August 29, 2015

The “Furious Majority” of 2016

  5:55 pm

In 1968, it was said there was a “silent majority” of voters. In 1994, it was said there was an “angry majority” of voters. In 2015, the voters are not just angry, they are “furious.”

No more proof than the early success of the presidential campaigns of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders should be needed, but there’s more evidence. In at least one major poll, conservative physician Ben Carson is in second place. Neither Trump nor Carson have ever been elected to office. And there’s more. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina is doing well, and Vice President Joe Biden, hitherto not taken seriously as a 2016 presidential candidate, is being widely urged to run. Although she has said she won’t run, Senator Elizabeth Warren clearly has  notable support in the liberal grass roots.

Only Biden in this group would be classified as “establishment,” and he probably won’t run because the Democratic Party elites still prefer the “sinking” Hillary Clinton and are trying to push him out of the way.  Jeb Bush, the early GOP frontrunner, and clearly the establishment candidate, is fading in the polls despite his name recognition and huge amounts of money raised for his campaign.

Why is this all happening?

American voters are perennially unhappy with politicians, so why is the current “fury” to be taken more seriously than the “silence” or the “anger” in previous presidential elections?

The answer is the result of a number of circumstances, but most notably the chronic failure of current government to restore general economic well-being and confidence, the apparent “dishonesty” of most political rhetoric, the persistent and increasing lack of transparency in the conduct and management of government bureaucracy, and voters’ growing insecurity about the nation’s role in the world. These are taking place with elected and appointed officials of both parties, and there is very little evidence that much is being done about it.

It is being exacerbated by the Obama administration’s cavalier attitude to problems arising from undocumented immigration, its unilateral withdrawal from the U.S. role of leadership in the world, and by the uneven domestic economic recovery.

This has given Republicans a temporary advantage, but should they win in 2016 and fail to produce visible gains, the advantage will shift right back to the Democrats.

Not only are the left and the right “furious” with Washington, DC, so is the unheralded but vital political center, the key element in deciding who wins the White House in 2016. (Historically, populists in the U.S. came from the far right or the far left, but recently, “centrist populists” such as Jesse Ventura and Ross Perot have arisen to disrupt American elections.)

The establishments of both parties would like the Trump, Carson, Sanders and the Fiorina to go away, and almost certainly they will try to make this happen merely by discrediting the candidates. I think this could be a huge political miscalculation. I think it could infuriate voters even more.

The resolution of the political “disruption” can only happen if the “establishment” candidates begin paying attention to what is truly upsetting voters.

My high school motto (McDowell High School in Erie, PA) was Factum Non Verbum (“The Deed Not The Word”). I did not forget it. When a Latin phrase endures for so long, it would be only a matter of time when it made lots of sense on one more occasion.

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Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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August 24, 2015

Trump Dissed By Those Who Know Him Best

  2:31 pm

From today’s New York Post, from an article by Fredric U. Dicker entitled “It Won’t Be Trump“:

A meeting was just held by 60 movers and shakers of New York Republican politics at the South Hampton estate of billionaire Wilbur Ross.   In attendance were Reince Priebus, Rudy Giuliani, and New York Republican state chair Ed Cox.  Other attendees included builder/developer Earl Mack, Tiger Fund’s Julian Robertson, and bio-fuels magnet John Catismatidis.   A source who attended:

“These are people who know Trump well,  people who have known Trump for years as part of the social   and financial fabric of the city.  They’ve worked with him, they’ve dealt with him, and they know that ultimately he’s going to crash and burn.”

“They see Trump as the kind of city slicker who is out there conning the rubes whom he calls the people.  But the expectation is that the popularity he’s developed will start to change as people really come to understand Trump’s past, his corporate bankruptcies, his 3 wives, his changed positions on abortion rights,  legalizing drugs, high taxes, banning assault weapons….that’s why so many people at the event just aren’t taking Trump all that seriously.”

“The consensus is that it won’t be Trump.”

Actually, according to Dicker, it was “almost unanimous.”

Trump is now trying to raise money, but it appears that he will have to raise it from the aforementioned “rubes.”  The wealthy probably aren’t going to be forthcoming.  One would think that someone who is “very, very rich” wouldn’t have to go hat in hand to others who are very, very rich.

