Good morning Austin:
Let’s begin with yesterday’s Tweet of the Day, from Texas’ First Citizen, Gov. Greg Abbott.
This seems like it could be a kind of a Rorschach test.
You might be a Texan if it brings an unambiguous smile to your face, though perhaps with a tinge of mailbox envy.
You might not be a Texan if your first thought is, isn’t there some kind of local ordinance against this, and if there isn’t, shouldn’t there be?
My first thought was, isn’t that nice, they’re still delivering mail to the Branch Davidian compound.
Meanwhile, in the presidential contest, a week into becoming the first and still only officially declared candidate for the Republican nomination (among the name contenders), Ted Cruz remains hot, very hot. His decision to be the first in seems to have paid off with a surge in his standing in the polls and attention paid, and it is clear that he the kind of lightning rod for controversy that will hold the gaze of national and local media unless and until his numbers evaporate.
He is great copy and excites passions.
Also, I love the look of his Twitter page.
From the black and white profile picture, one is not sure whether he is a televangelist or headliner at the Sands Hotel, circa 1966. But then one notices his hands in prayer mode, and the shards of light from on high, and one knows God is on his side and that he is burning with a passion for Reigniting the Promise of America.
Cruz likes to play with fire images. At the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, Cruz told a young audience about how his father, at 14, was throwing Molotov cocktails in support of the Cuban Revolution.
“Each of you has an ability to spread a fire; I am asking you to be an arsonist,” Cruz said. “I encourage you to light fire of liberty in other young people, so it burns and rages and spreads from one young person to another. That is how we turn the country around.”
Two weeks ago, he piqued the interest of a three-year-old at a New Hampshire appearance – and got a torrent of national coverage – when he declared “the whole world’s on fire.”
And, you can see from his Twitter page that he has taken for his logo the flame symbol for natural gas.
Or is it Pentecostalism.
As Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote in the Washington Post, under the headline, Ted Cruz’s logo: A burning flag, Al Jazeera’s logo or a Pentecostal church logo?:
It’s common for Pentecostal logos to include something with fire in them, connected to a verse about Pentecost. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them,” Acts 2:3 says.
Meanwhile, there is Rick Perry, who is expected to announce in May or June that he too is running for president.
Here is a recent Web ad from RickPAC.
Perry’s world does not appear to be engulfed in flames.
This is really about the next generation, regardless of who you are or what the sound of your last name is … regardless of whether you are right or left. We need somebody that can can stand up and say, “Let’s quit fighting each other. Let’s find the places that we can agree on.” We’re looking for someone in this country who has the experience to take America on a different path than it’s on today.
You know there’s nothing wrong with America today that can’t be fixed with new leadership.
Regardless of whether you are right or left.
Let’s quit fighting each other.
Let’s find the places that we can agree on.
What about, there’s no red America or blue America?
And even President Obama knows that’s bunkum.
But here is Rick Perry offering himself as the anti-Cruz, a healing, uniting figure, an elder statesman who knows how to govern. Well, in a crowded field every candidate has to find their niche.
With his gift for retail politicking, Perry seems to be looking to humbly insinuate himself back into national contention, one person at a time, in Iowa and New Hampshire; to establish himself as some people’s first choice but almost everyone’s second or third choice, an acceptable alternative across the party spectrum, and then lay back and bide his time while the rest of field, one by one, takes each other out.
The problem for Perry is how to remain in the mix long enough to still be around if and when that moment arrives.
During his unfortunate last go-round with presidential politics, E. Michael Young wrote in American Thinker that Perry didn’t come across as likable enough:
After slipping in the national polls from the high 30s, briefly leading his Republican rivals, to his current position around 10%, Rick Perry is attempting a comeback with his flat tax proposal. But he will never regain the lead unless he changes his style at the debates. In short, he must become more likable.
In the final analysis, when all is said and done, the determinative factor that decides presidential elections is who is the most likable candidate. This might be a depressing fact to comprehend — are American presidential elections, the process by which we choose the most powerful man in the world, nothing more than high school popularity contests? Well, if you scan over the last several presidential elections, you will see that this is indeed the case.
