Super Saturday — March 5, 2016 — involved four Republican and three Democratic contests.
The GOP held two caucuses and two primaries. To date, Donald Trump has done much better in primaries whilst Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz has been more of a caucus winner.
Despite that, many armchair pundits were surprised that Cruz won the Maine caucus. A Politico reader commented that Trump’s vulgarity turned Mainiacs off and said that he should have listened to his advisers who told him not to respond to Marco Rubio’s juvenile taunts during the debate on Thursday, March 3.
Melania Trump has also warned her husband about his crudeness. Going back a few weeks, a woman in New Hampshire called Cruz something which the Donald should not have repeated in front of an audience:
“I’m thinking like, ‘Don’t repeat it,’” Melania told CNN. “‘Just don’t say it because the next day, media, all they will talk about is that.’ But he repeated it.”
Trump weighed in this morning [March 1]. “She’s right, I have to say,” he said …
He added, “But I repeated it and I looked at her, and she’s sort of rolling her eyes. She said, ‘Don’t do it.’ Next day, as usual, it was all over the papers.”
Thursday’s debate at Detroit’s Fox Theater represented a new low in political discourse. Only John Kasich managed to stay above the fray. That might help him in his home state of Ohio and neighbouring state of Michigan this month. Regardless, unless a miracle takes place, it is too late for him to be a viable candidate.
Although popular polls showed Trump won the debate, anyone who watched or read the transcript would have noticed that the Fox moderators were keen to pin the flip-flopper label on him. Howie Carr, well known in New England for his newspaper column and talk radio programme, wrote in Friday’s Boston Herald:
If he’s not crazy, last night was Donald Trump’s final Republican debate. In fact, the debate in Houston last week probably should have been his last one — why give the pretenders a chance to knock his crown off, especially after sweeping Super Tuesday?
I mean, did Rubio take even a token shot at Cruz, or vice versa? All the questions they got were mere afterthoughts. It was all Trump, all the time. He looked shaky. It seemed smart to make a detour to Portland [Maine] yesterday, but by 11 last night, he looked beat. Maybe he would have been better served if he’d taken a nap instead of delivering a stemwinder.
Especially when Fox continued to come after him even when the debate was over …
Carr thinks Trump should stop participating in the debates:
He got out of the Fox Theater alive last night, but sooner or later, everybody’s luck runs out. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. This is one of those times.
Carr has a point. However, for now, the show must go on. Trump needs to stop relying on off the cuff remarks and start getting solid soundbites from his advisers. He cannot stop debating when the contest is narrowing to him and Cruz. Cruz would relish the opportunity to accuse him of being fearful and weak.
Despite Rubio’s attacks on Trump, he placed third in Louisiana, Kentucky and Kansas and a dismal fourth in Maine. He won only 13 delegates yesterday, compared with Trump’s 49 and Cruz’s 64. In his press conference late Saturday night on March 5, Trump called for him to stand down. That certainly won’t happen until the results of Rubio’s home state primary in Florida are known on March 15.
In his press conference, Trump told reporters that he could hardly wait to take Cruz on one-to-one and reminded them of Cruz’s lies about Carson dropping out in Iowa.
He also took questions about the events of the past week.
Last weekend’s David Duke endorsement popped up again. Trump said that he ‘disowned’ extremist groups full stop. He did not want them associated with him or his campaign.
Rubio’s ‘small hands’ jibe also resurfaced. Trump said that when he is attacked, he will fight back; it’s part of his nature. He added that it was no bad thing; he would also fight back if America were attacked.
He also answered questions about hecklers, saying that the Secret Service deal with people politely. He pointed out that if their treatment appears rough to some, not so long ago, it would have been much tougher.
Of his two defeats to Cruz in Maine and Kansas, he explained that he hadn’t spent much time in either state. He quipped that Maine must have voted for Cruz because it’s so close to Canada.
As for Mitt Romney, Trump used the word ‘choke’ and ‘choked’ several times in describing the failed 2012 presidential candidate turned establishment attack dog. In February, Trump called Rubio a ‘choke artist’ (emphases in the original):
In sports, a choke is the failure of an athlete or an athletic team to win a game or tournament when the player or team had been strongly favored to win or had squandered a large lead in the late stages of the event. Someone who chokes may be known as a choker or, more derisively, as a choke artist.
Trump pointed out that if Mitt had put all his passion of the past few days into his contest in 2012, he would have won. He reminded the press corps that Mitt was nowhere to be seen during the last month of the campaign, whereas Obama was everywhere, including on popular talk shows.
Trump had a go at Hillary Clinton’s slogan about making America ‘whole’, joking that the real situation points to ‘hole’. He maintained that his own slogan, ‘Make America great again’, was accurate.
Trump reiterated his support of the Republican Party and pledged to fundraise for them, emphasising that it would not be for his own campaign.
He spoke warmly of the tens of thousands of people who flock to his rallies. He said that some have to be turned away, there is just no more room. Clearly, he enjoys the vibe and the excitement.
It’s interesting that Bernie Sanders won two out of three Democratic contests yesterday: Nebraska and Kansas, neither of which seem like natural territory for an ex-New Yorker who never had a real job until he got involved in Vermont politics just before his 40th birthday.
Establishment Republicans and Democrats fear the two candidates out of their control. Trump is self-financing while Sanders is successful at getting private contributions, great and small. 2016 is turning out to be a year of grassroots, anti-establishment politics. The public love it and, for the first time in decades, are engaging in the process. It is highly unusual for primaries to generate this much interest among the general population.
Both Trump and Sanders have struck a chord with their voters. Some of this has to do with increasing globalisation, including outsourcing and the fall in the standard of living. Although this particular Guardian guest editorial concerns the differences between Trump and Angela Merkel, the running themes are the same — increasing immigration, economic uncertainty and social breakdown, to name but a few.
All of these involve a lack of security.
As one Guardian reader aptly put it:
I am a globalist and don’t really believe in nationalism.
However globalism can only exist when people feel secure. When globalism descends into an open invite for people smugglers and anyone who fancies a better future elsewhere, regardless of the consequences, then the whole concept of one world falls apart as people retreat into their self defined groups.
It is patently apparent that American voters have had their fill of globalist and establishment candidates, none of whom can, or wish to, relate to them.
Trump and Sanders are mining that rich seam of discontent.