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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Cruz stares down Trump and his supporters in Indiana

At long last, May 3 is here. Today’s the day of the very important Indiana primary, the one Republican race watchers have been eyeing for months as a key test to see whether Donald Trump will secure the 1237 delegates necessary to clinch the party nomination on the first ballot at this summer’s convention.

Of course we all know by now that the race has taken several strange twists and turns and momentum has changed hands more times than Winchester, Virginia did during the Civil War (well, maybe not…Winchester went back and forth between Union and Confederate control 72 times).

Ted Cruz and Trump supporterMedia reports paint an awful gloomy picture for the not-Trump side in Indiana today. If you believe the media spin, The Hoosier State will end up being another Trump wipeout.

Matt Flegenheimer and Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times provide a typical media narrative of Ted Cruz soldiering on despite supposedly impossible odds. “[T]wo days before what is widely viewed as a must-win primary, Mr. Cruz strained to conceal a grim reality: He is in serious trouble.

“An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released on Sunday showed Donald J. Trump with a lead of 15 points among likely Republican primary voters, 49 percent to 34 percent.”

I won’t bother blasting the polls. The pollsters have gotten some races wrong, some right, but there are also recent polls in Indiana revealing the Trump/Cruz race is much closer than most realize and even one survey that shows Cruz with a big lead.

I’m inclined to believe the Real Clear Politics average, which now puts Trump’s margin at nearly nine points. But I also think there are a couple Cruz favorable caveats.

First, the polls fail to take into account early voting, which began shortly after the Wisconsin primary and would likely reflect Cruz’s argument at the time that The Badger State had provided a race-altering shift.

Let’s not forget that before New York voted on April 19, Cruz was carrying a five state winning streak of his own. By the appearance of it, Ted looked to be in great shape as of April 5. Boy, what a difference a month makes.

Two, polls throughout the race have tended to show Cruz underperforming his actual Election Day totals. In other words, late-deciders have tended to break away from Trump, with the exceptions being the states voting the last two weeks on the east coast – blue state Trump territory, through and through.

Lastly, polls cannot possibly take into account the benefit Cruz will enjoy from having Indiana’s state party machinery (through Mike Pence’s endorsement) helping to turn out the vote. It may mean only a point or two of difference in the total percentages, but that could be enough to change the outcome – or at the very least, minimize the size of a Trump win.

It doesn’t matter a whole lot in that sense. If Trump comes out just one vote ahead in Indiana, the media will be racing each other to be the first to declare the race “over” and the pressure will then mount to force Cruz out of the running to “unify the party”.

All of this pro-Trump media crush could actually backfire, though. If the pundits are fanning expectations for a huge Trump triumph and it turns out to be a squeaker, Cruz can legitimately claim the media is on Trump’s side and evoke some additional skepticism of the talkers’ analysis (as if it’s even possible to be more wary of the media).

And if you still don’t believe the media is on Trump’s side, consider the recent reporting on the violence outside Trump rallies in California. Pictures and video are worth their weight in gold – and to see whacked out anti-Trump protesters stomping on police cars and waving Mexican flags – you might as well have just written a check for a Trump campaign commercial.

If I didn’t know better I would speculate the Trump campaign has been hiring these idiots to show up at his rallies and make as big a stink as they possibly can to draw in the cameras. With Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski now on his best behavior after almost being charged with battery, all the reporting on the violence at rallies is from a Trump-positive point-of-view these days.

That will switch back to favoring the left again after Trump is the nominee, trust me.

The image of a bloodied Trump supporter was the last straw in my mind. That guy could be held up as a hero for taking one for the Trump team – talk about millions in free advertising.

Fox News featured the footage prominently in news reports and on Bill O’Reilly’s show. Anyone who’s already livid at illegal immigration and partial to Trump’s message just got one tick angrier at the “system” and driven even further into Trump’s camp. Thank you, California!

Ted Cruz is a fine candidate and his naming of Carly Fiorina as his running mate last week has offered a new way to get his message across to voters. But in the face of such intense media bias in favor of Trump, who knows if anyone could possibly overcome it.

Marco Rubio’s remaining on the sidelines is still a mystery

Win or lose today in Indiana, if Ted Cruz is to be able to overcome anything in the month remaining before California votes on June 7, he’ll need some additional help in changing the narrative of the race away from the “Trump is inevitable” media avalanche that will flow after tonight regardless of the outcome.

Even a Cruz victory won’t stop it. That’s my prediction.

One possible way to stop the bleeding would be through another key endorsement. Despite having exited the race over a month and a half ago, Marco Rubio remains in third place in the delegate count. His good standing with the establishment and not-Trump/not-Cruz voters could have some sway on the outcome of future states…again, a point or two could make a big difference in some of them.

But it doesn’t look like any such Rubio endorsement will be forthcoming.

