As we head to Cleveland today, we certainly have been reminded that the GOP electorate picked someone as its nominee who is not only unfit to govern but entirely incapable of running a national campaign.
As to the governance, the attempted coup in Turkey — a NATO ally essential in the war against the Islamic State and headed by a problematic, increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — coupled with the horrific attacks in Nice, France, and police deaths in Louisiana, reminds us that Donald Trump has no real understanding of the world, no respected advisers around him and atrocious foreign policy judgment. If he had been president this week, one could imagine him blundering along, leaping from one talk show to another spouting inflammatory rhetoric that would only upset allies and swell the ranks of jihadist training camps. What would he have done if the coup occurred on his watch? We have no idea — and, we fear, neither does he.
The past four days, however, were more about Trump’s utter incompetence as a candidate.
His VP rollout was marred by reports that he really wanted someone else. He’s been slammed for his flustered decision to postpone the Pence announcement and by embarrassing details of Trump’s indecision and agonizing up through Thursday night. According to news reports, the family had to prevail upon Trump to understand he was picking the next in line to the president, not a new best friend. Oy.
It is not surprising, then, that on Sunday a respected conservative finally said he’d throw his hat into the ring if Trump got booted. Quin Hillyer reported that former senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would agree to let the convention delegates draft him under such circumstances. “Coburn, a solid conservative with a long-established reputation for probity and personal decency, reportedly is appalled by many aspects of Trump’s candidacy,” Hillyer wrote. “In February, Coburn said Trump was ‘perpetuating a fraud on the American people.’ He elaborated that Trump’s ’empty promises, bullying and bloviating rhetoric will only deepen the frustration and disillusionment that gave rise to his campaign. He simply lacks the character, skills and policy knowledge to turn his grandiose promises into reality.’ ”
This is the ultimate Hail Mary, but it would not be an issue if Trump had not already embarrassed his party. The Clinton campaign quickly leaped at the opportunity to mock Trump with a devastating ad detailing his excruciating VP deliberation:
The Trump team was then unprepared Friday to present Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s record, provide basic biographical info, deflect Clinton attacks or even update its website. Student body election campaigns have been better organized than this.
Let’s not forget the money. The Republican National Committee is scrambling, falling short of its funding just for the convention and then embarrassing itself with an error-plagued letter to Sheldon Adelson pleading for more money. Isn’t Trump the billionaire candidate? He’s either a cheapskate who is taking the party for a ride or is not all that rich — probably both.
Even worse, Trump is getting clobbered in the overall money race. Bloomberg reports, “As wealthy donors supporting Hillary Clinton pummel Donald Trump with negative ads, the Republican presidential candidate’s own backers are struggling to return fire, hurt in part by a late start and conflicting signals from the campaign.” The Wall Street Journal reports:
Donald Trump’s joint fund with the Republican National Committee raised $25 million in the second quarter of 2016, but just $2.2 million of that was transferred to the presumptive nominee’s campaign, according to a report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. . . .
Of the $81 million Mrs. Clinton’s joint fund with the DNC raised in the second quarter, about $20 million was transferred to her campaign, according to the FEC report.
Mrs. Clinton also has plenty of other cash under her direct control: Her campaign raised $280 million through June.
The fundraising deficit is unconscionable and unprecedented, reflecting on both Trump and the RNC’s decision to back him unconditionally and demonstrate contempt for anti-Trump delegates and voters.
And finally, Trump’s ground game in critical states is threadbare. The Associated Press reports, “Ohio Republicans thought they were going to see 220 paid staffers by May; in reality there are about 50. Plans for Pennsylvania called for 190 paid staffers; there are about 60. Iowa’s planned ground force of 66 by May actually numbers between 25 and 30. In Colorado, recent staff departures have left about two dozen employees, far short of the 80 that were to have been in place.” Clinton reportedly has 100 offices around the country in 45 states. In a race where neither candidate is liked, the importance of staff on the ground to identify and drag unenthusiastic voters to the polls cannot be overstated.
Trump, who used to flaunt his ability to hire the best people and win every deal, is showing why his reputation as a skilled businessman is wildly exaggerated. “Rather than magisterial and decisive, Trump the actual boss swings wildly between micromanaging meddler and can’t-be-bothered, broad-brush, big-picture thinker,” Politico reports. “He is both impulsive and intuitive, for better and for worse.” Just what you want in a president, huh?
The race, which could have been a referendum on the Obama presidency and on Clinton’s record and ethics, is now about Trump — his ignorance, his extreme views, his narcissism, his dishonesty and his political incompetence. That is precisely the election Clinton wanted and probably the only one she could win. If the RNC delegates finally came to their senses and stopped listening to the Trump-RNC bullies, they’d discover that once they get rid of Trump virtually any other Republican (Coburn, Pence, et al.) would become the front-runner.