Since we had some fun yesterday with placing our bets in Vegas, let’s try doing brackets today. Charlie Cook, in the National Journal, divided the Republican field into four groups – the Establishment, Conservative Governors, the Tea Party, and Social Conservatives.
As always, things aren’t this simple — there are Governors in all four groups, for example – but still, it’s an interesting and different way to look at the field. It will probably help clarify things if you read Cook’s article (it’s short) to see how he defined each bracket.
I’ve created a graphic to help in visualizing the brackets (sorry that some of the lines/boxes are not quite lined up, this was my first time using this software).
If you don’t agree with the bracket your guy/gal is in, complain to Charlie. I used his categories, with two exceptions – Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson. Cook said he didn’t know where to categorize them, and I can see why. I early on would have said Jindal belonged very much in the Conservative Gov group, but his recent speech in Iowa indicated (to me, at least) that he’s going more for the SoCon vote, so I put him there. Carson could easily go into either the Tea Party or SoCon brackets, but I somewhat arbitrarily put him into the SoCons – he evens out the numbers there, and I figure he’s not a factor anyway.
Cook seems to have included everybody who has made any noise at all about running (except George Pataki and, as noted below, Marco Rubio*), so there are a lot more people here than I hope we ever see on a debate stage, but I guess that will do no harm for this exercise – just ignore those you think will not run, or will not be a factor if they do.
Today’s assignment, class, is to choose the likely winner (please – not just your favorite!) for each bracket. Herewith mine:
Establishment: Carly Fiorina apparently did quite well in Iowa, but I can’t see her as more than (maybe) a VP possibility. Chris Christie I’ll eliminate on the basis of his unfavorables problem detailed a few posts below. I think Mitt Romney’s staleness and stiffness is less of a handicap than Jeb Bush’s name and contempt for conservatives. Marco Rubio (see footnote) could be the darkhorse winner here, if Bush doesn’t freeze him out of money and staff. Still, I’ll cautiously go with … Winner: Mitt Romney.
Conservative Governors: There might very well be a Midwest Regional already going on as a preliminary round in this bracket. If so, Scott Walker may have frozen out Rick Snyder (who I never thought was running anyway), John Kasich, and Mike Pence. The latter two could be making preparatory moves behind the scenes for all we know, but Walker looks to be way out front of them at this point. I think it comes down to Walker and too-much-baggage Rick Perry. Winner: Scott Walker.
Tea Party: This is the most heterodox bracket, which is perhaps fitting, since the Tea Party is a heterodox movement. I think Cook was fair in assembling this group and saying it is for people who are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. I’ll also note that in most tournaments there are tough and easy brackets, and this is the easy bracket in this one. Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump are probably not going to run, and if they do, they’re going nowhere. Ted Cruz will shoot himself in the foot at some point. Winner: Rand Paul.
Social Conservatives: Rick Santorum is already showing his weakness with Mike Huckabee as an alternative. He may be forced to withdraw early, if not I expect him to be eliminated in Iowa. Ben Carson, as I wrote earlier, is unlikely to be a factor. Jindal v. Huckabee could be interesting – Jindal, I think has the ability to draw votes from other brackets, but Huckabee has his vaunted charm and deep, deep SoCon roots. A close call, but … Winner: Mike Huckabee.
* I didn’t notice Rubio’s omission until after I had created the brackets. So please visualize his name among the Establishment bracket, where I think he fits most easily.
1. Mitt Romney former Governor of Massachusetts
Third time’s the charm? That old cliche will be alive and well among the throngs of donors, activists, staffers, and volunteers who have been asking Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 standard bearer, to run again in 2016. After many denials, the former nominee has let it be known that he is seriously considering another bid. Romney’s name recognition, fundraising machine, political operation, and decade of recent campaign experience send him back to the top of the ladder. While Romney’s flaws are well known, and his 2012 failure is sure to be used against, he has cultivated much goodwill among GOP office holders and activists across the country. He is also primed for a major “I told you so” victory lap regarding many of President Obama’s second term failures. In the crowded 2016 lineup, a third Romney run is no more outlandish than a third Bush family campaign. As of now, it is the son of George Romney, not George Bush, in the best position to win.
2. Jeb Bush former Governor of Florida
The scion of the Bush dynasty has all but declared his candidacy, launching a surprisingly early bid into the 2016 fray. Bush announced on Facebook that he would explore a bid for president, but the release of emails from his time as Governor of Florida and his resignation from many corporate boards signals he’s far past the exploratory phase and is already running. The early jump by Bush gives him both a head start on consolidating establishment support and puts pressure on his main establishment rivals, former nominee Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to get in sooner than he may have wanted. Still, family connections and money can only take Bush so far, and he will have to shake off the rust and prove himself a modern candidate if he is to prevail in 2016.
3. Rand Paul U.S. Senator from Kentucky
The libertarian-leaning senator remains a top contender due to his his strong grassroots organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Paul has successfully capitalized on his father’s prior campaigns to gain a foothold in the early states. Still, Paul’s unconventional positions, such as his isolationist foreign policy and his ideas for policing and social justice, put the senator out of step with the establishment he has tried hard to win over. Paul’s chances rest more on attracting a new coalition of younger, more diverse conservative voters than by winning over the GOP elite, who will have centrist heavyweights to rally around.
4. Scott Walker Governor of Wisconsin
The governor of Wisconsin’s third election in four years in a state carried twice by President Obama and in the face of unprecedented liberal opposition has made him a party favorite. On paper, Walker could be a top contender and his battle-tested tenure has given him a huge donor base and the most diverse group of admirers in the field, from business leasers to grassroots activists. He could be positioned as the best compromise candidate, uniting both the Bush/Christie wing and the Cruz/Paul wing of the party.
