Ted Cruz ended his presidential campaign Tuesday night after a rout in Indiana, unable to gain traction against a rival he calls a pathological liar.
Donald Trump is still about 200 delegates shy of the magic number needed to clinch the Republican nomination. Cruz’s decision will make it far easier for the New York mogul to collect the 1,237 delegate majority needed to avert a contested convention, leaving the anti-Trump effort demoralized and struggling.
Campaign manager Jeff Roe confirmed that Cruz is suspending his campaign.
The concession of defeat came on one of the most vitriol=filled days of a tumultuous campaign. The senator’s wife, Heidi Cruz, joined him at a converted train station in downtown Indianapolis, evening light streaming through the stain glass onto 200 or so dismayed supporters.
Indiana was not a must=win state for Trump. But he won decisively. For Cruz, who had painted the Hoosier State as a crucial front in the battle to keep the nomination from Trump, the loss was devastating. Cruz spent most of the last two weeks in Indiana. He named a running mate there. He persuaded Ohio Gov. John Kasich to retreat to bolster his own chances. And yet he may have lost nearly all of the state’s 57 delegates…
Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who briefly led the Republican presidential race before his campaign began an extended public implosion, told his supporters in a statement Wednesday afternoon that he does not see a “path forward” and will not attend Thursday’s debate in Detroit.
Carson, however, did not formally suspend his campaign. Instead, he said in the statement that he has decided to make a speech about his political future on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, just outside Washington.
“I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” the statement said. “However, this grassroots movement on behalf of ‘We the People’ will continue. Along with millions of patriots who have supported my campaign for President, I remain committed to Saving America for Future Generations.”
The announcement will serve as an acknowledgment that Carson’s candidacy is all but over following a disappointing showing in the 11 states that held contests on Tuesday.
The decision follows months of candidate stumbles, staff infighting and strategy shifts derailing what had once appeared to be an unstoppable journey to conservative superstardom. It also marks the coming departure of the only high profile African American candidate in the 2016 presidential race.
Carson, 64, burst onto the political scene in early 2013 when, addressing the typically nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast, he spoke about the dangers of political correctness, put forward the idea of a flat tax and criticized President Obama’s health-care law. What stood out was that he did so right beside a steely-faced Obama.
That week, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “Ben Carson for President.” By August of that year, there was a “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.” Before he launched his presidential bid last May, the group had raised close to $16 million, gotten a half-million signatures encouraging Carson to run and had 30,000 active volunteers across the country, according to organizers.
The media whirlwind was hardly his first brush with fame. Before he took the conservative world by storm, Carson was famous for an up-from-his-bootstraps life story, from impoverished childhood to a high-profile neurosurgery career. He was, at 33, the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins Hospital history, and he was the first pediatric neurosurgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head. He wrote a best-selling book, “Gifted Hands,” about his life, which later became a television movie.
The same bluntness that catapulted him into contention in a year that favored plain-spoken insurgents and outsider candidates earned him criticism as well. He found himself in political hot water for calling the Affordable Care Act the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” saying that the United States now is “very much like Nazi Germany” and predicting that allowing same-sex marriage could lead to legalized bestiality.
Even his political team admitted from the start that perhaps he needed to work on his messaging. “If I could create the Webster’s dictionary of words Dr. Carson could use in the campaign, there would be some words I’d leave out,” his former campaign chairman, Terry Giles, told The Washington Post before Carson officially jumped into the race in May. Later, when Donald Trump grabbed headlines, the usually mild-mannered Carson was urged to dial it up and take the mogul on more aggressively.
Carson resisted that advice as well. Until the end, he sought to offer himself to Republicans as a calm and steady hand, untouched by Washington.
“Many people told me that this business is corrupt, that it’s evil, that it’s how it’ll always be,” Carson said in a phone interview Monday. “But I don’t believe that we have to accept that. We should rail against that, fight against it, and get something that’s decent and inspirational.”
His performance may have played a role in his political undoing. Even as his “politically incorrect” style played well in places with staunchly conservative bases, his apparent unfamiliarity with many policy fundamentals, particularly on national security issues, made some voters wary.
His support dropped precipitously in the weeks after two high-profile terrorist attacks, bringing him from second place just behind Trump to fourth or fifth place in most national polls.
“Unfortunately, Paris happened. San Bernardino happened,” he told The Post earlier this year. “Somehow the narrative has been projected that if you’re soft-spoken and mild-mannered, there is no way you can deal with terrorism, with national security, that you’re not a strong person.”
It wasn’t just Carson’s often unfiltered and unseasoned approach that cost him; his advisers’ did as well, as internal feuds played out publicly, and candidate and campaign deficits were spotlighted in unusually detailed media admissions by some staffers and advisers.
