Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the working week.
Well, we’re 98 days until the Iowa caucuses, a political lifetime away, right?
Well, yes and know. The trend there had been set, but that turned upside down last week when Ben Carson swooped over Donald Trump in two polls taken from the Hawkeye State.
Now, I know this is anecdotal, but check out this New York Times story by Trip Gabriel about why Iowans like the retired pediatric neurosurgeon.
“He is kind when he speaks, and he doesn’t have an agenda to set himself up as wonderful,” said Donna Christiansen, a retiree in Ames. “That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said Miriam Greenfield, a farmer in Jewell, Iowa.
Jason Walke, a trial lawyer in Des Moines, said neither Mr. Trump nor another fiery outsider, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, “has a snowball’s chance of changing things in Washington the way Ben Carson does.
“I believe someone as mild-mannered and gentlemanly as Ben Carson is just about the only kind of person that could,” said Mr. Walke, who heard Mr. Carson speak to a modest crowd on the lawn of a fraternity house at Iowa State University on Saturday.
Okay, maybe that’s true compared to Trump, but is this the barometer that Iowa Republicans are using in deciding who their nominee is?
So there is some of that, but there’s also this:
“Mr. Carson’s support has not been dimmed by his statements on the unsuitability of a Muslim to be president; his linking of gun control and the Holocaust; and his likening of President Obama’s health care law to slavery. On the contrary, 57 percent of Republicans in the Register poll rated as “very attractive” his comparison of the health care law to slavery, and 73 percent said his opposition to a Muslim as president made him more attractive.”
Meanwhile, you had the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines on Saturday night, where it’s apparent that Bernie Sanders is no longer going to be Mr. Nice Guy. He emphasized his opposition to the 2003 Iraq war, and on CNN yesterday, dismissed Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday night where Clinton defended the Defense of Marriage Act that Bill Clinton signed back in 1996.
That legislation was anti-gay legislation. It was playing off fears of a lot of Americans,” Sanders said during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The so-called Defense of Marriage Act denied federal benefits to gay married couples and let states refuse to recognize marriages in states where same-sex couples could legally wed.
“I think everybody at the time knew this was simply homophobic legislation,” Sanders said on CNN. “I voted against DOMA because I thought then and I think now that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation.”
But will it matter now that Hillary is seemingly sitting pretty?
Back to the GOP – we have the 3rd debate this Wednesday night, where there will be maximum pressure on Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Rubio seems to get some life in the polls after each of the previous two debates, but if he’s going to be Ross Douthat and William Kristol’s nominee next year, it behooves him to actually get above 13 percent in any state or national survey.
In other news…
Donald Trump made campaign stumps in Miami and Jacksonville over the weekend, and joining him was Joe Gruters, who was named on Friday to chair the Trump campaign in Florida.
MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid talked to us last week about her new book, Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide.