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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Donald Trump embraces the establishment dark side

Donald Trump began his run for the 2016 Republican nomination by blowing the door off the establishment penitentiary, but instead of freeing the prison guards taken as hostages, he’s now joined in with the inmates.

By actively siding with Gov. Terry Branstad  and the Big Corn ethanol industry in Iowa as well as criticizing Ted Cruz as a “nasty guy” who people don’t like, Trump might as well turn in his “outsider” badge.

Darth VaderIf he’s running just to preserve the status quo, why bother?

Leon H. Wolf of RedState writes, “Basically, at the end of the day, Republican voters have shown that they want exactly the opposite of whatever people like Terry Branstad stands for. So when Branstad says he wants Cruz to lose, well. I don’t know how that will translate in Iowa, but I know that across the country, this is taken by most Republican voters as a de facto endorsement of the Cruz candidacy…

“But hey, no one tell Donald Trump. He and Branstad are birds of a feather, if Trump’s record in private industry is any indicator.”

Trump has long maintained he’s proud of paying politicians for political favors – and Branstad is a politician who literally profits from the taxpayer supported ethanol industry. There is definitely a connection there.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is just another one of Trump’s moves to ingratiate himself with the same people he’s purported to oppose when he thinks they might be useful in getting him elected. For his part, Ted Cruz isn’t buying it.

Rebecca Savransky of The Hill reports Cruz told BuzzFeed News, “The establishment is beginning to support Donald Trump…

“It is not a surprise that the establishment is in full panic mode,” Cruz said. “We predicted from the very beginning that the Washington cartel would fire every tool in its arsenal to prevent a conservative victory in this primary.

"The cartel exists to make deals and to pick winners and losers through cronyism and corporate welfare.”

Trump was able to hide his true colors for a long time and has a lot of people fooled with his heated rhetoric on immigration, trade and national security. But the longer the campaign goes on it’s becoming clear that it’s really all about him and winning at all costs.

His decision to crucify Ted over preserving ethanol subsidies will be the last straw in many conservatives’ minds. Up until now a lot of conservatives have looked on with intense curiosity and some hope at Trump’s candidacy. All that’s over.

Their anger will burn hotter than the fuel he intends to promote.

Ted Cruz doesn’t change just because the location does

Among his many unfair criticisms of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump claims the Texas senator is a flip-flopper on ethanol, basically changing his position to get votes.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Cruz’s position in the Senate did change from initially proposing a total ban to phasing out subsidies over five years, but the goal is still to end federal intervention into the industry.

In other words, Cruz is the same person on the campaign trail that he is as a senator, which flows naturally from someone who adheres to the Constitution and a basic limited government philosophy.

So it should come as no surprise that Cruz hasn’t altered his faith-based conservative message in New Hampshire, a place that might not be as receptive as the evangelical crowds of Iowa.

Katie Glueck of Politico reports, “In New Hampshire, the second-most secular state in the country following only nearby Vermont, Cruz is leaning hard into his evangelical persona. He isn’t roaring like a preacher here the way he does in Iowa and South Carolina, but the religious rhetoric is virtually the same—and it plays well with a small but increasingly committed group of Christian conservative voters who appreciate the emphasis on faith, or at a minimum aren’t bothered by it…

“…Cruz, who at stop after stop on his four-day swing through New Hampshire this week routinely asked voters to pray, railed against what he characterized as an assault on religious liberty and promised that members of the military would be able to pray unimpeded. He noted that his dad is a ‘pastor who travels the country preaching the Gospel.’ And he dished out Bible references, chapter and verse.”

What did they expect, Ted to put away the Good Book just because he entered a more secular universe?

For all the people who say Cruz is a phony, they’re clearly not seeing who he really is. His faith isn’t something he tucks away and unpacks when the occasions suits -- it’s part of his being. In stark contrast to Trump, Cruz is extremely comfortable talking about his relationship with God because it’s something he’s done his whole life and can’t be separated from him.

The phonies are the ones who claim to know Jesus yet can’t explain what it means to them personally.

You don’t have to know the Bible verse by verse to have faith, yet people can tell if you’re faking it.

