Trump’s 2020 Campaign: A Traditional Operation With a Wild-Card Candidate

Jason Andrew for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — On a former trading floor in an office tower in Rosslyn, Va., with sweeping views of the Potomac River, the Trump 2020 campaign is settling in. It has about 40 staff members and counting, reported $19.2 million in cash on hand in its last report and has spent $4.5 million on online ads since December.

It is a long way from Mr. Trump’s first presidential race, which came together in the summer of 2015 and was run as a taped-together operation, with a few desks strewn across an unfinished floor of Trump Tower.

But one thing is missing from the high-powered but traditional campaign operation underway in Rosslyn: a candidate who abides by tradition.

In a speech to a conservative group this month, as Mr. Trump described what he had in mind, he made a point of recounting “how I got elected, by being off script,” adding, “If we don’t go off script, our country is in big trouble, folks.” And at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, Mr. Trump illustrated what he meant, delivering an 80-minute stemwinder in which he lashed out at familiar targets who fostered “the collusion delusion” and offered the in-depth rehash of his 2016 victory that is a staple of his rally speeches.

“We won a lot,” he said, after explaining where “Crooked” Hillary Clinton went wrong. “We won 306 to 223.” (Mrs. Clinton’s total was actually 232.)

Mr. Trump has made it clear that he wants to run on the same anti-immigration, anti-Islam, fear-mongering tropes that lifted him to victory in 2016, denouncing old enemies like Mrs. Clinton and adding new ones, even as his aides try to emphasize his accomplishments in office like the economy and the rout of the Islamic State. Advisers say privately that he has been distracted by the Mueller report, which he regards as a clear political victory, and has not focused on message for the coming months.

As the campaign tries to build a traditional re-election operation, which officials often compare to President George W. Bush’s 2004 race, the tension may build between campaign officials and Mr. Trump, who trusts his gut above all else.

“President Trump has always had his finger on the pulse of the nation and he understands what it is that the American people want, and that is why he won in 2016 and that has not changed,” said David Bossie, a former campaign adviser who, alongside the former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, attended the rally with Mr. Trump on Thursday night. “He is his best political barometer.”

Incumbent presidents running for re-election always come with built-in advantages: money, time, the stature of the office and the opportunity to define the terms of the race, while an inchoate field of opponents fight among one another.

The Trump campaign is building an organization aimed at capitalizing on all of those advantages, crafting a conventional structure around a candidate whose nature is to buck against it. “There are lots of differences between being part of a bruising primary versus being the incumbent,” said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign communications director. “One of the differences is time. We have a big advantage on the Democrat field in that, and we intend to use it.”

But the wild card is Mr. Trump himself.

“It’s easy to build a beautiful operation,” said Robby…

Traditional Palestinian Dress Becomes Means of Political Protest

In this Monday, January 28, 2019 photo, Samiha Jeheshat, displays a handmade embroidered Palestinian thobe at her showroom in the West Bank village of Idna, north of Hebron.
In this Monday, January 28, 2019 photo, Samiha Jeheshat, displays a handmade embroidered Palestinian thobe at her showroom in the West Bank village of Idna, north of Hebron.

A traditional dress worn by Palestinian women was not the kind of clothing one would expect to become a sign of political expression.

The brightly colored, embroidered woman’s dress is known as a “thobe,” notes the Associated Press.

Now the thobe is gaining popularity as a softer means of identifying with the fight for the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is even competing with the keffiyeh – the head covering worn by Palestinian men protesting Israel’s occupation of land they call their home.

The thobe is covered with complex, colorful embroidery, all put together by hand. It requires months of hard work to make. Some thobes have been sold to buyers for thousands of dollars.

The use of traditional cloth is a celebration of simpler times, when poor Palestinian women would make thobes while resting from a hard day’s work in the fields.

Rashida Tlaib is the first female Palestinian American member of the United States Congress. Last month she wore her mother’s thobe at her official swearing-in ceremony.

The move has led women around the world, especially in Palestinian territories, to publish pictures of themselves in traditional dress on the Twitter social networking service.

In this Tuesday, January 29, 2019 photo, designer Natalie Tahhan works on a modern version of the traditional Palestinian thobe in her studio in east Jerusalem.
In this Tuesday, January 29, 2019 photo, designer Natalie Tahhan works on a modern version of the traditional Palestinian thobe in her studio in east Jerusalem.

Rachel Dedman organized a recent exhibit at the Palestinian Museum in the town of Birzeit in the West Bank. The show centered on the changes to Palestinian embroidery throughout history. Dedman told the Associated Press the thobe is such a powerful sign of political expression because it is more directly linked to culture and history, not politics.

“The historic thobe conjures an ideal of pure and untouched Palestine, before the occupation,” she said.

The Palestinian thobe’s history dates back to the early 19th century, when embroidered goods were made mainly in villages.

Beautifully designed dresses marked major events in women’s lives: the beginning of puberty, marriage, motherhood.

Maha Saca is the director of the Palestinian Heritage Center in Bethlehem. She says the designs were different from one village to the next. In Bethlehem, for example, wealthier women sought special three-dimensional embroidery. Bedouin women, who would spend their lives in travelling communities, made their thobes with large pockets for carrying things. Women from Jaffa, a city famous for its fruit trees, wore orange tree designs.

