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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Donald Trump and the Muslim database – This too shall pass

It’s become a predictable pattern. Donald Trump says something, the media recoils in horror and begins calculating his demise. And then the polls don’t move an inch – or even go up slightly.

Such is the way it is in politically correct America, where merely mentioning certain ethnic groups will get you run through the wringer of liberal scourge.

Donald TrumpTrump’s latest linguistic apostasy concerns a comment he made late last week in response to a reporter’s question about starting up a database for American Muslims, where The Donald unequivocally stated his administration would keep track of all of them.

The media didn’t like it.

Ben Shreckinger of Politico says it won’t touch Trump, however. “Just as Trump’s provocations aimed at Mexican immigrants and John McCain’s war record have fueled his presidential run rather than destroyed it, his latest demagoguery on Muslims plays straight into his populist appeal.”

How’s that for unbiased reporting? Schreckinger has written a number of hit-type pieces on Trump over the past few months – and if the journalist thinks he’s doing damage by using language such as “provocations” and “demagoguery” about Trump, he’s sadly mistaken.

Schreckinger is correct, however, in assuming this latest Trump-ism may end up aiding the candidate. But he (Schreckinger) no doubt only considers it potentially helpful to The Donald because the writer considers Trump’s voters xenophobic racists.

Hardly. The country class is extremely concerned about terrorism right now. Radical Islamists are threatening to destroy us. Trump is promising to do whatever it takes to protect the American public. People see him as a strong leader because of it.

It’s not rocket science, yet the media acts shocked when Trump or Ben Carson says something slightly off the trail of accepted discourse.

For what it’s worth, Shreckinger indicates Trump’s fellow Republicans don’t agree with him on the matter. “Jeb Bush called it ‘just wrong,’ John Kasich said it ‘strikes against all that we have believed in our nation’s history,’ and Ben Carson called the singling out of religious groups for monitoring a ‘dangerous precedent.’ Even Ted Cruz, Trump’s staunchest defender in the Republican field, disavowed the idea. ‘I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s, but I’m not a fan of government registries for American citizens,’ he said at a campaign stop in Iowa.”

I’m with Cruz on this one. Under our Constitution, government can’t collect information on citizens without probable cause to suspect wrongdoing. For non-citizens, all bets are off, of course.

Trump subsequently narrowed his statement through his usual method, Twitter. “I didn't suggest a database-a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America.”

Not exactly a retraction, but it still sounds like Trump realizes he went a little far in his initial position. It’s the same type of thing he’s done many times before… like insisting he’ll deport all illegal aliens, yet allow them back when they’ve gone through the process legitimately.

Or criticizing Carly Fiorina’s looks, but then saying in the CNN presidential debate that she had a “beautiful face...”

You get the idea.

The Donald’s spur of the moment candor sometimes gets the best of him, yet he’s not a “mean” person. He makes a mistake, thinks about it and clarifies his ideas.

Like it or not, that’s how Trump does things and he’s not about to change when running for president. Many people see Trump’s candor as genuine – and it’s hard to argue.

This too shall pass.

(Note: Here is Byron York’s (of the Washington Examiner) take on how the Trump/Muslim database story got started.)

Rand Paul in danger of missing December debate

Even with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dropping out of the Republican presidential race, the field still remains too crowded to host a single debate where all candidates can participate at the same time.

Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee failed to meet the Fox Business Network’s minimum criteria for inclusion in the “main event” earlier this month, so they shared the “undercard” stage with Jindal and Rick Santorum.

Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore weren’t invited at all.

Now comes news that another former top contender might not make the top-tier debate in December.

Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner reports, “According to criteria for the debate released by CNN on Friday, there are three ways for a candidate to make it on stage for the main debate at 9 p.m. Candidates must have a national poll average of at least 3.5 percent, average at least 4 percent support in Iowa, or average at least 4 percent support in New Hampshire.

