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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Trump Towers over Republicans in New York

Donald Trump is fond of saying when he gets hit, he hits back harder. He proved he was a man of his word in his home state of New York on Tuesday.

Trump scored his biggest victory of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination campaign thus far and if he and the pundits are to be believed, the race is over and he should be declared the winner right now.

Donald Trump victory speechAfter enduring a potentially game-changing defeat two weeks ago in Wisconsin, The Donald picked himself up off the floor, looked keenly in the eye of the Republican establishment and hit them back. In the process, he drew blood.

Trump seems to have found his key issue in the campaign, namely that the “system is rigged” and he’s the absolute outsider to clean it all up and restore the country to greatness. It’s the perfect populist theme for 2016 and looks to be what he’ll be talking about from here on out.

Trump has spent much of the past year running a virtually content-free campaign, so it’s no surprise he’s settling on the simple premise of being the anti-system. And by promising to clean up the mess the Republican and Democrat elites have created, it’s a message that resonates with millions of Americans.

The question is whether it will be enough to allow him to overcome the fact nearly 70 percent of the public looks at him unfavorably.

To his credit, Trump has shown remarkable message discipline the past couple weeks, no doubt under the influence of new campaign senior advisor Paul Manafort. Where previously the candidate had often wandered off into Trump-like flights of fancy, now he sticks to the “rigged” theme and all’s well.

As far as delegates are concerned, Trump did better than expected yesterday. W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner reports, “On Tuesday night, Trump certainly won delegates. He took 89 of the 95 that were in play in New York while Ted Cruz was shut out. Trump also won 60 percent of the popular vote and carried all but one congressional district…

“New York handed out 14 delegates proportionally based on the statewide result. Trump won them all by exceeding 50 percent of the vote. He repeated this feat in all but three congressional districts, taking their delegates. But Kasich narrowly beat him in one district and held him below 50 percent of the vote in two more, preventing a Trump clean sweep.”

That’s right. John Kasich came in second in New York with just over 25 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz was held below 15 percent (14.5).

As would be expected, Trump reveled in his victory during his speech, repeating his argument that the voters should choose the nominee and claiming he would go to Cleveland with the delegate numbers to win outright.

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity afterwards, his children echoed their father. Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany Trump talked about how The Donald resonates with average Americans and seemed open to Hannity’s labeling of him the “blue collar billionaire”.

The chat took place in the lobby of Trump’s New York headquarters. It’s clearly a building of some stature. In watching the Trump kids I couldn’t help but speculate how all of this is going to play out in middle America and wondered to myself how the Trump people can completely ignore the fact he’s so unpopular to such a large swath of the public.

The Trump kids further argued the results in New York and the polls in next week’s upcoming primaries demonstrate that Donald brings blue states into play. Again, I wondered, how?

There’s little doubt Trump is very popular in his home state, but Hillary Clinton also enjoyed a similarly huge win there on Tuesday night. Do the Trump people seriously believe they’re going to challenge the Democrats in deep blue states?

It’s almost like they are detached from reality. With all the gloating, could we potentially see a backlash if this happens again next Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island?

Americans get turned off quickly by a lack of humility in politics. Humility isn’t in great supply in the Trump family. I would watch it if I were them. Let’s not forget there’s still a lot of ground to be made up to improve The Donald’s favorability ratings.

Speaking of reality, there’s no getting around it -- Tuesday was a bad day for Ted Cruz. Not only did he fail to pick up any delegates in New York, he finished a distant third to perennial loser John Kasich, virtually assuring the Ohio governor will stay in the race and bringing into question his viability in one entire region of the country.

Tuesday was a serious shift in momentum, one Cruz will need to recover from. It makes Indiana on May 3 all the more important to his chances of stopping the Trump train.

One last note on New York: Hillary Clinton was predictably nauseating in her victory speech on Tuesday night. Surrounded by throngs of screaming leftists, she vowed to fight for all the Democrat constituencies’ “rights”, all but promising that if she’s elected it will be another four years of the disastrous policies that are simultaneously bringing down America’s economy and culture.

