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The Washington Post was roaring Trump’s ‘Mean, Scary and Hurtful’ and Fox News was crowing on its website the ‘Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan’ has endorsed Hillary.

Another website was claiming ‘Hillary is Saul Alinsky’s Daughter’ (Conservative Review) and another was saying ‘Hillary’s mentor was a former Klan leader’ (they were talking about former Senator Robert Byrd).

Another reported ‘Trump has Russian Mob Ties’ and the Huffington Post reported ‘Trump was Sued for Child Rape.’

Ghoulish Trump,’ said Red State.

Greasy Hillary,’ said Breitbart.

And the most esteemed website of all – The New York Times – was saying, ‘Donald Trump gives sociopaths a bad name.

We live in the Information Age and the world’s at our fingertips with the click of a mouse – but look what it’s led to.

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Ten weeks out, the presidential election appears frozen in place. Absent an act of God or an incredibly boneheaded play by the Hillary Clinton campaign, she is going to win and Donald Trump is going to lose. Big.

Then things will really get interesting. More in a bit.

Trump is losing because of how he won the Republican nomination. He roused the racists and bigots. He galvanized angry white working-class men. And he shredded the Republican Establishment with insults.

His fans loved it. Most voters hated it. And he can’t change that now. A presidential candidate as well-known as he is with a 35 percent favorable rating isn’t going anywhere. Especially a candidate as undisciplined as Trump.

Clinton’s campaign has learned how to play him. Every time the news cycle turns bad for her, they call Trump “racist” or “dangerous” or “unfit for office” and – presto – he goes ballistic and says something racist, dangerous and unfit for office.

Since the conventions, the polling consensus shows her solidly ahead nationally and, more important, decisively ahead in the decisive states.

The big question now is what Republicans who hate Trump do. That will be the difference between a solid Clinton win and a landslide.

Then the question will be what happens after the election. Will Trump stay active and continue the Republican Civil War? Will Trump, Ailes and their alt-right allies make the next four or eight years even more bitter and brutal than the last eight?

Or will Hillary, who always has been more popular in office than running for office, have the political skill to build a center-left coalition that actually gets something done the next four or eight years?

Can the Ice Princess thaw her image and unfreeze our politics?


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Democrats who are nervously hoping for a good 2016 but afraid to believe it need to read “The Wave” from Stanley Greenberg at Democracy Corps.

His analysis:

“America is about to experience a once-in-a-lifetime earthquake of an election, but progressives do not seem to trust the new American majority and its ascendant values and thus, continue to be tactical, reactive, and fight old wars. As a result, they may miss the chance to create a governing majority after November 8th.

“Hillary Clinton is beginning to emerge with the kind of lead you would expect in a country where over 60 percent of the electorate will be racial minorities, single women, millennials, and seculars and where the positive sentiment about the Democratic Party is 9 points higher than for the Republicans.

“Progressives, pundits and the media are consumed with the pivotal role of angry white working class men when their vote share is declining every presidential election and will be only 18 percent of the electorate this year. When Clinton’s margin was only 3 points, their share of the electorate would have to jump to 25 percent to push the overall vote to parity….

“Today, I want progressives to embrace an economic narrative that seeks to ‘level the playing field,’ because that is key to motivating working class voters, white and minority, including women who are now a majority of the working class, not because of its appeal to Reagan Democrats.

“Because progressives did not trust the new American majority, they thought Donald Trump’s dark convention and speech was effective and waited for the polls to be sure. They thought Pennsylvania would be close, underestimating the new dynamics in the state. And their priority and strategy was to stop Trump in the Rust Belt states to stamp out any chance of Trump being elected.

“But Trump already lost this election before his disastrous last week, as only 6 percent of Clinton voters would even consider supporting Trump. The number of potential switchers in this election has shrunk to just a third of what it was in the last three presidential elections.

“This misplaced priority comes at the expense of efforts to produce the biggest possible wins in the elections for the U.S. Senate and House and state elections.

“Campaigns and media should be focused on this number: 38 percent. That is the percent of the vote that Trump is likely to win in this multi-party election, matching the vote share for George Bush in 1992 when he lost to Bill Clinton by 5 points. That 38 percent should concentrate the mind on what is the real opportunity for Republican votes and voters to disappear down the ballot.”

Based on this analysis, Greenberg sets out three tasks for Democrats this year:

  • Get Clinton voters to vote Democratic down-ballot
  • Get Trump voters to punish GOP establishment candidates
  • Fuel the Republican civil war and get moderates to vote Democratic.
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Last summer the Insiders looking on figured Donald Trump was going to crash and burn – but after Trump started winning primaries they moved in and after the first round of knife fighting Corey Lewbanowski was out and Paul Manafort was in charge.

Which should have been the end of the story; once an Insider has power no one can pry it out of his hands.

But Donald Trump’s nothing if not unorthodox so, after the Republican Convention, another round of knife fighting broke out and this time when the cutting was done Paul Manafort was out and Steve Bannon was in.

Bannon’s taken charge of the direst political mess any Republican has seen since Nixon burgled Watergate: Hillary’s on a roll. Trump’s in a ditch. Hillary’s got money. Trump doesn’t.  And to win Bannon’s got to find a way to prove electing a Twitter obsessed billionaire will Make America Great Again while electing Crooked but Predictable Hillary will ruin it.

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As I listened to Roy Cooper set a crowd of OBX Democrats to clapping and hollering Monday evening, a wise old political vet whispered what I was thinking: “He’s come a long way.”

A year or so ago, Democrats had doubts about Cooper. “He should have run before now.” “Does he really have the fire in the belly?” “He needs to be a better speaker.”

Today, 70-some days before the election, Cooper has answered all the doubts. He picked the right year to run, he definitely has the fire and he’s speaking with energy, passion and conviction.

Check, check and check.

In person, Cooper has the fit, lean look of a man ready to run a marathon. His campaign is just as disciplined.

His timing this year, as it has been throughout his career, is perfect. The old joke was that, after coming to the legislature in the 1980s, he’s been a rising star in four different decades. His obvious talent make him obviously touted for bigger things.

In 1994, he was pushed to run for Tim Valentine’s seat in Congress. Cooper passed because he had young children. Smart.

He picked the right office (AG) and the right year (2000) to run statewide. He passed on U.S. Senate races in 2002 and 2004, good Republican years. He passed on challenging Bev Perdue for Governor in 2008; Democrats were going to nominate a woman, period. And he knew better than to get in the race late in 2012.

Now is the right year to run for Governor.

Since Governor McCrory signed HB2, Cooper went from behind in every poll to ahead in every poll. He’s catching a wave with voters who don’t like the direction McCrory and the Republican legislature have taken us. He evokes the North Carolina rural roots and embraces its new urban character.

He has a good message, and he sings it well. He hits HB2, education, the environment and over-partisanship with quick, strong lines.

One example Monday: teacher pay. Republicans are twisting statistics to camouflage their record on teacher pay. Cooper avoided the mind-numbing numbers game. He told a story.

He told about a third-grade teacher who came to him in despair about not just pay, but the lack of respect from Raleigh. Cooper told her about his third-grade teacher and the difference she made in his life. He assured the teacher she was making a difference in her students’ lives.

And he told her, “Hold on, I’m coming.”

Indeed. Coming on strong.


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Richard Burr has his hands full.

For the first time since he went to Washington 22 years ago, he faces a double whammy: a strong opponent and a bad year for Republicans.

You can see his problem in the first ad for Deborah Ross. It tags Burr, sans socks, as the worst kind of Washington politician, one who makes Washington work for him but not for North Carolinians.

Most striking is how strong Ross is on TV. She comes across as tough, smart and likeable. That’s a powerful combination.

No wonder Burr is ducking debates.

A lot of Republicans – and Democrats – dismissed Ross because she worked for the ACLU. But that’s old thinking.

Ross can make the ACLU a plus, not a minus. Like Kizir Khan, she can whip out the Constitution and say, “This is what I fought for.”

North Carolina voters are more urban and college-educated today. They like an organization that protects individual liberties against government overreach. Millennials like it. Even Trump voters like it.

