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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Is Donald Trump clairvoyant?

We begin today with an ending.

Bobby Jindal announced last night that he is suspending his campaign.

Steve Guest of the Daily Caller reports, “Appearing on Fox News’s ‘Special Report’ with Bret Baier on Tuesday, Donald TrumpJindal said it was a ‘great honor to run for President of the United States… but this is not my time.’

“Jindal said, ‘I’m not going to stop fighting’ for this country.”

In a statement on Jindal’s Facebook page, he concluded with, “Now is the time for all those Americans who still believe in freedom and American exceptionalism to stand up and defend it. The idea of America – the idea that my parents came here for almost a half a century ago – that idea is slipping away from us. Freedom is under assault from both outside our borders and from within. We must act now, we do not have a moment to spare.”

Jindal’s exit will have little effect on the overall Republican race. Despite strong performances in all four “Happy Hour” debates, he was never able to catch on with Republican voters in a year where the “outsider” candidates are dominating.

Personally, I’m sad to see Bobby go. He was very solid in policy, has a good conservative record and was one of the more articulate candidates in the field. But in the end, Jindal is right – this is not his time.

2016 Republicans refocus on terrorism and refugees

For a Republican race that’s virtually stagnated in the past two months, the terrorist attacks in Paris may prove to be a breaking point. While foreign and military policy has come up frequently in the presidential debates, the tragic events in France offer greater context to what each of the candidates has to say.

Naturally, the non-“outsider” contenders are putting forth their experience in hopes of trying to cut into the sizable lead of the frontrunners.

Rebecca Berg and Caitlyn Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics report, “Recent history shows little can deter Trump and Carson backers. But the attacks on Paris last week altered the course of history, raising serious questions about the ever-rising threat of terrorism and how the United States will address it. Candidates with political experience are likely to want the conversation to continue throughout the campaign.”

As well it should continue. Terrorism is directly related to the immigration issue that’s dominated the Republican race. Democrats always advocate for unfettered immigration, Republicans (most of them) oppose it. Democrats also think America should still be willing to accept hefty numbers of Syrian refugees.

Republicans don’t.

All of the candidates have weighed-in on the Syrian refugee issue and there’s virtual unanimity that it’s a bad idea. Several of them said all refugees should be kept out while some, including Jeb Bush, argued special consideration should be given to allowing Christians to enter the U.S.

As the party of national security, you would expect the public to look to Republicans for protection. But how about going to war?

“While the public is growing more concerned about terrorism, suggesting foreign policy will play a key role in the election, Americans are still concerned about engaging in another war,” Berg and Burns wrote.

“A Reuters poll taken after the Paris attacks found 63 percent of Americans feared a terrorist attack could happen at home. Also, 60 percent think the United States should be doing more to defeat ISIS. However, roughly 65 percent opposed sending American Special Forces to the region.”

In other words, Americans still appear to favor a more cautious approach in terms of deploying troops. But they still want action on ISIS. Is that a contradiction?

In terms of how to deal with the refugees, Rand Paul called for cutting off of visas of refugees – and more. “Paul’s legislation would also block visas for students from countries that have a significant jihadist movement and restrict access to the United States even for people who hail from traditional allies and have not been required to obtain a visa before traveling,” reports Joel Gehrke of National Review.

Paul also reiterated his stance that it would be foolish to arm the allies of ISIS and Al Qaeda, arguing that the only way ISIS is ultimately going to be defeated is for the Muslims themselves to take action against the radical elements.

There’s truth in Paul’s words. Bombing will eventually defeat the jihadists by destroying their capability and killing many of them, but it won’t eradicate the ideology behind their terror. If the Muslim world truly wants peace, it’s up to them to fight for it.

Is Donald Trump clairvoyant?

As always, Donald Trump offered a unique perspective on the situation. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reports, “Trump questioned whether Syrian refugees are part of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot, suggested buying land in Syria to create a ‘safe space’ and said that in 2000 he could ‘feel’ that terrorists were going to strike in the United States, as he rallied a large crowd of supporters in Tennessee on Monday evening.”

Trump even pointed to his book which he wrote in 2000 suggesting Osama bin Laden was intent on striking the U.S. It isn’t the first “feeling” The Donald’s had that turned out to be right.

Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator writes that it’s more than just Trump predicting the future -- all of this is right in front of our eyes. “It isn’t just that Trump got it right. This is common sense. This has nothing to do with being anti-refugee or anti-immigrant. It has to do with the plain fact of the matter that just as Trump predicted ISIS fighters have embedded themselves in the middle of these Syrian refugees — with the deliberate intention in this case of making their way to Paris to kill Parisians.”

Lord is right. It is common sense. And it’s the truth, too – at least according to the attackers themselves. The supposed mastermind behind the Paris attacks said he traveled back and forth between Europe and Syria with little harassment from authorities.

It was only a matter of time before Europe’s immigrant crisis and porous borders came back to haunt them. Europeans are in a huge mess over there and we must be vigilant in doing everything we can to ensure their problems don’t wash ashore in America.

To that end, several of the candidates (including Trump and Carson) have called on Speaker Paul Ryan to act swiftly in cutting off the money to fund Obama’s refugee relocation program.

It’s an early test for the Speaker to determine whether he’s willing to stand up to Obama and act on a matter that nearly all Republicans agree upon.

We certainly live in interesting times…

Will the depressed Democrats turnout next year?

Changing gears a bit, Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner writes that early signs indicate Democratic turnout may sag next year.

“Will Democratic turnout surge this time, unlike 2012? In recent news stories I find clues suggesting that the answer will be no.”

Barone gives two reasons for his hypothesis. First he cites a Gallup survey (in a Politico story) that found significantly more Republicans are happier with the solutions their candidates have proposed to solve issues they care about than the Democrats.

Second, Barone (referencing a Wall Street Journal article) says about eighty percent of those who gave the maximum personal contribution to Barack Obama have not returned the favor for Hillary Clinton – which suggests overall enthusiasm is much lower for the almost-certain Democrat nominee.

Having been burned on my skepticism that people would really turn out to elect Barack Obama – twice – I am hesitant to make the same assumption this early for Hillary Clinton. But there are indeed signs that Democrats aren’t as wild about the prospect of Bill Clinton’s wife being their new leader.

Perhaps the most glaring signal is the big difference in the size of the viewing audiences for Republican versus Democrat presidential debates.

Part of the viewership deficit is certainly due to the pathetic weakness of the Democrat field. Even with Hillary running as the predestined frontrunner, there should be more Democrats vying to succeed Barack Obama this year.

In contrast, the 2008 Democrat group had several interesting characters that at least provided an entertaining horse race for people to follow.

I once compared them to the cast of the Wizard of Oz. Barack Obama was the Scarecrow. Chris Dodd was the Tinman. Dennis Kucinich was the Cowardly Lion. John Edwards was Dorothy (I turned out to be right on that one, didn’t I?). Joe Biden was the Wizard of Oz (you know, loud thundering voice, the “pay no attention to the man behind the screen” guy).

And, of course, Hillary Clinton was the Wicked Witch of the West. She still is.

But her supporting cast this season is awful. Bernie Sanders is like a cartoon character (former Trump advisor Roger Stone called him a “senile old coot”) who thinks climate change is a bigger global threat than ISIS. And Martin O’Malley is an inconsequential governor from an unimportant state in the national conversation.

If Democrats are less than enthusiastic about this year’s candidates, there’s good reason to be. They’re boring and they all believe the same things, more or less. Not much of a choice there, folks.

Talk about depressing.

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