I’m sitting in a hotel room in a Cary, NC where I’m here for the Civitas Institute Conservative Leadership Conference. I’m looking forward to addressing the 500 or 600 dedicated conservatives gathered here on the topic theme of “Freedom’s Battlefield.” We are on a very important ideological battlefield here in the United States. We must clearly define the philosophical differences between constitutional conservatism and progressive socialism. As well, we must take the expanded global battleground to defeat Islamic jihadism. The stakes could not be any higher as we move towards November 2016.
That being said, it was an incredible Thursday for two reasons. First we had former governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney taking to the stage to deliver a speech aimed solely against Donald Trump. This was not a good idea and in the end will only serve to open Romney up to unnecessary criticism and damage his reputation. His speech demonstrated a lack of trust in the will of the people to decide the GOP presidential nominee. It also proved the GOP elite patrician class is seriously concerned about what will happen. They see their interests at stake and are pleading for help.
Secondly, there was another GOP presidential debate last night, and I must confess, there should be no more.
I cannot tell you how many text messages and emails I received from friends who confided in me that they were embarrassed. The supposed debate devolved into yet another spectacle and presented voters with precious few substantive points.
Sure, there were tough questions, but with everything happening in the world –and America — it wasn’t very edifying. With the debate being held in Detroit, what better place to address the issue of failed progressive socialist policies? Think about what Detroit used to be. I was pleased to see they took on the Flint water issue, but no one really hit government incompetence as hard as they could have.
Here’s what I recommend going forward, now that we have just four candidates remaining. No more debate stage. Instead we should have a focused one-on-one with a candidate for 30 minutes — the others remain off stage in a sound proof room. They should be forced to answer the policy questions presented and with no one else on stage, they cannot pivot to soundbites or ad hominem personal attacks. The focus would be on the individual candidates.
Most of the debate last night resembled the background noise adults make during a Charlie Brown cartoon.
However, there were some statements that caught my attention, and one in particular — when Donald Trump stated “the military will do what I tell them.” For me that was quite disconcerting, because we already have a presidential administration mandating edicts to the military based on political ideology and campaign promises. I want a commander in chief who takes the counsel of our senior military leaders and doesn’t conduct petulant punitive actions against those who do not conform. Yes, the military will obey the orders of the president, but they must be ethical.
I truly believe that when queried about his statement today, Mr. Trump will take a different position.
So, you ask, who was the winner of the debate? My answer, no one, and further more, who cares? It’s a completely subjective question, because any of the four will spin the evening to their liking and advantage.
What matters are the results of the primary contests, and there are some 4 to 5 this Saturday. What IS evident is that Thursday was all about Trump taking a thumping, so what will be the consequences? If Donald Trump cruises to more electoral victories this weekend and onto Tuesday next weeks, the theme continues: that nothing Donald Trump says or is done to him makes a difference. Folks believe they’re throwing kryptonite, but in essence they’re weakly shooting spit balls.
The big question going forward is what will happen on Tuesday, March 15th when Florida and Ohio are up for grabs. If Sen. Rubio and Gov. Kasich cannot win their own home states, Katie bar the door, they have to drop out.
The question then becomes, if it ends up being a two-person contest, where will the mass of support align in the remaining contests? Sen. Cruz. did what he had to do, he won his home state of Texas and even picked up two more, Oklahoma and Alaska. But does Sen. Cruz play well in the Midwest and other northern states? And what about this chatter of a Donald Trump 35 percent ceiling? That would be tested, along with the hypothesis that 65 percent of Republicans don’t want Trump. Debates mean little now, other than just being entertainment. It’s about winning contests, and so far, only two fellas have really done so, Trump and Cruz.
The GOP elite nightmare would be for both Rubio and Kasich to lose on March 15th. They’d then be forced into the “devil and the deep blue sea” time for choosing — as Romney used Reagan’s line. You see, in the end, it just could be that the real losers in this are the GOP patrician class elites — what would they do?
These next two weeks are make or break moments for them and they’re pulling out all the stops. However, there were two really good articles that define what’s happening. One was written by my dear friend Monica Crowley in the Washington Times yesterday and defined Donald Trump as the GOP street fighter, something the party has not had in, well, perhaps ever. The other article was written by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal the past weekend and referred to Trump as the “defender of the unprotected class” — she defines the GOP elite as the protected ones. Both of those articles place Trump in a spot which defies all political logic, hence why it seems he can say and do anything and there are no consequences.
Thursday was certainly Bash Trump Day, and if he emerges unscathed and continues to win primary contests, then it may just be a fait accompli.
Who won the GOP debate? It matters not. The potential real loser in all of this could be the GOP elite and that will be known by March 15th. I can assure you there’s a reason why an outside Super PAC is putting some $20 million- plus into the “Stop Trump Train” campaign in Florida. They want Sen. Rubio as their standard bearer. What if Rubio fails and Kasich wins? Well, he’ll demand the GOP elite support…if they both fail, oops!
A head-to-head between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would be interesting, and perplexing to see as to whom the GOP elite would back, or would they take their toys and leave? The point to watch for coming up, is many of the upcoming contests are winner take all, closed Republican primaries. If Trump cannot win in Republican-only primaries, that may prove his Achilles heel. If he does, then he is indeed impervious to anything — he may be the Man of Steel. But like the forthcoming movie, perhaps there is a challenger, a Batman, who can take him on?