Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Jun 28, 2016

The Fix's Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly politics chat series.

New Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton up 12, Benghazi report, Brexit, dog who looks like Trump.

What's on your mind?

Does the fact that Castro doesn't speak Spanish, but Kaine does hurt the former's VP chances?

I don't think that's ideal for Castro, and I think it's a little-mentioned feather in Kaine's cap. 

Not sure it's a difference-maker, but it's part of the reason I think Kaine is the obvious choice. We have been surprised before, though.

Please rank the following candidates to be Donald's Running Mate: Newt Gingrich, Tom Cotton, Sen. Corker, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump, Jr.

1. Christie

2. Newt

3. Corker

4. Cotton

5. Ivanka

999. Don Jr.

If the Johnson/Weld ticket gets 5 percent in November and qualify the party for public funds, will the libertarian party take it?

That's a really good question. Seems to run counter to the party's ideals. Then again, Obama was a big matching funds guy and anti-super PAC guy who changed his mind on both out of pragmatism.

Maybe Libertarians are more true-believe than that. But a totally fair question.

When did poiltics become a winner take all blood game and not a gentleman's leisure sport? Can you think of a divisive moment that we can trace back to show when it become so "us against them"?

I think it's always been this way, to one extent or another. Willie Horton, the Daisy ad etc. Some of the stuff that happened in the 19th Century makes this look like Tiddlywinks (sp?).

I think our ability to share information just makes us notice all of this stuff more, honestly.

Be honest, how many Brexit jokes did you and Cillizza make after England's loss to Iceland?

Zero, because I was trying in vain to avoid the score and watch it last night. His tweets ruined it.

Will it just be Trump speaking for four days? Who else will even be there? Christie, Sessions, Newt?

It's going to be a really interesting cross-section of the official Republican Party, that's for sure. A Trump adviser has eve said he might speak all four nights. So get ready!

Can we please for the love of all that is holy talk about some House races? Trump is a sideshow and we don't need to devote this hour to dissecting every stupid comment. Chris is too far gone, but we might be able to save this chat!

Can we compromise on Senate races? That's where the focus could REALLY be come November -- especially if Clinton continues to lead by double digits or even close.

If Clinton wins, do you think she will have any holdovers in the cabinet? Asking for a friend at Foggy Bottom.

Haha. I really have no way of knowing. Maybe Loretta Lynch? That would make a lot of sense to me.

How unusual is it for a major party nominee to be polling in the high 30's at this point in a head to head? Even McCain was at 43-44 by now.

I tend to think any major-party nominee, in our polarized age, should at least be in the 40s. It's pretty remarkable, really. And that's with half his supporters thinking the Curiel comments were racist, that he's unqualified, and/or that he's unfairly biased against women, minorities and Muslims.

It's almost amazing it's not worse.

So, pretty much each side got what they wanted? No smoking gun, but management failures?

As our own Philip Bump wrote, attitudes toward Benghazi have been baked-in for a long time now. I don't see much here that is going to change things. Clinton has paid a price -- particularly with the email server revelation -- and partisan views of Benghazi remain VERY partisan.

I never thought I'd see this. If AZ goes blue and the Latino population keeps growing, this is very bad for the GOP's future.

Yes, it is. Unless they can put states like Pennsylvania, which is trending swing, in-play on their side.

Also keep an eye on Georgia, which I think might go swing before Arizona, even.

Olympics in Rio or Trump general election campaign?

I really hope the Olympics aren't a disaster. One of my favorite things in the entire world. I'm even watching the trials!

Assuming polling keeps Clinton around +6 on average, will the Senate vote on Garland?

If I were the GOP, I would. The longer they wait, the more likely it is that Obama would take his nomination off the table if Clinton looks solid.

Won't Sarah Palin be speaking in Cleveland, too? (Trying to conceal my malice)

I think it's hard to see how she wouldn't, given she was an early Trump backer and she undoubtedly wants to.

