Debate Night, Texas Style!

Now, that was a debate! A diminished field of Republicans gathered in Houston to continue the process of selecting a standard bearer to take the GOP to the general election and then to victory, hopefully. The most important take away from this debate is that Donald Trump has been bloodied. Please join me as we go through a few of the details.

The winner of this debate was clearly Marco Rubio, with Ted Cruz coming in next, and ending with Donald Trump. I don’t really consider Carson and Kasich a part of this race any more, but having said that, I think Kasich did fine, and I think that he’ll do well in upsetting Donald in Ohio. Carson was Carson: quiet, a bit whiny, but essentially irrelevant.

Before this debate, I had decided that Cruz had to do a few things to Donald Trump in order to preserve his candidacy. Trump’s a blunt instrument, and to appeal to his followers Cruz needed to out-smash him. What I thought he should do is hit Donald hard on the pro-life and immigration issue, get some good one-liners in (like “Donald, for a tough guy, you sure whine a lot!”), hit Trump on his white nationalist support, and his threats to the Cubs’ owners. Additionally, he needed to pursue Rubio on immigration and pin him down with a pledge to not grant amnesty, something that Marco would be loath to do as his money and establishment support seem devoted to this idea. I also thought that Cruz could appeal to people to google the facts if Trump or Rubio called “liar!” Some of these things happened, such as the appeal to internet fact-checking, but not like I expected. However, it was not altogether a bad outcome; in fact it was quite the opposite. What did happen is a colossal and almost tag-team effort of Rubio and Cruz hammering Trump. Rubio did more of the ridiculing attacks, embarrassing and rattling the Don. Cruz came at Trump, as Steve Deace put it, treating him like a “hostile witness.” At first I was disappointed that the first half’s good attacks came from Rubio and not Cruz, and I tweeted out the Rubio was “Christie-ing Trump,” and that’s when it occurred to me what happened to Christie. Before New Hampshire, Christie went after Rubio, and hurt him, but he didn’t help himself. Cruz most likely made a strategic decision to let Rubio be the snarky one and fight his battles for him, preserving an appearance of Presidential dignity. Only time will tell, but it is possible that Trump was hurt enough to lose supporters, but they may not go to Rubio. Cruz, the only candidate who’s truly against amnesty, might be a better fit for disgruntled Trump supporters. In the end, Cruz may have made a good decision in allowing Rubio to be his junk-yard dog.

Cruz pursued Trump as an expert lawyer, hounding him into a corner. He displayed Trump’s lack of knowledge on issue and policy, punctuated the Don’s consistent losses to Hillary in a potential match-up while contrasting with his own consistent wins, and pointed out that Trump as the nominee would take away the single greatest weapon that the GOP has against Hillary: her corruption. In fact Cruz had the best line of the night when, in response to a Trump attack, declared the he would never apologize for defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, a line that made Trump appear very small. Cruz made clear in many examples just how ill-prepared and ill-equipped Trump is to be President. Trump doesn’t know the law or the Constitution and he thinks he can just wing it like he does everything else. Tonight showcased exactly why Trump should not be the nominee, and I think America saw it. Additionally, Cruz landed some good punches on Rubio concerning immigration and Libya. He also seemed vindicated from the “liar, liar, pants on fire” attack, when a Telemundo reporter categorically called Rubio out on denying his stance on DACA in the previous debate, and also when Cruz cornered Trump on his prior statements and aspersions of Cruz’s character, demonstrating Trump’s difficulty with the truth and asserting that baseless accusations of lying are in themselves a lie. Donald didn’t really know what to do, and couldn’t make Cruz let up.

It was immensely fun to watch Rubio go to work on Trump. However, I think Cruz’s prosecution of Trump in the second half was a little more effective, certainly in the long run.  Rubio may be out of the race, by the latest March 15, as he’s not expected to take his home state of Florida; the kiss of death. However, it was nice to see them work together when it was assumed that it would be Trump and Rubio against Cruz. I think Trump was surprised as well.

