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It is “logical” for Donald Trump to meet the Dalai Lama: says Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s prime minister in exile

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FILE PHOTO: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama watches a dance performance on the last day of his teachings in Tawang in the northeastern Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo
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By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of Tibet’s government in exile said on Wednesday it would be “logical” for Donald Trump to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since the U.S. president has visited homes of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions on his current international tour.

FILE PHOTO: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles during a news conference in Hamburg, August 21, 2011. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

The Dalai Lama has met the past four U.S. presidents, greatly angering China, which considers Tibet a renegade province and the spiritual leader a dangerous separatist. He has not yet been invited to meet Trump, who has been courting Beijing’s support over North Korea.

“Donald Trump … has been to all three major sacred places of three major traditions,” Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s prime minister in exile, said referring to Trump’s visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.

“So what is left is Buddhism and his holiness the Dalai Lama is the most prominent Buddhist leaders in the world,” Sangay told the Heritage Foundation think tank on a visit to Washington.

“If he can meet with all leaders of major traditions, I think it’s just logical that he meet with the most prominent Buddhist leader,” he said.

Sangay did not say whether he thought such a meeting likely, but said: “We are Tibetans. We are perennially optimistic.”

Sangay told Reuters earlier this month that the Dalai Lama had planned to visit the United States in April but had delayed the trip until June because a hectic schedule had left him exhausted. He also said Washington was not part of the June itinerary.

A U.S. administration official told Reuters this week it was premature to talk about a meeting between Trump and the Dalai Lama and that the administration’s priority was persuading China to do more to rein in North Korea’s increasingly threatening nuclear and missile program.

On Wednesday, however, Washington risked Beijing’s anger when a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since Trump took office.

Last week China said it had complained to the United States after a U.S. congressional delegation visited the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in India to draw world attention to human rights in Tibet.

The U.S. lawmakers delivered a blunt message to China that they would not relent in their campaign to protect rights in Tibet and would call for legislative and trade steps to press their point.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Bill Trott)

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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

Also Read: Obama On Why Its Important To Vote In This Midterm Elections

“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)