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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Will Cruz and Carly turn the tide in Indiana?

With only one day to go until the all-important Indiana primary, it wouldn’t be the American news media without reporting on some story that Donald Trump’s opposition is in the process of breaking down and folding.

In this case, Ted Cruz’s campaign is supposedly fraught with worry over the state of the race. Coming on the heels of six huge losses in a row, his advisors are apparently ready to take the political cyanide pill – if you Cruz and Carlybelieve what the media’s saying about it at least.

Alex Isenstadt of Politico reports, “In interviews, several aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed growing alarm that Cruz would lose Indiana’s primary on Tuesday — an outcome that would be a major blow to his hopes of holding Trump below the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination on the party convention’s first ballot. The aides concede that, without a win in an Indiana primary where 57 delegates are at stake, Cruz’s shot at the nomination would significantly narrow.

“And while the Texas senator has closed the gap in Indiana in recent days, he still trails Trump and his decision to tap Carly Fiorina as a running mate has provided only a modest boost in the state, according to sources familiar with the campaign’s internal deliberations.”

I think it would only be natural for human beings – even campaign staff – to be concerned over the happenings of the past few weeks. Cruz not only lost to Trump in those heavily blue states along the eastern seaboard, he was blown out, finishing third in five of them.

Last Tuesday, he didn’t win a single county and only took home one delegate. Ouch.

But I also think reports of Cruz’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Ted’s and Carly Fiorina’s appearance on the Hannity show on Friday night offered the other side of the Cruz coin. Far from full of defeat, the potential Republican ticket displayed plenty of optimism and fight.

While watching the back and forth with Sean Hannity, I was struck by how well Cruz and Fiorina complement each other. Though Hannity’s questions weren’t exactly what I would call “tough,” he did get at the heart of the ticket’s strategy and motivations going forward.

It’s clear Fiorina will be taking over much of the task of attacking Trump. Cruz explained why he decided to name Carly to the ticket early and there was absolutely no sign of being “beaten” already, at least by the candidates themselves.

“By choosing a vice presidential nominee, you’re telling the American people this is a person who is prepared to lead this country,” Cruz replied when Hannity asked about the process he’d gone through in narrowing it down to Fiorina.

It’s no secret there’s been some tension between Cruz and Hannity recently, the latter being seen by many as in the tank for Trump and using his position as a leading conservative media figure to promote The Donald’s campaign. But Hannity was his usual warm and welcoming self on Friday night, making Cruz and Fiorina the center of attention rather than saving the spotlight for himself.

Hannity even defended Cruz from John Boehner’s attacks from last week.

I didn’t get the impression Hannity dislikes Cruz at all. We’ll see how it goes moving forward after tomorrow’s Indiana primary.

Cruz and Fiorina definitely appear to make a good team. The audience was very pro-Cruz on Friday night, so it’s difficult to tell how the race is playing out in other parts of Indiana. I think given the opportunity, Cruz and Fiorina will be successful.

The question is whether Trump’s momentum is so overwhelming that people believe the race is over and have already begun the process of getting behind the New York reality TV star for the general election run.

Pence endorses Cruz setting Indiana’s machinery in motion to stop Trump

It’s not really breaking news by now, but Indiana Governor Mike Pence threw his support behind Ted Cruz on Friday in a tempered endorsement that was cautiously worded to avoid a potential backlash from Donald Trump’s supporters.

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post reports, “’I'm not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming primary,’ Pence said in an interview with conservative host Greg Garrison on WIBC radio in Indianapolis.

“The endorsement came as Cruz was looking to end a stream of bad news in his long-shot bid to stop Trump. He has lost six primaries in a row to the business mogul and is desperately in need of a win to turn things around. Public polls show Trump leading slightly in the state.”

Well, the Real Clear Politics average has Trump ahead by an average of four points in The Hoosier State, but there was another poll that came out on Friday that showed Cruz with a huge lead.

Jessie Hellmann of The Hill reports, “Ted Cruz leads Donald Trump by double digits in a new poll of Indiana, which hosts the next contest in the GOP presidential primary on Tuesday.

“The Texas senator leads the real estate mogul 45 percent to 29 percent among registered voters, according to a poll by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.”

The survey also showed 13 percent were undecided and 13 percent cling to some intention of voting for John Kasich even though the Ohio governor has pulled his resources from the state. These must be the angry establishmentarians like John Boehner who won’t go for Trump or Cruz under any circumstances.

Another factor to consider in Indiana is early voting, which has been going on for several weeks. According to news reports, there have already been a record number of early votes cast – including some for John Kasich before the Cruz/Kasich “deal” was announced last Sunday night.

Early voting has tended to favor Trump in the past, though it began in Indiana shortly after Cruz’s big win in Wisconsin, so the Texas senator had some momentum in the first couple weeks it was offered. Indiana early voters not only missed the Cruz/Kasich pact, they’ve also cast their lot before the announcement of Carly Fiorina for Cruz’s running mate last week.

Momentum shifts back and forth. It certainly appears that tomorrow’s vote will be a close one.

While Pence’s announcement was delicately worded to say the least, what is usually missing from news reports are the behind-the-scenes benefits that such an endorsement creates. Like with Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Pence brings with him state party organization and know-how that will drive voter turnout.

