News from the Votemaster
America's latest mass shooting, this one at the Colorado Springs offices of Planned Parenthood, left three people dead and another nine injured. The gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, has been apprehended. His motives are currently unknown, but his political and social background suggest he wanted to make an anti-abortion statement.
President Obama has already weighed in on the incident, declaring: "We have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough." Each of the three remaining Democratic candidates has also expressed sympathy for the victims, each using the hashtag #StandWithPP. From most of the GOP field, however, the silence has been deafening. Though each of the candidates, Republican and Democratic, quickly found time to respond to the Paris attacks on Twitter, only Ted Cruz has addressed Planned Parenthood, tweeting "Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured & first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs." Even when candidates have been specifically asked for comment, they have declined.
Obviously, the GOP candidates feel that they are in a perilous position, and have concluded that their voters would not be pleased to see them say anything that seems even vaguely supportive of Planned Parenthood. One hopes that they are wrong, and that the country has not reached a point where politics demands that the deaths of innocent people must be ignored. In any event, even if Rubio and Co. have shown correct instincts when it comes to GOP primary voters, it is worth remembering—yet again—that there is also a general election to be won. And such apparent insensitivity is not escaping the attention of the media, nor is it likely to play well with moderate voters. (Z)
There is not a lot the Republican establishment agrees on right now, but one thing they do agree on is that Donald Trump must go—and fast. Consequently, Karl Rove, who is about as connected as you can get in Republican circles, help set up a meeting between Ben Carson's fundraisers and Steve Wynn. Wynn is a bitter rival of Trump's in the casino business and would no doubt like to ruin his campaign. Rove's thinking appears to be that Wynn could donate a lot of money to Carson and keep him afloat longer while the "establishment" side of the field gets straightened out. Then, Rove would sweep in and help the establishment candidate march to victory. He was, of course, "Bush's brain" and no doubt would be happy to take on that role again for another Bush once the Trump problem has been solved. And solving it in this way—with Rove effectively using Ben Carson as his weapon—would make it much harder for Trump to claim that the Republican establishment had brought him down, thus giving The Donald less room to renege on his pledge not to run as a third-party candidate. (V & Z)
After visiting a refugee camp in Jordan yesterday, Ben Carson said that the Syrian refugees should be absorbed by countries in the Middle East, with the U.S. and Europe just providing financial assistance and "encouragement." Carson said that he met with medical professionals, humanitarian workers, and government officials but he did not release his itinerary. Carson has repeatedly opposed President Obama's plan to accept some Syrian refugees in the United States, so his new declaration is, in fact, exactly the same as his old declaration. He has no objection to them leaving Syria and going somewhere, just not to the United States. (V)
Joseph Tanfani and Maloy Moore, writing for the L.A. Times, have a very interesting item about American Legacy PAC, founded in 2012 by Newt Gingrich. The PAC took a leading role in fighting ObamaCare, launching the "Save Our Healthcare" campaign in 2014 with a Maryland surgeon—one Dr. Ben Carson—as its chair and chief spokesman. Carson's pitches helped the committee raise $6 million. It also produced a list of people who found Carson persuasive and were willing to give him money; 25% of the 2014 donors have been tapped by Carson in 2016.
Tanfani and Moore's purpose, however, is not really to explore the genesis of Ben Carson, presidential candidate. It is to use American Legacy PAC as a case study for some of the problems presented by Citizens United, as Super PACs are largely unregulated. Among the concerns they raise:
- Donors in 2014 were often unclear as to who they were funding—many
thought they were giving money directly to Carson, not to a Super PAC he was
- Super PACs have little accountability in terms of how they spend their
money—only $140,000 of the $6 million raised in 2014 went to actual
- There is no oversight—or transparency—when it comes to Super
PACs and politicians sharing donors' personal information with one another
Perhaps these rather obvious problems will lead to reform, though—as is always the case with campaign finance—one would be wise not to hold one's breath. (Z)
Although Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has raised plenty of money, he hasn't run any television ads until now. He just released his first ad. It is a 30-second spot featuring a grim and gloomy Rubio saying: "This is a civilization struggle between the values of freedom and liberty and radical Islamic terror. What happened in Paris could happen here. There is no middle ground. These aren't disgruntled or disempowered people. These are radical terrorists who want to kill us because we let women drive, because we let girls go to school." As he speaks, the soundtrack gets more and more ominous." At the end of the ad, Rubio says: "Either they win, or we do." (V)
Getting on the ballot isn't trivial for candidates in primaries. Virginia, for example, requires candidates to collect 5,000 signatures, including at least 200 in each of the state's 11 congressional districts, and to turn them in by Dec. 10. Many states also have substantial filing fees. South Carolina's is $40,000. With requirements like these, just getting on the ballot in all 50 states (with extra credit if you also manage Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other U.S. territories) is a serious and expensive undertaking. The bill could easily run $1 million or more. For a candidate like Jim Gilmore, with $34,000 cash on hand, it is out of the question. A candidate who is not on the ballot in a state can't win any of its delegates, so campaigns that are short of cash have to make strategic decisions whether to spend money on ballot access or on travel or on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. If a candidate bets the farm on New Hampshire and actually wins there, it will be too late to file in many other states, even if the money starts rolling in. Candidates who are not on the ballot in many states are not going to be taken seriously by anyone. The winnowing is about to begin. (V)
Most politicians use their families as props in their campaigns. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has gone way beyond that. He loves to show off his cute little blonde daughters at rallies, but far more crucial are his father and wife. Cruz' father, Rafael Cruz, is an evangelical pastor who has practically moved to Iowa and is spending his time there speaking at churches throughout the state and lining up pastors in all of Iowa's 99 counties to help get people to the caucuses on Feb. 1. Ted's wife, Heidi, an executive at Goldman Sachs, is naturally more at home dealing with money, so her job is raising it for the campaign. She travels as much as the candidate, often with three stops in one day and a schedule planned until the end of the year.
Ted and Heidi Cruz are the Republicans' answer to Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Cruzes met while working on George W. Bush's campaign. After Bush won, Heidi got a job working in the National Security Council for Condoleezza Rice. In 2005, she joined Goldman Sachs. She not only raises money, but is also deeply involved in the Cruz' campaign's strategy and tactics as well. People who know them say that Ted is razor sharp and that Heidi is his equal in every way. (V)
A big part of the messaging that Ted Cruz (and his father Rafael) are advancing is that a "true conservative" can win the presidency if conservative voters actually go to the polls and vote. Or, to use Cruz' own words, "If the body of Christ rises up as one and votes our values, we can turn this country around." The Senator argues that in 2012, "roughly half" of all born-again Christians stayed home on Election Day, leading to Mitt Romney's defeat.
The Economist has looked at Cruz' assessment, and has characterized it as "seductive but misleading" and a "fable." They observe that white Protestant evangelicals most certainly did show up to vote in 2012, comprising 25% of the electorate despite only being 19% of the populace. Further, because white Protestant evangelicals are not evenly distributed across the 50 states, increased turnout among that group won't actually have much of an impact. Winning Oklahoma with 80% of the vote doesn't get him any more electoral votes than winning it with 60%. As such, Cruz cannot hope to win without the moderate support he seems to have turned his back on.
The upshot, from The Economist's perspective, is that Cruz might be "the most dangerous candidate of the 2016 pack" for the Republican Party, even more dangerous than Donald Trump. This may well be true in the short term—we, among other observers, think he is more likely than The Donald to claim the nomination, and we would also agree that Cruz would be badly defeated if that did happen. However, a crushing Cruz defeat may actually be good medicine for the GOP in the long term, by providing evidence for the case made by Reince Priebus and others that the party can no longer hitch its wagon to conservative evangelical voters. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
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