Monday, February 29, 2016

Fraud in the Inducement?

"Fraud in the Inducement" is defined as when one party induces another to act in their favor through misleading information through trickery or misleading information.

Is Donald Trump potentially guilty of "Fraud in the Inducement"?

Trump states at almost event he holds that he is "self-funding" his campaign.

He also has a long history of telling people at every chance he gets of how rich he is. This certainly is intended to give the impression that he has all the money in the world to fund anything he wants to do (including his campaign for President of the United States.)

I have written previously that Trump is really not "self-funding" campaign in the manner most people would assume he would be---by making contributions to his campaign. For the most part, he is actually only loaning funds to his campaign.

Why is he doing this?

When someone makes a loan to a campaign the expectation is that the loan will someday be repaid. If not, why not just contribute the money?

How will the loans be repaid? From political contributions to the campaign from other donors. The identical manner in which almost all politicians raise money.

I believe that Trump has a clear expectation that he will have his campaign loans repaid by other donors if he wins the nomination or the Presidency. He knows it is easy to raise money when you are on top. Then again, no one wants to give money to a loser.

Trump is clearly hedging his bets. If he wins, he is going to raise money like everyone and recoup the money he loaned to his campaign. If he loses, he will be no worse off than if he had contributed the money upfront.

It is perfectly legal to do so. However, Trump is clearly misleading voters about this issue.

The real problem is that if he wins the GOP nomination, what if he does not really have the money, or the desire, to fund his campaign for the General Election?

Is this not Fraud in the Inducement of the millions of GOP voters who put him on the November ballot expecting him to self-fund and defeat Hillary?

Isn't Trump inducing voters to vote from him based on misleading information if he does not follow through and totally self fund his campaign?

A large percentage of Trump supporters cite the fact that they favor him because he is self funding his campaign and he would not be beholden to special interests if he was elected President.

However, as stated above, what if he does not follow through and self-fund?

Even worse, what if Trump does not have anywhere near the wealth he says that he does?

Jim Geraghty  asked the question "What if Trump Does Not Billions?" in a recent article in National Review.

Could it be that most of Trump's wealth is big talk that is not backed up by big dollars?

Why would Mitt Romney go on national television and declare, “I think we have good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes. Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay”? 
Since when does buttoned-down, white-bread Mitt Romney make audacious, provocative accusations? Romney’s accusation might be a safe bet — if not to be verified, then to never be refuted. Just a few years ago, Trump refused to release un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter and author. If Trump was unwilling to release his returns in that circumstance, how likely is it that Trump will release them before Election Day?

Geraghty details a libel lawsuit Trump filed in 2007 against New York Times Reporter Tim O'Brien when he wrote that Trump's net worth at that time was between $150 million and $250 million. That is a nice piece of change, but it is certainly a long way from the $10 billion that Trump claims today. And it was also a long way off from the $5 billion that Trump was claiming he was worth at that time.

It is also no where close to what would be required to self fund a campaign for President considering Mitt Romney spent $1.1 billion in campaign funds, Super PAC money and Republican Party support in 2012---and lost!

Trump also lost his lawsuit against Tim O'Brien.

One of the reasons that Trump lost was that he never produced a tax return even though, if he had as much money as he said he did, it could have easily shown that the reporter was wildly off base in his reporting. And he had 5 billion reasons to do so.

Every Trump supporter should carefully consider these questions. They should also be very skeptical as to why Trump is refusing to release any of his tax returns to the public.

Geraghty speculates that we will never see any tax returns from Donald Trump.

Trump says he will release his tax returns when the IRS audits are completed.

However, he says he is audited every year so it sounds as that day will never come as Trump defines it.

There is no reason that Trump cannot release all his tax returns tomorrow for previous years that are no longer under audit and have been closed by the IRS. He should also release any adjustments that the IRS made to those returns while he is at it.

Cruz, Rubio and the media should not give Trump a pass on this issue. It is too big an issue considering the issue Trump has made of his wealth and the self-funding of his campaign.

Republican voters need to know whether Trump really has the money to self-fund the General Election campaign.

Or is all of Trump's talk nothing but "Fraud in the Inducement"?

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Entertainer Has No Clothes

I used to think Donald Trump was entertaining even if I questioned some of the stuff he said.

After last night's debate. He is no longer entertaining to me. The act is getting very old.

He acts out in five ways. Evasion. Ignorance. Insult. Denial. Interruption.

They were all on full display last night.

A few examples.


There are many examples of his evasion tactics from last night but the one that stood out to me was over the Trump tax returns. He claimed he could not release his tax returns because he was under audit. He also claimed that Mitt Romney had not released his tax returns in the 2012 campaign until September.

First, the fact that the IRS is auditing Trump's tax returns would not keep him from releasing his returns. Second, even if he would not want to release these returns while under audit, there is nothing to prevent him from releasing earlier years. Third, Trump evaded the truth by saying Romney had not released his tax return until September, 2011. Romney actually released his 2010 return (the most recent filed return at the time) in January, 2012 along with a 20 year summary of his income, deductions and his effective tax rate. He also released a projected summary of his 2011 return since it would not be filed until the extended due of September 15. Romney released that return within a week of its filing with the IRS.

You really have to wonder what is in those Trump returns?

For example, could it be that the Clintons actually had more income than Trump in recent years? The Clintons had $28 million in adjusted gross income on their 2014 return. Even worse for Trump, what if his income was actually smaller than Romney's $14 million in 2011.

It would not surprise me as Trump made a big point in the debate of saying that it was his financial statement rather than his tax returns that told the story of how wealthy. This sounds to me like someone who is preparing us for something.

If Trump had less income than either the Clintons or Romney it would actually be good for him politically. However, it would be devastating to his ego. And that says it all doesn't it? He is not as concerned with winning the Presidency for the good of you and me as burnishing his own ego.


Trump's ignorance of the the issues was on full display last night. He clearly does not have a clue about health care policy in particular. He keeps talking about not wanting people to die in the streets but seems to be totally ignorant about the fact that the Medicaid program was established to make sure that does not occur. How many people do we see dying in the streets right now.

He also keeps talking about state lines as if that will solve the entire problem. He really does not have a clue and I say that as someone who knows a lot about the health care area.

When referring to his sister who was an Appeals Court judge with Samuel Alito, he said that they had both signed on to a "bill." Judges do not sign bills, they write legal opinions and decisions. Rather remarkable that he would make such a fundamental error.

I could write a book on this category alone from last night.


I doubt there has been anyone in my lifetime who has insulted more people than Donald Trump. He was on his game last night.

Here are just a few insults that I remember from last night.

Mitt Romney- " a fool and a loser"

Marco Rubio- "a choke artist"

Ted Cruz- "a liar"

Telemundo- "I don't believe anything they say"

Hugh Hewitt- "Your radio show ratings are terrible. No one listens to you, believe me."


Trump was in denial most particularly when pressed about his employment practices. It is a fact that he was fined for using illegal Polish immigrant labor when building Trump Tower. He actually claimed in the debate that everyone was happy about it.

He also claimed in the debate that his use of foreign workers at his resorts in Florida was due to the fact that they could not find American workers for those jobs. Really? Isn't Trump the guy who has been talking about the terrible economy and how the real unemployment rate is 20%?


I don't think I have ever seen anyone interrupt and talk over people more than Trump did last night. Rubio and Cruz undressed Trump time and time again but much of what they said was drowned out by Trump interrupting and talking over them.

For example, here is a graphic from NPR showing the speaking times from last night's debate.

How does Trump get 3 times as much talk time as Carson?

For one thing, you interrupt and talk whether it is your turn or not.

This imbalance led me tweet this question out on Twitter last night during the debate.

We have all heard the story about the Emperor who had no clothes.

Last night, we saw that the entertainer has no clothes.

And it was not a pretty sight.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Have Seen This Movie Before

The candidate was a complete political outsider who had become a household name with weekly television appearances.

He ran for office with a populist message that railed against the establishment at every turn.

He was media savvy and knew how to grab attention with great soundbites that the media loved.

He proved to be good on the political stump by knowing how to dismantle an opponent psychologically and play to the crowd.

He was not a slick politician and he was considered a "straight talker" by the voters. As a result, you heard him described as "refreshing" and "real" as he did not hew to the political correctness of the day.

He talked about restoring the "American Dream".

He made a big point in the campaign that he did not accept PAC money and would not be owned by the "special interests".

He was heavily outspent by the establishment candidates but used the internet and his celebrity status to gain attention and publicity to offset that disadvantage.

It was claimed that he brought a lot of people to the polls that typically did not vote.

One of his chief rivals was the son of one of the country's biggest political names.

Another of his rivals was a young, articulate up and coming politician.

He was able to split the vote in a 3-way race and win without a majority of the voters supporting him.

Does that plot sound familiar?

It describes how former pro wrestler, Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998 as the Reform Party candidate. He defeated Hubert (Skip) Humphrey III (D) and Norm Coleman (R) with 37% of the vote.

Jesse ("The Body") Ventura "Thumbs Up"

Isn't it almost eerie considering what we are seeing with Donald "The Donald" Trump? Their nicknames are even similar! As well as both liking to use the "thumbs up" sign.

Donald ("The Donald") Trump "Thumbs Up"

So how did that other movie end?

Ventura started off strong as Governor and got high marks for his bipartisanship and many of the appointments to his cabinet. His approval rating reached 70%.

However, he quickly had problems in dealing with the political and legislative process that is required to get things done in government.

He had a hard time adjusting to the responsibilities and requirements of the job.

"He flew around the country too much. There were too many appearances on late-night talk shows, too many cameo roles in soap operas, too much promotion of his books, often while Minnesota's legislature was still at work", according to an article in The Economist in 2002.

The Economist also noted that "he often behaved more like the wrestler he had been than the leader of the state he was now supposed to be."

He inherited a $4 billion state surplus when he took office. By 2002, the state was looking at a $4.5 billion deficit.

Ventura had no solid body of supporters in the legislature. As his poll ratings fell, the legislature increasingly shut him out of the political process. Bills languished in the legislature and little got done. If it did, it was at the 11th hour. One legislator noted, "We've got two parties and a celebrity".

Ventura's favorability eventually fell to 40% early in 2002. Later that year, Ventura announced he would not run for re-election saying that his heart was no longer in the job.

Why is all of this relevant?

You can readily see how similar the script of the Ventura movie is to what we are seeing with the Trump movie.

Like a lot of Americans, there is a lot I like about Donald Trump.

I like the straight talk. I like his willingness to take on the sacred cows. I like his commitment to put America first.

However, we are only seeing the First Act. And it is an "act".

I like the First Act but I have seen the Second and Third Acts of this movie before. That is why I am trying to warn GOP voters of what is to come.

--SPOILER ALERT--Crucial elements of the Trump movie are about to be revealed.

If Trump gets past his GOP rivals he still has to survive the general election. That is the Second Act. And it will be a barn burner because the Democrats are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Trump. Romney was a veritable choir boy and look what they did to him. You can only imagine what material the Dems will have to work on with Trump. You can be assured that Trump will fight back but we are talking about a cage match worthy of Ventura in his prime.

If Trump is elected, the Third Act is still to follow. There is no reason to believe that the Trump movie will end any differently than Ventura's did. You have similar personalities, similar egos and no real political or governmental experience. (In fact, Ventura actually had been Mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN for four years before being elected Governor.) I can easily see Trump getting off to a fast start but quickly becoming frustrated, distracted and bored as he is unable to get anything done.

The result- a one-term President who may not even seek re-election. After all, why run if you can't win?

The bad news for the GOP is that, unlike Ventura who ran as a third party candidate for the Reform Party, Trump will represent the Republican brand. Minnesotans turned to Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, to fix the state.

As I said, I have seen this movie before.

I don't like how it ends.

Do not say you were not warned.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rich Man, Poor Man

Two men from opposite ends of the economic spectrum have had a significant impact on the political landscape this year.

Bernie Sanders, the self-described Socialist, and Donald Trump, the real estate magnate, have turned the political establishment upside down.

Trump is listed at #121 on the Forbes list of the richest Americans with $4.5 billion. Of course, Trump claims he is worth twice that.

Sanders earns his reputation as a Socialist honestly. Until he was age 40 he never had a steady job or paycheck. Of course, when he got a steady job it was a government job---Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Investor's Business Daily provided some useful background on "Bernie Sanders, The Bum Who Wants Your Money" in a recent editorial.

Sanders spent most of his life as an angry radical and agitator who never accomplished much of anything.  
One of his first jobs was registering people for food stamps, and it was all downhill from there.
Sanders took his first bride to live in a maple sugar shack with a dirt floor, and she soon left him. Penniless, he went on unemployment. Then he had a child out of wedlock. Desperate, he tried carpentry but could barely sink a nail. “He was a shi**y carpenter,” a friend told Politico Magazine. “His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t.”
Then he tried his hand freelancing for leftist rags, writing about “masturbation and rape” and other crudities for $50 a story. He drove around in a rusted-out, Bondo-covered VW bug with no working windshield wipers. Friends said he was “always poor” and his “electricity was turned off a lot.” They described him as a slob who kept a messy apartment — and this is what his friends had to say about him.

