Welcome to Donald Trump's Honeymoon

May 25, 2016

If you only read one thing: Welcome to Donald Trump's honeymoon. Three weeks after securing the GOP nomination, Trump is flying higher in the polls than he has in months, pulling even to Hillary Clinton in a host of key states and in national surveys. He's also seeing the consolidation of the GOP around him amid the collapse of the organized #NeverTrump movement and the first of a flurry of fundraising events going off without a hitch. But there are reasons to believe it won't last. Trump is facing the toughest media scrutiny of his controversial comments—past and present—of the campaign, and his polling success is largely a factor, Republican operatives say, of essentially running unopposed. Clinton's ongoing primary fight with Bernie Sanders has created a temporary window for a Trump resurgence. But it may not be enough. During a similar period in 2008, John McCain was up several points on Barack Obama as that race concluded, but Democratic unity after Clinton dropped out swiftly erased those leads.

Hillary Clinton won a meaningless, but relatively well-attended primary in Washington State Tuesday, but Bernie Sanders won a majority of the state's delegates months ago in an overwhelming caucus victory. Clinton allies seized on her victory as undermining Sanders' complaint on the campaign trail that the system is rigged against him, and that he performs better when more people vote. Sanders, meanwhile, is pledging to continue his fight for delegates and influence at the Philadelphia convention.

Clinton opened a new front of attack on Donald Trump Tuesday over his comments in 2006 in which he indicated he was hoping for a housing crises because he saw it as a business opportunity. Trump pushed back that he was simply in business and argued he'd bring that sort of financial success to the country, but Clinton's team is betting that it can undercut Trump's populist appeal by casting him as cold-hearted about the greatest financial upheaval in generations. Trump found himself on the defensive over those comments, and a host of others at a rally Tuesday in Albuquerque.

Protests have always been apart of campaign events, but recent incidents in Nevada by frustrated supporters of Bernie Sanders and in New Mexico Tuesday night by opponents of Donald Trump highlight their central place in the 2016 storyline. In Albuquerque, Trump repeatedly interrupted by more than 100 protesters who strategically placed themselves around the cavernous events center, while what police termed a "riot" briefly raged outside the venue, complete with thrown rocks and bottles and the deployment of smoke and pepper spray. The frustrated electorate is dissatisfied with their choices for November, and there's little hope for a cooling-off in the coming months. The scenes in Philadelphia and Cleveland threaten to mimic, at least in part, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and law enforcement in both cities—and the two convention host committees—are preparing for the worst.

Corker's VP prospects dim amid investigation. Trump's campaign doubles-down against releasing his tax returns. And Trump's campaign of promises.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Donald Trump Fires Back at Critics and Protestors in Chaotic Rally
Trump found himself on the defensive over his personal and political career as he began West Coast swing [TIME]

Four Months After Fundraiser, Trump Says He Gave $1 million to Veterans Group
Trump argued Tuesday he was only vetting the groups—his campaign's fourth explanation for the delay [Washington Post]

Explaining Hillary Clinton’s Lost Ground in the Polls
Sanders is partly to blame [New York Times]

Donald Trump Relies on a Simple Phrase: ‘Believe Me’
Campaign is a large promise with little back-up [Boston Globe]

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Sound Off

“Mr. Trump is proud to pay a lower tax rate, the lowest tax rate possible." — Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to CBS, arguing Trump isn't hiding his tax returns because it will show he paid little tax

"Why on earth would we elect somebody as president who actually rooted for the collapse of the mortgage market? Donald Trump thought he could make money off of people’s misery." — Clinton said at a rally at the University of California at Riverside

Bits and Bites

Hillary Clinton Accuses Donald Trump of Profiting Off of Housing Crash [TIME]

U.S. Probes Real-Estate Firm With Ties to Sen. Bob Corker [Wall Street Journal]

Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him [New York Times]

Trump Campaign Rift Gets Personal [Politico]

As Donald Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories, Right-Wing Media Gets Its Wish [New York Times]

Ted Cruz’s Backers Push to Shape GOP Convention [Wall Street Journal]

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