Rand Paul bowed out of the presidential race yesterday with a very simple statement.
It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.
Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.
Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over. I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.
Later in the day, the Washington Post’sKate Zezima posted a story, How Ted Cruz may benefit from Rand Paul dropping out.
HENNIKER, N.H. — For months, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has tried to poach libertarian-leaning voters here away from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Now, with Paul’s exit from the race, Cruz has even more of an opening to make inroads with supporters of the Kentucky Republican.
I don’t know.
Because on Sunday I went to the one and only joint appearance of Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, at which a packed house of some 1,200 mostly young and rabid Paulites lustily booed Rand Paul’s disparaging mentions of Ted Cruz.
They booed Cruz’s failure to show up for a Senate vote to audit the Federal Reserve = Paul’s signature issue – even though Cruz was a co-sponsor. He said he had a campaign commitment and, he said, it wasn’t going to pass anyway. But Marco Rubio showed up to vote for it. As did Bernie Sanders, one of only two non-Republicans to vote for it.
They booed Cruz because, Paul said, Cruz “talks out of both sides of his mouth on the NSA.”
“How about we collect zero percent of cell hone records?” Paul said.
They booed Paul’s mention of Cruz and Rubio for backing budget-busting military spending.
“Neo-Cons,” came a call from the crowd.
They booed Cruz for wanting to “carpet bomb” ISIS.
“Cruz wants to make the sand glow,” Rand Paul said.
Here was Rand Paul on Meet the Press Sunday.
SEN. RAND PAUL: You know, I think most libertarians, or libertarian-leaning people like myself, we don’t want to make the sand glow, we don’t want to carpet bomb the Middle East, we understand that if you have indiscriminate bombing over there you may create more terrorists than you actually kill. And so I think our voters are consolidating. I think audit the Fed was a defining moment for Ted Cruz, not showing up for that vote is going to hurt him with us losing any Liberty voters to him.
I think also Ted is sort of wanting to have it both ways, particularly on the NSA. You saw his response in the debate to Rubio. Rubio said “Oh you voted for the NSA reform, you voted to weaken the NSA,” and Ted responded with “Oh no no i want the government to collect 100 percent of your cell phone records.” And it’s like, the Liberty voters we cringe when we hear people like Ted Cruz saying they want to collect all of our records, we don’t want the government in the business of collecting our phone records.
Cruz doubled down on his call for carpet bombing in Herkimer, NH., yesterday.
This, even though it seems virtually no one aside from Cruz – left, right or center – thinks this is a good idea.
Here from Zach Carter at the Huffington Post: Ted Cruz Does Not Understand What ‘Carpet Bombing’ Means. But he’s still really into it, whatever it is.
From January 17.
WASHINGTON — Ted Cruz on Sunday stood by his claim that the U.S. should “carpet bomb” the Islamic State group out of existence and falsely stated that the George H.W. Bush administration carpet bombed Iraq during the first Gulf War.
“You wanna know what carpet bombing means?” Cruz said, invoking the first Iraq War in 1991. “We were launching 1100 air attacks a day. We were carpet bombing.” As a result of this bombing campaign, Cruz said, U.S. troops “mopped up the remains of the Iraqi army” with ease.
Cruz has been repeatedly mocked by military leaders, human rights advocates and even fellow conservatives for pledging to “carpet bomb” ISIS. During the GOP debate Thursday, he acknowledged that he would not actually bomb entire cities to take out ISIS members embedded within them, but rather target bombing campaigns against key elements of the ISIS militants. That is essentially the Obama administration’s strategy.
From Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on Jan. 17.
CRUZ: We will have a president who will make clear we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Senator, carpet-bombing against ISIS would never work. ISIS is embedded in civilian populations in major cities. And if I may, I want to put up this statement here by Bob Scales. He’s one of the leading U.S. military — former head of the Army War College.
He said, “Carpet bombing, that’s just another one of those phrases that people with no military experience throw around.”
CRUZ: Well, look, I will apologize to no one, with how vigorous I will be winning the war on terror, defeating radical Islamic terrorism. We will start by having a president willing to acknowledge our enemy, say it by its name, which President Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to do.
And you want to know what carpet bombing means? Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Desert Storm. In 1991, we had roughly 8,000 planes. Today, we have 4,000. Our Air Force has dropped in half. In 1991, we have 529 ships in our Navy. Today, we have 272. It’s dropped nearly in half.
In 1991, we had over a third more soldiers in our army, and we were launching 1,100 air attacks a day. We were carpet bombing them. And after 37 days of 1,100 air attacks a day, on troops went in in a day and a half and mopped up the remnants of the Iraqi army because that’s the effect of carpet bombing.
You know what we’re doing now? We’re doing between 15 and 30 air attacks.
WALLACE: There’s a big difference. First of all, military people will tell you we didn’t carpet bomb in Kuwait, in the Gulf War, that we did precision striking. In addition, if I may, the Iraqi army was all massed by itself in the Kuwaiti desert.
We’re now talking about ISIS soldiers who are not massed. They were embedded in Mosul. They were embedded in Raqqa with civilians.
But if I may, sir, let me move on to —
CRUZ: Hold on. If you’re going to make a respond, let me respond.
WALLACE: OK. But go ahead. I would like to ask about some of your votes, though, and not the rhetoric.
CRUZ: If you’re going to make a point, let me respond to it.
WALLACE: Go ahead, sir.
CRUZ: Which is, right now, our rules of engagement, what we’re seeing, 15, 20 attacks a day. It’s photo-op foreign policy.
So, we’re not taking out the oil fields. We’re not taking out, for example, we saw a recent report about jihadist university, where they’re training jihadists. Why isn’t that building rubble? We’re not using overwhelming air power.
You know, in 1991, we had 2,000 planes there launching this air attack. We have about 200 right now fighting against ISIS.
And the difference is we do not have directed concentrated effort, because this president pretends like this enemy doesn’t exist, like these are isolated lone wolves. He gives the State of the Union that is a state of the denial, where he says, gosh, you know, ISIS is a bunch of guys in pickup trucks.
No, they are a serious terrorist force that has declared war on us. We can defeat them, but can’t defeat them if the president is unwilling to do so. And as president, I will defeat ISIS. I will utterly destroy them, and it takes a commander in chief directing our forces to do that.
