Republicans begin to form circular firing squads


As the first actual selection of delegates for the party nominations gets near with the Iowa caucuses on February 1 and the New Hampshire primary on February 9, the various candidates are moving their campaigns into top gear. On the Republican side, what seems to be shaping up are contests within two main subgroups, one claiming the outsider or insurgent mantle and the other the establishment mantle, though given the angry mood of the Republican electorate, even the establishment candidate has to wear at least a partial outsider veneer, to claim that they are not of the establishment even if they come from it.

Those claiming to be outsiders are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. The establishment candidates are Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. The first two names in each group are the ones with a realistic shot at being the final winner. Rand Paul is trying to straddle both wings.

In this phase of the process, the subgroups seem to be aiming their fire at the other members in their group, since success will be measured by being one of the top two or three perceived winners by the middle of February.

As this article discusses, so far it is the establishment bloc that has formed the first circular firing squad.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Tuesday found his record of Senate absences under attack from two directions: a blistering ad in Iowa by a super PAC supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush and a taunt by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Meanwhile, [Jeb Bush’s super PAC] Right to Rise USA also launched a spot in New Hampshire contending that the gubernatorial records of Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich do not stack up against that of Bush. The ad was gentler in tone than the super PAC’s assault on Rubio, but it attempted to draw a contrast on the experience that all three of the candidates consider to be their greatest asset.

So far, the infighting in the outsider group has been less intense. There seems to be truce between the two main outsider candidates Trump and Cruz. Trump seems to practice a highly personalized kind of politics where he says nice things about people who say nice things about him, and he does not attack someone unless he is attacked first. Cruz has used that to his advantage by being nice to Trump while at the same time, trying to corner the evangelical Christian vote, a powerful factor in Iowa. Trump even seems to be conceding that he might not come in first in Iowa, where he is currently slightly behind Cruz in the polls, in the expectation that he will nullify that by winning big in New Hampshire. But if Cruz starts closing the gap in New Hampshire, expect the sniping to intensify.

Comments

  1. StevoR says

    Trump seems to practice a highly personalized kind of politics where he says nice things about people who say nice things about him, and he does not attack someone unless he is attacked first.

    Tit-for tat strategy in game theory ain’t it? Read somewhere it was a most successful one two – with the extra addition of giving the other player a chance every one in awhile to see if they were being honest /good.

    Also, despite the vast policy differences and personalities rather reminiscent of Bernie Sanders strategy~wise except Sanders seems to have ruled out running any attacks on anyone.

    The first two names in each group are the ones with a realistic shot at being the final winner. Rand Paul is trying to straddle both wings.

    How’s that working out for him? Pretty badly yeah? Given he’s firstand only name in his own straddling category do you rate him any realistic shot or not?

    Still think its very early in the process. Personally I wouldn’t rule out Christie or Kasich just yet. Personally I kinda hope Christie as probably the most relatively moderate and reasonable (yeah? nah?) ultimately gets the Republican nomination and gets to be runner-up to Hillary Clinton or Sanders as eventual POTUS race winner.

    Yes, I know the Democratic party would probably get to win by more if a real nightmare candidate like Trump or Cruz or “Mr Frothymix” but then, OTOH, what if something horrible happens and such a candidate actually wins? No, I’d rather the best choices were put to the US people and the real dropkicks kept as far away from any chance of taking power as possible.

    I also think Cruz is just having his “not-Trump” alternative turn the way Carson did not so many weeks ago and like Carson (& like Gingrich, Frothymix, Perry et al as “Not-Rmoneys”last cycle)will also quickly plummet out. I’ll also as a corollary predict that after” (if /when) Cruz crashes, the Huckster and “Mr Frothymix”will get their turns as the “not -Trumps”” and maybe even Carly Fiorina will again too – although I thought she briefly had one go at that already? I think Cruz is just so (& justly) loathed by his own party and nearly everyone that’s got to know him well that he’s surely unelectable and doubt he stands a real “realistic shot” although I could be mistaken obviously.

    I sure have to admit I was totally wrong about Trump’s seriousness and chances at the start of this and about Jeb! (BUSH!!!) easily romping away with the R-nom. Still, we’ll see. My eventual prediction as of now still may be Jeb, might be Trump though I hope not I hope Christie. Then I predict as yáll know a Hillary Clinton landslide but, yeah, still early days and I’m definitely fallible.

  2. StevoR says

    @ ^ For clarity and because I can’t edit here* , grr ..

    My second sentence there should be “..it was a most successful one too rather than the numerical version of the word. Additionally, “Yes, I know the Democratic party would probably get to win by more if a real nightmare candidate was their nominee like Trump” etc .. There’s also other errors there no doubt but those my worst ones this time.

    * Or type well or pick up things properly in preview which I always seem to struggle to do, mea culpa.

    PS. Also on the US presidential race I read this article :

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/12/saying_nice_things_about_hillary_clinton_has_become_a_subversive_act.html

    WARNING SLATE PAYWALL thingy for non-USA readers.

    The other day or so and think it makes some good points. I have a lot of respect and sympathy and admiration for Hillary Clinton too. Bernie Sanders is also good as well and no doubt more ideologically appealing to many and would also make a great POTUS but I do prefer Hillary.

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