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Minnesota GOP chair Downey: Yes, Trump is a gamble, but he's still good for the party

Minnesota GOP chair Keith Downey
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Minnesota GOP chair Keith Downey

Keith Downey thought that Donald Trump had a “good night” compared to Hillary Clinton in a televised national security forum Wednesday night — hardly a surprising opinion from the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

But at a round-table for foreign journalists that he attended last week with DFL party chair Ken Martin at the University of St. Thomas, Downey stepped into the void Trump leaves with his broad brush policy statements and deemed the GOP presidential candidate a “risk.”

“What if Trump wins and governs badly?” asked one of the reporters.

“So, I think it’s a huge risk,” Downey replied. “Do we really know where he is going to land on all of his policy provisions? There’s some open questions and that is part of the risk.” (You can listen here to the rest of the minute and half clip here.) 

To be fair, it must be noted that Downey said he spent “a good 30 minutes” at the forum in defense of Trump. “There are things we don’t know about Donald Trump but we know a lot about Hillary Clinton and he’s one thousand times better than Hillary Clinton,” he said in an interview with MinnPost.

But Downey didn’t back away from his assessment that Trump is a gamble. “In the mind of some conservatives, Trump presents those risks,” he said. “Trump has not been elected. He’s new to party politics. There are some open questions about a Trump presidency.”

At the same time, the Trump movement — with its critique of globalization, concern for domestic terrorism, and its disdain for “political correctness” — is good for the party, Downey said. “It can be absorbed into the party just as other movements have been absorbed in the past.”

And Downey maintains that the state and national Republican parties can support Trump — even while having concerns about his actions in office. “Barack Obama had an imperial presidency,” said Downey. “He acted without the consent of Congress. Trump could try the same thing, but a Republican House and Senate would stop that.”

For a political party that’s suffered damage thanks to its presidential nominee, could the bizarre argument that the GOP needs Republicans in control of Congress to save the party from a Republican president give party loyalists a reason to hold on?

Downey seems to think so: “The party is 160 years old and one candidate cannot entirely undo that, he said of the GOP's endurance. 

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Comments (5)

Don't know Keith Downey

The "bizarre argument" is most intriguing, given the Establishment Republican-in-Hiding program this year. I note your speculation about giving party loyalists a reason to "hold on." That pretty much puts them in their places...no thoughts to "march on," at least not without a good Stan Freberg tune.

Something from "Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America Volume One: The Early Years" (1961) is apt. I suggest "Betsy Ross and the Flag: Everybody Wants to Be an Art Director."
My buddies and I memorized this one. Favorite phrase: "changing all the stars to polka dots."

Bizarre

…is a somewhat mild term to use when characterizing Mr. Downey's opinion – and it's not entirely without merit – that Obama has run an "imperial" presidency. I've not personally been entirely comfortable with Obama's use of executive powers, even when I thought that use made sense in the political context of the moment, but it's important to take note of WHY Obama resorted to executive action as he did.

That relatively low level of inquiry leads us to an incontrovertible fact. Obama was – and is – dealing with a hostile Republican-controlled House, and many Republicans in the Senate, who've been dedicated, as their public statements have too often shown, to making his administration as ineffectual as possible. Part of that is blatant racism, part of it is a resurgence of inflexible party politics, and part of it is a movement, especially in the GOP, toward a lock-step ideology that believes wholeheartedly in the notion that government is somehow evil.

That Mr. Downey would put forward the idea that the nation might need a Republican-controlled Congress to stop a Republican president from doing something foolish and/or dangerous for the country goes beyond the bizarre, and ought to be all anyone needs to know about the understanding of the Republican nominee that he's campaigning for a job as a temporary employee of the people of the United States, and that the welfare of all of us ought to be foremost in his mind. I've seen no evidence, thus far, that that idea has penetrated Mr. Trump's consciousness.

Trump's risk

is unlimited. That the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party is willing to take the risk isn't saying, much as Republicans are clearly putting their party above national interest by selecting and supporting someone who is clearly on all counts totally unqualified for the job. He also thinks Trump is 1000s times better than Hillary. I would love to hear his case of this statement, dealing in the world of the bizarre and awful things Trump has said as a candidate and his terrible record of lying to and cheating his customers and vendors. Issue by issue with real data, not just a collection undocumnted faith-based documents. "Trump didn't really mean that" is no argument.

Cyndy Brucato

I am new to MinnPost and just looked at the list of articles you have written. Do you always write about Minnesota Republicans? They really are not very interesting.

That's her beat...

the only "Red" ink on the page. Whether brave or foolish, Cyndy always draws fire, even from her own side from time to time.