Despite the fact that Sanders was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 and the U.S. Senate in 2006, he still is considered one of the poorest members in Congress despite over 25 years of a steady paycheck.

Save for a municipal pension, Sanders lists no assets in his name. All the assets provided in his financial disclosure form are his second wife’s. He does, however, have as much as $65,000 in credit-card debt.  

Nevertheless, Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton and the Democratic donor class a run for their money. And I am talking about a lot of money. Hillary has already spent over $100 million in her run for President. And the vast amount of the money she has raised has come from those contributing $1,000 or more.

Sanders, on the other hand, has raised almost $100 million of which over 70% has been received from people who gave less than $200.

Of course, Trump is as rich as Sanders is poor.

However, I have found it interesting that despite what Trump says about his superior business acumen, Trump could have done just as well retiring in 1982, invested the $200 million he had then according to Forbes, and letting the stock market do the rest.

From January 1, 1982 through December 31, 2015, the S&P 500 Index had a annual compound growth rate of 11.53%. That means that every $1 invested from that time forward would now be worth almost $41.


Therefore, $200 million in 1982 would now be worth more than $8 billion.  Take taxes and living expenses out and you are very close to what Forbes says Trump is worth today.

Is Trump a business genius? Or does a good start (aided by his father), combined with compound returns, explain his success?

Despite the difference in wealth between the rich man and poor man in the race for the Presidency this year, the two still share some similarities.

If elected, either would be the oldest person ever to assume the office of President. Sanders will be 75, Trump will be 70. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he first assumed office.

They both have been registered with various political parties over the years.

Trump has been a member of the Republican Party, Independence Party, Democratic Party and was officially unaffiliated for a number of years. He also began a campaign to gain the nomination  of the Reform Party for President in 2000 which he later abandoned.

Sanders first ran for public office as a member of the Liberty Union party. He was elected Mayor of Burlington as an Independent but always referred to himself as a Socialist. He has never run for a political office as a Democrat until his run for President.

Both have had multiple wives. Sanders is on his second wife. Trump is on his third.

Despite Bernie being a Socialist and Trump being considered a Capitalist, their campaigns seem to be similar enough that even Donald Trump could not tell them apart when Mika Brzezinski posed what turned out to be a trick question to Trump last week during a televise  Townhall on MSNBC. reports on the exchange.

“I wanted to describe a candidate to you,” she began. “The candidate is considered a political outsider by all the pundits. He’s tapping into the anger of the voters, delivers a populist message.”

“He believes everyone in the country should have healthcare, he advocates for hedge fund managers to pay higher taxes, he’s drawing thousands of people at his rallies and bringing in a lot of new voters to the political process, and he’s not beholden to any super PAC. Who am I describing?” she asked.

Trump took the bait on the trick question.

“You’re describing Donald Trump,” he said.

“Actually, I was describing Bernie Sanders,” Brzezinski said to laughter.

Rich Man. Poor Man.

It does not matter. Neither is right for this country.

And it is certainly no laughing matter for us if they ever sit in the Oval Office.

There is only one worse option and she is a Poor Woman ("dead broke" when she left The White House in 2000) who has now become a Rich Woman.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tiers and Tears

The top tier of the Republican candidates for President was settled Saturday night in South Carolina.

Cruz, Rubio are in the top tier but they are looking up at Trump towering over them.

However, there were also some tears shed on Saturday night. By the Bush family. And all those well-heeled Bush contributors who put up over $100 million in support of his candidacy.

What did all that money produce? 4 delegates.

That almost makes me cry and I thought the entire Bush candidacy was ill-advised from the beginning. What an utter waste of money.

Ben Carson and John Kasich followed Bush in the vote totals in South Carolina but both have given no indication thus far about heading for the exit door with Jeb.

They have no reason to stay in. Carson's campaign has to be running on fumes financially. Is he only staying in at this point to sell books. If so, he is hurting his personal brand which is incredibly strong.

Kasich seems intent to stay in until the Michigan (March 8) and Ohio (March 15) primaries. In my view, he is wasting his time and also risking his image. He will not win either state and a poor showing in Ohio could also destroy any hopes he may be harboring to be the GOP candidate's VP pick.

Trump is in the driver's seat but he still has not won more than 36% in any state thus far. Almost 2/3 of GOP voters have chosen someone else.

As the race narrows, it will be interesting to see how the campaign unfolds from here.

It is conceivable that we could see the final three splitting the vote with each commanding about 1/3 of the total.

More likely, momentum favors one candidate who begins to pull away. A large number of voters move with the wind. They don't follow politics as closely as you or I might. They only see headlines and they follow where they think the crowd is going. Trump is that guy right now.

Cruz or Rubio are only going to blunt the momentum by creating serious doubts about Trump in the minds of GOP voters. And they need to do it in the next two weeks or it will be too late for them. And it might also be too late for Republican hopes for the White House in November.

The Democrats will have more than six months to make the case against Trump. Considering what they did to Mitt Romney, who was a veritable choir boy by comparison, what ammunition do you think awaits a Trump candidacy? The only difference, and it could be YUGE, is that Trump will take nothing lying down. Any race with Trump will be a cage match worthy of the WWF.

If you don't like raw, rabid political theatre, 2016 is not the year for you.

The political pundits still seem puzzled by the Trump phenomenon. However, the exit polls seem to make it crystal clear. South Carolina voters believe that Trump is the least likely of the final three to win in November. In addition, when asked which candidate most matched their own values, Cruz led the pack with 38%---less than 1 in 10 said that Trump shared their values. Trump is where he is because he is considered by 77% of South Carolina voters as the straightest shooter in the race.

I argued in 2011 that a Republican candidate for President in 2012 "who was not part of the status quo could catch fire. A pragmatic straight talker who says what he means and means what he says."

I specifically mentioned Donald Trump as someone "that had shown the type of straight talk that voters are looking for."

Trump did not enter the race and no other potential candidates with that vibe got in the race. According to form, the GOP predictably nominated Romney.

So much for my great analysis and perspective.

At the same time, I also finished my thoughts about Trump this way in 2011.

However, I do not think Trump will be able to withstand the scrutiny that is required in the heat of the campaign.  He simply has taken too many inconsistent positions over the years.  
I look at Trump right now like the "rabbit" in a mile race when one guy is sent out to set the pace for the others in the field.  He starts fast but he cannot finish.  However, he has shown the type of straight talk that voters are looking for.  In that way he is like the "rabbit" pushing the other runners to run faster and harder and showing them the pace they need to win. Trump is clearly showing the other candidates that politics as usual is not what voters are looking for.