My predictions for the impact of this debate are as follows. Trump will lose 5-10% support ahead of Super Tuesday. He’ll still win a lot of states, but the margins will be smaller, allowing Cruz or Rubio to pick up a near equal amount of delegates. Rubio will stay the same or pick up 1-2% in the polls. He will not win a single state on March first. Cruz will see his numbers increase by 5-7%. He will take Texas handily, the biggest haul of Super Tuesday, possibly even reaching that threshold of over 50% where he doesn’t have to share any delegates.  Additionally, he will win in Arkansas, and probably one or two others. It’ll be close, but Cruz may come out of Tuesday in a tie or even ahead of his rivals in the delegate count. It’ll come down to messaging and voter turnout over the next few days. Whatever happens, it is clear that Trump is not inevitable.


– Ryan Thorson

Cruz or bust!

It’s been a while since my last posting, so I’ll quickly sum up the important points on the GOP side of the Presidential race. The Republicans hosted another South Carolina debate about a week ago, where it looked like Trump had self-destructed. Trump, in his most Democrat-ish performance defended Planned Parenthood, * ended up blaming Bush for 911, * and said also that Bush lied us into the Iraq war (a war that Trump claimed to be among the first to oppose). * However you may feel about those issues, it should be stipulated that traditionally they have been anathema to Republicans, confined to rantings of wild-eyed leftists. Additionally, evidence was put out during a few Trump town-halls that he lied about being against the Iraq war (in a pre-war Howard Stern interview, he supported it), ** he confused himself with Bernie Sanders (including his universal healthcare stance), *** and he admitted he liked the mandate (aka Obamacare)… and he still won SC! It seems that Trump supporters either don’t care, don’t know, or don’t mentally register their likely differences with Trump, proof that the low-information crowd isn’t limited to the left. Trump supporters see his tough guy affectation and that alone gets their support; everything else is just white noise. Whatever they’ve internally argued to justify their support, whatever they suppose that Trump will do if put in office, IF, I think they will be sorely disappointed along with the rest of us.

Ted Cruz barely lost second place in SC. **** Not good. Not insurmountable, but not good. Bush dropping out is good news, however. **** This race has really become about finding the anti-Trump candidate, and the more of the low-performing candidates that drop out the better. However, the ever hopeful Kasich and the drowsily angry Carson are hanging on ***** just so they can tie-up enough of the vote to prevent a non-Trump candidate from emerging and prevailing, or for whatever other non-winning reason they have to justify their continued campaigning. The longer they stay, taking 8% or 7% away from a viable candidate, the more certain it is that Trump will win.

Rubio should be happy at doing better than normal, but the fact that he had every SC VIP behind him and still couldn’t win, not to mention that he still hasn’t a single win to his name yet, should concern his supporters. Also a concern for Conservatives is his last minute bailing on the Conservative Review Convention, ****** where he was scheduled to speak. It could be that Marco has conceded Conservatives and is instead hoping to rely solely on establishment support. If so, it’s a risky strategy, considering that Trump is also competing for that support block. If you combine this with the fact that in the polls Rubio is not leading in a single state, ******* then you have near insurmountable issues to a Rubio win. Unless something radical happens to change the course of this election, Marco is unlikely to be anything more than a spoiler for Trump.

In the meantime, Cruz is using the proper tactic of emphasizing his win in Iowa and his consecutive double placing in New Hampshire and South Carolina (almost taking second in SC) as evidence that he is the candidate that has and can beat Donald Trump. Additionally, polling has indicated in a head to head match-up between Trump and Cruz, it’s Cruz by +16 points. ******** Additionally, Trump almost consistent loses across polling in potential match-ups with Hillary ********* whereas Cruz more often than not beats Hillary. ********** For those that are concerned with the Don’s elect-ability and also the drag to the left that Trump represents, they really have only one choice. Unless it is desired to see a Trump Presidency, or (even worse) a Hillary Presidency, Ted Cruz is the only lane left to avoid such a fate.

– Ryan Thorson











Why it Must be Cruz!

