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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Rock n’ roll in Cleveland tonight

Even with the field set for tonight’s long anticipated first “official” Republican presidential debate, a cloud of distrust still hovers over the event. Few dispute the merits of inviting the “top eight” in the polls, but choosing the final two spots involved quite a bit of ethical compromise – and some people aren’t happy.
GOP debate
Leon Wolf of RedState writes, “In a collection of polls which all have a margin of error of at least 4 points, you can’t say with any level of confidence that either Christie or Kasich have any statistically valid support at all, much less that they have more support (or less) than Perry, Jindal, or Fiorina.”

Wolf essentially argues that the more interesting candidates (he cites Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina) should have been selected by those in power where the polls were inconclusive. Good point.

For what it’s worth, here’s an explanation from Fox on how the field was set. Reading the methodology doesn’t really help ease our minds much, but we didn’t expect it to, did we?

Meanwhile, those who are going to be asking the questions (Fox News hosts Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace) say they’re losing sleep in trying to prepare for the debate. It’s not that they’re nervous – they’re on edge in trying to find the best way to get the candidates to stop spouting their campaign trail talking points.

Here’s the debate format: Each candidate will be allowed one minute to answer questions. If another candidate’s name is mentioned, that candidate will be allowed a 30-second rebuttal. In addition, time permitting, each candidate will be given 30 seconds for closing statements.

We don’t know what questions are going to be asked by Baier, Kelly and Wallace, but here’s a wish list of 27 that Jamie Weinstein at the Daily Caller would like to hear. There are some good ones in there… and it sure would get the candidates talking if they actually answered them.

There are few things more annoying than having a candidate completely ignore a legitimate question in order to launch into some unrelated diatribe. But that’s politics.

Can the lower-tier still benefit from the “Happy Hour debate?”

The seven Republicans relegated to the one hour, 5 pm ET consolation debate are trying to make the best out of an unfortunate situation. Naturally, they’re looking for a silver lining.

“We’re calling it the happy hour debate,” said a consultant to Lindsey Graham. “It’s going to be more substantive and give you a real opportunity to show you’re ready to be president, as opposed to just ready to take on Donald Trump.”

Lindsey Graham will never be president. That I feel confident in saying. But the real question is whether any of the other six (okay, George Pataki won’t either, so it’s five) have any chance without an opportunity to be seen with the “big boys.”

There are some interesting conservatives in the 5 o’clock event. Hopefully something will come out of it for them.

The candidates and Planned Parenthood

The release of yet another shocking video detailing abortion provider Planned Parenthood’s utter inhumanity gives candidates a good chance to talk about their views on the subject.

As expected, they were outraged in Monday night’s forum. But some of them have long and accomplished records to back up their words. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, for example, took away Planned Parenthood’s Title V (state matching) funds and now he has a chance to take away their Title X (federal) funds, too.

Donald Trump said unequivocally that he would shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood. Trump’s conversion to the pro-life cause is recent to be sure, but he seems sincere in his convictions and there’s no doubt he’s not afraid of confrontation.

Speaking of convictions (or lack thereof), W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner looks at Jeb Bush’s recent remarks on defunding Planned Parenthood where the establishment candidate committed a rather sizable gaffe that would have gotten a real conservative in trouble.

Antle wonders whether Bush is too rusty politically to steer talk away from such gaffes. We all wonder whether Jeb is articulate enough to actually deliver a coherent message – or even if he has a message.

Teen sensation says Cruz will unite the country after Obama

13 year-old internet marvel C.J. Pearson thinks President Obama’s time in office has divided the country and the best man to bring it back is none other than Ted Cruz.

The fact that Pearson is black gives the endorsement a special quality, but perhaps most noteworthy is the notion that there are some kids out there who are actually paying attention to current events instead of searching for the latest Tweet from some pop icon.

If the Republicans were smart they would reserve a primetime slot for Pearson to speak at next year’s convention.

Or maybe he can introduce Ted Cruz before his convention nominating speech… but maybe that’s getting ahead of ourselves a bit.

What if Trump wins…?

Finally, with Donald Trump going into the first debate as the current front-runner on the GOP side, the political class continues to ponder how he’s doing so well.

Comparing Trump to Jesse “the Body” Ventura in Minnesota, Jeff Greenfield explains that voters sometimes go rogue when they realize they can.

“[W]hen disaffected voters discover a power that they did not realize they had, highly unanticipated consequences may follow.”

Or maybe it’s just that conservative, traditional values Americans are flat-out disgusted with the ruling elites in both parties that have lied and betrayed them until they have no other choice than to shake things up.

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