At this point, the inconsistent positions don't seem to even matter.

Consider that in just the past week Trump said the following.

He called President Bush a liar in getting us into the war in Iraq. He then backed away from that statement the next day saying he did not know whether he lied or not.

He said he is on record as opposing the war in Iraq and he could produce 25 articles supporting that position. He has not been able to produce one piece of documentation to prove that statement. He now says that no one reported on what his views were because he was not a political figure. In fact, an interview with Howard Stern from late in 2011 has now surfaced where he indicated he supported invading Iraq.

He said he liked the individual mandate in Obamacare in the CNN Townhall on Thursday night only to argue that he wanted to repeal all of the law the next day.

I understand there are a lot of angry Republican voters who want to make a point this year.

I understood it better than most five years ago.

I just don't understand the politics behind it right now.

What is the point in voting for Trump knowing that he doesn't share your values and you also think he is going to get thumped in November?

It almost brings tears to my own eyes.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Goldilocks Election

The GOP Primary this year reminds of the children's tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It also explains how I am looking at the candidates.

No, it has nothing to with Donald's golden locks.

Read on to see what I mean.

If you remember the story, Goldilocks was a young girl who was wandering through the forest when she came upon a small house among the trees.

Seeing that the door to the house was open, Goldilocks peered into the house and saw three bowls of porridge on the kitchen table. Being hungry from her walk, she entered the house and tried the first bowl. It was too hot. The second bowl was too cold.  The third bowl was just right and she ate it all up.

Having finished the porridge, Goldilocks felt tired and wanted to rest. She went upstairs and saw three beds. The first was too hard. The second bed was too soft. The third bed was just right and she laid down and fell asleep.

Soon after the Three Bears,  who inhabited the house, returned home after their own stroll in the woods they found someone had entered their home and eaten their porridge. They went upstairs to see that each of their beds were also messed up and a young girl was asleep in one of the beds.

They roused her from the bed and she quickly sprang to her feet and fled back to the forest from where she came.

How does the story of Goldilocks relate to the GOP primary?

Goldilocks strolling through a strange forest is a lot like Republican voters searching for a candidate they can support. Unlike the past, GOP voters are not looking in the same places. Just like Goldy, they are not quite sure where they are. It really is uncharted territory.

Republican voters have a history of nominating familiar names with establishment records. They rarely veer off the path and support an outlier, an upstart or someone they do not know well. Consider Eisehhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan (1980), George H.W. Bush, Dole, George W. Bush, McCain and Romney. Goldwater is the only GOP candidate in my lifetime who broke that mold (defeating Nelson Rockefeller for the nomination).

Democrats, on the other hand, seem to favor the outlier, upstart or the more radical candidate if given a choice. JFK, McGovern, Carter, Clinton, Dukakis and Obama are examples. They generally beat better known and more established politicians to gain the nomination. The problems that Hillary is having with Bernie Sanders proves the point again.

For a longer explanation of my theory on the differences in the nominees of the two parties, see my blog post, Is 2012 The Year Republicans Start Acting More Like Democrats?

The unfamiliar house that Goldilocks comes upon in the woods represents a house where all the anti-establishment, non-traditional GOP candidates reside. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Fiorina (she lived there but has since moved out) all took up residence there this time around.

You might question why I even put Rubio in the house. If you look back six years Rubio was the Tea Party candidate in Florida for the US Senate against Charlie Crist. It goes to show you how far the Republican Party has swung towards the Tea Party philosophy that Rubio is now considered an "Establishment" candidate. It is pretty amazing. For example, Rubio's Heritage rating is 94/100 and his ACU rating is 98/100. That is pretty conservative on any scorecard.

The only candidates left in the race right now that are on the outside of the house are Bush and Kasich.  It is also pretty amazing this year is that if you are considered an "insider" are actually on the outside looking in.

From the beginning, I have preferred a non-establishment candidate. I have liked a lot of what all of these candidates have talked about and stood for. I am tired of sending Republicans to Washington and seeing nothing happen.

I think Mark Steyn said it best.

"When the left wins, they're in power; when the right wins, they're in office, and that's all."

Personally, in trying to find the right candidate, I have felt like Goldilocks when she taste tested that porridge. I eliminated Carson early in the debate process. He is a really good man but he clearly is just not ready to make the jump from surgeon to Commander in Chief.

That leaves Trump, Cruz and Rubio. Three bowls of porridge and three beds to consider.

For me, Trump is just too hot. I like where he is coming from on a lot of issues but the rhetoric is over the top and I have real doubts about him delivering on his promises.

His bed is a little too hard as well. He is harsh and haughty. I worry about his temperament as President.

Rubio is too cool. He is articulate and smooth. However, he is a little too rehearsed and robotic.

Rubio's bed is too soft for me, especially on immigration. He keeps saying that immigration reform is not possible until the border is secure. However, he went ahead and joined the Gang of 8 on a bill that ignored that fact. If he knows that now, why didn't he realize that before he undertook that misguided piece of legislation?

Cruz seems about right. He is not too hot or too cold. He has the smarts and he strikes a good balance between being principled when it is required but also being practical when it is necessary.

His bed is also not too hard or soft. I think he will enforce the law, and most importantly, follow the Constitution. I have the greatest confidence that Cruz can be trusted to do what he says he will do. And he will be tough when he needs to be. I don't get the same confidence with Rubio.

There is no perfect candidate for you unless you are running yourself.

Every electoral decision is a question of relativity.

Normally it is an either/or decision. That's the choice the Democrats have now.

The GOP is more complicated.

That is why Goldilocks helped me.

Pick your bed carefully. It is a long four years ahead and we don't need any more sleepless nights than we have had over the last seven years.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Are You Willing To Bet Your Life, Livelihood and Liberty On Trump?

If you did not know what a Trumpertantrum was you should know now if you watched Saturday's GOP Debate in South Carolina.

I lost count of how many people Trump called liars during the course of the night.

You can expect him to say that about anyone who might question him on anything.

However, I did not expect that he would do a Michael Moore impersonation and call President George W. Bush one as well.

If you are still thinking of supporting Trump in the GOP primaries, please think again.

He is just too risky to consider nominating if you are a Republican.

Then again, I would support him 100% if he was running as a Democrat.