David Karol, Professor of Government and Politics at The University of Maryland says:  “Trump is a loose cannon.  They don’t know what he’s going to do, they, being party insiders.  For them, every alarm is triggered with him.”

Karol says that “early endorsements in the invisible primary are the most important cause of candidate success in the state primaries and caucuses.”  He reasons that endorsers influence the outcome of the race by strengthening local ground games, promoting the candidate to fellow party leaders, and pitching the candidate to voters.

In 538’s interactive endorsement tracker, Jeb’s in the lead, and Trump’s not on the list.  In the New York Times’ tracker, Jeb’s in the lead and Trump’s 12th.  In Quinnipiac, Trump very recently had the worst favorables of anyone in the party except Chris Christie.  But as bad as his numbers are with Republicans, they are much worse with the population as a whole:

Trump:  minus 14 in Florida, minus 22 in Ohio, and minus 21 in Pennsylvania.

It’s not going to be Donald.

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August 21, 2015

Trump’s Iowa Co-Chair: Trump’s Immigration Plan “A Boondoggle” and “A Big Mistake”

  12:40 pm

Well, this is a bit embarrassing:

Donald Trump may be the spinning top that won’t fall down, but his Iowa co-chair is cringing at some of his recent statements.

“On illegal immigration, he wants to gather up the families and ship them out? That was a boondoggle. The caucusgoers are like, ‘What?’ That was a big mistake,” Richard Thornton told The Des Moines Register.

But Thorton still thinks the Republican candidate can plow forward, but he is going to have to expand his policy issues to do so. He told the Register Trump needs to focus on the economy, bringing back jobs from overseas and term limits.

This comes as early state GOP operatives are declaring enough is enough with regards to Trump and his immigration plan:

Donald Trump may have the whole Republican field talking about immigration, but early-state insiders wish he would just stop.

Trump’s plan… is particularly galling to New Hampshire GOP insiders — 85 percent of whom said the real estate mogul and current GOP front-runner’s immigration plan was harmful to the party. Nearly two-thirds of Iowa Republicans said the same.

“He’s solidly put an anchor around the neck of our party, and we’ll sink because of it,” an Iowa Republican said of Trump.

“This kind of garbage only appeals to the hard core … while alienating the soft middle that we must win in order to take the presidency,” vented another Iowa Republican.

A Granite State Republican said it was “harmful to the party, the brand and the future of our country.”

“This move is not helpful in broadening the November 2016 pool of voters,” warned a New Hampshire Republican.

“A great way to throw the general and become a permanent minority party,” agreed an Iowa Republican.

Overall, 71% of Republicans say Trump’s plan is harming the Republican Party. On the other side of the aisle, 97% of Democrats are happy, saying Trump is hurting the Republican Party.

Please note that the question was not whether or not Trump’s plan was harming Trump, but whether it was harming the Republican party at large. Just as I wrote here at Race yesterday, Trump used to be an amusing sideshow in this campaign. Now, however, he poses a real threat to the health and success of the Republican Party as a whole – and therefore, of the nation. It’s not often a Republican does something that makes 97% of Democrats happy, but Trump has managed to do just that. Somewhere, Bill and Hillary Clinton are smiling.

I’m assuming Trump’s Iowa co-chair will not have a job much longer, but I appreciate his willingness to offer an honest assessment of what’s happening. If Trump was looking to destroy the GOP, he’s doing a fine job. Here’s hoping more Republicans will recognize what that 71% already have and put that destruction on hold by moving away from Trump.

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August 18, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor, Trump Style

  4:28 pm

The following excerpt is from NBC, via The Fix:

 

TRUMP: “the executive order gets rescinded. One good thing about…”

TODD: “You’ll rescind that one too? You’ll rescind the Dream Act executive order, the DACA?”

TRUMP: “We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in, they have to come in…”

TODD: “You’re going to split up families. You’re going to deport children?”

TRUMP: “Chuck…No, no. No, we’re going to keep the families together.”

TODD: “But you’re going to kick them out?”

TRUMP: “They have to go.”

TODD: “What if they have no place to go?”

The question is whether deporting the currently estimated 11.2 million undocumented aliens in our country is a recipe for a majority in the electorate. If it is, Donald is our next president.

