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US missile shield unable to repel massive Russian ICBM attack – chief of strategic missile forces
The analysis of Russian military experts has found that “neither the firepower potential, nor the data computing capacity of the currently deployed US missile defense” installations could deal with a swarm attack of the Russian nuclear triad, Strategic Missile Troops Commander, Colonel General Sergey Karakaev, told journalists Wednesday.
He pointed to the estimates of American experts who believe an effective missile defense system must consist of various integrated types of missile interception means, be it kinetic or laser systems, deployed in all environments, including in space. Such multi-layered defense would be able to engage missiles in the air and warheads in space.
The long-term development plans of Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops have been corrected to take into consideration the predicted scale and pace of US missile defense development, the general said.
The Strategic Missile Troops plans to introduce some “brand new and effective means and techniques to penetrate any missile defense system,” General Karakaev said, stressing that Russian ballistic missiles are capable of engaging targets“anywhere in the world.”
Next-gen ballistic missiles with breakthrough characteristics, carrying new means to penetrate ABM systems, would“guarantee to neutralize emerging potential threats,” Karakaev said.
Modern ICBMs currently account for up to 56 percent of the nuclear arsenal and by 2022 all outdated ballistic missile systems are going to be replaced with new ones, Karakaev said. He has been informed that research and development work for the new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile system, Sarmat, has been completed and next year full-scale tests are set to begin at the Plesetsk military cosmodrome.
Every year, a minimum of four to five missile regiments of Yars mobile systems are entering service, Karakaev reported. In June, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would add 40 new-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal in 2015.
The design stage of the Barguzin “missile train” system has also been completed and the project is entering the next, engineering, stage, Karakaev said.
Strategic Missile Troops have conducted seven test launches in 2015, with one experimental missile operation remaining by the end of December. Next year the number of missile launches will be increased twofold, to 16 tests.
A new integrated automated system to be installed at Strategic, Missile Troops installations beginning 2016 would allow, among many other new features, to perform operative changes of mission for ballistic missiles.
This year American survey teams inspected the Strategic Missile Troops installations 12 times, General Karakaev said. Washington and Moscow exchange data on the current state of the national strategic nuclear weapons twice a year, on March 1 and September 1, he added.
Karakaev said he sees no need to deploy strategic missiles with conventional warheads against the terrorists of Islamic State, saying it would be irrational since “every target deserves its own effective and suitable killing agent.”
At the same time, Karakaev pointed out that the use of ballistic missiles would be carried out with authorization of the supreme commander, the president of Russia.
“In case there is a political decision, the Strategic Missile Troops are ready to execute any assigned mission,” Karakaev said.
Hanover (Germany) (AFP) – Tens of thousands of opponents of a proposed transatlantic trade deal poured onto German streets Saturday on the eve of a visit by US President Barack Obama.
A loose coalition of trade unions, environmentalists and consumer protection groups in the northern city of Hanover said they drew a crowd of 90,000 to a march and rally outside the city’s opera house.
Police mobilised a large force to keep the peace and put attendance at 35,000.
Obama’s trip — to open an industrial technology fair and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders — was intended to lend momentum to flagging efforts to see the world’s biggest trade pact finalised this year.
On a visit to London on Saturday, Obama sought to address sceptics’ fears head-on, admitting that some past trade agreements had “served the interests of large corporations and not necessarily of workers in the countries that participate in them”.
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has run into major opposition, not least in Europe’s top economy Germany, where critics have raised the spectre of eroding ecological and labour market standards and condemned secrecy shrouding the talks.
As the whistle-blowing crowd moved through Hanover in unseasonably cold weather, one banner reading “Don’t give TTIP a chance” featured the image of a bull tagged “privatisation” and a cow branded “democracy”.
A mock coffin was emblazoned with the words “Democracy killed by money”.
