Commentary on Republicans, Libertarians & Politics

Category: 2016 Presidential Election

Republicans Self Destructing?

This is one of the most unusual presidential campaigns in years. Newspaper and television reporters are giddy because they don’t know where to turn next. There are so many stories they have their pick of what they want to write about. As one said, it is like shooting fish in a barrel.

No one expected Donald Trump to last very long. They were thinking he might be popular for a short while and then fade like so many “fringe” candidates do. But people in the Republican Party seem to want a change and nothing is going like anyone thought it would. Ted Cruz was considered too extreme to get much of a following and yet he is in second place behind Donald Trump.

Mainstream Getting Hammered

The mainstream candidates have gotten hammered and many have dropped out. Jeb Bush never got a following even though he had lots of money that he raised and a good part of the establishment behind him. We think people didn’t wan’t a third Bush, two were enough. Chris Christie never caught on. People thought Marco Rubio would take the lead as one of the last mainstream candidates but he hasn’t garnered much enthusiasm. Finally, there is John Kasich who seems like the most down to earth of the bunch.

Kasich Feels His Time is Coming

Kasich has done fairly well in northern states and said because the southern states were front loaded in the primaries that they were trying to weather the first part and felt that they would gain strength from here on out. It will be interesting to see if he is right. He may get some help from a lot of other people who are teaming up to fight Trump.

Forces Rising Up to Stop Trump

What is really unusual is that a front runner, especially someone with as much momentum as Donald Trump gets the support of the party to try and build momentum to beat the Democrats. It is unheard of that the Republicans are in such disarray and there are so many people trying to bring Trump down.

You have Mitt Romney and John McCain calling him a liar  and $10 million dollars raised to advertise against Trump in the upcoming primaries.

Trump Hitler References

Now you have people comparing Trump to Hitler and saying how dangerous he is. This is unheard of. But then again, when have you seen a candidate telling people to kick people out of their campaign events. Some of the people who have been to his events to protest have gotten roughed up by Trump supporters, seemingly with his blessing.

The current and former presidents of Mexico both made Hitler references when referring to Trump. Bill Maher used the term “Hitler-y” to describe the treatment of protesters at Trump rallies. Louis C.K. sent a letter to fans about his new show. No big deal, except at the end of it was included a 1,400 word put down of Trump, calling him and insane bigot and comparing him to Hitler.

Saturday Night Live had a fake ad for Trump funded by “Racists for Trump” which ended with the spokesperson raising his arm and showing a swastika arm band. In the intro to the show Darrell Hammond impersonating Trump says that people haven’t seen a campaign like this since the 1930s in Germany.

Will This Hurt Trump?

This is all unprecedented but will it hurt Trump or just drive people more strongly into his camp? It may help him win the Republican nomination but will this make it harder for him to win a general election? Is he just appealing to a small fervent group that don’t represent a majority of Americans or has he somehow tapped into something that many people just aren’t seeing?

Split Convention

There are a number of people who are hoping the other candidates get enough votes that Trump can’t get enough people to win outright before the convention. They want to then have a contested convention where Trump gets the most votes in the first ballot but not a majority and then they move forward with other votes and pick someone else.

Buckle up your seat belts, this is going to be a wild ride!

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Thoughts on the Presidential Campaign

We went to different businesses and people and asked them what they thought of the Presidential election campaign and the different candidates. First we asked George at Bel Air Gutter & Siding what he thought of Trump. He rolled his eyes and said, “Trump is so bombastic that I didn’t think people would take him seriously. I have listened to him on some of the debates and was surprised that a lot of what he said made sense. But then he goes off in a crazy fashion from time to time. He also seems to be very thin skinned. I think a President needs to be a bit less volatile and thicker skinned. He could get us into World War III.”

We then asked John at Enchanted Marketing what he thought of Ted Cruz. He said, “Cruz seems like a narrow minded and spiteful individual. I think a lot of people would consider moving to Canada if he became President. He says he wants to restore America and make it better, but all I see is the worst parts of America and him bringing the country down when I look at him. This is a country that is a melting pot and welcomes people and he is intolerant and seems bigoted. It is good that he is for free trade but bad that he doesn’t see the value of the export-import bank and why trashing it would hurt American business. He wants smaller government and doesn’t understand how important government can be in doing fundamental things and basic research that private industry or states won’t or can’t do. Most Republicans laud Abraham Lincoln and probably most don’t realize that the beliefs of the Republican party have changed over time and the beliefs of the Democratic Party are more in line with the beliefs of the Republican Party at the time of Lincoln. Lincoln felt it was important for the government to take the lead in certain projects. Luckily, I think if he becomes the Republican nominee, he is far enough to the right that there is no way he can win the election. He would energize Democrats and turn off Independents.”

Dollie in Ruxton had this to say about Bernie Sanders. “He seems like a sincere guy and is likable. However, I wish he would top saying he is a socialist. It gives people the wrong impression of who he is. If you listen to him, his beliefs and what he conveys is not what most Americans would consider socialist. Liberal no doubt. But, at the same time, many conservatives who listen to him (those who are open enough to actually listen and not just prejudge. People on both sides can be closed minded, not just conservatives.) find that what he has to say makes a lot of sense and find themselves agreeing with a man they never imagined they had anything in common with or would agree with. He is very harsh on the large banks and some of this I agree with but I think he probably goes too far in what he says and the solutions he proposes. I think he will give Hillary a run for the money. If he beats her and the Republicans come up with a more main stream candidate than Trump or Cruz, I am afraid that he might not be able to beat them.”

For a view on Hillary Clinton, we asked Tom at O’Connell Ford. “I think Hillary is probably the most qualified of the candidates and when you hear her speak she makes a lot of sense and seems very reasonable. However, I have trouble trusting her. Even if she hasn’t done anything wrong, I question her judgment with some of the things she has done. She should know that even if they were technically legal, they wouldn’t look good and would have a hard time passing the smell test. She needs to have a better idea of how things will appear to people but I doubt she will suddenly learn it now. It will be an interesting election because I am not wild about any of the candidates, although I really dislike some of them.”

So there you have some interesting opinions on the top four candidates at the present time. We will see how things change with time.

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What is Trump’s Appeal?

Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom. Most people expected him to crash and burn by now. But many small business people like him because they are fed up with government regulations. There are many small businesses out there that make up a base for him. Each town has many small businesses, such as in Bel Air, MD there is Alcore Corp, Arena Club,, Broadcreek Memorial Camp, Comer Construction,, Harford Systems, Leidos Engineering, and many more. This is just one small town. Multiply it by all the small towns across America and it starts to make sense why he is doing well.

Trump as Bully, Comedian or Both?

For a while, Ben Carson seemed to be catching and passing him, but in the most recent polls, Carson has dropped back to fourth place and Trump seems to have regained his lead. So what do the pundits have to say? Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote a book, “Queen Bees and Wannabees” that Mean Girls was based on thinks Trump is simply a bully and is misbehaving worse than the teenagers she deals with. Others agree that he is a bully but some comedians are struck at Trump’s timing and phrasing.

Pundits Insights

Mark McKinnon, President George W. Bush’s chief media advisor gave his insights in an interview with Robert Siegel of NPR. He said that people are fed up with politics and what is going on in Washington DC and they like a guy who has the guts to metaphorically flip the bird at the political establishment.

Good Timing

Siegel pointed out that Trump fits in with many Republicans by being very anti-illegal immigrant and also being a wealthy businessmen in a party that honors businessmen. (This year though a lot of the tea party members don’t seem to support big business.) McKinnon agreed and said that politics is always about timing and the right message and so far Trump’s timing has been good and the message seems to be on point.

Trump as Republican Nominee?

When asked if McKinnon thought Trump could capture the Republican nomination, he gave a typical political answer. He gave three possible scenarios. First is that the Super PACs would unload on him along with Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush and Trump would sink in the polls. He thought if it was going to happen, it probably would have by now. The second scenario is that Trump stays as one of the front runners and creates havoc at the convention. The third possibility is a long shot that he gathers enough delegates to look like he could win the convention. The Replubican Party establishment finds this anathema and sets up an independent candidacy as a kind of new Republican Party and the new candidate is well funded. So, his feeling seems to be that Trump will create havoc at the convention but not win the nomination. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Strategy of Republican Also Rans

With so many Republicans running for President, the ones at the back of the field are struggling to figure out new strategies to get more visibility and traction. With Trump and Carson sucking the energy from everyone else, what to do? The New York Times had an interesting article about this, summarized  below.

Will the Leaders Falter?

O’Malley, the long shot on the Democratic side has said that the front runners at the beginning usually aren’t the ones who are ahead at the end. The Democrats would probably love it if Donald Trump or Ben Carson ended up breaking that rule and being the Republican Presidential candidate. They may appeal to Republicans, but the chances of them taking enough independents to win seems doubtful.

Is New Hampshire the Promised Land?

Jeb Bush , who has not done well in the debates to a lot of people’s surprise. He is trying to set a fire break in New Hampshire. He is giving up Iowa figuring that his chances with the religious conservatives there are slim, so he is concentrating all his effort in New Hampshire. He figures if he can do well there, that can propel him forward in the states that follow.

Chris Christie spent some time with students at Dartmouth and Governor John Kasich was in Portsmouth at a driving range and then talking with Rotary Club members. Some topics were climate change and amazingly, the Republicans are still flogging the horse of voting fraud and whether dead people were voting in different states. People in New Hampshire take their role seriously and Gov. Kasich feels that running ads alone won’t cut it in New Hampshire. You need to be there, on the ground, talking to people.

Is New Hampshire Losing its Cachet?

But times are changing and many people wonder whether New Hampshire can be a game changer any more. The problems include the large number of candidates running and the number of nationally televised debates. Then there is the increasing influence of social media.

Republican leaders in New Hampshire feel that the nationally televised debates is not the right way of going about picking a candidate. They feel that the more personal method that takes place in New Hampshire is better. The people there are very diligent and take their role very seriously.

Christie and Bush’s Thoughts on New Hampshire, Debates and Digital Campaigns

Chris Christie is putting a lot of emphasis on New Hampshire and has been to 41 events since August. He feels that the debates only have temporary impacts. That may be because he is not polling well enough to make the top tier of debates. He used Carly Fiorina as an example saying that she got a pop from the second debate but has fallen back since.

Mr. Bush who is low key hasn’t done as well in the debates which have rewarded people who are more confrontational.  But as Bush has pointed out that digital campaigning doesn’t allow for nuance and irony that is more a strength of Bush.

McCain and Romney got a boost in New Hampshire that they rode all the way to the Republican Presidential candidacy. Can that still be done? We will find out.

Economic Importance

If New Hampshire becomes less important it will have a big economic impact on New Hampshire. The state gets a lot of income because of all the candidates spending every four years. Without that, they would be in a more precarious financial position. So New Hampshire definitely hopes that the TV debates and online coverage doesn’t decrease their importance.

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Next Republican Debate

The next Republican Party debate is coming up October 28. It is always good for some interesting theater. Especially with so many candidates it is like a 3 ring circus. But the big deal of course will be election night for the general election. With both parties throwing parties, everything comes to a standstill in Washington. Getting a taxi or a limo is almost impossible.

But who knows if the next debate will happen and who will show up? Trump started complaining first and was closely followed by Ben Carson. Trump wasn’t happy with the format. He wanted it limited to only two hours. The last one went for three hours and some of the candidates were visibly fatigued by the end of it.

Next on the wish list of Donald and Ben is to have a chance at the beginning or end to give a 20 or 30 second summary of their views. If they didn’t get their way, they were going to take their ball and go home. At least that is what they said. Who really believes they were going to skip the debate.

Reince Priebus, who is the chair of the Republican Party said that they would agree to the terms. Actually he didn’t say that exactly, but he said the party would structure the debate so that it would only be 2 hours, everyone would get an open-ended question at the start, and a thirty second closing statement.

That two hours is including commercials. How much time will they have to debate after each one answers their open ended question and time is left at the end for each to have a thirty second statement. Will they only be able to answer one or two, maybe three questions each outside of the scripted parts?

Florin cut to the point by saying she thought that Trump and Carson were afraid of answering questions for three hours straight.

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Boehner Goes Out Swinging

John Boehner was thinking of resigning anyway, just not this soon. He had had enough of the hardliners, the far right conservative wing of the Republican party, which considering how far to the right the party has moved anyway has got to be really far to the right. They were making his life hell and Boehner is not exactly liberal. After meeting the pope, Boehner decided to move his time table up and announced his pending resignation a couple of days later.

But he wasn’t leaving without taking some swipes at the hardliners who had made his life difficult. He went on the CBS show, Face the Nation, and warned against false prophets in the Republican Party making promises that were unrealistic. They are still going on about repealing the health care law passed under Obama known as Obamacare and more recently are trying to prevent any taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, even to the point of threatening another government shutdown.

False Prophets

Boehner in the past had called one of the “tea-party” leaders, Ted Cruz, a jackass and referred the interviewer back to that comment, essentially saying that he stood by the comment. Boehner feels that they are unrealistic and the the bible warns of false prophets and that they are promising far more than they can deliver. They are portraying a view of what they would like to have happen, but not what is likely to happen.

McConnell’s Prediction for 2016

Without Boehner leading the House of Representatives, Mitch McConnell’s role as leader of the Senate becomes even more important / influential. In the last year, talking about the chance of the Republicans winning the next Presidential election, he said that it would depend on whether the Republicans could show that they could govern now that they had control of the House and the Senate.

But they are threatening to shut down the government by attaching Planned Parenthood funding to the budget bill. Not long after that, they will threaten again over increasing the Federal Debt Limit, and they are also creating havoc over federal transportation funding. This makes it difficult to get long term projects started that could make a difference because they keep doing short extensions. Based on McConnell’s prediction, not looking good for 2016.

Fool’s Errand

Boehner called it a fool’s errand, referring back to 2013 when the conservative wing of the Republicans shut the government down by trying to get Obamacare repealed in exchange for passing the budget. Obama would have vetoed whatever was done. There was no way it was going to work. Boehner is still upset that he let himself get talked into that one because it hurt the party.

Boehner pointed out that you need compromise. Our system was designed to change slowly and by negotiation and give and take. It is not like the British parliamentary system that allows the majority to do pretty much what they want. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

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