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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BREAKING: Gov. Scott Walker Makes Huge Endorsement

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Many have been speculating whether Scott Walker would make an endorsement prior to Wisconsin’s primary on April 5th.

Would he jump on the Donald Trump train? Would he go with the establishment’s reluctant favorite, John Kasich?

Nope. Scott Walker is going with Ted Cruz. And as a thrice elected governor in Wisconsin, Walker certainly carries a lot of weight with GOP voters.

From The Hill:

Walker’s endorsement has the potential to shift the dynamic in the state, which has 42 delegates up for grabs. But Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist, told The Hill that the true effect will depend on how active Walker is in support of Cruz over the coming days.

“Walker’s endorsement would and should move dozens of state legislators — it’s the kind of thing that should really move numbers really quickly,” Mackowiak said ahead of the endorsement.

“If he endorses strongly, criticizes Trump, they get big media across the state and he brings his statewide organization with him, that would be hugely significant.”

Cruz is doing well in Wisconsin — the two most recent polls show him leading, albeit by a slim margin. This endorsement could prove to be critical in a must-win state for Cruz.

Jon Schweppe is Communications Director for the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @JonSchweppe. Continue Reading

Voters Want Fighters, Not Appeasers, on Common Core

From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Heidi Huber — founder of Parents Against the Common Core and Ohioans Against Common Core — is running for the Ohio House of Representatives. In a dramatic showdown, she is challenging incumbent Rep. Tom Brinkman (27thDistrict), whom she originally helped elect, for reneging on his campaign promise to fight for the repeal of Common Core.

In a recent interview for the Cincinnati Examiner, Brinkman dismissed Huber’s complaints, “Huber doesn’t understand how things work in Columbus and killing Common Core isn’t an overnight process.” Brinkman argues that he has done everything he can to stop Common Core, including authoring a bill to repeal it.

However, those fighting Common Core understand that simply authoring legislation to repeal it will not get the job done. As Huber stated to the Cincinnati Examiner, “There’s more to it than slapping your name on [a bill].” Common Core opponents across the country couldn’t agree more.

Fellow Common Core warrior, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, supports Huber’s criticism of Brinkman: “It takes more than a promise and a half-hearted effort to get legislation passed to repeal the Common Core. It takes real leadership and dedication, which Brinkman apparently doesn’t have.”

Authoring a bill but failing to back it with a fight is the greatest betrayal by a politician. To promise to stand at the battle line and lead the fight — to be the hero in the legislature — creates dependency in a movement. Continue Reading

How N.H. Common Core Moms Made Candidates Take Notice

From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

New Hampshire is about to embark on a tradition like no other. We are about to go to the polls to elect a candidate in the primary election who will likely be a nominee for President of the United States. What most people don’t know, however, is that the groundwork for one of the major issues of this election was laid years ago by moms and parents across New Hampshire.

In 2010, New Hampshire’s Board of Education voted, with little notice to the public, to adopt the Common Core Standards. However, alert parents researched the standards and began to warn others about how they would negatively impact our schools and our children. In short, Common Core enforces a dumbed-down education on our children, one that fails to prepare them for an authentic university education. It is laden with education fads and puts children at a severe disadvantage as compared to their peers in private schools and high-performing countries.

We also served notice that we would demand accountability. We made it clear that Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates alike would have to justify their conduct. Neither federal nor state officeholders would escape scrutiny. Those who engineered the Common Core debacle as well as those who failed to stand and fight against Common Core would render themselves unsuitable for any office. We made it clear that this is not a “check-box” issue: Candidates must fight like the heroes and good servants you want us to believe you to be. Continue Reading

The Forgotten Story: How Common Core Changed the Race in Iowa

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 BR)

Now that Iowa caucus-goers have spoken, lost in the discussion of Donald Trump’s underperformance, Ted Cruz’s ground game and Marco Rubio’s surge is an acknowledgement of one issue that separated the top Iowa finishers from (as Trump would say) the “losers.” That issue is Common Core.

Cruz and Rubio have long been on record as opposing the national standards. Trump has relentlessly raised the issue ever since he entered the race. As the Iowa campaign came down to the wire, Trump released a Common Core-specific ad, and Rubio began devoting more and more time in his stump speech to the issue (although his record on child privacy is problematic, something on which other candidates have not honed in). Apparently, these gentlemen recognized what the base was upset about — and Common Core is high on the list. All three garnered significantly more votes than the winner in the 2012 contest. (See the 2012 results and the 2016 results.) They each received over 40,000 votes. The winner in 2012 received 29,839 votes.

The voters overwhelmingly rejected Common Core proponents. Jeb Bush and John Kasich received 5,238 and 3,474 votes, respectively. Bush, of course, was appropriately branded as pro-Common Core from Day One and wasn’t salvageable even by his bulging war chest. Kasich still loves Common Core and drips with disdain for anyone who disagrees.

Next up are those candidates who once supported Common Core but then had campaign conversions. They were never able to justify why they had so blindly supported such a bad product. Continue Reading

How Common Core Killed Conventional GOP Candidates

From left: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

I wanted to piggy back on what Paul wrote last week about an article written by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard. Barnes said that governors making the best presidential candidates is conventional unwisdom.

I agree. The crop of candidates who are governors or were previously governors have demonstrated time and time and time again that they will put pragmatism above principles. One such instance is with the Common Core State Standards.

Barnes notes that this is a serious problem for the remaining governors in 2016:

A serious problem for Republican governors has been all but ignored by the media and the political community: Common Core. It requires state standards for K-12 students on what they should know in math and what’s called English language arts. In numerous states, parents have revolted against Common Core for downgrading the teaching of traditional math and literature.

The issue has been unsettling for the campaigns of Bush, Kasich, Walker, and New Jersey’s Chris Christie. They have sought to separate themselves from Common Core after initially endorsing it. Bush, for instance, says the federal government needs to stay out of Common Core. Walker waffled, and this contributed to his demise as a presidential candidate.

In Washington, the conservative American Principles Project is spearheading a national effort against Common Core. And it has begun to draw media attention to the issue, one whose impact has been underestimated.

If you look at The Pulse 2016‘s report card that was completed for Republican presidential candidates on Common Core, you’ll find that governors (minus former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both of whom dropped out of the race for other reasons) did not score well. Continue Reading

Goodbye Governors: Voters Look Elsewhere in 2016

From left: Governors Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker

In The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes observes that this election cycle, despite initial indications, has become a very unfriendly one for governors:

At full tide, 9 of the 17 Republicans running for the 2016 presidential nomination were current or former governors. There was a perfectly good reason so many were in the race: Governors have an advantage with voters. They are executives who make real-life decisions, not just talk about doing so. Governors, more often than not, are regarded as leaders.

At least that was the conventional wisdom as recently as last spring. But it has died this year like many other assumptions about presidential campaigns. Three governors have dropped out, and none of the remaining six is in the top tier of candidates.

A corollary to the notion of a governor’s advantage has also died. Given their dislike of President Obama, Republican voters were supposed to be leery of electing another first-term senator with a thin record. On the contrary, senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are in the top tier, along with Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Rubio has been a senator since 2011, Cruz since 2013.

Republican voters, a large bloc of them, have changed their minds about what they want in a presidential candidate. In March, a Pew poll found that 57 percent of Republicans believed it is more important for a candidate to have “experience and a proven record” than “new ideas and a different approach.” Only 36 percent preferred a candidate with a fresh approach.

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Common Core Killed These GOP Candidates

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

I recently gave The Hill some insight into the politics of Common Core:

Republican governors struggling in the GOP presidential contest are weighed down by their failure to fully rebuke Common Core education standards, according to the conservative think tank American Principles Project (APP).

Common Core, the set of education standards that were adopted by 46 states five years ago but have since become toxic with the conservative base, has not been at the center of the Republican primary debate, which has so far been dominated by national security and immigration.

However, APP and its education director Emmett McGroarty argue that the issue still animates grassroots conservatives, and that it has been a factor in several candidates – former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – not getting a hearing from the base.

“As candidates drop down the polls and out of the presidential race, support for the Common Core national education standards has often become intertwined with their decline,” McGroarty wrote in background information provided exclusively to The Hill.

“Due to the Common Core’s deeper roots in an increasingly unpopular top-down ideology, a candidate’s acceptance or rejection of the Core now serves as a leading indicator for determining whether he or she will ultimately have a chance at the nomination,” he said.

[…]

You can read the full story here.

Emmett McGroarty is the executive director of APP Education. Continue Reading

To Win Iowa, It Takes Presence and Organization

Iowa saw numerous front-runners leading up to the 2012 Iowa Caucus. Michelle Bachmann was the front-runner in June and July, but on Caucus night she finished second to last with 5 percent. Rick Perry led the pack throughout August. He finished fifth. Herman Cain started to take off in the fall and led most polls in Iowa in September and October. He didn’t even make it to caucus night.

Then Newt Gingrich soared to the lead with strong debate performances and led polling in in November into early December even holding a double digit lead according to some polls. He finished fourth. Ron Paul led a string of December polls. He finished third on caucus night, but kudos to his campaign: they won the delegates at Iowa State Convention with a caucus to convention strategy.

Mitt Romney led five of the last six polls leading up to caucus and finished second. Rick Santorum, who never polled higher than third place and didn’t even break into double digits until mid-December, won the Iowa Caucus.

My point? You can own polling in Iowa and still see your campaign tank if you don’t have the organization to back it up.

Santorum peaked late, but he also built an organization of grassroots activists who would get out to vote, and not only that would bring their friends and families out as well.

Leading up to the 2008 Iowa Caucus, while we didn’t see musical front-runners, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was consistently behind in the polls. Continue Reading

New Iowa Poll: Trump Loses to Almost Everybody in Head-to-Head Match-Up

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Public Policy Polling released a new Iowa poll yesterday. Donald Trump remains the front runner at 24 percent. But hidden behind that good news for Trumpsters are growing signs that an anti-Trump majority is forming.

In head-to-head match-ups, Iowa voters prefer virtually any other GOP candidate. Trump loses to Ben Carson, 60 percent to 33 percent. Trump loses to Carly Fiorina, 54 percent to 36 percent.  Trump loses to Marco Rubio, 53 percent to 38 percent.  He even loses to Scott Walker, who just dropped out, 51 percent to 37 percent.

Very bad news for Jeb Bush: He is the only candidate that loses to Trump in a head-to-head match-up in Iowa, with voters preferring Trump 51 percent to 37 percent.  My best guess is that this is partly the political cost of Bush’s longtime support of Common Core.

Anyone but Trump. . . and Bush. That’s the message coming from Iowa voters so far.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action. Continue Reading