Will Trump collaborators be branded with a scarlet T and exiled from GOP circles or will there be a truth and reconciliation style commission to forgive past sins and move forward for the good of the party?

I think the true believers like Lewandowski will probably never be accepted. The new hires like Jason Miller have reputations that precede Trump, and now they are just trying to help the GOP nominee.

I live in San Antonio and this is a surprise to me. I just did an Internet search and found a newsclip of Julian acknowledging that neither he nor his twin Joaquin are fluent. Would be interesting if an Anglo Spanish-speaker (Kaine) beats them out as VP.

And your latest reminder that you should never let your kids study German or French in school. Learn Spanish. Mach schnell!

Which is more likely: Through some convention process the GOP goes with someone other than Trump, or the British government decides ignoring the vote and staying in the EU is worse than leaving it? Or are both equally unlikely?

Slight edge to B -- but only if they force another vote and the people change their minds.

Putting aside his opponent for a second. how can Rubio possibly convince people to honor him with their vote to the Senate after trashing the job?

Politicians have overcome much worse -- though I certainly don't think it helps.

I think by November it will probably be something most voters don't really think about.

It's too early to ask this, but Cilizza already opined that, if Trump loses big in November, that it will be back to business as usual for the GOP, that they will regard this as a one-time aberration, and it will be back to right-wing evangelical vs right-wing establishment candidate, with the same party makeup of moneybags and rural white conservative voters. I can't believe they would make another run based on this scenario again, but inertia is powerful.

Trump is a thoroughly unique figure in American politics. He didn't inherit an existing movement (tea party, evangelicals, independents), he built one of his own.

But I have a hard time seeing how that coalition stays cohesive. They aren't even really cohesive right now; they just agree on one thing: Trump.

I think the result of Trump getting blown out would be the tea party saying he wasn't conservative enough and the establishment saying he was too extreme. And that same dichotomy that we've seen for years will return.

But who knows!

Have posted this to you and The Fix several times, but haven't been one of the chosen few--Baffles me why the Castro VP speculation has been focused on Julián Castro and not Joaquín. Agree Julián's HUD appointment is a bit of a setup, but his highest elected office is Mayor. Joaquín has been state-wide rep and is a current Congressman (w/ the right committee assignments). On paper, seems like Joaquín has the better resume of the two. Does Julián have better personal relations w/ the Clintons? Something else you insiders know?

I think being one of 435 members of Congress versus being the chief executive of a major city is a pretty big difference. And being a Cabinet secretary is a much bigger job than congressman.

I think most folks who follow this stuff would say Julian's resume is vastly superior at this point.

I actually thought he was fantastic on Meet the Press! I have a feeling he will surprise people if he's picked.

He might surprise people just because he's kind of low-profile in general. But Clinton probably wants to make the "boring" -- Kaine's own description of himself -- pick who she feels like would be a good vice president once in office.

Chances the watered-down version (so House's version of the Collins bill) gets a vote after the break? Gets enough Republican support to pass?

There did seem to be more talk of compromise this time than before. But I still think this is such an intractable issue. Republicans are willing to play ball to a point, but Democrats see that as basically the same as doing nothing and won't support it.

I think the time that will elapse makes a compromise even unlikelier.

Okay, I'll take the bait: which Senate races should the focus be on? With Rubio running for reelection, that should make FL more likely to remain in GOP hands, though still not a given. How tight a race is McCain really in? What about Portman? Toomey? (I take it as given that Kirk and most likely Johnson are gone.) Is NV the GOP's best/only hope for a pickup?

Taking these 1 at a time:

1) I think the big ones are IL, WI, PA, NH, OH and then FL, in order of most likely to flip from R to D. Dems need 4 of them if Clinton wins and 5 if she doesn't.

2) FL just got safer, with Rubio getting in and Murphy's problems. But not a done deal.

