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Old 28th March 2016, 05:56
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Trump and the world - Don’t deal with it
If Donald Trump wins the nomination he is likely to ditch half a century of Republican thinking on foreign policy
Mar 26th 2016 | WASHINGTON, DC THE ECONOMIST

CONVENTIONAL candidates for the American presidency signal how they might deal with the world in three main ways. First, they are expected to issue detailed foreign policies, though—in truth—few of these plans are robust enough to survive when stuff happens. Next, by choosing advisers known for strong views or special expertise, candidates nod to their own priorities. The third signalling mechanism is the most nebulous but the most useful, and happens when contenders let slip some remark that betrays their deepest prejudices and gut instincts.

Donald Trump, an unconventional candidate, has come a long way without revealing very much about his views on foreign policy. He has offered such bumper sticker slogans as “Bomb the **** out of ISIS”, and dodged questions about his preferred sources of geopolitical advice, recently declaring: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain.”

On March 21st, however, the Republican front-runner visited Washington, DC for a day of traditional foreign-policy chin-stroking and speechifying. He joined presidential rivals in addressing some 18,000 supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential pro-Israel lobby group, outlining his most detailed thoughts yet on the prospects for Middle East peace, on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and on defeating the violent extremists of the Islamic State. In an earlier meeting at the Washington Post, he revealed the names of five close foreign-policy advisers.

Mr Trump’s AIPAC speech, which unusually for him he read from a prepared text, was a mixture of pandering, implausible bluster and contradictory promises. The billionaire denounced the United Nations as an anti-Israeli opponent of democracy. “We will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network, which is big and powerful—but not powerful like us,” he promised, without further explanation. He said he would “dismantle the disastrous deal” struck by President Barack Obama to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, then seemed to say that he would enforce it, or perhaps the sanctions regime that preceded it, “like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me.”

In recent months Mr Trump has set nerves jangling among conservative supporters of Israel by suggesting he would be “neutral” in efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. When speaking to AIPAC he cast himself as sternly pro-Israeli, citing his role as Grand Marshal of the 2004 “Salute to Israel” Parade in New York and his daughter’s conversion to Judaism after marriage as evidence. Months after angering a gathering of Jewish Republicans by fudging his views on the status of Jerusalem, Mr Trump bowed to conservative pressure and pledged that he would move the American embassy to that divided city, calling it “the eternal capital of the Jewish people”.

Yet Mr Trump also brought his constant campaign-trail refrain about being a dealmaker offering America as a broker between Israel and the Palestinians. “Deals are made when parties come together, they come to a table and they negotiate. Each side must give up something,” he told delegates. Even suggesting that Israel might have to give anything up in the name of peace involves challenging conservative shibboleths. In recent years, Republicans have aligned themselves with the views of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in suggesting that Israel should not be prodded to engage in talks, because the Palestinian side has shown no sincerity or seriousness as a potential partner for peace.

The little-known advisers named by Mr Trump shed only limited light on his views. They include Joseph Schmitz, a Pentagon inspector general under George W. Bush; Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian academic who has in the past advised warlords in Lebanon; J. Keith Kellogg Jr., a retired army lieutenant-general and former chief operating officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad; and Carter Page, a businessman and analyst specialising in the oil and gas industry in the former Soviet block.

Where Mr Trump was more revealing was in comments and asides that pointed to his deep instincts on foreign policy—instincts which mark a sharp break with recent Republican orthodoxy. He seems ready to break with Republican traditions of using America’s wealth, diplomatic clout and military muscle to promote universal values of economic and political freedom around the world—traditions which have dominated the party since the days of Ronald Reagan and the cold war.

Appealing to Americans who want to feel safe from Islamic extremism but who wonder what almost 15 years of intervention in the Islamic world has achieved, Mr Trump has spent months promoting an America First policy of unleashing no-holds-barred violence, including torture, against foes in the Middle East, while shunning nation-building far from home.