Dieter Berlin, a 73-year-old pensioner, attended the rally with his wife Hanna, waving a banner reading “No GMOs on our plates” in a reference to genetically modified foods.
Berlin said he had turned out over fears of a race to the bottom with free trade.
“We want to keep our educational standards, not adopt the American educational system. And we want to hold onto our environmental standards too,” he said.
His friend Heino Kirchhof, 73, said TTIP would widen the gulf “between poor and rich — that is going to threaten the stability of the world.”
Another demonstrator, 38-year-old Ladislav Jelinek of the Czech Republic, said he worried that pollution and food safety protections could be hollowed out by the treaty.
“There is no need to damage the environment more than we already did,” he said. “European society doesn’t need to progress at the expense of animals, water and the air.”
– Support in freefall –
A similar protest in October in Berlin drew up to 250,000 people, according to organisers, signalling an uphill battle for the deal’s passage.
In a video statement on Saturday, Merkel insisted that TTIP would not ride roughshod over citizens’ rights or interests.
“We don’t want people to have the impression that something is being hushed up here, or that norms are being undermined. The opposite is true,” she said.
In what she called a “win-win situation”, Europe and the United States had the opportunity to agree on environmental and consumer protection principles that, due to the massive size of the market, “could set global standards”.
After talks with Obama on Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron also insisted TTIP “would add billions to our economies and set the standards for the rest of the world to follow”.
The Hanover meeting comes just before a 13th round of TTIP negotiations starts in New York on Monday.
But scepticism in the face of those arguments is growing in Germany, and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel admitted this week: “It is possible that TTIP will fail.”
Just 17 percent of Germans say they support TTIP, according to a Bertelsmann Foundation poll of more than 3,000 people published Thursday, well down on the 55 percent registered two years ago.
During the same period, firm opposition to the pact rose to 33 percent from 25 percent.
The picture in the United States is hardly more promising.
The “Yes” camp has shrunk to 15 percent from 53 percent, while nearly half — 46 percent — say they feel too ill-informed to have an opinion.
Given the lack of political capital available to a “lame duck” president, US and European analysts said, the White House was more likely to aggressively pursue ratification of one of Obama’s signal achievements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) with Asia, than to struggle to complete negotiations on TTIP.
Russia has announced plans to deploy its state-of-the-art S-500 Prometheus ballistic and hypersonic missile defense system this year.
“We are expecting the first models of the S-500 air defense systems very soon,” RT quoted Russian Aerospace Forces Vice-Commander Lieutenant General Viktor Gumenny as saying on Friday.
According to reports, Russia’s Defense Ministry has already ordered five of the systems which are currently passing their final testing stages.
Viktor Murakhovsky, a member of the Military-Industrial Commission advisory council, said the new complex will be highly superior to its previous models such as the S-400.
The long-range, high-altitude intercept complex can reportedly simultaneously engage 10 targets moving as fast as seven kilometers per second—the approximate speed of an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile armed with nuclear warheads.
The system will able to destroy targets within a range of 600 kilometers, in altitudes of 180-200 kilometers and will be integrated with Moscow’s current air-defenses.
Russia also plans to replace its S-300PS mobile SAM missile systems with the S-350 Vityaz (Knight) medium- and short-range complexes. The Vityaz is capable of carrying 12 projectiles while the S-300 can carry only four.
“The prototype tests of the antiaircraft missile system S-350 Vityaz of the air defense forces are currently going on. The first launches have been successful and the system has proved its characteristics and will be used on a large scale for the replacement of the antiaircraft missile system S-300PS,” added Gumenny.
The S-350 will utilize smaller, lighter and more maneuverable missiles, which function better in ultra-low and maximum heights and have longer ranges than their predecessors.
