Tag Archives: New Hampshire primary

Is there a doomsday scenario developing?

Bernie Sanders appears to be winning the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.

Meanwhile, the one-time national frontrunner, Joe Biden, is finishing in a distant fifth or sixth place, pulling a single-digit turnout.

The former vice president of the United States, my preferred candidate, now must win in South Carolina. If he doesn’t win, he’s a goner.

Sanders is the “democratic socialist” who, if the Democratic Party nominates him, is going to walk straight into the Donald John Trump sausage grinder.

Are we being forced to accept the notion that Democrats just might nominate someone who wants to dramatically reshape the fundamental dynamic of our national economy?

Sanders keeps talking about leading a “movement.” Well, I am growing concerned that his movement is going to march off a political cliff and give a fundamentally unfit incumbent president a second term that — in my ever-so-humble view — might be more than this country can handle.

I am not liking what I am witnessing in this Democratic primary.

Democratic presidential field winnows even more

Andrew Yang is out. So is Michael Bennet.

Who’s next? Tulsi Gabbard might pack it in.

Yang and Bennet got next to zero support in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary. So the process that is supposed to cull the also-rans from the more formidable candidates is doing its job.

Yang, of course, offered that strange $1,000 monthly payment to every American. Bennet, a U.S. senator from Colorado, didn’t offer much of anything worth remembering.

As I write this brief note, Bernie Sanders is leading the primary. Pete Buttigieg is running second, with Amy Klobuchar running third.

Joe Biden? He boogied from the state earlier today and is now among friends and supporters in South Carolina, where he is likely to mount his last stand. If the former VP doesn’t win there, well 
 it’s game over for him, too.

Let us not forget we have two mega rich guys, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, still in the hunt. Oh, boy.

So it goes on.

Both major parties seeing huge transformation?

Horserace

I spent most of my day in airports and on airplanes today, so I was a bit out of the political loop.

Until I got home.

Then I found out that Donald J. Trump won the Republican primary in New Hampshire in a yuuuuge way. I also found out that Bernie Sanders buried Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

What does it mean?

Beats the devil out of me.

I’m not going to suggest just yet that both major political parties are in the midst of a major makeover.

Sanders’ win was expected, given that he is a virtual favorite son, as he represents next-door Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Clinton admitted as much earlier this evening when she conceded the New Hampshire primary to Sanders.

On she and Sanders will march to South Carolina, where a hefty African-American voter base is expected to give Clinton a built-in advantage.

Now, what about them Republicans?

Trump won by a lot. Perhaps the bigger tempest will occur among those who finished behind Trump. John Kasich finished in second place. Now the Ohio governor becomes the latest favorite of the GOP “establishment wing” to challenge Trump. What happened to Marco Rubio? Or Ted Cruz? Or Chris Christie?

As I finish up this post, I am hearing reports on cable TV news that Christie’s bid might be over. He savaged Rubio at the latest GOP debate, which appears to have inflicted near-mortal wounds on the young senator from Florida. Christie, though, didn’t get the bounce he expected. He’s heading for New Jersey, the TV talking heads report, to consider his options.

Look, I’ve noted already that some serious balloting is yet to occur. We’ve got the Super Tuesday event in early March, which includes big, bad Texas taking part in that primary donnybrook.

Will these results determine the future of both major political parties? Perhaps.

However, so help me, this election is impossible to chart with semblance of certainty.

 

If Hillary comes close to Sanders, she’ll declare ‘victory’

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Politics has this way of giving those who lose tough races a chance to declare victory.

Eugene McCarthy did it in 1968 when he lost the New Hampshire primary to President Lyndon Johnson; George McGovern did the same thing in 1972 when he finished third in a primary that was won by Edmund Muskie; ditto for Bill Clinton in 1992 when he lost to Paul Tsongas.

History well might be about to repeat itself Tuesday — if Hillary Clinton moves to within shouting distance of Bernie Sanders in the Granite State’s Democratic primary.

