The news of the day is that the Donald Trump 2016 presidential run has taken on Steve Bannon to head their campaign.
Steve Bannon is the same guy who is executive chairman of Breitbart, the man who turned that organization away from being a mainstream conservative website to being a full-on vehicle for Trump and for the “Alt Right.” For those who don’t know what that means, as best as I have figured it out the Alt Right describes the nationalist, protectionist, isolationist, white-supremacist, anti-everyone crowd.
Needless to say, mainstream conservatives like Ben Shapiro, who worked for Bannon at Breitbart before quitting over the Michelle Fields fiasco, are appalled. In general, they see the Bannon hire as evidence Trump is going all-in with the Alt Right crowd instead of trying to expand his base – a sure-fire way to lose an election.
Also hired as campaign manager is Kellyanne Conway, which is fine, but she’s not really a professional campaign organizer as far as I can tell — she’s more an established professional pollster, which is different. I guess my main issue is that Trump really needs people who know how to run and organize on the ground and who can mobilize people to get out the vote, James Carville or Ed Rollins types of people. Bannon and Conway know about media and about messaging, which is great, but elections are ultimately won or lost on the ground.
And that’s the problem — Trump’s ground organization looks like a mess. I’m reading reports that Trump doesn’t even have many field offices set up in states he needs to win. Trump needs organization and he needs to start being presidential, but this Bannon hire is an especially bad sign. Pundits see it as a sign that Trump is determined to run a rock-em, sock-em campaign whether Republicans, or voters, like it or not.
Update: Kellyanne Conway went on PBS NewsHour and categorically told Judy Woodruff ‘no’, Trump is not embracing the Alt Right philosophy.
Well, the final KO to this Republican presidential race was delivered Tuesday night in Indiana. Donald Trump won so handily that he has driven both Ted Cruz and John Kasich out of the race. Both are done, while Bernie Sanders, fresh off an Indiana victory, still trudges on in his hopeless Democratic race against Hillary Clinton. So the GOP race has ended, even before the Democratic race has. Those professional prognosticators who’ve bet against Trump and said he would never win look foolish today. This Republican presidential race is in the refrigerator.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss all these Tuesday nights and Saturday nights tuning in to GOP primary and caucus results, and I’m going to miss all these wild Republican debates that have taken place. But there is a silver lining to all of this. We can now all look forward to this wild man Trump going out there on the stump and wreaking havoc on the American political establishment for several more months yet. And maybe for four years after that, too, in the White House.
It’s been fun, but trust me, more fun is ahead. We’re just getting started.
Actually, I don’t have much today, but I think Donald Trump’s abortion remarks this week, saying women should be punished for having an abortion, then recanting his statement –once again show his epic capacity to open his mouth before thinking. He’s done this sort of thing a lot; like, for the entire campaign.
The Guardian calls this latest gaffe the biggest crisis of his campaign, but people have said that about him over and over again, every time he has opened his mouth like this. Every time, it’s a crisis, they say, yet he keeps on winning. The crazier Trump is, the higher those poll numbers seem to get.
But this latest foot-in-mouth episode is going to haunt him in the general election, assuming Trump gets that far. Seriously, I’m still convinced all his nonsense will catch up with him. What the GOP establishment desperately hopes is that it catches up with him before he is handed the party nomination in Cleveland.
I have been watching yet another Donald Trump livestream, this time of his big rally in Phoenix today. He was going on and on bashing China and Mexico and bashing his opponents, and calling Mitt Romney a loser again, and so on.
I’ve come to the conclusion Trump is just out of control. This week, the latest controversy was about whether or not Trump could be blocked from the Republican nomination at the national convention in Cleveland this summer. There is all this talk this week of a brokered convention, and Trump was going around saying that there would be riots at the convention if he was blocked from the nomination. People were up in arms and saying this talk disqualified Trump from the Presidency. This is on top of all the other outrageous things Trump has said or done to disqualify himself from the Presidency.
