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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ben Carson’s character and faith

We end the week with another couple revealing looks at Ben Carson.

Carson has faced the media’s fire of late with his comments on Muslims and the presidency and appears to have come through it all in good shape. The goodwill is reflected in positive news coverage, which is not always a given when it comes to Republicans in presidential primary races.

Ben CarsonAs I reported yesterday, polls reveal people like Carson and are open to supporting his candidacy. And although there’s been quite a bit of scrutiny of Ben’s statements and background, he doesn’t seem to have the considerable personal baggage that accompanies Donald Trump everywhere he goes.

Carson doesn’t have Carly Fiorina’s HP issues, either.

Perhaps it’s the “clean” image that’s propelling him forward as the likeliest “outsider” to make it to the end. Australian Hal G.P. Colebatch writes in the American Spectator that Carson is the most plausible president among the race’s frontrunners.

“In a long and grueling campaign he has shown patience, adamantine dignity, a thorough grasp of the issues. He has remained calm under fire.”

“…His astonishing early life and career are adequate testimony to his splendid intellect and, most important of all, to his strength of character. No one can read of his early life without being staggered at the obstacles he overcame on the path to high achievement.”

Colebatch compares Carson favorably to President Obama and Hillary Clinton, arguing the former neurosurgeon’s character makes him a superior natural leader, regardless of political experience.

“Leadership is a much-abused word, but at a time when not only America but Britain and the West in general (my own country not least) have been suffering from a real deficiency of leadership of character, Ben Carson has shown that leadership that grown out of real inner strength,” Colebatch concludes.

It’s strong praise from someone observing from afar, proving Carson’s life’s story transcends boundaries. He may not be seen as the same kind of world-healing, messiah-like “savior” Obama was before his actual presidency, but there’s hope Ben’s gentlemanly qualities and vast intellect would go over well on the international stage.

And let’s not forget belief. Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics examines Carson’s faith and how it’s helped shape the man – and the candidate.

“Carson dates his spiritual awakening to that day he holed up in the bathroom and sought guidance from the Bible, a story he has told many times. But religion was never foreign to Carson: He was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and baptized at age 8, according to a story earlier this year in the Detroit News.”

“…Carson has often publicly described his belief in a higher power that is extremely active and engaged, including multiple instances in his life when he felt that God directly intervened in his trajectory or acted through him.”

Berg’s piece is hardly a validation of Carson’s candidacy, but it does read like an endorsement of the man. It’s not the kind of story you’re likely to see in the New York Times, but it provides a much better picture of what the former neurosurgeon is all about.

And there’s not much there not to like, whether you’re a believer or not.

The establishment’s earth is quaking and it’s shifting towards Rubio… and Romney?

Marco Rubio is stealing Jeb Bush’s establishment thunder – and Jeb’s not going to take it anymore!

Steve Guest of the Daily Caller reports Bush said during an appearance on the “Morning Joe” program that Rubio lacks the leadership skills to solve the myriad of problems in Washington.

“Marco was a member of the House of Representatives when I was governor, and he followed my lead and I’m proud of that,” Bush remembered.

When asked to expand on whether Rubio’s leadership skills fit the job, Bush replied, “It’s not — no. Barack Obama didn’t end up having them, and he won an election based on the belief that people had that he could, and he didn’t even try.”

Bush’s stumbling answer on Rubio’s qualities reminds me of a similarly awkward retort he gave when trying to explain why the Iraq War was worth fighting.

And as Guest points out, it directly contradicts comments Bush made when Rubio was supposedly under consideration to be Romney’s running mate in 2012. Back then, Jeb spoke in glowing terms of Rubio’s qualifications.

My, how time and circumstance change things.

Further evidence Rubio is taking over as the establishment favorite is found in the “Breitbart primary,” where the Florida Senator and Mitt Romney are competing for what little support can be found for party elite candidates (they were the top two in September’s primary).

Tony Lee of Breitbart explains why it matters, “The Breitbart Primary was a leading indicator of the rise of non-politicians and anti-establishment candidates, as Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina had seen considerably better numbers in the Breitbart Primary before they started to surge in state and national polls.”

