MARCH 23, 2016
The terrorist bombings that killed more than 30 people in Brussels on Tuesday shocked the world and refocused international attention on the threat that terrorism poses to worldwide stability. Coverage of our circus-like Presidential campaign on cable news networks was quickly replaced by images of smoke and debris-filled airline terminals and subway platforms.
Initial reactions to the bombings from American politicians were typically sobering and thoughtful. But it was a Tuesday, and at this time of year, the primary calendar stops for no event, and three more states conducted primaries or caucuses to select the next leader of the Free World.
As events were unfolding halfway around the world, it’s probably premature to speculate on which candidates voters might feel most equipped to handle an international terrorism crisis. Still, past exit polling has indicated that among Democrats it is Hillary Clinton, given her extensive experience as Secretary of State, and among Republicans, it is Donald Trump with his “ban-all-Muslims” rhetoric that makes GOP voters feel most safe.
Probably knowing this is Ted Cruz, so the Texas senator wasted no time responding to the terrorism attacks by saying that in a Cruz administration, Muslim neighborhoods in America will be patrolled and placed under surveillance, an idea that immediately provoked condemnation by Democrats of all stripes and serious questions by the news media. Politically, at least, it appeared that Ted Cruz had won the news cycle.
Not so fast, cowboy. For Donald Trump, being bested in a news cycle simply will not do. Knowing that Cruz had beaten him on Muslims, Trump simply just changed the subject. Twitter War! Responding to an ad placed by an anti-Trump super-PAC (and not by the Cruz campaign) showing a photo of Trump’s model wife Melania in an unclothed provocative pose, Trump warned Cruz (who had done nothing) to leave Melania alone, or else Trump will “spill the beans” on Mrs. Cruz. (!?!?!?!) Knowing that no cable network would resist the chance to show a photo of a mostly-naked woman and justify it as news, Trump snatched the news cycle back as he usually does.
Oh, yes, there were primaries and caucuses last night. Let’s see how everybody did.
DONALD TRUMP (won the Arizona primary) –– Winding up with 18 more delegates in Arizona than Cruz picked up in Utah, Trump kept his momentum going at a time when pundits are beginning to question whether he can even make it to win the 1,237 delegates he would need to get the nomination.
TED CRUZ (won the Utah caucus) — With walloping Trump by 55 points, Cruz won by enough to claim all 40 of Utah’s delegates. That, plus becoming the center of news controversy with his Muslim comments, Tuesday was a pretty good night for the Texas Senator. Cruz was also endorsed today by former rival Jeb Bush, an endorsement that may hurt him rather than help among GOP primary voters.
JOHN KASICH (won nothing) — It’s now mathematically impossible for Kasich to get 1,237 votes and win the nomination outright, so the only justification for his remaining in the race is to win enough delegates to prevent Trump from rolling to a first-ballot win. There’s only one catch to this plan — you actually have to start winning somewhere for this to work, and it looks like there’s nowhere ahead on the map where Kasich could actually achieve that.
HILLARY CLINTON (won the Arizona primary) — Clinton’s 18-point win in Arizona was impressive but not overwhelming. Clinton’s streak of winning far more primaries than caucuses continues. She seems to be beginning to pivot into general-election mode, talking far more about Trump now than about Sanders.
BERNIE SANDERS (won the Utah and Idaho caucuses) — Sanders continues to prove to be Mr. Caucus, as he chalked up two more lopsided victories over Clinton, this time in Utah and Idaho. He did wind up with 19 more delegates for the evening than Clinton (that’s a good thing), but the fact that he’s behind by almost 700 delegates clearly demonstrates the enormously difficult situation he’s in.
For you fans of the horse-race, here’s where everybody stands, delegate-wise:
THE DELEGATE COUNT
REPUBLICANS (1,237 needed to win)
Donald Trump 686 (plus 58 pledged delegates won last night) = 744
Ted Cruz 428 (plus 40 pledged delegates won last night ) = 468
The Ghost of Marco Rubio = 172
John Kasich 143 (plus zero pledged delegates won last night) = 143
DEMOCRATS (2,383 needed to win)
Hillary Clinton 1,583 (plus 56 pledged delegates won last night) = 1,639
Bernie Sanders 868 (plus 75 pledged delegates won last night) = 943
Next up: Saturday’s caucuses in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington State for the Democrats. Be there or be square!