Inside the Beltway: What Reagan knew: A teachable moment for Donald Trump

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has dominated the campaign trail in terms of spectacle and good feelings; his jumbo rallies pulsate with excitement and immediacy.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has dominated the campaign trail in terms of spectacle and good feelings; his jumbo rallies pulsate with excitement and immediacy. The press follows every moment and the candidate himself seems indefatigable. But alas. Mr. Trump has had recent setbacks in the polls and the primaries, and must now grapple with the very real challenge of wooing delegates and adjusting to local voting protocols. That is the nature of the beast, though. Presidential politics, like Godzilla, are outsized and ferocious, demanding a specific set of weapons. Annoying, yes. Mr. Trump told Fox News on Monday, “The system is rigged. It’s crooked.”

But that’s the battlefield.

“I think Trump bought into his own new way of doing politics when in fact, there is nothing new under the sun. My guess is he was on a roll and simply thought he’d get the Republican nomination through speeches and rallies. The worst thing you can do in politics is believe your own newspaper clippings,” presidential historian Craig Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.

Mr. Shirley wrote an entire book on the robust and precisely organized tactics of Ronald Reagan when he challenged Gerald Ford in 1976. In the aftermath, Reagan himself declared that the race had turned the Grand Old Party of “pale pastels” into a national party of “bold colors.” Mr. Trump, perhaps, has some work to do.

“Now Trump is paying a heavy price. John Connally tried to win the nomination in 1980 the same way. In politics, you have to run the outside game and the inside game equally well. One won’t do it and in fact, they are closely intertwined. Some primary voters are motivated by message and others by access — but all are motivated by winning,” Mr. Shirley says. “In the end though, if Trump wins because he has to work the uncommitted delegates, he will be a better candidate for it.”

For the lexicon

“Trump bro”

— Explanation from CBS News reporter Jacqueline Alemany: “A common sight at Trump rallies around the country: Mostly white, they travel in packs and frequently wear Trump’s signature ‘Make America Great Again’ hats, pumping their fists and cheering loudly as protesters get hauled out by security. They document their political activity like any good millennial would, recording their outings on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. They are dudes, jocks, preps and just-your-average college and high school kids. But on the campaign trail, they’ve come to be known simply as Trump bros.”

They rule talk radio

Talker’s Magazine, the premier publication of the political talk radio realm, each year identified the “Heavy Hundred” — the top 100 talk radio hosts who are judged by their “courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness.” The magazine released its 2016 choices on Monday. Without further static, here are the top 20, and their network or syndicator of origin:

At No. 1, it’s Rush Limbaugh (Premiere Networks), followed by Sean Hannity (Premiere Networks), Dave Ramsey (The Dave Ramsey Show), Mark Levin (Westwood One), Glenn Beck (Premiere Networks), Howard Stern (Sirius XM), Michael Savage (Westwood One), Joe Madison (Sirius XM), Thom Hartmann (WYD Media), Mike Gallagher (Salem Radio Network), Bill Handel (KFI, Los Angeles), Todd Schnitt (WOR, New York City), John Kobylt and Kenneth Chiampou (“John & Ken”, KFI Los Angeles), Howie Carr (Howie Carr Radio), George Noory (Premiere Networks), Michael Berry (KTRH, Houston), Jim Bohannon (Westwood One), Lars Larson (Compass Media), Doug Stephan (Stephan Multimedia) and Laura Ingraham (Courtside Entertainment).

Find the rest of the top talkers here:

The vice presidential equation

Will formal GOP rivals turn into a viable 2016 ticket? Consider such combinations as Trump/Cruz, Cruz/Rubio, Cruz/Kasich and so on and so forth. Recent history indicates this may not be the most likely scenario for the GOP. A meticulous study by Minnesota University political professor Eric Ostermeier reveals that Republicans have selected a vice presidential candidate who was also a failed candidate for president only once since 1952 — and that was George H.W. Bush in 1980.

“Meanwhile, during this 16-cycle span, Democrats have selected five vice presidential nominees who came up short in their bids for the White House: Estes Kefauver in 1956, Lyndon Johnson in 1960, Walter Mondale in 1976, John Edwards in 2004 and Joe Biden in 2008,” says Mr. Ostermeier.

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