Sunday, June 24, 2018
Politics

President Trump? That just got a lot more possible

WASHINGTON — Yes, Donald Trump could win the White House in November.

His victories in Super Tuesday states accelerate his march toward the GOP nomination. He's not there yet, and Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio showed strength in small doses.

But the real estate mogul won Tuesday from New England to the South, in Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. He proved he can beat heavily funded, politically sophisticated opponents despite increasingly ugly, often disturbing, attacks and insults. And he's shown strength in blue-collar areas that could put onetime battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania back into play for the GOP.

Taken together, "he's a formidable candidate" in a still-hypothetical but increasingly likely fall matchup against Democrat Hillary Clinton, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

None of that means Trump is a sure thing in the fall. No one ever is in early March. And as he emerges as the presumptive Republican nominee, he faces a new series of challenges.

The national map features electorates far more ideologically and racially diverse than the Republican base Trump has so effectively wooed. He'd have to compete in states where African-American and Hispanic voters are influential blocs, and they've shown little inclination to back him.

Most daunting, Trump could face not a pair of first-term U.S. senators, a soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon or a nice-guy governor, but a former secretary of state with considerable experience in waging brutal campaigns. Clinton is expected to raise questions about the volatile Trump's judgment and temperament, as well as provide vivid reminders of his broadsides against Mexicans, Muslims and women.

Trump would also face challenges such as those he has begun to endure only in recent days, questions about his resume as well as his style. "The criticism now concerns whether he's a con man, not an entertainer," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York.

Trump's rivals did offer some warning signs Tuesday. Though Trump won Virginia, Rubio, a senator from Florida, was leading among better-educated, higher-income and moderate voters as well as independents, according to network exit polls.

Also, Trump still refuses to release his tax returns, even though there's no legal reason he cannot. Critics are raising questions about the Trump Entrepreneur Institute, whose Better Business Bureau ratings fluctuated while it was open.

Even if the controversies fade, Trump will be tested on policy. Clinton can talk in nuanced terms about national security and foreign affairs. Can Trump? She can pinpoint ways the Affordable Care Act can be improved and expanded. Can Trump?

This is all serious stuff, with far more potential to derail Trump than the rude remarks or insults that have had little effect on his popularity.

So far, Trump has defied the logic of politics. No matter the remark, he survives and thrives, and polls show him in a virtual tie with Clinton. Quinnipiac's latest poll showed Clinton with a 44 percent to 43 percent lead over Trump. Suffolk University's Political Research Center put Trump up 44.6 percent to 43.1 percent.

Even Trump's unusually high Quinnipiac unfavorable rating — 57 percent — is not necessarily a liability. Clinton's is 58 percent.

Six in 10 say Trump is not honest or trustworthy, but two-thirds say that about Clinton. She has been under scrutiny for using a private email server while secretary of state.

Trump has some advantages.

He has demonstrated deep support among Republicans. In Massachusetts, Trump easily won every age and income group, as well as moderates and conservatives, exit polls found. He scored the same victories in the South, winning among the same groups in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

He's also picking up some GOP establishment support, or at least grudging acceptance.

At this winter's Republican National Committee meeting, insiders said routinely, though privately, that they could work with the veteran dealmaker.

Election Day is eight months off, but today this much is obvious, said Quinnipiac's Malloy: "Trump is a viable general election candidate."

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18