11 Horrible Historical Inaccuracies in The History Channel’s VIKINGS Series
11 Horrible Historical Inaccuracies in The History Channel’s VIKINGS Series
By Peter Hammond, Contributing Writer
VIKINGS, an Irish-Canadian television series written and created by Michael Hirst, for the History Channel, and filmed in Ireland, has been tremendously successful. The life and times of Viking Ragnar Lodbrok, “a farmer who rose to fame by successful raids into England and eventually became king of Denmark,” has gripped popular imagination and renewed interest in the Vikings. Indeed, most of the enthusiastic fans of the VIKINGS series were probably not even aware of much of the history of the Vikings before this series were launched March 2013. VIKINGS is now in a fourth season, and they are already working on their fifth season. One understands that some artistic licence needs to be made for films, but the Michael Hirst TV series for the History Channel is awash in serious inaccuracies.
1. Where are their helmets? Inexplicably, none of the Vikings seem to wear any helmets in combat. Considering that most combat fatalities come from head wounds, the helmet was the single most important piece of armour for any veteran warrior. Viking helmets were advanced and effective, presenting a terrifying visage to their enemies. Viking helmets were effective at intimidating their enemies. Most, when faced with these Viking warriors emerging from the sea, with helmet, shield, chain-mail armour and sword, or axe, and spear, fled without even attempting to oppose them. Presumably, the filmmakers wanted their stars to be easily identified and so have dispensed with helmets entirely. Many of their key actors, such as Rollo, survives despite wearing no armour at all and are presented as fighting wearing only trousers!
2. Anachronisms abound. Many of the Vikings are depicted as shaving their heads, including Ragnar, who apparently has his head covered in tattoos. There is no historic evidence that Vikings did that. Anyone who has lived in Scandinavia would be aware of the incredibly biting cold. To deliberately remove the hair from ones’ head when living in often icy conditions and sailing the open seas, would be insane.
3. Absence of security for settlements. There are some gut-wrenching scenes of massacres of civilians, women and children, depicted in VIKINGS. However, these are not of Saxon civilians killed by Viking invaders, but Viking settlers killed by brutal and treacherous Saxons! In a bizarre twist, the History Channel portrays the Vikings as settling without any semblance of security, with indefensible villages spread out in the open, without any form of stockade, fortification or protective measures. Not even towers are erected. That just never happened. Considering that the Vikings were invaders, they took extraordinary measures to erect comprehensive fortification structures, normally in circles, surrounded by a moat and sharpened stakes, with all their habitations neatly organised within this fortification. Archaeologists are still digging up these Viking settlements within the British Isles. Yet, the History Channel would have us believe that these ultimate warriors would recklessly spread their wives and children out on indefensible landscapes in foreign lands, without any provision made to protect them from slaughter!
4. Inexplicably, Hirst’s VIKINGS television series depicts the temple to Odin at Uppsala as a wooden stave church in the mountains. The historic temple was actually situated on flat land and the stave churches were a hallmark of Christian architecture from the 11th Century onward.
5. Crucifixion by Christians!? Hirst’s VIKINGS program portrays a crucifixion of a prominent character, the Christian monk, Athelstan, who had been abducted from Lindisfarne monastery, as being crucified by orders of a Christian bishop in Wessex! There is absolutely no case recorded where Christians used this form of execution to punish apostates. The Emperor Constantine officially outlawed crucifixion in the 4th Century. Not only would such a mode of execution be abhorrent and blasphemous to any Christian, but there is no example of any Christians anywhere, let alone in Wessex, in the 9th Century, practising it. Since the Roman era, only anti-Christian groups, such as Communists, or Muslims, have been known to use the crucifixion torture against Christians.
6. Anachronistic clothing and fashions. The wardrobe department has evidently had a lot of fun clothing the actors. However, many of the fashions seem more 20th and 21st Century, particularly the leather trouser designs. Some of the outfits seem to have come from a futuristic Mad Max episode. As for the bizarre and impractical hairstyles, shaven heads and superabundance of tattoos, it would appear that great liberties have been taken with actual Viking culture and history.
