Cruz and Kasich team up; Cruz stands in the bathroom door

Good morning Austin:

Ted Cruz and John Kasich are teaming up to stop Donald Trump.

From Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe last night:

Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans.  Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation. To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead.  In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win.

Kasich is down with that.

And Trump?

From Trump:

It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination.
Senator Cruz has done very poorly and after his New York performance, which was a total disaster, he is in free fall and as everyone has seen, he does not react well under pressure. Also, approximately 80% of the Republican Party is against him. Governor Kasich, who has only won 1 state out of 41, in other words, he is 1 for 41 and he is not even doing as well as other candidates who could have stubbornly stayed in the race like him but chose not to do so. Marco Rubio, as an example, has more delegates than Kasich and yet suspended his campaign one month ago. Others, likewise, have done much better than Kasich, who would get slaughtered by Hillary Clinton once the negative ads against him begin. 85% of Republican voters are against Kasich.
Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are. I have brought millions of voters into the Republican primary system and have received many millions of votes more than Cruz or Kasich. Additionally, I am far ahead of both candidates with delegates and would be receiving in excess of 60% of the vote except for the fact that there were so many candidates running against me.
Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged. When two candidates who have no path to victory get together to stop a candidate who is expanding the party by millions of voters, (all of whom will drop out if I am not in the race) it is yet another example of everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system. This horrible act of desperation, from two campaigns who have totally failed, makes me even more determined, for the good of the Republican Party and our country, to prevail!


Meanwhile, Ted Cruz better be careful or he might lose the transgender vote.

That would be a joke if it weren’t for the fact that Caitlyn Jenner – the most famous transgender person in the United States, in the world, in fact maybe the only transgender person most Americans could name – apparently likes Ted Cruz for president, even though his hopes of stopping Donald Trump and becoming president seem to hinge on his ability to persuade Republican voters that the whole transgender thing is nothing more than a scam to use political correctness to enable grown men to molest little girls in public bathrooms.

From Inquisitr:

Caitlyn Jenner was quick to defend Ted Cruz on the finale of I Am Cait last Sunday, but today it is Donald Trump who is supporting the reality TV star.

As the presidential race heats up, Jenner has found herself smack dab in the middle of it all. Caitlyn is not shy about voicing her political views, especially during the current season of her E! reality show. The very Republican Jenner has clashed with her new group of very liberal transgender girlfriends, causing a lot of tension and friction that makes for great television.

In the season finale of I Am Cait, Caitlyn Jenner defended Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz as all of her new friends tried to get her to understand that Cruz does not support the transgender community. Jenner for her part called Cruz “misunderstood,” which started a whole other debate about how she is supportive of a man who is actually not supportive of her.

Although all of Caitlyn’s friends make it clear that Jenner is supporting a party that does not support her, she would not budge on her views. The reality star admitted that she is voting for Cruz because overall she feels “he can take care of the big issues.” There was no backing down for Jenner, who not only stood her ground but is apparently standing behind Ted Cruz.

OK. But it’s kind of like a black person in 1963 backing Alabama Gov. George Wallace as he stood in the schoolhouse door to stop school integration because Wallace “can take care of the big issues.”

Only, of course, Ted Cruz is standing in the bathroom door.
Here is what Trump said that got Cruz going, from New York Magazine:

Donald Trump says transgender people should be able to “use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.” On NBC’s Today show Thursday morning, the GOP front-runner said he opposes North Carolina’s “very strong” bathroom bill, which allows businesses to prohibit transgender people from doing just that.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price. And there’s a lot of problems.” Trump said. “Leave it the way it is. North Carolina, what they’re going through, with all of the business and all of the strife — and that’s on both sides — you leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment they’re taking.”

Trump went on to say that he opposes the idea of creating a new, third bathroom specifically for transgender people because “that would be discriminatory, in a certain way,” and because “it would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country.”

A lot of folks not partial to Trump found themselves astonished to say that he had stumbled upon some common sense.
Or, as Rick Perry pithily put it in another context:
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But Cruz pounced with this ad:



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Enter, and exit, Curt Schilling;

From the New York Times.

Curt Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher and one of the highest-profile baseball analysts on ESPN, was fired from the network Wednesday, a day after he drew intense criticism for promoting offensive commentary on social media.

Schilling, who had worked for the network since 2010 and most recently offered analysis on “Monday Night Baseball,” was dismissed after sharing a Facebook post this week that appeared to respond to the North Carolina law that bars transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their birth genders.

The post showed an overweight man wearing a wig and women’s clothing with parts of the T-shirt cut out to expose his breasts. It says: “LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die.”

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To that, Schilling added: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

ESPN is an inclusive company,” ESPN said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Which led to another ad from the Cruz campaign, which can’t get enough of this issue, defending Schilling.


Here is Cruz with Glenn Beck.


From Frank Bruni at the New York Times:

I’m guessing that Cruz hasn’t met or read much about transgender people. “Grown adult men” is precisely how many transgender men appear — with beards, muscles, pants — and exactly how they’d look to little girls in the women’s rooms that the North Carolina law would command them to use.

And such legislation tells someone who may well wear a dress to march into the men’s room if her birth certificate said male. That’s a greater invitation to potty pandemonium than letting people make their own calls when nature calls and turn in the direction consistent with the way they conduct the rest of their lives.

How would these potty prohibitions be enforced, anyway? What species of sentry or manner of inquisition would assess the external and internal anatomy of the bathroom-bound? Shall we divert government spending to this? We skimp on money to repair America’s infrastructure, but let’s find funds to patrol America’s lavatories.

Cruz, Schilling and many others are obsessed with — or cynically exploiting — the hallucinated scenario of male sexual predators suddenly feeling emboldened to stalk little girls in public bathrooms, presumably because they could, if caught, claim that they identify as women and belong there.

Here’s a news flash: They’d still be breaking laws. You know, the ones against lewdness and harassing and molesting kids. The ones that govern a male sexual predator whose targets are boys and who already has access to the same urinals that they do.

Besides which, child molesters aren’t famously expert at impulse control: I doubt that they’re raptly watching CNN and patiently awaiting some legislative green light to hunt for female victims by the toilets in public parks. They’re hunting already, and as everything from “Spotlight” to the Denny Hastert case has shown us, the grounds aren’t always the ones you expect, nor are the hunters.

From Gersh Kuntzman at the New York Daily News.

Say one thing for Ted Cruz: he’s stripped the transgender bathroom issue down to its naked glory: it’s not about facts, but fear. Not fear of being attacked in a bathroom — hello, Ted, that can happen now at any time — but fear that “repulsive perverts” like, presumably, GOP-loving Caitlyn Jenner will become increasingly accepted in a society where gender becomes a fluid, rather than Biblical, concept. People like Cruz made the same argument against gays who wanted to be Boy Scout troup leaders or adoptive parents. In an earlier generation, such people opposed the right of blacks to marry whites.

Cruz calls such concepts “the Left’s agenda, which is to force Americans to leave God out of public life while paying lip service to false tolerance.”

But it’s not false tolerance — it’s real tolerance. Italians, Irish, Jews, blacks and gays have all been run through the gauntlet of American intolerance, eventually making it through because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Now it’s just transgender people’s turn at the lunch counter of American bigotry.

From Andrew Rosenthal the New York Times

No one is arguing that male “heterosexual perverts” (as Glenn Beck puts it) should be allowed to go into women’s restrooms and attack people – whether they are little girls, or older girls, or women of any age.

Mr. Cruz is actually talking about laws, passed in enlightened areas of the country like North Carolina, that ban the use of public women’s restrooms by transgender women.

These women suffer bitter abuse, bigotry and discrimination in many parts of their lives. Some transgender women are gay. Some are not. None are “adult men.” And being transgender is not a perversion.

It’s hard to know what is truly going on here, beyond the unceasing effort by smug politicians like Mr. Cruz to claim some special understanding of religion and liberty. And to claim that evangelical Christianity, as practiced by a particular group of right-wing white men, is somehow under threat.

Calling the 2016 election a “religious liberty election” on “The Glenn Beck Program,” Mr. Cruz said: “It has only been in recent years that the modern Democratic party, aided and abetted by the mainstream media and Hollywood, has decided that religious liberty is inconsistent with their extreme political protections, political bias. And that’s just wrong.”

It’s wrong all right — entirely untrue. The real pressure on Americans to adhere to a particular religious frame of reference comes from the Christian right, not the Hollywood left. Right-wingers like Mr. Cruz use religion as a cudgel in all kinds of areas – starting with denying women the right to make medical choices and limiting the civil rights of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans.

Not all Republicans adhere to Mr. Cruz’s particular brand of intolerance in this area. Donald Trump said people should be able to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” and Governor John Kasich of Ohio has said that he would not sign the kind of “bathroom bill” so in vogue on the extreme right.

There is nothing in any anti-discrimination bill that would encourage the hordes of “heterosexual perverts” that so concern Mr. Beck and Mr. Cruz to storm women’s restrooms and assault innocent people. And there is nothing in the recent spate of “bathroom bills” that is going to prevent that from happening.

But that’s not really what the bills’ supporters want. Their real goal is to scare people, to divide Americans, and to make us believe that some of us are better and more righteous than others.

OK. You got me. The New York Times. The New York Daily News. The New York Times again.

Their criticism of Cruz is a consequence of their hopelessly New York values – live and let live, life is short, don’t sweat the small stuff, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, seriously, are you kidding, whattsamatta with you?

And here is Curt Schilling  on his blog

See here’s the thing. I do NOT care what color you are, what race, what sex, who you sleep with, what you wear. I don’t care and I never have. I have opinions, but they’re just that, opinions. And opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and they usually stink.

You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine.

I’m loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have. Like everyone one of you I have flaws, but I’m ok with my flaws, they’re what make me, me. I thank the Lord for the life I’ve been given. A life interspersed and occupied by men and women who are gay, by people of all races and religions, by men and women who dress as the other, by men and women who’ve changed to women and men. Not one decision I’ve ever made about a person has anything to do with those things I just mentioned, nor will it ever.

And From Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Facebook last night:

I’m totally disgusted with the threats from sports teams, entertainers, and some major corporations who want to punish cities and states who want to keep men out of ladies rooms. The world has gone mad and we must stand and fight. We shouldn’t even be having this discussion.

As you may recall I took a very active role in helping to defeat Mayor Parker’s ordinance that would have allowed men, under the guise of equal protection, into ladies rooms and ladies locker rooms. The citizens of Houston, including a majority of Democrats, overwhelmingly defeated the ordinance 2 to 1. We have had no backlash. The Final Four was played and the Super Bowl is coming. Businesses move here every month.

As I said in my TV ads I don’t want a man going into a bathroom or locker room with my mom, my wife, my daughter, or my grand daughter and I don’t know anyone who does. It’s a matter of common sense, common decency and safety.

I will not spend a single dollar with any business that says a man can enter a bathroom with the women in my family or your family.

Last week Target announced they would allow men in women’s bathrooms. I won’t shop there again. Apparently I’m not alone. In only a few days hundreds of thousands have signed boycott petitions.

Meanwhile, there was another Cruz ad out last week that brought a lighter, and better touch.

Well done, but I would have made one small addition.

Have the Huma Abedin character’s cell phone ping. She looks at it and furrows her brow.

“What’s the matter?” the Hillary Clinton character asks.

“It’s Anthony,” H.A. says of her husband, Anthony Weiner. “He’s tweeting again.”

“Well,” says HRC, shaking her head. “Bill was no picnic.”


Cruz stakes his claim to the Mormons; Trump kvells for the Jews

Good morning Austin:

It’s primary day in Arizona and Utah.

Donald Trump is heavily favored to win all 58 delegates in winner-take-all Arizona.

Trump won Arizonan’s hearts with his stridency on the border.

Ted Cruz is heavily favored to cross the 50-percent threshold and win all 40 delegates in Utah.

Apparently, Mormons are immune to Trump’s charms.

I think Trump was clearly kidding when he questioned whether Mitt Romney was really a Mormon.

But maybe the Utah ear is not tuned to New York humor.

Or New York values.

For example, Utah is state where this Facebook ad from the anti-Trump super PAC, Make America Awesome (America is Already Great), apparently works as a negative ad.

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Meanwhile, in Washington, some of the Jews and other supporters of Israel gathered 18,000-strong for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee gathering in Washington, laughed at Trump when he told them yesterday that he is the world’s leading authority on the Iran nuclear deal.

But Trump rebounded.

From National Review”

For the first time this cycle, Trump delivered a scripted speech with at least some foreign-policy specifics. Some of his off-script deviations got him into trouble: He said a peace deal was “something that we impose on Israel and Palestine,” a statement that both questioned Israel’s sovereignty and elevated the Palestinian territories to nation status. But most of his improvisations elicited laughter from the audience. He received raucous applause and several standing ovations from a crowd that had cheered Clinton less than eight hours before. He even outshone Ted Cruz, his chief rival for the Republican nomination, whose own speech received a rather tepid response. It was, in short, a pretty good night at AIPAC for Donald Trump.
“I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel,” Trump began, before proceeding to do just that for the thousands of attendees packed into the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The New York billionaire bragged about his participation as grand marshal in a 2004 pro-Israel parade. “It was a dangerous time for Israel and frankly for anyone supporting Israel,” he said. “Many people turned down the honor. I did not. I took the risk.” Trump warned the audience about the dangers of the Iran deal, adding that he was uniquely qualified to discuss the topic. “I’ve studied this issue in great detail — I would say actually greater, by far, than anybody else,” he said, sparking peals of laughter throughout the audience. Trump smiled and took it all in stride. “Believe me, that is a baad deal,” he said.
And then Trump delivered a most terrific pander:
I’ve received some of my greatest honors from Israel. My father before me. Incredible. My daughter Ivanka is about to have a beautiful Jewish baby. In fact, it could be happening right now which would be very nice as far as I’m concerned.
Why didn’t he just use that line when he was asked to disavow David Duke? The nomination would be a lock by now.

If Cruz slows the Trump train in Utah and it ultimately costs Trump the few precious delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, Trump may regret that Ivanka married a Jew and not a Mormon

Trump had a very busy in day in Washington.
From Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump came to Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday and offered a freewheeling, circuslike glimpse of what the nation’s capital might look like if he is successful in his quest to occupy that big, white house on the 1600 block of the street.

Mr. Trump’s whirlwind day in Washington — part of his effort to demonstrate that he is running a serious presidential campaign — took him from an imposing law firm to a news conference at a hotel he is building here to a much-anticipated policy speech before a pro-Israel group, all with the Manhattan businessman’s characteristic mix of panache, policy and showmanship.

His first stop was at The Washington Post, for an editorial board meeting where he unveiled five members of his foreign policy team: Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz. Though Mr. Trump has been promising for months to release the names of his foreign policy advisers, those he presented on Monday have come under fire in the past. But the team will be led by Jeff Sessions, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In addition to introducing his foreign policy hands, Trump also offered a renewed defense of his hands – as in those things at the end of his arms -in his conversation with the Post editorial board.

HIATT: Just back to the campaign. You are smart and you went to a good school. Yet you are up there and talking about your hands and the size of private …


HIATT: … your private parts.

TRUMP: No, no. No, no. I am not doing that.

HIATT: Do you regret having engaged in that?

TRUMP: No, I had to do it. Look, this guy. Here’s my hands. Now I have my hands, I hear, on the New Yorker, a picture of my hands.

MARCUS: You’re on the cover.

TRUMP: A hand with little fingers coming out of a stem. Like, little. Look at my hands. They’re fine. Nobody other than Graydon Carter years ago used to use that. My hands are normal hands. During a debate, he was losing, and he said, “Oh, he has small hands and therefore, you know what that means.” This was not me. This was Rubio that said, “He has small hands and you know what that means.” Okay? So, he started it. So, what I said a couple of days later … and what happened is I was on line shaking hands with supporters, and one of supporters got up and he said, “Mr. Trump, you have strong hands. You have good-sized hands.” And then another one would say, “You have great hands, Mr. Trump, I had no idea.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I thought you were like deformed, and I thought you had small hands.” I had fifty people … Is that a correct statement? I mean people were writing, “How are Mr. Trump’s hands?” My hands are fine. You know, my hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large glove, okay? No, but I did this because everybody was saying to me, “Oh, your hands are very nice. They are normal.” So Rubio, in a debate, said, because he had nothing else to say … now I was hitting him pretty hard. He wanted to do his Don Rickles stuff and it didn’t work out. Obviously, it didn’t work too well. But one of the things he said was “He has small hands and therefore, you know what that means, he has small something else.” You can look it up. I didn’t say it.

MARCUS: You chose to raise it …

TRUMP: No, I chose to respond.

MARUS: You chose to respond.

TRUMP: I had no choice.

MARCUS: You chose to raise it during a debate. Can you explain why you had no choice?

TRUMP: I don’t want people to go around thinking that I have a problem. I’m telling you, Ruth, I had so many people. I would say 25, 30 people would tell me … every time I’d shake people’s hand, “Oh, you have nice hands.” Why shouldn’t I? And, by the way, by saying that I solved the problem. Nobody questions … I even held up my hands, and said, “Look, take a look at that hand.”

MARCUS: You told us in the debate ….

TRUMP: And by saying that, I solved the problem. Nobody questions. Everyone held my hand. I said look. Take a look at that hand.

MARCUS: You told us in the debate that you guaranteed there was not another problem. Was that presidential? And why did you decide to do that?

TRUMP: I don’t know if it was presidential, honestly, whether it is or not. He said, ‘Donald Trump has small hands and therefore he has small something else.’ I didn’t say that. And all I did is when he failed, when he was failing, when he was, when Christie made him look bad, I gave him the– a little recap and I said,  and I said, and I had this big strong powerful hand ready to grab him, because I thought he was going to faint. And everybody took it fine. Whether it was presidential or not I can’t tell you. I can just say that what he said was a lie. And everybody, they wanted to do stories on my hands; after I said that, they never did. And then I held up the hand, I showed people the hand. You know, when I’ve got a big audience. So yeah, I think it’s not a question of presidential …

MARCUS: He said he regrets …

HIATT: Okay, let’s move on here. Let’s move on.


All five remaining presidential candidates also appeared on CNN last night.

Cruz was asked about Frank Gaffney, who was among the members of Cruz’s national security team announced last week.


WOLF BLITZER (HOST): Let’s talk about your national security advisers. Last week, you released a list of your foreign policy advisers. Frank Gaffney was on that list, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration. Mr. Gaffney has said that President Obama is a Muslim, that the Muslim Brotherhood placed operatives throughout the federal government, that Saddam Hussein probably was behind the Oklahoma City bombing, that Chris Christie may have been complicit in treason by appointing a Muslim-American to New Jersey’s state judiciary. Is this someone whose views you agree with? 

TED CRUZ (R-TX): Wolf, look I recognize that folks in the media get really nervous when you actually call out radical Islamic terrorism. Frank Gaffney is someone I respect. Frank Gaffney is a serious thinker who has been focused on fighting jihadism, fighting jihadism across the globe. And he’s endured attacks from the left, from the media, because he speaks out against radical Islamic terrorism, because he speaks out against, for example, the political correctness of the Obama administration that effectively gets in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. 

BLITZER: Let’s be precise. When he said back in 2009, “Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America’s first Muslim president.” Do you agree with him on that? 

CRUZ: Listen, I don’t know what he said in 2009. 

BLITZER: I just read to you the quote. 

CRUZ: I don’t have the full context. I’m not interested in playing the media “gotcha” game of here’s every quote, every person who’s supporting you has said at any point, do you agree with every statement. That’s silliness. Here’s my view. We need a Commander-in-Chief that defends America, and defending America means defeating radical Islamic terrorism and defeating ISIS. What is completely unreasonable is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s consistent pattern of refusing even to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” When we see a terror attack, but let me finish this point, Wolf. When we see a terror attack in Paris and San Bernardino and President Obama says, gosh, I didn’t realize people were upset, I guess I wasn’t watching the cable news. And then he gives a national TV conference where he doesn’t call out radical Islamic terrorists, but instead he lectures Americans on Islamophobia. We need a Commander-in-Chief keeping us safe, and one of the reasons why we’re going to win in November is people are fed up with this silliness.

BLITZER: Would he be considered your national security adviser if you were president? 

CRUZ: Look, Frank is one of a number of people who is part of the team who are advising me, and I appreciate his good counsel. For example, Frank —

BLITZER: And so these statements —

CRUZ: Frank has been leading the effort to focus on the threat of an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse which would be a nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere that would take down our electrical grid. It could kill tens of millions of Americans. And all Iran would have to do is fire one nuke into the atmosphere. They don’t need to hit anything. They just need to get it above the Eastern seaboard, and they could kill tens of millions. That is valuable work focusing on national security. And I’m curious, Wolf, you know when does the media focus on threats like an EMP? 

BLITZER: I think we focus on a lot of those things. But let me just read one other thing, he says there’s some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and even the Oklahoma City bombing. Now you’re a smart guy, have you seen any circumstantial evidence to back that up? 

CRUZ: You know I told you a minute ago I’m not going to play the gotcha game of every quote every adviser may have given 20 years ago. You are welcome to throw them out. 

BLITZER: That was in 2009. 

CRUZ: But I’m actually interested in talking about the problems in this country, and not — This is silliness. Let’s focus on real problems facing America. 

For Cruz to be complaining about the “gotcha game” with Gaffney, is no better than Trump feigning ignorance when asked about David Duke. Are we supposed to believe that Cruz chose Gaffney for his security circle without being aware of his many, many stunning claims? If so, that would be even more disqualifying.

Anywhere, here’s the latest on Gaffney’s creeping influence.

From Bryan Schatz at Mother Jones:

The National Rifle Association’s annual board election is typically a drama-free affair. But this year, things are getting ugly. A faction within the NRA is seeking to oust anti-tax crusader and celebrated Republican strategist Grover Norquist from the gun lobby’s board of directors, where he has served since 2000.

The reasons behind the recall campaign have little to do with the Second Amendment, NRA policy, or Norquist’s position on gun rights. The effort is the latest move in an ongoing crusade to convince conservatives that the founder of Americans for Tax Reform is secretly in cahoots with anti-American Islamists. 

The instigator of the Norquist recall is Stu Weber, a former Green Beret and pastor from Oregon. Last August, a recall petition sponsored by Weber was posted on the website In it, Weber wrote that Norquist “has become a confusing distraction to the NRA’s mission” and that he was “aware of NRA members who are considering leaving the NRA because they have done some serious homework in regard to Mr. Norquist.” While speaking with Glenn Beck last August, Weber described himself as “just a member” of the NRA. He declined to be interviewed for this story. The recall site has been taken down.

While this is the first NRA board recall measure in at least 15 years, it is not necessarily a sign of a major split within the organization. Just 450 signatures from voting members were required to get it on the ballot. Members have until May 1 to cast their votes via ballots that were mailed out in American Rifleman, the NRA’s magazine.

To bolster his case, Weber’s petition linked to Agent of Influence: Grover Norquist and the Assault on the Right, a 100-page dossier that lays out a litany of conspiratorial claims about Norquist and his supposed role “as an agent of influence for assorted Islamic supremacists.” Now in its fourth edition, subtitled “Targeting the NRA,” the booklet questions Norquist’s “fitness to serve in a leadership position of such an important organization” and aims to “encourage and enable the National Rifle Association to end the presence among its leadership of an individual who has long engaged in insidious Islamist influence operations.”

Agent of Influence is published by the Center for Security Policy, an organization headed by Frank Gaffney, a former Pentagon official in the Reagan Administration whom Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz recently named to his national security team. Among the prominent conservatives who have backed Gaffney’s allegations against Norquist are former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Army Lt. General Jerry Boykin, with whom Weber wrote The Warrior Soul: Five Powerful Principles to Make You a Stronger Man of God. Last September, Gaffney joined Cruz, Beck, Donald Trump, and Sarah Palin at an anti-Iran rally co-sponsored by the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney could not be reached for comment.

As noted, Beck, perhaps Cruz’s most fervent supporter, is a part of the campaign to remove Norquist from the NRA board.

Beck, a Mormon convert, has also been making the case in Utah that Cruz’s election would be the fulfillment of The White Horse Prophecy:

From Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch:

Back in 1843, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, supposedly delivered a message known as “The White Horse Prophecy” that declared that one day, when the U.S. Constitution was hanging by a thread, the Mormon people would rise up and save this nation.

This is how Young reportedly explained it in 1854:

Will the Constitution be destroyed? No; it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.”

In 2010, the LDS church issued an official statement that “the so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine,” but that didn’t stop Glenn Beck from repeatedly invoking it as he campaigned for Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee in Utah over the weekend.

Beck spent all last week declaring that God has spent the last 10 years preparing and sanctifying his audience to rise up at this very moment and save the republic by electing Ted Cruz as president. But when he went to Utah, Beck made it unmistakably clear to his fellow Mormons that God is using them to save America because evangelical Christians “are not listening to their God,” a reference to southern evangelical Republicans who have voted for Donald Trump.

When Beck spoke at a rally for Sen. Lee’s re-election in Draper on Saturday, he explicitly invoked the language of the White Horse Prophecy.

“It’s something that Utah needs to hear,” he said. “The body of the Priesthood is known to stand up when the Constitution hangs by a thread. I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2000. What attracted me was not only the truth of the message, but also the people like President [Harold] Lee and President [Ezra Taft] Benson, who knew exactly who we were, knew who we were as a country. Many times, what held me through was the prophecy that the Constitution will hang by a thread and this people would remember what our founders did. It is our responsibility to stand for the Constitution!”

Beck echoed that message while campaigning for Cruz in Provo, telling the audience that he had a “special message for the people of Utah.”
“I believe the Book of Mormon,” he said. “I believe it to be true. I believe every word of it … That book spells out in great detail what things look like before the Lord comes back. And He gave us that book so we can protect freedom here. He also gave us that book so we would know what to do at the time. Now you either believe that or you don’t. You either believe that to be true, it’s not just a book; then let the Priesthood lead! Priesthood holders, stand up and take your staff! You are the guardian at the gate.”



While speaking at another Cruz rally in Salt Lake City, Beck said that it was up to the Mormons to save this nation because “the evangelicals are not listening to their God.”

“Let me testify to you now,” he stated. “The Book of Mormon is a book that was given to us for this time in this land and it explains exactly what it’s going to look like when trouble comes … You know what time it is, the Priesthood is supposed to rise up and restore the Constitution. Now is that time!”

“Utah has an incredible opportunity,” he continued. “So many Christians have been standing up, but all throughout the South, the evangelicals are not listening to their God. Let us raise a standard in Utah. Let us do this one thing perfectly right.”


Cruz also denounced in the strongest possible terms President Obama’s trip to Havana, though, the same criticism could have been directed at his mentor, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, for his trade mission to Cuba late last year, about which he remained silent.

From Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia:

The fact is Cuban-American, Canadian-born Ted Cruz will lie, do, and say anything to gain power.

Months ago, Gov. Abbott capitalized on President Obama’s actions to open Cuban markets to American companies. Cruz was suddenly mum. After all, Cruz needed Abbott’s endorsement to hold off the Trump train in Texas.

On Cuba, Abbott is more in sync with Trump.

Blitzer: Would you open up a Trump Hotel in Havana?

Trump: I would, I would, at the right time. When we’re allowed to do it. We aren’t right now. I think Cuba has a lot of potential. I think it’s OK to bring Cuba into the fold.


Meanwhile, last week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is chairing the  Cruz campaign in Texas, warned that any backroom machinations to deliver the Republican nomination to anyone other than Trump or Cruz would be illegitimate and would destroy the Republican Party.


Writing about this last week, I noted the following”

In Texas, Republicans at Senate District Conventions on Saturday will elect delegates to the state convention in Dallas in May, which will elect the delegates to the national convention. While Cruz won 104 delegates in the March 1 primary, to 48 for Trump and three for Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race this week, former Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri said he would be “shocked” if all 155 Texas delegates to the national convention weren’t Cruz loyalists, including the 48 delegates who would be bound to vote for Trump on the first ballot, but free to vote for Cruz thereafter.

Those “Trump delegates,” would also be free to vote against Trump’s interest on what could be decisive procedural votes that might ultimately determine the outcome.

Here from friend of Trump Roger Stone.

Trump Must Beware The Trojan Horse Delegates

By Roger Stone

A state party staffer from a large Northeastern state passed the entry codes for a conference call of five Republican Chairmen from significant states this past Saturday. The topic on the table? Stopping Trump. I had to listen in.

These hard-boiled pols know the nomination will be decided not on the first ballot but in a series of procedural votes by the entire convention to adopt the rules of the convention as recommended by the Rules committee and the seating of the delegates as recommended by the Credentials Committee. Those key committees are made up by two members from each state. The bosses have been quietly planting establishment regulars in these spots.

The Trump camp has been inattentive to this process. The party Kingmakers may have the votes to knee-cap Trump in the rules and credentials Committees as they did Congressman Ron Paul in 2012.

Here is what the kingmakers have planned:

Now they party insiders want to make sure they have a working majority on the floor for the passage of their “liscense to steal”. Republican State Chairs are planting Trojan Horse delegates into slots won by Trump on the first ballot to vote with them on procedural votes to pass the Rules and Credentials Reports that will seal the Big Steal. This is going on in Texas, New York, Michigan, Connecticut and North Dakota and other states.

Though these “Trump” delegates will be bound by national and state rules to support Trump through the first ballot at the convention they are free to vote against Trump’s interests on the adoption of Rules and the seating of delegates. It’s entirely plausible that a state could seat delegates pledged to support Donald Trump who have open affiliations with other candidates. In California Cruz and Paulistas are signing up online via CA’s GOP website as Trump delegates.

The RNC’s rules committee tightened the rules governing the allocation of pledged delegates: The proportion of pledged delegates actually sent to the convention must align with the proportion actually won by a candidate in states that don’t give their winners all of their delegates. Republican operatives are secretly working to stack the delegate selection process. They want as many reliable stooges as possible to identify as pledged “Trump” delegates. That way, those men and women can vote to break Trump’s back with hostile rules and by unseating Trump delegates if necessary.

The power-brokers short term game is clear; stall Trump just short of the magic number of delegates needed to be nominated on the first ballot with the knowledge that many delegates bound on the first ballot by Trump primary and caucus victories are ringers who would be unbound on a second ballot. Much in the way the RNC stacked the galleries with anti-Trump partisans in the last two debates, anti-Trump quislings are be planted in various delegations that will be free to betray Trump on procedural matters and subsequent ballots. Kidnapping is real possibility. What happens if a pledged delegate decides not to show up for the first ballot? The alternate replacing them may not be for Trump.

Get ready for Armageddon.

Practically speaking, if Trump arrive in Cleveland shy of the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination, and is denied the nomination, it will most likely be the consequence of maneuvering by the Cruz campaign taking advantage of faithless Trump delegates from Texas and elsewhere across the country.

From Roll Call columnist Patricia Murpy.

Improbably, Ted Cruz is now Mitch McConnell’s best hope for remaining majority leader. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, the chances of Republicans losing the Senate rise exponentially. But with Trump’s commanding delegate lead, Cruz’s only path to victory is likely a contested convention, complete with all of the cronyism and horse trading that McConnell excels at and that Cruz has said is so awful for so long.

New willingness by Republicans to rally around Cruz is either enlightened self-interest, naked hypocrisy or the shared opinion that a man like Donald Trump would not only be bad for business, he would be truly dangerous as a leader of the country.  Despite all of my cynicism, I’m leaning toward the latter as their motivation, which means we’re all Cruzians now.

Which raises an interesting question – ought Dan Patrick exhort Texas Republicans at their convention in Dallas to send bona fide, though-and-through Trump delegates to the national convention to fill the Trump slots in order to guard against chicanery in Cleveland?

In the meantime, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin wrote in Sunday’s New York Times:

Republican leaders adamantly opposed to Donald J. Trump’s candidacy are preparing a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.

Recognizing that Mr. Trump has seized a formidable advantage in the race, they say that an effort to block him would rely on an array of desperation measures, the political equivalent of guerrilla fighting.

There is no longer room for error or delay, the anti-Trump forces say, and without a flawlessly executed plan of attack, he could well become unstoppable.

But should that effort falter, leading conservatives are prepared to field an independent candidate in the general election, to defend Republican principles and offer traditional conservatives an alternative to Mr. Trump’s hard-edged populism. They described their plans in interviews after Mr. Trump’s victories last Tuesday in Florida and three other states.

The names of a few well-known conservatives have been offered up in recent days as potential third-party standard-bearers, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, has circulated a memo to a small number of conservative allies detailing the process by which an independent candidate could get on general-election ballots across the country.

Among the recruits under discussion are Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator who has told associates that he would be open to running, and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who was suggested as a possible third-party candidate at a meeting of conservative activists on Thursday in Washington.


Kristol was not doing Perry any favors by invoking his name.

It simply invited ridicule that Perry had done nothing to provoke.

From Anderw Rosenthal in the New York Times:

You know things are going badly when Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and failed presidential candidate, sounds more sensible than anyone else in the Republican Party.

Mr. Perry responded today through his spokesman, Jeff Miller, to an article in The Times on Sunday that said Mr. Perry had been mentioned as a possible third-party candidate at a recent meeting of so-called conservatives in Washington.

Mr. Miller said on Twitter that Mr. Perry “has no interest in running as a 3rd party candidate.” That’s a good thing, because Mr. Perry also has no interest in being a serious person. He is the one, you will remember, who said in 2011 that he was going to close three cabinet agencies but could not name the third one.

And, from Josh Marshall at Talking Points MemoLetting go of the Rick Perry Unicorn.

The #NeverTrump non-movement has taken a blow, as Rick Perry has apparently taken himself out of contention as the standard bearer of a #NeverTrump third party conservative ticket. A deeper issue is that, remember, Rick Perry was basically drummed out to the 2012 and 2016 elections as something close to a laughing stock. In 2016, he barely rose to the level of a laughingstock since no one was even paying attention. This isn’t meant as ridicule. It was a more a matter of expectations: the million term governor of the biggest red state in the country, couldn’t even make a respectable showing in a run for president. #NeverTrump looks very much like a vehicle with which DC power brokers take the guys they wanted in the first place but couldn’t get through primary process and nominate them by acclamation through what amounts to a GOP in exile.

it should be noted that for lifelong achievement in being consistently wrong in his political instincts, Kristol is unrivaled.

Here he was July 7, 2015, at Newmax:

Republicans should respect, not trash, Donald Trump, despite the billionaire developer’s controversial remarks on Mexican immigrants and his patented lack of political correctness, Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, tells Newsmax TV.

“I’m not a Trump fan, I don’t think he should be the Republican nominee, but it’s ridiculous,” Kristol said Tuesday on “The Steve Malzberg Show.”


Kristol believes Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, is more of a problem for the Democrats than Trump is for the Republicans.


“It’s very, very foolish if the Republican establishment or the Republican candidates treat him with disdain instead of saying, you know what, good to have more voices, good to have some unconventional voices in the race.”

Of course, if Trump arrives in Cleveland a little short, he could make a deal with Cruz and make him his running-mate. Asked about that Monday,  Trump said “crazier things happen in politics.”

But, Munisteri notes, if Trump needs Cruz’s delegates, it would probably mean that Cruz was in a position to strike his own deal to win the nomination.

However, if all Trump needs is just a small handful of delegates, there is always Dr. Ben Carson, who has nine pledged delegates.



Here is the email I received yesterday from John Philip Sousa IV of the Carson super PAC.

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Jonathan —

I asked you recently if you wanted The 2016 Committee to push for Ben Carson to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate if he wins the Republican presidential nomination or if anyone else is the nominee.

Your response was overwhelming!

92% of the responses we received from volunteers and donors alike said yes, launch a national effort to make Ben Carson the vice presidential nominee of the GOP in 2016.

And, I didn’t just hear from a few of you, thousands and thousands of you responded immediately and emphatically.

Something else happened that I did not expect.

Many of you sent in a contribution to make it happen, even though I did not ask for any support of the effort.

Clearly you are enthusiastically in favor of supporting Ben Carson for Vice President.

You were probably as surprised as I was when Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump for president.

I didn’t see that coming.

But, because I have so much confidence in the wisdom and intelligence of Dr. Carson I listened to every word he said at the news conference endorsing Donald Trump.

I closely watched the interaction between Donald Trump and Ben Carson and quite frankly I was delighted by the rapport and the admiration between them; two men who have both put their lives on hold to serve our country.

Dr. Carson was as always, honest, forthright, and wise.  He was also very persuasive.

Now that Dr. Carson has endorsed Donald Trump, and Trump won Florida, it’s probably the last nail in the coffin for Cruz and Kasich.

All political prognosticators seem to agree that, barring an unforeseen event, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

Probably not what many of us would have guessed as the outcome nine or even six months ago.

Donald Trump made it clear that Ben Carson will play a very important policy role in the campaign and very possibly beyond.

And, Ben Carson has also made it clear that he is open to being on the ticket with Donald Trump as his vice presidential nominee.

Don’t you agree that Donald Trump will need the wise counsel and moral compass of Dr. Ben Carson if he is elected president?

Clearly, Donald Trump has great respect for Dr. Carson and it appears that if elected he will lean heavily on the good doctor for advice and counsel on key issues like tax reform, education and health care.

With Donald Trump’s nomination looming as inevitable, it was very wise of Dr. Carson to endorse Mr. Trump so that he can exert a positive influence upon him, his campaign and hopefully his Administration.

And, let’s face reality, whoever the Republican nominee is, he must win the White House.

Can you imagine all the damage the U.S. Supreme Court will do to the Constitution and to the Bill of Rights if Hillary or any other Democrat is elected president?

If we have a Supreme Court with five or more liberal judges it will be open season on the Second Amendment.  Your right to own a firearm will all but disappear.

If you are a Christian, expect your rights to be dramatically circumscribed.

Moral corruption will accelerate and freedom of speech will only be for those espousing liberal viewpoints.

Political correctness and continued appeasement will almost certainly bring more strife around the world.

And, how can we possibly avoid a total financial collapse if Hillary Clinton is elected and the Democrats regain control of Congress and the liberals run amuck at the U.S. Supreme Court?

Here is my big question for you…

Will you join us to continue to help Dr. Ben Carson spread the words of Christ, The Constitution and common sense in Washington, D.C. by joining our effort to strongly encourage Donald Trump to choose Ben Carson as his running mate?

We know exactly how to proceed to maximize the chance that Ben Carson will be selected as the GOP vice presidential choice in 2016 because one of our close advisors was intimately involved in the National Draft Jack Kemp for Vice President effort in 1980 that nearly succeeded.

I’ll explain more in a moment, but let me first ask you…

Who would be a better vice president than Ben Carson?

