Trump Is Laying It All On The Table
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
As things stand today, former President Donald J. Trump is the prohibitive favorite to win his third Republican presidential nomination next year. He leads the Real Clear Politics national polling composite by a resounding and unprecedented 53%. He leads Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 33% in Iowa and Nikki Haley by 31% in New Hampshire.
Despite accumulating 91 criminal charges in four jurisdictions, Trump’s polling numbers among Republican voters are actually going up.
And he is picking up steam. U.S. Sen. Mike Braun endorsed him last week, saying: “Donald Trump is a businessman and outsider. Together we took on the Washington swamp with a historic victory in the 2018 Indiana Senate race. We installed constitutional conservatives on the Supreme Court who have protected the unborn and our 2nd Amendment rights, and we disrupted the cozy, self-serving Washington elites who are bankrupting our country. I give Donald Trump my endorsement for President of the United States.”
Bankrupting the country?
The national debt increased $7.8 trillion during President Trump’s four years in office to $28 trillion, amounting to $23,500 in new federal debt for every American.
On Sept. 24, Trump urged congressional Republicans to shut the government down this weekend. “The Republicans lost big on Debt Ceiling, got NOTHING, and now are worried they will be BLAMED for the Budget Shutdown,” Trump said. “WRONG!!! Whoever is President will be blamed. Unless you get everything, shut it down.”
For 35 days in late 2018 and 2019 when Trump was in the White House and Republicans held congressional majorities, Republicans shut the federal government down over a $5.7 billion impasse on funding for the Mexican border wall, something Trump had repeatedly insisted that Mexico would pay for.
A 2019 CBS News poll found that 71% of Americans considered the border wall “not worth the shutdown” and a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53% of Americans blamed Trump and Republicans.
In 2013, the congressional Republican majority forced a 16-day government shutdown under President Barack Obama. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted several months afterward, 81% of Americans disapproved of the shutdown and 53% held Republicans in Congress accountable.
That ill-fated shutdown prompted then-U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana to tell the Washington Examiner, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
We all know what happened afterward: Republicans lost the White House and U.S. Senate in 2020.
Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt writes in his Washington Post column, “I’m tempted to call what’s happening a ‘Seinfeld shutdown’ because it’s a shutdown about nothing … other than some politicians’ wretched self-interest.”
A few days after Braun’s endorsement of the former president, Trump on Truth Social suggested that Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be executed. He cited Milley’s phone call to reassure China in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection as “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.”
Actually, Milley had two calls to Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng, the last one two days after the attempted U.S. coup d’etat that President Trump instigated. Milley’s call on Jan. 8, 2021, was conducted with the knowledge of then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, according to Politico.
“My task at that time was to de-escalate,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing of the calls that were revealed in Bob Woodward and Bob Costa’s book “Peril.” Milley told senators that the “specific purpose” of his phone calls to Li “was generated by concerning intelligence which caused us to believe the Chinese were worried about an attack by the U.S.”
Milley told CBS “60 Minutes” in an interview airing Sunday, “As much as these comments are directed at me, it’s also directed at the institution of the military. And there is 2.1 million of us in uniform. And the American people can take it to the bank, that all of us, every single one of us from private to general, are loyal to that Constitution and will never turn our back on it no matter what.”
Last weekend, Trump called for the investigation of NBC and affiliates for treason. “They are almost all dishonest and corrupt, but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its Country Threatening Treason,’” Trump wrote. “They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
MSNBC “Mornin’ Joe” host Joe Scarborough accused Trump of extending “an invitation for his people to step up and assassinate” leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Milley. “That’s not a dog whistle,” Scarborough said. “That is an invitation. Just like ‘come on Jan. 6, it’s going to be wild.’”
Donald J. Trump is openly conveying to his supporters — and all of us — what his intentions will be if he is returned to the White House in 2024.
-Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.