5. Marco Rubio U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio was an early frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, but the combination of his troubles with immigration reform and the entry of Jeb Bush into the field have complicated the young senator’s path. Rubio’s team says they will not be pushed out of the race by Bush, but the competition for staff and donors in their shared Florida base will likely favor the former governor. Still, Rubio has proven in the past that he can cut an establishment favorite down to size and may be able to do it again. The son of Cuban immigrants is may be the most talented Republican communicator in the country, and should not be underestimated.
6. Chris Christie Governor of New Jersey
With unexpected victories in the 2014 midterms tied to his tenure at the RGA, his own landslide reelection in a blue state, and the flop of the Democratic-led investigation into Bridgegate, Gov. Chris Christie is now ready to rally the national support and favors his accumulated these last several years. Once the unmistakeable establishment favorite, Christie’s 2014 hardships have opened the door for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, and if both establishment heavyweights enter the field, Christie’s path will narrow dramatically. With top contenders and Democrat investigators both smelling blood, Christie will need to show a new level of resolve to regain his footing.
7. Mike Huckabee former Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee is once again considering a presidential bid, and once again his strengths and weaknesses are clear. The author and former Fox News host retains positive favorable numbers and a deep connection to the party’s evangelical Christian wing while struggling with the donor class. Despite strong name recognition, Huckabee hasn’t been able to build a viable fundraising network outside of the evangelical grassroots. He will need a serious national effort to win over the party establishment if he is to overcome his 2008 pitfalls.
8. Ted Cruz U.S. Senator from Texas
The Tea Party firebrand will be the favorite of many hardcore activists and religious conservatives. But Cruz has burned a lot of bridges with the establishment, and will likely struggle to build a significant national operation with both his senate colleagues and the business wing of the party working against him. With both Jeb Bush and Rick Perry likely to run, Cruz may also struggle to rally support in his own backyard. The conservative darling will need to rely on a strong grassroots effort, his network of evangelical leaders, and his debating and media savvy to break through against the support aligning against him.
9. Bobby Jindal Governor of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal has been one of the more active potential candidates, leaving little doubt that the term-limited governor will launch a 2016 bid. Jindal’s campaign will be centered around his record as a conservative reformer with real achievements in education and tax policy. He has worked hard to win over the evangelical and activist base of the party without burning bridges to the establishment. The Louisiana governor will have to over come doubts about his stage presence and slipping numbers in his home state if he is to climb into the top tier.
10. Mike Pence Governor of Indiana
The conservative governor of Indiana is a rare find in GOP politics; he is someone both well liked by the establishment and grassroots. The former congressman has a strong fiscal conservative record to match his staunch but friendly social conservatism. Pence is a gifted communicator with a background as a talk radio show host prior to entering politics. Despite a solid resume of experience, he will likely be criticized for a lack of accomplishments as a governor with a strong GOP majority in the legislature. Still, if the establishment and grassroots are looking for a compromise candidate, Pence could be their man.
Honorable Mention: Ben Carson, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina
No Chance: Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump
Dropped Out: Rob Portman, Paul Ryan
Christie’s 2016 Presidential ambitions are well known, Trump’s less. NewsMax reports:
Just one day after the midterm elections, Donald Trump let it slip that he’s “going to take a very serious look” at making a bid for the White House in 2016.
Granted, for years he’s floated the idea of running for president, but it seems this time could be different. I spoke to him in depth about his views on politics, the 2016 presidential field, and why he’s moving closer to taking up the call.
“The reason that I’m looking at it very strongly this time is I’m so sick and tired of politicians. I am so sick and tired of watching these politicians who are all talk and no action. As an example, Benghazi, the IRS…I’ve just watched so much of the talk and the rhetoric and nothing gets done,” Trump told me.
Trump said that he will be making the decision about whether to run in March or April, but I felt he gave some strong hints about which way he is leaning.
“I have an instinct for things. I think the country is ready for someone who gets it. I think the country is ready for somebody who can take it to greatness again,” he said.
This morning brought news that should make every Republican who actually wants to win in 2016 groan; Donald Trump is talking once again about running for President.
Of course, this is an old game for Trump, who has been flirting with running for President since at least 2000 (he wanted to run with Ross Perot’s Reform Party back then). Trump has proven to be nothing if not good at publicity-seeking. The media, either out of a desire to embarrass the GOP or attracted to Trump like people are attracted to a car crash (or a bit of both), even gave him an interview on ABC News. It was about as useful as you’d expect, with Trump not only raising the Birther nonsense about President Obama, but also about Senator Ted Cruz as well. In short, it was nothing short of an embarrassment for all involved.
While the idea of Trump clogging up the airwaves by mulling, but never actually pulling the trigger on running for President is enough to give us a stomach ache, this could be a real opportunity for one of the potential GOP candidates. It has been a mistake I believe for the GOP and the conservative media to give any sort of credibility to Trump. He’s a circus clown; colorful, attention-grabbing, but ultimately not worth much and he should be treated as such. One of the candidates running for President needs to, with as much publicity as possible, tear into Trump, the Birthers, and others who would use the serious business of running for President as a self-promotional exercise. These people are not entertaining, they are deeply damaging to an already damaged Republican brand. We have no need for carnival barkers when trying to decide who should be the leader of the free world.
We’ve seen what needs to be done before. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton, running as a “New Democrat” attacked the musician Sister Souljah over her comments on the LA Riots. This was immediately picked up on by the press as Clinton showing a willingness to take on a representative of an extreme faction in his party. Now, Sister Souljah was a trivial figure of minimal importance, but the symbol of a Democrat willing to take her (and by extension folks like Jesse Jackson) was a great message for a Party desperate to show that it had changed. The now famous “Sister Souljah Moment” was critical in establishing the idea that the Democrats of 1992 were different from 1984 or 1988.
