Pull-ups, pistols and putting $10,000 on the table: a few other ways presidential candidates challenge each other

Are you ready for Rick Perry’s pull-up contest with Donald Trump?rick-perry-versus-trump

That’s right: Perry’s latest message to Trump following a month-long war of words was to see who is physically the toughest.

“Let’s get a pull-up bar out there and let’s see who can do the most pull-ups,” the former Texas governor and Air Force Captain said after a speech Wednesday at the Yale Club in New York.

Related: Perry versus Trump: The 2016
presidential race turns to social media trolling

As far as we can tell, it’s the first recorded pull-up contest in presidential campaign history.

Just for fun, here are a few other ways that candidates have challenged each other that’s almost entirely devoid of ideology, experience and other widely accepted political criteria:

With thousands of dollars

In a 2011 debate, Mitt Romney famously bet Rick Perry $10,000 to settle an argument over Romney’s alleged support of individual mandates for health insurance while serving as governor of Massachusetts.

With cookies

Technically, the presidents aren’t facing off with cookies — their wives are. The results of Family Circle’s Presidential Bake-Off, in which First Lady hopefuls put their best cookie recipes to a vote in a poll put on by the magazine, have reflected the results of all but one presidential election since 1992. Current First Lady Michelle Obama won in 2012 with a recipe that called for both white and dark chocolate chips.

Related: 2016 presidential campaign swag-off swings into gear

With pistols

In 1804, a political challenge between former Vice President Aaron Burr and former Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, involved not pull-ups, but 19th-century bullets. The duel, a culmination of a 15-year political rivalry, ended in Hamilton’s death and Burr’s career’s end. At the time, a duel was considered an “affair of honor.”

With ESPN brackets

Earlier this year, ESPN reached out to likely 2016 presidential candidates and asked them to fill out an ESPN bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament. Of the 14 who entered, Scott Walker’s bracket did best.

Follow Live: Sandra Bland hearing at Texas House

State Rep. Garnet F. Coleman said he scheduled a hearing today of the House Committee on County Affairs at 2 p.m.  “to get answers about the events leading up to Sandra Bland’s arrest and subsequent death” and to solicit recommendations on how to prevent similar tragedies.

Follow our live coverage

Live coverage of Texas Senate hearing on Planned Parenthood

Ken Paxton

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday on Planned Parenthood’s policies on providing fetal tissue for research, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Capitol, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton scheduled to testify. Statesman reporter Chuck Lindell will provide live updates from the hearing:

Texas House hearing to look into Sandra Bland death

This story corrected to change the time of Thursday’s hearing to 2 p.m.

A Texas House committee will hear testimony Thursday about the circumstances surrounding the arrest and death of Sandra Bland, a

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston

The House County Affairs Committee hearing also will examine jail standards, including procedures for dealing with potentially mentally ill prisoners in county jails, and issues related to how the public and police interact, according to Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, chairman of the committee.

Thursday’s hearing, in Room E1.026 in the Capitol Extension, will begin at 2 p.m.

Bland was found hanging in her cell on July 13. County officials said the Illinois woman committed suicide, but Bland’s family has rejected that finding.

Perry versus Trump: The 2016 presidential race turns to social media trolling

Of all the presidential candidates running, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been one of the loudest critics of Donald Trump since he first entered the race in June.rick-perry-versus-trump

Related: `Trump Force One’ lands in Laredo for Donald’s whirlwind border visit

And as he did with Macy’s, Neil Young, NBC and anyone else who has reacted disapprovingly of his controversial behavior, Trump responded to Perry via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Earlier this month, a Trump tweet remained relatively friendly while also criticizing Perry’s border security record.

Just a few days later, following Perry’s mounting criticism of Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants in his election launch, Trump’s tweets turned ugly:

The tweets are a far cry from 2012 when Trump praised Perry:

Perry has used Twitter to respond:

Perry was also quick to respond after Trump’s controversial “not a war hero” comment about John McCain:

The most recent attack blast between the candidates came from an Instagram Wednesday:

Remember folks, the campaign season has just begun. 473 days until it’s all over.

Ivana, can I buy a vowel? How Trump’s Texas visit prompted a newspaper apology

Before Donald Trump’s hastily announced, eagerly anticipated appearance in Laredo, the ostensible GOP frontrunner was already causing trouble for the Laredo Morning Times, the daily newspaper in the Texas-Mexico border city.

The LMT’s lead headline Thursday featured an unfortunate typo: “Trump vists Laredo.”

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The newspaper sought to set things straight with The Donald with an online apology Thursday that did more than just apologize to a candidate who has talked tough on the border and Mexican immigrants, both of which are hot topics in Laredo.

Said the apology:

Laredo Morning Times apologizes to Laredo and to Mr. Donald Trump for the typographical error on Page 1A in today’s edition of LMT. We welcome Mr. Trump. Enjoy your visit.

Later, the apology to Mr. Donald Trump was updated to add another sentence that pretty much sums up the episode: “Let’s all learn from today’s lessons.”

`I don’t like losers.’ On Donald Trump, Miss USA and Ted Cruz

Good morning Austin:

Donald Trump’s twitter handle is @realdonaldtrump. I guess that’s to distinguish it from a parody account. Sensible precaution.

The real deal is a thing of beauty.

A recent sampling:

In this video, Trump talks about how the U.S. economy is “going to hell,” because of the “cunning” of Mexican and Chinese leaders.

In this unedited video of a Trump rally in New Hampshire, he talks about the Iran deal, Hillary Clinton and his Republican rivals.

So what is Trump’s problem?

Four years ago, Maria Konnikova at Big Think suggested that Trump may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.

Hmm. Sounds right. I looked it up.

From the Mayo Clinic:
If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection.Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:– Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
– Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
– Exaggerating your achievements and talents
– Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
– Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
– Requiring constant admiration
– Having a sense of entitlement
– Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
– Taking advantage of others to get what you want
– Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
– Being envious of others and believing others envy you
– Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
– Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

Wow. He’s textbook. They ought to just to rename it Trump’s Syndrome.

But, lo and behold, it turns out that Trump exists at a moment in American reality TV history when Trump Syndrome is not necessarily a debilitating malady. Indeed, it may be an advantage.

As Jelani Cobb wrote recently in the New Yorker:

In all the ways that matter, save actual performing, Donald Trump is a not a politician—he’s a rapper. If elected, he’s less likely to represent George W. Bush’s third term than Kanye West’s first one.

Actually, listening to Trump’s comments over the weekend about John McCain at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, I also heard the rhythms and sensibility of a New York insult comedian, say Andrew Dice Clay.

Here is a transcript of the pertinent remarks from Real Clear Politics:

QUESTION: John McCain, a war hero, five and a half years as a prisoner of war and you called him a “dummy.”

Is that appropriate in running for president?

DONALD TRUMP: I know him too well, that is the problem. Let’s take John McCain. I’m in Phoenix, we have a meeting that is going to have 500 people at the Biltmore Hotel. We get a call from the hotel, it is turmoil, thousands and thousands of people are showing up, four days before they’re pitching tents.

The hotel says we can’t handle this it is going to destroy the hotel, we move it to the convention center, we have 15,000 people. The biggest one ever. Bigger than anybody Bernie Sanders, bigger than anybody and everyone knows it… Wonderful, great Americans…

John McCain goes, “oh boy, Trump makes my life difficult, he had fifteen thousand crazies show up,” he called them all crazy.

I said, they weren’t crazy, they were great Americans…

I know what a crazy is, I know all about crazy, These weren’t crazy.

So he insulted me, and he insulted everyone in that room. So I said, somebody should run against John McCain — and I supported him for president, I raised a million dollars for the guy, that’s a lot of money.

I supported him, he lost, he let us down. He lost, so I never liked him as much after that. I don’t like losers.

QUESTION: But he is a war hero, five and a half years as a prisoner of war.

He is not a ‘war hero.’

He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, let me tell you. He’s a war hero. Because he was captured, and I believe perhaps he is a war hero, but right now he’s said a lot of very bad things about a lot of people.

So what I said, is: John McCain, I disagree with him, these people aren’t crazy, and, very importantly, I speak the truth, he graduated last in his class at Annapolis [Naval Academy], nobody knows that. I said he graduated last or second to last, he graduated last at Annapolis. And he was upset, for what? For telling the truth. You’re not supposed to say that somebody graduated last or second to last, because you’re supposed to be very nice.

I want to make America great again… We don’t want to listen to his stuff with being politically correct. We have a lot of work to do.

There is a logic to Trump’s attack on McCain. It is the logic of the middle school playground. You insult me, I insult you. You hit me below the belt, I’ll hit you even harder below the belt – and it’s perfectly OK because you started it. The merit of what I’m saying is entirely beside the point.

It’s presidential politics as playing the dozens. If Trump runs as an independent, it ought to be on the Yo’ Mama People’s Party.

"I know what crazies are."
“I know all about crazy.”

According to Jonathan Martin and Alan Rappeport in the New York Times, the audience in Iowa was less offended by Trump’s comments on McCain than other aspects of his presentation.

Yet Mr. Trump’s awkward and ill-suited remarks about religion and marriage here may have done more damage to his candidacy, at least with Christian conservatives.

“I’m a religious person,” Mr. Trump offered. “I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so.”

Mr. Trump also struggled to answer if he had ever sought forgiveness from God, before reluctantly acknowledging that he had not. “If I do something wrong, I try to do something right,” he said. “I don’t bring God into that picture.”

And Mr. Trump raised eyebrows with language rarely heard before an evangelical audience — saying “damn” and “hell” when discussing education and the economy — while also describing the taking of communion in glib terms. “When we go in church and I drink the little wine, which is about the only wine I drink, and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness,” Mr. Trump said.

If all that was not enough to roil the button-downed crowd, he also described his three marriages in starkly frank terms, conceding that he had difficulty finding a work-life balance.

“It was a work thing, it wasn’t a bad thing,” Mr. Trump said. “It was very hard for anybody to compete against the work.”

