- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No, not that Hollywood. The heavyweights of the Grand Old Party are now in Hollywood, Florida — assembled for the Republican National Committee’s three-day spring meeting at a towering, sparkling beachside resort, complete with a steakhouse that still serves a 28-ounce aged prime porterhouse for a mere $105. The titans of the party will enjoy a complimentary cruise aboard a 128-foot yacht; there will be cameo appearances by the presidential hopefuls and the buzz of meaningful discussion.

The opposition press would simply relish the moment if the get-together were to somehow disintegrate into catcalls, fisticuffs and pie-throwing. But dream on. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has already moved to quell residual combative instincts among the attendees as the national convention in Cleveland looms — manateelike — on the horizon. There will be no shredding of convention rules at the meeting — tweaking, yes, but no shredding.

Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz staged their respective outreach to the 168 attendees and attendant journalists on Wednesday. Mr. Cruz predicted a contested convention. The canny Donald Trump, meanwhile, has extended an invitation for one and all to attend a campaign presentation on Thursday evening; Trump backers Ben Carson and campaign guru Paul Manafort are among the featured cast members. Of note: Another debate could emerge. Mr. Priebus did suggest to ever-patient radio host Michael Medved this week that the committee will “revisit” the idea of staging yet another official debate for the three Republican hopefuls. It would be particularly spiffy if they would open that debate up to a third-party candidate for added energy — but no matter.

The press is already weighing in on the GOP gathering, which has barely begun. “Let the chaos begin,” advises Josh Voorhees, a senior writer for Slate, who predicts the meeting “is already exposing the fault lines that are likely to crack wide open in Cleveland this summer.”

STILL IN THE MONEY

The struggling, unsure, flailing GOP? Hmm. The aforementioned RNC chief Reince Priebus reports that the Grand Old Party is just a little grander these days, raising a total of $135.4 million through the end of March; 99 percent of those donations were $200 or less, with the average being $67.

“Having outraised the Democratic National Committee in 28 out of the last 38 months, we have built the best-resourced political party in history,” Mr. Priebus notes.

THE WAY IT WORKS

Donald Trump is not a typical presidential candidate. He is a hybrid businessman/presidential candidate who often defies conventional wisdom, frustrates his opposition and confounds strategists. The logic? Mr. Trump appears to simply assume he’s going to win, and that’s that. Fox News prime-time host Bill O’Reilly, in fact, asked the candidate to reflect on the success he has had in the primary during an exchange on Wednesday night.

“I don’t know why you’re so surprised,” Mr. Trump replied. “We’ve been doing well. I’ve done well my whole life. I’ve had victories my whole life. So we’re going to have another victory.”

JON HUNTSMAN AND THE THIRD PARTY

Run for president? Been there, done that. When Jon Huntsman made his bid for the White House in the 2012 race, he looked presidential, gave a Reagan-esque speech in front of the Statue of Liberty, spoke fluent Chinese with a flourish — and then abandoned his bid six months later. Then interesting things happened: Mr. Huntsman flatly announced in 2014 that he had no more interest in the White House. Six months ago, however, he told USA Today that he was being strongly encouraged to run as an independent from unnamed Republicans in a dither about Donald Trump. He also admitted another presidential run “may be something that we’ll take a look at.”

So it appears that Mr. Huntsman, a mere 56 years old, is not done just yet. We will get some clarity on Thursday. Joined by Joe Lieberman, a former senator and vice presidential candidate himself, Mr. Huntsman will announce a “call to action for our presidential candidates” at an old-school, traditional political event in the nation’s capital. The pair will appear before a select audience at a formal luncheon in a historic hotel six blocks from the White House.

Their mission is to unleash “an ambitious policy package that will speak to a critical and too-often ignored portion of the populace: 43 percent of Americans who identify as political independents and who will ultimately decide the 2016 election.”

The gents have engaged mighty Deloitte Consulting for marketing insight — which the muscular PR firm produced for nothing. “Old-fashioned political polling has helped us understand exactly what the majority of the American public wants.”

What, a chicken in every pot and free Internet and oil changes? We will soon find out. Messrs. Huntsman and Lieberman vow they will produce “a road map for reaching the swing voters.”

HOLA, AMERICA

“Hispanics are the youngest major racial or ethnic group in the United States. About one-third, or 17.9 million, of the nation’s Hispanic population is younger than 18, and about a quarter, or 14.6 million, of all Hispanics are millennials aged 18 to 33,” writes Eileen Patten, an analyst for the Pew Research Center. Essentially, about six out of every 10 Hispanics are under 33, she says, based on U.S. Census data.

“By comparison, half of the black population and 46 percent of the U.S. Asian population are millennials or younger. Among whites, the nation’s oldest racial group, only about four in 10 are millennials or younger,” she noted.

POLL DU JOUR

88 percent of Americans say it should be legal for a physician to prescribe a small amount of marijuana to a patient suffering from a serious illness.

60 percent of Americans say the decision to legalize marijuana should be made at the state government level.

56 percent say marijuana should be legalized; 44 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent overall think marijuana is safer than alcohol.

51 percent overall have tried marijuana; the percentage was 43 percent in 2015 and 34 percent in 1997.

Source: A CBS News poll of 1,020 U.S. adults conducted April 8-12 and released Wednesday.

Grumbles, grousing to [email protected]

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