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Perry on Politics: Trumping the field

Published by James M. Perry on .

(Associated Press photo)(Associated Press photo)

Donald Trump -- yes, the legendary The Donald -- is tied for second in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire in his much-derided bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He's also running second to Jeb Bush nationally in a CNN-ORC poll.

"I am a person of faith," declared the wily campaign strategist Paul Begala, "and The Donald's entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor."

Significant numbers of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere don't appear to realize that Mr. Trump is a blowhard self-promoting billionaire who believes that Mexicans crossing into the United States "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." Most of them, of course, are no such thing. They're motivated the same way his grandfather, Friedrich Drumph, was when he and his wife emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1885, looking for a better, happier life. Mr. Trump's comments about Mexicans caused such outrage among Latinos and others that many of his corporate partners dumped him.

His connections to world of golfing, though, seem to be standing firm. He owns 18 golf courses worldwide, including Turnberry in Scotland, site of the legendary "duel in the sun" in the British Open in 1977, when Tom Watson edged Jack Nicklaus by a single stroke. It is now called -- what else? -- Trump Turnberry.

His golf courses, he told John Barton in Golf Digest last year, represent a small percentage of his business ventures. "You know," he told Golf Digest, "I own buildings. I'm a builder. Nobody can build like I can. Nobody.

"I'm huge," he said.

For years, golf, which was born in Scotland centuries ago on primitive courses open to everyone, has been battling the notion that these days only the rich can take four hours on Saturday afternoons to hack their way around 18 holes. Mr. Trump thinks that's just fine. "Let golf be elitist," he told Golf Digest. "I feel golf should be an aspirational game. People should come to golf, golf shouldn't come to them." In other words, you can begin playing the game after you've made your first million or two.

Those are the people he wants to welcome at his luxury golf courses, all of which, he told Golf Digest, are simply great. Why, he said, his Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, near Philadelphia, is as good as its neighbor, Pine Valley, "if not better." Pine Valley, of course, is often rated as the best golf course in the United States (I can't argue with that. I played the course years ago and found it unbearably difficult). Golf Digest rates Mr. Trump's course as the 18th-best course in New Jersey. The course, he said, is sold out. Golf Digest called the pro shop and discovered they could tee off the very next day.

"You're always selling," Golf Digest told Mr. Trump, in this amazingly revealing interview, "always promoting yourself."

"You know," he replied, "I do great work, and I know people that do great work and they're not acknowledged. Frank Sinatra was a good friend of mine, and I know people that sing better than Frank Sinatra, but nobody knows who they are. With me, they know who I am. So I believe you can do great things, but if people don't know about it, what difference does it make?"

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton walks in the Fourth of July Parade in Gorham, New Hampshire, July 4, 2015. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton walks in the Fourth of July Parade in Gorham, New Hampshire, July 4, 2015. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)

1) Reporters were kept away from Hillary Clinton while she walked in a Fourth of July parade in New Hampshire, something that's been par for the course in Ms. Clinton's campaign so far. Sure, it can seem excessive that people in the media are keeping track of how many questions we've been permitted to ask Ms. Clinton since she announced – we might be up to double digits by now – but we have to wonder: Does this silence help the perception that the Clintons have something to hide? But fear not, boys and girls – apparently, that's about to change.

2) And speaking of media access: Members of the White House press corps continue to be unhappy about the access they have to President Obama. Which makes this weekend's incident – the president snuck off a golf course and was hustled back to Andrews Air Force Base before the press pool knew he had left. Maybe ditching the press as often as possible was one of the items on Mr. Obama's Rhymes-With-Bucket-List?

3) The claim by Gov. Tom Wolf that he vetoed the legislature's liquor privatization bill because it would lead to higher prices and less selection for consumers doesn't make any sense. And we're not the only ones who think so.

4) An investigation of Allentown's contracting procedures probably wouldn't make much of a difference to folks here in Pittsburgh, but it could mean problems for the U.S. Senate candidacy of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

United States defenders Becky Sauerbrunn (4) and Meghan Klingenberg (22) celebrate with an American flag after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. (Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY)United States defenders Becky Sauerbrunn (4) and Meghan Klingenberg (22) celebrate with an American flag after defeating Japan in the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at BC Place Stadium. United States won 5-2. (Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY)

5) A Women's World Cup win for the United States – and Pittsburgh native Meghan Klingenberg – on Fourth of July weekend? It gets no better than that.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, speaks to members of the media at the state Capitol in Harrisburg Pa. Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Chris Knight/Associated Press)

1) After the least surprising veto in state history, Gov. Tom Wolf and Harrisburg Republicans are starting all over on a state budget.

