Trump’s Picks

 

donald-trump-cabinet-list-of-appointmentsEarly last week, Michael Barone published a piece analyzing the election returns in which he focused on the manner in which “the double-negatives” — those who thought highly neither of Donald Trump nor of Hillary Clinton — broke at the very end decisively for the former. Here is the way he put it:

One reason polling may have been misleading, or at least misled many of us in the psephology racket, is that this is the first presidential election since random sample polling began in 1935 in which most voters had negative feelings toward both major party candidates.

Election analysts have had experience dealing with elections in which majorities have positive feelings about both nominees; that has usually been the case in contests which turn out to have been seriously contested. “Double positives,” people with positive feelings about both candidates, will usually split along partisan or perhaps ethnic lines, and ordinarily pretty evenly.

But what about “double negatives”? The default assumption most of us have had, I suspect, is that they would split roughly evenly between the candidates. But that didn’t happen this year. According to the exit poll (current figures, which may be slightly revised), 18 percent of voters were “double negatives,” that is, had negative feelings toward both Clinton and Trump. Of these 18 percent, 49 percent voted for Trump and only 29 percent voted for Clinton, with 22 percent saying they picked another candidate or not answering.

The Trump-Clinton split as a percentage of the entire electorate was 9 to 5 percent, a 4 percent margin. Assume that was the split in each target state, rather than the 7 to 7 percent under my default assumption. If you subtract 2 percent from each close state from Trump’s percentage and add it to Clinton’s, you have Clinton carrying Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have 101 electoral votes. That would give Clinton a 329-209 majority in the Electoral College. As Nate Silver pointed out on FiveThirtyEight.com, that’s a big difference.

Later in the week, Michael came back to the question of Hillary Clinton’s loss and focused on what happened in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the upper Midwest to the Democratic vote outside the major cities. Here he observed:

Iowa, the largest state with no million-plus metro areas was typical: 54 percent Democratic in 2008, 52 in 2012, 41 percent in 2016. The drop is similar in Wisconsin outside Milwaukee and Madison (54 to 50 to 41 percent), Michigan outside Detroit and Grand Rapids (55 to 52 to 41 percent), Ohio outside Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati (48 to 47 to 35 percent), Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (48 to 44 to 36 percent).

Similar outstate drops were not quite enough to carry Minnesota for Trump and were swamped in Illinois by metro Chicago. But they were enough to switch the Midwest electoral vote from 80-38 Democratic in 2012 to 88-30 Republican this year.

These areas aren’t growing demographically, but they’re not tiny either. They cast 100 percent of votes in Iowa, 61 percent in Wisconsin, 47 percent in Michigan and Pennsylvania, 44 percent in Ohio.

And in trying to explain the shift, he pointed to three concerns: economic stagnation and its impact on the population that shifted, the growing conviction among Midwesterners that Mrs. Clinton was deeply dishonest, and the impact on them of her description of Trump voters. It is the last that especially interests me.

There’s also the condescension of Clinton and her campaign headquartered in trendy Brooklyn. “Religious beliefs,” candidate Clinton said in 2015, “have to be changed.” She told a Manhattan audience that half of Trump supporters were “deplorables” and “irredeemables” characterized by “implicit racism.”

Outstate people who voted for Obama, or whose neighbors or friends at church did, probably weren’t attracted by such statements. Decent people don’t like to be called racists and told that their religion needs to be changed (by the government?).

I would go a bit further than Michael did. I live in a small town in the upper Midwest and I did not think highly of either candidate. For a long time I sat on the fence undecided. I was not worried that Trump was a racist or bigot. I did fear that he was irresponsible, and his remarks regarding foreign policy worried me almost as much as it worried John Yoo and Jeremy Rabkin. What caused me to hold me nose, vote for Trump, and urge others to do so was not “the condescension” exhibited by Mrs. Clinton but the outright hatred she voiced. People who are deplorable and irredeemable need to be crushed. They cannot be allowed to rear their own children, and they must be forced into line. What she had to say was nasty and ugly. That it reflected the views of many of her supporters I never doubted. That she would herself express such views in private and then double-down on them in public later in the campaign — that pushed me over the edge. It was already evident to me that the Democrats intended to neutralize the First Amendment via the courts and impose a regime of censorship on the country. When she spoke these words I knew that she was as radical as the rest. My bet is that these remarks weighed heavily in the decisions made in this part of the country by “the double-negatives.”

Naturally enough, given my misgivings about the President-elect, I have been watching carefully as he has begun putting together a cabinet. I entertain two fears. The first is that, like most Republicans, he will — once elected — betray the base and return to the practices of the managerial progressive wing of the party. The second is that he will turn his back on our allies abroad and sidle up to the likes of Vladimir Putin.

So far, I find his choices reassuring. Jeff Sessions is, as Byron York reports today, “the Democrats’ nightmare.” He can be relied on to enforce the laws as written, to purge what Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch turned into a Department of Obstruction of Justice, and to give us again an impartial, nonpartisan administration of justice — above all, with regard to immigration. In choosing him, Trump has signaled that he means business.

The same is evident in his appointment of Reince Priebus as chief of staff and Steve Bannon as his principal advisor. Priebus is as tough as nails. He saw Scott Walker through the political war in Wisconsin, and he managed to hold the Republican Party together in this election — which was no mean feat. Bannon is the perfect war-time consigliere. He is fearless and clear-headed. The abuse being directed in the mainstream press at Sessions and Bannon is a sign of the significance of these appointments.

I also find the appointments and likely appointments on the foreign policy side reassuring. Mike Pompeo, who will take over the CIA, is no amateur. He graduated first in his class at West Point in 1986, did active duty for some years, took a law degree at Harvard, and has done service on the House Intelligence Committee. He knows the terrain.

Trump’s choice for foreign policy advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had a stellar career on the intelligence side in the Army and served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, when he was pushed out for not being on board with the Obama administration’s assessment of the developments likely in Syria. He is one of the few people in the larger national-security world who does not resort to embarrassing euphemisms when describing the relationship between militant Islam and the terrorist threat we now confront. Next to no one is willing to acknowledge in public the fact that Islam is itself a problem and that a religion of holy law is prone to becoming a radical political movement. In a world of liars, Flynn is a breath of fresh air.

Trump has not yet announced his choice for the Department of Defense. Fox News reports, however, that he has settled on Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who took over CentCom from David Petraeus in 2010 and ran it until 2014, when he, too, was pushed out after giving Barack Obama advice regarding Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran that the President did not want to hear. Mattis is a genuine warrior who is notoriously blunt and to the point. In the Marines he was affectionately dubbed “Mad Dog Mattis,” and he has good sense. On one occasion, he said, “The international order… is not self sustaining. It demands tending by an America that leads wisely, standing unapologetically… in defense of our values.” On another, he told his Marines: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Let me add that I know Mattis slightly. I spent a couple of days in his company in October at a small conference held at the Hoover Institution. What struck me at the time was that every time he opened his mouth it was clear that he knew what he was talking about. I cannot think of anyone better equipped to be Secretary of Defense, and I cannot imagine an isolationist picking such a man for the job.

Finally, Mike Pence has intimated that Mitt Romney may be chosen Secretary of State. That, too, would be splendid. It would help bind up the wounds of the party, and it would put a real gentleman in charge of Foggy Bottom. Like Mattis, Romney is no isolationist, and his prescience in foreign affairs was on display in the debates that took place in 2012. He was derided at the time for his insistence that Russia is a rival and should be treated as such, and he turned out to be right. His presence in the administration would go a long ways toward reassuring those of us who fear that Donald Trump is a bit too friendly with Vladimir Putin. My only concern is that he might be too decent a man to conduct the purge that is needed in Foggy Bottom. Everyone in the State Department must have known that Hillary Clinton was violating security protocols, and nobody blew the whistle. If Romney is chosen for the top job, someone with the requisite ruthlessness should be put in charge of the foreign service.

When I look at this as a whole, I am tempted to be sanguine about this administration. It looks as if Donald Trump really means drain the swamp and as if he is canny about foreign affairs. All of the right people are upset about his picks, and all of the right people are inordinately pleased. Perhaps, what we saw on the campaign was Trump the entertainer and what we are about to see is Trump the hard-nosed businessman. Let me add that, where Barack Obama tended to surround himself with yes-men and to get rid of anyone who told him truths he did not want to hear, Donald Trump seems to have a taste for straight-shooters. So far, so good.

There are 90 comments.

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  1. Vice-Potentate Member

    It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    • #1
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:18 PM PDT
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  2. Kim K. Member

    Who do you think is advising Trump on his picks? Not that he can’t come up with these on his own, but I’m sure he’s got an inner group.

    • #2
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:20 PM PDT
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  3. Petty Boozswha Member

    I agree with almost every word. I could not bring myself to vote for Trump, I voted third party because I thought him unfit in character and temperament. I also thought it highly likely he would immediately triangulate as he promised Maureen Dowd and others. These appointments, announced and prospective, go a long way in reassuring me. I just hope the appointment of Romney is real and not a head fake. So far so good.

    • #3
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:29 PM PDT
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  4. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Kim K.:Who do you think is advising Trump on his picks? Not that he can’t come up with these on his own, but I’m sure he’s got an inner group.

    Mike Pence, for sure, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Rience Priebus as well and Lt. Gen. Flynn.

    • #4
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:41 PM PDT
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  5. Commodore BTC Inactive

    one important appointment that isn’t being talked about is IRS commissioner

    really hope Trump doesn’t appoint anyone with ties to Goldman Sachs to head Treasury

    • #5
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:52 PM PDT
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  6. Sash Member

    If Romney is a head fake he is going to suffer. Many of us are comforted at the thought of Romney running State. Romney’s skill set is fixing broken companies, cutting the unproductive to save the productive, I think he would be fine with firing the corrupt at State. It’s not personal.

    But Rudy? Or anyone else after this fake… it undoes the good he has built up. I’m actually leary of Bannon and Sessions… it was just before Alabama that Trump couldn’t seem to remember exactly what white supremacy is… or what are those unfamiliar letters KKK? That was when I became NeverTrump, that was no accident, that was pandering to racists. And that was Sessions.

    But reality is what it is.

    I will believe he intends good in the main if he picks Romney, but if not, he is someone to keep at arms length, and not commit to supporting. He is suspect in picking only loyalists, smack of quid pro quo. Another word for that is pay to play.

    • #6
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:58 PM PDT
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  7. mollysmom Inactive

    Excellent evaluation. I too am optimistic so far, seeing a real plan of meritricious selections aimed to achieve specific goals to turn the government away from its list to the left. So much of Obama’s selections were cronyism.

    • #7
    • November 20, 2016, at 3:58 PM PDT
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  8. Western Chauvinist Member

    Count me among the “inordinately pleased.” When I see the reaction of the Left, I’m downright tickled.

    • #8
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:02 PM PDT
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  9. livingtheLoneStarlife Inactive

    Commodore BTC:one important appointment that isn’t being talked about is IRS commissioner

    really hope Trump doesn’t appoint anyone with ties to Goldman Sachs to head Treasury

    A former Goldman Sachs guy ran Trump’s campaign and is now his right hand guy in the White House. Why is it a problem at Treasury?

    • #9
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:04 PM PDT
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  10. PHCheese Member

    Vice-Potentate:It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    Every time I hear this diversity mantra I am reminded of Red Auerbach of the Boston Celitcs. His first teams had nearly all white players. Shorty later he had mostly black players, a little later he was back to all white players and then back to black players over the years. He said he was criticized for his racial make up at all turns. His rebuttal was black or white he wanted the best team. Why is that wrong?

    • #10
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:14 PM PDT
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  11. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    mollysmom:Excellent evaluation. I too am optimistic so far, seeing a real plan of meritricious selections aimed to achieve specific goals to turn the government away from its list to the left. So much of Obama’s selections were cronyism.

    Do you mean meritocratic? Meritricious has a rather different meaning. Look it up.

    • #11
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:15 PM PDT
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  12. livingtheLoneStarlife Inactive

    I’m slightly less excited by Flynn, and concerned about Romney.

    Starting with Flynn, everything is true about his willingness to call Islam what it is. And I have no beef with his clear eyed view of the threat of terrorism. However, his close relationships with RT and Russia and his full support of an increasingly theocratic dictatorship that is Erdogan in Turkey give me significant concern. Call me crazy, but I’m not very comfortable having a paid RT guy and personal guest of Putin as National Security Advisor.

    On to Romney: he’s a fantastic guy who will run State incredibly effectively and is an excellent person to our chief diplomat. But is he really the guy who can carry out the foreign policy of Trump? My feeling is they are very different in how they view the world, and I’m concerned anytime the President and SoS aren’t in agreement on policy strategy. I’ll admit that this is a fairly minor nit to pick.

    I’m optimistic about Sessions. I’m not so sure he’ll have to drain the swamp; it may just drain itself. I hope they have plenty of Play-Doh and crayons in the safe spaces for all the leftist bureaucrats in the DoJ. I’d love to wander through the halls and laugh at the acres of overcompensating, meddling fools.

    • #12
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:15 PM PDT
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  13. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Sash:If Romney is a head fake he is going to suffer. Many of us are comforted at the thought of Romney running State. Romney’s skill set is fixing broken companies, cutting the unproductive to save the productive, I think he would be fine with firing the corrupt at State. It’s not personal.

    But Rudy? Or anyone else after this fake… it undoes the good he has built up. I’m actually leary of Bannon and Sessions… it was just before Alabama that Trump couldn’t seem to remember exactly what white supremacy is… or what are those unfamiliar letters KKK? That was when I became NeverTrump, that was no accident, that was pandering to racists. And that was Sessions.

    But reality is what it is.

    I will believe he intends good in the main if he picks Romney, but if not, he is someone to keep at arms length, and not commit to supporting. He is suspect in picking only loyalists, smack of quid pro quo. Another word for that is pay to play.

    Keep in mind that Romney might not want the job. Some of Trump’s picks are loyalists, as you would expect. Some — Pompeo, for example, and Mattis — are not, and Flynn is no suck-up. I, too, want Romney, however. He would throw oil on the waters. He would reassure our allies. And he would calm things down. I think that you are unjust to Sessions.

    • #13
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:18 PM PDT
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  14. Percival Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe: The abuse being directed in the mainstream press at Sessions and Bannon is a sign of the significance of these appointments.

    They will tell you whom they fear.

    I like the selections so far. In the case of Romney I am reminded of Bismarck’s dictum “when with a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and when I have to do with a pirate, I try to be a pirate and a half” — somebody may have to give Mitt a lesson in swashbuckling.

    • #14
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:20 PM PDT
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  15. Kozak Member

    Vice-Potentate:It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    Palin at Interior, Coulter for Homeland Security, Carson for Surgeon General.

    if we have to play the stupid game, lets have fun with it.

    • #15
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:37 PM PDT
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  16. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    I am very pleased, as well. I would have bet even money that upon election he would go for “consensus” picks – like the same people Clinton would have chosen. I am thrilled beyond words that he has not done this.

    Trump has also not fallen for the same nonsense that seduced Bush Senior – who liked to pick “really smart” people.

    • #16
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:49 PM PDT
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  17. Richard Fulmer Member

    I like seeing generals in the cabinet and would like to see some former governors as well. Executive experience counts for a lot. Typically, neither a Senator nor a Congressman has had that kind of responsibility. Mitt Romney would be a fine Secretary of State and Bobby Jindal would be a good choice for either Education or HHS.

    • #17
    • November 20, 2016, at 4:57 PM PDT
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  18. iDad Inactive

    Sash:If Romney is a head fake he is going to suffer. Many of us are comforted at the thought of Romney running State. Romney’s skill set is fixing broken companies, cutting the unproductive to save the productive, I think he would be fine with firing the corrupt at State. It’s not personal.

    But Rudy? Or anyone else after this fake… it undoes the good he has built up. I’m actually leary of Bannon and Sessions… it was just before Alabama that Trump couldn’t seem to remember exactly what white supremacy is… or what are those unfamiliar letters KKK? That was when I became NeverTrump, that was no accident, that was pandering to racists. And that was Sessions.

    But reality is what it is.

    I will believe he intends good in the main if he picks Romney, but if not, he is someone to keep at arms length, and not commit to supporting. He is suspect in picking only loyalists, smack of quid pro quo. Another word for that is pay to play.

    Because Trump’s choices should be guided by someone who refused to vote for him and who repeats progressive slanders of the people he has already chosen.

    • #18
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:00 PM PDT
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  19. Man With the Axe Member

    I like the idea of David Petraeus for surgeon general, because not so long ago he was the surgin’ general.

    • #19
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:20 PM PDT
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  20. Man With the Axe Member

    The upside of Romney as secretary of state is that Trump’s foreign policy is probably inchoate, and he could benefit from the advice of someone who has thought about these matters over the years. Perhaps Romney would be more of a Henry Kissinger and less of a Hillary Clinton.

    • #20
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:25 PM PDT
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  21. Arahant Member

    We shall see what really happens and whom the Senate confirms.

    • #21
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:30 PM PDT
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  22. Knotwise the Poet Member

    I don’t know a lot about the history of most of his picks beyond name recognition, but it’s encouraging to hear your approval of them all. The only one I’m nervous about is Steve Bannon, though, again, I’m no expert on the guy or his history. I just know that I felt the Breitbart sites, or at least Big Hollywood, the one I used to visit regularly, went off the deep end after Andrew Breitbart passed away (Bannon took over after his passing, correct?). Some of the stuff I read in recent days about Bannon were troubling, though I know the media’s promoted narrative about anyone needs to be taken with a grain (ok, maybe a whole block) of salt.

    These picks certainly aren’t left-wingers or PC, that’s for sure.

    • #22
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:38 PM PDT
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  23. Man With the Axe Member

    Arahant:We shall see what really happens and whom the Senate confirms.

    Don’t forget that the Dems eliminated the filibuster for executive picks. Thanks, Harry.

    • #23
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:47 PM PDT
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  24. Knotwise the Poet Member

    With regards to Romney, I’d be very excited to have Romney as Secretary of State. I’m a fan and think he would do great. But, perhaps even more importantly to me, it would be a great show of magnanimity by Trump and make me feel more confident about his ability to put aside ego when making decisions about what’s best for the country (not that I think Romney is the only good choice for SofS, mind you).

    • #24
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:49 PM PDT
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  25. Arahant Member

    Knotwise the Poet:With regards to Romney, I’d be very excited to have Romney as Secretary of State. I’m a fan and think he would do great. But, perhaps even more importantly to me, it would be a great show of magnanimity by Trump and make me feel more confident about his ability to put aside ego when making decisions about what’s best for the country (not that I think Romney is the only good choice for SofS, mind you).

    Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing Bolton at State and Romney at Treas, but I won’t complain about this.

    • #25
    • November 20, 2016, at 5:54 PM PDT
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  26. Vice-Potentate Member

    PHCheese:

    Vice-Potentate:It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    Every time I hear this diversity mantra I am reminded of Red Auerbach of the Boston Celitcs. His first teams had nearly all white players. Shorty later he had mostly black players, a little later he was back to all white players and then back to black players over the years. He said he was criticized for his racial make up at all turns. His rebuttal was black or white he wanted the best team. Why is that wrong?

    It’s not wrong on substance. It’s wrong in optics. Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    • #26
    • November 20, 2016, at 6:05 PM PDT
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  27. mollysmom Inactive

    Paul A. Rahe:

    mollysmom:Excellent evaluation. I too am optimistic so far, seeing a real plan of meritricious selections aimed to achieve specific goals to turn the government away from its list to the left. So much of Obama’s selections were cronyism.

    Do you mean meritocratic? Meritricious has a rather different meaning. Look it up.

    Oops..an archaic definition of meretricious (didn’t even spell it right) is having the characteristics of a prostitute, which would have been more appropriate for a Clinton appointment.

    • #27
    • November 20, 2016, at 6:08 PM PDT
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  28. Knotwise the Poet Member

    Vice-Potentate:It’s not wrong on substance. It’s wrong in optics. Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    Ditto.

    • #28
    • November 20, 2016, at 6:28 PM PDT
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  29. Arahant Member

    Vice-Potentate: Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    Have you noticed how Trump has been playing every game by his own rules? They said he could never win without a ground game. Etc. Yet, he won. He defied conventional wisdom at every turn. Let’s see what he does here.

    • #29
    • November 20, 2016, at 6:31 PM PDT
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  30. MJBubba Inactive

    Maybe Trump met with Romney just to ask to have a look at those binders full of women.

    • #30
    • November 20, 2016, at 6:35 PM PDT
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