The U.S. commander in charge of the military coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said today carpet bombing the terrorist network would be “inconsistent with our values” – a remark almost certainly aimed at Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has vowed to “carpet bomb them into oblivion.”
Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters the United States was “bound by the laws of armed conflict,” after being asked to explain why carpet bombing would not be an effective strategy against the Islamic State.
“We’re the United States of America. We have a set of guiding principles,” he said. “Indiscriminate bombing, where we don’t care if we’re killing innocents or combatants, is just inconsistent with our values.”
He added: “Right now we have the moral high ground, and I think that’s where we need to stay.”
Carpet bombing denotes indiscriminate attacks targeting a large area, leveling the area as if a carpet had been rolled over it. The tactic was widely used during World War II.
In December, Cruz pledged to “utterly destroy ISIS,” as POLITICO reported at the time.
“We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” the Texas senator said. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.
Yesterday in Herkimer, Cruz talked animatedly about carpet bombing.
You know it’s interesting, some of the media folks have been shocked when I called for bombing ISIS into oblivion. The media goes, `Oh, oh, that’s terrible. The object of warfare is not to kill the other guys.’ They say, “What do you mean by this carpet bombing thing? What is this thing?’
Well, it’s like we have planes, and they have a whole bunch of bombs.We’re going to light all of their stuff on fire.
OK. The media simply doesn’t understand the brutal reality of war and gets all weak-kneed when it comes to civilian casualties on a grand scale.
But I think the media does understand how emotionally satisfying it is for a candidate for president at a time like this to call for carpet bombing ISIS.
Here from Rick Shenkman:Ted Cruz’s Stone-Age Brain and Yours; Why “collateral damage” elicits so little empathy among Americans.
After Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the United States begin carpet bombing Islamic State (IS) forces in Syria, the reaction was swift. Hillary Clinton mocked candidates who use “bluster and bigotry.” Jeb Bush insisted the idea was “foolish.” Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, tweeted: “You can’t carpet bomb an insurgency out of existence. This is just silly.”
When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer objected that Cruz’s proposal would lead to lots of civilian casualties, the senator retorted somewhat incoherently: “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is—not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed—and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn’t to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.” PolitiFact drily noted that Cruz apparently didn’t understand what the process of carpet (or “saturation”) bombing entails. By definition, it means bombing a wide area regardless of the human cost.
By almost any standard, Cruz’s proposal was laughable, and his rivals and the media called him on it. What happened next? By all rights, after such a mixture of inanity and ruthlessness, not to say bloody-mindedness against civilian populations, his poll numbers should have begun to sag. After all, he’d just flunked the commander-in-chief test and what might have seemed like a test of his humanity as well. In fact, his poll numbers actually crept up. The week before the imbroglio, an ABC opinion poll had registered him at 15 percent nationally. By the following week, he was up to 18 percent, and one poll even had him at a resounding 24 percent.
How to explain this? While many factors can affect a candidate’s polling numbers, one uncomfortable conclusion can’t be overlooked when it comes to reactions to Cruz’s comments: by and large, Americans don’t think or care much about the real-world consequences of the unleashing of American air power or that of our allies.
I think it is fair to say that this political and emotional climate was a critical reason why Rand Paul’s candidacy foundered. He simply could never say what Ted Cruz is saying about carpet bombing. It is absolutely antithetical to his and his father’s world view.
From Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV, the online platforms of Reason, the libertarian magazine, Ted Cruz’s Laughable Libertarian Pose: Can the candidate win libertarians? Probably not, but he’ll need to if he wants to win in New Hampshire—and November.
Libertarians are not pacifists or isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, but neither are we at one with the war hysterics possessing the folks gunning for the GOP (and Democratic, if you’re Hillary Clinton) nomination.
As a rule, libertarians also support making the borders more open to more people and goods from abroad, while Cruz is arguably even more anti-immigrant than Donald Trump. Trump, after all (PDF), would let the “good” Mexicans back in after deporting them. Meanwhile, Cruz’s flip-flopping on trade-promotion authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership seems far more motivated by politics than principle.
And it seems that Cruz rarely goes a day without palling around with death-to-the-gays evangelicals and insisting that “any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country.” That sort of thing alienates all the libertarians I know, none more so than the religious ones who especially want to keep government and faith separate (so that politics doesn’t befoul religion).
There are, of course, liberty issues, on which Paul and Cruz see eye-to-eye.
In Texas, State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, Paul’s state chairman, and Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, switched their allegiance to Cruz yesterday.
Vincent Harris of Austin, who, in late 2014, switched from Cruz to Paul, becoming Paul’s chief digital strategist (he created Audit the Ted), told me in an email yesterday:
I admire Senator Cruz, always have, and I know many people at my company have expressed interest in helping him. I am a proud Cruz Crew alumni.
Spending 3 years working for Ted Cruz, I know how great of a conservative leader he is. He is someone who could potentially earn Rand Paul’s libertarian base and unite into his fold his supporters.
But then there’s this. The official-looking mailer that the Cruz campaign sent to some Iowans in an attempt to shame, prod, intimidate them into voting, and one of the “dirty tricks,” that has led Donald Trump to claim that Cruz stole the Iowa election.
‘You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.’
But, especially from a libertarian perspective, the mailer is creepy and objectionable.
Rand Paul described the movement he was trying to lead as the Leave Me Alone Coalition, and the Cruz mailer was Big Brother is watching you and telling you what you need to be doing (and, icing on the cake, apparently based on bogus information.)
When it came to light with the condemnation by the Iowa secretary of state on Saturday night, Cruz told reporters before a rally in Sioux City:
I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote. Our country’s in crisis.
That’s kind of like the mindset in Nixon’s 1972 campaign against George McGovern that led to Watergate..
One further note.
At his stop in Goffstown, Cruz said this:
We had an incredible victory Monday night. It was breathtaking.Everyone in the media said Trump was going to win Monday night.
Sunday I watched the news. I watched every single talking head say there was no way Cruz could win. Trump will win, it was guaranteed.
Monday night was an incredible grassroots victory. It was a victory for courageous conservatives across this country. It was the men and women of Iowa putting the country on notice that the media is not going to choose the next Republican nominee or the next president; that the pundits are not going to choose, that the cartel, the Washington cartel, the lobbyists and the money are not going to choose the next president, that it’s going to be the grassroots, and, what was most encouraging, what we saw in Iowa was we saw the old Reagan coalition coming together, we saw conservatives, and evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan conservatives all coming together.
Fine. A candidate is entitled to his heroic narrative.
Only that part about, Everyone in the media said Trump was going to win Monday night; And, Sunday I watched the news. I watched every single talking head say there was no way Cruz could win. Trump will win, it was guaranteed.
That’s not true.
I watched the Sunday shows. I watched the cable talking heads. And there was no consensus that Trump was going to win. The media consensus was that the outcome would test whether Trump’s celebrity and edge in the polls could prevail over Cruz’s disciplined hard work and far superior organization and ground game.
While the outcome of Monday’s caucuses might suggest otherwise, the fundamental political revelation I had during my time in Iowa was that Donald Trump could actually be elected president.
I came to this realization because of the number of people I encountered who, even if they might ultimately caucus for Ted Cruz, appreciated the way Trump had busted things up.
While Iowa is no Texas, it is a big state, east to west, and I spent a lot of time driving along solitary and beautiful landscapes, contemplating a Trump presidency.
I think his strength as a candidate – and as a potential president – is what Cruz identified for Iowa caucus-goers. Trump is not a consistent conservative. In fact, he is neither consistent nor conservative. He is a situational conservative. But that makes him especially dangerous in a general election as a candidate who could really upset the red-blue paradigm and put the whole electoral map into play.
His opening salvo about Mexican rapists – calculated I think to grab and fix attention – and subsequent pronouncements, like calling for temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country – suggested a man of the right- maybe even the far right – but he’s really a politically-incorrect centrist, a polymath of political incorrectness who actually takes on Fox and boasts about his great relationship with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer.
Now that is politically incorrect.
He really is all about the deal, and I thought, in the tradition of the Square Deal, the New Deal and the Fair Deal, America might be ready for the Art of the Deal – DJT as LBJ – knocking heads together to get stuff done.
Cruz’s campaign imagery is bellicose. He is leading a crusade of Red America against Blue America and its New York values. But Trump offers a purple nationalism.
Somewhere midway through his second term, they would begin re-chiseling Mount Rushmore.
But then, Iowans snapped me out of my Trump reverie.
They preferred Cruz to Trump.
Maybe the spell has been broken.
Maybe even for Trump
“I think I might come here and buy a farm. I love it here.”
To “buy the farm” is to die. Right.
So now it’s on to New Hampshire, which is exquisitely more time-concentrated and geographically-compact than Iowa, for what should be one of the great weeks in American political history.
(When Delta clears me to leave Des Moines, I am headed back to Austin and then, a week later to South Carolina. The Statesman’s Ken Herman is in New Hampshire.)
In order to get a better feel for the week ahead, I spoke yesterday to two of New Hampshire’s best political minds – Dave Carney and Mike Dennehy – each of whom has strong Texas ties.
Carney has been a top political adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry. Dennehy, who directed John McCain’s winning campaigns in New Hampshire in 2000 and 2008, was running Perry’s campaign in Iowa last year, before Perry bowed out.
Carney and Dennehy had very similar takes on the lay of the land in New Hampshire.
Here is some of our conversation.
FR: What did you make of Trump’s relatively humble concession speech? How are things shaping up in New Hampshire for Cruz, Trump and Marco Rubio?
CARNEY: Rump had two options. He could have blown it up or did what he did. He’s not throwing in the towel quite yet.
He’s still formidable but he’s not bullet proof.
South Carolina’s going to be really important, New Hampshire is going to be a real test.
He has this huge lead and you know Cruz has a real shot here to put another dent in the Trump inevitability. If they do the same thing they did in Iowa in terms of their modeling and turnout. Everyone said more than 150,000 turnout and Trump is going to win and all this stuff, and (the Cruz campaign) actually knew what they were doing.
I don’t know what their numbers are in New Hampshire but they have a very good shot to perform well and Rubio’s biggest problem is all these other establishment candidates in New Hampshire are really invested. Honestly, I don’t see Christie or Kasich or Bush pulling out and he’s competing with all those folks and that makes it very difficult to make an appearance here and win.
And it’s clear, the anti-establishment folks out-rule the establishment folks not just in Iowa but here in New Hampshire and across the country and it’s going to be very difficult to see how, until some of these four musketeers decide to drop out, it’s very difficult for any of them to do well. They’re just dividing. up their voters so much, it’s just hard to make a statement.
FR: Doesn’t Rubio arrive in New Hampshire with a head of steam?
CARNEY: In Iowa, he swung hard to the right, but it’s not really helpful in this environment to be perceived as a flip-flopper. It may have helped him in Iowa a little bit.
FR: Is Rubio seeking the same votes as the “establishment” candidates?
CARNEY: It’s a complete overlap. You look to people supporting Rubio, they are establishment folks, and these are the same folks who are supporting Kasich and Christie and Bush. They are all from the same camp.
The thing is, though, that everyone is doing so poorly in NH in that lane. It’s not like you’ve got this, “I’m with a winner,” type support.
When you’re at 7 or 8 percent you’re not riding any headwinds. That’s really people that are for you. It’s not like it’s based on name ID, because your name ID is not as good as Trump’s. It’s not momentum, because you’re not winning. If one of these candidates was 16, 15 percent, maybe. How many fair-weather friends does someone with six percent have.
And all three of those guys have a much better organization in New Hampshire than Rubio, have spent more time, know more people, they don’t take time off to watch football. Kasich and Christie have really campaigned hard in New Hampshire. I think that gets them some loyalty from people because they like them, they know them and they met them. It’s not an ideological or a political thing. But you have seven days, a lot can happen, and people are buying Super Bowl ads.
The real story in New Hampshire is, will Cruz be able to consolidate the conservative bloc, which is about 35 percent of our vote, and is he able to do that. He’s not going to get 35 percent of the vote, because some of those people are with Trump, obviously, but is he able to come in a decent second here, and when it comes into a two-man race, and when he gets to Super-Duper Tuesday, and if it’s Trump and Cruz, I think Cruz will have a little bit of an advantage geographically and speaking the language
FR: What does Trump need to do to rebound?
CARNEY: The question is can they decide to invest in some ground game – obviously it’s too late for New Hampshire, but for South Carolina and Nevada – and do something to be a real campaign and not just run on the theatrics, the excitement and the entertainment. Because when you’re running off the publicity, that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, that you make the best deals, that everything’s going to be perfect, your worries are over, I’m leading in the polls, that’s great. Except when you’re not. When you’re not leading in the polls.
