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.

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