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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ted Cruz exits the stage alone on Day Three of the Republican Convention

As the dust settles from what should probably be considered the biggest blowup yet in the 2016 Republican presidential horse race, America prepares for the acceptance of the party nomination and remarks from the most unlikely of nominees later tonight, Donald J. Trump.

Day three of the Republican National Convention was arguably supposed to be the most predictable of all, yet ended up shocking many to the core when Senator Ted Cruz used his time at the speaker’s podium to deliver Ted Cruzan eloquent yet heartily confusing address on the choices at hand in the 2016 election.

After congratulating Donald Trump on winning the nomination this year, Cruz didn’t mention the nominee by name again the rest of the way and merely suggested that people “vote their conscience” in November instead of saying outright that Trump should be the clear choice.

Cruz’s words didn’t go over well in the convention arena, home of this year’s NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. For a building so used to nothing but cheers, it was riveted by a resounding chorus of boos as Cruz exited the stage.

It could almost be said this was truly #NeverTrump’s last gasp and best moment at the same time. The days and weeks ahead will most certainly reveal what Ted’s real motivation was in being so ambiguous. For now, conservatives and Republicans are left to wonder why the man many of us supported so strongly for so long could have disappointed us so deeply.

Of course the media attributes Cruz’s behavior as a continuation of his career pattern. Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim of Politico report, “The man who’s made a career infuriating fellow Republicans on the Senate floor did the same thing on Wednesday night — on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena. Drowned out by cat calls and boos from the crowd, Cruz showed again that he has no compunction about being the lonely, unpopular naysayer. His stand won’t cause a government shutdown this time, but the chasm he refused to close could damage Trump’s bid for the presidency.

“But Cruz, again in keeping with his time-tested m.o., chose purity over accommodation. On the biggest stage in politics, he was unwilling to promote a man who attacked his wife and his father as the two battled it out this spring.”

Without overstating the obvious, reaction to Cruz was immediate and harsh. In their article the Politico journalists quote one delegate from Texas as saying Ted only did it to further his own ambitions and then billionaire Sheldon Adelson apparently wouldn’t even speak with Cruz after.

Ted does indeed seem like a lonely man without a cause at this point. Not quite #NeverTrump and not quite Trump supporter.

Trump’s reaction to Cruz was somewhat predictable. He tweeted, “Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!”

Trump himself appeared to enter the arena just as Cruz was speaking. As boos started to echo, Trump applauded and even gave a thumb’s up. It wasn’t immediately apparent whether Trump was disapproving or if he was merely indicating, “It’s okay. He doesn’t have to say it. I know it was a nasty primary campaign. All is well.”

The whole affair was strange, indeed. I think it’s going to take some time to filter through all of this to determine what it means or whether it will make a difference in November’s outcome. Somehow I doubt the average Trump voter will care what Ted thinks, but it could have some influence on party unity if Cruz doesn’t clarify going forward.

Marco Rubio’s brief remarks played by video just before Cruz went on stage and although Rubio himself didn’t go out of his way to overtly praise Trump, Marco did make it clear the nominee would be a much better choice than Hillary. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker spoke earlier in the evening and basically indicated the same thing and it was time to get behind Trump now.

The building was still buzzing as Trump’s son Eric took the stage after Cruz, the third of The Donald’s adult children to speak at the convention. After two days of “plagiarism” charges had stung the family, Eric’s address was 100% original.

As is true with all the Trump children, Eric is extremely well spoken and represents the family well. Though I’m not sure his remarks hit the high notes of the others, his speech was excellent and the audience seemed to love it.

The Gingriches, Callista and Newt, followed Eric Trump. Callista introduced the former Speaker and as Newt began his speech, he did something unique: he tried to put Cruz’s remarks in context.

Gingrich said Cruz was merely advocating for the candidate who would honor the Constitution (which is true), and that person is Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton. Gingrich’s words helped soften the blow of Ted’s speech and the enthusiasm in the room appeared to rise noticeably after that point.

Leave it to Newt Gingrich to try and make things right again.

Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence rounded out the evening, introducing himself to the national audience with humble and self-deprecating humor, then proceeded to methodically lay out the reasons why Donald Trump will make a great president and why he decided to return to Washington.

All in all, a very appropriate, well thought out and executed speech. Mike Pence will make a great vice president if given the opportunity. I think Trump did himself well by choosing him.

But there’s no question the Cruz speech will continue to have people talking…at least until the Trumps (Ivanka and Donald) take the stage tonight.

While I think everyone is still somewhat shocked by what happened on Wednesday night, a few thoughts are in order.

First, though Cruz absolutely stopped short of endorsing Trump and therefore healing the wounds from the primary season, he did make the case against Hillary and the Democrats (and all of the Washington elites) very effectively during his speech. In other words, Ted made it clear who people should favor, told them to make sure to vote in November and strongly implied they should choose Trump.

It looked to me like Cruz was delivering the same speech he would have given had he won the nomination. But he didn’t.

