Ted Cruz Archives - Page 5 of 52 - SaintPetersBlog

On more than one issue, Republican Donald Trump sounds like a Democrat

As he tries to charm Republicans still skeptical of his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump has a challenge: On several key issues, he sounds an awful lot like a Democrat.

And on some points of policy, such as trade and national defense, the billionaire businessman could even find himself running to the left of Hillary Clinton, his likely Democratic rival in the general election.

Trump is a classic Republican in many ways. He rails against environmental and corporate regulations, proposes dramatically lower tax rates and holds firm on opposing abortion rights. But the presumptive GOP nominee doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional ideological box.

“I think I’m running on common sense,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I think I’m running on what’s right. I don’t think in terms of labels.”

Perhaps Trump’s clearest break with Republican orthodoxy is on trade, which the party’s 2012 platform said was “crucial for our economy” and a path to “more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living.”

Trump says his views on trade are “not really different” from the rest of his party’s, yet he pledges to rip up existing deals negotiated by “stupid leaders” who failed to put American workers first. He regularly slams the North American Free Trade Agreement involving the U.S, Mexico and Canada, and opposes a pending Asia-Pacific pact, positions shared by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

“The problem is the ideologues, the very conservative group, would say everything has to be totally free trade,” Trump said. “But you can’t have free trade if the deals are going to be bad. And that’s what we have.”

Trump long has maintained that he has no plans to scale back Social Security benefits or raise its qualifying retirement age. The position puts him in line with Clinton. She has said she would “defend and expand” Social Security, has ruled out a higher retirement age and opposes reductions in cost-of-living adjustments or other benefits.

“There is tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, but I’m leaving it the way it is,” Trump recently told Fox Business Network.

It’s a stance at odds with the country’s top-ranked elected Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who has advocated fundamental changes to Social Security and other entitlement programs. But it’s also one that Trump argues keeps him in line with the wishes of most voters.

“Remember the wheelchair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your vice president?” Trump told South Carolina voters this year, referring to then-vice presidential candidate Ryan’s budget plan. “That was the end of that campaign.” Ryan was Mitt Romney‘s running mate in 2012.

Complicating the efforts to define Trump is his penchant for offering contradictory ideas about policy. He also has taken recently to saying that all of his plans are merely suggestions, open to later negotiation.

Trump’s tax plan, for instance, released last fall, called for lowering the rate paid by the wealthiest people in the United States from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Trump described it as a massive boon for the middle class. Outside experts concluded it disproportionately benefited the rich and would balloon the federal deficit.

Close to clinching the nomination, Trump now appears to be pulling away from his own proposal. While he still wants to lower taxes for the wealthy and businesses, he now says his plan was just a starting point for discussions and he would like to see the middle class benefit more from whatever changes he seeks in tax law.

“We have to go to Congress, we have to go to the Senate, we have to go to our congressmen and women and we have to negotiate a deal,” Trump said recently. “So it really is a proposal, but it’s a very steep proposal.”

Trump has a similar take on the minimum wage. Trump said at a GOP primary debate that wages are too high, and later made clear that he does not support a federal minimum wage. Yet when speaking about the issue, he says he recognizes the difficulty of surviving on the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“I am open to doing something with it,” he told CNN this month.

On foreign policy, Trump already appears working to paint Clinton as a national security hawk who would too easily lead the country into conflict.

“On foreign policy, Hillary is trigger happy,” Trump said at a recent rally, He listed the countries where the U.S. had intervened militarily during her tenure as secretary of state and pointed to her vote to authorize the Iraq war while she was in the Senate.

Trump’s own “America First” approach appears to lean more toward isolationism. One of his foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, recently described it as a “third way.”

“This doesn’t fit any of the boxes,” Phares said.

Clinton has advocated using “smart power,” a combination of diplomatic, legal, economic, political and cultural tools to expand American influence. She believes the U.S. has a unique ability to rally the world to defeat international threats.

She argues the country must be an active participant on the world stage, particularly as part of international alliances such as NATO. Trump has criticized the military alliance, questioning a structure that sees the U.S. pay for most of its costs.

“The best thing about Donald Trump today is he’s not Hillary Clinton, but he’s certainly not a conservative, either,” said GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus and a Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 race, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Stunned Donald Trump foes face diminished options at GOP convention

Still shaken by Donald Trump‘s triumph, Republican and conservative foes of the billionaire can still cause headaches for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee at this summer’s GOP convention. But their options are shrinking by the day.

With Trump’s last two rivals — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — abandoning their campaigns, there’s no remaining talk of snatching the nomination away from him with a contested, multi-ballot battle when Republican delegates gather in Cleveland.

