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As 2024 Approaches, Is the Trump Base Still On Board?

Daria Novak described herself as a strong Donald Trump supporter in 2016, so much so that as the Republican nominee for Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District that year, she put Trump’s name above her own on campaign signs.

While she admires the accomplishments of Trump’s four years in office, she’s uncertain about another four years.

“In recent months, conservatives are split approaching the presidential election,” Novak said. “It’s not about a single man but it’s about a movement. The conservative movement is bigger than one individual.”

Trump is the only declared 2024 presidential candidate, seeking a non-consecutive second term in office. That’s a stark contrast to 2015 when Trump waited for a large field of declared Republican candidates before entering the 2016 sweepstakes.

What’s not different is that, like in 2015 and 2016, Trump has made some missteps since announcing his candidacy last November that might be politically fatal to other politicians. Despite that, he cruised to the nomination and won a shocking general election victory. The question is, “Will he have the capacity to do so again in 2024?”

Novak is not certain Trump will have the same level of Republican support for his third presidential run. “There were great results from the Trump presidency, but there were also negatives to his presidency,” she said. “Some are tired of Trump’s high level of tension.”

Mike Domanico, owner of the Trump Store in Bensalem said, “The Trump base is more supportive than ever. The country has been going in the wrong direction since day one of the Biden administration. People are saying they have had enough and are looking forward to 2024 if we make it that long.”

Bruce Breton, the co-chairman of Trump’s campaigns in New Hampshire, doesn’t see waning support for the 45th president. “Trump will be the top vote-getter and prevail in the primaries if he doesn’t clear the Republican field first,” Breton predicted.

Just as Trump defied naysayers in 2016, Breton said he would win another general election. “Under the Trump administration, we had low inflation, low gas prices, 401(k)s were up, and people were prosperous,” Breton said. “People will remember the policies and procedures of the Trump administration and that will impact both the primary polls and the national election.”

A recent Morning Consult poll has both good and bad news for the Trump campaign. The good news is Trump’s margin among potential primary voters, 48 percent to 31 percent, over his closest competitor, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. The bad news is Trump is below 50 percent as a former president and two-time nominee for his party, even before the campaigning begins.

Meanwhile, since declaring his candidacy, Trump has given his critics fodder.

In November, entertainer Kanye West came to dinner at Mar-a-Lago and brought uninvited guests — provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and White nationalist Nick Fuentes. Trump, expecting West, was reportedly furious about the other two.

This is not likely to have any long-term consequences, Breton said. “Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t personally screen everyone that comes to Mar-a-Lago. I blame Kanye West for that.”

In December, Trump brought up the 2020 election and declared, “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Not a popular stance among pro-Constitution conservatives.

In a January social media post, Trump also launched a full-throated attack on pro-life voters, a key part of the Trump coalition in his 2016 victory. “It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms,” Trump wrote. “It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters.”

Breton doesn’t anticipate Trump will lose the pro-life base after being the president most responsible for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision. “That was just Trump being Trump,” Breton said.

Pro-life activists disagree. “Trump is way out of line here on life. He does not have a pulse on where his potential base is — as many believed he has in the past,” tweeted Lila Rose, leader of the pro-life group Live Action. “This kind of nonsense will be a losing political strategy for him.”

On another front, Trump endorsed House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker. Then after the third round of voting, Trump issued another endorsement for McCarthy, trying to convince Republicans to “TAKE THE VICTORY” in another social media post. Yet, the House still went through 14 rounds of voting before McCarthy was elected.

“We needed reforms that the Freedom Caucus pushed,” Novak said. “Whether this shows the level Trump has over Republicans is questionable.”

It’s worth remembering that since 2015, Trump’s critics have labeled every unconventional move by Trump as the end of his political career, Breton said.

Richard Booker, former Radnor commissioner and school board member, believes the Republican base still supports Trump.

“While there are some who are now off of the ‘Trump Train’ due to the performance in the mid-terms, I don’t think that group is a significant percentage of the Republican base,” said Booker.  “Moreover, the mid-terms were not as bad as the legacy media makes out.  Most Trump backed candidates did well.  The poor results in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia Senate races were unfortunate. However, the GOP had significantly more seats to defend this cycle than the Democrats.  (The Democrats will have to defend many more than Republicans in the next cycle, and I believe that there will be significantly better results for the GOP then).

“I will support whomever comes out of the Republican primary,” Booker added.  “My prediction is that Trump will win the Republican primary if he stays in the race until the end.   In addition, most Republican voters recognize, that Trump is the only candidate who will aggressively enforce the border.  There are other great candidates in the GOP vying for the Presidency, however, Trump is uniquely experienced (and would be limited to only four years).

“In the end, the GOP will coalesce around Trump if he is able to beat down the many lawsuits and investigations that he faces, and make it to the end of the primary.  My opinion is that he has a very good chance to win again if he gets to the general election.  Media collusion, vote harvesting and other dubious election practices (see for example, the 2020 Time election article and Mollie Hemingway’s book “Rigged”) will be his biggest obstacles.”

 

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PA Treasurer Garrity Bans TikTok from Treasury-Issued Devices

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced Thursday that the social media app TikTok, which the head of the FBI recently called a national security concern, has been banned from all of her department-issued devices. TikTok is owned by ByteDance and is based in Beijing.

“Treasury’s computer network is targeted by scammers and criminals every day,” Garrity said. “TikTok presents a clear danger due to its collection of personal data and its close connection to the communist Chinese government. Banning TikTok from Treasury devices and systems is an important step in our never-ending work to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars and other important, sensitive information entrusted to Treasury.”

This month, Treasury conducted an internal security review and determined that TikTok had not been used on any Treasury-issued devices. In addition to Garrity’s ban, which covers phones, laptops, and desktop computers, Treasury’s firewall has been updated to block access to both the TikTok app and its corresponding website from the Treasury network.

Also, Congress is poised to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, and many states – including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia – have banned the app. It has been prohibited by Florida’s Department of Financial Services, Louisiana’s Department of State, and the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. The Indiana Attorney General has filed two lawsuits against TikTok.

TikTok spokesman Jamal Brown said, “We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok. TikTok is loved by millions of Americans, and it is unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, universities, student groups, and sports teams in those states will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and share information.

“We are continuing to work with the federal government to finalize a solution that will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at the federal and state level. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies—plans that we are well underway in implementing—to further secure our platform in the United States, and we will continue to brief lawmakers on them,” Brown said.

Before joining TikTok in November, Brown formerly worked for President Joe Biden’s campaign and then the Pentagon.

Former President Donald Trump had similar concerns about TikTok security and banned the video app by executive order in 2020. However, Biden, who reversed most of Trump’s executive orders when he took office, revoked the TikTok ban, too.

Mike Caputo, who served as a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department in the Trump administration said, “Chinese TikTok is clearly a national security threat when it’s downloaded on government devices. Even more dangerous is the kind of federal bureaucrat who is stupid enough to download any Chinese app at all – imagine all the other foolish decisions they’re making.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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POWELL: A Five-Step Plan for a Trump 2024 Victory

Former president Donald Trump’s announcement of a 2024 White House run was predictable, even if the timing was suspect. He delivered his message calmly and clearly, and he remained on point. The problem is the message was given by a man who has been branded by his opponents with the most problematic personal characteristics of any president in recent history.

The challenge for Trump is to overcome his own negative brand. Can it be done?

According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s unfavorability outpaced his favorability by 14.4 points in October 2022. The Club for Growth released a polling memo after the midterms showing Trump trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by double digits in the key early presidential states of Iowa and New Hampshire, according to Politico.

However, the Morning Consult tracking poll may portend there is some daylight for Trump to turn his numbers around.

According to the poll, which tracks Trump’s popularity with Republican primary voters, Trump’s support dipped to 40 percent after the post-election events of January 2021. Trump rose to 57 percent in August 2022 — likely due to the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, and then dropped to 48 percent post-midterms in which several of his high-profile endorsed candidates lost.

Tracking polls also show DeSantis increasing his support from 14 percent to 26 percent during 2022.

The Morning Consult polling narrative suggests the Trump and DeSantis candidacies may be more symbiotic than parasitic, each appealing to different parts of the base.

“The Trump-supporting potential primary voter is slightly more likely to be a woman, a person of color, or lack a college education while the average DeSantis backer is more likely to hail from the suburbs, live in a higher-income household, and be of retirement age,” it reported.

And, the 26 percent who support neither candidate seem to be up for grabs. “This group of voters — a third of whom no longer want Trump to play a role in the party — shares a similar gender and educational makeup to the DeSantis base, while their age, household income, community, and racial identity aligns more closely with the typical Trump supporter, suggesting they may eventually split their allegiances, which could work to Trump’s advantage.”

Trump will need five things to happen to be successful and win the nomination.

—He cannot be the person his enemies say he is from this point forward. He needs to focus on issues, framing problems and positing solutions. He cannot attack the media, mock his opponents or excuse his past transgressions. If he slips here, he will fail.

—Trust that more “pain” is in the future due to President Biden’s policies. That will keep his campaign focused primarily on the economy, where he can win the support of 65 percent of primary voters who do not currently back his candidacy.

—Use political Jujutsu against Democrats to manipulate their force against them. That will be difficult for Trump as it cuts against his grain because he fancies himself to be a good counterpuncher who, during his term in office, usually meant insulting those who opposed him. Trump must find ways to deflect personal attacks and use them to highlight their failed policies.

—Embrace the new generation of Republicans in the House of Representatives as disciples of Trump’s “America First” agenda. Here, he should lay claim to every thoughtful initiative, especially those focused on altering the trajectory of government. That will bolster his claim to being the “Father of a Movement.”

—Stress that it will take four more years to finish transitioning the Republican Party to one that can be competitive in Democratic-controlled urban areas and win on both coasts by continuing to attract minorities and the working class to the party on the issues of crime and education. Trump will need to work hard in 2023 to favorably affect municipal elections nationally as part of his campaign strategy.

Trump has his age and several disturbing parts of his history working against him, but he also has something uncommon in politics as he started a movement that challenged the political class and lay bare its ineptitude and duplicity. But his biggest challenge will be to place his movement’s success above his ego.

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GRAHAM: The Story of the Midterms: The Cult vs. The Cause

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how,’” wrote philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and this midterm election suggests he was on to something.

Nietzche’s point was that people are willing to sacrifice material comforts and their personal well-being in service to a cause greater than themselves.

One of the most common cliches of pre-midterm punditry was, “This election will be about kitchen-table issues.” A close runner-up: “People vote their pocketbooks.” They are “how you live” issues. Paying the bills. Personal economic comfort. Cash in your pocket.

And the cliches were completely wrong. Yes, Republicans won a majority among voters who said the economy was terrible. But those voters were already more likely to be Republicans.

The problem is that, among those who described the economy as “not so good,” Democrats won by 24 points according to exit polls.

The same with the 1o percent of people in New Hampshire who “somewhat disapproved” of Biden. Typically, the party out of power would win those by 20 points. Instead, they went by about 10 points for Democrats.

And as Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics noted, “The biggest stunner was independent voters, who went for the incumbent party by two points, 51-49, after four straight midterm cycles of breaking in favor of the out-party by double digits.”

Truly astonishing numbers, reflecting the fact most voters agreed Democrats are not getting the job done and a majority voted for them anyway.

Because they weren’t voting on the “how,” they were voting on the “why.” Their beliefs. Their cause.

When the final numbers are in, it is likely that voters under age 30 turned out in unusually high numbers, and that they dominated the same-day registrations. They didn’t show up to cast a vote on inflation policy or a rebuke of excessive government spending. These younger, more idealistic voters were motivated by the Democrats’ message to cast a vote to save America.

They voted to save women from a “Handmaid’s Tale” future, to defend our democratic system from MAGA “semi-fascism,” as President Joe Biden put it. They showed up not to save money on their energy bills but to save democracy itself.

They were voters with a cause and they overwhelmingly voted Democrat.

Other voters may roll their eyes and dismiss their alleged ‘cause’ as ridiculous. Overturning Roe sent the abortion issue back to the states, not Congress. And the record turnout is a rebuke to the “democracy in danger” charge. So, how did Democrats convince those voters that the fate of our republic was at stake?

The Democrats didn’t convince them. The Republicans did.

Despite their party winning a majority of the popular vote nationwide by around four percentage points, Republican candidates for U.S. Senate lost nearly every swing state. In other words, there were plenty of GOP votes to draw from. Governors like Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) and Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) won big victories while Senate candidates lost badly or were forced into runoffs.

It turned out that nominating Trump-backed candidates who wholeheartedly embrace ludicrous theories about stolen elections or have messy personal lives isn’t just embarrassing to Republicans. It also drives Democrats to the polls in droves.

Because many GOP primary voters insist on embracing the cult of Trump because they mandate candidates show fealty to him — and prove it by publicly embracing his most ludicrous claims — the party was represented by candidates like Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano and Arizona’s Blake Masters. Those candidates in turn drove up turnout among Democrats, guaranteeing their own doom.

In New Hampshire, the GOP’s fringe candidates also depressed GOP voting. While 97 percent of Granite State Democrats backed their party’s nominees, just 89 percent of Republicans did the same for their party’s picks. As a result, the state’s Republican governor won big, but so did all three Democrats running for re-election for federal offices.

Sununu has reduced the 2022 election results to a single sentence: “The voters want to fix policy, but they voted to fix ‘crazy’ first.”

The long-term challenge for Republicans, particularly in federal races, is that many parts of America are so affluent they can afford to vote on issues like abortion and election integrity and other abstract concepts, even when the economy is lousy. Voting their “why” doesn’t require much of a sacrifice from their “how.”

Nominating Trumpian Republicans and arguing that voters will accept their eccentricities in exchange for low taxes, more GDP growth, and “owning the libs” hasn’t worked since 2016. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) won a huge victory in a swing state, and he did it without Donald Trump.

Governors like DeSantis, DeWine, Kemp, and Sununu show there are plenty of Americans willing to vote Republican. The job of the GOP is to give them Republicans they can vote for.

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Trump Rallies PA GOP for Mastriano, Oz

At his “Save America” rally in Wilkes-Barre Saturday, former President Donald Trump did not quite announce that he will run again in 2024. But he came close.

“I may just have to do it again,” he said of a future White House bid. He later added, “In 2024, we’re going to take back our magnificent White House.”

The crowd, which traveled from across Pennsylvania and the northeast to see Trump, cheered what they heard. The Delaware Valley Journal spoke to people from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Many sported clothing with Trump slogans or wore MAGA hats. And there was a party atmosphere as they waited for the former president to arrive, with music, dancing, singing, and chants.

“It’s great,” said Schuylkill Township resident Deborah Sulli, a Chester County Republican committeewoman about the rally that she attended with her mother, Lana Hill, of Paoli, “I support Trump and I support our candidates. I think it’s outrageous that Biden would say that over half the country is fascist.”

Hill, who is active in the pro-life movement said, “I love Trump. He should have been president (instead of Joe Biden). He really is our president; still should be. We’d never have this upside-down world if he was still president.”

In his remarks, Trump touched on inflation, illegal immigration, the border wall, taxes, regulations, national security, the Fentanyl epidemic, and the 2020 election. But he added a new element: the FBI raid on his home.

The Biden administration is “censoring free speech, criminalizing dissent… “Disarming law-abiding citizens” issuing lawless mandates and unconstitutional orders and “imprisoning political protesters, rigging elections.”

It is “weaponizing the Justice Department and the FBI like never before and breaking into the homes of their political opponents.

“Just a few weeks ago we witnessed one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history,” Trump said. “The shameful raid and break-in of my home in Mar-a-Lago is a travesty. They have made a mockery of America’s laws, traditions, and principles…Like a third-world country…the Biden administration invaded the home of their political opponent who is absolutely destroying them in the polls.”

Trump panned Biden’s Sept. 1 speech at Independence Hall, calling it “the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president, vilifying 75 million citizens…as threats to democracy and as enemies of the state. You’re all enemies of the state.”

Trump supporter Micki Larson-Olson

“I think Philadelphia was a great choice to make a speech of hatred and anger,” said Trump. “Otherwise the next morning he forgot what he said (referring to Biden walking back his attack on Trump supporters). How did you like the red lighting behind him, like the devil?”

Philadelphia “is being devastated under Democrat rule…14 people were shot last week in Philadelphia, 14…Four people were killed last weekend. At one point last month, seven people were shot in just 71 minutes. Philadelphia has already seen more than 1,400 people shot this year, including numerous beautiful little children.”

“Last year Philadelphia set an all-time murder record with 560 homicides. And it’s on track to shatter that record again in 2022, numbers nobody has seen in other Democratic cities. Armed robberies are up 60 percent. Doug (Mastriano), you have to take care of that.”

Trump said the average drug dealer is responsible for 500 deaths throughout his lifetime and called for the death penalty for drug dealers.

Trump praised the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and governor, Dr. Mehmet Oz and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who also spoke at the rally, and he roasted their Democratic opponents, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Fetterman wears “a sweat suit…He’s dressed like a teenager hiding in his parents’ basement. But he’s for breaking hardened criminals out of jail in the middle of the worst crime wave in Pennsylvania history.  And by the way, he wants to get rid of your police. Fetterman is a defund the police Marxist who is just pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”

“Fetterman has released a record number of dangerous criminals out on the streets…Fetterman supports taxpayer-funded drug dens and the complete defunding of illegal drugs…which will mean death and despair to every community in Pennsylvania…And he signed a pledge to ban fracking which would demolish almost a million jobs in Pennsylvania…He’s a socialist loser who leached off his parents’ money until he was 49 years old,” said Trump.

When he took the stage, Oz had a question for the crowd. “Is the country headed in the right direction? If you’re afraid to say yes, take away their car keys they shouldn’t be driving…This country has dramatically turned in the wrong direction. I’m the person for change.”

“We’re going to fight like hell for voting integrity and I’m going to start with voter ID,” said Mastriano. “My opponent is too dangerous, too extreme, too radical for Pennsylvania. He can’t even define what a woman is.”

Mastriano, a former Armey colonel, recalled 9/11 and Todd Beamer on Flight 93, saying, “Pennsylvania, let’s roll.”

Trump’s take on Shapiro? “He is a disaster for the state…As attorney general, he presided over the complete disintegration of law and order and letting gangs and criminals run wild.”

Shapiro would “let criminals roam your streets and he’s not going to let you have a gun.” Shapiro supported school shutdowns and masks “to be strapped to your children’s faces.” And he called Shapiro a “pro-abortion extremist.”