When you come in second and you almost came in third, and then you got a 24, 28-point lead in New Hampshire. I mean, he’s not going to win by 28 points in New Hampshire, and if he does, he’s going to be president or he’s going to be the nominee.
If you’re running off of momentum – Big Mo as they say – it’s great until you no longer have it.
That’s where Cruz – you’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit, because they haven’t bragged a lot about what they are doing. They’ve done it.
And the idea the they can turn out 190,000 people in Iowa and still win when every so-called, self-proclaimed expert said that anything over 150,000 and Cruz is toast. And they knew the exact percentage. They knew it was going to be four percent. And they knew that Rubio was going to almost crush Trump, I mean that would have been a disaster for Trump to come in third.
They spent almost the lowest, of all the serious candidates, they spent the least per vote. They have the most cash on hand of all the other candidates combined. Obviously, Trump can take a minute to write a check. Finding a checkbook would be his biggest problem.
Cruz is running a very thoughtful, methodical campaign that’s based on message and mechanics and money. They’ve got the 3 M’s. Unlike Huckabee or Santorum, who won Iowa and said, “OK. I won Iowa. Now what do I do? Take a Greyhound bus to New Hampshire or South Carolina?” They have an infrastructure and they’ve invested wisely.
This is of course, apparently. They have done some really good stuff from a management point of view. It’s given them the ability to not have to win in New Hampshire to survive. They can get to Super Tuesday and be competitive and when it comes right down to it, and no one else is in the race and it’s between Cruz and Trump, where does the 40 percent of the establishment go in those states? Do you think Cruz will lose to Trump in a two-way race in Texas?
CARNEY Trump could invest in some resources to try to have a campaign organization.
It’s obviously very, very late. It’s probably too late for New Hampshire, but these other states, he could try to rectify or try to build an operation to help with the free media and the persona. He has to try to turn this into something real. He was the front-runner and he under-performed … and normally the front-runner over performs because of the momentum and enthusiasm going into the caucus or the primary.,
The only way to fix that is to establish a serious ground game and that would involve investing in some serious resources, particularly in the March 1 primaries.
I don’t know what their message is beyond Make America Great Again. It’s a nice, concise theme and he has had a very consistent message, but I don’t think it’s enough to get people to turn out at the level they are going to have to turn out for him to continue to be viable and successful.
The most hard-core Republican voters who disdain the establishment would be Iowa caucus voter and three out of four of them said, `No thanks.’ I just don’t think the message is getting through when you have 75, 76 percent of the voters in Iowa, who are a very small subset, but are the hardest of the hard-core – they gave the governors less votes than Ben Carson got. They hate the establishment. They hate what’s going on in Washington. They are hard-core true believers, and three out of four of them said, “screw off.”
If that’s their message, they need to either refine it or they need a better message. Because you can’t lose one out of five of your voters on Election Day, that’s a huge problem. Under-performing is a huge problem. Particularly when the whole point of their thing was bringing new people into the process. That was their whole schtick. When you look at the entrance polls, there were very few new registrants coming in.
They could still win. They could still get some momentum. Cruz could under-perform.
They could go to the winner-take-all states and really invest some money and still win but, they have to have some honest discussion with themselves.
The problem is that he is a creature of the national and political media and believes his own news clips I guess.
Pat Caddell is no idiot .He is one of the smartest political strategists and is behind the throne here and he’s the guy calling the shots, and either they’re not listening to Pat, or he’s not just connecting.
Last night Trump was pretty subdued and he’s almost 70 years old and is he going to put the effort into it? That’s’ the real dilemma. It was going to be fun: “I get on a plane. I go give a speech. Everyone loves me and I fly home.”
FR: What about Rubio?
CARNEY: I think Rubio is in a box, you know, because he’s got to stomp on these other guys in his lane and they are going to stomp on him, no question about it. No way Kasich and Christie and Bush are going to give it up in the next seven days.
So it’s going to be a mixed verdict coming out of New Hampshire to South Carolina. That will be the real key. Is President Bush going to be campaigning for his brother in South Carolina, that’s what they say. And then you’ve got Tim Scott coming out for Rubio today. Lindsey Graham is with Bush in South Carolina.
Bush and Rubio will clearly fight it out in South Carolina, but you’ve got Cruz and Trump moving along without much competition in their lanes.
If one of the other three establishment guys had broken out in Iowa that would be a totally different game because they are much better organized here in New Hampshire to take advantage of it . Rubio is just not that well-organized. He is just going off momentum , which will help him a little bit, but I just don’t’ see these other three guys collapsing to a point where Rubio is a clear winner here. I don’t see how he becomes a winner here
FR: What about Rubio’s argument that he would be the most electable in the general election.
CARNEY: The fool’s gold of primary voters.
A year ago that would have been a much more powerful message, in fact would be the overriding message – we’re going to nominate someone who will beat Hillary because Hillary is evil incarnate.
But clearly, nobody is afraid of Hillary anymore. No one’s afraid of her any more. That may be foolish on our side, but people are convinced that the FBI will recommend indictment, and the Justice Department will not indict her and there will be another Saturday Night Massacre, and it will be a total blowup in the fall. There are people that are convinced of that. Now maybe that’s wishful thinking for the vast right-wing conspiracy.
FR: How well do you think Cruz could do in New Hampshire? Does his religious language hurt him in among the least-churched states in America?
CARNEY: This is going to be a Donnybrook seven days. Ted Cruz is going to have every sling thrown his way from the establishment guys and the Trump folks.
He’s not trying to win the New Hampshire primary with 55 percent of vote. That’s not going to happen. There are still eight competitive campaigns in Iowa that are working hard. He doesn’t need to win over the atheist Republicans, which we do have. Or the pro-choice Republicans, which we do have. He doesn’t need many of these folks. It’s not that he wants to be a Johnny one note He has to talk about economic opportunity, and regulatory overreach, which he does, but I don’t think the religious language is disqualifying in New Hampshire. It’s not he general election and it’s not where its a two person race.
And Rubio has no exceptions (for abortion. Rubio is so hard-core on abortion that it would be hard to say that Cruz is out of step. And on immigration, Rubio is now far out there.
It’s like an eight-level Chinese checkers kind of deal, or is there a Chines chess maybe? It’s very complicated. Anything could happen really.