I am still disappointed that Trump is not being more seriously challenged by the other candidates (or by the media for that matter) on his past positions and on his temperament to be President.  After Saturday night you can understand why everyone is a little gun shy. After all, who wants to be called a liar in front of 15 million people?

It will be interesting how this week unfolds in South Carolina on the campaign trail as President Bush turns out to campaign with Jeb in the Palmetto State.

16 years ago George W. Bush was defeated by John McCain in New Hampshire and went to South Carolina down 20 points in the polls two weeks before the primary. Bush beat him 53%-42% and McCain was out of the race less than three weeks later.

Will Trump continue to defy political gravity or will he pay a price for his Trumpertantrum?

The one thing I do know is that Trump will win if he is not challenged. A great number of candidates self-destruct on their own. It is clear by now that Trump is indestructible on that score. His supporters appear to think that even the most moronic things he says are actually some brilliant strategy.

He is only going to be defeated by making people confront just how risky a Donald Trump can be to their lives, livelihood and liberty as the GOP nominee or as the President of the United States.

No one truly knows what he will do. And I think that includes Trump!

Ted Cruz has the most to gain if Trump trips up.

Rubio is right behind Cruz.

Jeb has been the guy most willing to take on Trump. Of course, he has the most motivation to do so because Trump has so mercilessly attacked Jeb over the course of the campaign. In addition, at this point Jeb has little to lose in taking on Trump. He is hanging on for his life in the polls so there is little downside and a good deal of upside if he can get under Trump's skin.

With that being said, this is how I would challenge Trump if I were Cruz and establish the thought in voter's minds that Trump is "Risky Business" despite the fact that the voters may like what he is saying.



Ted Cruz speaks to Donald Trump

(I have purposely excluded from the script what I estimate will be 15 interruptions by Trump, 5 times that he calls Cruz a liar and the one time Trump calls Cruz an illegal immigrant from Canada before the entire message is delivered.)

Donald, you have enjoyed great success in the business world.

Along the way you had to take considerable risks. It was risky to invest in New York City when you first started. Or to move into Atlantic City. Many times you had to borrow large sums of money from big banks to achieve your dreams.You have been well rewarded for the risks you took over the years.

However, not ever risk turned out well for you. Many of your big bets came out as winners but you also had your share of losers.

Four times the companies you controlled ended up in bankruptcy. You avoided personal bankruptcy because of good legal advice in structuring your businesses and the forbearance of your bankers. You made the system work for you. Good for you.

However, it is one thing to make big bets with your own money or the money of big Wall Street banks.

It is another thing altogether to make big bets with the lives, livelihood and liberty of the American people.

When you talk all we hear about how this or that is going to be the greatest, or the best or hugest ever.

There has never been anything you have taken on in your life that you did not think was going to be great. Optimism is a great trait.

However, at least four times in your life things that you said were going to be great or the best ever ended up in bankruptcy.

You personally survived and prospered by the good graces of the big banks and the bankruptcy laws.

Leading and governing our country is much different than running your business.

There are no bankers to bail you out——only taxpayers.

You are not dealing with Atlantic City casino chips when you make antagonistic or insulting statements about other countries. Or other leaders. You may be betting American lives while doing it. At a minimum, you may be betting the jobs of American workers and the livelihood of their families as a result of a trade war.

When you ignore basic American values and rights—for example, your attempt to take an elderly woman’s house for a casino parking lot through the power of eminent domain—you threaten individual liberty.

The protection of our constitutional values and liberties took an even more serious turn this weekend with the passing of Justice Scalia.

What confidence can we have that you will appoint someone of a similar mind as Justice Scalia to protect our founding principles and values? After all, several months ago you stated that your sister, a federal judge, would be a "phenomenal" Supreme Court justice. It is understandable that you love and respect your sister.

We are talking about a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. I know your family is important to you and you have surrounded yourself with your children in your business. However, I think you should be able to see why that utterance should give everyone some pause right now.

I know taking risks and making big bets has been the key to your business success.

Risky Business has worked for you personally.

However, are American voters willing to bet their lives, livelihood and liberty on you?

You are asking people to make a very big bet at a time when we cannot afford to be wrong. The stakes are YUGE as you would say.

That is very Risky Business for conservative, Republican voters.

There is only one safe path to the future. A return to our founding principles and the proven conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

That is what I offer.

Trusted Conservatism.

Voters can take that to the bank.

And it comes with no risk.


Are you willing to bet your life, livelihood and liberty on Donald Trump?

I am not.

Too risky for me.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Opportunity or Obligation?

Marco Rubio received poor marks for his robotic responses in the last GOP Presidential Debate.

Chris Christie rattled Rubio in that debate that caused him to go into that robot mode.

Jeb Bush was generally considered to have his best performance in that debate.

However, all of these candidates gave what I thought were absolutely loony answers when asked whether young women should be required to sign up for Selective Service in case the draft is reinstated.

This issue has gotten increased attention since Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated last week that all combat roles in the U.S. military were now open to women as long as they qualify and meet the standards.

Rubio, Christie and Bush spent most of their time talking about the equal opportunity aspect of military service. I agree that qualified women should have the opportunity to serve in any role in which they are qualified on equal terms with men.

However, Rubio, Christie and Bush all missed the big point here on the Selective Service draft. The draft is not opportunity, it is obligation.

I have two daughters and a granddaughter.  There is no way in this world that they should have to be obligated to be drafted into military service. That is the height of lunacy, especially for potential ground combat roles in the Army.

Conscription is normally necessary to fill combat positions in the Army.  For example, 95% of all inductees to the Army during the Vietnam War were draftees while the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard were able to fill almost their entire quotas via voluntary enlistments. Of course, the threat of being drafted into the Army becomes a great incentive to volunteer for potentially safer and softer postings in the Armed Services.

I have argued in these pages previously that the drafting of women was the next step in the slippery slope of pushing for more equality on the battlefield. It appears that we have arrived at that point.

It is hard to argue that women should not be subject to the draft if you are going to state they are fully capable of handling any combat role. However, that proposition still is dubious in my mind.

This fact was proven very conclusively by a recent Marine Corps study that looked at combat effectiveness of mixed-gender combat teams compared to all male teams over an extensive period of time.

All-male ground combat teams outperformed their mixed-gender counterparts in nearly every capacity during a recent infantry integration test, Marine Corps officials revealed Thursday.
Data collected during (the) experiment showed Marine teams with female members performed at lower overall levels, completed tasks more slowly and fired weapons with less accuracy than their all-male counterparts. In addition, female Marines sustained significantly higher injury rates and demonstrated lower levels of physical performance capacity overall, officials said.

