For instance, the worst memories from my youth involve bad messaging. It was a family thing. Like when I was 8 years old, leading my peewee football team…
It never fails. Romney wrote off 47% of the electorate…on tape... Gingrich promised to build a moon colony... Paul insisted a border fence would be used to keep us in... Has Rick Perry resumed talking yet? Every four years, I start sweating, my shaking hands frantically switching channels as my candidates melt down—like wicked witches frolicking in a water park. “Do not fail me!” I shout. “Please stop failing me! Triggers! You’re…you’re all triggers!!!”
But this time, I’m actually—knock on wood—impressed. Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Walker, Fiorina, Jindal—each boasts real skills, leaving other presumptive entrants re-thinking their plans.
Mitt Romney saw this group and retired. Jeb Bush should stay out too, as he has ZERO groundswell among grassroots activists, independents, even many in the establishment—pretty much all mammals. Perry? Huckabee? Santorum? Good guys, but no chance. Ben Carson? Brilliant, but the field is too strong. Christie? Trump? Pataki? Please. Like the time I got really drunk and woke up with an “Akin-Mourdoch 2016” tattoo, some decisions are indefensibly stupid.
Enough triggers. Let’s enjoy some strong performances:
Cruz’s Message Strategy
Since many deem Ted Cruz too pure for twisted, modern-day America, concerns over him “connecting” merit discussion. Cruz understands. Rather than dodge doubters or brand them all RINO’s, Cruz recently discussed clear messaging in New Hampshire:
"Let's say you're a Michigan auto worker. You've been a Democrat your whole life, your parents were Democrats your whole life. If…the two candidates are…indistinguishable, what are you going to do? You vote Democrat. That's your team, that's your side. Why would you switch?”
“But what happened in 1980 was there was a sharp difference between the two, and millions of FDR Democrats—blue-collar, union members, working-class, gun owners, pro-life, strong national defense—said, ‘Hey, those are my values.’ And…they crossed over.”
(Excerpted from Shane Goldmacher’s 4/19/15 article in National Journal.)
Nicely done, Ted.
Marco’s Redemption, Courtesy of Rush
Whether dazzling crowds or confounding “gotcha” interviewers, Marco Rubio is a messaging dream come true. He’s fast. He’s clear. He’s forceful. Witty and principled, Rubio leaves me with “Wow” expressions.
And yet, Rubio can’t talk away his big problem with Republicans: Immigration. Why? Because on this issue, we’ve been led on, let down, and lied to by many GOP leaders, so Rubio’s eloquence is actually a detriment. Though much improved since the “Gang of 8” proposal (which I opposed), Rubio needs help—honest, no BS help—and he just got it from Rush Limbaugh.
On his April 15th show, Rush provided game-changing praise for Rubio, showing him to be nothing like the amnesty machine some feared. Let me quote pieces from two segments (my emphasis added):
Rubio said that if Obama does executive amnesty…he could not envision a new Republican president being elected and rescinding it.”
“Lo and behold, his prediction turns out to have been right on the money, at least up to the present time.”
The upshot is simple: Rubio knew Obama’s intentions. And in trying to head him off, Rubio overreached. So he learned from it. But perhaps Rubio’s greatest lesson came not from ill-advised strategy, but from helplessness; knowing his eloquence couldn’t rescue him. Falling short on such a critical issue, Rubio found himself needing bigtime help—and this time, he got it.
Next time? I don’t think there will be a next time. This guy’s too sharp.
Turning Tables with Rand
Have you noticed how Republican candidates get all the tough abortion questions?
Reporter: “Mr. Republican, would you force a rape victim to carry the child of her rapist, all while you ban gay weddings and stick us in needless wars to benefit weapons manufacturers?”
GOP Candidate: “I’m sorry, what?”
Reporter: “Also, I can’t help but notice you are a man. Care to explain that?”
Democrats get a different treatment:
Reporter: “Mr. Democrat, when Republicans engage in white supremacy by taking contraception from the poor, how do you find the strength to save us from them?”
No wonder I talk to myself at bus stops.
Recently, when questioned by a New Hampshire reporter regarding abortion exceptions, Rand Paul turned the tables, throwing the topic at Democrats:
Wow. What a train wreck.
For the remainder of this election cycle, Democrats are on the hot seat for their support of late-term abortions. Score one for Rand Paul.
Hope for My Recovery
Cruz, Rubio, and Paul are not alone. Scott Walker is rapidly improving on foreign policy. Bobby Jindal is flat-out brilliant. And Carly Fiorina, who delights in taunting Hillary’s lack of achievements, frustrates reporters who challenge her (and you’ll love her thoughts on sharing pro-life views). This, my friends, is a pretty awesome group.
Will they be perfect? Not a chance. But while mistakes proved fatal in the past, this current GOP field shows an ability to recover. It’s refreshing. For the first time in decades, I'm not laying awake at night, wondering which GOP candidate will trigger my next “episode.”
Next time I go to the bus stop, I might actually talk with someone else—maybe that Hillary supporter who keeps muttering to himself: “Wiping a hard drive?...perfectly normal…people do it every day…it’s like blaming terror attacks on internet videos…yes, it all makes sense to me now…she got how much Russian money?...Russia got how much American uranium assets?...doesn't matter, she’s a woman, so it’s okay…I’m gonna be okay…”
On second thought, I’ll just listen. Don’t want to trigger anything.