The New York primary is today, Tuesday, April 19.
Fifteen years of my life involved friendships with New Yorkers as fellow students and later as work colleagues. I cannot think of a finer group of Americans. They’re honest, warm, witty and patriotic. Whether they are from upstate or the greater New York area, they’re in tune with each other — and they all love the Big Apple. I never encountered any regional rancour among them.
There hasn’t been a president from the Empire State since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Odds are that will change come November. It’s New York’s time once again, whether it’s with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Granted, Clinton is an adopted New Yorker, but as she served as one of their senators, she counts, too.
As the delegate problem still looms and the final primary states are so crucial, Donald Trump’s campaign has had to change in order to meet the challenge. Paul Manafort, a remarkably well-preserved 67-year-old, cut his teeth on presidential campaigns in 1976 with then-President Gerald Ford’s nomination.
The New York Times reported today that Manafort is not the only seasoned veteran returning to the campaign trail. Charlie Black, 68, has joined John Kasich’s team. Black is chairman of a Washington lobbying firm that has multinational corporate clients. Black knew Kasich when the future Ohio governor was 24 and worked on Ronald Reagan’s delegate operation in 1976. Black was 28 at the time.
Manafort and Black later went into business with another alumnus from 1976: Roger Stone. Stone worked for a time on Trump’s campaign last year but is now an informal adviser who is no longer directly involved. In 1976, Stone worked on Reagan’s candidacy. The nomination was hotly contested at the GOP convention that summer. Gerald Ford emerged the victor only to lose the general election to Jimmy Carter.
Stone told the NYT that Manafort pulled out all the stops for Ford, who had the advantage of occupying the White House at the time after Nixon stood down post-Watergate:
… he especially admired how Mr. Manafort and the Ford team understood how to leverage the power and prestige of the White House in that battle. A state dinner with Queen Elizabeth, cocktails in the East Room, a personal visit from Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller — the Ford campaign threw all the perks of the presidency it could at delegates.
“These guys were masters at this,” Mr. Stone recalled. Reagan, a former governor of California and Hollywood actor, tried to impress with his star power. He persuaded John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart to join him for dinners with delegates. But as he and his team learned, it was not the same as a call from the president.
The article goes on to describe how closely these men got to know the delegates. They knew aspects of their lives by heart. James A Baker III, 85, worked on the Ford campaign and recalled:
… the strategy of any effective delegate operation as: “Acquire delegates, protect your delegates and steal other delegates.”
“You bring an uncommitted delegate to a dinner for the Queen of England, and it’s a fairly persuasive argument,” Mr. Baker added. While the Ford campaign had to be extremely sensitive to questions of corruption because scars from Watergate were still so fresh then, he said, “there are not a lot of rules about what you can and cannot do.”
Today, 40 years later, Manafort says he wanted to work on one last presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, he refused to reveal his strategy of delegate perks to the NYT. However, the opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of Donald Trump with a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach or a trip on his 757 is not without its allure.
As Trump’s campaign shifts into high gear, it is time for Corey Lewandowski to take a back seat. He lacks the necessary experience. He is still the billionaire’s campaign manager, but the future belongs to Manafort. On April 13, Politico reported that a certain amount of confusion and divided loyalty is occurring in the campaign team among the old guard who feel protective of Lewandowski.
Manafort has taken over the hiring. An insider told Politico that access to the Trump campaign staff directory is now restricted, implying that the man whose name means ‘strong hand’ wants to keep some of his hires secret. One of his recent high-profile hires is Rick Wiley. Politico says that not only was Wiley Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s campaign manager but he also has an excellent understanding of GOP convention rules concerning delegates.
On Saturday, April 16, Trump held a high-level campaign meeting at trump Tower during which he announced that Manafort and Wiley would manage a $20 million budget to cover the rest of the primaries in May and June, the last of which is in delegate-rich California, crucial for victory. Politico reports that the budget will cover not only new campaign hires but — finally — an ‘aggressive’ advertising blitz.