Trump’s criticism was bipartisan. He called on Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature to repeal no-excuse mail-in ballots.

“We need a landslide so big the radicalized left can’t rig it,” Trump said.

Local Republicans are hoping Trump’s visit will rally turnout among his supporters for the GOP ticket, which has consistently trailed Democrats in the polls. However, some recent polls show Mastriano and Oz trailing by just single digits as the election enters the post-Labor Day campaign stretch.

 

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Republican Senate Candidates Spar at Monday Night’s Debate

The ongoing slugfest between TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick dominated the Republican Senate debate held Monday evening.

Former Ambassador Carla Sands also skirmished with conservative activist Kathy Barnette, feuding over which candidate is the most MAGA. And former Lt. Gov. candidate Jeff Bartos did his best to portray the two frontrunners, McCormick and Oz, as “political tourists,” who came to Pennsylvania to run for office.

With a 50-50 U.S. Senate in the balance, Pennsylvania’s Senate race has gained national attention.

The candidates agreed on most of the larger issues, such as all claiming to be pro-life, wanting lower taxes and fewer regulations, and vowing to unleash America’s energy dominance. Because their positions are so similar, voters may choose based on personal style and their perceived ability to defeat the Democratic nominee — likely to be Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — in November.

Oz repeatedly touted his endorsement from former President Donald Trump as he parried McCormick’s barbs, and he returned Trump’s endorsement with his loyalty. For example, while some Republicans are concerned that Trump’s obsession with re-litigating the 2020 election will hurt the party this fall, Oz doubled down. “I have discussed it with President Trump and we cannot move on” from the 2020 election issue, he said.

Bartos and Barnette both bashed McCormick and Oz as late-comers who moved to the state to run for the open Senate seat.

“When these carpetbaggers lose, you will never see them again,” said Barnette. “And if they should win, you will never see them again.” Voters “want someone who doesn’t just parachute into our state.”

McCormick said he grew up in Bloomsburg, where his family ran a Christmas tree farm that he still owns, then went to West Point and served in the Gulf War. Oz pointed to his University of Pennsylvania education and said he grew up near Kennett Square, albeit in Delaware.

Bartos said he is a “proud Pennsylvanian” who was raised in Berks County. He promised to fight for Pennsylvanians and pointed out that he started a nonprofit group to keep small businesses afloat during the COVID pandemic.

Sands, who grew up in Camp Hill and spent much of her adult life in Atlanta and California, said she spent about half her life here working as a “third-generation chiropractic doctor with my father.” She served as the ambassador to Denmark for the Trump administration and now runs an investment business founded by her late husband.

The candidates also criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the economy and promised to do better if voters sent them to Washington.

“Democrats have decided to weaponize climate change and create a war against energy,” said Barnette.

“I’m running to save Main Street Pennsylvania,” said Bartos. “The number one way to do it is to unleash Pennsylvania’s energy industry. We are sitting on two Saudi Arabia’s worth of natural gas…You cannot save Main Street Pennsylvania if you can’t find Main Street Pennsylvania.”

Sands said Pennsylvania needs an “Operation Warp Speed” for energy.

McCormick said he created 600 jobs at his company in Pittsburgh and agreed with the others that the state needs its energy jobs unleashed. He noted Oz called for a ban on fracking in an article on Oct. 13, 2014.

“Dishonest Dave is at it again,” Oz said. “I know exactly how to manage our energy issues…As a professor, scientist, and someone who understands a little about the actual energy infrastructure, there is no way the Green New Deal is going to provide us with what the Democrats promise. It’s a lie like so much about what they said about COVID.”

McCormick said Oz constantly repeats Trump’s endorsement because “he can’t run on his own record.”

“What’s true is that he’s flip-flopped on every major issue in this campaign,” said McCormick.

On Trump’s claims that he, and not Biden, actually won the 2020 election, Oz called the allegations “serious.”

“Under the cover of COVID, there’s been draconian changes to our voting laws by Democratic leadership, and they have blocked appropriate reviews of some of those decisions. We have to be serious about what happened in 2020, and we won’t be able to address that until we win the House and the Senate,” Oz said.

Bartos said, “Unfortunately, Joe Biden is the president. As a result of his lack of leadership, we have chaos in Russia, an illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, we have chaos in the Middle East, we have an ascendant Iran, an ascendant China, we have an economy in disarray, we have runaway inflation. And this is on the heels of every Democrat running. Every Democrat running this year is going to have to answer for the lockdowns, shutdowns, lives ripped apart. So the 2020 election was a catalyst for what we’re seeing now.”

Sands said documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie “2000 Mules” is about how the 2020 election was stolen and that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said it was stolen by the directed funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“When you take the oath to protect this country, the thing you’re protecting is the right to vote,” said McCormick. “And we have a tragedy here that most Republican voters in Pennsylvania don’t believe in the integrity of the election.”