Despite his marital problems over the years, Mr. Trump said that he was always available to his children and that he did his best to have dinner with them on most nights even when his work was grueling. He worked hard, he said, to instill good values and steer them away from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

“I was actually a great father,” Mr. Trump said. “I was a better father than I was a husband.”

It was these comments, not his attack on Mr. McCain, that prompted the most muttering and unease in the audience.

Yes, Trump seems an unlikely evangelical hero, without a thorough rewriting of the Gospels.

For example:

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek,  for they shall inherit the earth.”

Donald 5:5 “The meek are losers. I hate losers.”

As I watched Frank Luntz question Trump and the other candidates in Iowa, I thought how fortunate they were that they weren’t put on the spot the way the five finalists were at the recent Miss USA Pageant, a Trump production.

You may recall that Trump’s words about Mexican border-crossers when he announced his candidacy a month ago led NBC and Univision to cancel broadcast of the pageant at the very last minute.

From the New York Post:

NBC and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision refused to air the Miss USA pageant, as scheduled, on July 12. Niche cable network Reelz picked up the rights.

The pageant drew just 925,000 viewers on Reelz, down sharply from the 5.6 million viewers who watched the show on NBC in 2014, according to Nielsen data.

Trump has sued Univision in New York state court for $500 million over its decision to drop the pageant programming and plans to file a similar suit against NBC, a source said.

This is what Trump said that prompted the cancellation:

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems … When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

I thought it was hugely unfair for NBC and Univision to cancel airing the pageant – a kind of self-satisfied preening that came at the expense of the contestants. I watched the pageant and this was an impressive group of hyper-accomplished young women – doctors, lawyers, newscasters, creators of non-profits devoted to civic betterment – and incredibly racially and ethnically diverse, with a sizable proportion the children of immigrants.

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The five Miss USA finalists

The individual penultimate question for each of the five finalists was, as usual, cringe-worthy. (The final question for all of them is what woman should be on the $10 bill.)

Miss Texas – Ylianna Guerra of McAllen – was asked whether the government should do anything about the fact that CEO’s make 300 times as much as the average worker?

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She gave the correct Texas answer. No.

“CEO’s, I believe they work hard enough for their money, so I think they should be able to attain whatever it is they are working for.”

For Miss Rhode Island it was, “Recently comedian Jerry Seinfeld spoke out against political correctness in our culture. Do you think political correctness is hurting or helping this country?”

That’s terrible. What is the politically correct answer?

Miss Rhode Island froze. Started to answer. Asked to have the question repeated. Resumed her halting answer. It was awful. A lovely young woman who we had learned earlier in the pageant had spent some of her growing up homeless living in a Walmart parking lot, was done.


Miss Rhode Island: "I'm sorry. Can you repeat the question?"
Miss Rhode Island: “I’m sorry. Can you repeat the question?”

For Miss Maryland, it was whether restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba was a good thing.

“Yes … We should not be holding onto old grudges.”

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Miss Nevada got the ultimate pageant question: “What would you do to improve race relations in the U.S.? Please be specific.”


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Suffice it to say, she couldn’t solve the race problem, in 30 seconds, dressed in her evening gown. She was through.

And here was Miss Oklahoma’s question.

“The Confederate flag, excessive force by police and same-sex marriage are all recent hot-button issues in our country. What will be the next we have to tackle on a national level?”


What would Donald Trump say?

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Miss Oklahoma did what a good politician would do. She didn’t answer the question. She answered the question she wanted to answer.

“I think we still need to talk about race relations in this country. We have still not solved that problem.”


Of course, she didn’t have time to solve the problem – and frankly, that was really Miss Nevada’s responsibility – but, boom, done, without hesitation or doubt, she had offered an assertive, politically correct reply and she was crowned Miss USA.

The point here is that Donald Trump could never have won based on the Q-and-A at his own pageant. But in the realm of Republican Party politics, the assertive, politically incorrect reply is gold, and that bears serious attention.

As Brookings demographer William Frey warned in the Washington Post, even before this latest to-do, it’s time to Stop Laughing at Donald Trump, even if it is, as this First Reading suggests, tempting.

But writing Trump off is dangerous. The billionaire may play the buffoon, but he is an important one — one whom Americans appear to adore. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll released Tuesday shows him leading all Republican presidential hopefuls. And while establishment candidates in both parties might want to ignore him, or express a milder version of his anti-immigration opinions, an enormous number of voters clearly like his views. Pretending they don’t allows Trump and other immigration firebrands, such as Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz, to resuscitate a century-old nativism that could stick around beyond this election. Given that the United States is undergoing a demographic diversity explosion, our workforce — our very future — is tied to people Trump is rallying support against.

Trump’s message is a call to 1950s American greatness and a simmering, mad-as-hell populism that blames Chinese imports, freeloading Saudis and Mexican immigrants (and Mexico) for the nation’s ills. It appeals to a vein of the U.S. electorate that will remain a significant voting bloc for several election cycles to come: older whites. Trump calls his supporters the “silent majority,” the same name Richard Nixon used to marshal support from a white, middle-class, middle-aged population that felt underappreciated and feared the dramatic social change wrought by activist, antiwar youths and the civil rights movement.