Instead, anti-Trump forces are trying to figure out how to use this July’s GOP meetings to keep him from reshaping the party and its guiding principles, perhaps with fights over the platform or even his vice presidential pick.

Many expect Trump to build momentum as the convention nears, narrowing his opponents’ options. Even so, here’s what may be in store:



Trump’s foes concede he’s likely to arrive in Cleveland exceeding the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee. Yet many are still reeling from the contest’s unexpected finale last week and are just starting to think about what they could do at the convention that would be productive.

“There’s going to be a lot of thinking, a lot of praying and a lot talking between all of us,” said Kay Godwin, a Cruz delegate from Blackshear, Georgia. “I wish I could give you an answer right now but I think if I did, it would be out of emotion.”

“There are probably some who hope Trump will stick his foot in his mouth or some scandal will come out and that they’ll be able to rally everybody at that point, but at this point there’s really nothing they can do” to block his nomination, said Jason Osborne, a GOP consultant.



Many Trump opponents see the Republican platform, the party’s statement of ideals and policy goals, as a place for a stand in Cleveland. The convention’s 2,472 delegates must approve the platform before formally anointing the presidential nominee.

All — including those chosen to support Trump — can vote however they want on the platform. Many conservatives say they will use that vote to keep Trump from reshaping GOP dogma against abortion, for free trade and on other issues.

While it seems likely Trump would prevail, a showdown could be an embarrassment he’d seek to avoid by not pushing divisive changes.

“If the party walks away from any of its clearly cut social, family values issues, it will be an issue,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council and GOP delegate from Louisiana. “We’re not just going to fall in line because he’s the nominee.”

Trump has said he would seek to include exceptions for rape and incest to the GOP platform’s opposition to abortion. He’s also flouted the party platform by repeatedly criticizing trade deals and calling NATO obsolete.

“We’d want to make sure the platform is protected from Donald Trump,” said Rory Cooper, senior adviser for the Never Trump political committee.

Trump aides did not return messages seeking comment on his views about the platform.



Trump has said he’d like a vice presidential candidate with government experience.

Yet, as with the platform, delegates can vote as they please in choosing Trump’s running mate. Some opponents suggest they may challenge his choice, either as a protest or to try forcing him to make a different selection.

Recent GOP conventions have formally approved vice presidential candidates by acclamation and no roll call. But if delegates make enough of a fuss, a roll call with plenty of votes for a rival vice presidential candidate is possible.

“He’ll probably pick somebody, and that person is not going to have the automatic ratification status that’s been traditional,” said Roger Stauter, a Cruz delegate from Madison, Wisconsin, who said he would never support Trump.

Others said the convention would likely defer to Trump’s thinking about a strategically smart choice.

“He could pick somebody we’d all get pretty excited about,” said Shane Goettle, a Cruz delegate from North Dakota.

Conservative talk show host Erick Erickson, a Trump opponent, said he expected delegates to accede to Trump’s selection, saying that by July, “the phases of depression and anger” will subside as Republicans accept “their coming defeat.”



Many expect Trump — star of his own TV reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” — to run a more watchable convention than usual.

Beth Myers, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s campaign manager in 2012, was not a Trump supporter during the primaries. But she said Trump knows TV and expects his convention to outshine the Democrats’ in stagecraft and draw millions more viewers than usual.

“My guess is that the Republican convention will not be a chaotic, contested convention,” she said. “Rather, it will be a production of Trump, Inc., and it will be pretty good live television.”

Some of that glitz may not be by choice. Many Republican bigwigs are expected to shun the convention and avoid giving primetime speeches on Trump’s behalf.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

How Donald Trump broke the rules of modern politics, and won anyway

Polling? Who needs to do that? Fundraising? Can’t be bothered. Parse your words? Fuhgetabout it.

Donald Trump took the rules of modern politics, trashed them and became the last man standing for the Republican nomination anyway.

12 ways Trump did it his way:



It’s what Trump’s supporters love about him: He blurts out whatever pops into his head. He rejects “political correctness.” He insults rivals and critics. He has fun. After one particularly salty salvo, Trump explained, “That’s what I mean about being politically correct, every once in a while you can have a little fun, don’t you think?” Plenty of candidates may think it, but Trump said it: “I’d like to punch him in the face,” he said of one protester. To listen to a Trump speech from start to finish is to enter an alternate grammatical universe. Sentences veer off in unexpected directions as Trump has a new thought. When he interjects his trademark “by the way,” there’s no telling where he’s headed next.