If you don’t like the high school popularity contest analogy, then perhaps you might like the TV show analogy better. The average American watches over four hours of television per day. So when Americans pick a presidential candidate, they are subliminally thinking about whom they would prefer to see on TV every day for the next four years. In 2008 they rejected the idea of watching John McCain in Grumpy Old Men and decided instead to watch Obama in The Fresh Prince of D.C.
The point is that the most likable candidate usually wins the election, and in the last four debates — and especially the last one in Nevada — Rick Perry has not been an attractive figure. He looks mean-spirited and angry. Instead of talking about his own accomplishments and offering a positive vision, he constantly attacks his rivals, often in a ham-handed, cheap fashion.
Rick Perry needs to relax and allow the softer, more appealing side of his personality to show. As Perry grows more confident and gets accustomed to the overwhelming demands of the campaign, he might overcome the fight-or-flight instinct that seems to take control of him at these debates. A self-assured, successful man, like Reagan, he can make jokes about himself and not feel the need to meet every implied insult with a kidney punch.
Perry has many endearing qualities he can use to his advantage. His ruggedly handsome face, which can unexpectedly soften with a boyish grin, is definitely an asset. On the stump he is very engaging and energetic. When he gets out and meets the people, he can be relaxed and charming. And he is improving in the one-on-one interviews, like the one he recently did with Bill O’Reilly, where he came off as thoughtful, almost articulate, and yes, more likable.
It appears that this time, Perry clearly has likable down.
But, as Dave Carney, who advised Perry in that campaign, has noted, “Making a first impression a second time is hard, very hard.”
In an email last night, Carney laid out the difficulty of the task now at hand for Perry.
As for Governor Perry I don’t know what their plans are but I would suggest he has three objectives.
Raise enough money to stay in the game regardless of his standings in the early contests. I’d say well north of $50m combination of both hard dollars and the elixir of all contenders dreams – Super Pac funds.
Second, he needs to continue to grow both in the state public polls and nationally to be considered serious. This takes funds, time and an organization in enough states to be credible through the early March super duper Tuesday.
And thirdly, a message that takes advantage of his strengths: fiscal discipline, economic powerhouse, jobs jobs jobs, and his populism. He must get a slice of each of the establishment vote and the social conservative block and a portion of the libertarian vote. All of this done through the prism of the Jr High meme of the national (and more then a few local) cynical and churlish political reporters.
He needs excitement, credibility and organization to appear viable in order to attract activists and then primary voters. That is not easy!
I thought I knew what Carney meant by reporters’ Jr. High memes, but I asked him to clarify.
Petty mean girls. Cool kids and the not so cool kids. When one cares more about what table in the cafe you sit at then how good a student leader one might be!
Cruz appears now to be a first tier candidate, or at any rate, in the first tier of public and press consciousness. Perry runs the risk of falling into that great morass of the also-running.
The likely field of name-brand candidates is now well past a dozen and on its way to two dozen.
This week has George Pataki and (Austin native) Carly Fiorina, advertising the increasingly favorable odds of their jumping into the race.
From Freeman Klopott at Bloomberg:
George Pataki, the former three-term New York governor, has a tip for gamblers: Place your chips on his running for president.
Pataki has traveled to New Hampshire six times since September and two weeks ago appeared at the Republican National Committee’s donor retreat in Boca Raton, Florida. In an interview with Rita Cosby on WABC in New York, Pataki said he’ll probably run, suggesting that the only hold ups are campaign-finance laws that would limit his fundraising once he formally declares.
“If you care about the country, it’s very hard to sit on the sideline if you believe you have the ability to run a government like this country’s well,” Pataki said Sunday. “At this point, I am strongly inclined to do it.”
Pataki has grappled with running in the last two presidential races. He said he’s closer to entering the field than ever.
“If I were a betting person, I would bet that I’d make the decision to go,” Pataki said.
And from Josh Richman at the San Jose Mercury News:
Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina now says the chance of her running for president in 2016 is “higher than 90 percent,” and she’ll make and announce her decision in the next month or two.
The Republican told “Fox News Sunday” that her business background — the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company — gives her “a deep understanding of how the economy really works.” And though HP’s board forced her out in 2005 after the company’s stock value declined, she said she’s proud nonetheless of having piloted and restructured the company through the dot-com bubble’s collapse.