It’s going to be a long week.
FR: How do you rate Cruz’s prospects in New Hampshire?
DENNEHY: I think he can capture the 18- to 20-percent evangelical vote in New Hampshire, tap into some of the economic conservative folks, to potentially finish a strong second. That would be a tremendous victory for Ted Cruz in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the four establishment candidates continue to tear each other up. Rubio has to show movement next week. He has to come into second place to illustrate that he has momentum. Two third-place showings are not going to be enough.
Rubio has to coalesce the establishment vote in New Hampshire to show that he has momentum. But, you’ve got Chris Christie who’s connected to the Union Leader. You have John Kasich, who has spent his entirety here and has the support of the Sununus. And then you’ve got Jeb Bush, whose family has strong roots in New Hampshire. So, for Rubio to be successful, he has to knock all those guys down to two or three percent, and that’s tremendously difficult.
FR: How about Trump?
DENNEHY: I think Trump is in good shape in New Hampshire. I think it’s entirely in his hands now how he responds to Iowa. If I were advising Donald Trump, I would tell him as best possible to pretend that Iowa never happened, because he could bounce back in New Hampshire with a strong first-place finish. But if he wins with a margin that’s under ten percent, then his momentum will have entirely evaporated
I thought he sounded dejected last night, and that’s the last thing his supporters need. His supporters thrive on his energy. He’s got to get it back.
FR: Should Trump continue to pound on Cruz as “Liar, Liar, Canadian, Liar?”
DENNEHY: I think it would be a very bad strategy for Trump to continue to go after Cruz in New Hampshire. Cruz isn’t your concern in New Hampshire. His concern would be Rubio. I think he should stop and make sure that Rubio and the other establishment candidates stay down at seven, eight, nine percent.
Cruz is going to get his conservative vote in New Hampshire and probably not a great deal more.
I think he is a natural fit for 18 percent, but I think he could grow to 20 or 22 percent.
FR: What about Rand Paul in the Live Free or Die state?
DENNEHY: He’s done. Yup. He’s dropped so far back and I think he’s silly not to have even dropped out. There’s zero energy for him in New Hampshire and he’s been polling at three or four percent, and his four or five percent in Iowa is not going to get him any momentum.
FR: It seems odd. The idea was for him to build on his father’s movement, but instead it’s diminished.
DENNEHY: He undid it and lost what his dad had.
(Rand Paul just announced he is suspending his campaign.)
I arrived in Des Moines a believer in Iowa, and I will leave a believer in Iowa, I think.
The candidates all extol the virtues of the Iowa caucuses, but they sort of have to.
But I agree that the caucuses provide for careful, face-to-face consideration of the candidates by voters who take the responsibility very seriously.
For Ted Cruz the New Year began with a six-day, 28-county tour of Iowa that ended at yet another packed town hall on another bitter cold night at Wartburg College in Waverly on Saturday, January 9.
Cruz was joined that night by his wife, Heidi, and their two children, and in her introduction of her husband, Heidi had this to say about Iowa and Iowans.
Thank you for how seriously you take this responsibility. Ted and I have been crisscrossing the country for the last year and one of things that has struck me that has been the most interesting lesson of this election is what a huge gift it was that our Founding Fathers had these first three states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina decide who the character might be of our next country.
You all are the heartland of American values of communities, of families, of schools, of jobs, and you take these elections seriously. You come not to just to see if a person shares your values and will fight for you, but if a person has character, if they have integrity, if they tell the truth, if you can trust them.
I spent the fist part of the week in New Hampshire. The people of New Hampshire are coming out. They’re making the same evaluations in South Carolina in the South. Imagine how different these elections would be if the first elections were in California and New York, with their big media markets, where people spend tons of money to be seen on TV.
You all have the responsiblity of looking at us in the eye and asking the tough questions for this country and I am grateful and I know so many citizens across this great nation are grateful to you.
So thank you for doing that.
Well, I suppose that being married to a constitutional originalist, one is inclined to think that all good things were bestowed upon us by the Founding Fathers.
But the Founding Fathers of the Iowa Caucus were really South Dakota Sen. George McGovern and Minnesota Sen. Don Fraser, who headed a commission that rewrote the Democratic Party rules after the 1968 election.
From Why Iowa?: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process,
bt Caroline J. Tolbert, David P. Redlawsk, and Todd Donovan
Everything changed in 1972, as one of the unintended consequences of the national Democratic Party’s McGovern-Fraser Commission was to force Iowa Democrats to hold their caucus earlier in the year. The commission was formed after the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Even though there was a small amount of press coverage of the caucus after it happened, Squire (ibid.) also points out that South Dakota senator George McGovern spent only a day and a half on the road in Iowa to achieve his strong showing just behind Maine senator Edmund Muskie. But, as has become the stuff of political legend, the 1976 Jimmy Carter campaign saw the Iowa caucuses as an opportunity to make a splash and to get media attention for a little-known southern governor. When Carter did better than expected by coming in second to “uncommitted,” his path to the presidency was launched, as was the mythology of Iowa as an important initial test of any would-be presidential candidate.
The point to be made here is that Iowa got its leadoff position not because anyone thought this state would be a good place to begin a presidential nominating process, but simply because its multistage delegate selection rules required the state’s Democratic Party to change the timing of the 1972 caucus. Subsequently, the leaders of both major parties in Iowa recognized it would be to their benefit to remain first in 1976, and cooperated to ensure this was the case. But as Squire (1989) points out, this effort most likely would not have mattered but for the Jimmy Carter phenomenon. Once the leadoff position was established and Carter showed that it could matter, the legend of the Iowa caucuses was born.
As this year’s campaign reached a crescendo I attended two high-energy events in Iowa City yesterday – the first, an afternoon rally for Cruz at the Johnson County Fairgrounds, and the second, a truly raucous evening rally for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at Iowa State University.
In each case, the candidate was accompanied by his father.
It was the first time that Ron Paul, the former congressman from Texas and libertarian icon who won 21.4 percent of the vote and finished third in the Iowa caucuses in 2012, had campaigned with his son, who is hoping to surprise people tonight with a big turnout of students and other twenty and thirtysomethings like those who gave the Pauls a rousing reception at the University of Iowa, cheering, booing and chanting, “President Paul,” at all the right moments.
It was also, I believe, the first time that Ted and Rafael Cruz had campaigned together in Iowa, at least this month.
