Justice Integrity Project

Brash, Insult-Filled GOP Debate Positions Trump For Huge Carolina Win

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on February 15, 2016

 

The most raucous and otherwise remarkable debate in modern presidential history took place Feb. 13 in South Carolina — and seems likely to lead to a stunning victory for front-runner Donald Trump in the state's primary Feb. 20.

Peace Center Greenville, SCTrump — by insulting several of his rivals and GOP eminences as well as most of the audience — managed to surpass even his own unmatched record among major contenders for contrarian positions that have confounded his establishment opponents.

Yet nearly all instant polls showed him as winning the debate. A Drudge poll (albeit unscientific) showed him winning 53 percent of the 650,000+ votes cast by 11 p.m. Sunday. Eleven other polls assembled by the Conservative TreeHouse site showed Trump winning, at least initially. Details: Who do you think won the Republican Debate tonight? 

Even a more scientific poll by CBS, the moderator of the debate at the Peace Center auditorium in Greenville, SC, showed Trump finishing second with 24 percent to Marco Rubio, who polled 32 percent in a sample of 601 persons in the overnight poll. 

Out of all the polling since the presidential race began last spring, these results carry special significance as a predictor of how the South Carolina and national GOP contests will play out.

Even though the polls drew from national and not state samples, they seem to indicate that Trump did not seriously hurt himself and none of his five remaining opponents (with the possible exception of Rubio) helped himself significantly.

That's great news for Trump, who currently leads polling in South Carolina by 42 to 20 for Ted Cruz and 15 percent for Rubio in a CBS poll released Feb. 14. Nationally, Trump also leads by large margins over his GOP rivals, although the margin is single digits over Cruz for the most part.

Even better for Trump than the margins, the specifics of the next stage of the race and of his rivals' vulnerabilities enhance his strengths further.

In essence, all of Trump's rivals have major weaknesses at least in the short term. Several are being accused of scandalous behavior, as examined below. Yet none are likely to drop out before the South Carolina primary, which will be regarded as a predictor for the 11-state March 1 votes, most of them in the South.

This is likely to split the anti-Trump vote and deny his rivals a chance for victory in this crucial next phase of the campaign. In the modern era of primaries, no GOP presidential candidate has ever won the party nomination without winning a contest in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. 

Outsiders Sanders, Trump Win Big In NH, But No Clear Answers Ahead

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on February 10, 2016


The two presidential candidates disdaining corporate donations won huge victories in the New Hampshire primaries Feb. 9. But the next steps in their races remain unusually open as the campaigns move this month to Nevada and South Carolina.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won a 60-38 victory in the Democratic primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by relying on individual donors and without a political action committee (PAC) accepting corporate donations.

Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015Similarly, billionaire businessman Donald Trump (shown in a file photo) won 35-16 in a more crowded Republican field by relying nearly entirely on self-funding and free media. Trump thereby defeated Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the second-place finisher, and six other candidates who accept corporate donations through their PACs.

Both winners tapped into deep voter discontent with the political, business, and media establishments in the country and in the two major parties, as illustrated by the graphic below by Sanders supporters. In New Hampshire and elsewhere, the winners have attracted huge, enthusiastic crowds dwarfing those of their competitors.

Yet the specific contours of each party’s race mean that even the winners’ huge margins failed to clarify the ultimate outcomes of the party nomination fights.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders graphicSanders — while exceeding expectations in dealing a harsh defeat to Clinton with the help of independents allowed to vote in the primary of their choice in New Hampshire — now faces far more difficult terrain for him.

Only Democrats may participate in the caucuses in Nevada. The primary landscape is even more forbidding for Sanders in South Carolina. There, the Democrats-only primary electorate is 55 percent African-American. That compares to single digits for blacks and Hispanics total in New Hampshire and Iowa. Sanders narrowly lost the Iowa caucuses to Clinton in caucuses Feb. 1.

