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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Inept Carson campaign leads to “Trumpertantrum”

At the end of a very eventful week, much has been written about the attention Marco Rubio is drawing for finishing third in Monday Night’s Iowa Caucuses. Well, it turns out fourth place finisher Ben Carson is getting his fair share of the spotlight as well.

But whereas Rubio’s attention has been largely positive by the fawning establishment media, Carson’s is of the Trumpertantrumopposite variety.

First there’s the controversy swirling around the now infamous email that was sent out by a Cruz staffer on the night of the caucuses. In essence, it echoed a CNN report that indicated Carson appeared to be dropping out of the race and suggested Cruz supporters try and recruit Carson’s people before they ended up voting for the retired neurosurgeon in Iowa.

When the mistake was realized shortly after, Cruz personally apologized to Carson. But that’s far from the end of the story.

Erick Erickson of The Resurgent sets the record straight. “Cruz was already inside a caucus room preparing to speak when the email from his campaign went out. He did not sign off on the campaign email. He apologized to Carson and told Carson that had he known, Cruz would not have authorized that email. Carson’s response was to demand someone be disciplined or fired, but accepted the apology. When you accept an apology, you don’t get to dictate terms.

“The Carson camp can be as angry as it wants, but it needs to suck it up. They’re the ones who generated national headlines that Carson was going back to Florida. They are the ones who should have known how the media would read such a story. That they did not is another reflection of a campaign stuck in amateur hour. Politics ain’t beanbag and Cruz’s campaign operates at a faster pace than Carson’s, whose campaign moves even slower than Carson speaks.”

Of course Donald Trump has taken full advantage of the confusion, saying in a Tweet that Cruz “stole” the election and calling for a new round of voting in Iowa as a result.

In response to Trump, Cruz shot back. Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics reports, “Emboldened by his hard-fought Hawkeye State victory, Cruz described his chief opponent as a sore loser who was having ‘a Trumpertantrum.’

“’His reaction to everything is to throw a fit,’ Cruz told reporters while campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday. ‘He lost, and he doesn't like that. He breaks down.’”

Cruz has to know his needling of The Donald is only going to make Trump even more perverse. Trump feeds off of the public brawling nature of his newfound political hobby and I doubt we’ve heard the last of this. With another debate coming up on Saturday night, there’s certain to be some more back-and-forth on this matter, primarily because Trump would much rather talk about Cruz’s staff and how they handled the CNN Carson report than any of the consequential issues at hand.

For his part, it does look like Carson’s campaign is in serious trouble. Robert Costa of the Washington Post reports, “Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination has struggled to keep pace with rivals, will cut more than 50 staff positions Thursday as part of an overhaul and downsizing of his campaign.

“Salaries are being significantly reduced. Carson’s traveling entourage will shrink to only a handful of advisers. And instead of flying on private jets, Carson may soon return to commercial flights.”

It should be noted Ben is retaining his senior people. The staff trimming move is significant because Carson’s fundraising supposedly remained strong amidst his drop-off in the polls. They’ve raised a hefty sum, but it’s clear they’ve spent a lot as well.

Of course Costa gleefully added that Carson’s right-hand man, Armstrong Williams, said Ben remains furious over the Cruz/Iowa email matter, and because of it, vows to carry on all the way to the convention to battle the Texas senator for the hearts and minds of evangelicals.

I guess you can add Ben Carson to the growing list of Ted-haters.

Politics is indeed a nasty business, but at some point these people have to realize when they’re beaten and just get behind the best candidate to carry the message forward. If Carson is so steamed at Cruz, does that indicate he’s now favoring Trump? Or Marco Rubio?

Perhaps those considering Rubio should take a good look at what he represents. If they’re truly as “outsider” as they claim to be, then helping propel the establishment’s golden boy forward isn’t going to change the system in the way they’re demanding.

Can’t we just talk about the issues, please?

Rick Santorum proves he doesn’t know anything about Marco Rubio

Speaking of a lack of concern for issues, Rick Santorum apparently doesn’t know much about the senate record of Marco Rubio, whom he endorsed on Wednesday night. In a sad bit of irony, Santorum couldn’t come up with a single thing Rubio has achieved while in the senate.

Bradford Richardson of The Hill reports, “When pressed by the panel on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ Santorum, a former GOP candidate who is now backing Rubio's presidential bid, said there haven’t been many accomplishments in Congress during President Obama’s time in the White House.

“’The bottom line is there isn't a lot of accomplishments, Joe, and I just don't think it's a fair question to say – over the last four years where nothing has happened and then blame one person because he didn't get accomplishments done,’ the former Pennsylvania senator said.”

Leave it to a big government lover like Santorum to think an “accomplishment” only includes passing legislation or securing goodies for your constituents.

