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Journal Editorial Report

How Trump can win the Electoral College

This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," July 16, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  I found the leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous, really prosperous society for all Americans.  Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  Welcome to the special edition of the "Journal: Editorial Report," as we count down to next week's Republican convention in Cleveland.  I'm Paul Gigot.

And that was Donald Trump earlier today appearing for the first time with his vice presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  Trump announced the decision on Twitter Friday, ending weeks of speculation, and eliciting an immediate response from Hillary Clinton's campaign, which called Pence the most extreme V.P. pick in a generation.  

Joining me from Cleveland, Ohio, is Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and columnist, Kim Strassel; and here in New York, columnists, James Toronto and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.  

So, Dan, you saw the performance with Donald Trump.  Hard to imagine a bigger difference in political styles.  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  Paul, there's a phrase called return to normalcy.

(LAUGHTER)

And I think we just saw a return to normalcy in the Trump campaign.  And they really did need that.  There's a swath of Republican voters who are disturbed about Trump and would like to see something steady out there.  They're going to get that in Mike Pence.  I thought his presentation was terrific.  

I'm just going to add one more thing.  Some people might think Mike Pence is a little boring.  Don't think that.  Pence started out as a radio talk show host.  

GIGOT:  Talk radio, yeah.

HENNINGER:  A radio talk show host.  He knows how to perform, he knows how to speak, he's very articulate.  I think Trump really hit one here with Mike Pence.  

GIGOT:  Kim, so you and I both have known Mike Pence for many years.  He's a likeable guy.  He has a certain Midwest warmth, if I can speak to my home region there.  He also has -- he's not a scull for a social conservative. He's a persuader.  And that I like.  What else do you think he brings to the ticket?  

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you know, if you are running for president, you want a candidate that helps you, does not hurt you, so there isn't much that hurts Donald Trump about him, and that's a good thing for starters.  Look, this is a governor with a good economic track record and that is going to help Donald Trump out there making that economic argument, which is one of his potential strengths.  As you said, this is an evangelical, who talks very openly about that, but in a warm way, in a positive way.  That's going to help Donald Trump with a constituency that he really, really needs.  This is also a former House member, who knows his way through Congress, has the respect of the so-called establishment politicians out there.  

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Oh, no, really?  The establishment?  Oh, no!

(LAUGHTER)

STRASSEL:  But he's going to be -- potentially be able to help Donald Trump and guide him in terms of questions of how Congress works and how you work with Congress and those members.  

GIGOT:  And that governing message, Mary, is important for Donald Trump in particular as an outsider, as he said.  

MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST:  I agree with Kim that he does bring a lot of things to the table that are calming for normal people.  But I also think that there's a possibility of a lot of undercurrents of conflict here
--

GIGOT:  Between the two candidates?  

O'GRADY:  Yes, because Mike Pence has been very -- very much of a free trader.  

GIGOT:  Voted for every single free trade agreement that was presented to him while he was in Congress, and there were a lot of them.  

O'GRADY:  And he's already in the first 24 hours started to say that he would be OK with renegotiating trade agreements.  I think that's problematic because I don't believe Mike Pence actually believes that's good for the United States.  

GIGOT:  So he's accommodating Donald Trump.  But, look, Mary, if you accept the ticket, you've got to accommodate the fellow on the top of the ticket. I would assume they had these conversations.  I'm a free trader like you but this is what you need to do if you're going to be V.P.  

O'GRADY:  That's true, but on the other hand, there's -- it's not possible to go through the next four months and not land on one side or the other. Either Mike Pence has to say that he renounces his trade views and sides with Donald Trump or he has to somehow try to convince people that free trade is good and that this is just going to be to be a moderate --

GIGOT:  I'll wager that he says, I thought they were good ideas at the time but they haven't worked out quite as well as we had hoped they would and we can renegotiate some of the other ones.  

James, what are some of the other downsides for Mike Pence.  

JAMES TARANTO, COLUMNIST:  I suppose the biggest downside is, as governor of Indiana, he had this controversy last year about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill that, of course, Bill Clinton signed, the equivalent bill on a federal level in 1993, but suddenly the left is against religious freedom because they want to force everyone to go along with same-sex marriage.  Pence was completely unprepared for the backlash against that and did not handle that situation well so he's going to get beat up by the Democrats a little bit.  Trump had better hope that that prepared him for it.  

