Rubio's third place in Iowa heartens GOP leaders

It was only a branch scratching against a window in the storm. That’s how Republican leaders would like to see the presidential campaign of Donald Trump now that Iowa has made him smaller and less mysterious. “Donald Trump Isn’t Real” is the headline on David Brooks’ New York Times column today; “Dead Clown Walking” reads the front page of the New York Daily News. Mr. Trump is both the Wicked Witch (melting!) and the Wizard (just a little man making it up as he goes along) in “The Wizard of Oz.” Or he’s Orson Welles’ character in “The Third Man,” introduced as a huge, looming shadow but quickly reduced to being chased through the sewers of Vienna.

Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa caucuses can be written off, for now, as a quirk of a state dominated by the evangelical Protestants who previously backed Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. To the relief of Republicans who want someone “electable” against Hillary Clinton (still the overwhelming favorite on the Democratic side), Marco Rubio was a strong third, and he carried five counties that went to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012—including Polk (Des Moines); next-door, suburban Dallas; and Johnson (Iowa City). He showed strength in the relatively urban, well-educated and religiously diverse counties that better reflect later primaries (such as New Hampshire).

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Still, it’s premature to say that Rubio has clinched things. Together, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and fellow “outsider” Ben Carson got more than 60 percent in Iowa, and 55 percent even in urban Polk County. Mr. Trump narrowly won Dubuque County in the east and Woodbury County (Sioux City) in the west—both with Catholic pluralities and possible harbingers of strength in smaller, blue-collar cities like Manchester, New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio may be able to consolidate big cities and (more important) big suburban counties to replicate Mitt Romney’s Republican primary coalition of 2012, but Donald Trump may not be as easy to brush off as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Mr. Trump has real differences with Mr. Rubio in substance, if not detailed policy, voicing a harder line on immigration, more skepticism about military intervention abroad (though air bombing is probably fine) and a promise not to touch Social Security (“reform,” such as raising the retirement age, is dear to the establishment types now rooting for Mr. Rubio).

Donald Trump’s vague economic populism and spotty commitment to social conservatism on matters like fighting same-sex marriage may be more attractive than Marco Rubio’s conservative orthodoxy to suburban voters in major primaries like Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Mitt Romney carried the latter two states by less than five points against Rick Santorum in 2008. As I argued in an earlier post (“Split Urban Vote May Lead to Cruz Nomination”), even a Trump who limps through the primary season with 15 percent could cost Mr. Rubio some major contests.

Marco Rubio’s strategy of late has been to ape Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as much as he can, straying from his formerly optimistic message in favor of apocalyptic visions and tougher language on foreign policy (though his commitment to Bush-style interventionism has him promising to send more people to Guantanamo rather than adopting the Cruz strategy of simply carpet-bombing Syria). Mr. Rubio’s harshness may still allow an opening for John Kasich in New Hampshire—or a win for “comeback kid” Donald Trump, especially if Mr. Trump makes a swerve and campaigns as someone less angry and more conciliatory than Marco Rubio. He’s shown no hesitation to reinvent himself before. 