One of the things in my life that I’ve tried to cultivate is knowledge of History. I’m a huge History enthusiast, especially for the American variety. While our History is profuse with great stories, some triumphant, some ignominious, and still others mundane, there is one repeated notion that has struck me as significant. Like the rest of the world, our politics have been, and often still are, based upon concepts of tribalism and socialism, and this for good reason. These are among the most powerful ways to motivate people to desired ends. Predominantly, our political candidates have appealed to such concepts, to great effect, when securing loyal voters in an election. Whether tribalism took the form of party and ethnic identity, or socialism assumed the form of the promise of a chicken in every pot, these two have been used, frankly, because they’re easy. It is a very easy thing to say “Vote for me, because the other guy is not a part of our tribe, and all that implies!” It appeals to a natural survival instinct that exists in all of us, it appeals to prejudices both ancient and contemporary, and it’s a simple way of steering the voter away from asking too many questions. It is equally an easy thing to appeal to socialism. When a candidate says, “Vote for me, and I will give you bread and circuses!” or in our case “free college education and universal healthcare,” they’re compelling political action by appealing to desire, both need and greed. And socialism must necessarily contain its own brand of tribalism; with the role of the reviled other enacted by the wealthy and the corporate cabal. In this case, the legendary 1%, whose gains are ill-gotten for little other reason than that they have them and we don’t, are targeted for property confiscation in order to pay for the promised bread and circuses. In this, our loyalty and electoral endorsement is purchased through other people’s money, which is an easier sacrifice for the buyer, that is, until the golden goose is killed and government must now pluck the rest of the people to provide the free goods it promised, in lieu of deficits. There is, however, a third way. A yearning that can be just as powerful a motivator as the other two: Freedom, the concept that one person can have maximum control over their own destiny. It’s not as easy a sell as socialism; you aren’t offering other people’s property up to the mob. It’s a bit more difficult than tribalism, because what you offer crosses tribal lines. However, when it takes hold, it can be transcendent, revealing the other motivators to be myopically self-centered. Freedom is for all, and in it lie all of the potential of human beings, for better or worse. Socialism may give you subsistence (while it lasts), but it can’t make you prosper. In fact, it will eventually punish you for doing so. But if you give a man the freedom to use his talents and motivation, and if government gives him sufficient berth, there is little that he cannot do, if he chooses.

Unfortunately, too many have fallen spell-bound under the siren song of socialism, and our country is succumbing to the crushing monolithic weight of the debt that must always follow. The temptation of gaining that which we haven’t earned for ourselves is potent, and freedom, necessarily a casualty of socialism, is becoming more and more the Cruzexception. Today, the federal government is involved in the lives of ordinary citizens on a level that was never before imagined, making the choices for our lives that we previously were free to make for ourselves. Among its tyrannies, the government can now force us to purchase a product, healthcare, under the threat of fine or imprisonment; the executive has coopted law-making powers, taking away the people’s choice of legislative representation; the IRS has been weaponized to attack the political opponents of the President, including those that Government antagonizes for their religious beliefs; and the courts have also usurped legislative powers, making their personal biases and moral views higher than our actual laws. And even though we recognize that Government causes many of the problems in our lives, we foolishly turn to an expanding government to solve them. Let’s try something different. Let’s return the beast of government back to the cage it was never intended to leave, to the enumerated powers of the Constitution. Let’s stop the monarchization of the Presidency and the corruption of the courts. Let’s re-empower the states and the individuals to make their own decisions, based on their own wisdom, treating them like adults and the sovereigns of their own lives they are supposed to be.  In order to sort out these Constitutional crises, a leader is needed that has a record of devotion to Individual Liberty and the Constitution, an expert who knows where the problems lie, how to fix them, and has the will and courage to lawfully act. That leader is Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz has had a remarkable career in the public’s service. His hallmark is his devotion to the Constitution; it is his passion. From youth, he could recite it from memory. As a law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he learned its finer points and also witnessed its subversion by vain majority opinions. As the Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, Ted Cruz advocated for Constitutional free-market principles. As Solicitor General for Texas, he fought for the Constitution nine times, including winning cases against the George W. Bush administration when the right to bear arms was on the line and also when the independence of state courts was threatened by world judges. In private practice, Ted Cruz’s specialty was Constitutional matters. In the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz was a thorn in the flesh, not only to Democrats who continually work to subvert the Constitution, but also to the GOP establishment who talk a good game, but whose courage instantly dissolves with the gentle whisper of shutdown. In that environment, Ted Cruz was one of a few voices that at least stood to be counted and even occasionally won a few victories, fighting the Democrats with one hand and dragging the GOP with the other. Even Cruz’s supposed failure, his filibuster against Obamacare. In this case, one man showing courage resonated with the public enough to shift the balance of power, ultimately resulting in the GOP taking a majority in the Senate during the following mid-term election. Cruz remained true to his campaign promises, advancing conservatism at every opportunity and not ditching his convictions for perceived political gain. Time and time again, Ted Cruz was consistent and faithful, including to his promise to stand against amnesty, being instrumental in killing the Rubio/Schumer amnesty bill.  There are NO candidates currently running that can compete with such accomplishments.

