As I have been promising for a couple of months, attached please find a look at the 2016 presidential election as it stands today from a fiscal conservative’s point of view. I take a look at the endless nature of our election cycles, how it got to be that way, and what the primary issues are that we will be hearing about for the next 15 months. I try to compare and contrast the most viable candidates on both sides. That was easy on the Democrat side…not so much as I went through the Republican slate of hopefuls. My dream team is outlined and you’ll find a bold prediction that neither Hillary, Jeb, or Donald will be their party’s nominee in the end. Hope I don’t jinx the outcome.

Hope you find it informative.

The Presidential American Idol

A Pre-Pre-Election Commentary

Campaign Buses

With almost 15 months remaining until the next presidential election we could end up with as many as 25 candidates (both parties) either officially declared or likely to run for the highest office in the land. That suggests there are a lot of unhappy people out there no matter which side of the aisle your allegiance finds itself. Millions have already been raised and spent in what will accrue to several billion in an absurd campaign spending spree that will buy the next presidency.

Pile On

The Brits get this one right. Their political parties started to campaign in late March and the process culminated with an election on May 4th. The island nation whose governmental framework largely inspired our little experiment in so called self-governance can get the job done in about 6 weeks. Our next presidential campaign officially kicked off way back in March with Senator Ted Cruz announcing his candidacy. Unofficially, it began last November as speculation in the media and hints from likely candidates began to set the stage for the next two year war of words filled with personal attacks, lies, misrepresentations, promises that will never be kept, and wasteful spending that so typifies the political process of today.

Instead of 6 weeks, we are plagued with about 80-100 weeks of incessant dialogue telling us how terrible things are, the disasters that loom ahead, and how bad the other guy (gal) is. Somehow, as we continue to move further and further away from self-governance, the political process on this side of the pond has morphed into an annoying and costly daily routine without end. This never ending presidential campaign whose flames are continuously fanned by the media serves as the worst polluter of our personal space. No wonder the majority has tuned out at a time when the reasons for tuning in have never been more urgent.

As soon as the last mid-term election was over, attention turned to the next Presidential campaign that now promises to field an army of Republican candidates against one viable but lonely lady representing the progressive option. Other Democrat candidates have thrown their hats in the ring like self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders. His numbers are climbing as Hillary’s sink. For the next 15 months the airwaves will be filled with this nonsense as elected leaders focus on campaigns instead of doing their jobs. Unfortunately, the ink will have yet to dry on the eventual presidential outcome when discussion will turn towards the 2018 mid-term elections. Oh my aching head.

I guess what we get with too much governing is too much campaigning. This is the opposite of what our founders desired, intended and built. They purposely made the governing process difficult, but the checks and balances they put in place have not held up to a disinterested public and power hungry, career politicians. We have moved far away from the citizen government our founders created.

We need to restore the balance where those elected to represent us are focused truly on what we want and not on what they think we are too stupid to understand or desire. This balance must restore the primary job responsibility of efficient governance instead of endless campaigning. Achieving this will require institutional reform that would include term and strict spending limits…hard to imagine that ever happening.

An interesting Wall Street Journal piece recently linked the elongated election cycle to regulatory measures enacted in the 1970s. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972 and subsequent amendments requires candidates to formally announce and file quarterly fundraising reports (dollars raised and donor names). Since the numbers are used as measures of viability, it incents candidates to declare early and begin raising money as soon as possible. The length of the average campaign grew 69% as a result. Since these regulations limit the amount any one person can contribute, the much maligned Super PACs were created and literally spend billions on behalf of their chosen one. The piece suggests that shorter presidential campaigns with more substantial candidates would occur if the campaign finance process was de-regulated. I agree.

The other culprit is the nominating process. In the early years of our nation, Congress identified the best candidates. As political parties essentially came together as two major groups, the national convention process took over in the early 1800s as a way to bring the states together. For over a century, states would battle for their candidates through long drawn out ballots and negotiations making up the nominating processes at the convention eventually yielding a consensus winner.

Usher in the era of modern technology, instant lines of communication and eventually data processing, and the national convention became more of a public relations formality ceding the nominating responsibilities to the states in the form of state primaries and caucuses. This required that the process start earlier and take longer. Both parties would have to change their rules and schedule a shorter primary season to turn this around. Individual states will fight this not wanting to give up their role and status in the process.

