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“Clown Car Race Heading Into Its Final Laps”: A Last-Ditch Effort From Cruz And Kasich To Stop Trump

As I noted after last week’s New York primary, neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich can win the Republican nomination via delegates earned in the primaries. This is the point at which you would expect that candidates in that position would drop out of the race. But this is also the first time such a move would result in the nomination of someone like Donald Trump. So Kasich and Cruz aren’t about to ride off into the sunset. Instead, the two of them have joined forces in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump.

In order to understand their plan, it’s important to note that – because the delegates won to date have been spread between so many candidates – Trump still faces an uphill battle to win the nomination outright in the remaining primaries. The statement put out by the Kasich campaign is the most direct in laying out their attempt to stop him from being able to do that.

Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the Party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee. We believe that will be John Kasich, who is the only candidate who can defeat Secretary Clinton and preserve our GOP majority in the Congress.

Due to the fact that the Indiana primary is winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district, keeping Trump from winning a plurality in Indiana is critical to keeping him under 1237 bound delegates before Cleveland. We are very comfortable with our delegate position in Indiana already, and given the current dynamics of the primary there, we will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana.

In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon, both areas that are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well. We would expect independent third-party groups to do the same and honor the commitments made by the Cruz and Kasich campaigns.

The Cruz campaign issued a similar statement.

This all sounds similar to Jeb Bush’s attempt to negotiate a deal back in March (after he was out of the race) to stop Trump. In retrospect, it looks like Marco Rubio was on board with that one (his last hope before dropping out), but Kasich and Cruz never really committed to the plan. Now they don’t have any other option.

Trump responded as expected.

“Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are,” he said in the statement. “Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged.”

I guess he doesn’t have as much appreciation for the “art of the deal” as he continually suggests. This clown car race is heading into its final laps. But it’s very possible that we won’t know which one is the last clown standing until they get to Cleveland in July.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 25, 2016

April 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, John Kasich, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Win The War Over Time”: The Koch Brothers Play The Long Game, Making Them Smarter Than The Average Republican

The biggest political news this weekend is coming in two separate stories from the from the Koch brothers. Most important is that the Kochs are staying out of the nomination fight completely now that it has functionally come down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz:

Charles Koch says he won’t “put a penny” into trying to stop Donald Trump, that there are “terrible role models” among the remaining Republican presidential candidates, and that his massive political network may decide to sit out of the presidential race entirely.

“These personal attacks and pitting one person against the other — that’s the message you’re sending the country,” Koch said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired Sunday. “You’re role models and you’re terrible role models. So how — I don’t know how we could support ’em.”

The billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and one of the most powerful and controversial figures in politics said he and his brother David Koch have also turned down pleas to join the “Never Trump” movement, which aims to deny the real estate mogul the nomination.

Instead Koch said he and his brother plan to stay out of the party’s nomination fight.

The other not totally unrelated news from the same ABC interview is that the Kochs are so disgusted with their Republican candidates that they even believe it’s possible that Hillary Clinton would make a better president–which is predictably being used against her by many Sanders supporters.

The great advantage the Koch brothers have over most people in politics is that they really believe in their ideology so deeply that they are willing to hand over the presidency–and its concomitant power to select Supreme Court justices–to their ideological enemies for four years in the service of longer-term goals lasting decades. The Koch brothers do not depend on winning elected office to advance their careers, and they (admirably and rightly, in my view) see politics not as a series of pitched electoral battles to implement various legislative aims, but rather as a grand battle of ideologies in which the entire longitudinal direction of a country is determined. If some Republican careers are damaged in the process, so be it. If some (to them) odious regulations are implemented in the meantime, so be it. They intend to win the war over time, even if it means losing the occasional battle. And that makes them a far more terrifying and effective opponent than the likes of Reince Priebus or Charles Krauthammer, whose vision goes no farther than the next election they can, donor they can please, or war they can start.

In this case, the Kochs know that even if Trump or Cruz were to win the general election–and even if they therefore had the power to appoint Supreme Court justices!–it would actually be more damaging to their long-term economic libertarian interests than if they were to win. They know that putting Hillary Clinton into office gives them potentially four years to run oppositional politics and ramp up their Hispanic outreach initiative.

They can deal with one or two more liberal justices on the court, because they know that if they can engineer a counter-revolution in the next decade and unseat Democrats in 2020, they can lock down Congress for yet another decade and ultimately have a near permanent Supreme Court majority by 2030 or 2035. Charles and David Koch themselves may not live that long, but that’s not their concern: their concern is to win the war. That makes them far more ambitious and frankly smarter than the average operative.

The question is whether their bet is correct. It could be that letting Clinton into the presidency in 2016 does what they believe it will. It’s also possible that 2016 will be the last chance for a Republican running on Reaganomics to win the presidency at all, and that by 2024 the Koch brothers’ Objectivist vision for the Republican Party will be all but irrelevant. But in either case, the Koch brothers are absolutely correct that neither Trump nor Cruz will adequately serve their decades-long interest.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Koch Brothers, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Chairman Of His Personal Make A Wish Foundation”: Conservatives Shouldn’t Kid Themselves About Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz isn’t messing around. Donald Trump is probably going to come up just short of the number of delegates to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot — and it’s mostly Cruz’s fault.

Cruz and his campaign team have been working the delegate selection system hard, and grabbing delegates wherever they can find them. From the beginning of the campaign, his outfit has shown itself to be one of the most-savvy, technologically well-equipped, and hardest working units in politics today. It is as if his campaign is saying, “Sure, Donald Trump may end up with more votes by the end, but we will have the delegates, the institutional support, the donor support, and the working knowledge to run a national campaign. Trump won’t.”

Conservatives have noticed. Trump is complaining about a system that is rigged, but conservatives look at the Cruz campaign working the system and think it competent, not crooked. When Trump fails on the first ballot in Cleveland, many will argue that Cruz is the obvious choice.

But conservatives shouldn’t kid themselves about Cruz. Yes, he respects conservative institutions and competently sings the dearest lines from its standard songbook in a way that Trump can’t. Yes, Cruz wants the presidency so badly that even television viewers can feel the humidity rising from his flop sweat. Yes, he is working for it as if he is the chairman of his personal Make a Wish Foundation. But like Trump, Cruz would be a shockingly unpopular pick in a post-Goldwater national election. Although not as badly as Trump, Cruz generally repulses women, according to all polls. Republicans can’t do well in a general election unless they win — and win big — among married women.

Compared to Trump, Cruz may look like a normal Republican, sure. But the mainstream of the party and the big wallets of the donor class are never going to support Cruz in the same way that they’ve supported Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush before. Yes, they may come around to endorsing him. Some elected officials may even campaign for him, but if Cruz is the nominee, they’re going to be thinking about how to save their own seats and the year 2020.

And yes, even Lindsey Graham, who used to joke in an unsettling way about murdering Cruz, has come around to stumping for him. But I agree with Graham’s original diagnosis: “If you’re a Republican and your choices are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the general election,” Graham said, “it’s the difference between being poisoned or shot. You’re still dead.” In your heart, you know that Graham still thinks this way.

Ted Cruz doesn’t have any way of reaching independent and persuadable Democratic voters. It’s important to point out that part of Cruz’s unpopularity is his ideological conservatism. Successful national Republicans usually have a few “heresies” to advert to the center. The Bushes portrayed themselves as compassionate conservatives and triangulated on issues like education. McCain made himself a scourge of the corruption of money in politics, even when it brought him into conflict with typical conservative views on free speech. Romney was a businessman and technocrat, not merely a creature of politics. By contrast, Cruz is a man who seems to have received his entire political formation within the ideological hothouse of the conservative movement.

Cruz’s “disagreements” with the party at large tend to be about tactics. He’s for the extreme ones. Or they are hedges between different competing schools of thought within conservatism. He is willing to split the difference between neoconservative interventionists and conservative Jacksonians on issues of foreign policy. But this never, ever dulls the sharp edges of his partisanship.

Conservatives should be wary of having Cruz as their candidate precisely because he offers such a high-octane distillation of their views. As it would be for any movement promoting its ideas at their rawest state, an up or down vote for “conservatism” is a losing one for Republicans. That’s why the party historically tries not to nominate people like Ted Cruz.

And as hard as Ted Cruz works, he is simply not all that sympathetic a figure. He has an unsettling smile. He speaks in a very peculiar patois that sets much of the nation to instantly hold on tighter to their wallets for fear of being suckered. He may save the conservative movement from a reckoning that a Trump nomination will bring, but he is not much more likely to win the general election or save the Republican Party from its electoral demise.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, April 19, 2016

April 20, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ted Cruz’s Balancing Act; Anti-Trump Or Trump Lite?”: A Party Suddenly Divided Between Satan And Everybody Else

Ted Cruz took a break from his usual performance as a hammer-headed movement conservative yesterday and tried on the ill-fitting but perhaps essential clothes of a party unifier while in a private meeting of New York Republicans, according to a report from Politico‘s Katie Glueck.

Ted Cruz on Monday acknowledged he’s concerned about how a contested convention might “fracture” the party ahead of the general election, especially if Donald Trump lashes out should he lose the primary.

“There is no doubt, we are likely headed to a contested convention,” the Texas senator told a private gathering of Republicans here in Manhattan, according to audio of the meeting obtained by POLITICO. “One of the greatest risks of a contested convention is, if you come out with a party fractured, it potentially makes you vulnerable going into the general election. I believe, in a contested convention, we’ll have a strong advantage and we will earn the majority of the delegates and unify the party. But in that circumstance it’s not difficult to imagine Donald Trump getting very upset, and making his upsetness [known].”

This solicitude for the feelings of Trump and his supporters is impressive for the guy who in the vocabulary of the mogul’s campaign is routinely referred to as “Lyin’ Ted.” But it’s a real issue for him. If he’s the nominee, he’s already going to be a general election underdog. Dealing with a Trump Rump faction, whether or not it encompasses a third-party or indie campaign, could be fatal for Cruz. And he does have some natural ties to the Trump constituency in terms of being a Republican more eager to shoot terrorists as they allegedly cross the border than over in some godforsaken Middle Eastern country.

At the same time, though, Cruz cannot really start worrying about Trump voters until he’s fully used the #NeverTrump movement to put himself into a position to win the nomination. If Cruz goes out of his way to remind Republican officeholders that he was their nightmare candidate until Trump showed up as the real devil, the temptation to go for the gold in a contested convention and blow up Cruz on a third ballot after Cruz blows up Trump on the second ballot will be powerful.

Beyond all that, you just don’t get the sense that the junior senator from Texas was cut out to be a unity figure, even for a party suddenly divided between Satan and everybody else. Unity candidates are reassuring and have a knack for making you see your own reflection in their soft and soulful eyes. Cruz has the persona of someone who’s been told by his crazy father a thousand times that God has chosen him to redeem America from its secular socialist captors. He’s in the presidential race not to unite Republicans but to smite Babylon and maybe bring on the End Times. He thus does not represent a natural compromise between those who want to lower their marginal tax rates and melt the polar caps and those who mainly want to ensure they’ll never have to “press 1 for English” or hold their tongues in the presence of women and minorities ever again.

Cruz’s ultimate appeal to non-apocalyptic Republicans is as a necessary evil in an extreme situation. That’s a low bar all right, but not one Ted Cruz will leap with any height to spare.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 18, 2016

April 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Why Is Trump Upset?”: It’s Because Cruz Is Schooling Him In The Art Of The Deal

Donald Trump prides himself on being able to bend arcane and unfair systems to his will.

Well, every system except one.

For years, Trump has been dogged by questions about his companies’ several bankruptcies, which are potential blemishes upon his business career.

In response, Trump has argued that there was nothing illegal, morally wrong or even shameful about restructuring debts and breaking contracts. On the contrary, these bankruptcies are a testament to his business acumen.

“I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage,” he told Forbes.

“I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera,” he echoed at the first Republican presidential debate.

And on Twitter, he argued, “Out of hundreds of deals & transactions, I have used the bankruptcy laws a few times to make deals better. Nothing personal, just business.”

He’s exercised similar rhetoric when talking about how he’s benefited from another controversial use of the law: eminent domain.

Governmental seizure of property for private commercial development, he argues, is not only good for the public and (allegedly) for the people forced out of their homes. It’s also used all the time by other prominent entrepreneurs and businesspeople, including members of the Bush family. So why not take advantage of this ripe system for himself?

Likewise, when asked why he’s donated money in the past to ideologically problematic politicians (including Hillary Clinton), he offers the same rationale: This is how the system works when you’re in business. It may not be fair or transparent, but a businessperson would be foolish not use it to his advantage.

“Maybe it’s a good system and maybe it’s not a good system, but it’s the system in which I was under and I thrived,” he boasted on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

In Trump’s world, exploiting the nation’s byzantine bankruptcy laws, or its bizarre eminent domain laws, or its opaque campaign finance rules, or any other system-rigging tools freely available to entrepreneurial types is proof not of shadiness but shrewdness — of his unwillingness to play the chump.

Which is why it’s so odd when Trump whines about Cruz behaving the exact same way.

Cruz has been quietly wooing delegates to the upcoming Republican convention, as well as the local party leaders who help select those delegates. He and his staff have traveled around California, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina and other states to help put sympathetic delegates in place in preparation for the possibility of a freewheeling contested election.

The upshot is, according to a Post analysis, that Cruz may already have effectively blocked Trump from the nomination should Trump prove unable to secure a majority of delegates on the first ballot.

As my colleague Marc Thiessen observed this week, Cruz is taking advantage of the peculiar, convoluted delegate system just as adeptly, and just as amorally, as Trump has taken advantage of the nation’s peculiar, convoluted bankruptcy laws.

Trump does not appear to appreciate the parallels. Instead, upon realizing Cruz’s behind-the-scenes efforts, Trump has gone apoplectic.

Having built his campaign on Twitter and free-media coverage, failed to invest much in a ground game and taken little interest until recently in how the delegate system works, Trump now indicts both a “totally unfair” system and Lyin’ Ted himself.

“It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system,” Trump complained of a primary system whose rules have been available to him for many months.

“He’s trying to steal things because that’s the way Ted works,” Trump carped about a competitor who is cutting deals that the great dealmaker himself should envy.

There are two lessons to be gleaned from Trump’s selectively righteous indignation about unfair systems and those who exploit them.

One is that he’s a hypocrite. Obvious enough.

The other is that the main premise of his campaign — that his wiliness in the business world will translate to wiliness in politics and policy — is bunk.

Trump boasts that his whole life he’s been “greedy, greedy, greedy,” that his greed has paid off in the private sector, and that ergo he’ll be effective at being “greedy for the United States” in all its affairs. But if he can’t even figure out how to manage a primary campaign — let alone get his own children registered to vote for him — the chances that he’ll be able to seamlessly convert his monetary greed into political greed look slim.

 

By: Catherine Rampell, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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