As much as it may hurt some folks to imagine Donald Trump as president, it HAS to be worse seeing Hillary Clinton in the same role.

Keep the eye on the prize. #NeverHillary 2016.

Mitt Romney should lead the #NeverKasich movement to defeat Trump

You’ve got to hand it to John Kasich. If ever there was a man who was able to withstand immense peer pressure to do something, it’s him.

With virtually the whole Republican political world telling him to leave the presidential race for the past two months, Kasich still soldiers on. And yet another humiliating defeat in New York yesterday apparently wasn’t enough to knock the Ohio governor off his delusion that he’s going to win the Republican nomination.

It’s gotten so nuts where Kasich is concerned that now even Mitt Romney is all but telling him to get out.

Hanna Trudo of Politico reports Romney said during an interview with former NBC host David Gregory, “’I think that Mr. Cruz and Mr. Kasich divide the vote, if you will, and that will make it easier for Mr. Trump to win the winner-take-all congressional districts and the winner-take-all states and get the delegates he needs to either hit the 1,237 or get close enough to it that he could persuade the uncommitted delegates that he would need to get the victory on the first ballot.’

“If either Cruz or Kasich were to become ‘inactive’ after New York’s primary, however, Republicans would likely move to a contested convention, he said. ‘If it remains three candidates, I think Mr. Trump wins on the first ballot.’”

Romney surmised Trump would put on a charm offensive and shower enough uncommitted delegates with rich-guy goodies to put him over the 1237 threshold if the reality TV star is close to that number going into the Cleveland convention.

It’s kind of funny to hear Romney talk about wealth and influence in such a way. He’s all but admitting he’s played the goods-for-votes tactic in the past himself. But that’s beside the point. Mitt’s right – a three-man race greatly increases Trump’s chances.

Um, John, are you listening?

If over two and a half months of losing hasn’t been enough to convince you you’re not going to sneak into the convention and come away with the big prize, yesterday’s results should provide another clue.

The truth is, the longer Kasich stays in the race the less likely he’d even get a vice presidential offering from either Trump or Cruz for support at the convention. Should he make it that far, neither of the two top candidates will need him, period.

It’s a good thing Kasich has repeatedly said he’d make a terrible vice president because it certainly looks like he’s eliminating himself from the game with his bizarre conduct.

Of course Romney didn’t name who should be the one to exit the race, but you don’t have to be a genius to figure out he meant Kasich. Even if reality was suspended for a time and Cruz bowed out today, there’s no way Kasich would be able to gain enough favor to prevent Trump from getting to the 1237 number.

As has been evident in recent weeks, Cruz’s people have put in the work on the ground in the various states to build a winning operation, not only for their candidate in the primaries, but in the general election as well. How would Kasich magically be able to muster the resources and people to compete with Trump through California on June 7?

He can’t. There’s no possible way.

So if even Mitt Romney is implying it’s time to get out, then maybe Kasich should take the hint. And if he won’t, then the #NeverTrump forces supporting Ted Cruz should make it equally clear that they’re just as serious about #NeverKasich as they are about opposing The Donald.

If Kasich has no potential support at the convention, he’ll have to withdraw. It’s actually pretty simple.

Away from New York, we’re reaching uncharted territory

With New York safely in the rearview mirror, attention now turns to next week’s round of primaries set for Tuesday in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Like New York, they’re safely in the blue state column, with Obama winning all of them comfortably in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, Republicans probably only have a slight chance at picking up Pennsylvania – but needless to say, it’s not looking promising right now.

Because these are not your typical Republican strongholds – and because they rarely get an opportunity to weigh-in on the party race before it’s effectively over – it’s hard to tell how they’ll vote next week.

Take Maryland for example. It may contain Washington D.C. suburbs and lie next to Virginia, but that doesn’t mean its citizens are actively engaged in the race.

