Donald Trump Sets New Pro-Life Standard

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The only thing a candidate can ever offer is words. He can’t act on what he will do because he’s speaking about the future, not the present.

Yet Donald Trump has actually raised the bar for what pro-lifers can expect from Republican candidates, despite his troubling personal history on the issue.

This sounds counter-intuitive: even if pro-lifers support Trump, shouldn’t they feel they’re taking a step backwards? Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry urged this in The Week, saying “If pro-lifers vote for Trump, the Republican Party will never again give them what they want.”

But Gobry and others are ignoring Trump’s positions — and those positions actually improve the pro-life movement’s bargaining position in the Republican Party.

Take the ever-important Supreme Court. Past Republican nominees have actually refused to say they would appoint pro-life justices. Unlike Democrats, the GOP establishment has considered “litmus tests” taboo.

Trump has blasted through this judicial glass ceiling. He has not only specified his justices will be pro-life; he has named a list of them from whom he will pick. He even told Hugh Hewitt he would be fine with Republican senators holding up or filibustering his nominee if he veers from the list — because he won’t.

And Trump’s list is stellar. It includes people like Judge William Pryor who, during his Senate testimony to become an appeals court judge, explicitly and courageously said he opposes Roe v. Wade (instead of what most nominees say, which is usually something vague about following the law). Continue Reading

Might Cruz and Kasich Form a Ticket?

From left: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Political analysts disagree on whether it is more likely Donald Trump will arrive at the Republican convention in July with a 1,237 delegate majority or whether no candidate will have the majority and the convention will be contested.

The Dallas Morning News reports that for Trump to get 1,237, he needs to win 60 percent of the remaining delegates in upcoming races starting with Utah and Arizona next week. For Ted Cruz to get 1,237, he would need to win 87 percent of the remaining delegates.

And for John Kasich to get 1,237, he would need to win 116 percent of the remaining delegates. That is to say, Kasich cannot enter the July convention with a majority of pledged delegates. But he may be the most important wild card in the race.

If Kasich continues to compete, as he has promised to do, he will likely poll lower than Cruz in most states but still draw enough votes to give Trump multiple plurality wins. This could keep Cruz’s delegate count low and maybe even give Trump an outright majority.

Alternatively, if Kasich’s 143 delegates (plus whatever he picks up) were added to Trump, that could also put Trump over the magic 1,237 number.

But if Kasich’s delegates were added to Cruz, and the race was cleared for Cruz to win outright majorities in some remaining states, it could likewise put Cruz over the top.

Thus, several commentators have noted perhaps the simplest and most sure path for Cruz to shore up the nomination: offer Kasich the vice-presidency. Continue Reading

Conservatives Debate How to Stop Trump

Donald Trump speaks in Reno, Nev. (photo credit: Darron Birgenheier via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Conservatives seem to agree on the need to stop Donald Trump’s burgeoning candidacy, but they disagree on a strategy.

The first obstacle is how to somehow combine Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s 20-25 percent of the vote each into a 40-50 percent block to contend with Trump. Various conservatives have urged their allies to coalesce around Cruz, or alternatively, around Rubio.

Cruz advocates, such as The Federalist‘s D.C. McAllister, contend “Rubio Needs to Move Aside for Cruz, not Vice Versa.” McAllister cites Cruz’s expertise for picking Supreme Court justices and contends that many Cruz voters would drift to Trump and not to Rubio if Cruz left the race.

Advocates of backing Rubio include Leon Wolf of RedState. Though Wolf says, “I’ve been on the record for months saying that Ted Cruz would be a better President than Marco Rubio. I still believe that,” he concludes that Cruz simply has not expanded his voting base beyond evangelicals and very conservative voters as would be necessary to beat Trump in the post-Super-Tuesday states with thinner evangelical populations. Therefore, a poor March 1 primary showing by Cruz will likely end his chances.

Many conservatives have also openly wished that Cruz and Rubio would join forces in a combined ticket. Jonah Goldberg proposes that “A Rubio-Cruz Ticket Might Be the Only Way to Stop Trump.” David Harsanyi concurs. How would they decide who gets lead billing on such a ticket? Continue Reading

Will GOP Senators Hold Firm to Let Voters Determine Scalia’s Replacement?

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

As Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral services take place this weekend, the political clash over his Supreme Court seat is heating up.

Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley penned a joint op-ed in The Washington Post laying down a bright line: “It is today the American people, rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election, who should be afforded the opportunity to replace Justice Scalia.”

This comes in the wake of a grassroots movement spearheaded by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, #NoHearingsNoVotes, also highlighted by the Post.

Hewitt’s strategy emphasizes the need not only to reject any Obama nominee but to do so as a matter of principle in order to let the people decide whether to flip Scalia’s vote, because a Democrat replacement for Scalia would be the deciding vote on issues ranging from partial-birth abortion and gun confiscation to religious liberty and issue advocacy around elections.

Hewitt explains in a direct call to activists on YouTube that because the principle of letting the people’s voice be heard on such monumental civil rights matters is the winning message, the identity of the nominee is irrelevant. Thus there should not be hearings, which in any event would be a pointless fiasco on which Democrats would try to capitalize.

The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative court advocacy group, announced an initial outlay of $1 million of ad buys in swing states encouraging senators to flatly declare no nomination will move forward so that the people will have a voice on that issue when they vote for president in November. Continue Reading

After Justice Scalia’s Passing, Republicans Need a Unified Message

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Republicans have a winning message on the replacement of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and all the candidates need to get on board.

It’s a two part message. Let the people decide in November, because President Obama’s (or Hillary’s) appointee would radicalize the country.

The Senate is exercising its constitutional duty to withhold consent by holding no hearings or votes, so that it can preserve the people’s right to vote on the court’s direction this November.

And what they are voting on is a specific set of issues: a court that would impose partial-birth abortion, delete the Second Amendment, and rubber stamp Democratic presidents’ executive orders if Justice Scalia is replaced by a liberal.

Democrats think they can make this a winning message for them by highlighting Republican obstructionism. They are right — if Republicans stray from their message.

But if Republicans go on offense, it is a loser for Democrats in the fall. The Senate is doing what the people elected them to do in 2014 — put a check on President Obama’s radical executive excesses and protect the people’s right to decide on any transformative changes. It’s no longer hypothetical what those changes are: because Scalia could represent the Court’s swing vote, we might as well write on the November ballot alongside the Democrats’ names, partial-birth abortion, gun confiscation, and lawless Democratic executive orders thwarting the people’s representatives.

Senate Republicans, presidential candidates, and grassroots activists all need to be on the same page with these themes. Continue Reading

Cruz’s Attack on Rubio Over Planned Parenthood Falls Flat

From left: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Ted Cruz on Friday claimed that Marco Rubio holds a weaker position on defunding Planned Parenthood than he does, but pro-life leaders quickly contradicted Cruz’s claim.

At the Faith and Family Presidential Forum yesterday, Cruz, speaking after Rubio had concluded, claimed that Rubio opposed Cruz’s call “to use the power of Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.”

But Rubio cast votes to do exactly that, in both August and December of last year.

The latter vote was particularly significant because it is the only bill that the Republicans have successfully put on President Obama’s desk to defund Planned Parenthood. All other efforts have been filibustered in the Senate.

Carol Tobias of National Right to Life quickly rebutted Cruz’s claim as “inaccurate and misleading.” “Marco Rubio voted to defund Planned Parenthood before Ted Cruz ever got to the U.S. Senate,” explained Tobias. “Since Ted Cruz joined the U.S. Senate, both he and Sen. Rubio have voted the same on every roll call that National Right to Life regards as pertinent to defunding Planned Parenthood.”

The Cruz campaign suggests his criticism is based off his call to shut down the government rather than vote for a budget that does not revoke Planned Parenthood funding. But Cruz did not explain why that tactic is necessary or advisable if it would fail to reach 60 Senate votes, while Republicans were able to put Planned Parenthood-defunding bill on President Obama’s desk while only requiring a simple majority by using a legislative process known as reconciliation. Continue Reading

What Republicans Should Learn from Rubio’s Brilliant Pro-Life Answer

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Marco Rubio’s second most memorable remark at last Saturday’s debate, answering a question on abortion, may give us more lessons on how Republicans should address the abortion issue.

Rubio was confronted by the debate moderator for defending the right to life of babies even if they are conceived in rape.

Despite a Thursday letter to all campaigns by Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List urging Republicans not to attack each other for taking the pro-life view, both Jeb Bush and Chris Christie doubled down on attacking Rubio during the debate.

And Rubio again refused to back down, giving an answer that Daniel Allott of the Washington Examiner called “brilliant” for acknowledging the difficulty of the issue, standing by his principles and, as Dannenfelser specifically recommended, turning the attack on to Hillary Clinton as the real extremist on the issue. No other candidate stepped in to address the controversy.