“The Breitbart Primary also foreshadowed how difficult it would be for establishment candidates to gain traction in this election cycle. In previous Breitbart Primary voting, establishment candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Sen. Lindsey Graham did not even get 1% combined.”

Granted, Breitbart readers are much more conservative than the general Republican voting population, but the fact they’re bringing in Romney indicates people are searching for a contest – and Jeb isn’t giving it to them.

Also reported by Lee on Breitbart, Mitt said Donald Trump would not end up winning the Republican nomination. “I will support the Republican nominee. I don’t think that’s going to be Donald Trump,” Romney said at The Atlantic‘s Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday. “My party has historically nominated someone who’s a mainstream conservative.”

When taken together with wife Ann’s comments the other day, it’s clear Mitt is following the 2016 race closely. Romney took a long time to get over his 2012 loss and there’s likely still some feeling there that he didn’t lose the election – instead, it was taken from him.

Some would call it denial. Certainly looks that way, at least.

Conservatives wouldn’t agree with Mitt’s analysis, of course. Donald Trump said Romney lost because he failed to energize the voters. Statistical analysis indicates the truth is closer to Trump’s version of what happened.

But it all goes back to Jeb’s struggles… if he weren’t in such bad shape, Rubio wouldn’t be doing as well as he is and no one would even be talking about Romney.

Fiorina compares herself to legendary champion, talks tough on Russia

As I mentioned above, Rebecca Berg’s piece on Ben Carson did not read like an endorsement. The same can probably be said for Elaina Plott’s story on Carly Fiorina at National Review, though Plott starts right off in labeling Fiorina “Secretariat.”

(Ed note: The name for the article stems from Fiorina calling herself “Secretariat” in reference to a potential Secret Service code name during the second Republican debate.)

For you non-sports historians (or non-horse racing fans), Secretariat is widely seen as the best racehorse of all time, sealing off his triple crown triumph with a 32-length victory in the Belmont Stakes. That’s winning by an almost incomprehensible margin.

So does Plott think Fiorina will gallop across the primary finish line in similarly triumphant fashion? It’s not clear, but the journalist clearly seems impressed by the candidate. “Her lifelong theme of triumph over adversity — from overcoming breast cancer to coping with the drug-related death of her stepdaughter — finds a similar expression in the life of the decorated racehorse, who was bet against before he was even born.”

The career comparisons don’t end there. Fiorina sees herself as an underdog destined to do great things. Time will tell if she reaches the Winner’s Circle.

If she does, it may be because she talks a good game on foreign policy, the latest proposal being getting tough against Russia for intervening in Syria.

As reported by Mark Hensch of The Hill, Fiorina said “I believe we must tell the Russians that we will conduct [and] we will secure a no-fly zone around anti-Assad rebel forces that we’re supporting,” during an appearance on Fox News’s "Hannity."

She did reply “hopefully not” when asked if we might use force against Russian jets. Carly also said we must only be “prepared” to confront them.

Potential war with Russia is a touchy subject. Candidates need to provide answers to hypothetical questions, but when push comes to shove, would they be willing to give the go-ahead?

Some serious repercussions to think about…

Huckabee combines Washington and American culture in new TV ad

After talking about potential war with Russia, we end the week on a lighter note. As reported by Al Weaver of the Washington Examiner, Mike Huckabee released an ad where he calls Washington a “strip club.”

Weaver describes the spot. “After pictures of crumpled up dollar bills and stripper poles fade away, Huckabee appears while driving his car.”

Mike concludes by talking about America winning again. The message is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s slogan and what The Donald has been promising during his campaign.

Huckabee’s stuck in low single digits in the polls and his would-be Evangelical supporters are flocking to Ben Carson… and Trump.

The ad probably won’t help him much, but it sure is entertaining.

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Carson is a good doctor, and he should stick to medicine. He would be a disaster as president.

Fiorina is just an uniformed feminazi who couldn't even keep her job at Hewlett-Packard. She would also be a disaster.

The rest, except for Ted Cruz, are all pathetic losers. Trump is the only hope our country has for fixing everything.