Without getting too far off track, Cruz kind of reminded me of Fonzie from “Happy Days” fame who could never quite say the words “I was wrong” yet clearly meant to do so dozens of times on the famous show.

To me, Cruz meant to say the “e” word (endorse), but couldn’t get himself to say it. A shame, yes, but also somewhat understandable after the bitterness of the primary season where personal insults were the norm rather than the exception.

Second, the party isn’t necessarily fractured because Cruz didn’t explicitly endorse Trump. After three days of speeches (including Ted’s) laying out the case against Hillary Clinton, it’s clear where Republicans stand on the question of Trump vs. Hillary.

Mike Pence himself was freely able to extoll Trump’s virtues and will continue to do so until Election Day. Because Donald Trump is an outsider, Pence can make a lot of assurances about what The Donald will do without a career’s worth of contradictory political moves to get in the way. In that sense, a lack of “experience” is a good thing.

Sarah Palin, as an example, was never fully able to back someone like John McCain because she is a principled conservative and McCain isn’t. She couldn’t say “John McCain will enforce our immigration laws” with a whole heart because she knew he probably wouldn’t.

Lastly, as I was watching Mike Pence talk, the thought occurred to me with a vice president like Pence and advisors like Newt Gingrich (see below), conservatives should not doubt for a minute that Trump will have a conservative administration.

Trump is definitely surrounding himself with all the right people. Pence and Gingrich both touched on the subject of the Supreme Court on Wednesday night. Trump’s judicial nominations alone make the case to vote for him over Crooked Hillary.

Looking back on the evening, I wonder if Ted Cruz almost felt at the end like maybe he’d made a mistake and should go back and try it again…but too late.

By tomorrow a lot of this will be forgotten, but the questions will linger for some time until Cruz can get himself to say “I was wrong” and perhaps even utter the “e” word.

He’d be a better person for it.

Carried to its extreme, John Kasich’s election boycott could make him the goat of the century

One of the major side stories this week in Cleveland is the ongoing saga of Governor John Kasich and whether he will one, show up at the Republican Convention in his home state,  and two, if he does, what he’ll say when he gets there.

Without rehashing the entire sorry episode, Kasich appears to still be carrying a grudge from losing the GOP presidential nomination to Donald Trump, a man the governor seems to think is unfit for the office of the presidency. Republican primary voters have spoken but Kasich likes to think he knows more than everyone else about political qualifications and virtue.

It’s as if one man can act as the prosecutor, judge and jury in the Trump “fitness” case. Kasich has run a quixotic campaign from the start, virtually camping out in New Hampshire last fall in order to outduel all the other establishment candidates and eventually earn a second place finish there, which he subsequently used to try and parlay into something much bigger in South Carolina and beyond.

When primary success didn’t materialize, however, Kasich stayed in the race anyhow and was technically the last Trump opponent to withdraw on May 4 (about twelve hours after Ted Cruz).

As governor of a crucial swing state in the election, Kasich’s holdout threatens not only his relationship with his fellow party members, it could also potentially take down the entire 2016 GOP campaign.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner writes, “Walk around the Republican convention and talk to Ohioans, to Republicans from around the country, and to party strategists about the feud between Donald Trump and John Kasich, and here's the short version of what you'll hear: Kasich is being a jerk, but Trump is crazy to fight with him…

“This fall, and especially in October, the GOP presidential candidate will need a huge assist from the Republican power structure in Ohio. He simply has to have it. And at the moment it looks very much like that won't happen.”

Top Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort speculated earlier this week that the Trump/Kasich divide is being fueled by Kasich campaign manager John Weaver’s belief that his candidate would have a better chance of being president in 2020 if Trump loses. Weaver answered Manafort’s theory by questioning the Trump-man’s past associations and then started talking about “principle and integrity.”

Whatever the reason for the dispute, Kasich isn’t in Cleveland this week and according to sources, won’t unleash Ohio’s political machinery to help Trump in November unless there’s some sort of drastic change in the nominee’s tone. It’s just like what Kasich did during the primaries, refusing to bow out to give Ted Cruz a one-on-one shot against Trump.

I think it’s just an ego-play on Kasich’s part to draw attention to himself.

Similar to the Democrats, Kasich just wants The Donald to talk nicer in pleasant company, as if a wave of undecided voters will come rushing to Trump’s side if he only speaks more softly. The whole notion is absurd.

While we must be very careful in not exaggerating the overall importance of someone like John Kasich to Trump’s chances of winning in 2016 or the conservative cause in general, Kasich alone would seem to hold a key to the election because of his unique position as governor of Ohio.

It’s said local and state parties can make two to three points difference in a statewide race. Mitt Romney lost Ohio by three points in 2012…you do the math.

Ultimately, John Kasich has many important future considerations to ponder because if Trump fails to win Ohio in November and consequently loses the election by a small margin, Kasich is going to look like a gigantic goat to every conservative and Republican in the entire country.

Even without knowing whether Kasich’s help alone could carry the state for Trump, if he refuses to help at all – a lot of rancor will be headed in his direction. Kasich’s future could be at stake…literally.

