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Before Donald Trump selected Mike Pence to be his Vice Presidential Runningmate, Pence was locked in a tight race to retain his job as Indiana Governor, sporting job approval ratings of under 50 percent.

If Pence had run for re-election and lost, his expiration date as a viable Presidential candidate would likely have passed. On the other hand, if Pence had won re-election, and if Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump were to lose his Presidential bid, Pence would be one of a litany of potential Republican Presidential candidates seeking his party’s 2020 nomination.

If this were the scenario, Pence would have to spend at least two years balancing his job as Governor with his Presidential campaign. If his subpar job approval ratings were to sustain, he would face an embarrassing backlash at home like then Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal did in 2016.

Pence is now in the electoral Catbird Seat. The GOP is split asunder between the establishment and insurrectionist bloodlines. Establishment Republicans have either disassociated themselves from Trump or are distancing themselves from the insurrectionist nominee. Contrariwise, Trump supporters are vociferous adherents of the real estate mogul’s message, and are indignant at the establishment for not being four square for Trump.

Should Trump lose his Presidential bid, Pence is the only candidate who can bridge the internecine divide in the GOP to become the consensus GOP candidate in 2020. While Pence was one of the most conservative members of the GOP during his 12-year stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, he won the support of many establishment Republicans, being elected as Chairman of the House Republicans Caucus.

Like most establishment Republicans, Pence voted for the authorization for the use of force in Iraq, supported NAFTA, and even called for “a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.” In addition, Pence believes that if Russia “continues to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the (Syrian President Basher al-) Assad regime.”

These positions are divergent from Trump, making Pence palatable to establishment Republicans.

After Trump was caught on tape speaking of women in sexually explicit terms, many establishment Republicans reached their boiling point and unendorsed Trump. Some Republicans, like U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne of Alabama, called for Trump to “step aside and allow Governor Pence to lead the Republican ticket.”

Trump’s influence on the GOP will not likely be ephemeral. Come the 2020 Presidential cycle, the more than 14 million voters who selected Trump in the GOP Primary will likely frown upon potential candidates like Ohio Governor John Kasich who did not endorse Trump, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who disinvited him to a campaign event, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who spoke at the party’s national Convention imploring voters “to vote your conscience” rather than singing Trump’s accolades.

These voters will likely see Pence as the logical heir apparent to the Trump mantra and will award him for his fidelity to Trump. Based on his recent debate performance, the GOP establishment garners a propitious view of Pence. If Trump loses in November, few Republicans will blame Pence. The argument might even be made that Pence could have won the election if he were at the top of the ticket.

There is a similitude between Pence and Richard M. Nixon. Nixon was the epitome of the moderate Republican Establishment. In 1960, then Vice President Nixon made a deal with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the titular head of the party’s liberal wing, adding language to the GOP platform sympathetic to Rockefeller in return for his unequivocal endorsement. U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), a leading voice with conservatives, branded the agreement “the Munich of the Republican Party.” The agreement, labeled “The Treaty of Fifth Avenue,” infuriated some conservatives. Nixon lost that election in a squeaker.

By 1964, the insurrectionist wing became ascendant, as conservative flamethrower Barry Goldwater wrested the party’s nomination. The party’s establishment feared a Goldwater nomination. That year, Rockefeller ran against him in the primary and sent out a mailer asking: “Who do you want in the room with the H Bomb Button?”

Goldwater made little effort to mitigate his rhetoric, offering his candidacy as “a choice not an echo.” He horrified the party’s high command by exclaiming at his party’s convention: “Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

After he secured the nomination, potential nominees for 1968 abandoned Goldwater. Rockefeller and Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton, who both lost the 1964 nomination, did not endorse Goldwater.

Michigan Governor George Romney stated that he “accepted” Goldwater’s nomination but would not “endorse him.” In his own re-election bid, Romney’s campaign mailed out about 200,000 mock ballots showing voters how to mark their ballots for Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson for President and Romney for Governor.