Who should be the one to call out Trump and his ilk? Really, it could be anyone of the 2016 prospects. Christie seems the most likely to do it, given his personality and persona. Someone like Paul Ryan might do it, given his reputations as an intellectual leader of the Party. Marco Rubio could do it too in order to curry favor with the more moderate wing of the Party. One of the lesser-known possible contenders, like Governors Walker or Jindal might do it to try and get some publicity. But I believe that the two gentlemen who would do themselves the most favors in denouncing Trump would be Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Both Senators have their own problems with being seen as rigidly ideological and perhaps willing to tolerate some of the more rabid folks in their own fan base. If Sens. Paul or Cruz were to stand up and publicly denounce Trump in no uncertain terms, they could reap a lot of publicity as well as surprise the press and others within the Party. It would signal that they are more than just rigid ideologues. It would also show that they are serious about advancing their ideology without having clowns like Trump associated with it.
The appearance of Trump on the GOP presidential scene is a bad reoccurring headache that sprouts up every couple of years. In the past, the GOP has made the mistake of indulging the publicity-seeking mogul. I believe that the time has come for someone in the Party to stand up and say “enough is enough”. With any luck, one of the gentlemen wanting to lead our Party into the next election will be the first one to do it.
Here we go again- just in time to save the GOP from extinction (again). Per the National Review:
Donald Trump has long resisted calls for him to run for president. But now, at age 67, he tells me he’s considering a bid.
“I’m looking,” Trump says. “I have a large following of people who are tired of seeing this country ripped off, and taken advantage of [by] everyone who does business with us. We used to be the smart one of the block, and now we’re the dummies on the block. They want to see me, and I want to see them.”
Trump cautions that it’s early. But for the first time in his life, he’s preparing to potentially put his business work on hold. Behind the scenes, he’s examining how his family could manage his operations on an interim basis, should he decide to run.
“From a business standpoint, I have fabulous children who I’ve taken into the business,” Trump explains. “They know what they’re doing. So the business wouldn’t be the thing that stops me.”
You can read the rest here.
Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if President Obama releases his college records and his passport application, the mega-millionaire developer will give a $5 million check to charities of Obama’s choosing.
Trump tweeted a video of himself in which he offers Obama a “deal that I don’t believe he can refuse, and I hope he doesn’t.”
That has got to be the lamest “bombshell” I’ve ever heard.
Just go, go away.
Donald Trump claims Barack Obama bombshell
Donald Trump said Monday that he will reveal “very big” news about President Barack Obama by Wednesday but declined to give any hints about his plan, he said on “Fox & Friends.”
“Something very, very big concerning the president of the United States,” he said. “It’s going to be very big. I know one thing — you will cover it in a very big fashion.”
Sometimes I wish this guy would just go away.
Soledad O’Brien of CNN tried to get John Sununu, an official Romney campaign surrogate, to answer to Trump’s birtherism. It didn’t go very well:
The full transcript is available here at RCP. Here are some excerpts:
O’BRIEN: Sir, you don’t think it’s a valid question of someone posing as a supporter/surrogate at a high level? Donald Trump isn’t your random supporter. He’s a high level big funder. He’s talking about millions of dollars he’s thinking about donating.
You don’t think that that’s a big deal that person consistently talks about the fact that the president of the United States is not a citizen of the country?
SUNUNU: I think it’s as equivalent an issue as Bill Maher who gave a million dollars to President Obama talking with such a foul mouth about women. But that’s — you can’t pick your supporters in this country. The fact is that this country has a jobs problem and supporters of the president, like CNN, keep wanting to talk about other issues.
SUNUNU: Aren’t you embarrassed to be speaking directly from the Obama speaking points that they distributed yesterday? Aren’t you embarrassed to sound exactly like the Obama spokesman talking about John McCain? This is ridiculous.
O’BRIEN: This is a clip we played before that ran many times.
SUNUNU: You should be embarrassed.
O’BRIEN: It’s a conversation that’s been had.
SUNUNU: Come on. Let’s talk jobs. Let’s talk jobs.
O’BRIEN: Is that because you don’t want to talk about the fact that a major fund-raiser is a birther?
SUNUNU: It’s not an issue. There is nobody in the Romney campaign that believes that the president was not born in the United States.
O’BRIEN: So then how come someone doesn’t say, Donald Trump is wrong? We’re going to tell Donald Trump he is wrong.
SUNUNU: Donald Trump is wrong. The president is born in the United States.
Wow! I think it is safe to say that the gloves (or were those ‘mittens’? :)) are off. Mitt ain’t no John McCain. Neither he nor his campaign are going to roll over, sit up and beg, or jump through hoops for them. It ain’t gonna work this time.
What will they do now?
*The wording in the second to last paragraph has been updated.*
Washington (CNN) – Donald Trump will endorse Mitt Romney for president, sources with knowledge of the endorsement tell CNN.
Trump will make the announcement Thursday in Las Vegas, two days before the Nevada caucuses.
While it’s nice to know for sure that the Donald isn’t going to go 3rd party on us, I am not quite sure how helpful his endorsement will be to Mitt. Oh well, Mitt did say the other day that he will take whatever endorsements come his way.
I’m not sure Trump’s endorsement helps Romney all that much, but it certainly does make Gingrich’s campaign look all the more incompetent.
First Read has the story:
Donald Trump withdrew Tuesday as the moderator of a debate planned for later this month in Iowa, citing his interest in possibly still running for president as an independent.
Trump pulled out of a debate he had planned to host along with the conservative magazine Newsmax, scheduled for Dec. 27, just days before the Iowa caucuses. All the GOP presidential candidates save for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said they would not participate.
“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27, 2011,” Trump said in a statement. “It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate. The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington. I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!”
It’s not clear whether any debate with Newsmax will go forward at all. Trump thanked Gingrich and Santorum for their willingness to participate nonetheless.
Gingrich may get another one-on-one debate after all…
Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and now Mitt Romney have all declined invitations to participate in a Trump-moderated debate on December 27. Romney, unlike Paul and Huntsman who blasted the idea publicly, called Donald Trump and declined the invitation directly. It should’t have come as a surprise — Romney famously declined the original YouTube debate in 2008 because he felt a snowman asking questions was beneath the office of the presidency. It’s difficult to see Donald Trump as moderator being any better. Heh.
The only two candidates who have agreed to participate in the debate, in fact, are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Bachmann and Perry are both undecided, but Bachmann is leaning against participating. Bachmann points out Trump wouldn’t be an impartial moderator since he admitted he is already leaning toward a candidate to endorse, and Perry is remaining quiet about the whole thing — but one has to imagine he is fighting to do as few debates as possible.
This debate was never going to mean much anyway – taking place right after Christmas on some obscure channel nobody gets, and a severe credibility issue because of who the moderator is. It’s a debate in Iowa, and now with both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney – two of the three frontrunners in the state – bowing out, it means even less.
Which means you should circle this Saturday and next Thursday on your calendars, because those are the final two debates before Iowa votes. If Gingrich escapes unscathed from both of them, he could very well be our nominee.
MSNBC has the story:
Real estate mogul Donald Trump will host a debate for Republican presidential candidates in Iowa just days before the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.
Trump spokesman Michael Cohen confirmed the details of a New York Times report to NBC News: Trump, the star of the reality show “The Apprentice,” will moderate a debate on Dec. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate is being sponsored by the conservative magazine Newsmax.
Cohen told NBC he had no list of confirmed candidates, and wasn’t able to name the venue yet. He also stressed that it is not a “Donald Trump Debate,” just that Trump would be moderating.
Read the full story here.
Meanwhile, the Paul Campaign has made their thoughts clear on this development:
In a campaign statement released Saturday, Paul’s campaign called the debate a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.
“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity,” Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s national campaign chairman, said in a statement.
He added, “Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”
Benton cited Trump’s flirtation with running for president himself as a factor in the decision not to participate in the debate.
“Mr. Trump’s selection is also wildly inappropriate because of his record of toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our nation’s highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolously,” Benton said.
Jon Huntsman has confirmed that he will not accept an invitation to participate as well.
This morning, the rumor mill began working in overdrive when this listing appeared on FoxNews.com:
The wording at the end of that tease — “Palin reveals her 2012 pick On The Record” — led many to believe Palin will be endorsing a GOP candidate tonight. Others said that she was merely answering the other question in the tease: which Republican candidate has the best chance of beating Barack Obama? And still others said the answer to the two questions were one and the same.
Then this afternoon, Greta Van Susteren revealed on her own website that Donald Trump would also be a guest on tonight’s program — and she teased the show with just one simple question: “Who does Donald support for President?”
So tonight, on On The Record at 10:00 eastern, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump may or may not be endorsing somebody for the GOP nomination. My guess? Since we hadn’t heard anything about this until today, there will not end up being any endorsements offered. Plus, I can’t see either one of these celebrities announcing as big a decision as this during a 10pm time slot. This is most likely just a great way for FOX to get some publicity and get some more viewers tonight. But, I could be wrong. In this wacky primary season, crazier things have happened.
Who do they endorse tonight, if anyone? And the next question, then, is this: what are Palin and Trump’s endorsements worth?
PPP has released their latest vs. Obama poll for North Carolina. Here are the results:
Romney leads the way with Palin bringing up the rear. The top four Republicans are well within striking distance of Obama. Even Palin’s eight point deficit is well within the realm of possibility.
PPP polls North Carolina every month. This allows us to see their trend over time. Here is a chart of their data for the year so far:
|(NC vs. Obama)||Jul||Jun||May||Apr||Mar||Feb||Jan|
The bottom line is all Republicans can take heart from this month’s North Carolina numbers.
PPP’s latest vs. Obama poll for New Hampshire is out. Here are the main results:
|(vs. Obama)||Obama||Candidate||Margin||From the Leader|
Romney is the only one that leads Obama in a state the President took by 10 pts in 2008.
Bachmann and Pawlenty both trail the President by seven points with Bachmann just a little better on the raw data.
Obama defeats Palin and Cain without even breaking a sweat.
Don’t feel too badly for Sarah Palin. Even though she is dead last again, she has showed a marked improvement from the last time PPP polled the state back in April.
That is an improvement of seven points in only three months. At that rate, she will tie with Obama somewhere around Thanksgiving this year.
All Republicans showed an improvement over Obama in the past three months. Back then, all were negative with only Romney being in negative single digits. This time around, Mitt is in positive territory, and Bachmann and Pawlenty are both in single digit negative territory. Our current fourth place finisher, Hermann Cain, still finishes three points ahead of April’s second place finisher.
Things are definitely looking up for the party.
Ralph Reed held his Second Annual Faith and Freedom Conference this week in Washington, D.C.. A number of 2012 GOP hopefuls were invited to speak. Four of them spoke last night. One of them was Mitt Romney.
Here is Mitt’s address, including his introduction by his wife, Ann. Click to watch:
Reuters had this to say about his speech:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who announced his bid this week, began his 2008 presidential run talking largely about social issues. His 2012 run has begun with an emphasis on the economy.
Romney told the crowd the sputtering economy is a “moral crisis” and criticized the White House for saying the rise in unemployment represented “bumps on the road to recovery.”
“No, Mr. President, that’s not a bump, that’s Americans,” Romney said. Unemployed people are not statistics, he said.
The talk was well received. Mitt was mobbed afterward. That didn’t happen to any of the other three hopefuls that night. Said one commentator :
When The Gov’s Faith & Freedom speech ended last night, he was inundated by the excited crowd; so much so, that after waiting for a few minutes, the emcee had to interrupt the crush to introduce the next speaker.
If you check the tape of all the hopefuls, you will see that none of the other speeches got that reaction. Here are the links to the speeches, the introductions, and the aftermaths of the other three hopefuls last night so you can judge for yourself:
Donald Trump (On again, off again hopeful)
What did I think of their speeches? I was not impressed with Trump. Paul was Paul. Pawlenty? Well let me put it this way. There’s an old saying, “You’ll never get a bad hamburger from McDonald’s. On the other hand you’ll never get a really good one, either.”
That pretty much described Pawlenty’s speech. It wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t. It was pretty good, to be honest. It just wasn’t that great. Hopefully it was an off night for him.
So much for dropping out — Donald Trump tells TPM he believes he can win the White House as an independent candidate, keeping his name in the presidential game despite declaring last month he would not run for the GOP nomination.
TPM caught up with Trump at the Faith & Freedom Conventionm after he left a closed door meeting with event organizer Ralph Reed and other social conservatives and asked how he figured he’d do as an independent.
“I think I’d do great,” he said, telling TPM he believed he could win the White House. As for whether he’ll run, he said it depended on the GOP nominee.
“Let’s see what happens with the Republicans, who they put up,” he said.
I’m going to go against the conventional wisdom here and suggest that a Trump third-party bid could help — yes, help — the Republican nominee in a general election against Obama. I realize that this is crazy talk to most observers, but there is a contingent of the punditocracy, Allan Lichtman being prominent among them, who believe that any third party candidate who garners double-digits in a race that includes an incumbent ultimately hurts the incumbent more than the challenger, regardless of ideological moorings or intent. The reason is that a race for public office involving an incumbent is pretty much always a referendum on the incumbent, and thus the presence of a major third party candidate will inevitably result in a sort of “tag team” between the major party challenger and the third party candidate against the incumbent. Even if the two non-incumbents in the race have nothing but contempt for one another, the very nature of a race that features an incumbent will lead to this sort of dynamic, where the incumbent is being battered and bruised by two opponents, loosening his grip on his softer supporters.
A real-world example of such a race can be found in the 1992 presidential election. Then, President Bush spent most of 1992 being assailed by both Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. This created the conditions for a weaker general election candidate in George H.W. Bush come November than that which would have existed had Perot not been in the race. That’s because Perot could use avenues of attack against the president that were unavailable to Bill Clinton. Given that Clinton was running as a pro-free trade Democrat, for example, it would have been difficult for him to attack Bush on this front. But Perot, who was running on a protectionist ticket, spent much of the campaign talking about the “giant sucking sound” that America would hear should free trade continue unabated. This resulted in a lot of blue collar swing voters second-guessing the president due to Perot’s argument. These voters were probably between the 45-yard-lines of the political spectrum and considered themselves to be reasonable people who weren’t going to vote for “crazy old Ross.” But once they considered President Bush unacceptable, where were they to turn?
That’s where Bill Clinton came in. By running as a broadly acceptable major party alternative to President Bush, Clinton was able to scoop up a lot of the voters in the middle who were knocked loose from Bush’s grip by Perot. It didn’t matter that Perot and Clinton were diametrically opposed on a lot of issues. All that mattered was that the Clinton/Perot tag team left Bush seeming so unacceptable to voters by November that the plurality pulled the lever for the president’s perfectly reasonable major party opponent.
Could this sort of scenario come to pass once again in a general election involving Trump? It’s unlikely, but not inconceivable. After his conversion on social issues, and his Birther campaign against President Obama, Donald Trump isn’t exactly going to be cleaning up among swing voters as a third party candidate. But what he may be able to do is attack Obama in ways that are unavailable to the Republican nominee, but that will ultimately be effective over the course of the campaign. In a race involving, say, Obama, Pawlenty, and Trump, T-Paw will be attempting to win blue collar voters via a strategy similar to Bill Clinton’s, by staying pro-growth and pro-globalization while at the same time assuring voters that he understands what it’s like to live in Blue Collar America. Trump, meanwhile, will likely attack Obama relentlessly over China and his perceived weakness in dealing with the Chinese on trade issues. This may cause a lot of swing voters to conclude, “Well, I’m not going to vote for that racist jerk with the bad hair, but he does have a point about Obama’s ineptitude. I guess it’s Pawlenty.”
This only works to the Republicans’ advantage, of course, if Trump fizzles out well before November, but not before he’s managed to deal a significant number of blows to the president’s popularity. If Trump ends up getting 30 percent of the vote in November, that will absolutely spoil the election for the GOP, as those are votes that would have otherwise gone to the Republican. But if Trump gets, say, 5 percent, it’s possible that he will have helped create the conditions for a Republican victory by dislodging lots of swing voters from the Obama column who will have nowhere else to go in November other than to the Republican ticket.
Jake Tapper of ABC News breaks the news on Twitter:
this will be the first time i mention him in a tweet: Donald Trump announces he’s not running for president. #shocker
5 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
UPDATE: More information from ABC News. Looks like Trump was ready to jump in and changed his mind at the last second:
“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election,” Trump said in a statement. “I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”
Trump, who had contemplated running for president in years past, seemed poised take the plunge this year. He even had a tentative date set for a campaign announcement: May 25 in the atrium of Trump Tower in new York City.
According to Trump aides, the real estate mogual and reality telvision mogul had even settled on campaign consultants to help streer his potential presidential bid. Trump had already made two visits to New Hampshire within the last month and had a series of events planned in that state and in Iowa over the next few weeks.
Since this video automatically starts, click below to view it.
I thought of that wise old saying when I read this in the Washington Post:
LAS VEGAS — Real estate developer Donald Trump unleashed a tirade of profanity in a speech at a boisterous Las Vegas casino as he assured a crowd of adoring supporters Thursday night that he is seriously weighing a presidential run and will make a decision soon.
During a 30-minute stump speech focused mostly on foreign affairs, Trump sprinkled in a number of insults directed toward the nation’s leaders.
“Our leaders are stupid, they are stupid people,” he said. “It’s just very, very sad.”
If yesterday’s Fox Poll is any indication, people are already beginning to tire of the Trump sideshow. I sincerely hope so.
Jeff Fuller recently published an article entitled “Moving the Needle; Why Some Conservatives Disingenuously Reject Romney”. He also published it over on Mitt Romney Central. Now I am not going to rehash what Jeff said. I would, however, like to draw attention to a very well written comment to Jeff’s article over at MRC. It is a very frank analysis of Romney’s perceived weaknesses. It was written by someone named “Bill”.
