By Bill Kaplan
Trump's limousine wheels flew off, and hit Speaker Ryan, Governor Walker, Senator Johnson and the entire GOP. Trump ran into big trouble when an ugly video surfaced Friday in the Washington Post. It definitively revealed Trump to be a sexual predator, eager to assault women. Republicans across the nation called for Trump to withdraw from the presidential race or said they would not vote for him. Ryan lamented he was "sickened", Walker tweeted Trump's comments were "inexcusable" and Johnson called the sleaze "indefensible". However, all three politicians still support Trump. Morally bankrupt.
Prior to the Post bombshell, the Trump campaign was reeling from other exposes: the New York Times reported that Trump lost $916 million in 1995 and likely did not pay any federal income taxes for as long as 18 years (Trump said that makes him "smart"). And, Newsweek reported that Trump imported Chinese aluminum and steel for his building projects, trying to hide the transactions. This added to previous press reports that Trump specialty products are imported from China, Honduras and other low-wage nations. The so-called voice for the working class folks is a phony on trade.
Moreover, evidence keeps piling up that Trump is no friend of the middle and working classes. He did not pay workers who built his hotels or failed casinos. And, Trump stiffed his creditors, investors and suppliers. Most of all Trump gloats over the human misery he alone is responsible for. There's more.
Polls nationally and in battleground states show Trump in decline. Independents, moderate Republicans and women are fleeing from the GOP ticket. The GOP-led Senate is in play and the GOP-led House will lose at least a dozen Republican seats. Meanwhile, Ryan went on with his Saturday "unity" rally without Trump and Pence. The heckling of Ryan and stiff performances by Ryan, Walker and Johnson were jaw-dropping.
However, other Republicans, including former Wisconsin Representative Tom Petri and 29 other former legislators, put country ahead of party, denouncing Trump and refusing to vote for him. They join retiring Wisconsin GOP Representative Reid Ribble, who earlier rejected Trump.
Finally, working class folks in Rust Belt states increasingly see that Trump is a fraud: Trump says wages are "too high", waffles on increasing the minimum wage and brags that he "fight(s) unions very hard" and supports so-called right-to-work laws. Compare to Hillary Clinton, a union supporter: she wants to create jobs with investment in infrastructure (roads, bridges, schools and renewable energy), while using tax penalties to prevent pirate corporations from moving jobs abroad and supports raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour. And, take it from Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, the leading critic of "job killing" trade deals: Clinton is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There's more.
Sunday's presidential town hall with Clinton and Trump did not reverse the downward spiral for Trump. On Monday Ryan read the tea leaves and told House Republicans he will not explain or campaign with Trump. Has there ever been an election like this?
-- Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009.