Is Trump Trustworthy?

We’ve heard it before. In fact, our current President stood before the nation and told us that he believed that marriage was a union between one man and one woman. Since then, Obama has stirred controversy by refusing to defend the current law on the books that defines marriage that way. In fact, before the ink was dry on the administration’s statement that they would no longer defend DOMA in court, prop 8 opponents in California had quotes from the statement prepared in a lengthy legal document requesting a stay in the implementation of Prop 8.

Pandering is the ancient art of politics. John Kerry supported the war before he was against it. Many have accused Mitt Romney of pandering. After all, he ran on a pro-choice platform in Massachusetts and then wrote Romneycare. He may have excuses and explanations, but in the end conservatives will have to decide if they are willing to trust Romney on social issues and healthcare.

Conservatives will have to make the same decision with Donald Trump. Trump recently came out in opposition both of gay marriage and civil union benefits. Already he is getting a lot of flack for the choice. One gay activist called him “an extreme bigot” for his marriage position.

Trump has also changed his stance on abortion, now choosing to go pro-life.

So can social conservatives trust Donald Trump? As noted in previous posts, Trump has supported Democrats like Rahm Emanuel financially. Trump’s daughter was recently seen at a pro-gay marriage reception in New York.

Trump knows whose palms to grease and who to support to be successful in his business. That makes an easy explanation for his history. But it should also be a warning sign to social conservatives. Is Trump truly a social right winger? Or is the social right wing his latest acquisition?

Trump’s move may be genuine, but the 2012 Republican electorate is turning out to be one of the most cynical, untrusting and judgmental crowd the right has seen in a long time. And justly so. George W. Bush’s last couple years in office ruined his conservative legacy, and McCain was no Reagan.

My prediction: Trump is not going to convince the social conservative base of the Republican party.

The Neapolitan Party

Early on in this race, we are starting to see a clear breakdown in the Republican party into three distinct flavors. The question will be whether one candidate can unite the party once the others have melted away.

Can Republicans compromise on one flavor?

The social conservatives are known for their stances on family values, morality, and for some, Christianity. They are the candidates that the Family Research Counsel and American Family Association would love to see win. They are openly supportive of the TEA Party movement and are popular among talk radio listeners and Glenn Beck fans. They are big on national security, small government, and spending cuts, but these stances are drowned out by their social values. They are often controversial and pull no punches in attacking the Left. This flavor includes Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Jim DeMint, Herman Cain, Haley Barbour, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

Then you have the fiscal conservatives. They are proven businessmen. They have cut costs in government, they have balanced budgets, they have produced growth, and many of them have large personal fortunes. They have made the tough, controversial decisions having to do with the size of government, and they have produced incredible results. However, even though many of them are pro-life, pro-family, and generally socially conservative, this does not come out strongly in their campaigns. They are willing to work across the aisle, and sometimes alienate their own party by doing it. Social conservatives don’t trust them, but they enjoy a closet relationship with the TEA Party movement. They are strong on national security and foreign policy. These candidates include Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump.

Finally, there are the libertarians. Although they may live socially conservative lives and oppose things like abortion on a personal and state level, they will die by the principle that such things are beyond the scope of the Federal Government’s regulations. They oppose foreign wars and take a very cynical approach to free trade, the UN, and other foreign entanglements. They oppose the war on drugs and would take a chainsaw to the Federal Government’s authority without hesitation. Secretly, many conservatives love them, but most would not actually vote for them. These include Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.

And then there is Newt Gingrich. Newt can be credited with helping bring about one of our nation’s most prosperous times as he worked both across the aisle and strongly against a Clinton administration to balance the budget.

Newt can win the general. Can he win the primary?

Newt also is a dedicated social conservative, who despite his own personal family issues from a decade ago is a strong advocate for socially conservative issues. Newt also advocates for limited government, but certainly not anywhere to the extent that Ron Paul does. Gingrich is smart on foreign policy and thinks outside of the box.

His American Solutions website and conservative crusade starting from when he was considering a presidential run in 2007 have helped to codify and establish the conservative brand going into 2012. He has been a strong TEA Party ally without appearing to be a one dimensional TEA Party candidate.

Could Newt be the candidate who can unite enough of the Republican Neapolitan breakdown to win in 2012? He could certainly defeat Obama in a debate and would have a strong showing in a general election. The question is if he can get enough of the social conservative, fiscal conservative and libertarian Republicans to abandon their favorite in order to unite behind him in the primary.

Trump Talks Politics with Rush

Donald Trump added legitimacy to his conservative Presidential prospects on Tuesday by appearing on the Rush Limbaugh show to defend contributions to Rahm Emmanuel and to discuss what he calls “stupid” foreign policy.

Trump stated that his agent for The Apprentice is Rahm Emmanuel’s brother Ari Emmanuel and there was no Republican running in Rahm’s race, which is why he contributed to him. Trump hinted that friendship and loyalty were very important to him. He also admitted that he liked Rahm Emmanuel as a person.

Trump argued that we need to make foreign allies pay for protection, and that we need to figure out how to compete with the Chinese. Trump made few bi-partisan or nice statements and came on strong against the Chinese and other nations that he said are “ripping off the United States”.

Trump highlighted some examples of how the Chinese are taking US technology, cheating with their currency to outbid US companies, and using US companies to get rich and set themselves up to overtake us as a super power.

Trump’s frustration at the current administration and the international scene came through, matching the talk radio venue that caters to audiences who expect no non-sense talk. He brought up issues that many small and US based international businesses have been whispering about for a while. Trump said “We are rebuilding China…no politician ever says what I am saying.”

Trump offered some solutions to the situation

– We have to get politicians to step up to foreign interest lobbyists

– We have to restore respect and greatness to America

– Tell China, if they don’t straighten up on currency manipulation, tax their products 25%

– Get countries we protect to pay for protection or offer discounts on products we bring in or better trade agreements

Trump highlighted how America is losing respect and shared an anecdote of how he offered to build a $150 million ballroom for the Whitehouse to entertain foreign dignitaries for free, but the Whitehouse never returned his call.

Trump did not discuss domestic or social issues, but hinted at making a return to the Rush Limbaugh show to speak about such things at a future date.

Romney’s best hope: a wide field

After winning the New Hampshire straw poll and coming in first in current polling of 2012 primary hopefuls, someone might think that Mitt Romney is on his way to represent the Republican party in 2012. They could be wrong.

Mitt was a top contender in 2008. His message of fiscal conservatism and business smarts made many Republicans wish the primary had turned out differently towards the later half of 2008 when the economy was in the tank, gas prices were at $4 a gallon, and every other campaign ad had video of John McCain announcing that the economy was not his strong suit.

Now, with the economy in nearly the same condition two years later, Romney’s poll numbers shouldn’t be a shock. In fact, he has led the Republican field for much of 2010 and would beat Obama in 2012 according to more than one 2010 poll.

 

New Hampshire shows Romney has found his niche

So why would I think that Romney might not be the Republican contender in 2012? 24% of Republican support will not win in a narrow primary field. Consider Romney’s closest competition in the recent Rasmussen poll: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich. Even his 35% in New Hampshire is ominous with other placing contenders being libertarian right winger Ron Paul, TEA Partiers Pawlenty and Palin, old school conservative Rick Santorum, TEA Party conservative constitutionalists DeMint, Bachmann, and occasional right wing radio host Herman Cain.

Although the entire field in the New Hampshire straw poll is very promising, the candidate who is perhaps closest to Romney’s brand and image would be The Donald, who got 1% of the vote.

If Family Values conservatives and the TEA Party faithful are able to coalesce around one specific candidate, it will not be Romney. In fact, in the Family Research Council straw poll earlier this year, Mike Pence won with Huckabee coming in second. Romney may have easily won in the northeast, but out in Iowa he is polling just behind Huckabee.

As the former governor of Massachusetts, fair or not, Romney has a history. He wasn’t always pro-life. He had his own version of universal healthcare that passed in Massachusetts. Romney has not helped his conservative credentials by avoiding identification with the TEA Party and keeping a low profile in the 2010 wave of conservative electoral victories.

Romney had a strong showing in New Hampshire. But what will happen in the rest of the country when the field narrows? what about when Mike Huckabee drops out of the race, or Sarah Palin? What about Ron Paul, Jim DeMint, or Mike Pence? Will Romney be the fallback choice of their supporters? Or will it be Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour or some other conservative who has inserted themselves into the current popular right wing movement in this country? 35% will only get him so far.

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