Based on the data in this study the Marine Corps asked to receive an exception to the Obama Administration's order to the Defense Department to open all combat roles to women.

I fully understand the desire to open up more opportunities for women in the military.  It is a fact that serving in combat roles in the military is often necessary in order to advance to the highest ranks.
Therefore, opening up combat roles for women can be very beneficial for the women seeking those promotions.

However, is it the right decision looking at the military and our country at large? Are we putting the advantages for a few over the effects on the many? Let's consider this question from several perspectives.

From a physical perspective, there are women that are stronger, faster and more athletic than many men. I don't think many men would want to challenge Brittney Griner to a game of one-on-one basketball, Serena William to a game of tennis or Allyson Felix to a 100-meter dash.  There are overlapping bell curves with respect to the physical abilities of men and women.  Some women will always have better physical abilities than some men. However, most men will enjoy physical advantages over most women.

If there were not significant physical differences between men and women why are there men's and women's events at the Olympics?  Why is there a WNBA?  Why is there a LPGA in golf?  It is because there is a difference.  What if it is your son who was left on the battlefield because his female comrade could not drag him to safety? Are we going to just ignore these facts in order to push some type of "equal rights" agenda?

There is also a mental perspective.  I think it goes without saying that women are generally constitutionally stronger than men in many respects.  Women live longer, are more resilient and are much more mature in their late teens and early 20's than men, which are the prime ages for military service.  We also have the whole issue of child bearing.  It is not called labor by accident.

As I have written before, women now make up 60% of all recent college graduates.  They have the smarts and discipline to do anything.  They have the courage and dedication to back it up. However, if it was your wife or daughter, how would their mental state deal with the following example posed by Ryan Smith in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.  Smith was a Marine infantryman in Iraq.

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Finally, there is the emotional perspective. We have a culture that has traditionally given women and children special status in our society.  Sure, we can pretend it doesn't exist and ignore thousands of years of history and tradition.  We could even start now and train our soldiers to ignore how they were raised.  Tell them that is doesn't matter whether Jessica or Jeff is captured.  They are both soldiers.  Forget everything you learned growing up.  Jessica will be able to handle herself with her male captors just as well as Jeff.  Forget those old stories of soldiers raping and pillaging.

Oh, maybe there are other things that we need to worry about with Jessica that we don't have to with Jeff?

There is also the basic biology involved between young men and women.  It is already a huge problem in the military but one that you don't hear a lot about.  When you put men and women together stuff happens.  And it already is happening a lot in the military as it is. For example, just over ten percent of women in the military said in 2008 that they'd had an unintended pregnancy in the last year according to story I read.  That number is significantly higher than in the general public.

The U.S. Navy seems to have had an ongoing problem with pregnancies in maintaining their force readiness.  As much as 34% of the billets of shore commands are "manned" by pregnant sailors who are not available for sea duty.  This causes problems both at sea and on the shore as the Navy must adjust assignments and staffing to deal with pregnancies of which almost 3/4 are unplanned.

Opportunity for women who are truly qualified and who meet an overall general standard (not a watered down female standard) who want to serve in combat roles is fine. However, we should not be sacrificing combat effectiveness for political correctness.

We also need to draw the line between opportunity and obligation.

We have indeed fallen very, very far as a society if we are contemplating subjecting our women to the obligation of serving in combat roles in our Armed Forces.

Rubio, Bush and Christie really missed the point last Saturday night.

One candidate did not miss the point.

I was pleased to see that after the debate Ted Cruz weighed in on the issue this way.

Ted Cruz on Sunday said he opposes requiring women to register for a potential draft, breaking with Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, all of whom indicated support for opening up the Selective Service to women during Saturday night's debate.
“I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’” Cruz said Sunday, speaking at a town hall here. “Listen, we have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous. And the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.” 

Rubio must now realize that he made more than one mistake in the last debate. Today he announced that he is joining Cruz on a bill sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would make clear that requiring women to be eligible for the draft could only be done by Congress.

You would not think this legislation would be necessary but all bets are off any more when it comes to our President and the Supreme Court these days. After all, one of the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution is "to raise and support Armies".

However, it is of particular concern with the Supreme Court right now as in 1981 the Court upheld the all-male draft based on the fact that women could be excluded because they were not considered fully combat capable. Of course, that reasoning is no longer valid with the recent rulings by the Administration.

A slippery slope indeed.

And, in my opinion, three Presidential candidate slipped on it last Saturday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Hampshire Notes

A few notes and observations on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results.

Right after the 2012 general election I predicted that if things in our country did not improve over the second term of Obama that it was likely that the Presidential nominees of the Republican and Democrat parties were likely to be much more radical than we had seen in the past.

This prediction seems to be proving accurate based on the election results in the first two states in 2016.

The Democrats seem to believe that the country's failures are due to policies that are not liberal enough. This has led to the rise of the Socialist Bernie Sanders and has caused Hillary to veer even further to the left.

The Republicans believe that mainstream Republican leaders have failed in challenging and stopping the progressivism of Obama and the Democrats. This has allowed for Trump and Cruz to rise to the top in the Republican race.

The next month will tell us a lot of whether this trend will continue all the way to the end.


Bernie Sanders

Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by over 20 points.  This is a landslide by any definition.  However, Sanders now moves to states that will be much more difficult for him from a demographics perspective with many more minority and urban

Sanders has great momentum but can he sustain his mojo in states like South Carolina, Nevada, Texas and Alabama?

A couple of interesting stats I heard in the exit poll data tonight.

32% of Dem voters in NH cited honesty and trustworthiness as the most important factor in their choice for President (this actually was the #1 rated attribute mentioned by voters). Of those voters, they chose Sanders by a margin of 93%-5%!

Sanders also won 74% of all voters under the age of 45!

Hillary is in deep, deep trouble if these numbers hold in upcoming states.

Donald Trump 

Donald Trump showed he could win at the ballot box and he won convincingly. As big a win as it was, he still did not best 2nd place John Kasich by as large a margin as Bernie beat Hillary.  Another indication of how badly Hillary did in NH.

The good news for Trump is that he won 1/3 of the vote.

The bad news is that 2/3 of GOP voters supported someone else.

Worse news for him (and GOP voters who would like to win in November) is that 60% of general election voters still hold an unfavorable view of him.

John Kasich

Kasich bet all his marbles on New Hampshire and it was do or die for him. He had made something like 150 appearances in the state over the last six months.

Kasich's problem now is that he will have some momentum coming out of the state but he has little money or organization to employ in the next states. He is unlikely to be able to capitalize on his strong showing in upcoming states.  Those states are also much more conservative than New Hampshire. He does not appear to have anywhere to go from here.

