Saturday, July 09, 2016

From the Archives: Former Senator George Allen 'stunned' by Donald Trump's popularity in GOP

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on September 12, 2015. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site is scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Former Senator George Allen 'stunned' by Donald Trump's popularity in GOP

Arriving at the Doubletree Hotel in Charlottesville for the monthly Albemarle County GOP breakfast on September 12, former Virginia governor and U.S. senator George F. Allen offered some comments on real estate mogul Donald Trump's bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

In 2006, Allen's re-election campaign was derailed by an off-hand remark to a Democratic party video tracker, using the then-unknown word “macaca,” which to some people sounded like a pejorative term used in North Africa, where Allen's mother grew up. Allen – then not only heavily favored for re-election but widely touted as a likely leading 2008 presidential candidate – lost narrowly to Democrat Jim Webb, and lost again in 2012 in an attempted comeback against former governor Tim Kaine.

In light of that, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner asked how Donald Trump's daily offensive, misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic statements did not hobble his campaign but rather led to rising poll numbers.

“Anybody who has run for office is just stunned” by Trump's performance so far, Allen replied. “He'll say something [offensive] in a debate” or an interview “and he'll go up in the polls.”

Reaching for an explanation for Trump's popularity in the face of such offensiveness, Allen suggested that “people are so frustrated with the lack of attention to anything that matters [to them from] folks in Washington.”

Voters like “the fact that he is not a politician,” the former governor said, even though “they may think that some of the things he says are not diplomatic or impolitic.”

While some of the people involved in Trump's campaign are long-time Republican activists, Allen said, Trump is also drawing in “a lot of new people who have gotten active and who just say, 'You know, yeah, he may not know everything but gosh darn, I just want to send a message up to them in Washington.'”

He said that “while the things Trump says, I think, are harmful, and he doesn't need to be making some of those statements, people do want to send a message.”

Allen noted that “Donald Trump is a longtime family friend, believe it or not, from the days of the USFL – the United States Football League. My father had the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers and Donald had the New Jersey Generals.”

The USFL team owners, he explained, all worked together in signing players to the new league, such as Jim Kelly, who joined the Houston Gamblers, Steve Young of the LA Express, and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who joined Trump's team, the New Jersey Generals.

'That's the Donald'
Allen smiled as he related an anecdote about asking Trump for a campaign contribution fifteen years ago.

“One time I called him up – this is when I was running for the Senate in 2000, and the contribution limit then was $2,000 – so we're doing some sort of reception/fundraiser up in New York City and I called up Donald Trump and we reminisced over the USFL days and I asked, 'Can you contribute $2,000 to me?' and he said, 'Oh yeah, sure, I'll do that.' I asked, 'Can you come to the reception?' And he said, 'If you want me at the reception, I'll give you $1,000.' He says, 'What do you want, one thousand or two thousand?' I said, 'I'll take the two thousand, you don't need to come to the reception.'”

“That's the Donald,” said Allen.

While Allen has not yet decided which of the several Republican presidential hopefuls he will endorse, he does have a list of criteria that the best candidate must meet.

“I'm looking for someone who has a positive, constructive agenda to create more opportunities in our country – in specifics, not a bunch of superlatives and so forth,” he said.

'Distrust, dismay, and anger'
Among the topics it is important for the right candidate to talk about, Allen explained, are “tax policy; reining in these unelected, unaccountable bureaucracies; [and] unleashing our energy resources, to make our country more competitive internationally.

“Americans want to be the best. We ought to have a government that allows them, with the right policies, to be at their best,” he said.

A second point, Allen added, is that he wants “to see if they respect the rights and prerogatives of the people, of the states, [and] that all decisions don't need to be in Washington. Generally,” he said in an aside, “a lot of times, government at no level should be involved, but government closest to the people is the Jeffersonian principle.”

The final question Allen asks about a potential nominee is, “does their past record evince an integrity that they'll actually keep their word once they're in office?”

That last point is important, he said, since voters “are looking for integrity because there's a lot of distrust, dismay, and anger with the way government operates.”

Allen went on to talk about these themes in remarks to the Albemarle County Republican Committee. About 60 people were in the audience, several of whom engaged the former governor in questions about how Washington works and what can be done to bring more conservative ideas into the policymaking process.


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