As GOP Race Shifts, Carson, Cruz, Rubio and Trump Are Dominant Players

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Carson would support monitoring of ‘anti-American’ groups.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump widens his lead in the nomination race, while Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz threaten to overtake Ben Carson for the number two spot.For the fourth consecutive month, businessman Donald Trump leads the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, with his candidacy fueled by a powerful anti-Washington mood among GOP voters, according to a new national poll by The Washington Post and ABC News.COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Saturday that he wants to expand the government’s surveillance operations aimed at potential terrorist threats, even beyond tracking American Muslims as rival Donald Trump has suggested.Frontrunners Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson have tossed their old scripts in the trash bin and they don’t have new lines ready for the questions angry and anxious American voters are asking after the Paris Attacks.

In addition, Rubio joins Carson as the only candidates at least half of voters say are honest and trustworthy — though Carson’s honesty rating has taken a hit. After a tumultuous period that has included terrorist attacks in Paris, calls for stepped-up efforts to combat Islamic State militants, a backlash against accepting refugees from Syria, and two Republican debates, the race looks on the surface very much as it did in a Post-ABC survey a month ago. Trump tried Saturday to back away from his support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States, an idea that drew sharp rebukes from other Republican presidential candidates and disbelief from legal experts. First, Republican scaremongering about Syrian refugees is not only a disgrace to the US and everything the country likes to think it stands for, but actually plays into the hands of the terrorist proto-state.

Carson, who has joined Trump atop GOP presidential preference polls, did not delve into constitutional questions about whether expanding government surveillance activities would violate First Amendment protections. “What I have said is that I would be in favor of monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American,” Carson told reporters during an appearance at a justice forum in South Carolina. For months, Clinton has positioned herself as the one who “Obama turned to when he wanted a Secretary of State” and painted Republican candidate Trump as the one with a tin drum for foreign policy. He did not expound on just how an administration would determine what constitutes “radicalization” or “anti-American.” Carson added that funding for FBI surveillance activities should be increased. Calling Obama’s plan to admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees into America next year “lunacy”, Republicans who control the U.S House have already blocked that proposal and got a veto-prrof majority. Or how Japanese-Americans were rounded up and interned during the Second World War; or how the country fell for McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the early Cold War.

And he seemed to have the potential to rise higher, with Republicans giving Carson the highest marks of any candidate — by far — on personal favorability. Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticizing Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, said, “I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens.” The first reference to a database came in a Trump interview with Yahoo News published Thursday. Borrowing heavily from the remarkable precedent that Europe’s tallest leader Angela Merkel has set, Obama says “they’re just like our kids, are you afraid of orphans?” “The notion that somehow we would be fearful of them — that our politics would somehow lead us to turn our sights away from their plight — is not representative of the best of who we are,” Obama said A pastor’s daughter who has grown stronger with every crisis, Merkel has refused to put an upper limit to the number of refugees Germany can absorb and is instead stitching up a four part policy to manage the influx from the largest exodus in modern times: Absorb, share the numbers across Europe, strengthen controls and negotiate with transit countries. About a quarter of white evangelical Christians back Trump (25 percent) and Carson (24 percent), while Cruz gets 18 percent and Rubio receives 11 percent.