GIGOT:  Kim, what about the way this was handled with all the leaks for a couple of days and then the leaks and sources telling reporters that, oh, well, Donald Trump was going to change his mind and waiting until the very last minute on Friday to be able to do this.  Any lasting damage from that?  

STRASSEL:  I don't think lasting damage.  Look, this is a Trump campaign and you kind of expect stuff like this to happen.  There are leaks.  It's clearly not a very tight operation in that way.  And also I think a little credit where it's due, I mean, this was always going to be top when the terror attack happened in Nice, it would have been inappropriate for Donald Trump to plow ahead and have a celebratory unveiling of his pick.  They were a little bit buffeted by outside sources.  It's out now and I think it will be fine.  

GIGOT:  The other thing, Dan, we're hearing about is some of the most ardent Trump supporters who care about immigration are a little upset that Mike Pence isn't as hard core and hasn't been in the past as Donald Trump and they view this as a sellout if you read their Twitter accounts.  Do you think that matters at all?  

HENNINGER:  No, I don't think in this election it's going to have much impact.  It's not a non-issue but I think it's a secondary issue.  I would say the same thing about trade.  Mike Pence was on FOX Friday night and he said that he's a free trader but you've got a negotiator running at the top of the ticket, we're going to negotiate bilateral free trade treaties.  At that level of detail, I don't think it matters too much.  He did say today in that acceptance, twice, he talked about the importance of the Supreme Court.  I think what Mike Pence is going to do is be coherence and clarity to the Trump agenda.  He'll always be on subject and on point, in a way Donald Trump sometimes is not.  

GIGOT:  All right, Dan, thanks.

Up next, heading into next week's GOP convention, some new polls suggest the race for the White House is tightening both nationally and in some key swing states.  Karl Rove will take us through the numbers when we come back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  The race for the White House appears to be tightening ahead of the conventions with some new polls showing Donald Trump closing the gap with Hillary Clinton.  Nationally, Trump has pulled even with Clinton in a new CBS/New York Times poll after trailing her by six points a month ago. And the latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows a close race in the critical swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.  

Wall Street Journal columnist and Fox News contributor, Karl Rove, joins us with more.  

Karl, good to see you.  Thanks for being here.  

KARL ROVE, COLUMNIST & FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Thanks, Paul.

GIGOT:  Donald Trump said today this was a unity pick.  That's what he was looking for.  Do you think that was his motivation, and is it going to unify the party?  

ROVE:  Well, I think it will help consolidate the party.  Pence gives some reassurance to economic and social conservatives.  And I think it was a solid and durable choice.  Pence is a good man.  I got to know him when I was at the White House under President Bush.  Didn't agree with us all the time but he was a straight shooter, thoughtful demeanor, an excellent communicator.  And I thought he was interesting.  He was almost a universal choice to enter the leadership in 2006.  It was, in part, because in a very short period of time, three terms, he had gained the confidence and trust of so many of his colleagues and their admiration and friendship.  So he's a solid guy.  And I think it is a good move by Trump.  

GIGOT:  And this was when he was in the House.  He gave you guys some heartburn sometimes.  I know he voted against the Medicare Part D expansion.  

ROVE:  Yeah.  

GIGOT:  And that was a close vote, so that must have been some heartburn for you.  

ROVE:  Well, but you know what, he was straight up right at the beginning. He made a principled statement of opposition to it.  I disagreed with it. I wouldn't call it an expansion.  What I'd call it is a Medicare reform because this set up -- this is the first instance in which we've used, in essence, a voucher program, if you will, premium support in a social program of the government --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  OK. I know.  You and I argued about that at the time.  

ROVE:  Exactly.  

GIGOT:  We don't need to re-litigate this.  We're talking about Mike Pence.  

ROVE:  Right.

GIGOT:  But I want to ask you about particularly when you're looking at a V.P. choice who disagrees on some big issues with the gentleman at the top of the ticket, the presidential candidate, and Pence does on trade and he has in the past on immigration, even on foreign policy with Donald Trump. Pence is a very robust American presence in the world supporter.  What do you -- what advice to you give the campaign to have those differences not bother you for the next four months?  

ROVE:  Well, my sense is, look, Pence is a practical politician, so he's not going to go out of his way to emphasize his differences.  And frankly, the fact that he's on the ticket and that he has the views that you expressed give me a little bit of confidence that Trump is open to new ideas and to framing and strengthening his opinion.  You know, I took this as a sign that, look, Trump is not a consistent ideologue.  This is not a guy who caught up and read Hayek and studied von Mises and --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Unlike you and I.  

