Tag Archives: Iowa caucuses

Nice seeing you, Iowa; on to New Hampshire!


I’ve just shaken the dust loose from a night’s sleep and discovered the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses.

Two things jump out at me.

First, Ted Cruz’s victory well might be a hollow one for the Republican Party.

Second, Hillary Clinton didn’t win a thing last night.

Cruz thumped Donald J. Trump — yes, thumped — with a pretty convincing victory in the Republican caucus. Sure, a 4-point win isn’t yuuuge in conventional terms, but this ain’t a conventional election season.

Trump has boasted all those glowing poll numbers and all but guaranteed — a la Broadway Joe — a victory. His two-minute concession speech last night spoke volumes, though, about what happened.

The evangelical vote turned out for Cruz. They came “home” to Cruz, who’s really one of them, unlike Trump, who pretended to be one of ’em.

Why might a Cruz win in Iowa portend trouble for the GOP? He is a patently unlikable man, according to those who work with him in the U.S. Senate. He seems like a dedicated family guy; he might even be someone you’d want to talk to informally.

However, he talks a bit too brazenly about “carpet bombing” the Islamic State and putting “boots on the ground” in the Middle East.

OK, he makes me uncomfortable. That’s clear. It’s my own bias, which I admit to readily.

Hillary Clinton’s victory declaration was hollow.

Clinton declared victory. Is that right? How can she do that? She was tied with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic caucus.

If anyone can declare a “moral victory,” it would be Sanders, the indy/Democrat from Vermont who once trailed Clinton by a zillion percent in the polls. Yet he finished with nearly as many votes and delegates as she did.

Sanders now takes his “big mo” to New Hampshire, which is next door to Vermont. He’ll win there. Then the road show heads for South Carolina.

Clinton had better hope she keeps Sanders within sight as they move into the Deep South. She’ll need the African-American vote to put her over the top as the campaign then moves into some serious regional primary contests, which include Texas, in early March.

Honestly, I was hoping some of the other Republicans would do better. I am pulling for John Kasich to snap out of it; I once had hope that Jeb Bush might get ‘er goin’.

Oh yes, Marco Rubio? He declared victory, too, on the GOP side. He finished third. But that was good enough in young Marco’s mind to declare that he’s the man to beat.

Memo to Marco: You have to get more votes and delegates than anyone else to make that claim.

One final thought: All this analysis of Iowa might not matter.

If the Iowa caucuses are supposed to gauge the mood of the country, then we would have had President Huckabee or President Santorum watching all of this from the Oval Office.

It’s a marathon, folks. The candidates have just made the first turn.

Trump keeps scoring well with evangelical voters

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks during a rally coinciding with Pearl Harbor Day at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

It might be the most intriguing question coming out of the Iowa caucuses.

How has Donald J. Trump continued to gain the support of Republicans who call themselves “evangelical Christians,” the most conservative members of a generally conservative bloc of Republican Party voters?

He’s done well with them despite the following:

Three marriages — and two divorces — and well-chronicled affairs with married women around the world.

Trump actually has boasted about carrying on with married women and all the while he has declared that he’s never asked God for forgiveness because, he said, “I don’t need it.”

Some of us out here have asked for forgiveness for a whole lot less than what Trump has acknowledged doing.

That doesn’t matter to those who use their deep faith to help guide their votes for public officials.

It’s wacky out there, man.

All of this just might portend an equally wacky result once the Iowa GOP caucus votes are tabulated at the end of the evening Monday.

Yep. I’ll be watching these results with keen interest.


Iowa uncertainty brings new dimension of weirdness to race


It’s been said repeatedly for many election cycles that evangelical voters are key to the success of candidates seeking to win the Iowa presidential caucuses.

Republican candidates play to the evangelical voter bloc, realizing the critical role that devout Christians play in the Iowa political process.

The 2016 caucuses are almost here and, as has been the norm this time, some political traditions have been turned upside-down.

Cruz in trouble in Iowa

Consider this: The one-time favorite of Iowa Republicans, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, is now essentially tied in that state by none other than Donald J. Trump.

Cruz is supposed to be the golden boy for evangelical voters. He’s their guy. He’s the self-proclaimed “dependable conservative.” But now his support has eroded as Trump has gained ground and as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has risen as well to compete with Cruz for the evangelical vote.

What’s staggering to me, though, is why Trump is faring so well among those deeply devout voters. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that his expressions of faith sound, well, less than authentic. The “Two Corinthians” gaffe is a small, but still significant, demonstration of what I mean.

