Heading into the 4th of July weekend, the U.S. presidential race is still relatively close. The Real Clear Politics average of political polls puts Hillary Clinton 4.8 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.
While it’s still too early to put much stock in polls, it’s notable that a Fox News poll shows a majority of Republicans would prefer someone other than Trump as their party’s nominee.
Trump spent the week blasting the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, taking on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, usually a reliable backer of Republican policies. He also said his former Republican presidential rivals should “never be allowed to run for public office again” because they are breaking a pledge to back the party’s nominee. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Jeb Bush have yet to endorse Trump.
Clinton spent the week fending off two issues that claw at her credibility. Wednesday’s report from a special House of Representative committee investigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and a meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server is still pending.
With party conventions scheduled for the last two weeks of July, Trump and Clinton are vetting possible running mates and trying to turn around what are still the highest disapproval ratings for any presidential candidate.
Bill Clinton & Loretta Lynch Meeting: ‘Incredibly Bad Judgment’
Paul Callan – CNN
Since the email server was located in the Clinton’s private residence in Chappaqua, N.Y., most members of the public would reasonably assume that Mr. Clinton himself would have more than a passing knowledge regarding the use and maintenance of the server. He would also be intensely interested in keeping his candidate wife clear of any allegations of criminal wrong during her presidential campaign.Under the circumstances, the tarmac soiree between Clinton and Lynch demonstrates incredibly bad judgment on the part of two seasoned legal and political professionals.Both should have instantly realized that their private meeting might create public suspicion that something improper must have occurred. After all Donald Trump has been tossing corruption accusations at Hillary Clinton with the frequency of firings on “The Apprentice.”
The Clinton-Lynch Meeting: Corruption, Not Bad ‘Optics’
David Harsanyi – National Review
Acknowledging that the meeting was bad “optics” is a way for Democrats to intimate that while some rubes might get the wrong idea, there’s really nothing unethical about it. But they can’t know that’s true, can they? One of the parties involved is Bill Clinton, who has already been impeached for lying under oath and obstructing justice. The other is Lynch, who has politicized virtually every major case under her watch….
Lynch might be Mother Teresa for all we know, but we still have ethical codes for a reason. Any truly impartial attorney general would have said to the former president, “Why don’t we table this meeting until after the high-profile, politically charged criminal investigation of your wife is over?” Would that really have been so difficult?…
And if you’re Hillary Clinton — and you are truly innocent — Bill’s little get-together creates even more questions about your shady conduct. Mostly, though, if you want to know why Americans don’t trust their government, this meeting is a pristine example.
Trump’s GOP Friends Stand Outside Party Circle
Caitlin Huey-Burns – Real Clear Politics
During a campaign stop in Maine earlier this week, Donald Trump had a notable guest on stage to introduce him: A Republican governor.
“I want to thank our governor, our governor, I call him ours,” Trump said in Bangor, referring to Paul LePage. “He’s a great, great guy.”…
Still, LePage’s appearance was remarkable in that it is so rare these days for a current office holder to want to be mentioned in the same sentence as Trump — let alone campaign with him. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, facing a difficult re-election this year, did not join Trump on a Thursday trip to Manchester, where he criticized trade policy that she supported.
The fact that Trump has so few GOP buddies in high places is something that endears him to supporters and appeals to those frustrated with Washington and government across the country….But Trump’s lack of establishment support could be coming back to bite him.
Why ‘Never Trump’ Conservatives Are Wrong About Trump
Charles R. Kesler – The Washington Post
Trump does speak sometimes in unfortunate ethnic and other generalizations, and he admires toughness, in a sort of boxer’s way, more highly than it should be admired, just as his praise of winning doesn’t distinguish, as it should, between those who deserve to win and those who don’t. He is overly fond of Vladimir Putin’s toughness, but that does not lead him to want to emulate Putin’s methods or his aversion to democracy….He trusts the American people, not the special interests or the governing elite.
Trump thinks America is losing its greatness because we are governed by “stupid people,” not by Jews or backstabbers. Otherwise intelligent people like Hillary Clinton and President Obama have been turned into idiots, he believes, by a steady diet of political correctness. If Trump promises anything, it is an end to the reign of PC.
Trump and Clinton Are Both Wrong on Trade
Thomas J. Donohue – The Washington Post
While the competing candidates for president each make anti-trade rhetoric a central theme to appeal to populist anger and a nationalist mood, they’re leaving out a few key facts about trade. It is good for the country. It is vital for our economy. And, yes, it helps American workers.
Why would the USChamber be upset by the fact that I want to negotiate better and stronger trade deals or that I want penalties for cheaters?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2016
It is also true that some workers have been displaced by trade, and they should be given the help they need to compete and succeed in the 21st-century economy. But misguided proposals to build tariff walls, tear up trade agreements and turn inward would only hurt those the candidates say they aim to protect….
For both parties, turning away from trade is not just a threat to our economy and millions of Americans’ livelihoods. It’s a threat to our national security as well. Trade is how we lead in a dangerous and uncertain global environment. Trade leadership helps us negotiate agreements that strengthen ties with global partners while protecting the interests of our citizens. But if we fail to lead, we will cede influence to others.
Warren Impressed Her Way Out of Shot at VP
Roger Simon – Chicago Sun-Times
Elizabeth Warren has blown it. In just one speech this week, she may have ended any chance she had to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
When the two took the stage at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal on Monday, they looked like a dynamic duo….
Then they started speaking. And it was all over.
Warren was just too darn good….
But that is the problem. If you want to become the vice presidential nominee, you do not want to outshine the presidential nominee.
Even Republicans on Trump’s VP Short-List Aren’t that Excited About His Candidacy
Margaret Hartmann – New York
At this point in the election cycle, the average presidential nominee would have a list of people who’ve proven they’re desperate to be vice-president, whether by releasing a book and singing the candidate’s praises at every opportunity, or by actually auditioning for the role of campaign attack dog. But of course, Donald Trump is not your average presumptive nominee; he’s a guy who can’t find any politicians who want to speak at the Republican National Convention, and whose top surrogate declared that he has “major defects” as a candidate. Thus, it’s no surprise that pretty much everyone on his rumored VP short-list has serious misgivings about his campaign, or seems ambivalent about the prospect of joining his ticket.
The big exception is Chris Christie who, according to the New York Timesand CNN, has earned himself a spot on the veep short-list by defending Trump’s most troubling statements, getting rained on, and reportedly fetching Mr. Trump’s McDonald’s.