Cruz may indeed be targeting a specific constituency in New Hampshire by presenting his standard religion-filled stump speech, but it’s more like he’s just being the person who he is.

It doesn’t get any more authentic than that.

Behind the scenes, the RNC torpedoed a conservative presidential debate

It’s been the case for years, conservatives have wondered why Republican candidates must be subjected every nominating cycle to the irrelevant and horribly biased major media networks and their gang of liberal moderators in conducting presidential debates.

The picture’s become a little clearer of late – it turns out the Republican National Committee had a chance to do something about the debate hosting problem and chickened out at the last minute, probably because they don’t really want conservatives to handle the planning. No surprise there.

Hadas Gold and Shane Goldmacher of Politico report, “More than a year ago, huddled in secret, the Republican National Committee began negotiations with conservative news organizations to wrest at least one presidential primary debate from the grip of the mainstream media. It was to be an event by and for the GOP’s base, free of the constraints of a big network, to ensure candidates a forum to speak about conservative issues in a conservative frame for conservative voters.

“That debate would have happened this week at Liberty University with The Washington Times in the lead. Instead, the GOP's at times unwelcome front-runner Donald Trump walked onto the stage originally reserved for the forum and bungled Bible quotes in front of an evangelical audience.”

Well into the planning process for the conservative debate RNC Chairman Reince Priebus pulled the plug on the project, citing logistical difficulties in setting up an event without a specified media partner.

Those with knowledge of the situation believe the Republican elites got cold feet after the candidates themselves threatened to rebel in the wake of the CNBC debate disaster in late October. That’s when Ted Cruz challenged the liberal debate moderators on their questions, saying they were trying to instigate some sort of “cage match.”

It’s a shame the candidates needed to be the ones to put a stop to an obvious problem that’s been around since the dawning of televised debates. When the liberal media is in control of the format, the moderators and the questions, do you really think it’s going to be a fair discussion of the issues?

I personally remember two instances of moderator overreach that stand out. First was ultra-liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews asking the candidates in 2007 to raise their hands if they believe in the theory of evolution and then there was Clinton-honk George Stephanopoulos querying Mitt Romney four years ago on whether states have a right to ban contraception.

Where did he get that question from, Obama campaign headquarters?

There’s also the classic Newt Gingrich retort to CNN moderator John King in January of 2012, which likely won him the South Carolina primary -- but I don’t want to pile on.

Sean Hannity was apparently approached to moderate the now defunct Liberty University debate and the signal would have been an open feed so anyone could broadcast or live stream the event. In other words, the exposure to a conservative viewing audience would have been vast – potentially larger than any of the other debates thus far.

I think any conservative media outlet worth its salt would have gladly carried the event, probably with commentary to go along with it.

Needless to say, it’s extremely disappointing the RNC deprived conservatives of this opportunity. It’s somewhat encouraging that the project got as far along in the process as it did, but now we’re stuck with only wondering what might have been…

If there still is a Republican party in the next nominating year, we can only hope Republican leaders have a little more backbone to offer a fairer presentation of the issues.

(Note: As a consolation prize, The Washington Times will partner with CNN to present the final GOP debate in March.)

Bob Dole dumps on Cruz, warms to Trump

Finally today, as if the Trump/Branstad partnership wasn’t enough to convince you Trump has sold out to the establishment, Bob Dole’s latest admonition should do the trick.

Al Weaver of the Washington Examiner reports, “Former Sen. Bob Dole believes that the Republican Party could put its majority in the U.S. Senate in jeopardy if Sen. Ted Cruz receives the party's presidential nomination this year.

“In an interview with The New York Times, Dole warned that GOP could incur ‘cataclysmic’ and ‘wholesale losses’ in the 2016 election if Cruz tops the field, even more than if Donald Trump were to win the nomination.”

If anyone should know about “cataclysmic losses” it’s Bob Dole. His is the perfect example of Republicans running a big government loving candidate who couldn’t distinguish himself from serial philanderer Bill Clinton.

In the same interview, Dole appears to be warming to a Donald Trump candidacy. When people start associating The Donald with his new establishment friends, he may have a surprise in store.

Trump’s done it. He’s crossed over to the dark side.

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