08 Jul

Bring The Donald to the Rose City

It’s far too much to hope for that Donald Trump might ever bring his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to Oregon. We would be a great location for the Donald to express his views on immigration and trade, and given a moment, he could no doubt come up with some thoughts on bicycle lanes and salmon.

Really, after already being blitzed by six months of full campaign coverage six months before anybody votes, Oregon should get something out of the deal.

So far, of course, Trump has had limited direct presence in or positions on Oregon, although he did tell The Wall Street Journal in 2010 about the epic, world-class, absolutely incredible dunes at the golf course he was building in Scotland, “They put the dunes at Bandon Dunes to shame.” And Oregon, of course, has had competitors in Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contests – in fact, Oregon has had more Miss Teen USAs than any other state – although they now won’t be appearing on Univision or NBC.

It doesn’t sound like enough to bring the presidential candidate here any time soon, although Oregon would be a great place if he wanted to build a Trump Brewpub.

In fact, it seems as if the entire presidential campaign has felt distant from us. Nine of the 15 Republican hopefuls are from Kentucky and points south, including four from Florida and two from Texas. The rest run from Wisconsin to New York; the only entry from the West Coast, or the West at all, is the longer-than-longshot Carly Fiorina from California.

As a former high-tech person, Fiorina might be thought to have a link to Oregon; but after presiding over 30,000 layoffs at Hewlett-Packard, she probably shouldn’t expect to carry Corvallis

(The Democratic field clings tightly to the East, with candidates from New York, Vermont, Maryland and Virginia – although the leading candidate can claim to be also from Illinois and Arkansas.)

We also suffer – if that’s the word – from the primary schedule, with candidates shuttling among Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Even for candidates who make it past those states – and we’re talking next February – that would still leave three months until the schedule gets to Oregon.

So it’s hard to imagine Donald Trump staying afloat long enough – almost a year – to explain immigration at Pioneer Courthouse Square. It’s just something else we miss out on, like NBA free agents.

But our feeling of disconnection from a race happening thousands of miles from here is not just a matter of geography or of scheduling, or even that Oregon hasn’t voted for a Republican candidate for president since Ronald Reagan. It’s that this campaign – even with Donald Trump – isn’t talking about issues that resonate around here.

Oregon’s had a bumpy road to same-sex marriage, but nobody thinks we’re going back. But on the Republican campaign trail, it’s a lively subject, with candidates talking about ignoring the Supreme Court and constitutional amendments – hopefully not counting Oregon among the 38 states required to ratify one.

We have some questions about health care reform, but we’ve been trying hard to make it work, and nobody wants to go through anything like Cover Oregon again. Yet among GOP candidates, health care reform is on the brink of total repeal and replacement – although it’s not quite clear what would replace it.

Oregon has immigration controversies, and voters just rejected driver’s cards for undocumented immigrants. But in a state where the 2010 census showed the Hispanic population rising to 12 percent, and the foreign-born population up to 10 percent, it doesn’t seem that labelling immigrants as criminals sent here by other countries is the ideal political strategy.

Not that it wouldn’t be fun to watch Donald Trump do it at the City Club.

What Oregon, and most of the rest of the West, is actually talking about right now is a lot less exciting: water. Lots of people think global warming has something to do with the long-term drought pulverizing much of the West, and 2016 Republican candidates are more open to admitting it exists than 2012 Republicans. But the hostility to any climate policy is so strong that when the pope called for worldwide action on climate, the GOP candidates – including several Catholics – basically told Francis to butt out.

Even in Oregon, reportedly the least religious state in the country, this could get complicated.

But there is an exciting way religion could enter the race.

Monday, Donald Trump declared he would be “the best jobs president God ever created.”

Please let him say it here.

NOTE: This column appeared in The Oregonian, 7/7/15.