There are three sound reasons for Dr. Carson to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

1.     Republican Unity.  Ben Carson is key to bringing unity to the GOP and unity is essential for victory.  Dr. Carson is the one man who is universally admired and respected for his wisdom and good judgement.

2.    Republican Victory.  The Republicans have no chance of victory unless they make big inroads into Black and Hispanic voters.  Ben Carson has proven that he can win a substantial percentage of the Black vote and a very large share of the Hispanic vote.

3.    American Harmony.  It’s not enough to just win the election, we must restore harmony and unity to our nation.  Without a nation where all Americans are united, our future will be as bleak as the past seven and a half years have been at home and around the world.

For those three reasons alone, not to mention the wise counsel and advice that Dr. Carson will bring to the ticket, I believe that Ben Carson is the best choice as our vice presidential nominee.

Do you agree, Jonathan?

If you do, you are in agreement with 92% of Ben Carson supporters according to a recent survey we conducted.

Please Clamor Today!





Spoiler alert: Why won’t sore winner John Kasich quit the race?

Good day Austin:

The word coming from the Ted Cruz campaign is that John Kasich is a spoiler.

The word coming from Sean Hannity on Fox last night is that John Kasich is a spoiler.

Selfish. Establishment tool. Deluded.


First, watch Glenn Beck, who loves Cruz and hates Trump, and see why he is so much better than Sean Hannity.

Second, on a personal note, I am worried about Sean Hannity.

It’s not the way his hair sits on his head, which remains, as it has always been, unsettling.

It’s that he loves Donald Trump but he also loves Ted Cruz. He wants them both to be president, but, of course that can’t happen. Never mind that Cruz now fashions himself as the only person who can save the Republican Party and the nation from the disaster of Donald Trump. Never mind that the reason Cruz feels Kasich is obliged to get out of the race is so he can have the one-on-one with Trump in order to take the New York huckster out.



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What Hannity doesn’t like is not that Kasich is messing up Cruz’s chances of bringing down Trump but that Kasich’s candidacy invites thoughts, the mere possibility, that the Republican Party could nominate someone other than Trump or Cruz. And, in Hannity’s view, and in the view of the Cruz campaign, it is illegitimate for a candidate to persist who does not have a mathematical possibility of clinching the nomination before the Cleveland convention, where, in Hannity’s view, anything that occurs that does not simply hand the nomination to whoever has the most delegates coming in, no matter how shy of the 1,237 delegate that candidate might be, would be a terrible  injustice, or as Trump put it yesterday, a reason to riot in the streets of Cleveland, not that he would condone that.

That construct works for Hannity because he’s fine if Trump is the nominee.

But for someone who loves Cruz but doesn’t also love Trump, that is a dangerous line of reasoning, because if Kasich’s chance of securing the delegates needed to win the nomination before Cleveland are none, Cruz’s chances are slim – very, very slim and within spitting distance of none.

If Ted Cruz is going to be nominated in Cleveland, it is much more likely to happen on a second or third ballot than on the first ballot. And, right now, there is a lot more chance that Cruz would be Trump’s running mate than that he would win the top spot.

Would Trump pick Lyin’ Ted as his running mate?

Sure. Why not? It appears, he has already promised Dr. Ben pathological-like-a-child-molester Carson some role in his administration in exchange for his endorsement.

Would Cruz go for it?

Well, of course Cruz would prefer an appointment to the Supreme Court by President Trump that would enable the 45-year-old brilliant legal mind to shape American society well into the End Times. But, if Trump doesn’t go for that, vice president in a Trump administration could be a really plum job –  even more important than being vice president in the George W. Bush administration. And how sweet would it be for Cruz to return to Washington in 2017 as President of the Senate.

And, for what it’s worth, a Trump-Cruz ticket would be Sean Hannity’s dream come true.

So feh on Kasich, the spoiler whose only real claim to the nomination is that he might actually prove electable in the fall.

What a loser.

From Matt Bai at Yahoo! Politics caught up with Kasich yesterday in Pennsylvania.

“I have a unique opportunity, because we’re now gaining momentum,” Kasich told me, shrugging off the obstacles. “What would you rather have, momentum in the first quarter or momentum in the fourth? Cruz didn’t win anything last night. I did.

“And you know what? People across the country are celebrating that victory in Ohio. Because they believe it sends a message that somebody who has a record, somebody who can bring us together — that there’s hope for that yet.

“I don’t see that anybody is going to have enough delegates,” Kasich told me. “And then you have a convention. I mean, why are people hyperventilating about that?”

Kasich’s plan, in other words, is to keep Trump from amassing the 1,237 delegates he needs, and then to effectively declare a reset at the convention. His campaign added a team of serious party insiders this week — among them the superlobbyist Vin Weber and the longtime strategist Charlie Black — to begin preparing for a delegate war.

But as Kasich well knows, the “hyperventilation” in some circles comes from imagining what will happen if Republican operatives try to overturn the will of their own voters. And this is why Kasich needs to do more than simply keep Trump under the magic number; he also needs to win a bunch of states that aren’t his own between now and early June.

In the end, an establishment-led challenge will be viable — or at least something less than suicidal — only if the leaders of various delegations can plausibly make the case that Kasich was the party’s strongest candidate by the time the primaries ended.

If nothing else, there’s little question that he’s now the most electable of the bunch. I asked him if it felt odd, despite his sharply conservative record and evangelical fervor, to have become the Republican Democrats like best.

“I have always been able to attract the independent and conservative Democrats,” Kasich told me as the car came to a stop. “When their party’s turned hard left and they feel left behind, we’ve always had an ability to get those votes.”

Aside from electability, Kasich’s calling card is his governing experience, in Washington and Ohio, which dwarfs that of either Cruz or Trump. But, at least so far this year, that preparation is tallied on the negative side of the ledger.

Also, unlike Cruz, Kasich was never an apologist for Trump.

So, what would get Kasich out of the race?

Money, or lack thereof. That’s the surest path, accompanied by doing a lot of losing.

Or, a devastating nickname.

So far, Trump has a not bestowed one on Kasich that perfectly encapsulates his  essential weakness, his fatal flaw.

But, I’m sure his time will come.

In the meantime, Kasich needs to finish ahead of Cruz in places like Wisconsin and New York and Pennsylvania  and Connecticut, to demonstrate that it is not he who is spoiling things.

Cruz wasn’t out campaigning yesterday, but his campaign did release an illuminating statement “regarding President Obama’s decision to nominate Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Merrick Garland is exactly the type of Supreme Court nominee you get when you make deals in Washington D.C. A so-called ‘moderate’ Democrat nominee is precisely the kind of deal that Donald Trump has told us he would make – someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Make no mistake, if Garland were confirmed, he would side predictably with President Obama on critical issues such as undermining the Second Amendment, legalizing partial-birth abortion, and propping up overreaching bureaucratic agencies like the EPA and the IRS. We cannot afford to lose the Supreme Court for generations to come by nominating or confirming someone that a dealmaker like Donald Trump would support. Washington dealmakers cannot be trusted with such crucial lifetime appointments. 

I proudly stand with my Republican colleagues in our shared belief – our advice and consent – that we should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office. The People will decide. I commend Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley for holding the line and ensuring that We the People get to exercise our authority to decide the direction of the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights.

I must admit that my paramount fear about a Trump presidency is not that he would recklessly name a widely-respected centrist jurist to the Supreme Court. But it cuts to the core of Cruz’s critique of Trump, which is first and foremost that the intemperate Trump is too moderate.

Meanwhile, according to this week’s Gallup Insiders’ Briefing, through all the tumult since Trump announced last June, his high standing with Republican voters is undisturbed, but, among the broader public, he is even more unpopular than Hillary Clinton.

Some excerpts:

Trump is not well-liked by Americans, and has become less so over time. He is less well-liked than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.
His national image started out as 32% favorable/56% unfavorable in July.  As his familiarity has inched up, all of this increased recognition has gone to the negative side of the ledger.  From July to present, his favorable is down by 3 points, his unfavorable up by 8 points. He is now at a -35 net favorable (29%/64%).
Trump was best liked in late August and early September, when his favorable was slightly above average at 38%. Trump’s most negative image came for the week ending March 5, with 28% favorable, roughly where he is today. On average since July, 33% of Americans have held a favorable opinion of Trump while 58% have been unfavorable. 
In contrast to what national adults think about Trump, rank and file Republicans generally like him.  
Trump’s image has averaged 57% favorable/36% unfavorable among Republicans since July. After Trump’s image dipped earlier this month, it has improved and is now remarkably close to his overall average, with 59% of Republicans holding a favorable view of him and 36% an unfavorable view.  Republicans’ net favorable views of Trump have ranged from a low of +5 in late February/early March to as high as +33 in September.
  Among the “Non-Trump” Candidates, Kasich Now Best Liked
Of the two Republican candidates who remain standing in Trump’s considerable shadow, John Kasich now enjoys the highest net favorable rating among Republicans and Republican leaners nationwide. His +33 net favorable rating as of Tuesday compares with +17 for Ted Cruz (and +23 for Trump). Before suspending his campaign Tuesday night, Marco Rubio had plunged to an all-time low of zero in net favorability with Republicans nationally. Kasich has also demonstrated impressive momentum, managing a fairly steady three month climb from his all-time low of +2 in late December. Kasich has also become better known, with his familiarity among Republicans climbing about 20 percentage points.
Over the same period Cruz’s favorability rating nosedived, similar to Rubio’s. However, before the March 15 primaries Cruz managed a slight recovery from his recent nadir.  Where Kasich and Cruz go from here remains to be seen, but, combined with the results of the March 15 elections, their images suggest that they may have enough GOP goodwill to continue in the hopes of achieving something at a possible brokered convention.
I spoke yesterday with Frank Newport, Gallup editor-in-chief, who talked about their findings.
Right now, among Republicans, Trump has a better image than Cruz, but by just a few points. Both candidates have liabilities with Republicans, more than third of Republicans are unfavorable about both.
Neither one of them has an image advantage at the moment.

Kasich’s a little better liked than either of them, but even a lot of Republicans don’t know a lot about Kasich.  About 30 percent of Republicans really don’t know who  he is.

This is the first time in our data (for the favorable/unfavorable question, beginning in 1992)  we’ve had two candidates, possible front-runners, who among the general population have over 50 percent unfavorable ratings – that would be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – and of those two, Trump is more unpopular than Hillary.

He clearly has major image problems with the electorate as whole. This is unusual to have a candidate at this stage who is this deeply disliked.

Hillary Clinton – you know we’ve been tracking her for 25 years, she is very labile. When she’s not running for president, she is in the favorable, plus side. She has the potential to spring back.

But for now, Newport said of the prospect of a Clinton-Trump race, “it raises the specter – kind of a James Bond term – of a third-party candidate.”


For Ted Cruz, it’s one step forward and two steps back

Good morning Austin:

Ted Cruz’s election night routine is to come on stage with a big grin and say, “God bless” whichever state he just won or surpassed expectations in.

Last night, at his campaign watch event at Houston’s Hyatt Regency, there was no state for Cruz to invoke God’s blessing on.

For a candidate who has been promoted by key supporters as God’s anointed candidate, the question today is why God has forsaken him, especially just as he would assume the mantle as the only man who can fulfill the holy mission of standing in the gap and stopping the Republican Party from nominating Donald Trump – Donald Trump ! –  for president of the United States.

Cruz came very close in Missouri, which ended in a virtual dead heat, but it appears he lost to Trump though a recount is possible. But, if that loss stands, Cruz went winless in five states Tuesday, undermining his momentum heading into what now promises to be a long slog to try to deprive Trump of the 1,234 delegates he needs to secure the nomination in Cleveland in July.


New York Times
New York Times

Without a Missouri win, it appears that Cruz picked up only 34 delegates last night, increasing his total from 376 to 420. He went from trailing Trump by fewer than 100 delegates to lagging nearly 250 delegates behind.

According to an AP analysis, Cruz would need to win 75 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination.

NBC put the new delegate tally  at 656 delegates for Trump, 408 for Cruz, 172 for Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race last night, and 138 for Kasich, and calculated that Trump could get to the requisite 1,237 delegates without having to crack 50 percent in any of the remaining contests.

The stark reality for Cruz is that, with yesterday’s primaries in Florida and North Carolina, every state of the Old Confederacy has now voted and Ted Cruz – who was depending on the South to be the cornerstone of his strategy – has won exactly one of those states, his home state of Texas.

Cruz has done better in the South of late. He finished a strong second in North Carolina, just as he had in Louisiana. According to the CNN exit poll, Cruz fought Trump to a draw with the 68 percent of the North Carolina GOP electorate who identify as evangelical Christians, but his strategy depended on evangelical voters being his go-to constituency.

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Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said last night that, one-on-one, Cruz can thrash Trump the rest of the way, especially in the 18 of 22 upcoming contests where Democratic crossover voting is not allowed, and clinch the nomination before Cleveland, or short of that, triumph in a contested convention.

But, in a bit of whack-a-mole, even as Trump helped Cruz by knocking Rubio out of the race – albeit at the huge cost to Cruz of Trump picking up Florida’s 99 delegates – up pops Kasich who defeated Trump in his home state.

While Roe contends that that’s it for Kasich – he just peaked and has nowhere to go – Kasich’s victory continues to deprive Cruz of his clean shot at Trump and gives Republicans who despair at the prospect of a Trump nomination but disdain or even despise Cruz, with an alternative.

On Wednesday on MSBC’s Morning Joe, Carly Fiorina, who has emerged in recent days as Cruz’s top surrogate, said that Kasich, fresh off his victory, doesn’t have a path to the nomination and ought to quit the race and leave it to Cruz.

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“Every day John Kasich remains in the race, it benefits Donald Trump,” said Cruz, saying that a candidate without a path to victory ought to make way for a candidate with one.

Not gonna happen.

It will be up to Kasich in the next few days to put some meat on the bones of his game plan, and up to the Cruz campaign  to effectively make the case that Kasich’s best day is behind him, and to better establish that Cruz is truly the sole locus of anti-Trump sentiment.

But Trump is heavy favorite to win Arizona’s winner-take-all primary on Tuesday, which would more than offset a loss in Utah, which also votes Tuesday.

Trump said he won’t be participating at Monday’s Fox debate in Salt Lake City, and Kasich consultant John Weaver tweeted, “No debate in SLC Monday due to Trump backing out.” Which leaves Cruz, but I’m not sure an evening alone on stage is what he needs or desires or Fox wants.

The big thing going for Cruz -and Kasich – remains Trump, and the enormous doubts that swirl around his candidacy. But, increasingly, their fate depends on Trump doing himself in, and, try as Trump might, week after week, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

But it appears that Trump will keep trying.

Tuesday night, it was Trump, petulant and ungracious in victory, and on Wednesday on Morning Joe, breathtakingly imperious.

Asked who he consults with to be sure he is prepared to be president on Day One, Trump, on the phone, said, “I am speaking with myself because I have a very good brain. I know what I’m doing.”

“My primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”

Alrighty then.





Trump: `You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

Good day Austin:

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 10.02.51 PM

The 2016 Republican presidential campaign continues to defy imagination. The script is simply too outlandish to be credible. I am not complaining. Just noting.

The campaign vaulted into a new, perilous orbit Friday with the Trump rally-cum-melee in Chicago, which seemed like a dress rehearsal for a revival of Chicago 1968 in Cleveland 2016. As I recall, Lake Cuyahoga is, or was, flammable.

What was missing from the Chicago rally was Trump himself, because he canceled the show when, he said, it became apparent that a considerable portion of the huge crowd in Chicago were people who had come to protest his candidacy, not to celebrate it, and that it had the makings of a very bad scene.

But, Trump being Trump, he phoned in to MSNBC  to chime in on Chris Matthews’ dumbstruck, literally blow-by-blow account of the menacing post-rally street scene. (Trump called the other cable networks as well, but I was fixated on MSBNC”s obsessive coverage.)

And so we had the spectacle of Trump – even before his election with, it seems, Big Brother’s ability to be the ubiquitous, inescapable voice in  our national head – providing color commentary on a scene very much of his own making, explaining to Matthews how much credit he – Trump – was getting for the prudence of his decision to cancel the rally, and, this being MSNBC, offering something like a sympathetic take on some of the protesters, suggesting, for example, that some black folks angry with him might be angry because of high unemployment in their community, and, thus, might be brothers-in-despair with his angry flock.

But, after a good night’s sleep, Trump thought better of that note of conciliation.

Or perhaps the man charging the stage at his first appearance Saturday in Dayton, leading to a dramatic Secret Service response, knocked him into a different frame of mind.

Or maybe, even more probably, this was simply, all in the script.

I have thought for some time that the best way to view Trump and his candidacy is through the lens of his membership in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 6.01.26 AM

He is the kayfabe candidate. (From Wikipedia: In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature.)

And Chicago 2016 was a kayfabe Chicago 1968.

Trump, guided by his gut and his showman’s touch, has, every step of the way, made bold plays of his most outrageous rhetoric and actions when he needs them, to great effect. Running behind John Kasich in Ohio, and not all that far ahead of Cruz and Kasich in Illinois, it appears to me he staged the battle of Chicago to give his campaign a timely jolt.

“It was all a made for TV protest,” said Joe Scarborough on Morning joe this morning.

As Scarborough wrote in the Washington Post today:

Friday’s freak show was as prepackaged as an rerun of “Celebrity Apprentice.” The only difference was that Donald Trump delivered his lines on the phone from a hotel room in the Windy City instead of on the set of his made-for-TV boardroom.

It was all a scam.

Has anyone noticed that Trump’s campaign now regularly stages media events designed to eclipse any negative coverage that predictably follows Republican debates?

The February 25th debate in Houston where Marco Rubio delivered the campaign’s most withering critique of Trump was followed the next morning with Chris Christie’s headline-grabbing endorsement. That Friday press conference consumed all political coverage throughout the weekend and limited any fallout from the Fox debate to a hardy band of Trump deniers on Twitter.

Then last Thursday, Rubio delivered the debate performance of his life in Miami. But with Florida and Ohio five days away, the Trump campaign took no chances. They leaked the news of Ben Carson’s coming endorsement before the debate even began and held another Friday morning press conference to showcase it. But Carson was just the warm-up act.

When news broke early Friday night that the Chicago rally had been cancelled because of safety fears, you didn’t need to be a programming genius to predict what would be jamming America’s airwaves for the rest of the night. And for the next four hours, the candidate who is promising to weaken libel laws spoke on cable news channels about how his First Amendment rights were being violated. He was doing all of this while reaching a far larger audience than he could have ever done while actually speaking at a rally.

As has been the case throughout the entire 2016 cycle, Trump thrives on the political chaos that he helps creates. If it is true that opportunity and chaos are the same word in Mandarin, Trump should stamp that word on a poster and sell it at his next scheduled event. For the Manhattan billionaire, manufactured chaos is just as profitable for his brand as Paris Hilton’s sex tape was for hers.

 But now important voices warn us that America is on the brink of chaos despite the fact that Friday’s spectacle in Chicago was more reality show than political revolt.The rally was cancelled, we were told, because law enforcement officials consulted with the campaign and concluded that scrubbing the event was in the best interest of public safety. One problem: The Chicago Police Department said that never actually happened.

And if you find that curious, perhaps you will find it even more interesting that a political campaign whose security has been so stifling as to draw angry comparisons to fascist regimes would plan a key rally for Trump in the middle of a racially diverse urban campus. The fact that that campus sits in the middle of a city that is so Democratic that it has not elected a Republican mayor since before Franklin Roosevelt was sworn in as president makes the venue’s selection even more bizarre.

