Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fight Night in Houston tonight

Republicans are in a frenzy.

As Houston readied to become the center of the Republican universe, hosting a crucial presidential debate to be aired on CNN and Telemundo, the GOP hopefuls lined up, holding rallies and headlining dinners. 
With Trump still missing on the eve of the debate, Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio spent the day firing up supporters, some of whom drove halfway across the state to hear from their preferred presidential candidate. 
However, fresh polls released Wednesday provided conflicting takes on who's in front in the Lone Star State. One had Cruz up 15 points on Trump, while another showed the contest was a dead heat. 
"Cruz should win the state, but he can't be a credible national candidate if he can't win his own state, and his campaign has hit a lot of turbulence lately," said Richard Murray, a University of Houston professor who co-directed the poll showing Cruz in the lead. 
A full 19 percent of respondents to that poll had yet to make up their mind, however, and another poll, commissioned by WFAA-TV in Dallas, had Trump and Cruz tied with 32 percent each.

Bold emphasis mine.  That 'undecided' figure suggests some awfully heavy Election Day turnout for the GOP.  Your top two questions: If Cruz loses Texas, why does he carry on?

Most (of his supporters at yesterday's rally) said they supported Cruz because of his strict interpretation of the Constitution, his commitment to religious values, his proposal to repeal Obamacare and his proposed immigration policies. (As of Monday, that plan is to, somehow, round up and deport all 12 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in the country.) Still, a couple said they wanted to vote for “whoever could stop Trump.” Others called Trump “a conservative by convenience.” But when it came down to it, most pledged to vote for him anyway should Cruz lose the nomination, because Trump has an R next to his name.  
“If our party picks him, then there you go, we have to stand behind our guy,” said Tex Christopher. 
One man, Blake Insel, said that Trump as president would “drive me to prayer,” saying that he has no reason to trust Trump and has never been given one. But when asked if he would still vote for him over Clinton, he said, “absolutely.”

Fall in, lemmings.  Q #2: If Rubio finishes third, what's the point of his campaign?

With no wins to show after the first four contests in the Republican presidential primary, Marco Rubio's supporters are growing nervous that their candidate's chances of becoming the party's nominee may already be slipping way.  
"He's got to do something, he's got to stir up the mix a bit," said Steve Hosheinz, a 55-year-old accountant from Houston who was among 2,000 people who waited to hear Rubio speak to a rally here on Wednesday. "He's a true conservative but he also as a very positive message. He's someone who can appeal to the middle. He's got to show that."

Neither one is dropping out any time soon; both have oodles of cash to burn through and a measure of "not Trump" support that continues to hold the front-runner in the mid-thirties even as he keeps winning.  This is still a primary that could go all the way to the convention; it's just taking on a Clinton-esque air of inevitability.  (Or is that an odor?)

Besides being this week's big deal for the GOP, it's kind of a big deal for the U of H, too.

The university won the event in a whirlwind competition against unnamed Houston venues after the Republican Party dumped NBC in favor of CNN, setting up a frenzied schedule with just two weeks to get the campus ready. 
In that time, Google turned the Yeoman Fieldhouse, an indoor track-and-field venue that could fit about 60 single-family homes, into a giant media center. The RNC doled out 500 press credentials for 1,000 requestors, vetting them all in days. The university figured out how to get wireless signals to a parking lot for throngs of reporters and visitors while converting its Cullen Lawn into a broadcasting hotspot. Police and the Secret Service did secret things. And nearly 4,700 students, staff and faculty vied for 25 randomly drawn tickets to get a seat inside the Moores Opera House, where the school's symphony orchestra was still practicing a week ago and where Wolf Blitzer will wrangle the candidates to keep them on point tonight. 
Viewers won't see the 16 cameras swiveling about, or appreciate the three days that shoulder-held camera operators spent getting their footwork down, so as not to stumble. They won't see how 320 super-high-resolution display panels were pieced together behind the podiums, or the hours of color balancing and lighting tests. They won't see (Trump stand-in and cruz flack Matt) Wiltshire or other student volunteers doing their best Trumps, Rubios and Carsons. 
The Student Government Association received 550 volunteer applications in about a day -- for everything from general runners to audience coordinators - then interviewed 240 applicants in 16 hours, weeding out potential tomato-throwers and ensuring those chosen would professionally represent the Cougars to an audience of millions. 
The stand-in jobs went to the biggest politics nerds -- and not just Republicans, Wiltshire said. As they stood around while technicians checked sounds and lights, they traded barbs over issues of the day - campus carry, Jeb Bush dropping out of the race, John Kasich's recent comments about women in their kitchens. Those discussions spilled over into the faux debate as CNN checked camera angles and practiced cutaway shots when other stand-ins interjected.

Texas Leftist wishes Cougar Town was getting more of the focus.

There will be protests galore.  The parties last night were hyper also.  I'm going to wade through it all tonight, read some goat entrails, see if anything makes sense.

I'm skeptimistic.

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