Several weeks ago, the mainstream news media reported that Donald Trump’s campaign was on life support. Polls showed him losing to Hillary Clinton by ever greater margins. He was blasted for his aggressive response to the terror attack in Orlando and he continued to receive criticism over his negative comments regarding the Hispanic judge handling the Trump University case. The media was also fixated on an anti-Hillary tweet that supposedly featured the Star of David with images of cash in the background. Trump denied the charge, but had to deal with the media fallout for weeks.
In the meantime, Hillary was castigated, but exonerated, by FBI Director James Comey for her handling of classified and top secret emails. Although Comey said Clinton was “extremely careless” in the way she treated the classified material, he claimed she did not have the intent to violate the law.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed with Comey and decided not to pursue charges against Clinton. This decision occurred mere days after Lynch’s infamous meeting with former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport. While Lynch said the conversation revolved around grandchildren and golf, most Americans did not believe such a pathetic cover story.
The whole Clinton email affair and subsequent preferential treatment was viewed very negatively by the American people. According to a ABC News/Washington poll, 56% of the American people disagreed with Comey’s decision not to charge Clinton, while only 35% expressed support.
The American people know preferential treatment when they see it and in this situation it was clear that Hillary’s political influence was a major factor in the Department of Justice decision. It reminded the public of the double standard of justice that exists in our country, a condition that is anathema to Americans who care about fairness in our criminal justice system.
Not surprisingly, Hillary’s already low ratings for trustworthiness and honesty plummeted. The result was that Hillary’s national poll numbers versus Trump started to drop significantly. In the latest Rasmussen poll, Trump received a new high of 44%, with a strong 7% edge over Clinton. He is also leading in the latest LA Times poll by a 43-40% margin and is tied with Clinton in the most recent New York Times poll. Most importantly, in the new Quinnipiac University battleground state polls, Trump enjoyed a slight lead over Clinton in the key swing states of Florida and Ohio and was tied with Clinton in Pennsylvania, a state Republicans have not won since 1988.
As his poll numbers have surged, Trump has been in the media spotlight making a very public decision on his vice presidential running mate. Today, it was finally and officially announced that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would be selected. Pence is a safe choice, not flashy, but solidly conservative and considered an evangelical favorite. It will help Trump unify the party and bring aboard former Ted Cruz supporters who may still be upset with the presumptive nominee. While some people wanted Trump to pick former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Trump obviously viewed Pence as less of a risk and a dependable advocate who would be able to persuasively make the campaign’s case to the American people.
Yesterday, there was more good news for Trump as the RNC Rules Committee overwhelmingly rejected the demands of the “Never Trump” contingent to unbind delegates and allow them to vote their conscience. If the unwise effort would have succeeded, it would have disenfranchised the almost 14 million voters, the most in GOP history, who voted for Trump in the primaries and caucuses throughout the country. If successful, the unbind movement would have destroyed the Republican Party and any chance the party had to ever win the White House again.
With Trump, the Republican Party has a real chance for victory in the fall. Hillary is a very flawed candidate, while Trump has the ability to appeal to working class and union voters who historically have not voted for the GOP. Thus, unlike Romney or McCain, Trump has a real chance to win Pennsylvania and other states in the rust belt.
Hopefully, the voters will ignore the remaining Republican critics who have tried for so long to derail Trump’s campaign. At this point, these critics can support Trump or help Hillary. Hopefully, the vast majority of Republican voters will continue to consolidate behind a candidate that has a viable chance of winning and being given the opportunity to fulfill his mission to “Make America Great Again.”
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]