7. The dates don’t add up. Appropriately, the VIKING series begins with 793 A.D., with the launch of the Viking age, the notorious raid on Lindisfarne monastery. However, the same man, Ragnar Lodbrok, who is meant to have been involved in the raid of Lindisfarne, is historically the one who led the siege of Paris in 846 B.C. That would have made him extremely old indeed by that time if he had also been at Lindisfarne in 793!
8. Rollo was not Ragnar’s brother. The famous Viking Rollo (846 – 932 A.D.) seized Rouen in 876 A.D. and led the Viking fleet that besieged Paris 885-886 A.D. He was baptized as a Christian, married a French princess and it was his great, great, great grandson, William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066 and became William I of England. Therefore, Rollo is one of the ancestors of the present-day British Royal family. Chronologically, there is no way he could have been contemporary with Ragnar Lodbrok, let alone his brother.
9. What do we know of Ragnar Lodbrok? The Norse Sagas identify Ragnar Lodbrok as the father of Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and Ubba. He was married three times: to the shield maiden Lagertha, to the noble woman Dôra, and to Aslaug (all Scandinavian women). Ragnar was the son of the Swedish king Sigurd Hring and a cousin of the Danish king, Gudfred. He distinguished himself with many raids and conquests, including the first siege of Paris, 846 A.D. He was seized by King Aella of Northumbria and killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes. His sons avenged him by invading England with the Great Heathen Army in 865 A.D.
10. In VIKINGS, the Christian are made out to be more treacherous than the heathen! Inexplicably, Hirst’s History Channel saga depicts the Christians as more treacherous, vile and perverted than the heathen! That of course does not line up with the facts of history.
11. The Missionary Ansgar was not the failure that Hirst depicts being executed by queen Aslaug when he failed a test. In fact Ansgar (801-865) known as The Apostle to the North, not only lived a long life, but succeeded in winning Vikings to Christ. Numerous miracles accompanied his ministry and so impressed the Vikings, that they concluded that Christ is greater than Thor. Not that you would know any of this from watching Hirst’s History Channel fiction.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Peter Hammond is a Missionary in Africa with Frontline Fellowship P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725 Cape Town South Africa, Tel: 021-689-4480 Email: email@example.com Website: www.frontline.org.za.
For an account of how the Vikings were won to Christ, see “Winning the Vikings for Christ on www.ReformationSA.org. This can also be viewed as a PowerPointwith pictures though our Slideshare link. You can also listen to an audio lecture, “How the Vikings Were Won to Christ, on our SermonAudio.com link.
‘Demonic’ arches rising in New York and London on April 19: ‘Welcome signs’ for the Antichrist?
Christians should watch out for two events that would take place simultaneously on April 19 in New York City and London, Christian author Michael Synder says.
On that day, reproductions of the arch that stood in front of the Temple of Baal in Palmyra, Syria are going to be erected in Times Square and in Trafalgar Square. That would coincide with an occult festival related to the worship of a demon named Baal.
Writing for Charisma News, Synder wonders whether the arches to be installed would be the giant “welcome signs” for the Antichrist.
The author says his fears are based on these facts:
“April 19 is the first day of a 13-day period of time known as ‘the Blood Sacrifice to the Beast’ that culminates on the high occult holy day of Beltane on May 1,” he says.
April 19 is also the date of the Feast of Moloch, an ancient Canaanite god that is repeatedly vilified in the Old Testament.
Synder also notes a series of horrific events that occurred on April 19:
● April 19, 1993 – Waco Massacre: An FBI assault lead to the burning down of the compound of a sect named Branch Davidians, killing 76 men, women and children.
● April 19, 1995 – Oklahoma City bombing – 168 people killed.
● April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School massacre – 13 people murdered, 21 injured.
● April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech massacre – 32 killed; 17 injured.
● April 16, 2013 – Boston Marathon explosions – 3 killed; 107 injured.
● April 19, 2013 – Boston terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev shot to death.
Synder also notes that since 2016 is a leap year, April 20 will be the 111th day of the year, and triple numbers are considered to be “power dates” in the occult world.
He says the worship of Baal can be traced all the way back to an ancient king of Babylon that is known in Sumerian sources as Enmerkar, but that is known in the Bible as Nimrod.
Nimrod established the very first “New World Order” in the ancient world, and he fundamentally changed the course of human history.
After he died, this ancient king of Babylon eventually came to be worshipped as a sun god under different names: Marduk, Osiris, and Apollo among others.
Many secret societies and occult groups believe that someday this ancient deity will be “resurrected” and will once again take his place as the ruler of the world.
Moreover, many Christian scholars believe that there is a connection between Nimrod and the coming Antichrist.
Synder wonders: “Is it just a coincidence that we are erecting arches for this ancient deity in New York and London on a date that is exceedingly significant for those that worship this ancient deity? Could it be possible that there is more to these ‘gateways’ that are being constructed than we are being told?”
The author notes that mankind has entered a period of time known in the Bible as “the last days.”
“From this point forward, things are going to get much, much stranger. Ultimately, the world that we live in is going to come to resemble something out of a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel,” Synder warns.
Massive solar storm would pose considerable dangers – are we ready?
Anthony Wood April 8, 2016
Across the globe, the scientific community and governmental bodies are preparing for the threat posed by the potential of a massive geomagnetic solar storm striking Earth. These space weather events have the capacity to cripple vital technology-based infrastructures, and of causing a cascade that could lead to unforeseeable dangers.
Since the birth of modern technology, space weather has been responsible for large scale blackouts, technical faults in deep space exploration missions, and severe interference in flight-control systems for commercial aircraft.
One of the most powerful solar storms in history, known as the Carrington Event, occurred in 1859 and succeeded in disabling the global telegraph system. Whilst the Carrington Event was indeed impressive, humanity has yet to be struck by a truly massive solar storm.
Numerous orbital and ground-based telescopes, such as the Big Bear Solar Observatory, California, and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, are tasked with observing the Sun, and unravelling the mechanisms that create space weather.
The SDO is charged with maintaining a near-constant vigil on our star, and acting as an early warning system for potentially hostile space weather. Alongside providing insights into solar mechanics, the observatory has allowed for the creation of stunning time-lapse videos of our Sun, which work to convey the powerful stellar processes occurring on a daily basis.
While we are bolstering our early warning capabilities, the fact remains that, as it stands, we are alarmingly unprepared for the onslaught of a hugely powerful solar storm. A team of astronomers recently discovered that our Sun is indeed capable of producing such an event.
Known as superflares, the powerful solar storms have been observed taking place on numerous stars throughout the cosmos. It had previously been thought that our Sun’s magnetic field was simply too weak to manifest a stellar event of this magnitude.
However, a recent study that surveyed the magnetic fields of roughly 100,000 stars appears to have proven this initial assumption incorrect by revealing that roughly 10 percent of the stars exhibiting super flares hosted a magnetic field equal to, or weaker than that of the Sun. Furthermore, based an analysis of tree-rings samples, it is thought that Earth may have endured minor superflare events in the ancient past.
It is estimated that the storms were roughly 10 – 100 times more powerful than any event recorded to date. A powerful solar storm such as this would wreak havoc on a global scale. Damage to communication and GPS satellites would effectively cripple air travel and GPS navigation systems.
Household and exterior lights would be knocked out, as well as telephone networks and computers, which would likely have their hard drives wiped. Our energy infrastructure would be knocked out of action, and intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation could erode water and sewage pipes. The cumulative effect of the space weather would in all likelihood bring the world economy to a grinding halt.
The dangers listed above are only a few of the threats that we can anticipate and exclude the potential environmental damage that such a storm could wreak on Earth’s protective ozone layer. However experts are warning that the hyper interconnected nature of modern society, and its reliance on technology will most likely result in a cascade of unforeseeable consequences when elements of the technological structure we rely on are disrupted.