Public opinion polls and recent election results reflect similar views among older whites today. Pew Research Center data from 2012 showed that more than half of white baby boomers and seniors believed that increasing numbers of newcomers from other countries represented a threat to traditional American values. They were less likely than minorities and younger whites to hold a positive opinion of the growing numbers of Hispanics and Asians in the United States. These views translate into negative attitudes toward government programs they see as not benefitting their own children and grandchildren. A 2013 Pew survey showed that, given the choice between a larger government that offered more services and a smaller government that offered fewer, less than a quarter of white baby boomers favored larger government, compared with 7 in 10 minorities of the Gen X and millennial generations.


Democrats cannot make the politics of fear go away simply by courting the young-adult and minority voting blocs. While it is true that the supersize turnout and support of those groups helped elect President Obama twice, the white portion of the electorate, which votes strongly Republican, underperformed in support of John McCain in 2008, and white turnout was down in 2012. Rhetoric playing to the fears of older Americans could change that pattern and draw more white voters to the polls in 2016.

While racial minorities now account for 95 percent of U.S. population growth and represent 38 percent of the population, as reported by the Census Bureau last month, there is a sharp lag in diversity between the overall population and the portion that turns out on Election Day. A disproportionate number of Hispanics and Asians are either too young to vote, are not citizens or are not registered, qualities that will not change for several more election cycles. Even in 2012, with strong minority turnout, whites made up 74 percent of all voters. And within the white voting bloc, it is the older electorate — those most greatly fearing change — that will be gaining as baby boomers continue to age. By my calculation, the number of (mostly white) eligible voters over age 45 will be 26 percent larger in 2024 than those under age 45. This disparity will be further widened by the higher turnout of older white voters, who may not determine future elections but will continue to have a strong voice.

This helps explain why it is that Sen. Ted Cruz has refused to join most of his fellow Republican candidates, beginning with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in criticizing Trump.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin Cruz explained, with great earnestness, how much he admires the courage of his “friend” John McCain, but would not play the “media game” of denouncing his “friend,” Donald Trump.

Now Cruz has crafted the persona of the truth-teller who doesn’t play the Washington game of fake “friends,” but we’ll have to take his word for it that he and McCain and Trump are well and truly BFFs.

Still, he is walking a fine line.

From a Wall Street Journal editorial posted Sunday evening:

But note the silence of Ted Cruz, who declined to criticize Mr. Trump because he said the media enjoy such intra-Republican fights. Mr. Cruz has recently released a book whose main theme is an attack on other Republicans. It’s central to his campaign strategy. The Texas Senator must be hoping to inherit Trump voters once the casino magnate flames out, but he’s revealing his own lack of political character.

As to the Cruz campaign strategy, last week a Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise, posted a PowerPoint affirmatively answering the question, Can he win? From CNN:

Keep the Promise, whose strategy is detailed in a 51-slide PowerPoint presentation titled “Can He Win?” recently posted to the organization’s website, mercilessly attacks 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney as unable to elevate “wedge issues,” or divisive issues that polarize voters, to the forefront of the Republican debate. Calling Romney a “terrible candidate with a terrible campaign,” the slides pillory him as a Republican who managed to squander winnable states just like every other “loser” moderate candidate.


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The terrible candidate with a terrible campaign almost won, is the PowerPoint’s repeated refrain.


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Romney was a “terrible candidate” who ran a “terrible campaign.”

“Moderate candidates are losers.”

The language, the tone is Trumpian, and clearly, their strategy is to harness what Frey called the “mad-as-hell populism” that Trump has tapped into.


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The PowerPoint notes that the only moderate Republican to win the presidency in recent decades was George H.W. Bush, and then only thanks to the contributions of Ronald Reagan, Lee Atwater and Willie Horton.

It’s a bracing note.

After all, on his deathbed, Lee Atwater had his regrets.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12— In a detailed and candid article about his career and his fight against an inoperable brain tumor, Lee Atwater has apologized to Michael S. Dukakis for the “naked cruelty” of a remark he made about the Democratic Presidential nominee in the 1988 campaign.

The apology by Mr. Atwater, who is now in his last month as chairman of the Republican National Committee, is included in an article in the February issue of Life magazine, where he also starkly describes his often-desperate attempts to deal with his illness and his fear on some nights that if he falls asleep, “I will never wake up again.”

As manager of Mr. Bush’s campaign, Mr. Atwater succeeded in making the case of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer, an issue against Mr. Dukakis.

Mr. Horton, who is black, raped a white woman and stabbed her husband while on a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison. The Bush campaign used the case to portray Mr. Dukakis, then Governor of Massachusetts, as a liberal who was soft on crime.

“In 1988,” Mr. Atwater said, “fighting Dukakis, I said that I ‘would strip the bark off the little bastard’ and ‘make Willie Horton his running mate.’ I am sorry for both statements: the first for its naked cruelty, the second because it makes me sound racist, which I am not.”

Since being stricken last year, the 39-year-old Mr. Atwater has apologized on several occasions for many of the campaign tactics he once employed and for which he was criticized. But rarely has he spoken in such detail or with such candor as in the interview for the first-person Life article.

“In part because of our successful manipulation of his campaign themes, George Bush won handily,” Mr. Atwater said. He conceded that throughout his political career “a reputation as a fierce and ugly campaigner has dogged me.”

“While I didn’t invent negative politics,” he said, “I am one of its most ardent practitioners.”

Follow Live: Hearing on Chronic Wasting Disease in deer at TPWD

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering slaughtering about 130 captive white-tailed deer over concerns that an unknown number of the animals are infected with a contagious, deadly disease called chronic wasting disease, which affects deer and elk.

Officials and several ranch owners are concerned that the rare disease might spread among the nearly 4 million white-tailed deer in the wild in Texas — and hurt the state’s multimillion-dollar hunting industry.

Follow our live coverage of the hearing with the TPWD:

Abbott in the Apple: ‘Frankly, New York is easy picking for us.’

Good day Austin:

Our governor is in New York.

This morning, accompanied by his wife and daughter, he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, kicking off the second day of his two-day trip to New York talking up Texas, a trip paid for by TexasOne, the state’s Economic Development Corporation.


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He’s talking about Texas being the place to do business, much as his predecessor, Rick Perry, did on similar business recruiting trips, well-choreographed trips that occupied a lot of his attention, especially in his last years as governor.

Only difference is that Abbott said that Texas is even a better place to do business after his first legislative session.

At one point, he sounded almost sorry for the Big Apple.

“Frankly New York is easy picking for us.”

July 14 is Bastille Day.

But it is also the anniversary of the day in 1984 when a tree fell on Abbott as he jogged in Houston.

Two years ago, Abbott announced his candidacy for governor on July 14, talking about his literal “spine of steel.”

Immediately after ringing the NYSE bell, the governor appeared on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street.

Asked about whether Texas was suffering because of the slump in the oil economy, Abbott said:

Texas has continued to grow jobs because we have a very vast and diversified economy. We lead the nation in technology exports. We have the largest medical center in the entire world. Today in Arlington, Texas, General Motors is investing $1.4 billion in another manufacturing facility. We run the gamut as far as a broad-based economy is concerned and that’s why we’re here attracting even more businesses to Texas.

As he has in the past, Abbott declined to pick a favorite in the presidential race:

Everyone in the country is running for president. We’ve got to narrow it down a little bit.


In a series of TV appearances yesterday and today, the governor seemed in fine fettle. While the ostensible purpose of his trip was to talk up Texas, he also spent a lot of time answering questions about immigration, the border, Donald Trump and sanctuary cities, and talking down Barack Obama as the responsible party for the federal failure to secure the border and enact immigration reform, setting the stage for both Donald Trump and sanctuary cities.

There was a certain self-confidence bordering on bravado in the timing of the governor’s trip. Here he is spending two days in New York saying terrible things about the president of the United States, even as federal Special Operations forces are amassing in Texas for the launch Wednesday of the Jade Helm 15 military exercises. (Maybe amassing is not the right word, because the actual numbers are really quite small. How about “aminimassing?”)

Apparently the governor has great confidence that the Texas State Guard, which he assigned to monitor the operation, would have alerted him if they thought Jade Helm was on the verge of turning into a takeover of Texas by federal troops.

In any case, the governor will be back in Texas tomorrow and can set things straight then.

Here is an account from the governor’s office yesterday of his first day in New York.

Governor Greg Abbott spent his first day in New York City meeting with various business leaders and industry experts to discuss Texas’ economic model of limited government, low taxes and minimal regulations. While in New York, Governor Abbott made several media appearances highlighting the State of Texas’ efforts to attract new businesses by further cutting taxes, speeding up permitting processes and investing in education and infrastructure while still contributing to Texas’ Rainy Day Fund.

Governor Abbott will also attend an evening event hosted by TexasOne, the state’s Economic Development Corporation, to speak with dozens of business executives, employers, TexasOne prospects and supporters about the merits of conducting business in the State of Texas.

What follows is a review of the governor’s Monday in the media.

First stop. Fox and Friends.

There is a drug lord on the loose.

Fox: “How in the world does that happen.? To get some answers we have Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He just met with the Mexican government a few days ago. He joins me now.”

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Uh oh. The governor has his mean look on. Very rarely seen.

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Oh. Never mind. He was just waiting for the conversation to begin.

The governor said he is concerned about the escaped drug lord. He wants Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman extradited so he can be tried and imprisoned in the United States, for the rest of his life.

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President Obama hasn’t done all he could have done, the governor says. Obama hasn’t secured the border, which is why Texas just enacted “the toughest border security program any state has ever had in the history of this country.”

Fox: The drug lord’s escape has given Donald Trump reason to say, “I told you so.” (note: the drug lord has, threatened Trump’s life – on Twitter! While on the lam!)

Abbott: ‘Trump and others have injected into the presidential race the need to talk about the border.”

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“I disagree with some of his tenor,” Abbott said of Trump.

Sanctuary cities?

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Were it not for the failures of the Obama administration, Abbott said, “We wouldn’t even be talking about sanctuary cities.”

We have to elect a president who will do a good job of securing the border, passing immigration reforms  and that will get rid of all these sanctuary cities-based issues. You would not have people seeking sanctuary if we had an effective immigration plan, if we had an effective border security plan, and Americans are going to remain frustrated until we have an effective immigration and border security plan.


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Meanwhile, on how great Texas is:

We have no personal income tax, no corporate income tax and now we have cut the business franchise tax by 25%. We have sped up the permitting process and we are elevating our education system so that we will have the best workforce in the United States of America.


Next stop: the Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV.

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During my tenure as attorney general, the office I held before I was governor I sued the Obama administration 31 times. Listen, I didn’t want to have to do it and I shouldn’t have had to do it, but I had to do it, because he repeatedly, time after time, violated federal law, violated the United.States. Constitution. The last lawsuit I filed against him was in December of last year when I filed a lawsuit against his immigration amnesty order.

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The amazing thing. The star witness in our case was Barack Obama.

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I’ve got to say, Malzberg is an incredibly empathetic host. Look at the parallel body language.

Then it’s back to Fox News, Cavuto Coast to Coast.

More on Trump.

I would say the tenor Donald Trump has used is not the tenor I would use. It is important to remember that the only reason we are talking about this is because Washington, D.C., has totally failed America in doing its job to secure the border.

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More on Texas:

We have the most diverse economy in the United States of America and there is a reason for that. It’s because of the low cost of doing business and the high standards of the workforce. Businesses are flocking to the state of Texas.


Next it’s The John Gibson Show on Fox News Radio

More on sanctuary cities:

First we need to understand there is only one reason why sanctuary cities is even an issue and that is because the federal government has failed to do its job to protect our sovereignty and secure our border and to come up with a meaningful and effective immigration system. If the federal government had done those three things, we wouldn’t even have sanctuary cities right now.

In Texas this session:

Sanctuary city legislation was offered up. It did not pass, But again, going back, we focused on the key thing that must be done to stem this tide from the beginning. It’s a matter of triage, if you would, it’s a matter of setting priorities from the very beginning. And the first and foremost thing we must do is to secure the  border to prevent the cross-border unauthorized immigration taking place to begin with.

And so Texas is leading the way to do that. But frankly, none of this is going to be solved unless and until the federal government does its job and comes up with an effective immigration system and an effective border security system.

What about Trump saying that Perry failed to solve the border problem during his 14 years as governor?

 What Gov. Perry did do is Gov. Perry did call for the elimination of sanctuary cities. Gov. Perry did send the National Guard to the border, and then I picked up the baton and passed the most sweeping and toughest border security plan that the United States of America has ever had.

So Perry did take it a step in the right direction and I’m in the process of finishing off that.

 On Texas being the No. 1 state in the nation for people to move to.

I’ve got to tell you. If you look at the numbers, it’s quite astonishing. As far as people moving to states. Texas is number one in the nation for people to move to.

As far as moving out of states, New York is dead last. People are moving, fleeing New York, more than any other state, because of the high taxes, high regulation, high cost of doing business, high cots of living, and it’s the exact opposite in the state of Texas. So frankly, New York is easy picking for us.

But isn’t he worried that bringing all those folks to Texas from blue states might turn Texas blue?

I don’t and I have specific evidence why I don’t worry about that.

 First, if you are a person who is dependent on government, the last place you would leave is California and the last place you would go to is the state of Texas.

The state of Texas does not promote programs that create a state of dependency on government. We expect people to be independent and to work for living.

Second, Abbott said his campaign for governor had, in its polling, found that about 15 percent of voters had moved to Texas recently from California, and about ten percent from New York, but “about two-thirds of people who moved to the state of Texas were conservatives and voted for me for governor, and there’s a reason for that.”

The people who are seeking independence, who are seeking opportunity, who want to start a job, they are fleeing states like California and New York and they are fleeing to the great state of Texas.

`Finish in the top three or die.’ On Rick Perry and the New Hampshire primary

Rick Perry has a contemplative moment before the start of the Merrimack, NH, Fourth of July Parade with Lincoln, a campaign intern’s Goldendoodle, so named because he is the color of a shiny new penny. At far left is Mike Dennehy, who is running the Perry campaign in New Hampshire.



Good day Austin:

Want to know the state of the race in new Hampshire, in one multi-color chart?

Here it is, the net favorability ratings of 19 actual and potential Republican candidates for president from the most recent CNN/WMUR poll conducted June 18 – 24 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.




Hard to make out what’s going on here?

Well then check out this chart with the horse-race numbers.


If the general impression is no clear impression, that’s pretty much on target.

UNH political scientist Andrew Smith, who conducts the poll, warned against reading too much into it, especially the horse-race numbers. New Hampshire voters, perhaps the most serious and sophisticated and important voters in America, take their responsibility seriously. With such a big field and so many months of intensive candidate presence and attention ahead, there is very little reason to commit early.

From the commentary with the survey:

New Hampshire primary voters usually decide who they will vote for in the last weeks, or days of the campaign and it is no surprise that very few likely Republican primary voters have made up their minds about who they will support in 2016. Currently, only 8% of likely Republican Primary voters say they have definitely decided who they will support, 17% are leaning toward a candidate, and 75% are still trying to decide.

My main takeaway from the two charts is that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has had extreme ups and downs, but the overall trend line is down, down, down.

Also, that Donald Trump has gone from widely reviled to mildly reviled, and that even though he is now running second behind Jeb Bush in New Hampshire, that doesn’t mean that most likely Republican voters in New Hampshire like him.

Nonetheless, Trump’s flamboyant entry into the race, and incendiary comments on Mexican immigrants, seem to have markedly improved his standing

Here is Trump’s dramatic rise to the point where his net favorability is only minus-10 percent.


Here, in an easier-to-take-in form, are the favorability ratings for each of the candidates.



And here are the first and second choices of likely Republican primary voters.

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As you can see, the two Texans – Rick Perry and Ted Cruz –  are running neck-and-neck, well back, ninth and tenth.

Cruz got a big positive surge when he was the first candidate to declare his candidacy. But his unfavorability has climbed since then, and now he has net plus-one percent favorability.


Meanwhile, Perry’s numbers have fluctuated a bit but remain modestly positive, and improving of late. He is net plus-12 percent, though his favorability peaked last October when he was riding high with a plus-28 percent favorability.



I have to assume that Perry’s October 2014 surge reflects two events in the summer of 2014 – his dispatching the National Guard to the border, and his indictment by a Travis County grand jury, both of which enhanced his image for Republicans as a tough, stand-up guy.

While the warm glow of his indictment has probably faded, it appears that his sending the Guard to the border has had some lasting impact. As of late June, he was rated the candidate best able to handle illegal immigration.


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I spent July Fourth weekend in New Hampshire following Perry, who marched in two parades and spoke at two cookouts. He acquitted himself quite well.

Here are the first eight minutes of his stump  speech, delivered at a July Fourth barbecue sponsored by the Windham Republican Town Committee.


In between the Amherst and Merrimack parades he told me what he needs to do.

We need to be in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire and we need to win South Carolina. We know what we need to do.

That’s a tall order, bluntly stated. But getting elected president is a tall order, and if Perry can’t meet those self-imposed goals, he’s probably not going to make it.

Cruz has a little bit more flexibility because he’s got a more clearly defined niche and a lot more money in the bank.

Cruz has reported raising $14.2 million through June 30, while Super PACs supporting him have said they have raised more than $37 million, for a total of more than $51 million.

Perry has reported raising $1.07 million, plus $16.8 million in Super PAC money, for just under $18 million.

In interesting ways, Perry and Cruz are offering very different approaches, which may give Perry an edge in New Hampshire and Cruz an advantage in Iowa, where right now he is far more likely to finish in the top three than Perry.

Here are the results of the most recent Quinnipiac University Iowa poll.

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll. June 20-29.
Quinnipiac University Iowa poll. June 20-29.

According to the Quinnipiac Poll, both Perry and Cruz are very well liked in Iowa.

Quinnipiac University Iowa poll
Quinnipiac University Iowa poll
Quinnipiac University Iowa poll
Quinnipiac University Iowa poll

The big difference between New Hampshire and Iowa is that Iowa is a caucus state, which puts a premium on activists and gives the state’s large conservative evangelical community particularly outsized influence.

By contrast, according to Gallup, New Hampshire is the second least religious state in the nation, after Vermont, and that, said Smith, “only because they don’t count Wiccans.”

Also, while there is the sense among some of the New Hampshire folks I met that the Live Free or Die state is kind of Texas’ little brother, the gravitational pull of New Hampshire politics is actually quite the opposite of that in Texas.


Rep. David Bates, head of the Windham, N.H., Republican Town Committee, which hosted Perry at a July fourth barbecue.

For example, Rep. David Bates, the head of the Windham, N.H, Republican Town Committee, which hosted the barbecue for Perry on July Fourth, said that Windham may be the most Republican spot in New Hampshire. But New Hampshire has gone from being a historically Republican state to a very competitive purple state that can swing back and forth between the parties from one election to the next.

The state is now a “coin toss,” and, with independents outnumbering Republicans or Democrats, Bates said, “Everybody’s always focused on the unenrolled because they’re the biggest bloc of voters, so (candidates) are always playing to the middle. It doesn’t work if you go too hard left or right in New Hampshire. You can do that in local races but not in state and federal races.”


That far better fits the Perry than Cruz approach in 2015. Cruz is following the Texas template of rallying the base. He attributes Obama’s victories to insufficient conservative enthusiasm for John McCain and Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Perry, whose appeal to social conservatives has been and continues to be important to his appeal, is focusing on the economy and foreign affairs/national defense this time out.

But it can be delicate terrain for Perry to tread.

At a July 3 appearance at a lakefront cookout in Derry, he was asked in the Q-and-A whether the party’s platform should address issues that “the ultra-right are upset about.”

The questioner was Betty Gay, a Beaumont, Texas, native, who has been living the last 44 years in New Hampshire. Afterward Gay explained, of her question, that her concern is that the Republican Party alienating voters with its hard line against abortion and same-sex marriage and what she viewed as impractical resistance to Supreme Court decisions.

