Trump ‘tricked’ into endorsement of ‘the swamp’ over his loyal #MAGA base

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    Conservative activists: Trump was ‘tricked’ into Calif. endorsement
    Immigration hardliners are ‘floored’ by the president’s backing of Congressman Paul Cook over the founder of the Minutemen.

    [​IMG]
    President Donald Trump’s move hasn’t gone over well with many of California’s most conservative grassroots loyalists.

    CUPERTINO, CA — President Donald Trump’s surprise move to issue an endorsement in California’s only Republican-on-Republican House race has stunned GOP grassroots activists who say he’s been “tricked” into siding with the “the swamp” against his loyal #MAGA base.

    Trump took to Twitter this week to endorse incumbent GOP Rep. Paul Cook — who represents one of California’s most conservative congressional districts — over former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Tea Party favorite and co-founder of the California Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigration border watch group.

    Donnelly, a 2012 GOP gubernatorial candidate from a suburban district near San Diego, had already earned the backing of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, and conservative stalwarts like Iowa Rep. Steve King and blogger Charlie Kirk.

    A loyal supporter of Trump in a state where the president’s approval ratings hover near 38 percent, Donnelly earlier this year led a crowd of several hundred #MAGA activists to the border to cheer on the president during a trip in which Trump viewed border wall prototypes — an effort to counter widespread demonstrations by immigration advocates and Democratic activists in the solidly blue state.

    Trump’s move hasn’t gone over well with many of California’s most conservative grassroots loyalists, who note that Donnelly more than a decade ago gained a following among the far right as a firebrand activist who helped form the Minutemen group. The author of a recent conservative call to action book entitled “Patriot Not Politician,’’ Donnelly made national news leading hundreds to the San Diego border to construct a “border wall” against illegal immigration in 2006 — years before Trump ever used the issue as a campaign lynchpin.

    “Tim Donnelly was Trump before Trump,’’ said Ed Riffle, a longtime GOP activist from Sunnyvale and a member of the California Republican Central Committee. “He was the guy who said we have to enforce the wall. It got him into politics.’’

    The move, he said, underscored the rift between California GOP’s conservative activist base and its more mainstream funders — a division that some say has contributed to the party’s withered voter registration in a state where it has now sunk to third-party status.

    “Trump’s enemies…and Tim’s enemies,’’ he said, “are the establishment Republicans.”

    Riffle’s wife, Laura Riffle — a Trump delegate and president of the Silicon Valley Republican Women’s Club, who welcomed Donnelly yesterday to address the organization — said she was “floored” by Trump’s endorsement, especially on the heels of the president’s snub of another Tea Party favorite, Assemblyman Travis Allen, during the June gubernatorial all-party primary. In that race, Trump endorsed John Cox, a little-known businessman who voted for libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016.

    “I think people push President Trump in the wrong direction,’’ she said. “I’m sure he relies on people who are surrounding him, some of them are #NeverTrumpers.”

    Donnelly himself said he was so shocked that he had to abruptly pull over by the side of the highway earlier this week when a caller read him Trump’s Tuesday tweet: “Paul Cook is a decorated Marine Corps veteran who loves and supports our military and vets. He is Strong on Crime, the Border and supports Tax Cuts for the people of California. He has my total and complete endorsement!”

    “President Trump just endorsed the swamp,’’ Donnelly told POLITICO when he heard the news. The snub was especially devastating, he said, for “a Trump supporter from day one, who not only endorsed him and campaigned for him,” even when many California Republicans put him at arm’s length.

    The former assemblyman said he is convinced the president “has been lied to by the RNC establishment old guard and tricked into a cut-and-paste endorsement” for Cook. He charged that the congressman is “a #NeverTrumper, who'd bet $5,000 that Trump would lose to Hillary [Clinton], and later publicly insulted the president in 2017, by saying, 'Trump should stop tweeting and start drinking.”’

    Donnelly insisted Trump is being mislead by Deep Staters and “Swamp” insiders determined to undermine him and control his agenda.

    “We are still living under a quiet tyranny....they have cut him off from the outside world,’’ he said. “I don’t believe he had any idea about that endorsement.”

    With just weeks until the midterm election, Cook — unlike many Republican candidates in other parts of the country who have touted Trump endorsements — hasn’t yet made mention of the president’s Twitter praise either on Twitter or on his official campaign page.

    
“He’s trying to make sure he won’t lose independents and Democrats,’’ Donnelly said.

    Cook’s campaign team didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Trump’s endorsement came just two weeks after Sen. Paul praised Donnelly on Twitter as a political outsider who would fight “to defend our God-given natural rights” and who “won’t become part of the Swamp.”

    But Tony Quinn, editor of the California Target Book, which handicaps races in the state, says the rift illustrates that in Cook’s 8th Congressional District — a suburban area where Republicans hold nearly a five-point voter registration advantage — Trump and Republicans are facing the same kind of challenges and pressures as Democrats from their more radical wings.

    The president’s endorsement in the race mirrors his actions in several other areas of the country, including in New York and Alabama, “where he has backed more mainstream candidates” in his party, Quinn said.

    So while many fault Trump and the GOP for various strategic moves in the midterm elections, Quinn said, this time it appears they’re “being smart in endorsing the stronger, more reliable and more establishment choice.”

    But activist Laura Riffle says that Donnelly’s snub may have less to do with strategy and more to do with money in a state party that has been strapped for cash and is barely breathing in a solidly blue state.

    “There is so much going on here that is corrupt,’’ she said. “The GOP establishment in California are a very few people who monetarily support the party. And what they say goes.”

    Conservative activists: Trump was ‘tricked’ into Calif. endorsement - POLITICO https://apple.news/AOoegKUzdSUqFu71VlKDcXw
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018

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