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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ted Cruz stings Marco Rubio on Amnesty

The smoke has barely cleared from last Friday’s terrorist assault in Paris and already certain Republican candidates are trying to make hay while the sun still shines by scaring people in the name of looking tough on national security.

(The main exception is Rand Paul who’s sticking to his non-intervention strategy.)

Ted CruzThe best example is provided by Marco Rubio, who picked a fight with Ted Cruz over domestic surveillance this week.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports, “In an interview Monday, the Florida senator said Cruz ‘weakened national security’ by supporting legislation that diminished a domestic intelligence program designed to thwart terrorist plots on the homeland that was implemented in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”

In other words, Rubio is basically condemning Cruz’s championing of the Constitution. The establishment always argues it needs more power to “keep us safe” as opposed to the old and outdated Constitution which they claim cares more about individual liberties than catching terrorists.

The problem with this line of thought is the Constitution already provides a means for “keeping us safe” -- it just requires the authorities to have probable cause and to obtain a warrant before snooping into our private business.

Rubio is using the Paris attacks to frighten people, a strategy frequently employed by opportunists when something bad happens (it’s not unlike Obama running for the nearest microphone to condemn guns whenever some nutcase goes on a rampage). That’s why many of us have our bodies intrusively scanned each time at the airport even though we have zero connection to the proven purveyors of terrorism.

Thankfully, Cruz didn’t take Rubio’s attacks sitting down, arguing that the Florida senator was only trying to take the focus off his amnesty past.

Drucker writes Cruz told reporters, “It is not surprising that Marco's campaign wants to change the topic from Marco's partnership with President Obama to push a massive amnesty program. I understand politically why they want to change the topic from that but I don't think their efforts are going to be successful.”

It seems clear the topic of immigration is going to play a major role in the upcoming primaries and general election. Cruz is right – Rubio will do anything he can to take focus off of his leadership in the Gang of Eight.

Here’s thinking it won’t work, especially in arguing Cruz is soft on national security.

Forget the polls, it’s the delegates, stupid

Two and a half months out from the Iowa caucuses (on February 1), the main focus in the presidential race is still on the polls. Like it or not, they’re the best measure of how candidates are faring in the minds of voters at any given time – and even small movements up or down can make a big difference for the competitors in terms of their ability to fundraise or in drawing all-important earned media attention.

But in the end, the candidates are competing for convention delegates, hoping to compile enough to secure the nomination. Each state has devised its own rules on how delegates are allotted.

Even the most tuned-in political junkies are likely not aware of the intricacies involved in winning delegates state by state. It’s been almost impossible to figure out a way to keep track in a useful way.

Perhaps until now, that is. Sean Trende and David Byler of RealClearPolitics.com have devised a tool for everyone to monitor the delegate count at their convenience.

Trende and Byler tell how it works. “Beginning with Iowa in February and working through South Dakota in June, and the awarding of ‘RNC delegates,’ you simply input the share of the vote that you think each candidate will receive. You can use the next state button to advance through the elections, and the previous state button if you feel that you’ve made a mistake. There’s a ‘reset’ button at the bottom of the page if you want to start over.”

You can wait until February to input the real voting tallies yourself or try some “forecasting” of your own months in advance.

At this point it’s just a fun game you can play around the after-Thanksgiving dinner table next week, or you can break the states up into groups, dig out the polls and do some real forecasting for yourself. And if you have Democrat family members, it could make for some pretty good conversation (arguments)!

Nothing like a little political discussion over pumpkin pie… and then you’ll all be jazzed up enough to hit those midnight Black Friday sales.

For what it’s worth, the writers do include their results from using the widget, which are interesting in their own right. “[W]e did tend to find that one much-discussed outcome emerged repeatedly in our simulations: A race to the end between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with Rubio holding an advantage. Perhaps this merely reflects our internalized opinions regarding how things play out.

“But based on current polling and the state of fundraising today, we found that Cruz, Trump and Carson were all able to rack up a fair number of delegates after the Nevada caucuses, while Marco Rubio was left as the leading establishment candidate.”