Due to the above factors, American governmental agencies including NASA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated the threat of a powerful solar storm as a “low-probability but high impact event.”
In 2013, the insurance company Lloyds of London issued a report laying out its estimates regarding the scope and cost of a large storm battering Earth. By its calculations, between 20 to 40 million people could be affected for a period of 1-2 years, depending on the availability of replacement transformers needed to restore electric supplies. The company also estimated the cost of recovering from such an event between US$600 billion to $2.6 trillion.
The US military is preparing for such an event by increasing its satellite-based space weather monitoring capabilities in the hope of safeguarding assets such as drones, which would be lost if the link between pilot and vehicle were to be severed.
FEMA recently added space weather as a key factor in its daily operations briefings, and hope to develop a thunderstorm-like scale for predicting the magnitude of solar storms. In recent years, a number of symposiums and conferences have been chaired highlighting the threat posed by space weather, and calling for further research in the field aimed at the development of practical technologies that could safeguard vital systems.
“The technological and biological impacts of severe space weather events are now firmly in the federal government’s sights,” states Andrew Gerrard, director for the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. “All things being equal, increased research funding from the represented federal agencies will further bolster the incorporation of ‘space weather’ into our daily lives. Such development will enable the solar-terrestrial community to, for the first time, see a solar storm, track its approach, and prepare accordingly.”
Trump team vows to win delegate majority as rivals prepare for open convention
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New York holds its primaries on April 19. Stay caught up with the race.
Wyoming Democratic primary
CANDIDATE VOTES %
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The 5 big states that will likely decide both nominations
Delegates at stake for the Democrats: 247 Delegates at stake for the Republicans: 95
Delegates at stake for the Democrats: 189 Delegates at stake for the Republicans: 71
Not a key state for Democrats. Delegates at stake for the Republicans: 57
Delegates at stake for the Democrats: 475 Delegates at stake for the Republicans: 172
Not a key state for Republicans. Delegates at stake for the Democrats: 126
Everything you need to know about the delegate race ahead
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New York Democratic polling averages
It may be a make-or-break contest on the Democratic side. A Clinton loss in New York would bolster Sanders’s claim that he can still catch up to her and become the nominee.
New York GOP polling averages
Donald Trump: 54%
Trump enjoys broad support in this state, which has 95 delegates at stake.
Ted Cruz: 22%
Cruz’s repeated attacks on Trump’s “New York values” don’t play well in the state.
John Kasich: 19%
Kasich sees an opportunity if New York stays skeptical of Cruz.
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The upcoming voting schedule
Both parties vote in New York.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island hold primaries.
Indiana holds it primary contests.
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The earliest that Donald Trump could assemble the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination is on the final day of the primary season, June 7, 2016, when the big states of California and New Jersey vote. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Dan Balz, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa April 9 at 1:00 PM
NEW YORK — Leaders of Donald Trump’s new campaign team said they have revised targets that would make the real estate mogul the presumptive Republican presidential nominee by mid-May and that would win him the delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the party’s convention this summer.
To do so, Trump would have to go on a month-long hot streak, starting in New York on April 19, that would deliver a sizable haul of delegates — including increased commitments from those who are unbound — and silence the widespread talk that his unpopularity and his campaign’s sloppy execution have made it nearly impossible to avoid a contested convention.
The earliest Trump could assemble the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination is on the final day of the primary season, June 7, when the big states of California and New Jersey vote. Between now and then, he needs to win nearly 60 percent of the delegates still available — a higher percentage than he has thus far.
“Our target date is June 7, but our goal is in the middle of May to be the presumptive nominee,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s newly installed convention manager, who has been given broad authority to shape the campaign, said in a wide-ranging interview here.