I don’t think Trump really wants to encourage people to riot at the convention — but he is giving the impression he couldn’t care less if violence happens or not. That is disturbing, because the one thing you need in the White House is someone who will at least stand up for maintaining order in the country. Heck, even when the polarizing Nixon got in, his theme was “bring us together.” But we aren’t getting any lip service to bridge-building from this Trump campaign, that is for sure. Trump ought to be telling his supporters to take the high road and cool off a little, but I don’t think he cares. That’s my take on it.
Increasingly, it looks like the voters don’t care, either. We shall see if the usually sane, upright GOP voters in Utah and Arizona, who are voting soon, will decide to reject all this Trump nonsense — or join the rest of the country in supporting it.
Update: I understand there were protesters blocking the highway to Trump’s rally today.
I don’t have a lot to say tonight, just tuning in all the news on the Internet for entertainment. Most of the real politics action is south of the border tonight. Not only are the last four GOP contenders debating on CNN down in Florida, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is having his big state dinner with President Barack Obama at the White House. I wonder what they are doing after their big meal this evening — maybe they’re watching CNN.
The “shakeout” to determine the alternative to Donald Trump in the GOP field is now officially over. After yesterday, it is obvious that Ted Cruz is the one viable candidate left on the Republican side who can possibly take down the Donald.
This, after Cruz won convincingly in Kansas and Maine and finished second in Louisiana and Kentucky. For opponents of Trump, it is clearly fresh hope. Yesterday’s result was certainly not the end of the world for Trump’s campaign by any means, but the results create a lot of problems. Up to now Trump had the advantage of a crowded and divided field of candidates against him, and no clear alternative. That’s ending.
Republicans in these four states on Saturday gave a big signal going forward to the other GOP voters in other states about who to support in order to stop Trump. Their message was: “If you want to keep Trump from getting the nomination, you have to vote for Ted Cruz.”
The Republican establishment may not like this message, and may not like him, but this is the reality going forward.
Here are quick thoughts on the state of the GOP race after yesterday. I agree with the National Review analysis that Donald Trump will either win the nomination outright or there will be a brokered convention to try and stop him, because no one else really is in position to really stop him on their own. Ed Rollins goes even further and says Trump basically has it in the bag.
I’ll say this: if Trump ends up winning the most states by the time of the convention, as he has been doing, any attempt by the GOP to try and sandbag him in Cleveland will be a complete effing debacle. Trump would accuse the party bosses of backstabbing him, and the party will surely split in two and hand the general election to Hillary. In short, even if such a plan succeeds, it is not even close to being a good idea.
The real problem is the main challengers are simply not strong enough. The best hope of what is left of the traditional conservative GOP, Marco Rubio, did next to nothing on Tuesday. The only state he won was Minnesota. He might as well have won Canada. Super Tuesday was his big test to prove he could win, and he flubbed it. And now it looks like he is facing certain defeat soon in his home state of Florida, which will kill any and all of his credibility. The same air of death that took down the Jeb Bush campaign is fast showing up in regards to the Rubio effort. He is sinking fast.
Not sinking quite as fast is Ted Cruz, who won three states — including a late win in Alaska — to establish himself as the best hope of being a rival to Trump.
But it wasn’t like that was so great a showing, and the GOP establishment still hates him, too. Yet even people like Lindsey Graham are now contemplating the depressing prospect of having to hold their noses to support Cruz, just to stop that intolerant Trump character from taking the entire party off the cliff.
As for the rest, John Kasich still refuses to quit, even though he is no better than a spoiler candidate at the moment. But there is a ray of hope: Ben Carson could finally be getting out. He is not going to be at the next Fox News debate Thursday night in Detroit.
All in all, this GOP party threatens to absolutely tear itself apart if nothing is done soon to smooth things over. I guess Trump tried to look more presidential during his news conference last night down in Florida, although Chris Christie seemed decidedly uncomfortable to be there. Anyway, if Trump really wants to be a viable presidential candidate beyond the GOP convention, he needs to mend fences and start acting presidential, right now.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is planning to give a big speech tomorrow on the state of this race, and it should be interesting to say the least. Who knows what he will say.
Well, the news is that former Mexico president Vicente Fox went on Fusion and declared “I’m not going to pay for that f–king wall!” To which Donald Trump at tonight’s CNN debate in Houston declared “the wall just got ten feet higher.”
