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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Where’s the truth, candidates?

With the national media’s attention still squarely focused on Donald Trump comes the results of the first NBC poll after last week’s debate.

Most pundits will gleefully note that Trump still leads. Not a big surprise. But more noteworthy is the rise of the competition:
Erick Erickson
Trump 23%
Cruz 13%
Carson 11%
Fiorina 8%
Rubio 8%
Bush 7%
Walker 7%

Three of the top four in the poll have never held public office – and the other, Senator Ted Cruz, is the politician that’s most critical of the Washington ruling-class (which he calls the “cartel.”).

If you add the support of the top two establishment candidates in the poll together – Rubio and Bush – it still would just put them in second place.

The poll was taken after the debate but before Trump’s war of words with Fox News and Megyn Kelly was widely publicized, however.

Donald’s ego marches on

One explanation for the continuing focus on Trump and his outsized personality is that it’s the summer season, Congress is out of session and there frankly isn’t much else to talk about.

Erick Erickson writes, “The longer Trump is talking about Megyn Kelly, me, blood, or himself, he is not talking about Mexico, immigration, foreign policy, the national debt, the other candidates, etc. The very issues that brought Trump to prominence, as they fade from his voice, give other candidates opportunity to pick them up in their own voice and run with them while Trump is bogged down in the August doldrums.”

(Erickson also reveals what it’s like to cross Trump. Pretty amazing stuff.)

Trump’s ego may be playing into it. Top advisor Roger Stone even indicated that he quit Trump’s campaign because the candidate couldn’t stick to a message.

Richard Viguerie said Trump should’ve taken Stone’s advice and avoided the dust-up with Megyn Kelly rather than taking off on another egocentric “food fight” with a TV personality.

The common theme being that Donald can’t treat a national presidential campaign the way he does his business and media dealings. Trump can purchase a lot of things, but he can’t buy conservatives’ love – and votes.

For what it’s worth, here’s a different view of the Trump/Kelly/Erickson “food fight” from Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator.

“Erick’s instinct, just as it was in his own earlier dust-up with Kelly, was to assert that women are somehow submissive to men, inferior, and therefore must be protected from a potential-possible-maybe-it-could-and-might-happen-maybe ‘hostile’ encounter with Donald Trump,” Lord wrote.

This flare-up will inevitably die away when the media finds something else to talk about. We can only hope a serious discussion of the real issues doesn’t get lost with it.

Warning signs on Carly?

There’s no doubt that Carly Fiorina’s star is on the rise. She’s gone from virtual obscurity and a place in the “Happy Hour” debate to the top five in the last week, if the NBC poll is to be believed.

Conservatives have finally noticed her and will be taking a much closer look to see if she might be one of their top two or three choices heading into the primaries.

One troubling potential sign surfaced recently. From The Right Scoop comes news that Fiorina chided Ted Cruz for his efforts to force a government shutdown in 2013 to battle Obamacare.

It’s not just what Fiorina said, it’s the way she said it, specifically citing Cruz as part of the problem.

“Everybody could see this train wreck coming. I actually feel badly for John Boehner. I think this is Ted Cruz and President Obama’s shutdown. I think Ted Cruz’s tactics were wrong.

“There’s no honor in charging a hill that you know you can’t take, only casualties, although Ted Cruz maybe got name recognition and money along the way. But President Obama wanted this shutdown. And Ted Cruz played right into his hands.”

She feels bad for John Boehner? Ouch. Fiorina even implied that Cruz was only advocating for the shutdown to raise money and gain name recognition. Extreme?

She needs to answer for this.

Which shouldn’t be a problem, because Fiorina’s throwing down the gauntlet to her competitors.

Lydia Wheeler from The Hill reports that Fiorina claims the race is just getting started and issued a challenge to her fellow candidates: “Game on.”

We can only assume Ted Cruz is included in the challenge. Maybe then he can ask her directly about what she meant concerning the shutdown.

Let’s hope she has an answer, because she talks a great game. Fiorina is definitely one to watch for the near future.

Rand Paul to the Donald: You’re no Tea Partier

Speaking to a conservative group in South Carolina, Paul said "I can't imagine Donald Trump even knowing what a tea party is," before enumerating the Donald’s issue flip-flops.

Paul’s merely restating his objections voiced during last week’s debate, to perhaps more sympathetic audiences this time around.

There’s substance behind Paul’s words as well. Rand has laid out one of the most detailed agendas of any of the candidates, including his five-year plan to balance the budget. But he seems to be running into many of the same obstacles that plagued his father during his presidential runs – namely, that he can’t convince voters that his hands-off approach to governing in every respect is the best way for America.

Does that mean people want more government? Hard to tell.

Paul may think the country is ready for a true-believer libertarian candidate. But the Republican Party doesn’t appear to be the place for it.

(For those who may be curious, here’s a look at how Chris Christie bent the facts in his exchange with Paul.)

Ben Carson and the RedState gathering

Lastly, Ben Carson has taken a lot of heat for not being at the RedState gathering this past weekend.

One of his senior campaign advisors (Armstrong Williams) says Erick Erickson’s reasons for not inviting him are an outright lie:

“I dare Erick Erickson to show transcripts where Dr. Ben Carson appears in front of two groups of veterans and speaks solely about himself and President Obama. On the occasions when Dr. Carson uses stories from his personal narrative, it is to illustrate how one can overcome difficult situations.”

It’s been a rough couple of days for Erickson, who’s generally regarded as a reliable voice in conservative politics.

It just goes to show people are starting to pay attention – a good thing for all of us.

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Amazing Stuff about Hypocrite Erick Erickson

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Pertinent pullout from the second link:

"Not everyone felt the same way. Conservative blogger Erick Erickson took to Twitter, commenting, "Maybe my sense of humor needs to be recalibrated, but when I heard @TuckerCarlson's MILFistan comment, I laughed then got out my passport." "


I wouldn't be holding up Erick Erickson as having ANY ethical credentials at all ... ESPECIALLY when it comes to respecting women.