Former Candidates Start to Coalesce Behind Trump

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

With the Republican primary race all but over, GOP leaders are slowly beginning to unite behind the party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. This includes three of his former rivals for the nomination.

Just days following Trump’s significant victory in the Indiana primary, former candidates Scott Walker and Rick Perry announced they would be backing Trump in this year’s presidential election. Walker framed his support as a fulfilling of his pledge last August to support the Republican nominee and stated that he thinks Trump “is clearly better than Hillary Clinton for a variety of reasons.” Perry was even more complimentary, stating that Trump “is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” and promising that he would help in any way he could.

Then, over the weekend, Bobby Jindal joined the fray, declaring in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “I’m Voting Trump, Warts and All”:

Some of my fellow Republicans have declared they will never, under any circumstances, vote for Donald Trump. They are pessimistic about the party’s chances in November and seem more motivated by long-term considerations. They think devotion to the “anybody but Trump” movement is a principled and courageous stance that will help preserve a remnant of the conservative movement and its credibility, which can then serve as a foundation for renewal.

I sympathize with this perspective, but I am planning to vote for Donald Trump. Why? Because the stakes for my country, not merely my party, are simply too high.

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Former Candidates Rick Perry, George Pataki Make Their 2016 Picks

From left: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former New York Gov. George Pataki

Earlier this month, Sen. Lindsey Graham became the first ex-2016 presidential candidate to make an endorsement when he announced he was backing the candidacy of Jeb Bush.

This week, two more former candidates made their picks official. First was Rick Perry, who declared on Monday that he would be siding with his fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz:

Citing his record as an Air Force veteran, Mr. Perry said Mr. Cruz was especially able to be a leader of the U.S. military, although he has served less than one term as a U.S. senator and had scant national security experience before his election in 2012.

“Ted has proven that he is ready to serve as commander in chief on day one,” Mr. Perry said. “He has also proven the willingness to take on the Washington cartel and restore power and opportunity back to the people.”

[…]

Mr. Perry will campaign with Mr. Cruz in Iowa this week.

Then came George Pataki, who announced Tuesday that he would be supporting Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid:

“I am proud to endorse Marco Rubio,” Pataki said today in an interview with Fox News, adding that he believes Rubio is the right person to unite the Republican Party.

“Donald Trump is dividing us,” Pataki said. “Marco Rubio is going to bring us together.”

[…]

“He’s provided great leadership. He did it in the state legislature in Florida,” Pataki said about Rubio. “He’s done it in the U.S.

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So Long, Rick, We Hardly Knew You

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

And so there are 16, as Rick Perry effectively ends his campaign (they always say the campaign is “suspended,” in case they can get FEC matching funds down the road).  The JV debate will be even lonelier with Carly going to the show and Rick to pasture (Gilmore, Graham, Jindal, Pataki, and Santorum remain).

The demise of Perry is not terribly surprising, but it is nonetheless difficult to fully explain.  Hindsight, in politics as well as sports, is not 20-20; there are too many intangibles in play.  Perry on paper should have been more of a contender.  He is a likable man; he was experienced in politics; he stood strongly for the rule of law on border issues; he challenged Obama rather than embraced him (Christie).  But he wasn’t what Republican voters are looking for this year.

In explaining Perry’s demise, there are at least five contributing factors:

  1. His 2012 performance — which included a disastrous debate performance attributed to medication — hung on him like the proverbial albatross.  He couldn’t shake the conclusion he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
  1. Nor was he able to overcome the collective legacy of 2012.  Note that none of the alumni of that debacle — Huckabee, Perry, Santorum, and Paul (whose father was the candidate, but Rand was by Ron’s side throughout Iowa and New Hampshire in one of the nastier candidacies in memory) — are doing well, even though this list includes two previous winners of the Iowa caucuses. 
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Two Warnings from Rick Perry, As He Goes

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The 2016 presidential race had its first major casualty on Friday, as Rick Perry made the decision to suspend his campaign amid serious financial struggles and a failure to gain any traction in the polling.

