Thursday Night in Iowa: A Republican “Royal Rumble” Without the Front-Runner There (Physically, Anyway)

thWF5BU64KLast Sunday, the WWE staged it’s annual event, known as “The Royal Rumble” in which 30 combatants enter the squared circle, individually, every 3 minutes, and try to toss each other over the top rope, to see who will headline WrestleMania in a World Championship Match.

Last night’s Republican Presidential Candidates Primary Debate, with the notable absence of the Front-Runner, Donald J. Trump, was reminiscent of that wrestling event.

For those of you who did not watch the Trump-less Republican Primary Contenders’ Debate on Fox News Channel last night, MSN.com provides a detailed synopsis (from the Opposition Party’s point-of-view, of course)…

DES MOINES — The first Republican presidential debate without Donald Trump still took on a Trumpian tone at times, with the seven other top candidates here Thursday night voicing anger, talking tough and vowing to do away with political correctness.

But with the defiant GOP front-runner staging his own counter-program by rallying supporters a few miles away, Trump’s absence left a vacuum on the debate stage and fewer fireworks than Republicans had grown accustomed to.

From the opening question, it was mostly filled by Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), who has been locked in an intensifying duel with Trump for dominance in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, only four days away.

Cruz began by mocking Trump’s reputation for insults: “I’m a ‘maniac’ and everyone on this stage is ‘stupid,’ ‘fat’ and ‘ugly.’ And Ben [Carson], you’re a ‘terrible surgeon.’ Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way . . .”

From there, however, little more was said about Trump, few direct attacks were leveled at him and the overall atmosphere was notably calmer than in previous debate. That left Cruz as the top target as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and other opponents sought to puncture the Texas senator’s appeal by trying to depict him as an inauthentic conservative.

“The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes,” Rubio said. “You want to trump Trump on immigration.”

Rubio and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) both attacked Cruz for having once supported an amendment that would have granted legal status, not citizenship, to illegal immigrants — though Cruz maintains that it was a “poison pill” and that he has always opposed amnesty.

“He is the king of saying, ‘Oh, you’re for amnesty. Everybody’s for amnesty except for Ted Cruz,’ ” Paul said. “But it’s a falseness, and that’s an authenticity problem.”

Cruz was not the only candidate on the defensive on immigration, however. Rubio also came under fire for his role as one of the Gang of Eight senators who crafted comprehensive reform legislation in 2013.

After giving Rubio a backhanded compliment for being “charming and smooth,” Cruz hammered him for having aligned with President Obama and Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid (Nev.) and Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.).

The Fox News Channel moderators tried to challenge both Cruz and Rubio by playing archival video footage of the two senators. After showing the Cruz videos, co-moderator Megyn Kelly asked: “Was that all an act? It was pretty convincing.”

In the absence of Trump, Cruz and Rubio had the most to gain or lose in Thursday night’s debate. The two are the second- and third-polling candidates in Iowa, and their strategies are predicated on being the last non-Trump candidate left standing to face off with the mogul in a long-slog primary season.

Both men emerged with scars.

Rubio appeared to struggle explaining why he advocated a hard-line immigration approach as a Senate candidate, then pursued comprehensive reform that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, then reverted.

Rubio said he does not support “blanket amnesty” and focused on the need to seal the border with Mexico and improve security there.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush used the exchange to portray Rubio — his onetime protege when Rubio was a Florida state lawmaker — as weak for having reversed positions on immigration. After noting that he supported Rubio’s work in the Gang of Eight, Bush said, “He cut and run because it wasn’t popular among conservatives, I guess.”

“You shouldn’t cut and run,” Bush said. “You should stick with it. That’s exactly what happened. He cut and run, and that’s a tragedy.”

Rubio countered by saying that Bush had reversed his own position on citizenship and legal status in a book he wrote.

“So did you,” Bush snapped back.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used the back-and-forth over Senate votes and amendments to show the leadership differences between legislators and executives, and he repeated his call for a governor in the White House.

“I feel like I need a Washingtonese-English dictionary converter,” Christie joked.

Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who once led the polls but has seen his lead falter among heavy scrutiny of his policy knowhow, invoked his medical career as a credential for the White House: “I’ve had more 2 a.m. phone calls than everybody here put together, making life and death decisions.”

The immigration exchange was one of the few moments of direct confrontation onstage between the candidates. The debate lacked a central focus, with Kelly and her co-moderators, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, asking many one-off questions that focused on the vulnerabilities of individual candidates.

In return, the candidates gave many of the canned lines that have become familiar on the campaign trail, avoiding taking big risks with the Iowa caucuses so close.

The seventh Republican debate of the 2016 campaign cycle was the first not to include Trump, the billionaire mogul whose bombast and showmanship dominated the previous events.

Trump boycotted the debate, escalating his feud with Fox and its star anchor, Kelly, because he believed he would not be treated fairly. He has long harbored disdain for Kelly because of her aggressive line of questioning during the first GOP debate in August, and he has argued that the network was taking advantage of his popularity with viewers to boost its ratings and thus its advertising revenue.

In her opening question, Kelly said, “Let’s address the elephant not in the room tonight.”

Trump staged a competing rally Thursday night on the Des Moines campus of Drake University, where he raised money for and honored veterans.

Much of the debate centered on foreign policy, with the candidates competing to show who would be the toughest commander in chief.

“You claim it is tough talk to discuss ‘carpet bombing,’ ” Cruz said. “It is not tough talk. It is a different fundamental military strategy than what we’ve seen from President Obama.”

Early in the debate, Cruz took fire on multiple fronts. Paul went after him for refusing to show support for a vote to audit the Federal Reserve and for not voicing strong enough opposition to the government’s surveillance efforts.

“I don’t think Ted can have it both ways. They want to say they’re getting some of the liberty vote,” Paul said. “But we don’t see it happening at all. We think we’re going to do very well in Iowa with the liberty vote.”

Rubio, as he has for months, portrayed Cruz as weak on national security.

“As already has been pointed out, the only budget that Ted has ever voted for is a budget that Rand Paul sponsored that brags about cutting defense spending,” Rubio said. “And I think that’s a bad idea.”

The closing days of the race have been nasty here in Iowa. The campaigns and allied super PACs are blanketing television and radio airwaves with attack ads, while the candidates have laced their stump speeches with sharp barbs.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is banking his hopes on the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, sought to position himself above the fray.

“We cannot fix things in this country — the Social Security, the border, balancing the budget, getting wages to grow faster — unless we lead as conservatives, but we also invite people in from the other party,” Kasich said. “We have to come together as a country. And we have to stop all the divisions.”

Kasich’s call for unity went unheeded, and he was a non-factor through significant stretches of the debate as other candidates sparred.

As in previous debates, the candidates harshly attacked Hillary Clinton and sought to position themselves as best equipped to lead the Republican Party into the general election against Clinton, whom they see as the most likely Democratic nominee.

“She is not qualified to be president of the United States,” Christie said, drawing loud cheers from the audience. “The fact is, what we need is someone on that stage who has been tested, who has been through it, who has made decisions, who has sat in the chair of consequence and can prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton.”

Bush made a similar pitch.

“This is an election about people that are really hurting,” he said. “We need a leader that will fix things and have a proven record to do it. And we need someone who will take on Hillary Clinton in November.”

So, what was the Front-Running Trump up to, while the rest of the candidates duked it out?

Again, MSN.com has the story (and, please remember, they are hardly non-partisan)…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump opened a Thursday rally coinciding with the final GOP debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses by telling supporters he would have preferred to be at the debate, but had no choice but to skip it after promising a boycott.

Angry over an escalating feud with debate host Fox News, Trump bowed out of the debate and held what his team called a “Special Event to Benefit Veterans Organizations” at a packed 775-seat auditorium at nearby Drake University instead.

“You have to stick up for your rights. When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” Trump told the crowd. “We have to stick up for ourselves as people and we have to stick up for our country if we’re being mistreated.”

Speaking from the stage at what felt like a cross between a televised fundraising telethon and a typical Trump campaign rally, Trump said his foundation already had raised between $5 million and $6 million for veterans since announcing the event. He said he’s putting up $1 million of his own money and read off the names of wealthy friends he said had pledged major contributions.

Trump repeated earlier statements that Fox “very much” wanted him to attend the debate and said he’d fielded repeated phone calls from the network during the day. Fox News Channel issued a statement saying Trump had offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that Fox contribute $5 million to his charities, which the network said was not possible.

Fox News says Chairman Roger Ailes, in conversations with Trump, “acknowledged his concerns” about a statement the network had made in the days leading up to the debate.

Trump has said he’s not worried about turning off voters who may be disappointed by his decision to skip Thursday’s contest.

“We’ve had other voters that love what I’m doing because they don’t want to be pushed around by the establishment,” said Trump, who is planning to participate in the next debate in New Hampshire.

It was unclear exactly which groups would receive money raised from the event and new website Trump launched for collecting donations: donaldtrumpforvets.com. Contributions to the site will go to The Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump’s nonprofit charitable organization. The page says: “100 percent of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.”

Trump representatives had been reaching out to various groups, in some cases inquiring about their programs and finances. Among those contacted were the Green Beret Foundation, which provides care to veterans, and Fisher House, which provides free or low cost housing to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.

K9s for Warriors, which trains rescue dogs to be service animals for veterans, received a call from a Trump campaign representative asking if the group was interested in accepting funds from the event, according to executive director Rory Diamond. Diamond said the group is non-partisan but would be happy to accept any contributions.

Two of Donald Trump’s presidential rivals have taken the stage at a rally Trump is hosting to benefit veterans as he skips the Republican debate.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum attended the rally after participating in the early undercard debate for candidates whose poll numbers were too low to make it on the main stage.

Trump was joined at the event by two of his rivals, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Both took the stage at Trump’s event after participating in the early, undercard debate for candidates whose poll numbers were too low to make it on the main stage.

Santorum joked that he didn’t want his picture taken with the Trump campaign sign. He quipped that he’s “supporting another candidate for president,” but said he was happy to come out to support veterans.

Huckabee had earlier stressed his appearance should not be seen as an endorsement of Trump. He told the audience gathered at Drake University that he, Santorum and Trump may be presidential race competitors but said “tonight we are colleagues” in supporting veterans.

Every since I graduated high school in 1976, I have followed politics. I had to in college, because I was the News Director of the Campus Radio Station, with a staff of 20 students , who received class credit for producing a 5-minute newscast, once a week.

In 1980, I was privileged to cast my very first vote for the greatest American President in my lifetime, Ronald Reagan.

Since then, I have witnessed a lot of political chicanery, resulting in a lot of harm to the country which I love.

The Muslim-sympathizing, Alinsky-ite Marxist, who currently saunters down to the Oval Office every morning at 10:30 a.m. in his shirt sleeves, on his way to play golf, is the latest and most egregious example.

In every decade since the 1970s, the Media in this country has become more and more Liberal…and more and more subjective in their Editorial Policies and actual reporting.

With the advent of cable television and the 24-hour News Cycle, the Media had to step up their behind-the-scenes manipulation of events, in order to be competitive, and to secure the Cash Cow of their business, high viewership ratings.

What happened last night, was a result of an American Businessman, refusing to play the role of Pinocchio to one of these Modern-day Gepettos.

Per gatewaypundit.com,

FOX News and Google invited a radical Muslim activist, a Bernie Sanders supporter, a Black Lives Matter supporter and a Mexican illegal immigrant to the debate to confront Donald Trump.

Trump found out and, instead of stepping into a pile of…well, you know…he stepped around it, right into more FREE PUBLICITY, while raising money for our American Veterans, whom this Administration has treated so badly.

So, will Trump be hurt by last night?

Hardly.

As of this morning’s Drudge Report’s Republican Candidate Poll, Trump is far outdistancing the pack, with 65.59% of the vote. Sen. Ted Cruz has 16.63%, and Marco Rubio has 6.5%.

Not a scientific poll, I know, but, it could very possibly be a portent of things to come.

The best laid plans of mice and men oft’ times go awry. – Robert Burns

Until He Comes,

KJ

 

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: