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Portland backs away from giving Trump what he wants

Portland City Council members wisely heeded the advice of the Oregon Secretary of State's Office and stopped short of adopting a resolution condemning Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his proposals to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.

The council also saved itself the embarrassment of making too big a deal out of the bigoted pandering of a candidate who enjoys the support of a minority of voters in one party but has yet to compete in a single primary or caucus.

The Portland council did pass a resolution voicing support for the city's Muslim community, estimated at 20,000 people, and immigrants in general. The resolution also makes a veiled reference to Trump's proposed ban on Muslim immigration, but without naming the flamboyant real estate developer.

That's a worthwhile gesture in response to a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric, harassment and even violence after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., but it was best to leave Trump out of it.

The council had been poised to denounce Trump by name, but Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins warned that the resolution, drafted by city staff, would violate state law, which prohibits public employee time from being used to support or oppose a candidate for public office. Trump is not yet filed for the primary ballot in Oregon, but Atkins was unwilling to say he is not a candidate.

Besides the obvious legal concerns, the resolution as originally drafted would have given Trump exactly what he wants: more attention. It's possible Trump values that even more highly than winning the presidency.

In any case, Portland councilors can console themselves with the knowledge that Trump's chances of actually becoming president, let alone the Republican nominee, are vanishingly small. He leads in polls of likely Republican voters, but in a field of 13 candidates that means relatively little at this point. Newt Gingrich was tied with Mitt Romney at this point in 2012; in 2008, Rudy Guiliani led the crowded GOP field.

By the time Oregon's primary rolls around in May, Trump may well have returned to his former life as an arrogant reality TV star and developer of gaudy hotels and resorts. Then the rest of us can get down to the serious business of electing a president and stop listening to his nonsense.