Reporting lines among campaign staff have also shifted. Stuart Jolly, Trump’s national field director, resigned on Monday, April 18, after he was told he would be reporting to Wiley rather than Lewandowski. Jolly, a retired lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq, had no public comment, but an insider told Politico:
that the change had sparked particular concern among the campaign’s field staff, many of whom were hired by Jolly and maintained close contact with him — a rarity on a campaign with a reputation for top-down communication.
Jolly has known Lewandowski since the two of them worked for the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group. His work in securing New Hampshire for Trump was critical. However, not everyone on Team Trump is sorry to see him go. One campaign worker told Politico that Jolly’s ground staff, the Strike Team, did not do enough in Texas, Ohio and, most recently, Wisconsin. Again, it seems to be a problem of experience.
In other news, Trump’s NY rallies, along with another in neighbouring Pennsylvania, were well attended, with tens of thousands at each. The big theme from Long Island to upstate is the lack of jobs as so many big corporations — GM and Bausch & Lomb among them — have moved to Mexico or overseas. What made New York the Empire State has simply disappeared overnight. Donald Trump is the only candidate who understands New Yorkers’ concern and addresses their fear for the future.
The late William F Buckley Jr’s National Review is certainly not. In fact, its writers want their fellows living in small New York towns, such as Garbutt, to move or worse. Hot Air recapped Kevin Williamson’s article from March 2016, which reads in part (emphasis Hot Air‘s):
So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible …
Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
If you want to live, get out of Garbutt.
The whole attitude of National Review, which endorsed annoying-not-anointed Ted Cruz, goes contrary to Buckley’s own dictum that the United States could be better governed by the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory.
Williamson, by the way, also wrote a hate piece on white Appalachia in January 2014. I’ve been there — 50+ years ago — and it does not appear to have changed. Sadly, it has been forgotten because of its demographic.
Returning to Garbutt and other small New York towns once buoyed by industry, Charlie LeDuff, a reporter for Fox 2 in Detroit, does short documentaries around the US. He was shocked by what National Review and The Week had written about marginalised whites and went to Garbutt, the subject of both publications’ articles. His six-minute film, Die Whitey Die, available on YouTube, is a must-see. LeDuff spent time with Kevin, a former worker at GM in nearby Rochester, who retrained as a nurse after the plant closed several years ago. Kevin has to work two nursing jobs in order to support himself and his teenage son, who sees his only path to survival as joining the military.
As a reader of National Review during Buckley’s time years ago, I feel confident in saying that, were he alive now, that sort of hateful tripe would never have been published. National Review never had hate pieces until recently. Although Buckley lived a charmed life from birth to burial, he treated everyone with dignity. But I digress.
In closing, the GOP Town Halls on CNN last week gave Americans an opportunity to hear and see the candidates’ children. Each candidate was on a different night. Trump’s children really love him. You could almost feel it coming through the screen. Each gave short but informative soundbites: memories, advice and so on. They spoke clearly and in complete sentences. Trump was visibly moved by what they had to say. They also fielded questions from the audience well. Not everyone asking about their upbringing, including divorce, was a Trump supporter. The other thing that will have struck viewers was how close all four are to each other. In particular, Don Jr and Eric have an incredibly strong bond as does Ivanka with half-sister Tiffany, Marla Maples’s daughter. Barron, by the way, was not in attendance: school night.
Tiffany and Don Jr are the only registered Republicans among the siblings. However, only Don Jr can support his father in the New York primary. Tiffany is registered to vote in Pennsylvania; she lives in Philadelphia. Neither Ivanka nor Eric is enrolled in a party, and the deadline for changing party affiliation was October 2015. When Ivanka said during the Town Hall that changing parties was ‘onerous’, she was probably referring not only to the deadline but the to-ing and fro-ing with the state Board of Elections as well. I have read several horror stories from New York voters on incorrect party affiliation, name and address mistakes and the difficulty in communicating with staff at the Board of Elections: ‘They don’t care!’
I hope to have an analysis of the New York result in a few days’ time and how it is likely to affect Trump’s campaign going forward.