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Pignanelli and Webb: Trump, more Trump and term limits

President Donald Trump speaks to the media about the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller to Congress, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media about the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller to Congress, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at the White House in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin, AP

In the last several weeks, the country has endured incredible searing heat. But that’s not just the record-breaking weather — it’s the never-ending political controversies: Allegations of racism, immigration pressures and dramatic congressional investigations. We explore the impact on Utah.

Recently, a poll conducted by and reported in the Deseret News indicated a majority of Utah voters disapprove of Pres. Donald Trump’s job performance and only a plurality of voters support his reelection. What does this mean for “red state” Utah politics?

Pignanelli: "Trump has a tendency to make his own weather” — Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

This poll is extremely valuable to politicos as a treasure map, detailing land mines and obstacles lurking along an election path. Obviously, Trump is the antithesis of the average Utahn in so many ways — explaining why 53% disapprove of him.

These dynamics are challenging for all candidates of either stripe in 2020. Republicans cannot be viewed as too close to the president. Yet, the survey subtly reminds Democrats to establish clear distance from their party nominee — especially if debate statements indicate campaign promises.

The GOP should be concerned as this poll highlights that 67% of millennials and Generation Z dislike the president. Also, 18-34 year-olds really do care about tolerance and diversity, demanding such behavior in officials. This is especially reflected in the younger 4th Congressional District and its lower acceptance for Trump. However, most older Utahns support the president — and they vote.

Although the poll provides a path, implementation is difficult. Republicans who stiff-arm Trump face outcry from the right as will Democrats confront criticism when maintaining distance from the other presidential candidate.

Trump wins Utah again, while smart politicians in tougher races follow the map, thereby deftly avoiding land mines and shrewdly maneuvering through obstacles.

Webb: Trump isn’t going to lose Utah to one of the very liberal Democratic presidential candidates, but he also isn’t going to be any real help, and he might hurt, in the 4th Congressional District where Republicans hope to defeat Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams.

Attitudes about Trump basically split three ways: His base absolutely loves him and will stick with him no matter what he does. They love his political incorrectness, his brashness, his certainty, and especially his willingness to take on the news media, the establishment, illegal immigrants and foreign countries.

Another group absolutely hates everything about Trump. They hate his personality, his policies, his cockiness, his arrogance. To them he’s a juvenile delinquent.

A final group is in the middle (me among them). Most of the people in this group don’t like Trump’s personality, his incessant tweeting, his name-calling and the way he mocks other people. But they do like most of his policies, his economic success and many like his tougher stance against America’s adversaries and trade fairness.

I don’t believe Trump can win only with his base. But he seems not interested in appealing to anyone else.

For those of us in the middle group, the choice comes down to whether we like Trump’s policies enough to vote for him, despite his character flaws, or will we take a chance on an arch-liberal whose answer to every problem is more government and higher taxes.

While most Utahns were celebrating Pioneer Day last Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before two congressional committees. Does anyone in the Beehive State care?

Pignanelli: Although a weird news junkie, even I could not stomach the entire ordeal, and often switched channels for glimpses of parade floats and bands. Mueller’s testimony did not provide any clear winners and losers. One media pundit conveniently observed Mueller was neither a punching bag nor a pawn.

Muller is a decent person who cares about his country and holds concerns about foreign governments corrupting our election process. Hopefully leaders take heed. Otherwise, the greatest tragedy is allowing these attacks on America to continue.

Webb: Here’s how to reelect Trump: Continue investigating every detail of his life. Keep holding hearings. Start impeachment proceedings. Ignore the problems facing the country and obsess about Trump. Make every news story every day about Trump, Trump, Trump.

Voters aren’t paying attention. Voters are much more concerned about health care, immigration, the economy and taxes.

Attempting to leverage frustration with politics, the United Utah Party launched an initiative petition to impose term limits on state officials. Does this effort have a chance?

Pignanelli: The biggest lesson learned from the unprecedented number of initiatives filed in 2018 is success depends upon money — mostly from out of state. Unless these resources materialize, this effort gains little traction. Further, Utah defeated the 1994 Term Limit Initiative and no one raised a peep when the statutory limitations were erased nine years later.

Webb: Successful or not, proposing a ballot measure is a good strategy to draw attention to the United Utah Party and give it a reason to exist. The party can ride this ballot proposal, get some visibility and make it an election issue if they can get it on the ballot.