It impressed me enough that I asked for and received permission from MRC to republish it here in its entirety so Racers can appreciate and discuss it:
I disagree with your premise. [Jeff’s Article] I also believe that any article starting with a David Frum quote will be hard to bring back to some degree of intelligence. I think Mr. Romney has several problems that keep people from wanting to gravitate to him.
The first is the Massachusetts health care law. I knew many conservatives who were citing that law as reason not to support him in 2007 and 2008. References to the Heritage Foundation and anything else were irrelevant to them. They were not going to vote for Mitt Romney because he supported “socialized medicine” in Massachusetts.
The second is abortion. These same people can cite all kinds of statements that Mr. Romney made nominally in support of abortion prior to his 2008 campaign beginning. They aren’t interested in explanations or the possibility that he changed his mind. To them, he was just saying whatever the base wanted to hear in order to be nominated.
The third is the Second Amendment. While Mr. Romney ran in Massachusetts on the promise not to change anything about gun laws, different statements he made over the years were cited as evidence that he wasn’t a Second Amendment supporter. Anything he said in support of the Second Amendment in 2007 or 2008 was considered to be insincere political promises to win the nomination. Even in the first few debates, he didn’t handle Second Amendment questions as well as I would have liked.
The fourth is religion. Many people have grown up learning that Mormonism is a cult and have invested a great deal of time and energy into believing that position. To support a GOP presidential nominee who is a Mormon would force them either to admit that they were wrong or to say that they were supporting a cult member for our nation’s highest office. Many people who were actually swayed by this issue hid behind the first three issues to justify their opposition to Mr. Romney.
The fifth is wealth. Many people consider anyone with that much money to be part of “The Establishment” regardless of anything else. No matter how hard Mr. Romney worked for that money, his having that money made him “not one of us.”
The sixth is family. Mr. Romney’s father may have gone from rags to riches. Mr. Romney may remember humble times as a child. However, he still comes from a family that is big in GOP politics. Coming from that kind of family makes him part of “The Establishment” in some ways.
The seventh is education. Harvard and Yale are some of this nation’s oldest schools, and they’ve produced plenty of presidents. We’ve had a Harvard or Yale graduate in the White House for over twenty years now. To folks who went to state universities, community colleges, and trade schools, a Harvard or Yale degree makes someone part of “The Establishment.”
The eighth problem is still the management versus employee gap. Mr. Romney is saying the right things about compassion for people who have lost jobs. He’s even saying the right things about removing government barriers to business in this country being competitive. However, he still comes across as a management type who will move the jobs to China if that move means the most for the bottom line. The management type always seems to be part of “The Establishment.”
The ninth problem is around passion and specifics. He says that we need to get tough with China on the value of their currency and intellectual property protection, but he doesn’t give specifics. He doesn’t come across as being as tough or as passionate about the issue as Donald Trump does. In all of his statements, he has such an aversion to tariffs that we don’t see him using this tool if necessary to deal with the problem. Donald Trump comes out and says that he’ll slap a tariff on Chinese goods if a tariff is necessary to make the Chinese play fair. I don’t trust Donald Trump, but he’s saying the right things on the trade issue. He probably has a good reason for holding back, but holding back makes him appear to be part of “The Establishment.”
Even in 2008, many people saw Mr. Romney as “The Establishment.” He wasn’t in Washington, but he was still considered an insider because of his wealth and social standing. He’s not going to escape that perception. He’s going to be rich, white, and good-looking as long as he’s healthy enough to run for office. Right now, plenty of people see that image as being part of the problem. They see people who have tried to cultivate that image as the people who have created the leviathan government that we have today.
That’s why so many people are seeking candidates like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Allen West. They are stuck on the image issue, and these guys don’t project the image of the consummate politician like the images of those who got us into this mess. If we look at substance, none of them are as likely to do what must be done as Mr. Romney is, but they don’t “look like” the people who got us into this mess. For those who just want symbolism rather than substance, touting Trump/West, Christie/West, or Christie/Rubio is much easier than thinking about the situation that we really face.
For those who think about substance, there is still a search for someone who has the substantive qualifications to be president but doesn’t have the image that Mr. Romney does. Mitch Daniels is proof that if you’re short enough and bald enough, you won’t seem like “The Establishment” even with degrees from Princeton and Georgetown and having broken into politics as a member of Richard Lugar’s staff. Tim Pawlenty’s father was a truck driver and not a governor. After twenty years of Ivy League presidents, a University of Minnesota graduate has appeal to many people. For those who want a “The Mighty Ducks go to Washington” story, he has tremendous appeal. However, his generally mild manner and conventional looks give him the same “looks like” problem that Mr. Romney has. He’s not the conservative tough guy that many Republicans want.
Ultimately, I think Mr. Romney will get past these problems. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee will probably realize that they gain nothing by running. Donald Trump either won’t run or will be knocked down in the vetting process. Michele Bachmann will get many of the frustrated conservative votes. She raises money well enough to stay in the race for a while. Mitch Daniels will get some support from college students, but he won’t raise that much money or do well enough to get that much attention. Newt Gingrich has too much baggage. He can raise enough to stay in the race for a bit, but he’ll quit when the votes obviously aren’t there. If Tim Pawlenty does well, he’ll position himself to be VP and be the frontrunner for 2016 if the worst happens and Obama stays in office.
In the general election, Mr. Romney will lose some votes because he is seen as “The Establishment.” I hope most of those votes will be in states where the GOP either can’t win or can’t lose. He’s currently ahead of Obama in Michigan. He should be able to take back Nevada. He has a good chance of winning New Hampshire. He’s within margin of error in North Carolina. I think he’s close in Florida, but I don’t remember. If he chooses Jim Talent as a running mate, he should pick up Missouri and might even have an inside track on Iowa. If he picks Tim Pawlenty, he’d have a chance at Minnesota and Iowa. He plays well in the West, so maybe he gets Colorado back in the GOP column as well. We still have to win Ohio and Florida, but Mr. Romney gives us a chance to win.
