Friday, December 04, 2015

Can A Cabal Of Kingmakers From The Far Right Fringe Win The Nomination For Ted Cruz?


Yesterday, writing in The Hill, Texas GOP operative Matt Mackowiak speculated that if Trumpf is the Republican nominee, as the Clinton's pray he is, some awful things could ensue for the GOP... although all would be absolutely spectacular for ordinary working families in this country:
He could lose 45 states and elect potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a landslide.
He could lose the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate, and cost us dozens of House seats and governorships.
He would badly hurt the GOP brand.
Mackowiak, presumedly speaking for all establishment Republicans, writes "[w]e all desperately want a Trump-free race... [and] we can get that still." He goes on the write that even if something bizarre happens and Trumpf winds up as president, the Republican establishment will have nothing to rejoice about since Trumpf "has said he'd like to appoint his pro-choice sister, a federal judge in New Jersey, to the Supreme Court," and "favors a single-payer healthcare system, to the left of ObamaCare" and would try to implement a tax plan that "adds $10 trillion to the national debt" while starting a trade war with China. He also mentioned something that the dumbed down Republican base has no capacity to understand: Trumpf "has no understanding of foreign policy or national security." Not a very appealing prospect for an establishment Republican, huh?

Mackowiak's pie-in-the-sky solution is to beat Trumpf in Iowa and New Hampshire. I guess that's why he makes the big bucks. Oh, and he mentions the only person who can do so-- at least in Iowa-- just happens to be his candidate, someone many establishment Republicans fear and loathe as much as Trumpf, Ted Cruz.
With less than two months before Iowa, it appears clear that only Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is positioned to defeat Trump. He's been surging of late, rising to a statistical tie in one recent Iowa poll, won the endorsement of the state's leading conservative congressman and has a large and strong organization on the ground. It is time for Republicans to unite behind Cruz in Iowa in order to stop Trump.
He suggests the other candidates all coalesce around Governor BridgeGate, knowing full well that Cruz would be able to wipe him out in South Carolina, Nevada and the March 1 Confederate primary, their Super Tuesday which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia as well as Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. 4 days later comes Louisiana and the following week Mississippi and Idaho, 3 more states where Cruz is guaranteed to dominate anyone but Trumpf.

As you know, it's as likely that the Republican candidates will unite around Cruz as it is that Bibi Netanyahu will form a coalition government with Mahmoud Abbas. In fact Rubio, for example, probably hates Cruz more than Bibi hates Mahmoud! Wednesday, Tim Alberta, in the National Review, addressed the Stop-Trump Cruz plan Mackowiak was proposing. Noting that Cruz will find that "a binary battle with [establishment fave] Rubio is a double-edged sword," he believes Cruz can win by "monopolizing the support of the conservative movement’s most prominent leaders in the hopes of consolidating their grassroots followers behind his candidacy." That right-wing alternatives like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker were driven out of the race because of utter lack of national support, appears to be good news for Cruz. Unfortunately for Cruz and his partisans, though, Rubio is not Jeb Bush and "Rubio’s emergence as the establishment favorite lessens the urgency to throw their weight behind Cruz. In fact, they say, it could entirely neutralize the campaign by Cruz supporters to coordinate the sweeping endorsement their activist allies have long planned."

Ohio right-wing nut Ken Blackwell: "If it’s a Rubio-Cruz battle, there are folks in different parts of the conservative coalition that Rubio energizes. And that could in fact block efforts to coalesce behind Cruz."
[S]ocial conservatives have begun to bicker about when an endorsement should come-- after months of spirited dialogue over whether one should come at all. And at the center of all this is Perkins, a former police officer and Louisiana lawmaker who has become arguably the nation’s most politically influential evangelical.

Cruz has been relentless in his courtship of Perkins, who says he has spent more time with the Texas senator over the past year than with any other candidate. The two have shared frequent dinners in Washington, and attended public and private events together. Just last month, Perkins headlined a religious-liberty rally for Cruz in South Carolina. Perkins says he would do the same for other candidates, but Cruz’s team feels certain they’ll win his support, as well as that of Bob Vander Plaats, the evangelical kingmaker in Iowa.

What’s unknown is whether those endorsements will trigger, or be part of, the larger coalescence that Perkins, Vander Plaats, and their allies have long plotted. Some of the uncertainty stems from the primary calendar itself: While Vander Plaats’s support is needed (and almost certain to come) before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, it’s increasingly unclear whether national leaders will weigh in before then. Perkins himself says any mass endorsement “needs to happen before Iowa,” but some of his closest allies have long viewed such a drastic move as necessary only if an establishment steamroller threatens to flatten them. Since there is no such threat, some now say they should wait to see which three or four candidates emerge from Iowa and New Hampshire and act accordingly.

