Welcome to Potomac Place, a serene environment where I have lived for many years. Countless birds, mischievous squirrels, ever-present deer, and other critters abound here just twelve miles from the White House. It’s where I constantly read and occasionally write, when life doesn’t intervene.

I hope to provide you with a new story every few weeks. Read, enjoy, and comment if you chose.

As they say on the radio, “Stay Tuned.”

Acropolis, Athens, Greece.


Jimmy Breslin

March 21, 2017

Last week, I ventured back to the old country, New York City, to join my sister, Carol Gillen Costello, a Knight of Saint Patrick, the venerable organization responsible for the annual parade in the saint’s honor, at its annual and lavish all-day luncheon at the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue.

I was surrounded by the elite of New York Irish strivers who made their way to success. It was a proud group, some again back in diapers, regaling in everything Ireland with a few lavishing praise about everything Trump and lamenting only that gays and those confused about their sexual identity were now allowed to march in their parade.

A few of us were there for the food and drink. Well, everyone was there for the food and the drink. Among the privileged few were some friends of old from the law and labor. One being a lawyer of many dimensions, including his ability to win what were thought to be hopeless cases. He recalled one such case that took an interesting turn from the outset. As he was unloading the document bags from a van outside the federal courthouse on the first day of the trial, a woman stopped and pointed to the red stone on his college ring. “Is that a St. John’s University ring?” she asked. He smiled, “Yes, mam, it is.” She smiled back, “That’s where I went to school.” As it turned out, she was juror number three in his case. The jury rendered a unanimous verdict in his favor.

It was the kind of story that a Queens’ notable, Jimmy Breslin, would tell in one his widely-read columns. Breslin died this week, but his words and that gritty Jamaica Avenue elevated train-like voice will live on in posterity. He was like many of the people I grew up with, no college, but through talent and determination they made their way up through the labor union hierarchy, in the police and fire departments, on Wall Street, at Con Edison and the other utilities, as contractors, and, yes, as bar and restaurant owners. On every corner, not only in Queens, but in all the New York boroughs, there was either a bar or a candy store where guys hung out. Within each group there was one or two Breslin’s ready to emerge and take their chance in life.

Everyone my age has a Breslin story or a Breslin-like story. I met Breslin a few times through a grammar school friend, Dick Oliver, one of those New York reporters who did go to college. Oliver worked with Breslin at The New York Daily News. Whenever I was in New York I would meet Oliver at “Costello’s” a noted watering hole for reporters on Third Avenue and 44th Street, where Breslin and others would hold court, swapping stories about who was on the take, who was sleeping with whom, and the simmering scandals in the city’s vast bureaucracy.

Two of Breslin’s stories impacted people I knew. One he did back in the late 1960’s about Jack Kehoe, another neighborhood friend, who then was an aspiring actor. Kehoe went on to do well, playing significant character roles in some 50 movies, including Serpico, The Sting, Car Wash, Melvin & Howard, Reds, Star Chamber, Midnight Run, The Pope of Greenwich Village, The Untouchables, The Paper, etc… At the time of Breslin’s story, Kehoe, like many actors, was between jobs. It was the summer and he was pitching for one of the teams in the Broadway Show League, a softball league that played its games on weekday afternoons in Central Park. On that day, Kehoe’s team was playing a double header. Aside from pitching both games, there was another significant challenge, it was the day that Kehoe had to report to the New York State Unemployment Office to attest to the fact that he was looking for work and that work had not found him. At the end of the first game, a taxi was arranged to speed Kehoe to the unemployment office, wait for him, and return him back to the diamond in time to pitch the second game. Breslin, who was there and without a story that day, thought that it would be interesting and harmless to write a column depicting the trials and tribulations of an actor out of work fulfilling his responsibilities to the State of New York and to his fellow actor-athletes. The story turned out to have traction and raised the ire of a few politicians who tried to take the fun out of unemployment.

The other story involved “Burke’s,” a bar on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens. A place where Breslin often stopped to say hello to Tubby Walker, one of Queens’ notable and hilarious bartenders, his great friend, Hank Rice, a steam fitter who would put many a stand-up comic to shame, and the feared Walter “Pop Eye” Woods, a wire lather, and former middle weight boxer. Here again, meaning no harm, Breslin thought that some of the mainstays of Burke’s typified the character and gritty charm of New York. He made the mistake of writing a column describing some of the people who frequented Burke’s. In doing so, he described them to perfection. He captured them as I saw them, but it was not how a few of them saw themselves.