The expressions of confidence come as Trump has begun a significant transition in his campaign, one designed to build ties to the institutional Republican Party, allay fears about a possible general election defeat and adopt more traditional elements in what has been an impulsive operation.
Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz on the campaign trail
View Photos The Texas Republican was the first major presidential candidate to formally declare a bid.
Trump’s remaining two rivals — Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — offer a distinctly different assessment. They see the race transitioning into a more granular phase as the three candidates compete to win committed delegates and persuade those who are unbound. They are convinced — as, increasingly, are many party leaders — that the Cleveland convention in July will be contested.
That outcome would result in two weeks of fights over rules, credentials, platform planks and eventually the nomination itself. In the absence of a nominee, it will fall to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to stage manage the potential chaos. The RNC already has a group at work trying to anticipate flash points or trouble spots and to think through how to smooth a process that has not occurred in decades.
The unresolved drama leaves the Republican Party and its candidates partially frozen at a moment when ordinarily a presumptive nominee would begin the arduous job of uniting the party; raising money, hiring staffers and opening offices in fall swing states; vetting and selecting a vice presidential running mate; appealing to a broader electorate; and drawing contrasts with the other party.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was free to do just that four years ago this Sunday, when former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) dropped out of the race.
“These are all big, tough moves that must be coordinated and implemented flawlessly,” said Scott Reed, a veteran GOP strategist who now advises the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
To get an early start, the RNC has begun talks with the three remaining campaigns about entering joint fundraising agreements, RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer said. This arrangement — similar to one Hillary Clinton has with the Democratic National Committee — would enable the candidates to raise money for the national party at far higher levels than the $2,700-per-person legal limit for individual campaigns.
Meanwhile, the RNC has invested in data programs and built a ground organization in the battleground states that the eventual nominee stands to inherit.
Trump captures the nation’s attention on the campaign trail
View Photos The Republican candidate continues to dominate the presidential contest.
“The RNC is exponentially better equipped and staffed than at any point in history,” Spicer said. When Romney assumed the nomination, Spicer said, “we had four people in the field in 2012. We now have hundreds, and they’ve spent multiple years doing voter contact and getting ready for what will be the nominee.”
[These 200 unbound delegates could decide whether Trump gets the nomination]
But the GOP today is riven by distrust and dissent. In an age when social media acts as an instantaneous conveyor belt for rumor, gossip and incendiary accusations, party figures are imagining a nightmare scenario: the Republican convention showcasing hour after hour of fighting and floor demonstrations followed by a Democratic National Convention that amounts to a week-long Clinton infomercial.
As others prepare for an open convention, Trump’s team is anticipating a convention in which Trump is the major partner in designing the week’s program, with the expectation of a fairly traditional convention. Trump’s message will not change in any fundamental ways, Manafort said, but the presentation could be different.
“In some respects, the campaign’s going to get more traditional,” he said. “It’s developing. The campaign is maturing now. It has new responsibilities and new needs, and Trump is addressing those needs. He recognizes it, and he wants to fix these things.”
Asked about the possibility of a contested convention, Manafort said, “I’m going to have a contingency plan.” But he expects a different atmosphere in Cleveland. “From my standpoint, all of this chatter from the opposition of the last two to three weeks is great coverage, but it’s totally irrelevant if we execute.”
Broad swaths of the Republican electorate — not to mention the GOP leadership — are firmly opposed to Trump, and a preponderance of polling data shows him losing hypothetical matchups to Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) by wide margins.
Cruz does not fare much better. Kasich is the only Republican who regularly beats the Democrats in swing-state polls — a point he and his allies plan to make to persuadable delegates. Nonetheless, Kasich continues to struggle among Republican primary voters, having won only his home state and still trailing in delegates to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who dropped out of the race nearly a month ago.
Explaining his decision to vote for Trump, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said of Cruz: “He can’t win. Ted Cruz is straight fastball down the middle of the plate for the Democratic Party, which they are expert at hitting out of the ballpark. . . . If it’s Donald, there is no playbook.”