Following the rally’s cancellation, Trump supporters expressed surprise at the number of protesters that were filling the lines and streaming into the event on a campus that is 25 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Asian and 8 percent black. William Daley, the son of former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, did not share that surprise. “Whoever picked that location knew what they were doing as far as poking that sleeping dog there,” Daley suggested to the New York Times that the venue was staged for the purpose of provoking protests that would energize Trump’s own supporters.

From Daley in the New York Times:

William M. Daley, a scion of the storied Daley political clan of Illinois, said he was not surprised that protests against Donald J. Trump before his Chicago rally got so out of hand that Mr. Trump canceled it before even taking the stage.

And Mr. Daley wondered why the venue was selected in the first place.

Mr. Daley, a former chief of staff to President Obama and a son of the late Richard J. Daley, the longtime mayor of Chicago, pointed out in an interview on Saturday that the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the rally was to be held, has one of the most diverse student bodies of any university in the country.

It has 17,000 undergraduate students, many of whom come from low-income families. Roughly a quarter are Hispanic, 8 percent are black and 25 percent are Asian. Mr. Daley’s father, who was mayor during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that was marred by violence, had championed the creation of the campus.

Mr. Daley wondered aloud whether the Trump campaign had picked the site to provoke a reaction. “Whoever picked that location knew what they were doing as far as poking that sleeping dog there,” Mr. Daley said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not respond to questions about Mr. Daley’s thoughts on the location. It was not the first school that Mr. Trump has chosen for a rally; he has held others at colleges and universities over many months.

But Chicago has a history of racial clashes and protests, Mr. Daley pointed out. There has been deep distrust between black residents and the police after a video released last year showed Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, being shot 16 times by a police officer.

If anything, Mr. Daley said, it should have occurred to Mr. Trump’s campaign that the venue could be a crucible for problems.

But, as Scarborough argues persuasively, Trump’s campaign chose the venue precisely because “it could be a crucible for problems” that would rev up his base on the eve a critical series of primaries:

It would also land Trump on cable news channels throughout the night, talking nonstop over endless loops of skirmishes that paled in comparison to rowdy celebrations that often explode in American cities after sports championships. Yet everyone got sucked into the political sideshow. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio’s brief appearances on TV during the rolling cable news coverage only made their own candidacies seem smaller under the glare of Donald’s Big Tent Show.

New York Times

(chart from the New York Times)
And so, at rallies in Dayton, Cleveland and Kansas City Saturday, Trump doubled-down on presenting his campaign and his rallies as having been victimized by an aggressive assault of professional agitators from Move On, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and maybe even ISIS, and that they needed to fight back.
(Note that in Cleveland, Trump was introduced by a black minister from Cleveland Heights.)
But like a comic book super villain, Trump has a tendency to talk a little too much, and to tease his antagonists in mischievous and revealing ways.
So here he was at the Kansas City rally in what to me was the most bizarre moment of all, reading aloud the lyrics to to the 1969 Al Wilson hit, The Snake – number 4 on the all-time Top 500 Northern Soul hits.
Here’s Trump in all his enigmatic glory, setting it up.
So here’s something, a friend of mine who’s very rich, and I’ve done it one time before, and I read it and I think it’s incredible, done by Al Wilson, years ago, and think in terms of terror and terrorism, because we’ve got to do something to stop the problem folks.
We’re going to build up our military, and we are going to be strong, so powerful, that nobody’s going to mess with us folks. Nobody. Nobody.
So here’s a little poem, I guess it was put in the form of a song, but a friend of mine who’s really successful, said,”you’ve got to read it, you’ve got to read it to the folks in Kansas City, you’ve got to read it,” and I said “I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”
I did it once or twice, but I’ll do it, I love it, but think of this in terms of terror and terrorists, because we negotiate, we bargain, sometimes you can’t bargain so well, you have to show strength, you have to show strength.
So this is called The Snake.
On her way to work one morning
Down the path along side the lake
A tender hearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
“Poor thing,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”
“Take me in tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake
She wrapped him up all cozy in a comforter of silk
And laid him by her fireside with some honey and some milk
She hurried home from work that night and soon as she arrived
She found that pretty snake she’d taken to had been revived
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake
She clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried
“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”
She stroked his pretty skin again and kissed and held him tight
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake
“I saved you,” cried the woman
“And you’ve bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”
“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in
“Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in, tender woman,” sighed the snake
(Writer: ROBERT S. KELLY, DARIAN MORGAN Copyright: Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group)

Yeah. Terrorism.  Right.

But, of course, it was hard to hear Trump delivering The Snake in the midst of what was going on all around him without thinking that he’s winking at us, that that the silly woman is  the Republican Party, and that he is the wily, poisonous snake.

Here was Trump Sunday on Meet the Press, in which he 1) says his campaign is considering paying the legal expenses of the 78-year-old man who sucker punched a black protester as he was being led out by police at a rally last Wednesday in Fayetteville, and afterward said that next time, he might have to kill him, and 2) says that the man who charged the stage may have been associated with ISIS, an assertion based on an Internet hoax, but, well, he read it on the Internet, so there you have it.

It’s long, but very revealing. Skim as you please.


I’ve got to start with what’s been happening over the last 48 to 72 hours. Do you accept any responsibility whatsoever for the escalated tension that takes place at your rallies?


Well, I think if anything, a lot of people have praised me for canceling the one rally. We had 25,000 people coming; we got a lot of them not to come through notice. And the rest of them, we canceled because we had disrupters out there, that they weren’t really protesters, they were disrupters. They were like professionals.

They had Bernie Sanders signs all over the place, and they were made by Bernie Sanders people. I mean, these were professionally-made signs. And rather than going, which I could’ve done pretty easily, I would have gone, I would have made a speech, you would have had an awfully big riot, and a lot of people would have been hurt. And I’ve been given a lot of credit for not going. And everybody dispersed, and nobody was injured or hurt or beyond that.


Okay. But, you know, earlier in the week, and look, earlier in the week, there was an incident between a supporter of yours and a protester. And I want to play a piece of sound from a couple weeks ago from you and ask you about it on the other side.



Here’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.



Mr. Trump, 17 days later, that actually happened. One of your supporters decided to sucker punch a protester. Do you accept any responsibility for creating this atmosphere?


I don’t accept responsibility, I do not condone violence in any shape. And I will tell you from what I saw, the young man stuck his finger up in the air, and the other man sort of just had it. But I still, I don’t condone violence. As far as my previous statement, we had somebody that was punching and vicious and gone crazy, a disrupter, they’re not protesters. I’m telling you, they’re disrupters, they’re professionals.

And he went absolutely wild punching, and frankly, when they punch, it’s okay. When my people punch back because they have to out of self defense, everybody says, “Oh, isn’t that terrible?” The fact is, that we have very peaceful rallies. I’ve had many, many rallies. I have 25,000, 30,000 people coming to rallies.

And out of that, we have very, very little problem. We haven’t had a real injury or anything. And then Chicago I canceled, and I did a great thing by canceling it, because who needs the problems, who needs people getting hurt? I didn’t want that.


But when you say–


So instead of getting–


But Mr. Trump, when you say, you know, “If you see somebody getting to ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. Seriously, just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I’ll pay for their legal fees.” How is that not condoning what this older gentleman did to this protester?


Well, let me explain what happened. We were told just as I was going up on the stage, I was told by the secret service, “Sir, there’s a person or two people in the audience that have tomatoes. They are going to throw them at you, we think. If they do throw them, you have to be prepared.”

Now, if you get hit in the face with a tomato, let me tell you, with somebody with a strong arm, at least, let me tell you, it can be very damaging. Not good. So I was told people were in the audience, two people, with tomatoes, and they’re going to throw them at me. What I did is I said, “By the way, if you see anybody with tomatoes, right at the beginning, you’ve got to stop them. Do whatever you want to do.” I have no objection to what I said. I would say it again. People are there doing harm, you have to go and you have to use equal force.


Do you plan – I’m just curious–


It’s not fair. It’s a one-way street.


I’m just curious, do you plan on paying for the legal fees of this older gentleman in North Carolina who sucker punched the protester?


Well, I’m not aware. I will say this. I do want to see what that young man was doing. Because he was very taunting. He was very loud, very disruptive. And from what I understand, he was sticking a certain finger up in the air. And that is a terrible thing to do in front of somebody that frankly wants to see America made great again. And so we’ll see.


And that condones —


I’m going to take a look at it. But I want to see what that man was doing.


And that condones a sucker punch though?


No, as I told you before, nothing condones. But I want to see. The man got carried away, he was 78 years old, he obviously loves his country, and maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country. I want to see the full tape. But I don’t condone violence.


So you might pay for his legal fees?


Well, I’m going to look at it. I’m going to see, you know, what was behind this because it was a strange event. But from what I heard, there was a lot of taunting and a certain finger was placed in the air. Not nice. Again, I don’t condone the violence. I don’t condone what he did. But you know what, not nice for the other side either.


It’s possible you could help him with legal fees, if this man needs it?


sI’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes.


Okay. I want to ask you about the moment yesterday in Dayton. Looked like a scary moment, being rushed the stage. I want to ask you. You said it was — you praised the secret service, but then you said the man had ties to ISIS, that turned out to be a hoax. Did you go over the top there on that? Where did you get that–


No, no, no, no. He was, if you look on the internet, if you look at clips —


Well, it turned out to be a hoax.


–He was waving an American flag.


Well, it turned out to be a hoax. Somebody made that up, sir.


Excuse me. He had talk. Well, I don’t know what they made up. All I can do is play what’s there. He was walking, dragging the American flag on the ground. Is that a correct statement? Was that a hoax too? Was he dragging the flag on the ground?


Well, that I don’t–


And just dragging it along?


I’m talking about the ISIS tweet.


Well, you didn’t see the clip.


We’re playing the clip right now.


No, excuse me, you didn’t see the clip. He was playing Arabic music, he was dragging the flag along the ground, and he had internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS. So I don’t know if he was or not. But all we did was put out what he had on his internet. He’s dragging the flag, the American flag, which I respect obviously more than you.

He was dragging the American flag on the ground like it was a piece of garbage, okay? I don’t like that. And a lot of people don’t like that. And he also had chatter about ISIS, or with ISIS. And you take a look at it. I mean, people are looking at it very seriously now. But you have to check it before you ask the question.


Well, I– no, we have checked it. That’s my point, sir. There’s no ties to ISIS for this man. No law enforcement official. And this video that you linked to appear to be a hoax.


Okay, look, well, was it a hoax that he’s dragging the flag? Was that him? It looked like the same man to me. He was dragging a flag along the ground and he was playing a certain type of music. And supposedly, there was chatter about ISIS. Now, I don’t know. What do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the internet. And I don’t like to see a man dragging the American flag along the ground in a mocking fashion.


Alright, Marco Rubio said some pretty tough things about you yesterday, I want you to play it and get you to react to it on the other side.



He doesn’t want to say anything to his supporters, because he doesn’t want to turn them off. Because he understands that the reason why they’re voting for him is because he has tapped into this anger. When the person you’re supporting for president is going around saying things like, “Go ahead and slap them around, I’ll pay your legal fees,” what do you think is going to happen next? Someone’s going to actually literally believe it and take it upon themselves.



Is Marco Rubio right? Are you afraid to tell your supporters to back off?


Look, first of all, Marco Rubio has the worst voting record in the United States Senate in many, many years. He doesn’t even show up to vote. He’s defrauded the people of Florida. He won’t even show up to vote. And I want to tell you, for him to be talking like that is absolutely a shame.

I have great support, I have great supporters, far greater than you understand. The fact is, if you look at the polls going into the primaries, if you look, and the caucuses, we’re up 65 and 70 percent. Some are up 102 percent.. Millions and millions of people are energized. They’re going in and voting. And by the way, that’s not for Marco Rubio and it’s not for lying Ted Cruz. That’s for Trump. I mean, they’re there, they’re voting for Trump because they want to see America made great again.


But I want–


Ted Cruz is big trouble.


I understand that. But I want to button this up a little bit, because this violence on the campaign trail, it’s got a lot of people concerned. And I guess why won’t you go up on stage and ratchet it back? I mean, you’ve used rhetoric about Islam hates us, surveillance of certain mosques, calling Mexican immigrants racists. What did you expect? A lot of people say you’re reaping what you sow here, that the reason there’s so much tension at your rallies is you’ve used such divisive rhetoric. Do you have any regrets?


The reason there’s tension at my rallies is that these people are sick and tired of this country being run by incompetent people that don’t know what they’re doing on trade deals, where our jobs are being ripped out of our country, Chuck. They’re being ripped out. On ISIS, where we can’t even beat ISIS with our military. Our military’s not being taken care of, we can’t even beat ISIS.

On our vets, who are being treated horribly. Frankly, they’re being treated worse than illegal immigrants. The people are angry at that. They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just a messenger. The people are angry about the fact that for 12 years, the workers in this country haven’t had a pay increase, Chuck. In 12 years, they haven’t had an effective pay increase.


So you will not–


And that’s what they’re angry about.


You will not call for ratcheting back the rhetoric? You will not call for it?


Well, I haven’t said anything that– I’m just expressing my opinion. What have I said that’s wrong? I mean, I talk about illegal immigration, I talk about building a wall, I say Mexico’s going to pay for the wall, which they will. And all of these things. I mean, what have I said that’s wrong? You tell me. The fact is, they’re really upset with the way our country is being run. It’s a disgrace.


I will leave it there. Mr. Trump, stay safe on the trail, and we’ll watch you Tuesday.


Thank you.


Thank you, sir.


Thank you.

So what are Trump’s rivals to do?

Here was a clearly shaken Marco Rubio, explaining what a dangerous game he thinks Trump is playing, and how it’s “getting harder every day” to stick to his pledge to support Trump if he is the nominee.

And here was Rubio on ABC This Week Sunday. Again, it’s long, but very instructive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, we looked at those clips of you yesterday. You seemed honestly shaken by what you’ve seen this weekend. How did we get this far?

RUBIO: I think we all need to look at ourselves for a moment and ask ourselves — I think that includes the media, George, to be honest. I mean if you think about Donald Trump says these outrageous and offensive things, his speeches get covered live by cable network, wall to wall. I mean, and I know it’s good for ratings to have him on people’s show, I know he’s good for ratings to cover these speeches because of what he might say, but I think the media’s responsible for some of this.

But I think ultimately the responsibility bears on — look, those protesters in Chicago? A lot of them I believe were paid and organized; that wasn’t some organic thing. Put that aside —


RUBIO: — for a moment. You have a — you know, I think you saw, I think you saw all these different elements involved. There’s a professional industry of protest in Chicago, OK? That doesn’t — and they don’t have the right to disrupt an event and threaten violence so it doesn’t occur.

But put that aside for a moment. It’s not just the thing in Chicago. Donald Trump on a regular basis incites his crowd. He tells them oh, beat the guy up and I’ll pay your legal fees. You have a guy who sucker punches a man at one of his events, is arrested, and upon release says the next time we’re going to kill him. No condemnation.

You have his campaign manager is accused here in Florida of assaulting a female reporter. Again, no condemnation or sense of responsibility.

Last night he repeats this ridiculous story about an American general that dipped bullets in pig’s blood and shot a bunch of prisoners who were Muslim. Again, it’s like — goes off people’s backs because it’s just, we’ve become out to this outrage.

There are people out there that are unbalanced. There are people out there that listen to this stuff and we don’t know how they’re going to react. And he keeps putting this stuff out there. We’re going to have an ugly scene here; we already have seen these ugly scenes.

And I think the other point I would make is how we’ve now reached the point in this country where our political discourse looks like the comments section of a blog where people can just say whatever they want about anyone without any rules of civility, no norms that govern how we interact with one another. If we’ve reached the point where we can’t debate the proper tax rate or health care policy, our differences on foreign policy, what the government’s role should be in education, without resorting to “you’re a bad person”, “you’re an evil person”, you know, “I can say or do anything I want because I’m angry”, we’re going to our lose our republic. And we’re most certainly going to lose our ability to solve problems.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are strong words, “lose our republic”. If that is indeed the case, isn’t it more important to stand p to this violence than to stand by your pledge to support the nominee even if it’s Donald Trump?

RUBIO: More important to do so?

STEPHANOPOULOS: To stand up to that violence?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Look, I mean, I think — well, absolutely we’ve got to stand up to it. My point is — I don’t know if your question is do I stick by the pledge or not stick by the pledge. What I said yesterday is, look, I’ll be honest with you, it’s getting harder every day. It really is. Because while I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States, I do not, I want her to be defeated, I think we’re having a battle to define conservatism in the Republican Party. I do not want the Republican Party or the conservative movement to be defined by what I’m seeing out of Donald Trump’s campaign.

I know people are angry. I know people are frustrated. But leadership is not about making people even angrier and even more frustrated and asking them to give you power so you can go after another group that you want to blame for people’s anger and frustration.

Real leadership is recognizing people are angry, recognizing people are frustrated, and then showing them a way forward that gives them hope and a belief that we can make things better. That’s real leadership.

That’s not what we’re getting from the frontrunner. This is a — I don’t know how else to describe this election at this point but, you know, other than it’s an important one from a generational perspective, and yet it’s turned into a real circus. And now it’s turned into something even worse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you hope to be the nominee but the latest polls show you pretty far behind in Florida right now. Can you really imagine campaigning for Donald Trump this fall if he’s the nominee?

RUBIO: Well, first, let me just tell you, on Wednesday morning, some pollsters somewhere are going to have explain why they’re so wrong, not just about Florida but multiple different places. I mean —

STEPHANOPOULOS: Been wrong before, that’s for sure.

RUBIO: — these polls, and everybody — what?

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve been wrong before, that’s for sure.

RUBIO: They’ve been wrong before. Well, I mean, I’m just telling you, someone’s wrong here because — and some — and again these polls do reflect how voters vote because they see them and they wake up and say oh, well, he has no chance. But I can just tell you, they’ve been really wrong and I think in Florida especially, which is a closed primary. I think — but that being said, we’re going to win in Florida. You’re asking me about that. I think that’s a question beyond — I’m one vote in the state of Florida. I think the more important question is how about the millions and millions of other people around the country who have already said if Donald Trump is the nominee, they’re just not voting? They just won’t vote? No Republican can win with that many people locked in saying I’m not going to vote for our nominee.

He will lose. If Donald Trump is our nominee, he will lose. He will lose to Hillary Clinton. She will be elected. We’ll have four more years like the last eight. That will be the consequence of him being the nomin — if we nominate him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you campaign for him?

RUBIO: Well, again, as I said, I’m not going to change my position today about supporting the nominee because I still believe that Donald Trump will not be the nominee. Despite all this noise that’s out there, he needs 60 percent of the delegates from this point forward in order to be the nominee. Ted Cruz by the way needs 75 percent of the remaining delegates to be the nominee. That’s the real math. I at the end of the day do not believe that Donald Trump will be our nominee and I’m going to do everything possible to keep that from happening and to give the party a choice in me, someone that people aren’t going to have to be asked that question about.

If I’m our nominee, no one’s going to be asked will you support the nominee as the president? We’ll unite the party, we’ll grow it, and we’ll win.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sounds like you’re saying we’re going to see you in Cleveland. OK, Senator, thanks for joining us this morning.

RUBIO: Thanks, George.

