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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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The latest Monmouth University poll shows Donald Trump with a 7-point lead in Iowa. It’s a lead that doesn’t exist at this moment. According the poll’s horserace numbers, “Donald Trump earns 30% support [with] Ted Cruz [at] 23% support when likely caucusgoers are asked who they will caucus for on February 1st.” Marco Rubio finished with 16%.

The bad news for Mr. Trump’s supporters is that “the current poll estimates turnout will be approximately 170,000 voters, which would far surpass the 122,000 record GOP turnout from four years ago.” Yesterday, reporters on the ground in Iowa said that there hasn’t been a big upswing in Republican registrations in Iowa. In fact, National Journal’s Ron Fournier noted that Republican registrations are down slightly from 2012.

That’s proof that the onslaught of new Trump voters hasn’t materialized, at least at this point. The Trump wave will either have to happen Caucus night or it won’t happen. Projecting a record turnout is one thing. It’s quite another to project a turnout that would be 50% bigger than the record turnout.

Decreasing the turnout projection to 130,000 voters, which would still be a record level, puts the race in a tie at 26% for Trump and 26% for Cruz, with Rubio at 15% and Carson at 12%.
“Turnout is basically what separates Trump and Cruz right now,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ. “Trump’s victory hinges on having a high number of self-motivated, lone wolf caucusgoers show up Monday night.”

Most of the reporters on the ground in Iowa are projecting a record turnout in the 130,000-140,000 range.

The bad news for Trump-Cruz is that last night’s debate was Sen. Rubio’s coming out party. Last night, Sen. Rubio showed himself to be the only ‘complete package’ candidate in the race on either side of the aisle. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a Rubio guy since Scott Walker dropped out. With that on the table, let’s get into why I was impressed with Sen. Rubio.

It wasn’t that Sen. Rubio didn’t stumble. When they got into a discussion about immigration, he took a couple of hits. It’s that he focused much of his attention on his vision for the economy and foreign policy while training his attacks on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and President Obama. Sen. Rubio’s quip that Sanders “would be a good president — of Sweden” was followed by him saying “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States.” It was the best line of the night.

If anyone needs to learn what’s important to Jesse Watters, this article offers insight into just unprincipled he is. During his appearance on The Five, Watters made it clear what was important to him by saying “Everyone’s now saying, Oh he doesn’t check this box, he doesn’t check this box. Do you know what box is important to check? Filling up 40,000-people stadiums on a Tuesday night. That’s the box that counts on Election Day. I don’t think principles matter if you can’t get elected and institute those principles. And I think a lot people now are putting pure conservatism over the country.”

That’s a straw-man argument that President Obama would be proud of. Currently, each of the top-tier GOP presidential candidates defeat Hillary in head-to-head match-ups. More importantly, Trump does the worst in those match-ups. It isn’t surprising to find out that Trump would get crushed in the general election.

In 2 of Quinnipiac’s polls, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics is orders of magnitude worse than pathetic. In one poll of all voters, not just Republican primary voters, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating was 15% approve, 82% disapprove. In the other poll, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics was 9% favorable, 84% unfavorable. Trump is under water with women, too, with a 29% favorable, 63% unfavorable rating.

Hint to Mr. Watters:

  1. It’s mathematically impossible to win an election if you lose the biggest voting block (women) by 34 points.
  2. It’s quite possible to lose in a landslide when you lose the women vote by 34 points and Hispanics by a bigger margin than Mitt Romney lost Hispanics by.

Conservatives don’t need dimwits like Watters telling us what to believe. Watters’ join the crowd or get lost mentality is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers wanted when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They wrote the Constitution to prevent mob rule, otherwise known as ‘the tyranny of the majority.’

They understood that unprincipled democracies were as big of enemies of virtuous self-governance as dictators were. They knew that because unprincipled majorities could shove things down their throats almost as easily as a dictator could dictate the uppity peasants’ behavior. The Founding Fathers understood that principled representatives making principled arguments produced the most accountable form of government.

Mr. Trump’s media lapdogs don’t demand accountability. They demand mindless adherence. That isn’t principled self-governance. That’s fascism.

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After watching this video, it’s clear that Jeb Bush doesn’t have a clue about conservatism:

This post shows that Paige Lavender, a reporter/commentator for Huffington Post, is utterly clueless. Before we get into Jeb Bush’s statements, here’s what Ms. Lavender said:

PAIGE LAVENDER: We’ve seen in the last 2 election cycles that the Republican primary tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

In 2008, there weren’t any conservatives in the race. Of the liberals, John McCain was the most liberal. He got the nomination. In 2012, the GOP candidates were marginally more conservative. Mitt Romney wasn’t as liberal as McCain but he wasn’t a conservative, either. He was simply the least liberal of the liberals running.

The good news is that Republicans will have a handful of conservatives to pick from in 2016, starting with Scott Walker, then adding John Kasich and possibly Mike Pence. GOP activists won’t have to hold their noses when supporting one of these candidates. Conservatives will be able to enthusiastically support one of these three candidates.

The last 20 seconds of this video will hurt Gov. Bush:

Here’s what Gov. Bush said:

GOV. BUSH: I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to, you know, to be practical now in the Washington world, to be willing to lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.

Jeb Bush, like Mike Huckabee before him, doesn’t have a clue about conservatism. True conservatism has a healthy libertarian streak to it, mixed with a healthy skepticism of Washington, DC-run programs. We prefer smallish programs administered at the local level because that’s the best way to ensure accountability. Gov. Bush enthusiastically supports Common Core, which is federalizing education curriculum and standardizing tests nationwide. It’s even telling school boards which text books fit with Common Core’s curriculum.

Conservatism is about giving people lots of positive options, whether we’re talking about families’ health care decisions or telling parents that they can send their children to schools that aren’t failing students.

For the last 6-8 years, Republicans had to play defense because Democrats controlled the agenda. The next Republican president will work with GOP majorities in the House and Senate. That means they’ll be setting the agenda. Their first assignment must be to fix the messes created by President Obama, Sen. Reid and Nancy Pelosi. That means finally getting the fed to shut off the QE2 spigot. That’ll require the GOP to starting over with health care reform. This time, it’s imperative to get it right. Getting America’s economy requires siding with construction unions while ignoring environmental activists on pipeline projects.

There’s no shortage of things that need fixing. When a Republican governor is elected to become the 45th president of the United States, he’ll have lots of things to fix or to get started on. Hopefully, the 45th president won’t be Jeb Bush.

Despite what Sartell Mayor Joe Perske told WCCO’s Esme Murphy, he’s still fighting a steep uphill fight:

Perske said that he thinks, while the district may be heavily favored toward Republican candidates, “people want a change.”

Perkse added that he believes “people are sick of the polarizing politics that we’ve seen with Michele Bachmann, and I think we’re just going to get more of the same with Tom Emmer. If you take a look at his past record of what he’s done in the state legislature, and you take a look at the things he’s said, (he’s) very similar in being on that right side with the Tea Party.”

First, it’s clear that Perske’s only hope of getting elected is in a) turning Tom Emmer into the biggest boogeyman this side of the Koch Brothers and b) getting voters to ignore what’s important to them.

Perske needs three other things to happen to win. He needs to have an instant name ID bomb to go off in the Sixth so people south of St. Cloud know who he is. At the moment, his name ID in Andover, Annandale, Anoka, Becker, Big Lake, Clear Lake and Clearwater is on a par with my name ID in those cities.

I’m pretty certain my name ID is virtually non-existent in those cities. Welcome to the club, Joe.

Another thing Perske needs is a mass cash infusion so he can at least run enough ads so people in Big Lake and Clearwater know who he is. (Perske should forget about becoming known in the south Metro part of the district.)

Finally, to be competitive, Perske needs the Sixth to become much more moderate between now and election day. Since that ain’t happening, Perske should accept the fact that he’s gonna get beaten like a drum.

Emmer’s team is working hard. They’re showing up at all the right events. They’re having discussions with all the right people. They’ve got a great GOTV operation.

Most importantly, Emmer’s team has something that Perske doesn’t have. Specifically, they’ve got a candidate who’s a great fit for the Sixth.

In 2010, Tarryl Clark had a well-financed campaign. Michele beat her by 13 points. This year, Perske is woefully underfunded in a year that’s likely to be another good year for the MNGOP.

The likely outcome is Emmer beating Perske like a drum.

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It’s often a big deal when Sarah Palin endorses a candidate. Much pomp and circumstance accompanies Ms. Palin’s endorsements. It’s perfectly within Ms. Palin’s First Amendment rights to endorse the candidates she chooses. I’d just respect Ms. Palin’s endorsements if she’d do her homework, which she didn’t do with her latest endorsement:

A 12-year state senator, Ortman is challenging Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota. Palin contrasted her qualifications with those of the incumbent, whom she labeled a “clown.” (Franken had a successful career as a comedian before entering politics.)

Ortman “is a conservative champion. … She is running a grassroots campaign against a well-funded favorite of the Washington GOP establishment whose policy record is a blank slate,” Palin said in her endorsement.

Is a politician who won’t repeal Obamacare, who’s proposed raising taxes and who’s voted for Cap and Trade “a conservative champion” just because Sarah Palin says so?

By contrast, the candidate that Ms. Palin criticized as being a “favorite of the Washington GOP establishment”, Mike McFadden, favors repealing Obamacare, reducing regulations, simplifying our tax code and limiting government spending.

The reality is that Mike McFadden has laid out a legislative agenda that’s conservative. Altogether too often, Julianne Ortman has voted against common sense conservative principles because she’s been a go-along-to-get-along legislator for nearly 12 years.

The proof is clear. Contrary to Ms. Palin’s endorsing statement, Julianne Ortman isn’t “a conservative champion.” She’s the type of politician that Ms. Palin has railed against in the past.

That’s why Ms. Palin’s endorsement rings hollow. That’s why I’m questioning Ms. Palin’s endorsement. If she doesn’t want her credibility questioned, she needs to prove that she consistently stands for conservative principles.

This time, Ms. Palin didn’t stand for conservative principles.

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It isn’t likely that Sen. Ortman wants delegates to the GOP State Convention to hear this audio:
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Here’s the transcript from that brief exchange:

Sen. Tom Bakk: “Senator Ortman.”
Sen. Ortman: “Good morning Mr. Chair and members. Thank you for hearing this bill. This bill proposes a new tax. It’s the first time I’ve ever proposed a new tax, and so-“
Sen. Bakk: “How’s it feel?”
[LAUGHTER]
Sen. Ortman: “I definitely feel like I’m in the hot seat, but that’s alright. I’ve been a lightening rod before and I probably will be again. I’m back in a zone of comfort.”

The first post I wrote about Sen. Ortman highlighted how she isn’t a full repeal person with regards to Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. In her attempt to curry favor with unprincipled moderates, Sen. Ortman essentially sounded like Al Franken. I wrote this post to highlight Sen. Ortman’s ‘flexibility’ on raising taxes. This post isn’t about highlighting Sen. Ortman’s flexibility on raising taxes. It’s to highlight the fact that she’s got a history of proposing tax increases.

I don’t want a senator in DC that I have to worry about raising taxes because she’s ‘flexible’ on the issue. For some reason, the thought of GOP lawmakers being ‘flexible’ on raising taxes reminds me of this nightmare:
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Here’s my ‘read my lips’ statement to Sen. Ortman: Sen. Ortman, read my lips. I say no to Republicans who want to raise taxes.

We’re taxed enough already. The federal government spends money recklessly. The last thing we need is a senator who’s flexible on raising taxes. We already have 2 senators that support raising taxes. We don’t need to replace one tax-raising senator with another tax-raising senator.

In fact, that’s the last thing we need. We already have 2 too many tax-raising senators. If Sen. Ortman stands before the delegates at this year’s State Convention and explain why she’s been flexible on raising taxes, the endorsement fight won’t last long.

