THE MORNING PLUM:
Believe it or not, Donald Trump has now made a very important policy statement. Introducing what he billed as an “energy plan,” Trump promised to “cancel the Paris Climate Plan.” Unlike so much of what comes from Trump on policy, this is a genuinely clarifying moment, with potentially enormous long-term implications.
The near-term political consequences of this will — or should — be that there is now no chance whatsoever that Bernie Sanders will do anything at all on his way out that could imperil party unity in a way that makes a Trump victory more likely. I don’t believe Sanders has any intention to do that, by the way, but this should theoretically render it an impossibility in his mind, because it dramatically increases the stakes for a relatively smooth resolution of the Democratic primaries. Indeed, I believe it’s likely Sanders will see it this way, too.
To get all the details on Trump’s full energy plan, read Brad Plumer’s piece. Trump would pursue a mostly standard-issue GOP agenda of “fewer regulations and more fossil fuel production.” More important, with some reporters wondering what Trump’s actual views are on global climate change, he clarified them: He is utterly indifferent to its existence and would roll back the main things we’re currently putting in place to deal with it.
Trump said that the current environmental challenges that the Obama administration is trying to tackle are “phony.” He added that he would “rescind” the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, and is key to the U.S.’s ability to meet its commitments as part of the global climate deal. He would withdraw the U.S. from participation in that global accord.
As I’ve reported before, there are complexities that could make it harder than expected for a Republican president — even one as masterfully competent and strong as Trump — to roll back the Clean Power Plan and/or withdraw from the Paris climate deal. But it’s possible that Trump could accomplish one or both of these, which would be a tremendous setback.
This deepens the contrast between Trump and Hillary Clinton. While Clinton would not be as ambitious as Sanders in tackling the climate challenge, the unalterable fact of the matter is that Clinton would preserve and implement the Clean Power Plan and the global climate accord, and Trump would seek to reverse them both.
Sanders has repeatedly described the climate challenge as the single greatest long-term threat we face:
Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 7, 2016
As a father of four and a grandfather of seven, I care about leaving a healthy, livable planet for all of our kids and grandchildren.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 7, 2016
It’s true that Sanders has criticized the global climate deal as insufficient. But Sanders surely knows that continuing to implement it — and the Clean Power Plan — are infinitely preferable to rolling them back, which could lay the groundwork for catastrophe. Sanders knows that the Paris accord may end up being our best near term hope for building an international effort to tackle the climate problem. Implementing it could allow us to get to the point where dramatic innovations in energy technology begin to make solving the problem a realistic possibility. What’s more, even if the Paris accord is currently not enough, it can be built upon later. The accord is not guaranteed to succeed, but trying to implement and build upon it makes success more likely. Obviously, if our participation in it is canceled, building upon it is no longer possible.
It is often said that Sanders may not help to unify the party because he has “nothing to lose” from a Democratic loss. I think that is wrong — I believe Sanders when he says a Trump presidency is unthinkable. And at any rate, the incentives, if anything, favor Sanders helping to unify the party, in order to maximize his and his movement’s influence going forward. Trump has now clarified beyond any doubt just how much, by Sanders’ own lights, we all have to lose from a Trump presidency. My bet is Sanders will seize on this to make the case to his supporters that the stakes in this election require a full commitment to Trump’s defeat, even if that means supporting a flawed alternative.
* DOWN TO THE WIRE IN CALIFORNIA: Politico reports that the Clinton campaign thinks it might eke out a win over Bernie Sanders in California, due to the latter’s strategic errors:
The biggest problem for Sanders has to do with independent voters….Those voters can vote in the Democratic primary, but to do so they must request a Democratic ballot….Educating those independent voters about the clunky process was part of a [previous Sanders campaign] field organizing strategy…But the campaign decided to go in a different direction, instead focusing its dwindling resources on television advertising.
The likely close outcome means the delegate math will remain unchanged, though a lot of people will make claims about what the “narrative” of a Clinton defeat there supposedly means.
* NEW EXPLANATION FOR HILLARY EMAIL SETUP: A former State Department official has offered a new explanation in a deposition as part of a lawsuit by a conservative group:
Lewis A. Lukens, a former State Department administrative official, said in a sworn deposition last week that after Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, he had proposed accommodating her by setting up a desktop computer in her office that would not be connected to the department’s system. That would have allowed her to send and receive email on a personal account….But that idea was abandoned, Mr. Lukens testified, after an aide to the secretary told him that Mrs. Clinton was “very comfortable checking her emails on a BlackBerry, but she’s not adept or not used to checking her emails on a desktop.”
Clinton is frustrated that she can’t move past the drip-drip-drip nature of this story, but that isn’t going to happen until the FBI releases its findings, and even then it will probably continue.
* TRUMP’S GROUND GAME IS ‘NONEXISTENT’: The Associated Press recently reported that the Trump campaign is ramping up its organization in 15 states. NBC News reports that’s nonsense:
On the ground, there are few signs the action of building a large campaign apparatus is underway. One Trump campaign source told NBC News that boasting to the AP of 15 state directors being deployed was a “piece ginned up to make it seem like we’re doing something when we’re not.”….“It’s either fluid or non-existent,” the source continued, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I would lean towards the latter.”
The question now is whether the RNC can make up for it and build an operation for him.
* REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE TO BUILD TRUMP A GROUND GAME: Related to the above, Politico reports:
The Republican National Committee is scrambling to respond to increasingly frantic concerns from state GOP officials that the party has not provided enough field organizers and will be badly outgunned by Democrats in battleground states. POLITICO surveyed nearly two dozen GOP chairmen, officials and operatives in key swing states who said the RNC hadn’t delivered on promises, putting in peril their ability to launch the robust voter-turnout operation needed in the general election.
But surely Trump’s candidacy is so “uncoventional” that none of this will matter.
* REPUBLICANS WORRY ABOUT TRUMP’S FINANCE OPERATION: David Drucker reports that Republicans are wondering whether Trump can build up a fundraising operation in time:
The problem is that fundraising networks don’t bring in hundreds of millions of dollars overnight….The RNC has had a very successful election cycle fundraising, bringing in $144.8 million thus far, with $17.4 million in the bank as of April 30. But the demands of running a presidential campaign, as charged to do by Trump, are going to require considerably more money, and fast. Republicans in down-ticket races wonder if there is going to be any cash left over to help them.
Maybe if Trump brashly promises a “world class” finance operation enough times, one will eventually materialize.
* TRUMP IS CONFIDENT HE’LL BROADEN THE MAP: On the campaign trail last night, Trump talked about how competitive he’ll be in states off limits to Republicans. Jenna Johnson summarizes his argument:
Which states will Trump target? California. Ohio, where he plans to spend a lot of money. Michigan. New York, his home state which was once represented by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate. Florida, where he owns several golf resorts and a private club where he often lives. And Virginia, which is also home to a Trump golf course.
California and New York? Sorry, but no. Michigan? Maybe. But to make that happen, he’d have to pull off a large double digit swing among those blue collar whites that supposedly love him so much.
* TRUMP’S BOGUS ECONOMIC CREDENTIALS: Paul Krugman takes apart the idea that Donald Trump’s supposedly formidable business skills equip him to run the country:
Does business success carry with it the knowledge and instincts needed to make good economic policy? No, it doesn’t….a country is nothing like a corporation, and running a national economy is nothing like running a business….A tycoon who has enough humility to realize that he doesn’t already know all the answers, and is willing to listen to other people even when they contradict him, could do fine as an economic manager. But does this describe anyone currently running for president?
As Krugman notes, however, Trump is currently favored over Clinton on the economy. We’ll see what happens to those numbers after Democrats spend a few hundred million prosecuting his business past, however.