Perry did not leave quietly, however.  In a speech delivered to the Eagle Forum in Missouri, the former Texas governor reiterated the principles which had formed the foundation for his campaign and, most strikingly, issued two warnings to Republicans in advance of the rapidly approaching primary season:

1.) “[T]he answer to a president nominated for soaring rhetoric and no record is not to nominate a candidate whose rhetoric speaks louder than his record. It is not to replicate the Democrat model of selecting a president, falling for the cult of personality over durable life qualities.”

Americans are understandably fed up with a lack of principled leadership in Washington.  And the temptation is great for voters to take out this frustration by supporting an outsider candidate with an appealing personality and grand proposals for change.

However, as Perry points out, we have all seen this play out before.  Lofty promises are rarely kept, and after the last six and a half years, voters ought to be especially skeptical of candidates making grandiose, yet vague, pledges.  Much more important than what a candidate says is what he or she has done.

And on that front, records really do speak volumes.

2.) “[W]e cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further. Continue Reading

Perry Drops Out, Field Reduced to “Only” 16

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race on Friday, marking the first casualty of the 2016 campaign.

Via CNN:

The departure of Perry, who had little support in early-voting states or among the GOP donor class, is unlikely to alter the contours of the Republican race. But Perry nevertheless implored his supporters in an email to back a candidate who embodies the principles of conservatism.

“The conservative movement has always been about principles, not personalities,” Perry said, before making a not-too-veiled swipe at Donald Trump, the GOP’s current front-runner. “Our nominee should embody those principles. He — or she — must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause of their own celebrity.”

For almost two years, the swaggering Texan had prepared and studied for a second shot at the presidency. But in a 17-candidate field, Perry found himself weakened by fundraisers who ditched him for his rivals and by top surrogates who defected as his campaign crumbled. He raised only about $1 million in the first fundraising quarter, and he never had enough supporters for him to earn a spot in the premier GOP debates.

Rick Perry is a good man and a strong conservative. It’s a shame to see him bow out. Let’s hope he returns to public service as part of a Republican administration in 2017.

Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for American Principles in Action. Continue Reading

Three Candidates We Can’t Count Out. Not Yet.

As we head into the weekend, perhaps we could all use a little perspective.

Is Donald Trump the front-runner? Sure. He’s dominating the polls right now. Does Jeb Bush seem to be the establishment’s pick? Based on early fundraising, that appears to be the case.

But this race isn’t over. We’re not down to two or three candidates. Far from it.

At this point in the 2008 election, Rudy Giuliani was the presumptive nominee. He led every poll and had the general backing of the establishment.

Then he lost Iowa. And New Hampshire. And he never recovered.

Here are three GOP candidates running for President who still have a shot at the nomination:

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

1.) Marco Rubio

Rubio’s inability to rise in the polls is a little concerning, but it’s early. He currently remains a top 5 or 6 candidate — according to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Rubio is averaging 7.3 percent in national polls, placing behind Trump, Bush, Carson, and Walker, respectively. In Iowa, he’s polling respectably in sixth at 7 percent, but he’s a complete non-factor at the moment in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

But again, it’s early. Rubio has raised a lot of money, and he’s put together a solid campaign team. There’s a lot of time.

And in an article in Politico earlier this week, Rubio’s team seemed to prefer not being a front-runner:

“Show me the candidate who was first place in August who ended up winning in February,” said Terry Sullivan, Rubio’s campaign manager, after an event at a downtown coffee shop Tuesday.

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The Common Core Report Card: Rick Perry Gets a B

In our Common Core report card, we graded Rick Perry and all of the GOP candidates based on the three following criteria: fighting the Common Core, protecting state and local decision-making on education, and defending child and family privacy. Then we averaged the three grades together for one final grade.

What does each grade mean?

A … Champions the issue, e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue. … Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it. C … Has neither helped nor hurt the cause. D … Has an overall negative record on the issue. F … Robustly and consistently works against the issue.

So how did Rick Perry do?