Sen. Ortman’s policy positions keep raising questions about how conservative she is. At this point, I’d argue that she isn’t that conservative. I’d argue that because raising taxes and not wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, sounds kinda liberal to me. I suspect lots of delegates agree with me.

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Harry Reid’s disgraceful diatribe included his accusation that people who told the truth about the Affordable Care Act’s disasters were un-American. Sen. Reid’s accusation is disgusting, one worthy of throwing him out of the Senate. Still, let’s not dwell on Sen. Reid’s comments to the exclusion of learning the definition of patriotism. Without a doubt, this person is a patriot:

There doesn’t seem to be any other large company trying to do this so it might as well be us. Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity. I think one of the biggest problems we have in the country is this rampant cronyism where all these large companies are into smash and grab, short-term profits, (saying) how do I get a regulation, we don’t want to export natural gas because of my raw materials.

Well, you say you believe in free markets, but by your actions, you obviously don’t. You believe in cronyism. And that’s true even at the local level. I mean, how does somebody get started if you have to pay $100,000 or $300,000 to get a medallion to drive a taxi cab? You have to go to school for two years to be a hairdresser. You name it, in every industry we have this. The successful companies try to keep the new entrants down.

Now that’s great for a company like ours. We make more money that way because we have less competition and less innovation. But for the country as a whole, it’s horrible. And for disadvantaged people trying to get started, it’s unconscionable in my view. I think it’s in our long-term interest, in every American’s long-term interest, to fight against this cronyism.

As you all have heard me say, the role of business is to create products that make peoples’ lives better while using less resources to do it and making more resources available to satisfy other needs.

When a company is not being guided by the products they make and what the customers need, but by how they can manipulate the system, get regulations on their competitors, or mandates on using their products, or eliminating foreign competition, it just lowers the overall standard of living and hurts the disadvantaged the most. We end up with a two-tier system.

Those that have, have welfare for the rich. The poor, OK, you have welfare, but you’ve condemned them to a lifetime of dependency and hopelessness. Yeah, we want hope and change, but we want people to have the hope that they can advance on their own merits, rather than the hope that somebody gives them something. That’s better than starving to death, but that, I think, is going to wreck the country.

Is it in our business interest? I think it’s in all our long-term interests. It’s not in our short-term interest. And it’s about making money honorably. People should only profit to the extent they make other people’s lives better. You should profit because you created a better restaurant and people enjoyed going to it.

You didn’t force them to go, you don’t have a mandate that you have to go to my restaurant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or you go to prison. I mean, come on. You feel good about that?

In my estimation, that’s the definition of American patriotism. Capitalism and innovation being used to make the United States the greatest nation on the face of the earth is the definition of patriotism.

When companies makes money because their lobbyists get the government to build roadblocks in front of the competitors, that’s crony capitalism, which hurts the American economy overall. When companies’ profits increase because they’ve built a product that improves people’s lives, that’s competitive capitalism. That type of capitalism is the type of capitalism that strengthens the economy while improving people’s lives.

People that put the long-term health of the nation ahead of short-term profits and personal gain are patriots. That isn’t to say short-term profits are automatically evil. In many instances, they aren’t. It’s that building products that create profits now and long into the future has a stabilizing effect on a nation’s health.

That’s the definition of patriotism. That’s what Sen. Reid apparently doesn’t understand.

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One thing that can’t be tolerated is a Republican candidate who treads lightly on the issue of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Sen. Ortman’s statement about Obamacare is disappointing:

Regarding the federal health care law, known as ObamaCare, she said: “There are some things about that that are good but I think that when you engage in a conversation in such a comprehensive way, you are going to see some things that people like and you are going see some things that people don’t like. And I think, overall, the system doesn’t work.”

This simply won’t cut it. Obamacare, aka the ACA, is a gigantic failure that should be scrapped and replaced with something that limits governmental ‘participation’. Preferably, the replacement bill should permit families and their physicians to determine what coverages they need or don’t need.