2) One component of those discussions likely will be privatization of booze sales in the state. House and Senate Republicans agreed upon a plan to give those who hold licenses to sell beer to pay new fees to expand sales to liquor and wine. Mr. Wolf has said he's not in favor of privatization – and the union that represents those who work for the current booze monopoly expects Gov. Go Time to keep his promise – but this could be a hefty bargaining chip for the broader budget talks.

trumpsuit

3) Today's Trumpdate: As promised, the Trumpernator has filed a hefty lawsuit against Spanish-language TV network Univision for dumping the broadcast of the Trump-owned Miss USA pageant coming up later this month because of the Republican presidential candidate's remarks about Mexicans being "rapists" and "criminals." But fear not, pageant fans; the Reelz network – yes, that's apparently a real thing – will broadcast the July 12 pageant. But that's not our favorite bit of Donald Trump news today. For that, we have to thank our own Tracie Mauriello, who shared the above photo on Facebook. Think Mr. Trump has any idea what irony is?

4) We've written previously about Chris Christie's plummeting approval numbers in his home state, but this is something else entirely: "Hey, Gov. Christie – don't let the door hit your substantial behind on the way out."

5) Happy Fourth of July Weekend, boys and girls. If you're headed to Chicago, know that we're filled with envy.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Yvonne Edmunds, of Pittsburgh, making signs as groups concerned with funding of education, wages, and cuts to social programs set up tents on the steps of the state Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, June 29, 2015. Pennsylvania's large Republican majorities in the House and Senate on Monday went through the procedural moves needed to set the stage for a wave of floor votes on the budget and other major legislation despite the specter of looming vetoes at the hand of the state's Democratic governor. (Daniel Zampogna/PennLive.com via AP)Yvonne Edmunds, of Pittsburgh, making signs as groups concerned with funding of education, wages, and cuts to social programs set up tents on the steps of the state Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, June 29, 2015. Pennsylvania's large Republican majorities in the House and Senate on Monday went through the procedural moves needed to set the stage for a wave of floor votes on the budget and other major legislation despite the specter of looming vetoes at the hand of the state's Democratic governor. (Daniel Zampogna/PennLive.com via Associated Press)

1) Hey, look, we have a state budget! Or, we have a state budget – the one initially proposed in the House – until Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes at least portions of it. And if that portends a protracted fiscal standoff in Harrisburg, what happens to the folks – employees, school districts, etc. – who rely on state funds?

2) If you had asked us just after the 2012 presidential election about the chances of Chris Christie to win the Republican nomination this time around, we would have called him a favorite. Since then though, the New Jersey governor – who announced his candidacy this morning – has had to deal with the thing about the George Washington Bridge, going to Dallas Cowboys games with Jerry Jones picking up the tab and a constituency in his home state that seems to be growing weary of the tough-guy act. If you're asking us now? We'd politely posit that he's a long shot.

3) Greece is teetering on the brink of financial disaster, and Greeks in Pittsburgh are concerned.

4) As the end of its current session approaches, the United States Supreme Court issued several new rulings Monday, including a couple – the approval of Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail and a rejection of President Obama's executive order on mercury in power plants – that should remind us that this isn't a liberal court by any stretch. But that side got a couple boosts as well on Monday, as the court moved to remove politics from Congressional redistricting and allowed Texas abortion clinics to remain open while a lower court rules on that state's controversial new law that would force nearly all of them to close.

5) Donald Trump says the Mexicans who are entering the United States illegally are "criminals" and "rapists." He is then surprised whenUnivision and then NBC cuts loose the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, both of which are owned by Mr. Trump. We've read in a couple different places that the loudmouthed presidential candidate has learned a lesson about consequences; frankly, we doubt Mr. Trump has learned a thing.

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Toomey's up with first ad

Published by James O'Toole on .

pat cap

Fifteen months before he will face voters in the November 2016 general election, Sen. Pat Toomey is airing the first television commercial of his re-election campaign beginning Tuesday.

The Republican's ad highlights his efforts to enact legislation designed to make it easier for schools to identify sex offenders among their potential employees. Mr. Toomey has co-sponsored a measure with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that would prod school districts to conduct more extensive background checks on employees and volunteers who work with students.

The 30-second commercial includes a narrator's description of Mr. Toomey's work on the child predator bill alternating with a woman's expressions of gratitude to the freshman Republican for his work on the proposal. Initially, it will run in the Pittsburgh market only, but his campaign said it could appear in other areas of the state in the future. The campaign would not disclose the planned extent of the ad buy, but a spokesman said it would be, "a substantial effort to get the word out.''

The early appearance of the ad underscores the financial strength of the Toomey campaign five years after he won his seat in a hotly contested 51 percent - 49 percent victory over Democrat Joe Sestak. It also suggests, and aims to counteract, one potential vulnerability of the candidate -- his relatively middling poll numbers with female voters compared to his much stronger showing among male voters.

In the ad, a narrator's voice state's that, "Last year, over 400 school employees were identified as sex offenders.''

The ad switches to a shot of Kristen Pfautz Woolley, identified as a trauma therapist from York, who says, "As a survivor of child abuse and as a mother, I am very grateful for Sen. Pat Toomey's leadership on this very important issue.''

After the narrator state that the senator "is leading a national fight against predators in schools,'' Ms. Woolley says, "I am proud to work with Sen. Pat Toomey to help change our laws and to make this world safer for our children.''