Presidential Horse Race 2016: Seeing the personal side of Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina

By Jeffrey A. Rendall,

The more things change the more they stay the same as Donald Trump and Ben Carson remain comfortably in the lead in the first post-third debate survey from NBC News/Survey Monkey.

Nick Gass of Politico reports, “In a survey of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters, Trump and Carson both earned 26 percent, while Cruz took 10 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio followed with 9 percent, trailed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (5 percent), Carly Fiorina (4 percent) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (all at 2 percent).”

It will likely take a few days for any true changes to set in, though the results remain consistent with the trend we’ve seen throughout the late summer and fall.

Survey participants who watched the debate saw Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as doing the best while they indicated Jeb Bush did the worst.

In order to take advantage of their debate performances, Cruz and Rubio will have to start stealing support from the frontrunners – otherwise there just aren’t enough people to go around. The “outsiders” are still taking roughly two-thirds of the backers, another number that’s remained constant throughout the race.

Cruz would be best positioned to advance, in my opinion, because as the purest constitutional conservative in the field, the grassroots would see him as the most viable option if they decide to switch from The Donald or Ben.

Rubio, on the other hand, keeps turning in strong showings in the national forums, yet doesn’t seem to advance much in the polls. Perhaps people perceive him as too close to the establishment or maybe he’s seen as too youthful to be presidential… There must be an explanation.

Cruz says future moderators should have voted Republican… at least once

Ted Cruz enjoyed what could be his strongest moment in the campaign thus far when he took the biased CNBC moderators to task and said something to the effect of, “no one here has any illusion that you are going to vote in a Republican primary.”

He’s taking the lead on demanding future moderators be vetted beforehand, too – and that they should have voted GOP at least once in their lives.

Bradford Richardson of The Hill reports Cruz said at the Iowa GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Party in Des Moines on Halloween, “What you wouldn’t have is a bunch of left-wing operatives whose object is that whoever the Republican nominee is, they want him as battered and bruised as possible so the Democrat wins in November.

“Instead you’d have moderators that were trying to help conservatives make a decision who’s going to be the best and strongest conservative to represent us and win, who is the proven conservative, the consistent conservative,” he added.

Of course, Cruz thinks he’s that conservative. He may be right.

The Texas Senator suggested replacement moderators – Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh. That would be quite a panel… but I’m not sure the establishment candidates would like it so much. They probably would fare better with the liberals.

Meanwhile, the RNC announced it’s pulling the plug on a February debate scheduled on NBC News as punishment for last Wednesday’s moderator debacle. That’s all well and good, but real change in the GOP debates won’t be achieved until the national party leadership stops acting as “stupid party” puppets to the establishment media.

(Click here for Richard Viguerie’s excellent overview of the Republican debate problem and how you can act to do something about it.)

Ben Carson continues to confound the “professionals”

Objectively looking at the Republican race, you can explain Donald Trump’s success in several different ways. People know him. He’s direct, which appeals to many folks. He speaks in a way people can understand. And he loudly proclaims that he’s going to win – he’s confident.

Trump is a message carrier.

Ben Carson, on the other hand, is pretty much the opposite. He’s humble. He wasn’t widely known before the campaign. He’s thoughtful and quiet. And he refuses to attack others. So how is Ben doing it?

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner argues Carson succeeds in a similar way to Ronald Reagan – by telling people it’s okay to be patriotic again.

Drucker writes, “[T]hemes Carson returned to over and over kept returning to over and over, the subjects that touched the audience, as evidence by their applause or verbal ‘oohs and aahs,’ was his reassurance that believing the United States is an exceptional nation doesn't make you culturally obtuse, and being a committed religious Christian who opposes government-sanctioned same-sex marriage doesn't make you a bigot.”

Drucker was describing a speech Carson made the day after the debate, but the reaction Carson evoked could just as easily be found anywhere in America.

Most of the candidates have interesting backgrounds, but there might not be a person in the field who understands the American Dream better than Carson. Ben’s life is testimony to the fact anyone, no matter what the circumstances, can rise and succeed. Only in America.

Ben’s a message carrier too, it turns out.

We all grew up with inspirational tales of rags-to-riches glory. Others have overcome poverty to achieve great wealth and many athletes have conquered obstacles to star on the big stage. But Carson kind of transcends monetary success or simple fame. He’s becoming successful in ways few ever have – as a mover of culture.

Again, going back to Ronald Reagan, he came from a humble background to achieve success and moved culture. Reagan loved America and he wasn’t shy about extolling its virtues.

After years of being told America is the enemy, people are ready for another big slice of apple pie. Carson delivers it. That’s his secret.

The more people see Ben, the more they like him. I’m not sure that can be said of any other candidate in either party.

(Note: Carson’s polling success is paying off in contributions, too – he raised $10 million in October.)

Jeb blames pundits for his campaign’s sorry state

One candidate who doesn’t appear to be channeling Ronald Reagan is Jeb Bush. Jeb’s campaign has lagged in the doldrums for several months now and his debate performances haven’t helped his cause.

Not only has he become the figurehead of the establishment in the year of the “outsiders,” Jeb’s just a flat-out poor candidate. People aren’t looking for business-as-usual and Bush represents more of the stagnant principle-free fluff we get from the Republican leadership at all levels.

Jeb doesn’t see it that way – he doesn’t understand why people perceive his campaign as lacking. He thinks it’s the pundits’ fault.

Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports that Jeb told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “Probably because they watch the cable shows and they read the political press. But if they followed me on the campaign trail, like last week in New Hampshire where we had 300 people totally connected, totally believing in me, I think they would see a different candidate. I've just got to be able to break through the clutter of all the punditry class, and I think I can do that."

I’m not sure how he’d break through. Americans get their information in a host of different ways these days. His TV ads could help take down some of his competitors with negative ads, but no amount of TV spots are going paint Jeb in a more positive light.

The pundit class steers and molds information but doesn’t determine winners. The same talk show hosts and conservative media personalities opposed McCain in 2008 and Romney in the 2012 primaries, but they still won.

In addition, the pundits certainly haven’t united behind a candidate this year either. Donald Trump has been actively opposed by many in the chat industry, yet still leads in most polls.

The media isn’t your problem, Jeb. It’s you.

The personal side of Fiorina exposed through tragedy

Finally today, Carly Fiorina is the one “outsider” who has probably come from the longest odds to at least become part of the conversation.

Fueled by her debate performances, Americans have gotten to know a little bit about the former HP CEO who’s best recognized for her connections to business and proficiency for attacking Hillary Clinton.

Whereas we know quite a bit about Donald Trump and Ben Carson, Fiorina’s personal side remains a bit of a mystery.

Carly did reveal a piece of her past during the second debate, where she mentioned losing a child to drug addiction.

It was a compelling moment, for sure. As for what it reveals about Fiorina as a person, we were left to guess. Michael Kruse of Politico magazine sheds some light on the circumstances surrounding Fiorina’s stepdaughter’s story.

The article is long and sad, but well worth the read. In our world where so many media stories are either puff or hit, this is one where it actually might help in understanding one of the candidates.

Take a look, see what you think.