Fiorina, 60, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010, moved from California to the Washington, D.C., area some years ago and for now is the only woman in the field of potential GOP candidates. She has been visiting early primary states, giving speeches at conservative gatherings, and wooing contributors and staff for several months. With polls showing Fiorina has a steep uphill climb, observers say she may be setting herself up as the eventual nominee’s running mate.
A CNN poll conducted in mid-March found Fiorina trailing 13 other potential GOP candidates among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; a McClatchy/Marist poll conducted at the beginning of the month found her in 11th place.
“I admire her for her self-confidence,” said Larry Gerston, a San Jose State professor emeritus and political expert.
Cruz, meanwhile, is clearly on the rise since his announcement.
From the latest CBS News Poll:
Senator Ted Cruz has undergone the biggest change since last month (interviews were being conducted for the poll when he announced his candidacy): 37 percent of Republicans would now consider voting for him, last month only 23 percent said so. Senator Rand Paul has gained 9 points since last month; now, 39 percent would consider voting for him, up from 30 percent in February.
Perry was down four percentage points since February – from 34 to 30 percent who would consider voting for him – not a big drop, but moving in the wrong direction as the field begins to clarify itself.
Here is the most recent New Hampshire poll from Suffolk University.
Note that Perry is barely hanging in at one percent, perilously close to the Bolton-Pataki-Pence zone.
Still, as Susan Page writes at USA Today, New Hampshire is along way off and remains very fluid.
WASHINGTON — Despite a long list of presidential prospects that includes governors, senators, corporate executives and others, a third of those likely to vote in the opening New Hampshire primary next year express dissatisfaction with their choices for 2016.
The poll provides a starting point, says David Paleologos, director of the research center. “The Republican primary in New Hampshire is fluid and offers candidates an opportunity to work hard in those counties, make their case, and launch their national aspirations,” he says.
It also illustrates the libertarian leanings of New Hampshire — where the state motto is “Live Free or Die” — in ways that put it out of step with the GOP’s national platform. The likely Republican primary voters are more likely to favor than oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, 43% to 39%. On abortion, they are more likely to consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life, 49% to 41%.
On the Affordable Care Act, 45% say the health care law should be repealed; 35% say it should be modified, and 12% say it should be “left alone.”
The Boston Herald and Franklin Pierce University also have a new New Hampshire poll, with some interesting results, especially its finding that George W. Bush is way more popular than brother, Jeb, with New Hampshire voters.
From the Herald report:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has lost his front-runner edge in New Hampshire, not because GOP voters are sick of the Bush family but because conservatives are roundly rejecting him, a new Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll shows.
Bush is tied with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 15 percent, while a pack of other GOP contenders are within striking distance, according to the poll of 429 likely GOP primary voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is the top choice of 13 percent of likely Republican voters, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie follows at 10 percent and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent in the Franklin Pierce-Herald poll, conducted March 22-25.
But the race is still fluid and New Hampshire voters are demonstrating their discerning reputation – more than 80 percent of respondents said they could change their minds before next year’s primary.
The poll reveals the so-called “Bush fatigue” factor is not dragging down the 2016 GOP presidential contender – in fact older brother George W. Bush easily wins family bragging rights in the Granite State. A staggering 77 percent of likely GOP voters in New Hampshire view the former president favorably, 24 points higher than the ex-Florida governor.
“Jeb Bush would love to have George W. Bush’s numbers,” said R. Kelly Myers, a Marlin Fitzwater Fellow at Franklin Pierce University and head of RKM Research, which conducted the poll.
Cruz, who last week became the first GOP candidate to officially launch his campaign, appears to gotten a bounce out of his announcement and a trip to New Hampshire. The poll shows he will be fighting for more conservative voters.
And this from Franklin Pierce’s R. Kelly Myers:
Among a long list of Republican presidential hopefuls, the most popular possible candidates include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (56 % favorable), Texas SenatorTed Cruz (55% favorable), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (55% favorable) and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (53
Another important source of Cruz’s national strength, and potential longevity in the race, is talk radio.