Everyone talks about the overall strength of the Republican field, but one area where it’s lacking is in establishment depth. Conservatives have many choices… the elites are probably going to settle on Rubio.

There’s serious danger of vote-splitting here. It’s something to consider when using the widget to forecast your own winner or as the real events unfold in the next couple months.

Is Jindal’s demise bad news for Rubio?

Bobby Jindal’s announcement that he was suspending his campaign certainly came as no surprise. His miniscule national support held down his fundraising and he simply didn’t have enough name recognition to build a following through non-traditional means such as social media.

It’s doubtful his absence will have any effect on the race, but his failure to gain traction could still serve as a warning sign to… Marco Rubio.

How? Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.com explains. “At this point in the campaign, 2016 voters have so many choices that they don’t need to settle. They can choose the candidate who best reflects their ideological preference. Voters looking for a clean break from the establishment, for example, can choose someone like Ben Carson, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

“That’s potentially a dangerous sign for Marco Rubio, a candidate who supposedly appeals to multiple parts of the party.”

Enten essentially argues Jindal crashed because he tried to court multiple constituencies in the Republican Party – in his case, the establishment and Christian conservative wings. I don’t think Jindal was appealing to the establishment at all, but Enten grouped him in with them nonetheless.

Similar to Jindal, Enten thinks Rubio is trying to win the nomination through gaining favor with multiple voting blocs – a similar strategy employed by George W. Bush and John McCain in their paths to victory. The distinction being 2016 is a different animal with several candidates appealing separately to each constituency.

Rubio is caught in no man’s land, an “acceptable” option to many, yet being no one’s first choice.

The only part of Enten’s theory I agree with is the danger Rubio faces by occupying the establishment lane. Survey after survey shows people are fed up with the status quo – and by grasping the party poohbahs with both hands, Marco runs the risk of being thrown out with the rest of them.

Enten concludes by saying he still thinks Rubio’s going to win the nomination despite his predicament. I think it’s yet to be seen whether Marco can overcome his already considerable obstacles to make it to the end.

It’s yet another mystery that only time and events will solve.

Establishment predicts terrorism will sink Trump and Carson

For months, the Republican establishment has been searching for an answer to the polling potency of non-politician outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and they think the Paris terrorist attacks will finally provide it.

Katie Glueck and Daniel Strauss report, “The reemergence of foreign policy atop the Republican agenda will force voters to reevaluate the outsider candidates, particularly as both Trump and Carson display a lack of knowledge about national security and the terrorist threat, party stalwarts said…

“Indeed, in interviews with current and former GOP chairs, veteran operatives, lobbyists and strategists, the long-held conviction that neither Trump nor Carson will win the Republican nomination has only strengthened since the attacks in Paris last week.”

The elites’ reaction is certainly predictable, since they’re going on a set of assumptions that their “professional” guys are automatically seen as the strongest on any particular subject.

I bet if you polled these same people, to a man they’d insist that Jeb Bush is the most qualified to be president. Take a look at who’s quoted in the story: Katon Dawson, Fred Malek, Fergus Cullen, Doug Gross, Henry Barbour and Stuart Stevens, among others – it’s a who’s who list of establishment Republicans.

The problem is, voters don’t see it that way – not this year. And a post-Paris poll in New Hampshire shows Trump is still enjoying a big lead (though Carson is falling back a bit).

There is also plenty of time between now and the caucuses and primaries for the focus to shift back to other issues where the outsiders are stronger. Add in the fact immigration is very much a part of the voters’ national security concerns and any potential advantage with the establishment vanishes.

It could very well be that Marco Rubio is peaking early, too, a notion that’s not getting very much attention. Rubio himself hasn’t been vetted thoroughly on his weakest subjects. Until that happens, it’s too early to declare him the winner.

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Trump & Carson Failing Because of Terrorism

I'm not sure why you wrote that article - maybe because this is the way the Establishment wants to go. Left to the Establishment, they would bring Romney back if they could & of course if they did, the GOP would lose the Presidential race once again. Listen to the American people & stop thinking you know what is best for all because if you really did know everything, then the GOP wouldn't keep losing!