Disagreements within the campaign’s highest ranks broke out into the open on numerous occasions, highlighting a persistent and sharp division between Armstrong Williams – Carson’s longtime business manager, who was not formally part of the campaign – and Barry Bennett, the Republican operative who led it.
As Carson fell from top-tier status, he publicly blamed campaign aides for his drop in the polls – calling some of them overpaid and ineffective – and vowed a staff shake-up in an interview arranged by Williams without Bennett’s knowledge. Carson backtracked hours later, but within days, several of his most experienced campaign hands, including Bennett, had resigned.
A new campaign chairman was named: retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert F. Dees – previously a Carson policy adviser who, like the candidate himself, had never before been involved in a political campaign.
The departure of a string of senior aides didn’t end the behind-the-scenes drama. Within weeks, reporters were sent a list of the only staffers they were to contact for campaign comment and for candidate interview requests – a list that pointedly did not include Williams.
The Carson campaign war chest, which had been flush with cash after solid fundraising quarters earlier in the race, began shrinking dramatically amid questions about how the money was being spent. Carson made further sweeping changes last month, cutting staff salaries and shrinking his traveling entourage.
“We had to get a much better check on the finances. I was appalled when I did a deep dive and saw what was going on. We saw that and stopped it,” Carson said in the Monday interview.
The mild-mannered candidate soon lashed out at individuals he accused of sabotaging his presidential bid, including rival Ted Cruz of Texas, whose campaign falsely circulated the idea that Carson was going to quit the race on the night of the Iowa caucuses.
He followed up a distant fourth-place showing in Iowa with last-place showings in New Hampshire and in South Carolina, a state he had once said would be a special focus. He polled poorly again in the 11 GOP primaries and caucuses Tuesday night.
When asked Monday whether he would ever reenter politics if he left the race, Carson chuckled at the prospect.
“I’m certainly not looking for something to do,” he said, adding that his plan after leaving medicine in 2013 was to retire to Palm Beach, Fla., with his wife.
“I’m not going to disappear,” he said. “But yes, if I didn’t think the country needed what we’re doing, I’d be there.”
Thousands of contributions to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign in January violated federal campaign finance laws, election regulators said on Thursday.
The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign committee on Thursday with a 90-page spreadsheet listing 3,457 “excessive, prohibited, and impermissible contributions.”
The campaign’s January financial disclosure filing listed contributions from foreign nationals and unregistered political committees, the FEC said. Other contributions came from donors who exceeded the $2,700 per-election limit.
“Although the Commission may take further legal action concerning the acceptance of [excessive or prohibited] contributions, your prompt action to refund the prohibited amount will be taken into consideration,” the FEC told the campaign.
Sanders’ campaign has relied on small-dollar individual contributions to a far greater extent than any other presidential campaign, including the Super PAC– and dark money-fueled efforts of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The Vermont Senator and self-described socialist is running on a platform of transparency and campaign finance reform, contrasting his grassroots support with Clinton’s high-dollar donors and use of loopholes in federal election laws that allow her campaign to coordinate with outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions.
However, Sanders’ donors have also run afoul of federal campaign finance laws, and his financial disclosure reports have been riddled with errors.
The FEC sent a letter to the Sanders campaign earlier this month flagging an additional 1,316 “excessive, prohibited, and impermissible contributions” in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The commission also noted disbursements from the campaign that failed to include required documentation.
The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some of the campaign’s legal problems stem from enthusiasm for Sanders’ candidacy from foreign nationals, many of whom have publicly revealed donations to the campaign in violation of U.S. election laws.
“I am German, live in Germany and just donated to Bernie Sanders’ campaign on BernieSanders.com simply using my credit card – Is this illegal in any way?” asked a user on the website Quora.
“UPDATE: Donation rescinded based on your answers,” the user later added.
Jeb Bush’s campaign insists it is not imploding before primary voters’ eyes despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
The former Florida governor now finds himself in a situation where his own supporters say he isn’t firing on all cylinders, his polls are sagging, Republican insiders claim he is running out of cash, and key endorsements are going to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
And now campaign officials and a top fundraiser are pushing back aggressively against claims the Bush campaign will stop paying staff on Saturday due to lack of funds.
Citing “sources close to the Bush campaign,” conservative commentator and Red State editor Erick Erickson wrote that there was a phone call on Wednesday night in which the news leaked out that the Bush campaign was out of cash.
“Pay for campaign staff will end on Saturday. The campaign is all but over,” Erickson wrote Thursday at the Resurgent. “Additionally, after having hundreds of millions of dollars on hand, the Bush Super PAC has less than $15 million from what I am being told.”
