Posted on | January 15, 2016 | 43 Comments
The battle for Iowa seems to be coming down to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump. Of course, there are likely to be five candidates still in the race after the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, but the debate Thursday highlighted the clash between Cruz and Trump:
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz clashed Thursday in their sharpest — and most personal — encounters of the campaign season.
“I guess the bromance is over,” Trump told CNN’s Dana Bash after the debate.
The 2.5-hour event sponsored by Fox Business Network was filled with testy exchanges between the seven candidates on stage. Cruz and Trump are battling for first place in Iowa with less than three weeks until the state’s caucuses, though the businessman has a commanding lead nationally. And with pressure mounting for someone to emerge as an establishment alternative to Trump and Cruz, sparks flew between Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.
The much-anticipated Trump vs. Cruz showdown took a few minutes to materialize — but when it did, it packed a punch.
Cruz forcefully responded to Trump’s accusations that he isn’t eligible to be president because he was born in Canada — a controversy that Trump has only recently embraced.
“Back in September, my friend Donald said he had his lawyers look at this in every which way,” Cruz said. “There was nothing to this birther issue.”
He added: “Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have.”
Yes, the poll numbers have changed in Iowa, and also nationally. If you look at the Real Clear Politics average, the big story of the 2012 Republican campaign so far has been the collapse of Jeb Bush, who was averaging 17.8% nationally in July, but is now only 4.8%. The Bush campaign has raised more than $24 million, so what happened? To paraphrase the Beatles, money can’t buy Bush love:
Concerns about the impact of money on politics assume that if you buy enough ads you can elect anybody. If that were true, Jeb would be the frontrunner. Instead, he’s running way behind other candidates who, in different ways, have done a better job of addressing voters’ concerns.
It turns out that addressing voters’ concerns is more important than slick TV spots. And that means that the only campaign finance “reform” we need is for candidates (and donors) to quit tossing money at consultants and instead to speak to the American people about what the American people care about.
If nothing else comes from Jeb’s candidacy, that’s a valuable lesson indeed.
(Hat-tip: Instapundit.) Bush is heading toward a humiliating defeat in Iowa — no better than fourth place, and perhaps fifth or sixth — and his highly paid staff should be busy writing an eloquent concession speech: “Spend more time with my family,” blah blah blah. Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton may be approaching her own humiliation at the hands of Bernie Sanders:
Hillary Clinton has lost most of her lead over Bernie Sanders in the race to win Iowa’s Democratic presidential caucuses, a new Iowa Poll shows.
Clinton, who has been the favorite all along, now leads Sanders by just 2 percentage points in The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll. That’s down from 9 percentage points a month ago.
Clinton is now the top choice of 42 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, compared with Sanders’ 40 percent, the poll finds. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
As recently as early November, Clinton had a 30-point lead over Sanders in the RCP average of Iowa polls, but there has been a sharp shift in the past month. In early December, a Quinnipiac poll of Iowa Democrats showed Hillary leading Bernie by 11 points, but the latest Quinnipiac poll in Iowa has Sanders leading 49-44. News flash: People don’t like Hillary Clinton. Her own husband doesn’t like Hillary Clinton.
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) January 15, 2016