Lion of the Blogosphere

Pre-debate analysis of tonight’s GOP debate

There’s another GOP debate tonight, starting at 8:30 PM EST on CNN.

In the previous debate, I predicted that Trump would attack Rubio, but that didn’t happen. Instead Trump attacked Jeb Bush again, and while Jeb Bush was certainly hurt by the attack, it seems to me that the primary beneficiary of that exchange was Rubio and not Trump.

Once again, the best strategy for Trump is to take down Rubio in order to prevent Rubio from consolidating the anti-Trump vote. And Rubio is such a weak debater. Chris Christie was able to demolish Rubio in the New Hampshire debate. Surely Trump is just as capable of demolishing Rubio as Chris Christie?

I fear, however, that Trump is going to go after Cruz instead. Trump’s big ego wants to win Texas, and I think that Trump personally dislikes Cruz (as does everyone else who deals with him) while he doesn’t seem to have any special animosity for Rubio.

That would be a bad strategy if Trump does that. It’s not even clear that the best way to defeat Cruz in Texas is to demolish him in the debate. Cruz may have a floor in Texas that Trump won’t be able to stomp out, but the latest polls show him tied with Cruz, and by demolishing Rubio, Trump will probably pick up more of those votes than Cruz.

And in any event, if Trump wins every single Super Tuesday state except for Texas, which is a strong possibility, and almost guaranteed if Trump outperforms Rubio in tonight’s debate, Trump becomes unstoppable and the Republican party will be unable to consolidate around a single anti-Trump candidate. Cruz will say, with some validity, that he is the only candidate who can defeat Trump because he’s the only non-Trump candidate who won two states, and he has quite a few delegates from his Texas win, therefore it’s logical for Rubio to drop out and throw his support to Cruz. Of course Rubio would never do that. The Republican establishment would never encourage Rubio to do that because they hate Cruz. And everyone who is not Cruz, including Rubio, Trump, establishment Republicans, and the mainstream media, will say that Cruz’s victory in Texas is meaningless because it’s his home state and Cruz cannot win in any other state. And that’s true as long as Rubio is in the race with Cruz.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 25, 2016 at 10:22 am

Posted in Politics

26 Responses

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  1. Trump never attacks first. Trump won’t attack Rubio because Rubio won’t attack him. Cruz is more of a wild card but Cruz seems more interested in battling it out with Foam Boy than attacking Trump.

    Just another boring debate, possibly with Trump getting into it with Megyn, with Rubio and Cruz going at eachother, Carson being a brain dead loser, Trump his normal zany self and Kasich being the grown up.

    We’ve seen this movie before.

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 25, 2016 at 10:26 am

    • Trump attacked Carson without provocation simply because he was rising in the polls. This was the lowest point in his campaign, IMO, and the attacks in Paris saved him. Trump usually doesn’t hit first but it’s not something he’s completely above. I hope he gives Robocuck the hard schlonging that he deserves tonight.


      February 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      • Attack Carson was totally merited. That piece of garbage had been around for way too long and was stealing Trump’s momentum. Nate Silver was practically jizzing in his pants over Carson.

        Rubio is nowhere near as loathsome as Carson and right now he is doing good work be weakening Cruz. Trump will and should leave him alone.

        Otis the Sweaty

        February 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

  2. One problem is that Rubio is hard to attack. There is not a clear narrative about why he would make a bad candidate/president. Cruz attacks him for being part of the “Gang of Eight” but I think Jeb and Christie were right when they noted in past debates that Americans do not care about endlessly re-litigating who played what role in the construction of failed legislation from six years ago. In any case, Trump is probably too ignorant to have anything useful to say about something so specific and Washingtony.

    Trump has apparently “speculated” about Rubio being ineligible to be president because his parents were immigrants, but this is an even greater stretch than the Cruz birther stuff, and possibly dangerous, given Trump’s own mother was an immigrant from the UK. He could probably go after him on a strictly personal level, saying he is too robotic and constantly reminding everyone of his bad debate performance. And he’ll probably portray him as a tool of the “special interests.” He could also attack him for being too extreme on abortion, which ordinarily wouldn’t be a smart tack to take in a GOP debate, but being unorthodox hasn’t hurt him so far.


    February 25, 2016 at 10:38 am

    • “Cruz attacks him for being part of the “Gang of Eight” but I think Jeb and Christie were right when they noted in past debates that Americans do not care about endlessly re-litigating who played what role in the construction of failed legislation from six years ago.”

      That’s true as far as it goes, but those debates about re-litigating the Gang of 8 bill kind of helped Rubio because it was a distraction from the real immigration issue; Rubio favors amnesty and Trump doesn’t. Trump can pound him on that in a clear way without getting into the weeds of the Gang of 8. The moderators have been good about directly avoiding Rubio on that so he’s vulnerable as soon as someone brings it up.

      Mike Street Station

      February 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      • Right. The public might not be aware of the phrase “Gang of 8” but the substance is devastating. Go Trump, pound away!


        February 25, 2016 at 6:14 pm

  3. Slightly OT, but more from the Dilbert guy via Instapundit:


    February 25, 2016 at 10:39 am

  4. There’s a rumor that Trump isn’t attacking Rubio because he wants him as his VP candidate. Why else wouldn’t Trump go after Rubio, who poses a big threat as the establishment candidate (a bigger threat than Cruz who is unlikeable, fringe and unelectable)?

