“The Sunday Political Brunch” - January 31, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
“Trump Stump” – I think it was a bad mistake. I’m not sure it will cost him votes or the Iowa Caucuses (which are Monday), but at the very least it was disrespectful to the people of Iowa. You’re not punishing Fox News by not showing up; you’re cheating the voters and viewers. You want to be President, so the voters should hear from you directly. Plus you’re giving your opponents an open shot to gain ground. It was not a wise decision, in my analysis.
“On the Plus Side” – I think we got to finally got hear more from the other candidates. I learned a lot by hearing Rand Paul in greater detail, without Trump interrupting him with an insult. The same goes for Jeb Bush. I suspect if Trump had showed he would have been on the attack against Ted Cruz, and vice versa, and those two would have overshadowed the other candidates. In summary, the voters got a much better look at the others.
“Best Lines” – When the debate opened Ted Cruz was asked about the “elephant” missing from the room. He responded: “I’m a maniac, and everyone here on this stage is fat and ugly; and Ben you’re a lousy surgeon,” said Cruz (quoting Trump’s earlier insults). Cruz then added that they could start the debate, “Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way.” It was a funny icebreaker.
“Avoiding Donald” – Marco Rubio had an interesting tactic. Seemingly every time an issue came up – including Trump – the Florida Senator would divert and talk about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as if they were Siamese twins joined at the hip. Of Trump he said, “This campaign is not about Trump. He’s an entertaining guy. He’s the greatest show on earth.” He then launched his first Obama-Clinton attack. I lost count, but clearly Rubio said the words “Obama” and “Clinton” way more than anyone else on the stage. For months now, national polls have showed him as the only Republican beating Mrs. Clinton in a head-to-head match-up. It was a smart strategy.
“From the Executive Office” – For many years - from Jimmy Carter, to Ronald Reagan, to Bill Clinton, and to George W. Bush – having been a Governor was the best path to the White House. With that in mind on Thursday night, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich all touted their years of experience as chief executive of their respective states. Christie probably won the most points by mocking the “Washington-speak” of the Senators on the stage. “This is why you need to send someone from outside of Washington, to Washington. I feel like you need a ‘Washington-to-English’ dictionary converter,” Christie said to laughs and cheers.
“Winners & Losers” – The debate spotlight shifted more attention on Cruz, as the number two candidate in national polling. He and Rubio mixed it up well, and did not make any major gaffes. Of the three Governors, I would say Christie came out on top. I would rate Cruz, Rubio and Christie as the winners, in no particular order. Bush and Kasich, neither hurt nor harmed their respective causes, so they get a neutral grade. The same goes for Rand Paul, who simply holds appeal to the party’s libertarian wing. Ben Carson, I thought, was flat and seems to keep losing ground. He was probably the debate’s loser.
“Saying Goodbye” – Finally this week, I must say good-bye to my friend and colleague, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. who died Thursday morning. Buddy served as Mayor of Providence in two stretches totaling 22 years. Yes, he was run from office both times on felony convictions, but he was also the architect of that fine city’s renaissance. He was one of the most astute political minds I’ve seen in covering nearly forty years of politics. He loved talking politics and invited me on his TV and radio shows many, many times, including to discuss this year’s Presidential election. Cheers Buddy, I’ll miss you!
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