(LAUGHTER)

ROVE:  Exactly.  So the fact that he would pick somebody that he thinks he has good personal chemistry with, whom he believes will help unite the party, means if he gets elected, he will have him in his councils, probably having lunch with him once a week privately, as most presidents have done with their vice presidents, somebody who is a consistent principled conservative, and I think that's reassuring to the Republican base.  

Trump's problem, if you look at the ABC/Washington Post and NBC/Wall Street Journal --

GIGOT:  Right.

ROVE:  -- and FOX, one of the problems he's got, at Fox he was 74 percent of Republicans, and NBC/"Washington Post," he was at 77 percent of Republicans.  He needs to be above 90 percent.  Now, the vice president doesn't make a big impact upon the nationwide vote, but the vice president can help in the consolidation of -- directly help in the consolidation of the party faithful behind the ticket.  

GIGOT:  Where do you think the race stands right now?  Is it really tied as "The New York Times" poll said?  

ROVE:  I'd say this.  I'd say if you take all these polls and average them together, either in the Real Clear Politics average or the "Huffington Post" average you'll see a similar pattern.  That is, in late June, Hillary Clinton peaked and began to move down.  The movement that we've had in these polls, both the national polls and in the state polls, is primarily Clinton moving down, not Trump moving up.  Take a look at those four polls.  

GIGOT:  That's the way I see it, too.  

ROVE:  Yeah.  These are four states that came out this week.  Florida Quinnipiac, 42 Trump, 39 Clinton; 37 Trump, 24, in Maris.  But if you look at it in each one of these polls, down eight for Clinton, down five since the last time Marist was in the field about five weeks ago.  In Ohio, in Quinnipiac, Clinton was down one, but in Marist, she was down nine from about six weeks ago.  Same in the others.  And in the -- nationally, you have the same sort of pattern.  

The second thing I'd point out, Paul, is that the large number of undecideds.  Take a look at CBS/"The New York Times," 40-40, 20 percent undecided.  I looked at all of the polls run in July of 2012 and the average undecided was 8.5 percent.  Earlier this week, it was 16 percent. And with the latest round of polls, it's close to 17 percent undecideds. That's a pretty --

GIGOT:  Does that --

ROVE:  We haven't seen it that close since 1992.  

GIGOT:  So this race is winnable by Donald Trump, but he's got to improve his positives.  

ROVE:  Right.

GIGOT:  He's got to make people feel more comfortable with him in the Oval Office.  Does that mean he has to devote this convention -- and we only have a little time here, Karl -- does he have to devote this convention to improving his image?  

ROVE:  Absolutely.  But he's got two things to do.  He's got to find the right mix in advocating an optimistic and positive agenda that causes people to say, I'm part of what he sees in the future of America, at the same time, keeping the pressure on Hillary.  He missed a big opportunity, in my view, week before last, in his first appearance after Comey lacerated Hillary Clinton, he gave a speech devoted to defending himself on the Star of David and the tweet, and not a good use of his time.  

GIGOT:  All right, Karl, we'll be watching.  Thanks for being here.  

ROVE:  You bet.  Thank you.  

GIGOT:  When we come back, party leaders deal a blow to the Never-Trump movement ahead of next week's Republican convention.  Was it a fatal one or should we still expect some fireworks in Cleveland?  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Never-Trump, they said, Never-Trump, Never-Trump.  Oh, we're going to win.  They got crushed.  And they got crushed immediately.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  The Never-Trump movement suffered a major blow late this week when the rules committee voted down a proposal to add a so-called "conscience clause" that would have freed delegates to vote for their preferred delegate on the first ballot and instead pushed through a rule binding them to their state's primary and caucus results.  

Kim Strassel is in Cleveland following all the action.  She's back, along with Dan Henninger, James Taranto and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.  

Kim, you were following this and it made for a late night Thursday.  Why did they crush this, to borrow Donald Trump's word?  

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST:  Well, they were crushed, although it's worth noting that it was done in a fairly low-class fashion.  The party leaders managed to insert these things, as you said, and then crush that movement largely by keeping the rules committee out of session all day, bringing it back late at night, misdirecting many delegates about when the votes were going to happen, not allowing a number of them to speak, and so they got their way.  And the reason why, look, Reince Priebus and Donald Trump's campaign wanted a no-drama convention, they wanted to take this off the table, and they did manage to do it.  I think the interesting question is whether or not the manner in which they did, if it doesn't cause them some real blowback over this next week, just because there are hundreds of delegates here who are not yet convinced by Donald Trump.  And what you'd like to have seen them do is invite them in, ask them for their votes, and instead of kind of crowing over their defeat.  

GIGOT:  Gracious winner not in the Trump vocabulary.  

Well, what do you think?  

I'm going to Mary here, Dan, just a second.  

What do you think?  Should they have been more gracious?  

O'GRADY:  Of course, they should have.  As you mentioned, Donald Trump is now talking about party unity and you don't get it with those kinds of dirty tricks that Kim is talking about.  So going forward, they're going to have to come out with something I think that's more positive and unifying in the sense of bringing these people -- people who, by the way, Mike Pence represents, people who believe in trade, who have a positive view of America's role in the world, who are opposed to the kind of isolationist talk that he's been drum-beating with through most of the primary.  They have to shift this if he really truly wants party unity.  

GIGOT:  You were critical all along, James, of the Never-Trumpers.  What do you think of this here?  

TARANTO:  Well, I think it's true that the Trump could have been more magnanimous if he had it in him to be more magnanimous so I agree with that point.  

I think from the standpoint of the Republican Party it's probably better that they handled it this way.  

GIGOT:  You want no drama next week?  

TARANTO:  Well, as a journalist, I was looking forward to the open convention, but the Republican Party doesn't run its operations according to what's in our interests.  

From the standpoint of the Republican Party, this probably was not going to go anywhere anyway, I suspect, because Donald Trump needed about 350 delegates who maybe weren't personally loyal to him.  I suspect a lot of the delegates would take the view that it's better to follow the views of the voters who did, after all, select Trump, according to the rules then in place.  So I think this would have died on the floor where it needs majority support, and it probably makes sense from the Republican standpoint to have it happen behind closed doors more or less.  

GIGOT:  Dan, if you look at what the Clinton campaign, the case they're making against Donald Trump, it basically comes down to you are temperamentally and every other way unfit to be president.  So does this -- is this the main job of Trump going into the convention, that he needs to show the American public -- and his negatives are very high -- that he is, in fact, not what the Democrats say?  Particularly, ahead of the Democratic convention where they are going to dump on him an attack machine, attacks on his business and his person you haven't seen ever in politics perhaps.  

HENNINGER:  Yeah, that's right.  Both Hillary and Trump are trying to pull votes from the other side.  I think the big problem here, Paul, is not so much the Never-Trump vote or even the never Hillary vote, it's the never vote at all.  The deal is that you've got all of these Republican factions, such as Kasich, Cruz and Jeb Bush, all of his supporters.  John Kasich says he will not even appear inside the Quicken Loans arena.  Ted Cruz will give a talk, but it was Cruz people who were on the rules committee trying to get a conscience vote.  And Jeb Bush is very alienated.  Donald Trump needs all of those voters to turn out and vote for him and work for him in this election.  I think it was beyond non-magnanimous for him to say he crushed them, as he did this afternoon.  I don't think that helps him at all.  He's got to bring those people inside the tent.  And this convention is the time to do it.  

GIGOT:  I think we're going to see a Ted Cruz speech, the first of 20, when he gives it this coming week.  

What else are you looking for, Mary?  

O'GRADY:  The irony of all ironies is that the establishment politicians may be the ones who make Donald Trump make this convention successful, people like Paul Ryan, Scott Walker.  Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist from California, is going to speak at the convention, and so is Mike Mukasey.  Those guys --  

GIGOT:  Former attorney general.  

O'GRADY:  Yes.  They can help Trump sort of make this look like a more normal group of people.  

GIGOT:  All right, Mary, thank you.  

Much more to come on this special edition of the "Journal: Editorial Report" as we follow late-breaking news from around the globe.  ISIS claims credit for Thursday's terror attack in Nice and chaos reigns in Turkey following last night's failed coup attempt.  

The very latest when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  ISIS is claiming credit for Thursday's terror attack in Nice, France, that left 84 dead and injured over 200 others at a Bastille Day fireworks celebration.  French prosecutors say five people are now in custody, including the ex-wife of the attacker, described as a 31-year-old Tunisian-born loner.  