A few weeks later, when Breslin sauntered into Burke’s expecting a favorable greeting and kudos for his perception, what he got instead was a blow to the head from a middle-aged woman who didn’t take kindly to how Breslin had described her. When she looked up and saw Breslin approaching she swung her massive handbag, which Tubby Walker described as being filled with rolls of quarters, bottles of medicine and other heavy objects. The handbag caught the unaware Breslin on the side of his head, knocking him to the floor. At that point, the woman pounced on him hitting him again and again with her handbag and kicking him. Another irate customer, this one a male, pushed the woman out of the way to get in a few licks for himself. Tubby rescued Breslin and rushed him out to a taxi on Queens Boulevard. Breslin never returned to Burke’s.

The last time I saw Breslin was when he came to Washington for a few weeks to cover the Watergate hearings in 1973. Governor Hugh Carey, then a Congressman from Brooklyn, Breslin, and I had dinner and drinks one night.

During dinner, Carey asked me what I thought was going to come out of Watergate. It was before White House Counsel John Dean had testified. I told him that when all the shoes dropped, John Mitchell, the U.S. Attorney General would be indicted along with many senior White House staff members, and possibly Nixon. Breslin was incredulous. Keep in mind that the Secretary of Commerce Maruice Stans and Mitchell had just been indicted in a case involving campaign funds involving an investor name Vesco. Referring to that Beslin said, “That’s just politics. They’ll beat that rap.” He was right on that, both Mitchell and Stans were acquitted of those charges.

But on the question of possible charges evolving from the Watergate break-in and eventual cover-up, Breslin was skeptical, “Why would a successful New York bond lawyer get mixed up in that crap?” As I argued my point of view, he was unconvinced. “What-ta ya mean? Come on. Cut the shit. Where do ya get that from?” he barked at me in staccato form.

“Because John Dean was Mitchell’s guy in the White House,” I said. “John Dean is represented by Charlie Shaffer, one of the two lawyers who successfully prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa for jury tampering.” I knew Dean from Georgetown Law School, and Charley Shaffer lived down the road from me. “Dean wouldn’t have Shaffer if he wasn’t in that deep, and if so, then so is Mitchell,” I said, “And so is Nixon.”

Breslin smiled and shook his head. “It’s a hell of story, but I haven’t seen it yet. Not the attorney general and the president.”

“If you’re down here for a story, Jimmy, that’s your story,” I said. His story came later after Dean testified, but he never gave me credit for my visceral insights. Mitchell was indicted, convicted, and served a year in jail for obstruction of justice. A year later, Nixon resigned after the House voted to impeach him. Two month after that his successor, President Gerald R. Ford, pardoned him.

It was probably one of the few times that Breslin’s gut might have been off key, but his reportorial instincts were up-to-speed in questioning my suppositions. He was looking for facts that I didn’t have.

He was a gem to behold, a fountain of light with a keen mind, and a devilish nature who was full of life and fun in his search for the truth. He’ll be sorely missed, and so, too, will newspapers. God forbid, should that day ever come.

What China?

December 5, 2016

The current alarm expressed by foreign policy experts with President Elect Donald Trump’s recent telephone discussion with Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen, stirred old memories about the U.S.’s sensitive “One China” policy.

During the 1980 presidential campaign, I was tasked with the assignment to convey to Governor Ronald Reagan, then the presumptive Republican nominee, the U.S. cotton industry’s concerns about his criticism of the Peoples Republic of China, which was and remains a significant market for U.S. raw cotton.

The attached story, "That’s Something I Wasn’t Aware Of," (which appears here in part) was published in "Moments of Truth," my 2014 memoir of short stories, details my discussion with soon-to-be President Ronald Reagan about U.S. commercial activity with each nation.

My principals in the U.S. cotton industry were concerned Governor Ronald Reagan’s statements pertaining to The Peoples Republic of China. At this juncture in the campaign, Reagan was the presumptive nominee when the Reagan bandwagon rolled into Washington for meetings and receptions. Through Nancy Chotiner, a Republican National Committee official, a meeting was scheduled on April 9th, following a reception for Governor Reagan at the Madison Hotel.

Soon after Reagan spoke, Nancy Chotiner took me up to Reagan’s suite, where Reagan and his Campaign Chair, William Casey, were waiting. I had met the governor briefly in 1976 when he was on Capitol Hill and again in Washington at a 1977 reception.

I went over my talking points in silence as I rode up on the elevator with Nancy. Knowing that Reagan was always relaxed and cordial, I, too, was relaxed, and that’s how it played out.

Nancy introduced me to Governor Reagan and Bill Casey. I had talked briefly to Reagan as he made the rounds at the reception downstairs. “Neal is a wonderful name. Did you know that’s my brother’s name?”

“No, sir, I didn’t.”

“Now tell me, how can I be of help?”

I smiled, “Governor, I represent the U.S. cotton merchants. We export U.S. cotton to many countries around the world. A good portion of what has been exported in the last few years is grown in California.”

“Cotton in California – I knew we grew some. Do we grow that much?

“It’s the highest-valued crop produced in California, Governor.”

Reagan turned and looked at Casey. “You know that’s something I wasn’t aware of. I thought our biggest crops were grapes and vegetables.”

“They might be larger in volume produced, but the aggregate value of the California cotton crop exceeds that of the other crops.”

He paused. “That’s interesting. I guess it’s something I should have been aware of, but I left those details to my agriculture commissioner.”

“Governor, what I wanted to stress with you is that the most reliable customer for U.S. cotton is the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

His eyes widened. “You mean Red China?”

“Yes, sir, our concern is that you have recently made statements critical of what you call ‘Red China.’ That has caused problems with our customers there.”

Reagan smiled. “Well, we’re involved in an election. President Carter has withdrawn the U.S. recognition of the Republic of China (Taiwan) without even sending a postcard to notify the Chinese government in Taipei. They saw it on the news. They lost their seat in the UN. I don’t know if I can rectify that or reverse that if I’m elected, but I intend to speak out about it.”

He was firm in his statement but still friendly, so I continued the discussion. “I happen to agree with you in that regard. That was thoughtless and gratuitous on Carter’s part.”

“Do we sell any cotton to Taiwan?”

“Yes, we do. It has been a good market over the years, but not a reliable market – not as reliable as the Chinese.”

“In what regard?”

“Well, Governor, when the price goes up, the U.S. suppliers are expected to deliver the cotton at the lower price agreed to in the forward contract, and they do. In recent years, however, when the situation was reversed and the price went down after cotton had been sold at a higher price, the Taiwanese textile mills have defaulted on their contracts. That’s not the case in China, where we sell directly to a government entity – it always honor its contracts.”

Reagan put his hand to his chin and smiled. It was the moment of truth. “So what you’re telling me is that Red China is more reliable than Jimmy Carter.”

We all laughed, and I thanked him for his time. “I’ll remember what you told me today,” he said as I left his suite.

I rushed from the Madison Hotel to my office three blocks away and placed a conference call to my executive committee and reported on the discussion.

Reagan rolled on in the 22 remaining primaries, losing to Bush only in the District of Columbia, where he was not on the ballot, and in Pennsylvania and Michigan. On May 26th, Bush withdrew from the race. In July, Reagan selected Bush as his running mate, and in November they beat Carter by an overwhelmingly majority carrying 45 states, an amazing victory when you consider that in the February ABC News-Harris Survey, Carter had polled 64 percent to Reagan’s 32 percent.

George Bush had served as the chief of the liaison office to the PRC, in effect the U.S. ambassador, under President Gerald R. Ford in 1974-1975, the period in which U.S. cotton exporters incurred problems in the Far East with the exception of the PRC. Bush was aware of the importance of the PRC as a market for U.S. cotton. Later in the campaign, when I met with Bush, I reported on my conversation with Reagan. Bush smiled. “Don’t worry, he’ll be President soon. He’ll say the right thing.”

The People Have Spoken

November 14, 2016

In writing this Blog, in my infrequent Facebook postings, and in my rare Twitter missives, I have focused on stories that hopefully my readers would enjoy. While I have not delved into partisan politics I have related personal political experiences. I will continue to avoid partisan statements or personal views in future postings. But given the concerns of many people expressing their views in emails to me and to others and from what I see in the media, I believe that each of us should accept the results of the process and hope for the best, trusting that our elected officials will act in our best interest.