But according to Gallup, only 31% of Republicans want to deport all illegal aliens. According to a poll by The Public Opinion Research Institute, 57% of Republicans favor a path to citizenship. That would suggest that a Republican who favors a path to citizenship has a higher ceiling than Donald.

One can argue that, according to this data, Trump’s ceiling in the GOP primary is approximately 31%. He hasn’t reached it yet, but that’s about as high as he can go.  Jeb favors a path to legal status, which obviates concerns about illegals voting en masse for Democrats because only citizens can vote.  Others have suggested a path to citizenship, with varying requirements to qualify.  Donald wants to send them all away, and then let some of them back.  How exactly is that done?  I’ve seen cost estimates for the process of anywhere from $200 billion to $400 billion.  No one knows, but it wouldn’t be anything remotely close to free.

If you’re still not Trumped out, what do YOU think?

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August 13, 2015

The Pro-growth Candidates

  2:11 pm

“The Republican party is not going to win this election unless it persuades the electorate that its primary principles of low marginal tax rates, lighter regulation, free trade, and a sound dollar are the best path to growth. Call it free market capitalism. Call it supply side. Call it entrepreneurship. Call it take home pay. But the endgame is growth and prosperity.”
Larry Kudlow

The fact is that 2% secular stagnation won’t get us out of our problems, or even keep us from going under. We already spend literally hundreds of billions of dollars every year just paying interest on our national debt. I’m sure the Chinese, Japanese, Saudis, and others who own much of that debt appreciate the extra income that gives them every year, but it’s not doing anything for US. And when interest rates go up to anything approaching historical interest rate levels it will cause a massive crisis in our economy, one that we’re not likely to come out of in good shape. $19 Trillion is a lot of money to owe.

But if we can move up to 4% GDP growth we can solve lots of problems, including balancing the budget within a few years. It will have to be conflated with cutting spending, of course, but we have some candidates who have that as one of their major objectives.

The Club For Growth PAC has announced it will act as a bundler for 5 Republican candidates who will grow the economy if nominated and elected. It will accept donations for Jeb, Scott, Ted, Rand, and Marco.

Club For Growth spokesman Doug Sachtleben said that donors will specify who they want their money to go to, with the money signaling that the donor supports the candidate’s “pro-growth polices.” Note that the CFG was instrumental in getting Rand, Marco, and Ted elected. The club wants its donors “to send a strong message about economic freedom as a central issue in the 2016 race.”

Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers and their vast network of major donors are similarly focusing on 5 main candidates: Scott, Jeb, Marco, Ted, and Rand. In addition to these, they also invited Carly to attend its major conference, held in Southern California recently, to appear before 450 people in its network who had already donated at least $100,000 each.

As for the Koch’s themselves, they have set aside $300 Million to be spent on electoral politics in 2016, and have said that these are the 5 who will benefit.  This out of the $900 Million they will spend on total political activity in the cycle.

The only way out of our massive societal problems is through. The country needs to significantly increase its capital stock and it can’t do that by inefficient and wasteful government expropriating trillions of dollars every year from people who are relatively efficient and productive.

The good news is that we have at least five candidates who want to reverse the flow and grow us out of our problems, and have been hand picked by very successful and intelligent human beings with the same aim.

Question: Who do you think can do it best? Extra credit for saying why.

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July 22, 2015

Trump Rules Out Third Party Run, Says “I Will Only Ever Run as a Republican”

  11:28 am

Donald Trump called into Dana Loesch’s show on The Blaze last night for an interview with the conservative talk show host which touched on topics ranging from Planned Parenthood to the VA. Trump more or less gave predictable answers to all the questions — except for one.

When Dana Loesch asked Donald Trump about the possibility of running third party, The Donald categorically ruled it out, saying:

“I will only ever run as a Republican.”

This statement is (as Trump would say) yoooge — it is the first time he has ruled out a third party run, and his response flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Many armchair politicos, myself included, assumed that everything in Trump’s disastrous candidacy to this point was a setup for him to run on a third party ticket. If Trump keeps his word now, it appears the GOP can breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, that’s a big if, considering the fact Trump has changed his position on, oh, pretty much everything in the past. For now, though, the GOP’s task is twofold: first, manage Trump’s inevitable deflation (or crash) well enough to where he doesn’t change his mind about running third party; and secondly, to mitigate the damage done by Trump in the meantime.

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July 11, 2015

Trump Or No Trump?