This, as Turkish President Recep Erdogan vows revenge following last night's bloody coup attempt.  That left close to 200 dead and a thousand injured and plunged a key NATO ally into chaos.  

We're back with Dan Henninger and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.  And Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stevens, joins us.  

Bret, it looks like the coup failed, but Erdogan, the president, had been heading into an authoritarian direction already.  Probably, this will accelerate that.

BRET STEVENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST:  I think you'll see a massive purge.  Erdogan has been conducting purges almost the moment he become president.  

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  could this have been a trigger for that, you think?  

STEVENS:  That, it might have been.  But go back.  He's been in power now for about 14 years.  He's been purging the seculars in the military.  He's been purging his enemies, the so-called Gulenists, a milder Islamist faction.  This is going to be an occasion to further purge the military of his enemies.  Whether secular or Gulenists, we'll find out exactly who was behind this.  You'll see more authoritarianism and more discontent bubbling out of Turkey.  

GIGOT:  What does it mean for our alliance with Turkey in the war against the Islamic State?  

STEVENS:  It will be much more difficult.  Just with the bombing in the Istanbul airport, Turkey is under attack from Islamic State.  Now you'll see the Ankara government trying to consolidate its power.  It's going to occupy a lot of energy that might otherwise go with dealing with regional crises.  

GIGOT:  I assume that if the military is preoccupied with purges and fighting one another internally and the officer corps is being cut in half or a third, whatever it is, that won't have the focus of resources to apply to the Islamic State.  

STEVENS:  That's true.  This is going to leave Turkey much weaker in every respect, much less capable as serving as a West bulwark or Islamic bulwark, depending on your point of view, against what's happening in Syria and what's happening in Iraq.  

GIGOT:  Dan, do you think this is the consequence of -- at all, of President Obama's attempt to sort of take the U.S. back from the Middle East?  He tried to have a good relationship with Erdogan early on, but it soured in recent years.  

HENNINGER:  Yeah, I think his attempt to minimize the U.S. presence in the Middle East has led to incidents like this.  I mean, it's not as though the United States had to solve all the problems of the Middle East, but it had to be more deeply engaged, say, in the war against Islamic State.  Erdogan was kind of ambivalent about fighting Islamic State.  And I think if we had been leaning forward more than this, it might not have destabilized the situation to the point where you get a coup like this, which is probably going to make his relationship with NATO dysfunctional for at least a year.  

GIGOT:  If he becomes more authoritarian, it's going to be harder for NATO allies and the United States to support Turkey.  

Let's turn to Nice and the terror attack there, another one in France. What does this tell us about -- and the Islamic State has now claimed credit for the truck driver.  Other arrests.  What does this tell you about the state of the threat in Europe?  

O'GRADY:  Well, I think the biggest takeaway here is that France was employing all the resources it's had to try to avoid another one of these after the Paris attack.  You can see that playing defense is not sufficient to deal with this problem.  The West is going to have to go on offense. And the strategy of just trying to use domestic intelligence and domestic barriers, walls, stopping migrants and so forth is not enough.  

GIGOT:  This fellow was not on the terror list, even though -- which is disconcerting, because it means that he's flown completely under the pretty wide French intelligence staff.  

O'GRADY:  Well, I think what we already know is that the gains that ISIS makes and great victories, whether they're in Iraq or terrorist victories, are inspiring for even people who are just malcontents.  So whether he was directly connected with ISIS -- they are now taking credit for this -- is not clear.  But, you know, there are lots of loners and losers who might be inspired by something like that.  Again, we have to show that ISIS can be defeated and that we are going to defeat them in order to reduce this amount of attacks.  

STEVENS:  All of Europe is suffering the hangover from its Obama enthusiasm.  You think about eight years, Obama, the most popular politician.  What they didn't know is that Obama's strategic retreat from the world would end up affecting them because the United States is not providing the security it once did in the Levant, in North Africa.  We don't have a Sixth Fleet to provide maritime defense against terrorists coming out of --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  And we also have done nothing in Syria, which is the radiating Chernobyl, as David Petraeus once put it, and that's what spread the refugees into Europe.  

But there's a question, Bret, as ISIS loses territory in Syria and Iraq, some people are saying their operatives will strike more often around the world just to show that they're still in the game.  Do you think we're going to see more in the next four or five months?  

STEVENS:  Look, just think about events since Orlando, barely a month ago. The bombings in Istanbul, in Dhaka, in Jetta (ph), in Nice.  Don't be surprised if in the next week we have another massive terror attack.  And what I fear most, Paul, is this a kind of process of defining deviancy down, as Pat Moynihan once said.  We're going to start becoming accustomed to the scale of these atrocities.  Manuel Valls, the prime minister of France, said, very unfortunately, I think France is just going to have to get used to these kinds of attacks.  Not getting used to it is the job of Western states.  

GIGOT:  But, briefly, will populations accept that?  

STEVENS:  I don't think they will.  

GIGOT:  I don't think so either.  

Still ahead, he may be closing in on Hillary Clinton in the polls, but for Donald Trump, the road to 270 is still a long one.  My next guest has some ideas on how he can get there.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  270, that's the number of Electoral College votes needed to become president.  And although Donald Trump appears to be closing the polling gap with Hillary Clinton heading into this week's Republican convention, his path to 270 is still a long one.  But my next guest has some ideas about how Trump can get there.  

John Brabender is a Republican strategist and advisor to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.  

John, thanks for coming in on a Saturday.  Appreciate it.  

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Happy to be here.

GIGOT:  All right.  So the conventional wisdom about a presidential race, particularly for a Republican this year, you pick the swing states you think you can win, focus all of our resources and time on those states and that's how you win it to eke out 274 or 280 or 290.  You say that's wrong with Donald Trump, why?  

BRABENDER:  I laugh every day because we're all still talking about conventional wisdom.  You would think we'd wake up and understand this is not the quintessential race.  Things have changed because Donald Trump is not the quintessential Republican nominee.  In a strange way, that actually gives Republicans more hope than maybe they would have had.  Look, we lost the last two elections for president.  

GIGOT:  Right.  

BRABENDER:  I thought Romney actually ran a good campaign.  You know, and we lost.  And so what Trump does is he actually resets the entire board. Instead of us all, of a sudden, looking and challenging in states like Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, which have been tough states for us, he brings other states into play that are bigger states with more votes for us, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.  And I think that it's because these are people who feel disenfranchised from the political process.  They feel both parties have let them down, and they like what they're hearing from Trump.  

GIGOT:  John, who are those voters?  Are we talking about -- we hear a lot about the white working class and we hear about whites without college degrees.  But if you look at the counties of Pennsylvania, a state you know well, that's loaded with Republicans with college degrees, and Donald Trump is not performing as well with those Republican voters.  Can he get enough of those unconventional Republican voters or people who stayed home last time to offset those losses in the collar counties of Philadelphia?  

BRABENDER:  That's the whole paradox of the Donald Trump campaign is that they have to struggle to get what should be some of their natural votes, you know, moderate Republican women voters, where they're now struggling with.  While on the other hand, they're offsetting with some Democrat blue collar votes.  In a state like Pennsylvania, he still has to do well with the collar counties in Philadelphia.  Now, I will say this, one good symptom that we saw in the Republican primary is Donald Trump won every single county in Pennsylvania, which means he not only got the conservative middle vote of the state, a lot of the more moderate votes in those collar counties, Bucks County, Montgomery, Delaware, and so forth.  Donald Trump won those as well.  He still has to do better, and like Romney, he has to win among married women for him to win nationwide.  

GIGOT:  You said he needs to run an unconventional race.  You said here are the votes in the states he needs to target.  What else does he need to do?  
Right now, if you look at the money, Hillary Clinton has, the advantage there, you look at the organization advantage she has, Trump will not catch up with her on that.  What does he need to do to offset that?  

BRABENDER:  First of all, I would argue that, again, that's the context of how campaigns used to run.  Now there's so much free air time that people get to know the candidate so intimately that advertising doesn't matter as much in a presidential race as it probably does in a Senate or congressional race, number one.  Number two is, because of digital, the Internet, social, all those type of things, what the party used to do, you can now do online, so you don't need as much money for those types of things.  

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Don't you need turnout operations, John?  You've got to get your sister and your brother and your brother-in-law to the polls.  

BRABENDER:  You do.  But what I believe is, first of all, Donald Trump doesn't have a lot of that in place, and it's too late to do it.  What he does have is a large megaphone every time he goes on television.  He needs to motivate people to make this a more emotional campaign, something where they want to get up and they're going to show up and vote.  And I do think we have a very motivated electorate out there.  That's how Donald Trump beat 16 credible candidates for president --

(CROSSTALK)

BRABENDER:  -- is that it's a different type of election.  