Trump talks about the Bible the way one talks about a Louis L’Amour western novel. “It’s a great book,” he says.

Well, I don’t know how this initial contest is going to finish on Monday. It’s only one vote, after all, in a long series of contests that candidates in both major parties will have to face as they fight among themselves for their parties’ presidential nomination.

But the idea that the vaunted evangelical vote is up for grabs with a candidate such as Donald Trump competing for it just boggles my mind.

I’m going to stay tuned for this one to play out.


It’s just about the ‘worst case’ regarding those e-mails


The worst case hasn’t yet arrived with regard to the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy.

However, it’s a lot closer than the presumed Democratic Party presidential frontrunner would like.

I won’t yet call this matter a “scandal.” It would elevate to that level if we found out that the classified e-mails that went out on the former secretary of state’s personal server got into the wrong hands.

The Obama administration today revealed that 22 e-mail messages that went through Clinton’s server have been labeled “top secret.” Clinton had said she didn’t knowingly send out sensitive material on the server.

The administration now says it won’t release the e-mails to the public because — that’s right — they are top secret!

We won’t be allowed to see what’s in them, which is just fine by me.

Most troubling, though, is that the e-mail messages very well could have gotten into the hands of those seeking to do serious harm to this nation.

We’ll need to know the truth about how those messages traveled through cyberspace containing the highly sensitive national security information.

Of course, the political ramifications of this revelation ramp up the stakes for Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where Clinton is locked in a tight battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is running a distant third, but suddenly he emerges as a potential spoiler.

Clinton is beginning to suffer from some trust issues with voters. The administration’s acknowledgment that the e-mails carried top secret information into potentially unsecured locations out there into the Internet universe could do serious harm to a candidacy once seen as unstoppable.


Clinton ‘inevitability’ has vanished

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she is introduced to speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

There once was a time when Hillary Rodham Clinton was considered a shoo-in to become the second consecutive history-making president in U.S. history.

You’ll recall the narrative.

She would succeed the first African-American president, Barack Obama, by becoming the first female president. She would win in a historic landslide. No one since, say, 1952, when Republican Dwight Eisenhower — who commanded our troops to victory over Hitler during World War II — was considered as destined to become president.

Then a funny thing happened.

Her critics began making points that stuck. They drew blood. The email tempest. Benghazi. Her occasional waffling. Is she trustworthy?

Then along came Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont running as a Democrat. He started drawing those huge crowds. He’s blasting the daylights out of big banks, Wall Street and demanding wage equality. He’s a socialist — and let’s cut the crap about “democratic socialist,” which is meant to soften the “s-word.”

Now the once-inevitable president is less so.

Fellow Democrats are now flocking to New Hampshire to say things like “a loss here won’t doom” the candidate. Former Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is among the latest to recite that mantra.

Maybe it won’t. Then gain, maybe it’ll signal a dramatic replay of 2008, when the then-U.S. senator from New York, Clinton, was supposed to be the nominee — only she ran into that young upstart from Illinois, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the self-proclaimed “skinny guy with the funny name.”

Does history repeat itself? Are we witnessing a sort of 2.0 version of what occurred eight years ago?

A lot of political analysts still believe Hillary Clinton is the candidate to beat. She has the so-called “ground game” in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. She’s got the party machine lubed and ready to roll for her in other key primary states.

Let’s remember, though, this truth about the 2016 campaign. All the “conventional wisdom” has been tossed into the Dumpster. I’m one of those who believed Clinton was marching straight to the Oval Office. I didn’t foresee what would transpire . . . any more than I foresaw would be happening on the Republican Party side of this contest.

You want unpredictability in a presidential campaign?

I believe we’ve gotten it.


GOP governor draws angry fire … from Republicans


South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley isn’t angry enough to suit some within what used to be known as the Republican Party.

No. She instead called on her party brethren to not listen to the “siren call of the angriest voices.” She offered that advice in her response on behalf of her party to President Obama’s State of the Union message delivered Tuesday night.

What was the reaction among the conservatives within her party?

Anger. Lots of it. Some of it, well, bordering on hateful.

Is this what the Grand Old Party has become? The party of intense, seething anger?

She aimed her fire, without mentioning him by name, at Donald J. Trump, the GOP frontrunner who has tapped into some vein of anger within his party. The call to ban all Muslims? That suits the Republican “base” just fine, irrespective of its being totally outside the principles on which this country was founded.

