There was another GOP debate last night, as you might have heard. When it all was over, I gave my unvarnished opinion on how the candidate’s fared on Twitter:
@BretBaier Cruz, Trump, Paul. Biggest loser: Rubio. Whiniest: Jeb! Guy from Ohio: Kasich
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
— Ray R (@rrothfeldt) December 16, 2015
When I awoke this morning, I was greeted with articles like this one in the Washington Post and this one in Politico. There are plenty of others out there, but if you’ve got a few minutes (that is, a few minutes you are not spending reading this post), perusing those two will do two things for you. First, you’ll immediately feel a need to purge lunch. Second, you’ll wonder (as I have) if they were watching the same debate as the rest of the country.
It is an important question, since most Americans still get their information from the same type of people who wrote those pieces. Obviously, the MSM was watching an old Dean Martin roast or something. Because otherwise, how could they possibly come to the conclusion that Marco Rubio was winner last night?
Of course, they weren’t watching a Dean Martin roast. And before you chime in, please let me state for the record that the pundits and writers who populate the airwaves and fill the white spaces in the newspapers are, for the most part, really intelligent people. But their problem is, as it has been for this entire cycle to date, that those really intelligent people haven’t been smart enough to leave the Beltway Bubble behind and get out with the people who are actually voting in these primaries. Because of that, we keep getting flawed coverage. They’ve been at a loss as to why Donald Trump polls higher than any candidate. They’ve been at a loss as to why Jeb! (or maybe just Jeb) is sinking more spectacularly than the Titanic. They’re at a loss as to why Ted Cruz is surging.
Everything Rubio did last night was geared towards winning over the Beltway crowd, which shows how bad of a pol he really is. Rubio punched all the buttons that pundits, spinmeisters and consultants love. He was polished. He was confident. He stood tall. He gave lengthy, wonky answers in a relatable way to policy questions. Heck, for once he even managed to leave the water bottle alone (mostly). So I can see how they thought he had a knock-out performance. His “optics” were durn near perfect, as if scripted by Hollywood. Rubio is, now that Jeb! is thoroughly discredited as a viable candidate, the establishment’s best hope. And last night, they projected their hopes on the canvas that is Marco Rubio.
But this year, the people doing the voting are paying attention to what these guys are actually saying. The candidates who are succeeding understand that the electorate is 180 degrees from DC. In fact, the quickest way for politicians to alienate themselves from the voters this year is to even have a whiff of “Eau de Establishment” on them. Optics (so long as nobody spontaneously combusts) are taking a back-burner to positions, and wishy-washiness is the second fastest way to obscurity. The fastest way? Taking positions that are at odds with what the electorate wants. This isn’t a new”phenomenon.” It’s been percolating through the GOP for a few years now. Ask Eric Cantor. Ask John Boehner.
So, when Rubio gave a vigorous defense of unnecessarily toppling foreign governments, you could hear the hiss as the tires on his campaign bus started leaking air. When he attacked Ted Cruz as being soft on defense because Cruz doesn’t think governments spying on their citizens is cool, you could hear the engine start to sputter. And when Rubio came out full-bore for illegal alien amnesty, the bus came to a screeching halt. Really, Rubio’s night was lost the moment Rand Paul hit him in the mouth (figuratively speaking) by labeling him “as the weakest of all on immigration” and Rubio had no retort. None.
Anyway, I feel somewhat vindicated: in post-debate polls on Brietbart and Drudge (which are decidedly unscientific), my three winners match up almost exactly – the difference being that Trump is 1, Cruz 2 and Rand Paul 3. but you know what? The NSRC – a Republican establishment organization – released their post debate poll, which was conducted using scientific methods. Guess what?
Cruz : 27%
Paul : 13%
But hey, there is some good news for the MSM. In the NSRC poll, Rubio finished with 8% of respondents saying he won, which is better than Drudge (7%) or Breitbart (6%).
First off: if you’re a Paulbot, thanks for clicking on this post. Whenever I’m in need of boosting my viewership stats, I can count on you guys. Now, before you get all kinds of upset, you might as well read through to the end. After all, I’ve a serious question there, and your answers are appreciated.
Ron Paul may be ending his campaign for the Republican nomination sooner than later. I don’t pretend to have inside information. Odds are that if anyone from his campaign saw me walk through the door, they’d as soon shoot me as say hello. But as someone who has watched Ron Paul’s career for the past 30 years, the signs all point to Paul once again looking for an exit strategy.
First, consider that his entire campaign has been about building support for his nascent movement. To that end, he’s dedicated his campaign to winning convention delegates. While he realized he likely couldn’t win the outright nomination, the hope was his campaign would garner enough votes to accomplish two things: get a plank or two on the party platform and build a base within the party to further son Rand’s political career. Despite all of his bluster about only three primaries having been competed, the stark fact is that Paul is last in delegate count with only 4. That’s only 6% of the total awarded. If he holds to that percentage until the convention, the best he could hope for is to be a disruptive force – a result that would do absolutely nothing to help Rand’s career and everything to harm it.
Second, rather than gain momentum, his campaign has actually been losing steam. He won 21.4% of the vote in Iowa, 22.9% in New Hampshire, fell to 13% in South Carolina and so far is only polling 8% in Florida. Not that the Paul camp put much into Florida – a campaign focused on merely winning delegates would prefer to avoid winner-take-all states. Still, the trend line has to be disappointing for a campaign that hoped it build on a loyal base of support. But rather than build on that base, the more voters get acquainted with Ron, the more they seem to shun him.
Finally, there were two lines from Monday night’s debate that probably had a few Paulbots heads exploding. The first came shortly in, when Brian Williams asked Paul if he could support a Gingrich candidacy. “You know, he keeps hinting about attacking the Fed…If I could just change him on foreign policy, we might be able to talk.” Willing to endorse Gingrich probably isn’t what Paul’s supporters wanted to hear – but kow-towing to a potential nominee fits nicely with Paul’s goals. The second was his continued denial of a potential third-party bid, which is also in keeping with his goals this year. Besides, he has no easy route to a third party candidacy. In order to obtain the Libertarian Party nod, he would have to challenge Gary Johnson. And forming a new party for a one time, longshot bid at the Presidency is something that the Presidential campaign veteran wouldn’t consider.
So, here’s my question for those Ron Paul supporters who’ve made it this far: given that he has virtually no chance at winning the nomination, what should Ron Paul do next? Feel free to vote below and leave your comments.