I’ve talked a lot recently about how Trump’s legacy and that of his children will always restrain him from doing something that would permanently soil the family name. The same concept applies to Kasich here as well, a man who came from humble beginnings to achieve quite a bit in the political arena.

If Kasich continues his holdout, and Trump loses, how could he possibly still believe anyone will support him in four years? The same logic could go for Ted Cruz as well, though as a senator from Texas, Cruz’s endorsement or lack thereof wouldn’t be nearly as consequential to Trump’s overall chances in November’s election.

As is the case with all remaining #NeverTrumpers or holdouts, it’s a shame that millions of future Americans will end up dying at the hands of abortionists because Kasich didn’t feel Trump talked “nice enough” now. Or when our Second Amendment rights are methodically reduced to zero, who’s to blame?

A little pride can take you to extremes and it’s truly tragic when innocents have to suffer because of one man’s stubbornness. And suffer they will if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints several Supreme Court Justices.

“Goat of the century” might be putting it too mildly in Kasich’s case. Better think about it, John. Your family name is at stake.

If Hillary wins, expect a mass exodus from the military Special Forces

Speaking of goats, we hear all the time about various liberal celebrities who vow to leave the country if Donald Trump is elected this year, an empty promise that most normal people consider more like a dare.

And judging by the names on the “leave America” list, it only provides MORE incentive for interested conservatives to vote for Trump. I personally think we could do nicely without the likes of Miley Cyrus and Whoopi Goldberg (two of the idiots on the list) after they’ve safely relocated to Cuba or some other destination more in tune with their ideological leanings.

But on a more serious note, electing Hillary Clinton could have a very real effect on the morale – and numbers – of our elite fighting forces.

Russ Read of the Daily Caller reports, “The best and brightest of the U.S. military and special operations community will quit if Hillary Clinton gets elected president, according to Benghazi survivor and former CIA operative John ‘Tig’ Tiegen.

“Tiegen witnessed firsthand the results of Clinton’s policy when he and his comrades in the Benghazi CIA Global Response Service Team defended U.S. consulate and CIA officials from a massive assault by radical Libyan jihadis Sept. 11, 2012. He told The Daily Caller News Foundation Clinton’s failure as secretary of state during the Benghazi attack has caused many of the nation’s most elite special operations forces to quit their jobs — a problem that will only get worse if Clinton is elected.”

Tiegen spoke at length at the Republican Convention on Monday night and the tale he told along with fellow Benghazi survivor Mark Geist will certainly resonate if enough voters hear about it. They recounted moment by moment what happened on September 11, 2012 when they were forced to fight off a fierce terrorist attack without any backup assistance from the powers that be in Washington.

Simply put, our best military men and women don’t trust their lives to politicians like Hillary Clinton who having nothing but contempt for America’s fighting forces. They know Hillary will not only leave them stranded in harm’s way, she’ll undermine their ability to resist by depleting the forces even further.

Needless to say, if Hillary Clinton takes the oath of office next January there will be dire consequences for all of us; but no doubt some of those results will not be immediately apparent.

A weakened and discouraged military is just one of them.

Who else will leave government service under such a scenario? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Newt Gingrich is pushing Trump to undo Obama administration on Day One – literally

Finally today, though we can’t be certain what will happen if Hillary wins the election we are getting a clearer picture of what might take place under Donald Trump’s control, including a glimpse at what The Donald’s first day might look like.

Alexander Bolton of The Hill reports, “Newt Gingrich, who is expected to serve as a senior policy adviser in Donald Trump’s administration if the GOP presidential nominee is elected, says he would urge a newly elected President Trump to sign as many as 300 executive orders on his first day in office.

“Gingrich, who, while serving as Speaker of the House in the 1990s, struck deals with former President Bill Clinton to reform welfare and balance the budget, says Trump will have to build excitement in Congress to break the legislative gridlock that has defined most of President Obama’s administration.”

It almost sounds like Trump will be getting a cramp in his hand just signing papers on his first day as president, but there’s going to be thousands of things to do starting the moment he walks into the office for the first time.

Gingrich offered moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as an example of a first day order and also suggested preparing big legislative items ahead of time that could be passed in the Trump administration’s first hundred days, kind of like what Newt did with the famous Contract With America.

Only with The Donald, it would be a “Trump ‘deal’ with America,” right?

Normally I’m not a big fan of executive orders, but if there can be simple, non-controversial things that can be done – or undone – with the stroke of a pen, it’s a useful tool for Trump to employ to get things moving quickly.

Gingrich also said Trump will need some Democrats to support him in his major initiatives. Good luck with that. Regardless, it seems putting together a hundred days agenda (and selling it to American voters) is a great idea, something Trump should definitely consider.

There will be more than enough tough battles with the Democrats in Congress over the next four years to last a lifetime. The mess Obama and company have created is already pretty intimidating and will likely get worse in the final half year of Obama’s reign.

It will be one daunting task, for sure. Making America Great Again won’t be easy…it will challenge the most capable and fearless of men, including Donald Trump.

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