Here was, I think, the critical line:

There are people out there that are unbalanced. There are people out there that listen to this stuff and we don’t know how they’re going to react. And he keeps putting this stuff out there. We’re going to have an ugly scene here; we already have seen these ugly scenes.

On Sunday, Trump, at a rally in Bloomington, Ill., said, “You know how many people have been injured at our shows? Nobody.”
I wrote a story in Sunday’s paper about how Trump was akin to a familiar figure in Southern politics — a populist demagogue in the tradition of Louisiana’s Huey Long, Alabama’s George Wallace and Texas’ W. Lee “Pass the Biscuits Pappy” O’Daniel, ideologically flexible strongmen with the common touch and the flair of a showman.
The truly sobering cautionary note here is that Huey Long was assassinated and Wallace was crippled by an attempted assassination.
The very real danger, is, as Rubio suggested, that there are a lot of Arthur Bremers, and John Hinckleys and Travis Bickles out there who may not be getting the winking kayfabe of it all.

And what was Ted Cruz’s take on all this?

Here he was on Meet the Press:


Let me start with the tone of the campaign. And you have addressed this a couple of times in specifically having to do with Donald Trump’s rallies.. Let me play two different explanations you’ve given to this, one from the debate and one from Friday. Here it is.



We’ve seen for seven years a president who believes he’s above the law, who behaves like an emperor. And when you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse.



Is Donald Trump the one that’s responsible for the tone of his rallies and Donald Trump alone?


Well, let’s be clear. Listen, the protesters have no right to engage in violence. They have no right to threaten violence. And these protesters, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Bernie Sanders protestors who are coming in just trying to shout down any speaker, that’s not free speech. The First Amendment gives you a right to speak, but it doesn’t give you a right to silence others.

So the protestors are behaving abusively and wrong. But, at the end of the day in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. And it is not beneficial when you have a presidential candidate like Donald Trump telling his supporters, “Punch that guy in the face.”


What would you advise Donald Trump to do because this is reflecting on the Republican party as a whole, or it could, considering he’s currently the frontrunner?


Listen, I think every candidate ought to aspire towards civility, towards decency, towards bringing us together. I don’t think we should be using angry and hateful rhetoric. I don’t think we should be cursing at people. And I’ll tell you, listen, I’ve been troubled. I mentioned at the debate this week. I’m troubled by the rallies that Donald holds, where he asks all the people there to raise their hand and pledge their support to him.

This is America. We don’t pledge allegiance to a man. We pledge allegiance to a flag. We pledge our support for the Constitution. But that is something that you see kings and queens doing of their subjects. And all of this is part and parcel of the same thing. We need a president who understands he works for the people. Listen, I am running to pledge my support to you, not the other way around. And I hope that all of the candidates reflect that understanding.


I want you to react to something here that President Obama said at a fundraiser, responding to the tone of Donald Trump rallies. Here it is, sir.



And what’s been happening in our politics lately is not an accident. For years, we’ve been told we should be angry about America and that the economy’s a disaster. And that we’re weak. And that compromise is weakness. And that you can ignore science and you could ignore facts and say whatever you want about the president. And feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people and people who aren’t like us.



That’s the president essentially saying, “This has been happening for years,” before most of his term.


You know, Chuck, Barack Obama’s a world class demagogue. That language there is designed to divide us. No, Mr. President, we’re not angry at that. We’re angry at politicians in Washington, including you, who ignore the men and women who elected you. Who have been presiding over our jobs going overseas for seven years.

Who have been cutting deals that are enriching the rich and powerful, the special interests and the big corporations, while working men and women are seeing their wages stagnating. And he talks about immigrants and Muslims. Mr. President, we’re mad at a president who wants to bring in Syrian refugees who may be infiltrated by ISIS. And you’re unwilling to be commander in chief and keep us safe. So don’t engage in attacking the people, like the president did. I’ll tell you, that language is the kind of self-righteous–


All right.


–moralizing from the President that makes people angry.


You think that’s worse than what Donald Trump’s been doing?


To be honest, I think it’s very much the same. They’re both engaging in demagoguery. We need instead a president who wakes up every day working for the hardworking taxpayers. If I’m president, Chuck, my focus is going to be the hardworking taxpayers, bringing back jobs and economic growth.

We’re going to do that by repealing Obamacare, by passing a simple flat tax. By abolishing the IRS, by pulling back the regulations that are killing small businesses.


You know, Chuck, Barack Obama’s a world class demagogue.

Here was Obama at a DNC reception at Gilley’s in  Dallas on Saturday, following his visit to Austin Friday.

But the truth of the matter is America is pretty darn great right now.  (Applause.)  America is making strides right now.  America is better off than it was right now.  The American people should be proud about what we’ve achieved together over the last eight years since the recession hit.  We’re great right now!  (Applause.)   


And what the folks who are running for office should be focused on is how we can make it even better.  Not insults and schoolyard taunts, and manufacturing facts.  (Applause.)  Not divisiveness along the lines of race or faith.  Certainly not violence against other Americans or excluding them.  We’re a better country than that. 


And what’s been happening in our politics lately is not an accident.  For years, we’ve been told we should be angry about America, and that the economy is a disaster, and that we’re weak and that compromise is weakness, and that you can ignore science and you can ignore facts, and say whatever you want about the President, and feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people, and people who aren’t like “us,” and say that the reason that America is in decline is because of “those” people.


That didn’t just happen last week.  That narrative has been promoted now for years.  It didn’t just spring out of nowhere.  And of course, none of it has been true.  It just ignores reality — the reality that America is the most powerful nation on Earth.  The reality that our economy is not only stronger than it was eight years ago, that it’s, right now, the bright spot in the world.  That our diversity is a strength — a great gift — that makes us the envy of every other nation.  (Applause.) 


So the narrative that’s been pushed is false.  Demonstrably false.  And we shouldn’t be surprised then when, in the heat of political season, it starts getting carried away.  But we’ve got to say no to that.  We can have political debates without turning on one another.  We can have political debates without thinking that the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice.  We can support candidates without treating their opponents as unpatriotic, or treasonous, or somehow deliberately trying to weaken America.  That’s not just one candidate who’s been saying that; some of the so-called more responsible candidates, including a gentleman from this state — no, no, you read what he says, it’s not — it’s no more rooted in reality than some of these other statements.  We can point out bad policies without describing them as a “government takeover” or “an assault on freedom.” 


And by the way, when I say this, this is not about “political correctness.”  It’s about not having to explain to our kids why our politics sounds like a schoolyard fight.  We shouldn’t be afraid to take them to rallies, or let them watch debates.  They watch the way we conduct ourselves.  They learn from us.  And we should be teaching them something about this democracy is a vibrant and precious thing.  It’s going to be theirs someday, and we should be teaching them how to disagree without being disagreeable, and how to engage, and how to analyze facts, and how to be honest and truthful, and admit if you make a mistake, and teach them that politics at its best is about a battle of ideas, and resolving our differences without encouraging or resorting to violence. 


And our leaders, those who aspire to be our leaders should be trying to bring us together, and not turning us against one another — (applause) — and speak out against violence, and reject efforts to spread fear or turn us against one another.  (Applause.)  And if they refuse to do that, they don’t deserve our support.  (Applause.)  The best leaders, the leaders who are worthy of our votes, remind us that even in a country as big and diverse and inclusive as ours, what we’ve got in common is far more important than what divides any of us. 


Well, I guess that is some world class demagoguery. But, maybe I haven’t been in Texas long enough, but I still can distinguish that from what Trump’s up to, and has been up to for a long time.

Trump, after all, was the lead birther, denying that Obama was American-born (something that you might think Cruz would be sensitive to), denying that he was legitimately president.

All the other Republican candidates knew that going in, and, from the day Trump announced, promising to build a wall to protect America from Mexican rapists and other criminals, the nature of Trump’s campaign was apparent.

Some candidates – Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, even Carly Fiorina – objected and paid a price. But Cruz was the candidate who defended Trump, who said how much he liked him and how glad he was that he was in the race.

It was a practical tack, but a cynical one. Maybe Cruz, more than the others, appreciated the kayfabe of it all.

Last night, Roger Stone was featured on the excellent Showtime real time documentary of the 2016 race, The Circus, co-created and co-produced by Austin’s own Mark McKinnon.

Stone was introduced as a master of the dark political arts. He was probably Trump’s oldest and closest adviser until the summer, when it was explained, he ran afoul of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and was either cast out of the formal campaign or quit, though, he continues to regularly consult with Trump and look out for his interests.

Stone is also the co-author with Austin’s own Robert Morrow of The Clintons’ War on Women, and the man Morrow credits with his successful strategy to get elected chair of the Travis Country Republican Party, which apparently consisted of keeping his mouth shut.

“If Caligula can elect his horse to the Roman Senate to mock them, I can elect Morrow Chairman of the Travis GOP,” Stone said in a subsequent email.

But I bring up Stone because, while Cruz aspires to be the next Ronald Reagan, and often invokes Reagan’s famous 1964 speech A Time for Choosing, in which he endorsed the lost-cause of Barry Goldwater in the name of higher principle, Cruz’s tactical approach to Trump is way more Nixon than Reagan.

As Stone, who notes on the Circus that he had dinner with Nixon two days before his death, told me over a recent lunch in Austin, “Ted Cruz wants to be Reagan, but he’s Nixon, the poor bastard, he’s Nixon.”


Big Gulp: America can’t look to one NY billionaire to save us from another

Good morning Austin:

Back on May 4, six weeks before Donald Trump came down the escalator and announced his candidacy for president, First Reading asked the question: Who is more populist – Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz?

Bernie, right?

I mean his campaign is all about – all about – wealth and income inequality and breaking up the incredible concentration of American wealth in the hands of a tiny few. He’s so far left in the Democratic Party that he’s not even actually a member of the Democratic Party. At a time when Democrats are afraid of being called “liberal,” he’s proud to call himself a socialist. He’s running against the Koch Brothers and Cruz is a creature of the Kochs.

So, no contest. Right?

But wait, don’t count Cruz out.

If it’s the job of a good populist to upset the apple cart, rile the establishment, rattle the powers-that-be. Cruz has done more of that in first 28 months in office than Sanders has done in his nearly quarter century in the House and Senate. In fact, Sanders the socialist is probably better liked by the Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate than Ted Cruz – probably much better liked.

Also, if Cruz goes the distance, it will be astride an existing grassroots tea party movement, which was born out of the same economic tumult as Occupy Wall Street, but which has proved a far more powerful, important and lasting movement than Occupy.

The tea party, after all, has a controlling interest in the Republican Party in the biggest Republican state in the nation here in Texas. There is nothing comparable anywhere on the left.

But, I concluded:

Even this populist moment, such as it is, is unlikely to deliver a Bernie Sanders-Ted Cruz battle of the populist opposites in the 2016 general election. But, if it somehow happened, it’s not clear to me which outcome Big Business/Corporate America, would find more unsettling.

My guess is there would be a quick clamor for a self-financed independent candidacy by Michael Bloomberg to save America from the masses, and that would make for a most memorable race – a Boston-born Jew vs. a Brooklyn-born Jew vs. the Canadian-born son of a Cuban immigrant. What a country.

Well, since that was written, a far more populist figure – in Trump – entered the race, Sanders prospects have risen and, it would appear, fallen, and there was no “quick clamor” for a Bloomberg candidacy.

But Bloomberg took the possibility of an independent candidacy extremely seriously – even opening a campaign office in Texas (?!) – and only yesterday quieting the non-existent clamor by announcing he was not going to do it because he couldn’t risk helping elect Trump, or throwing the presidential outcome into the House of Representatives.

From his columnThe Risk I will not take –  at Bloomberg View explaining his decision:

I’ve always been drawn to impossible challenges, and none today is greater or more important than ending the partisan war in Washington and making government work for the American people — not lobbyists and campaign donors. Bringing about this change will require electing leaders who are more focused on getting results than winning re-election, who have experience building small businesses and creating jobs, who know how to balance budgets and manage large organizations, who aren’t beholden to special interests — and who are honest with the public at every turn. I’m flattered that some think I could provide this kind of leadership.

But when I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.

In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. The fact is, even if I were to receive the most popular votes and the most electoral votes, victory would be highly unlikely, because most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee. Party loyalists in Congress — not the American people or the Electoral College — would determine the next president.

As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.

I have known Mr. Trump casually for many years, and we have always been on friendly terms. I even agreed to appear on “The Apprentice” — twice. But he has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, appealed to our “better angels.” Trump appeals to our worst impulses.

Threatening to bar foreign Muslims from entering the country is a direct assault on two of the core values that gave rise to our nation: religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. Attacking and promising to deport millions of Mexicans, feigning ignorance of white supremacists, and threatening China and Japan with a trade war are all dangerously wrong, too. These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world. The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk.

Senator Cruz’s pandering on immigration may lack Trump’s rhetorical excess, but it is no less extreme. His refusal to oppose banning foreigners based on their religion may be less bombastic than Trump’s position, but it is no less divisive.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 5.38.03 AM

Here is the map that Bloomberg’s folks drew up for him.  I don’t know. Seems awfully optimistic, with the sworn enemy of guns and the Big Gulp winning in Tennessee and Georgia, and tying Trump in Texas.

But, no matter. He took a clear-eyed look and chose to take a pass.

Here, from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, an alternative map.


Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 7.48.30 AM

From Silver:

(T)his scenario does not have Trump winning all that many votes: only 35.5 percent, a figure that coincides with his low favorability ratings among the general population. But that would nonetheless be enough for Trump to win most swing states if Clinton and Bloomberg split the remainder of the vote. Here are the estimates our model produces for the traditionally most competitive states:

But, what is quite remarkable, per the report by  Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns at the New York Times, is how methodically Bloomberg had set about contemplating a run.

The decision by Mr. Bloomberg, who served three terms as the mayor of New York, ends months of intensive preparation for a candidacy. Convinced that a restive electorate was crying out for nonpartisan, technocratic government, he instructed his closest aides to set up the machinery for a long-shot billion-dollar campaign that would have subjected his image to a scorching political test.

They covertly assembled several dozen strategists and staff members, conducted polling in 22 states, drafted a website, produced television ads and set up campaign offices in Texas and North Carolina, where the process of gathering petitions to put Mr. Bloomberg’s name on the ballot would have begun in days.

Mr. Bloomberg held extensive talks with Michael G. Mullen, the retired admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about forming an independent ticket. Lawyers for Mr. Bloomberg had completed the process of vetting Mr. Mullen, and all that remained was for Mr. Bloomberg to ask formally that Mr. Mullen serve as his running mate.

Torn between his aspiration and a mountain of data showing that the path for an independent campaign aimed at the political center was slim and narrowing, Mr. Bloomberg, 74, ultimately abandoned what would probably have been his last chance to run for the White House.



Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 6.55.03 AM

The choice of Mullen was also the wrong admiral for Texas4Bloomberg.







It’s Trump v. Cruz. And Little Marco? Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rubio?

Good day Austin:


So maybe Marco Rubio did not end up last night lying in the gutter, riddled with bullets uttering his own pathetic epitaph.

But he is now bleeding, staggering toward the Ides of March when Florida votes, propelled only by the fevered hope his home state can nurse his wounds and revive him the way that Cruz’s home state rescued and restored him when he appeared on the ropes coming off third place finishes in South Carolina and Nevada heading into Super Tuesday.

Only Cruz was comfortably ahead in polls going into Texas, while Rubio is uncomfortably behind in polls in Florida nine days out, and reeling toward a say hello to my little friend final shootout that will likely lead to a bad end in Miami.

(note language in Tony Montana’s bitter end. It’s more explicitly vulgar than a Republican debate.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.55.36 AM

As of today, based on yesterday’s results, it appears far more likely that the Republican race is coming down to a mano-a-mano contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz that both Trump and Cruz say is what they want, and that, if anything, the third, odd-man-out, who is most likely to survive the winner-take-all Florida and Ohio primaries on March 15, is Ohio Gov. John Kasich and not Rubio.

It was Cruz’s best night since he won the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, and all the better because it is that much further down the road toward the Republican National Convention in July, and that Cruz finds himself today in a sweeter spot than seemed possible after doing way less well in the South outside Texas on Super Tuesday, way back last week. (It was last week, right?)

From Trump last night (who appeared subdued or, as Mitt Romney put it on Meet the Press this morning, uncharacteristically low energy.):

Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night and personally I’d call for him to drop out of the race. I think it’s time he drop out of the race. I really think so.

I don’t think tonight he can rant and rave, oh he comes in third, he comes in fourth, every time he comes in third of fourth. You’ve got to be able to win and he has not been able to win and I think it’s time that he drops out.

I would love to take on Ted one on one. That would be so much fun. Ted can’t win New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California. I want Ted one-on-one, OK?

This morning on Fox & Friends Sunday repeated that view.

From Cruz last night in Idaho, which is one of four states that vote Tuesday.

If you’re a supporter of Marco Rubio or John Kasich, both good, honorable men, both men I respect, but if you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, then I invite  you to join our team as so may supporters of Marco Rubio did in the state of Maine. They came together and united because they said, `We cannot let this happen. The stakes are too high. We are fighting for the future of this country, the future or our kids.’

Rubio was in Puerto Rico Saturday ahead of today’s primary.

“The map only gets friendlier after tonight,” Rubio said. “We knew this would be the roughest period of the campaign.”

And this:

FOX News
Rubio Campaign Communication Director Alex Conant
March 5, 2016

ALEX CONANT: Ted Cruz has shown that he can win his home state and neighboring state, Oklahoma, and small rural caucuses, like Iowa and Alaska, and now Kansas. Unfortunately, there are only two states left that have caucuses, Utah and Hawaii. After that it is all primaries. Marco has done well in primaries so far. We beat Ted Cruz in Virginia. We beat Ted Cruz in South Carolina. We beat Ted Cruz in Georgia, a state that Ted Cruz originally thought he might actually win. So we feel really good about the map moving forward. And after we win the Florida primary, the map, the momentum and the money is going to be on our side. And ultimately, we believe Marco is the one candidate who can unite Republicans, who can grow the conservative movement and defeat Hillary Clinton this fall. So we are very optimistic about the race going forward. At this point, nobody is on track to having the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. But after we win Florida, we are going to be on our way to doing so. 

Bravo . Well done. Here is some previously unseen footage of Conant preferring for that appearance on Fox.

Things could change yet again, but Super Saturday was very, very good for Ted Cruz.

He won big in the caucuses in Maine and Kansas, and finished a strong second in the primaries in Louisiana and Kentucky.

He picked up 64 delegates to 49 for Donald Trump, 13 for Marco Rubio and 8 for John Kasich.

It resulted in front pages like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.58.01 AM

Two Cruz victories buoy challenge to Trump Drive.

From Jonathan Martin:

Senator Ted Cruz scored decisive wins in the Kansas and Maine caucuses on Saturday, demonstrating his enduring appeal among conservatives as he tried to reel in Donald J. Trump’s significant lead in the Republican presidential race.

Mr. Trump contained Mr. Cruz’s advances by winning in Louisiana and Kentucky. But the Texas senator’s wins were sure to energize the anti-Trump forces who are desperately trying to stop Mr. Trump’s march to the nomination, and they left little doubt that Mr. Cruz, who has now captured six states, is their best hope.


Mr. Trump’s losses underlined his continued vulnerability in states that hold time-intensive caucuses: He has lost five of seven such contests. He has performed far better in states holding primaries, which require less organization, and some of which also allow Democrats and independents to vote in Republican races.

