Friday, October 09, 2015

Not Trump and Carson but Rubio and Cruz

Maybe you had not noticed, but the real black neurosurgeon who has been performing a frontal lobotomy on himself all week has drowned out The Donald's rants.  And even the Democrats have gotten more chatter because of their upcoming debate.  Be sure and remind Debbie Wasserman Schultz again about that.

I've worked to limit the outrage and/or snark about stupid things Republicans say every single day (Juanita Jean's always there for you) not because it's so much fun but because it's so time-consuming trying to keep up.  There's not much blogged here about what Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah or Larry Wilmore say each night because Egberto's on that beat.  The Speaker's race is indeed a hilarious clusterfuck, but in the grand scheme of the local election we have coming up and then the presidential one next year, not all that B a FD to me.  And as you know by now, campaign finance reports and teevee commercials are best left to the geeks, wonks, and consultants who thrive on that.

So with three Hillary Clinton posts this week, and traffic sagging until I returned to the municipal elections yesterday (and with traffic back through the roof), I want to get in a few elbows on the GOP presidential field.

On Labor Day weekend at the AFL-CIO barbecue in Pasadena, somebody asked me if Scott Walker still had a chance to be the nominee.  I told her it was at least possible he could regroup, blow some Koch up his nose and reignite.  Go back and look at the September archives to see that he was carried out feet first two weeks later.  Since then all the rage among conservative pundits and prophets has gone from "who's next to quit" to "ZOMG is it really going to be Trump or Carson".

I'm gonna say that if either one of those two winds up being the Republican nominee, even a ticket of Lawrence Lessig and Jim Webb could beat that.  Like a red-headed stepchild.

So with the tenuous assumption that Republicans are smarter than this -- that's why they're so rich, of course -- somebody else is going to be at the top of the heap when the walls fall and the guns are silenced.  My take today is that it will be either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, and here's why.

By process of elimination, it won't be Bobby Jindal or Lindsey Graham or Chris Christie or George Pataki or James Gilmore or Rick Santorum or Rand Paul.  Mullah Huckabee still has the longest of realistic shots thanks to Kim Davis, but he's being eclipsed on the strength of his own foibles.  Picking a fight with a bag of chips is a dead-ender.

That leaves Jeb!, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Ted and Marco.  You could scramble these five every possible way except with Bush and Rubio together (two candidates from the same state can run together but it gets problematic in the Electoral College, so discount the possibility of a pair of Floridians to zero), and you'd have a decent enough Republican duo to be a threat to Clinton-Castro or Sanders-Warren.  Since we're dreaming, after all.

But for the purpose of this exercise, let me veer away from my previously stated prediction of the top two and make it Kasich-Rubio (I've suggested previously -- scroll to the bottom -- that Kasich-Condoleeza Rice might just be too tough for the Democrats to beat, and I still believe that).  Rubio would be better as a VP than Rice not because of his Latino appeal but because of his evangelical cross-breeding.  Condi claims to be a libertarian on choice, and that damages her with the brand in this cycle.  The Bible-thumpers love Ted too, of course, and here's where you should disregard the rain-making reporting; Cruz doubled up Rubio in money in the third quarter.  Cruz excites the TeaBagger base with outbursts like "hate slaw!", but he's alienated too many inside players.  He's not going to settle for second place, either.  Ever the gladiator, he will affect the presidential process just like he does the Speaker's race, but in the end he'll content himself with going back to the Senate and taking another shot at Hillary in 2020.  He needs to mend some fences, make a few friends in the process.

If I'm wrong, though, and Cruz is at the top of the ticket, Clinton beats him like a drum.  Even Bernie Sanders beats Ted Cruz, and it wouldn't be all that close.

It goes without blogging but I'll write it anyway: Bush and Fiorina don't have the wherewithal to get it done this time.  Both have a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, and Bush has a peculiar "finger-in-the-air" ailment.  Four years ago the GOP exhausted all the certifiably insane options -- Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Santorum -- before settling back on Mitt Romney.  Bush isn't going to be that lucky, no matter how many favors he thinks he can call in.  The base simply will not allow that to happen again.

Kasich (Ohio) and Rubio (Florida) are both from swing states the GOP has to have to win.  Cruz and Fiorina don't help enough electorally.  Condi, like Carly, is also from Cali; that's a non-starter for one but not the other.  Rice is a DC insider/gravitas pick as much as she checks off the right demographic boxes.  And like Dick Cheney, nobody really knows where she came from (born in Alabama, raised in Colorado, much of her adult life associated with Stanford University when she wasn't in Washington).  But I think, again, that she's not extreme enough for the bottom of the ticket when they tap a so-called moderate for president.

Rubio is Tea Party without the tricorn hat.  He's said enough crazy things -- climate change, border walls, etc. -- to earn some street cred.  Ultimately he's just less sour than Cruz, and when it comes to coconuts, that's important.

So the ticket will be some combo of "moderate" and rabid dog, with the assumption that Rice cannot be recruited for V-P.  Kasich-Rubio is my story today and we'll see how long it sticks.

Update: I could be just as wrong as either Ted or Donald.  Or both.  We shall see.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Jeb could ... move to Texas like Cheney magically moved back to Wyoming in 2000. So, Bush-Rubio is doable. But, I'm not sure how personally sympatico they are.

Kasich-Condi would be an interesting ticket. He's the least nutbar of the prez candidates, and she inspires the "old hands" part of the mythical GOP Establishment. OTOH, like Colin Powell, she'd draw the wingnuts like flies, and she's having fun with the NCAA football playoff committee.

I've already blogged this week about how The Donald, in part with a top-down campaign, will crash in Iowa.

Fiorina, you're right.

So, can Rubio hold off Kasich?


Debbie "Wassermann Test"? Puhleeze.

Oh, and I have a VERY snarky debate preview piece that I'm putting up Tuesday morning. Candidates will be thrown under buses, including our top Dem "undecided."