Ending the Common Core System: A+ Protecting State and Local Decision Making: A- Protecting Child and Family Privacy: D

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Overall Grade: B

Gov. Rick Perry is one of the few candidates, declared or prospective, who has opposed the Common Core from the outset. As Governor, Rick Perry signed HB 462, which effectively banned the Common Core from being adopted in Texas. As far back as 2010, Perry refused to participate in the Race to the Top stampede, stating:

[W]e would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education. If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.

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ThePulse2016 Report Card: Common Core

Four years ago, Common Core was considered a “done deal,” uncontroversial and approved by Democrats and Republican leaders alike. It had been pushed into 45 states without notice to legislators and parents alike. Today, Common Core and related educational issues of local control of schools and family privacy have emerged as significant campaign issues for candidates and for a motivated network of grassroots citizens-turned activists.

ThePulse2016.com (a project of American Principles in Action) and New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action are releasing our first formal report card to voters on how GOP candidates are doing in responding to the concerns of Common Core parents and the experts who have validated their concerns. We have carefully evaluated the candidates on three separate—but related—issues:

1.) Have they spoken out and acted against Common Core?

Statements opposing Common Core must acknowledge that the standards are of low-quality, fail to meet the expectations of high-performing countries, and contain language that controls the curriculum and instructional methods used in the classroom. Recognition of these deficiencies is central in determining whether a candidate’s actions have been a sincere effort to replace the Common Core with high standards or to simply rebrand it under another name.

2.) Do they understand and have they made a specific commitment to protect state and local control of education from further federal intrusion?

In particular, we are looking for candidates who understand how the federal government intrudes onto state decision-making and who advocate for structural changes to prevent such intrusions. Moreover, the candidate must understand that the intended division of power between the federal government and the state is meant to ensure that people can shape state and local policies.

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Memo to GOP Governors: Nobody Cares About Your Experience

Governors Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker

Half of the Republican presidential field is a current or former governor (9 of 17 candidates).  As you might expect, before the first Republican debate on August 2, a plurality of self-identified Republican poll respondents (39 percent) preferred one of those nine candidates (this is based on an average of three national surveys which were conducted both before and after the debate).  But after the debate, those nine governors are — collectively — pulling in only 30 percent of the vote, as opposed to 39 percent for the THREE “outsider” candidates taken together (Trump, Carson, Fiorina), and 23 percent for the five Senators (Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Santorum, Graham).

The gubernatorial candidates have individually lost an average of 2 percent each since the debate, while the outsiders have gained an average of 2 percent, and the Senators have gained an average of 1 percent.  “Team Outsider” is doing so well because Carly Fiorina is in the line-up (+6 in the average of those three before and after polls) plus Carson (+4; Trump is a drag at -3, but of course still the front-runner).  “Team Senator” is benefiting from Cruz (+4) and Rubio (+1).

Not one of the governor candidates is doing better today than before the debate.

The problem for governor candidates is that of differentiation: breaking out of the crowd.  They are all tempted to: a) trumpet their states’ records of success and b) highlight their executive experience, as though they have apprenticed as president. Continue Reading

Perry’s Campaign Running on Empty

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: iprimages via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign team in South Carolina is no longer being paid by his presidential campaign, according to a recent report by National Journal.

Perry, whose performance in this past week’s “happy hour” debate failed to excite prospective voters, raised only $1.1 million between April and June this year and seems to be feeling the effects of faltering contributions. As a source close to the Perry campaign told CBS News, “Jeff Miller, Perry’s national campaign manager, told campaign staff on Friday that the only expenses moving forward would be for travel.”

Many Perry supporters remain hopeful, however. Jeff Miller states: “As the campaign moves along, tough decisions have to be made in respect to both monetary- and time-related resources. Gov. Perry remains committed to competing in the early states and will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The governor is looking forward to his trips to South Carolina this Thursday and Iowa next week.” As Katon Dawson, Perry’s South Carolina sate director, told National Journal, “Pay is only one reason people do this. We’ll be able to live off the land for a while.”

While this ideal may seem romantic, and although Rick Santorum was able to secure the Iowa caucus last election despite lackluster funding, “Miller has given staffers the green light to look for jobs elsewhere.”

Nick Leaver works for American Principles in Action. Continue Reading