Saturday, August 22, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 34

Despite the continued attention on Donald Trump and his impact on the large GOP field, the main question of Campaign 2016 involves the fate of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She may be elected President next year. She may also wind up headed to prison. It's a pretty remarkable range of options that I believe is unprecedented for an active candidate.With each passing day, comes more news of her email scandal and continued revelations about classified material. Democrat partisans rush to defend her and claim this continues to be much ado about nothing. Republican partisans believe this is a very serious and potentially criminal matter. Clearly, I am a Republican partisan, but I  can also try to look at this objectively and it seems clearer than ever to me that if any any government official had done what Hillary Clinton had done, they would be facing federal charges. It could be though that her role as the Democrat front-runner will prevent the Justice Department from taking action, although voices, typically on the right, whisper that Barack Obama absolutely wants to take her down, perhaps lingering hard feelings from 2008, and will allow a prosecution to move forward.

In the meantime, Hillary Clinton's political standing continues to erode. She leads Bernie Sanders in almost all Democrat polls, but the avowed socialist has been gaining and speculation continues to swirl around Vice President Joe Biden becoming a late entrant into the race. There is word that he may even wait until October to decide. Clearly, Clinton's political situation is playing a heavy role in his decision making. Her partisan cheerleaders and campaign staff may try to deny it, but the headlines and the narrative seems to be getting worse for her by the week. She took part in a particularly disastrous press conference this past week in Nevada, in which she sparred with reporters, spoke in dismissive and evasive language, and made an ill conceived joke about wiping her server "with a cloth." Perhaps most remarkably, she did all this while wearing an orange pantsuit which very much resembled a stylish version of the orange garb worn by a prison inmate.

The Republican field remains chaotic. Donald Trump continues to get the overwhelming majority of the coverage, which is part of the reason why he continues to lead most polls. My views on his and his campaign are well-known to anybody who has been reading these weekly summaries. Either he is trolling the entire political process or there is something very much wrong with him psychologically. He spoke before a huge crowd last night in a college football stadium in Alabama, and the state's GOP Senator Jeff Sessions joined him onstage. While Sessions did not formally endorse Trump, he did speak positively about the new immigration plan released by Trump. While the now GOP candidate spoke after the 2012 election about how Republicans were viewed as too harsh on the issue, he has put forth a plan that goes well beyond what any mainstream Republican Presidential candidate has ever proposed in regards to mass deportations The plan is clearly unworkable and frankly un-American, but the rhetoric and anger behind it gives him points with some at this stage of the game.

Much of the rest of the discussion this week involved "birthright citizenship", in which under the law, any baby born on American soil, even those born from undocumented immigrants who might have just crossed over, are automatically American citizens. Many call them "anchor babies" which has become a loaded term. Trump has said he has no problem using that language, and his GOP opponent Jeb Bush, who apparently spoke out against the term in the past, also has now used it, although he phrased it more of describing what others say. Reporters though tried to take issue with Bush for using it and he seemed to indicate it was an accurate term to describe the situation.

Nonetheless, Jeb Bush, along with a handful of other candidates have come out strongly against the anti birthright citizenship proposal, which many feel would require a Constitutional Amendment. Others in the GOP field, have said they agreed with Trump on the matter or that it is something worthy of consideration,. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, considered one of the major players in the race, had a particularly confusing week talking about immigration and seemingly trying to have it both ways.

In the wake of the prolonged Trump "surge" and the mini-surges being seen by Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Ted Cruz, Walker is taking a hit in the polls. Jeb Bush has to some extent as well, but he is more positioned to play a longer game than Walker, who pretty much has to finish first in Iowa early next year.

There is a long way to go and many things will happen until the Republican Party picks a nominee, but polls are giving optimism to them in regards to the general election. This is significant to Democrats as well, because Biden is now starting to poll better against the GOP contenders than Clinton, and Sanders is really not doing much worse. While a CNN national poll out this week, in contrary to many others, gave Clinton a significant lead over Jeb Bush in a general election, it had her only five points ahead of Trump, and that angle received a ton of media coverage.

This past week saw a bit of a rhetorical switch from the Bush campaign, with the candidate now actively going after Donald Trump, hammering him for past Democrat loyalties and positions and saying he is in favor of massive tax increases. Some in the GOP are applauding a "feistier" and more "combative" Jeb Bush, while others say that Trump is impervious to those kinds of criticisms. In any event, the media has been focusing more on Trump vs. Bush and that is going to continue to make it hard for all the other Republican candidates to get much notice.

Indeed, even to my surprise, various polls out of the swing states show that Trump is either leading Clinton or in contention. In some of those states, his numbers against the Democrats are in line with those of Jeb Bush, while others show him less electable than Bush, which I certainly believe is accurate. Walker seems to now be lagging other Republicans in some polls, but one candidate who is showing considerable strength in swing states, based on polls out the past week is Florida Senator Marco Rubio. If they are to be believed, he might now be the most electable Republican. (I am happy that the GOP might have multiple viable options, but I still believe Jeb Bush is best equipped to be the next President.)

Marco Rubio though, is someone to keep an eye on over the next several weeks, as his youthful appeal might increase anxiety among the beleaguered Clinton campaign. Like many other GOP contenders though, he is eventually going to have to find a viable path to the nomination.


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, Rubio will be aggressively playing the "Younger Generation" card to the very end as he promotes his campaign as part of the future!


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