  9:58 am

The current news/polling bubble for businessman Donald Trump is just that, a bubble that will burst.

On the other hand, some of what he is saying is serious, notwithstanding the liberal media allegations that he is politically “incorrect.”

Mr. Trump is a smart man, and a successful figure in business. He also, as is plain to see, a man of unquenchable ego with a desire for capacious media attention.

Until the Republican presidential debates begin, his bubble will continue to float in the hot summer air. No GOP rival, except for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, can match Mr. Trump for media-grabbing skills.

Mr. Trump is likely to make the cut-off for the first GOP debate in Cleveland. With fifteen announced or imminently to announce competitors, the conservative field is overlarge and currently confusing to most grass roots voters. Some more serious candidates, such as Governor John Kasich of Ohio, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, or Governor Christie might not make the cut-off (although they will be invited to a “second tier” debate in Cleveland that will precede the main debate).

Being a very rich man, Donald Trump can self-fund his campaign, and is evidently doing so. Most of his rivals are currently spending a great deal of their time fundraising.

Like his left wing Democratic equivalent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Trump has the temporary advantage of being much more interesting to the media than his opponents. Lacking truly serious rivals in the Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton continues to maintain a substantial, albeit shrinking, lead for her party’s nomination. Senator Sanders also is enjoying a bubble, but he will not be the Democratic nominee. It would take the entry of Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to actually change the chemistry of the Democratic contest, and so far, only Mr. Biden seems a likely entry.

But Senator Sanders’ current success is a genuine signal to Democratic strategists about how liberal grass roots voters feel, and so is the current bubble of Donald Trump a useful signal about how conservative grass roots voters
feel.

In Mr. Trump’s case, I think the energy he provokes comes less from his conservatism (he does not fit a conservative mold and has often supported Democratic candidates with cash), and more from his outspokenness. Some GOP party officials apparently think he is upsetting the proverbial apple cart, and want him to tone down his public comments. He has no intention of doing so.

The liberal media know a foil when they see one, and their attention is also fueled by Mr. Trump’s use to them for attacking the Republican Party.

Through his name I.D. and self-spending, Mr. Trump might even have some early successes when the voting begins and polling actually means something, but he is not going to be president, much less his party’s nominee.

As Governor Christie, now down in the polls but likely to rise dramatically when the campaign begins in earnest, knows, the voters in 2016 , be they left, right or center, thirst for a presidential candidate who speaks out honestly, plainly and lucidly about the vital and troubling issues facing the nation.

The man or woman who can do that, and also persuade voters he or she can perform well as president, will be the one who will succeed next November. No bubble will be enough.

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Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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June 18, 2015

Trump Circus Won’t Hurt the GOP

  6:00 am

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination and the circus officially began.

No doubt, the Republican establishment would’ve preferred that this circus would take place on the other side – or that it would once again end before it begins. But the doomsday warnings of pundits like Chuck Todd and Phillip Klein are way overblown.

By the time the 2016 general election race will be underway, the former Trump candidacy will be anything from an irrelevancy to a net positive for the GOP and its nominee.

Trump’s wealth, name ID and colorful nature will earn him lots of media attention as long as he’s in the race, and also, embarrassingly, prime space on the GOP debate stage. The Donald will likely resonate – to quote Rush Limbaugh – with some angry, populist segment of the primary electorate that can be convinced that he isn’t a self serving politician and that he says what he thinks. No doubt, some GOP voters will love his tough talk and wild accusations such as that the majority of immigrants are criminals and have other “problems.”

Nevertheless, despite the valiant efforts of the Democrats and their cohorts, Trump’s shenanigans won’t do lasting damage to the GOP, as did the wacky things said by people like Todd Akin.

Unlike Akin and company, Donald Trump has never been nominated by the GOP for as much as a town council seat, and never will be. He never had and never will have support from the party establishment. It’s hard to know just how badly Trump will fare in the primaries, but it’s safe to say that he’ll be soundly rejected by GOP voters, despite all his noise and early pockets of support.

Some are warning that Trump may do as well as Ross Perot did in a one-time fluke, but, in 2012, Trump dropped like a rock in the polls the more he was in the spotlight. At the end of the day, GOP primary voters have soundly rejected even far more credible out-of-the-mainstream presidential candidates in recent years.  Based on his track record, l wouldn’t be surprised if Trump drops out before the first votes are cast once he realizes he’ll lose big.