A very well written article. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, but I cannot fault his reasoning.
Since Mike Huckabee has been at or near the top of most polls for the Republican nomination over the past year, the growing whispers that he’s not running beg the question: what happens to all those supporters if Huckabee indeed does not run? Thankfully, Public Policy Polling has given us some data on that, with polls that ask the same respondents whom they would vote for with Huckabee as an option and without.
The way that I’ll lay out the data is by giving the names of the other candidates, then showing how many points they gain after Huckabee’s name is taken out of the poll, and then in the third column show the magnitude in terms of percentage that the candidates’ support expanded by after Huckabee’s name was taken out.
(The purpose of the third column is because, hypothetically speaking, when Huckabee is removed, Candidate A’s support could increase by 6 points while Candidate B’s support increases by 5 points–but Candidate A could be going from 40% to 46%, which would be a modest gain for Candidate A, while Candidate B might be going from 6% to 11%, which would represent a near doubling of support. Therefore, simply stating how many percentage points a candidate gains, when Huckabee is removed, might not entirely do justice to the significance of some candidates’ post-Huckabee poll number movement.)
|Name||Point Movement /||Expansion Percentage|
|Florida – March 24-27, 2011|
|Name||Point Movement /||Expansion Percentage|
|Iowa – April 15-17, 2011|
|Name||Point Movement /||Expansion Percentage|
|New Hampshire – March 31-April 3, 2011|
|Name||Point Movement /||Expansion Percentage|
|ON AVERAGE (AMONGST THE THREE ABOVE STATES)
These results are fascinating, because they show in extremely striking terms that Mike Huckabee’s supporters are not a monolith. They are a very diverse lot, and their composition varies markedly from state to state. While many pundits seem to think that Huckabee’s supporters are interchangeable with Sarah Palin’s (probably because Huckabee = folksy evangelical & Palin = folksy evangelical), that’s definitely not the case. Nor do Huckabee’s supporters all gravitate toward a fundamentalist Christian candidate like Santorum, or a Southern candidate like Barbour.
So, what is the pattern here?
The pattern is that there is no pattern. Mike Huckabee’s exit from the race would be more akin to a billiard break than a predictable migration of swallows.
In the first state of the primary/caucus season–Iowa–stunningly, the greatest benefiter by far is Congressman Ron Paul, whose support blossoms 150%, taking him up 9 notches and into second place, just 10 points below Romney. Paul has carefully crafted a quite socially conservative strain of libertarianism for Iowa voters: the deliverer of 4000 babies emphasizes his opposition to abortion, and the man who has been married to the same woman for over 50 years stands behind his support for the DOMA. This is consistent with other polling data showing Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul the two most popular candidates in Iowa. Iowans clearly appreciate Ron Paul’s fiscal and social conservatism, and don’t really seem to mind his anti-war stance (I recall seeing polling from 2007-2008 showing that up to half of Iowan Republicans were actually not pro-war). If Huckabee declines to run again, it could have the peculiar effect of making Ron Paul seriously competitive in the first-in-the-nation caucus–a first place victory in Iowa for Paul might even not be out of the question.
New Hampshire is a different story. Mitt Romney makes more room between his first place position and the rest of the pack, but–relatively speaking–Michele Bachmann feels the most benefit. The Bachmann-Huckabee overlap is more self-explanatory than the Huckabee-Paul or Huckabee-Romney ones. Bachmann is the folksy, evangelical Christian type–but she comes across as sharper than Sarah Palin. Perhaps that’s why Huckabee’s Granite State supporters prefer Bachmann over Palin.
By the time we get to the Florida numbers, it is clear that all hope for any semblance of a nationwide pattern is lost. Huckabee’s absence boosts Newt Gingrich the most in nominal terms, but once again it is Ron Paul that feels the biggest bounce. Ron Paul’s rosy, old-fashioned home life, coupled with his very culturally conservative approach to libertarianism would be the most logical explanation for Paul’s popularity amongst Huckabee supporters of course, but your guess is as good as mine as to what Huckabee’s Florida supporters see in thrice-married, Catholic Newt.
In the overall tally, it seems as though Huckabee’s exit would give Romney a bit more breathing room, but would–interestingly–also make Ron Paul significantly more competitive. It would seem that Huckabee’s supporters aren’t quite as concerned with the “faux con” “threat” that libertarians ostensibly pose to the Republican Party, as Huckabee himself is. Also, while Huckabee and Romney did their fair share of sparring in 2007-2008, my guess is that most of the Huck supporters who head on over to the Romney camp are those for whom general electability is the key quality. Huck and Romney are currently polling better against Obama than other Republican candidates, so it makes sense that there would be such an overlap in that area.
For my last comment: The wrench in all these gears is, of course, the fact that these polls were taken before Trump fever hit. While I suspect Trump fever will soon fade, this polling doesn’t tell how much support Huckabee’s followers would throw behind The Donald, if given the chance. Huckabee lost about 3-ish percentage points, on average, when Trump entered the race, so the overlap between Trump and Huck voters is probably modest.
How about our resident Huck supporters, here at Race42012? Where will you go, if Huckabee doesn’t throw his hat into the ring?
USA Today has released a poll where they bring up the birther question. Just be fair, they asked it about Donald Trump as well as about Barack Obama. The results are…enlightening:
|Was Born in USA||38||43|
|Probably Born in the USA||18||20|
|Probably/Definitely Born Elsewhere||24||7|
So Obama and Trump have very similar numbers of people who think they were born in the USA. Perhaps most amusing is the fact that more people are unsure of Trump’s country of birth than are unsure of Obama’s.
I will be glad when the silly season is over.
“I hope he runs, come on in, the water’s fine,” says Mitt.
Mitt Romney said Monday that he hopes Donald Trump will run for president — even after the real estate mogul dismissed him as a “small business guy.”