In spite of such a fine record, there are those that would argue that Ted Cruz cannot win. One reason is that he’s too conservative. In answering that I need only cite the colossal wins of Ronald Reagan. Reagan appealed to freedom in a time when the world was turning to the Left and to the Soviet Empire. Reagan showed us that we can have a coalition of people from all walks of life based upon uniting principles, those that are found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Just as importantly, Reagan showed that a campaign of principle can win! It takes courage, risking that the people you don’t pander to won’t be swayed to support higher principle over tangible gifts from government, but it can be done. To this end, Ted Cruz has the principles, passion, and oratory skill to reassemble the Reagan coalition, appealing to people’s yearning for freedom to decide for themselves rather than having the shapes in central planning make those decisions for them. If one has a skilled speaker to make the case, the people will overwhelmingly choose liberty over the promise of free stuff that we cannot afford.

Another criticism of Cruz is that he’s not likeable, that he doesn’t get along with his colleagues in the senate and can’t be expected to get things done as President. Well, I’m afraid that the candidate’s cuddliness or lack thereof didn’t make my list of the necessary attributes of a President, and I see no reason to amend it now. However I do have a few things to say about Ted Cruz’s supposed unlike-ability. First of all, this terseness must be very subtle, because it doesn’t seem to resonate through media. Aside from occasionally being difficult with debate moderators, when you see Ted speak or interact, he comes off as confident, respectful, and even jovial. This is true especially when you see him in spontaneous candid moments, speaking with supporters and opponents alike on the campaign trail, further making the portrayal of him being some kind of a jerk truly a hard-sell. Consider his appearance on Jay Leno’s show at the height of the government shutdown, at a time when his name was supposed to be mud; he had that audience cheering for him. 1 Even if you do accept that Cruz may be privately less disciplined in discourse, ponder this: Ted is very smart, and like many intelligent people, he can occasionally come off as awkward. Fair enough. However, when you weigh getting a dependable soldier for the Constitution as President against possible behind the scenes brusqueness, as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t even a contest. And concerning Cruz’s inability to get along with the establishment, the same politicians that preemptively surrender their core convictions at the drop of a hat, I think their esteem would be cause for shame rather than praise. They don’t like Cruz because he forced them to stand up for principle when they would rather not risk it. Cruz’s courage made them look bad… and they hate him for it. Be that as it may, if you are concerned that congress won’t work with a Cruz Presidency, cheer up!  I can scarcely believe that a GOP Congress will suddenly find their long-absent spine when dealing with a Conservative President when it could scarce find it under a Progressive one.

Ted Cruz’s plan is simple and has a record of Conservatism, courage, and dependability. He will draw on that record of experience to do something that Republicans have done little of in a long time: give us true reform. Ted Cruz has promised, “If I’m elected president, let me tell you what I intend to do on the first day in office. The first thing I intend to do in office is rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by this President.” “The second thing I intend to do on the first day in office is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and these horrible videos, and to prosecute any and all criminal violations by that organization.” “The third thing I intend to do on the first day in office is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS and every other federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today!” “The fourth thing that I intend to do on the first day in office is to rip to shred this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal!” “The fifth thing I intend to do on the first day in office is to begin the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem”. 2 Of course, all of these promises are merely for his first day, with many more days for the harder tasks of the principled reform of government such as tax reform, simplifying and capping it at 15%; balancing the budget and paying down our crippling national debt; cutting the chains of our regulatory state and getting the economic engine running again; restoring America’s military and standing up to her adversaries while turning from the checkered path of nation building; and Cruz is the only candidate who will enforce our immigration laws, secure the border, and kill amnesty. 3 And when Cruz says this is what he’ll do, you can believe it, because he has a consistent record of making hard choices of principle and sticking to them. Consider Cruz’s recent victory in Iowa. While every other candidate in the farm-land of Iowa abased themselves before ethanol subsidies (Trump even proposed their expansion), Cruz proved that he was serious about ending crony capitalism and reducing the size and reach of government by reaffirming the phase-out of all subsidies. 4 And he did this while most pundits were saying that his Presidential run would die if he didn’t kowtow before this particular form of corporate welfare. That takes guts, the kind we’ve supposedly been waiting for. Also, Cruz showed us that you can show guts and still win! The people of Iowa rewarded his courage by caucusing for him, giving him the first caucus/primary win by a Latino and the largest vote total in Iowa GOP Caucus history.

