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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ted’s southern campaign on Cruz control

The Iowa caucuses won’t take place until February 1st, 2016, but already there’s speculation on which Republican candidates won’t make it that far. Scott Wong of The Hill has compiled a list of seven hopefuls who may be forced out early, and it starts with Rick Perry, whose campaign’s financial woes are now widely known.

Ted Cruz busThe other six are Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore and George Pataki. If Graham and Pataki dropped out today, no one would even notice. Gilmore needs a little more time to let people know that he’s in the race and Santorum, Jindal and Paul all could conceivably catch some sort of wave and jump to the top tier.

Wong adds, “Al Cardenas, a former top RNC official and the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, predicted five to six candidates won’t even make it to Iowa. A couple more might drop out immediately after the caucuses, he said.”

At least then there will be enough room on the debate stage for all the remaining candidates. Seventeen is far too many, especially when a good number of them really don’t have a compelling reason to be there.

And at least for now, it looks like outsiders are taking over the Republican field.

Donald Trump, former Democrat, never at a loss for words

One candidate who figures to be in Iowa one way or another is Donald Trump. Even if his poll numbers somehow sank to zero, he’d probably still stay in it just to annoy the Republican establishment.

(Speaking of polls, Trump leads handily in the most recent Iowa survey.)

It’s no secret that Trump once called himself a Democrat. Some of his Republican opponents are fond of highlighting that fact, but Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator says Trump’s Democrat past could work to his advantage – just like it did for another former Democrat turned Republican in 1980.

Rand Paul is one of those often tying Trump to his former statements about Democrats. Never one to sit by and let his rivals define him, here, Trump hits back at Paul.

As reported by Mark Hensch of The Hill, Trump said about Paul’s senate campaign: “I feel sorry for the great people of Kentucky who are being used as a back up to Sen. Paul’s hopeless attempt to become president of the United States.”

It’s Trump’s blunt directness that’s appealing to many in the conservative electorate. Victor Davis Hanson writes that Trump’s popularity will last as long as people want it to.

“Scorning or ridiculing Trump’s hypocrisies, narcissism, or outlandishness won’t silence him, much less win over his supporters. That will happen only when voters find a more savvy, more informed, more polite — but equally blunt and unafraid — version of Trump…”

Hanson helps explain why The Donald’s recent war of words with Megyn Kelly and Fox News didn’t seem to hurt him in the polls (at least some of them). Trump’s backers like his style – and it’s not going to drive them away when he is busy being Trump.

Further, Trump’s people also aren’t bothered by his lack of specificity in policy proposals. “Trust me” is good enough. They’re liking Trump’s get-tough highlighting of issues like illegal immigration and they’re confident, based on his background, that he’ll succeed in whatever he aims to do.

If anything, Trump’s lack of focus on policy and calls for flexibility will make him harder to assail. That’s bad news for his opponents. At the very least it means he’ll be around for the early primaries.

It should also be noted that Democrats have run content-free campaigns for years – and it’s worked for them in certain instances.

Lastly on Trump, Greg Gutfeld of Breitbart lays out the speech he’d like to hear from Trump. If you don’t mind some salty language, it’s a must read. You can almost imagine The Donald speaking the words. It’s even more insight into Trump’s appeal for some folks.

Fiorina and the Republican glass ceiling

Big surprise: everyone knows Carly Fiorina is the only woman in the Republican field. Opinions vary on whether Fiorina’s gender helps her, hurts her or makes no difference.

Seth McLaughlin of the Washington Times examines the subject and basically concludes it’s too early to tell, based on the GOP’s past history with women candidates.

Eventually, conservatives will assess Fiorina strictly on her merits. McLaughlin points out that not everyone thinks Carly will pass muster: “Daniel Horowitz, senior editor of the Conservative Review, suggested this week that Ms. Fiorina’s previous remarks in support of raising the nation’s debt ceiling, the 2008 bailout of Wall Street and an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants show she isn’t the conservative champion that many grass-roots voters want.”

It’s all food for thought. Fiorina will no doubt argue that her positions have evolved just like Donald Trump’s (and all the other candidates). The grassroots will be watching closely.

For what it’s worth, the New York Times says Fiorina has emerged as a Republican weapon against any potential “war on women” charge.

Of course there is no “war on women” and using the term just validates the language of the left. There will be attacks on Republicans, however, and it’s arguable Fiorina could help blunt them in a general election contest.

She needs to win the nomination first.

Ted Cruz tours the south

Sen. Ted Cruz has spent much of his post-debate time campaigning in the south. Some are saying it’s because he’s focusing on the so-called “SEC primary” which takes place next March 1.

Katie Glueck of Politico hints it’s a smart strategy: “Cruz has an advantage in the South over most of his rivals: His campaign is already extensively organized there, with a roster that includes some of the region’s most prominent tea party activists. With at least seven Southern states slated to vote in the March 1 ‘SEC primary’…, the region will have a rare early and influential say in the Republican presidential contest — and Cruz is betting he will be a beneficiary.”

Based on the size and enthusiasm of Cruz’s crowds this week, here’s thinking Cruz’s plans are dead-on.

Ben Carson: Planned Parenthood founded to control black population

Finally today, Ben Carson takes on Planned Parenthood with some harsh truth (Christian Datoc of the Daily Caller reports).

“Maybe I am not objective when it comes to Planned Parenthood, but, you know, I know who Margaret Sanger is, and I know that she believed in eugenics, and one of the reasons you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find a way to control that population.”

The same people who think Carly Fiorina will help with the female vote probably think Ben Carson will resonate with black voters.

Conservatives and Republicans generally aren’t identity voters, however. Luckily for both candidates, they’ve shown plenty of substance beyond skin color and gender.

And we’re all paying attention.

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