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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Will Donald Trump and Ben Carson show at the next debate?

We know from years of dealing with the Clintons that Hillary is a tough customer. As skilled at lying as her husband and arguably much more ruthless, she will be a formidable opponent for any Republican – if she ends up being the Democrat nominee, that is.

Former Donald Trump strategist Roger Stone has been through a lot of campaigns, so he knows how tough they can be. Stone thinks only Trump and Ted Cruz have the nerve to take on Hillary face-to-face and it’s not an opinion we should take lightly.
Donald Trump Ben Carson
Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports, “Clinton performed well during the first Democratic presidential debate, Stone told the Washington Examiner. After examining her debate, Stone said he thinks Trump and Cruz have the chutzpah necessary to battle Clinton that other Republicans lack.”

With his notorious candor, Stone said Hillary’s opponents and CNN let her get away with way too much on Tuesday night. “She was allowed to spit out her BS about being an advocate for women and children, which she is neither and nobody really challenged her. Not even Bernie Sanders, senile old coot that he is. Given a softball on the emails, he gives her a pass. Pathetic."

I agree, though I’m not sure even I would go so far as to call Sanders a “senile old coot.”

Roger sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he? You can only imagine the meetings Stone and The Donald must have had when discussing campaign strategy.

Stone is coming out with a new book on the Clintons, so he knows a lot about Hillary. It’s interesting that he throws Ted Cruz into the mix with Trump – which should be taken as a great compliment to the Texas senator.

If Ted will go onto the Senate floor and make a speech directly criticizing virtually everyone else in there, you know he’s got guts.

It turns out Cruz’s campaign is tech savvy, too. Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports, “More than any other campaign application for mobile tech users, Cruz Crew (his game-like app which encourages supporters to communicate with friends about his campaign) has exploded with more than 15,000 downloads in the first three months since it was launched, the campaign told Secrets.

“It's just the latest sign that the 2016 presidential campaign is happening online, out of the media spotlight, and some like Cruz are especially good at making it connect with Millennials.”

The app is a tremendous tool for Cruz to galvanize his enthusiastic backers to spread the word and raise money (which will only add to his already impressive total).

We certainly knew Ted was a principled fighter for the cause of liberty and now we know he’s a technology wiz as well.

If John Kasich calls out, will anyone listen?

Similar to my philosophy concerning reporting on the Democrats, I’ve largely avoided covering John Kasich. From a conservative’s perspective, Kasich is pretty much a non-entity in the Republican race… so why bother devoting any time to him?

Aside from appearing in the primetime version of the first two presidential debates, Kasich has done nothing notable in the campaign. The Ohio governor is firmly entrenched on the establishment side of the fence and is basing his slim chance at gaining traction for the nomination on winning in New Hampshire. But even there, he’s apparently having difficulties.

Alexis Levinson of National Review reports, “With his poll numbers slipping and his path to the presidential nomination looking increasingly narrow, Kasich is preparing to fight to break out of the pack and ensure that when New Hampshire voters go to the polls in February, they go with him.”

In doing so, he’s relying on a just-revealed (on Thursday) plan that presents his agenda for the first 100 days of a Kasich presidency, covering a variety of topics – energy, trade, regulatory, fiscal, tax and federalism, among others.

Kasich trusts the specifics of the plan will set him apart from his opponents and hopefully cause them to turn some attention his way to draw a contrast. The only problem with that theory is, who will consider him noteworthy enough to debate?

From observing Kasich, you know there’s a lot of wishy-washy moderation in his plan. When we already have several compelling alternatives presented by more interesting candidates, who needs to stand up against his ideas?

It’s wishful thinking, I guess.

Ben Carson goes on book tour while ramping up his campaign

Ben Carson took a “vacation” from campaigning before Labor Day and some people thought he was nuts. Now Ben’s announced he’s suspending his campaign for a couple weeks to go on a “book tour.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review didn’t say Ben is nuts this time, but he does think it’s not normal for a candidate to do such a thing. “Who chooses to stop doing public campaign events just as they catch up to the frontrunner?

