Just some quick hits from last night’s Fox Business Channel GOP Presidential debate …
New York Values
So Ted Cruz’ comments earlier in the day about “New York Values”, gave Trump an opportunity to pounce on his main opponent – as if he needs an excuse. Ted Cruz, when asked by the Fox panelist, Maria Bartiromo, to explain the expression, defined it in these terms:
And listen, there are many, many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.
Cruz, went on to make another interesting observation about Donald Trump and his lack of a consistent track record as a conservative:
Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now. And his explanation — he said, “look, I’m from New York, that’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values, but this is what we believe in New York.” And so that was his explanation.
Then Trump went on a trip down memory lane, pulling out the bloody shirt of 9/11. This is not a tactic anyone should be surprised at. Many Republicans resort to using 9/11 and the memory of the victims for the purpose of scoring political points – especially with people who are the most disposed to exchange civil liberties for a counterfeit and elusive promise of “security”. More on that later. But a couple of points should be made here:
- Cruz, was in fact – as he defined it, referring to the prevailing political environment in New York City, not farmers or small business people elsewhere in the state. And, for what it is worth, the political environment in NYC is dominated by Democrats and their values. Mayor Giuliani, is yes, a “Republican” – a certain sort of Republican – a “Centrist” and that is the limit as far as Republicans go in that city. I like Rudy as a man, but he’s not a conservative. Then, after that came a real fraud with an “R” behind his name – Bloomberg. It was the next step in the evolution away from anything remotely resembling what most of the country associates with the GOP. He was so far out of step, with even the watered down neoGOP that he eventually dumped the party altogether. And now NYC is in its’ comfort zone with Democrat Bill DeBlasio. So really, how far off is Cruz in his assessment?
- Trump talked about the city coming together after the towers came down. Fair enough. I don’t dispute that there are a lot of people who vote Democrat and are liberals that are also decent people. But reality check here. Most of what we associate with the response to 9/11 – the bravery and heroism – is that which came from the ranks of the public service sector – Firefighters, Paramedics, Policemen and Emergency room doctors and nurses. Go to any large Democrat city – Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and you can find sensible, sober minded public safety professionals – and they are the glue that holds everything together. I know, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of them professionally. They weren’t the element that Ted Cruz was referring to and Donald Trump knew it.
I will write a follow up to this column, touching on some of the other interesting episodes that took place last night – including the vigorous back and forth between Christie and Rubio, but for now I’ll conclude with another observation about the main card, the Cruz-Trump fisticuffs. The gloves are off between the two. As one headline observed, the “bromance” is on the rocks.
Natural Born Nothingburger …
The topic of Natural Born Citizen was inevitable. Trump, losing momentum in Iowa – had to go there – he frankly admitted it. The first thing that was obvious about this debate, is that Trump no longer owns the audience in attendance. You could tell that it was split mostly between Cruz supporters and Trump supporters. In the first debate, that wasn’t the case.
What this tells you, is a couple of things. One is that the momentum is shifting away from Trump. It also demonstrates that Cruz has a very robust campaign operation in both the early states and throughout the country. He is mobilizing his grassroots through an effective organizational structure. When Cruz came back with this, there was a huge positive response in the auditorium:
And I recognize — I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen. If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president.
If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.
At the end of the day, the legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on — some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil.
Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified.
Later, Ted Cruz explained to the audience just who the Constitutional Scholar, Lawrence Tribe at Harvard is – a Democrat partisan and a dyed in the wool liberal. And that fits a general narrative that is gaining traction. Donald Trump, for reasons best explained by political opportunism, resorts to any sources he can exploit, not only for political alliances – as he has in the past with the Clintons, but for weapons he can wield against his opponents.
Cruz, if he so desired, can pull all sorts of Constitutional scholars out of his hat, both conservative and liberal, that espouse the sensible and realism based view that Ted Cruz in qualified by law to become President. In fact, a couple of examples are Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute, Judge Andrew Napolitano and on the liberal side of jurisprudence, Professor Emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, one of Ted Cruz’ teachers at Harvard.
The back and forth on this subject will go a long way toward removing the fear factor that Trump and some of the other campaigns have been attempting to inject into it. Ben Carson was asked his opinion after the debate, whether he believed Ted Cruz is eligible to be president and his answer was “Sure, absolutely”. He has responded to the issue elsewhere, saying:
“It seems to me like the rules are fairly well-specified in terms of who qualifies to be a natural born. If your parent is a citizen of the United States, and you’re born on foreign soil, you are still an American citizen. And that has always been the case as far as I know. One of my children was born on foreign soil and they’re a natural born citizen.”
OK, Ben Carson is not a Constitutional Scholar, but he is an intelligent, practical, reasonable man, with plenty of motivation to pile on to the false NBC (Natural Born Citizen) narrative on Cruz – but he refuses to. This says a lot of good things about Ben Carson, who is losing most of his Iowa support to Ted Cruz.
Don’t be surprised to see Carson, if and when he drops out of the contest, gravitating towards Ted Cruz’ campaign. Both are class acts, and both have wisely resisted the temptation to indulge in negative campaigning against the rest of the GOP field.