republicans

Seven Long Years for Seventeen Short Days

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After being introduced less than three weeks ago the AHCA/Republicare was going to be voted on yesterday, but the bill now seems dead without ever seeing the floor of the House. To say the least, this is a shocking turn of events. Getting it through Congress was supposed to be the east part, and the Senate was going to be the struggle. Instead we find ourselves here. This recasts how we must view the future of multiple groups in Washington, so instead of breaking down what happened, this post will focus on what we might expect going forward.

 

Paul Ryan

In my opinion it is Paul Ryan who is dealt the biggest blow by all of this. Republicare was clearly his bill as he was easily the loudest voice trying to drum up support for it. Now he finds himself as the last remaining champion of a bill his own party shot to pieces from multiple sides of the ideological spectrum and that the American people had a 17/56 approve/disapprove opinion of.[1]

It’s also important to note his predecessor, John Boehner, had a beginning of the end that looked awfully similar to this. Boehner expressed repeated frustration at being rebuffed by the Freedom Caucus Republicans when trying to move forward on issues that benefited from party unity. February 24th of this year Boehner even commented that a replacement to Obamacare was going to be incredibly difficult because house members, “will never ever agree what the bill should be.”[2] This lack of ability to wrangle the party and whip votes is what ultimately drove Boehner out of Washington and we might be seeing the same group pull the same move against the new speaker.

Freedom Caucus

Republicare created some strange bedfellows, but probably none stranger than the elected Tea Party members known as the Freedom Caucus and those still supporting Obamacare. Their insistence that this bill was simply ‘Obamacare lite’ and ‘the largest welfare program every proposed by Republicans’ made them some of this bill’s most vocal opponents. The death of this bill is going to make this group feel emboldened and like they will be able to pull this administration further to the right.

On the morning of the second day this bill was supposed to get a vote, Trump tweeted:

Even accusations that they’d be cast as pro-choice couldn’t sway them though. There are interesting dynamics at play here because in many of their districts, they won their elections in landslides, but Trump beat Clinton by similar numbers. Trump was speaking specifically of the chairman of the Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows(R-NC) when he said, “I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’”[3] Will Trump attempt to primary out some of the people who opposed him in this bill? Would he succeed if his approval among Republicans starts to slip while Reps remain popular in their own districts? It’s tough to say and I’m not quite ready to start forecasting 2018.

Donald Trump

Truthfully, I believe Trump is happy this is done. You could tell right away that this wasn’t a fight his heart was in because of how the White House rebuffed labeling the bill TrumpCare.[4] If a man who is willing to put his name on average steaks sold at the Sharper Image actively fought putting his name on this, it was obvious what his opinion of the whole thing was.

Now, I don’t think he was happy to take the loss on this, but look at his reactions following Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation compared to this Friday afternoon. Either he’s pivoted to become much more presidential, or this loss really didn’t bother him much. Trump can now shift the focus to tax reform which is an issue that the American people give him more credibility on and that is a much more personal fight for him.

The question remains though, how much political capital did this fight cost him? The Freedom Caucus played chicken with Trump and he was the one to blink first. The storied deal making abilities of the man got put to their first legislative test and he was found woefully lacking. If anyone has proven they can brush off a failure and stumble forward it’s Trump, but this could signal to the rest of his party that he’s not invincible and could be challenged more regularly.

Democrats

Finally we get to the group that Trump blamed for the whole thing falling apart.[5] It seems like the current GOP plan is to let Obamacare continue on, possibly guarantee it fails but more on that in a moment, and then tell the American people that the group that doesn’t have control of a single branch of government was the one that orchestrated it all. Trump challenged the Democrats to reach across the aisle and bring him their plan and that’s exactly what they need to do.

Republicans are going to catch a great deal of flack for promising that they had a replacement ready to go seven years ago. They just needed to be given the house, the senate, and the presidency first. It seems increasingly likely that for the vast majority of that time there was no plan but to criticize, so Democrats now need to bring forward their plan. Every Democrat I’ve heard openly admits that Obamacare has flaws that need to be addressed so they should write the bill that they would have introduced if Clinton had won the election.

Doing so would help demonstrate that they intend to remain a governing party and not just turn into an opposition party. Failure to do so will also assist Republicans in their claims that every negative truth and fiction about healthcare in this country is entirely on their heads.

ACA/Obamacare

“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” Those were Paul Ryan’s words at the brief press conference he held after the plan to vote on Friday was scrapped.[6] Trump echoed similar sentiments in his words to the media. With no replacement to vote on, the plan from the GOP is clearly to wait until Obamacare gets so bad that everyone else will come to the table and work with them.

It is something of a strange stance because if we take Trump at his word that Obamacare is a disaster for people, businesses, and this country, but he’s content to just leave it in place for now, that seems incredibly heartless. Either its destroying the economy and the American way of life and therefor needs attention immediately, or it’s none of those things.