Anyway, here is the rundown on the rest of what went on tonight. Sounds like it was a total bloodbath.
I don’t have a lot more to say about the South Carolina results that others have not already said. After last night, the only three viable candidates left in the Republican race for President are Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and of course the now-undisputed frontrunner Donald Trump.
Also left are two other not-so-viable stragglers who both ought to quit. Ben Carson says he will stay on no matter what, but he is running out of money and electorally is a non-factor. John Kasich will likely stay in the race long enough to fight and win the Ohio primary (his home state) and deny Trump some much-needed delegates, but he hasn’t got much money either and is barely in the running in a lot of states.
Only Rubio and Cruz are in any sort of position to stop Trump anywhere, and even their ability to do that is questionable given the poll numbers in a lot of these upcoming states. I’ll tell you right now, these two ought to forget Nevada and focus their energies elsewhere. I think Trump should win Nevada easily, the state is tailor-made for him with all those blue-collar folks and casino workers voting for him. The real race will be in the South March 1.
The main news from South Carolina, however, is that it did its job in finally driving Jeb Bush out of the presidential race.
This frees up a sizeable chunk of the more moderate “establishment” vote and that should help Rubio, but the problem is Jeb may have stayed in this race one state too long. The stop-Trump effort really had to happen, or at least start happening, before South Carolina voted. Now, Trump has so much momentum that it may be too late.
Anyway, the bottom line is Jeb is done. Let me say: there was no campaign in more dire need of being put out of its misery than this effort. We were seeing Jeb having to call in family members to his rallies simply to get people motivated enough to show up at them. And then there was that rally in New Hampshire where Jeb had to implore the audience to “please clap!” It really was sad to watch this former presumptive GOP frontrunner go down in flames as badly as he did before the Trump juggernaut, but that is politics and political life can be cruel.
Yahoo Politics has this piece about awkward Jeb moments from this campaign, and Vox came up with this list of 17 saddest moments from his campaign. Anyhow, that’s it for South Carolina. On to Nevada for the GOP.
Read this piece from Howard Kurtz about that vicious, out of control CBS Republican debate from South Carolina on Saturday night.
As he pointed out, the general consensus from the media was that Donald Trump had a poor performance — he got piled on by Jeb Bush, he was booed by the audience, he attacked and insulted fellow Republicans, and his act was not received well. But then Kurtz referred to a headline from a Rich Lowry piece in National Review that said “Trump Was Half-Crazed — but Does Anyone Care?”
And that is the $64,000 question, folks, do people at home in South Carolina really care? Trump was really aiming his debate remarks not at the people in the hall who were booing him, but the masses watching on TV who probably agree with him! By that standard, Trump seemed to hold his own, because he hit really hard — especially when he was trashing Ted Cruz and calling him a liar and so on.
As for the audience booing him — well, so what? It looks like there is a big controversy brewing about whether or not the hall was stacked in favour of Trump’s establishment opponents.
In general, though, Trump was out of control. But it really does seem as if the crazier Trump is, the better his poll numbers seem to get.
Anyway, we shall see in the final South Carolina results on Feb. 20 what the impact is from this most recent, vicious, all-out war of a debate, one which I described on Twitter as “utter mayhem”. This CBS debate was more vicious than the last one for ABC News just prior to New Hampshire. The reason for the tense atmosphere: several candidates could be on their last legs. If you recall, the New Hampshire debate also had people really going after each other. Chris Christie really hammered Marco Rubio in that debate and the reason was obvious — Christie was fighting for his life (and, in fact, his campaign did go belly-up with the New Hampshire results). On Saturday, Rubio had a much better night, and you finally saw Jeb Bush putting up a fight, and it is all because Bush is fighting for his own survival against the other individuals who are trying to emerge as the alternative to Trump.
That, in a nutshell, was why this CBS debate was the most vicious yet. The stakes were high, because if something doesn’t happen very soon to stop Trump, all these rival campaigns could be doomed. And they know it.
Our friends in the Republican Party go right back to work beating up on each other tonight in South Carolina as CBS News hosts the latest presidential debate.
But casting a pall over it all is news of the death today of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at age 79. That is really the big news today — not any of this Donald Trump v. Ted Cruz nonsense.
Among the stories circulating is a statement from Republican Senator Mitch McConnell who has called for the confirmation of his replacement to be pushed back until after the next election.
I have a feeling this will be a debate question tonight. Also, I think this kind of puts the Democrats on the spot and on the defensive a bit — this issue could make them look like the “playing politics as usual” people, which is not a good idea, especially this election year.
Add one more name to the list of casualties from the Iowa caucuses. Rand Paul finished fifth there, but that was obviously not the kind of finish that was going to do much for him in the future, even though it was better than a few other people.
So, Paul has suspended his campaign and will focus now on his Senate re-election campaign in Kentucky.
I predict by this time next week, after New Hampshire weighs in, the presidential field will be even more drastically reduced than it is today.
Update: And yet another name has dropped out. Rick Santorum has also quit, and he went on Greta Van Susteren‘s show tonight to endorse Marco Rubio.
Meanwhile, all kinds of controversy is swirling about the Iowa results with both Donald Trump and Ben Carson complaining about possible voter fraud by the Ted Cruz campaign! Trump is making all sorts of accusations about how Cruz stole Iowa and was calling for a do-over of the Iowa vote; Cruz is dismissing this as a “Trumpertantrum”. Carson was blaming the Cruz campaign for spreading a false rumor on Monday night that Carson was dropping out of the race: the Cruz campaign has since apologized.
Personally, I don’t think there will be a do-over of Iowa, but this controversy really does have the potential to turn into a big floor fight at the GOP convention. We could see a rival delegation for Trump seeking to be seated instead of Cruz’s people, assuming the race even gets that far. We shall see.
I will talk more about the Fox Business GOP debate and the whole GOP race later on this weekend.
Right now I am too busy watching this debate — it’s far more entertaining than what passes for politics in Canada. Sort of like the difference between the NFL and the CFL, when you think of it.
Well, the fallout just keeps on falling from this week’s now-infamous CNBC Republican presidential debate. The GOP has pulled out of an NBC News debate scheduled for February 26, all because of what transpired with the obnoxious tone of the questions from Wednesday.
As a further note, here is a story at CNN Money about the shellshocked reaction of CNBC staff to their own production.
As well, I noticed a piece in the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall unfortunately) in which Peggy Noonan buries Jeb Bush and his campaign. No doubt, his ship is sinking, rapidly.
The race for the Republican nomination for President has dropped from 17 candidates down to 16. Former Texas governor Rick Perry has quit the race.
This is no surprise, rumors had been flying for weeks about his campaign’s money troubles and how they had to lay off staff, and how badly the fundraising was going for them and so on. The polling had been awful, and to add insult to injury he wasn’t even getting invited to the top-tier debates.
The reality is that Perry was bringing nothing to the race. I guess he tried to be the true “conservative” option, except that’s hard to do when at least a dozen or more of your competitors are as conservative as you say you are. The real problem for Perry is most of this field was saying pretty much the same thing he was saying.
If you are going to survive as a GOP contender you really need to distinguish yourself in some fashion, for better or worse. Donald Trump is the “populist outsider”, Ben Carson is the “Christian outsider”, Mike Huckabee is simply “the Christian”, Jeb Bush is “the Establishment”, Rand Paul is the “liberty” candidate, Ted Cruz is the “Tea Party”, Carly Fiorina is the “feisty businesswoman”, and so on.
They’ve all got varying degrees of traction right now because they all bring something to the table policy-wise that is unique. The ones that don’t are the ones in the biggest difficulty. For Perry, he couldn’t claim to be the “conservative” in a race full of them; he couldn’t be the “Christian” candidate with so many candidates supporting “family values” and seeking approval from the religious right; and he couldn’t even claim to be the “Texas candidate” with Cruz also in the race. What’s worse, Cruz seems to be doing pretty well at the moment.
In short, the message just didn’t stand out. Plus, Perry has all kinds of legal problems at home, and is a famously lousy debater.
So that’s that. One down, and 15 left to dispose of before we finally get a GOP nominee.
Now the question is who is next to go? I have seen rumors that Lindsey Graham could quit the race soon, his campaign has almost nothing going for it. In fact, Graham actually visited Saskatchewan this year to see that carbon-capture facility in Estevan, and the province’s press was playing up how our great and important province was being visited by this great American presidential contender. I was going “contender? That’s a stretch.”
At least one non-contender is not going down without a fight: Bobby Jindal.
This week the Louisiana governor just unloaded on Trump, calling him a “narcissist” and a “non-serious carnival act.” So now Trump is feuding with Jindal now, which is exactly what Jindal needs to lift up his sinking ship of a campaign. The story about Jindal’s remarks here — it’s pretty funny stuff.
Well the presidential race in the USA continues to be, uh, big.
When we last updated you, we had 21 serious candidates: five on the Democratic side and 16 for the Republicans, all running for President.
Wait, check that — it’s up to 17 Republicans now because former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore has entered the race as of the end of July. I know, most of you have no idea why he is bothering.
And there are all kinds of rumors flying on the Democratic side that vice-president Joe Biden is contemplating a run of his own for President.
This would not surprise me, given the increasingly scandal-plagued and problem-plagued candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the surprising insurgent surge of her rival Bernie Sanders — who, I should point out, is not really a Democrat at all but an independent Socialist.
A lost of Democrats clearly are worried about Sanders, so a Biden run might have a lot of merit to it, just to keep him out. Anyway, we will see what happens, but if Biden runs it will mean, seriously, that there are 23 serious candidates running flat-out for President of the United States.
Even by U.S. standards this is ridiculous. But the reality is that many of these fringe campaigns will not last past the New Hampshire primary, anyway, because they’ll run out of money. Surely to God, some of these people on the low end will see the light and think of quitting soon.
Now, in past years the nonbinding Iowa Straw Poll, which would have normally been held around this time, would have been instrumental in cutting the field down on the GOP side. Some candidates would do poorly, and that would give them their reason to bow out. But since it’s been permanently cancelled, there will have to be some other way to whittle the field down before Iowa holds its caucuses early next year.
Maybe we are seeing it happen now, with the first cuts having been made for the first big event of the presidential race — the FOX News GOP televised presidential debate in Cleveland. (Hence, the reason why I put up the picture of the GOP elephant logo with this post.)
That debate has been limited to the top ten candidates, based on polling averages and so on. So they’ve had to pass on a lot, I mean a lot, of serious contenders — including former Texas governor Rick Perry who is probably best known for his 15 minutes of fame in calling Donald Trump a “cancer on conservatism”.
Getting into a public fight with Trump got Perry into the news, for better or for worse. But it didn’t get him on the debate stage. He missed the cut, and being excluded has dealt a serious, serious blow to his chances going forward.
In fact, this is a blow to all these minor candidates. Rick Santorum didn’t make the cut either, so this is a big blow to him also. It’s especially galling to some people that folks like Perry are left out, while Trump is in. But regardless of what you think about Trump, you can’t simply kick him out of the main debate. He’s in first place in the polls, he pretty much has to be there!
This debate is a huge, huge deal for the GOP, and to not even be on the main stage for the first debate — demoted to the “losers” forum stage instead — is a humiliation and a major setback to any campaign fundraising efforts for these folks.
The GOP debate goes tomorrow night, which is also the date for the sure-to-be-entertaining Maclean’s Canadian leaders debate! I’ll have to figure out how to be able to watch both of these.
I had long promised a post about the Republican race for President, especially on this day of news as Texas Senator Ted Cruz intends to announce tomorrow he is running for President.
I didn’t think he was eligible to run, though, because he was born in Calgary, Canada. But I guess according to the rules he’s eligible.
To be honest with you, I cannot say I am impressed with the Presidential race in the Republican Party so far. Not a single one of these prospective presidential jokers has a hope against Hillary Clinton as far as I am concerned, especially if the Republican platform ends up being as far removed from the mainstream as I think it will be in 2016.
The biggest issue is not so much with the candidates but with the party’s grassroots, who have moved this party way, way too far to the right of mainstream Americans. Too much of this party is too socially conservative and too anti-immigration and anti-immigrant, and prospective candidates are having to come up with policies to appease these people. It’s too bad.