Marc Caputo of Politico reports, “Immediately after Rubio dropped out of the presidential contest following his home state March 15 loss, the Florida senator told supporters he would endorse Cruz under two conditions: if the Texas senator wanted the endorsement and if it would make a difference. But Rubio came to believe that neither Cruz nor he would really gain from an endorsement so far…

“Rubio has already helped Cruz by renting him his fundraising list, calling him ‘the only conservative left in the race,’ withdrawing his name from the primary ballot in select states so as not to siphon votes from Cruz and petitioning to hang on to some of the 171 delegates he won to keep them from going to Donald Trump.”

Caputo’s article also details the efforts being made by Rubio’s bitter supporters in arguing in opposition to an endorsement, saying Cruz would only use it against Marco in some future contest if they should end up as opponents once again.

Some are also hoping Cruz emerges as the party nominee and gets crushed by Hillary, clearing the way for Rubio to run in four years to save the Republican party.

Rubio himself does appear somewhat conflicted over how to handle the situation. There are some valid reasons for staying out of the race, but since he’s not running for reelection to his senate seat this year, trying to avoid offending Trump voters isn’t one of them.

I think if Rubio cares as much about stopping Trump as he says he does, he would go ahead and work with Cruz. But there might be another, deeper motive for staying away. Trump has mentioned Rubio’s name recently in connection with the vice presidential nomination – and that might be a bargaining chip.

Rubio needs a job as of January, 2017. Being Trump’s VP may not be a bad gig for a politician who’s never shown a fondness for working late.

Something to think about as the days go on…

Will Trump try to use the RNC Committee on Contests to decertify Cruz delegates?

Donald Trump has been complaining for weeks about the Republican nominating system being “rigged,” a line of argument that appears to be resonating with voters, but he also might end up using the same system he’s so harshly criticized to help him win.

In short, he’ll go after Ted Cruz’s delegates in a similar fashion to how he’s attacked his opponents, by disputing their qualifications to serve.

How?

It turns out the RNC Committee on Contests is assigned the task of certifying the eligibility of delegates to the convention in Cleveland this summer. Simply put, Trump could be considering challenging many of the people elected as Cruz delegates in the past couple months.

Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics reports, “In June, [the RNC Committee on Contests] will evaluate challenges to convention delegates selected at the state level, with the power to recommend that delegates be de-certified by the convention Committee on Credentials.

“A delegate can be de-certified for a number of reasons, including not being a registered voter or not being a resident of the state where he or she was selected. The Committee on Contests reviews each contested delegate individually.”

There have already been a number of hints from the Trump campaign that they intend to muck up the process with hordes of challenges. What they couldn’t do at the state and local level in organizing to win there they’ll try to accomplish at the national level – namely, getting their people into position to vote for The Donald when the time comes.

Without being familiar with the process I’d bet the Cruz campaign will have already thoroughly vetted its delegates, so here’s guessing Trump’s challenges won’t amount to much.

But as Berg points out in her article, “[a] group of campaign lawyers affecting the delegate selection process could further irk voters.”

Needless to say, it will shed even more doubt on a process that’s already taken a beating this year. In such a scenario Trump could end up getting what he wants, but the question would then become, is there any party left to support him in November?

Cruz confronts Trump supporter, gets an earful of Trump-isms

Finally today, just as the media’s fanning the flames of leftist fringe groups is benefitting Trump, they might have unwittingly helped Cruz in Indiana on Monday by catching on tape a confrontation between Ted Cruz and a Trump supporter that went mostly Cruz’s way.

Ben Kamisar of The Hill reports, “Ted Cruz on Monday faced off against Donald Trump supporters who crashed an event in Indiana, where the GOP hopeful is desperately working to upset the front-runner and keep his White House dreams alive.

“Protestors started chanting ‘Do the math’ during Cruz's stop in Marion, Ind., prompting the Texas senator to walk up to a demonstrator holding a Trump campaign sign.”

After parroting Trump’s low-blow personal attacks, the man apparently ended an exchange by saying, “Indiana don’t want you.”

I would highly suggest you watch the video.

I have a couple thoughts on this event. First, no citizen who disagrees with Trump would get several minutes of the candidate’s time to answer his individual questions. Ordinary voters don’t get anywhere near Trump and when anyone does, they end up being yanked away like reporter Michelle Fields was by Corey Lewandowski.

Lastly, the utter obliviousness of Trump’s supporters as shown by this man just goes to confirm the media’s narrative that his campaign is being fueled by a bunch of ignorant rednecks.

Well spoken “Joe the Plumber” this man was not.

The man was saying, “you’re lying, lyin’ Ted” right to Cruz’s face. Isn’t that rude?

This is the state of political discourse in America right now. Trump is not personally answerable for the violence surrounding his rallies, but he is responsible for the deterioration of civility.

Cruz handled the situation with class and dignity. I only hope this incident gets the same level of play as the California protestors jumping on police cars.

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Cruz and the Crowd

Sorry, but Cruz got handed his helmet on that one.

Cruz and the Crowd

Sorry for you.
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That guy looked like one of the brown shirts supporting Hitler.
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He was a lot like trump called Cruz a liar without specifying just what Cruz has lied about.
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Cruz held his own and showed just how much that guy and now you are low information voters.
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Only time will tell if trump will do what he said he would do.