More importantly though, there are actually many things this administration has the power to do on its own to either help Obamacare better serve the needs of the people or to undercut it entirely. As HHS Secretary Tom Price put it:

There are also plenty of things happening on the state level with Medicaid tied to Obamacare that this administration could bolster or hamstring.[7] It would be very easy for Trump and other Republicans to say they’ll just wait for Obamacare to fail while actively working behind the scenes to guarantee it does just that and for the fifth consecutive election, campaign on the idea that the American people need to grant them more power for them to come up with a replacement plan.

Final Thought

If you would have polled any politician the day after the most recent election, I would bet 95% would have agreed that Obamacare was virtually dead and gone. I know I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me that Republicans wouldn’t even vote on either repeal or replace. You could easily argue that both Clinton’s and Obama’s attempts at healthcare fixes cost their party a majority in Congress in the following election. Normally I would suggest history will repeat itself, but nothing about this last week has made me want to use the word normal unless it’s proceeded by the letters ‘ab’.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: It Went to Trump

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I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. I tend to demand too much of my posts. This leaves me in a state of posting not at all. Big goings on are going on though, so I’m going to be brief with my thoughts and not have three citations per line, but I’ll actually get a post done before the story is old news and I delete the draft.

Last night the Indiana primary went to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz withdrew from the race. This morning Kasich followed suit and also suspended his campaign. Even without the two other candidates dropping out, with a win in Indiana, Trump had a pretty clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to assure him the GOP nomination. There will be plenty of time to dissect the Trump v Clinton race. In this post I want to address the idea of running as an anti-candidate, the pending SCOTUS nomination, and what we should look for in the down ballot races.

The bickering between the Cruz and Kasich campaign began months ago, each accusing the other one of needing to drop out then because both were splitting the anti-Trump vote. I think what we saw recently in Indiana and the North-East can put that theory to rest. Kasich and Cruz just didn’t have voting blocks that would show up for the other. This is an idea we have seen repeated in politics many times in just the last three election cycles, but it seems the lesson has not been learned.

Think of the Kerry/Edwards campaign in ’04, the Romney/Ryan ticket in ’12, and now the Cruz/Fiorina pairing. What did these campaigns have in common? They ran on the ‘I’m not the other guy’ platform and both lost. That doesn’t get people to vote for you whether ‘the other guy’ is Bush, Obama, or Trump. I thought Cruz might be an exception because he had the backing of so many people in the establishment, but as it turns out when your slogan is #Never’otherguy’ it doesn’t win.

I do want to note one more thing about Cruz’s failure as a candidate. He was by far the most religious of the remaining candidates, saying back in 2010, “I’m a Christain first and an American second.” This election year his family gave several quotes about God wanting him to run, and yet he lost. In 2012 the number of GOP candidates who claimed God told them to run became a joke, you had Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain among others. In 2008 you had Huckabee who was also the religious alternative to McCain, but lost. In the inevitable talks of Trump splitting the Republicans, I’ll be interested to see what comes from the Evangelical camp. Will they vote Trump or will they start to call for their own candidate since they no longer feel represented by the party as a whole?

It has been 81 days since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stayed true to his word that he would not even allow hearings for a replacement and give the decision to the next president. That despite the fact that Obama nominated Merrick Garland who many GOP senators, particularly Orin Hatch, had suggested as a nominee the president should put forward. McConnell is now presented with three possibilities:

  1. Trump wins the presidency. This becomes tricky for McConnell since he has no idea who Trump might nominate and whether it would be better than Garland, but it’s a near certainty that Trump won’t spend much time wondering whether McConnell will approve of the pick.
  2. Clinton wins the presidency. Now McConnell has to figure out how to toe the line of saying for months and months the American people should decide, while not approving Clinton’s appointee who could be much more liberal than Garland. Clinton also has the easy excuse to nominate someone more liberal by saying the senate had a year with Garland and they didn’t even hold a hearing.
  3. The Democrats win the Senate. It’s completely out of Mitch McConnell’s hands since he wouldn’t be Senate Majority Leader anymore.

One big impact Trump could have, assuming the #NeverTrump crowd sticks to their guns is the down ballot races. If a bunch of Republicans stay home this November, it won’t just make the race an easier win for Clinton, it could also impact Senate and local races around the country. There are ten senate seats up for reelection this year. Without those seats, the senate is currently 45-45, so control of the chamber is up for grabs. If the Democrats regain control of the senate because of apathy caused by Donald Trump it allows Clinton to nominate whomever she chooses knowing she’ll have the support of a friendly Senate.

This campaign season so far has been one of a kind, and we still have the VP picks to look forward to before the final battle really gets going. All I know is that there will be doctoral theses written for decades on how the 2016 GOP race started with 17 possibilities and Trump was the last man standing.

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: 2/20 Recap

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Yeah, I know I never did New Hampshire, but I’m going to pick it up with the Nevada Democratic results and the South Carolina Republican Results from yesterday.

Republican South Carolina Primary Results

1. Trump – 32.5%

2. Rubio – 22.5%

3. Cruz – 22.3%

4. Bush – 7.8%

5. Kasich – 7.6%

6. Carson – 7.2%

There are three important things that will be discussed stemming from this race: Bush dropping out, whether Rubio is rebounding, and is Trump inevitable now?

Bush dropping out is pretty amazing. He still had lots of money left to spend and he only placed 4th here. Now granted no one expects him to make a comeback which is remarkable in and of itself given how a year ago everyone had penciled him in as the Republican nominee. It’s tough to put a finger on what happened, but I know many graduate level theses will be written on it. The fact that one establishment candidate has dropped out likely means good things for the other establishment pick which brings us to…

Rubio did quite poorly in New Hampshire. You may remember this particular blog had Rubio picked to win New Hampshire, but then came in 5th with only 10.6% of the vote, so how did he do he double his numbers in just a couple weeks? The soundbite of him at the New Hampshire debate where Christie really hurt Rubio might have only been watched by New Hampshire or it could be the establishment is really starting to solidify behind Rubio. Between New Hampshire and South Carolina he’s the only one who had their percent of the vote rise and with Bush out, I expect Rubio to pick up the majority of his backers. I’m still predicting Rubio to be the Republican nominee which would be in direct opposition to…

Trump being inevitable. Every Republican candidate who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has gone on to be the nominee, so why do I think the Trump can be stumped? Trump has won, but without ever getting more than 35% of the vote. That might be a plurality, but it’s a long way off from a majority. For the first time in the campaign, Trump is about to have an actual rival. Now if Trump handles Rubio like Christie did, then it still might not be over. I maintain Trump may have a high floor, but a low ceiling in terms of his voters.

One example of this is how he does with late deciding voters. Donald Trump Only got 16% of them in South Carolina compared with Cruz’s 28% and Rubio’s 30%[1] This also mirrors his Iowa performance with just 15% of voters who decided that day, 13% in the last few days, and 13% sometime last week.[2] You can’t win the nomination with 35% of the vote and Trump isn’t adding anyone knew. He has to count on voters coming to him as other candidates drop out and I have a hard time seeing that happen from Bush, Carson, or Kasich.

Democratic Nevada Primary Results

1. Clinton – 52.7%

2. Sanders – 47.2%

There was a New York times piece this week that noted, “We’re living in an era when blacks have essentially played kingmaker in the most important elections in the nation,” [3] Quite the interesting line, and it really proved itself to be true in Nevada. I’ve mentioned in the past that Sanders has an issue when it comes to the minority vote. Let’s look at the exit poll breakdowns by sorted by race.[4]

White(59% of vote) – Sanders 49% Clinton 47%

Hispanic(19% of vote) – Sanders 53% Clinton 45%

Black(13% of vote) – Clinton 76% Sanders 22%

 

It isn’t hard to figure out why Clinton won in Nevada. If Sanders can’t find a way to narrow that 54 point gap he is going to be absolutely crushed in South Carolina where in 2008 black voters made up 55% of primary goers.[5] Now it’s possible that’s not a point in favor of Clinton because she lost with black voters 78%-19% to Obama, but she’s not being listed as an over 99% favorite to win South Carolina by some groups for nothing.[6]

As always, questions, comments, and criticisms are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: Iowa Caucus Preview

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Disclaimer: I am friends with people who work for the Clinton campaign in Nevada and people who have volunteered for Sanders in Iowa. Take that for what it’s worth.

Background

Today all the major news outlets will be covering the first big event in the election year, the Iowa Caucus. I figured it would be a good point to actually start writing again, but before we start analyzing the possible results, let’s look at how the caucus actually works. With the rest of this post being fairly serious, let’s use Legos.

The odd thing that might influence all of this is that there is a somewhat severe storm moving into Iowa late tonight. Current forecasts show that snow isn’t supposed to start until 9 or 10 pm, but it could have an impact of lowering voter turnout. If that happens I think it will be good for the anti-establishment candidates because the people with more passion are more likely to show up, but it is possible this won’t change anything.

Before we get to some individual breakdowns I need to post the results of what historically is the best poll to predict the results of the Iowa Caucus.[1] It’s average error per candidate per year is 3.3%. It does tend to error more with two things: a candidate with a late surge and a candidate strong with Christian Conservatives.

Republican: 1. Trump(28) 2. Cruz(23) 3. Rubio(15)

Democrat: 1. Clinton(45) 2. Sanders(42)

More Analysis of this later.

Hillary Clinton

This race has been her race to lose from the start and she is still being shown with a lead, even though it is now within the margin of error for the poll. It is unlikely the latest news with her emails will impact anything, her favorability rating in Iowa has hardly budged even as Sanders’s has climbed.

silver-feature-berniehillary

Ignore the New Hampshire line. I’ll bring that up in a bit. I told you the poll at the start has her with a lead that is within the polls margin of error, but that the poll often misses low on candidates that are having a late surge. Despite his national numbers though, Sanders hasn’t been surging as much in Iowa.

POLLSTER MOST RECENT POLL PREVIOUS POLL CHANGE
American Research Group Sanders +3 Sanders +3
Gravis Marketing Clinton +11 Clinton +21 Sanders +10
Marist College Clinton +3 Clinton +3
Public Policy Polling Clinton +8 Clinton +6 Clinton +2
Quinnipiac University Sanders +4 Sanders +5 Clinton +1
Des Moines Register Clinton +3 Clinton +2 Clinton +1

Sanders and Clinton have mostly been holding steady over the last month. Iowa is still Clinton’s to lose, and it will really come down to turnout. As it stands now though, Clinton has done enough to not lose Iowa.

Bernie Sanders

Has Sanders done enough to win Iowa though? Again it’s turnout. Yes I know that’s a cop-out answer, but Sanders’s support is much younger than Clinton’s and there’s a big discrepancy in attendance at the polls between those groups. If the young and passionate show up tonight before the snow storm, then we’re talking about a whole new race.

You probably noticed Sanders lead widening in New Hampshire in the above chart? This is going to mean even if Sanders loses Iowa his supporters will have the hope of a strong rebound. Unfortunately I don’t think that would be enough. He needs to win both. Sanders polls best with white liberal voters and if you look at the percentage of the democrats in the state that are both of those things, Iowa and New Hampshire have the second and third most of them in the country, Vermont is first. That means Iowa and New Hampshire are the two states Sanders absolutely needs to win because they have his biggest voting blocks. It gets much harder once he gets to the south where he has to win minorities away from Clinton.

If Sanders can win both then he’ll have the momentum to possibly convince the rest of the country, and you’ll see two stats talked about ad nauseam.

  • No candidate (Democrat or Republican) has lost the nomination after winning both Iowa and New Hampshire since Ed Muskie in 1972.
  • No candidate has won the the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Donald Trump

On the Republican side I’m not certain who has more to lose, Donald Trump or the Republican Establishment. If Donald Trump loses then he’ll have to explain how he, who has built his entire campaign on the idea he’s a winner, will suddenly be cast in the role of the loser. If he wins, then Republican establishment is going to have to continue to worry about him either eventually getting the nomination, which I don’t think is going to happen, or him getting enough support that he decides he will run as a third party candidate which will guarantee a presidential win for the Democrats.

I remember watching an interview with John Kasich on This Week with George Stephanopoulos where Kasich was asked whether he’s out of touch with his party since they clearly approve of Trump. Those sorts of questions will plague the Republicans for as long as Trump can claim he speaks for them when it’s obvious the party heads don’t want him to.

The Republican Field

The person I do think will win Iowa is Ted Cruz. He’s within 5% of Trump in the poll I mentioned at the beginning, and he does fit the Christian Conservative model the poll tends to underestimate. Cruz is fascinating right now because it’s the only time I can find where a senator has made it the Iowa Caucus as a serious candidate without the endorsement of a single other senator in the party.

Rubio should put in a strong showing here in route to more favorable states for him ahead. Bush will cause us all to wonder how on Earth someone can fall so fast. Ideally the whole thing will go so badly for the remaining candidates that several will drop out over the next week so the race can focus in on Trump, Rubio, and Cruz because those are the only ones I see with a real chance at this. I do think Bush, Christie, and Carson will stick around until at least Super Tuesday though.

Gambling 

Although it isn’t as popular in America, Great Britain loves gambling on their politics. I particularly love looking at betting odds for elections, because unlike many polling agencies, casinos actually lose money when they’re wrong. So according to a sportsbook:

Clinton – If the caucus was held four times, Clinton would win three. 3-1 odds

Sanders – If the caucus was held thirteen times, Sanders would win four. 4-9 odds

Trump – If the caucus was held fifteen times, Trump would win eleven. 11-4 odds

Cruz – If the caucus was held three times, Cruz would win one. 1-2 odds

Rubio – If the caucus was held nine times, Rubio would win one. 1-8 odds

Carson – If the caucus was held 51 times, Carson would win one. 1-50 odds

Give me 25$ on Cruz which would win 50$.

The Republican Party Doesn’t Care About Abortions

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Recently Planned Parenthood has been put center stage politically. They’ve been mentioned multiple times in both of the Republican debates and on Tuesday there was a lengthy congressional hearing devoted to them. This debate has been around for decades. It is heated now because of a series of videos that Carly Fiorina spoke passionately on in the CNN debate. These videos have been widely debunked at this point.[1] What I want to focus on is the idea that Republicans are actually interested in preventing abortions.

First I want to look at a time when the Republicans had the ability to do something about abortion. Right now you’ll hear the claim that Republicans want to change all the laws, but the president would veto anything. That certainly wasn’t always the case. Let’s look at the 2000-2008 Bush presidency. From 1995-2007 Republicans were the majority in both the house and the senate. During that time the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was William Rehnquist. When Rehnquist died in 2005 the headlines about him were about how he, “shaped high court conservatism.”[2] Republicans right now can say they want to change things, but they had the opportunity for five years to have the presidency, the supreme court, the house, and the senate. Do you remember any national abortion legislation passed during that time?

Six years ago Colorado started an incredible experiment. If women were given free long term birth control, would they use it, and what impact would that have on certain metrics. The answers were yes and a gigantic one. Between 2009 and 2013 the teenage birthrate in Colorado dropped by 40% while the abortion rate dropped 42%. [3] These numbers were most pronounced in the cities most affected by poverty. Sounds like a huge success right? Particularly if you were someone who was against abortions, this seems like a program that should be expanded nationwide.

The program had been funded by a grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. The money from the program was going to run out though, so a bill was going to go before the state legislature to continue funding this program. It was blocked in committee by a 3-2 vote that went exactly down party lines. All three Republicans decided that this wasn’t worth extending. Abortions weren’t worth preventing. One of them made the comment during the hearing, “Are we communicating anything in that message [of providing contraception] that says ‘you don’t have to worry, you’re covered’? Does that allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes?”[4]

As far as I can tell the Republicans don’t actually want to reduce abortions otherwise they would have done something about it from 2000-2005 or would have agreed to further fund programs that were proven to have nearly cut abortion rates in half.

If we discount actually reducing abortion rates, I can only think of two underlying factors for the Republican attacks against Planned Parenthood. These two things are not mutually exclusive. The first is the, admittedly quite cynical, idea that Republicans don’t actually care about abortion at all. The second, much more realistic, idea is that what they actually hate is sex but it’s not popular to be against sex, so the goal is to make sex have as many consequences as possible.

Think back to the previous presidential election cycles. Abortion was certainly mentioned, but it wasn’t the main focus of the culture clash like it seems to be now. Instead marriage equality was the main issue, but since then the supreme court has made a ruling that has settled it in the eyes of the law. Roe v Wade did the same thing for abortion rights, but there is a big difference. Public opinion has been moving towards marriage equality for the last twenty years, flipping from 68%-27% against in 1996 to 60%-37% in favor of in 2015.[5] This is not the case with abortion.[6]

Trend: Should Abortions Be Legal Under Any Circumstances, Legal Only Under Certain Circumstances, or Illegal in All Circumstances?

As you can see, opinions have pretty much held steady for the last forty years. The only time marriage equality was brought up at the two Republican debates was in respect to Kim Davis. Despite all the passion they claimed to have about it four years ago, about how marriage equality was an attack on the foundation of our country, now it’s barely a footnote and suddenly abortion is the issue that they’ve always cared about. This works because abortion is a much move divisive topic than marriage equality is now days.

My point is I think Republicans care about abortion more because of the opinion polls than about any personal belief. You might rightly say that government should be responding to the needs of the people, but it does put their passion for the subject in a different light.

The other idea, and remember these are not mutually exclusive, is the idea that Republicans are actually against sex. The quote from the Colorado Republican earlier hints at it quite heavily, but there’s another recent case from the last ten years that furthers this notion. The Gardisil vaccine was approved by the FDA in June of 2006 for the prevention of multiple strains of HPV that have been linked to cervical cancer in women. This vaccine has vocal opponents among the ranks of Republicans.[7] The idea was that if women felt safe from HPV then they might have sex, similar to the idea that if women feel like if they have options if an unplanned pregnancy occurs then they might have sex.

Saying, “I hate sex,” isn’t very popular though, so if you’re against it the next best thing is to make certain anyone who has it must face serious consequences. According to Republicans you should be afraid of STDs, cancer, and unplanned pregnancies. We live in a world where you don’t have to fear these things. The Gardisil vaccine is available and long term birth control has been proven effective at lowering both teen birth rates and abortion rates.

If you’re against people having sex or having abortions that’s your right. I just want to make certain that when we’re having debates in this country we’re clear about what we’re all actually fighting for, and as far as I can tell the Republicans’ ultimate goals with their attacks on Planned Parenthood don’t have anything to do with actually lowering the abortion rate.

As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: CNN Debate Preview

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Tonight is the second Republican debate. The field has been narrowed to 16 with Rick Perry dropping out last week, but there is still a long road to go before there’s an official Republican nominee for president. The first debate was hosted by fox news, this one will be hosted by CNN. On their website earlier today, CNN posted the article Seven Things to Watch at the CNN Republican Debate[1]. They are hosting it, so taking a look at what they think is important for tonight will be relevant once we’re looking back on whatever gets said tonight. With that in mind I’m going to take their seven bullet points and add my own thoughts.

What will Trump say this time?

Tough not to lead with this. Trump’s perpetual attention machine has continued going strong since the last debates and I’d be willing to bet that whatever headlines lead tomorrow will include his name. The fox news debate drew in an estimated 24 million people[2] and a fair amount of that is people who can’t take their eyes away from what that man is doing to the American political process. For the record, that’s more viewers than game 7 of the world series last year, but I don’t know whether that says more about our current views of politics or our current views of baseball.

Plenty of people have speculated that Trump has hit his ceiling, but he continues to poll higher. Especially because of the attention he’s able to draw, I do expect other candidates to go on the offensive a little more with Trump. He can’t be brushed off as easily as last year’s flash in the pan candidates like Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich. I’ll touch on this a little more later.

Trump vs. Fiorina

The fox news debate included 10 candidates, this debate will add one more. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina is jumping to the main stage and there are several obvious places she might clash with Trump. The clash between moderator Megyn Kelly and Trump was one of the more memorable moments of the debate, especially because it sparked something that is continuing to today with tweets from Trump about how her show, “was much better without her,” “she is really off her game,” and retweeting a follower saying, “the bimbo is back in town.”[3]

This of course all starting because Megyn Kelly pressed the issue with Trump about his well documented misogyny. Last time though Megyn Kelly was the only woman on the stage. This time Fiorina will be up there with Trump, so it will be interesting to see how either of them address gender this time. Trump hasn’t shied away from commenting on Fiorina before saying in a Rolling Stone article, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” and also calling her one of the worst CEOs ever. Will Fiorina fire back?

It should also be noted that these two are naturally going to be compared because they’re resumes are so similar. They’re both political outsiders who have never held elected and office and get all of their leadership experience from the business sector.

What Hand will Ben Carson Play?

Ben Carson was relatively quiet in the first debate, 6:28 of speaking time compared to Trump’s 10:30, but his latest poll numbers have him gaining on Trump. In New Hampshire he’s only four points behind.[4] It will be interesting to see how he acts tonight given his much improved odds at the nomination. Carson did take a shot at Trump last week on religious grounds, but has since walked those comments back. Will he stay soft spoken or will he make a more forward play tonight?

The Bush Reboot

This gets more into the idea of how candidates are handling Trump. Several months ago when Bush was polling miles ahead of everyone else he didn’t respond to Trump’s attacks against him for being weak on immigration. Bush figured taking the higher road looked better, and if I were his campaign adviser I would have told him to do that exact thing.

Then Trump polled higher, people started taking him more seriously, and seeing Bush not respond started to appear as weakness rather than presidential. Now that Bush’s polling numbers have dropped to single digits he has started going after Trump a little harder. I’m quite certain that trend will continue tonight. His super PAC is already spending more money on attack ads in Iowa. Bush and Paul are the two candidates I expect to really come out swinging tonight.

Can Scott Walker Salvage his Campaign?

Walker’s national poll numbers have dropped from 11% down to 2%, meanwhile in Iowa he’s polling a shade higher at 3%. Once considered a Tea Party darling his supporters seem to have gone to either Trump or Cruz which will make tonight particularly hard for him. What can he say to separate himself from those two while gaining back his supporters and not alienating the rest of the party? That’s a tough line to…walk.(I’m sorry)

A Spotlight on Foreign Policy 

Trump was in the spotlight earlier this week for some foreign policy flubs on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show.[5] Foreign policy will undoubtedly be on the table because of the Syrian refugee crisis going on in Europe. With candidates looking for weaknesses in Trump’s armor, this is certainly a point you’ll see emphasized a lot. It should also be noted that Hugh Hewitt is going to be one of the moderators tonight, so it will be interesting to see what sort of questions he has for Trump this time around.

Do or Die for the Undercards

Just like before the fox debate, there will be a ‘JV’ debate for four of the candidates polling the lowest. Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki will all once again take the stage together. Seeing Fiorina jump from the undercard last time to the main event this time will give the candidates a little more to fight for during their debate, but I still doubt we’ll be talking about any of those names again between now and the election except to say which of the other 11 candidates they are supporting.

The action starts at 8pm eastern time tonight on CNN.

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: Fox News Debate Edition

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Good morning everyone. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten the time to hang out. I’ve missed you. I half wrote a good 3-5 posts in the last couple months but then it got too far away from the event and I deleted them. This post is therefor the first thing I’m doing the morning after the debates. I do hope I’ll be able to make this a regular thing again with the campaign season kicking off, but without further delay let’s sum up last night’s first Republican debate in that party’s search for a presidential nominee.

This post will largely be a summary, I’m going to keep the major points from each section of the debate. I took notes on every answer, but the notes were twice as long as my average post, so I will leave a few things out. I will have a couple editorial comments, but in places I will leave a candidate’s statements which I find to be stunningly factually inaccurate in tact. If I try to be comprehensive that’s how this post ends up half written and deleted this time next week. The sections of this post will mirror the order of the events in the debate itself. Everybody ready? Morning beverage of choice in hand? Still in your robe? Then away we go.

Do you promise to only run as a Republican?

Trump was the only one who said he would run as a third party candidate if he doesn’t get the nomination. This got a some applause and some boos from the crowd and could lead to an absolutely fascinating campaign season. This scenario deserves a post all by itself, but instead I’d recommend this 538 article which does a good job of summarizing why Trump running as a 3rd party candidate almost guarantees a democratic victory.[1]

General Candidate Questions.

Ben Carson got the first individual question of the night about presidential readiness. It largely asked him why he should be allowed the presidency when he has no political experience of any kind. He responded with, “The most important thing is to have a brain,” My interest was piqued by the strength of the question. That was not a softball to start things off.

Rubio followed with comments stating this can’t be a resume competition otherwise Clinton will win. Which got a mixed reaction from the crowd. Bush immediately gave a long string of resume accolades and seemed to really want it to be a resume competition. He worked hard to respectfully distance himself from his father and brother.

Moderator Megyn Kelly then asked Trump, “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,'” The audience at the debate started laughing while the list of insults was read, and Trump interrupted to say, “Just Rosie O’Donnell. Kelly pointed out quite sternly that it, “Went well beyond that…Is this the termperment of someone we should elect as president?” Kelly’s tone made it quite clear that she didn’t like how dismissive Trump was being. Here’s a video of the exchange.

His answer was basically that we as a country don’t have time for political correctness and neither does he. After the debate Trump said, “The questions to me were not nice. I didn’t think they were appropriate. And I thought Megyn behaved very badly, personally.”[2]

EDIT: Trump just retweeted the following:[4] When someone calls you out on misogynistic comments, calling them a bimbo usually isn’t the way to go.

Megan Kelly asked several candidates about whether they would ban all abortion even in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s life. Walker says he would indeed try to end all abortion. Huckabee goes on an extended rant trying to bring up something called a ‘DNA Schedule’ to defend the idea that he would also ban all abortions. For the record I have a degree in Biology and have never heard of a DNA schedule and a google search just brings up other professionals in the field saying they haven’t heard of it either.

Kasich is asked about why he expanded medicaid and he lists some excellent stats about how prisoners, the mentally handicapped, and the working poor all have their lives made better and cost the state less if they’re treated wth preventative medicine. He also makes it clear he thinks God wants everyone to care more for people and that included medically.

Immigration 

Trump got applause for saying “I brought up immigration you wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t for me,” Got called out by Mike Wallace on not answering the question which also gets applause. He got 30 more seconds to provide any evidence he has that Mexico is purposefully sending trouble citizens and he cited a couple border guards he talked to.

Commercial Break (I find it kind of odd that we have commercial breaks during a presidential nominee debate.)

Rubio stated specifically that a wall is not a good enough solution and doesn’t address the holdup of people who do want to get here legally. He’s the only one to really bring up that our huge backlog of people trying to come in legally does contribute to illegal immigration.

Cruz stated he tried to pass Kate Steinle law on immigration in the senate but, “Our own party blocked it,” It’s interesting seeing the candidates actually bring up problems they have with the Republican party although that seems to largely be Paul, Cruz, and Trump.

National security topic change

One of the most notable exchanges of the night happened next between Christie and Paul.

The ‘hugs’ thing will likely get a lot of airplay. I did have to double take when it went from, “You hugged Obama,” to, “I hugged families of 9/11 victims,” truly that escalated quickly.

Bush is asked about saying his brother’s Iraq War was a mistake and he wouldn’t have invaded. I almost feel bad for him, he will be asked that question every day for the rest of his political life and you can tell how badly he doesn’t want to have the last name that he does.

Carson says removing waterboarding as a tool from our military was a bad choice and should be reversed.

Obamacare

Trump responded with an interesting rant about how easy politicians are to buy and that he had many in his pocket which got him enormous favors whenever he wanted them.

Education

Huckabee also added to what Trump stated about, “Politicians doing the dance of the donor class,” I highlight these two statements because there were no questions about income inequality. A lifelong businessman and a career politician just had this moment of agreeing the rich control politics and then everyone moved on without feeling any need to say put forward a plan to stop it or even to rely decry it as a negative.

Huckabee, Bush, and Rubio all agreed that the federal government has no place in setting any education standards. Huckabee went so far as to call the department of education unconstitutional.

Commercial Break (I notice at this point that the commercial bump doesn’t say ‘Presidential Debate’ or even ‘Republican debate’ It says, “Fox News Debate”)

How will the Republican Candidate take on Hillary Clinton

The question was phrased in a way to call the republican candidate, “He or she,” which comes across as a little hollow when the only woman of the 17 republican candidates was not invited to the debate.

Carson stated he doesn’t think Clinton will be the democratic candidate but didn’t say who he thought it would be.

Economic Growth

Walker is asked about his campaign promise to add a certain number of jobs to Wisconsin and how he’s barely hit half of that. He responded by saying he likes to aim high. I only highlight this because of the number of friends and family I have who still live in Wisconsin and remember that campaign promise as a promise and not a vague, “Aim for the moon and at least you’ll land among the stars,” type of feel good throw away line.

Entitlement Reform

There’s another exchange involving Christie, but this time it’s with Huckabee. Christie states we need to reform social security and gives several ways he would do it. Huckabee responds by saying a promise was made to people and it needs to be kept, so we have to do things like take away Congress’s retirement plan to pay for social security.

Trump is asked about his multiple bankruptcies and he states he simply took advantage of the laws just like everyone else does, but that it shouldn’t reflect on his overall ability to run businesses. That he would do whatever he needed including exploiting loopholes in order to help the country. At this point Trump has said he has bought politicians and used the law to his advantage for personal gain, but that he’s still trustworthy as the president.

Iran

Walker says he’d tear up the deal on day one and put all the sanctions back in place. Paul says Raegan negotiated with the soviets, so negotiating with Iran should be on the table. Huckabee goes on about how Iran will literally kill us all and are pointing a loaded gun at our heads. It does line up nicely with his ‘Obama is leading Jews to the doors of the oven’ comment from last week.

Commercial Break

Social Issues

Rubio stated he doesn’t favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Bush braged about how early he defunded planned parenthood, but then went on to state that Trump is dividing the field and that the need for a Republican president is the most important so they shouldn’t attack each other or use a negative tone when talking about the other candidates. Trump responded by saying there are Christians getting their heads chopped off around the world, so there’s no time for tone.

Equal Marriage

Kasich stated unequivocally that he would support his daughters if they came out as LGBT which got applause. He also said even though he fought against marriage equality he has now attended a same sex marriage. I have the feeling ‘I attended a gay wedding’ is going to be this campaign season’s ‘I have a black friend’. Speaking of…

Black lives matter

The only question on the topic is given to Walker who answered that police need more training and we need a better system to punish cops who break the rules, but didn’t address the racial component of the question at all. After one question on the topic we cut to –

Commercial Break (With the first commercial of the break being the trailer for Straight Outta Compton. You can’t make this up.)

Foreign Policy

Trump, “I would be the exact opposite of what we have now. ”

Walker, Huckabee, Christie, and Carson all agree we need to increase the size of the military. Huckabee led with, “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things,” he softened that as he went on, but that’s quite the opening line. I also want to highlight Carson’s statement, “The Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1940,” This is fascinating because the Army Air Corps didn’t exist until 1941 and it didn’t separate to be it’s own branch until 1947, so I’m really curious what he’s comparing the modern air force to.

There was another short spat between Christie and Paul with Paul stating we need to stop sending so much foreign aid to Israel and Chrisite disagreeing. Walker added he thinks we need to send missiles to Ukraine and put troops on Poland’s border with Russia.

Commercial Break (This one had the trailer for the new movie No Escape as the first ad, a movie about an American family getting caught up in an overseas revolution and running for their lives. I doubt this or the Straight Outta Compton were intentional, but I still question their placement given what the previous segments were.)

God

The last question was a write in question from twitter and it read, “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.” The candidates took several opportunities last night to talk about how they would uphold the constitution, so I’d like to quote article VI paragraph 3 of that document, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But do go on.

Honestly everyone gave pretty safe non answers here. No one went full ‘God told me to run and that I’d win’. Kasich did take the opportunity to bring up racial issues on his own saying we are a divided country and God has picked us as a country to be strong and we need to unite again. It was only one sentence, but it was the only time a candidate brought up the issue without being prompted.

Shortly thereafter Carson was prompted to answer both the racial issue and the god question at the same time. He got applause for saying we need to move beyond the race issue and that the bully pulpit is a good place to start healing the divide.

Closing statement

All relatively generic ‘thank you for hosting and please pick me’ style lines.

If you would like to read a full transcript of the debates, you can find it here.[3]

This post is already far too long, so I won’t add to much here. I don’t think the top candidates Bush and Trump did anything to destroy their chances and I think the only other person who did enough to really move the needle was Paul although Huckabee certainly had many hardline conservative quotes last night. I’ll be interested to see the approval numbers over the next couple days. We have six weeks to see the repercussions of tonight before the next Republican Debate.

I plan to be right here on that night, and, with a little luck, several times between now and then.