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Reid Epstein’s article on Sen. Cruz isn’t a flattering portrayal of Sen. Cruz. Frankly, Sen. Cruz’s statements sound whiny and jealous. When Sen. Cruz said “I understand that in the media newsrooms and in the Washington establishment circles, Marco is the chosen one”, it came across as if Sen. Cruz is jealous that Sen. Rubio is getting glowing attention from reporters. At some point, Sen. Cruz should examine why he isn’t getting positive coverage in the press.

It isn’t a secret that Sen. Cruz loves bragging that he isn’t liked by “the Washington cartel.” He wears like it’s a badge of honor. If Sen. Cruz wanted more positive coverage, it might help to not wear his disdain on his sleeve.

That isn’t to say that Sen. Cruz should thirst for the MSM’s approval. Conservatives shouldn’t want that. There’s a difference in degrees, though, between wanting fair coverage and wanting the MSM’s approval.

Launching into bitter-sounding diatribes won’t improve Sen. Cruz’s image with voters. Already, Sen. Rubio is reaching out to the entire Republican Party, something that Sen. Cruz should’ve already started. Instead, Sen. Cruz did this:

Later, inside the packed bar while a repeat of Wednesday night’s hockey games played on the flat-screen TVs, Mr. Cruz launched into another tirade against Mr. Rubio, seeking to cast doubt on the Florida senator’s argument he’s the most electable in the GOP field.

“The media adores him,” Mr. Cruz said. “These are the same people who told us Bob Dole was the electable one, that told us John McCain was the electable one, that told us Mitt Romney was the electable one. You’re always the electable one until you win the nomination, and then you cannot possibly win the election.”

First, comparing Sen. Rubio to Dole, McCain and Romney is like comparing Cadillac Escalades with a Prius. While they’re both vehicles, that’s where the similarities end. Rush Limbaugh never said that Dole, McCain or Romney was “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

What’s worse is that Sen. Cruz’s unscripted complaining diminishes him. Rather than being bitter, Sen. Cruz should work on not being as antagonistic as he’s been thus far this campaign.

The reason why the press likes Sen. Rubio is because he’s actually an interesting, positive person. What person, whether they’re a member of the media or not, doesn’t appreciate listening to calm-tempered people over bitter-sounding people?

Rather than complaining about Sen. Rubio, Sen. Cruz should try changing his approach towards the media. Loosen up a little. Don’t be an antagonist. It might help.

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Chris Stirewalt writes in this article that Donald Trump is intent on re-litigating the results of the Iowa Caucuses. Stirewalt’s conclusion is that “if [Mr. Trump] doesn’t stop re-litigating Iowa, he could find that his next bunch of sour grapes will be of the Concord variety.”

Meanwhile, Rick Tyler has let himself get trapped inside the MSM’s echochamber. He’s fighting a war of words with Anderson Cooper instead of getting Sen. Cruz’s message out. There’s just 5 days left until the New Hampshire primary and Tyler is fighting the last state’s fight. That isn’t that bright.

Here’s another meanwhile. Meanwhile, the Rubio campaign has to be smiling ear-to-ear. They got a boost coming out of Iowa. They’ve picked up the endorsements of Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, Rick Santorum and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. Chris Christie and Jeb! are nipping at his heals but they’re mired in the mid-single digits in New Hampshire. Best of all, Rush Limbaugh rejected the notion that Sen. Rubio is an establishment candidate, saying that Sen. Rubio is “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

In the first polling after Iowa, Rubio jumped 3 points in a single night. Add that to the growing, lively crowds that Sen. Rubio is drawing. It isn’t a stretch to think Sen. Rubio will maintain the Marcomentum that started in Iowa and carry it into South Carolina.

With any luck, this will be a 4 person race before we hit Nevada.

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Donald Trump isn’t the only presidential candidate that doesn’t hesitate in laying things on a little too thick. Based on this article, Ted Cruz fits that description, too. Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Cruz sat down for an interview with Jeff Kuhner. Kuhner opened by asking “Is Marco Rubio a genuine conservative?” He asked that after listing Rubio’s support for “open borders,” “NSA spying,” and the Obama administration’s Trans Pacific Partnership during an onstage interview.

Sen. Cruz’s reply was predictable, though a bit dishonest. Cruz said “On each of the issues you just listed, Marco’s views are virtually indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton. Let me say this, if we nominate a candidate who’s pro-amnesty, we’ll lose. It’s not complicated. It’s real simple.”