“The man has already written and sold a lot of books. (His presidential memoir would be a good seller, too!) Why on earth would any serious candidate for president decide to stop campaigning at a moment like this for some book-signings and readings?”

The news struck me as odd as well. Carson did do some TV appearances during his “vacation,” so it seems likely he’ll continue to be seen doing interviews. If he were to pull back on those in addition, he would be crazy – or unserious.

Or maybe his campaign just needs a little time to get reorganized. With a flood of new money coming in and its reach expanding, there will be some growing pains.

Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports, “Early in the cycle, critics questioned whether Carson would be able to compete with more established politicians in fundraising and campaign organization. Carson and his team believe they’ve put those questions to rest.

“…The campaign is putting that money to work, hiring dozens of additional staffers and plotting big-money ad buys in key states, according to Carson’s communications director Doug Watts.”

Easley also reports that Carson’s about to reveal the backing of the type of big-money benefactor who can make a difference in terms of funding his Super PACs (and it likely isn’t Jeb Bush supporter T. Boone Pickens, though Ben is getting energy advice from him).

In other words, the news is all positive for the former neurosurgeon… but still, a book tour…now?

Lastly on Ben, he shared his thoughts on the first Democrat debate with Megyn Kelly during an appearance on her show on Wednesday night – and it doesn’t sound like he was very impressed with the candidates’ politically cowardly responses to the question on “Black Lives Matter.”

As reported by Kelly Cohen of the Washington Examiner, Ben said, “There are a lot of policies that this administration has embraced that hurt black lives, that hurt all people who are in the underclass.

"You know, the way that we have doubled the national debt and basically abolished the banking system, savings accounts and bonds and things like that, which used to be a mechanism for poor people and middle class people to grow their money — it virtually doesn't exist anymore.”

Of course the media would probably argue that Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley know more about “black lives” than Carson. After all, Ben’s been wealthy for a number of years now, right?

It’s just a snapshot into the radical thinking of those on the Left.

Let’s hope Ben’s book tour doesn’t prevent him from further championing the conservative cause while he’s “away.”

While Ben expands his operation, Jeb’s contracting

The thinking going into the 2016 Republican presidential campaign was that Jeb Bush and friends were going to steamroll his opponents with a wave of cash and establishment support built-in to the family name – and they were going to have a darn good time doing it, too.

Well, the first part didn’t happen, so Jeb’s campaign is doing the unthinkable – cutting way back.

Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo of Politico report, “Although the Bush campaign has yet to release its fundraising numbers from the third quarter ahead of Thursday’s deadline, the belt-tightening has already begun, at least around the margins with regard to travel.”

That means no more private planes, high-end hotels and large traveling parties. What fun is that? Jeb Bush is flying commercial? It must be a shock for the poor guy – makes running for president almost seem like work.

But at least now Jeb can say he knows how the rest of us feel. I wonder if he’s been frisked by the TSA yet.

Incidentally, Jeb’s people aren’t scaling back because they’re out of money; they’re doing it to convince donors they’re not wasting money.

The campaign apparently still believes Bush’s superior depth in policy will ultimately allow him to prevail. The problem is, you can’t wrap amnesty in anything that sounds attractive and people want real principle on issues they care about. Poll after poll shows they don’t trust Jeb to deliver it.

He’s establishment to the core and that just ain’t gonna cut it this time around.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson threaten to boycott CNBC debate

A Republican debate without The Donald and Ben? Say it ain’t so… but maybe.

Charlie Spiering of Breitbart reports, “In a joint letter to CNBC, Donald Trump and Ben Carson indicated that they would only agree to a 120 minute debate (including commercials) with time for opening and closing statements.”

Several campaigns were unhappy with last month’s marathon 3+ hour CNN debate, but Trump and Carson are the only ones to say they won’t be at the next one unless changes are made. Of course, they’re the only ones who have that luxury.

Chris Christie would agree to be there for half a day if he could get away with it. So would Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.

The article also indicates CNBC sent out the debate parameters without consulting with the campaigns.

We can only assume both of them will be there… and CNBC will make them happy, one way or the other.

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