Pence’s presence or lack thereof at rallies wouldn’t necessarily make much of a difference (though he’ll reportedly join Cruz at some today), but the machinery turning in unseen places is what really matters. These are the people making phone calls and pouring over the voter data that allows for micro-targeting. We’ve had several occasions thus far in the primary season where such work can influence the outcome. Indiana might be another example.

Trump’s supporters have demonstrated they don’t need a lot of extra impetus to get them to the polls. But there’s little doubting Cruz will get receive help tomorrow in terms of maximizing every opportunity for votes.

It’s May and the results tomorrow are crucial to the overall campaign. One way or another, voters are being treated to a race of epic proportions.

Win or lose, Cruz says his campaign will continue after Indiana

Polls appear to be all over the place in Indiana. As noted above, Cruz has a double digit lead in the Mike Downs Center poll. Then there was a poll that came out yesterday showing Trump with a double-digit lead by almost the same numbers in reverse as the Cruz favorable poll.

Aside from the fact the Indiana vote looks to be close, there’s the specter of another potential loss hanging over the head of the Cruz campaign.

How devastating would it be to Cruz should he end up making another concession speech tomorrow night? According to the candidate, he’ll press on regardless.

Jessie Hellmann of The Hill reports on Cruz’s reply to Fox News Host Chris Wallace when asked if a loss in Indiana would end the race for him. “’Of course not,’ Cruz said. ‘It's going to be a battle to see who can earn a majority of the delegates elected by the people at the convention. And the reason Donald is so frantic to say the race is over ... is because Donald knows he cannot earn a majority of the delegates that were elected by the people.

“’I agree that Indiana is incredibly important,’ Cruz added.”

I’m not sure it will matter what Cruz thinks if he loses tomorrow, because the news media will be more than happy to declare the race over for him.

Technically speaking, the overall struggle to reach 1237 won’t be ended with a Trump victory in Indiana. At the same time, if Cruz goes to the trouble of naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate the week before the vote and it fails to change the course of the nomination race, he’ll be at a loss at how to fix things moving forward.

Trump has proven incredibly resistant to any and all potential challenges to his status as frontrunner. I myself have predicted on several occasions that something he did or said would be a difference maker...in a negative way.

Trump’s attacks on Heidi Cruz did appear to influence the outcome in Wisconsin, but in most other cases he has weathered the storms nicely.

I also thought the narrowing of the race to two choices would bring about a big change. It hasn’t. John Kasich has stubbornly refused to bow out despite his pathetic delegate total and failure to win anywhere but in Ohio, but I can’t definitively conclude Cruz would win a straight two-man race either. It might have made a difference in a few states, but not enough to turn the overall tide.

If Ted loses in Indiana tomorrow, the race can and probably should continue until Trump passes the 1237 mark. But unless something rather dramatic happens sometime soon, Trump will go into Cleveland with all the delegates he needs.

Trump’s vice presidential pick likely to wait until July

Finally today, while Ted Cruz has obviously already revealed who he’s chosen to be his running mate, there’s no sign from Donald Trump that he’s about to follow suit. About all the New York reality TV star frontrunner will say on the subject is he’s considering a lot of great people for the slot.

We found out on Sunday that he can cross off one notable backer from his list.

Ben Smith of the Washington Examiner reports, “Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is a ‘no’ for Donald Trump's vice-presidential pick…

“’I don't want to be asked,’ Gingrich told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo.”

Ted Cruz could get away with naming Fiorina early because he knows he won’t be close to the 1237 number when the Republican convention starts, so he won’t have nearly the leverage Trump will have in saving the VP nod for his Trump-card. Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

The Donald will likely be close to having enough delegates to win on the first ballot, so he’ll perhaps be able to “buy” some unbound votes through a little deal-making.

I’m not sure Gingrich would be the right choice in any occasion. There have been a lot of rumors swirling around Chris Christie for Trump’s choice of late, but I also doubt he would choose the New Jersey governor. There’s no advantage to it.

Trump could go with a “safe” pick to appease the establishment, like Marco Rubio, or he could go out on a limb and pick another outsider to help solidify his case that things would be different if he were in Washington.

The name Ben Carson comes to mind.

We’ll know a lot more by the end of the evening tomorrow whether Trump will likely get that opportunity to name a running mate of his choosing. It’ll be an interesting day for sure.

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A's hire A's....

Trump might tap Christie (deer in the headlights) or Carson (incoherent rambling about Donald's 'cerebral' side) - SURE - A's hire A's and B's hire C's.
Cruz is fearless - he picked the strongest character in the race besides himself.
Trump hires sycophants.
I'll take charging elephants over cowering sycophants any day!

A's hire A's

Sad to say that the C's hired (voted for) the C (trump) in this nomination process.
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Any informed voter who pays attention to what trump has said in the past, said to get elected and is now saying going into the convention and then after officially getting the nomination should know there is something definitely wrong with this picture.
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I have been watching several people such as heraldo rivera and Peter Johnson and others who have known trump for over 40 years not just as a media personalities but also as friends and they are all saying and believing the same thing about trumps future path.
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They believe that once gaining the nomination he will move to the center, left of hillary clinton. This will be evident or disproven by the person who trump picks as his Vice President. A rubio, kasich or some other politician who does not support trumps position on the wall, immigration or trade will indicate that trump is willing to change his position on these issues.
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I believe there will be many angry low information voters out there, hope I am wrong but only time will tell.