Clinton, in part via her husband Bill’s presidency, has built many relationships in the black community. These ties are especially strong among older minority leaders and voters. Sanders, however, has shown an edge in grass roots enthusiasm.

Sanders' self-description as a "democratic socialist" creates discomfort in conservative regions, where Sanders has polled far below Clinton (at least until he introduces himself). There is an upside, however. In New Hampshire exit polls, he won 91-5 on the issue of being more trustworthy.

 

Cruz Birthplace, Secret Loans Undermine His Presidential Run

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on January 31, 2016


Attacks on Ted Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency have seriously undermined his campaign in the crucial days before the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa.

Ted Cruz presidential buttonToday, we describe that eligibility as an open question that cannot be resolved easily, in part because the Cruz campaign is withholding the facts about his birth in Canada that are necessary for clear-cut resolution.

We explore also recent revelations that the first term Texas senator won his upset victory in his 2012 campaign with the help of $1.2 million in Goldman Sachs and Citigroup loans that he failed to report as required by federal election law.

April 5 Update: Trump and Cruz went on to win nearly all state contests as of early April in an increasingly nasty rivalry that has included repeated sex scandal allegations against Cruz (which he denied) front-paged by the National Enquirer. Also, Cruz won a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision stating that he was eligible for the presidency despite his Canadian birth. But that Pennsylvania decision is vulnerable to attack, as described in an appendix to this column. For one thing, the suit did not address issues related to the citizenship of Cruz's mother.

Both the eligibility and Goldman Sachs loan issues are important because they coincided — and probably helped cause — Cruz’s decline in the Iowa polls over the past month. Donald Trump now leads in the most recent Iowa poll, as of Jan. 30, by a 5 point margin, according to the prestigious Des Moines Register poll conducted with Bloomberg News.

Trump held a 6.3 margin over Cruz in a RealClear Politics average of six recent polls, as of Jan. 30. Cruz had led or tied in four straight Iowa polls between Dec. 17 and Jan. 7, according to the RealClearPolitics summary.

But on Jan. 5, GOP rival Donald Trump used a New York Times interview to question Cruz’s eligibility for office under the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that a president must be a “natural born” citizen. The Founders did not define the term in the Constitution. But it was widely understood at the time of the Revolution to require birth on a nation’s own territory for the most part.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCAIn crafty fashion, Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) did not raise the question as an outright attack on Cruz, but floated it in response to a reporter's question more as a concern that Democrats would litigate the issue for years, thereby damaging the Republican Party and the nation.

Whatever Trump’s intention, he has since moved more into outright attack mode on the question and prompted a massive pro-and-con constitutional debate among legal scholars and pundits. The leading arguments are excerpted below in an appendix, enabling anyone to form at least a preliminary judgment.

Shortly afterward came the revelation of Cruz's unreported campaign loans from two top Wall Street investment banks. Most came from Goldman Sachs, which employs Cruz’s wife Heidi Cruz as a managing director in its Houston office.

Cruz dismisses both matters as non-issues, as described more fully below.

But each accusation put his campaign on the defensive, particularly they both undercut his campaign image. For one thing, he opposes leniency in immigration law and favors “strict construction” of the Founders’ language in the constitution. Additionally, Cruz memorably opposed “New York values” supposedly embodied by Trump – but surely also by the top financial institutions that control so many leaders in Congress and the Executive Branch via lavish donations and other payments to officeholders.

The Goldman Sachs taint became especially newsworthy this month because federal authorities imposed $5.1 billion in fines and other penalties on Goldman Sachs for its actions helping cause the 2008 financial crisis that so deeply hurt so many Americans. 

The senator, a star student at Harvard Law School and former Texas solicitor general, has dismissed the loans as a bureaucratic oversight of scant importance. He thereby suggests what his fans regard as commendable anti-regulatory focus – and what opponents regard as additional reason for deep suspicion and scrutiny.

Shocker: GOP Elected Leaders Suddenly Warming To Trump In Iowa

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on January 25, 2016

 

Key GOP party leaders are assisting Donald Trump by denouncing his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, just before the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1.

