Donald Trump weighs down congressional Republicans

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Donald Trump is ignoring the First Rule of Holes: When you’re in one, stop digging. The First Rule of Trump apparently is never apologize. Ever. Yes, there are 97 days until Nov. 8, and who knows what WikiLeaks will unleash on Hillary Clinton. But on Tuesday, Trump derided a mom trying to quiet her baby at one of his rallies, and refused to endorse Republican heavyweights Paul Ryan and John McCain. Ryan and McCain might welcome being shunned by Trump. But Trump may find he needs the Republican apparatus, such as it is, come Election Day, if he has any hope of winning what he is calling a “rigged” election. Quite the victim.

Take that

State Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican pharmacist from the Riverside County city of Temecula, should be giving Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, a tough fight in the race for California’s 36th Congressional District in the Palm Springs area. Stone is smart and breaks with party orthodoxy on certain issues, taking stands against tobacco, for example.

“This is a district that should be competitive on paper, with Democrats clinging to a 2.75 percent registration advantage,” says the California Target Book, which tracks such matters. In reality, Ruiz has vastly outraised Stone and seems likely to win rather easily. One reason could be the top of the ticket.

The Target Book says 28 percent of the district’s voters are Latino. The vast majority won’t be voting for Trump. Stone has voted for Republican presidential candidates ever since coming of age in 1980, the year of Ronald Reagan’s first election. He won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but he said he has not decided whether to vote for Trump.

“I’m in a vise,” Stone told me, outside the state Capitol. Even if he fails to unseat Ruiz, Stone would have a future in politics and hopes to maintain “credibility in other elections.”

“I’m still hoping Trump will be more responsible,” Stone said. Referring to Trump’s attack on the Gold Star parents Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan, Stone said: “It’d go a long way if he’d just apologize. I don’t know if his ego will let him do that.”

Our top editorial focuses on the dilemma faced by Republicans running for Congress. Some, such as Rep. Tom McClintock, are all in. Others, such as Jeff Denham, are feeling Stone’s pain. They all need to take a stand.

Take a number: $110,730

Rep. Raul Ruiz, the Palm Desert Democrat seeking a third term, has proven to be an adept fundraiser, amassing $2.031 million as of June 30. His challenger, state Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, had been viewed as a serious challenger. However, he reported having banked a mere $110,730 as of June 30. Stone, who is halfway through his four-year term, gets a free ride this year. He could come back in 2018 when Donald Trump won’t be on the ballot.

Our take

Editorial: Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, and crazy campaign talk on vaccines.

Jonas D. Kron will be talking to California legislators Wednesday about SB 32 and how action to prevent climate change helps investors and businesses.

Don Bransford and Fritz Durst write that it’s a mistake to believe the only threat to salmon in the Sacramento Valley is water temperature. And water managers should address all factors to improve the survival of salmon.

Their take

L.A. Times: L.A. may always need its 20th-century aqueduct links to the Owens Valley, the Colorado River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, but as lifelines rather than as instruments of unsustainable growth.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Donald Trump’s foreign policy is the equivalent of arson.

News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.: Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, makes an appalling bow to the powerful pharmaceutical industry. And it could not have come at a worse time.

Charlotte Observer: Russia shouldn’t get away with cheating at the Olympics.

Miami Herald: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should agree that he will release his tax returns and she will release the transcripts of paid speeches she has given to big banks and others.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Donald Trump-Mike Pence campaign is offering a clear signal of just how the vindictive real estate mogul would act if elected to the world’s most powerful position. He would do what he’s always tried to do: bully anyone he can’t control.

Jim Geraghty of the National Review: No one ever just loses anymore. There are no honest defeats. The philosophy of the disgruntled toddler has taken root, far and wide, across the political spectrum.

Syndicates’ take

Kathleen Parker: No one would mistake Roger Ailes for a ladies man, at least not without a fistful of dollars – or a garter belt.

David Brooks writes about how artists change the world.

Dana Milbank gives the facts behind Donald Trump’s many falsehoods.

Leonard Pitts Jr. writes an open letter to the Republican Party saying Donald Trump’s attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan represents a breathtaking new low.

Tweet of the day

Nevada pundit Jon Ralston@RalstonReports: “Vegas books just put up new odds: Chances Trump apologizes: 280,000-1 ... Chances Trump says something tomorrow dumber than today: 1-280,000”