Though refugees admitted to America undergo between 18 months and two years of screening by intelligence agencies, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, James Comey, said that a lack of information from Syria makes it impossible to offer an “absolute assurance” that extremists would be spotted. But they are playing a more important role in this campaign than in some in the past, because they are being used by news organizations that are sponsoring debates as one important criterion for determining who qualifies for prime-time participation. Ben Carson, his closest rival, likens jihadists among Muslims to rabid dogs in the canine population: “It doesn’t mean you hate all dogs… but you’re putting your intellect into motion.” Intellect? Syria and building “a big beautiful safe zone.” After calling Hispanics rapists and criminals, he now wants to create a national database for Muslims. “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.” In an interview on Fox News Channel on Friday evening, Trump tried to clarify his position. “I want a watch list for the Syrian refugees that (President Barack) Obama’s going to let in if we don’t stop him as Republicans,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who passes as a grown-up in the Republican field, vows to let no Syrians in, not even “orphans under age five”. In Iowa and New Hampshire, where the voting will begin in February, polls show Trump and Carson leading, but they also indicate possible movement as the first contests near. He addressed the issue again Saturday during a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, telling a crowd in a rambling speech that reports on his previous statements were inaccurate. “I do want surveillance. I will absolutely take database on the people coming in from Syria if we can’t stop it, but we’re going to,” he told the crowd. “So here’s the story just to set it clear: I want surveillance of these people.

Rightly, the younger Bush is criticised for the epic geostrategic blunder of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which he claimed had been made necessary by 9/11. Still, that’s a net positive of 19 points, which gives him the second highest honesty score (the total percentage points of those saying you’re honest minus those saying you’re not) of the candidates included in the poll. We forget, however, that just six days after that deadliest terrorist plot of the modern era – with a death toll more than 20 times that of Paris – Bush went to the main mosque in Washington DC with a message of conciliation. At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?” Vice President Joe Biden, speaking on White House radio played the Obama line forward: “By turning away trefugees — mostly women, children, orphans, torture survivors — and “say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands.” Not to be outdone, Jeb Bush, brother of former Preseident George Bush, suggests that orphans and Christians who are “clearly not going to be terrorists” can hang out in America.

Foreign policy has rarely dominated on the last mile of US elections but for now, most candidates are acting like that’s the ground on which elections will be fought. The movement is even more striking with Republicans who describe themselves as “very conservative.” With this group, Carson’s support has been sliced in half in the last three weeks, from 30 percent to 15 percent, while Cruz has jumped from 25 percent to 40 percent. Aspects of Carson’s life story, which has been crucial to his appeal to religious conservatives, have been challenged by several press reports this month. But Carson dismissed these as ideologically motivated attacks from the liberal media, and conservative leaders and press outlets largely stuck by him. Eighty-two percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they are following the election closely, up eight percentage points from this time in 2011 and 16 points higher than in 2007.

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Spartanburg, South Carolina; Steve Peoples in Sioux City, Iowa; Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa; and Julie Bykowicz and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report. Still, even if that didn’t turn Republicans against Carson personally, the episode may have caused some of them to doubt the wisdom of nominating him for president.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,016 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from November 16-19, 2015. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 5 points for Democratic primary voters and 4.5 points for Republican primary voters. The former secretary of state has the support of 60 percent of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, compared with 34 percent for Sanders. Washington DC is far harder to reach from the Middle East than Paris, and America’s Arab and Muslim citizens are better integrated (and more prosperous) than their French or British counterparts. The real danger is not that Isis jihadists will hide among refugees, as purportedly did one of the Paris attackers, it is that jihadists who are already citizens of countries such as Britain and France will arrive in the US as tourists or students.

Her standing has been strengthened by broad likability within the party, with a separate Post-ABC poll earlier this month finding 83 percent of Democrats with a favorable impression of her. The President has come across as aloof and almost uninterested, reserving his greatest energy to score political points off the Republicans, barely disguising his irritation at those who have the temerity to disagree. Just over half (52 percent) say that finding a candidate who will “bring needed change to Washington” is the most important factor in how they will decide for whom to vote in the primaries and caucuses. The contrasting results about the value of experience vs. the desire to change Washington pinpoints the reasons Bush has been frustrated in his bid to join his father, George H.W. But, as with his diatribes against immigration, his vow to “bomb the s***” out of Isis and its oilfields is exactly what his audiences wants to hear.

He has a nine-point edge among those who call themselves “somewhat conservative.” He and Carson are tied among “very conservative Republicans,” with Cruz third among these voters.

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