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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Union-Leader for Christie

Maggie Haberman reports at The New York Times:
Chris Christie’s long-shot presidential campaign got a lift on Saturday night with the endorsement of The New Hampshire Union Leader, an influential paper in the state where the New Jersey governor has camped out in the hopes of catching fire.
The newspaper’s endorsement, coming 10 weeks before the first-in-the-nation primary, arrived earlier than it had in the past two election cycles involving crowded Republican primary fields.
The endorsement, however, was framed in terms of the changed landscape of the 2016 presidential race in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, the aftermath of which Mr. Christie has pointed to as a moment for which his skill set is perfectly matched. And it is the strongest suggestion of the vibrancy of a candidate who has fought for survival in a sprawling field, after the so-called Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey dampened his national prospects and hindered his standing in the polls and in fund-raising.
“Mr. Christie is right for these dangerous times,” wrote Joseph W. McQuaid, the paper’s publisher, in the endorsement editorial. At another point, he wrote: “As a U.S. attorney and then a big-state governor, he is the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs.”

Rubio: Insider, Outsider

In the 1992 election, James Ceaser and Andrew Busch wrote in Upside Down and Inside Out:"The outsider appeal," they wrote, "resonates with fundamental elements of the American tradition that can be traced back to certain themes of the revolutionaries, the anti-federalists, the Jeffersonians, and the Jacksonians."  William Jefferson Clinton pulled off the feat of running as an insider and outsider at the same time. He came from a modest background (though not quite as modest as he claimed), was governor of a poor state, and challenged party orthodoxy.  At the same time, he was a Rhodes Scholar with a Yale law degree who had been courting party elders ever since a college internship with Senator J. William Fulbright.

Patrick O'Connor and Byron Tau writes at the Wall Street Journal:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio likes to remind GOP primary voters of the long odds he faced running for the Senate in 2010.
“Everybody in the Republican establishment came forward and said, ‘You can’t run, it’s not your turn, you’ve got to wait in line,’ ” Mr. Rubio told the crowd at a recent campaign stop in early-voting Iowa.
The underdog narrative helps Mr. Rubio cast himself as a political outsider to a party desperate for change. But it glosses over a basic fact: The 44-year-old Florida senator has spent the bulk of his working life in politics, reared by the party whose leaders he occasionally campaigns against.
This tension between Rubio the insider and Rubio the outsider cuts to the heart of his biggest challenge in the Republican primary—positioning himself as a bridge candidate, while some of his rivals specifically target evangelicals and tea-party conservatives and others focus on rallying the establishment.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst recently polled Republican primary voters and found they move fairly fluidly between the top four candidates—Messrs. Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio. However, the Florida senator served as a link between the outsiders and the establishment contenders, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“Rubio shares a lot of support with Trump, Carson and [former Hewlett-Packard Co.Chief Executive Carly] Fiorina and with establishment candidates, like Bush and Christie,” said Mia Costa, one of the researchers on that poll. “He’s well-positioned to pick up supporters from both camps.”

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Primary Ballot Access

In the 2012 campaign, an early sign of trouble for Newt Gingrich was his failure to make the Virginia primary ballot.

Shane Goldmacher writes at Politico:
Barring a major organizational misfire, there’s little doubt that the top-tier Republicans with big money operations – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – will be on the ballot nationwide. But for everyone else – including Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul, whose campaigns say they are on track to be on the ballot everywhere – ballot access is an expensive challenge.
Carly Fiorina’s campaign, which says she will appear on the ballot everywhere, has estimated ballot access will cost her $2 million. In a video sent to her supporters this week, she complained about the difficulty of the endeavor by accusing “party bosses” of trying to “rig the game…to protect the establishment candidates and then try to keep everyone else out.”
“Every conservative candidate deserves to be on the ballot,” Fiorina said. “Not just those with Jeb Bush money or Hillary Clinton money.”
In Alabama, one of the few states where the filing deadline has passed, neither Jim Gilmore nor George Pataki, two longshot former governors running bare bones 2016 campaigns, paid the $10,000 fee to appear on the March 1 ballot. Failing to file guarantees that Gilmore and Pataki won’t win any of Alabama’s 50 delegates up for grabs next year.
While it’s true mathematically that candidates need not compete in every state to win the nomination, the political reality is that each failure to appear on a ballot undermines a candidate’s credibility as a national figure. “Nobody pats you on the back if you get on every ballot,” Ginsberg explained. “But if you don’t get on the ballot in every state, boy, there are huge ramifications for your campaign.”
The Republican National Lawyers Association made all their jobs much easier when, for the first time, it made available a state-by-state guide to getting on the ballot, free of charge, to every campaign this year. The so-called “Ballot Access Initiative” document is likely saving campaigns thousands of dollars in research costs.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Independents and the New Hampshire Primary

In The Perfect Tie, the third book in this series, James Ceaser and Andrew Busch explain that the 2000 New Hampshire primary involved an "invisible primary" between John McCain and Bill Bradley.  They were running in different parties but competing for the large bloc of independent voters.  McCain won, enabling him to beat George W. Bush.  Bradley lost, meaning that the primary went to Gore.

James Pindell writes at The Boston Globe:
Unlike in many other states, New Hampshire voters who don’t register as Republican or Democrat can participate in either party’s primary. Republican officials are predicting that these “undeclared” voters — as many as 90,000 of the 250,000 Republican primary voters next year, according to one campaign’s count — will be inclined to pull a ballot for the GOP in the first-in-the-nation primary in large part because that contest is much more heated.
“There is no doubt that independent voters will decide this primary,” said Sarah Crawford Stewart, who ran former Utah governor Jon Huntsman’s independent-focused 2012 Republican campaign here. “And now is the time when every campaign begins looking for the unicorn: the truly independent voters that you know are there, but you have no idea where to find them.”
A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll this week suggested that undeclared voters would make up 32 percent of the Republican primary electorate. Their preferences were largely the same as likely Republican voters as a whole.
New York businessman Donald Trump and Governor John Kasich of Ohio topped the list for undeclared voters with 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Senator Marco Rubio had the support of 12 percent of undeclared voters and Senator Ted Cruz received the support of 11 percent of the undeclared voters who were polled.
Indeed, undeclared voters could have the most impact in selecting among the more establishment-oriented candidates — like Bush, Kasich, Rubio, or Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. These candidates are investing time and money in identifying independent voters.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trump Keeps Getting Worse

CNN reports that Donald Trump mocked a reporter with a disability:

Reuters reports:
"We're not gonna take it anymore," a crowd of thousands sang as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump entered a South Carolina convention center on Tuesday night as a 1980s heavy metal song by the band Twisted Sister blared from speakers.
The billionaire real-estate developer's packed rallies have been among the liveliest events in the long build-up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But they are increasingly becoming known for their undercurrent of aggression, which escalated into a physical altercation over the weekend when white Trump supporters attacked a black protester at his rally, to the candidate's approval.

Out in the crowds, the mix of emotions is heady, setting a Trump rally apart from those of virtually all the other Republican and Democratic White House hopefuls. The rallies combine a gleeful rejection of establishment politics, a fear that the country is about to be transformed into something un-American, and a simmering aggression toward those who dissent from Trump's world view.
Although he has been the front-runner almost without interruption for four months in the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, Trump is not the only candidate who can draw more supporters than a venue has chairs.
But at rallies other than Trump's, it would be unusual for disputes over blocked views between those who are standing and those who are sitting to escalate into yelling matches, as happened a couple of times mid-speech on Tuesday. On one occasion, police officers intervened to calm tempers.
At a Trump rally in Alabama on Saturday attended predominantly by white people, Trump supporters punched and kicked a black civil-rights activist who shouted "Black lives matter!" as Trump called from the stage for the activist to be thrown out.
Trump later said the activist was "obnoxious" and deserved to be "roughed up."
The New York Times reports:
How alarmed were New Jersey officials by reports of Muslims dancing in the streets of Jersey City and Paterson on Sept. 11, 2001, to celebrate the destruction of the World Trade Center?

They feared riots would break out and were ready to send in the National Guard and the State Police to preserve order.
But John J. Farmer Jr., then the New Jersey attorney general and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, said on Tuesday that he ordered an investigation that very day and found the reports to be bogus, more wild stories born in the stricken hours after the attacks.

Nevertheless, those ancient, false rumors were recycled as truth over the weekend by Donald J. Trump, who has folded them into his calls for the national registration of Muslims and possible closing of mosques. Speaking in Alabama, Mr. Trump said: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Marco Skywalker

Henry Olsen writes:
Somewhat conservatives are like investors: when panic happens, they flock to the stability of the 30-year bond. Rubio is clearly aiming to position himself to be the GOP’s T-bill, a stable, conservative choice for voters who like that balance between return (ideology) and minimal risk (maturity, experience). Rubio won’t go after moderates directly, but he will position himself to be the beneficiary of their second choice support once their first choices drop out. Thirty percent of moderates in the most recent PPP national poll support either Bush, Christie, Fiorina, or Kaisch. It’s hard to see any of these candidates reviving their campaigns, and it is even harder to see the bulk of their supporters moving to Cruz or Trump if the race winnows down to a three-man race by March 1. If this happens, it will fuel a quick rise in Rubio support, support that could allow him to jump past Trump and become Cruz’s main challenger on and after SEC Super Tuesday.
There’s a lot of time left, and Rubio’s competitors are smart and able men. Perhaps they will push Rubio to make an error; perhaps they will adapt their efforts to become more appealing to the somewhat conservative. This, after all, is why they play the games. But right now, the trend lines favor Rubio.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Associating with a Nut

Earlier this month, three Republican presidential candidates – Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the race) – appeared at a National Religious Liberties Conference held in Des Moines and hosted by Kevin Swanson, a Colorado pastor and host of the Generations Radio Show. A member of the Christian Reconstructionist Movement (Christian Reconstructionists believe in theocracy and the restoration of Mosaic Law), Mr. Swanson gave the conference’s opening and closing remarks and interviewed Messrs. Cruz, Huckabee, and Jindal.
Here’s the thing: Pastor Swanson is a man consumed with hatred for gays. He has spoken wistfully about the passing of a period in which the death penalty applied to gays. He also supports Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws, which punishes some homosexual behavior with life in prison. (“In Uganda, these guys are standing strong.”)
I have several thoughts on all this, the first of which is that Republican presidential candidates ought to have no part of a conference like the one hosted by Swanson and should have nothing to do with him. Pleading ignorance about what Pastor Swanson has said (which Cruz and Huckabee have done) is lame. Any campaign doing due diligence would be aware of Swanson’s views, and Cruz was told by CNN’s Jake Tapper some of what Swanson has said. Mr. Swanson is a man overflowing with venom, and his views should disqualify him from any association with Republican presidential hopefuls and, really, any serious person.