Cruz, who enraged many Senate colleagues by instigating the 2013 partial shutdown of the federal government, and his allies are trying to build bridges to the party firmament.
He has tapped former U.S. senator Phil Gramm (Tex.) as his liaison to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.). Cruz’s Senate chief of staff, Paul Teller, is close to hard-line conservatives in the House, while Cruz aides are in regular contact with the Heritage Foundation and attend anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s private Wednesday meetings of conservatives.
“Are there a lot of hard feelings in Congress? Sure. But it’s not black and white,” Gramm said. Referring to McConnell and Ryan, he added: “All I’ve been trying to do is say to them, ‘We want to work with you.’ That’s different than asking for their help.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), another Cruz supporter trying to thaw relations, said Cruz holds no grudges against Republicans who have criticized him in the past. “He’s like Lincoln, who could easily assemble a team of rivals and bring people together,” Lee said. “He’s grateful to anyone who’s willing to join him on an issue.”
Elsewhere in Cruz’s orbit, there are lingering fears of betrayal — worries that establishment figures backing him now are doing so only to help bludgeon Trump, and in successive rounds of balloting at an open convention would abandon Cruz in favor of drafting someone more to their liking, such as Ryan.
“There is still distrust over whether or not the party is actually willing to accept Cruz as the nominee or if they’re using him to shut down Trump only to then stab Cruz in the back come summer,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative pundit and vocal Cruz supporter.
The past few weeks have emboldened Cruz. Trump has been damaged by self-inflicted wounds that have exposed a lack of depth on issues, changes in his position on abortion and his campaign’s inadequate preparation for the laborious work of delegate courtship at the state level.
Trump advisers vowed that, in the coming weeks, Cruz and Kasich will face a more organized and disciplined operation. Trump empowered Manafort to play the campaign’s key strategic and operational role, alongside embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Manafort, who reports directly to Trump, said of the campaign’s earlier structure and strategy: “They had a different model and the model worked. But it wasn’t a model for the full campaign. A new model had to be created, a more traditional model, and Trump recognized this fact, which is why he reached out to me.”
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Cruz has skillfully worked state conventions in Louisiana, Tennessee, North Dakota and this weekend in Colorado to boost his delegate numbers. Trump’s team anticipates additional setbacks in Wyoming this coming week. For now, Trump’s goal has been to minimize the bloodletting. But officials expect a turnaround.
“After Wyoming, [Cruz] is done,” Manafort said. “We’re going to have our act together. We’re going to start putting numbers on the board and that will become infectious.”
Elements of a more traditional campaign include set speeches by the candidate in non-campaign rally settings, similar to the scripted speech he gave before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee recently.
A major goal will be to repair relations with the hierarchy of the Republican Party. That should have started when Trump met with Priebus in Washington recently. Instead, the meeting became more of a grievance session. “We’re going to do it the right way,” Manafort said.
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Trump harbors resentment over the failure of the party to begin to treat him as a presumptive nominee when he was on a winning streak in March. Instead, the party rebelled against him, with Romney leading the charge with a speech that excoriated Trump as unfit to be president. Trump’s hope is that, if he has another victory streak now, the party will, however grudgingly, rally behind his candidacy.
In addition to New York, the April calendar looks favorable for Trump and includes contests in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island. Those are followed in early May with what could be a critical showdown in Indiana, and then contests in Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon and Washington state. The season ends with California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.
Some of those states will be good for Cruz, although it’s possible that in some of the eastern states he could run third behind Kasich. But Trump’s team anticipates strong performances and a hefty delegate haul from California and New Jersey, which together will award 223 delegates.
As for what is required to break the 1,237-delegate barrier, Manafort said, “blocking and tackling, not a Hail Mary.”
Rucker and Costa reported from Washington.
Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent.
Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.
Robert Costa is a national pol