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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in cahoots?

As we’ve seen in all of the post-debate polls, Donald Trump is safely in the lead -- though there is still some question as to how big Trump’s margin really is.
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump
Neil Stevens of RedState looks at the polls and says they present a lot of questions.

“We have three polls since the debate and the Gathering. Two are registered voter polls by Fox and CNN. The third is a likely voter poll by Rasmussen Reports. They don’t agree with each other, except that name recognition is very important: The candidates who are far ahead in name recognition are doing much better in all of this early polling.”

Because Trump’s lead appears to be enduring, signs are starting to emerge that the GOP establishment is panicking. Jonathan Easley of The Hill quotes a host of consultants with varying opinions on Trump, ranging from “he’ll fade” to “he’s dangerous.”

A few, like former Iowa Republican Party political director Craig Robinson, seem to get it. “I still don’t think national Republicans are taking him seriously enough. People in both parties said the same things about the Tea Party movement in 2010. They said it wouldn’t last, that the anger isn’t channeled into anything. But what we’re seeing in this primary is another level of disgust and frustration, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously.”

Here’s a view (from George Neumayr of the American Spectator) arguing that the establishment is going to have to call out Trump on his departures from limited government conservatism in order to stop him.

Neumayr writes, “Even though it cuts against their moderate instincts, they will have to fake up an interest in Trump’s deviations from conservatism and intensely engage them to upend his campaign. It is his positions, not his personality, that makes him vulnerable.”

It won’t be easy for the others to one-up Trump, especially since he makes them look “mealymouthed and evasive” (a quote from Mark Steyn, as reported by The Right Scoop).

The Donald’s own conservative supporters would have to admit he’s said a lot of questionable things – and we’re not even talking about Megyn Kelly. Trump has waffled on Planned Parenthood, said that he’s “fine” with Affirmative Action and he’d likely be in favor of a special wealth tax, to name just a few.

Trump doesn’t talk much about constitutional limitations, preferring to discuss the things he’d do to “make America great again.” It sounds like a lot of executive power, not unlike what we’ve seen with the current White House occupant – just this time, from a cut up the government perspective.

Are Ted Cruz and The Donald in cahoots?

A couple days ago we introduced Matt Lewis’s (of the Daily Caller) theory on a possible Ted Cruz/Donald Trump secret alliance.

Tim Mak of the Daily Beast reports there’s more to it than just rumor. “Behind the scenes, Cruz has been methodologically developing Trump’s support. The two candidates have met in person at least five times and talk by phone occasionally. And in the future, they may even hold events together.”

Neither campaign will officially comment. The two have crossed paths on several occasions and appear to like each other. Whether there’s anything deeper than that is pure speculation.

But it’s fun to talk about.

We all know Trump is a master at manipulating the media and Cruz is without a doubt the greatest intellect in the race on either side. They’d be a powerful political partnership.

Even liberals are starting to take notice of Cruz. Al Hunt of Bloomberg says Ted should not be underestimated, and that he has a workable strategy.

“Cruz's campaign manager, Jeff Roe, says his team divides the Republican electorate into four parts: a relatively moderate and business-centered establishment faction, the Christian right, the Tea Party anti-government bloc, and libertarians. Cruz contends he's competitive in all but the establishment bracket.”

Ted Cruz has suffered the full force of the establishment media’s negative blitz and thus far has come out stronger. His greatest ally isn’t Trump – it’s his popularity with the grassroots. Conservatives trust him and that’s the strongest type of support.

Carly Fiorina’s challenge to stay in the game

While Carly Fiorina’s poll numbers have been higher in the post-debate surveys, she’s still not a lock for the main stage in next month’s second GOP presidential debate (on Sept. 16 at the Reagan Library).

Hadas Gold of Politico reports, “CNN is taking the average of surveys released by 13 major polling operations between mid-July and Sept. 10 to determine the top 10 participants for the main event, while the remaining candidates who score at least 1 percent across their three best polls will participate in an earlier debate.”

Fiorina’s support was 5% in the CNN/ORC poll released earlier this week, which puts her in 10th place (bumping Chris Christie off stage). She’s been higher in other polls, but can’t afford to let up, lest she find herself relegated to the lower-tier forum once again.

Her campaign staff is keeping her on the run and her name’s been in the news lately – including some negative press concerning her tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. of the Wall Street Journal defended Fiorina in that regard (click on the story link when you get to this page).

Jenkins says CEOs have unrealistic expectations placed upon them and there are a lot of other considerations when assessing Fiorina’s time at the helm of HP.

“A way forward is better than no way forward. Missing has been leadership willing to tackle the challenge. In that sense, the HP battle ought to be seen as an argument in favor of Ms. Fiorina, not against her.”

The memories of another CEO (of Bain Capital) running on the Republican ticket are still fresh with a lot of people, so it shouldn’t be overestimated how damaging these types of attacks can be on a candidate.

Time will tell whether conservatives are willing to look past Fiorina’s rough spots. After all, she is very articulate and does not shy away from a fight.

She’s creative, too. For example, Carly took on the TSA by giving it a one star rating on Yelp. In the review, Fiorina said (as reported by Jazz Shaw of Hot Air), “The American people are tired of a professional political class that speaks in platitudes and cannot get anything done. Whatever your cause, whatever your issue, whatever festering problem you hoped would be resolved, the political class has failed you."

She’ll likely get a lot of attention just from this simple act of writing a review on Yelp. It’s a smart and cheap way to get some “earned media.”

Lastly on Fiorina, Ann Coulter “hates” her. Yes, Coulter actually said the word “hate.”

As reported by T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner, Coulter, a known Trump supporter, said recently on the Mike Gallagher radio show that “At first, I admit I was suspicious because I hate this, 'Oh, a woman can talk, oh, that's great!... But I just hate this 'Affirmative Action' among Republicans."

What sealed the hatred for Coulter was Fiorina’s calling of Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship “completely unrealistic.”

Our moms teach us that “hate” is a strong word. But Ann Coulter’s never been one to pull punches and she doesn’t care about making friends.

For what it’s worth, here’s a hint at how Fiorina says she deals with the “haters.” I wonder if that now includes Coulter?

Jeb Bush and John Kasich get an “F”

Finally today, the conservative group American Principles in Action grades the GOP candidates on their level of opposition to Common Core, and as reported by Jonathan Easley of The Hill, both John Kasich and Jeb Bush earned an “F.”

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were the only ones to receive an A- from the APIA.

As if Jeb’s family wasn’t enough of a drag on his candidacy, his championing of a federal role in education might prove to be an even bigger hurdle to climb over.

And it’s also not the only issue Jeb would receive a failing grade from conservatives.

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