Ted Cruz appears at a campaign event in Nashua in New Hampshire.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at a second amendment rally at the Granite State Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Hudson, N.H., Jan. 12, 2016. Porter Gifford—Corbis

Since Reagan left, we’ve been continually disappointed by his successors, those that would lay claim to the Reagan mantel, but all too often these would-be heirs find it expedient to abandon principle to make a deal. They tell us, even in victory, that in spite of what they promised us during the election cycle that they can’t deliver until they grasp the next level of power. They tell us to be patient, while they do nothing as our liberty is slowly taken from us. In such cases of Republicans lacking the courage of their own convictions, it becomes clear that there are two parties in this country: the Democrats are the party of national suicide, while the Republicans become the party of national hospice. Though one party gets the country to death’s door faster, either way the nation dies. We can’t get this one wrong! We can’t do the regular Republican thing, nominating whomever we find superficially most electable; we’ve gone down that path of compromise and failure too many times. Decisive and bold action is required to save the country, and that requires a bold and decisive candidate. Some have said that three to four justices for the Supreme Court will be nominated in the next administration, putting many of our basic liberties in jeopardy. Who can you trust to make these appointment/nominations other than a Constitution expert who believes in those principles, Trump? Trump rarely mentions the matter, and when he does he sounds somewhere between a novice and a snake-oil salesman. How about Rubio? God bless Marco, but you just can’t discount how quickly the guy changed from impassioned opponent of amnesty to trying to jam amnesty through Congress, which is hardly a resume bullet for consistency. With Cruz’s courage, talent, intelligence, and conviction to Constitutional principles, why would we settle for less when we have such a choice? With whatever short-comings the Ted Cruz may have (and all the candidates have them), Cruz is still the most conservative, the most dedicated to reform, and the most proven in battle. The other candidates all amount to a concession and a dangerous gamble in a time where our country as we have known it may be only holding on by the slimmest of knots. With Ted Cruz, as a life-long across the board Conservative, finally there is a candidate that gets every major category right, negating the need to settle or compromise. And so, I urge everyone reading this to vote for Ted Cruz, in the primary and general, because he alone is the best chance we have to reverse our country’s expiration and heal our Republic. If it isn’t Cruz, the only thing we’ll preserve is our privilege to complain about the next politician who’s failed us, and that will be sore compensation when the country passes the point of no return.


– Ryan Thorson







Trump Does a Cameo on the Rubio Show!

Last night, audiences all over New Hampshire (and the country) thrilled to the on-screen debate adventures of the remaining Republican candidates in an ABC hosted venue! Gone was the undercard debate (leaving Carly in the cold); Huckabee, Paul, and Santorum are out of the race; although the absent Gilmore might still be in… somewhere… if it matters. Once again, ThunderStruck brings you the latest GOP debate analysis!

Trump – Grumpy Cat returns! That’s right, after a one debate hiatus that might have very well cost him the Iowa Caucus, the orange-one, Donald J. Trump, once again scowled his way into the hearts of all Americans, gracing the viewing public with his oratory skill and his expert command of framing the issues of the day with ease… Actually, that last part I made up. Trump connects with his hard-core supporters only on an emotional level; other than that, if Trump can complete one sentence before starting a new one, it’s the most he can do. Trump’s greatest line of the night, concerning how to deal with Muslim

extremism/immigration, was “We have to have a temporary something, because there’s something going on that’s not good.” Trump = modern day Cicero.  Other than that, Trump really had no high points. He even lost ground in a skirmish with the stuttering Jeb Bush on eminent domain, in somewhat of a reversal of a previous debate clash where Trump came out on top, chiding Jeb as a “tough guy”. And while this time Trump tried the same retort, this time Jeb had the shaky upper hand, challenging the toughness of a guy who tried and failed at seizing an old lady’s house for a limo parking lot. The exchange elicited boos for Trump, to which he responded in attacking the audience booing him, saying they were all donors of his non self-financing opponents. Trump won more boos.

