Bernie Sanders Adviser's Remarks On U.S., Capitalism Likely To Draw Trump Fire, Says Strategist

Sociology professor Heather D. Gautney, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ presidential campaign, is no fan of the U.S., which she has called a “predator” nation.

She is, however, a fan of regimes like those in Tehran, where she said she’s never felt so welcomed, and Caracas, where she heaped praise on Venezuela’s late strongman Hugo Chavez. Repeatedly, she has said that capitalism and democracy, cornerstones of the American experiment, cannot coexist.

“Today’s neoliberal capitalist system has become utterly incompatible with the requisites of democratic freedom,” she said in Caracas in 2006, a sentiment she has voiced and written about on several occasions since.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said both Ms. Gautney’s anti-American stances abroad would make her a ripe target for President Trump should Mr. Sanders be the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

“This is something the Trump team would likely magnify,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Here you have a full-blown socialist who hates America. It’s the classic case of someone making a concerted effort to smear the U.S. at home and in other countries.”

Mr. Sanders has always surrounded himself with a colorful cast of characters, and as he makes his second bid for the White House, those advisers are drawing new scrutiny. Venezuela appears particularly attractive to the Sanders team.

Ms. Gautney gained some national attention last month when she took to Twitter to boost Mr. Sanders‘ idea of wiping clean the student loan slate, while linking to his campaign’s Twitter accounts — a ploy with such naked self-interest Mr. O’Connell thought it too would be the sort of thing opposing campaigns like to highlight.

“I am $180K in debt,” the Fordham professor tweeted on June 24. “I have a PHD and am a tenured professor — my students are in the same boat, sinking in debt. I pay $1100/month in student loan debt, half of my rent. We MUST #CancelStudentDebt. Wall St got bailed out, what about us?!”

Read more from James Varney at the Washington Times

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Trump Says "Not Backing Down" In Quest For Immigration Figures

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his administration is "not backing down" in the fight to know how many citizens and non-citizens are in the United States, at a time when the country is increasingly divided over the immigration issue.

Previously, the White House had fought to include a question on citizenship in the 2020 census, which was subsequently blocked by the Supreme Court. In the days before Thursday's announcement, rumors swirled in the press that Trump would fight the Supreme Court's decision.

In a speech at the White House on Thursday, Trump said due to litigation and opposition, the U.S. administration would not push for the inclusion of the question in the decennial census.

However, he issued an executive order to have every government department collect data on how many citizens and non-citizens are living inside the United States. The departments would then have to hand over all information to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

By issuing his executive order, Trump effectively circumvented the Supreme Court to find an alternative way to find out how many illegal migrants are living in the United States, instead of challenging the decision of the nation's highest court.

Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that "we've had the citizenship question in one form or another on the census for the last 200 years. Basically we had it from 1820 to 1950 on every census. And then from 1950 to 2000 on the long form."

"I just don't understand why people wouldn't want to know who's in this country. Particularly when it comes down to electoral votes, congressional representation and federal funding to the states (taxpayer funding)," O'Connell said.

While U.S. media usually reports that there are around 10 million migrants living illegally in the United States, O'Connell casts doubt on those figures, saying "what they (Democrats) don't want people to know is hard data on exactly how many illegal immigrants could possibly be in this country."

"Since the year 2000, they've been saying about 10 million. Well, we know that's impossible," O'Connell said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Trump Drops Census Effort, Announces New Plan To ‘Count’ Noncitizens

President Donald Trump lost a battle Thursday when he dropped his bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but by reviving the effort in dramatic fashion he amassed more ammunition for his coming reelection campaign.

During an unrelated social media forum event at the White House, Trump criticized federal judges and the Supreme Court for blocking his attempt to add the question, calling it a “left-wing” effort to erode rights. And he teased a “solution.” Once in the Rose Garden to address the citizenship matter, he declared, “we are not backing down.”

What he announced, however, was not census-related. He announced an executive order that mandates each federal department give the Commerce Department every record about noncitizens and citizens who are on U.S. soil to get “an accurate count of the noncitizen population.” He vowed to “leave no stone unturned.”

Attorney General William Barr, who spoke after Trump, called the administration’s decision a “logistical” one rather than a “legal” one. That’s because, he said, officials determined there was “no way” to finish expected court cases before the census count must begin.

Trump’s executive order parallels an option suggested by the Census Bureau before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision last year to add a citizenship question to the census. A report from the agency’s chief scientist pointed to the possible use of Social Security and other records to identify citizens.

The Commerce Department has increased its reliance on administrative records more broadly for this census cycle, aiming to fill in information that was left out of census questionnaires.

“The 2020 re-elect is a big factor in this battle for Trump. Obviously, President Trump wants the Republican base to believe that he is fighting tooth and nail for them,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. But to say that is the only factor would be a drastic mischaracterization.

O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, offered some insights about Trump’s apparent strategy.

