Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Republicans debate again tonight

I probably won't watch or Tweet any of it since there's an early Chinese New Year celebration, with dinner and a lion dance we'll be attending.  (I'm kinda Mardi-Graw'ed out after all these years.)

The Republican Party will hold its final debate before the New Hampshire Primary on Saturday night, Feb. 6. 
ABC will broadcast the contest starting at 8 p.m. ET, and will also live stream it on, ABC News mobile apps, and through apps on Apple TV, Xbox One, and Roku, according to a spokesperson for ABC News.

ABC has extended invitations to just seven candidates: Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. John Kasich. 
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore did not receive invites, as they neither finished in the top three in the Iowa caucuses, nor the top six in a recent average of national or New Hampshire primary polls. ABC News stuck to its decision to keep Fiorina out of the debate, despite a public lobbying effort by the former technology executive in recent days to be included.

It's make-or-break time for a couple of guys.

Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie both invested time and money in Iowa. Together they got 5 percent. Christie said he had to do well in Iowa, which his campaign insisted meant that he had to finish ahead of the other governors. He did not do that, finishing ahead of only  Rick Santorum and Jim Gilmore. Bush spent a substantial amount of time in the Hawkeye State and thought he could get support from the network his brother and father had there. He did not get that support. At least Ohio Gov. John Kasich did not expend very much time or effort in getting just 2 percent in Iowa. 
The debate [...] may therefore be the last real shot for Bush and Christie to get into the race and reestablish themselves as something more than also-rans. It also will be critical for Kasich to remind New Hampshire voters that he is there and remains a viable candidate.

Let's say a soft goodbye to them both.  Kasich is still polling fourth, which means he's ahead of Jeb!, but that won't mean much after next Tuesday with southern and western primaries dominating Super Tuesdays ahead.  Christie faces another subpoena about Bridgegate, so if he manages to get into contention he'll still be damaged goods.  Bush's campaign is comatose and pathetic, but he apparently plans on being around for South Carolina because his brother is riding to his rescue.

I don't see anything developing here.  It still looks like Trump, Cruz, and Rubio -- in any order you like -- to be the remaining choices going forward.

The news post-Iowa is that Marco Rubio stole Ted Cruz's bounce.

Trump, by all indications, will return to the debate stage Saturday. We will see if the Iowa loss stripped him of any bravado or venom. Will he go right back after Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.)? That would be his natural inclination, but his arguments will have to be better than the birtherism canard. In some sense, both Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) have the same argument against Cruz: He is another slippery pol, tooting his own horn but as calculating and phony as the rest of them. Unlike Rubio, however, Trump does not need to show he is conservative enough for the GOP. His supporters by and large do not care what his ideology is; they want someone to show strength, candor, irreverence, and empathy for their anger and resentment. 
But married with Trump’s populist, less educated base of support is a certain sense of pragmatism — the opposite of Cruz’s appeal for rigid ideological purity. That contrast between deal-maker and enemy-maker should be on display at the debate Saturday. Cruz is right that Trump seems to have no governing vision. Trump is right that Cruz has little personal appeal and no sense of how to get things done. Between the two of them, they seem to embrace virtually every bad idea circulating on the right (e.g., protectionism, exclusion of immigrants, disregard for human rights) and every bad political trait of our times (e.g., anger, rudeness, dishonesty, lack of compassion).

Keep in mind all of these opinions belong to the WaPo's most Republican commentator, Jennifer Rubin.

If the GOP is gradually coming to its political senses, looking for an electable nominee and a plausible chief executive, this will be the week to knock out Trump and show Cruz has minimal appeal outside deep-red locales. Cruz’s support in Iowa came overwhelmingly from very conservative voters, about 44 percent of whom voted for him, and could get only about 19 percent of somewhat conservative voters and about 9 percent of moderates.That split works in the Iowa caucuses where  the most conservative voters predominate, but not in the majority of primary contests. Revealing him to be a rigid ideologue with very few answers for our problems should be the grown-ups’ focus.

I expect the vote next Tuesday to go pretty much how it's been polling: Trump in first, Rubio second, Cruz third, Kasich fourth.  My strongest recommendation is to go do something fun tonight, as we are, and then get ready for the Super Bowl tomorrow, and then go have a drink on Fat Tuesday rather than pay attention to election returns that evening.

It's time for me to blog about some local developments, such as the candidates on the Texas primary ballot and some other items closer to home.  That's coming up shortly.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

I keep eyeballing developments in Dallas for "Our Man Downtown," John Wiley Price. Eddie Neoliberal Johnson sez this might be her last run, too.

Locally? All GOP local races, and I'm in the Congressional land of Gohmert Pyle. Not much to blog home about there.