Such voters, who can be receptive to Mr. Trump’s anti-establishment message, have augmented Mr. Trump’s support. But if Mr. Trump is not able to bolster his organization and start performing better in caucuses and states that allow only Republicans to vote, Mr. Cruz may be able to deny him the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination before the convention.

From the Kansas City Star:

Here is what happened yesterday in Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Maine.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.22.49 AM
Super Saturday. Real Clear Politics

And, from NBC:

What happened yesterday?

From the Kansas City Star:

While Cruz’s caucus victory may have been a mild surprise, the margin stunned analysts. Trump’s overwhelming defeat reflects a growing problem for his campaign: In primaries open to Democrats and independents, he typically prevails. In caucuses, where only registered Republicans can vote and where organization matters more, the flamboyant TV star stumbles.

Cruz will collect 24 convention delegates from Kansas, a state GOP official said. Trump will collect nine, Rubio five and Kasich one.

The results don’t include provisional ballots cast by voters not found on registration lists. If and when those votes are counted, the delegate allocations could shift.

Cruz’s win came partially from a far superior organization in the state, analysts said. His campaign manager is Kansas City political consultant Jeff Roe.

Trump had only one major Kansas endorsement, from Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and virtually no campaign presence in the state. Trump spoke to Kansas voters only on the day of the caucuses, in Wichita. Cruz came to the state twice in the final days before the voting.

“Cruz had more of a ground mobilization campaign in Kansas than Trump did,” said Chapman Rackaway, a political science professor at Fort Hays State University. “Evangelical candidates like Cruz tend to benefit from church mobilization very strongly.”

The Kansas results represented a setback for Rubio, who barnstormed the state in the final hours of the caucus. He had the endorsements of Gov. Sam Brownback and former senator Rick Santorum, who won the 2012 presidential GOP caucus in Kansas.

That didn’t appear to help.

From Aaron Blake in the Washington Post.

Ted Cruz: Cruz won just two of the four states on Saturday, but the two he lost wound up being closer than expected — and will probably be cast as signs of potential Cruz momentum. In perhaps the most significant development of the night, primary-day votes in Louisiana turned a primary that basically all of the major networks called early on into a competitive race. Donald Trump had a YUGE margin among early voters, but as the night wore on, Cruz’s much-stronger primary-day performance made it a competitive race. Could that primary-day performance reflect a shift in the race more broadly? It’s possible. We would note that Louisiana is probably a state Cruz should compete with Trump in and maybe win. But insofar as this is still a momentum race, Saturday suggested Cruz momentum. And given many were declaring Trump the presumptive nominee and Marco Rubio had such a poor night, that’s significant. Cruz still needs to start winning primaries that aren’t his home state of Texas or don’t border it, but Saturday was, all things considered, a good night for his narrative.

From Philip Bump’s analysis in the Washington Post.

This suggests that the shift probably wasn’t a function of Ted Cruz’s (clearly strong) get-out-the-vote effort. Field efforts like that result in relatively limited swings, and it’s hard to see how they could have run a hugely successful turnout effort throughout the state uniformly.

Instead, this looks like the state of Louisiana bailed on Marco Rubio in favor of Ted Cruz. Which could explain why Cruz is targeting Florida all of a sudden. On Saturday night, Donald Trump called for Rubio to drop out of the race. If he can repeat what he did in Louisiana in Florida in just over a week, Cruz will take Rubio out himself.

On Sunday, Mitt Romney, on Fox News Sunday, said he thought his speech last week  calling for a concerted collective effort to keep Trump from seizing the nomination, had its effect

Well it was a big night for Ted Cruz last night and I think that’s overwhelmingly because people are taking a closer look at Donald Trump.

And, Romney on Meet the Press:

I think people in Ohio are likely to get behind John Kasich, their popular governor there, and if i were a resident of Ohio, that’s who I would vote for. And in Florida, i think a lot of people look at Marco Rubio, are very impressed with his track record, what he’s done in that state, they’re probably going to get behind him. I think h’es going to win in that state. We’ll see. It’s close.

You’re going to see one of the three, and right now it looks like Ted Cruz, emerge as the strongest contender, but you know that can change. We’ve seen a lot of surprises in the campaign, but one of those three I’m going to endorse before the convention … and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure one of those three is the nominee.

The Cruz campaign, however, is not interested in a Mitt Romney United Front against Trump, and is going all in in Florida in hopes of spoiling Rubio’s chances there and force him out of the race, either before the vote, or immediately thereafter.

From the Cruz campaign Friday.

HOUSTON, Texas – Following a strong showing on Super Tuesday, the Cruz for President Campaign is communicating a serious commitment to competing hard in the winner-take-all Sunshine State primary on March 15th. As the vaunted Ted Cruz ground operation moves into Florida, the campaign opened 10 offices all across the state this week.

From Rush Limbaugh on Fox News Sunday:

For the longest time the Republican Party has told us they can’t win with just Republican votes and that’s why they support amnesty, that’s’ why they support the Democrats on many of their issues to go out and get Hispanics or other minorities. Well guess who’s doing it? Donald Trump is doing it. Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he has put together a coalition that is exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win . And yet look what they’re doing. They’re trying to get Trump out of the race cause they are not in charge of it, they are not in control of it. And it’s the most amazing thing to watch this happen.

Gov. Romney comes along and tries to talk people out of Trump and that’s not going to work . You can’t talk his supporters out of supporting him. The only guy that’s going to be able to do that is Trump himself.

Limbaugh prefers Cruz. He said that Cruz’s overriding emphasis on appealing to conservative evangelicals had “limited his appeal,” but that he proved at Thursday’s debate that “he’s just in a different league” than the other candidates, and that, contrary to what’s often written and said about him, “He’s a nice guy, he’s a likable guy, he’s not cazy, he’s not nasty, and certainly he’s not a liar. He’s a down the middle guy who anybody can trust. He’s got plenty of integrity.”

As significant for Cruz as Limbaugh’s assessment Sunday, was that of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime antagonist, on Meet the Press, who acknowledge that if Trump is to be stopped, it’s probably up to Cruz to stop him  and that it would be best if Rubio and Kasich appreciated that reality and got out of the race before March 15.

At the end of the day,  I know what I’m getting with Ted Cruz.


Yeah, if I can work with Ted Cruz, it shows that there is hope. It’s not like I prefer Ted Cruz.


But Ted is a conservative. He’s more ideological than I am, but he is a Republican conservative and Donald Trump is not. I hope Rubio wins Florida, I hope Kasich wins Ohio, but if I had to support Ted Cruz over Donald Trump I would  because I think he is a Republican conservative and I think that he might could beat Hillary Clinton.


I think Rubio and Kasich have got to decide among themselves, can they be an alternative to Trump over time.  To me, it’s clear that Ted has made the best case so far that he can be the alternative to Trump. The best thing I think could happen is for the party to unite before Ohio and Florida and make sure we not only beat him – Trump – in Ohio and Florida, but beat him thereafter, and right now it seems Ted Cruz has the best case to be made.

Even before the votes were counted last night, Cruz had gotten a boost with the results of the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll.

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Next up. A primary today in Puerto Rico, and then, on Tuesday, primaries in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho, and caucuses in Hawaii.

Here’s the latest polling in Michigan and Mississippi.


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Mississippi. Magellan Strategies = 2/29/15

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.40.01 AMBack to where  we began with Cruz’s rise and Rubio’s seeming demise, here are two takes.

The first is from Frank Bruni of  the New York Times, who has written among the most withering criticisms of Cruz:

Just when you think it can’t get any worse for the sober-minded, cool-headed traditionalists in the Republican Party, it does. They see their gold-plated gate crasher taken down a peg, only to find themselves faced with the prospect of kissing up to Ted Cruz.

On Saturday he matched Donald Trump’s two victories, in Louisiana and Kentucky, with two of his own, in Kansas and Maine. He got substantially more delegates from the four contests overall than Trump did.

And it was like the cosmically mischievous twist in an O. Henry story. The prayers, pleading and plotting of G.O.P. elders were answered: A rival candidate indeed gathered some steam, restrained Trump’s momentum and staked an equal claim to at least one news cycle’s headlines. But that candidate was a creature they find every bit as loathsome as the crass billionaire, if not more so.

And then there was Marco Rubio.

What in the world ever happened to Marco Rubio?

To the Rubio who was supposed to be the party’s savior and hope, I mean. The Rubio who made donors’ hearts beat faster. The Rubio they kept foisting on Republican voters, except that the donors didn’t see it as foisting. They saw it as benevolent instruction in which candidate was really best for all involved, which candidate could deny Democrats a third consecutive term in the White House.

Rubio is essentially the Christmas fruitcake of the 2016 cycle: presented as a gift, received as something neither appetizing nor especially nutritive.

And the last word comes from Lexington at The Economist.

SENATOR Marco Rubio of Florida, a young Cuban-American with a stirring, up-by-the-bootstraps life-story, was once called the future of the Republican Party. His poor showing in a series of presidential nominating contests held on March 5th—including a fourth place in the New England state of Maine—leaves his campaign for the White House running on fumes. After Republican presidential primary elections or caucuses in 19 states, Mr Rubio has a win in just one, Minnesota, to his name. His last hopes rest on his home state of Florida, whose large haul of delegates is up for grabs on March 15th, though he is lagging in opinion polls there.

Mr Rubio ticks many boxes on the lists that conservative donors, Republican strategists and pundits draw up when looking for winners. He is Hispanic and has spoken movingly of his sympathy for immigrants, but is conservative enough that he was elected to the Senate as a Tea Party hero. He can be sunny, upbeat and funny on a good day, but is also a disciplined candidate (to the point of extreme caution). He entered the 2016 race with a plan: to be the candidate who appealed to Establishment types and voters focused on electability and an optimistic vision for the future, while staying far enough to the right that he would not anger ideological purists.

Alas for Mr Rubio, his straddling strategy increasingly looks like a stretch too far. He is distrusted by the hard-right, who call him a backer of “amnesty” because he once worked with a cross-party group of senators on immigration reform. At the same time he has fallen short with mainstream, college-educated and white-collar Republicans, who have watched him harden his tone and portray the country as a dystopia on the brink of doom in a bid to catch the front-runner, Donald Trump, and his rival Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Damagingly, as his support ebbed in recent days, Mr Rubio indulged in the sort of schoolyard abuse for which Mr Trump is notorious, mocking the billionaire’s “orange” sun-tan and seeming to question Mr Trump’s manhood. Talk-radio hosts have been bashing Mr Rubio for days, and suggesting that Mr Cruz is the only bet for Republicans anxious that Mr Trump has broken with conservative orthodoxy on such issues as abortion, gay marriage or government-funded healthcare.

Mr Rubio’s wretched March 5th coincides with a good night for Mr Cruz, who won caucus contests in Kansas by 25 percentage points and Maine by 13 points, and came a closer second than expected to Mr Trump, who won in Kentucky and Louisiana. A bumpy night for Mr Trump looks all the more turbulent because exit polls suggest that he did best among voters who cast ballots some days ago, and less well with those who turned out on election day. That will encourage Stop Trump forces within the Republican Party, who hoped that the New York property tycoon would be damaged by recent controversies and policy reversals. These include his muddled and initially equivocal response to praise from a white supremacist veteran of the Ku Klux Klan, and a double flip-flop over torture, when he seemed to say that as president he would order torture in defiance of international law, changed his mind to say he would heed the law and then changed it again to say that laws against torture needed loosening. Less cheeringly, many Trump supporters were probably most dismayed to hear their hero say in a TV debate that his current views on immigration, including a promise to deport 11m people without legal papers, would become more flexible in office.

Alas for Stop Trump leaders whose main concern is picking a candidate with general election appeal, their headaches are not eased by Mr Cruz’s rise. The Texan senator may be more polished than Mr Trump, and more of a conventional conservative. But he lacks Mr Trump’s astonishing ability to excite apolitical voters who want a champion to punish America’s foes and punch the ruling classes in the face. Mr Cruz is essentially a rigid ideologue whose plan for victory involves driving up turnout among exceedingly conservative and evangelical Christians. Mr Trump called on Saturday night for Mr Rubio to drop out to make this a two-man race, saying: “I want Ted, one-on-one.”






Not so Super Tuesday: On wet pants, small hands, Fat Tony, Donald Trump and David Duke

Good morning Austin:

There is a rich history of embarrassing White House relations: Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, Hugh Rodham. Tony Rodham.

But in the Trump White House, it will be different.

The president will be the embarrassment and the relations will be admirably elegant.

Watch this Super Tuesday message to Texas voters from future First Daughter Ivanka Trump, who is nine months pregnant.

Somehow, I think Ivanka would have handled a question about whether her father disavows the support of David Duke with more aplomb than her father did on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.

JAKE TAPPER: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage.

Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.

I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don’t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don’t want their support?

TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about.

You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And, certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?

TRUMP: But you may have groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of the groups, and I will let you know.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but…

TRUMP: I don’t know any — honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.

This response was nonsensical on many levels.

Trump had two days earlier, when asked pretty much the same question at his press conference when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed him, had offered a disavowal of Duke’s support, if of the most perfunctory, unsatisfactory, sort.

But, Trump knows a lot about David Duke. He’s thought and talked about him in the past.

One example, here, from an interview with Larry King on CNN on November 19, 1991, two days after Duke won 39 percent of the vote in the runoff for governor of Louisiana. (Per the winner, Edwin Edwards: The only thing we have in common is we’re both wizards under the sheets.)

KING: Did the David Duke thing bother you? Fifty-five percent of the whites in Louisiana voted for him.

Mr. TRUMP: I hate-

KING: Four hundred New Yorkers contributed.

Mr. TRUMP: I hate seeing what it represents, but I guess it just shows there’s a lot of hostility in this country. There’s a tremendous amount of hostility in the United States.

KING: Anger?

Mr. TRUMP: It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs. If you look at Louisiana, they’re really in deep trouble. When you talk about the East Coast – It’s not the East Coast. It’s the East Coast, the middle coast, the West Coast-

KING: If he runs and Pat Buchanan runs, might you see a really divided vote?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I think if they run, or even if David Duke– I mean, George Bush was very, very strong against David Duke. I think if he had it to do again, he might not have gotten involved in that campaign because I think David Duke now, if he runs, takes away almost exclusively Bush votes and then a guy like Cuomo runs- I think Cuomo can win the election.

KING: But Bush morally had to come out against him.

Mr. TRUMP: I think Bush had to come out against him. I think Bush– If David Duke runs (for president), David Duke is going to get a lot of votes. Whether that be good or bad, David Duke is going to get a lot of votes. Pat Buchanan – who really has many of the same theories, except it’s in a better package – Pat Buchanan is going to take a lot of votes away from George Bush. So you have these two guys running, or even one of them running, I think George Bush could be in big trouble.

OK. Let’s pause here for a little background on Duke from the great documentary, Louisiana Boys, directed by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker and UT”s Paul Stekler

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Duke is very pleased with what Trump is saying, Reminds him of himself.

Listen here.

Of course, Duke would like it better if Trump was a little more head-on in taking on the Jews – who far more than blacks or Mexicans or anyone else are, for Duke, the root of the problem – but, he said, going after immigration is really going after the Jews andJewish control, and he understands that Trump may have to be ever-so-slightly more politically correct than he is.

And Duke said, Trump is head and shoulder above his opponents.

“This idea Cruz is an outsider, it’s total hogwash folks. Hogwash, ” said Duke.

But, amid the outrage about Trump and Duke, it is useful to remember that Duke went from neo-Nazi to Grand Wizard of the KKK to a serious Republican candidate for governor.

And then, remarkably, there is Katrina Pierson, the former Cruz acolyte who is now Trump’s national spokeswoman, on CNN, explaining how Duke is a former member of the Klan, just as the late Democratic Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd was, and yet, she said, when Byrd endorsed Obama for president, no one demanded that Obama apologize.


Clearly, Trump is the inheritor of the Duke constituency, though Trump’s constituency is vastly larger and broader.

From Public Policy Polling’s pre-primary poll in South Carolina:

Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:

-70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump’s the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else’s voters think is a good idea. There’s also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else’s voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.


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Trump was roundly criticized for his demurral Sunday on Duke.

But what about Ted Nugent, friend of Rick Perry, who campaigned for then Attorney General Greg Abbott for governor in 2014, not long after  he said this about President Obama:

I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago, Communist-raised, Communist-educated, Communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN, community organizer, gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.

On a First Reading at the time I wrote:

What makes Nugent’s description of Obama as a “subhuman mongrel,” different in kind from even most of Nugent’s other outrageous statements, is just what an evocative throwback it is to a time – which, depending on your age, is either a very long time ago or not so long ago at all – when interracial marriage was considered an offense to God and man and the children of such a marriage were somehow less than fully human. It is a deeply personal insult that suggests that Obama was “subhuman” from the moment he was conceived, by his very being, and not because of anything he ever did aside from being born.

That doesn’t make Nugent a Klansman, but it’s the kind of language that would warm the heart of a Klansman, and after all, as Katrina Pierson notes, even David Duke is no longer a Klansman.

And Abbott, at last Thursday’s debate, declined to advise Trump on whether to accept white supremacist support.

Nugent is high on Trump.

I am a big fan of Donald Trump because I believe in bold, aggressive unapologetic truth, period. And I’m not a fan of Megyn Kelly, though I often turn on Fox just to look at her. Sometimes when I’m loading my magazine I like to just look at her and usually sit naked on the couch dropping hot brass on my stuff.

You don’t fight a culture war politely like Mr. Rogers, Jeb Bush.

You get angry … you swing some crowbars and you lop off heads as necessary.

This is a nasty, mean culture war, and you’re not going to win it by adjusting your tie.

 Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who endorsed Trump Sunday, had this to say on Monday. From Buzzfeed.

Asked on The Matt Murphy Show on Alabama radio if he was “comfortable” that Donald Trump believes in equality, Sessions said, “Well, I think so. He’s disavowed this before. And, you know, you get asked these questions — I don’t know what happened. But I would just say this: he needs to make that clear and I think it would be important for the people to know that.”

You can listen here.

Well, I suppose Session is an authority on the perils of racial insensitivity.

It cots him a federal judgeship when he was nominated in 1986 by President Reagan.

Sarah Wildman in New Republic in 2002, wrote about the ultimately successful effort in the Senate to block Sessions’ appointment to the federal bench because of his racial views.

Another damaging witness–a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures-testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest. Figures didn’t see it that way. Sessions, he said, had called him “boy” and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Figures echoed Hebert’s claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “un-American.” Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.

During his nomination hearings, Sessions was opposed by the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way, and other civil rights groups. Senator Denton clung peevishly to his favored nominee until the bitter end, calling Sessions a “victim of a political conspiracy.” The Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee finally voted ten to eight against sending Sessions to the Senate floor. The decisive vote was cast by the other senator from Alabama, Democrat Howell Heflin, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice, who said, “[M]y duty to the justice system is greater than any duty to any one individual.”


