NEWS AND OPINION:
Donald Trump made multiple media appearances this week. But they are overshadowed by the appearance he made Friday before Friends of Abe, a fellowship of Hollywood conservatives founded almost a decade ago by actors Kelsey Grammer and Gary Sinise, plus veteran producer Lionel Chetwynd. Though Mr. Trump is very much in his element among the rich and artistic, the appearance showcases him not as billionaire reality TV star but as Republican presidential hopeful. The low-profile group, which was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS last year, has already hosted such high-profile speakers as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Rep. Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain in past years. Their very quiet membership includes Oscar winner Jon Voight, crooner Pat Boone and, before his death, media maven Andrew Breitbart. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Trump reveals the details of his appearance in the aftermath.
Meanwhile, another group reports that Hollywood itself is getting a little redder these days.
“There seems to be more interest in the Hollywood GOP as of late. I’ve had quite a few people, even from different states, that are looking to get involved with our organization,” Mell Flynn, president of the independent Hollywood Congress of Republicans, tells Inside the Beltway. “There are still a lot of conservatives that are ‘in the closet’ and are afraid to express their political views, fearing negative repercussions. Once they hear that there are others in entertainment that think the same as they do, they feel a sense of relief. They are happy to know that they are not alone.”
Mr. Flynn adds, “The main thing that distinguishes us from other GOP groups is that the majority of our members are in the entertainment industry. Therefore, some of us have a bigger microphone, and we use our creative talents to get the conservative message out. Those of us in the Hollywood GOP basically have the same concerns and beliefs as other conservatives. Two of our top issues include national security and economic growth. Both of these are vital for us to remain the great nation that we are.”
THE PERSISTENCE OF TRUMP
Yes, he is seemingly everywhere. Donald Trump has been before multiple microphones, rattled the Republican cage and remained unapologetic about most of his arguments and activities. And heavens, to the dismay of his critics, Mr. Trump continues to lead GOP voter polls, according to surveys from The Economist/YouGov — where he leads a field of 15 — and Public Policy Polling, where he leads the field among North Carolina voters. Leave it to another poll to explain, at least in part, the billionaire’s appeal: “Most voters — 53 percent — and 76 percent of Republicans, agree with Trump that illegal immigration increases the level of serious crime in America.”
As the Miami Herald put it, “Trump’s bluster gets the attention and moves the polls.”
RIGHT TO LIFE READY TO RUMBLE
Four pro-life presidential hopefuls journey to Louisiana on Friday to appear at the National Right to Life Convention, now underway in New Orleans, with added appearances from Gov. Bobby Jindal, plus Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy, among many. Ready to share ideas with a very motivated audience that has promised to be a “voice for the voiceless”: Sen. Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum.
“In the struggle for basic human rights, I am so proud of the attendees who are steadfast in their efforts to protect vulnerable members of the human family. The diverse crowd, representing every segment of the population, demonstrates what polls have repeatedly shown: that the majority of Americans oppose abortion on demand,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias tells Inside the Beltway.
“Our speakers are dynamic, our attendees are primed, and, as a result of the training that will take place this weekend, lives will be saved. I cannot wait to see how activists across the nation will use this training to impact their communities and protect the defenseless. Change will come when pro-life Americans stand up to be a voice for the voiceless,” she adds.
VEGAS GOES FOR ‘FREE MINDS’
The aforementioned Mr. Trump will be there. So will fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Mike Lee, Gary Johnson, Allen West, Glenn Beck, Steve Forbes, Dinesh D’Souza, Matt Kibbe, Grover Norquist, John Stossel and Paul Krugman, to name but a few. They are all bound for Las Vegas, and FreedomFest — billed as “the largest gathering of free minds.” There are dozens of speakers, lots of noise, debates, summits and even a film festival. It is worth a peek: FreedomFest.com.
Last month set a new record for the number of background checks ever conducted during the month of June in the 17-year history of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, prompting the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to declare that, for the seventh year in a row, President Obama is “the best gun salesman in the United States.”
Organization Chairman Alan Gottlieb cites new data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation revealing that instant checks numbered 886,825 in June, the highest on record. The second-quarter figure was the second-highest in the system’s history, at 2,793,230 checks.
“Barack Obama is a heck of a gun salesman,” a mirthful Mr. Gottlieb observes. “All he has to do is complain in an interview about his disappointment at not being able to push more gun control, and sales spike. On the plus side, this has brought more than $808 million into the federal aid to wildlife restoration program this year, according to figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And it has brought many new people into the ranks of shooters and gun owners, including lots more women.”
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POLL DU JOUR
• 71 percent of Republicans are “satisfied” with the field of GOP candidates running for president.
• 57 percent of Democrats are satisfied with the Democratic field.
• 55 percent of Democrats favor Hillary Rodham Clinton, 24 percent favor Sen. Bernard Sanders, 8 percent favor Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 1 percent each favor James Webb and Martin O’Malley.
• 27 percent of Democrats would like to see “someone else run” besides the current field.
• 18 percent of Republicans would like to see “someone else run” besides the current field.
• 15 percent of Republicans favor Donald Trump, 11 percent Jeb Bush, 11 percent Sen. Rand Paul, 9 percent Gov. Scott Walker, 9 percent Sen. Marco Rubio, 9 percent Mike Huckabee, 7 percent Ben Carson, 6 percent Gov. Chris Christie, 4 percent Sen. Ted Cruz, 3 percent Carly Fiorina, 3 percent Rick Perry.
Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted July 4-6 and released Thursday.
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