Ted Cruz

It appears that Ted Cruz will finish 3rd in NH after his win in Iowa. This clearly exceeded expectations for him in the state where he beat Bush, Rubio, Christie and the others.

What is most impressive about the Cruz results is how he did it without spending any money.

Here is what each candidate spent in New Hampshire.

$36M    Bush
$18M    Christie
$15M    Rubio
$12M    Kasich
$  4M    Trump
$  2M    Fiorina
$ .6M    Cruz

That's right, Cruz spent less than $600,000 in New Hampshire and Bush spent $36 million.

And as of the time I am writing this (1130pm EST), Cruz has more votes than Bush.

Talk about return on investment.  Even Trump has to be impressed with that ROI.


Hillary Clinton

I thought I had seen it all but I never thought Hillary could lose to a 74-year old Socialist by 20 points in any election. That says it all.

South Carolina becomes absolutely critical for her. If she loses there the bottom might drop out completely for her. Is Joe Biden warming up in the bullpen? What is Michael Bloomberg going to do?

Marco Rubio

What a difference a week (and one debate) can mean in Presidential politics.

Marco has fallen and may now not be able to get up with both Kasich and Bush beating him in NH. I still think he has more staying power than Bush or Kasich but he has to prove it in this Saturday's debate in SC and in the SC vote.

Chris Christie

Like Kasich, he put it all on the line in NH and ended up with a single digit result. I predict he will be taking himself out of the race in the next few days. His legacy in this race may be that he took both Rubio and himself out with the same shot in the last debate.

Ben Carson

It is almost breathtaking how quickly Carson has fallen.

He tried to blame Cruz and CNN for his troubles in Iowa but Carson has no one to blame but himself. Serious candidates do not go home to get a change of clothes and take three days off of the campaign trail in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire. He took himself out and the people of NH noticed. He ended up with a mere 2% in NH.

Carson is on life support. Good doctors do not pull the plug easily. He may stay in until South Carolina but he will not be a raise any more money. He is done.


Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush beat two of the three (Rubio and Christie) he had to in order to stay in as a potential Establishment candidate (trailing Kasich). That is enough to keep him viable, especially with the money he has remaining at his disposal. That makes him a winner.

However, when you spend $36 million and finish 4th you still have to feel like a loser.

It is a draw at best for Jeb tonight.


Expect things to really heat up in South Carolina.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Caveat Emptor

Donald Trump makes a big deal of the fact that he is "self-funding" his campaign for President.

A lot of his supporters cite this so-called financial independence as a major reason they are supporting Trump. They believe that this means Trump will not be a tool of special interests if he is elected President. I hear this all the time from Trump supporters.

Meanwhile, Trump appears to think that he is not getting the credit he deserves for funding his campaign.  Witness his tweet from yesterday.

I guess when you lose, it is not worth it. It is only worth it when you win.

What are the actual facts on Trump's self-funding?

Trump has actually contributed very little to his campaign thus far. Most of the money going into the Trump campaign has been in the form of loans from Trump.

Though December 31 (the most recent reporting date) Trump had only contributed $218,567 to his campaign.

On the other hand, he had loaned the campaign $12.6 million!

He had received $6.6 million in individual contributions to his campaign.

Therefore, outside donors have actually contributed 30X more to the Trump campaign than he has has actually contributed himself. (Hat tip to @LPDonovan)

When someone makes a loan to a campaign the expectation is that the loan will someday be repaid. If not, why not just contribute the money?

How will the loans to be repaid? From political contributions to the campaign from other donors. The identical manner in which almost all politicians raise money.

Why is Trump whining that he is not getting credit for his self-funding right now and saying it is "not worth it."

That is because Trump has a clear expectation that he will have his campaign loans repaid by other donors after he wins the nomination or the Presidency. He knows it is easy to raise money when you are on top.

However, if he does not win, no one is going to be interested in contributing to retiring those loans. He will never have the loans repaid. Exactly like the lenders who loaned money to four of his companies who declared bankruptcy over the years.

It is not coincidence that Trump is whining when he is not winning.

It is not only the Trump ego that is threatened.

He is also faced with the fact that he may actually have to self-fund his campaign rather than only appearing to do so.

And there are few people on this planet that love their money more than Trump.

As I have written before, consider the fact that Mitt Romney and the Republicans spent $1.1 billion during the 2012 campaign. Romney spent $336 million in campaign funds that he raised for his campaign, the National Republican Party spent another $386 million on Romney and outside Super PACs and others chipped in another $419 million for Romney.

Is Trump really prepared to spend $1 billion of his own money to get elected?

No, he will not not.

Will he loan his campaign $1 billion?

No. In fact, I question whether he would have anywhere near that kind of liquidity in his portfolio to do so. Is he going to start selling properties to finance his campaign? I don't think so.

He also most assuredly is not going to raise $1 billion through a bunch of $200 contributions.

And if he has to go to Wall Street and other special interests to fund his campaign like everyone else, a big part of the attraction of Donald Trump washes away.

Voting for Donald Trump to be your Republican candidate for President is Risky Business.

Donald Trump is a great salesman. However, be wary about what you are buying.

This is not Costco. After you vote, there are no returns or exchanges. You own it.

Caveat Emptor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump Trip

Donald Trump tripped in Iowa last night.

How did it happen?

What happens next?

A few quick observations.

  • Success in politics sits atop a 3-legged stool. Name id, money and organization. Trump has the name id. He supposedly has the money but he hasn't really spent much on his campaign. For example, his most recent financial report indicates that he spent more on hats in the last quarter ($450,000) than he did on either strategy consulting ($281,000) or on his data vendor ($235,000.

