Decision time for Trump, GOP

The Republican convention opens in Cleveland in seven days. Even with a presumptive nominee — and especially because of who it is — there is suspense.

The platform committee, meeting Monday and Tuesday, offers delegates a chance to either reshape the party’s policy visions to fit those of Donald Trump or to stick to its longtime conservative principles.

Followers of Ted Cruz are leading the effort for the latter, and it’s unclear how hard pro-Trump forces will fight for a document that isn’t binding upon him.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Rules Committee meets. Anti-Trump delegates, clinging to the improbable hope of stopping his nomination, are pushing a “conscience clause” that would free delegates from being bound to any candidate on the first ballot.

The biggest unknown of all is who Trump will choose as his running mate.

Trump as ‘racial healer’?

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Trump surprised a lot of people, critics included, with a modulated statement Friday that called for “strong leadership, love and compassion” after the “horrific, execution-style shootings” of police officers in Dallas and “the senseless, tragic deaths of two people in Louisiana and Minnesota.”

A supporter, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, said on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “I think he’s trying to campaign as a racial healer.”

On Twitter Sunday, there was a hint of a more familiar tone: “Look what is happening to our country under the WEAK leadership of Obama and people like Crooked Hillary Clinton. We are a divided nation!”

And former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who spoke to Trump's advantage weeks ago against a contested convention, may have helped rally support for Trump Sunday when, according to Newsday's Emily Ngo, he denounced "Black Lives Matter" as an "inherently racist" slogan.

Uniters and dividers

The New York Times examined why it’s difficult for candidates as polarizing and widely unpopular as Trump and Clinton to become a unifying voice for the nation. Their reactions to the Dallas massacre went in different directions.

The take-away: Sanders’ legacy

Bernie Sanders came a long way in the Democratic primary battles, but his fight will officially end with his expected formal endorsement of Clinton Tuesday. We won’t be able to fully assess his impact on the race until after Election Day, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Sanders notches platform wins

Sanders’ campaign won concessions on climate change, but failed to include opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in a Democratic platform committee meeting over the weekend.

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The Vermont senator’s supporters cheered when environmental amendments passed that included support for pricing greenhouse gases, prioritizing renewable energy and limiting fracking. Aides to Clinton and Sanders both hailed the platform draft as the “most progressive” in party history.

Veep vetting: On Flynn and Pence

The prospect of retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Trump’s running mate got a thumbs-down Sunday from an anti-abortion group after he came down on the pro-abortion rights side during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I think women have to be able to choose,” said Flynn. He also acknowledged he is a Democrat. Flynn has been advising Trump on foreign policy and national security issues.

He also said he did not know if he was being vetted. Normally, given the personal data and documents that are required, the vet-tee would know.

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By Sunday a greater dose of potential-VP attention has focused on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- who in his current job signed new state abortion restrictions. Pence, who passed on running for president in 2008, 2012 and 2016, is due to appear with Trump Tuesday. As a Congressman, Pence voted for the Iraq invasion.

What else is happening:

  • Nearly one of three Democrats says the Clinton e-mail mess worries them regarding her presidency; And most from all affiliations combined believe she should have been charged, finds the Washington Post.
  • Teachers' union leader Randi Weingarten pushed at a platform meeting  for language hailing Clinton and Sanders for a race well run, but pro-Sanders heckling -- 'She's not the nominee yet!' -- nixed it, the Washington Post reported.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan will take a speaking role, for 10 minutes, at the GOP convention, Politico reports.
  • Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg's extracurricular remarks were widely reported over the weekend: "I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president." She quipped her late husband would have advised moving to New Zealand.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will join Trump as he delivers a speech on “veterans reform” in Virginia Monday.
  • Trump won’t be getting involved in the GOP platform dispute on gay and transgender issues. He has spoken to Caitlyn Jenner, who will be in Cleveland during the convention to appear at a brunch organized by pro-LGBT conservatives.
  • Clinton is sympatico with Tom Perez, the labor secretary, and the alliance is worth watching, according to Politico.
  • Trump’s defiance last week in the face of criticism over his “Star of David” tweet has intensified concerns among Republican donors — particularly Jewish ones — about giving to his campaign, The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reported.
  • Clinton on Twitter invited supporters to sign up “to get to know Hillary’s VP choice before it makes the news!” All she wants in return is your ZIP code and, ahem, your email address.