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Presidential Horse Race 2016: How Nancy Reagan’s passing puts the presidential race in perspective

We begin yet another consequential week in the Republican presidential race with some sobering news that once again helps us put everything in perspective.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan passed away yesterday at her home in California. Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner reports on the widespread reaction to the news, including Tweets from the leading Nancy Reaganpresidential candidates themselves.

“Nancy Reagan, the wife of a truly great President, was an amazing woman. She will be missed!” – Donald Trump

“Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband, Ronald. The Reagan family is in our prayers.” – Ted Cruz

“Today our nation mourns the loss of Nancy Reagan, a true example of integrity and grace. My prayers are with the entire Reagan family.” – Marco Rubio

Like with the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia back on February 13th, Nancy Reagan’s death provides an opportunity for self-reflection as well as a look back to happier times in the Republican Party and in the country.

It also helps take a little of the focus off the ongoing circus-like atmosphere of this year’s presidential race in both parties.

Naturally, candidates and politicians from both sides of the aisle said nothing but nice things about the Former First Lady, observing a brief ceasefire before returning to the non-stop give-and-take of American politics, which will probably resume today.

I never had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Reagan in person, but my mother did by chance a few years ago during a visit to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. My mom was in the Ladies Room when all of a sudden a Secret Service detail entered in advance of Mrs. Reagan.

Mrs. Reagan came in and greeted my mom with a warm hello. She was personable and friendly even in the Ladies Room! My mom said she remembers Mrs. Reagan as a very gracious lady and couldn’t help but be thrilled by an encounter that you just don’t get every day.

I think that’s how we’ll all think of Nancy and her husband – as the epitome of decency and dignity in the White House. May it only return again -- and soon.

Marco Rubio’s disastrous ‘Super Saturday’ deepens his tailspin

In pausing to look at the state of the presidential race after ‘Super Saturday’, where Marco Rubio is concerned, it’s not just that he’s not winning – he’s regressing. Where a month ago the conversation surrounding the race centered on who would finish in second place behind Trump (in those states where Trump was especially strong), people are now talking about whether Rubio will even compete anymore (at least within the borders of the United States).

He certainly didn’t on Saturday, finishing with three distant third-place finishes and dead last in Maine.

By bragging about narrowly edging out Cruz for second place in South Carolina and Nevada last month, for example, Rubio set the bar ever higher in terms of expectations. And when Jeb Bush quit the race after The Palmetto State, the flood of establishment endorsements and money flowing Marco’s way also brought with it their own expectations baggage.

Now that Rubio’s underperforming just about everywhere, it’s deflated his balloon, leaving him gasping for air.

Alexis Levinson of National Review writes, “To be sure, these four states were not expected to be Rubio strongholds. But he fell short even in areas where he ought to have done well. Kansas Republicans, for instance, expected that Rubio would win in Johnson County, the area around Kansas City. Instead, Cruz bested him there nearly two to one — 42 percent to 22 percent.

“Maine Republicans predicted that Rubio would finish behind Trump and Cruz in the state, but they expected him to perform more strongly in the Portland area. Instead, he finished in fourth place in the Portland-area caucus, trailing Cruz, Trump, and Kasich.”

It should be noted Rubio did win the Puerto Rico caucuses on Sunday, though I doubt his campaign will be issuing many “we’re back” press releases in response.

Marco’s biggest problem at present is coming up with a narrative that distracts from his low standing in the delegate race as well as his sinking position in the polls. After Saturday it’s fairly clear Republican and conservative voters have moved on to the two-man contest between Trump and Cruz.

The media still likes to mention Rubio’s stated intention of winning his home state of Florida’s 99 delegates. Polls indicate it isn’t likely to happen and even if it does, Rubio will not even have caught Cruz for second place in the delegate race.

We all know by now that Marco Rubio is not going to win the Republican nomination this year. If he truly means what he says when speaking about the need to focus on the country’s future, Marco should look to his recent past – and get out of the race.

The anti-Trump forces need to stop hoping for a contested convention and support Cruz now

By this time in the 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential nomination cycles, we pretty much knew who was going to be the winner. John McCain and Mitt Romney were the favored establishment candidates and clear frontrunners in those years, prompting most of the contenders to exit the race early enough to foster unity ahead of the party convention and general election.

But the same phenomenon isn’t taking shape this year. Although Donald Trump has racked up a number of impressive wins thus far, his vote percentages aren’t increasing accordingly.

Experts say he’ll need to secure about 40% of the Republican popular vote in order to win the 1237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. Right now he’s at about 34% and doesn’t look to be broadening his base in any meaningful way.

It’s got people all heated up about a contested convention, too.

Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal writes, “Cruz’s campaign is planning to make a late play for Florida to knock Rubio out of the race and create a one-on-one showdown with Trump. But if Trump loses Florida, it’s hard to see how anyone gets a majority of delegates after this weekend’s results.

“Still, Cruz is in very good position now. If there’s a contested convention, Cruz may be the most unusual of consensus candidates—one who is loathed by the establishment but viewed as the only Republican who can keep the party from splitting apart.”

Wouldn’t that be something to remember – the establishment coming together to try and nominate Ted Cruz in Cleveland? Just the thought of it must be giving Mitch McConnell a terrible case of indigestion right about now.

Kraushaar’s hypothesis includes Rubio beating Trump in Florida, John Kasich winning in his home state of Ohio and Rubio somehow pulling off a huge upset in Illinois, also on March 15.

True, if all of that should happen, Trump would have an extremely hard time compiling enough delegates to win outright. But in reality, Kraushaar’s scenario just isn’t going to happen, primarily because Rubio would need something dramatic to change the race between now and March 15 in order to pull off a win in Florida, much less Illinois.

All the anti-Trump Super PAC ads in the world aren’t going to hit Trump that hard – and if anything, knocking down The Donald will only stand to benefit Ted Cruz, not Rubio.

If the anti-Trump faction truly wants to beat him, they should stop fooling around with the notion that Marco Rubio might be able to do it and just start supporting Ted Cruz now. As Cruz himself frequently points out, he’s the only candidate who has consistently shown he can beat Trump. Ted has the momentum, resources and smarts to defeat Trump.

Marco Rubio does not. If he hasn’t shown it by now, what’s the magic bit of pixy dust that’s going to help people realize he’s the one?

The anti-Trump people don’t need a contested convention. They’ve already got their candidate. The sooner they realize it, the better their chances of getting what they ultimately want – to make sure Donald Trump’s name isn’t on the party bumper stickers come November.

Romney says Cruz is in the best shape to beat Trump, but does it matter?

Finally today, even Mitt Romney says Ted Cruz is in the best position to knock off Trump.

David McCabe of The Hill reports, “Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said (on 'Fox News Sunday') that he will endorse either Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or John Kasich for president before the party conventions this summer…

“…He said that Cruz appears to currently have an edge in the overall race — but noted the state of play could change quickly.”

Romney inserted himself into the conversation last week by calling Trump all sorts of names while making it clear he was joining the #NeverTrump movement.

In doing so, former Romney rival Newt Gingrich said the 2012 nominee was hurting himself more than Trump. Curt Mills of the Washington Examiner reports, “Gingrich argued Romney looked contradictory and hypocritical in his speech in Utah on Thursday where he blasted Trump as a ‘conman.’

“’I was with Romney and Trump in Las Vegas in 2012 when Trump endorsed Romney, and Romney was effusive in his praise of Trump. He said Trump was more successful than he was, said Trump was a better businessman than he was, talked about Trump as a great job creator,’ Gingrich said.

“’You look at that tape and then it's almost embarrassing then to look at the speech this week, which was just over the top,’ Gingrich said.”

The same thought occurred to me. In the age of video and YouTube it’s not all that hard to play clips of past and current statements back to back. Heck, Megyn Kelly did it in last week’s debate, showing Trump contradicting himself.

Romney likely realizes he’d engender a backlash for his statements. It’s not clear then why he’s choosing to speak up now when the Trump candidacy has already gotten so far.

I doubt many people put much stock into what Mitt says…but the media loves having him on as a guest. I’m sure the ratings back me up.

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