The billionaire is proud to campaign on the cheap, milking free media in a way that other candidates could only envy. He functioned through most of the primaries with a bare-bones staff. He has no national finance chairman. He never set up a traditional fundraising operation. Sure, he has “donate” buttons on his website, and raises millions hawking hats and other gear. But forget the chicken dinner circuit. Or charging donors $1,000 for a grip-and-grin photo. Or asking supporters to “bundle” contributions from friends and neighbors. Early on, Trump tweeted: “So, I have spent almost nothing on my run for president and am in 1st place. Jeb Bush has spent $59 million & done. Run country my way!”



The poll-obsessed candidate doesn’t have a pollster. Other candidates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on surveys to poll-test their words and messages, and track their standings in primary states. Trump goes with his gut and mines public polls for intel. He often tells crowds that he relies on his wife, Melania, to help him take the temperature of voters. “She’s my pollster,” he said, adding, “She’s really smart.”



Most candidates recoil from the dreaded “flip-flopper” label. Trump unabashedly changes his mind — not just week to week or day to day, but sometimes even within the same speech. He frames it as an asset. “I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible,” Trump said at one GOP debate. “You have to be flexible, because you learn.”



Candidates love to trot out five-point plans and lofty position papers — some more detailed than others. Trump, not so much. His outline for replacing Obamacare is more aspirational than detailed. His recent “America First” foreign policy speech was a broad-brush endeavor. Trump makes a virtue of leaving enemies guessing about U.S. intentions. “We have to be unpredictable, starting now,” he says.



Trump salts his speeches with vulgarities — although he’s dialed it back a bit after a scolding from Melania. Lots of politicians use profanities, of course, but typically not in public. Trump has publicly lip-synced the F-bomb, blurted out the S-word and hurled an offensive term at rival Ted Cruz. He fires a steady string of put-downs at other candidates whom he labels pathetic, liar, loser, nasty, evil and more. Oh, and not many candidates use the debate stage to refer to the size of their genitals.



It’s become routine for candidates to rely on independent super PACs stocked with former aides and allies to play a strong supporting role for their campaigns, spending millions on political ads. Trump didn’t go that route in the primary, and was proud to proclaim he didn’t have a super PAC, although a few have sprung up to back him anyway. He said in his speech entering the race: “I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. … I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.” Now that the general election race is under way, though, he’s warming to the idea.



Remember how 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney was tarred by critics as a ruthless corporate fat cat? Trump has turned greed into a campaign asset. “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” he said at a rally in Iowa. “I grabbed all the money I can get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”



Women. Hispanics. Muslims. Trump kept winning even as he rolled out a stream of remarks that could be a turn-off to huge swaths of the electorate. It started with his campaign-announcement speech, when he said illegal immigration from Mexico is bringing rapists, drugs and crime to the U.S. Then came his pledge to bar foreign Muslims from entering the country. Throughout his campaign, he’s had harsh words for women and their appearances, mocking the looks of Carly Fiorina, retweeting an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz and accusing Hillary Clinton of playing the “woman’s card.” Trump voters love that he “tells it like it is.”



Trump isn’t afraid to pick a fight, even with a conservative powerhouse like Fox News Channel. He refused to participate in a Fox-sponsored debate in January after Fox refused to remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator. He was irked that Kelly had asked him in a previous debate about statements that he had made about women. Trump isn’t afraid to make up, though. He’s agreed to an interview with Kelly later this month.



Trump keeps promising he’ll act more “presidential’ when the time is right. But, for now, he’s having fun — and so are his supporters. “I can be presidential,” he said at rally last month. “But if I was presidential, only about 20 percent of you would be here because it would be boring as hell.”



Trump’s distinctive hairstyle may be in for a makeover if he’s elected president. “I would probably comb my hair back. Why? Because this thing is too hard to comb,” he said at an appearance in Iowa last summer. “I wouldn’t have time, because if I were in the White House, I’d be working my ass off.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.5.16 – Requiem for a would-be contender

John Kasich dropped out of the Republican race for president yesterday, conceding that he won’t be the “White Knight” fantasized by #NeverTrump acolytes over the past few months.

The Ohio Governor’s departure came less than 24 hours after Ted Cruz “suspended” his campaign, so now we have a full half-a-year to contemplate a TrumpClinton showdown in November.

Although at times it seemed a bit embarrassing, Kasich’s decision to remain in the race despite the fact that he only captured one state and ultimately finished with fewer delegates than Marco Rubio always made sense, because of one simple fact: public opinion polls consistently showed that unlike Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush or any other Republican running, Kasich actually had enough general election potential to become president. If you were to have a contested convention, why not just choose the man who had hung in the race and was a candidate who could go the distance (the RNC Grand Poohbah’s would have had to have changed the rules about the nominee having to win eight primaries or caucuses, however).

However, like every other Republican other than Trump, GOP primary voters simply weren’t compelled to vote for him.

Kasich was the last Republican to officially to enter the race, announcing his candidacy last July. He immediately jumped to the forefront of what at the time was considered the serious, top-tiered branch of candidates who had the credentials to go far.

You know, that same list that included, Bush, Rubio and Scott Walker.

But as CNN reported, whether it was his plan to use a New Hampshire win to vault himself into contention in the states that followed (he finished second), or a big win in Michigan to vault him into his Midwest swing (he finished third), or the clear advantage he claimed to hold in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic (second or third in all), seemingly little that Team Kasich predicted would occur actually happened, other than taking his home state of Ohio.

If folks are mentioning Marco Rubio as a possible running mate (and they are), you can bet they’ll throw Kasich in the mix. The fact that he was an operator on Capitol Hill for a long time and yes, he’s from the crucial battleground state of Ohio, will keep his name in the media until he vows that he doesn’t want it to be. And with the RNC taking place in Cleveland, he’ll be a presence at the convention.

Speaking of Rubio, the Florida Senator was hammered for missing so much time on his day job in Washington, but curiously, you rarely heard criticism of Kasich taking so much time off from his duties as Ohio Governor to do the same thing.

So if nothing else, Kasich can now get back to work and actually do his job, and hopefully, do it well.

In other news …

The economic analysis paid for by the Tampa/Hillsborough Film & Digital Media Commission says that the County Commission’s $250,000 incentive plan for the producers of the upcoming film, “The Infiltrator” provided a nearly 4:1 return on investment.

The West Central Florida Federation of Labor has opted not to endorse in the three-way battle for the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine to propose raising everybody who works in his city to make at least $13.31 an hour.

Philip Stoddard, the Mayor of South Miami, says he’d like to build a “Wall of Shame” in his region for all the Florida lawmakers who’ve done nothing to fight climate change.

Now that Eric Lynn is out of the race for CD 13, Rick Kriseman is now on the record as backing Charlie Crist in that contest.

Mark Ober’s fundraising numbers are up in his race for re-election for Hillsborough State Attorney, and he’s got powerful businessman John Sykes asking his supporters for more.

And Lake Worth activist Cara Jennings has more to say to Rick Scott in a new video.

John Kasich dropping out of prez race; Donald Trump on clear GOP path

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is leaving the Republican presidential contest, giving Donald Trump a clear path to his party’s nomination.

Kasich will announce the end of his underdog White House bid on Wednesday, according to three campaign officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the candidate’s plans. The decision comes a day after Trump’s only other rival, Ted Cruz, dropped out.

With no opponents left in the race, Trump becomes the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee to take on the Democratic nominee in November — presumably Hillary Clinton.

Though armed with an extensive resume in politics, the second-term Ohio governor struggled to connect with Republican primary voters in a year dominated by anti-establishment frustration. Kasich was a more moderate candidate who embraced elements of President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and called for an optimistic and proactive Republican agenda.

Even before news of Kasich’s decision surfaced, Trump signaled a new phase of his outsider campaign that includes a search for a running mate with experience governing and outreach to one-time competitors in an effort to heal the fractured Republican Party.

“I am confident I can unite much of” the GOP, Trump said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today Show, as several prominent Republicans said they’d prefer Democrat Clinton over the New York billionaire. In a shot at his critics, Trump added: “Those people can go away and maybe come back in eight years after we served two terms. Honestly, there are some people I really don’t want.”

His comments on several networks came a few hours after Trump, once dismissed as a fringe contender, became all-but-certainly the leader of the Republican Party into the fall campaign against Clinton. The former secretary of state suffered a defeat Tuesday in Indiana to her rival, Bernie Sanders, but holds a definitive lead in Democratic delegates who will decide the Democratic nomination.

The Republican competition changed dramatically with Trump’s Indiana victory and Ted Cruz’s abrupt decision to quit the race. Trump won the Indiana contest with 53.3 percent of the vote, to Cruz’s 36.6 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 7.6 percent, according to unofficial results.

Some Republican leaders remain acutely wary of Trump and have insisted they could never support him, even in a faceoff against Clinton.

“The answer is simple: No,” Tweeted Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who has consistently said he could not support Trump.

What’s their plan moving forward?

“Prayer,” responded Republican strategist Tim Miller, a leader of one of the GOP’s anti-Trump groups. “Donald Trump is just going to have an impossible time bringing together the Republican coalition.”