In my last posting in late September, I related the story, “1972 Voting Standoff,” how my father and I resolved the conundrum of voting for either Nixon or McGovern. By agreement, reluctantly on his part, we choose neither.

This year, I did not view my choice as a difficult one, but as a registered Independent, I felt that I had no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton, a highly qualified, but albeit flawed candidate. Donald Trump’s overall record as a person, his business shortcomings, and his demeanor, despite my long-time suffering from Clinton fatigue, left me no choice.

We are now learning that many chose to do what my father and I did in 1972. In addition to the 97.6 million registered voters, 43 percent of the eligible voters, who did not vote on November 8th, hundreds of thousands of voters, who, in casting their ballots, either did not choose a candidate for president, wrote in another candidate not on the ballot, or voted for a the Green Party or Libertarian Party candidate. Since Donald Trump won the key Rust-Belt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan by a combined total of 112,000 votes, the indifference of many mattered.

While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2,864,978 votes -- 2.1 percent, Donald Trump was elected president with 306 electoral votes, 36 electoral votes more than the required 270, compared to Hillary Clinton's 232 electoral votes.

Doubt and division have clouded American’s skies this past week. Many Clinton voters cannot accept the outcome, and many more are surprised by the outcome, including Trump supporters, who did not expect to prevail.

In years gone by, when Consolidated Edison, the New York electrical power supplier, was tearing up the streets, as they seemingly always do, the wooden barricades around the chewed-up streets, bore the message, “Dig we must, we’ll clean up and move on.” That has always been the tradition in U.S. presidential elections. Yes, it’s a messy situation right now, but how soon we’ll clean up and move on is another question, the sooner, the better for all of us.

The leaders of both parties are obligated to call for unity. Those who are disappointed have to learn from their loss and move on with their lives as best they can; and, those who are elated have to stop gloating, get down to business, and most importantly, understand that they must govern with the best interest of all in mind.

The Voters Choice

September 23, 2016

The polling data tells us that Americans are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to choosing who they will vote for in the coming presidential election. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have record high negatives in the view of potential voters, some saying it’s a choice between the devil you know and the devil you don’t. Those who are yet to make a choice will no doubt do so in the hours before they vote. My father and I dealt with a similar situation in the 1972 presidential election when the choice was between Richard Nixon and George McGovern. I explain how we resolved that conundrum in "1972 Voting Standoff," a story from my 2014 book, "Moments of Truth."

1972 Voting Standoff

In November 1972, though a Maryland resident for almost a year, I still considered New York my official domicile and continued to vote there, and would until the fall of 1976.

Mary-Margaret and I spent a good deal of time in France in the summer of 1972, as we did each summer before children entered the picture. Though we were far from U.S. politics, the Nixon-McGovern race was the talk of Europe. Europeans constantly asked why the Democrats had nominated a Socialist like Senator George McGovern (D-SD). Mind you, these questions were coming from European Socialists.

We considered ourselves liberal Democrats at the time. While we felt a little uneasy about McGovern, our uneasy feelings about Nixon were off the charts. The guy had obvious character flaws that were clearly visible in my view. There came a point in the 1960 campaign rhetoric when the question was raised, “Would you buy a used car from this man?” I wasn’t sure what was missing, but, as the Watergate tapes would soon reveal, there was a lot missing.

Nixon had Daniel Patrick Moynihan, later to serve with distinction as a Democratic senator from New York, in charge of domestic policy in the White House. As a result, Nixon’s record on domestic issues was credible. His visit to China, however, was a significant foreign policy achievement that had eclipsed everything, including the United States being mired in Vietnam. Simply put, Nixon’s political standing at the time was better than McGovern’s. But he was still Nixon, so we were plenty wary.

A few weeks after the Watergate break-in, and just before we left for France, Don Zeifang, a former housemate from Georgetown Law School, hosted a Fourth of July party at his stellar Arlington duplex apartment overlooking the Iwo Jima Memorial. Pat Buchanan, a Nixon staffer, was holding court during the party and responding to questions about the Watergate break-in. Pat, like many other White House staffers, had no prior knowledge of the break-in, but was sharing speculation he had heard from reporters covering the White House that it was possibly a Howard Hughes or Drew Pearson operation. Hughes was an eccentric billionaire holed up in a Las Vegas penthouse who wanted to stop the atom bomb testing in the Nevada desert, and Pearson was a feared Washington columnist with an uncanny ability to break sensational stories. What either of them could be looking for at the offices of the Democratic National Committee was beyond my imagination.

Mary-Margaret and I left for France unaware, like everyone else, of who was behind the break-in that would undo Nixon’s presidency within two years.

Upon our return from Europe, bit by bit, news items appeared suggesting the break-in was politically motivated. McGovern began pointing his finger at the White House, but nothing had surfaced implicating either the Republican campaign operation or the White House. That’s the way things stood on Election Day, when I found myself getting ready to vote with my father.

Dad was very proud of his son the lawyer and his daughter-in-law the lawyer. He was happy about my presence that day and anxious to show me off to his friends. Voting in New York was always a fun day for me. I got to see old friends along with the older people in the
neighborhood who had watched me grow up and who were pleasantly surprised that I was practicing the law and not being pursued by it.

The bars being closed while the polls were open, the neighborhood men set out for the Jackson Social & Field Club on Northern Boulevard, where Mulligan stew simmered all day, a roast pig sat on the bar to pick at, and the beer, rye whiskey, and scotch flowed freely. Everyone had a great time, and surprisingly little politics was discussed. The men were more interested in what the Giants and Jets were doing in November, discussing the recently concluded baseball World Series, their jobs and families. Since it was a Democratic neighborhood with heavy union membership, the people usually voted a straight ticket.

Late that morning, as we walked down the hill on 31st Avenue toward our polling place at P.S. 151, Dad was uncharacteristically quiet. In fact he was mute. I sensed that something was wrong. That he was fighting inwardly about going against his long-held union beliefs. At the bottom of the hill I stopped.

“What’s wrong, son?”

“I can see it in your body language, Dad. You’re going to vote for Nixon.”

He looked skyward as he pursed his lips. He chuckled. “God will forgive me.”

“But I won’t.”

“Are you going to vote for that commie, McGovern?” I should note that Dad and many from my Woodside neighborhood were still ardent supporters of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI). In their view, anyone who disagreed with them was a commie.

“Well, I haven’t made up my mind. I really came up to vote for Jim Delaney (our Congressman).”

We stood there in silence both shaking our heads back and forth until I broke the ice. “I’ll agree not to vote for McGovern if you’ll agree not to vote for Nixon.”

“How do I know that you’ll keep your word?” he asked.

“We’ll go into the voting booth together.”

“Can we do that?”

“We can try.” I held out my hand to shake on it. “Deal?”

He smiled. “Deal.” We shook hands and walked to P.S. 151.

The voting machines had a curtain that closed when you pulled a handle that unlocked the voting levers. Standing alongside each booth was a uniformed police officer. Dad had lost an eye in the early 1950s as the result of an old boxing injury. What Dad didn’t know was that I intended to tell the police officer that he was disabled and needed assistance in the voting booth, which, of course, he didn’t.

When we finished greeting the many people we knew outside the school and in the school, we made our way to the table where our voter registration cards were checked by the clerk and a notation made in the registration book that we had voted.
“Come on, Dad. I’ll go first. You can come with me.”

Surprised, he looked at me. “Okay, sure.”

I edged up to the police officer. “He’s coming in with me. He can’t see that well. He needs help reading the machine labels.”

The officer smiled. “Sure. No problem.”

“Come on, Dad. Let’s vote.”

I kept my word and didn’t vote for president. When I finished voting for the candidates for Congress, the State Senate, the Assembly, and the judges, I pulled down the lever and the curtain opened. Then the moment of truth arrived. I pulled the curtain closed again.

“Hey, what are you trying to do?”

“I’m trying to help you vote.”

“Everything all right in there?” the police officer asked.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” I said.

When Dad went to flip the little switch over Nixon’s name, I put my hand on top of his. He looked at me angrily. “We have an agreement, Dad. I kept my end,” I said in a low voice.

“You guys all right in there?” the officer asked.

“Yeah, we’re fine,” I said.

“You son of a bitch.

“You’re talking about your wife, Dad – my mother.”

He looked at me with a wry smile. “I won’t forget this.”

I laughed. “Neither will I.”

We left P.S. 151 and walked toward the Jackson Club in silence. We arrived there to more silence. People were eating and drinking, but they were not their usual selves. It took a few hours before the alcohol took hold and people began to come out of their shells. In the time that I was there not a word was said about Nixon or McGovern. It was obvious that they had all taken a new political direction, and some would never return to their old habits.