Recent developments show high stakes, intrigues, and back-stabbing as Trump seems to be winning one of the most remarkable momentum turnarounds in recent political history.

A new poll by Fox News Jan. 24 shows Trump with an 11 point lead in Iowa over Cruz, who was ahead by four points in the same poll just two weeks ago. A CBS/YouGov poll of likely voters shows Trump with a five-point lead.

Cruz opponents, some using harsh words far beyond normal criticism, include six-term Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas, senior Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, New York Congressman Peter King, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Iowa's senior U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley made a surprise appearance at a rally Jan. 23 that generated coverage by a London newspaper half a world away under the headline Legendary Iowa senator speaks at Trump rally. Donald Trump National Review cover Jan. 21, 2016

That followed former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin's mid-week endorsement of Trump. as shown below (credit: Alex Hanson). Even a pro-Cruz SuperPAC fund leader, longtime GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, described the Palin endorsement as a plus for Trump.

Perhaps most remarkable, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (shown below in an official photo) trashed Cruz last week even though Trump had shocked conventional Washington last summer by questioning McCain's Vietnam War record.

Even so, two major conservative opinion journals, the National Review with a cover shown at left and the Weekly Standard, are denouncing Trump in their current cover stories. Each assembled numerous pundits unified in opposition to a Trump nomination.

John McCainAs recently as Jan. 12, the Republican Party’s national elected hierarchy attacked their party’s frontrunner Trump by orchestrating South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s sneers against Trump's "siren call of the angriest voices" during her nationally televised response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

This was in the same spirit as the party leadership's secret meeting in December to hold, in effect, a "Stop Trump" strategy session. Those attending included campaign representatives of GOP contenders Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, a clearly unfair advantage for them.

That was then.

Sarah Palin, Donald Trump Jan. 19, 2016 endorsement Alex Henson via FlickrThese days? GOP Party Chairman Reince Priebus, who vetted Haley’s veiled attack on Trump Jan. 12 (as did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan), responded to the National Review by dismissing the magazine from co-moderating the next GOP debate this week because of its coverage.

Nothing remotely like these kinds of gyrations have occurred in modern presidential politics, at least since the 1964 GOP internal jousting between the Goldwater and Rockefeller factions.

Today's column is the second in our series on the GOP nomination contest, where Trump and Cruz are the current frontrunners in both Iowa and nationally. Our overview set the stage with, Cruz Campaign Peaks Early, Faces Brutal Counterattacks, arguing that Cruz's campaign is doomed if he fails to win Iowa, given his advantages there.

What’s going on?

Many of these new Trump endorsers and Cruz critics see their party’s viability endangered if Cruz wins the nomination.

Yet Trump's opponents see risk also. "If Trump were the nominee," conservative syndicated columnist Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post Jan. 7, "the GOP would cease to be."

Cruz Campaign Peaks Early, Faces Brutal Counterattacks

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on January 23, 2016

 

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz seemed poised for victory in the Iowa caucuses over most of the past month but has suffered tough counterattacks from critics within his party at the worst possible time for him.

Ted CruzAs often happens in presidential politics, Cruz's difficulties arose from rivals in his own party.

Setbacks cascaded just as he began leading several polls beginning in December for the first national contest, the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

Cruz's momentum in Iowa is fueled by its strong base of evangelical Christians and tea party enthusiasts, along with his other logistical advantages over rivals. These include Cruz's unusually strong and controversial initiative to use data harvested from Facebook users to target them with pinpoint precision.

But a cascade pf sudden attacks during recent days are hurting Cruz and could doom his candidacy because of the primary calendar, which magnifies the importance of a few states in ways especially harmful to the Texas senator if he slips in Iowa.

In fact, the Trump ascendancy in recent days arguably represents the most astonishing reversal of fortune among presidential candidates in modern history during a two-week period.

