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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Scott Walker takes on the GOP establishment

Another day, another new poll showing Donald Trump maintaining his lead.

CNN Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta reports on the CNN/ORC survey:

Scott WalkerDonald Trump 24%
Jeb Bush 13%
Ben Carson 9%
Marco Rubio 8%
Scott Walker 8%
Rand Paul 6%
Ted Cruz 5%
Carly Fiorina 5%
John Kasich 5%
Mike Huckabee 4%

The tally is derived from Republican registered voters and diverges a little from other recent polls in that Bush has a little more support and just about everyone else has less.

Ted Cruz at 5%? That’s not what the other polls have been showing.

Donald Trump’s support is solid among his backers, too. “The poll suggests those behind Trump love him: He holds a 98% favorability rating among his supporters. But those Republican voters who aren't supporting Trump are skeptical that he would help the party,” Agiesta says.

In addition, Trump is by far the most trusted candidate on a number of important issues.

All of this is more evidence that The Donald will not fade as the establishment keeps hoping and that his supporters aren’t likely to jump to other candidates.

Trump will continue to dominate the presidential race buzz in the near term – and that’s bad news for the elites.

Scott Walker takes off the kid gloves

Speaking of buzz, up until recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has built his campaign around his “ordinary guy” persona, his winning of three hotly contested elections in a blue state and his steady leadership in the face of tough challenges he’s faced during his relatively brief time in the Governor’s mansion.

Walker’s also championed his calm demeanor. We saw it in the first debate as well, where more demonstrative candidates (like Trump and Mike Huckabee) made him seem almost invisible.

The last few days, however, Walker’s shown a bit of a different side of him… no more Mr. mid-western Nice Guy for Scott.

First he stared down protestors at the Iowa State Fair. Now he’s started cutting into the hapless Republican congressional leadership.

Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports, when directly challenged by a protestor, Walker used it as an opportunity to talk about the threats he’s confronted while in office. “I am not intimidated by you, sir, or anyone else out there," Walker said to the man.  "You want someone who's tested; I'm right here. ... We will do what is necessary to defend the American people going forward."

As far as taking on his own party, some say Walker is merely channeling Ted Cruz who has earned a reputation for speaking truth-to-power.

In an interview on the Glenn Beck show (as reported by streiff at RedState), Walker said, “People are saying loud and clear, ‘Do not dismiss my concerns. Do not dismiss the fact that you told us that Republicans stood for something, and it’s not happening in Washington,’…Now more than ever I think people are yearning, they’re crying out.”

Walker was also intent on directly taking on Mitch McConnell during a speech in Minnesota on Tuesday.

In doing so, Walker is clearly trying to position himself among the anti-Washington establishment “outsiders” in the GOP field. He has a track record of fighting the left and winning – now he must combat the Big Government elements of his own party to appeal to the disaffected conservative voters.

In another act of leadership, Walker has also released his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Jennifer Haberkorn and Kyle Cheney of Politico report, “Walker says he would replace President Barack Obama’s signature law with a plan that would return authority to the states and provide sliding-scale tax credits directly to consumers who don’t get coverage at work to help them buy insurance. The tax credits would be based on age — not income — an element that immediately drew criticism as a new entitlement.”

True, several conservatives (including Gov. Bobby Jindal, here) panned the plan. But it’s a conversation starter for Walker.

Trump’s immigration plan blows up the GOP race

Donald Trump proved this week that his hot rhetoric on illegal immigration was more than mere bluster. In fact, Byron York of the Washington Examiner says Trump’s immigration plan blows up the 2016 debate on the issue.

“From now on, at least during the course of the Republican primary campaign, the immigration conversation will be different than it was before,” York said.

The plan outlines a number of policy proposals and omits specifics on others – such as how to deport 12 million illegal aliens already in the country.

But even the outline will require his opponents to tackle the topic. There’s no more dancing around the issue for establishment Republicans. It’s time to put up or shut up.

Speaking of establishment Republicans, Marco Rubio already addressed Trump’s plan, saying it has no chance to pass in Congress. Rubio didn’t specify which parts of the plan wouldn’t get through, but if the past is any indication, he wouldn’t support much of it.

Here’s another establishment view, from Alex Castellanos (reported by Ian Hanchett of Breitbart).

Early signs indicate the grassroots is giving Trump’s plan their full-throated approval. As noted by Rush Limbaugh (and reported by Julia Hahn of Breitbart), “[T]here isn’t a single candidate for president addressing the issue in a way that resonates with the American people, particularly Republican primary voters, not one, until Donald Trump comes along.”

Many in the chattering class are poo-pooing Trump’s plan before it even gets out the door, arguing that it’s entirely impractical and couldn’t possibly be implemented. In other words, the base loves it, but the “experts” are dumbfounded.

It’s clear that Donald Trump’s already won on the issue. Common sense would indicate that some of the proposals would either be shot down by Congress or prove to be hopelessly difficult to implement.

But that’s not the point.

The very fact that Trump has committed the ideas to paper will force the country to face the issue – and that includes Hillary, Obama and the Democrats. They often talk about “bringing people out of the shadows….” Well, now they’ll have to introduce real ideas to combat these problems. THEY will need to come out of the shadows.

Are you listening, GOP leaders?

Ben Carson looks to take from Trump

As noted above when discussing the CNN poll, Trump’s support appears to be pretty solid. The folks who dig The Donald aren’t ready to jump ship.

But when and if they do, Ben Carson may get some of them. Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports Carson, when asked about Trump, “[He] responded by taking his first implied shot at the front-runner, saying that voters would consider a host of matters — including temperament — in making their decision.”

Carson’s demeanor is just about the polar opposite to Trump’s, but their messages and penchant for saying “controversial” things are somewhat similar. The media hounds Carson for his views on race and abortion, but the grassroots seems to like his thoughtful approach to politics.

Lastly on Carson, Jonathan Easley also reports on the man behind the candidate, black conservative talk show host Armstrong Williams. Williams and Carson have been friends for years, and the former’s media savvy is certainly partially responsible for Carson’s rise in popularity.

Hillary is Jeb Bush’s biggest fan in the GOP race

Finally today, Matt Latimer of Politico writes that the Clintons are rooting for Jeb Bush to win the GOP nomination – not because they want a dynasty-to-dynasty, head-to-head match-up – no, because he’d be easy to beat.

“The Democrats aren’t finished asking about Iraq. And they will find umpteen million ways to ask an understandably and obviously uncomfortable Jeb about his brother’s record on Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession and the Wall Street bailouts,” Latimer argues.

If you weren’t convinced already that Jeb Bush isn’t the guy to take the fight to the Democrats (be it Hillary or otherwise), read this article. It basically lays out in detail how they’ll go after him – and beat him badly.

It ain’t pretty.

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