Railing against the lack of questions to Hillary on this issue, Rubio challenged, “Why doesn’t the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortion should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child?”

This tactic garnered a prompt response. Hillary was confronted with Rubio’s question the next morning on “Face the Nation.”

But despite calling Rubio’s attack “pathetic,” she didn’t list a single abortion restriction that she favors. Hillary said she is for “making abortions safe and legal, the exceptions that are appropriate that should be looked into.” And she cited the 1973 Roe v. Continue Reading

Rubio Bests Cruz in Head-to-Head Matchups with Hillary

From left: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

A new Quinnipiac University poll, which shows Marco Rubio performing the best against Hillary Clinton in November, got me thinking. How consistent is this result?

The newest poll, conducted February 2-4, shows Rubio beating Clinton head-to-head 48-41, Ted Cruz tying her 45-45, and Donald Trump losing to Clinton 46-41.

So I went over to RealClearPolitics.com, which lets you look back at all the general election head-to-head polls between Rubio and Hillary, and Cruz and Hillary. (I didn’t bother with Trump vs. Hillary, since he usually does worse than Cruz or Rubio.)

Rubio doesn’t always beat Clinton by his latest large margin, nor, sometimes, does he beat her at all.

But Rubio almost always polls better against Clinton than Cruz does.

Take a look at this compilation of screen shots of the last 20 head-to-head polls listed at RCP for Rubio and Cruz vs. Clinton:

 

Methodology: I did not include in this list four polls where Rubio was put against Hillary but Cruz was not measured against Hillary (two polls in October and two in August). All of the data you see is unedited.

What jumps out at me from this list is not the RCP average at the top, showing Rubio doing better since January 1.

What really jumps out is that in 19 of these 20 polls, Rubio does better against Hillary than Cruz does against her. The outlier, a Quinnipiac poll from December 16-20, has Rubio performing only one point worse than Cruz. Continue Reading

Christie Joins Graham in Attacking Rubio for Being Too Pro-Life

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

As Mary noted yesterday, a new line of attack by Senator Lindsey Graham, who has endorsed Jeb Bush, is that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are too pro-life because they oppose, in principle, abortion in the case of rape.

Now Chris Christie has joined Graham’s anti-pro-life tactic.

Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie declared, “Marco Rubio is not for an exception for . . . rape, incest or life of the mother. Now, you know, I think that’s the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would be really concerned about. I’m pro-life, but I believe that rape, incest and life of the mother — as Ronald Reagan did — should be exceptions to that rule.”

Similarly, the pro-Bush Right to Rise PAC had previously made a video painting Rubio as a pro-life extremist.

Rubio’s staunch pro-life position took center stage in the very first Republican debate, where he was questioned about his view and defended the principle that all unborn lives have value.

Rubio doubled down on the position the next morning on CNN, ably defending his 100-percent pro-life view in the face of criticism from host Chris Cuomo. Rubio clarified that he would sign or vote for a pro-life law if it had exceptions for rape, but at the same, he defended in principle the value of all unborn children regardless of the circumstances of conception and said he would not insist on those exceptions being in a law. Continue Reading

Santorum Drops Out of 2016 Race, Endorses Rubio

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Former Senator Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed Marco Rubio on Wednesday evening. In particular, Santorum cited Rubio’s strong support for family values.

Santorum emphasized Rubio’s position of “understanding the central role of the family in supporting that opportunity; that family breakdown is one of the key reasons that the middle [class] is hollowing out. It’s not just the lack of opportunities and talk about manufacturing and that important thing.”

Speculation abounded earlier in the day when Santorum announced he was dropping out, but he waited until an evening appearance on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” to declare who he was endorsing.

Several commentators, including The Resurgent‘s Erick Erickson, predicted Santorum would endorse Donald Trump in light of Santorum’s appearance at Trump’s veteran’s rally during the last Republican debate.

Trump was also set to appear on Greta’s show last night and was seen by some as an embodiment of the same populism Santorum has tapped into during his presidential runs.

Along these lines, Rubio responded to Santorum’s endorsement by praising Santorum’s “great agenda for blue collar Americans.”

Rubio has emphasized policies that would benefit working families such his tax proposal with Senator Mike Lee to expand the child tax credit. That proposal has been embraced by pro-family conservative tax reformers such as Ramesh Ponnuru who argue that children are a civic investment. But it has been criticized by other conservatives emphasizing purely supply-side tax approaches. Continue Reading