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Now It's Personal: Koch Brothers "Freeze Out" Donald Trump

"He's not going away," warns one Republican committee member, adding "there are people who think his candidacy is a flash in the pan or a flash in the moment, but I think that underestimates his appeal." As Reuters reports, Trump has surged since suffering a slight downtick in the wake of the McCain furor, rocketing to 24.9% on Tuesday (compared to his closest rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who trails at 12%). With everyone asking 'what can derail this?', perhaps, there is something. As Politico reports, the massively influential Koch brothers are freezing out Donald Trump from their influential political operation - denying him access to their state-of-the-art data and refusing to let him speak to their gatherings of grass-roots activists or major donors.

 

As Reuters reports,

 Predictions of his demise were apparently premature. Instead, Trump is gaining momentum ahead of next week's first Republican debate, a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows.

 

The poll shows Trump with his greatest support yet nationally, as nearly a quarter of Republicans surveyed said he would be their choice as the party's presidential nominee in 2016. He has opened up a double-digit lead over his closest rival, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who trails at 12 percent.

 

"I’m proud to be in first place by such a wide margin in another national poll," Trump said in a statement to Reuters.

 

Trump has surged since suffering a slight downtick in the wake of the McCain furor. The five-day rolling online poll had the real-estate mogul and reality TV star at 15 percent among Republicans on Friday before rocketing to 24.9 percent on Tuesday.

 

...

 

But perhaps of greater concern to establishment Republicans, Reuters/Ipsos polling also shows that in a three-way race with Trump running as an independent in the general election, Trump would drain support from the Republican nominee and allow the Democrat, likely Hillary Clinton, to skate to victory.

 

Trump has refused to rule out a possible independent run. In a matchup with Clinton and Bush, he would essentially tie Bush at about 23 percent among likely voters, with Clinton winning the White House with 37 percent of the vote. (About 15 percent of those polled said they were undecided or would not vote.)

 

It is that scenario that should keep party strategists up at night.

Which prehaps explains, as Politico reports, The Koch brothers decision to freeze-out The Donald from their operations...

Despite a long and cordial relationship between the real estate showman and David Koch, as well as a raft of former Koch operatives who are now running Trump’s presidential campaign, the Koch political operation appears to have concluded that Trump is the wrong standard-bearer for the GOP. And the network of Koch-backed policy and political outfits is using behind-the-scenes influence to challenge Trump more forcefully than the Republican Party establishment — by limiting his access to the support and data that would help him translate his lead in the polls into a sustainable White House campaign.

 

The Koch operation has spurned entreaties from the Trump campaign to purchase state-of-the-art data and analytics services from a Koch-backed political tech firm called i360, and also turned down a request to allow Trump to speak at an annual grass-roots summit next month in Columbus, Ohio, sponsored by the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, POLITICO has learned.

 

...

 

Continued stiff-arming by the powerful Koch network could limit Trump’s ability to build a professional campaign operation to mobilize supporters ahead of primaries and caucuses.

 

“The good news is that Donald Trump doesn’t need the Koch brothers, and he can do this perfectly without their assistance,” said Josh Youssef, who’s chairing Trump’s campaign in Belknap County, New Hampshire. Of the Kochs, Youssef said: “Their motivations are clearly not to break the mold of political insider-ship. Their goal is to keep the wheel spinning. Trump’s bad for business for them.”

 

Still, the Koch network’s rejections of Trump are telling because of the relationships between Trump and his aides, and the Kochs and their operation.

*  *  *

We conclude with the two opposing views from within the Republican party...

"The activists are doubly angry," Geer said. "He's capturing that anger. They're looking for a voice, and he happens to be here at the right time.”

and

"The curtain has not been pulled back yet," Feehery said. "In time, people will see Trump is not who they want to have as a nominee. But that’s going to take awhile."