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Controversy over Donald Trump’s decision to skip republican debate in Iowa

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Washington: Amidst the controversy over Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Fox News debate four days before the Iowa meetings, Trump said, he’d move forward with his own competing event.

His “tremendous” rally at Drake University in Des Moines at the same time as his Republican rivals gather for the debate just two miles away will raise money for wounded veterans, he said.

Suggesting that television networks have made millions of dollars in advertising on debates he’s participated in, Trump said he doesn’t mind debating, but “I just don’t like being used.”

“Fox was going to make a fortune off this debate. Now they’re going to make much less,” said the billionaire real estate mogul on another show on the conservative show as the anchor vainly tried to cajole him to reconsider.

Escalating his long-running feud with Megyn Kelly, Trump lashed out at the Fox News anchor whom he has accused of treating him “unfairly” for questioning him on his past derogatory remarks about women at the first Republican debate in August.

Calling it a “conflict of interest” Trump demanded that Kelly should be not allowed to moderate Thursday night’s debate. But Fox News declined to give in. Kelly will be one of the three moderators at the debate.

“I have zero respect for Megyn Kelly,” said Trump. “I don’t think she’s good at what she does and I think she’s highly overrated. And frankly, she’s a moderator; I thought her question last time was ridiculous.”

Kelly herself weighed in that Trump skipping the debate would “probably be a bad decision” while conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh lauded him for “controlling the media.”

But despite Trump’s continued attacks against her, Kelly said he is a “breath of fresh air” in politics.

“He doesn’t care about PC culture,” Kelly said in an interview with Time magazine published on Wednesday. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”

Kelly who spoke to Time on Tuesday, just hours before Trump announced his plan to skip Thursday night’s Fox News debate, said her network can’t give in to “terrorizations toward any of our employees.”

Trump’s other Republican presidential rivals also lost no time in criticising him. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Trump’s decision reminds him of “a 13-year-old arguing.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz challenged Trump to debate him Saturday night in Sioux City, Iowa. But Trump laughed off Cruz’s call to debate, saying in a message on Twitter that if they did it the contest should be held in Canada, where Cruz was born.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio called Trump’s decision to skip the debate, and Cruz’s one-on-one challenge an “interesting sideshow.”(IANS)

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Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)