 The Don also did very poorly when he was asked to define what a Conservative was; all he could really come up with was that a Conservative wants to save money, this before he reverted back to his usual shtick. Trump even tried to mention the founding fathers (a possible first for him), but came off as very inauthentic, revealing only that he has little clue about the founders or the Constitution. It was almost as bad as Trump’s thinly veiled pandering to Evangelicals which made obvious to anyone but his supporters that he’s out of his depth. In his defense, I can’t blame Trump too much for not having these matters in his heart; there’s not much room, after all the Trump he’s got stuffed in there. Despite these low points, Trump still had time to double down on socialized medicine, while at the same time reversing himself on medicine of the socialized variety, saying it would only be for the needy.

After last night, Trump might lose ground with some of his fringe supporters, but not with his core devotees for whom Trump is more like a cult leader, and as such, what Trump actually says and does is of little concern, just as long as he fulfills his prophetic role in their lives. After all, a false prophet is better than no prophet. To anyone who believes that the country’s future depends on Constitutional reform and reducing the size and reach of the federal government, Trump remains an unacceptable choice, despite the areas where he agrees with Conservatives.

Cruz – Cruz may have had a lot riding on this one. After the circumstances that have tainted, to some extent, his victory in Iowa, Cruz needed to handle this one just right. I think he did. In an unusual move for a Presidential candidate, Cruz expressed regret, repeating his private apology to Ben Carson for his campaign’s actions in Iowa. Cruz offered a brief and understated explanation for why the mistake happened, which was the right way to respond. In other respects, Cruz was quite capable (as always) in his answers, with no big mistakes or gaffs, although his time on stage seemed lighter than usual. Cruz may not have convinced many in NH to vote for him, but I think he safely put the charges against his good name to rest.

Rubio – This debate was really the Rubio Show. Not that I was on hand with a timer, but it seemed that he got the lion’s share of the debate. However, I’m not really sure that it helped him. He gave a little speech about how Barack Obama is not incompetent, but rather deliberate in what he’s doing to the country. Good enough. However, Christie then chimed-in to loudly point out Rubio’s pattern of giving a small retort followed by a 25 second speech. Next, as if to prove Christie right, Rubio gave him a retort, followed by the same 25 second speech. And just to make things clear, he gave virtually that same speech two more times throughout the night! It was almost as if he couldn’t help himself; he had to say those same words again and again! In most other matters, Rubio was pretty good, but I got the unmistakable impression that, with Rubio, less is more. Look for Marco to hold or lose a little ground in NH.

hqdefaultCarson – I think that this is one of the worst offerings from this candidate, to date. For starters, Dr. Carson caused an embarrassing traffic jam during the entrances of the candidates. Not hearing his name being called, for minutes Carson stood unmovable in front of the camera as stage help tried to usher him on. The whole scenario was bizarre. Additionally, he played the whole why isn’t anyone talking to me card one time too. Lastly, understandably upset that some of his supporters in Iowa may have voted for Cruz, mistakenly, Carson took an opportunity to rise above and wasted it on sour grapes. Most of the blame can be placed on CNN for falsely insinuating that Carson may be dropping out, some blame falls to the Cruz camp for not properly checking with the Carson Camp before putting out the info to supporters and without follow up, but Carson has not yet openly dealt with his campaign’s stupid decision to put out a statement that communicates the same message that a wounded animal does to a predator. Additionally, while Cruz came out of this looking like a leader that is not beneath taking responsibility, Carson, who until now has enjoyed a tremendously good natured reputation, looked bitter in his half-hearted acceptance of Cruz’s apology and his insistence of something nefarious lurking in the Cruz camp. He didn’t sound like Ben, the guy that brushed off Trump’s comparison of him to a child molester. That’s too bad. Either way, I think that the Ben Carson candidacy is TRULY finished; his campaign’s future suspension is merely a formality, now.