From Hadas Gold and Jonathan Topaz in Politico, under the headline, The talk show primary
Ted Cruz may be trailing in the polls, but he’s winning big among conservative radio hosts.
Glenn Beck wants listeners to pray for him. Mark Levin says Fox News is out to get him. Hugh Hewitt calls him an “intellectual leader.” Rush Limbaugh thinks his campaign launch was “masterful.” Laura Ingraham hails him as “Reaganesque.” Erick Erickson considers him a “good friend.”
Ted Cruz may be trailing in the polls and strapped for cash, but the first declared candidate of the 2016 race is winning in at least one key contest — the conservative talk-show primary.
Tens of millions of listeners — and potential GOP primary voters — tune in each week to the biggest right-wing radio hosts, who hold forth on the merits and demerits of the various 2016 Republican hopefuls as keenly as they spit invective about Barack Obama and the Democrats. Many of them are big fans of the Texas senator, if not outright supporters. Most are holding their cards close, refusing to hug any candidate too tightly, be it in the spirit of equanimity or out of fear of alienating some listeners.
But nearly all the kings and queens of the conservative airwaves express admiration for a man almost universally despised by his Senate colleagues and dismissed by the mainstream media: Cruz. And they are equally clear about who they do not like: Mushy “progressives” like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
No question — in past elections, conservative radio hosts have struggled to translate their enthusiasm for a candidate into a winning presidential campaign. But the frequent encomiums to Cruz will provide him with a reliable supply of free media and powerful, sustained validation from some of the most important gatekeepers in the Republican sphere.
Cruz’s biggest booster may be Beck, who — though he declared this month that he is no longer a Republican and no longer supports the party — remains a powerful force on the right, with an estimated base of 7 million listeners.
In December 2013, Beck said Cruz “may be our Ronald Reagan, because that guy does not take prisoners. That guy is a thousand times smarter than 99 percent of the politicians I have ever met.”
Cruz even called Beck the Friday before his campaign announcement to tell him about his plans and to talk about prayer, a move Beck said “means the world to me.” Beck urged his flock to “fast and pray like you have never fasted and prayed ever before because all the guns are coming out for this guy, all of the guns.”
Even California host Hewitt, a constitutional law professor who rates among the more thoughtful conservative radio personalities, is high on Cruz. Hewitt urged his listeners to get out the vote for Cruz in his 2012 Senate campaign and said a year later that the Texas freshman “could dance to the nomination on a combination of principled channeling of the tea party, incredible smarts and the rhetorical gifts that suit him to the age.”
Hewitt has said Cruz “may be the smartest senator” and likened him to Reagan — “the same kind of charisma, easy affability and smart, smart, smart.” Now, he sees five “intellectual leaders in the Republican Party,” all of whom are likely or declared candidates: Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Jindal and Walker.
Rush vs. Root
In a monologue vigorously defending Ted Cruz on climate change Thursday, Rush Limbaugh had this to say:
RUSH: This is Texas Tribune website. TexasTribune.org. Again, Ted Cruz being interviewed by a reporter there named Jay Root, and during a conversation about climate change, question came up. “You don’t believe in global warming, Senator Cruz. Are you out of step with most young voters on this?”
CRUZ: If you look at global warming alarmists, they don’t like to look at the actual facts and the data. The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years. Now, that’s a real problem for the global warming alarmists, ’cause all of the computer models on which this whole issue was based predicted significant warming, and yet the satellite data show it ain’t happening.
RUSH: Now, that’s right on the money. That is so right on the money, that I bet you the young people being talked about here won’t believe it. Do you realize…? This has been a cause of mine for 25 years. Actually longer than that. It’s been a cause of mine since all the way back when I was in Sacramento and I was watching the Sunday show with Brinkley on it and I first heard about this with some scientist named Oppenheimer telling us we only had 20 years. We couldn’t prove that global warming was happening yet.
Back then what they were saying was the best way they illustrate it, to try to scare people, is use Southern California, and they said, “Imagine everybody on a typical summer evening firing up their barbecue pits at the same time to grill hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks — and vegetables for the vegans. Can you imagine all of that car coal exhaust, all of that carbon? You’re telling me that doesn’t affect the atmosphere?” And people said, “Whoa, my God! I never thought about it that way.”
George Will even fell for it. He was using that as an example. The first I heard it was Oppenheimer guy. Alan Oppenheimer? That probably wasn’t his first name, but he’s some Ivy League guy, and he’s wringing his hands about global warming and he’s saying, “Well, we can’t firmly prove it yet but we only have 20 years, if we’re right.” This is 1984, folks. We’ve blown past these 20 years like they didn’t even happen. “We’ve got 20 years to get this right!
“If we do not immediately embark on policies,” which to him were raising taxes on carbon to eliminate carbon emission. “If we don’t do this we are going to see sea levels rise,” and all that crap that they’ve been predicting by now was gonna have happened in such a bad way that we would all be sunk. That’s the first time I heard of it, and I didn’t buy it then because the guy didn’t have any evidence, and he admitted it back then. He said, “All we have are the computer models that are telling us this,” and that’s all it’s ever been.
There has never been any evidence.
All there has been is theory.
Every shred of global warming/climate change hysteria is rooted in computer model predictions of 50 years and a hundred years out. Computer model predictions. Do you realize we can’t even now, with computer models, predict the exact track of a hurricane that we know exists? Yet we’re relying on computer models? Climate models and are the result of what? Man-made input, data that is input by man. You know: Garbage in, garbage out. What you get is what you get.
Twenty-five years of every day, practically, because that’s how frequently the proponents are out pushing it. It’s a great illustration. To stop this stuff, you have to fight it every day and you never totally beat it ’cause they never go away. Now, here’s the next one. After that answer, the same guy, Jay Root, at the Texas Tribune website, asks, “But what if there is something to it, Mr. Cruz? What if there is something? What if there is global warming? Why not do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint? Why not have some humility about it?”
CRUZ: I read this morning a Newsweek article from the 1970s talking about global cooling, and it said, “The science is clear! It is overwhelmingly! We are in a major cooling period, and it’s gonna cause enormous problems worldwide,” and the solution for all the advocates in the seventies of global cooling was massive government control of the energy sector, of our economy, and aspects of our lives. Now, the data proved to be not backing up that theory. So then all the advocates of global cooling suddenly shifted to global warming.
RUSH: And he wasn’t through. He continued.
CRUZ: The global warming alarmists, anyone who actually points to the evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims, they don’t engage in reasoned debate. What do they do? They scream you’re a denier; they brand you a heretic. Today the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-earthers. You know, it used to be it is accepted scientific wisdom the earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.
RUSH: The most interesting part of this, to me, is this question. “But — but what if there is something to it, even though there’s no evidence? What if there is something to it? Why — why not do everything we can anyway and have some humility about it? Why — why — why be so damn sure of yourself?” That’s what it really comes down to. “How can you be possibly be so sure of yourself? Why can’t you allow…? Why can’t you be humble about this and maybe you’re wrong? Maybe you’re wrong! Maybe some other people have a point. Why can’t you…?” ‘Cause they’re wrong, they’re full of it, just like you are, buddy, and here are the reasons why.
The good news is that Jay – and his boss – were thoroughly undaunted.
A&M bids for presidential debate
At noon EST today, the Commission on Presidential Debates is expected to announce which colleges and universities have put in bids to host one of the three 2016 presidential debates, or the one vice presidential debate, in the fall of next year.
What we do know is that Texas A&M submitted a better than 100-page proposal by today’s deadline.
José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M’s associate provost for strategic planning, said the proposal was the combined effort of a campus-wide steering committee with expertise in facilities, transportation, telecommunications, catering and security, as well as representatives from the cities of Bryan and College Station, and an academic planning committee, made up of faculty from across the university, together with student representatives.
Bermúdez said that plan deals with every detail of accommodating one of the most watched events in the nation’s civic life, as well as ways to incorporate the event in A&M’s curriculum, teaching and outreach through the whole university system, the Extension Service and 4-H, with an aim to increase voter participation and civic engagement.
“I suspect that there are other Texas schools in the mix, but we’ll find out tomorrow,” Bermúdez said last night.
The last previous national debate in Texas was the Dole-Mondale vice presidential debate on October 15, 1976, at the Alley Theater in Houston.