GIGOT:  You mentioned Pennsylvania as a key state to watch.  Obviously, Ohio is always a key state to watch.  Republicans have to win it.  What other states do you think Trump needs to win to prevail?  

BRABENDER:  I think, ultimately, it's going to come down to Florida.  I think getting a combination of all those other states and putting them together is much more challenging.  We're already seeing things that are happening.  I think, number one, the irony, maybe of all, is Rubio getting into the Senate race is going to help Trump a lot.  I think it's going to motivate some Republican voters to show up and add enthusiasm.  Number two, we saw right after the Comey come out, Hillary's unfavorables started to go up in a number of states, specifically in Florida.  So it shows the volatility of them.  If they're unsure about Hillary Clinton now in July, that's not good for her.  She was supposed to be the stable safe vote.  And so I don't think Florida is out of the equation.  And if somehow Trump can win Ohio, win Pennsylvania, win Florida, win the Romney states from last time, he's now your president of the United States.  

GIGOT:  All right, John Brabender, thanks for sharing that.  

When we come back, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg courting controversy with her words about Donald Trump.  She now says she regrets those remarks but has the damage already been done?  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  To have done that was an absolute disgrace to the Supreme Court.  And she owes the country, our country, an apology.  And she owes the Supreme Court of the United States an apology.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT:  Donald Trump this week responding to recent comments made by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  In an interview with CNN, the 83-year-old justice called Trump a faker, and told The New York Times, quote, "I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as president."  After a bipartisan outcry, Ginsburg released this statement on Thursday: "On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them.  Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office.  In the future, I will be more circumspect."  

We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, James Taranto and Bret Stevens.  

Dan, I don't think anybody is surprised that Ruth Ginsburg is not going to vote for Donald Trump, but why was this so over the line for a justice to weigh in on a presidential campaign?  

Well, in any election campaign, it's just inappropriate for a justice to get so involved in politics.  Judges by and large have been circumspect. Antonin Scalia was a very outspoken justice of the Supreme Court and by and large circumspect.  Anthony Scalia was a very outspoken justice but never went over the line like this and talked about particular candidates. Having said, that Paul, I'm not sure this is going to be much of an issue in the election unless Donald Trump and Mike Pence make it an issue --  

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Should they?  Should they?  Should they?  

HENNINGER:  I think because what Ruth Bader Ginsburg represents is the future of the Supreme Court, the idea that the liberals now have a finger on the scale and they want outcomes rather than nonjudgmental judging.  

GIGOT:  Is this going to be over, James?  Is this --

TARANTO:  The Supreme Court is also going to be an issue for --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  But she -- not that she's said, I regret, is it done?

TARANTO:  It depends on whether a case comes before the court involving the election.  Just to point out how unusual this is, do you remember how the court decided Bush versus Gore in 2000?  There were four dissents.  

GIGOT:  A little bit.  

TARANTO:  There were four dissents, Justice Stevens, Justice Souter and Justice Breyer all ended their dissents with the words, "I respectfully dissent."  Justice Ginsburg said, "I dissent," leaving out "respectfully." There's was all kinds of buzz about how unusual it was.  It's not really all that unusual.  But she should have known better than saying these really inflammatory things about Trump.  

(CROSSTALK)

STEVENS:  She weighed in on Citizens United case, free speech case, and she weighed in on the Heller case, the Second Amendment Washington gun case --  

GIGOT:  Landmark gun case.  

STEVENS:  -- which called into question whether she can ever rule again on the First and Second Amendment --  

GIGOT:  When you say weighed in, what she did is she basically invited cases to come before justices, saying I'm going to have five -- I'm going to be in the majority soon with liberals, and please, send those cases to me because I'd like to see this overturned.  That means, suggests, anyway, she's prejudged these cases.  

STEVENS:  That's exactly it.  I think that's fatal for her.  She will have to recuse herself if playing by rules or the traditions of Supreme Court from any of those cases.  So --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Do you think she will?  

STEVENS:  That old French phrase, it's worse than a crime, it's a mistake.  

GIGOT:  Do you think she will --  

TARANTO:  Well --

GIGOT:  -- recuse herself from the cases?  