“He’s a terrific guy and I wish him the very best,” Romney told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren when she asked him to compare his business record to Trump’s. “I hope he runs, come on in, the water’s fine.”
Romney ducked questions about Trump’s business career. “I’m going to spend my time talking about what I’ve done,” he said. “I’m probably not going to be the guy that inspects everybody else’s track record but I can tell you about my own.”
That’s not exactly Trump’s style — and Monday marked the first time Romney’s been asked to address Trump’s attacks. In an appearance on CNN over the weekend, Trump denigrated Romney’s business experience by calling him a “small business guy.”
Be sure to read the whole piece here.
ABC is reporting that the son of Billy Graham, the Reverend Franklin Graham told Christiane Amanpour that Donald Trump might be his preferred candidate.
“Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke,” said Graham. “But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy’s right.”
“So, he might be your candidate of choice?” Amanpour asked.
“Sure, yes,” Graham responded.
Amanpour also inquired about Graham’s feelings toward Romney. Graham replied, “No question he is a very capable person, he’s proven himself.” Despite the indications of approval, Graham did not outright back Romney.
He doubts that Sarah Palin will attempt to run.
“I think she likes speaking on the issues and I agree with many of the issues that she brings up,” Graham told Amanpour, “but I believe — I don’t see her as running for president.”
No mention is made of Mike Huckabee. How curious.
The Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College just released a poll of New Hampshire registered voters. Among other questions, the respondents were asked the following:
“Recently, President Barack Obama has formally announced his intent to run for reelection for president. And, the New Hampshire primary election for the presidency of the United States is less than a year away. I am going to read you a list of potential Republican candidates for president who may run against President Obama. If the election for president were held today, which candidate would you choose?”
The results are as follows:
Romney was the only active GOP hopeful that won a plurality. The good news for all Republicans is that all the hopefuls kept Obama under 50% except for Trump and Palin. Those two got creamed with Sarah Palin losing to the President by a staggering 2-to-1 margin.
During the week of April 11-14, 2011, students from The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College conducted a telephone survey of registered voters in New Hampshire. Drawn from a statewide data base of New Hampshire registered voters, the sample survey respondents were asked a wide range of questions relating to the current political, economic, and social state of affairs in New Hampshire and the country as a whole. In addition, respondents were asked to select candidates for President in trial heats of the 2012 election. The 43-question survey took between eight and ten minutes to complete. Calls were made between the hours of 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm on Monday through Thursday evenings. Additional call-backs were made during daytime hours on Thursday, April 14 when specified by poll participants. Over the course of the week, callers made three attempts to contact each of the registered voters drawn in the sample. A total of 426 survey interviews were completed during the four-day calling period, yielding an error rate of +/-4.8 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.
American Research Group (ARG) has released a telephone poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters living in New Hampshire (422 Republicans and 178 undeclared voters (independents)). The poll was taken April 16-21, 2011. Its MOE is ± 4 percentage points.
Here are the results, along with the crosstabs:
|Likely GOP Primary Voters||Reg. GOP||Ind.||Tea Party||Not Tea Party||Will Vote||Most Likely Vote|
ARG has not had the best of reputations in the past, so take these figures with a grain of salt.
If this is just a publicity stunt, I want to hire The Donald to do my publicity:
Donald Trump is planning a trip to New Hampshire on April 27th, a trip to Nevada on April 28th, a trip back to New Hampshire on May 11, and then will appear in Iowa for the first time on June 10.
Quite the choreographed travel plans to early primary states if he’s not really running.
Trump executive Michael Cohen may have let some details slip while talking with the Des Moines Register yesterday afternoon. When asked why Trump wouldn’t be in Iowa prior to the June date, Cohen replied, “You will know prior to his arrival in Iowa whether he’s decided to run… You will already have known for almost two weeks whether he’s running.”
Well, that sets a Trump announcement date for sometime around Memorial Day. My guess would be the Trump team is aiming for Tuesday, May 31. And if he’s not running, why go to Iowa to a campaign dinner ten days later? Of course, Trump does march to his own drummer, so it’s more difficult to try and read the tea leaves with him than with other candidates.
Marist has released the full results of the poll they announced yesterday. It does not look good for Obama.
First the question, “Do you definitely plan to vote for Barack Obama for re-election as president or do you definitely plan to vote against him?”. Here are the results for the last three polls:
A solid plurality is planning to definitely vote against Obama. That is down from a solid majority planning to vote FOR him just last January.
Next, the question, “If the 2012 presidential election were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are: Obama and XXXXX?”. Here are the results, their margins, the margins last January, and the change since the first of the year:
|(Apr 2011)||Obama||Hopeful||Margin||Jan. Margin||Change|
Romney does best, with Huckabee close behind. Palin fares worst with a margin of -22.
Finally, they asked the Republicans and the Republican leaning Independents, “If the 2012 Republican presidential primary were held today, whom would you support?” They gave them a list of names to choose from.
Most of you know that the Club for Growth came out against Donald Trump yesterday:
“Donald Trump for President? You’ve got to be joking,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Donald Trump has advocated for massive tax increases that display a stunning lack of knowledge of how to create jobs. His love for a socialist-style universal health care system and his alarming obsession with protectionist policies are automatic disqualifiers among free-market conservatives. This publicity stunt will sputter and disappear just as quickly as the ‘The Apprentice’ is losing viewers.”
Not to worry. Running to his rescue was Mike Huckabee on his radio program today:
Huckabee, the former presidential candidate and current Fox News host who has said he is thinking about running another campaign, said he remembers when the organization made similar attacks against him in 2008.
“According to that group, I’m also a tax-loving socialist. During the 2008 election they cherry-picked some factoids out of context from the deals I had to make from a ninety percent Democratic Arkansas legislature,” Huckabee said in his daily radio commentary.
Huckabee also criticized the organization for being so focused on cutting taxes.
Trust Mike Huckabee to dwell upon past dirty dastardly dark deeds.