...Jenny Beth Martin, who chairs the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, says Rubio’s actions on immigration hurt his standing among conservatives and will factor heavily into the group’s forthcoming deliberations over which candidate to endorse. Still, she says a Cruz-Rubio contest would represent a “win-win” for her members because both candidates “ran and got elected originally based on tea-party values, and they are running again based on tea-party values.”

That Rubio and Cruz are currently the two leading GOP candidates with elected experience is, says Mike Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America, a “tremendous testament to what conservatives have been able to achieve.”

This sentiment echoed in weeks of conversations with conservative leaders, none of whom have endorsed and all of whom have been involved in discussions about uniting their movement behind a single candidate.

“If Marco Rubio is the establishment candidate, look at how far we’ve come. This is someone who ran as an outsider, who ran as a conservative, someone who was a Jim DeMint–endorsed, Club for Growth–endorsed candidate who forced a sitting governor to switch parties,” says Wesley Goodman, the former executive director of the Conservative Action Project, an umbrella organization that brings together leaders from dozens of activist groups such as the American Conservative Union and the Susan B. Anthony List.

Goodman, now a candidate for state representative in Ohio, adds: “If it comes down to a Cruz-Rubio race, it’s a huge win for the conservative movement. . . . I think most people will be with Cruz, but secretly jumping up and down with excitement” about having Rubio as the alternative.

That scenario poses a grave threat both to Cruz and to the conservative activists scheming alongside him, whose common theory of the primary is predicated entirely upon facing an unpalatable opponent. Both publicly and privately, Cruz has predicted that establishment Republicans would yet again rally behind a candidate with limited appeal among the grassroots. The only way to prevent another “mushy moderate” from becoming the party’s nominee, he told a closed-door gathering of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in May, would be to unite around him.

“D.C. knows if we’re divided, then the moderate Washington candidate with all the money comes right through and wins the nomination with 26 percent of the vote,” he told members of the secretive, Perkins-helmed group, which brings together activist leaders from across the country. “The men and women in this room, if you decide, have it in your capacity to unify the conservative movement. The numbers are such that if conservatives are united, it’s game over.”

Cruz’s speech was momentous: a pitch to become conservatives’ consensus candidate, delivered to the very people who have led discussions about uniting the movement. At the same event, a smaller group led by Perkins, Vander Plaats, Senate Conservatives Fund president Ken Cuccinelli, and longtime social-conservative leader Gary Bauer convened an invite-only meeting to map out their plans for a mass endorsement. Cruz, after his speech, became the focal point of those plans.

...“A significant number of our people, despite the immigration issue, are considering Rubio,” Bauer says. “He’s got obvious political abilities, and he’s been willing to wade into some of these social issues in a significant way.”

But much of that goodwill will erode, Perkins predicts, now that Rubio is positioning himself as an establishment-friendly candidate and enlisting the financial support of those who don’t share the movement’s values.

“When you’ve got guys like Singer supporting him that have views that are antithetical to most social conservatives, that makes it harder for Rubio,” Perkins says of Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who financed initiatives supporting same-sex marriage in New York. “We realize we have to build coalitions to win, but in a coalition you don’t blow up your partners. . . . You can’t have somebody like Singer who is adamantly for the redefinition of marriage teaming with people who adamantly want to defend marriage.”

...Rubio’s biggest obstacle with conservatives isn’t the definition of marriage but the path to citizenship he pushed as part of the 2013 immigration bill. It remains his chief political vulnerability and the subject on which Cruz is likely to hammer him hardest.

“Rubio is terrible on immigration, which is a top issue for our people. It’s been his big stumbling block since the beginning,” says Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. “If someone has the money and the brain to do it, they can run really damaging ads. And I think Cruz’s team could do it.”

But barring a scorched-earth campaign that eradicates Rubio’s support among conservatives, the immigration issue may not matter. If the race becomes a two-way fight between Rubio and Cruz-- a big if, but still the likeliest scenario in the eyes of Republicans who think Trump and Carson will eventually collapse-- the outcome will be determined by which candidate can siphon more support from his rival’s base and build a broader alliance of voters.

Cruz has many political skills and strengths; crossover appeal to the establishment is not one of them. Rubio, meanwhile, continues, as Perkins puts it, to “straddle the fence,” which won’t land him any mass endorsement but could be key to constructing a winning coalition.