Kasich – Yes, he’s still here! The candidate that most resembles Despicable Me is actually gaining some traction in NH. On the debate stage he was awkward, as usual. At one point, listening during a Christie retort to Kasich’s attack on Christie’s record, he resembled a bemused boy being scolded by his Mom, this even though the response was mild and laced with a bit of praise for his record. His explanation for his comment about his plans to change the definition of Conservatism was fumbling and strange. At one point, he revealed that his plan to work with Congress was to go to them and “plead,” which should appeal to those who believe a President’s role is to be shut in a locker by the bigger kids. I think Kasich may have soundly defeated his up-tick in the polls with one fell swoop!

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump spar as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., listens in the middle during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Bush – Jeb did pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, Jeb is no wordsmith, but he definitely had a few average to good moments in the debate, such as the fore-mentioned exchange with Trump. However, the bar had already been pretty low. Any subsequent mediocre performance would have looked great by comparison. Jeb didn’t blaze a trail to take him to the top, last night, but look for Bush to absorb some of Kasich’s surge, making him a contender for the new standard bearer for the moderate wing of the Republican Party.

 Christie – Christie did well, and he only mentioned that he was a former federal prosecutor once, this time. He was the beneficiary of every exchange he had with Marco Rubio. However, his seeming zeal for abortion allowances was a bit weird. The topic of ending the life of a pre-born child is unpleasant enough, but to tout your allowances on that matter with such gusto was a bit… dark. He should have just said that he believed in exceptions and moved on. Christie may woo some Rubio voters away from the surging candidate.

So that’s it for NH. Expect at least two candidates to drop out before South Carolina, depending on how this one goes. Carly seems a sure bet, though I will admit that I will miss her as I usually appreciate her and what she has to say. Other than that, one or more of the Governors will not make it into SC, hopefully. I’m looking forward to a debate with significantly less mouths on stage.

– Ryan Thorson

Cruz Camp Mischief in Iowa? Not so Much.

Shortly after Ted Cruz’s historic victory in Iowa, some allegations of dirty tricks on the part of the Cruz campaign have surfaced. The claim is that the Cruz camp lied to Iowa Caucus supporters of Carson, saying that Ben was dropping out, in order to get them to switch their votes to Cruz. * Concerned that a candidate who stakes his name on trust would put that on the line haphazardly, I looked into the matter, and what I found was that the allegations were severely wanting. Please, read on as I walk you through the evidence while I give what I believe to be a reasonable explanation, and then you can draw your own conclusions.

According to The Washington Post, Dr. Carson announced that he was skipping the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to go home to Florida. ** Carson said this at some point on caucus night, and this information reached the Cruz Camp approximately between 6 and 8 PM, based on the time stamp of Cruz campaigner Steve King’s tweet King Tweetregarding the matter. If you look at Rep. King’s tweets, it’s clear that he believed that Dr. Carson’s statement signified that Ben was getting out and he wanted to take advantage of the news, presumably before Rubio or Trump did.

This quote from the WP article says it all, “Political reporters and strategists have no idea what to make of Carson’s decision. The most obvious theory is that he is preparing to drop out, but his campaign insists that is not the case.” ** It is my belief that the Cruz camp most likely would’ve had people on hand to witness Ben make his statement and forward it on, and they wouldn’t have paused for assurances from Carson’s people to confirm his intentions. Why should they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the Cruz folks genuinely believed that Ben was calling it quits and wanted to use that information. If the Cruz camp jumped the gun because they saw something that looked and quacked like a duck but in actuality wasn’t, that doesn’t make them liars or sneaky, but just mistaken and maybe a bit too eager. Such things can happen on a political campaign, even unmaliciously, in the fog of war.

I suspect that my conclusion will be poor consolation to the supporters of other candidates who didn’t do as well as Cruz in the Iowa Caucus, those nursing their wounds with the conviction that their guy would’ve won if Ted hadn’t cheated, but that is likely not what happened when all the facts are considered. As far as is known, Ted Cruz won fair and square. The bottom line is that if Carson was not getting out, and if (and that’s a very big “if”) this information caused Carson to lose even a single percentage point (his RCP average was only 7.7%; *** Carson ended up with 9.3% *), then Carson has only himself to blame for not thinking through how such an announcement might be interpreted. This turn of events is, I’m sure, regrettable for both candidates, but the controversy is more likely to highlight Carson’s inexperience with politics than it is to prove any dirty deeds on the part of the Cruz campaign.


– Ryan Thorson