August 6, 2015
Keeping up with 17 candidates ain’t easy. No wonder everyone was just focused on Trump. For a decent explanation of what we’re up to with the debate preview, please see Part One. Candidates Trump, Walker and Bush are covered in that section. Part Two covers messrs Rubio, Huckabee, Paul and Carson.
Finishing up here….
Spectrum: Closest example of a pure Tea Party conservative. Also conservative on social issues (not all Tea Party identifiers are). As much of an outsider as a sitting senator from a major state can possibly be.
Path: Iowa, though he’s not unfit for New Hampshire. There isn’t a true path, as Cruz is not acceptable to the establishment under any set of circumstances. This would not be an issue if he had the outsider lane to himself. He most certainly can stick around for a while.
Overlaps With: Trump, who does have temporary possession of more than a few Cruz voters. Rand Paul could steal some of those people before they get to Cruz if looking for a less interventionist candidate. Those looking for a little more economic protectionism might prefer Huckabee. Many voters might prefer the demeanor of Dr. Carson.
Should Do: Throw bombs. That’s what Cruz does. Trump really does usually wait for someone to say something about him before unloading. Cruz is more preemptive. His campaign staff has already indicated Walker, Bush and Rubio will be hearing from him on immigration.
Will Do: Throw bombs.
Upside/Downside: More upside. Cruz has a core base of support that provides a floor not too far below his current poll standing. They will only lose heart if he doesn’t deliver red meat. If Trump or any direct competitor should stumble, Cruz can benefit.
Spectrum: Definitely to the moderate side. Either he or George Pataki are the least conservative in the field (provided you ignore Trump’s pre-candidacy positions, statements and campaign contributions). Definitely to the establishment side. Will have to convince party insiders he’s more viable than Bush, Kasich, etc.
Path: New Hampshire. He’s all in. As much as it seems Christie’s time has passed, he is running 3rd or 4th in a couple of recent NH polls. Odds are still against him, but John McCain made a lot of progress from August 2007 to January 2008.
Overlaps With: John Kasich is as direct competitor as exists for any candidate. Both are in the establishment moderate section of the field. Each is sometimes a bit rough around the edges and has that authenticity that’s apparently in style this season. Both are focusing on New Hampshire.
Jeb Bush is where he needs to find votes, since Kasich doesn’t have as many to take yet. To a lesser extent, Walker or Rubio may have a few people who would switch to Christie. If Trump fades, voters caring more about attitude than ideology may find their way back to the loud governor.
Should Do: While he’s strategically channelling McCain in New Hampshire, he may want to find his inner Newt during the debate. Gingrich made his mark in 2012 jousting with moderators. Chris Wallace will probably give him an opening. You’ll notice Christie hasn’t gone after Trump. Virtually certain he’s asked for and probably received campaign funds from Trump.
Will Do: No idea.
Upside/Downside: Prior to Carly Fiorina’s very impressive performance in the undercard debate, would have said more to gain than lose. However, she’s taking somebody’s place at the next debate and absent a good performance tonight, it’s likely Chrstie’s podium. Having fallen from his position a couple years ago, a demotion would hurt him more than Kasich.
Spectrum: Establishment moderate with some ability to eventually appeal to those who might prefer an outsider.
Path: New Hampshire. Also spent a fair amount of time in South Carolina prior to declaring his candidacy, so is trying to position himself to follow up on a good result. Lead campaign strategist John Weaver was the architect of McCain’s 2000 New Hampshire upset of George W. Bush. He was also fired by McCain in 2007 before his 2008 comeback. In 2012, Weaver was partially responsible for the Jon Huntsman debacle.
Last Sunday, Kasich slapped Weaver down on Fox News Sunday for sending an inflammatory tweet about Trump. Time will tell if the candidate needs to step over or around his strategist to get past Christie and ultimately Jeb in NH.
Overlaps With: The other governors. Christie most closely, followed by Jeb. He is also an alternative Midwestern option to Walker and a bit more of a free-market option to Huckabee.
Should Do: Continue to avoid getting stuck in Trump quicksand. Stay folksy, focus on his impressive resume and how he’s reached out to minorities in Ohio. He rarely sounds rehearsed, but needs to stay on message. Draw contrast with Walker noting he’s contributed to positive change in DC and Ohio and knows his foreign policy.
Will Do: Think he’ll do something similar to what’s listed above.
Upside/Downside: Fiorina has shown this evening how much of an impact one debate can make. She had the advantage of a lower-key debate to make a mark, but was very impressive regardless. It’s unlikely Kasich will score as well, but a similar performance would send him way up the ladder and give Jeb something to legitimately worry about.
Enjoy the show.