The reasons include mail-in voting, the lack of security for ballot boxes, oversight at the precincts, and money that’s come in from Zuckerberg.

“And we have the fact that the Hunter Biden laptop story was suppressed,” said McCormick. “We’ve got to fix this. And the most important thing (is) voter I.D. We’ve got to have voter I.D.”

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Carla Sands Says She’s the ‘America First’ Candidate for U.S. Senate

Carla Sands, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, came out swinging against her opponents during a podcast interview with the Delaware Valley Journal on Thursday.

Sands, former ambassador to Denmark under President Donald Trump, responded to questions about the former president’s endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz by attacking the ‘America First’ bona fides of her GOP primary opponents.

Oz “chose to serve Turkey first, not America first. Even though he says it, he actually chose as an American citizen to go fight for Turkey in the Turkish military, not the American military,” Sands said, a reference to Oz performing his required military service in Turkey to maintain his dual citizenship. (Oz was born in Ohio.)

And regarding another competitor with ties to Trump, hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick, she said he had “shipped jobs out of Pennsylvania offshore. And that’s what’s devastated Pennsylvania over the last 40 years. I would say he’s closer to Beijing than he is to D.C.”

McCormick “chose to invest not in America but in China. And you don’t make a lot of money in China without the support of the Communist Party because they control the economy in their country.”

In recent polls, both Oz and McCormick currently lead Sands, a Camp Hill native.

Oz has said that if elected, he will renounce his Turkish citizenship. Oz said he has kept his dual citizenship so he can travel to Turkey more easily to visit his widowed mother, who has Alzheimer’s. His parents, who were immigrants, retired to their home country.

“Dave has always fought to keep jobs in Pennsylvania and never outsourced any jobs. At FreeMarkets, Dave was a part of creating over 600 jobs in Pittsburgh, contributing to the economic revitalization of the Steel City,” Jess Szymanski, a McCormick campaign spokesperson said in response. And Sands’ allegations regarding China are not true, she said.

Sands also claimed those two candidates would vote like “squish” Republican Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), while she would provide “America first” votes.

Asked about Trump’s recent endorsement of Oz, Sands said the former president “has not always been getting the best advice,” and that she is the one who can beat Democrat frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who she said was a “strong candidate.”

“The Democrats love him, and they’ve become radical,” Sands said.

Asked about rising inflation, Sands noted it has hurt “working families and our seniors on fixed incomes are suffering across the commonwealth because the radical Biden administration has been passing these big, bad bills. They’re multi-trillion-dollar bills stuffed with the Green New Deal, socialist regulation, attempting to regulate our farmers, our energy sector, really, every single area of our lives. They want to set the thermostat in our homes. We have to say no. And I will stop the out-of-control spending in Washington. That’s the number one driver inflation started off as soon as (Biden) got into office with his radical policies. But the second, the kerosene on the fire of the inflation is his war, the Biden administration, and the left’s war on our domestic energy.”

Sands touted Pennsylvania’s energy resources and the need to extract the state’s natural gas and get it to market so that good-paying jobs will be available here and to stem the population drain that cost the commonwealth a congressional seat after the 2020 Census.

“I’ve called for an Operation Warp Speed for American and Pennsylvania energy that we harvest it,” said Sands. “We do it cleaner than anywhere else in the world, right here in America. And then we lay the pipes. But we’re going to need top cover from that…because we’re going have to unjam all the regulations, the bad regulations at the federal and state level. But we can do this.”

Reminded that some Delaware Valley residents have vehemently opposed new pipelines she said, “Here’s the beautiful thing about federal power. If we have an ‘America First’ president in the White House, and we have an emergency for our energy because we don’t want to import Russian, Venezuelan, or Iranian energy, which is what the radical Biden administration is literally proposing. We need to have it domestic it’s cleaner here. And it also is economic security, but national security because Putin showed us, energy’s not just a commodity, it’s a weapon. And we need this for our security and the security of our allies.”

Sands also said Trump would have won the 2020 election if not for the interference of American “oligarchs” like Mark Zuckerberg.

“I refer you to Sen. Rand Paul,” she said. The Republican senator from Kentucky said the 2020 election was stolen. “He said, we did a forensic analysis. And if Mark Zuckerberg and his family’s money that went into that nonprofit and funded how the election was held did not go into the election, Donald Trump would be president today. So the Zuck bucks stole the election.

“There were other things that went on. We know where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But Rand Paul, a sitting senator, said the election was stolen by the Zuck bucks,” said Sands.

Sands started her career in chiropractic medicine, like her father and grandfather. She married Fred Sands in 1999 and after he died, she became the first woman to serve as chair and CEO of Vintage Capital Group, her late husband’s company.