I think it is fair to say that in both cases, their father was the most important person in the forming of their political identity.
I arrived a bit late at the Cruz rally – Siri was a tad confused about the location of the Fairgrounds – so I missed the remarks by Rafael Cruz and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who preceded Glen Beck, who introduced Cruz.
But thanks to Todd Gillman’s coverage in the Dallas Morning News, here is a quote from papa Cruz.
“I know that you Iowans take seriously the responsibility that God has given you,” Rafael Cruz said. “I know you will caucus for righteousness.”
Cruz, a pastor who mostly preaches to other pastors about how they have a responsibility to bring their faith into the public square, is the author of a new book, A Time for Action.
Here from a blurb for the book from the publisher, WND:
A Time for Action is the story or one man’s quest for refuge from Cuban persecution to realizing the American dream. It is a story about one It is a story about one man finding true freedom that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. It is the story of this great nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and why it has fallen from grace. It is a wake-up call to the faithful across the land to step up to the challenge of entering the public arena and taking on the forces at work to destroy the guiding principles that made this country great. Religious people must saddle up. They must vote and volunteer and campaign. They must get in the political game. The followers of Christ are, in His words, “the light of the world.” But for a light to have its effect, it has to shine in the darkness. That’s why our mission is “to declare,” as St. Paul said, “the whole counsel of God.” If we continue to remain silent, we will answer to God for our silence.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my tweets from the Paul event:
Forget Bernie,Trump, Cruz. Loudest cheers/chants in Iowa are for Ron Paul and End the Fed at U of Iowa ahead of Rand pic.twitter.com/enJse0c9oG
In his remarks, Ron Paul, who was even more deliriously received than his son, said;
You know there’s a lot of talk in this campaign about humility. I kind of like the subject and think it pays off to be a bit humble at times. And libertarianism actually forces you to be humble because the first thing you do is recognize what you don’t know. .. and in politics how do any of us know what’s good for our next door neighbor. We don’t know. How do know how they should spend their money and when they should go off and fight wars. We. don’t know so we should admit we just don’t know.
Cruz bills himself as a “full=spectrum” conservative, and that includes appealing to liberty voters. He seems to have had a fair degree of success.
But there is sometimes a tension between liberty and social/religious conservatives, with the latter tending to be a little more judgmental.
At the Cruz rally (again courtesy Todd Gillman’s DMN report), Robertson lamented decaying American morality.
“It’s sickening. It’s repulsive,” he said, referring to same-sex marriage as “depravity” and “perversion.” He called it sinful for the Supreme Court to have legalized same-sex marriage last year. “And they want us to swallow it.… We have to run this bunch out of Washington, DC. We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.”
“Cruz trusts God. Cruz trusts James Madison” – architect of the Constitution. “You know something, Iowa, that trumps Trump.”
Right after the Jan. 14 Republican debate at which Cruz lit into Donald Trump’s New York values, Cruz talked to Sean Hannity.
The debate wasn’t the coolest part of this week.
I started by going duck hunting with Phil Robertson and the whole Duck Dynasty clan. Phil is an amazing shot. That man knows how to handle a shotgun.
And Phil ended up endorsing me, which was incredibly cool, and we ended up putting together this video of me with face paint and camo, and my girls, Caroline and Catherine, thought it was the funniest thing in the world to see daddy in face paint with Phil Robertson.
But you know what. That represents the working men and women, the backbone of this country. Those are who we are fighting for and if we get back to those values in that duck blind in Louisiana, that’s how we turn the country around.
Senator Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, urging pastors nationwide to preach in support of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, which he said was “ordained by God.”
But on Monday night, at a reception for him at the Manhattan apartment of two prominent gay hoteliers, the Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful struck quite a different tone.
During the gathering, according to two people present, Mr. Cruz said he would not love his daughters any differently if one of them was gay. He did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states.
The dinner and “fireside chat” for about a dozen people with Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, was at the Central Park South penthouse of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, longtime business partners who were once a couple and who have been pioneers in the gay hospitality industry.
“Ted Cruz said, ‘If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much,’” recalled Mr. Reisner, a same-sex marriage proponent who described himself as simply an attendee at Mr. Weiderpass’s event.
Mr. Reisner and Kalman Sporn, who advises Mr. Cruz’s Middle East team and served as the moderator for the evening, said the senator told the group that marriage should be left up to the states. The evening focused primarily on foreign policy, including a discussion of gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East, and opposition to President Obama.
An aide to Mr. Cruz, reached on Thursday, reiterated that the senator is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Mr. Cruz has honed his reputation as a grass-roots firebrand, and was strongly supportive of the Indiana religious exceptions law that was recently blasted as discriminatory by gay rights activists. When the law was attacked by major businesses like Walmart, he criticized the “Fortune 500’s radical gay marriage agenda.”
In Iowa a few weeks ago, Mr. Cruz said, ““The Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty to say, ‘We will persecute a Christian pastor, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi. Any person of faith is subject to persecution if they dare disagree, if their religious faith parts way from their political commitment to gay marriage.’ ”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist preacher, and Pursuing America’s Greatness, a super PAC backing his candidacy, have gone after Cruz for the seeming inconsistency.
The premise of the spot is that these ladies out at a coffee shop in Iowa decide to take a little break from Bible study to talk about the caucuses. Like, one of them has heard that gay marriage won’t be a top priority for Ted Cruz! He talks one way to donors in New York City and another way to Iowans! And that he doesn’t tithe! A millionaire that brags about his faith all the time doesn’t even tithe!
“Just what we need,” one says. “Another phony.”
“I guess we’ve narrowed down our list,” says the other. “Can’t caucus for Cruz.”
Pursuing America’s Greatness is heavily funded by Ronald Cameron of Little Rock, Arkansas, CEO of the agribusiness Mountaire. Cameron has given millions but not enough to invest in professional actors.
The spot does have some teeth because its target, Cruz, truly does have — as Rand Paul put it last night — an “authenticity problem.” Cruz has the manner of a lecherous carnival barker. His habit of pursing his lips emotively to signal sincerity and his inability to suppress the energetic self love that overcomes him when he hears himself talk — all of this gives normal humans the impression that Ted Cruz is a liar. And this is an especially big problem because Ted Cruz is a liar and the rhetorical style with which he lies turns out to be precisely the same way he talks when he campaigns so passionately about this or that today. This was what was so damaging for Cruz last night when Fox News played past clips of him lying and saying various stuff diametrically opposed to what he was saying during the debate: his delivery in the old clips featured all of the same schmaltzy performative sincerity as his oily delivery on the debate stage. It all sounded the same! So it kind of seemed like he was lying during the debate too, just like he was lying in those clips. I mean, it kind of seems like he’s lying all the time.
