Update: Open thread: The do-or-die debate; Update: Jeb to hit Rubio? CNBC Republican Presidential Debate – Live Stream Video Link and Open Discussion…. LIVE REACTIONS: CNBC “Main Stage” GOP Debate. With those links it looks like we won’t be the only ones watching while most Americans watch baseball. Here’s a livestream link:
Donald J. Trump is so smart it hurts. Trump jokes with Iowans about poll dip: “What the hell are you people doing to me?” More on why this is so smart in a moment.
First, let’s go to the Trump hate news. The #1 Trump hater in Big Media on the Right is probably Rick Wilson. In an attempt to insult Donald J. Trump the hatin’ Rick Wilson regurgitates an observation we made a while back:
Tonight’s debate will feature a number of real presidential contenders, and a greater number of people who should drop out already.
There are six candidates in the Republican primary who deserve to be there for various reasons. [snip]
Ben Carson, because he’s the superego of the GOP to Trump’s id, and while his “campaign” isn’t much to look at, he’s a safe harbor for a lot of GOP voters right now who are sick of D.C. but can’t go the full Trump. (And you never go full Trump.)
That is exactly the point we made about a month ago immediately before the second GOP debate:
Second, what explains Dr. Ben Carson’s rise in the polls? The main reason for the poll rise is that Carson is a pawn in the game. His job is to destroy Trump, then JeBush and the Republican establishment will crush Gentle Ben in an afternoon. But the main reason for the rise of Ben Carson is that he is a halfway house on the road to Donald Trump. For GOP voters that hate the Republican establishment but don’t like Donald Trump’s style or are not 100% sold on The Donald, they are for now parked in the Ben Carson lot but eventually they will find themselves in the Trump camp.
Think of Ben Carson as that starter home before you move on into the big mansion you always wanted. Or Call Ben Carson the gateway drug to the hard stuff. Or think of Ben Carson as the little rivulet that leads to that great wide ocean. Ben Carson is not the end of the road, not even the stopover on the road – Ben Carson is the road – to Donald J. Trump.
Edward Luce at the Financial Times apocalypticly calls it the “End of Days for Republican establishment”:
The two outsiders continue to take roughly half of the Republican field between them, leaving the other 14 candidates to fight over the scraps. [snip]
Mr Carson’s faith, and Mr Trump’s evident lack of piety, explain the former’s solid popularity in Iowa. According to surveys, more than a third of registered Iowa Republicans are born-again evangelicals.
New Hampshire is a different matter. Its Republican party tends to be more libertarian. The “Presbyterian” Mr Trump is still in the lead there.
But these are details. As the Republicans limber up for their third prime time debate on Wednesday evening, the rivalry that will rivet most viewers is between the only two men on stage who have never held elected office.
Opinion polls can no longer be dismissed as fleeting moods. Mr Trump has led the Republican field now for almost 130 days. It is all too easy to imagine him sustaining that lead in the remaining 96 days before the Iowa caucus.
Almost the same applies to Mr Carson, who has stayed in second place — and now first, according to one poll — for most of the past three months.
No other candidate, including Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, who many now see as the establishment’s only viable choice, has managed to sustain a showing in double digits.
Nor can the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire be overstated. As Alex Castellanos, a veteran Republican operative, has reminded his fellow establishmentarians, no Republican presidential nominee has ever taken the prize without winning one or other of the two early states.
Whatever fluidity there are in Iowa polls or even if the fluidity expands there is no doubt that Trump is still tops and likely to remain tops. Recent polls show Trump at 32% versus 18% for Carson with only Rubio barely into double digits at 11%:
Trump leads GOP nationally ahead of third debate
Most Republican voters want someone from outside of the political establishment to win their party’s nomination for the presidential election
Another new poll show Trump 14 points ahead of his nearest competitor (Trump at 35.6 percent, Carson 21.7%, Rubio 10.7%)
Why outsiders? Why is JeBush in such trouble? Why is the GOP establishment so despised? Consider Romney/Ryan 2012.
Today there was a vote in the Republican conference in the House and Paul Ryan received only 199 valid House votes. Ryan lost lots of votes and deserved to lose even more. Most politics watchers know that Paul Ryan is playing “good cop” to Boner’s “bad cop” in the latest budget deal GOP leaders have conspired with Barack Obama to pass. Young, attractive, Paul Ryan is not doing what the GOP voters want but he will play pretend along with other “leaders”.
Paul Ryan was the VP candidate to Mitt Romney. Romney lost to Obama as we warned (note our consistent remarks about Trump in 2012) in large part because with Romney’s history of RomneyCare the GOP lost their #1 issue, the battle against ObamaCare. Many thought we were unfair to Romney on RomneyCare/ObamaCare. But now Mitt Romney has made the point for us as only Willard Romney can:
Thomas G. Stemberg, who cofounded Staples Inc. and invented the office superstore, died Friday at his home in Chestnut Hill, two years after he was diagnosed with gastric cancer. [snip]
In 2012, Mr. Stemberg spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, trumpeting his friend Romney’s contributions to his business dream.