Erikson said Bush could be a “king-maker” if he got out of the race before South Carolina’s primary voters head to the polls on Saturday, but the campaign “vehemently” denied having cash-flow problems.
After Erickson’s story reverberated through the political world on Thursday morning, Bush campaign spokesman Tim Miller tweeted:
“I am traveling on Saturday to Nevada to help oversee that effort, and we have staff waiting for me,” Al Cardenas, a longtime Bush insider and senior fundraiser, said in a telephone interview with The Hill. “And nobody’s been notified about this information.
“It would come as a surprise to [Bush campaign] staff that Erick’s been notified ahead of them.”
And a source familiar with Bush fundraising and the campaign told The Hill the story was “complete bullshit.”
“F—ing Marco Rubio got a third place in Iowa and a fifth place in New Hampshire, and he’s trying to drive us out of the campaign. It’s ludicrous,” the source said.
“It’s a f—ing civil war [with Rubio], that’s what it is… Jeb Bush is a proud dude… We are not going to announce to the world that the campaign will finish on Saturday.”
Rumors that Bush’s campaign is about to be pulled off life-support coincide with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s endorsement of Rubio and a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll released Thursday showing Bush capturing just 4 percent of the primary vote.
A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday also had Bush running a distant fourth-place behind Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rubio.
“It’s all been decided, apparently,” Bush sarcastically said at a campaign stop in South Carolina on Wednesday. “The pundits have made it all – it’s all decided. We don’t have to go vote, I guess. It’s all finished. I should just stop campaigning, maybe, huh? It’s all done.”
Bush’s supporters, however, seemed worried.
Edward Scott, 58, who lives in Maryland but works in South Carolina, told the New York Times on Wednesday that Bush seems to have been “knocked off center” by his opponents’ attacks. He told the paper it was important for the former Florida governor to “raise the bar” and “be beyond the bullying.”
“I think [Trump] is getting you off your message, your good message,” added David Villinger, 62, of Ridgeville.
Bush told the Summersville audience he was “disappointed” that Haley endorsed Rubio, but vowed “a role for her in the campaign” if he wins the Republican nomination.
It has now been confirmed – The photograph of Ted Cruz campaign shaming letters is legit (see below). The letters are officially from the Ted Cruz campaign.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler confirmed to IJ Review that the mailer was theirs in a phone call Friday evening, saying that the targeting had been “very narrow, but the caucuses are important and we want people who haven’t voted before to vote.” (link)
The personalized letters target individual Iowa voters and identifies them as having failed to vote in prior elections. They are admonished and then encouraged to vote this year. In addition the letters identify the neighbors of the voter, and provides their voting history.
The text reads:
“You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses”.
In an effort to shame the recipient, the notice also informs the targeted voter their neighbors have also been notified of the recipients poor voting record.
How the Cruz Team would think a public shaming campaign is a good idea is just staggeringly unbelievable.
The campaign scheme was exposed via Twitter where “Tom Hinkeldy, a resident of Alta, Iowa, tweeted a photo (which was later deleted because it included his personal address) on Friday evening of a mailer Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign sent addressed to his wife, Steffany” – link –
Word spread rapidly.
10:30 PM – 29 Jan 2016
The first name on the mailer list matches the name on the envelope at the top of the page. The envelope also has a returned address as “Paid for by Cruz for President”, the official campaign name of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign (not a super-pac):
Another Iowan, Braddock Massey, tweeted a photo of the mailer he received:
This has the very real potential to be a massive fail and seriously backfire against the Ted Cruz campaign. He might have just given Marco Rubio a considerable gift with the Iowa election only two days away.
From the candidate who prefers to keep his own records, well,… sealed.
UPDATE 5:00am: It looks like Howie might have found the trail, via a professor in Northern Iowa named Christopher Larimer. Describing a previous stunt like this in Alaska. As outlined in a 2014 PBS article:
[…] “Why would they think that shaming would make people comply?”
Because, well, it does. That’s according to Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa. And he’s done the research to prove it.
“We found that when you make people aware of the norm of voting and that somebody else is going to observe whether or not you vote, people are more likely then to vote,” he said.
The letter from the so-called Alaska State Voter Project is nearly identical, word for word, to one that Larimer and other researchers tested in Michigan, right down to the typography and punctuation. In that 2006 research, Larimer and colleagues sent voters one of four different letters.
The softest message just urged people to do their civic duty and vote. The most aggressive letter matched the Alaska mailer. It included the addressee’s voting history as well as those of their neighbors, and contained something of a threat by promising a follow-up letter to show the results of the upcoming election.