While doing the rounds in Washington he expanded a little more than before on those views. Asked at the Washington Post about the future of NATO, the businessman scolded other members of that Atlantic alliance for doing too little after Russia invaded Ukraine on their doorsteps. “Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war, okay, with Russia?” he asked. To the cable television news station CNN, Mr Trump said that while he would remain a member of NATO he would “certainly decrease” American funding for the alliance.

Asked about how to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and Asia, Mr Trump again voiced long-standing gripes about how such allies as Japan and South Korea only pay for some of the costs of American bases in the region. Does America gain anything by having bases overseas, he was asked? “Personally I don’t think so,” he replied.

Mr Trump keeps saying things like this. At some point it seems reasonable to believe that what comes out of his mouth reflects his views. Supporters love his message of chin-jutting, heavily armed isolationism. If elected, President Trump would be able to claim a mandate for ending decades of global power projection. It may be frustratingly hard to pin the Republican front-runner down on how, precisely, he would deal with the world. But do not discount the possibility that he intends to deal with it as little as he can. Don’t deal with it | The Economist
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Old 29th March 2016, 18:00
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Trump hires Yanukovych's former strategist
29.03.2016 | 14:40 UNIAN

Donald J. Trump, girding for a long battle over presidential delegates and a potential floor fight at the Cleveland convention, has enlisted the veteran Republican strategist Paul J. Manafort to lead his delegate-corralling efforts, according to people briefed on Mr. Trump’s plans, The New York Times reports.

Mr. Trump confirmed the hire in a brief telephone interview with The New York Times. “Yes,” he said, “it is true.”

Mr. Manafort, 66, has drawn attention in recent years chiefly for his work as an international political consultant, most notably as a senior adviser to disgraced former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven from power in 2014.
Trump hires Yanukovych's former strategist : UNIAN news
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Old 29th March 2016, 19:25
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THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL James Brooke March 29, 2016
US Presidential Politics Play Poorly in Ukraine

US President Barack Obama’s refusal to militarily defend Ukraine against Russian aggression has sent a chill halfway around the world to Odesa, the Black Sea port only 200 kilometers by warship from Crimea.

In the April issue of The Atlantic, Obama says: “The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.”

This statement sounded like dangerous defeatism to many experts gathered here March 24-25 for the Odesa Security Forum, sponsored by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Odesa Regional Council, and Ukraine Today.

“Essentially, President Obama just took Ukraine and threw it under the Russian bus, along with Moldova and Georgia,” said David J. Kramer, a former official in the George W. Bush administration and currently senior director for human rights and democracy at The McCain Institute.

From Georgia, Gela Bezhuashvili, a former defense and foreign minister, said: “It’s a direct message from Obama: Ukraine is not in my direct interest, seize the momentum.”

Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia’s former President and current governor of Odesa Region, shared similar concerns.

“If Ukraine fails, Georgia can be wiped off the map,” he warned.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Yönet Can Tezel, said Turkey is committed to increasing security and trade ties with its Black Sea neighbor. Noting reciprocal visits this month by leaders of both nations, he said: “We need a Ukraine able to stand on its own feet, a stable, independent, and democratic Ukraine that follows its own choices.”

These comments were made before The New York Times published a foreign policy interview with Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate.

“Why is it that countries that are bordering the Ukraine and near the Ukraine—why is it that they’re not more involved?” Trump asked, saying that Washington is stuck doing the heavy lifting to defend Ukraine. Asked in a follow-up question if he agreed with Obama’s contention that history and geography dictate that Russia will have greater influence over Ukraine than the West, Trump responded, “I would agree.”

On March 29, it became public that Trump has hired Republican strategist Paul J. Manafort to lead his delegate-corralling effort at the Republican National Convention. Previously, Manafort worked as a senior adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President driven from power by the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.

Another Trump adviser is retired US Army Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn. An advocate of closer ties with the Kremlin, Flynn stepped down eighteen months ago as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Last December, Flynn attended a small dinner in Moscow marking the tenth anniversary of RT, Russia’s multilingual overseas television arm that many experts consider sophisticated propaganda. The keynote speaker was Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In Odesa, the conference was held five kilometers from a government building that was the scene of a major clash on May 2, 2014, between Novorossiya separatists and Ukrainian nationalists. That confrontation left forty-six dead, two hundred injured, and extinguished the separatist movement here—for now.