First, Sen. Cruz’s support for taking tools away from the NSA is disappointing. If Sen. Cruz wants to defend taking away a valuable tool from our intelligence-gathering community, let’s hear him make that part of his stump speech. Sen. Cruz has the opportunity to explain why he thinks it’s wise to seriously limit the NSA’s abilities without hurting people’s civil rights. I’d love to hear Sen. Cruz’s explanation.

Further, Mrs. Clinton doesn’t support TPP. Apparently, Ted won’t let little things like the facts get in the way of an old-fashioned ad hominem attack against one of his chief rivals.

Third, Sen. Cruz isn’t being honest when he says that Marco supports amnesty. Here’s what Sen. Rubio supports:

Marco has consistently advocated fixing America’s immigration system, beginning with securing our border, enforcing immigration laws in the workplace, and implementing effective visa tracking systems.

That sounds a lot like Sen. Cruz’s plan. This does, too:

Starting on Day One of his presidency, Marco will be focused on immigration security.

He will:

  1. Cancel President Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders
  2. Eliminate federal funding for sanctuary cities
  3. Deport criminal illegal aliens
  4. Hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents
  5. Finish all 700 miles of walls on our southern border
  6. Implement an entry-exit visa tracking system
  7. Implement a mandatory eVerify system
  8. Install $4 billion in new cameras and sensors on the border

If that doesn’t sound like the Gang of Eight bill, it’s because it isn’t similar to the Gang of Eight bill.

If Sen. Cruz is serious about this, then we’re in trouble:

Cruz pointed to the 2012 election as evidence for his theory and noted the Republican Party got clobbered after nominating Mitt Romney, whose record on healthcare caused headaches for conservatives seeking contrast with Obamacare.

That’s breathtaking. Comparing Mitt Romney with Sen. Rubio is like comparing Tim Scott with Mitch McConnell. Comparing Mitt Romney with Sen. Rubio is like comparing Trey Gowdy with Lindsey Graham. It’s a preposterous comparison. Nobody thought that Mitt Romney was a conservative. No less a conservative’s conservative than Rush Limbaugh called Sen. Rubio “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

Listening only to Sen. Cruz, you’d think that Sen. Rubio was an establishment RINO. It isn’t just that the facts don’t support Sen. Cruz’s opinion. It’s that a conservative’s conservative, Rush Limbaugh, rejects this opinion.

This points to a simple question: when will Sen. Cruz stop with the exaggerations?

This morning, Byron York tweeted that Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz were fighting each other and that this fight was happening in The Donald’s shadow. That statement would’ve been true a month ago. It was still true 2 weeks ago. It isn’t true anymore.

During Thursday night’s debate, Sen. Rubio emerged from Trump’s shadow, thanks in part to Trump’s decision to skip the debate because he was too petulant to tolerate being asked questions by Megyn Kelly. (I suspect he didn’t appear because he didn’t want to give Ms. Kelly the opportunity to prove she’s a great journalist. If Megyn asked him some tough, fair questions, then he couldn’t credibly tell his sycophants on Twitter that she’s a terrible journalist anymore.)

During the debate, GOP activists learned nothing negative about Sen. Rubio. They were reminded that he was part of the Gang of Eight bill, which everyone knew. Admittedly, Sen. Rubio took a couple hits. Still, Cruz came out of that exchange the worse for wear because Sen. Paul, Sen. Rubio and Ms. Kelly exposed Sen. Cruz as a fraud on being the only flawless politician on immigration. They proved that he played games in an attempt to have it both ways.

The thing that lifted Sen. Rubio out of Mr. Trump’s shadow, though, was his turning his fire outward towards Mrs. Clinton with laser-like precision. He especially hit her hard when he ridiculed her for saying she’d appoint President Obama to the Supreme Court. Sen. Rubio hit Hillary hard when he said she was disqualified for lying to the families of the men who died in Benghazi.

The thing that capped Sen. Rubio’s coming out party was his appeals to lead America into a new “American Century.” That’s something his opponents on stage haven’t talked about. That’s something that Mr. Trump has only paid lip service to. Make America Great is Trump’s slogan but his stump speeches are mostly him praising himself and reciting his big leads in polls. Nobody in their right mind thinks that Trump has a clue about implementing public policies that will get America’s economy humming again. Mr. Trump had a casino go bankrupt while the economy was going well. Think about that. Bankrupting a casino takes some doing. The deck is stacked against the players.

