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Donald Trump announces to skip Presidential debate

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Washington: Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential candidate surprised everyone in the party, making a sudden announcement that he would not attend Thursday’s Presidential debate.

Escalating a long-running feud with debate host Fox News Channel four days before the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contests, the real estate mogul said he would instead host a competing event in the state to raise money for wounded warriors.

“And Fox will go from probably having 24 million viewers to about 2 million,” said campaign manager Corey Lewandowski referring to the fact that the Republic debates have become must-watch television events largely thanks to the reality TV star’s antics.

“Why should the networks continue to get rich on the debates?” Trump himself told reporters at a news conference in Marshalltown. “Why do I have to make Fox rich?”

Trump had objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.

Trump, probably the first major candidate to skip a debate, also took umbrage with a “wise-guy press release” that the network issued earlier on Tuesday saying it was inappropriately antagonistic and childish.

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes President, a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings,” the statement said.

When Trump read the statement, he shot back with a tweet, calling it a “pathetic attempt by Fox News to try and build up ratings for the #GOPDebate.”

He added, “Without me they’d have no ratings!”

Media analysts asked whether Fox would leave an empty podium at centre stage during Thursday’s event, which is the last Republican debate before the all-important Iowa caucuses.

But analysts were in agreement that, the debate boycott is unlikely to hurt Trump in the national polls even as he is accused of ducking face-to-face confrontations with his opponents and questions from debate moderators.

Trump’s announcement came hours after a new poll found him hitting a new high in the race for the Republican nomination with 41 percent Republican voters nationwide backing him.

Significantly more than two-thirds of Republicans said he’s the candidate most likely to capture their party’s presidential nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

Trump’s backing was more than double the support of his nearest competitor, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who notched 19 percent support in the poll.

No other candidate hit double-digits. Florida Senator Marco Rubio landed at 8 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6 percent, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 5 percent, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 4 percent, and the rest at 3 percent or less.

Trump was also widely seen as the candidate best able to win in November with 63 percent of Republicans saying so, compared with 16 percent who saw Cruz as best positioned to win and 10 percent who named Rubio.

But in the hypothetical general election, Trump appeared to fare slightly worse than either Cruz or Rubio when matched up against either Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton or her rival Bernie Sanders.(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)