Did you happen to see the video of the dueling events in New Hampshire last night?
Donald Trump clowned on Jeb Bush like there was no tomorrow, making fun of the town hall the latter was having just down the street from the packed event he held. Trump laughed that at Bush’s event the crowd was sleeping, and he said that Jeb is a low-energy person for whom getting things done was very difficult.
The whole speech – a clip of his individual statements about Bush isn’t available just yet.
It’s almost like watching Christopher Walken run for president. The only thing missing is more cowbell.
And this was Bush on Trump…
On the facts, Jeb is correct. Trump’s conservatism, to the extent it exists, is of quite recent vintage.
But if you watch the two at work, you’ll quickly realize the facts don’t matter. Trump is a whole lot more fun than Jeb Bush is. Hell, a root canal is a whole lot more fun than Jeb Bush is. Listening to him drone on and on is excruciating; he can’t communicate effectively at all in that monotone voice.
Bush complains about Trump’s tone. Bush doesn’t have any tone at all. And no, that isn’t a virtue – not when the last two Republican nominees have gotten their heads handed to them because they bored the public to death.
It just so happens I wrote my American Spectator column this week on the subject of Trump and Bush, and what happens when the blue-blood/RINO establishment/east coast money/Chamber of Commerce crowd realizes they don’t have a viable horse in this cycle’s GOP nomination race…
Here’s a theory to ponder: after the first round of dropouts, in which Rick Perry’s impending demise is joined by several others — Christie, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, perhaps Bobby Jindal — the likely beneficiary will be the candidate best suited to pull their voters.
And for many, that could be Cruz. Cruz has regional strength in Texas and Louisiana, which could translate into his picking up Perry and Jindal supporters. Despite his clashes with Graham in the Senate, Cruz’ calls for a muscular foreign policy could appeal to the several dozen supporters the South Carolinian has amassed. Those of Christie’s supporters who came to him for his combative style might look to Cruz rather than Trump.
And then after the second round of dropouts, Cruz could gain even more support. Particularly should Paul leave the race; if he isn’t gaining ground, at some point he’s going to have to consider whether his smartest play won’t be to return to Kentucky to defend his Senate seat, and Cruz is a friend and partner in many cases (though for Paul so is Mitch McConnell, which makes for an interesting conflict). Should Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum drop out, none of the others has put in more work to attract the social conservatives they represent than Cruz.
By this point, we might be close to the March 1 “Super Tuesday” primaries, most of which will take place in Deep South states where Cruz has trained his focus toward developing strength. He’s been outshone by Trump in most of them to date, but Cruz is building more organization in those states than any other candidate.
We could see a situation where Trump is ahead on the strength of his performance in the early states and still leads in the polls, though he might have commenced fading in the face of the various challenges befalling a presidential candidate and the terror gripping the party of having to nominate a bull-in-a-China-shop like the real estate magnate has not subsided. But while the establishment might believe Trump is beatable, they could be without candidates to beat him.
And at that juncture, the unthinkable might become inevitable; namely, that the RINO/Chamber of Commerce GOP establishment might well see Ted Cruz as their only hope to stop Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination.
I’m not quite making the prediction that it comes down to Trump vs. Cruz at the end, though it’s entirely possible that’s how it’ll come down. But I am going to make the prediction that the RINO establishment crowd is not going to buy the nomination this time. They don’t have the numbers, and the other factions in the party – the national security crowd, the constitutional conservative gang and the social conservatives – no longer want to ride with the establishment money folks in the driver’s seat.
And Cruz has put himself in a position to be plenty acceptable with all three of the “non-Washington” factions. He’s unobjectionable, at worst, to the national security people, he’s a hero to the constitutional conservatives and Tea Party crowd, and outside of Mike Huckabee you won’t find anybody with more street cred among social conservatives than Cruz. In fact, our pal Steve Deace, the radio host and conservative columnist who has strong influence among Iowa’s Republicans and specifically with social conservatives, came out for Cruz earlier this week.
The establishment hates Cruz. One suspects they hate Trump a lot more. If their candidate continues to dodder around like a wooden statue animated by use of ball bearings and steam, it might be that crowd – rather than the various conservative factions in the party – who gets stuck choosing the lesser of evils.