Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Cruz Cruising While Rubio Looks Outmaneuvered

HOT: The big dogs of the social conservative movement have voted, and their candidate is Ted Cruz.  The effort among leading social conservative organizations to coalesce around one candidate – in order to maximize their influence on the nomination process – is a quadrennial initiative which usually comes to naught.  But this year, doubtless due to fear of The Donald, the objective was achieved. As noted previously, Cruz has been endorsed this week by the National Organization for Marriage and Richard Viguerie.  Other participants in the social conservative consensus project will follow suit.  But the big get is Iowan Bob Vander

Who’s Hot? Ted Cruz; Who’s Not: “Gentle Ben” Carson

The Republican mating ritual is getting down to brass tacks: policy substance is of increasing importance, and the two candidates whose persona is most about substance are Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. The field continues its winnowing, now down essentially to four candidates: Trump, Carson (for the moment), Rubio and Cruz (though Fiorina is capable of a come-back). Cruz is lapping everyone other than Carson in fundraising, having had a great 3rd quarter and a strong post-debate bounce. He has released a tax plan which is superficially attractive (whether or not businesses get to deduct wages will determine its actual

Who’s Hot: Marco Rubio, For Quietly Becoming the Favorite “Insider” Candidate

Hot: Marco Rubio A gang of six is emerging in the Republican presidential field — which once sported 17 candidates.  The six are: three outsiders (Trump, Carson, Fiorina), two senators (Rubio, Cruz), and one former governor (Bush).  The top of the “insiders” is now Marco Rubio.  The question is, why? Doubtless Rubio has benefited from the withdrawal of Scott Walker, whose political persona was most similar.  Rubio is besting that other candidate from Florida (what was his name again?), because former governors aren’t playing well this cycle.  Rubio is the most “outsider” of the “insider” candidates (he certainly isn’t averse

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Second GOP Debate Edition

Carly Fiorina is on fire.  And to think she barely got into the Wednesday debate — only after CNN relented to pressure and changed their eligibility rules. We don’t know yet if she actually won the debate, because that judgment can only been made after we’ve seen how the American people respond to her.  But tactically, she scored a lot of points.  More than any other candidate on the stage, she conveyed to the audience a sense of who she really is. Plus, Carly is also the only person to actually draw blood in an attack on Donald Trump.  When

Who’s Hot: Ben Carson, the Leading Un-Trump

The latest CNN national survey puts Donald Trump in the lead among Republicans with 32 percent; Carson second with 19 percent.  But Carson has gained more since the August CNN poll: 10 percent to Trump’s 8 percent.  No other candidate was up significantly, and Rubio, Bush, Walker, Kasich, and Paul have lost ground.  Team Governor (the sum of support for all of the governors in the race) is down to one-quarter support, while Team Outsider is up over half.  Trump and Carson are also the leading second choice candidates, which is interesting; it means they both have more upside potential. So

Who’s Hot: Donald Trump, for Taking the Pledge

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

Who’s Hot: Rand Paul, For Showing How to Have a Heart Without Spending Others’ Money

Rand Paul skipped the Iowa State Fair this week in order to perform eye surgeries in Haiti.  Dr. Paul was using his God-given talents to help people — oh, and he’s also a U.S. Senator. I hope it will not diminish in anyone’s mind Dr. Paul’s charitable work to observe that his humanitarian mission will also bear political fruit.  Republican presidential candidates will be debating in this campaign how best to assist persons in need.  Kimberley Strassel in today’s Wall Street Journal drew the distinction between big-government surrenderists (John Kasich and George W. Bush) versus small-government reformers (Paul Ryan and Jack

Who’s Hot: Carly Fiorina, For Making It to the Show

Positive public reaction to Carly Fiorina’s performance at the Republican JV debate last week — most of which was previewed in her speech at the Reagan Library on July 28 — means, barring a dramatic change in fortunes, she will be joining the varsity squad at the next Republican debate, scheduled for September 16 at the Reagan Library.  Chris Christie appears to be the most likely to be demoted, and Jim Gilmore has not yet been invited to the Simi Valley shindig, owing to failure to meet a one percent threshold. Scott Walker gets the “Not Hot” designation because his pitch