Today's column provides an overview of these developments, which are explored more fully in a series to be published here over the next few days. Topics include:

  • GOP fears of a Trump nomination, illustrated by establishment attack on Trump during the Jan. 12 party-vetted GOP reply to President Obama's State of the Union address;
  • Cruz's growing strength illustrated by his controversial data mining operation and rejection of Trump's overture to join a Trump-led GOP ticket next fall;
  • Trump's challenge to the eligibility of the Canadian-born Cruz to be presidency under the Constitution's requirement of "natural born" citizenship;
  • Revelation that Cruz received $1.2 million in loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank that he failed to report as funding for his successful campaign that year for a U.S. senate seat for Texas;
  • Opposition to Cruz from GOP leaders, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, and others.

Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Enhanced By Historic Discovery

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on January 19, 2016


The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is forever enhanced by discovery of a 24-minute recording of his first meeting with the national media, which occurred during a 1962 speech that was the first ever by an African American at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Martin Luther King Jr. at National Press Club 1962To help celebrate King’s birthday on the Jan. 18 national holiday, the club unveiled the long lost recording last week along with riveting commentary by other civil rights pioneers.

They included Simeon Booker, 97, an African-American reporter who arranged the speech as a member of the club in the still-segregated nation's capital.

King’s speech and the panel’s context provide an inspiring perspective about the unjust and otherwise dire conditions they helped change. 

In 1952, Booker became the first black reporter at the Washington Post. Later, and sometimes at great risk to his safety, he went on to report iconic stories about the civil rights movement during his five-decade career writing for the JET and Ebony magazines.

Booker, whose stories for JET about the 1955 torture and lynching in Mississippi of 14-year-old Emmett Till outraged black communities nationally, took the lead in urging the press club's speakers committee to invite King. The club had never previously invited even such black luminaries as Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Bunche, Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson. Booker himself was just the second press club member who was of African-American descent. Another man joined briefly in the mid-1950s but never became active in the club’s activities.

Simeon Booker, Carol McCable Booker and Judy RichardsonCivil rights leaders Simeon Booker, Carol McCabe Booker and Judy Richardson at the National Press Club Jan. 12, 2016 (Justice Integrity Project photo)

The club's program focused heavily on racial conditions at the time of King's speech and less so on the progress that King helped inspire. Neither did it dwell on King's horrid and still-suspicious assassination in 1968. The murder and its investigation have been the subject of lingering questions by his family, others in the civil rights community and many other researchers who still question whether the late convicted assassin James Earl Ray acted alone in shooting at King while he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The murder prompted riots in cities across the nation and many setbacks in the civil rights-antiwar-labor alliance that King was helping lead then.

Those chapters of American history were just a few years removed from 1962 when, as described by the press club's panel, even the nation’s capital was so segregated that blacks (called “Negroes”) faced great difficulty in finding a place to eat downtown, much less in renting a hotel room or obtaining a lecture audience before a racially mixed audience. Legal, medical, dentistry and other national professional bodies were still segregated at that time for the most part.

Gilbert Klein, a journalism professor at American University and former club president, helped arrange the Jan. 12 program about the 1962 King lecture. To open last week's program, Klein took the stage in the same club ballroom where King had spoken. Klein described how the 1962 invitation was so controversial that the club’s speaker committee chairman resigned in protest.

An audio recording was made of the speech and filed away in the Club’s Archives and later transferred to the Library of Congress. No television footage of the speech in its entirety exists. The Club's History and Heritage Committee recently retrieved the recording and found it is of significant historical value. Coming just days after Dr. King was released from jail in Albany, Ga., the civil rights leader outlined his vision for non-violent protest as the best way to achieve racial equality. The 1962 audiotape of 24 minutes was played below as part of the panel discussion.

 

Club president John Hughes of Bloomberg News described the discovery of King’s long-long audio recording and the creation of last week's program as the highlight of his year-long term that ended last week as the press club's volunteer president. "Martin Luther King's 1962 speech was one of the most important events to ever happen at the National Press Club," Hughes said. "I am honored this event at long last is getting proper recognition with such distinguished guests."

Stat trackers