Nixon however became a resolute supporter of Goldwater. He even gave the speech at the Republican National Convention nominating Goldwater and became a Goldwater surrogate on the campaign trail. Nixon held the Goldwater banner high, singing Goldwater’s’ praises across the country. This gained Nixon respect and admiration from insurrectionists who had viewed him with suspicion.

After Goldwater suffered a seismic defeat, both establishment and insurrectionist Republicans spoke of a Nixon nomination in 1968. The establishment wanted a mainstream figure and looked back fondly on Nixon, believing he deserved another chance. Insurrectionists grew inflamed with those Republicans who did not support Goldwater in 1964, and were grateful that Nixon did not bow to political pressure and distance himself from Goldwater.

Goldwater himself showed his gratitude by endorsing Nixon for the 1968 nomination as early as 1965. Nixon spent much of 1966 on the hustings, campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates of all ideological persuasions, earning political chits.

Nixon was awarded with the nomination in 1968, soundly defeating Rockefeller and Romney who had alienated the insurrectionists by not endorsing Goldwater in 1964. Nixon was the consensus candidate, winning support of both GOP establishmentarians and insurrectionist voters.

Should Trump lose the upcoming election, Pence would be wise to follow a strategy similar to the one employed by Nixon. Like Nixon, he will not be constrained by a full-time job. He can spend 2018 campaigning for Republican candidates across the nation, collecting IOU’s, and keeping his name in the news. By 2020, he could become the one candidate to win support from both bloodlines of the Republican Party, ultimately winning the nomination.

Follow Rich Rubino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichRubinoPOL


Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton recently stated at a New York fundraiser: “You can put half of Donald Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables.” While she was referring to the most extreme Trump supporters, her characterization is an exhibition of why Democrats are losing white blue-collar voters, some of whom share the economic populism of the Democratic Party.

Members of the Democratic high command are often befuddled as to why these voters are not a core part of the Democratic constituency. They believe that white blue-collar voters that support GOP candidates are voting antithetical to their own economic interests. Yet Jason Miller, a Trump Communications advisor, pointed directly to the problem the Democrats have by stating that Clinton “revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans.”

The Republicans have been successful in framing a master narrative of their Democratic counterparts as cultural and intellectual elitists who look down upon bourgeoisie America. Less relevant than the candidate’s personal wealth and background is their perceived attitude toward voters without college educations. Trump has become a tribune of white blue-collar workers, despite a patrician pedigree.

Trump is channeling the rhetoric of Republican Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Richard M. Nixon who directly asked for the support of “the silent majority.” He uses Nixon’s terminology in calling for “law and order.” Like Nixon, Trump is a populist on economic issues. Both men appealed to white working-class voters.

It was Nixon who declared: “The time is at hand to bring comprehensive, high-quality health care within the reach of every American.” In addition, he instituted wage and price controls, and raised the federal minimum wage. Trump, unlike most Republicans, pledges to “not touch entitlements,” harangues against free trade deals, and supports a federal raise in the minimum wage.

It was Nixon who exploited the undercurrent of virulence leveled at intellectual elites. In 1952, he was selected as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, in part for his anti-elitist persona. The Democratic Presidential nominee, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, had an urbane aura about him and was not afraid to use big words while on the stump. His head was conveniently shaped like an egg. Nixon capitalized on this perfect storm by mocking Stevenson as an “egghead.” The term stuck to Stevenson.

Stevenson was cognizant that he could not win the election by relying on his fellow intellectuals. An enthusiastic supporter approached him and said: “Governor, every thinking person will be voting for you.” Stevenson replied: “Madam that is not enough. I need a majority.“ The quick-witted Stevenson averred: “Nixon is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump for a speech on conservation.” He also made light of his new handle by exclaiming: “Eggheads of the world unite, you’ve nothing to lose but your yokes.”

During his own run for the Presidency in 1968, Nixon turned his Vice Presidential running mate, Spiro Agnew, out to excoriate the cultural elites. Agnew avowed: “Perhaps the place to start looking for a credibility gap is not in the offices of the Government in Washington but in the studios of the networks in New York!” In 1969, Vice President Agnew admonished: “A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

In most Democratic primaries there is a candidate who garners most of their support from upscale members of the party. They are popular in Academia with cocktail partygoers and college students. The candidate is likely to emphasize his/her social inclusiveness, and speak in a professorial cadence. However, they fail to catch fire with white blue-collar voters. They are also usually countered by candidates whose target audience is blue-collar voters.

Intellectually-oriented Democratic candidates include Eugene McCarthy in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, Mo Udall in 1976, Gary Hart in 1984, Bruce Babbitt in 1988, Paul Tsongas in 1992, Bill Bradley in 2000, and Barack Obama in 2008. Of those, only McGovern and Obama won the nomination.

McGovern, who pledged to end the war in Vietnam, could not extend his net beyond his base intellectual constituency from the primary. He was bashed in the General Election as the candidate of “Amnesty, Acid, and Abortion.” Former President Lyndon B. Johnson, a native Texan, gave a tepid endorsement, and did not campaign with him. He told his former aide Bobby Baker: “George McGovern? Why, he couldn’t carry Texas even if they caught Dick Nixon fu*** ng a Fort Worth sow.”

When Agnew campaigned in Charlotte, NC in 1972, and announced the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Jesse Helms, protestors jeered. Helms got up to the podium and pointed to a group of young singers on the stage. Helms said: “Isn’t it nice that the majority of young people are represented by them instead of that [pointing to the protestors]. Helms then exclaimed: “And that one with the real long hair, that’s George McGovern.” The Republican crowd erupted in pandemonium. Despite hailing from a humble background and serving his country in WWll, McGovern was framed as out-of-touch with blue-collar voters.

Many Democrats distanced themselves from McGovern, or out of political necessity even endorsed his Republican opponent, Richard M. Nixon. In fact, Nixon garnered 42% of the Democratic vote that year.

In 2008, Obama, a former Constitutional Law professor, was viewed by some in the Democratic Party as an elitist. This was more cultural than economic, as Obama was raised by a single mother and was not a product of opulence. Obama exasperated the elitist concern when he explained the mindset of dislocated workers at a San Francisco Fundraiser: “ They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.” Primary rival Hillary Clinton, who is now trying to shed the elitist label, herself blasted Obama, contending: “If you want to be the president of all Americans, you need to respect all Americans.”

However, Obama was able to solidify support not just from upscale Democrats, but also from African-Americans and Independents to pocket the nomination.

Obama defeated Republican nominee John McCain in the General Election, competing on a political terrain hospitable to Democrats. The incumbent Republican President George W. Bush suffered from a dismal 28% job approval rating on Election Day.

With Obama being the exception, Democrats tend to win the Presidency when they can shed the elitist label. Lyndon B. Johnson did this by spending time on his Texas ranch. Jimmy Carter did this by teaching, emphasizing his roles as a veteran, peanut farmer, and Sunday school teacher, and Bill Clinton did this by accentuating his humble Arkansas roots.

John Judis, the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed America and European Politics, maintains: “Much of Trump’s appeal lies in his opposition to trade pacts that put American workers in the position of competing with people in authoritarian countries who work at starvation wages.” Judis believes “Clinton could attract some of these voters by taking clear and compelling stands on economic issues.”

Former Democratic political operative Brian Miller candidly explains why he thinks many Democrats cannot shed the elitist label: “For the most part they are cultural elitists. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing for me to think I’m better than a lot of people. A lot of Democrats think the same way. It’s hard not to feel that way when you see a lot of the people at Trump rallies ignorantly screaming racist remarks and waving Confederate flags, blindly following this megalomaniac.”

Trump knows that white blue-collar voters will overlook his economic portfolio if they think he understands their values and needs rather than trying to imitate them.

Hillary Clinton played into Trump’s hands by calling half of his supporters “a basket of deplorables.” For Hillary to offset a galvanization of white blue-collar voters, it is incumbent upon her to recapture the support she once had with this critical constituency in 2008.

Follow Rich Rubino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichRubinoPOL


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Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, reluctantly endorsed presumptive GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump, averring that the race between Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a “binary choice.” This is the mentality the Libertarian Party faces in presidential election cycles. Although the party has the […]

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