“Also-rans” is a term borrowed from the sport of horse racing. It is a kind way of describing competitors in a race that were nowhere near good enough to get close to the winning post.
In politics there are always also-rans. In this case we could call them the “non-Trumps” simply because compared to Donald Trump’s position in the polls the rest are all “also-rans”. Many of them should never have entered the race at all. But politics is very much about egos and when their egos speak, politicians don’t listen to any wiser counsels.
This time last week Scott Walker made a shock early withdrawal from the presidential race. There was little else he could do. After a reasonable start, his campaign had failed spectacularly and his numbers were going through the floor. To continue would have been a waste of time and money.
He didn’t go without firing a last shot at Donald Trump when he suggested that other lesser candidates in the race follow his example and bow out too.
Although Walker said what he said for all the wrong reasons, it is perhaps not the worst advice that he could have given some of them. Whether they will have the sense to take it or not remains to be seen.
Who Should Go?
So who should go and who should stay?
At The Trump Report we think they should all go and leave the job to Donald Trump to take on and beat Hillary or whoever. But I suppose that is a bit unrealistic at the moment. We will have to play out the rest of this hand first.
We already said “Bye Bye Bobby” to Jindal on a previous Trump Report. He hasn’t taken our advice yet (definite BIG ego problem there) but eventually he will have to.
As for the rest, you may not even be familiar with some of these names such has been their failure to impact on this race, but let’s start with the small percent-ers.
Rick Santorum is a former two-term Senator from Pennsylvania. It isn’t the first time he has launched a bid to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president but it should be the last. Santorum has failed to register at all. Time to go back to Penn.
Jim Gilmore is a former Governor of Virginia. He is what they would call a “solid Republican” except when it comes to one of the important issues of this election – abortion. Gilmore takes the curious line that terminating a pregnancy before it is 8 weeks old is “not okay”, but at the same time he rejects the notion of prohibiting the practice. The exit is on your right Jim.
Lindsey Graham is a former four-term member of the House representing South Carolina one of the most conservative states in the country. He is accused of being a moderate, a RINO even, although he actually has a 90% voting record in favor of the conservative agenda.
Where Graham made his big mistake was in thinking he was so popular in his own state that he could take on and defeat Donald Trump all on his own. Wrong Lindsey. Wrong big time! After a few bombastic statements his position has declined dramatically. Another one who should stop wasting time and money and call it a day.
George Pataki is another former Governor, this time of New York. He started off at the bottom and stayed there. Pataki is strong on cutting taxes and government costs but weak on social issues. For example, he is pro-choice on the issue of abortion and a supporter of gay rights, both of which are in direct opposition to conservative thinking. He should quickly follow Santorum, Gilmore and Graham out of the race.
Rand Paul is a Kentucky senator and son of the well-respected three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul (1988, 2008 and 2012). He is best-known for his libertarian views, including “spying” by the federal government, and his unorthodox stance on marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform and other issues.
When he entered the race, Rand had a loyal support base, a unique message, and a great foundation of goodwill laid by his father, and should have had a significant advantage over his rivals. But “Rand” quickly showed he was no “Ron” and his campaign has been very lackluster to say the least. Arguably he has been the most disappointing campaigner of them all. He also has the irritating quality of talking down to the voters instead of talking to them which doesn’t help his cause.
Huckabee is a former governor of Arkansas, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, author of several best-selling books, and political commentator on “The Huckabee Report”. He made his first bid for president in 2008. He then hosted a Fox News Channel talk show.
On foreign policy Huckabee has been one of the most outspoken candidates on the dangers of an Iran nuclear deal and also supports forceful action against ISIS. He is deeply opposed to same-sex marriage and a strong defender of entitlement programs.
He has not been an outstanding performer on the televised debates so far, but it should be added that he has not been given the opportunity to do so by the moderators of these events.
Huckabee is far from bottom of the polls, however, he has not been able to lay a sound enough foundation to climb much higher. His position is made even more difficult because social conservatives, who would normally be a good hunting ground for him, are flocking instead to Ben Carson, so his campaign is essentially dead. Possibly time to concentrate on writing another best seller.
Kaisch is Ohio governor, whose policy priorities are a promise to balance the federal budget and to reduce divisions in society. He is positioning himself as one of the most experienced politicians in the field, having served nearly two decades in Congress. It is a foolish move that has failed completely to take account of the public’s distaste of career politicians and the trend towards the more practical approach of a successful businessman like Donald Trump.
Kasich has also supported the controversial “Common Core” education standards and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, both of which are also out of favor with many voters. His performances on both televised debates have been poor. Time to go back to Ohio.
Christie was at one time considered as a front runner with bipartisan appeal, but his candidacy was badly damaged before it even got started by a political scandal over a bridge closure in his home state.