Ted Cruz, in other words, really is a phony — perhaps the phoniest person in the United States of America. This is part of the reason why so many prominent Republicans, such as Huckabee, can’t stand him.
Rough stuff. But, in less polemical terms, this report from Will Weissert, makes a similar point
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ted Cruz sometimes sounds more like a preacher than a presidential candidate, praising the transformative love of Jesus Christ and promising to defend religious liberty. But the Texas senator rarely evokes the biblical tenet of tithing, the mandate that 10 percent of possessions be donated to God.
That’s because Cruz doesn’t tithe. He and his wife donated less than 1 percent of their income to charity and nothing to churches, including to their own in Houston, according to tax returns from 2006 to 2010, the most recent Cruz has released.
His campaign declined requests from The Associated Press to provide recent tax returns or otherwise demonstrate donations since 2010. Cruz has said he and his wife were more focused on using their seven-figure annual income to build a financial foundation for their family.
Being a past charitable cheapskate provides a glimpse of who Cruz was before running for president, when he was known more as a fierce fiscal conservative than a devout Southern Baptist. Cruz’s religious side similarly didn’t dominate his 2012 run for Senate in Texas. Cruz suggested shortly after taking office that politicians should “avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith” — advice he has ignored amid his rise in national polls.
On the night he won the 2012 Texas primary, Cruz reminded a packed Houston hotel ballroom that victory came on what would have been the 100th birthday of free-market champion Milton Friedman. Only after that did he praise God.
The following year, Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network: “I think anyone in politics, you’ve got a special obligation to avoid being a Pharisee, to avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith.”
Now seeking the White House, Cruz has done the opposite. He is trying to solidify support from evangelical Republicans against Donald Trump and religious conservatives like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, whose supporters have questioned Cruz’s lack of tithing.
Cruz launched his presidential bid at evangelical Liberty University and has sought support from pastors in all 99 Iowa counties. A super political action committee built a website trumpeting his faith bona fides, including a video detailing how a then-8-year-old Cruz “surrendered his heart to Jesus” during summer camp at a Christian ranch. Cruz mentioned faith repeatedly in Thursday’s GOP debate.
So, here is the bind that Cruz finds himself. At some point he has to square this circle, if he want to be both the candidate of Phil Robertson, who describes Cruz as “one of us,”in the duck blind, and the candidate of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner in their Central Park South penthouse.
Rafael Cruz clearly is on the Duck Dynasty side.
From his book:
But most disturbing of all, the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage is one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation. By purporting to legalize and mandate homosexual marriage, the Supreme Court has given gay couples a “civil right” based on Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
While this amendment was originally intended to grant equal rights and protections to former slaves, the Supreme Court’s decision, in essence, has decided that it simultaneously—and unbeknownst to every person who voted to ratify it—rendered unconstitutional the marriage laws in every state in the union. This is preposterous. It is not law. It is blatant judicial activism, five unelected lawyers declaring themselves (as Justice Scalia put it in powerful dissent) the “rulers” of 320 million Americans.
And when homosexual marriage becomes a mandatory civil right,the next obvious step is to enforce this civil right in private businesses, Christian organizations, and even churches. You see, the decision in favor of homosexual marriage is really a decision against religious freedom
Meanwhile, Frederick Clarkson, who studies the Christian right for Political Research Associates, issued a report earlier this month, that places Rafael Cruz’s views in context.
The evangelical Christian Right and Roman Catholic bishops are intensifying their campaign to carve out arenas of public life where religious institutions, individuals, and even businesses may evade civil rights and labor laws in the name of religious liberty. By creating zones of legal exemption, the Christian Right seeks to shrink the public sphere and the arenas within which the government has legitimacy to defend people’s rights, including reproductive, labor, and LGBTQ. In this, it is often aligned with the anti-government strategy of free market libertarians and some business interests, who for a variety of reasons also seek to restrict arenas where government can legally act. This conservative Christian alliance is challenging a century or more of social advances and many of the premises of the Enlightenment underlying the very definition of religious liberty in the United States. Its long-range goal is to impose a conservative Christian social order inspired by religious law, in part by eroding pillars of undergirding religious pluralism that are integral to our constitutional democracy.
The Cruz campaign’s success in recruiting evangelical leaders means there are plenty of supporters with potentially headline-grabbing views.
For example, here, a recent story from John A. Oswald in the Forward:Ted Cruz Endorsed By Preacher Who Said Jews Will Be Exterminated If They Don’t Embrace Jesus
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is trumpeting the endorsement of a doomsday preacher who warned Jews must accept Jesus — or face extermination.
His name is Mike Bickle, and he is the founder of the International House of Prayer (yes, IHOP), based in Kansas City, Mo.
Back in 2004, Bickle had this to say about the Jews:
“Let me tell you, these 20 million — less than 20 million Jews worldwide, there’s about 5 million in Israel, about another 15 million worldwide, a little bit less than that — those 15 million, God is going to bring them all back. Two-thirds will die in the rage of Satan and in the judgments of God and one-third, every one of the one-third, will be in the land before it’s over and they’ll be worshipers of Jesus … The Lord says, ‘I’m going to give all 20 million of them the chance. To respond to the fisherman. And I give them grace. And I give them grace …if they don’t respond to grace, I’m going to raise up the hunters … And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.’”
Here was the Cruz announcement of Bickle’s endorsement.
HOUSTON, Texas – Presidential candidate Ted Cruz today announced the endorsement of Mike Bickle, Founder and Director of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, an evangelical missions organization based on prayer.
“Our nation is in a great crisis in this hour,” Bickle said. “We need a president who will first be faithful to honor God’s Word. We need a president who will work to defend religious liberty, uphold our Constitution, keep our country safe and our economy sound, and speak truth to the nation. We have been praying for righteous leaders, and Ted Cruz is such a leader. I am enthusiastically endorsing Ted Cruz.”
Then there’s this, which has nothing to do with religion but does seem to be a campaign tactic that a liberty-minded voter especially might find objectionable.