One of the significant flaws of the ACA is that the legislation created a one-size-fits-all plan across America. That’s the last thing we need. Another thing that’s counterproductive to getting rid of the plague of Obamacare is Republicans criticizing the attempted repeal of Obamacare:

“I’m not a full repeal person. I think the House of Representatives has voted 40 times to repeal it. The Senate is not going to repeal it. So if plan A is ‘Let’s do a repeal,’ we better start talking about Plan B. Because plan A got nowhere,” she said. Ortman said she would like to see Congress go “piece-by-piece through that new law and figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

As conservatives, the first thing we need is to admit that the ACA isn’t fixable. If we think that it’s fixable, then the only path forward is tinkering around the edges. That won’t work. What’s needed is a replacement plan that’s patient-centered, a plan that lets families and the physicians they know and trust choose what’s best for the families.

Anything that tinkers around the edges is defeatist thinking. I don’t accept the premise that the ACA is fixable because it’s exceptionally complex. For instance, if you think that government shouldn’t be in the business of telling families what coverages their health insurance policies must include, then catastrophic policies must be offered. The problem with that fix is that that totally messes up Obamacare’s funding mechanism.

That means Obamacare a) isn’t sustainable financially and b) doesn’t put families in charge of their health insurance. That isn’t acceptable.

Here’s Sen. Franken’s (predictable) position on repealing the ACA:

But repealing the law would strip Americans of this new freedom and take us back to the days when big insurance companies had the power to decide what care residents of Minnesota could receive-allowing them to once again deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, cancel coverage when people get sick, and place limits on the amount of care people can get, even if they need it. What’s more, without the law, insurance companies could overcharge for insurance just to boost their profits, or use fine print to deny medical treatments that are covered under people’s policies.

Ask people who can’t keep the policies they bought and liked because Washington, DC said they knew what’s best for families if they like their new options. Across the nation, people are telling their horror stories. If Sen. Ortman agrees with Sen. Franken that repealing Obamacare isn’t the right thing, then she’s sending the wrong message to Minnesotans.

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According to the Minnesota Morning Watchdog, Tom Emmer got a shot of good news from last night’s precinct caucuses:

6th District Congress (97% Reporting):

Tom Emmer with 67.7%, Rhonda Sivarajah with 17.7%, Phil Krinkie with 10.1%

Only 4.3% of caucus voters were undecided. While this straw poll isn’t binding, it can’t be ignored. Rhonda Sivarajah can’t be happy finishing 50 points behind Emmer. Phil Krinkie can’t be happy that he finished almost 60 points behind Emmer.

I’d be surprised if CD-6 delegates will be impressed with Commissioner Sivarajah’s or Rep. Krinkie’s showing. At this point, I’d argue that both face steep uphill fights to win the endorsement. I’d also argue that the odds of Tom Emmer winning a first ballot endorsement victory seem more likely this morning than they were a week ago.

In other straw poll news, Marty Seifert, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson appear to be heading for top 3 finishes in the gubernatorial straw poll. With 96% of precincts reporting, Seifert had 28% of the vote, followed by Dave Thompson with 26% and Jeff Johnson with 17%.

That’s got to put a smile on Sen. Thompson’s face. With a strong finish like that, Sen. Thompson can credibly tell potential contributors that his message is popular.

Marty Seifert has to be pleased, too. He can credibly tell potential contributors that he’s got the experience, organization and name recognition it’ll take to defeat Gov. Dayton.

While this wasn’t the strong showing the Johnson campaign was hoping for, Jeff Johnson must still be considered a top tier candidate. He’s got a solid fundraising team. He’s managing his resources well (he’s got the most cash-on-hand of the candidates) and he’s got a terrific record of being a fiscal conservative.

This couldn’t have been the night that Kurt Zellers was hoping for. Finishing a next-to-last 6th place with 8% can’t instill confidence in potential campaign contributors or in potential delegates.

Based on the results of last night’s U.S. Senate Straw Poll, it’s looking like it’s down to a 2-person race. With 96% of precincts reporting, Julianne Ortman led Mike McFadden by a 31%-22% margin. Finishing in third place was Undecided with 16%, followed by Jim Abeler with 15%.

With that many undecideds and soon-to-be undecided delegates, this is another race to watch.