Thobe designs also expressed women’s different social positions: red was the color for women about to be married, while blue was for women whose husbands had died. Blue with multi-colored embroidery was for women who were thinking about…

Ben Jealous skips traditional stop on Maryland’s political circuit, leaving some Democrats ‘nervous and concerned’

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) campaigns along the boardwalk in Ocean City during his visit on Friday. (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

OCEAN CITY — The crowds started gathering as soon as Gov. Larry Hogan stepped onto the beachfront boardwalk here, and the governor didn’t flinch when a shirtless, sweaty man threw an arm around his shoulders to pose for a photo.

Hogan (R) was in his element, and he worked the sandy, sun-kissed crowds for nearly two hours, drinking beers with local firefighters, celebrating the 125th anniversary of a local business, snarfing french fries with local politicians and taking selfies with everyone who wanted one.

His Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous, was nowhere in sight.

Jealous voluntarily ceded the stage to Hogan last week as hundreds of Maryland’s state, federal and local officials gathered in Ocean City for an annual conference that has been a fixture in the state’s political calendar for nearly 90 years.

Jealous’s decision to skip the Maryland Association of Counties summer gathering — instead meeting with voters in Baltimore City and Frederick — set off another wave of anxiety among his supporters in the Democratic establishment.

“Democrats are nervous and concerned,” said John T. Willis, a longtime Democratic strategist and University of Baltimore professor who wrote a book on Maryland politics and attended the conference.

“There’s more coverage about his absence than if he had shown up and spent 15 minutes delivering his platform,” Willis said. “Personally, I would be here.”

Jealous’s absence from the resort town, where the state’s political press corps also gathered, has raised questions about whether eschewing traditional Maryland campaign techniques is a misstep or a savvy move in a tough race.

Jealous, the former NAACP chief and community organizer, has focused his progressive, outsider campaign on dramatically boosting Democratic turnout in the vote-rich D.C. suburbs and the Baltimore region. Jealous is banking on the deep unpopularity of Republican President Donald Trump and his own platform of a $15 minimum wage, debt-free college and Medicare-for-all to get a wave of infrequent voters to show up in November.

Hogan, the popular, well-funded incumbent, has governed as a moderate in a deeply Democratic state. He seized the Ocean City conference as an opportunity to meet privately with Democratic leaders, to rub shoulders with vacationing Maryland voters and to tell local government leaders how much he would help them if reelected to a second term.

“This conference is far more than just a speaking opportunity,’” Hogan told a crowd of local leaders.

Jealous turned down an invitation to speak to the conference’s 1,400 attendees for 15 minutes at the close of the event in a forum on issues involving local government. He was invited to answer questions on the stage alone, after Hogan had done the same. Jealous also skipped the four-day cycle of parties, fundraisers, glad-handing and seminars on local government topics…

Denver Juneteenth celebration in Five Points mixes history, tradition, politics

The annual Juneteenth Music Festival in Denver.
Ne’ajah West, 13, center, warms up with her fellow Queens and Kings of Dynasty Dance team before setting out on the parade route. The annual Juneteenth Music Festival takes place in the Historic Five Points Neighborhood on June 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Kathryn Scott/Special to The Denver Post)

A caravan of food trucks lined Welton Street in Five Points on Saturday morning, mingling with a long line of easy-up canopies and traditional food stands.

Despite overcast skies and intermittent showers, locals and visitors roamed the street in search of the perfect barbecue while vendors chatted up customers and sold merchandise. However, the annual Juneteenth festival began long before grills were prepped for customers.

At Manual High School, a half mile east on East 26th Avenue, Juneteenth kicked off at 11 a.m. with its parade. This year’s theme was “The Wakanda Experience,” honoring Marvel’s box-office hit “Black Panther.” People lined both sides of the street as youth dance troupes and music groups, dressed in colorful African tunics, performed. Participants jumped out of line to greet friends on the sidewalks.

Attendees, however, also witnessed a heightened political presence. Gubernatorial candidates Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston and Jared Polis joined the parade, alongside several other congressional and state hopefuls.

“It’s great to be here celebrating the African-American community,” Kennedy said. “I graduated from Manual High School, so I’m coming home today.”

Campaign signs were plentiful, and volunteers asked onlookers to sign petitions…

Time for Washington to end the tradition of ‘pay to play’ politics

Time for Washington to end the tradition of 'pay to play' politics
© Getty Images

Congratulations, Mick Mulvaney. You put in stark relief what most Americans know in their gut: There’s a broken, “pay to play’ system in Washington. But it would be wrong to say you are the problem and leave it at that. That’s not really the case.

Nor should this “wretched” state of affairs be laid at the feet of lobbyists. The right for a redress of grievances is enshrined in our Constitution, and it’s an important right to exercise. There’s no constitutional imperative that requires lobbyists to be at the center of the current system that is up to its eyeballs in transactional giving.

I should know, I have been a registered lobbyist for decades. Even the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics, a trade group for lobbyists, bristled at Mulvaney’s candid admission, saying, “This should not be be the norm or how ‘business’ is done in Washington.”

Mulvaney’s words, “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you,” are emblematic of a larger sickness of a “pay to play” system of cash exchanging hands for access and policy outcomes. Members of Congress, especially those who aspire to leadership positions, spend too much time soliciting campaign contributions, and they hate it.

Average citizens, rightly so, have little to no confidence in our institutions, especially Congress. This isn’t really working for anyone except for those few moneyed interests who can play and win at the game, and the…