She’s trailing now. She might be closing the gap, according to some polls. If she loses to Sanders by, say, 8 or fewer percentage points, I can hear it now: Hillary Clinton will proclaim herself to be the “second comeback kid.” The first, of course, was husband Bill.

When Ted Cruz won last week’s Iowa caucus, we heard to other “losers” proclaim victory. One of them was Donald J. Trump, who reminded voters that the polls he loves to trumpet said he didn’t have a prayer in Iowa when he entered the race; he finished second behind the Cruz Missile.

Even more fascinating was how third-placer Marco Rubio declared victory in that astonishing speech to his supporters. Hey, Marco . . . you finished third, young man!

Of course, actually finishes don’t mean much in political terms. Candidates have perfected the art of the spin for as long as the process itself. These days the necessity is made more important given the presence of social media and 24/7 cable news networks.

The trick is to get the “victory” declarations out there before anyone has a chance to catch their breath. Get ahead of the story and make damn sure you stay ahead of it.

Bill Clinton declared victory 24 years ago. He didn’t actually win. He just made sure voters thought he did.

I’m almost willing to bet real American money that his strategy has not been lost on his wife’s campaign team.

Now it’s Marco Rubio in the bulls-eye

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It’s interesting to me how the center of attention among the Republican presidential candidates keeps changing.

Donald J. Trump? Step aside for now. Ted Cruz? Take a seat. Ben Carson? Well, your time might be up anyway.

Today’s target appears to be Marco Rubio, the young senator from Florida who this evening took some heavy incoming fire from Chris Christie . . . among others.

It’s a moving target.

Perhaps eventually the center of attention will settle on one individual. My guess is that it’ll be either Trump or Cruz. With GOP candidates dropping out after poor finishes, the field of candidates will narrow and the “targets of opportunity” will be reduced accordingly.

I was particularly amused by Christie’s attack line this evening when he chided Rubio for his canned-sounding responses to questions. He’s too rehearsed, too polished, too scripted, Christie seemed to say. The young senator — who’s not seeking re-election this year — needs to have an executive job, Christie said, like being a governor, a job Christie holds in New Jersey.

Indeed, some media are reporting this evening that the remaining governors and former governors in the GOP field — Christie, John Kasich of Ohio and Jeb Bush of Florida — took particular delight in unloading on the others who don’t have that kind of government “executive experience.”

Frankly, I cannot blame the governors for taking umbrage at the success some of these others are enjoying in this campaign — at the expense of the governors. I mean after all, we’ve seen several governors and ex-governors already drop out: Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker all have tossed in the towel.

Now, though, the target du jour is Sen. Marco Rubio, the latest poster boy for the so-called “establishment wing” of the Republican Party.

New Hampshire’s primary is set for Tuesday. Voters in both parties will be casting actual secret ballots in secure polling places for the individuals they believe should become the next president.

After this first round of voting, the question is likely to become: Who will be the next candidate to take the heavy fire?

 

Trump was the biggest loser

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Donald J. Trump doesn’t like to be called what he calls others.

Loser.

This morning, though, he is.

The real estate mogul/reality TV personality finished second last night to Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa. Cruz the Carpet Bomber knocked Trump down to second place by 3 or so percentage points.

It might be that Trump’s larger embarrassment — if he’s capable of feeling it — is that third-place finisher Marco Rubio damn near caught him.

Two junior U.S. senators — Cruz from Texas and Rubio from Florida — put Trump into a kind of a political fecal sandwich, which ought to have taken some of the swagger out of Trump’s campaign strut.

Ought to, yes?

Well, time will tell us pretty quickly whether it did.

Trump is heading to New Hampshire to carry on his GOP primary campaign, right along with Cruz, who vanquished him in Iowa and Rubio, who almost did.

I still don’t believe Rubio should have sounded so, um, victorious last night as he crowed about his third-place finish. Cruz and Rubio still finished ahead of him.

However, there are ways to spin this in a way that should give Trump plenty of pause as he marches on.

I am not going to speculate on what might have caused Trump’s failure to finish first, which he all but guaranteed. His stiffing of the Fox News debate? His phony pandering to evangelicals? His continuing insults to just about anyone who disagrees with him? The absolute absence of a sophisticated policy — on anything?

It might be one of those things. Or all of them. Or, perhaps, none of them. There might have been just a visceral dislike for a guy whose glitzy New York style just doesn’t play well with the corn-fed Middle Americans who comprise Iowa’s voting  population.

The next chapter in in this saga is about to unfold.

On to New Hampshire!

Nice seeing you, Iowa; on to New Hampshire!

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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.

GOP governor draws angry fire … from Republicans

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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.

 

The culling of the fields is about to begin

Leader

The American presidential nominating process is a grueling exercise.

It’s also a useful one.

The Iowa caucuses are about to begin in three weeks. Right after we’ll witness the New Hampshire primary elections.

The usefulness comes in the form of the culling of the fields that’s about to commence.

The candidates at the back of the Republican and Democratic packs have been able to retain their campaign viability by insisting that “no votes have been cast.” That argument ends in Iowa.

Who’ll pack it in?

Martin O’Malley will exit the Democratic Party race, leaving the field to just Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

On the Republican side, the outcome is a bit murkier.

It has become a battle for third place. The top two spots will go to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Third? It’ll be either Marco Rubio, Chris Christie or maybe Jeb Bush. After that, the rest of ’em ought to bail out.

Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Jim Gilmore (yes, the former Virginia governor’s still in the hunt) all need to exit the stage.

Of the also-rans, my biggest disappointment would be Ohio Gov. Kasich. He’s got a tremendous substantive argument to make: that he, as House Budget Committee chairman in the late 1990s, helped produce a balanced federal budget by working with President Bill Clinton.

That hasn’t worked with the GOP base, which lusts for the red meat being fed to it by the likes of Trump and Cruz.

The process, though, does produce winners. It’s often not pretty to watch. This year has been ugly, to be sure.

However, the process has worked every four years for as long as most of us can remember.

The serious winnowing of both parties’ fields will commence soon.

Let’s all stay tuned.

 

Heading for ‘home stretch’ . . . already?

Horserace

The nation’s political media are misleading the public about the nature of the 2016 presidential campaign.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it said on broadcast and cable TV news shows that “we’re heading toward the home stretch” of the campaign.

What’s at the end? The Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

Is it me or are the media getting way, way ahead of themselves in declaring that the major-party contests for president of the United States are about to conclude?

I’m scratching my head — even as I write the words contained in this blog post.

The Republican Party primary still has about a dozen candidates running for the presidency. I agree with most “experts,” though, in limiting the front runners to four, maybe five of the GOP candidates. Who are they? Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz . . . and perhaps even Jeb Bush.

The Democratic Party primary has become a two-candidate match race: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

So, do the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary signal the end of the race? Hardly. They symbolize the beginning of it.

I am continually amazed at the shallowness of the media coverage of both parties’ campaigns. The media gripe about the “horse race” aspect of this coverage, yet they continue to focus on it at the expense of serious examination of the candidates’ issues statements.

Oh, sure, the media have had plenty to say about Trump’s immigration plan, his ban-Muslims idea and a tax plan that doesn’t add up. But they couch it in terms of what these things do to his poll standing.

The media keep focusing on whether Clinton or Sanders are leading in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

The Iowa caucus doesn’t represent the end of the campaign. It’s just the beginning. We’ve got a long way to go before the conventions get underway.

What’s more, if none of the Republican candidates can sew up enough delegates to be guaranteed the nomination before the GOP convention begins, well . . . we’re going to have a serious donnybrook on our hands in Cleveland.

The end of the race is at hand? Nope.