Santorum’s knowledge deficit not only makes him sound like an idiot, it also exposes the biggest problem concerning Marco Rubio’s candidacy. If one of Marco’s prominent backers can’t name anything that he’s done while in Washington, then nobody else can either.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the only thing Rubio is truly known for is his leadership in the pro-amnesty Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform group. He’s most famous for standing with Senators Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, John McCain and Lindsey Graham to try and convince the American public that granting amnesty to a class of people who willingly violated the law is a good thing.

That’s a pretty dubious feat to be proud of. Other than that, what’s there to talk about?

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has been at the forefront of a number of important efforts to block the Obama agenda, often acting in ways that the “experts” predicted would hurt him politically, such as forcing a government shutdown in 2013 over keeping a promise to do everything in his power to defund Obamacare.

Cruz’s establishment critics said all along he was doing it just to further his own presidential prospects. Being a leader often comes with a wagonload of detractors. Rubio avoided all of that by…doing nothing.

Ted Cruz isn’t the show pony in this race, Marco Rubio is. Like a certain candidate named Obama, Rubio is running as a representative of the “next generation” who dishes out promises by the dozens (“When I am president….”) but acts on very little when push comes to shove.

He skips out on crucial votes and hardly shows up at all for his day job. Further, he isn’t running for reelection to his senate seat, supposedly because he hates the slow process of the Senate.

Does that sound like the kind of guy you want in the Oval Office?

After eight years of the disastrous Obama presidency and another eight years before that of spineless Republican establishment failures under George W. Bush, can America stomach more of the same from a part-time, principle-free politician like Marco Rubio?

That’s an answer even someone as clueless as Rick Santorum should be able to provide.

Fiorina plays gender card to make the stage for Saturday night’s debate, doesn’t work

Carly Fiorina is the only major candidate left in the Republican field who isn’t invited to tomorrow night’s debate. So naturally, the former HP CEO is crying foul.

Ben Kamisar of The Hill reports, “Carly Fiorina has missed the cut for Saturday’s GOP debate, making her the only major candidate remaining who won’t be on the stage.

 

“ABC News will not host an undercard debate, so she will miss out entirely from the national spotlight just days before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primaries.”

Carly had tried everything to be included in the debate, including prominently mentioning that she was the only female candidate in the field. In addition, her letter to the RNC argued that she finished higher than Kasich and Christie in Iowa and won the same number of delegates – one – as Jeb Bush.

In bringing up the “woman” issue, it sounded like Fiorina was playing the gender card, something she’s largely avoided doing throughout her campaign.

It would almost be like Ben Carson saying “I belong because I’m the only black candidate in either party’s field” if he were in the same situation.

In my opinion, Fiorina already had a solid case for being included in Saturday night’s debate so she shouldn’t have had to resort to such politically correct extortion tactics. In doing so, she tried to put the RNC on the spot – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but it weakened her argument.

(Note: Even Mitt Romney wanted her in the debate!)

With Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul out of the race and therefore no longer any need for an “undercard” debate, the reason for having overly exclusionary eligibility “criteria” doesn’t exist anymore.

Adding Fiorina to the event was a no-brainer and ABC could have done it without much of an explanation. Fiorina’s debate skills and willingness to mix-it-up with rivals is enough incentive to make sure there’s a place for her. Carly would have added to the quality of the program, period.

And there have already been several debates this cycle with at least eight candidates (and also in 2012). So having that number again would not detract from the discussion.

It’s a shame Fiorina will not be there on Saturday night. There’s still time to reverse this and the RNC should put pressure on ABC to add her – I think the network would go along willingly. Then mercifully, we won’t need to have this “who’s in, who’s out” discussion again for at least four more years.

George W. Bush brought in to try and rescue flailing brother Jeb

Finally this week, Jeb Bush spent months at the beginning of the campaign trying to distinguish himself from the thoroughly tired Bush family legacy, but seems much more willing to embrace it now that his candidacy is in its death throes.

Alex Isenstadt of Politico reports, “Former President George W. Bush has cut a TV ad for the super PAC supporting his brother, marking the former president's most public political activity in the campaign to date.

“’The first job of the president is to protect America. The next president must be prepared to lead. I know Jeb. I know his good heart and his strong backbone,’ Bush says in the 30-second Right to Rise spot, which spotlights the former president speaking directly to the camera.”

The “Keep America Safe” theme is about all the Bush family has left to promote, considering the former president sacrificed just about every other Republican principle on the way to waging trillion dollar preemptive wars, fostering huge bank bailouts and advocating for open borders immigration.

George W. will also be on the campaign trail for Jeb in South Carolina (the ad will run starting today) ahead of the Palmetto State’s primary, which takes place on February 20.

The cash-stuffed Right to Rise PAC has run out of things to say about Jeb, so now they’re bringing in his otherwise invisible former president brother to speak for them. Maybe they’ll trot out Karl Rove in the next round of ads.

The Jeb people would be better off spending their money to continue blasting Rubio. At least then it would be some dollars well spent.

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