Some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with him in the fall. Such Republicans worry about Trump’s views on immigration and foreign policy, as well as his over-the-top persona.

Hours before clinching victory in Indiana, Trump was floating an unsubstantiated claim that Cruz’s father appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Trump defended his reference to the Enquirer article on Wednesday morning as “Not such a bad thing,” but the line of attack was the final straw for some Republican critics.

“(T)he GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” Mark Salter, a top campaign aide to 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. He added Clinton’s slogan: “I’m with her.”

On finding a running mate, Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he’ll “probably go the political route,” saying he’s inclined to pick someone who can “help me get legislation passed.” Trump didn’t identify any of the names under consideration.

He also said he’s hoping to decide within a week how to fund a general election campaign, but said he didn’t want to accept money from super PACs. He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he would begin to accept more political donations.

“I’m really looking at small contributions, not the big ones. I don’t want anyone to have big influence over me,” he said.

A prominent Cruz donor, Mica Mosbacher, quickly signaled support for Trump and urged others to follow.

“I call on fellow conservatives to unite and support our new nominee Trump,” said Mosbacher, widow of a member of George H.W. Bush‘s cabinet. “My heart goes out to Cruz who has a bright future. He did the unselfish thing to drop out.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders eked out a victory over Clinton in Indiana, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. But the outcome will not slow the former secretary of state’s march to the Democratic nomination. Heading into Tuesday’s voting, Clinton had 92 percent of the delegates she needs.

“I know that the Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said defiantly in an interview Tuesday night. But Clinton already has turned her attention to the general election.

She and Trump now plunge into a six-month battle for the presidency, with the future of America’s immigration laws, health care system and military posture around the world at stake. While Clinton heads into the general election with significant advantages with minority voters and women, Democrats have vowed to not underestimate Trump as his Republican rivals did for too long.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Carlos Beruff calls on Republicans to unite behind Donald Trump

Carlos Beruff has a message for Republicans: It’s time to back Donald Trump.

In a statement Wednesday, Beruff urged Republicans to unite behind the likely Republican nominee. He also called on his U.S. Senate rivals to also commit to supporting the New York Republican.

“Like Governor Rick Scott, I urge all Republicans to unite behind Trump and I urge my opponents to commit to supporting him as the Republican nominee,” said Beruff. “This election is too important for our party not to be united behind him to defeat Hillary Clinton.”

Trump all but clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a victory in Indiana that knocked rival Ted Cruz out of the race. He still needs more than 200 delegates to formally secure the nomination, but Cruz’s decision to end his campaign removed his last major obstacle.

“Beating Hillary Clinton in November should be the first goal of all Republicans,” said Beruff. “Donald Trump is the nominee of our party, and I am committed to voting for him and supporting him so that we can take our country back from the liberal policies of Obama and Clinton.”

Beruff faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary. The five men are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ted Cruz suspends campaign after loss in Indiana

Ted Cruz, the insurgent Texan whose presidential campaign was fueled by disdain for Washington, dropped out of the 2016 race Tuesday night, removing the last major hurdle in Donald Trump‘s quest to become the Republican nominee for president.

Cruz’s decision came after losing overwhelmingly to Trump in the Indiana primary, all but ensuring that real estate mogul will claim his party’s mantle at the Republican National Convention in July.

“I said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz told a small group of supporters here Tuesday night. “Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path.”

Cruz also said he would “continue to fight for liberty,” but did not address whether he would support Trump as the nominee.

The exit comes after a series of desperate moves to keep his candidacy afloat in recent weeks, including naming former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate in a bizarre announcement where Cruz spoke for a half hour and Fiorina sang to his young daughters.

In his last day on the campaign trail, Cruz unloaded on Trump, calling the businessman a”pathological liar” and a “narcissist” who was proud of being a “serial philanderer.” The attacks were reminiscent of the broadsides Sen. Marco Rubio launched against Trump in the waning days of his own presidential campaign – and a far cry from the lavish praise Cruz heaped on Trump for most of 2015, declaring, “I like Donald Trump.”

Cruz’s campaign hit its zenith in February when he resoundingly won the Iowa caucuses, due in large part to months of cultivating grassroots support in the state. But it soon became a roller-coaster ride of crushing losses in states where Cruz expected to do well, including South Carolina and Georgia, followed by resounding wins in his home state of Texas and Wisconsin. Cruz’s campaign used its grasp of the delegate process to beat Trump at state conventions where delegates were chosen, but it was not enough to overcome the businessman’s tally and strength with the electorate.

The fact that Cruz remained one of the last candidates standing in a once-crowded field would have been viewed as improbable when he entered the race 14 months earlier. Cruz, the first major candidate to enter the race, is a first-term senator best known for getting under the skin of his Senate colleagues and championing controversial tactics to block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was painted as a long-shot underdog who was too religious and conservative to advance past the early nominating contests.

But his campaign had a meticulous strategy it planned to roll out over the year that followed, and it started working soon after he announced.

“It is the time for truth. It is the time for liberty. It is the time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States,” Cruz said during his campaign kickoff at Liberty University, which was founded by the fundamentalist preacher Jerry Fallwell.

Cruz was immediately buoyed by impressive fundraising and the national platform that comes with announcing first. Groups backing the senator raised $31 million during the first week of his candidacy, and the campaign raked in $4 million.

The Texas Republican’s campaign employed a strategy of slowly introducing Cruz to a national audience while furiously working to shore up support with local activists and evangelical leaders in the first four voting states and the South, where the campaign expected Cruz to do well.

The campaign also talked about securing the support of delegates to the July convention almost as soon as it launched, envisioning Cruz in a head-to-head matchup with an establishment rival. The campaign sent emissaries to far-flung places such as Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands to try to lock down delegate support over the summer.

It was a campaign that reflected its candidate: methodical, strategic and data-driven. Cruz’s campaign deployed a sophisticated data strategy that used psychographic information to appeal to the fears or hopes of potential voters.

Cruz touted his outsider status and contempt for what he called the “Washington cartel” of politicians and lobbyists in politics to get rich. He made the enmity of his Senate colleagues a point of pride, joking about needing a “food taster” in the Senate dining room. He made it clear that no other candidate would get to the right of him, particularly on the issue of immigration.

But then came Donald Trump.

Cruz made an early, conscious decision to buddy up to Trump, brushing aside the businessman’s caustic comments about Mexicans and praising his toughness on immigration.

The two men met at Trump Tower in July, where Cruz invited Trump to tour the U.S.-Mexico border with him. Trump went, but Cruz could not because of Senate votes. Cruz and Trump both appeared at a rally against the Iranian nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in September.

As rivals were punching at Trump during the fall and quickly seeing their poll numbers drop as the businessman swatted back at them with insults, Cruz lavished praise on his rival for the nomination.

Cruz also tacked sharply to the right in order to compete with Trump’s rhetoric. Cruz’s immigration proposals grew tougher the longer Trump was in the race. He criticized Trump’s plan for mass deportation of illegal immigrants, then seemed to support it. He spoke of being weary of foreign intervention, but promised to “carpet bomb” the Islamic State to see if “sand can glow in the dark” there. He introduced a bill to bar refugees from Syria and other groups.

In December – as Cruz’s poll numbers were up nationally and in Iowa – he was caught on tape saying at a closed-door fundraiser that Trump may not have the judgment to be president. Cruz moved to smooth over the fracas, but Trump pounced. A few weeks later in January, Trump questioned whether Cruz, who was born in Canada, is eligible to be president.

Cruz then went on an offensive blitz against the businessman, assailing him for supporting partial-birth abortion and bankrolling Democratic candidates. It seemed to work, with Cruz beating Trump in the Iowa caucuses. But the momentum stopped in New Hampshire, where Trump won by big margins before marching to victories in South Carolina and Nevada.

Trump also upended Cruz’s plan to chalk up big wins in the South, an area the campaign saw as receptive to Cruz’s unyielding conservatism and his Christian faith. The campaign was hit with internal turmoil when Cruz fired his communications director, Rick Tyler, after Tyler posted on social media a video falsely purporting to show Sen. March Rubio disparaging the Bible. Some of Cruz’s most prominent backers openly questioned his campaign strategy.

Despite his other losses in the South, Cruz notched a big win in his home state that offered him a bonanza of delegates and kept his candidacy alive. A win in Wisconsin in early April infused much-needed momentum into the flagging campaign.

Cruz’s team proved adept at mastering the arcane art of delegate allocation, regularly snatching delegate support from Trump at state conventions. But as the primary calendar moved to the Northeast – an area hostile to Cruz, who derided “New York values” on the campaign trail – Trump gained momentum while Cruz flagged.

Indiana, which Cruz’s team had identified – along with Nebraska and California – as a state where it thought it could do well, never warned to him. Cruz announced that he and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had an agreement where Cruz would campaign in Indiana and Kasich would not, instead focusing on Oregon and New Mexico. But the alliance turned rocky just hours after it was announced when Kasich refused to tell his supporters to vote for Cruz. The Texas Republican later said that there was no alliance, to which Kasich’s chief strategist tweeted, “I can’t stand liars.”

Cruz laced into Trump across the state, criticizing the endorsement he received from boxer Mike Tyson, who served time in prison in Indiana on a rape conviction, and decrying Trump as an insecure bully. The Fiorina announcement, meant to revive Cruz’s flagging candidacy in the state, gave it no discernable boost. The two barnstormed around the state, where Cruz faced less than enthusiastic crowds, and confronted a pro-Trump protester in Marion.

Cruz said of Trump, “This man is lying to you and he’s taking advantage of you.”

The man accused Cruz of lying, and said: “You’ll find out tomorrow. Indiana don’t want you.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump wins in Indiana, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders close

Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential primary in Indiana, continuing his surge toward clinching the GOP nomination over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Trump took a major step toward sewing up the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a victory in Indiana’s primary election, dashing the hopes of rival Cruz and other GOP forces who fear the brash businessman will doom their party in the general election.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were vying for victory in the Democratic primary, though it was too early to call the race as votes were being tallied. Clinton already is 91 percent of the way to her party’s nomination.

While Trump can’t mathematically clinch the GOP nomination with his victory in Indiana, his path now becomes easier and he has more room for error in the remaining primary contests. The real estate mogul will collect at least 45 of Indiana’s 57 delegates, and now needs less than 200 more in upcoming contests.

Cruz, who hasn’t topped Trump in a month, campaigned vigorously in Indiana, securing the endorsement of the state’s governor and announcing businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But he appeared to lose momentum in the final days of campaigning and let his frustration with Trump boil over Tuesday, calling the billionaire “amoral” and a “braggadocious, arrogant buffoon.”

Trump responded by saying Cruz “does not have the temperament to be president of the United States.” Earlier Tuesday Trump had rehashed unsubstantiated claims that the Texan’s father, Rafael Cruz, appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy‘s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.

Cruz has vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries in June, clinging to the possibility that Trump will fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs and the race will go to a contested convention. But he now could face pressure from donors and other Republicans to at least tone down in attacks on Trump in an attempt to unite the GOP heading into the general election.

Whether a united Republican Party is even possible with Trump at the helm remains highly uncertain. Even before the Indiana results were finalized, some conservative leaders were planning a Wednesday meeting to assess the viability of launching a third party candidacy to compete with Trump in the fall.

Only about half of Indiana’s Republican primary voters said they were excited or even optimistic about any of their remaining candidates becoming president, according to exit polls. Still, most said they probably would support whoever won for the GOP.

Clinton, too, needs to win over Sanders’ enthusiastic supporters. The Vermont senator has cultivated a deeply loyal following in particular among young people, a group Democrats count on in the general election.

Sanders has conceded his strategy hinges on persuading superdelegates to back him over the former secretary of state. Superdelegates are Democratic Party insiders who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of how their states vote. And they favor Clinton by a nearly 18-1 margin.

Exit polls showed about 7 in 10 Indiana Democrats said they’d be excited or at least optimistic about either a Clinton or Sanders presidency. Most said they would support either in November.

The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

A fall showdown between Clinton and Trump would pit one of Democrats’ most experienced political figures against a first-time candidate who is deeply divisive within his own party. Cruz and other Republicans have argued that Trump would be roundly defeated in the general election, denying their party the White House for a third straight term.

Republican leaders spent months dismissing Trump as little more than an entertainer who would fade once voting started. Cruz was among those who actively tried to align themselves with Trump and called him “terrific.”

As Trump began to pick up wins, Cruz became more critical of his rival’s policies. Still, his torrent of attacks Tuesday was by far the most pointed and personal of the campaign to date.

Trump has now won seven straight primary contests and has 80 percent of the delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. With his victory in Indiana, Trump now has at least 1,041 delegates. Cruz has 565 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 152.


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Today on Context Florida: Marks of progress, genitals, Mary McLeod Bethune and reforming education reform

Today on Context Florida:

Marks of progress, such as Gov. Rick Scott recently signing a bill removing John U. Lloyd’s name from the beach park and renaming it in honor of Von D. Mizell and Eula Johnson, gives Jac VerSteeg reason to hope in these days of regressionists like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, (aka Lucifer in the Flesh).

Conservatives used to be all about lower taxes and smaller government. These days, says Diane Roberts, they’re all about genitals: what you do with said genitals, with whom, and where you bare them to answer the Call of Nature. The city council of Oxford, Alabama, defying both “political correctness” and the English language, declared that decent folk have a right to “quite [sic] solicitude [sic]” without wondering if the person in the next stall has different plumbing. Otherwise, the restroom becomes a place of “increased venerability” [sic] with a lurking menace of “voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation, and assault and battery.”