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GIORDANO: Has Trump Made McSwain an Anathema to GOP Primary Voters?

President Donald Trump really shook up the Pennsylvania Senate race with his endorsement of Dr. Oz, but he also started a temblor in the Pennsylvania governor’s race. By his attack on former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, Trump triggered the Montgomery County Republican State Committee delegation to move past its previous position of not endorsing candidates in the primary to endorse Delaware County businessman Dave White for governor.

Liz Preate Havey, the chairperson of the Montgomery County Republicans, joined me on my radio show and told me Bill McSwain was a prime candidate for endorsement, but Trump’s direct assault on him for what Trump deemed was a failure to pursue voter fraud in the 2020 election aggressively made him radioactive. Havey cited the fact that polling indicated vast numbers of Trump voters would follow Trump’s lead and not vote for him in the primary.

The response of my listeners to all this offers an alternative. In the wake of the Trump attack, my Twitter poll and on-air calls indicate stronger support for McSwain. Listeners seemed to realize that in the aftermath of the 2020 election, McSwain had to follow the directives of Attorney General Bill Barr, who was his boss and someone who chose not to pursue many of the charges of fraud that were raised after the election.

In addition to the difference of opinion between Trump over McSwain, an increasing number of listeners have expressed the fear that Trump might be relitigating the election of 2020 rather than focusing on the elections of 2022 and 2024. The approach I recommend is, rather than dwell on wild and bizarre theories around 2020, to focus on closing off huge sums of money from people like Mark Zuckerberg that were used to drive up Democrat voting using government elected officials and to get rid of mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania.

In addition to her insights as why the Montco Republicans chose to endorse White over McSwain, Havey told me her group did not think state Sen. Doug Mastriano could win the general election for governor. She agreed he often wins most polls and is a powerhouse in the state’s rural areas, but she believes he would be swamped by Josh Shapiro, the attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor.

In addition to Trump’s scrambling of the governor’s race here locally, his endorsement of Dr. Oz in the Senate race really disappointed my listeners overall. They seem to agree that Oz has a good case for winnability in the general election due to his name recognition and financial resources. However, they have deep doubts about his stance on gun rights, abortion, and several cultural issues. In addition, they are not that upset that he did not choose to endorse Dave McCormick but rather that he passed over candidate Kathy Barnette. They see Barnette as the most fervent by far MAGA person in the entire field. The poll I conducted on listener choices after Trump’s Oz endorsement had Kathy with a clear majority of the total votes.

I’d also like to remind readers of the candidacy of Jeff Bartos for the Senate seat. Bartos has been saluted by Tucker Carlson and a host of others for his successful efforts to keep tons of small businesses afloat during the disastrous lockdowns across Pennsylvania. He is a person of distinct accomplishment.

My last thought in all this is that I hope President Trump does not endorse anyone in the Republican primary for governor. This is the most important race in the country to me. I’m convinced that if a Republican wins, we will not see a repeat of the questionable election issues we saw in 2020 and Pennsylvania will fairly decide the election of 2024.

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GOP Lt. Gov Candidate Schillinger Meets Trump, Says He’s ‘Sharp As Ever’

Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Clarice Schillinger just got back from Mar-a-Lago where she met with former President Donald Trump.

“It was truly fantastic,” Schillinger, a Horsham resident, told Delaware Valley Journal. She was having dinner with a friend who belongs to the club, and Trump came over to her table to say hello.

“I spoke with the former president at length on the importance of Pennsylvania and the races here, how important it was to stop Josh Shapiro. How he will be a national problem at some point because this race is a stepping stone for him to becoming president.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the only major Democratic candidate in the race.

Schillinger said Trump is following Pennsylvania politics closely. He told her he will be endorsing a candidate for governor, but he has not yet made up his mind.

“He’s obviously sharp as ever,” said Schillinger. “He’s saddened at the state of our country and I shared with him just how much a mess our commonwealth is in. But I’m so optimistic we’re going to win and take it back this year.”

Trump is “just a regular guy,” she added. “I’ve always thought maybe he’d be pompous or full of himself but he wasn’t. He really wasn’t. It was very refreshing.”

Trump sits with an iPad and “looks up everything,” said Schillinger. She talked to him about her background supporting school board candidates who promised to end pandemic lockdowns and helping them win, first with the Keeping Kids in School PAC and then the statewide Back to School PA PAC. Keeping Kids in School had a 98 percent success rate and the Back to School PA candidates had a 60 percent success rate.

“He said, ‘Don’t stop.’ And we talked about how the moms are upset and how we’re going to save America. And the grandmoms and the caregivers, all of us. When you touch our children, it’s about the future of democracy. This is what happens,” Schillnger said.

“Let me tell you, (Trump) is well-rested and sharp as a tack. He is ready to take it back.”

And Schillinger said the two made a connection over a classic movie.

“The former president even referred to a line from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and told me that he would never forget my name.” The main character, played by Jodie Foster, is FBI agent Clarice Starling.

Referencing one of the movie’s most famous lines, the former president asked, “Would you like a glass of Chianti and fava beans?”

“I told him that Jodie Foster was extremely intelligent and beautiful,” Schillinger said. “It was truly fantastic.

Schillinger recently received the endorsement of the Montgomery County GOP,  along with the Bucks County Republican Committee and the Northumberland County Republicans. She recently came in first in the Pennsylvania Leadership straw poll and won the state’s overall straw poll.

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FLOWERS: Should Voters Care About Trump’s Dump on McSwain?

Tuesday was a great day for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates not named Bill McSwain.

Voters and casual observers were treated to what must be the very first documented “non-endorsement” in the history of Pennsylvania politics. The Once and Future (as far as he’s concerned) President, Donald J. Trump, delivered a blistering attack on the character of one of the leading GOP candidates for governor. Deprived of a voice on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, Trump still found a way to make his opinion known by posting the following on his “Save America” website:

“One person in Pennsylvania who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for Governor. He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. He said Barr told him not to do anything (because Barr was afraid of being impeached by the Democrats) but he should have done his job anyway. Without free and fair Elections, we don’t have a Country. Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our Country down.”

There was more, but you get the gist. And I kept the original punctuation and spelling, with the creative use of capital letters. While the delivery might have been quirky, the impact has the potential to be devastating: Bill McSwain just went from front-runner to question mark.

I am not a political expert, and usually only weigh in on the topics with which I have some familiarity, like voter suppression (of which I was almost a victim), the need for voter ID, and issues of importance to the average conservative. But I think that anyone who witnessed this rhetorical bombshell knows that it created a shakeup in the GOP and has caused people to scramble and reshuffle their own cards.

And that’s the thing that really fascinates me. Donald Trump is no longer in office, and yet he is conducting a shadow presidency — minus the “shadow.” His words, his appearances, and his endorsements carry a weight that far exceeds those of other former presidents, at least with his diehard supporters.

And now we’ll find out how much true political heft Trump has. Will his unequivocal rejection of Bill McSwain doom the former U.S. Attorney’s campaign? Or will it have the opposite effect, inspiring support from Republicans who have left Trump behind and wish he’d disappear into the ether?  I honestly don’t know, but I have an opinion on whether it should.

To me, endorsements are worthless. Having hundreds of opinions of my own, I really don’t care what someone else thinks about a political race, a policy, a candidate, etc. I care deeply about what that candidate says about the things near and dear to me. For example, I will not equivocate on abortion. If you are pro-choice, you will never get my vote.

But I don’t care if someone else says you’re a great person or conversely, the Devil’s spawn. I have too high an opinion of my own ability to judge character, and I don’t need or want confirmation of those views from third parties.

The question is whether I’m typical of Pennsylvanians in general, and Pennsylvania conservatives in particular, or whether people are really influenced by endorsements.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is sui generis, a creature unlike any other. His endorsement is not just any endorsement, and in the case of the McSwain “non-endorsement,” it might have an outsized impact on the folks who think Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. Judging from my own casual research, there are a lot of my fellow Pennsylvanians who feel that way. If Trump says jump, they will. And that could be fatal for McSwain.

I actually don’t feel too sorry for the former U.S. Attorney. While I admire him for being a great foil and balance to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his deadly impact on the crime rate in my city, McSwain embraced Trump when he didn’t have to. Some of the GOP candidates have been smart enough not to openly criticize the former president, but they haven’t aligned themselves with him too closely, either.

McSwain did the opposite, to the point of issuing that bizarre letter last year that suggested he didn’t investigate voter fraud because Bill Barr told him not to. That was just weird, by any metric.

In attaching himself to Trump, McSwain might have alienated Never Trump conservatives, and even those like me who are Sometimes Trumpers. I am not a fan of everything 45 did, but I have a healthy and authentic respect for some of his exceptional victories, most important among them placing three conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Still, what the former president has to say isn’t really a factor in my vote.

Now, in being spurned like a former lover, McSwain might have been excommunicated from the community of diehard Ever Trumpers, who will not consider a candidate held in such hostile disregard by their de facto political leader.

It’s a shame that candidates have to walk a tight rope like that, something that has nothing whatsoever to do with their intrinsic merit. Perhaps the solution is something that Rhett Butler gave us decades ago when dealing with Scarlett O’Hara. If a candidate is told that someone will or won’t endorse them, he should just reply: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. And we, as voters, should all agree.

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