Burr was elected to the House in the 1994 anti-Clinton Newt Gingrich wave. He beat Erskine Bowles for the Senate in 2004, a good Republican year, and was reelected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, after Elaine Marshall was bled dry in the Democratic primary.

Even after two terms in the Senate, Burr is little known by voters. He made himself a lame duck by saying he won’t run again. Now, his boat is being dragged down at both ends, thanks to Trump and Pat McCrory. Polls show Ross even with him.

Conventional wisdom always misses wave elections, and conventional wisdom could be missing how strong Ross is this year.


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Saying he was going ‘To Make America Great Again’ and waving the banner of ‘Americanism’ Donald Trump set out to whip the Washington Politicians and he did whip every Republican in sight from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz – but then came eyeball to eyeball with Hillary.

Ship sinking, unable to save himself, Trump needs a Greater Power to intervene to rescue him or a gift from Chance.

And it could happen. Miracles have happened.

But, still, his ship may sink.

But, if it does, will the call of Americanism – the power that lifted Trump to the Republican nomination – sink with him? Will Trump’s legions of followers vanish? Or will they find freeing themselves of the burden of Trump to be a blessing?

On Election Day Donald Trump may lose to Hillary Clinton. But his defeat may not be the end of the story.

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If Donald Trump loses, he and Roger Ailes may well start Trump TV.

They’ll outFox Fox.

As James Carville said on Morning Joe, you can’t win an election with 40 percent, but you can make a bazillion dollars on TV with 40 percent.

Can you imagine how much Trump and Ailes will debase a political debate that’s already in the basement?

Can you imagine the cuckoo conspiracy theories that will be cooked up?

Can you imagine the level of Hillary hatred that will be set loose?

Can you imagine what the company policy toward sexual harassment will be? It’ll be considered a benefit in the employee manual.

America and the Republican Party won’t be done with Trump if he loses. His racist, ignorant and authoritarian views will live on, louder than ever.

Every right-wing nut case will compete for air time.

Trump and Ailes will laugh all the way to the bank. The rest of us will have to hope the Founding Fathers’ construction can survive the wrecking crew.


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Thank God for Trump.

If the Republicans had nominated John Kasich or Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats would be in trouble.

Every week there’s another damaging story about emails, speaking fees or the Clinton Foundation. Another 14,900 emails coming? Great.

Fortunately, Trump already may have made himself unelectable. Otherwise….

Hillary’s self-inflicted wounds come on top of an irrational level of hatred and hostility directed at her. Hillary Hate is almost as bad as Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Hillary Hate comes in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. It’s her voice. Her hair. Her clothes. Bill. Bill’s affair with Monica. (Why is that Hillary’s fault?)

A friend complained, “Where would she be if her husband hadn’t been President?” Hell, where would he be without her? (Not President.)

Trump is so bad Hillary should win. But her problems are so bad he still has a chance to win. Scary.

It makes you wonder what new levels of hatred – and depths of discourse – four years of a Hillary Clinton administration will bring. And it should make Democrats pause as they ponder the 2018 and 2020 elections.


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The Amish, to their misfortune, have turned out to be a key group of voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio – so PBS journeyed to Amish land to talk with voters who don’t have TVs or radios or computers, and listening to their interviews was like hearing the voices of time travelers from the distant past who’d unexpectedly landed in modern America.

‘What did he make of politics?’ PBS asked one older Amish gentleman.

‘Well,’ he said politely, ‘He didn’t follow politics closely.’

‘What did he make of Obama?’ The intrepid interviewer asked.

‘Well,’ the Amish gentleman hesitated, then said puzzled, ‘Obama’s brought a lot of new things into the world. He pays young men not to work. Why should a young man work when Obama gives him money and cell phones?’

‘And we’ve got people,’ he added, bewilderment deepening, ‘who’re changing their sex. If God had meant me to be a woman he’d have made me a woman.’

Hunting the latest hot swing voters PBS had stumbled into a forgotten land with people who, unfamiliar with our modern ways, actually sounded reasonable.

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Carter & Gary
Carter Wrenn
Gary Pearce
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
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