  • Ted Cruz won in Iowa because he had a much better organizational framework than Trump. Cruz visited all 99 counties and he had the ground game to trip up Trump. Cruz also spent heavily on voter data analytics to target the voters he needed and didn't worry about hats. As a Texan, I think Cruz understands what he means to have a big hat but no cattle!
  • Trump also made a major error when he did not show up for the last debate. In doing so, he opened the door for Marco Rubio to surge to within 1% of Trump. It would appear that a good part of the Rubio surge came out of Trump. Worse for Trump is that the aura around him that he is a political and media mastermind is broken.  
  • The final caucus numbers in Iowa also point to some interesting times ahead in this race. If I am Trump I don't like this math----Cruz(28%)+Rubio(23%)+Carson(9%)=60%, Trump=24%. Where does Trump grow his support as the race narrows? He has negatives approaching 50% among all Republican voters. His upside has always looked questionable considering his favorability ratings. Can he convert voters from these other candidates going forward?
  • Rubio clearly set himself apart as the "Establishment" candidate in the race. His 24% compares to 3% for Jeb Bush, 2% for Kasich and 2% for Christie. It will interesting to see whether Rubio can use the Iowa results to springboard past those three in New Hampshire.
  • The Iowa numbers still show that it appears to be challenge to win the GOP nomination in the "Establishment" lane.  Consider the percentage of votes that went to the "Outsider" candidates. Cruz(28%)+Trump(24%)+Carson(9%)+Fiorina(2%)=63%,  All Others 37%. This still points to Trump and Cruz in the inside lane. If Rubio falls, does Trump become the "Establishment" candidate? Can Cruz take out Trump setting up a Cruz-Rubio showdown?
  • Despite Jeb Bush only pulling 3% of the vote in Iowa he reportedly has over $50 million of cash in his SuperPac. Will Jeb stay in the race beyond when he should get out because of this cash lode? If he drops out and still has substantial funds remaining, does that money get spent on behalf of another candidate. It surely will not go to Trump. Will Jeb return to helping Marco despite the bad blood that has developed as a result of this campaign? Will it just be used to beat Trump no matter if it is Cruz or Rubio in the final face-off?
Iowa is a very small sample size so you can't put too much on any of the results. However, they are real votes and Iowa creates and destroys momentum.

On this one night we can summarize it this way.

Cruz is still cruising.

Rubio is resurgent.

Trump has tripped.

On to New Hampshire.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The End of the Beginning

Presidential political campaigns have three phases.

In Phase One (the Beginning) the candidates work to raise money, build a ground game organization and raise their political profile with the voters. This phase ends today and Phase Two begins with the Iowa Caucus votes to be followed in short order with primary elections across the country over the next several months where actual votes are counted.

The Final Phase culminates with the General Election on November 8.

On the GOP side, three candidates appear to have risen above the rest of the field in the Beginning Phase.

Donald Trump (The Jerk), Marco Rubio (The Politician) and Ted Cruz (The Brain).

Trump-The Jerk

Trump has confounded the other candidates in the field and dumbfounded the political experts with his lead in the polls at "The End of the Beginning."  He is the candidate that people either seem to love or hate. There does not seem to be much middle ground.

For example, in the final Des Moines Register poll Trump is the choice of 28% of potential GOP voters but an incredible 47% of likely caucus goers in the state view him unfavorably. This is practically unheard of in politics.

How can almost half of your own party's voters have an unfavorable view of a candidate and he can still be leading?

I attribute it to the fact that Trump is a good salesman. And he sells himself better than anyone. He has proven that in this Beginning Phase. No one has done a better job of keeping his name and profile in the media. No one has also done a better job of successfully putting other candidates on the defensive. No one has done a better job of resonating with voters.

At the same time, even most of those who say they will vote for him admit that he is abrasive and annoying.  Others could possibly think of another word beginning with "a" they would use to describe Trump.

However, due to the times that we are living in today that actually works to Trump's advantage.

Yes, he can be all those things that begin with an "a" but I believe many of his supporters think it is about time that we had someone like that working for America.

"He may be a jerk but I want him in the foxhole with me" may carry the day for Trump.

Marco Rubio-The Politician

Rubio has shown himself to be the dream GOP candidate for 2016. He is young, Hispanic and hails from a critical swing state (Florida). He also has shown himself to be the most articulate and politically polished candidate in the race to this point.

Rubio would present a difficult challenge to any of the potential Democrat candidates (Hillary, Bernie or Biden (who knows what still lurks on her email server?) all of which are older, whiter and a products of deep blue states.

Rubio's weakness is his failed attempt at immigration reform with the Gang of Eight that hangs over his head in the GOP Primary and a background that involves almost nothing but politics.

Rubio is like a lot of officeholders in that his whole adult life he has been in politics. He was elected a City Commissioner shortly after graduating from law school and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives before he was 30 years of age. He found the right calling because he is good as a politician but it is about all he knows.

You know Trump doesn't need politics. He was a great businessman. You know Cruz doesn't need politics. He was one of the best Constitutional lawyers and litigators in the country before running for office. You can't say the same thing about Rubio. Without politics you are not sure where he would be on the success scale.

Marco may have that question mark but the prospect of Rubio on the GOP ticket has to be giving Democrat strategists fits. He is a great political package.

Ted Cruz -The Brain 

Ted Cruz has spent his entire life being the smartest guy in the room. In high school, where he memorized the U.S. Constitution and made money giving speeches about it. In college at Princeton, where he was the U.S. Collegiate Debate champion. In law school at Harvard, where even liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz called him one of the smartest students he ever taught in over 40 years at the school.  On the Supreme Court, where he was a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Cruz has also shown a very structured and methodical approach to the Beginning Phase of this campaign with impressive fundraising as well as building what many consider to be the best campaign organization of any of the candidates.

The big question mark about Cruz is whether he can prove to be likeable enough for voters to embrace while he also deals with questions as to why fellow Senators and other political pros are not rushing to endorse his candidacy.

As to the latter concern, here again as with Trump, Cruz may actually be able to use this to his advantage as the race plays out. He is actually an outsider who has been inside and has not liked what he has seen. And those insiders don't like it one bit.

It is not always easy being the smartest guy in the room. It is not easy to work with others when you are two steps ahead of everyone else. It becomes all too easy for others to be jealous or bitter of your talent.

However, give me smart every day of the week when I am choosing my President. The issues are too big, the stakes too large, to worry about a rough edge or two along the way. I like Cruz for his smarts.

How Will It End?

The end of the beginning is here. However, how will it really end in November?

That is up to the voters beginning in Iowa. Here is the full primary calendar over the next six weeks. I believe we will have a pretty good idea who the Republican and Democrat candidates will be by the middle of March. Keep an eye on the calendar.

The 2016 Republican primary calendar looks like this between February 2-March 15.

Tuesday, February 2
Iowa caucus (GOP)

Tuesday, February 9
New Hampshire

Saturday, February 20
South Carolina

Tuesday, February 23
Nevada caucus

Tuesday, March 1 (Super Tuesday)
Colorado caucuses
North Carolina

Saturday, March 5

Tuesday, March 8
Hawaii Republican caucuses

Sunday, March 13
Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 15

I will be happy with any of the three GOP candidates profiled above.

I can live with a jerk, a politician or a brain.

All would be vastly better than having a socialist or a security risk in The White House.