TARANTO:  Probably not, but it will be controversial.  I would point out she also revealed how Justice Scalia voted before he died on one of the cases that was a 4-4 tie, and she imputed a vote to Justice Elena Kagan in a case from which Kagan recused herself.  So she violated the confidence of her colleagues.  

GIGOT:  Yeah.  Do you think Justice Kagan is pleased to know if -- she's 56 years old, she's going to be in the court a long time -- pleased to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying our liberal majorities, they are all precooked, man.  

(LAUGHTER)

TARANTO:  I don't think she commented on this, but Justice Breyer was asked about it, and his response was, if I had an opinion I wouldn't express it, which I thought was brilliant.  

GIGOT:  Kim, what do you think?  Do you agree with Dan about the politics of this, that this is going to -- that her comments are going to resonate enough to make the Supreme Court a central issue in the campaign?  

STRASSEL:  Yeah.  It already was, but this simply clarifies the stakes here.  If there's one thing we know it's that lots of voters get interested in the Supreme Court as an issue, but the right, in particular, is motivated by the Supreme Court.  They hold their president to account, their candidates to account, it drives them to polls.  So in a way, her coming out and doing this, it was very clarifies to people, that this is how the liberal block of the court actually does do its decisions.  It is based on politics.  So she put that out there for everyone to see and gave everyone a taste, too, of just what sort of cases would be brought back up and what rights are at risk if the Republicans lose this race.  

GIGOT:  So, Dan, Donald Trump should thank Justice Ginsburg maybe for mobilizing his base?  

HENNINGER:  Yeah, he should, indeed, though he normally doesn't do that sort of thing.  

(LAUGHTER)

Justice Ginsburg is up there in the loser column right now.  

(LAUGHTER)

But the point is the next president is going to have an appointment or two or three, and they will be like Justice Ginsburg or Sonia Sotomayor, and this is a reflection of the liberal, current liberal judicial philosophy, which is that we want outcomes, we want authority inside Washington, inside the federal government, receding from the states.  It will be up to Mr. Trump and Mike Pence to make that clear to voters.  As Kim is suggesting, a lot of Republicans out there are very focused on this sort of thing.  It's a turnout issue.  

GIGOT:  That a plus for Trump?  

TARANTO:  Yes, a lot of Republicans who don't like Trump are open to the argument, what about the Supreme Court.  

GIGOT:  All right, James, thank you.  

We have to take one more break.  When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Time for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

Kim, start us off.  

STRASSEL:  A huge miss for Senate Democrats who this week decided to hold hostage pregnant women at risk of the Zika Virus entirely so they could play politics.  The Obama administration and Democrats have been demanding emergency funding for Zika for months.  Republicans accommodated.  The Senate Democrats voted first round.  But when it came time for final legislation, they invented all kinds of phony excuses for not voting for it just so they could try to blame it on Republicans.  This is an issue Trump ought to take up.  

GIGOT:  All right.

James?  

TARANTO:  A hit to Theresa May, Britain's new prime minister, thanks to Brexit.  This week on her first day in office, she abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  Britain's left was outraged.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan promised to abolish the Department of Energy but even he wasn't ever able to do that.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  I think she has steel in her, James.

All right, Mary?  

O'GRADY:  This is a hit for Fred Barley, a freshman at Gordon State College in Georgia, who made news this week when police found him sleeping in a tent at the school.  He had pedaled a 20-inch bicycle 50 miles to get there.  He arrived early because he needed a job.  When police found him, he inspired not only police, who helped him find a motel room, but then the owner of the motel and many more on Facebook.  Paul, this is the kind of initiative that made America great.  

GIGOT:  Thank you, Mary.

All right, Dan?  

HENNINGER:  Paul, my miss is to Newt Gingrich who made a lot of news earlier this week by giving his views on Sharia law and American Muslims. Let me quote it: "Let me be as direct as I can be.  Western civilization is in a war.  We should frankly test every person here of a Muslim background. If they believe in Sharia, they should be deported."  

Look, one comment on this, Paul.  Donald Trump is his own man.  He does not need Newt Gingrich out there trying to be more Trumpian than Trump. Comments like that will hurt the Trump campaign rather than help him.  

GIGOT:  Do you think it hurt Newt Gingrich in the veep-stakes?  

HENNINGER:  I think it hurt him a lot.  He didn't get it, did he?  

GIGOT:  He didn't.

All right, Dan, thank you.

And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure tweet it to us at JER on FNC.  

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel and thanks to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  Hope to see you right here next week.

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