The first presidential debate lived up to its high expectations, but FOX News clearly decided to take an early swipe at Donald Trump right out of the box with its “Hands Up, Don’t Scoot” question.
I think it backfired on them.
Yes, the folks in the audience didn’t like the fact that Trump wouldn’t promise to back the eventual nominee – unless it’s him, of course – and wouldn’t pledge not to run as an independent candidate – which, as he points out, would end his leverage.
He’s not the author of “The Art of the Deal” for nothing. This is exactly the kind of negotiating expertise he’s been talking about.
But bear in mind, that audience was peppered with every member of the Republican National Committee who was in Cleveland for their summer meeting. These are the party’s staunchest loyalists.
But once again I think the talking heads, pundit and professional consultants are missing how a large number of conservative Republican voters have changed on this issue.
For a long time, the GOP establishment has been able to guilt and shame conservative rank-and-file GOP voters into backing whoever they decide the party’s nominee should be. Indeed, they successfully shoved both “electable” John McCain and Mitt Romney down our throats – resulting in eight years of Barack Obama.
But the rank-and-file are tired of buckling to that sort of lockstep discipline. There is a disturbance in the Force. Many have it with the GOP establishment. And if they give us another McRomney, those voters are perfectly willing to not only sit out the 2016 election, but are open to voting for an independent.
Especially if it’s Trump.
A similar dynamic is already at play here in Nevada 3rd congressional district. The GOP establishment and special interests have rallied behind liberal RINO State Sen. Tax Hike Mike Roberson. He’s being challenged by two viable conservatives, plus Annette Teijeiro.
If Roberson ends up being the GOP’s nominee, not only will a lot of conservative GOP voters opt to vote for a third-party candidate or stay home, many are already telling me they’ll actually vote for the DEMOCRAT just to keep Roberson out of Congress!
Indeed, I might just do the same thing myself.
So the “My Republican, right or wrong” and “Any Republican is better than any Democrat” mentality is disintegrating fast.
In any event, while the “Hands Up, Don’t Scoot” question was clearly intended to embarrass Trump, it did no such thing. What it actually did was reinforce that in a field of 17 Republican candidates, he stands out from the pack the most.
Coming to Rosie’s Rescue
And then moderator Megyn Kelly – who seemed like she was trying to moderate the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade instead of a presidential debate – doubled-down on the “Get Trump” opening segment with her very CNN-like question centered around the BS issue of the so-called “war on women” by repeating things Trump said about loud-mouth, hyper-liberal Rosie O’Donnell in the past.
Seriously? That constitutes a war on women?
Kelly absolutely deserved the take-down Trump handed to her for such a ridiculous question.
And let’s take a minute here to talk about exactly what we’re talking about here in O’Donnell.
Rosie despises conservatives and Republicans. Hates them. She demonstrated that over and over and over again as a panelist on that left-wing chatfest, “The View.”
And who can forget that time after the Columbine tragedy that she roared, “Outlaw all guns, and put all gun owners in jail!”
Which she followed up with this about members of the National Rifle Association…
“I would say, maybe they care about their own kids. But not kids in general. The only life that is important to them is white, Republican life.”
But she also seems to hate America. Indeed, just last April she revealed that she had the flag of terrorist organization ISIS tattooed on her back, telling a liberal talk-show host…
“We need to recognize these brave individuals’ fight for their freedom against the corrupting Western influences. They are in a struggle for their way of life. Even as we speak, bombs are falling on their heads while they peacefully sleep, and no one seems to care about it. Where is the outrage? Why aren’t we protesting in the streets about the unjust treatment of ISIS freedom fighters?”
Freedom fighters? Who behead innocent civilians, especially Americans?
And I’m supposed to be upset with Trump referring to this uber-liberal, anti-American loudmouth as a “fat pig”? I don’t think so.
Club for Growth Slams Most Successful Pro-Growth Candidate?
I’m not sure who the Club for Growth’s favorite candidate is – though it absolutely is NOT Mike Huckabee – but they decided to go after Trump with a post-debate press release about his four corporate bankruptcies, including this conclusion…
“That’s a terrible track record for a man who would inherit a massive national debt that will need to be addressed immediately in January 2017. The last thing we need is Donald bankrupting the United States.”
Um, hello? Donald isn’t bankrupting the United States. Congress and Obama are!
Seems to me that someone who has successfully built up a $10 billion net worth with just a couple of crap-burgers in the process might actually know something about how to fix this country’s financial mess that the professional political class has gotten us into.
The Club for Growth also sent out a separate press release slamming Trump for past donations to Hillary Clinton and some other Democrats. But as PolitiFact notes, he’s been far more generous to GOP candidates and causes…
“(S)ince 1989, he’s contributed over $350,000 more to Republicans running for federal and state offices, campaign finance records show. Data from the Federal Election Commission and state elections offices provided by the two websites show that Trump has given $584,850 to Democrats and $961,140 to the GOP over the last 26 years.”
There’s something weird about CFG’s anti-Trump fixation. I wonder what it’s really all about?
The Rest of the Field
By the way, when I checked this morning, Trump was pulling 46% of the “Who Won?” poll on the Drudge Report, with Ted Cruz trailing way behind in second place at 14%. Everyone else was in single digits.
And as everyone knows, this was accomplished without Trump having any kind of professional campaign organization engineering participation in such polls. This is truly grassroots-driven, not grass-tops.
As for the rest of the field, just a couple of brief observations…
By all accounts, Carly Fiorina won the undercard debate hands down.
And Dr. Ben Carson (Disclaimer: I’m a consultant to a Carson super-PAC) clearly won the “closing arguments” portion of the main event with this…
“I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I am the only one to separate Siamese twins. The only one to operate on babies while they’re still in their mother’s womb. The only one to take out half of a brain, but you would think if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.”
His answer to a question about race relations – pointing out that as a neurosurgeon it’s not a person’s skin color that matters, but what’s inside – was also as brilliant as his surgical skills. The mild-mannered/soft-spoken Carson’s stock among GOP primary voters will surely go up.
And here’s the interesting thing about Trump, Fiorina and Carson: None of them are part of the elected political class. Their support and popularity among the rank-and-file is coming DESPITE not having “political experience.” What’s that tell you?
The rest of the field in both debates probably didn’t hurt themselves, but neither did any of them break away from the pack.
I continue to love this wide-open GOP field of candidates and the diversity of opinion, philosophy and experience they represent. It’s going to be an interesting next four weeks before the next debate at the Reagan Library.