Since then, Putin’s surprise military moves—the sudden dispatch and then abrupt removal of half of Russia’s fighter jets from Syria—had left many here wary of the Russian leader’s next moves.

Several attendees found the American President’s comments unsettling coming at the start of the lame-duck phase of the presidency. Europe increasingly is distracted by terrorism and is divided by massive immigration from Syria and North Africa.

One Lithuanian participant worried about the vulnerability of the Suwalki Gap, the 103-kilometer Polish-Lithuanian border. This largely flat region constitutes NATO’s only land bridge between Poland and the Baltics. A Russian tank thrust, of the kind seen last year in eastern Ukraine, could link Belarus, Russia’s closest military ally, with Kaliningrad, Russia’s heavily militarized exclave on the Baltic Sea. To complete the isolation of the Baltic nations, Kaliningrad has anti-aircraft missiles that could deny access to a NATO airlift from Poland and Germany.

One conference participant warned that Europe is “militarily anorexic.” Another called for building the kind of Western military deterrence that kept Moscow at bay during the Cold War. To this end, all eyes were on political trends in Washington.

The US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt spoke forcefully to counter worries about any weakness of resolve in the White House.

“The United States government continues to pay great attention to what is happening here in Ukraine,” he said. “We have done so based on the understanding that what happens here in Ukraine will play a critical role in securing what has been a goal of American foreign policy for a quarter century now—that is, a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”

“Ironically, Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, its invasion of Donbas, and its support of Syria’s Assad have actually moved most of the countries in the region further away from Moscow’s reach,” said Pyatt, who has served here since 2013.

He picked up a theme that also dominated the conference: Ukraine’s slow moves on reform are weakening Ukraine in front of Russia.

“Ukraine’s best response to Russian aggression is to continue firmly on its European trajectory, to continue to implement real reforms that fundamentally and irreversibly destroy the corrupt practices of the past,” said Pyatt. The nation’s parliament “must continue to represent the people’s interests and not the parochial interests of individual members or oligarchic clans.”

For the last month, legislative work has been paralyzed as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tries out various names and various coalition formulas to replace Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Forum participants worried that this paralysis will play into the hands of Russia, which waits in the east. US Presidential Politics Play Poorly in Ukraine
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Old 30th March 2016, 15:23
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Pushing the right's buttons - Political badges are selling well in this emblematic primary season
THE ECONOMIST Lexington/Janesville Mar 30th 2016, 9:24

CONTACT with this year’s presidential politics leaves many Americans hankering for a scrub with carbolic soap. But a hefty minority are enjoying the contest so much that the traders who sell political souvenirs outside campaign rallies are enjoying their best election in memory. The most lucrative rallies are those hosted by Donald Trump, the businessman whose blend of celebrity, populism and snarling chauvinism has made him the Republican front-runner.

Mr Trump’s official campaign symbol is a red baseball cap bearing the slogan “Make America Great Again.” But the most revealing sales are of something humbler: political badges, or buttons. These have been a staple of presidential races since 1896, when the first examples were mass-produced from metal and plastic-covered paper.

A Trump rally on March 29th in Janesville, Wisconsin, drew dozens of itinerant traders. Ron Hillyard, a factory worker from Buffalo, New York, was using his annual leave to sell badges to rally-goers for $5 each, or $10 for three. The most popular featured an unusually benign portrait of the candidate, in a red cap, captioned “Trump for President 2016”. Runner-up was an image of Hillary Clinton behind bars and the caption: “Hillary for prison 2016”—reflecting conservative scepticism about the Democratic front-runner’s probity. A badge reading: “Trump 2016—Finally Someone with Balls” was also selling well. Mr Hillyard has been selling election souvenirs since 2008, when Barack Obama stirred up large crowds. But nothing compares to the spending habits of Trump fans, he says: “It’s not even close”. Setting a personal record, Mr Hillyard sold $4,000-worth of hats, T-shirts and badges at a single rally in Michigan on March 4th (of which his boss, a wholesale dealer from Cleveland, Ohio, took three-quarters).

Popular badges are quickly copied. The largest stand outside the Janesville rally belonged to Mike Kriener, whose family has been in the fair and carnival business for over a century. He says that he was the first to make one widely sold badge, featuring Mr Trump’s favoured counter-terrorism strategy: “Bomb the **** Out of ISIS”. Mr Kriener credits his nephew with inventing a badge featuring the Republican Party’s elephant symbol sporting a Trump-style swoop of yellow hair. “Now everybody has them, but that’s capitalism,” he observed, philosophically.

Other Republican presidential candidates are lucky to attract a small handful of traders, who often bring generic conservative badges defending gun-ownership, or suggesting that Democratic voters should develop a keener work ethic. On the left, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont draws the largest crowds, snapping up badges bearing the motto “Feel The Bern”, or imitation Andy Warhol portraits of their hero. Prices are lower at Sanders rallies, with two badges sold for $5, says Tim Engelskirchen, a veteran badge-maker and dealer whose home base is North Carolina. This is because Sanders supporters “have less money”, he explains. They are also fonder of whimsy: after a small bird landed on Mr Sanders’s lectern at a rally in Portland, Oregon, delighting the crowd, his campaign rushed out stickers showing a cartoon bird with Sanders-style white hair and glasses, named “Birdie”. These are currently a gift for small donors: expect commercial knock-offs soon. Pushing the right's buttons: Political badges are selling well in this emblematic primary season | The Economist
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Old 2nd April 2016, 06:48
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Why Should ‘Never Trump’ Mean Ted Cruz?
NY TIMES THE EDITORIAL BOARD APRIL 1, 2016

With more than half of the 2016 presidential primary races in the history books, Republicans desperate to deny Donald Trump their party’s nomination now say Wisconsin, where Ted Cruz is leading, will show that their effort has turned the tide. They shouldn’t start bragging yet.

At a televised Republican town hall on Tuesday, it was painful to watch farmers, students and a man whose son died of a drug overdose pose earnest questions to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, who were more interested in attacking each other. Only John Kasich connected with these voters.

Despite its noble aim and big budget, “Never Trump” has become a panicky reaction in search of a strategy. In Wisconsin, “Never Trump” means “How About Cruz?” as self-interested leaders like Gov. Scott Walker try to sell Republicans on a dangerously reactionary senator as an improvement over a dangerously ignorant businessman. But for the state’s — and the nation’s — moderate conservatives, “Never Trump” should more logically mean “Maybe Kasich.”

The framework that Mitt Romney sketched for a “Never Trump” movement on March 3 rested on an analysis of delegate allocation rules in the remaining primary states. If Mr. Trump continued to win pluralities in winner-take-all states, he could easily nab the nomination. But through careful engineering and the targeted use of resources, those states could be won by the other candidates, throwing the nomination to the convention.

“We can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism,” Mr. Romney said, adding that he would back whoever had the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.

Marco Rubio’s loss in Florida was a big setback, leaving only two challengers to Mr. Trump. But in Utah, Mr. Romney’s strategy worked. Mormons offended by Mr. Trump’s comments about Muslims delivered a hefty winner-take-all state to Mr. Cruz.

In some coming states and districts, voter data indicates that Mr. Kasich, not the ultraconservative, evangelical Mr. Cruz, could be more competitive. Yet there’s been no real effort by “Never Trump” leaders on Mr. Kasich’s behalf. Indeed, some Republicans are pressuring the Ohio governor to quit and coalescing around Mr. Cruz, a candidate who was once almost as unthinkable to them as Mr. Trump and should still be.

This is happening even though the numbers are there to deprive Mr. Trump of the nomination without delivering it to Mr. Cruz on a platter, says Henry Olsen, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington. “If your goal is ‘Never Trump,’ you should put your bets on the best candidate depending on the delegate allocation rules and the demographics of the state,” he says.

This means “Never Trump” backers would help Mr. Cruz in California’s Los Angeles media market and Central Valley, and in New Mexico, South Dakota, Indiana and Montana, which favor him. And they would work to deliver Delaware, the San Francisco Bay area, the Philadelphia suburbs, and urban areas in New York State to Mr. Kasich.

Mr. Olsen calls this a “cartel approach.” However, he says, the Republican leaders he has talked to have trouble accepting this idea. The problem is basically self-interest. Some conservative leaders see Mr. Cruz as their best chance for maintaining their influence and are thus reluctant to work for Mr. Kasich. Others who backed Jeb Bush or Mr. Rubio resent Mr. Kasich for not yielding to their candidate. Others worry that Mr. Kasich’s views on the poor, Muslims and immigrants place him too far from the right to win in a brokered convention.

But in a year when cruelty and exclusion stand as hallmarks of conservatism, “It would be courageous to stand up and say that Kasich is a different kind of conservative,” who doesn’t see government, or foreigners, as enemies, Mr. Olsen says. “These voters exist, and there’s a lot of them.” He adds that Mr. Kasich should be doing better at wooing them.

Mr. Cruz has been trying to bully Mr. Kasich from the race by billing himself as the only viable alternative to Mr. Trump. It would be ironic if Mr. Cruz became the candidate of a party whose leaders hate him. But if those leaders can’t find it in themselves to take a more courageous path, they deserve whatever they get.http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/op...ft-region&_r=0
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Old 7th April 2016, 13:54
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Lexington - Ted Cruz, false hope - The unctuous Texan is squandering a great chance handed to him by Stop-Trump Republicans
Apr 2nd 2016 THE ECONOMIST

THESE are ghastly times for thoughtful Republicans. If Donald Trump is their presidential nominee in November’s general election, they increasingly fear that the businessman will lead them to a defeat of epic, Napoleon-in-Russia proportions, after laying waste to their support among women, suburbanites, non-whites and those dismayed by thuggish violence. A growing number have decided that the remaining candidate with the best chance of halting Mr Trump’s march to the nomination is Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has duly picked up endorsements from such former rivals as Jeb Bush, the ex-governor of Florida, and, most recently, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose state holds its presidential primary election on April 5th. But Mr Cruz is an unctuous ideologue whose entire pitch to date has been aimed at the most conservative third of the country, all but ensuring that—if he somehow became his party’s candidate—he would lead them to a merely conventional sort of November defeat.

A remarkable chance has been given to Mr Cruz by colleagues who never imagined they would need him so badly. Handed the battle-flag of the Stop Trump movement, he could attempt to rally Republicans of all stripes behind it. Without betraying his own principles, Mr Cruz could unite conservatives against Mr Trump by pointing out that the tycoon’s promises are impossible to honour, and amount to a cruel trick played on the most unhappy or frightened voters. Mr Trump says he can bully multinational companies to send jobs home. He pretends that illegal immigration can be ended with a border wall and mass deportations. Mr Trump claims that the obstacles to defeating Islamic terrorism are political correctness and squeamishness, proposing to keep America safe with a Muslim entry ban and torture for terrorists.

In living memory, Mr Cruz has rejected such bad ideas as mass deportations, noting in January that America is not “a police state”. He used to be a devoted free-trader. Alas, judging by his rhetoric on the election trail in Wisconsin this week, the Texan is choosing to stick to a narrower path. Trumpeting his second place in the three-man race for the Republican nomination, Mr Cruz calls himself the man to stop Mr Trump. But instead of denouncing Mr Trump’s false promises, the senator has moved to borrow them for himself. Like a snake-oil salesman stealing a rival’s label and slapping it on his own patent remedy, Mr Cruz now addresses himself to workers “with calluses on your hands” and vows to bring “millions upon millions” of highly paid jobs back from Mexico and China. He promises to spark an economic boom so rapid that young school-leavers will find themselves with “two, three, four, five job offers”. Listen carefully though, and the Cruz plan to unleash this miracle is the same that he has always offered: deep tax cuts skewed towards the rich, looser environmental rules and business regulations, the repeal of the Obamacare health law (to be replaced for low-income Americans with cheap but skimpy insurance). His stance on immigration has hardened: he now attacks legal immigration as a job-killer, too.

Addressing a crowd outside a suburban restaurant in Altoona, Mr Cruz rewrote the history of the Reagan era to omit all mention of its spiralling deficits, instead claiming that tax cuts and deregulation triggered an economic boom in the 1980s, funding a military build-up that led to Soviet defeat in the cold war. Mr Cruz promised to pull off a modern-day version of that Reagan miracle with a flat tax and by taking the “boot of the federal government off the neck of small business”. This, he says, would generate “trillions” of dollars in new revenues to fund the military firepower to defeat Islamic extremists. Worries about police states behind him, Mr Cruz now talks of patrolling Muslim neighbourhoods.

Campaigning in Wisconsin, Mr Cruz’s principal charge against Mr Trump is to cast the Republican front-runner as a phoney conservative who has donated to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in the past, and to cast himself as a unifier. The audiences at Cruz events are not as united as they look, however. For one thing, nobody at the campaign stop in Altoona, or at a later rally in the smoke-stack town of Rothschild, bought the charge that Mr Trump—a man promising to torture terrorists and deport Mexicans—is a secret liberal. “I don’t think [Mr Trump] is a true conservative, but I think he will defend our country,” explained Carolyn Carlson in Altoona, summing up her presidential preferences as “Cruz first, Trump if necessary”. Most importantly, many Republicans explained that they had come to Mr Cruz only lately, after their favoured candidates had dropped out. They now long for the Texan to woo them. Lisa Nelson, a lobbyist, initially supported her local governor, Mr Walker, and the businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Now, she said, she wants to hear Mr Cruz become “less scary on social issues”. The Texan seems uninterested: his stump speech ends with a tribute to “Judaeo-Christian values”.

Gambling on Cleveland
A few in Altoona and in Rothschild praised the third-placed Republican contender, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who is running as a voice of common-sense moderation, but sadly noted that he trails far behind. A striking number of voters at Cruz rallies in Wisconsin sound anxious and unhappy. “I honestly think that Trump might be more electable,” worried Pete Heineck, a factory worker from Wausau, speaking for many.

Some Republican grandees might languidly reply that angst among Cruz voters does not much matter—they are not endorsing the Texan because they want him to win. They just need him to deny Mr Trump the 1,237 delegates he must have to win the nomination outright, triggering a contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland at which party bosses dream of imposing a more palatable replacement. That is a big gamble. General-election voters currently see a Republican contest dominated by two men competing to offer the harshest, most divisive rhetoric. Mr Trump is a disgrace, but Mr Cruz is not the solution.
Ted Cruz, false hope | The Economist
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Old 8th April 2016, 18:21
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Opinion - The Case for Kasich - The 2016 presidential race has shifted, and John Kasich would be crazy to dropout now
US NEWS & WORLD REPORT Mary Cate Cary April 8, 2016

With the front-runners in both parties losing the Wisconsin primaries this week, the races on both sides have shifted.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has now won the last six contests – some by landslide margins – and his campaign outraised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's for the third month in a row, bringing in a whopping $44 million to her $29.5 million in March. He continues to draw huge crowds to his rallies and while she's ahead in the delegate count, the upcoming New York primary has suddenly become a must-win for Clinton. The press has started the she's-limping-to-the-nomination narrative, and frankly, it's hard to disagree.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's big win in Wisconsin was the shot in the arm that he needed, allowing him to say that Wisconsin was a "turning point – it is a rallying cry" – which I'm not sure is truly the case. Cruz may think he's got the momentum to beat businessman Donald Trump, but his unfavorable ratings are still, like Trump's and Clinton's, at historically high levels.

According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Cruz's unfavorable ratings are underwater, by a negative 19 points (33 favorable/52 unfavorable); Trump's are even worse, at at negative 33 points (30/63). Clinton's aren't as bad as either one of them: she's only got a a 14-point deficit (40/54), according to the site. As of this week, in head-to-head matchups nationally, Clinton wins against Trump by an 11-point margin, and beats Cruz by a three-point margin in the RCP average. You can see why many Republicans aren't crazy about the prospect of either Cruz or Trump as the party's nominee.

And yet what's been surprising to me this week is the mounting pressure for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to leave the race.

The airwaves are full of moneyball-type guys, the types of political operatives who are into the horse race numbers, the delegate counts, the state-by-state crosstabs from the pollsters. They argue that Kasich doesn't have the numbers, that he's only won Ohio, that it's already a two-man race, and the Buckeye State chief executive has no clear pathway to the nomination. And, while he's got "every right" to stay in the race, he's subverting the will of the people by hoping to get delegates to switch to him on a second or third ballot.

"If I didn't have Kasich, I automatically win," Trump said last weekend. "He doesn't have to run and take my votes ... he's not taking Ted Cruz's votes, he's taking my votes," Trump added.
"Every day John Kasich stays in the race benefits Donald Trump," Cruz said in late March. As it stands now, Trump must win about 63 percent of the remaining delegates to get to the 1,237-vote majority he needs, and that would be a lot easier if it were a two-man race. But, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, Kasich has more political appeal than Trump does in the more suburban mid-Atlantic states that are still to vote, and a better chance of winning delegates than Cruz does in upcoming contests in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The polls ahead of the New York primary currently have Kasich in second place ahead of Cruz.

"He has no hope of reaching 1,237 delegates before the convention," the Journal editors wrote, "but what Messrs. Trump and Cruz really fear is that the convention might want to nominate a potential winner."

So let's consider the case for John Kasich. He's outlasted early favorites like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and Scott Walker. As of this week, Kasich is the only Republican in the race who consistently beats Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, winning by a six-point average margin on Real Clear Politics. He's also the only Republican with higher favorables than unfavorables, by 43 to 30, a 13-point positive margin.

Maybe that's because among Republicans, over and over again, I hear disgust at the insults, the Twitter attacks, the rambling unscripted speeches and the lack of forward-looking, positive policy ideas. And lately, the two names that come up the most in that context are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Last month, Barron's switched its endorsement for president from Hillary Clinton to John Kasich because the paper believes he'd be better for markets and investors, based on his across-the-board tax cutting plan. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan policy group, has concluded that Kasich's plan will get the federal budget to balance by the end of his second term, which neither Trump nor Cruz can say. In fact, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation says Cruz's plan could increase the federal government's deficit by $3.6 trillion over the next decade, and Trump's plan could add $10 trillion.

As a former three-term chairman of the House budget committee, Kasich knows how to broker a compromise; having him in the White House with Paul Ryan as speaker figures to work well – especially in comparison to Cruz, who has a record of obstructionism in the Senate. And as governor of Ohio since 2011, Kasich has turned a near $8 billion state budget deficit into a $2 billion surplus while cutting taxes and funding K-12 schools at an all-time high; unemployment has fallen from 9.2 percent to 4.9 percent; and Ohio has become one of the top job-creating states in the country. No wonder he was re-elected by a 30-point margin in 2014.

I've been talking lately to a lot of voters in different states – some have already voted, some are still waiting to – of all ages and walks of life. And my experience is that there is a deep hunger for substantive conversation, for information about policies that will get our country back on track, for thoughtful consideration about where we are headed next and how best to manage the changes we face as a nation. My sense is that Kasich is the only candidate having that kind of conversation in town halls across America. To me he comes across as very honest and authentic, and as a man of deep faith.

Those moneyball political operatives might want to take another look before they write Kasich off. My gut says that things in this race are shifting quickly, and if I you ask me, I'd say the Ohio governor would be crazy to leave the race. John Kasich Shouldn't Leave the 2016 Field to Trump and Cruz - US News
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