The only other Republican to carry that neighborhood, and by a narrow margin, was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nixon won by a surprisingly large margin. Things would never be the same in Woodside when people voted for president. They had permanently unleashed themselves from a long-held tradition.

Helen Delich Bentley

August 10, 2016

Helen Delich Bentley died last week at the age of 92. She was a unique individual, tough, kind, profane, funny, and highly intelligent. She was a quick study on every subject she covered as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. She became an expert on the operations of the Port of Baltimore, its dock and warehouse workers, the trucking operations, the shipping lines, and the powerful labor unions representing those servicing the port, which she covered for almost 25 years before her appointment by President Richard Nixon as Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). She served in that capacity for six years and later in the U.S. Congress for ten years, resigning to run for governor of Maryland only to lose in the Republican primary. (more…)

Finding Your Way as the Vice Presidential Nominee

July 30, 2016

The initial days of a national campaign are sometimes awkward for the candidates and their staffs as they set out to convince a nation why it should support their candidacy and vote for them on Election Day. Planning travel and events, coordinating the campaign message, organizing supporters, fundraising, and dealing with unforeseen challenges and others issues are the daily scenario. I have been involved in two national campaigns and here I share one experience of the learning process in the days following the party’s national convention.

“How Do I Contact the Vice President?”

In early September, less than two weeks after the tumultuous 1968 Democratic Convention, I was asked the question, “How do I contact the Vice President?” by Senator Edmund S. Muskie (D-ME) the vice presidential running mate of U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey. (more…)

Summer Camp

July 12, 2016

If you happen to be in Grand Central Station on a Friday or Saturday morning this summer you might witness an old ritual, young children gathering with their parents as the children set out on the train for what to most of them will be a life altering experience -- separation from their parents to participate in adventures in the woods, on the water, and on the playing fields or courts where they will make new friends, experience new challenges, test their skills, and learn to fend for themselves.

I recall that experience in Northwest to Huguenot, a short story recently published in the Delmarva Review (Vol. 8, 2015). (more…)

Trumping a Trump

June 12, 2016

When Donald Trump was a teenager in 1962, a student at New York Military Academy, I had just finished my first year of law school at Georgetown and returned to New York City for the summer and a job in construction through my father’s union, Local 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Little did I realize that I would soon find myself working for Donald's father, Fred Trump. (more…)

Mother's Day

May 5, 2016

I get mixed emotions on Mother’s Day, the due date of my birth, which actually came a week later in 1937. To use an old New York expression, Mother was one “tough cookie.” Orphaned as a young girl, she and her sister Anne were raised by her aunt Lilly, who was also raising two daughters of her own of the same age.

Lilly, a widow, was also working as a waitress to feed and clothe the four girls. Mother fought hard for everything she ever attained, and she attained much, except for love, which she never got and therefore could never pass on. She was hot and cold, often stern and sometimes tender, and hard to please. Her one constant was her strong will and determination that she passed on to me. The following incident, which appears in my 2014 book, "Moments of Truth," occurred around Mother’s Day in 1956, illustrates her determination. (more…)

Deadlocked Convention?

April 13, 2016

As concerned Republicans look at their leading presidential choices, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, with some dread, they fear even more the possibility of a deadlocked convention in Cleveland this summer. Though Trump has a comfortable lead in the delegate count he still could fall short of the necessary 1,237 delegates necessary to sew up the nomination on the first ballot. Cruz’s strategy is keyed to such a scenario, hoping that on subsequent ballots he can pick off delegates pledged to Trump on the first ballot and leave Cleveland as the GOP standard bearer.

Trump, who eschews details, had failed to read the rules in the various states pertaining to the selection of Republican delegates. His eyes now open with things not going his way, he sees things differently. Cruz has used his knowledge of those rules to pick off delegates that Trump claims rightfully belong to him. As expected, Trump is now airing his concern with charges of fraud, lack of democracy, and inconsistency in the state-by-state delegate selection process.

In one of the stories in a recent memoir, Moments of Truth, I wrote about a similar situation, the drama leading up to the uncertainty in the 1976 Republican Convention in Kansas City that pitted incumbent President Gerald R. Ford against his capable challenger, former California Governor Ronald Reagan. At that time, only 1,130 votes were needed to secure the nomination. The story is as follows: (more…)

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