DES MOINES, Iowa – As the presidential candidates made their last pitches ahead of Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, some Iowa voters started getting mailers citing them for emergency “voter violations.”
The mailers, from the Houston campaign office of Texas Republican Ted Cruz, look something like parking tickets. They read: “Election Alert … Official Public Record … Important Notice … VOTING VIOLATION,” followed by their recipients’ names and failing letter grades.
Amid a final scramble of saturation television advertising and campaign rallies for 15 major party candidates, the Cruz get-out-the-vote mailer generated much of the countdown buzz – some of it unwelcome.
Iowa’s top election official called it deceptive.
“Today I was shown a piece of literature from the Cruz for President campaign that misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law,” State Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, said in a statement Saturday.
The faux “voter violations” arrived as Cruz is in a tight race with GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who leads the pack with 28 percent support, according to the Des Moines Register’s final poll. Cruz was at 23 percent, with Marco Rubio in third place at 15 percent.
Under the heading “VOTING VIOLATION,” in block letters, the Cruz mailer read: “You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.”
Pate said Iowa officials don’t grade voters or maintain records of their participation in caucuses.
Cruz aides described the mailer as a well-tested practice to increase voter turnout, an explanation that didn’t please his rivals.
Rand Paul, running fifth in Iowa, tweeted: “Tactics of a career politician.”
Cruz defended the mailer at a campaign event Saturday night in Sioux City, one of the last stops in a push to visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties – a feat that helped Rick Santorum win the Iowa caucuses in 2012.
“I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote,” Cruz told reporters. “Our country’s in crisis.”
Sasah Isssenberg described the origins of this very effective shaming technique in his book, Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. Here from the prologue.
In 2005, a Michigan political consultant named Mark Grebner—whose glasses, stringy parted hair, eccentric polymathy, and relentless tinkering earned him comparisons to Ben Franklin—had written to two Yale political science professors who he knew were interested in finding new ways to motivate people to vote. The next year, they collaborated on an experiment in Michigan in which they sent voters a copy of their own public vote histories, along with their neighbors’, and a threat to deliver an updated set after the election. It was marvelously effective, increasing turnout among those who received it by 20 percent. But no candidate or group wanted to be associated with a tactic that looked a lot like bullying—and a bit like blackmail.
It took three years of trial and error by academics and operatives, including Malchow, until he settled on softer, more friendly language — thanking people for having voted in the past as opposed to threatening them if they didn’t in the future —that delivered impressive results in a randomized experiment. During a test conducted during New Jersey’s 2009 gubernatorial elections, such a letter had increased turnout among voters who received it by 2.5 percent. Through other tests, Malchow had found that many political messages were most effective when delivered in understated white typed envelopes, as opposed to multicolor glossy mailers, and so he packaged the Colorado social-pressure letters in a way he hoped would resemble an urgent notice from the taxman. “People want information, they don’t want advertising,” Malchow said. “When they see our fingerprints on this stuff, they believe it less.”
But, somehow, the Cruz campaign preferred the original, harsher Big Brother bullying/blackmail approach, fingerprints and all, choosing to send out the intimidating notice, with its return address.
And, when called on it, Cruz said, essentially, the ends justify the means.
But it gets worse. It appears the figures on which the the letter grades are based were plucked from thin air.
In Iowa, although voter-registration information is free and available to the public, voter history is not. That information is maintained by the secretary of state, who licenses it to campaigns, super PACs, polling firms, and any other entity that might want it. So was the Cruz campaign accurately portraying the voter histories of Iowans? Or did it simply make up the numbers?
It seems to have made them up. Dave Peterson, a political scientist at Iowa State University who is well-acquainted with the research on “social pressure” turnout techniques, received a mailer last week. The Cruz campaign pegged his voting percentage at fifty-five per cent, which seems to be the most common score that the campaign gives out. (All of the neighbors listed on Peterson’s mailer also received a score of fifty-five per cent.)
Peterson, who is actually a Hillary Clinton supporter, moved to Iowa in 2009. He told me that he has voted in three out of the last three general elections and in two out of the last three primaries.
“There are other people listed on my mailer who live in my neighborhood that are all different ages, but everyone on this sheet has the same score of fifty-five per cent,” he said. “Some are significantly younger and would have not been eligible to vote in these elections, and others are older and have voted consistently, going back years. There is no way to get to us all having the same score.” (Peterson also spoke with Mother Jones.)
If the Cruz campaign based its score on local elections, Peterson said, the number also wouldn’t make sense, based on his participation in those elections as well. A source with access to the Iowa voter file told me that he checked several other names on Cruz mailers and that the voting histories of those individuals did not match the scores that the Cruz campaign assigned them in the mailer.
I spoke with David Redlawsk, the Rutgers University political scientist who is one of the authors of Why Iowa, said someone he knew received the mailer at the information was wrong, giving him a low grade he had not earned.
If there is one way to irritate Iowans, Redlawsk said, it is to accuse them of shirking their civic duty, especially when it isn’t true.
Looking at it from across the political and ideological aisle, here is memo from Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas.
On Friday it was revealed that the Ted Cruz campaign sent “voter violation” mailers to people with low voter turnout histories. This is called a ‘social pressure’ tactic and these types of practices have been tested and proven to be successful.
But Cruz made a critical error that could cause the effort to backfire.
Social pressure campaign tactics are proven to work – but there is a catch: it is better for a social pressure effort to be conducted by an entity that is not on the ballot in an upcoming election.
In 2014, Progress Texas conducted a large-scale social pressure online effort that delivered four million impressions to a statewide audience of 250,000 drop-off voters in Texas. The result was a statewide increase of one percentage among the target audience that saw the social pressure ads, compared to a control group which saw none of the ads. You can read more about that case study here.
Ted Cruz’s first error was that the mailer came directly from his campaign, which means that voters who are compelled to turnout may also be compelled to retaliate against his “voter violation” mailers.
Cruz’s second error is that he straight up lied by assigning letter grades and telling voters that they can improve their score by participating in the Iowa caucuses. Iowa’s Republican Secretary State said Cruz is misrepresenting election law.
What Ted Cruz did was more akin to political intimidation, and thus it could very well backfire.
As one Iowa voter tweeted out, “Hey @tedcruz your brilliant public shaming campaign has inspired me to caucus on Monday…For @marcorubio.”