Despite the inherent advantage of being the house, Mr. Trump’s casino went bankrupt. We’re now supposed to trust him in getting the U.S. economy going? That’s rich. Sen. Rubio has outline a series of reforms that will help the private sector turn the economy around.

Tim Carney’s article is worthwhile reading. People ready to anoint Trump the winner in Iowa should consider this:

TRUMP’S LEAD IS VULNERABLE TO TURNOUT WEAKNESS

Trump’s lead is five points in this survey, that’s smaller than other recent surveys. It is widely assumed Ted Cruz will have a strong turnout operation (which is more crucial in caucus states than in primary states), and that Donald Trump will have a weak one. If these assumptions are true, that five point lead should be considered a tie — especially given the 4.4 percent margin of error in the poll.

The other thing that can’t be ignored is the fact that there’s lots of people who are still persuadable:

Trump supporters and Cruz supporters are less persuadable, more committed than average voters — 71 percent and 62 percent respectively, say their mind is made up.

If these figures are accurate, that means 8% of Trump’s supporters are persuadable. It also means that 9% of Sen. Cruz’s supporters are persuadable. (It doesn’t say what percentage of Rubio supporters are persuadable so I can’t make that calculation.) Carney puts things this way:

RUBIO HAS THE MOST UPSIDE POTENTIAL

Rubio wins on the second-choice contest, with 20 percent to Cruz’s 17 percent (Trump is in 4th place with 7 percent).

This is anyone’s race, with Trump and Cruz having the advantage going into the last full day of campaigning.

Late this week, the Cruz campaign sent out a “report card-style mailer” in an attempt to persuade people to caucus for Sen. Cruz. It failed and then some. The mailer said “You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. Caucus on Monday to improve your score and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well.”

When Thomas and Steffany Hinkeldey received the mailer, Thomas posted a picture of the mailer through Twitter. Steve Deace, the most popular radio talk show host in Iowa by a wide margin and a staunch Cruz supporter, tweeted that Hinkeldey wasn’t a real person. Less than 40 minutes later, Hinkeldey replied to Deace, saying “hi Steve. I am very real.” Later, Hinkeldey confirmed that he will attend caucus Monday night, something he hadn’t planned on doing. The bad news for the Cruz campaign is that he’s caucusing for Sen. Rubio.

Additionally, Paul D. Pate, Iowa’s secretary of state, issued a statement, saying in part “Today I was shown a piece of literature from the Cruz for President campaign that misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law. Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act. There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses.”

When the Twitterverse exploded with this news, the Cruz campaign arrogantly issued this statement:

I will apologize to no one for using every tool at hand to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.

That wasn’t a statement from a campaign staffer. That statement was made by Sen. Cruz himself. My reaction to this is simple. Sen. Cruz isn’t exercising good judgment. He’s caught up in the campaign. He’s making inflammatory statements that aren’t remotely close to the truth. At one stop, he resorted to fearmongering:

At a sometimes awkward early morning gathering in a middle school in snowy Hubbard, 60 miles north of Des Moines, the Texas senator warned that even other Republicans would put at risk religious freedoms if they were in the Oval Office, and would allow a “lawless” supreme court to push a radical leftwing agenda.

That’s proof of Sen. Rubio’s statement earlier in the day that Sen. Cruz will say anything to get votes.

Sen. Cruz’s favorability/unfavorability is taking a hit because of his dishonest mudslinging. Sen. Rubio is gaining traction without misrepresenting the truth. It’s possibly the truth that he’s gaining traction because he isn’t misrepresenting the truth. One thing’s certain according to the DMR/Bloomberg poll: Sen. Cruz dropped 2 points since early January while Sen. Rubio gained 3 points.

In the days leading into the Iowa Caucuses, though, Sen. Cruz has taken to telling fanciful things that don’t have anything to do with the truth.

In Ringsted, IA, Sen. Cruz told people “If you look, in particular, at President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, Marco Rubio’s gone on Univision and said, ‘No, no, no. I wouldn’t rescind amnesty.’” That isn’t spin. That’s an outright lie that Sen. Cruz should apologize for telling. Further, Sen. Cruz might be a world-class debater but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a dictionary. Sen. Cruz needs a dictionary because he apparently doesn’t know (perhaps he doesn’t care?) about the definition of amnesty. The definition of amnesty is a “general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction; Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole; or a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.”

I know Sen. Cruz enjoys employing inflammatory, misleading, rhetoric in making his case. Unfortunately, his fidelity to the truth isn’t a high priority. He’s got a history of insisting that he’s the purest of the pure, the noblest of the noble, the man who stops one step short of being able to walk on water.

Bill O’Reilly interviewed Sen. Rubio last night. Here’s what Sen. Rubio supports:

  1. Building the 700-mile wall on the US-Mexican border
  2. Implement E-Verify and build the wall before any discussion about what to do with illegal aliens already here
  3. Hire 20,000 new border agents
  4. anyone with a criminal background are deported.

Sen. Rubio hasn’t denied being part of the Gang of Eight legislation. His argument has always been that Sen. Cruz has said he’d support legalization.

Sen. Cruz is likely resorting to this heated rhetoric because Sen. Rubio is gaining momentum in Iowa.

This entire campaign, Donald Trump has portrayed himself as an outside. It’s a laughable statement but that’s typical Trump. Trump is a DC outsider like an arsonist is a firefighter’s best friend. In his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump said that Sen. Cruz is “a nasty guy.” Trump’s proof that Sen. Cruz is a nasty guy is that “Nobody in Congress likes him.” Trump’s other bit of proof that Sen. Cruz is a nasty guy is that “He was so nice to me. I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, ‘Come on Ted. Let’s go, okay.'”

That’s what a man sounds like when he thinks he can say anything and get away with it. His proof that a competitor is a nasty guy is that his competitor “was so nice to me” and that “nobody in Washington” likes his competitor.

That’s rich coming from a guy who’s ripped everything in Washington from the minute he announced his campaign. The question that reporters should ask Mr. Trump is whether being hated by “everyone in Washington” or whether that’s something to be proud of. Another question worth asking Mr. Trump is whether he should’ve taken the gloves off sooner. If Sen. Cruz is the nasty guy that Trump says he is, shouldn’t he have criticized him before this?

We know that Mr. Trump isn’t afraid to criticize people so that isn’t why he didn’t criticize Sen. Cruz. Further, we know that he’s forever watching the polls. The minute anyone competes with him is the minute that Trump starts making things up about his opponent.

Finally, considering the fact that Trump’s turned on pretty much everybody in the GOP, one wonders if he’ll be able to get anything done if he’s elected. The tax code needs a major overhaul. We need to end Obamacare and replace it with something that isn’t that expensive. We need to wage war against career regulators who’ve been bought by the special interests, especially by environmental activists.

When Ted Cruz didn’t criticize Donald Trump early in the campaign, conservatives, including myself, criticized him. Clearly, he had a well-thought out plan that he’s started implementing this past week. When he started talking about Donald Trump’s New York values, he must’ve known that Trump would attack viciously. When Trump invoked 9/11 during Thursday night’s debate, Sen. Cruz politely applauded the heroism of 9/11 first responders, firefighters and police officers.

Charles Krauthammer said that that was a low point for Cruz. It’s easy to conclude that if you’re looking at it from a debate-only maneuver. The truth is that Sen. Cruz baited Trump into this fight. The truth is that it’s a fight Trump can’t win. I don’t know that Cruz will win. Trump is hitting him hard, too. Still, Sen. Cruz is giving better than he’s getting. Catherine Frazier, Sen. Cruz’s campaign spokesperson, hinted that there’s plenty more criticism heading in Trump’s direction:

“The question is, do we want our future leadership to look like that of New York City’s?” she said. “Where the government mandates how much soda you can drink, where it is illegal to protect yourself with a firearm, and where its elected officials say that people who value unborn life aren’t welcome?”

“Or do we want our next president to embrace the values that get government our of the way, that reward hard work, that champion faith, family, and individual liberties?” Frazier continued. “There is no doubt that America wants more of the latter.”

Sen. Cruz’s ad, titled “Donald Trump on New York values – in his own words” uses Trump’s statements against him:

Cruz and Trump have engaged in a scripted dance where each pretends to like the other. With the Iowa Caucuses 2 weeks away, both men are throwing uppercuts, not jabs. Until now, Trump has gotten away with being a New York liberal. Saturday on Twitter, TriciaNC attacked Trump this way:

Good Grief! You even supported Democrat Charlie Crist over @MarcoRubio http://patriotupdate.com/donald-trumps-donations-to-democrats/ … tcot

Later, she chimed in with this shot:

You became so #prolife that you donated to Right To Life groups instead of PP and NARAL, right? Oops, your bad

Rick Tyler, the senior communications advisor to Sen. Cruz’s Jobs Growth and Freedom PAC, threw this shot at Trump:

In 2008, the Real Donald Trump gave $50,000 to the New York State Democratic Party #NYValues
Rick Tyler ?@rickwtyler The Real Donald Trump gave $41,000 to liberal Democrat Eliot Spitzer #NYValues

It’s official. The floodgates have opened. Mr. Trump had better get used to a steady barrage of specific criticisms of how he’s supported liberal politicians from Hillary Clinton to perverted former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Glenn Beck jumped into the fight with this tweet:

Amanda Carpenter jumped into the fight with this tweet:

Amanda Carpenter Who supported the big bank bailouts? Trump. Trump. Trump. Not Cruz

Trump’s thin skin won’t let him continue taking this pounding without responding. If people couple his thin skin with his financial support for Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and his vote for President Obama in 2008, it isn’t difficult to see Mr. Trump taking a sustained pounding. Lots of things can happen in the next 2 weeks.

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With Donald Trump riding high in national polling, it’s almost foolish to think that he could finish third in Iowa. Still, that’s what this Monmouth Poll shows:

Since August, Trump has dropped 4 points while Dr. Carson’s support has essentially cratered. Sen. Cruz has seen his support almost triple, going from 9% in August to 24% in December.

The sub-headline, though, is Marco Rubio’s rise. He’s gone from 4% in August to 17% in this poll. He’s now essentially in a statistical tie with Trump in this poll. It’s important to note that this is just one poll so it’s foolish to read too much into it. It isn’t wrong to question whether it’s the start of a trend in Iowa.

Iowa has always been the tougher win for Trump because of the evangelical Christian vote as compared with New Hampshire. That part isn’t surprising. It isn’t essential for Trump to win there. It isn’t a stretch to think, though, that Trump finishing third in Iowa might stop Trump’s momentum.

Finally, with Sen. Rubio now gaining traction, will Jeb’s donors abandon Jeb! for Sen. Rubio in the hopes of pulling off the upset victory in Iowa? I’ve said for months that Jeb’s got an Iowa problem. It’s apparent that Iowa isn’t his only problem. If Jeb’s donors abandon him, they could push Sen. Rubio to a surprising victory in Iowa, which would give him momentum heading into the first primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Even a strong second-place finish in Iowa to Cruz would give him momentum going forward because New Hampshire usually rejects Iowa’s winner.

Apparently, Ted Cruz thinks that the path to the White House is by saying stupid, outlandish things. Apparently, Sen. Cruz thinks that impersonating Donald Trump is the best way to get elected. For instance, Sen. Cruz said that “the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.” Later, Sen. Cruz said “Every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you could almost see the media salivating, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies. Now, listen, here’s the simple and undeniable facts: The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn’t report that.”

Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight Sen. Cruz’s political opportunism. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Sen. Cruz said that “we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war” before saying that Sen. and Mrs. Clinton “are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They’ve demonstrated they’ve learned nothing.'”

If Sen. Cruz thinks that we don’t have a dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war, then he isn’t connecting the dots between the Syrian refugees coming to the United States and his own assertion that some of these ‘refugees’ are actually ISIS terrorists.

Sen. Cruz, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that some of the Syrian refugees are ISIS terrorists, then insist that we don’t care about what happens in Syria. Those thoughts fit together like a sledgehammer fits into a petite lady’s glove.

Sen. Cruz doesn’t want the media to focus their attention on his vote to hurt the NSA’s surveillance program. To his credit, Gov. Chris Christie won’t let that issue die, though:

“In the seven years after 9/11, during the Bush administration, we had no attacks on American soil after 9/11,” Christie said in the interview. He adds:

And a large contributor to that success was the intelligence community because it was empowered and supported by a strong president of the United States, who knew exactly what do to prevent terrorist attacks on the homeland, which has got to be the first priority that an American president is to protect the safety and security of the American people.

Sen. Cruz, why did you vote for a bill that helped prevent terrorist attacks and helped roll up entire networks of terrorists? The first responsibility of a president is to protect citizens from their enemies.

Sen. Cruz voted with Sen. Paul because the bill was popular at the time. It wasn’t a principled decision. It was a political decision.

Sen. Cruz is sounding more like Rand Paul and Donald Trump each day.