Haley sought to quell that kind of rhetoric in her GOP response. It was met with hostility.

This is a remarkable set of circumstances facing the Republican Party. It is about to commence its nominating process in just a little more than two weeks with the Iowa caucuses, followed immediately by the New Hampshire primary. Its leading candidate has stirred up some intense anger among the party’s most fervent voters.

Then the party — at the invitation of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — listens to Gov. Haley talk sensibly while offering criticism of the Democratic president’s vision . . . only to have its most conservative members go ballistic!

The Republican Party appears to be morphing into something few us recognize.


Trump tirade … up close and queasy


Ben White, writing for Politico, said he went to Fort Dodge, Iowa to get an idea of what the Donald Trump magic is all about.

He learned a lot about the candidate who’s taken the Republican Party primary campaign by storm.

White’s not sure why Trump remains at or near the top of the GOP campaign heap.

He got an earful from Trump during a 95-minute rant that included statements about how “stupid” Iowa voters must be if they like Ben Carson more than they like Trump; his cuff links; his experience with Macy’s department store; Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant taken captive by the Taliban … and a lot of other things that have nothing to do with much of anything relevant.

White wonders how it can be that Trump’s nonsensical rambling plays so well among his diehard supporters. In another time — not so long ago — a performance such as the one Trump provided in Fort Dodge would have doomed his candidacy. These days? Why, it’s possible his poll rating will skyrocket.

I’ll say this, though, based on White’s reporting of the event. It appears that the packed house of Trump supporters were getting a bit antsy sitting through his tirade. The cheers and whoops became less vocal the longer he went on, White said.

I’d wonder about now if this means he’s worn out his welcome among those looking for something different in a major-party presidential nominee.

Except that given the nature of the GOP campaign so far, I can’t rely on anything approaching conventional wisdom.


Unraveling has begun in Perry campaign

Texas Governor Rick Perry made his final appearance (in office) at a Texas GOP convention on Thursday, June 6,2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (David Woo/The Dallas Morning News)

Maybe it’s just me, but the resignation of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Iowa campaign chairman has the appearance of the beginning of the end of Perry’s second bid for the White House.

Sam Clovis, a popular Iowa radio talk show host, has resigned as Perry’s state campaign chair. It’s a pretty deal in a campaign that’s struggling to get traction as the Iowa caucuses are approaching.

The Perry camp continues to talk bravely about the Texan’s commitment to campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.

But it’s just talk.

Perry has quit paying his campaign staff because his fundraising has dried up. He languishes far behind the front runners in the polls.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the former governor, who entered this campaign far better prepared than he was for the 2012 GOP nomination fight which, shall we say, ended badly.

Can the Pride of Paint Creek pull it together? Well, only if every other Republican in the race starts drooling or commits some serious verbal gaffe.

Then again, Donald Trump is showing that even crass stump rhetoric doesn’t do any damage.



A Trump exit strategy emerging?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Dominick Reuter      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1GZCO

This is not an original thought. I heard it day before yesterday on CNN, but it’s worth sharing here.

It goes like this.

Donald Trump’s poll numbers are as high as they’re going to get; they’re at around 22 to 25 percent. Republican voters who currently prefer other candidates — that’s about 70 percent of them or so — overwhelmingly don’t want to vote for Trump as an alternative.

That means Trump has no chance of being nominated, let alone being elected president of the United States in November 2016.

Thus, he’ll drop out before the first contest in Iowa, which is just about four months away.

You see, the idea goes, Trump has been calling his GOP foes “losers.” He doesn’t want to be labeled as such.

So, he’ll find a way to couch his withdrawal in non-loser-like fashion. Maybe he’ll find a way — and this is my thought — to declare his intention to “pursue other interests.”

Then he’ll be gone.

Actually, I want him to stay the course. Take it to the limit, Donald. This is too much fun to let go.


Candidacy breeds generosity?

trump at fair

Donald Trump flew into the Iowa State Fair this weekend aboard his fancy helicopter.

He regaled the crowds and then gave children gathered around him free rides aboard the bird.

My wife wondered: “That’s all fine. It’s nice that Trump did that. My question is this — how many free rides to kids did he give before he became a candidate for president?”

Hey, maybe he’s the most generous billionaire real-estate mogul/reality TV star who’s ever lived. Or … maybe he’ a Scrooge.

My wife poses an interesting question that speaks to a larger issue.

You measure someone’s character by what he does when no one’s looking.