3) I think McCain is the sleeper race of this cycle. His numbers aren't good + Trump + legit opponent.

4) NV is really the only GOP pickup that looks good right now. CO is the other one that could come on to the map later.

Any chance Trump offers the VP slot to Rubio?

Nope, and especially not with Rubio now seeking reelection.

Does the 22nd Amendment preclude Joe Biden from running for VP again? If not, he'd be Hillary's ideal choice.

All indications are -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that she can pick him. 

What the 22nd Amendment says about VP is that nobody who is not qualified to be president can serve as VP. Biden is still qualified to be president. And in fact, a couple early vice presidents spanned two presidencies.

Assuming a significant Clinton win and a blue Senate, what are the chances that we see a meaningful immigration plan in 2017?

I am sure it will be attempted -- especially if Trump gets swamped on Latino vote as much as it looks like he will.

But the GOP's big problem here is, even as the party recognizes it needs to do this, individual members personally don't feel as much pressure. And House Republicans will be worried about the enthusiasm that created the rise of Trump being turned against them in a primary.

Would he have to give up his seat to run?

Nope. He's not up till 2018!

Reading stories about the lack of Republican office-holders and candidates eager to speak at the convention. Do you envision Trump campaigning for many of the down-ballot candidates? (Will he join Rubio on the stage in FL?)

I don't think he will -- but mostly because they won't want him.

How likely is Sen. Blunt's reelection?

I think he's a favorite. If McCain gets in trouble, though, Blunt could be too.

I personally like the idea, but does Clinton even like Biden? (Biden, on the other hand, seems to like everyone).

That's really the reason this problem doesn't happen. It wasn't just when he thought about running against her; it's also their not always terribly friendly relationship.

Do you have a spare room I could move into? I can do laundry (no ironing), light dusting and will take out the trash. No baby sitting though but am happy to help you plot the downfall of your boss so you can take over.

Can you DM me?

while McConnell may wish he'd gone ahead w/ garland's nomination, won't that just look bad for the gop in senate races, playing politics like that?

I think the alternative -- a more liberal justice -- might be worth doing something transparently political. But it would be transparently political and as acknowledgement that Trump has no chance.

They're no longer valid at Trump events- have you and gang seen less cooperation/answering questions from Trump and his posse? Particularly- I'm wondering if there has really been any impact in reporting ability from this action?

The campaign has never really responded to reporters seeking comment or clarification on things. Our own Callum Borchers wrote about this today.

So in that sense, not much has changed.

Why no west coast love in national politics? Loudmouths like Christie situation in the northeast media market get constant fawning attention from national press corps - and subsequently are overestimated for national electoral strength - but I never see much news for west coasters. Any chance we could see a prez candidate from WA/OR/CA emerge in the next 4 years?

This is one of my pet peeves about political journalism -- not enough coverage west of the Mississippi. We try to do our part here on The Fix to change that!

Hasn't Trump at least exposed that huge swaths of the GOP don't believe in giants tax cuts for the rich, neo-conservative foreign policy, and unconstrained wall street capitalism? I can't imagine how the GOP ignores that and goes back to having the same old arguments after November.

Totally fair points.

Do you ever look at the poll sampling numbers to decide how seriously to take the poll?

All the time. We vet every pollster and, if we have any question, each individual poll with our polling team.

It seems that elites in the bubble try to retreat further into the bubble when confronted with information that breaks the bubble, don't they?

Sometimes they simply receive very leading questions that aren't actually questions and have no answer that benefits the larger discussion.

When you're not working do you try to avoid talking politics....or does your wife want to talk about politics too?

I like to get away from it and keep things separate, but the job is constant, so it's always lingering.

Thanks for coming out. We'll see you next Tuesday at noon, when I will be making my grand return to writing regularly for The Fix.

Until then!

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes and edits for The Fix. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron lives with his wife, baby son and trusty dog, Mauer, in Northern Virginia.
Recent Chats
  • Next: