mr. Obama’s policies.

“He’s dug himself a deep hole because he’s allowed this race to become a referendum on his fitness to be president. If he wants to win this, he has to eventually make it a referendum on Hillary Clinton and/or the rigged system she’s promoting,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP consultant and conservative activist.

Read more from S.A. Miller at The Washington Times

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Trump Economic Speech: First Step To Unifying GOP

In a finely tuned political speech Monday, Donald Trump reached out to mainstream Republicans on taxes and regulation, while sticking with the populist message on trade that helped him win the GOP presidential nomination.

The mix of policy prescriptions added some substance to Mr. Trump’s slogans and sought to unite Republicans bordering on panic over his sliding poll numbers. In the week after the conventions, the billionaire-turned-politician had veered into attacks on the family of a slain Muslim American soldier and resisted backing top Republicans in their reelection bids, before eventually relenting. 

By Monday, in his economic speech in Detroit, a new Trump emerged – one who calmly withstood 13 interruptions by protesters and delivered a policy agenda that Republicans could rally around, including sharp digs at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Trump also threw in some red meat for workers attracted to his “America first” philosophy. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo,” he said.

“This was a reset and contrast speech,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Overall, it was one of his best policy speeches, because he was able to blend conservative economic theory with a mix of Trump populism. This was about solidifying the Republican base, but also pushing back on the meme that he doesn’t have substance and is all bluster and personality.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Jill Stein Attempts To Woo Bernie Sanders Backers

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is actively courting disillusioned Bernie Sanders backers, but politicos say she has a long way to go before she’ll play spoiler by siphoning off enough Democratic votes to threaten Hillary Clinton and launch Donald Trump into the White House.

In accepting her party’s nomination Saturday in Houston, Green told conventioneers it is “such an honor to be running in alliance with the Bernie Sanders movement,” coining the alliance “Bern-ing Green” — a play on Sanders’ popular “Feel the Bern” mantra.

Stein, a physician who lives in Lexington, received 3.5 percent of the vote in the 2010 Bay State governor’s race — doing no damage to Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election — and 1.4 percent in her 2012 presidential campaign. She has hovered around 4 percent support in recent presidential polls, behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who has been polling between 7 percent and 8 percent.

GOP operative Ford O’Connell said that “obviously hurts Hillary more than Trump.” But he added, “If she really, truly wants to strike a blow with Hillary, she has to go on a debate stage, which means she has to get 15 percent. That’s not going to happen.”

But O’Connell said Stein’s small percentages could hurt in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Clinton’s lead over Trump is thin.

“If she really, truly pulls 4 or 5 percent in those states, she could be the game changer,” O’Connell said. “But we are not there yet.”

Read more from Jack Encarnacao at the Boston Herald

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Trump’s Path To Victory Depends On Surge Of White Men

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump needs a surge of white working-class voters to beat Hillary Clinton in November.

Clinton has significant leads over Trump among minority voters and women, and is handily defeating him with white college-educated women.

That puts pressure on Trump to win white men like no other candidate in recent history.

Trump believes his anti-trade, anti-immigration message will be popular with white, working-class voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and that it could help him compete in other Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Wisconsin.

His electoral strategy revolves around winning Pennsylvania, something the Republican nominee hasn’t done since 1988. Michigan and Wisconsin have also been reliably Democratic states for decades.

Trump would seem to face tough prospects.  

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, thinks Trump has to win 63 percent of the white vote, a higher share than 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won.

“He needs to perform 4 percent better among white voters than Romney did,” said O’Connell, who predicts white voters will make up around 70 percent of November’s electorate.

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Has GOP Found The Blueprint For Beating Tea Party Pols?

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp's surprising primary defeat Tuesday at the hands of a candidate who was backed by the Republican establishment could serve as a blueprint for future efforts to oust Tea Party members in GOP primaries.

While Huelskamp's race was characterized by attacks on his handling of issues specific to his rural congressional district, the success of efforts to frame a deeply conservative lawmaker as a Washington insider could embolden the groups who ousted Huelskamp to try the same tactics on other members who have bucked party leadership.

Tom Davis, former Virginia congressman and former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, believes such an approach could work again.

But after the election, Republicans will likely hold fewer House seats in total, as Democrats are actively targeting more than a dozen seats presently held by GOP members. A winnowed-down GOP conference could allow the Freedom Caucus members to exert even more influence over the remaining majority.

"I do think that the Freedom Caucus, if they manage to keep the rest of their numbers, they're going to have more influence," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

However, O'Connell said the factors of Huelskamp's race were too unique to translate easily to other primaries.

"I think this is more of a perfect storm," he said of the confluence of local interests and outside money the fueled Huelskamp's ouster.

"This could be replicated, but I'm not expecting this to be anything more than a one-off or an outlier at best," O'Connell added.

Read more from Sarah Westwood at The Washington Examiner

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Trio Of Resignations Continues DNC Turmoil Over Emails

The fallout over leaked emails continues at the Democratic National Committee, as three more resignations yesterday followed last week’s stunning exit of former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — an ongoing sore point for Bernie Sanders backers as nominee Hillary Clinton’s camp tries to woo them.

“It’s clear that Hillary Clinton and the DNC are trying to turn the page,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “But the more that comes out, the harder it is going to be for them to bring the diehard Sanders supporters into the Clinton fold.”

Yesterday the DNC announced the departures of CEO Amy Dacey, Chief Finance Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda, one week after emails released by WikiLeaks revealed apparent favoritism for Clinton during the primary. In one email, Marshall suggested using Sanders’ religious beliefs against him. He later apologized.

The Clinton campaign downplayed the resignations.

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at the Boston Herald

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