Democrats will likely appeal to the majority of single women, blacks and Hispanics. Republicans will receive landslide numbers from Caucasian men. The independent and millennial votes are up for grabs, as has been the case in recent elections, and they will determine the outcome. Independents seem to be leaning heavily right in recent elections…at least at the local level. With Millennials more likely to live in lifestyle and racially diverse cities, Democrats shouldn’t have to work too hard to get their vote. They are not regular church goers and are not getting married. They grew up with and are heavily dependent on technology. All of this should strike fear in the hearts of the average Republican candidate. The good news for Republicans is that Millennials tend to be fiscally conservative while embracing more liberal social views.

Republicans will continue to gain ground if they can build on the independent vote and figure out a way to use social media to tap into the Millennial’s fiscal mindset. Millennials will embrace modern reforms to old policies that won’t work for, and in fact work against, them. Unfortunately, it is tough, as they say, to teach old dogs new tricks. Let’s see if the next generation of Republicans can take charge.

Democrats will be trying hard to stop the bleeding that began when Republicans hit bottom in November of 2008 when Republicans lost 21 House seats bringing their paltry total to 178 of the 435. They held only 40 Senate seats after losing eight. Democrats had total control of both the executive and legislative branches of government but squandered their opportunity to which we should all be thankful. However, the true direction of the progressive movement angered so many that we saw a tidal shift that has reversed the control of power in dramatic fashion.

At the state level, the Republican tidal wave that began in 2010 where they ended up with more legislative seats than any time since 1928. You have to go back to 1952 to find a time where they controlled this many full legislatures. Over the same period of time, States run by Democrat governors has dropped to 18. This trend found its way to Washington where Republicans have won back control of Congress to where they now hold 247 seats in the House and 64 in the Senate. If that shift continues, we may see Republicans controlling everything with a possible super-majority in the Senate.

While a Democrat president has received all the attention in recent years, Republicans have made steady gains and seem to be holding most of the cards going into this election. The Republicans clearly have a far deeper and much younger bench backed by a robust farm system (pardon the sports metaphors). Democrats on the other hand appear to be old and tired. At 67, Hillary represents the youth of the party. Bernie Sanders is 73, Joe Biden is 72, and John Kerry is 71. Long shots Lincoln Chafee (62), Martin O’Malley (52), and Jim Webb (69) lower the mean a little bit.

And so we dive into the next stage of this endless election cycle where we will again be told that this will be the most important election in generations. As this political version of a Miss (Mr.) America Contest plays out, we will be constantly reminded how our lives and economic future will literally be at stake. I agree with John Kasich who said that economic growth is the key to everything…emphasis on EVERYTHING. So, what else is at stake this time around?

Recovery Records

  • The economy is unstable and not growing by historical standards last experiencing an annual 3% or greater GDP growth in 2005. Job and wage growth along with America’s influence around the world will be linked to the strength of her economy. Will we move into a pro-growth era or continue to handcuff the hands that feed us and witness further decline?

Recovery Snail

  • Threats to American power and influence around the world is widespread….our friends no longer respect us and our enemies no longer fear us.
  • Foreign policy…the U.S is in retreat. Traditional allies have been alienated.
  • National security.
  • Threats from Islamic terrorism are rapidly on the rise…America is less safe.
  • U.S. military has shrunk to pre-World War II levels. The armed forces are depleted, the military infrastructure is aging, and our technological advantage is narrowing.
  • Cyber-terrorism…maybe the biggest risk of all. Russia and China seem to infiltrate us on a regular basis and our country’s energy and financial grid may be exposed and/or at risk.

You've Been Hacked

  • Common Core…a battle between state’s rights and another federally mandated, one size fits all solution that doesn’t fit right in too many situations.
  • What to do with Obamacare…dismantle or restructure…something has to be done.

Obamacare On Blocks

  • Abortion – where is the balance between the right to choose and the rights of the unborn child…tough issue that will leave many dissatisfied.
  • Illegal immigration and border control – critical but emotional issues that will define the future.

Nation Of Laws

  • Entitlements are eating up approximately 70% of the federal budget and is increasing at a rapid rate. Reform is essential. Republicans are conflicted and Democrats want more entitlement spending.
  • The next president will define the Supreme Court for generations. Four justices are 76 or older. Two are liberal, one is conservative, and one is a swing vote. The next President may replace all four.
  • Environmental issues…who should you believe…probably no one. It’s all based on models, not facts, and the assumptions in the models are hugely flawed.
  • Net Neutrality…with the internet and social media the foundation of global networking, should we give away the keys to the store?
  • Financial regulations…should government deregulate and free the free markets or finish consuming the engine that drives economic growth.
  • The Iran nuclear deal…will America be the paper lion it seems to have become, or reverse course and again become the leader of the free world.

Planet Obama

  • The nation’s physical infrastructure…roads and bridges are deteriorating quickly.
  • Combatting the inequality narrative…are we going to move closer to or away from a socialistic society?
  • The new war on law enforcement…will we remain a nation of laws or a nation ruled by anarchy?
  • Scandals remain unaddressed with no one ultimately held accountable and no changes made…IRS, NSA, Benghazi, VA, Clinton’s illegal use of a private server, egregious conflicts of interest with Clinton Foundation contributions and speaking fees, Planned Parenthood selling baby parts.Government Hackers

Let’s take a look at the contestants. Maybe we should have a bathing suit competition as part of the process. However, that thought conjures up some very traumatizing imagery. This is a contest that the Republicans would surely win but it would not be pretty. For purposes of full disclosure, with all the Republican candidates supporting a robust, pro-growth, free market economy and likely to want to reduce taxes and eliminate burdensome, job killing regulations, I will almost certainly be supporting the Republican nominee whomever it turns out to be. I may have to hold my nose in doing so…we’ll see.

On the Republican side, we will end up with at least 17 and maybe up to 19 candidates. Believe it or not, there are 17 declared candidates on the Democrat side of the aisle, but only five anyone has heard of before (Clinton, Chafee, Sanders, Webb, O’Malley). Rumors of Kerry, Gore and/or Biden joining the fray continue to swirl and the further Hillary’s numbers drop, the more serious those possibilities become.

So far, Hillary Clinton seems to be the runaway favorite to become the Democrat nominee though from early on I was predicting that her path to the nomination might end up being very difficult. This is mostly the result of her own doing. Jeb Bush has raised the most money of the Republican candidates and is the favorite in many circles. I’m willing to bet the ranch that we won’t see Clinton vs. Bush II. In fact, I doubt either will be the head of their respective tickets.

Left Overs

Republicans are fielding at least 5 sitting governors, five former governors, four current senators, one former senator, a former fortune 20 CEO, a billionaire, and a brain surgeon. Their diversity and backgrounds are unequalled. They are male, female, black, white, Hispanic, rich and poor. Collectively, there will be a lot of good ideas put forth and a lot of money spent on bashing each other and even more spent on debating the Democrat agenda as they present their own, heavily pro-growth agendas.

Diversity

In the end, there are probably only five or six serious contenders on the Republican side. The rest will be side show entertainers the biggest of which is Donald Trump. As the current frontrunner, the more he talks the higher his poll numbers go. This is more a reflection of the intense anger that exists out there against the failings of government than it is a sincere endorsement of Trump. The opposite is true for the Democrat front runner. The more she talks the lower her poll numbers go. Trump is resonating now because he is willing to take tough stands on tough issues and say things that have needed to be said for a long time. The problem is that he doesn’t say them very well. A huge segment of our society is starved for leadership and anyone willing to speak tough will garner their support. There is an absence of opposition by Republican leadership against issues that are important to conservative Americans. All Trump is doing is filling a void. His ‘bull in the china shop’ approach may be unconventional, but the silent majority is loving it…for now.

This nation has been right leaning for some time, and in Trump, they are embracing a no nonsense person who won’t back down and in fact doubles down when everyone demands that he back off. This is quite refreshing from the politically correct rhetoric that we usually get which almost always results in nothing getting done even in victory. These very traits may see Christie and Cruz also do well. Fiorina seems to have this edge as well. The others better pay attention.

I predict that we’ll see more candidates follow Trump’s aggressive approach that includes defiance in the face of demands for retractions and apologies. If they can’t find a way to seriously set themselves apart…to seriously give those who don’t like how government is run today…a reason to vote for them, we’ll just get continued status quo…continued mediocrity…continued economic decline.

With so many highly qualified candidates on the Republican side, it will make for a very entertaining and challenging primary season. The victor will emerge a little bruised but battle tested and probably ready to fiercely compete in the general election. The same scenario doesn’t seem to be setting up for the Democrats and their relatively thin bench. Hillary presents the only moderate-like option (relatively speaking), but that may be a little generous. The rest are extreme liberals that likely voters may find hard to stomach.

My current favorite candidate, Carly Fiorina, probably won’t make the final cut, but I love her common sense, business-like manner. Probably her most appealing attribute is that she has never held public office…a real plus in my book. It then becomes a tossup between Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush. Bush, Walker, and Kasich have far better executive experience as former/current governors with strong track records. All have acceptable platforms and would probably do well if they were successful at putting together a strong advisory team at the cabinet and administrative levels. No one does well by surrounding themselves with incompetent people…the best example of this may be our current chief executive.

It is very possible with so many strong candidates that no one will have won a majority after the primaries are over which suggests the first brokered convention since 1948. This could be a very exciting convention full of drama and surprises. You won’t be able to buy the kind of media coverage that would create.

Right now both parties are cheering for the other party’s most extreme candidate to receive the nomination thinking that they will be easy to defeat in the general election. While they are probably correct, in both cases you might want to be careful about what you wish for…

Trump v Sanders

So, did you watch the first Republican debates? I watched both…twice. Over 24 million people watched the prime time debate which eclipsed the previous non-sports cable audience record by a wide margin. People are interested. People are watching, and we’re still more than a year out. Incredible!

In my very biased opinion, Carly Fiorina was the runaway winner in the early debate of the bottom 7 candidates and probably would have won had she had the opportunity to participate in the evening session with the top 10 candidates. She will almost certainly be among the top 10 for the next debate. There was no clear cut winner in the prime time event, but how could there be when the average candidate only spoke for a little over 6 minutes. Trump spoke for over 10 while Walker barely got 5 minutes. What could you possibly learn about any of them? Most were pretty good and none except for maybe Trump potentially damaged themselves. However, his early numbers suggest otherwise.

Crowded Debate Stage

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media saw things a little differently. I thought Trump was a disaster. The next morning, several media outlets were proclaiming Trump as one of the winners. That was a real head scratcher. However, the early polls indicate that Trump either expanded or maintained his lead over the others. The only explanation I could come up with was that given the main stream media’s political bias, they could very well be promoting Trump in the hopes that he is the eventual, most beatable nominee.

Many traditionalists felt Trump’s performance in the debate destroyed his campaign. Not so fast. While he may eventually self-destruct, the anger seems to be more intense than I first thought. Trump is the rallying point for the rather large segment of our society that is REALLY fed up with government on both sides of the aisle. They’re looking for something or someone to carry their torch. This is also probably why Fiorina did so well in the opening act at 5:00.

The early polls showed that three of the five leading candidates have never held office before: Fiorina, Carson, and Trump. That is very illustrative of how frustrated the American public is. The most recent NBC national poll shows the following fascinating results:

Donald Trump           23%

Ted Cruz                     13%

Dr. Ben Carson          11%

Carly Fiorina              8%

Marco Rubio              8%

My guess is that Trump has hit his high water mark. As the 37% or so not represented in the above begin to realign as weaker candidates fall away, we’ll likely see them going to any remaining candidate other than Trump. We will see if these surprising numbers hold in the coming days and weeks. The absence of Bush and Walker from the top five is a bit suspect.

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard (sorry, another sports metaphor), so let’s create one. I only included those candidates that I felt have a reasonable chance of going far into the primary calendar and included are what I thought were their best quote(s) from the debate. Hint: The order in which the candidates are presented below represents my order of preference. By the way, my dream ticket would be two out of the following four: Fiorina, Rubio, Walker, and Kasich…in any order. I would be happy if any of the four were at the top of the ticket. However if it’s not Fiorina, she would be my VP pick for any of them.

Carly Fiorina – Former CEO of Hewlitt Packard:

  • “Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi. She lies about emails. She is still defending Planned Parenthood and she is still her party’s front-runner. 2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism and a Democrat Party that is undermining the very character of this nation. We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring. I am not a member of the political class. I am a conservative. I can win this job. I can do this job.”
  • Two women are running for president and only one wants people to vote for her because she is a woman. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one that is.
  • I love Fiorina’s perspective on feminism…”Feminism began as a ralling cry to empower women – to vote, to get an education, to enter the workplace. But over the years, feminism has devolved into a left-leaning political ideology where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win elections.” Unfotunately in today’s overly sensitive society, only a woman can get away with stating something that is so painfully obvious. In her mind, ideological feminism “shuts down the conversation”. Less than 25% of women self-identify as feminists, so Carly probably shouldn’t waste a lot of time on that group. To her credit, she believes in empowered women but insists that they rise to the top based on merit. I would give anything to see her debate Hillary.
  • Following Stanford, she rose from a secretary to CEO of a Fortune 20 company…a total winner.
  • Fiorina is concise, tough and direct. She said she would make two calls her first day in office, “The first one would be to [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him that we stand with the state of Israel. The second one would be to the Supreme Leader of Iran [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to tell him that whatever the deal is that he signed with Obama, there’s a new deal and the new deal is this: Until you submit every facility [where] you have nuclear uranium enrichment to a full set of inspections, we’re going to make it as hard as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”
  • She has probably met and negotiated with more world leaders than anyone running for president other than Hillary Clinton. Consider what Govenor Perry said about the deal with Iran during the debate, “I would a whole lot rather have Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiation than John Kerry. Maybe we would have gotten a deal where we didn’t give everything away.”
  • Every time I hear her speak, I like her more. Listen to the following interview that took place the morning after the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKsWNN4bpZ8&feature=youtu.be
  • In the likely event that she does not secure the nomination, I believe she would make an outstanding Vice-Presidential candidate or dynamic Secretary of State.
  • In the event she does secure the nomination, she would need Kasich, Rubio or Bush as her VP to bring in the missing experiential component as well as a big, must win state.

John Kasich – sitting Ohio Governor:

  • “Economic growth is the key to everything. But once you have economic growth, it is important that we reach out to people who live in the shadows, the people who don’t seem to ever think that they get a fair deal. And that includes people in our minority community; that includes people who feel as though they don’t have a chance to move up.”
  • Following 18 years as a U.S. Congressman, Kasich was elected Ohio’s governor where he has been very successful in turning the state’s fiscal problems around.
  • He turned Ohio’s $8 billion deficit into an $800 million surplus while implementing a pro-growth agenda.
  • In 2014, Ohio’s surging economy produced the strongest growth in the Great Lakes region while seeing unemployment fall to 5.2% from 9.1% and median household income climbed 1.3% more than doubling the national average.
  • His efforts to reform collective bargaining and public union power was tougher than those instituted by Walker in Wisconsin. Like Walker, he beat the blitzkrieg from the left to win re-election.
  • He wants to totally eliminate the state income tax.
  • He got behind Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion which ruffled Republican feathers.
  • Kasich is probably the most experienced candidate on both sides and would be considered as the field’s compassionate conservative with a strong fiscally conservative mentality.
  • He is not afraid to go up against the far right which will garner him lots of support among independents.
  • He’s the complete package with one exception. He still has a little too much of a big government feel to me, but I can be won over.
  • Factoid: no Republican presidential candidate has ever won office without carrying Ohio. A Kasich-Bush or a Kasich-Rubio ticket could be very strong representing two must win states.

Scott Walker – sitting Wisconsin Governor:

  • “…for the cyber-attack by Russia…it’s sad to think right now that probably the Russian and Chinese government[s] know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than do the members of the United States Congress. And that has put our national security at risk.”
  • “I ran for governor because I was worried about my kids’ future. Then, I took on the big government union bosses, and we won. They tried to recall me, and we won. They targeted us again, and we won. We balanced the budget, cut taxes, and turned our state around with big, bold reforms. It wasn’t too late for Wisconsin, and it’s not too late for America.”
  • This proven winner was essentially elected the Republican governor of a blue state three times in four years. Walker is the battling conservative who knows how to beat the Democrat machine.
  • He lowered taxes in Wisconsin by $2 billion on individuals, employers, and property.
  • His strong stance on unions has had a polarizing effect, but produced very good economic results for Wisconsin citizens.
  • The result of reforming public-union collective bargaining has helped taxpayers by making government more affordable. A great example is where school districts have saved significant capital by renegotiating contracts and removing restrictive and costly work rules.
  • His willingness to stand tough against the liberal agenda has rewarded him with strong GOP support at the local and growing national levels.
  • In addition, Walker successfully led a right-to-work bill this past March, and Wisconsin is a leading state in the growth of charter schools and voucher programs.
  • Foreign policy and immigration experience, or the lack thereof, are issues he will have to contend with as he moves further through the process.
  • His message, like Ted Cruz’s, is likely to gain traction with the conservative members of the Republican Party using a theme where, “The path to a conservative comeback lies not in abandoning our principals but in championing bold, conservative reforms.”
  • If Walker gets the nomination, he would seemingly have to coax Bush, Kasich, or Fiorina to be his running mate in an attempt to lock up Ohio, Florida, or the woman’s vote.

Marco Rubio – U.S Senator (FL):

  • Arguably the most charismatic and most adept politician of the group. He is like a young Jack Kennedy without family wealth and calls his plan the future of conservatism.
  • Advocates pro-growth tax reform to help stimulate business and investment. He wants to lower corporate tax rates from 35% to 25% and eliminate the double taxation on dividends, capital gains, and interest at the individual level. The tax foundation estimates this would add close to 1.5% to annual GDP growth over the next decade and would see hourly wages jump 12.5%.
  • Rubio arguably has the most comrehensive grasp of foreign affairs. He speaks with confidence and authority.
  • He will suffer from the negative feelings toward our current first term Senator turn President. This possibly makes him a prime VP candidate from an important state with the bonus of Hispanic heritage along with a likely appeal to the youth vote…a potential trifecta.

Ted Cruz – U.S. Senator (TX):

  • “We don’t have leaders who honor their commitments…We need a commander in chief who speaks the truth. We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’….If you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant.”
  • His closing statement was as follows, “If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to start (sic) persecuting religious liberty, and then intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. I will keep my word. My father fled Cuba, and I will fight to defend liberty because my family knows what it’s like to lose it.
  • Probably the most conservative of all candidates and will appeal to the Christian social conservatives.
  • Not afraid to rock the boat and take on the status quo and leaders in both parties. Like Trump, this is refreshing. He is aggressively anti-government except in the areas of national defense.
  • Not a favorite of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle which is a resume enhancer in my opinion.
  • His Princeton/Harvard education should satisfy those going after Walker for being one semester short of a college degree. Cruz is probably the best debater in this beauty contest.
  • He is the closest to Trump but with a presidential manner…gravitas if you will.
  • Like Huckabee, his evangelical ties may be a little too extreme for the masses right now.
  • Probably not a viable VP candidate as he won’t be needed to win Texas. I would like to see him remain in the Senate where he will continue to challenge the status quo.

Dr. Ben Carson – Famed Neurosurgeon:

  • When asked how he would handle heightened racism in America he said, “Well, I think the bully pulpit is a wonderful place to start healing that divide. You know, we have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it, and drive wedges into people. And this does not need to be done. I was asked by an NPR reporter once, why don’t I talk about race that often. I said it’s because I’m a neurosurgeon. And she thought that was a strange response. I said, you see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that. Our strength as a nation comes in our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. And those who want to destroy us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.”
  • Dr. Carson drew the night’s biggest laughs with his close, “Well, I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I’m the only one to separate Siamese twins, the only one to operate on babies while they are still in their mother’s womb and the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think if you go to Washington that someone had beat me to it,”
  • He is my sentimental favorite. I love his calm, deliberate and thoughtful manner. However, he’s probably not quite ready for the job and his quiet confidence lacks a necessary fiery competitive instinct.
  • He used to be a self-described “flaming liberal” until he started seeing so many able bodied people coming through his practice who were dependent on the government. He started listening to Ronald Reagan and found him to be anything other than how all the liberals portrayed conservatives. It all began to make sense to him.
  • He believes that fiscal irresponsibility is the biggest problem facing the U.S.
  • He is aggressively opposed to Obamacare and the tax payer funding of Planned Parenthood.
  • He’s arguably the smartest candidate running on both sides and worth keeping your eye on.
  • Maybe he could head up the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

 

Chris Christie – sitting New Jersey Governor:

  • “This president has had weak leadership which has led to bad choices. We have got to stop worrying about being loved and start worrying about being respected, and that’s exactly how I’ll lead this country.”
  • Strong personality second only to Trump with executive experience and a tough law and order resume.
  • At one time his no nonsense approach made him one of my favorites. However, a year later we have several stronger candidates, but don’t count him out yet.
  • He just keeps coming at you and his skill as a politician at least makes him a serious early contender.
  • His real problem will probably be that New Jersey’s numbers ultimately won’t compare well with the governors of other states he will be running against. However his debate quote places the numbers in the right perspective…”If you think it’s bad now, you should’ve seen it when I got there.”
  • If he doesn’t do well in the New Hampshire primary, he’ll probably make a quick exit.
  • I would love to see him become U.S. Attorney General.

Jeb Bush – former Governor (FL):

  • Next to Clinton fatigue, the Bush name elicits the biggest sense of been there done that.
  • I like almost everything he says and his track record as Florida’s governor was stellar. However, I just can’t quite warm up to him. I think I want more of a fresh start.
  • His experience as a governor gives him credibility, but his position on most issues makes him look a lot like McCain and Romney…in other words moderate. Like I said, been there done that.
  • As Florida’s governor, he cut taxes by $19 billion but increased spending by 45%…a neat trick.
  • He wants to roll back Dodd-Frank, simplify taxes, increase oil and gas production, and is for a program that leads to a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants…hope that includes border control first.
  • He would probably be considered as the most moderate of the candidates which disqualifies him in my world. The Republicans will have difficulty winning if they field another Democrat-lite candidate.
  • If he wins, Kasich would make a strategic running mate to bring in Ohio. Fiorina would as well to bring in the woman’s vote.

Mike Huckabee – former Governor (AR):

  • “The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is kill people and break things. It’s not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America. I’m not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines makes our country safer. We’ve reduced the military by 25 percent under President Obama. The disaster is that we’ve forgotten why we have a military. The purpose of it is to make sure that we protect every American, wherever that American is, and if an American is calling out for help, whether it’s in Benghazi or at the border, then we ought to be able to answer it.”
  • His closing remarks proved to be the biggest head fake of the night, “It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern. A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course (at this point Trump is just glaring at Huckabee), I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.” Another big laugh line. He went on to finish, “I think America… (Off screen Trump says “Thank you!”)…is in trouble, but it’s not beyond repair. But it’s going to take leadership who sees the greatness of this country, and who believes that once again we can be one nation, under God.”
  • His evangelical stance on many issues, while I personally agree with most, may turn off too many.

Donald Trump – Billionaire Businessman, TV Celebrity:

  • “We need to build a wall and it has to be built quickly. And I don’t mind having a big, beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally.”
  • Without a doubt the biggest ego and most polarizing candidate of the bunch.
  • His high poll ratings are more due to the hunger of the electorate to find someone willing to toss aside all the politically correct crap and say what needs to be said. This in turn creates fear in traditional party supporters and draws outrage from the opposition and media.
  • He will probably surprise both parties and be in the hunt up to the very end.
  • Resume enhancers: never held public office, businessman, big picture thinker.
  • Angelo Cordevilla (author, academic and advisor to various Senate committees) probably best summed up Trump’s early success with the following statement, “In the land of the blind…the one eyed man is king. Donald Trump leapt atop other contenders for the Republican presidential nomination when he acted on the primordial fact in American public life today from which most of the others hide their eyes. Namely, most Americans distrust, fear, are sick and tired of the elected, appointed and bureaucratic officials who rule over us as well as their cronies in the corporate media and academic world. Trump’s attraction lies less in his word’s grace or even in his word’s precision than in the extent to which Americans are searching for someone…anyone…to lead them against this ruling class that’s making America less prosperous, less free, and more dangerous.”
  • I find his positions compelling and his delivery entertaining. In the end, he’s just not presidential material, but I wish more conservatives would grab the reigns and actually talk tough.
  • In my opinion, other Republican candidates will adopt a similar approach based on Trump’s success and begin to steal the focus.

Dr. Rand Paul – U.S. Senator (KY), Physician:

  • On foreign aid, “I think we should quit sending it to countries that hate us. I think we should quit sending it to countries that burn our flag. We shouldn’t borrow money from China to send anywhere, but why don’t we start by eliminating our enemies.”
  • “We do not project power from bankruptcy court. We’re borrowing a million dollars a minute. It’s got to stop somewhere.”
  • His isolationist views will limit his likelihood of advancing too far.

 

 

Let’s take a quick look at the two top Democrat candidates.

Thin Bench

Hillary Clinton – Former U.S. Senator (NY), Former U.S. Secretary of State, Former First Lady:

  • Her campaign focuses on a center-left economic plan pitting the middle class against successful wage earners. She will depend on a combination of higher taxes to solve the aledged class warfare inequality issues. Her Republican opponents will be focused pretty much entirely on pro-growth initiatives.
  • Hillary seems focused on blaming America’s problems on the rich, powerful, and priviledged. Her message was clear as she announced her candidacy she said, “Prosperity can’t just be for CEOs and hedge fund managers…Democracy can’t just be for billionaires and coorporations.” Personal responsibility was never mentioned. “I’ll fight back against Republican efforts to disempower and disenfranchise young people, poor people, people with disabilities and people of color.” She went on to include women, gays and transgenders. Her theme was filled with grievances, victimization and blame. I just don’t understand how clear thinking adults can accept this as truth. Republicans and Democrats alike want to improve the staus of all these groups. They just have differnet paths with how they believe we might best get there. To suggest that one party wishes to take away from these groups lacks intellectual credibility and disqualifies the messenger in absolute terms. However, as long as the message resonates with the poorly informed public, it will continue to be employed.
  • Her policy statements are broad, general brush strokes centering on building a consumer led economy, while pushing for quality, affordable child care and paid family leave. These are all great, feel good goals that begin to breakdown when viewed under an economic prism. How is it paid for, and what level of growth or progress does not occur as capital gets redirected for these efforts?
  • In general, she appears to be adopting a very liberal platform on social issues and a more tempered, centrist position on economic issues. In fact, she may go as far as calling for tax cuts for small business.
  • At the same time, she has proposed taking the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8% to 43.4%…Ugg!
  • She is for increasing the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the wealthy, and increasing the power of unions. None of these would be considered pro-growth.
  • She wants to reduce middle class taxes which are already almost non-existant. In extreme cases we even send tax returns to people who paid no taxes to begin with.
  • Low poll numbers on trustworthiness is Hillary’s biggest problem…especially in the swing states. As she begins to struggle, rumors of Kerry, Gore, and Biden jumping into the race are beginning to surface.

Hillary Van With Flats

  • Scandal has followed her and may trip up her campaign. Her stint as Secretary of State is known more for controversary than accomplishment.
  • She is not very good or comfortable at campaigning or giving speeches and interviews.
  • If the media would just hit Hillary with 1/10th of what they hit Trump, she would be gone. They have plenty of ammunition but choose not to use it.
  • For all these reasons, I stand by my call last year that she will not end up getting the nomination.

Hillary Ditched II

Bernie Sanders – U.S. Senator (VT):

  • Bernie is the Trump of the Democrat candidates when measured by extremes.
  • As a self-avowed socialist, he will attract the far left and the most ideologically liberal mindsets. He and Elizabeth Warren soak up the same oxygen. She’s not running (yet) and he is.
  • He is attracting record crowds wherever he goes. It appears that there is a significant ‘anyone but Hillary’ component out there on the left.
  • Bernie Sanders is a loveable guy while Hillary has a cold, off putting personality.
  • Essentially Sanders hates Wall Street, is a peace-monger supporting isolationist views, blames America for all the world’s problems, is totally committed to reversing income inequality by taxing and taking away from the wealthy, and fears foreign competition. Other than that, he’s a good guy.
  • Focuses heavily on inequality with a plan to apply taxes on the wealthy to fund aid to the middle class.
  • Unless Hillary implodes early, his campaign may be short lived, even though his current numbers are indicating otherwise. He will do whatever he can to move his party further left as if that were possible…it is.
  • Until he’s gone, watch Hillary campaign further and further to the left. This will expose her to Republican challenges.
  • Personally, I hope both stay for a while just for the entertainment value. Who knows…Sanders’ time may have come since Democrat leadership seems to have trouble explaining “the difference between being a Democrat and a Socialist” as was recently asked of Debbie Wasserman Schultz (head of Democrat National Committee) by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

Did we learn anything from the Republican Presidential Debate on August 6th? Not much. They all said pretty much the same thing only in different ways. All promised to reverse all of Obama’s executive orders, reform Obamacare, fix the Dodd-Frank legislation, fix the borders, build the military, reduce taxes and regulation, reform the entitlement burden, balance the budget, etc. It’s going to be a long 15 months. I wonder what obscure issue will be manufactured in the attempt to focus the public’s attention away from other, more urgent issues or create a furor over something that means very little compared to more pressing matters.

Cecil The Lion

Stay engaged. It won’t take a village to turn America around, but it will take a nation of well-informed citizens.

Respectfully,

Bruce Anderson, Managing Partner