Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is The GOP Primary The Ugliest Campaign In Recent History?


Tuesday, as people were gearing up for the GOP debate, Jenna Johnson and David Fahrenthold, writing for the Washington Post, blamed the new GOP-normal-- lying-- on Trump. Trump is as much a fact-free zone as Fox News or Hate Talk Radio. It feels comfortable to the low end of the Republican base. So other candidates not used to being held to a higher ethical standard-- not even the hypocritical congressional standard-- have been lying their asses off, especially Dr. Ben and Miss Carly, for whom self-serving bullshit comes pretty naturally and has been on display for decades.
As Trump has become the defining character of this Republican presidential primary contest, the race itself has seemed to take on elements of his personality-- in particular, his aggressive, seemingly shameless rejection of the idea that he has ever been wrong.”

The influence is especially strong in Fiorina and Carson, the two other political outsiders, who have risen in Trump’s slipstream.... As with Trump, some of these outsiders’ most memorable debate moments have come when they uttered statements that turned out to be exaggerated or untrue. And, like Trump, they have played to a distrustful electorate by criticizing the fact-checkers and refusing to acknowledge that any facts were wrong.

So far, it’s working.

Trump, for instance, was wrong in his claim about Ford canceling its plant in Mexico. Ford itself said the deal was on.

But that matters only if you believe them and not him.

...In this election, Trump and the other outsiders may be helped by the electorate’s lack of faith in politicians. In a September Washington Post-ABC News poll, 75 percent of Republicans said “most people in politics” can’t be trusted.

But many voters give Trump a pass because he doesn’t seem like those other people in politics.

And although Fiorina, Carson and Trump have been caught lying more than most of the candidates, Rubio and Cruz have long histories of making up self-aggrandizing crap about their biographies. Rubio's been telling people for his entire career that his parents fled the Castro regime. But they got to the U.S.-- economic refugees just like the people he's pissing down on today-- years before Castro came to power. Yesterday, the NY Times called out Cruz for similar self-serving bullshit about his manufactured heroic family history.

[T]he family narrative that has provided such inspirational fire to Mr. Cruz’s speeches, debate performances and a recently published memoir is, his father’s Cuban contemporaries say, an embroidered one.

The elder Mr. Cruz, 76, recalls a vivid moment at a watershed 1956 battle in Santiago de Cuba, when he was with a hero of the revolution, Frank País, just hours before he was killed in combat.

In fact, Mr. País was killed seven months later and in a different place and manner.

In interviews, Rafael Cruz’s former comrades and friends disputed his description of his role in the Cuban resistance. He was a teenager who wrote on walls and marched in the streets, they said-- not a rebel leader running guns or blowing up buildings... [T]he Cruz campaign rejected those who disputed Rafael Cruz’s version of events as politically motivated.

Bush, being an integral part of the political establishment, is less likely to blatantly lie about facts that can be checked against objective reality. It may not mean anything to the GOP base, but it means something in his social milieu. But today Jeb finds himself in a pickle-- the Republican primary voters don't like what he has to offer. In the new Marist poll, he's tied with Ted Cruz, among Republican primary voters, for 4th place with 8%, behind Carson (24%), Trump (23%) and Rubio (12%). Worse, again, just among Republican voters, 58%-- the highest for any candidate-- say the more they hear about him, the less they like him. The same poll showed Hillary would beat him 52-44% and Bernie would beat him 51-41%.

Rubio is preparing-- as you can see from the ad above-- for a promised onslaught against him from the cash-rich Jeb SuperPACs, attacks not against Trump, Carson or Cruz from the crazy-- dare we say "fascist"-- lane, but against Rubio who is seen as being in the more mainstream conservative lane.

Yesterday when I woke up, I had a fundraising e-mail signed by Terry Sullivan, Rubio's Campaign Manager referring to the Times story linked in the paragraph above.
A story just broke tonight in the New York Times that revealed Jeb Bush's Super PAC's Plan to attack Marco. They write:  
"The group's chief strategist has boasted of his willingness to spend as much as $20 million to damage Mr. Rubio's reputation and halt his sudden ascent in the polls"   You read that right. Jeb's plan is to spend $20 million dollars to "damage Mr. Rubio's reputation." Not just talk about how they differ on the issues but to actively try to destroy Marco's reputation. And they're bragging about that? How is that the kind of "joyful" campaign that Jeb claimed he wanted to run?!?!
...Jeb Bush helped raise $100 million for this Super PAC. They will outspend us. That's just a fact. Marco didn't inherit a national network of wealthy, well-connected donors.

It get's better. Jeb's Super PAC has even produced a video claiming that Marco is too Pro-Life!!! Honestly, it's something we'd expect from Hillary and the mainstream media, but the fact that the Republican establishment believes this is what they need to do to take down Marco is astonishing... This is even more unbelievable: the Jeb Bush Super PAC is so desperate to try and bring down Marco they've held "focus groups" with voters to zero in on the most damaging attacks. That's what we're up against and that's why Marco urgently needs your support.

These two Floridians are going to bloody each other up so badly that, ultimately, it will be Ted Cruz and, in all likelihood, ultimately-ultimately, Hillary Clinton, who gain the most. Mike Murphy, the very sleazy top guy at Right to Rise, Bush's SuperPAC, "has boasted of his willingness to spend as much as $20 million to damage Mr. Rubio’s reputation and halt his sudden ascent in the polls."
Seething with anger and alarmed over Mr. Rubio’s rise, aides to Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, and his allies are privately threatening a wave of scathing attacks on his former protégé in the coming weeks, in a sign of just how anxious they have become about the state of Mr. Bush’s candidacy.

Their looming problem: In trying to undercut Mr. Rubio as unaccomplished and unprepared, Mr. Bush is a flawed messenger. Over the years he has repeatedly, and sometimes lavishly, praised the younger lawmaker, often on camera.

...Rubio’s campaign sees a potential benefit: Attacks by Mr. Bush and his allies could engender sympathy for Mr. Rubio, as occurred when Charlie Crist, his Republican rival in the 2010 Senate primary, was perceived as overly hostile to Mr. Rubio.

...[T]he preoccupation with Mr. Rubio is revealing, suggesting not just fury at his challenge to a former mentor, but also a conviction that rivals like Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson have no chance of winning and will collapse in time for Mr. Bush to rise again. Mr. Rubio, the Bush team expects, will remain standing.

For many of Mr. Bush’s longest-serving advisers, Mr. Rubio’s run is a betrayal: Mr. Bush backed Mr. Rubio’s bid for House speaker in Florida and persuaded important donors to endorse him for the Senate. A few of Mr. Bush’s supporters have taken to calling Mr. Rubio “Judas.”

In meetings with donors and allies, Mr. Bush’s top aides have pointed to what they describe as a trove of research on Mr. Rubio that they could unleash.

...The preparatory work by Right to Rise was described by three people privy to it who insisted on anonymity to preserve their relationships with the group and with the Bush campaign.

Right to Rise held focus groups in New Hampshire shortly after the Oct. 28 Republican debate, in which, among other things, the participants were quizzed about Mr. Rubio’s missed votes on two Republican priorities: cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which carries out abortions, and blocking President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The responses suggested that both could provide potent lines of attack.
The Jeb people are also well aware of the shady aspects around the Rubio-Rivera "party house" the two shared in Sacramento, a house that was often filled with free-spending lobbyists, party-girls and lots of cocaine. It would be hard to imagine how Bush or his SuperPACs could use this against Rubio without destroying the Florida Republican Party, but I'm betting the Clinton camp has all the information as well... just in case.

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