“Remember why Democrats don’t want the [citizenship] question: They don’t want people to have hard data on exactly how many illegal immigrants could possibly be in this country. This would destroy their whole narrative,” he said, contending that Democrats underestimate the number of undocumented migrants inside the United States. “Remember, this data could help Trump change public opinion about his immigration policies should he win reelection.”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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By Calling Democrats Radical, Trump Aims To Galvanize Supporters

With the Democratic Party undergoing a major leftward shift, U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign strategy of portraying Democrats as "radical leftists" is aimed at galvanizing his supporters, experts have said.

Kicking off his campaign last month in the U.S. state of Florida, Trump claimed at a rally that "a vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream."

While so far there is no serious primary challenge to Trump within the Republican Party, the 2020 Democratic primary is poised to be the most crowded, with at least 23 candidates, among whom there are a number of previously moderate Democrats trying to get noticed by endorsing far-left policies.

During last month's second Democratic debate, all 10 candidates raised their hands when asked whether the government should provide free healthcare for illegal migrants.

However, recent polls have suggested that far-left-of-center policies, as well as candidates who promote such policies, may not resonate with many voters, including those moderate ones who will balk at the price tag and fret over the tax hikes needed to pay for such programs.

Experts said Trump will continue to focus on galvanizing his core supporters, in a bid to ensure they get out to cast their votes in 2020.

Pointing out that fear is a motivator in U.S. politics, Republican Strategist and TV personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that casting Democrats in a negative light will benefit the Trump campaign.

"People tell you that they want to hear positive and not negative. But it's amazing, in general, how much better negative works out," O'Connell told Xinhua.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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As Other Democratic Candidates Close In On Biden, Trump Tries To ‘Soften Up The Front-Runner’

Democratic White House front-runner Joe Biden has slipped in the polls, but President Donald Trump has only intensified his attempts to discredit and disqualify the former vice president.

In the last five days alone, the president has dubbed his potential 2020 rival “sleepy” and “a reclamation project,” suggesting in one tweet that “some things are just not salvageable.” He has asserted that China and other countries are “begging” for a President Biden so they can get back to trade tactics that “ripped us off for years.”

Trump has also alleged that as a Delaware senator and vice president, Biden — whose late son Beau Biden served in Iraq as an officer in the Delaware Army National guard and who ends his speeches with some version of the words “May God protect our troops” — “deserted our military, our law enforcement and our health care.”

It appears Trump smells blood in the political waters.

And that’s because Biden — who regularly attacks the president as a threat to America’s democracy and values — has dropped in several polls since a rocky performance in the Democratic presidential debate last month. He has since admitted to being unprepared for a broadside from California Sen. Kamala Harris over his past opposition to federally mandated busing and his comments about working with segregationists on legislation early in his Senate career.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump and his campaign team are focusing on Biden because when it comes to the voters the president needs to win a second term, they find Biden harder to disqualify than the other Democrats.

“That’s seniors, that’s working-class whites, that’s Cubans and conservative Hispanics, and that’s suburban females. Joe Biden has the most potential to perform well with each of those groups,” said O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “When you look at what the president’s doing, it makes perfect sense through that particular lens. … He’s trying to soften up the front-runner so the other Democratic candidates can take him down.”

A senior White House official did not dismiss that description of the president’s tactics when approached on Wednesday.

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Trump Struggles Against Democrats, But Deep Pockets, Booming Economy Bode Well For Him

Though U.S. President Donald Trump is lagging behind in current match-up polls against leading Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. experts said several factors, including Trump's incumbency and a booming U.S. economy, bode well for his re-election.

In this year's second quarter alone, Trump has raised 100 million U.S. dollars -- a massive cash infusion that will go a long way to help his campaign.

No single Democratic candidate has come close to the amount Trump has raised. In the second quarter, Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg raked in nearly 25 million dollars; former Vice President and current candidate Joe Biden raised 21.5 million dollars; and candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris raised a combined nearly 50 million dollars.

"It shows you that Republican support for Trump is (high), but also that being an incumbent has its privileges," Republican strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"You are the only game in town and you get to raise money," O'Connell added.

According to Real Clear Politics' average of the latest polls, Trump trails Democratic front runner Biden by 6 points. He also lags behind Harris and the self-avowed socialist candidate and former contender for the Democratic ticket, Bernie Sanders, by 2 points respectively.

But according to O'Connell, U.S. media and anti-Trump forces are getting ahead of themselves.

Heading into the 2020 elections, one of Trump's primary strengths remains his incumbency, experts argued, pointing out that since the year 1900, nearly 80 percent of incumbent presidents have been re-elected.

O'Connell said history also shows that early polling does not always predict elections. He noted that in June 1983, eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale was leading President Ronald Reagan, but that Reagan ultimately won the election. Also in June 2011, a Republican presidential candidate was leading then President Barack Obama by 5 points, but Obama won in 2012.

Meanwhile, experts noted that for U.S. voters, the economy matters in most presidential elections and since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt during WWII, every incumbent president who has avoided a recession in the run-up to the election ended up winning.

At least for now, there is no serious talk of a recession in the United States.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Trump Is Shutting Up About Coal. It’s Because He Needs Florida.

President Donald Trump loves to tout his support of “beautiful, clean coal.” Or at least he used to. He didn’t mention it once during his speech on the administration’s environmental record Monday.