“A very close member of my family drove me crazy, voted for Obama twice and it just made me sick, but the reason is she had lots of gay friends and Republican just went out and talked about how bad gay people were, in so many words, and so she wouldn’t do it because it was very deeply personal to her, just as I think abortion is a deeply personal thing,” Gay said.

In response to Gay’s question, Perry launched into a five-minute response, which began with him saying that, as he campaigns, what he hears people talking about is the economy and job creation. He talked about his record securing the border, deploying the National Guard, strategic fencing, aviation assets, eliminating ISIS “from the face of the Earth,” approving the Keystone XL pipleline his first day in the White House, developing North American energy resources, reducing the cost of electricity, managing the world’s 12th largest economy, lowering corporate tax rates, igniting a manufacturing renaissance,  and how “every blue-collar union worker in this country ought to stand up and say, `Perry, I’m voting for you because you are going to raise my salary.'”

Having not directly answered Gay’s question, the next questioner asked Perry about state’s rights, and, returning to Gay’s concern, Perry said:

I agree with those four justices that were on the losing side (of the gay marriage case), but  the fact is we’re a rule-of-law country and they make decisions up there from time to time I don’t agree with. But we are a country of rules and laws and if we get away from that, we’ve lost everything that we have.

“He sort of didn’t answer it until the very end,” Gay said of Perry’s answer to her question.

“He finally got to the answer that we’re a nation of laws, so I thought that was the answer, but I got the impression that he didn’t really want to say it’s a non-issue.”

Gay found Perry’s answer satisfactory, and otherwise, she quite liked everything else about Perry.

“I’m still listening to all the candidates,” Gay said. “I would love it if he turns out to be the candidate. I would love it. I think he’s a very respectful, intelligent, capable, charming person.”

“I’m looking for someone who can unite the country, who is not going to go Bible-thumping, I feel I’m as good a Christian as anybody else, which means we’re all sinners,” Gay said.

“He says all the right things,” Gay said. But “if he waffles” on his rule-of-law answer, she will find another someone else.

Rick Perry. The Fourth of July. Windham, N.H.
Rick Perry. The Fourth of July. Windham, N.H.

Trump’s swift rise is, for the moment, a peril, albeit of a different sort, for both Perry and Cruz.

For Perry, who has been very critical of Trump’s comments on Mexican immigrants, Trump threatens his claim to the immigration/border issue.

For Cruz, who has had only kind words for Trump, Trump threatens Cruz’s status as the angry voter’s preferred candidate, though I find it a little hard to imagine Evangelicals for Trump.

For both Cruz and Perry also, Trump’s presence means there is one less space available on the Aug. 6 debate stage in Cleveland, site of the first Republican presidential debate, which the sponsor Fox has limited to the top ten candidates in national polls.


Texting while marching in the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.

If both Cruz and Perry manage to survive Iowa and New Hampshire and compete in the South Carolina primary, they may also draw support there from opposite sides in the debate over removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.

Perry supported Gov. Nikki Haley’s leadership in taking the flag down, calling it an “act of healing and unity.”

But, as Katie Glueck reported in Politico:

Cruz has methodically built a roster of state leaders to help him fire up social conservatives in the South. He may have gotten more than he bargained for.

In the last month alone, three of his state co-chairs have drawn fire over comments related to everything from Sharia law to the victims of the African-American church shooting in Charleston, S.C. That dynamic was thrown into sharp relief in recent weeks, as the debate in South Carolina unfolded over whether to take down the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

 One state co-chair said the victims of the Charleston shooting “waited their turn to be shot.” Another has emerged as the voice of the opposition to removing the rebel flag from the statehouse, likening that effort to a “Stalinist purge.” Separately, in Tennessee, his state chairman had once accused a Muslim state appointee of being a “Shariah compliant finance expert,” a comment that sparked outrage in some corners when he was tapped for the position with Cruz in early June.

When asked about his surrogates’ inflammatory comments, the Cruz campaign had their backs.


“That’s a big rabbit,” said Perry, referring to Carol L’Heureux’s not nearly full-grown Giant Flemish, who he encountered while marching in Merrimack, N.H.’s Fourth of July parade.


Perry discloses personal finances

From the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek and Jay Root:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reporting income of $250,000 from the company of top donor Peter Holt, helping boost the Republican presidential candidate’s family income past $700,000 over the last 18 months, new disclosures reveal.

The “consulting income” from Holt Texas Ltd., known commercially as Holt Cat, was included on his latest personal financial disclosure that all presidential candidates have to file.

Perry also reported retirement income of $130,882 stemming from his long service in state government. Perry had begun drawing his pension before leaving office, stirring controversy and eventually leading the Legislature to close the loophole that allowed him to double dip.

He reported state income, stemming from his salary as governor, of $133,215.

Elsewhere, Perry reported $96,000 in honorariums for speeches he gave during the last week of April. According to the disclosure, he was paid to address the Asian American Hotel Owners Association in Long Beach, Calif.; Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio; and Microsoft in Houston. 

Perry signs a Democrat's cast at the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.
Perry signs a Democrat’s cast at the Amherst, N.H., Fourth of July parade.