Now that the federal government has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, William Mattox believes the state of Florida should find a good way to honor one of our own: Mary McLeod Bethune, the legendary educator who founded a school for African-American girls that grew into what is today Bethune-Cookman University. As some have suggested, it would be a fitting stroke of poetic justice for a statue of Bethune to replace Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. (The Florida Legislature passed a measure earlier this year calling for Smith’s replacement.) And while Mattox certainly doesn’t object to this idea, his hope is that Florida schoolchildren won’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. to see Dr. Bethune get her proper due.

John Meeks, Jr. calls for reforming education reform. In the mad dash to get federal funding for education reform, the accountability buzzword was bandied about as if simply replacing one system with another was going to magically transform public education into something better. Florida, a state that still refuses to accept Medicaid expansion funding, was one of the states that saw no problem with receiving the Race to the Top and the strings that were attached. It was all in the name of “reform” and “accountability.”

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Donald Trump far behind in preparing for general election

The Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights, yet Donald Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election.

The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He’s sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign.

“He may be able to get by on bluster and personality during the primaries, but the general election is a whole different ballgame,” said Ryan Williams, a veteran of Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaigns. “They’re essentially starting from zero heading into the general election.”

Trump’s early campaign efforts — fueled in the primary season by the sheer force of his personality and free media coverage — have defied all who predicted they would fall short of what’s required to win the nomination. He

Yet the billionaire’s aides acknowledged they’ll tap into the resources of the party’s establishment — the Republican National Committee, above all — as the scale and scope of the 2016 contest grow exponentially. That’s even as he rails daily against his party’s establishment as corrupt, and they predict his unique success so far will pay off again in November.

“Our ability to run a different type of campaign against Hillary Clinton in a general election is unique to the success that Mr. Trump has shown in the primaries,” said Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager.

Trump’s late start marks a sharp break from past Republican campaigns and that of Clinton, who is already beginning to shift resources to the November election. The Republican front-runner’s organizational disadvantage marks another warning sign for GOP officials who already feared he was unelectable this fall — even if he were well-prepared.

Trump has taken steps in recent week to add experienced political staff to expand his bare-bones organization. Yet the team has been consumed by playing catch up with Republican rival Ted Cruz, devoting almost no energy or planning to the next phase. Trump hopes he can score a victory in the Indiana primary Tuesday that can effectively end Cruz’s bid.

Lewandowski and other aides have also signaled a willingness to work closely with the Republican National Committee should Trump claim the nomination — “hand in glove,” in Lewandowski’s words.

Ed Brookover is working from a recently opened Washington-area office that is tasked with developing Trump’s detailed policy prescriptions and working with allies on Capitol Hill.

“From all reports — we’ve not gone in and kicked the tires yet — the RNC’s got a larger ground game already in place than ever before,” Brookover said. “And they’ve been investing an incredible amount of money on data.” He said that’s “going to be incredibly helpful.”

Indeed, the Republican National Committee has been expanding its national footprint and accumulating detailed information about millions of general election voters since soon after the GOP’s disastrous 2012 election. With only a few employees on the ground at this time four years ago, the RNC now has more than 200 in general election battlegrounds such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado.

“We are so far ahead of where we were,” said RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer. “Whether it’s Trump or someone else, that’s going to be a huge advantage.”

On the Democratic side, Clinton has already begun to send waves of campaign staffers to battleground states. Advisers are starting to consider locations for a splashy convention rally in Philadelphia and lawyers are scrutinizing more than two dozen possible vice presidential picks. The Democratic front-runner also has a well-established donor network and is planning lucrative fundraisers in New York, Michigan, California and Texas later this month.

Trump has lashed out at other candidates for raising money from wealthy donors, but GOP leaders anticipate he will need to do the same thing in the coming months. Many Republicans are skeptical that Trump has the willingness or the capacity to cover the estimated $1 billion cost of the campaign ahead.

Absent a massive personal investment, Trump and his party will be tasked with raising millions of dollars a day to match spending levels from the past election. The Romney campaign spent years developing an extensive fundraising network and collected general election cash long before his primary contest was decided.

For now, though, the Trump campaign concedes it has done little to prepare for the fall fight.

“Once we are the nominee, we will look at all the options,” Lewandowski said of fundraising.

Trump still has staff on board in battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida, though employees and volunteers have been consumed by the primaries.

“We’re focused on winning Indiana and then going on and winning California and New Jersey and anything in between,” said Stephen Stepanek, Trump’s co-chairman in New Hampshire, which is a perennial swing state. “Then we will start talking about the general election.”


Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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