GOP race: Why it’s getting late early

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

GOP candidates to discuss debate dissatisfaction, RNC left out.

The Republican Party is so upset with the performance of CNBC moderators during Wednesday night’s Republican Party debate that Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus has suspended an upcoming debate in February that was supposed to be moderated by NBC News. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican National Committee says it’s suspending its partnership with NBC News and its properties and won’t allow the network to co-host a presidential primary debate scheduled for February.After an array of complaints from Republican candidates about their primary debates that peaked with Wednesday’s CNBC-hosted gathering, aides to several contenders will gather this weekend in Washington to vent their frustration, MSNBC has confirmed.

A leaked campaign playbook for Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has revealed a strategy that counts on denigrating rival Marco Rubio and calming donors about their beleaguered candidate’s weak performance on the trail. “Marco is a GOP Obama” and the “press obsession” with the debates does not matter, Bush donors were told by the campaign in a PowerPoint presentation leaked to some outlets and a 112-page file acquired in full by the website US News and World Report. In a letter addressed to NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, Priebus wrote that the CNBC debate was, “conducted in bad faith,” and that the campaigns vying for the Republican nomination were so upset by the network’s performance that, “We simply cannot continue with [the planned NBC debate without full consultation with our campaigns.” As Fortune editor Alan Murray wrote in his review of the debate, Senator Ted Cruz was applauded for using some of his response time to attack “the CNBC moderators for biased questioning – a sentiment the other candidates, the audience, and virtually everyone on Twitter who wasn’t in the employ of a Democrat seemed to agree with.” CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.” That was not the case. We’re talking about the fast approach of actual voting – next Tuesday marks the halfway point between the first GOP debate on Aug. 6 and the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. Since the first Republican debate, hosted by Fox News in August, campaigns have criticized many aspects of the debates including the tone and subject of questions, the distribution of speaking time, and the polling requirements to be part of the main-stage event.

Bush, the former governor of Florida, once treated Rubio, currently senator for the state, as his greatest disciple, shepherding the younger man’s ascent through Florida politics and forming a close friendship with him, even passing him a ceremonial sword when Rubio was sworn in as speaker of the Florida house of representatives. That’s where the former Florida governor needs a strong showing if he is to remain a contender for his party’s nomination and where he’s now working to reignite a campaign seen as sputtering. Priebus added in his letter that the party still plans to hold a debate that day “and will ensure that National Review remains part of it,” referring to the conservative magazine that was also hosting the Feb. 26 forum. “However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party,” the network said. But the mutual admiration has been replaced by an acrimony that was exposed on national TV during Wednesday’s Republican debate, when the men sniped at each other over politics. The large sign that hung above Jeb Bush’s head during his New Hampshire campaign stops read “Jeb Can Fix it.” It was intended to refer to Washington, but to GOP voters like Larry Eller, who turned out to see Bush at a Geno’s Chowder Shop in Portsmouth, the first thing Bush needs to fix is how he’s campaigned. “I’m just not sure he really wants it.

CNBC moderators John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick drew sharp criticism during and after Wednesday’s debate in Boulder, Colo., for many of their questions, such as when Harwood asked Donald Trump if his campaign was a “comic book version” of a presidential bid. I think it’s a job you’ve got to really want, not just being talked into it by all the family members — ‘Oh, yeah, you should run.’ If you don’t want it, you are not going to do a good job,” he said.

That means there’s no one person to rally around for the many GOP bigwigs – state party chairman, veteran donors, D.C.-based pundits – who oppose insurgent outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Bush’s aides tried to reassure donors that reports of his “death spiral” campaign were overblown in this early stage of the race, and compared the primary election to previous cycles, when ultra-conservative Rick Santorum and pizza mogul Herman Cain led the polls. But I thought of him as a mostly fair-minded, smart reporter, even if I’ve also always thought of him as “one of them” as far as Republican thinking goes. The campaigns have each raised a number of different issues, some of which may be in conflict with each other, and the goal of the meeting will be to see if they can reach a consensus on their demands for the RNC and debate hosts moving forward.

Bush’s aides even suggested that voters flit between choices because they suffer from attention deficit disorder, writing that the “race will remain fluid for some time because … voters have ADD”. The RNC is struggling to handle what may be an impossible task — managing a gigantic presidential field that began with 17 candidates and has since shrunk to 14 debate participants.

That’s increased the pressure level of competition and made stumbles, such as Jeb Bush’s widely panned debate performance Wednesday night, seem more fraught. “What every Republican not in the outsiders’ tent is waiting for is some kind of consolidation in the ranks of the more mainstream candidates. The committee was more actively involved in this year’s format and schedule after concerns that the 2012 cycle’s endless schedule of debates dragged the party down by fostering division and pushing the candidates into uncomfortable-issue territory. In other words, some contenders in this large field who haven’t caught on must drop out,” write University of Virginia political scientists Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley in the post-debate edition of their Crystal Ball newsletter. The presentation promised that Bush would outlast the “carousel of frontrunners”, even though his status as presumptive nominee has faded during his campaign struggles.

Well, many political scientists subscribe to the “party decides” theory of primary contests, which holds that candidates need some degree of establishment support – and the money, expertise, and organization muscle that brings – to win a presidential nomination. He added he would “make sure that we can do everything possible to make sure last night doesn’t happen again.” In a widely replayed moment from the debate, Ted Cruz accused the moderators of fostering a “cage match” with tough questions that highlighted their differences with one another. The presentation makes clear that Bush does not fear Trump and Carson, the current frontrunners, nearly as much as he worries Rubio will steal his supporters and eventually the party’s nomination. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who had a breakthrough moment in the debate railing against the moderators’ insulting questions, did a follow-up interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier and reiterated a pretty good suggestion about the debate structure. Other slides accuse the Florida senator of inexperience, saying “outside of lobbying and legal consulting, no credible experience beyond government”, and “never been in charge of anything larger than two dozen people”.

Ben Carson, who reached out to other campaigns after the debate, complained about a “gotcha” question about his ties to a company called Mannatech that made outlandish promises about curing cancer and autism with nutritional supplements. Bush’s campaign also says Rubio is guilty of “misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds, and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera.” While working in the Florida state house, Rubio charged grocery bills, car repairs and liquor store purchases to the party. But it’s clear that most national Republican lawmakers and other GOP insiders believe that would lead to President Hillary Clinton and damage the party’s down-ticket prospects. It’s easy to suggest that the moderators should be at least neutral so they don’t simply offer up a series of softball questions that don’t challenge the candidates or put them outside of their comfort zones.

Christie, for his part, shot back that “even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude” after being asked a follow up question on his energy policy. They’re looking to coalesce around a candidate for the establishment “lane” in the contest, whether they think that will actually decide the issue or not. Jeb Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz confronted CNBC producers mid-debate to complain that his candidate was not being called on enough. “I did communicate with CNBC displeasure about speaking time,” he told reporters in the spin room afterwards. The personal attacks against Rubio, the only Republican candidate highlighted this way, are nestled among pages of internal polling data, advertising plans and talking points to spin.

While Rubio has complained about CNBC’s questions since Wednesday, there’s less motivation to rock the boat given that he was widely credited with winning the debate. “It’s kind of like going to the guys who won the Super Bowl and asking ‘Were you peeved at the refs?’ Eh, I’ll give them a pass,” top Rubio staffer Terry Sullivan told reporters Wednesday when asked about the various debate complaints. Aides searched for silver linings in details like how “48% of those currently not voting for Bush say they ‘could support him for president’,” and told donors that the real push would begin next year with a nearly $11m advertising plan.

Things move quickly after that: The first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9, followed in short order by the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary. Anyway, Cruz is right — the moderators in the Democratic primary debate praised the candidates and avoided creating too much fighting or tension among the candidates. The presentation includes an ad called “Denisha”, about a black student who used Bush’s voucher school program, and a “Jeb TV” audio segment titled “#JebNoFilter: Sharknado 3”, a reference to the comedy-horror film franchise about sharks cast flying on to land by strong winds. There’s a big difference between a moderator asking probing questions that Republican voters want to know the answers to and taking pot shots and making belittling points under the guise of asking a question.

Republican lawmakers are issuing endorsements at their slowest rate since at least 1980, according to data site FiveThirtyEight’s endorsement tracker. Candidates, especially those at the lower end of the polling spectrum, have also complained about being relegated into an undercard debate — popularly dubbed the “kids table” — and some of the higher polling contenders have taken their side. The media will no longer be allowed to conduct debates the way they think their like-minded colleagues in the media want a Republican debate to be conducted. With the RNC’s encouragement, CNN tweaked requirements to ensure Carly Fiorina made the second debate’s main stage after she and even some of her rivals argued their criteria was discounting her improvement in the polls.

Bernie Sanders, but she’s pulled ahead of Senator Sanders in Iowa in recent polls, and she has comfortable leads in South Carolina and every Super Tuesday state except Sanders’s home of Vermont. The Democratic nomination race is likely to be effectively over by March, according to Norm Ornstein, a veteran governance scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “The endorsement of Clinton by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a major figure on the populist left, shows the striking degree to which elected officials are rallying behind her – including, by the way, the governor of Vermont – in a fashion far more sweeping than, say, Walter Mondale in 1984 or Al Gore in 2000,” writes Mr.

Governors Kasich and Christie are waiting for an opportunity that has yet to arrive, like soccer players lurking outside a scrum for the ball to bounce out. The alternative could be lengthy intramural warfare stretching through early 2016 and peaking prior to or even at the Republican Convention in Cleveland in July. Meanwhile, Clinton will have wrapped it up early and spend the spring and early summer raising money for the general election, pulling together all Democratic Party factions, and fine-tuning her themes for the fall campaign.

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