“Cruz’s challenge is to not totally alienate the establishment, whereas Rubio already has significant appeal in the conservative world,” Blackwell says. “It’s not like he has to win them all over; he just has to loosen Cruz’s grip a bit. And he’s already won some of them over.”
To normal people, the Wall Street Journal is the voice of the far right, but to movement conservatives, it's little better than Mother Jones or The Nation, and this week they were emphasizing that Rubio's supposed foreign policy chops are leagues ahead of Cruz, a virtual Obama clone in their eyes. Rubio has enthusiastically taken on the mantle of the Cheney-Bush-McCain neocon and it's just what the Journal is looking for. The Wall Street [Yellow] Journal wants war in Syria and war against Iran and war wherever it can be found (even Russia), as usual, and they know Rubio is their patsy and Cruz isn't. An OpEd Wednesday made the case that Cruz isn't even a "real Republican" because he's "advocating a Syria policy that seems to have been drawn from President Obama ’s situation room... The Texan’s defensiveness might have something to do with his opposition to the National Security Agency’s bulk telephony metadata collection programs, which looks dangerous as policy and politics after the terror attacks in Paris. Mr. Cruz was a cosponsor of the legislation last summer that killed the program over Mr. Rubio’s opposition, and one of Mr. Cruz’s campaign lines is to encourage audiences to turn on their cell phones so President Obama can listen in."

Oh yeah, they also want a Big Brother policy of domestic spying, which Rubio is just fine with too. Careful not to endorse Rubio yet, they continued that "Several GOP candidates have laid out a far better Syria strategy than Mr. Cruz’s imitation of Mr. Obama. It starts with a much faster destruction of Islamic State in its strongholds in eastern Syria and northern Iraq through air power, the Kurdish peshmerga and what remains of the Free Syrian Army, and former General Jack Keane ’s recommendation of perhaps 6,500 more U.S. ground forces than the 3,500 already there. The effort would include creating and enforcing no-fly and no-drive zones in Syria on the model of the 1991 intervention in northern Iraq. Sustaining such safe zones is the only immediate remedy for the refugee crisis, but it can also help establish new borders in a country that no longer exists. The strategy would also require the destruction of the Assad regime’s air bases-- to stop it from barrel bombing civilians and signal to Syria’s Sunni majority that our anti-ISIS campaign is not part of a U.S. conspiracy against the Sunnis. Mr. Cruz’s Syria and NSA gambits seem intended to signal to Rand Paul and Donald Trump supporters that he should be their number two choice. Perhaps it will work as primary politics. But the positions-- and opportunism-- don’t speak well of his judgment as a potential Commander in Chief."

UPDATE: GOP Still Has A Trumpf Problem

The just-released CNN national poll of registered voters shows Cruz with the most momentum, as Dr. Ben and the GOP establishment's poor Jebster continue to disappear under the waves:
Trumpf 36%, up 9
Cruz 16%, up 12
Dr. Ben 14%, down 8
Rubio 12%, up 4
Christie 4%, steady
Jeb 3%, down 5
Fiorina 3%, down 1
Everyone else was below the margin of error and not worth discussing.

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At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does it really matter who the GOP nominates? Hillary will probably beat whoever wins. In some ways Hillary winning big and getting majorities in both houses probably will do more damage to the Democratic party brand than the GOP. Hillary has no interest in making the sort of changes that will improve the 99%er's lives.

The current GOP can't govern and they work better as an opposition party, especially in opposition to the president. A Hillary win with both houses in Democratic hands will likely spell a repeat of the beginning of the Obama era. She will only get through something that doesn't really help the majority of Americans, but is real red meat for conservatives. That will lead to us losing our majorities in 2018 and gridlock will ensue which is favorable to the powerful. Then in 2020 Hillary won't have any accomplishments to run on and though she will win another term, the rest of the levers of government will remain in GOP hands for another round of gerrymandered redistricting.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous above says a Hillary victory and Democratic coat-tail victory in Congress would be bad for the Democratic Party. Really? You're kidding right? Sooo, forget about 2016 and think about 2020 or 2024? So let's just let the GOP win now because that will be sooo good for the country? Or what? Bernie would be better, but whomever wins the Dem nomination needs to win NOW. To overthink the situation to the ridiculous degree Anonymous above does is about the worst political instinct possible. It's a sign that the famous circular Democratic firing squad is in full swing. I don't care for much of Hillary's platform, but she's a far sight better for the country than any GOP nominee, and I think her effect will be much more positive than you're doomsaying shows.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are talking about brands. Democrats winning the White House and both houses of Congress and then accomplishing so little that they lose the legislative branch in 2020 would be pretty damning, just like it was in 2010. No one will care that the GOP was written off 2 years before, their voters will come out and our voters will stay home if Hillary can't deliver something other than her special-interest focused plans that are unlikely to offer any broad prosperity.

The Democrat's brand has been fully compromised already in my eyes. The party of FDR is now almost fully the party of Wall Street. The DNC putting their thumb on the scale to protect the establishment was just about the last nail in their coffin as the party of the middle and lower classes.

I am not saying things will be better if one of the clown car wins this year, but I think the GOP doomsayers always miss the mark on the demise of that party. In fact, I think a Republican winning the presidency next year would probably do more damage to the long-term GOP brand. As I noted above, the GOP is the ideal opposition. So long as the Democrats put up candidates that work for the economic and foreign policy status quo, the Republicans will always be able to win in the midterms.


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