    If Trump picks Rubio as VP that is a really bad sign showing Trump isn’t serious about illegal immigration. Trump is 69 (70 this year), obese and a lot of liberals want him dead, so the odds that the VP could become the president in the next 4-8 years is higher than in prior elections. Do Trump supporters really want 100% amnesty, gang of 8, pro-TPP, bought and paid for by billionaires Marco Roboto as a potential president?

    If Trump picks Rubio as VP it will hurt Trump’s base significantly — I, as a Trump supporter from day 1, would still support him, but my enthusiasm for him would drop by about 60%.


    February 25, 2016 at 10:43 am

    • If Trump picks Rubio it’s corruption as usual and I’m not voting. Hate, hate, hate Rubio and Romney.


      February 25, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      • The vice president doesn’t do anything except go to funerals. Doesn’t matter who he is.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      • You keep saying it, but Ford didn’t just go to funerals and the guy (what’s his face?) who took after Lincoln was rubbed out didn’t either. Also, when Kenedy got zapped the VP (again what’s his face?) got the job. So VP is very important. When the madman McCain had chosen lightweight Palin, that was Uuuuge.


        February 25, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      • Trump will NEVER pick Rubio.


        February 25, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    • If Trump picks Rubio for VP it would infuriate many of his supporters. Rubio is the poster boy for open borders and amnesty.

      In addition, it wouldn’t hurt if Trump went on an Adkins/Paleo diet supplemented by two glasses of vegetable juice per day.

      Lewis Medlock

      February 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    • There is very much the the disheartening possiblity that Pres. Trump would govern like Gov. Schwarzenegger


      February 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm

  5. I dunno, Lion. Rubio has such a monumental weak spot on his record (Gang of 8, anyone?) that Trump might be banking on him being the most convenient person to run against to get the nomination. Rubio might get people holding their noses and voting for him, but he’d probably also get the Trump voters staggering to the voting booths on two broken legs to vote against him.

    Or something. But it’s a bit like when Trump excoriated Dubya. He might have different plans.


    February 25, 2016 at 10:45 am

  6. Trump will not attack Rubio – and Rubio will not attack Trump – because Trump wants Rubio to think he can be Trump’s VP, and Rubio realizes that is the best he can do. Accordingly, Trump and Rubio will double-team Cruz. Rubio will not drop out and throw his support to Cruz, but to Trump.


    February 25, 2016 at 10:46 am

  7. An interesting thing that Carl Cameron reported the night of Trump’s victory in Nevada was that in talking to the Trump campaign people their sole focus was on getting Cruz’s numbers down. They actually wanted Rubio to finish ahead of Cruz in Nevada. According to Cameron, Trump’s people see Cruz as the only candidate capable of beating Trump and don’t view Rubio as a threat at all.

    So from a tactical standpoint, Trump might not attack Rubio. But of course with Trump there is always the element that if you attack him, he’s going to attack you back twice as hard. And today Rubio finally poked the bear:

    So I think Trump will attack Rubio tonight, not because he thinks it is tactically important, but because Trump believes in a hard fast strategic rule of never allowing attacks to go unpunished.


    February 25, 2016 at 11:13 am

  8. I would prefer that Trump refrain from attacking either candidate and focus on policy. In particular, I would like for him to discuss the economic case for immigration restriction and trade protectionism. He can take the opportunity to point out the plight of the working class, which gives him points for empathy and compassion.

    It’s time to make an appeal to moderates outside of the party. Trump needs to show that he’s more than just a vicious attack dog.

    Great Again

    February 25, 2016 at 11:13 am

    • The average voter doesn’t care about the economic argument behind restricting the flow of immigrants. Trump knows the economic reasoning but also understand that the average voter would be lost in this lesson. He understands that humans act based on emotion, not logic. As a Lion reader, you most assuredly have an above average IQ, but we must keep in mind that the average voter is not reading Lion.

      Al Snow

      February 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      • Isn’t it emotionally satisfying to be told that being paid more helps the overall economic health of the nation? Especially after being told by every other republican ever that economic growth requires stagnant wages and suffering.

        Lloyd Llewellyn

        February 25, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      • The purpose of making an economic argument IS emotion. In Scott Adams’ parlance, on the 2D level, Trump is making a rational appeal via the economic argument. On a 3D level, he would be making the emotional, compassionate argument of trying to help out struggling middle America because he feels their pain. If he can paint a picture of struggling middle America, it might ultimately appeal to elites (particularly the women).

        It’s no different than the typical Democrat virtue signalling when they try and advocate for struggling minorities.

        Great Again

        February 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    • No, no, no, nobody appeals to moderates until they’ve got the nomination. Before then it is all about red meat for the base.


      February 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

  9. New Florida poll just came out. Trump crushing Rubio in Florida:


    February 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    • Thank you, transplanted Yankees. I knew having so many of y’all down here would actually pay dividends one day.


      February 25, 2016 at 5:48 pm

  10. Don’t you mean EDT, or simply Eastern, rather than EST?


    February 25, 2016 at 1:14 pm

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