Friday, April 29, 2011
GOP Shouldn't Play Trump Card
WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has been saying things about himself and others lately that are untrue, suggesting that he has a tendency to make up his own reality as he goes along. In an interview with CNN's John King, Trump cited a CNN poll that he said showed him "statistically tied" with President Barack Obama; proclaimed that he has been a loyal Republican "for a long while"; and declared that the Unites States gets no oil from Libya, while China is Libya's "biggest customer."
Let's take these one at a time.
CNN denies that it has ever conducted a head-to-head matching poll between Obama and Trump, though other polls showed Trump trailing the president by double digits.
A more recent nationwide Gallup poll found that more than 6 in 10 registered voters -- 64 percent -- said they definitely would not vote for Trump in 2012. Forty-six percent said that about Obama. A mere 7 percent said they would definitely vote for the real estate magnate, versus 31 percent who said that about Obama.
King challenged Trump's statement, but Trump stuck to his claim that CNN said he was tied with Obama.
"We also rechecked with our polling department and our polling director specifically. The Trump people never got back to us and this is why. We're positive, positive, CNN never conducted such a poll," King said on CNN.
Trump's claim to have been " a very strong Republican" for "a long while" is open to substantial doubt, too. In the last decade he was a registered Democrat between 2001 and 2008, according to ace Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.
Moreover, Trump did not vote in primary contests for more than two decades, according to a search of his voting record by NY1, a New York-based news channel. In the 2008 presidential election, Trump said he supported Obama, adding that he "has a chance to go down as the greatest president."
What does that tell you about Trump's political judgment?
Deeper doubts are raised about his claims of party loyalty when you look at the long list of liberal Democrats Trump has supported financially -- from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who got a whopping $50,000 to bankroll his successful run for mayor of Chicago.
A majority of the candidates who benefited from Trump's deep pockets -- 54 percent of them -- were Democrats, and far left ones at that, including former senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, and the late senator Edward M. Kennedy.
And then there was Trump's claim that China is Libya's biggest oil customer and that the United States gets "no oil from Libya."
In truth, Kessler found, the United States does get a small share of Libya's oil -- only 3 percent -- but China is far from its "biggest customer."
The Department of Energy says Libya's biggest customers are Italy, which buys 28 percent of the civil war-torn country's oil, France at 15 percent, China at 11 percent and Germany and Spain at 10 percent each.
Then there were Trump's attacks on whether Obama's was born in the United States. Trump is claiming vindication now for elevating the issue in numerous interviews -- a tactic that catapulted him into the news and drew attention to his presidential ambitions -- clearly forcing Obama to produce his official birth certificate this week.
After three years of ignoring the issue, Obama signed a letter to Hawaii state officials Friday requesting a copy of his official birth certificate. It was delivered Tuesday night. But early on, Trump said he had hired investigators digging into the "birther" issue in Hawaii and, based on their reports, was convinced that the birth certificate didn't exist. Now that Obama has produced a copy, Trump is touting this as a big political achievement.
Trump certainly forced Obama's hand by lifting the issue beyond the second-tier attention it has received. But it's an issue among a relatively small segment of voters that he could have sidestepped, saying that it's not among the top concerns on most voters' minds.
But worse than Trump's tendency to make things up are his off-the-cuff, sometimes bombastic comments about how he would handle major issues like the budget deficit, skyrocketing oil prices, and the threat of China.
On Libya, he would invade, presumably with the military, get rid of Moammar Gadhafi and seize the oil fields, if the Saudis would pay us the $5 billion it would cost, plus a cut in their oil supplies. On overall oil prices, he would call up Arab OPEC leaders and tell them "you've had your fun, but it's over." This bellicose talk is a frightening prospect for a country still embroiled in two wars and now dealing with the situation in Libya.
China is a hot-button issue for candidates to expound upon when they lack a domestic economic plan to boost growth and jobs. China is not responsible for our weak, jobless economy, excessive tax levels and unprecedented $14.3 trillion debt. Obama's failed, anti-growth economic policies are to blame.
Trump's shallow, sound bite-based campaign, which invents "facts" to fit his own reality, his threats to the Arab world, his promises to bully China, and his bragging about how "easy" it is to fix the fiscal mess we're in, without the hint of a well-thought-out plan, may play with some voters.
But this is not a presidential contender who has serious answers to the critical economic and fiscal issues we now face. Obama's birth certificate will not create a single job.