I guess what I really want to see is the Republicans stick to being pro-business and pro-freedom generally, yet their rank and file seems too concerned with fighting culture wars and limiting freedoms, and other items I have no interest in.
With Cruz, my issue with him is less about what he stands for, and more with his style of politics. The fact is he is far too partisan for his own good. He never seems willing to compromise or make deals or do the kinds of things you need to do to get legislation passed. I could see “President Cruz” as being absolutely impossible for any Congress to deal with — even one led by a GOP Speaker in John Boehner in the House. Expect a new and glorious era of gridlock in Washington if Cruz is elected.
Another person being talked for President has been Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. But I am really not happy with what happened with his campaign this week when political strategist Liz Mair got in trouble with Iowa Republicans over some Tweet she sent out which insulted the Iowa wing of the party, so she walked the plank.
People have been writing about this and see it as not being a good move by the Walker campaign. In general, they think he should have stood up for his hire. Personally, I think this is another example of why social media is evil, with people rifling through Tweets looking for things to use against people to get them fired. It’s classless behavior, and people ought to put their foot down and stand up to this sort of thing, yet the Walker campaign seems to have caved in to the pressure. What happened this week leaves me shaking my head about the state of politics and life in general in America.
Anyway, this post has turned into yet another big rant session by myself about what I think is going on down there in the Uptight States.
Fox News have just called Iowa for Joni Ernst of the GOP and it means the Republicans win control of the United States Senate with 51 seats. A Thom Tillis win in North Carolina, where he is leading over Sen. Kay Hagen, would be icing on the cake at this point.
Update: now I notice CBS and Fox News have just called North Carolina for Tillis. Game over, officially — they don’t even have to worry about winning Alaska now. This is a bad night for incumbents and a bad night for Democrats, and a bad night for President Barack Obama. Expect a lot of gridlock down in Washington, D.C. for the next two years.
A lot of heads are rolling in the governors’ ranks, too, tonight. I notice Republican Bruce Rauner has toppled Pat Quinn down in Illinois — that is a surprise to a lot of people.
Just a few thoughts about the night at the GOP convention in Tampa:
Mitt Romney’s VP running mate Paul Ryan gave his big speech tonight and I thought he really came off well — he really socked it to Barack Obama while not looking all that scary. “What is missing is leadership in the White House!!”
The line that I liked the most was when Ryan talked about the generational differences with Romney and said the tunes he liked ran from AC/DC to Zeppelin. Say what you will about Paul Ryan, but at least he has taste in music.
They also showed Condaleeza Rice giving a decent, dignified speech hitting on all the right notes — about how someone who grew up in the Jim Crow days could still grow up to become Secretary of State, etc.
Also, I liked the video they showed earlier in the night with the father and the son George Bush and George W. Bush, and the two First Ladies. People called it a “touching” video and I think this is all part of the attempt to humanize the Republicans and make them look like decent people. Unfortunately the image of the GOP in recent months has been one of a party filled with intolerants, religious nuts, and partisan Tea Party my-way-or-the-highway people. So far they’re doing a decent job of getting away from that and looking broad and inclusive, but they need to keep doing that far beyond this week.
That’s all for now, I plan to be back tomorrow to follow Romney’s big speech.
I am not going to talk about all the other considerable problems facing the Republican Party following the considerable foot-in-mouth-disease events of the past few days, but making matters worse is the news that Tropical Storm Isaac, threatening to become a Category 1 hurricane, could be on track for Tampa Bay and hit right as the Republican National Convention opens on Monday.
Yikes! Anyway, it gives me one more weather event to follow over the next few days. No doubt, the Florida TV stations will be going nuts covering this on the Internet, showing scenes of people evacuating or buying generators, so I should be able to tune in to a lot of good live streams in the coming days.
As for the GOP convention, who knows what is going to happen. Chances are this storm still may miss Tampa, but if it hits, all bets are off.
No doubt, contingency plans would still be ready if the convention is cancelled. The Republican delegates would likely convene by conference call or something to nominate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, and then Romney would give his acceptance speech Thursday night at some hastily-organized event somewhere else before a big crowd of people. In fact, if this storm messed up the political events in Tampa, this convention will do something that American political conventions haven’t done for a while: produce some actual news.