Republican Articles

Trump Triumphant

A strong night for the governors, but a good night for the frontrunner.
11:18 PM, Feb 06, 2016

The big media story from the debate will be Marco Rubio’s confrontation with Chris Christie. But the larger picture might be about how well Donald Trump did.

Trump was relatively reserved. He wasn't bombastic. Or erratic. He was—by Trumpian standards—presidential? Okay, let's not get crazy. Trump wasn't able to stay in check for the full three hours—he couldn't help himself from lashing out at Cruz in his closing statement. And where candidates often lash out at the media when they get in trouble in a debate, Trump attacked the audience. The move was classic pro-wrestling—like Vince McMahon baiting the crowd. And it was so crazy that it kind of worked.

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Democracy 101

The closer you look, the more inspiring Iowa's ­caucuses are.
Feb 15, 2016

What is a Republican caucus in Iowa really like? On February 1, I went to Ames to find out.

One hundred eighty-nine Republicans filed into the sanctuary at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, just a few blocks from the Iowa State campus, to consider each candidate a final time before casting their votes. Like those across the state, the caucus started promptly at 7:00 p.m.—well, maybe a minute or two after. Jeff Ortiz, co-chairman of the Story County GOP and chairman of the precinct's caucus, gave a little leeway to the last few voters signing in. Every caucusgoer must be registered as a Republican in Iowa, which a participant can do up until the caucus begins.

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The Real Shape of the Race

A populist and dueling conservatives.
Feb 15, 2016

The shorthand understanding of the likely three-man race for the Republican nomination goes something like this.

Donald Trump is the populist outside agitator, running on economic nationalism and against the entire political system. Ted Cruz is the antiestablishment crusader, running on sharp intellect, eager confrontation, and ideological purity. And Marco Rubio is the conventional candidate, running on optimism, easing our anxieties, and repairing old divisions.

Cruz and Trump are often lumped together as “outsiders" or "antiestablishment," manifestations of the anger and frustration of the Republican base.

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Mexican Standoff

Begun, the Trump-Cruz-Rubio war has.
Feb 01, 2016

With very little warning, the Republican primaries began in earnest at the Charleston debate on January 14, closing out a year of fundraising and polite jockeying. What had once been a field of 17 declared candidates—with 8 or 10 of them being serious, substantive contenders—was, by the end of the night, whittled down to three men, each of whom has drawn a bead on the weaknesses of the ­others. The months of nice-guy, look-to-the-future optimism are over. It will be three-way siege warfare from here to Cleveland.

Of course, for the moment it looks like a two-way fight. Donald Trump commenced hostilities in the week leading up to the debate by questioning whether Calgary-born Ted Cruz is constitutionally eligible

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Peace Breaks Out

A new comity among House Republicans.
Jan 25, 2016

Those happy days for Democrats and the media—when House Republicans were angry with each other and divided—are over. The archconservatives of the House Freedom Caucus are mostly on board with Speaker Paul Ryan. So is Heritage Action, the serious-minded group that wants the most conservative ideas to be paramount in Congress.

To the extent there's comity, though, it's fragile. Differences among House Republicans—more tactical than ideological—haven't magically vanished. Disagreements are as likely as ever on the budget blueprint that may be voted on as early as next month. And Idaho's Raul Labrador, a Freedom Caucus stalwart, told reporters, "The honeymoon is over" with Ryan.

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The Party of Trump

The case for principled partisanship.
Jan 11, 2016

Within weeks of announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in June, Donald Trump seized the lead in virtually every national poll of GOP voters and has held that lead ever since. The Real Clear Politics average has Trump polling at 35.6 percent, with a 17-point spread between Trump and his nearest competitor.

Although there is no poll of GOP officials, it is pretty clear from news accounts and political reporting that elected Republicans and party officials do not favor a Trump nomination. Far from it. To judge by attributed and unattributed quotes from those stories, it would be surprising if more than 5 percent of those GOP regulars favor Trump.

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The Triumph of the Outsiders

Trump and Rubio and Cruz; oh my.
Dec 28, 2015

With just over a month until the Iowa caucuses, the Republican nomination field is taking clearer form. Of the original 17 candidates, only 4 can be said to remain in top contention: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson.

What to make of these candidates, and what does their preeminence tell us about the Republican party as it heads into the presidential election year?

Of the top four, only Carson is following a well-worn path. While his personal story is unique, his appeal is traditional. The early date of the Iowa caucuses has long meant that candidates with a strong connection to evangelical Christians endeavor to use Iowa as a springboard to the nomination.

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Our Opera Buffa

Dec 21, 2015

On January 15, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote proudly from Prague to his friend Baron Gottfried von Jacquin: "Here nothing is talked about except Figaro; nothing is played, blown, sung, and whistled except Figaro; no opera draws the crowds like Figaro. It's always Figaro. Certainly it's a great honor for me."

Now, after more than two centuries of human progress, in great cities supposedly more advanced and more enlightened than the Prague of 1787, we have come to this: Here nothing is talked about except Trump; nothing is reported, analyzed, praised, and denounced except Trump; no candidate draws the crowds like Trump. It's always Trump.

Certainly this is not a great honor to America.

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Wrong Again

Governors make the best presidential candidates? Call it conventional unwisdom.
Dec 21, 2015

At full tide, 9 of the 17 Republicans running for the 2016 presidential nomination were current or former governors. There was a perfectly good reason so many were in the race: Governors have an advantage with voters. They are executives who make real-life decisions, not just talk about doing so. Governors, more often than not, are regarded as leaders.

At least that was the conventional wisdom as recently as last spring. But it has died this year like many other assumptions about presidential campaigns. Three governors have dropped out, and none of the remaining six is in the top tier

of candidates.

A corollary to the notion of a governor's advantage has also died.

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The Rules Matter

The decline of the GOP establishment and the rise of Trump.
Dec 14, 2015

The Trump phenomenon continues apace, immune to the boorishness and ignorance of its avatar. It does not seem to matter what Donald Trump says or does—he continues to lead the Republican field by a wide margin.

Often overlooked when scrutinizing Trump's dominance are the rules of the Republican nomination process. These are not a sufficient condition for Trump's ascent, but they are certainly a necessary factor. The GOP's rules used to work well for the party because its voters and leaders trusted and respected one another. But this mutual geniality has been replaced with condescension and suspicion, which has created a massive power vacuum for a demagogue like Trump to fill.

The rules of a political institution

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Not to Worry

Dec 14, 2015

You're worried. Okay, you're alarmed. Actually, you're panicked. Donald Trump will be the nominee and destroy the party. It's embarrassing for the GOP that Ben Carson has so much support. Marco Rubio will be judged by voters too young and inexperienced for the Oval Office. Ted Cruz would be a certain loser to Hillary Clinton. And it's too late for someone else to come from behind and win the nomination. All scenarios lead to disaster.

Not to worry. All will be well .  .  . probably.

First and foremost, we will likely be spared a Trump nomination. In the latest national poll, taken at the end of November by Quinnipiac, Trump leads the GOP field with 27 percent, 10 points ahead of Rubio at 17

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'Democrats' War On Youth'

7:04 AM, Nov 23, 2015

The Washington Examiner's Jim Antle has written a comprehensive piece about the Democrats' war on youth. Antle notes that politicians and pundits on the right have been pointing out ways in which Democrats' policies hurt young people.

Jeb Bush, for example, told the Washington Examiner on the campaign trail in New Hampshire that leaders need to "make sure the next generation isn't saddled with all of our contingent liabilities on their backs."

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Trump Threatens to 'Go to War' With Cruz

7:25 AM, Nov 17, 2015

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is threatening to go to war with Republican rival Ted Cruz. Trump was asked about Cruz's rise on CNBC. 

Watch here:

"Well he's been very nice and very supportive of everything I've said, more than anybody else," Trump said of Cruz.

"And we'll see what happens. If he catches on, then I guess we'll have to go to war. But so far we haven't. We've been very supportive. We have a lot of the same ideas."

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Tough Questions

CNBC’s missed opportunity.
Nov 16, 2015

CNBC defends its performance at the last Republican debate by saying that candidates should be able to answer tough questions. Indeed they should. So, using the format of the CNBC questions to Republicans, here are some tough questions to ask Democrats at the next debate:

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Handicapping Iowa

Don’t look now, the caucuses are less than three months away.
Nov 16, 2015

Sioux City, Iowa
Ben Carson has a simple theory of why he’s risen to the top of the polls in Iowa. “I’ve probably been there more times than anywhere else,” said the retired neurosurgeon just before the October 28 debate in Boulder, Colorado.

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Bayou Voodoo

Zombie helps Louisiana Democrats find new life.
Nov 16, 2015

A year ago, the Louisiana Democratic party seemed as dead as its allegedly habitual voters from New Orleans cemeteries. Yet with a governor’s race quickening to its November 21 conclusion, Republican senator David Vitter is proving the Democrats’ greatest necromancer.

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Debates Playing Key Role in Winnowing Republican Field

Replacing importance of primaries.
7:05 AM, Nov 12, 2015

The process of winnowing the Republican presidential field to a few candidates is beginning to take its toll, though the first actual voting won’t occur until February.

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5 Weird Moments at the Fox Business Debate

4:45 PM, Nov 11, 2015

There were a few weird moments at the debate last night, but none was stranger than the crowd reaction when John Kasich and Jeb Bush were talking about immigration. Both were unapologetically pro-amnesty. Neither bothered to make concessions about how problematic the breakdown of the rule of law is when it comes to illegal immigration. Bush didn't even make a kabuki gesture toward securing the border.

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Ted Cruz’s Important Immigration Answer

3:48 PM, Nov 11, 2015

Pop quiz: Was the percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born higher in 1860, 1880, 1920, or on July 1, 2015?  If you answered “2015,” you’re right. The portion of the U.S. population that is foreign-born is now 13.5 percent, surpassing even the tallies for 1860 (13.2 percent), 1880 (13.3 percent), and 1920 (13.2 percent), and fast approaching the all-time record set in 1890 (14.8 percent), according to the U.S. Census Bureau (see here and table 2).

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The Failure of Normality

The unhappy lessons of the Thompson campaign.
5:09 PM, Nov 02, 2015

This article originally appeared in the February 4, 2008 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD and is being published today in memory of Fred Thompson who passed away Sunday.

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Strife of the Party

The GOP is ready to grumble
Nov 02, 2015

Republicans are in trouble. A significant bloc regards their congressional leaders—House speaker John Boehner, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and their underlings—as enemies. A quarter or more of grassroots Republicans think Donald Trump should be president. And to make things worse, Hillary Clinton has a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, making her tougher for any Republican to beat.

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Enter Ryan, Exit Biden

Nov 02, 2015

‘Republicans in Turmoil!” “Chaos Confounds GOP Congressmen!!” “Catastrophic Conservative Crack-Up Imminent!!!” “Trump Likely GOP Nominee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

All nonsense.

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An Unenviable Job

The next president’s daunting to-do list.
Nov 02, 2015

As we approach the third Republican presidential debate, conservatives should consider what they expect the next president to accomplish.

We certainly want the next president to repeal and replace Obamacare, undo the disastrous Iran nuclear agreement, and finally address the problem of illegal immigration. But after eight years of a president who promised to “transform” America, the “to-do” list is actually much larger.

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The View from the Sidelines

Charlie Black on the 2016 campaign.
Oct 26, 2015

When you’ve been involved in presidential politics as long as Charlie Black, things get pretty simple. A good candidate is one who can communicate and isn’t mistake-prone. News coverage matters as much as ever. “The basic things don’t change,” he says.

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KRISTOL: The Words 'Republican' and 'Strategy' Shouldn't Appear in the Same Sentence

Hosted by Michael Graham.
9:07 AM, Oct 15, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the first Democratic Debate, the 2016 election, and the state of the GOP race for the nomination. 

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The Kemp Era

When Republicans became the party of growth and tax cuts
Oct 12, 2015

In 1970, the year after Jack Kemp had retired as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, he was elected to the House from a district covering the Buffalo suburbs. He was 35. His chief concern was the suffering of his Rust Belt constituents, beset by plant closings and high unemployment. In 1973, he proposed a business-friendly tax cut, followed by another titled the Jobs Creation Act. Neither passed. Kemp, a phys. ed. major at Occidental College, had taught himself economics. He had read Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman, the masters of free-market economics.

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What the Hell Is Going On?

The fraying of the national political consensus.
Oct 12, 2015

The latest political happenings—the rise of Donald Trump, John Boehner’s surprise resignation as speaker of the House of Representatives, Hillary Clinton’s slide against the septuagenarian socialist Bernie Sanders—remind me of a verse from the old Rolling Stones song “Jigsaw Puzzle”:

Oh, there’s twenty-thousand grandmas.

Wave their hankies in the air.

All burning up their pensions

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Rep. Tom Price Runs for Majority Leader, Strikes Important Balance

Balances conservative stances and leadership.
7:54 PM, Sep 28, 2015

After John Boehner announced he would be resigning as speaker of the House, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would run to fill his position. Now there's a second congressional leadership race to fill the spot held by McCarthy.

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A winning tax reform.
Sep 28, 2015

Some Republican presidential candidate was sure to come along with a credible tax reform plan to erase tax loopholes, preferences, and special breaks, broaden the tax base, and lower rates. Now Jeb Bush has done it. This marks a departure point in the GOP race.

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Desperately Seeking Consensus

Where is the Republicans’ Goldilocks?
Sep 28, 2015

Judging by the number of House and Senate seats, governorships, and state legislative seats it holds, the Republican party is stronger than at any point since the 1920s. Yet, going by the presidential nomination battle alone, the party is a mess. There are too many candidates, a few of whom are distracting the public with their self-aggrandizing shenanigans, spurred on by ratings-hungry cable-news networks.

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