I reserve the right to change my mind on any of these current candidates tomorrow.
1. MARCO RUBIO – Rubio’s been the one I’ve supported because I agree with him on the issues the most of the four remaining men. I think he would be a transformative president. Poll after poll shows he would beat Hillary Clinton in a general election, better than Cruz or Trump would fare.
I like most of his tax plan, I like that he supports Congressional term limits and balancing the budget. I don’t like that’s he’s taken a much more hawkish tone since the Paris attacks and wants to beef up the Patriot Act.
He’s won Minnesota and Puerto Rico, but the other 18 contests so far have gone to Trump or Cruz. At least Rubio can claim he’s the only won to get more than 50% of the vote in any one contest.
Rubio really threw himself on the Trump grenade. It’s diminished him, but it also did slow down the momentum of Trump. Unfortunately for Rubio, Cruz is the main beneficiary from it. I saw someone mention that Rubio lost the prisoner’s dilemma. Rubio and Cruz seemed poised to go after Trump after their last debate, but Cruz stabbed Rubio first. Cruz is campaigning hard in Florida, not because he think he can win, but because he believes he can do enough damage there to stop Rubio from winning. If Rubio loses Florida, a winner-take-all state, it’s over.
2. JOHN KASICH – If Rubio loses Florida, but Kasich wins Ohio, it’s a new day. Kasich may be playing a longer game than anyone. He doesn’t have the money of Cruz or the free air-time of Trump so he keeps pinpointing certain states to focus on, and lets the vast majority of chips fall elsewhere.
Kasich actually has a pretty good track record. He was a Congressman for a while and was part of the 1990’s Congress that actually balanced a budget. He went back to work in the private sector for a while, also would guest on Fox News sometimes. I remember him guest-hosting the O’Reilly Factor more than once. Then he ran for governor of Ohio and he’s shown reform there, making him one of the more popular GOP governors in the nation.
Kasich’s the last governor standing, and generally it’s a governorship that provides the best training for becoming a president. I like that he’s trying to keep things optimistic. I like that he’s for limiting the scope of the Patriot Act. He strikes me as the best of the four who could actually get Congress to work together. But if he loses Ohio, it’s over.
3. TED CRUZ – I feel like my life as a Republican would be easier if I liked Cruz, but when almost everyone who has ever worked with him despises him, that’s a warning sign. He comes across to me as opportunistic and phony. I don’t get inspired from listening to him speak, I get annoyed. I don’t want my president to sound like a nasally Jimmy Swaggart and smile like an alien trying not to blow his cover.
Once Cruz was elected, he’s done a lot in the Senate to obstruct and undermine, but not win. It may win with his brand, but he hurts everyone else and doesn’t seem to care. The real character signal for me is the way he blasted Mike Lee. Lee is the closest thing he has to a friend in the Senate, and his willingness to throw Lee under the bus shows he has no loyalty to anyone but himself. And then he turns around and says anyone who doesn’t support him is “the establishment” or “the elites.” Strawmen.
Cruz says reporters are telling him they have exposes on Trump that they’re not going to run until June or July. But Ted won’t say who. Does anyone really believe reporters would confide in Cruz that way? Cruz makes my skin crawl.
But … according to ISideWith, I actually agree with Cruz more than Kasich. And he’s better than Trump.
4. DONALD TRUMP – Trump’s reaching working-class voters in a way that the other three aren’t. After fifteen years of war, too big to fail, and stagnant wages – on top of conservative media types more concerned with enriching themselves than actually solving anything – a lot of people feel left behind too. They’d like a Republican who’s as anti-mainstream as possible to blow things up. A lot of working-class voters on the left feel the same way, where they see the embodiment of crony capitalism / DC corruption in Hillary Clinton as a front-runner, and so the rise of Bernie Sanders.
One thing that drove me nuts about Romney’s 2012 campaign was his disproportionate emphasis on helping small business owners over regular workers.
So Trump comes along. He’s a strongman. He shows toughness. He gets a lot of support from people who like that he “tells it like it is” even though he lies more than anyone else running on both sides. He talks circles around questions without answering them. He’s a narcissistic vulgarian who hasn’t shown much of a moral code in his life. When he gives speeches, you don’t hear much about love of country. You hear about polls and how people love him. The slogan “Make America Great Again” has the implied “I Will” in front of it.
More than once in the most recent debate, he said he’d order the military to kill family members of suspected terrorists, even though it was illegal. Sure he walked it back the next day, but that evening, he felt really good about planning to commit future war crimes. He’s the American Benito Mussolini.
Now what does that mean, really? He appeals to the authoritarian, nationalist side of a lot of people. He’s about the cult of his personality. His high-tariff trade-war plan would kill the economy. He’s demonstrated he doesn’t really understand the details of the federal budget. If people think Obama made America lose some stature and/or credibility around the world, that’s nothing compared to what Trump will do.
Even now, as he says he’s funding his own campaign, it’s a shell game. He’s funding loans to his campaign, but as donors come in, he’s going to reimburse himself.
Back to the conservative media types. At least Trump’s exposed a lot of hypocrites, the craven attention-seekers who care more about spotlight than principle. I’m no purity-test guy, but good grief. When Trump says he will order the military to do illegal things and they don’t bat an eye, what is going on?
So here’s to his enablers and suck-ups: Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Joe Scarborough, most of Fox News, and most of Breitbart. Shoutout to Fox Business Channel, soon to be renamed Trump Business Channel. Mazeltov to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Matt Drudge, and everyone at Right2Rise. Applause to the decisions boards of CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for his wall-to-wall coverage. Kudos to Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Sessions, and Paul LePage for bowing to the Strongman.
As for the Democratic race…
1. BERNIE SANDERS – At least he’s honest. His wild ambitions for a socialist America would be obstructed by a Republican congress.
2. HILLARY CLINTON – Probably the most vulnerable Democratic nominee since Jimmy Carter ran for re-election, and yet the GOP can’t get its act together.