In the speech Trump gave to highlight his environmental record, he finally acknowledged climate change, although not directly. The president talked about emissions — but never mentioned the words “climate change.” The address reportedly came after some of his close advisers worried the president’s record on the environment would hurt his shot at re-election.

Not only have GOP voters become increasingly invested in solutions to climate change, but global warming and climate action have impacted states that Trump hopes to carry in 2020. He made clear, too, that he’ll focus his efforts on one in particular.

“In some ways you could be arguing that Trump’s re-election campaign is really a Florida-first strategy,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican campaign strategist who worked on the McCain-Palin campaign. “It’s the crown jewel of his entire electoral strategy.

“Essentially when you look at the voters, he needs to recapture to win the White House in 2020 — seniors, working class whites, Cubans, conservative hispanics, and some suburban females,” O’Connell added, “Guess where they all are located?”

During his speech, Trump spoke alongside Bruce Hrobak, the owner of a bait-and-tackle shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida, who claimed that Trump’s policies to curb red tides — toxic algae blooms off the Florida coast — had saved his business. Fertilizer runoff catalyzes the blooms, but warmer waters that come with a warmer climate make them harder to reign in. In March, Trump reversed course and announced his support to fund restoration of the Everglades that would help.

Read more from Alex Lubben at Vice News

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Trump 2020 Campaign Will Attack Biden's Senate Record, Not His Time As Obama's VP

President Trump’s 2020 campaign will seize on Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s mixed Senate record rather than his eight years as Barack Obama’s right-hand man.

The re-election campaign has been figuring out how – if Biden snatches the Democratic Party’s nomination – to respond to Biden’s candidacy that enjoys some protection among some voters due to nostalgia for the Obama years.

But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell, who works closely with the White House, told the Washington Times that the Trump campaign will attack Biden’s six-term record as a U.S. senator from Delaware.

“He’s got an Obama card he can play, but the problem is the 36 years of baggage before Obama. That’s the ticket in terms of getting him,” the strategist said.

The heated exchange during a debate last month between Sen. Kamala Harris and Biden over the issue of federally mandated busing, a measure Biden opposed it during his Senate years -- which also meant he had found a common cause with segregationist Democrats -- may be a blueprint how to damage Biden’s credibility in the eyes of the electorate.

Harris surged among voters after her stellar debate performance, in which she challenged Biden to apologize for opposing federally mandated busing as part of the broader desegregation effort.

Among other issues that could damage Biden is his support for the 1994 crime bill that greatly increased incarceration of African-Americans and is now widely agreed as having had a detrimental effect on the communities.

Read more from  Lukas Mikelionis at Fox News

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Why Trump Has Reason For Optimism In 2020

President Trump is rolling into a post-Independence Day weekend at his Bedminster, N.J., property with reason to feel good about himself and his reelection prospects for 2020.

A number of things are going Trump’s way, leaving him better positioned for victory in a second term.

The first is the economy, which is showing little sign of slowing down.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday that the recent stock rally and strong jobs report proved that Trump's policies have fueled "a very strong prosperity cycle."

All of this is good news for an incumbent president.

As GOP strategist Ford O’Connell wrote in The Hill this week, the power of incumbency is already a huge predictor. Only a handful of presidents running for reelection have lost since 1900. The number who have lost while managing a strong economy are fewer.

It’s no wonder Trump was in a good mood on Friday. 

The second good thing going for Trump is the divisive Democratic presidential primary. 

The White House clearly fears former Vice President Joe Biden, a centrist seen as a strong potential nominee in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which Trump took from Democrats in 2016.

Similarly, they are delighted to see Democrats talking about providing health care to immigrants who are in the country illegally, seeing it as an issue that will motivate Trump voters to go to the polls and one that could lose Democrats the support of independents.

Read more from Ian Swanson, Sylvan Lane and Julia Manchester

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Trump Delivers Unifying July 4 Message, But Few See It Helping Reelection

President Donald Trump was more a measured statesman than political streetfighter Thursday during his much-anticipated Independence Day address. But expectations are low that his patriotic — even, at times, unifying — message will boost his reelection odds.

Impressed early in his term as the guest of honor at France’s 2017 Bastille Day celebration, which featured an elaborate military parade, the U.S. commander in chief on Thursday deployed Air Force One, jets from the Air Force and Navy, helicopters from the Army and Marines — and even a Stealth Bomber — to the National Mall. And, in a speech that connected Thomas Jefferson with the Apollo crew that landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago, Trump struck a rare unifying tone.

Strategists from both parties say the president and his reelection campaign team are attempting to reconstruct the 2016 Electoral College map that put him in the White House. And several analysts contacted for this article agreed the Independence Day rally, with its heavy military presence, was yet another play to the conservative base that was the foundation of his 2016 win.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who communicates regularly with the White House, sees a “calculated” reelection strategy.

“The president is trying to make sure he has that base firmly in his camp,” said O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Base-focused rallies and events could have another benefit, he said, by “demoralizing Democrats and depressing the other guy’s turnout.”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

 

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