by Steve Wagner
Yesterday, Donald Trump (speaking at the Trump Palace, or Trump Mahal, or whatever it’s called in NYC) announced he had taken the non-compete pledge and said this: “I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands.” This guy may actually be serious about running for president.
Taking the pledge and promising to support the Republican nominee removes one potential impediment to expanding his appeal among Republicans. Announcing his allegiance to conservative principles is a clever in-your-face-Jeb-Bush move (see below).
Honorable “Who’s Hot” Mention: Carly Fiorina, for making it to the show when CNN changed the rules for inclusion in the September 16 debate, but we previously recognized this achievement when it first should have been announced. CNN will host 11, rather than demoting anyone (Chris Christie). That will make the JV debate even lonelier. Now, if we can just get the moderators to ask pertinent questions.
Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio is one of the moderators, and his interview of Trump yesterday was not promising. He wanted to know if Trump knew Hassan Nasrallah, Zawahiri, al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Trump didn’t; so what? Jake Tapper (the other moderator), though, is shaping up as a pleasant surprise; he says he is drafting questions on the candidates’ positions on issues that American voters actually care about. Refreshing!
Not Hot: Jeb Bush, for launching an attack on Donald Trump that was a bad idea and poorly executed. You can see it below:
Is it just me, or is this ad so last cycle? Grainy photos, citations from the 1990’s…and what does Bush gain by attacking Trump as “not a conservative?” A) There is no evidence that Trump’s support is based on the fact he is perceived as the most conservative candidate in the race, although his support is as strong among conservatives as others. B) There is no evidence that pulling Trump down will accrue to Bush’s advantage. And now that Trump has pledged fidelity to conservative principles, what are you going to do, Governor Bush: Call him a liar? Say the conversion isn’t real? This isn’t a two-man race, Governor.
What will happen is that Donald Trump will do to Bush what he did to Walker (remember “Wisconsin’s a mess”?). He will travel to Florida and point out how much state spending rose under Bush.
Speaking of being a real conservative, we got this tweet from Governor Bush (or whomever) yesterday.
I cut state spending more than anybody. I’ll do it in DC too. pic.twitter.com/8rXnJwBomb
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 31, 2015
When Jeb Bush became governor, his first full-year budget (2000) was $45.2 billion. His last full-year budget (2006) was $76.4 billion budget. That looks to me like a 69 percent increase in spending over his tenure as governor. In fact, his 2006 budget was higher than Florida’s budget last year ($73.6 billion).
Jeb Bush is genuinely a conservative — of a kind. He brings to mind Kimberley Strassel’s memorable term “big-government surrenderists,” which describes those on the right who believe “the left has won; all that remains is to argue that conservative big-government is better managed than liberal big-government.” Jeb Bush is that kind of conservative.
Steve Wagner is president of QEV Analytics, a public opinion research firm, and a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.