This is what it will come down to — Cruz versus Rubio for the soul of the Republican Party; selling snow

With all the discussion of who won or who lost this week’s Republican presidential debate, the talking heads who populate the all-news stations, radio talk shows and newspaper columnists, main stream media and far-right media alike, are trying to keep alive something they should really let go of. The contest is narrowing a lot quicker than they would have you believe. Here is a short read on where the contest shapes up:

  • Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore – nobody is listening to you. Please leave the stage.
  • Rand Paul – you have painted yourself into a corner on several issues and there is no way out. Get back to Kentucky.
  • John Kasich – you have some appeal to moderate Republicans, who nationally at this time total about 50 people. Your screeds have done you in.
  • Chris Christie – when you are done with running for president and being governor, forget a show on Fox News. Try stand-up comedy instead.
  • Carly Fiorina – a serious demeanor and being able to throw around names of your friends around the globe might just land you the VP spot, balancing out gender and generation on the ticket to compete with the Democratic ticket.
  • Jeb Bush – we thought you were the smart son. Who knew?
  • Ben Carson – when the whole rationale for your candidacy depends on your history and persona, you would think when some of the stories turn out to be not true that that would make a dent in poll numbers. Belief apparently can overcome credibility. This means he will stay around for a while.
  • Donald Trump – he is getting what he wants out of this. An out-of-control ego is getting mega-doses of attention. The give-them-hell approach certainly has some appeal and there is no reason to stop the show now since it is playing so well. Most likely, though, what Trump really has in mind is his next TV series.

And then there is:

  • Marco Rubio – a young, freshman senator with no significant accomplishments who is knowledgeable and speaks well. He came into prominence as a tea-partier, but he moved toward the middle of the political spectrum on certain issues and is now the leader of the establishment lane of the party. Watch him move farther to the right as the other establishment candidates drop out. Rubio will then have to contend with the outsider/far-right wing of the party. He is not seasoned enough to handle that flip-flopping very well.
  • Ted Cruz – a young, freshman senator with no significant accomplishments who is knowledgeable and speaks well. He came into prominence as a tea-partier and has generally stuck with that group on most issues. He has moved up to third place in the polls among the outsider/far-right lane candidates. He is biding his time until Carson and Trump self-destruct.

I have been pointing out the polling results over the past several months. The outsider/far-right candidates have consistently as a group garnered 60-65 percent of party support, and the numbers are rising a bit. The establishment candidates, as a group, hover in the 20-25 percent range. Less than 10 percent of the Republican respondents to the polls indicate that they are undecided, but that will probably go up somewhat as the lesser candidates give up.

The nominee who will be chosen through the primary and caucus process will need to run the gauntlet of very, very conservative voters. These are voters who are conservative about fiscal policy, foreign policy, social issues. In that regard, Rubio has some explaining to do.

Cruz is a crafty politician who is apparently building a good campaign structure and he is also a good speaker, albeit with limited math skills. How come when Texas Governor Rick Perry couldn’t count to three his campaign ended, but when Texas Senator Ted Cruz couldn’t count to five, he gets a pass?

It stretches credibility to think that the outsider/far-right 60-70 percent of the Republican electorate who will choose the party’s presidential nominee will magically decide some time next spring that someone who was an immigration reform advocate and who wants to substantially increase federal entitlements with a family tax credit plan is really who they were looking for all along. That part of the party, which is clearly in assent at this time, believes it is finally (since 1964) their turn. Cruz is looking more like the Republican nominee every day.

Selling snow

IMG_0766My daughter, Gen, is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina.  She sent me this picture today, taken at a Michael’s in Columbia, South Carolina.

I guess we are missing an economic opportunity here.