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J Cosgrove
1 year 11 months ago
Now, if Mr. Sullivan was really unconventional wisdom, he would have reported
Iowa's Big Story: Cruz 1, Ethanol Lobby 0
https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/02/01/iowas-big-story-cruz-1-ethanol-lobby-0/ That is amazing. From the article
Congress put the fix in when it mandated that ethanol be mixed into gasoline for no reason other than to play along with the Climate Change Hysteria Church. Farmers in Iowa have been the disproportionate benefactors of this, which has turned many Republican candidates into unabashed champions of federal mandates while courting the votes of Iowans. Ted Cruz was having none of that, and many thought that would be a liability. Iowa's taxpayer-gouging Republican governor sounded the alarm, warning the state's citizens of the pending apocalypse should Cruz prevail in the 2016 caucuses. Donald Trump, who never met an issue he couldn't immediately pander over, made hitting Cruz on the ethanol mandate the centerpiece of his closing pitch to Iowans.
Guess the author doesn't like Trump.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Mr. Trump is a complete fraud, a bombastic blowhard who has no difficulty contradicting himself at every turn. He is for partial birth abortion one minute, then against abortion the next; loves Mexicans, then says they are all criminals, says Megan Kelly is the best, then she is third rate; says no one likes Ted Cruz only a few months before claiming he likes Ted; says Iowan voters are idiots, but then he loves Iowa and even jokes he will buy a farm there (for a casino?). He is a complete rube when it comes to foreign policy or trade policy and has hurt most business partners and his workers in his many failed businesses. He was only recently a big funder of the Clintons, for goodness sake. Only Hillary Clinton competes with him on dishonesty in this race. So, it is disingenuous to write that Marco Rubio, who has said he has no intention of being in Trump's "freakshow" is in any way "aping" Trump. Even Cruz is in no way like Trump, in terms of duplicity, arrogance, bluster, and daily self-contradiction, etc. It would be a little like comparing Pope Francis to Trump, just because the former shares the "anti-abortion" claim with the latter recently and says he loves Mexicans. Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and several other candidates share an authenticity and steadfastness of principle, even if one disagrees with those principles. But, it might be hard to see that in a Republican candidate when one can only see with Democrat eyes.
Karen Costura
1 year 11 months ago
I am voting for Bernie Sanders because I don't believe it is in anyone's best interests to let ONLY billionaires and multi-millionaires run the country. For too long, the interests of "We, the PEOPLE" have not been represented fairly. I'm not okay with that. I used to be a staunch Republican, but now I think the party is absolutely insane and I can't believe intelligent people I know want to claim they are a part of it. Bernie just reminds me so much of FDR and his policies, and an FDR-type of president is exactly what this country needs right now. Why did I change my mind and go from staunch, very "right" Republican to supporting a democratic socialist? Simple. I did everything right my whole life--saved a good portion of my income, didn't get pregnant young (ever), bought my own home a couple of years out of college, worked 50-60 hours a week, was going to school to get my Master's degree. Everything you're textbook "supposed" to do. Then, I got cancer. And I couldn't work full time, so my job fired me. I only work part time now because I still can't manage, about 6 months later. And I still have cancer. Don't know if I'll ever be able to work full time again. The savings ran out because I had to pay for my health insurance out of pocket, mortgage payments, condo fees, all the typical bills--and a bunch of medical bills because the insurance only covered a portion of the various surgeries and radiation procedures. I'm not complaining--I get it. They're bills and I need to pay them. I just couldn't pay them. I met my husband and we got (civilly) married rather quickly partially because I needed to be on his health insurance (we had the Church wedding 6 months later). If I didn't have him, if I hadn't had been so blessed and lucky, I don't know what I would have done. I thank God for him. So, my situation changed--and it opened my eyes. So many people could literally be in my former situation. And it was a bad place to be. Bernie wants to make this country just so that it isn't so damned HARD for so many people. Millionaires will and can still be millionaires. They just can't get away with the loophole BS with regard to paying a fair amount in taxes. God blessed you with that. And maybe it isn't characteristically "fair," but maybe Jesus would want you to use some of it to help out your fellow man.
Tom Maher
1 year 11 months ago
Since before June 17, 2015 when Donald Trump formally entered the race for Republican Presidential nomination this post's author Robert Sullivan has been repeatedly forecasting Donald Trump "inevitable" demise. Robert Sullivan should have learned by now that despite the wishful thinking by numerous commentators and political analyst for Donald Trump's political demise, Donald Trump has actuality gained widespread support over the last seven month increase in the polls as reported by all polling organizations. Jeb Bush ,as Donald Trump is fond of pointing out, started out as the inevitable front runner and has spent over 60 million on political ads attacking Donald Trump is now polling at well under 5%. The more Jeb Bush attacked Trump the worse Jeb Bush did in the polls and the better Donald Trump did in the polls. Like Robert Sullivan some "Republican leaders" still talk after more than seven month steady decline in the polls and after Bush spending tens of millions in political advertising, a Bush ascendency in the polls. Most political analyst now realize after Bush's seven month all-out try, Donald Trump was elevated by Bush's attack ads. Robert Sullivan's weekly forecasting of Donald Trump's inevitable demise is getting very tedious. Sullivan fails to grasp the issues that Trump has constantly raised months ago have become a growing, intense and widely popular movement across all demographics for government policy reform and change of direction. Ad hominem, personal and political attacks on Trump only makes Trump all the stronger. People are very tired of the say-so of pundits and commentators supporting a status quo that is sterile of ideas, actions and results beneficial to the nation. The power of political correctness and its attempt to suppress political thoughts and speech questioning the status quo is no longer acceptable to the vast majority of the American public who want to hear and appreciate what Donald Trump has to say even if he is not at all politically correct. More realistically your readers should be advised to expect Donald Trump and the issues he raises will be around at least through the Presidential election in November.

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