Saturday, March 28, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 13

This past week, the Presidential contest did enter a new phase as the first major candidate held an official campaign announcement. Putting aside the contemporary standard facade of an "Exploratory Committee", freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz jumped fully into the GOP fray by declaring his candidacy at Liberty University in North Carolina. Some, including myself, had speculated that he might not really run this time after all, but clearly, Cruz sees his value in this race and is a bona fide candidate, complete with a red, white, and blue campaign logo, which shape probably resembles that of the Al Jazeera television network more than they realized.

After the 2012 Republican National Convention, I remarked how completely impressed I was by Cruz's presentation, which was articulate and well-delivered, and took place away from the podium and teleprompter, and without notes. His announcement speech this week was along those lines, and even those who despise Cruz politically and personally remarked at how effective he was in that format. Imagine a President who was not beholden on a teleprompter, after all. While I have not seen the entire speech, it was remarked that Cruz gave a well-organized and effective conservative message while speaking "in the round." Conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh has been especially effusive about it ever since. This was apparently a mandatory event for the students at the private Christian university to attend, and some in camera view expressed their free speech by wearing shirts advertising Rand Paul,  a fellow Senator who is soon to formally become an opponent of Cruz in the GOP primaries.

Some on the left remarked that Cruz may have been "cheating" during this presentation by virtue of an earpiece, as he spoke via battery pack to a small microphone near his mouth. Even if that were true, I fail to see what the big deal would be if he was getting "prompts" from someone during the speech, since the oratorical skills were certainly more impressive than relying on a teleprompter for a near word by word transcript. However, I saw a video clip yesterday of Cruz at a smaller event in New Hampshire, and he did have the same sort of microphone set-up on his head, which made him look more like Garth Brooks than a Presidential candidate in a relative small campaign setting. Maybe he really is getting some sort of "help" from a campaign aide off site, but if so, that might just be an example of innovation that others may soon use. I suppose it is ok as long as he does not do it in a debate, as some on the left hilariously accused George W. Bush of in 2004.

Cruz, the 44 year old Canadian born son of an American mother and a Cuban father continued to remain in the news for the rest of the week. One aspect involved long-time buffoon and Presidential tease Donald Trump going all birther on Cruz and questioning his eligibility to be President, as other had to Barack Obama. That episode did nothing to dissuade me from a conspiracy theory that Trump works in cahoots with Democrats and has been for a long time. Another story involved how Cruz, despite spending hours filibustering against it, and making its repeal a major portion of his campaign, is planning to actually sign up for Obamacare. His wife Heidi, is leaving a very well-paid financial job with Goldman Sachs (at least temporarily) to join her husband on the campaign trail, and with that, Cruz is saying he has no choice but to sign up his family for healthcare through his job in the U.S. Senate, which means Obamacare. I certainly do not think this is a huge deal. After all, part of being an American is abiding by and living with the laws of the land, even those with which we vigorously disagree, but some on the left have accused him of hypocrisy and some on the right after concerned about why he would actually go through with it and why he is not acting more angry about having to do so. While Cruz probably makes enough money not to fall into the problems that scores of Americans have faced due to Obamacare, his health care circumstance could give him some ground to become more familiar with the inner workings of the system for those who have been forced into it.

So, the past week mostly belonged to Ted Cruz, a candidate whom almost everyone in the GOP respects for his intellect, but many, including his ideological soulmates have tended to regard as a bit of a "showboat." For my part, I agree with Senator Cruz on just about all major issues, and feel if he committed himself to mastering the legislative process, he could become a giant in the U.S. Senate sometime soon. However, we have seen with the current occupant of the Oval Office, that being a masterful orator is not necessarily compatible with being a good President. For all of Cruz's political strengths, he is also someone who would have a very hard time winning over enough Americans, if he were somehow nominated, to be elected President next year. For now, Cruz will position himself as an unyielding, "courageous" conservative across the board, hoping to leapfrog over several other potential GOP candidates who will also try to claim that mantle. All things considered, the Texan's campaign kickoff did him well, at least among the type of GOP voters he is trying to attract.

Other candidates, in both parties, will soon also formally announce their candidacies, and political junkies will continue to analyze every single primary and general election poll, as well as fundraising, endorsements, and supposed gaffes along the way. There will be lots of other Republican candidates to examine in the weeks ahead, but right now, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush still look to be the two occupying the top tier. Many on the right continue to insist that they will "never consider a Bush", and look upon the former conservative Governor of Florida as practically being as bad as a Democrat. In the meanwhile, Bush is probably going to impress many in the media and elsewhere when his first quarter PAC fundraising numbers are released.

Walker continues to poll pretty well nationally, and in many states, but the jury is still out as to if he can amass a campaign infrastructure that is ready for prime time. Late this week, there has been a kerfuffle over Walker supposedly flip flopping over the question as to whether or not people in American illegally now, might one day have the opportunity to become citizens. Over the past couple of years, Walker has taken both positions on that issue and where he stands now is not exactly clear. If he is seen as having a similar position on the issue to Bush, his standing on the right might face some serious challenges, and could open the door to someone like Cruz or many others.

Right now, the "top tier" of the emerging GOP field is fairly exclusive, but it is remarkable just how many other Republicans look prepared to throw their hats into the ring and will be trying to generate attention any way they can.


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