Friday, October 30, 2015

Republican Candidates Brace for Volative November Campaign

At the Washington Post, "GOP contenders brace for volatile November after freewheeling debate":
The fight for the 2016 GOP nomination appears to be moving into a new, more fluid phase.

No longer is the question merely whether or how Donald Trump can be stopped.

The recent rise in the polls of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson — Trump’s low-key stylistic opposite — has shown that the celebrity billionaire may not be the only one who can tap the appetite of many in the party’s angry base for an outsider.

And after Wednesday’s chaotic and freewheeling debate, there also is a new dynamic on the establishment side of the race.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s once-formidable campaign appears to be nearing a state of collapse, made worse by his flailing on the stage in Colorado.

That has provided an opening to his one-time ally, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is getting a new look from the party establishment — an ironic situation, given Rubio’s roots as an insurgent tea party favorite in 2010.

“Marco Rubio now has probably the best shot to emerge as the mainstream alternative to Trump and Carson,” said Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush.

More broadly, Fleischer, who is not committed to any of the 2016 candidates, predicted that the GOP is about to enter “a condensed version of where it was four years ago, where the party is volatile and shopping around.”

That could help Ted Cruz, who also made a strong showing in the debate. The firebrand Texas senator, widely despised by the Washington Republican hierarchy, is looking to nudge out Trump and Carson among voters who are looking for a candidate to supplant the old order.

“I don’t think the party is going to nominate anybody who has not been elected before,” said Stuart Stevens, who was a top strategist for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Also likely to force some clarity in the coming weeks is the calendar. The first contest in Iowa is barely more than three months away...