No details? No Problem, Donald Trump Supporters Say

Donald Trump hasn't offered many details about his policy proposals beyond immigration, but his supporters don't seem to mind.

Shortly after Trump unveiled his multi-pronged approach to discourage unlawful immigration to the U.S. and reform the country's immigration system in a 2,000-word position paper, Republicans began pressing the New York billionaire for specifics on his tax policy, plan to defeat the Islamic State and entitlement reform.

But Republican strategists predict that Trump is unlikely to deliver the same substance on other issues that he recently offered on immigration, especially since his supporters think it's OK.

Former McCain campaign aide and GOP strategist Ford O'Connell attributed Trump's success without substance to his celebrity status and said the former reality TV host can "do whatever he wants when he wants because he's setting the pace still for the rest of the GOP candidates."

However, O'Connell says Trump will need to "demonstrate that in a head-to-head matchup with Hillary Clinton he can win" if he wishes to expand his support to right-leaning independents and voters who currently back other candidates.

"Running out with every single policy detail isn't going to make him more electable, but if he can continue to roll them out as he consolidates his momentum that will benefit his campaign," O'Connell told the Examiner.

Read more from Gabby Morrongiello at The Washington Examiner

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Bill De Blasio Becomes Republican Whipping Boy As Approval Plummets

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Republicans are making his wish come true.

De Blasio, a Democrat who vowed to use the campaign to raise the nation’s awareness of income inequality, has instead become the target of Republican candidates who call him a symbol of inept liberalism. His role in helping Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate 15 years ago makes him an even more attractive whipping boy.

What began as a trickle of Republican criticism has intensified as the mayor’s approval ratings dropped to a lowest-ever 44 percent in an Aug. 5 poll. News reports have focused on his habitual lateness, an increase in homicides and more visible homelessness and panhandling -- by vagrants, costumed cartoon characters and topless women. The New York Post, a frequent critic of the mayor, ran a front-page photograph of public urination.

“Bill de Blasio represents all that is bad with Big Government run amok,” said Ford O’Connell, a strategist who advised John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “He’s someone all Republicans can focus on, from South Carolina to New Hampshire. Once you tie him to Hillary Clinton, it makes more sense.”

Read more from Henry Goldman and Terrence Dopp at BloombergPolitics

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What's The Timeline For Joe Biden's 2016 plans?

Democrats want the answer to two questions: Will Joe Biden run for president in 2016? And when will he make a decision?

It's now evident that Biden is actively looking at a presidential run, though he's made no final decision. But his timeline remains unclear.

Early on, Biden's team set an end of summer deadline for a presidential announcement. Now as August comes to a close, the vice president could go public with his intentions as late as October 1, possibly doing a "soft opening" before the campaign's formal launch.

"It will be at least until the end of September before they can find out if they can take on the Clinton machine," political strategist Ford O'Connell told the Washington Examiner. The dream scenario is that current front-runner Hillary Clinton fades due to concerns over her handling of classified information over email while secretary of state. Biden could then ride to Democrats' rescue.

Read more from Ariel Cohen at The Washington Examiner

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Donald Trump's Capital Gains Play: Hypocrisy Or Campaign Genius?

When Mitt Romney's effective tax rate was released in 2012, people were shocked. The Republican nominee for president made $13.7 million in 2011, but he only paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. And just one year earlier, the average American household paid a higher rate than the ultrawealthy Romney at 18.1 percent.

Over the weekend, in was a peculiar step for a Republican, presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who isn't exactly shy about his wealth, issued a press release exclaiming in all capital letters that he was worth $10 billion. He said he wanted to eliminate the capital gains loophole that has been used to help rich people like Romney snag low tax rates. The top percentage tax rate for capital gains is 20 percent, compared to 40 percent for top ordinary income.

"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky," Trump said. "It's the wrong thing. These guys are getting away with murder. I want to lower the rates for the middle class."

But what exactly would Trump's capital gains play mean for his own massive piles of cash? Does he benefit from such tax loopholes, and if he does, does that matter for his campaign?

"This is populist gold on the campaign trail. He's trying to pull in as many populist voters in the Republican party as possible. This way, he gets to have a discussion about this as well and make a point that 'Oh, yeah, I can't be bought,' " said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on Republican John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008.

"He defies political gravity at every turn," O'Connell said. "At this stage, I don't see the risk for him in it right now. Obviously somebody could try to use it against him, but right now everything ricochets off of him."

Read more from Clark Mindock at International Business Times 

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Big GOP 2016 Presidential Field Boosts Donald Trump

The huge field of Republican presidential contenders is helping Donald Trump maintain a big lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination — and Trump's position makes it less likely candidates will drop out, Republicans say. 

Buoyed by super-PACs, many presidential candidates have more money than in previous cycles to handle long campaigns. A single "sugar-daddy" donor can keep a struggling campaign afloat. 

Many of the candidates also believe that Trump — who enjoys a double-digit lead over the 16 other big names in the race — will falter, and that they need to stay in the race to be his successor. 

“As long as Trump is in the race, most of these candidates won’t see any reason to get out,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. 

Many Republicans still believe Trump will not become the party's nominee. They argue that he’s benefitting from a media frenzy, and that large swaths of the conservative electorate would never even consider voting for him.

Furthermore, Republicans say Trump’s past support for liberal causes, and his penchant for controversial remarks, will ultimately sink him. 

And with huge sums of money flowing into super-PACs, the candidates will have the financial means to stick around. 

“In the past you’d get out because you run out of money. That’s changed,” O’Connell said. “Now you just need a small strike force of five or 10 people and enough money to book a coach ticket on Southwest. You can sit back and rely on the super-PAC to land the haymaker.” 

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Jeb Bush Is Suddenly Attacking Trump. Here's Why That Matters

Jeb Bush isn't pulling punches anymore when it comes to Donald Trump.

The former Florida governor has delicately danced around the billionaire businessman in the 2016 presidential primary so far. But the gloves came off this week when Bush called out Trump as a closet Democrat. He was trying to stunt Trump's rise while attempting to recover his own political mojo.

"What Jeb is desperately trying to do is find his swagger right now," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said. "The knock against Jeb is that he's low voltage and not willing to fight. The best way to shake those perceptions it to engage against the person who is in the media on a 24/7 loop."

O'Connell agreed. He pointed out that even if this new approach is one that's uncomfortable for Bush, it's necessary.

"In a lot of elections, being the studious one would have worked," he said, "but Trump has flipped the script."

Read more from Jessica Taylor at NPR

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Carly’s Momentum Keeps Growing

POWER PLAY: CADDYSHACK CAMPAIGN
Jeb Bush
 engaged in a political donnybrook with rival Donald Trump this week. Is this smart strategy or a potential minefield for Bush? Republican Ford O’Connell and Democrat Brad Woodhouse join Chris Stirewalt to hash out the pros and cons. WATCH HERE.

POWER PLAY: A GO FOR JOE?
A recent boost in the polls adds to the drumbeat as Joe Biden mulls over a run for the White House. Republican Ford O’Connell and Democrat Brad Woodhouse join Chris Stirewalt to discuss the implications of a Biden bid. WATCH HERE.

Read more from Chris Stirewalt at Fox News First 

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Will Ben Carson's Momentum Last Into Iowa?

While Donald Trump gets most of the attention, he's not the only Republican experiencing a summer surge. Ben Carson is seeing some of his best poll numbers.

A recent Fox News poll had Carson in second place nationally at 12 percent, behind Trump at 25 percent and ahead of Ted Cruz at 10 percent. But can he sustain this momentum as the primary calendar draws closer? "I didn't expect this quick of a trajectory, and I certainly don't want to become the front-runner this quickly because you don't want to peak too early, so were actually in a pretty good spot right now," the 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon told a Des Moines Register reporter.

Carson and Trump both appeal to disgruntled voters who are tired of the system. "Carson could definitely be beneficiary of a Trump implosion," political analyst and Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "But he can't count on that. But right now he has to gain the news cycle and do well on debate performances and capitalize on the media cycle."

"He's shown himself to be a far more durable candidate than many people would have thought but the again there's' been nothing logical about this primary so far," O'Connell said. "What's going for him it`s that he's seen as the most likeable and the most principled candidate so far."

Read more from Ariel Cohen at The Washington Examiner

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Jeb Bush Feeling The Heat As N.H. Poll Deficit Hits Double Digits

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, fresh off a new national poll showing him soar to a double-digit lead over Jeb Bush, is putting pressure on the former Florida governor to jump-start his faltering campaign, as both White House hopefuls storm through New Hampshire today.

“If you had told me a couple months ago that Donald Trump would be leading the field by double digits, I would have rolled my eyes,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “But if you had told me he’d be viewed more favorably than Bush, I probably would have had myself committed.”

A CNN poll released yesterday shows Trump with an 11-point lead over the rest of the GOP pack.

Trump had the support of 24 percent of registered Republicans surveyed, well ahead of Bush at 13 percent and Ben Carson at 9 percent. Both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had 8 percent.

Trump also holds a higher favorability rating (38 percent) than Bush (35 percent) among registered voters, but both men’s unfavorables are even higher, with Trump’s at 58 percent and Bush’s at 57 percent.

Bush needs to up his game, beginning at today’s education summit, said O’Connell.

“He’s not exactly lighting people’s hair on fire,” said O’Connell of Bush. “He’s just trying to run an error-free campaign and in doing so, he’s not energizing anyone. ... He wants to go in there and ... convince people he has solutions to improve education and that he’s the leader and the adult to do it.”

Read more from Chris Cassidy at The Boston Herald

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Donald Trump Is Forcing GOP Candidates Into An Immigration War Nobody Wants

Republican National Committee convened an “autopsy” of the results to determine how to improve the Party’s chances in 2016. One of the clearest findings was that the GOP’s relationship with the Hispanic portion of the electorate was poor and getting worse, due in large part to a perceived anti-Hispanic bias articulated thorough draconian immigration enforcement proposals.

The answer seemed obvious: moderate the tone, recognize the bad feelings created by anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, and produce humane policies that can be sold to the GOP base without alienating the nation’s fastest-growing segment of voters.

That, of course, didn’t account for the rise of Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and former reality television star whose virulent attacks on illegal immigrants as rapists and criminals have sent him rocketing to the top of the polls in the GOP presidential primary.

Republican candidates had no way of avoiding the issue of illegal immigration because of its importance to many in the Party’s base, said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. But latching on to highly controversial positions that put them at odds with many in the Hispanic community was probably not their preferred method.

 “This is certainly not the way they wanted to have this discussion and they certainly didn’t want Donald Trump driving the bus on this issue, but all that’s out the window,” O’Connell said. He balked at the idea that there is some sort of civil war going on within the Party. Largely because there are not two clear sides.

“Not sure there are two camps,” O’Connell said. “Certainly there’s a Trump camp. But among the others there may be multiple camps.”

For instance, while Jeb Bush appears to occupy the point on the Republican spectrum furthest from Trump, O’Connell said, “I have a feeling that Rubio will be looking for something that’s a little more in the political middle ground between Bush and Trump.”

“Trump,” said O’Connell, “has forced their hand.”

Read more from Rob Garver at The Fiscal Times 

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