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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ted Cruz moves on with No Regrets

Donald Trump may have beaten Ted Cruz the presidential candidate in this year’s Republican nomination race, but didn’t defeat Ted Cruz the man.

Cruz is back to his “regular” job representing Texas in the Senate these days, but his campaign lives on through messaging and the spirit of his supporters, volunteers and staff.

Ted Cruz busAs a semi-send off, Cruz has released a new video which reveals his thoughts on the campaign and hints he will be back on the national scene in the not-so-distant future.

Caitlin Yilek of The Hill reports, “A teary-eyed Ted Cruz is hinting that he’s leaving the door open for another White House bid in a newly released video titled ‘No regrets.’…

“Cruz, with tear-filled eyes, says what the campaign accomplished ‘is frankly insane’ because ‘nobody thought we had a prayer.’”

The spot ends with a shot of Cruz’s campaign bus rolling along a snowy highway, with the words “to be continued” emblazoned on the screen.

The emotional punch of the ad speaks for itself. Click here to view it.

With the speed and furor of the campaign cycle it’s sometimes difficult to remember that Cruz and his staff were at this practically every day for the past thirteen months. Cruz was one of the most hands-on candidates of all time, all the while maintaining some connection to his Senate duties in addition.

Volumes will be written about Cruz’s role in shaping the campaign that Trump eventually won. Many will speculate that Cruz ultimately helped Trump win by keeping the conservative vote out of the hands of the establishment.

Without Cruz, Marco Rubio would certainly have given Trump a good run as the establishment candidate and might have ended up the nominee.

It’s a little early to pick apart the many pieces of the campaign to determine where things went wrong and how the junior senator from Texas was able to get so far in a campaign where not many gave him a chance a year ago when he announced.

For now, we’ll take Cruz at his word that his campaign will be “continued” somewhere along that hazy road in the future.

The #NeverTrump group could use a little “instant replay” in assessing their next move in the campaign

Two weeks removed from the fateful Indiana primary that effectively ended the formal resistance to Donald Trump’s becoming the Republican party’s presidential nominee, people are still trying to figure out where they stand on Trump himself.

There are his supporters, of course, and they’re very well-defined on their feelings. Then there’re the #NeverTrump people, who are equally clear on where they stand at this point in time.

Then there’s news outlets like the New York Times, which are uncovering old Trump acquaintances from decades ago in trying to dig up anything they possibly can to dirty the New York reality TV star’s reputation a little further (if that’s possible).

The only thing to be gathered from the diverseness of this opinion is there’s no way to characterize it all. Just like the man himself, the opinions on Trump defy categorization.

Take for example the nebulous #NeverTrump group. “Members” have all announced publicly that they will never support Trump for president. While they may be united around this singular cause, their reasoning for doing so varies. And even harder to determine is exactly who is in this group and whether never really means never.

One of the #NeverTrumpers, Jay Caruso of RedState, helps explain the boundaries and their core beliefs. “There is a list of 99 Republicans who are part of the #NeverTrump movement being circulated around the internet. Some of it is informational, others are using it as some kind of motivation to be more vocal in support of Trump. A cursory review of this reveals very quickly the broad spectrum of people who say they will never support Trump. It includes:

“Senator Ben Sasse, George Will, Brad Thor, Justin Amash, Rep. Mark Sanford, Jennifer Rubin, Ken Mehlman, Kevin Madden, Stuart Stevens, Glenn Beck, Lindsey Graham. Mona Charen, Charles CW Cooke, Erick Erickson and many more.”

For the full list Caruso mentions, click here.

Though if you polled each of these prominent individuals separately as to their reasons why they swore to never support Donald Trump, they’ll probably give you a multitude of different answers. Caruso says the group’s primary concerns are one, Trump’s lack of fitness for the office of the presidency and two, their collective holding of the interests of the country above the Republican Party.

For the latter reason, Hillary Clinton doesn’t factor into their thinking. I’m not sure how you can separate Clinton from any discussion of this fall’s election, but that’s about the gist of it.

It’s clear from seeing the #NeverTrump members that there isn’t any clear ideological breakdown to the group. Some are definitely from the moderate party establishment but there are also a number of principled conservatives such as radio host Mark Levin and Senator Ben Sasse included with the elites.

I personally believe #NeverTrump was started as a means to consolidate not-Trump votes during the Republican primaries. A few people announced they would never back Trump – primary or general election – in order to motivate not-Trump voters early enough in the primary season to rally behind one candidate to defeat Trump before he got too far.

The only problem is Trump got a lot farther than anyone anticipated and by then, it was too late for the #NeverTrumpers to go back on their vows. To do so would make them look unprincipled. Never means never, after all.

I think their stance is similar to the way baseball umpires handled calls before instant replay. Once the call was made, that was it – period. No matter how much a team’s manager would scream, insult or kick dirt on the shoes of the guy who made the call, they wouldn’t change it.

Thankfully, instant replay seems to have solved the issue. Now, umpires reverse themselves all the time in games and (mostly) everyone’s happy.

Can such a thing happen for #NeverTrump?

From my own conversations with people who “hate” (their word) Trump, they describe more of his personal characteristics than his political opinions. “I don’t like the way he talks about women.” “He scares me.” “He’s rude.” It goes on and on.

This segment of the #NeverTrump opinion clearly belongs in the “he’s not fit for office” group. I’m not sure if they would be swayed by a decided change in Trump’s demeanor or not. They seem pretty set in their views on the man and aren’t likely to change no matter what Trump does, including naming a running mate who they might like or respect.

For the “interests of the country over the party” group, Trump might be able to make some inroads, because he would be able to show how the country would benefit from having him as president over Hillary Clinton. This is where the notion of personnel enters the picture. Trump must name names on who would be serving in his administration and they must show the type of conservative ideological bent that he lacks.

For some, even that might not be enough. W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes there’s an identity crisis in the GOP because of Trump. “Insofar as Trump signifies anything larger than himself, he could shift conservatism away from the libertarian-traditionalist fusionism of the GOP since Ronald Reagan toward the nationalism and populism of right-wing political parties all over the world...

“Post-Reagan, conservatives defined the party even if they didn't always control it. Post-Trump, conservatives might have a place at the table. It just won't necessarily be the head.”

It seems obvious this conservative soul-searching will continue. Opinions will change some before this November’s election. The question is, will it be more favorable to The Donald or only serve to make the forces opposed to him even more committed?

Maybe like baseball umpires, the #NeverTrump group could use some “instant replay” of their own…then they could change their initial call and no one would accuse them of being biased.

Kasich rules himself out of the #NeverTrump third party sweepstakes

Technically speaking, the last Republican not-Trump candidate standing was John Kasich, who pulled out of the race the day after the Indiana primary, about twelve hours after Cruz said goodbye.

The rationale for Kasich’s campaign was a mystery from the beginning, as he barely satisfied the top-tier criteria for the Republican debates and never built much of a following outside of liberal New England and his home state of Ohio.

He left in fourth place in the overall delegate count, still trailing Marco Rubio who had been out of the race for over a month and a half at that point.

So it’s kind of surprising that some in the #NeverTrump contingent were holding out hope Kasich would act as their third-party candidate to run against Trump in the fall. Well, those hopes were dashed on Monday as Kasich said he wouldn’t do it.

Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico reports, “Despite acknowledging an effort to get him to launch a third-party bid for president, Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday ruled out the possibility of running as an independent…

“’No, I’m not gonna do that,’ he added, when asked if he was considering it and why. ‘Well, I think that — I gave it my best where I am, and I just think running third-party, it doesn’t feel right. I think it’s not constructive.’”

Kasich is right, of course, it wouldn’t be constructive. But that didn’t stop him from running for president in the first place or continuing to campaign for months after it was clear he wasn’t going to win. Maybe he’s ruling out a third-party run to keep his name in consideration for Trump’s vice president (though he insists he’s not interested).

Though there’s some argument Kasich could help Trump carry Ohio in the general election, I doubt he’d be helpful across the board. Trump needs to shore up his credentials on the conservative side, not the liberal center.

Like Cruz, “crazy uncle” John Kasich will be remembered as one of the colorful elements of the campaign that Trump won. But unlike Cruz, I highly doubt there’s a “to be continued” line to end his story…

Obama gives GOP a bit of advice in regards to Trump

Finally today, after seven years in office, Americans understand that Barack Obama thinks he knows everything there is to know. But now Obama’s even giving Republicans a piece of advice.

Jordan Fabian of The Hill reports, “President Obama on Monday said the rise of Donald Trump should give the Senate ample reason to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

“Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings or a vote on Garland since he was nominated two months ago. But Obama said they should reconsider their stance now that Trump is the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee.”

There’s nothing Obama would like better than to remove the Supreme Court nominee issue from Hillary Clinton’s baggage in the fall. With Obama’s guy safely on the Court for life, he will have effectively stamped legal approval on every aspect of his agenda and cemented his legacy for a generation.

Conservatives have every reason to be furious with the feckless Senate Republican leadership. But this is one instance where McConnell and company are doing the right thing. Should they start taking Obama’s advice on the matter of confirmation, that’s the last straw.

Obama should realize the prospect of Trump as president isn’t scaring a lot of people these days. Maybe he’d be better off commenting on the happenings in his own party’s nomination race, where a kooky old socialist has pushed his pal Hillary to the brink. Talk about nuts.

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Did conservatives ever control the Party?

“Post-Reagan, conservatives defined the party even if they didn't always control it."

In that the Platform was conservative to satisfy the plebes, maybe.
In actual control, not at all.

What we mostly got were big government warmongers - nobody after Reagan really understood "peace through strength" - we were too busy fighting avoidable brush fires, as much for "humanitarian" reasons as anything else.
You can sum up this bunch of Neocons like McCain and Graham as "bomb people we don't like over there, welcome people who don't like us over here".

The only post-Reagan operation which made sense was Kuwait (Desert Storm), and in retrospect, even the refusal to take out Saddam makes sense - look at the mess we have now, and the genocide of Christians - say what you will about the leaders we've deposed since (none of them nice guys) - Christians were surviving before the regime changes.

The remarkable thing about Cruz and Trump is that both wanted less entanglements abroad, with the possible exception of Cruz wanting to take out ISIS at source, but both agree that regime change has not gone well.