Romney also credited Mr. Stemberg with persuading him to push for health care reform in Massachusetts when he was governor.
Romney recalled that shortly after he was elected, Mr. Stemberg asked him why he ran for governor. Romney said he wanted to help people, and Mr. Stemberg replied that if he really wanted to help, he should give everyone access to health care, which Romney said he hadn’t really considered before.
“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So without Tom, a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”
So after all the lies Willard Romney finally rats out the truth. Romney never attacked Obama on ObamaCare with vigor because Romney was the father of ObamaCare. Still Romney/Ryan danced and lied repeatedly in 2012 pretending they too hated ObamaCare. Romney/Ryan lied to the voters. That’s why the GOP establishment is in such vile repute.
Mitt Romney lies, Barack Obama lies, have led to Donald J. Trump. Trump hits hard against these liars. That’s why Trump is hated by the political establishments of Big Media and both political parties. The only ones that like Trump are the voters.
And what’s not to like about Trump? After a few days of stupefaction at the rise of Ben Carson in a few polls, Trump has recovered his stride. In Iowa Trump is having a blast and being super smart:
He could tear into Carson, which is risky given how well-liked Carson is. He could give up on the state and focus on New Hampshire instead, declaring Iowans a bunch of losers or whatever. Or he could do this, teasing them about his downturn and slyly goofing on his own image as a man who accepts nothing less than total victory when he competes. If I lose, he kids them, “I’ll never speak to you people again.” Nearly everything he says here, from harping on his own poll trouble lately to jokingly threatening to hold it against voters if they don’t support him, is unthinkable from a traditional politician. [snip]
In both cases, even at a moment when he’s at a disadvantage, Trump is shrewd enough to handle it in a way that reminds everyone how different he is from all of the polished Washington slicksters in the field. Then, to top it off, he showed the crowd that he’s not always in 24/7 blowhard mode by stepping down from the podium to speak to a wounded veteran face to face about the VA.
Trump, in the second video says if he wins Iowa he wins the nomination. He’s right. Can Trump win Iowa? You betcha:
Expanding the electorate to turn out the blue-collar Republicans who didn’t show up for Romney is indeed the way Trump wins, and his team knows it. That’s one thing to bear in mind with all polls going forward, especially polls of likely voters: Who is and isn’t a “likely voter” may be less certain this cycle because of Trump’s X factor. If he really is making strides in getting disaffected people to vote then all of the polls are understating his support.
In the third video, this is the introduction:
Donald Trump Offers to personally help Veteran at Sioux Iowa rally
Coleen Reich, a Sioux City retiree, said ahead of the event that she was unsure about Trump because of the negative reaction he showed to the poll results, saying it wasn’t presidential.
“I don’t like his name calling,” she said. “We did that as children, but then we were taught better manners and we grew out of it.”
But after the event, she said with tears in her eyes that she was ready to vote for Trump because of his speech. She said her husband was a prisoner of war, and a moment in which Trump responded to a question from a disabled veteran moved her.
That veteran was having trouble getting an appointment through the Department of Veterans Affairs, a family member said. Trump asked them to write their information on a note card, and he would “pressure the VA like you wouldn’t believe” until the agency had solved the problem.
That’s smart communication from Trump. A (probably for Ben Carson) voter did not like Trump’s “name calling”. But after the event, “with tears in her eyes” the voter is, um, vote ready for Trump.
For the GOP debate(s) tonight (the losers at 6:00 p.m. ET, Trump and the rest at 8:00) on CNBC few questions remain. The one we think matters is “will anyone be watching?” The World Series, which we are told had an exciting game last night that almost never ended might take all the attention away from the debate.
The few of us watching the GOP debate will see John Kasich try to be his new angry self:
“I’ve about had it with these people,” Kasich said at the rally in Westerville, Ohio. “We got one candidate that says we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. You ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our people in this country who are seniors, who are about to be seniors that we’re going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has acknowledged that he would like to gut Medicare.
Kasich went on, saying, “We got one person saying we ought to have a 10 percent flat tax that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars” and there’s another challenger in the field who “says we ought to take 10 or 11 [million] people and pick them up — I don’t know where we’re going to go, their homes, their apartments — we’re going to pick them up and scream at them to get out of our country. That’s crazy. That is just crazy.“
We hope Kasich attacks Trump, Carson, everyone. We will be amused. We expect lots and lots of fights:
So Cruz will now pump up his efforts with evangelicals in Iowa to try to go around Trump by beating Carson. JeBush will try to go around Trump by beating up Rubio. Rubio will get around Trump by outrunning JeBush as the tiger continues to chase them both.
So expect fights. The candidates need to attack each other to survive as Trump continues to romp. Trump will be under attack too probably by the Big Media “moderators”.
Carly “fizzles” Fiorina will be there. Rand Paul might be making his last appearance before he heads back to Kentucky. Ditto Chris Christie. The other losers like Huckabee and blah, blah, whoever will make appearances but no one will care. It’s outsider Trump and Carson on stage.
We’ll be watching. Tonight. 8:00 p.m. ET. CNBC.