News from the Votemaster
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump threw some more sand in the gears of the Republican Party's plan to take back the White House next year. He announced that he is willing to spend $100 million of his estimated $3 billion fortune to gain the nomination. If he really means it, that will probably last until the Republican National Convention, to be held in Cleveland, July 18-21, 2016, or at least to the point where another candidate has locked up the 1236 delegates needed for the nomination. If he is still a contender by late Spring, he could just cut his camapign a check for more if need be. This is extremely bad news for the Republican Party. For the Democrats, it is manna from heaven (specifically, the New York City branch office of heaven). While Trump has a following of about 30% of the Republican electorate, against Hillary Clinton, he won't be able to peel off many Democrats, and moderate Republicans and independents will probably strongly favor Clinton in the general election.
The longer Trump remains in the race, the longer some of his controversial ideas will be in the news and the longer the other candidates will have to respond to issues they would rather have go away. However, if he is willing to spend that kind of money, there is no easy way to shut him up.
The Republican leadership understands all this perfectly well. The problem it is facing is that the anointed one, Jeb Bush, turned out to be rustier than anyone had expected. He hasn't run for public office since 2002 and it shows. Besides, the world has changed since then. Back in 2002, a relatively wonkish campaign where Bush could show that he understood all the policy issues well and had good solutions for them doesn't work any more. Furthermore, there is no obvious fallback candidate that the party can quickly unite behind if Bush were to drop out. But Bush has already raised $100 million himself and is not likely to drop out. It could be a long slog next Spring.
Maybe the U.S. could learn something from Brazil. The Supreme Court there just banned corporate political contributions by a vote of 8 to 3 saying it leads to corruption. Justice Rosa Weber wrote in her opinion for the majority: "The influence of economic power culminates by turning the electoral process into a political game of marked cards, an odious pantomime that turns the voter into a puppet, crumbling in one blow citizenship and democracy," The court did not outlaw spending $100 million (or any other amount) of your own money on your campaign, however. In the U.S., the Supreme Court opened the gates to unlimited corporate money in politics with its Citizens United decision in 2010.
Coming off a strong debate performance, Carly Fiorina is pulling in much larger crowds as she campaigns now. In Greenville, South Carolina, the state that holds the first Republican primary after New Hampshire, Fiorina got a standing ovation even before she spoke a single word. All of a sudden she is hot and is making the most of it to boost her once-forlorn campaign. At the Heritage Action presidential forum, Fiorina swag was in great demand.
In her speech there—and in all her speeches everywhere—she is hard right. She repeatedly denounced Planned Parenthood, for example, even though many women, especially poor women, which South Carolina has a lot of, depend on it for health services. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) gave Fiorina a hug on stage and in a dig at Donald Trump said: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a smart, intelligent face looks like."
Not everyone is enthusiastic about Fiorina's face though. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who crushed Fiorina in their 2010 Senate race, had this to say about her face: "She's the face of income inequality and the face of corporate greed. She makes Mitt Romney look like a Democrat." While Fiorina is unlikely to get the Republican nomination unless all the other candidates collapse, her track record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard is a playground for oppo researchers (e.g., flying in private planes and buying a yacht while firing 30,000 workers).
So far, President Obama has not endorsed any Democrat for President. Most likely he won't, even if Vice President Joe Biden jumps in, because it would tear the party apart. But in Iowa he attacked the Republicans on immigration. That's a safe thing to do since it reminds Latinos of how much the parties differ on that issue (not that they need much reminding). While Republicans often get their facts wrong, Obama said something in Des Moines that is clearly incorrect: "Because unless you are a Native American, your family came from someplace else." Actually, Native Americans are as much immigrants as anyone else. They came from Siberia about 10,000 years ago when sea levels were lower and what is now the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska was dry land. Thus everyone now in America is either an immigrant or is descended from immigrants.
Yesterday, Jeb Bush unambiguously said that President Obama is an American and a Christian. Unlike the other candidates, Bush is already thinking about the general election. He knows that he needs to get a fair number of Democrats to vote for him to be elected President and acting like the grown-up in the room might be a start. In contrast, Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned Obama's birthplace.
As to his not being a Christian, a lot of Republicans seem to have forgotten that in March 2008 they were castigating Obama day and night for belonging to a church whose pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was giving controversial sermons. If Obama were a Muslim, it would seem odd that for years he attended church unless he were some kind of Christo-Muslim hybrid, which, so far, he has not been accused of being.
Bush also asked the other candidates to be civil and have a campaign about whose ideas for the country are better. While campaigning in Michigan, he said that the Republicans could carry Michigan in the general election—something his father did in 1988.
To listen to the candidates on the trail, you wouldn't know they were campaigning in the same country. Republicans are talking about ISIS, a nuclear Iran, restricting abortion, and deporting 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants. Democrats are talking about inequality, climate change, gay rights, and workplace equality for women. The reason for the gap is that they are addressing completely disjoint audiences. Republicans are focused on the Republican electorate, which is dominated by rural, older, men in the South and Interior West. Democrats are speaking to young, urban voters of many ethnicities, largely on the coasts. These groups don't even agree on what the problems are, let alone the solutions.Email a link to a friend or share:
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