Will a candidate who never won a GOP nomination, and was soundly rejected by the GOP establishment and voters, reflect negatively on the party in the eyes of swing voters?

No.

If Ron Paul – a longtime GOP congressman who did relatively well in the primaries and caucuses – wasn’t an albatross on the necks of John McCain and Mitt Romney, Donald Trump won’t be an albatross on anyone – let alone many months after he’s out of the race. No swing voter thought that Ron Paul represented the GOP, and they won’t think that Trump does either.

Should Trump remain in the race for the early states, he may actually do the mainstream GOP a big favor. Voters attracted to his harsh rhetoric on President Obama, immigration, trade and other red meat issues would’ve supported another strident candidate in lieu of Mr. Trump.

I haven’t seen any polling data on this yet, but it’s probable that Trump would disproportionately siphon off voters from candidates like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, perhaps even Rand Paul. These are all far saner and more credible candidates that the GOP establishment prefers would not win the nomination, or even be seen by swing voters as the face of the party. If Trump’s dollars and flamboyance minimize the traction these candidates would gain, the establishment wing – Jeb, Rubio, Walker and co. –will be a lot stronger.

In the interim, let’s all sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

Simon Blum is a freelance journalist and marketing copywriter. Follow Simon on Twitter @sbpundit.

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June 15, 2015

Walker to Announce July 13

  6:00 pm

We made it through the Gauntlet of Longshot Announcements a couple weeks ago, with Santorum, Pataki, Graham, and Perry all announcing within a week of one another. Now we’ve had Jeb Bush announce this afternoon, and – in an attempt to cash in on some of the announcement buzz in the media – Scott Walker’s campaign has leaked that Walker will be announcing July 13. This makes Scott Walker and John Kasich almost certainly the final two candidates to announce, rounding out our field of 16. (Side note: when can we expect the marketing campaign of 16 in ’16 to begin?)

With that flurry of activity, it must be time to update the R4’16 Candidacy Tracker so you can keep tabs on this ever-increasing primary field. The fully up-to-date list is below. We’ve removed Peter King and Bob Ehrlich from the list, as they don’t look to be making moves toward running – and, let’s be honest, even if they did at this point their effect on the race would be negligible at best.

March 22 Ted Cruz
April 7 Rand Paul
April 13 Marco Rubio
May 4 Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina
May 5 Mike Huckabee
May 27 Rick Santorum
May 28 George Pataki
June 1 Lindsey Graham
June 4 Rick Perry
June 15 Jeb Bush
June 16 Donald Trump
June 24 Bobby Jindal
Late June or early July Chris Christie
July 13 Scott Walker
Between June 30 & August 6 John Kasich

Not running: Bolton, Martinez, Pence, Portman, Romney, Ryan, Snyder, Thune

Green indicates a candidate who has officially announced.
Yellow indicates a candidate who has begun an exploratory committee.

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Romney’s Alliances, His Kingmaking Role, and the Future of the GOP

  12:30 pm

This past weekend, Mitt Romney invited seven presidential hopefuls to Park City, Utah, for his third annual E2 Conference — an “intimate” summit to get Republican leaders together and talk about the issues of the day. But this get-together also had a more pressing agenda: it was, in essence, an audition to help Romney’s powerful donor network decide who they would back in the race for 2016.

There is a fascinating dynamic taking place in the Republican Party today, and it largely revolves around the Bush family, the Romney family, and the mythical Republican “establishment”. Recall that in the 2012 race, Mitt Romney wasn’t truly an “establishment” candidate — that is, much of the vaunted establishment didn’t support him or did so tepidly. The establishment, remarkably, didn’t have one of their own in the race, with calls to Daniels, Christie, Jeb, Barbour, and others to jump in the race being ignored. The Republican Party, as we’ve explored here before, half-heartedly and begrudgingly got behind Romney.

The side effect of that 2012 dynamic was that Romney was forced to develop his own donor network, and he succeeded wildly in doing so. Spread throughout the business world and the various organizations he’d worked with (and saved) in the past, Romney assembled a top tier group of wealthy donors and supporters. It was this group who was urging Romney to run again in 2016. When he declined, it left them all with a question: who do we support now?

Enter Park City. Not only did Romney invite the presidential hopefuls to his E2 Summit, he also invited upwards of 300 of his top donors. The weekend was filled with speeches from the hopefuls, but more importantly, with down time for the candidates to interact with and woo that massive group of money people. Rubio held a myriad of meetings with donors in his suite throughout the weekend, for instance, and even organized a flag football game with some of them at one point. Three hundred potential donors listened as the candidates laid out their arguments as to why they would be the best candidate — and why they would win.

It would be foolish to think these top donors would act in a monolithic manner and all come out in support of the same candidate; however, besides the individual donors, Romney’s Super PAC, Restore Our Future, is also up for grabs. And the donors are led by Governor Romney, who indicated during the E2 Summit that he would like to see the GOP coalesce around a candidate earlier this time around to avoid the chaos of the 2012 primary. If Romney (or Spencer Zwick, one of the leaders of Romney’s inner circle) indicates a preference for a particular candidate, it’s easy to see a scenario where a vast majority of that donor network jumps on board.

The fascinating dynamic here is that with Romney building an alternative infrastructure in the 2012 race, the GOP essentially has two different — and, to some extent, competing — groups now: the old establishment and the new establishment. The nebulous term “establishment” has never, nor could ever, be specifically defined, but broadly speaking it simply means the mainstream politicians in Washington along with the donor network who backs them. Because of the Bush family dynasty that ruled over GOP politics for several decades, most of the old establishment is comprised of Bush money men and politicians who owe their careers to the Bush family. Springing up alongside that group now, however, is Romney’s new network of money men and politicians who owe him a debt of gratitude (think Kelly Ayotte, Mia Love, Thom Tillis, et al). Because Jeb Bush is running, and because there will obviously be a different Romney-preferred candidate in the 2016 field, these two groups stand to be at odds with one another moving forward. After the 2016 race, it will be interesting to watch and see what becomes of these groups. A lot depends, obviously, on whether Jeb Bush or the Romney-backed candidate wins this year.

Who could that candidate supported by Romney’s New Establishment be? We can look at the guest list for this year’s E2 Summit to get a good idea. These six candidates were who Romney gave the chance to woo his network:

  • Chris Christie
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • John Kasich
  • Marco Rubio
  • Scott Walker

We know Lindsey Graham has no shot at coming close to the nomination and is turning out to likely be a stalking horse for Marco Rubio — during an interview with Katie Couric at the E2 Summit, Graham even said, “Marco Rubio will be President one day” — so that leaves five candidates for Romney’s New Establishment to consider. Noticeably left off the guest list: legitimate second tier candidates like Huckabee, Cruz, Carson, Jindal, Perry, and Paul. Without the massive heft of the old or new establishment support, it’s highly unlikely those candidates (or any of the other longshots) will get anywhere in this primary campaign.

To buttress the support of his network, Romney is teaming up with an unlikely ally to try and make this as painless of a primary race as possible — Sheldon Adelson:

Mitt Romney is working with an unlikely collaborator — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign — in the hopes of ensuring that the GOP primary produces a mainstream conservative without any of the mayhem that marked his own race.

The two, who speak monthly, aim to convince the wealthy contributors bankrolling various candidates to work together to avoid the kind of primary election chaos that Romney believes laid the seeds for his defeat in 2012. The former Massachusetts governor is also considering endorsing a candidate to achieve his goal.

Adelson and Romney appear to share little common ground, with Adelson’s support of Gingrich hamstringing Romney’s campaign in 2012 being a major sore spot between the two. However, they may find a common interest in this campaign: Senator Marco Rubio. Although neither man has publicly endorsed Rubio, many of Romney’s former staff have signed on with Rubio’s team, and it’s been leaked by a half dozen insiders that Rubio is the “clear frontrunner” for Adelson’s support. At least two of the other top ten GOP billionaire money men are already fundraising for Rubio as well (Paul Singer and Norman Braman).

The support for Rubio all comes with a healthy dose of speculation, of course. Regardless, whichever of those five candidates above ends up earning the support of Romney’s new establishment and Adelson’s billionaire network will be a formidable opponent in this primary campaign. Depending how the cards are dealt, Romney could end up being the most powerful kingmaker in recent history — and Mitt is doing everything he can strategically to ensure just how those cards are dealt.

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