“Paul is currently qualifying for the national average, according to select polls CNN is considering, but CNN noted that he does not average 4 percent in Iowa or New Hampshire. If polls released before the Dec. 15 debate show Paul dropping nationally, it would disqualify him.”

Scarry notes that Chris Christie would take his place on the nine-candidate top-tier stage, becoming only the second Republican (Carly Fiorina being the first) to be elevated to the much higher profile event. And the “Happy Hour” version would now just have three participants – Huckabee, Santorum and Paul.

Normally I would ask if you can have much of a “debate” with just three candidates participating, but I guess the Democrats would take offense at the question.

The possibility of Rand missing the crucial December forum will no doubt bring about another round of complaints regarding the network criteria for determining who’s in and who’s out. As I’ve said many times before, Paul represents the only true departure from the hawkish foreign policy vision of the rest of the field. If he’s not there to make the case for non-intervention, there’s not much differentiation to be had with the rest of the candidates.

Republican debates will start sounding like the Democrats’, who agree on pretty much everything but vary only on how loudly they advocate the government taking over the country.

It would be a shame to lose Rand. But if Paul’s poll numbers don’t earn him a place with the top contenders, it will be hard to make a case that it matters at this point.

Cruz closes on Carson in Iowa

While Donald Trump most likely won’t be hurt by making some unfortunate comments about starting up a registry for Muslims, it appears Ben Carson will have a much harder time getting past his recent foibles on foreign policy.

The soft-spoken former neurosurgeon’s bedside manner personality has taken him far in the Republican race, but that was before Paris and Mali happened. Conservatives in his stronghold of support, Iowa, are apparently looking closer at other candidates now -- particularly Ted Cruz.

Katie Glueck of Politico reports, “Across the state and at a major gathering of politically active evangelicals on Friday night, foreign policy was top-of-mind for the voters and state lawmakers once considered natural constituents for Carson. But after a week of confused comments from the former neurosurgeon and a dismissive critique by his own advisors, Iowans are now consistently voicing doubt about Carson’s credentials to be commander-in-chief…

“Carson and Cruz have been racing toward this collision in Iowa for weeks. Both have been courting the same Christian conservative community that makes up a crucial bloc of the state’s caucus electorate. But the turning point came when security and foreign policy were forced to the top of the GOP agenda by the terrorist attacks.”

The event Glueck described also included Marco Rubio. Cruz apparently drew significant applause with a well-articulated pitch on his foreign policy credentials. The reaction to Carson was much more muted.

In interviews, several of the attendees indicated they were seriously considering or had already switched to Cruz (or to Rubio).

Many have been predicting the change from Carson to Cruz would come sooner or later based on the former’s complete lack of foreign policy experience. The greatest life story in the world isn’t going to cut it when people fear for their lives – and that’s what’s happening now.

Logically these conservatives would gravitate towards Cruz or Trump. And since Carson’s voters probably favored him in the first place because he was an outsider – and wasn’t Trump – then it makes sense they’d see Cruz as a terrific alternative.

It should be noted Glueck’s observations are yet to be backed up by the Iowa polls, which show Carson still in solid second to Trump. Plenty of time remains for Carson to reassert himself there – but the trend toward Cruz is unmistakable.

Ben had better hope the focus switches back to domestic and cultural issues in the meantime.

Fox poll shows six Republicans would beat Hillary

Finally today, with the country’s focus having shifted to national security, Republicans are looking strong in head-to-head match-ups against Hillary Clinton a year out from Election Day 2016.

Kyle Balluck of The Hill reports, according to a new Fox poll, “Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) would do best against Clinton, 50 to 42 percent, pollsters found.

“Billionaire Donald Trump, retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would also win hypothetical elections, according to the new poll, taken after more than 100 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in a wave of terrorist attacks in Paris.”

Interestingly enough, Carly Fiorina would only tie Clinton at42%.

Like the Politico story showing Carson losing some ground to Cruz, nothing in this poll is surprising given the current state of world affairs and the awful record of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy.

The numbers will certainly narrow into next year. The question is by how much.

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