Since his election as a senator, Sessions has not done much to make amends for his past racial insensitivity. His voting record in the Senate has earned him consistent “F”s from the NAACP. He supported an ultimately unsuccessful effort to end affirmative action programs in the federal government (a measure so extreme that many conservatives were against it), he opposed hate-crimes laws, and he opposed a motion to investigate the disproportionate number of minorities in juvenile detention centers. Says Hillary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, “[Sessions’s] voting record is disturbing. … He has consistently opposed the bread-and-butter civil rights agenda.” But it has been on judicial nominees that Sessions has really made a name for himself. When Sessions grabbed Heflin’s Senate seat in 1996, he also nabbed a spot on the Judiciary Committee. Serving on the committee alongside some of the senators who had dismissed him 16 years earlier, Sessions has become a cheerleader for the Bush administration’s judicial picks, defending such dubious nominees as Charles Pickering, who in 1959 wrote a paper defending Mississippi’s anti-miscegenation law, and Judge Dennis Shedd, who dismissed nearly every fair-employment civil rights case brought before him as a federal district court judge. Sessions called Pickering “a leader for racial harmony” and a “courageous,” “quality individual” who was being used as a “political pawn.” Regarding Shedd, he pooh-poohed the criticism, announcing that the judge “should have been commended for the rulings he has made,” not chastised.

And yet, despite his record as U.S. Attorney, attorney general of Alabama, and senator, Sessions has never received criticism from conservatives or from the leadership of the Republican Party. President Bush even campaigned for him in the last election. It’s true, of course, that Sessions isn’t in a leadership position, like Lott. But, if conservatives are serious about ending the perception that the GOP tolerates racism, they should look into his record as well. After all, if Noonan and friends are really “tired of being embarrassed” by this kind of racial insensitivity, they can’t just start yelling once the news hits the stands.

Sessions  emerged in the 2016 presidential candidate, the arbiter of anti-immigration-amnesty purity – at least in the estimation of Ted Cruz.

From the Washington Post

Ted Cruz just can’t stop name-dropping Jeff Sessions.

By our count, Cruz said the words “Jeff Sessions” five times at Thursday’s GOP debate in Des Moines. He also did it twice at the Jan. 14 debate in Charleston, S.C. Oh yeah, and once at the CNN debates in Simi Valley, Calif., and in Las Vegas. And each time, it probably left a few viewers wondering, “Who the heck is this Jeff Sessions guy?”

Cruz and Sessions (R-Ala.) are among the most conservative members of the Senate and have repeatedly and publicly praised each other — especially when it comes to their mutual resistance to comprehensive immigration reform. Both senators vocally opposed the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill, which would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Sessions later gave Cruz effusive praise, saying, “Without the vigorous opposition of Ted Cruz, this bill likely would have passed.”

 Cruz isn’t just bringing up Sessions’s name as a “thank you” for that praise. The Texas senator wants to be linked to Sessions as strongly as he can be. Sessions is the ranking Republican in the Senate Judiciary Committee and was ranked by National Journal in 2007 as the fifth-most conservative Republican in the Senate. Cruz called him “the strongest opponent of amnesty in the United States Congress.”

Most importantly, though, Sessions happens to be the guy who vouches for Cruz’s continued assertions that he never favored legalizing undocumented immigrants. Cruz keeps trying to explain an amendment he filed to that Gang of Eight bill allowing for a path to legal status — not citizenship — was a “poison pill” meant to kill the bill. Even legal status, you see, is regarded by many on the right as “amnesty.” Cruz insists he never actually favored a path to legal status but wanted to kill the Gang of Eight bill with that amendment. (Our fact-checker has said it’s impossible to know for sure exactly what Cruz’s intent was.)

Sessions, though, hasn’t endorsed Cruz. He was seen donning a “Make America Great Again” hat at a Donald Trump rally in August, and he voiced his support for Trump’s immigration plan. So it’s no guarantee that Cruz will get Sessions’s support.

No guarantee. Definitely not.



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Well, at least Cruz got the endorsement of Duck Commander Phil Robertson

Cruz has described the Robertson endorsement as the highlight of his campaign. It exemplifies his fight for real American duck blind values vs. liberal, Donald Trump New York values.

But Robertson has a kind of a  Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah view of race.

From a GQ profile:

 Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, I tell you what: These doggone white people—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”


I don’t know if Phil Robertson voted in the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election, or if he did, who he voted for.

Maybe he was among the minority of white voters who did not support David Duke.





In Iowa, I ran into Robert Smigel and his creation, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, who has produced some great videos out of the campaign. Like this.

Cruz has a lot to learn about the art of the comic insult.

On Hannity recently, he said, “Donald Trump, like Hillary Clinton, is a rich New York liberal.”

But listen how much more piquantly Triumph puts it.

Trump used to be a  bigger Democratic supporter than Michael Moore’s bras

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smigel2Marco Rubio recently entered the arena of insult comics.

There’s Small Hands.

And, of course, the classic Wet His Pants.

But, face it, he’s still no match for Trump (you can’t spell TRIUMPH without TRUMP), who responded to Wet His Pants with It’s Rubio, a brilliant impromptu pantomime worthy of Chaplin.

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If Cruz lacks the insult comic chops, it doesn’t mean doesn’t have a much-mentioned mean streak, which was on display Sunday, when he did the Full Ginsburg, appearing on all five Sunday shows.

He would have done better to have gotten an extra hour sleep and done a Half Ginsburg.

Watch him on Fox News Sunday.

WALLACE:  Senator, I’ve got one more question for you.

Your campaign has been involved in a series of incidents that are people are calling dirty tricks.  I want to put up a list to them.  

In Iowa, the Cruz campaign sent out tweets saying Ben Carson was suspending his campaign.  That was false.  The campaign put out flyers accusing people of voting violations.  That was false.  

In South Carolina, a Cruz super PAC attacked Trump over the Confederate flag and your then communications director posted a link this week accusing Rubio of disrespecting the bible.  That was false.  

Question, do you take personal responsibility — this is your campaign except for the super PAC — do you take personal responsibility for this series of incidents?  What does it say about the culture of the campaign you’re running?  

CRUZ:  Chris, every accusation you raised there is incorrect.  I appreciate your reading the Donald Trump attack file on that.  

WALLACE:  Come on, sir.  


WALLACE:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute, sir.  You personally — you personally apologized to Ben Carson on a debate stage.  

CRUZ:  Chris, please don’t interrupt me.

WALLACE:  You fired your communications director.  

CRUZ:  Chris, please don’t interrupt me.

WALLACE:  Don’t say this is an oppo file on our part, sir.  

CRUZ:  Chris, please don’t interrupt me.  Our campaign from the beginning —

WALLACE:  Well, I mean, please don’t say — please accuse me of something I didn’t do.  

CRUZ:  Go ahead, Chris.  Let me know whether I’m allowed to answer.

WALLACE:  Well, don’t accuse me of something I didn’t do.  Two of those things you apologized for one and fired your communications director.  Don’t say this is the oppo file.  

CRUZ:  Chris, our campaign from the beginning has been the highest level of integrity when others have engaged in personal attacks and insults.  We don’t respond in kind.  

And, you know, what’s striking, you just had Donald Trump on the air.  You didn’t ask about the fact that he sent out a fabricated quote from Tom Coburn impugning my integrity.  Tom Coburn, Senator Coburn came out and said it was an utter fabrication and yet Donald continued repeating what he knew to be false.  

You didn’t ask Donald Trump about the robocalls that went out from a white supremacist group supporting Donald Trump telling people do not vote for a Cuban, vote for Donald Trump.

You know, when it comes to telling the truth and not telling the truth, you didn’t ask Donald Trump about the fact that in the last debate I asked him true or false, you support socialized medicine, the government paying for your health care.  He said false and it’s directly contrary to what he said for 20 years on the record.  

Listen, Chris, the facts matter.  I understand that —  

WALLACE:  Senator —  

CRUZ:  — there are folks that don’t want to focus on the facts.  But, listen, the voters care about the truth.  They care about Donald Trump’s record of giving —

WALLACE:  Senator Cruz, we’re flat out of time.  

First of all, I don’t think anybody is going to think I did an easy interview with Donald Trump.  I asked him about plenty of things.  

If you want to ask him those questions, guess what?  You’ll get the opportunity at the Fox debate on Thursday.  

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Then it was over to Meet the Press, and this edifying exchange around the three-minute mark.


Let me ask you this. You released summary pages of your tax returns, so did Marco Rubio. And you said the only reason you released summary pages is because Marco Rubio released summary pages. Why should Donald Trump – how are you forcing Donald Trump to release his tax return if you’re only releasing the first two pages?


Well, listen. I’ve released nine years of tax returns. And by the way, the first five years have everything. The last four have summary pages. I’ve got nine years of tax returns. Donald Trump has not released so much as a paper clip. And Donald needs to release his taxes. You know, Mitt Romney this week–


So will you be happy if he just does summary pages? Will you be happy if he just does summary pages?


Look, it would be a very positive step in the right direction. I would be thrilled, if he releases the whole thing, I’m happy to release everything. I’ve released, for five years, I’ve released everything. We just matched what the opponents did for the last four years. But the critical point, Chuck, as Mitt Romney observed, the fact that Donald seems terrified to release his taxes suggests that there’s a bombshell there.

And it’s natural to wonder, “Well, what is it that he’s hiding in his taxes?” Maybe it’s that Donald Trump doesn’t earn nearly as much as he has so loudly told everyone. Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Who knows, maybe it’s the case that Mitt Romney is richer than Donald Trump. He can answer that by releasing his taxes. On the other hand, maybe it’s the case that he has given large sums of money to left-wing groups like Planned Parenthood.

You know, he praises Planned Parenthood in the debates over and over again. Maybe he’s been a big financial supporter of that. All of those questions Donald can put to rest. Or you know, maybe it is the case that Donald, there have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the mob, with the mafia. Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported. Regardless of what the bombshell is–


Well, let me stop you. Wait a minute. Senator Cruz, let me stop you there. That’s openly speculative. Do you have any facts to support that Donald Trump has mob ties?


Oh sure. ABC, CNN, multiple news reports have reported about his some dealings with, for example, S&A Construction, which was owned by “Fat Tony” Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail. It is owned by two of the major New York crime families. And that has been reported in multiple media outlets. You know, you’re going to have Donald on the show later today, you ought to ask him, “Donald, have you written a check to Planned Parenthood? If so, how much and when?”

I mean, that’s the question that Donald ought to answer. We don’t know what it is that he’s hiding in those tax returns. But I can promise you this, if he’s the nominee come September, October, every day on the news will be about those tax returns, about whatever the bombshell is. And Republican primary voters deserve to know before the nomination, not after. Because you better believe Hillary Clinton and the media are going to go to town on it. And the primary voters should be able to vet all of us.

So, we are supposed to believe that if we get Donald Trump’s income tax returns, there will be Fat Tony listed as a dependent, or Mob bribes reported as income?

And, on the first two pages, which is all that Cruz is providing. And if he’s really trying to pressure Trump to reveal his taxes, why is he only providing two pages of his? Does he have something to hide?


IdealSpot in Austin, taps into social media, mostly Facebook data, to provide businesses with site selection and location analytics with advanced demographics.

They have recently used those tools to look at social media interest in presidential candidates, over time.

From Josh Winters at IdealSpot  in December.

Mapping Social Media Interest in 2016 Presidential Candidates

As poll after poll emerges from the morass of political dark waters, we often find ourselves confused about the truth of the 2016 Presidential race. The traditional source of truth in campaigning, polling, has become difficult to trust due to low response rates and otherwise poor results, but is so far without replacement. Further, the aim of traditional polling is to predict results using demographics and surveys, when what pollsters are really looking for is support within specific geographic boundaries. Much like in commercial site selection, campaigns are turning to social media and big data to develop a clear image of their base.

We at IdealSpot have developed a tool to do exactly that. By applying our Customer Location Targeting to the most popular 2016 presidential candidates (as of the time of writing), we are able to map the interest of voters in our hometown of Austin, TX. These maps represent the number of people who have expressed explicit interest in each candidate, whether that be through visiting a social media profile, clicking an ad, or searching for related terms. The darkest outlined regions represent locations with the densest support of each candidate, while the lightest regions are the least dense. Click each image to get a better look.

2016 presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton support in Austin (range: 52 to 68,438 people)
Hillary Clinton support in Austin (range: 52 to 68,438 people)
2016 presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders support in Austin (range: 34 to 210,366 people)
Bernie Sanders support in Austin (range: 34 to 210,366 people)
2016 presidential candidates: Donald Trump support in Austin (range: 30 to 47,580 people)
Donald Trump support in Austin (range: 30 to 47,580 people)
2016 presidential candidates: Ted Cruz support in Austin (range: 48 to 30,383 people)
Ted Cruz support in Austin (range: 48 to 30,383 people)

Austin is often considered a liberal city, but as we see here that is not entirely the case. Downtown Austin is definitely feeling the Bern, but suburbs and surrounding towns like Round Rock and Buda express more interest in the GOP. South of Sunset Valley (in the Slaughter Lane area) we see a region of contention between all candidates. We invite you to explore correlations with variables like age, net worth, and education using our free demographic overlays!

Here are some more maps, and animations made out of those maps, from Josh Winters.,


Donald Trump. Social media interest.
Donald Trump. Social media interest.




Donald Trump February 22
Donald Trump February 22



Donald Trump February 8
Donald Trump February 8



Donald Trump. February 1
Donald Trump. February 1



Donald Trump. Jan. 25.
Donald Trump. Jan. 25.



Donald Trump. December 10.
Donald Trump. December 10.



Cruz social media interest


Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 1.37.32 AM
Ted Cruz. Feb. 22


Ted Cruz. Feb. 8.
Ted Cruz. Feb. 8.



Ted Cruz. Feb. 1
Ted Cruz. Feb. 1



Ted Cruz. Jan. 25
Ted Cruz. Jan. 25



Ted Cruz. Dec. 10
Ted Cruz. Dec. 10



Bernie Sanders social media interest
Bernie Sanders social media interest


Bernie Sanders. February 22.
Bernie Sanders. February 22.



Bernie Sanders. Feb. 8
Bernie Sanders. Feb. 8


Bernie Sanders. Feb. 1
Bernie Sanders. Feb. 1


Bernie Sanders Jan. 25
Bernie Sanders Jan. 25


Bernie Sanders. Dec. 10
Bernie Sanders. Dec. 10



Hillary Clinton social media interest


Hillary Clinton. February 22.
Hillary Clinton. February 22.


Hillary Clinton Feb. 8
Hillary Clinton Feb. 8


Hillary Clinton Feb. 2
Hillary Clinton Feb. 1



Hillary Clinton. Dec. 10
Hillary Clinton. Dec. 10





In South Carolina, how Trump could bury Bush and cripple Cruz

Good morning Austin:

As you exited the space at the North Charleston Coliseum where the Bush brothers had their rally Monday, this  is what you saw.




What does that say? Does it say what I think it says?

Let’s take a closer look.



That’s what I thought it said.

Could be worse.

Could have said, Resistance is Futile: Trump 2016.


It’s too big to be strictly subliminal in intent

Maybe it’s meant ironically.

Like Mission Accomplished.

More likely, it is simply prophetic.

Here’s the recent Real Clear Politics polling average.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 1.39.46 AMThis does not look very good for Jeb. In fact it doesn’t look great for anyone but Trump. The peril for Bush is that his candidacy will perish here.

After the Bush rally
After the Bush rally

Cruz’s crisis is not quite as existential. He may well still finish second. But he might not. Marco Rubio is proving resilient and one can only manage how well he might be doing if he hadn’t had that big speed bump with his poor debate performance in New Hampshire.

If Rubio finishes second or effectively ties Cruz for second, he is better positioned to become the anti-Trump candidate. Cruz would still be the conservative candidate, but a Trump triumph in South Carolina Saturday would signal big trouble ahead for Cruz on Super Tuesday when Cruz needs to dominate in Texas and a handful of other Southern states.

And Trump appears to have been unscathed by anything that happened at Saturday night’s debate in Greenville.

I talked to Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate, but was at Ted Cruz’s event on the USS Yorktown.

I asked about Trump.

I like what he’s getting at, I just don’t like the way he’s getting at it. He’s tapped into something that’s incredibly real and powerful.

Sanford said there is enormous economic anxiety out there, more than you would imagine based simply on the raw numbers. And, there is a feeling of inequity and inequality in the way the economy operates that is fueling the success of both Trump and Bernie Sanders.

But, like most observers, Sanford thought that Trump hurt himself on Saturday night at the debate in Greenville by suggesting that Bush bore some culpability for 9/11, that he had not kept America safe.

I think its going to hurt him. People don’t have a strongly-formed opinion about Megyn Kelly, but it’s different when you go to the heart of the American psyche and 9/11 – you know about this and you let it happen? This guy has defied all political convention so what do I know, but let me say I think he went too far. Everybody has their Waterloo and I would argue that this was a Waterloo moment. If he had concentrated on the economic issue, he owns that. But if he’s going to be assigning blame for 9/11, that’s crazy world stuff. He’s original. He’s real. They want real.

But with his comments Saturday night, Sanford said, a lot of South Carolinians were probably thinking, “Oh yeah, he’s real, but he’s also really weird.”

Sanford made the same points on Hardball last night, adding, if Trump still wins big in South Carolina, Katy bar the door, I think he’s going all way to the nomination.

Looking at yesterday’s Public Policy Polling poll, Katy bar the door.

The poll, conducted since Saturday’s debate in Greenville, was chock full of interesting details.

From PPP:

PPP’s new South Carolina poll continues to find Donald Trump with a wide lead in the state. He’s at 35% to 18% each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10% for John Kasich, and 7% each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.

What’s striking about Trump’s support is how consistent it is across different demographic groups- he’s at 41% with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters, 40% with younger voters, 38% with men, 36% with self identified Republicans, 35% with Evangelicals, 35% with middle aged voters, 34% with non-Evangelicals, 31% with women, 30% with self identified independents, 30% with ‘very conservative’ voters, 30% with seniors, and 29% with moderates. He has a lead of some size within every single one of those groups, similar to what he was able to do in New Hampshire.

The race is still pretty fluid in South Carolina- 29% of voters say they might change their minds between now and Election Day. Trump benefits from having supporters who are pretty resolute though- 77% of them say they will definitely vote for him, compared to 76% for Cruz and 62% for Rubio. Among voters who say their minds are completely made up, Trump’s support goes up to 40% to 20% for Cruz and 16% for Rubio.

There are some reasons within the numbers to think Rubio might put in an unexpectedly strong performance on Saturday night. If voters have to choose just among the top three candidates he finishes in a clear second place with 28% to Trump’s 40% and Cruz’s 22%. Among voters who are either undecided or support one of the also rans- Bush, Carson, Kasich- 37% say they would move to Rubio compared to 19% for Trump and 13% for Cruz if they had to choose one of the top three. So if strategic voting occurs, that’s likely to be to Rubio’s benefit.

One surprising finding from the poll is that Ted Cruz has the worst net favorability rating of the candidates, with 42% of voters seeing him positively to 48% who have a negative opinion of him. He and Jeb Bush (41/43) are the only candidates under water. Showing that popularity isn’t everything Ben Carson is by far the most widely liked hopeful in the state with a 68/23 favorability rating, followed by Rubio at 58/32 and Kasich at 52/29. Trump is only the fourth most well liked at 50/43, but in contrast to the other candidates most of the voters who like him are also planning to vote for him.

-There’s been a lot of speculation that Trump might take on water after attacking George W. Bush on Saturday night, and Bush is relatively popular with 64% of voters seeing him favorably to 25% who have an unfavorable opinion. But despite his comments Trump is still leading even among voters with a positive view of GWB- he gets 26% to 22% for Cruz, 20% for Rubio, and 10% for Jeb Bush. And Trump is dominant with the swath of voters that doesn’t like George W. Bush, getting 57% to 12% for Kasich, and 11% each for Cruz and Rubio.Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump’s the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 7.02.11 AM

-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else’s voters think is a good idea. There’s also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else’s voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.

There continues to be evidence that the race for the Republican nomination will get a lot tighter down the line as more candidates drop out. Trump leads Rubio only 46/45 in a head to head match up, with supporters of Bush (73/10), Cruz (67/26), Carson (54/34), and Kasich (50/29) all strongly preferring Rubio to Trump if those were their choices. If Rubio can make the race in South Carolina more into a choice between him and Trump he has the potential to end up with a strong second place finish. Trump has wider leads in head to heads with Bush (50/40) and Cruz (48/38)

Look at this.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.00.21 PM

And look at this.



Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.02.42 PM

Thirty-six percent of Republicans in South Carolina — the state that started the Civil War — are glad the North won, slightly more than wish the South won, with a third of the Republicans are not sure. Cruz backers are evenly divided on the question. But less than a quarter of Trump voters — voters supporting the man that Cruz would have you believe is the embodiment of New York values — are glad the Yankees prevailed.

Meanwhile, the attacks on Cruz’s character from Trump and Rubio — and also Ben Carson — appear to have taken a steep toll on how voters view Cruz.

Carson — the best-liked candidate — may not have attacked Cruz at Saturday’s debate, but John Phillip Sousa IV, who heads Carson’s super PAC, has kept up a steady drumbeat of anti-Cruz emails to the group’s vast list. Like this:

Ted Cruz is up to no good yet again in South Carolina.

Despite getting caught using dishonest tactics in Iowa, Cruz and his pals won’t let that embarrassment stop them from trying to divert willing and able supporters of Ben Carson to their cause.

I know that you believe honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are the most important traits in our next president, which is why now is the time to stand up to the Cruz campaign’s unethical Washington tactics.

If you’re tired of politics-as-usual, and want a candidate with real integrity to take the White House in November, sign our petition demanding that the Republican establishment condemn Ted Cruz’s underhanded tricks immediately.

There’s no question that the Cruz campaign cheaTED in Iowa, but by signing this petition you can stand up for what you believe in, and demand the kind of real accountability that is lacking in politics today.

You can sign the petition HERE, and we thank you in advance for your support.


Trump’s other advantage over his rivals, is that he’s fun to watch. He’s simply a good politician.

In this, he is a lot like George W. Bush.

Watching the former president in North Charleston Monday night, I was reminded of how funny and likable he is. He was nearly indistinguishable from the Will Ferrell impression.

Cruz and Rubio. Rubio and Cruz. Sounds like a Miami law firm.If you’ve been injured on the job, call Rubio and Cruz.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 10.42.16 PM

And there was the real George W. Bush Monday delivering these classic lines:

I’m really glad to be back in this great state. I have a lot of fond memories. I walked in the Okra Strut in Irmo. I was pleased they didn’t make me dress as an okra stalk.


Perhaps my most interesting memory came in Greenville before the 2000 primary. David and Susan and Laura and I went to Tommy’s Country Ham House. We were eating breakfast. In fact, I was eating some bacon when I look out the window and a PETA protester dressed as a pig pulled up in a dump truck. He had a huge load of manure in the parking lot to try to prevent me from leaving. It was kind of a sign of things to come. But, let me tell you something about the Ham House. Even a steaming pile of manure can’t ruin their good bacon.


Where we’re spending a lot of time on our ranch where we have become tree farmers. Gives me a chance to practice my stump speech.


I’ve written two books, which surprised a lot of people especially up East who didn’t think I could read let alone write. I’ve been one to defy expectations. I’ve been misunderestimated most of my life, and it’s a real shock to people that I’ve become an oil painter. The signature is worth more than the painting.

The Bush rally lasted just under 45 minutes, beginning to end.

A few hours earlier, about 10 minutes up the road, Trump held a press conference, just Trump and reporters, that lasted for the same length of time, and he was in total command. He is very good at it. Like W., he is a natural politician.

Asked, for example, about the fate of immigrant Dreamers if he is elected president, Trump said, “You know what I want, I want Dreamers to come from this country. You mention Dreamers. I want Dreamers to come from the United States. We’re always talking about Dreamers. I want the children growing up in the United States to be Dreamers. They’re not dreaming now.”

He went on, launching into a riff about how poorly African-American youth are faring, and not just youth, but African-Americans in their 30s, 40s, 50s, “in their prime,” despite there being an African-American president, who, he said, had done nothing for them.

Fair or not, it was a very effective way of turning the question back toward his theme.

The other casualty in South Carolina, is, I think, any chance that Cruz might end up as Trump’s running mate. More than half of Trump’s Monday’s press conference was devoted to excoriating Cruz as the biggest liar he had ever encountered.

It’s not unheard of for mortal political enemies to end up sharing a ticket, but this seems hard to overcome

But, when I got a chance to ask a question at the very end of the new conference, I decided to nail it down.

Q – Just to clarify, Is Ted Cruz off your short list for vice president?

Trump -No, he wouldn’t be on my short list.









Two Corinthians walk into a voting booth. On Cruz, Trump and South Carolina’s evangelical vote

Good morning Austin:

When Donald Trump spoke at Liberty University last month he stumbled a bit in quoting scripture.

 “Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians, 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, right? Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ But here there is Liberty College, Liberty University, but when you think that, that’s so true. But is that the one, is that the one you like? Because I loved it, and it’s so representative of what’s taken place. And we are going to protect Christianity.”

That provoked some smirks and snickers, in person and in print, because 2 ‘Corinthians is generally said aloud as Second Corinthians, and Trump, speaking at the world’s largest Christian university, was laying bare his unfamiliarity with Holy Writ.

Campaigning in Iowa, Ted Cruz, who had announced his candidacy for president at Liberty last March, and knows his “2’s” from his “seconds,” had some fun with it.

“Two Corinthians walk into a bar,” he said to knowing laughs at campaign stops ahead of the Feb. 1 caucuses, before launching into a quick imitation of Ricardo Montalban’s classic extolling of the virtues of the Chrysler New Yorkers’ rich Corinthian leather.

But Trump had the last laugh. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and son of the founder of both Liberty and the Moral Majority, subsequently endorsed Trump for president, cut a radio ad for him, even came to Iowa to campaign with him.

Here was Jerry Falwell Jr. explaining his endorsement in the Washington Post.

I do believe Trump is a good father, is generous to those in need, and is an ethical and honest businessman. I have gotten to know him well over the last few years and have come to admire him for those traits.

I do not believe, however, that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” that he meant we should elect only someone who would make a good Sunday School teacher or pastor. When we step into our role as citizens, we need to elect the most experienced and capable leaders.

As I said, Jimmy Carter is a great Sunday School teacher but the divorced and remarried Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan saved this nation when it was in nearly the same condition as it is today.

Jesus said “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Let’s stop trying to choose the political leaders who we believe are the most godly because, in reality, only God knows people’s hearts. You and I don’t, and we are all sinners.

From Messiah College historian John Fea’s blog:

  •  Trump’s pronunciation is quite common among Christians (and evangelicals) in the United Kingdom and I have heard this pronunciation used many times by American evangelical ministers as well.
  • Most American evangelicals would have said “Second Corinthians 3:17.” Trump’s pronunciation thus shows how little he knows about the American evangelical subculture even as he claims to understand them.  He does not speak evangelicalese.
  • Finally, anyone who thinks that the big story of Trump’s visit to Liberty is how he cited this Bible verse is missing the bigger picture .  From a historical point of view, the Liberty response to Trump illustrates yet another case study of the close relationship between evangelicals and the GOP that began about forty years ago. From the perspective of Christians, Trump’s visit should cause serious concern, especially when Jerry Falwell Jr. holds Trump up as a Christian who follows the Golden Rule, displays Christian “fruit” (he quoted Matthew 7–“by your fruits you shall know them”–to describe Trump in a positive light), and has “radical” ideas just like Jesus did.

Trump, meanwhile, is not one to be laughed at without pointing a finger of blame, as he did on CNN after his Liberty appearance.

Donald Trump says it’s Tony Perkins’ fault he said “two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians” during a speech at Liberty University this week — a mistake that raised questions about his biblical knowledge as he courts evangelical voters.

The Republican presidential front-runner said in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon Wednesday that Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, had given him notes on what to say when he visited the evangelical university in Lynchburg, Virginia.

“Tony Perkins wrote that out for me — he actually wrote out 2, he wrote out the number 2 Corinthians,” Trump said. “I took exactly what Tony said, and I said, ‘Well Tony has to know better than anybody.’ “

Trump’s pronunciation of the Bible verse drew laughter from the Christian audience — but he downplayed it, saying his Scottish mother would have said “two Corinthians,” as well.

“It’s a very small deal, but a lot of people in different sections of the world say two, and I’ve had many, many people say that to me. My mother, as you know, was from Scotland, and they say two,” Trump said.

 Perkins said Thursday he was “guilty as charged” of writing the verse the way Trump described.

“No, I don’t dispute it at all. I wrote the scripture reference, which is 2 Corinthians 3:17, which is how it’s written,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.” “I’m guilty as charged. That’s exactly what I did. I sent him a couple of suggestions of some things he could talk about as a connection point.”

“It shows that he’s not familiar with Bible,” Perkins added. “Donald Trump’s a very interesting guy. There are some things about him that I find fascinating, that I like about him, as well as other evangelicals.”

Perkins, who has not yet endorsed a candidate, said “there’s a lot more to consider” before he gets behind a candidate.

Well yes. But on the Wednesday before the caucuses, Perkins came to Iowa to endorse Cruz at a pro-life rally in West Des Moines.

Afterward, I talked to Perkins about 2 Corinthians and about his decision to endorse Cruz, and it turns out the two events were related.


Perkins shrugged about Trump calling him out for not writing out S-E-C-O-N-D CORINTHIANS. He said he likes Trump and has a good relationship with him and wasn’t there to say anything negative about Trump. But he did say that the publicity around 2 Corinthians – which he said is Liberty University’s motto – persuaded him to declare his heart and publicly endorse Cruz to clear up the impression that had been left in the public mind that, because he had advised Trump on his speech at LIberty, he was backing Trump.

So, I suppose, with Perkins’ endorsement, Cruz got the last laugh after all.

Except that as political money in the bank, I suspect Falwell’s endorsement  for Trump was more bang for the buck than Perkins’ endorsement of Cruz.

Last night, Perkins spoke up for Cruz at a Carolina Values Summit at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that was attended by Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who was originally scheduled to appear on his own behalf but, after dropping out of the race post-Iowa, spoke on behalf of his new candidate of choice – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The last Winthrop Poll from early December had Trump with 24 percent, Cruz with 16 percent, Carson with 14 percent, Rubio with 11 percent and jeb Bush with nine percent:

Winthrop Poll Director Dr. Scott Huffmon noted, “Trump leads across multiple categories of voters from a high of 35% among those who wish to create a database of Muslims in the U.S. to a low of 22% among Evangelical Christians, who will make up nearly 60% of the S.C. GOP Presidential Primary electorate. Ted Cruz is tied with Ben Carson at 17% among Evangelicals. This is a significant drop for Carson among Evangelicals.  He registered 33% support among this group in a Monmouth Poll a month ago. It is worth noting that 1 in 5 Evangelicals remain undecided.

Polls in January showed Trump maintaining a lead, including among evangelicals, where, according to the most recent NBC/WSJ/Maris poll, Trump was the choice of 33 percent to 25 percent for Cruz.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.12.46 AM

As Huffmon noted, Carson has suffered a steep slide.

But, last night in Rock Hill, Carson was even more warmly received than Cruz. Those who have watched Carson disappear in the debates may not appreciate how engaging and compelling he can be in the more relaxed and open atmosphere of his solo appearances before what are really adoring audiences who, whatever they think of his presidential prospects, truly admire and love him.

What those admirers do in South Carolina matters.

Political strategist Arnold Steinberg writing at the conservative American Spectator:

“I really appreciate the support given to me by the evangelicals,” Donald Trump said in a 30-second Iowa ad released two days before the February 1 caucuses and also appearing on Facebook, an ad that might play well in South Carolina. “They’ve been incredible. Every poll says how well I’m doing with them. And you know, my mother gave me this bible, this very bible many years ago.” Trump then holds it up, open to the “Holy Bible” title page. “In fact, it’s her writing here,” he adds, as he flips to the first page. “She wrote the name and my address and it’s just very special to me. And, again I want to thank the evangelicals.” Speaking with conviction, he ends with emphasis and impact: “I will never let you down.” The spot cuts to the words, all caps, white on black: “TRUMP: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

How many of the other candidates could do a sales pitch with the Bible? Rand Paul, possibly after his last debate performance in Iowa but he was on stage only because Trump’s boycott opened a slot, and he has now suspended his campaign. Huckabee or Santorum? Maybe, but even Iowa voters saw these two past winners in their state as anachronistic. And now they are both are out of the race. Scott Walker, a favorite in early, meaningless Iowa polling, dropped out long ago, partly because he was not a closer on camera.

Ted Cruz? His roots in this constituency are deep, yet with a similar ad script, Cruz might have seemed robotic. Even in his lengthy Iowa victory speech, Cruz did not approach intimacy. In contrast, Trump was acting but seemed natural. For several days in Iowa, Cruz was busy fending off inconclusive but unrelenting attacks on his “Canadian citizenship” — Trump planting doubt provided a further excuse for some social conservatives to rationalize Trump. The high-tech Cruz campaign even made a tactical blunder a few days before the Iowa caucus with its controversial mailing to drive voter turnout. The mailing implied the targeted voter had committed a “voting violation” — a deception that turned off a few evangelicals. The maneuver also allowed the Iowa secretary of state to attack Cruz for misleading voters. Can anyone imagine salesman Trump, always a couple of moves ahead in the chess game, authorizing such a blowback mailing?

But who cares, the Cruz people will properly note, their guy placed first. But this is due largely to his tremendous investment of time and money, and an incredible “ground game” volunteer operation. Political novice Trump mistakenly assumed he could win Iowa without a full-scale volunteer operation. Finally, Trump’s refusal to appear at the final debate probably hurt him among undecided voters, who broke considerably for Rubio and Cruz, not for Trump.

Months ago Carson, an impressive man with perhaps the most potential, especially with evangelicals, was on track to win Iowa, but his momentum peaked with lackluster debate performances. Weeks ago Carson’s campaign was in disarray with staff firings or resignations, and then, after Iowa, more downsizing. By contrast, Trump’s do-it-yourself campaign has seemed to be working. Trump makes his decisions unilaterally, and his political instincts have mocked the conventional wisdom. Some evangelicals projected into Trump’s rebellious campaign a rebellion against the secular culture. When the votes were counted in Iowa, Carson — who months ago I would have expected to win Iowa — helped split the evangelical vote and came in fourth. Carson was reduced to raising the specter of a dirty trick by the Cruz camp, spreading a press report, while some caucus voting was still going on, that Carson was getting out of the rate. And Trump orchestrated the escalation of the Cruz-Carson feud. It remains to be seen whether the fallout will hurt Cruz down the line.


Even Trump’s second place showing in Iowa would have been impossible without his improbable support among Iowa religious conservatives, however you label them, and they have given him, rather than denied him, a launching pad. The paradox is that perhaps half the Iowa evangelicals had an unfavorable view of Trump. If Trump continues to do adequately with evangelicals in a multi-candidate primary, those evangelical voters will have “skin in the game.” Certainly, Falwell and other evangelical “leaders” who have endorsed Trump are now far more deeply invested in him as their choice for Republican nominee. Expect them in other states.

But if the race after South Carolina narrows to just Trump, Cruz, and one other (Kasich, Rubio, or Bush), then Trump could face a tougher overall challenge, and well see what happens to evangelicals. Christie and Fiorina already are gone; the former had little evangelical voter following, and Fiorina had claim to “values voters” but, in the end, little support at the polls. If after South Carolina Carson collapses or drops out, those evangelical voters would normally be more supportive of Cruz, but Trump has raised the specter of Cruz using a dirty trick to cheat Carson out of second place in Iowa. It seems like an eternity ago when Trump suggested the world renowned neurosurgeon was just an “OK doctor” and later Trump questioned Carson’s Seventh Day Adventist faith. Since then Trump has publicly courted “Ben” who, despite his well-known good nature, may harbor bad feelings toward Cruz. Carson may still be going to sleep each night wondering if the Cruz’s campaign’s implication that Carson was dropping cost him four votes per precinct in Iowa, cheating him out of second place, and, if so, was this God’s will, and what is the meaning?

Political analyst Philip Bump, reviewing in the Washington Post the CNN exit polling of voting in Tuesday’s New Hampshire election, pointed out that Trump’s across-the-board victory there almost extended to evangelical voters, where remarkably he and Cruz were basically tied. This finding has profound implications for South Carolina. Pundits keep talking about John McCain’s 2008 victory there over Mitt Romney, partly as a result of the state’s critical fundamentalist Christian vote, amidst a subterranean attack on Romney’s Mormon faith. Next week Cruz needs a home run among South Carolina evangelicals, but it’s unlikely he’ll run the table with them.

Trump wasn’t in Rock Hill last night. He was holding a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

But, in his closing remarks, Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., an African-American Christian preacher and Pentecostal bishop from Maryland, who was the prime convener of the Carolina Values Summit, sounded very much like Jerry Falwell Jr. in describing the criteria that should guide conservative Christian voters in choosing a candidate.

The should look for a candidate who can “lead with vigor, authority and clarity,” he said.

“We all know people in our lifetimes who claim to be great teachers and believers, who taught Sunday school but they didn’t do such a good job as a president,” Jackson said.

“God sometimes uses people who don’t know him right now but who have been put forth, set up to make a difference,” Jackson said. “In the Old Testament there is the story of man name Cyrus and Cyrus was anointed by God to be a deliverer, if you want to call if that, of the Jewish people. So there’s a biblical precedence that some of the greatest deliverances that happened for God’s people came through the agency of folks who were not born again themselves at all but hey had great leadership, great authority, great power”

I talked to Winthrop’s Huffmon yesterday.

He said that 57 percent of the Republican primary electorate – and 69 percent of the Christian Republican electorate – identify as evangelicals.

He said historically, South Carolina evangelicals have not coalesced around a single candidate.

“Cruz is hoping to change the calculus for evangelicals in South Carolina, he is hoping they will coalesce, which normally they won’t. One candidate may have a greater percentage of the evangelicals but they tend to spread themselves out just like other voters. Cruz needs to make South Carolina evangelicals behave a little bit more like Iowa caucus evangelicals.”

“We’re the buckle on the Bible Belt, so as long as any candidate pays homage to religious reasons, that gives anybody who is religious an excuse to support them on any other issue they want to vote on. ‘Well, they’re talking about their faith, I know they’re a good Christian and I want to vote for them for that and blank, and  frankly the and blank is the real reason they are supporting him.”

“So all of the candidates – including He-who-can’t-name-my-favorite-Bible-verse-and-Two-Corinthians – he will say something to reach out to evangelicals and that will give them  a reason hey can vote for him.”

Theologically they can justify it by noting, like Falwell and Jackson have, that “God didn’t choose perfect people. He chose Rahab the prostitute and Matthew the tax collector. These were all imperfect people.”

“As long as they look at somebody and that person pays homage to their Christian belief or heritage it gives them free rein to support the candidate of their choice politically and they will,” Huffmon said, “and Cruz wants to change that and his ability to defeat Trump here depends on it.”