Larimer says they got complaints, but the technique worked quite well. (read more)
That emboldened segment describes the current Cruz Campaign mailer 100%. Also, Chris Larimer is noted in this recent Texas Tribune article about the controversial debate:
[…] For Cruz, the No. 2 candidate in many polls, Trump’s snub could make him the center of action at the Iowa Events Center, a role that comes with both risks and rewards.
“If Trump’s not there, it affects the strategy other candidates take toward Cruz,” said Christopher Larimer, a political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa. “Do they treat Cruz like the frontrunner, or do they talk about Trump?”
At the same time, Larimer added, the debate could be a “lost opportunity” for Cruz to challenge Trump on his conservative credentials in what’s likely their last meeting before the caucuses. (read more)
Looks like another one of those ever brilliant political consultant types sold the Cruz campaign on a version of their already extensive “psychographic analytics“. Wouldn’t be surprised if billionaire Phd Robert Mercer, via Cambridge Analytica targeting – isn’t involved in the engineering of this too.
UPDATE: Chris Larimer distances himself from this fiasco via the Washington Post:
The blogosphere rumor is completely false. I do NOT work for the Cruz (or any) campaign and have absolutely nothing to do with mailings.
2:13 PM – 30 Jan 2016
[…] “As a researcher who has done randomized field experiments with get out the vote mailings,” Larimer wrote in an email, “what I can say is that mailings that call attention to an individual’s vote history as well as that of their neighbors’ have been shown to be effective in terms of significantly increasing voter turnout. We draw on norm compliance theory which suggests that publicizing behavior regarding a social norm increases the likelihood of norm compliance.”
That was if the ad was crafted in a smart way. “The Cruz mailing is more negative than anything we have done and has the potential to elicit a negative response or what psychologists call ‘reactance’ or ‘boomerang effect,’” warned Larimer. “The mailing also states that a ‘follow up notice’ will be sent following the caucuses on Monday. This is not possible as caucus turnout is private and maintained by the parties.” (link)
Bernie Sanders and his wife have on numerous occasions steered money from organizations under their control to friends and family members, public records show.
The payments benefitted the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, his stepdaughter, and the son of a former colleague in city government whom Sanders has described as a close friend.
Sanders, a self-described socialist, is now running for the presidency on an anti-corruption platform, decrying public officials’ attempts to use their positions for personal financial gain.
Following 16 years as a member of the House, Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006. His political campaigns were an early vehicle for payments to his family members.
According to Jane O’Meara Sanders, the senator’s wife, Sanders’ House campaigns paid her more than $90,000 for consulting and ad placement services from 2002 to 2004. She pocketed about $30,000 of that money.
Her daughter Carina Driscoll, Sanders’ stepdaughter, also drew a salary from the campaign. She was paid more than $65,000 between 2000 and 2004, according to her mother.
After working for the campaign, the senator’s wife would come under scrutiny for expenditures at Burlington College, where she was hired as president in 2004. While she led the school, it paid six-figure sums to her daughter and the son of a family friend.
Burlington College offered its students a study abroad program in the Caribbean, according to tax filings. It reported spending about $47,000 on that program in the tax year beginning in mid-2008.
Around that time, the son of Jonathan Leopold, a Burlington College board member, purchased a small resort in the Bahamas called Andro’s Beach Club and an accompanying hotel, Nathan’s Lodge.
Leopold served with Sanders in the Burlington city government – as mayor, Sanders appointed Leopold city treasurer – before becoming embroiled in scandal involving millions of dollars in payments to a Burlington telecommunications company.
Sen. Sanders has described Leopold as so close a friend as to be considered “family.” He reportedly discouraged Sanders’ socialist impulses early in their careers. Efforts to reach Leopold were unsuccessful.
Shortly after Leopold’s son, also named Jonathan, purchased the resort, Burlington College began writing it large checks for all-inclusive stays for its study abroad students.
The younger Leopold later said during a deposition related to a lawsuit filed by a student who was injured at the rest that he conducted boat tours and snorkeling trips “on behalf of Burlington College.”
From 2009 through 2011, when O’Meara Sanders stepped down as president of the school, it paid the resort about $68,000, according to annual tax filings. The payments stopped the year after she left the position.
Her departure was a source of controversy. She reportedly overstated pledged contributions to the school in order to secure a loan from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The diocese lost between $1.5 million and $2 million on the deal, according to local reports.
By that time, the school had paid huge sums to the Vermont Woodworking School, which is run by Driscoll. The college eventually paid the school more than $500,000 for classes at its Fairfax, Vt., campus, about 30 miles from Burlington.
Burlington College even established a Master of Fine Arts program in woodworking with leased space at the school as its major facility.
Tax filings show that the college continued paying the woodworking school in the year after O’Meara Sanders left, but stopped doing so the year after that.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment.