- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2016

It is vacation time for President Obama and his family, now in sleek and refreshing Martha’s Vineyard for the annual summer getaway — the last for them, at least as the first family.

Aside from occasional reports on family outings or the weather, the media will respect the Obamas’ privacy during the stay, which they deserve. The news vacuum must be filled, however — which means that GOP nominee Donald Trump should brace for more negative coverage. The Washington Post, for example, has just launched a “Donald Trump-Mike Pence divergence tracker” that will publicly document any differences in opinion that the running mates may have. The Democratic Coalition Against Trump, meanwhile, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking Melania Trump’s immigration records. There’s much more to come.

But there’s also pushback. In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman  Paul Manafort made it clear that all was well in the Trump camp, as well as the GOP.

“The Republican Party is united. Do we agree on everything? No. You know, Mr. Trump is an outsider. He hasn’t been a part of the political system so his relationships with the leadership of the party are not as deep and long as traditionally it would be with the Republican nominee. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have good relations,” he continued. “They all agree on one thing. We need a Republican president and a Republican Congress. And then we’ll make the changes that America needs.”

And what about Mr. Obama’s reaction to the candidate’s concern that the 2016 was rigged? The president called the concern “ridiculous” and dismissed it.

“For someone whose career got jumpstarted by the Chicago machine I was surprised to hear him say that. If you rely on the Justice Department to ensure the security of elections, we have to be worried,” Mr. Manafort said.

The campaign guru also criticized Mr. Obama’s insistence that Mr. Trump should act more presidential on the campaign trail.

“Well, we certainly are not using him as a role model. I mean, here is a president who is going around the world apologizing for everything the United States has done over the last 100 years. Here is a president who has taken the economy, and doesn’t deserve an A for what he’s done. He’s destabilized the world with the foreign policy he constructed with Hillary Clinton  that put our enemies in positions of strength and our allies in positions of weakness. He’s changed the whole role of the United States as a leader in the world. So when he says that Donald Trump needs to start acting like a president, he doesn’t recognize the fact that he’s the wrong – Obama – he’s the wrong role model,” said Mr. Manafort.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, knows the workings of both the media and showbiz. He is forging ahead, ignoring the hue and cry from the press and concentrating on what caught voters’ attention in the first place.

“In just a few short months, I’m going to be your next president,” he advises in a jaunty new voter outreach. “Before I take the Oath of Office I want to know, what do you think should be my first priority? Build the wall? Rip up and renegotiate bad trade deals? Defeat ISIS? I know there is a lot to do, to fix these past eight years, but I’ve never run away from a challenge. Especially one where the stakes are so high.”

THE WHEREABOUTS OF TRUMP AND CLINTON

Though certain journalists would prefer that Donald Trump just up and quit the 2016 race forthwith, that is not happening. Mr. Trump is still drawing huge, enthusiastic crowds who don’t heed the media’s insistence that the candidate is “unfit” — the current descriptor of choice among critical journalists.

Mr. Trump and running mate Gov. Mike Pence went back to the traditional basics on Friday, appearing at a signature jumbo rally in Des Moines, Iowa — then it’s on to a second one in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mr. Trump appears at a rally in New Hampshire and private fundraiser on Saturday in Oyster Harbor, Massachusetts. Reportedly on hand: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and former Senator Scott Brown. He’ll attend another near Cape Cod.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton appeared at the annual joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, staged in the nation’s capital on Friday.

DEEP-FRIED UPDATE

The presidential candidates are circulating, once again, in the great state of Iowa, where the gargantuan state fair opens in less than a week. Officials have graciously shared the fair’s newest deep-fried and/or food-on-a-stick offerings, which could very well make it into upcoming political news coverage. Advice to both candidates: Eat nothing on camera.

Meanwhile, here’s what the Iowa State Fair will be offering when the time comes: Bacon funnel cakes on a stick with maple butter cream; “loaded taters” on a stick; deep fried jalapeno double-bacon corndog; ice cream nachos; baked beans, mashed potatoes, shredded pork and cheddar cheese in a cup; and finally, “The Slopper” (chopped footlong hot dog, crushed Fritos, chili sauce, onions, pickles, sauerkraut, sour cream and cheese served in a Fritos bag).

FOXIFIED

Americans still like American history. Fox News reports that “Legends & Lies: The Patriots” — produced by prime-time host Bill O’Reilly — typically draws close to 2 million viewers during it broadcast, and currently has enjoyed a 38 percent bump in viewership.

The season finale on Sunday highlights the American Revolution and the founding of the nation, specifically the story of Aaron BurrThomas Jefferson’s vice president, who killed longtime political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous duel over accusations of corruption. Airtime is Sunday at 8 p.m. EST.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Hightower Place, built in 1850 in Allensville, Kentucky. Five bedrooms, four baths, 7,622 square feet on three acres. Romantic Victorian with center tower and spiral stairs; 13-foot ceilings and 10-foot doors, marble floors, kitchen and baths; outdoor fireplace and pool, immaculate renovation and interior decorating, original woodworking, lighting and interior details; grand staircase. Currently serves as retreat for novelists and songwriters “offering privacy and inspiration.” Priced at $848,000 through NashvilleHomeRealEsate.com; enter 1729714 in MLS portion of search function.

POLL DU JOUR

93 percent of U.S. voters are interested in the presidential election; 93 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of independents and 94 percent of Democrats agree.

55 percent of voters overall are not satisfied with the state of America; 86 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

49 percent of voters overall say they are “just able” to pay most of their bills; 53 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

35 percent overall say they are “getting ahead”; 28 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

14 percent overall say they are “falling behind”; 18 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,022 registered U.S. voters conducted July 31 to Aug. 2.

Chipper assurances, dreary prognostications to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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