Alexis Levinson of National Review writes, “[W]ith just a week to go, Maryland Republicans are finding it hard to gauge just what’s going on in their home state.

“’There’s not been a whole lot of action,’ says former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich in a phone call after the Cruz event. Ehrlich is supporting John Kasich. As for how the race is playing out in his home state, he says, ‘It’s very difficult to say. There has not been a lot of activism, not a lot of phone calls, not a lot of signs. It’s not exactly New Hampshire.’”

I would expect Maryland to follow Virginia’s example voting-wise. The DC suburbs that so heavily went for Marco Rubio on Super Tuesday will probably favor Ted Cruz and John Kasich. The rural parts of the state to the west and mixed populations of the southeastern sections would seem to be Trump country.

The fact Rubio is no longer around makes predicting the state difficult, since it’s not clear how much of the not-Trump vote would favor Cruz versus Kasich in moderate/liberal Maryland.

In terms of delegates, “Maryland will award 38 delegates on April 26 — the second-largest haul of any of the five northeastern states that vote that day. Eleven delegates will go to the winner of the state as a whole. The other 24 — three from each of the eight congressional districts — will be allotted on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district,” Johnson added.

As a result, the campaigns are targeting certain areas of the state again, similar to New York.

It would seem the advantage would go to the campaign with the best ground and data operations, but again, so little is known about a state like Maryland that it’s hard to tell.

The lack of certainty is just part of what happens when a campaign reaches uncharted territory…and we’ve reached that point for sure.

Is Trump’s staff shakeup an upgrade or sign of trouble?

Finally today, we all know by now Donald Trump doesn’t often admit that he’s wrong. But if his recent staff moves are any indication, the Republican frontrunner has seen the light on the need for a more professionally run campaign.

Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker of the New York Times report, “The national field director for Donald J. Trump’s campaign (Stuart Jolly) — who is a loyalist to Corey Lewandowski, the embattled campaign manager — resigned in a letter to Mr. Trump on Monday afternoon…

“The comments in the letter about Mr. Lewandowski’s successes came on the heels of a senior staff meeting on Saturday, during which it was made clear that Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s new senior adviser, was largely steering the ship, according to people briefed on the meeting. Mr. Manafort introduced a new lawyer on the team, William McGinley, who has dealt in the past with delegate battles.”

It’s curious that Trump has apparently demoted the beleaguered Lewandowski, who ducked a battery charge down in Florida but remains a potential embarrassment for the campaign.

Trump’s new emphasis on bringing in political pros like Manafort to run the operation shows he wants to do better within the system, the same one he claims is “rigged” and corrupt. And it’s a tacit admission that his previous people (like Lewandowski) didn’t do such a great job after all despite all the bluster, praise and phony gratitude.

But then again, Trump has never shied away from playing a shady game when he thinks he’ll benefit from it. His big victory yesterday in New York won’t change that fact one bit.

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Horses for Courses - Lewandowski was the right man for the time

I've known Corey Lewandowski for about 7 years, and have greatly admired his energy and organizing abilities.
As a state, and later, regional director for Americans For Prosperity, Lewandowski knows how to fire up a cause and draw people to events.
The early phase of Trump's campaign was clearly such an operation - a strong cause, even if not defined in detail, and monster rallies, all helped to put Trump on the national map as a viable candidate.
Lewandowski's grasp of economic policy could well have helped shape The Donald's initial pronouncements on jobs and taxes, although judging by the muddled message, Trump wasn't paying close attention.
The mistake that he and Donald made was to assume that huge events meant winning momentum, the same way that Romney's enormous and enthusiastic events during his final campaign sweep brought us President Mitt - oh, wait.....
To win this game, you need the enthusiasm and events, the clear policiy vision, and ground game.
Cruz has all three, and Trump is just now playing catch-up.

Can Cruz gain enough delegates and momentum?
Will Trump's new wranglers seal his victory?
Will Kasich keep on Klinging?

We can only pray for the best man to win.