In the first TV debate he did not perform very well, but in the second he improved considerably. However, it was still not enough to raise his national appeal to more than a few percentage points. He will find it increasingly difficult to raise the funds he needs to continue and therefore may soon retire from the race.
Cruz is a Texas senator who has a lot of support from among the Republican Party’s evangelical wing. He was instrumental in the impasse over the Affordable Care Act that led to a government shutdown in 2013. He is known as a good debater and as a straight-talker who doesn’t pull his punches.
His policies include the repeal of Obamacare legislation by “all means possible”, the securing of the border and ending of amnesty for illegal immigrants and scrapping the Iran deal. He and Donald Trump were the two main guests at a recent protest in Washington against the Iran deal.
Cruz is one of few candidates who has not tried to attack Trump, in fact he has praised some of Trump’s policies and statements. Although a victim of the unexpected success of a few of the other candidates, Cruz remains well liked and has been talked about as a possible running mate for Trump in the general election.
Jeb Bush is a former governor of Florida, a job he vacated a few years ago. But his main claim to fame is that he is the son and the brother of previous US presidents, George and George W. George Snr, or “Daddy Bush” as some of us like to call him, allowed himself to be out-maneuvered in the 1992 election which he lost, and is very keen that Jeb continue the family’s Presidential dynasty.
Because he was perceived as a shoe-in for the nomination before Trump entered the race, Jeb has more money at his disposal than any of the other Republican candidates. His strategy was simply to do well in New Hampshire and South Carolina, win Florida, and then use that impetus to see him into Super Tuesday and beyond. He has achieved none of these goals.
Instead he has seen his position in the polls slip badly. He lost further support after a very mediocre showing in the first televised Republican debate on August 6th. His performance in the second TV was a slight improvement but not enough to turn round his numbers significantly.
Bush’s policy priorities are boosting economic growth and improving education, but his weak position on illegal immigration, which Trump has made a key issue of the campaign is also hurting his popularity. As was noted earlier Bush has the money to continue indefinitely, but hopefully wiser counsels will prevail and he will give it up sooner rather than later.
Rubio is a Florida senator and comes across as very likable and one of the most compelling speakers in the race. His performance on the first televised Republican debate confirmed this. In the second TV debate he was also competent. However, an incident with a bottle of water confirmed that he should stay away from trying to be funny and stick with what he knows.
Rubio’s strategy is clearly to try to impress with his knowledge of the issues. So far that seems to be working for him. He has overtaken Jeb Bush.
On foreign policy he has pushed for a much stronger stance against North Korea and Russia, and is a fierce opponent of the nuclear deal with Iran. Rubio also supports immigration reform, but has dithered in the face of Donald Trump’s policies on this.
Perhaps he is positioning himself more as the leader of a new generation of Republicans and is therefore one to watch for the Presidency in 2024.
That brings us to Carly Fiorina, the current darling of the media simply on the strength of a good performance in the last Republican TV debate and the fact that she has been one of the strongest critics of Planned Parenthood, a move clearly aimed at the pro-choice Hillary Clinton.
Will her rise through the percentage points last? I very much doubt it. Until very recently she has been flying well under the radar and has not come in for in depth scrutiny. Now that she has arrived in the limelight Fiorina’s world may soon come crashing in around her.
She bases much of her ability for the role of president on her business record, but as someone who has made the top twenty list of the worst CEOs of all time, perhaps this was not a wise decision. Similarly the media will no doubt eventually highlight her abysmal performance in the 2010 Senate campaign.
In the meantime she continues to rise in most polls. She also seems to have the ability to handle the press well and get publicity, all without a large staff or campaign war chest.
That just leaves us with Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who has emerged from the crowd as the most popular of the non-Trumps. Carson has positioned himself as a successful doctor, which he is, rather than as a politician and successfully uses his own life story as a campaign plus. He rose from extreme poverty to become director of paediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins by the age of 33.
As he said during the first televised Republican debate, he is the first surgeon to have separated twins co-joined at the head. His humorous story about removing half a brain and linking that to Washington’s career politicians scored well with the audience during the first Republican TV debate. However, in the second TV debate Carson did not perform well, although his position in the polls seems to be holding.
As regards policies, Carson has deemed the debate over climate change to be “irrelevant” and he wants to replace Obamacare with health savings accounts. He would also like to replace the Internal Revenue Service with a flat tax.
So those are the rivals that Donald Trump has to deal with on his road to the White House. Most will fade out of the picture soon and, unless Jeb Bush makes a remarkable come back, which at the moment he is showing no signs of doing, then the top candidates will remain Trump, Carson, Fiorina and Rubio.
As far as I can see, it’s looking good for Donald Trump.