Women Become Governors In Kenya

For the first time in the history of Kenya, six women have been elected to key positions in the  East African country’s  governance structure, in the just concluded elections.

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Joyce Laboso, Member of Parliament representing Bomet and the  Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and  two former cabinet Secretaries, Annie Waguru and Charity Ngilu have become the first women to become Governors in the country.

Indeed, Laboso trounced the incumbent to emerge Governor of Bomet.

This without doubt, is a challenge to other African countries, where women  have stepped up  agitations to occupy  key positions in Government. Read more…….

 

Similarly independent candidates,  Mohamed Kuti of Isiolo and Ndiritu of Muhritihi of Laikipia also won Governorship seats in their respective states.  Read more……

Read this from Commission crowd

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Inside BDP wars for power

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Nicholas Mokwena – BG reporter

Factional cracks within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) are now taking centre-stage as the anti-Mokgweetsi Masisi camp snubbed his victory celebration this past weekend.

BDP Chairman Masisi, who is also the country’s Vice President, hosted a victory celebration in Moshupa for winning the 2014 general election in the Manyana-Moshupa Constituency. Information gathered on the ground during the well-attended event is that those who are against the party chairman being the president of the party decided to stay away.Among cabinet ministers missing at the celebration were Dorcas Makgato, Tshekedi Khama, Biggie Butale and Prince Maele although it could not be established whether they are anti-Masisi.

Insiders say it was expected that by virtue of being VP and Chairman of the party, everyone more especially, Members of Parliament and ministers-both whom he is their leader in Parliament and cabinet and Central Committee, should have made it to the Saturday event. It is alleged that those who do not support Masisi are now rallying behind Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Nonofo Molefhi for the country’s top post. Masisi will take over as Head of State in April 2018 when President Ian Khama’s term ends on March 31st the same year. Traditionally in the BDP Masisi is expected to be endorsed during a Special Congress the following year (2019) as party president and Presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections. Things seem to be different as Masisi now faces a likely challenge from Molefhi and Jacob Nkate.

Some senior ministers and other MPs are said to be against Masisi taking over the reigns. The contention has been about his recruitment drive where he is believed to be aligning more with the new recruits from opposition parties. They are also said to be not happy with his leadership style which they believe is not more divorced from that of the current president. Others are not happy that the VP did not push for party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane to be nominated Specially Elected MP.

Ntuane was also not present at the event. He was however reported to have been part of the team that attended the funeral of a councillor in Palapye but others argue that was not reason enough. Also the ministers and MPs who stayed away from Masisi’s celebration are said to have made excuses for their no show at the event. Some within the party have argued that the MPs and Ministers together with Ntuane are being crucified over nothing. “It is not compulsory that the secretary general and other committee members, and ministers should attend. Another thing there were many party activities that the leadership of the party had to attend. For example, Ntuane was at the funeral of our councillor in Palapye and was reading the party message on behalf of the president at the funeral”, said an MP who attended the victory party but said was not in support of Masisi.

What this publication gathered at the Moshupa celebration was that it was now a clear indication that the game is on as those viewed to be anti-Masisi decided to attend other celebrations that were taking place, such as the Mathangwane Ward in Shashe West Constituency. Molefhi was however present at the Masisi event. BDP insiders told this publication that the resurrection of factions in the party is now imminent and this could affect the party negatively in the 2019 election. Masisi has been accused within the BDP corridors of surrounding himself with new recruits from the opposition ranks and neglecting loyal BDP members.

But those close to Masisi indicate that the chairman wants a team of workaholics who are on the ground. Ntuane said claims of factions are baseless and only aimed at destroying the party. He said factions are a thing of the past in the BDP. “Look attendance at victory celebrations which take place all over the country every weekend is not compulsory. You attend if you are available. And by the way I do not have to account to the media or anyone for that matter on my non-presence or even my presence had I been there”, argued Ntuane.

Source :Botswana Guardian

Hillary Clinton Leads All Final Polls

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On the final of polling before Election Day, Hillary Clinton holds a clear lead in a series of national polls over her opponent Donald Trump.

A new poll from Monmouth University gave her a six-point edge among likely voters.

A Fox News poll gave her a four-point lead over Trump and the tracking poll from ABC News and the Washington Post also peg the lead at four points.

Source :

Colin Powell Picks Hillary Clinton Over ‘National Disgrace’ Donald Trump

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The former secretary of state endorsed Clinton on Tuesday, saying Trump was ‘selling people a bill of goods’ and not qualified to be president.

Tim Mak

Tim Mak

Colin Powell apparently doesn’t hold a grudge.

The Bush-era Secretary of State said Tuesday afternoon that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she had tried to use him as an excuse for setting up her infamous private email server.

At a luncheon in Long Island, Powell gave an unreserved endorsement to his fellow former top diplomat, according to Newsday reporter Robert Brodsky, saying that she would serve with distinction and has the experience to be president. Powell added that Trump, on the other hand, is “selling people a bill of goods,” is not qualified, and “insults us every day.”

He could be forgiven if there had been some hard feelings. Facing an email scandal that threatened her campaign for the White House, Clinton had thrown Powell under the bus, telling the F.B.I. that Powell’s had told her to use a personal email account.

The revelation that she had possibly threatened national security with this arrangement, and the ensuing controversy around the FBI’s decision not to prosecute her, continues to define her image and the American public’s view of her trustworthiness.

“Her people have been trying to pin it on me,” Powell told People magazine at an event in the Hamptons in New York this past summer. “The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”

Powell had been in the public spotlight for decades, serving mainly in Republican administrations — and even mentioned as a possible presidential contender over the past decade.

He was a national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the George H.W. Bush administration, and continued in that position for less than a year under Clinton’s administration. He later served as Secretary of State for four years under President George W. Bush.

In 2008 Powell diverged from his party to support Barack Obama despite having been friends with Republican presidential candidate John McCain for decades.

“I think he is a transformational figure.  He is a new generation coming into the world — onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I’ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama,” Powell said at the time, adding that he found the McCain’s focus on Obama’s ties to former militant William Ayers to be distasteful.

But this cycle, he has resisted declaring his support for either candidate, instead chiding Trump as a “national disgrace.”

In hacked emails, released to the public last month, Powell was also seen bashing Clinton, of whom he said: “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” He savaged her as “greedy, not transformational,” and added: “I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect.”

But at the Long Island Association fall luncheon on Tuesday, all this private sentiment melted away into what Brodsky called a “full throated” public endorsement — just the latest twist in a campaign full of them.

Source : The Daily Beast

I Will Put an End To The Use And Dump Tradition In PDP-Prof. Adedoja

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An aspirant for the position of National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Prof. Taoheed Adedoja has promised to put an end to the use and dump tradition of women and the youth by politicians in the party.

Prof. Adedoja made this promise on Thursday, while declaring his intention to contest  for the national chairmanship of the party, at the Oyo state PDP secretariat, Molete, Ibadan, Nigeria.

”Under our new leadership, women and youths shall no more be used for campaign and rallies   or cheer leaders only to be dumped by politicians after winning elections. Women and youths will be adequately compensated by the party before, during, and after elections”.

”God will provide the thread and needle to sew back the umbrella that was torn resulting from the challenges the party had witnessed in the last few years, with the PDP new leadership under my humble self as National Chairman, the rebranded  PDP’s umbrella  will  stand out in the air and under the bright sun as the new shade for Nigeria’s true democracy’ come 2019”.

 

 

The Con Man Who Hoodwinked Hitler

The consummate con artist, Freeman Bernstein worked a scam on everyone from Mae West to the Fuhrer. When they weren’t throwing him in jail, people loved him.

On the afternoon of the New Hampshire primary, in a motel just outside of Manchester, I wrote the final paragraph of my book, Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer. Until then, Goffstown, New Hampshire had not been renowned as a literary inspiration, but the Courtyard Marriott was all the muse I needed.

For the prior four years, I had been a time-traveling double agent shuttling between the heyday of vaudeville in the early 20th century and the knock-about spectacle known as the 2016 campaign.

Political journalists, of course, routinely write works of popular history. But my compatriots favor serious excavations like doorstop biographies of Millard Fillmore and re-examinations of the tariff issue in the 1892 presidential campaign. In contrast, I wrote Hustling Hitler, the story of my con-man great-uncle Freeman Bernstein, dreaming of Zero Mostel of the movie version of The Producers playing the title role.

Born in 1873 in Troy, New York, the son of an immigrant peddler, Freeman Bernstein was famous as a leather-lunged vaudeville agent, an ill-fated silent-movie producer, an inept horserace fixer, skilled card-sharp, artful jewel smuggler and, ultimately, the man who nicked the Nazis in a 1936 nickel deal. Variety lovingly chronicled the exploits of this Broadway character (who pre-dated Damon Runyon) calling him “The Pet of Times Square.”

My attraction to Freeman Bernstein had little to do with family genealogy, a topic that normally interests me as much as Gregorian chants. But ever since I came upon my first news clip about my great-uncle (a 1937 Los Angeles Times story headlined, “Metals Broker Denies Bilking Hitler”), I was hooked. Especially since the Los Angeles Times article mentioned that Freeman Bernstein was arrested in Hollywood on a fugitive warrant from New York after he left Mae West’s apartment at midnight.

Life lesson: If you can mention Adolf Hitler and Mae West in the first paragraph of a book proposal, you’re probably in good shape.

I have covered the last ten presidential campaigns, following White House dreamers across the country. I even wrote a book, One-Car Caravan, about the early skirmishing for the 2004 Democratic nomination. But in reconstructing the life of Freeman Bernstein, I had no one to interview, since he died (broke, of course) in 1942.

Today’s digitized newspaper archives allow a researcher to find specific names in publications that were never indexed. As a result, I unearthed about 2,500 clips on Freeman Bernstein and his vaudeville star wife, May Ward. Reading bygone newspapers like the New York World, the New York Sun and the Morning Telegraph, I realized that—despite segregation and economic injustice—the first three decades of the 20th century were for many a glorious time in America.

Show business sparked from vaudeville (my great-uncle booked fledgling performers like Al Jolson and George Burns) to Broadway (George M. Cohan, Eddie Foy, and the Barrymores were all on stage in a typical week in 1912). Competitive newspapers trafficked in exposés, gossip, humor, and great writing. America radiated a sense of hopefulness, a collective belief that progress was on the march, which lasted until the 1929 stock market crash.

In short, I’m ready to go back, if I can take antibiotics with me.

How My Uncle Hoodwinked Hitler

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Publishing a biography of a colorful grifter while covering the 2016 campaign has prompted many people to ask, “Was your great-uncle Freeman similar in nature to Donald Trump?”

Admittedly, Freeman did jail time while he was successfully fighting extradition from California over the Hitler hustle. It is true that he was banned from racetracks in three countries—and you had to work hard to be judged too unethical for Tijuana. Honesty also compels me to mention that Freeman Bernstein ran a very successful Irish Festival in Boston in 1929 under the unlikely name of Roger O’Ryan. Alas, my great-uncle (soon called “O’Ryanstein” in the Boston papers) was indicted for grand larceny after his Irish alter ego unaccountably disappeared with the gate receipts.

Despite this checkered legal and financial record (including two bankruptcies), Freeman possessed a big-hearted generosity of spirit lacking in a certain bilious billionaire.

After a rare big payday, my great-uncle flashed a $100 bill to pay for a $2 breakfast at a Times Square hotel. The moment the waiter handed my great-uncle $98 in change, a down-on-his-luck acquaintance asked to borrow $75. Without hesitating, Freeman gave him most of most of his current net worth. As Variety declared in its obit, “Bernstein had the native ability to borrow cash and his credit was considerable because when he was again in the chips he paid off.”

Freeman embraced foreigners—and, unlike Trump, not just rich ones or international beauty-contest winners. Whenever my great-uncle traveled (and he was politely escorted out of many countries), he relished the chance to try out his cons on new unsuspecting audiences.

But Freeman also could be fearless—trying to get an actor out of Russia in the midst of Lenin’s early purges and visiting Nazi Germany as an American Jew in late 1935. He even ran a circus tour in Outer Mongolia, accepting furs as the admission fee.

For the most part, my great-uncle steered clear of partisan politics. Sure, he tried to sell the 1916 Woodrow Wilson campaign on commissioning him to produce a full-length movie called Prosperity. And he arranged for the distribution of millions of copies of a Yiddish pamphlet boosting Herbert Hoover as a “Modern Moses” in 1928. But these were business propositions—not Trumpian bids for power.

Freeman carried out his hustles with a smile on his face and the hope that his marks would come back for more. After he abandoned a vaudeville troupe in the Dominican Republic, the American vice counsel in Santo Domingo wired the FBI to arrest Bernstein when his ship docked in New York. The diplomat pegged Freeman perfectly as he warned the government agents not to believe “any suave story he may tell” because he “has a gift for making black look white.”

Freeman Bernstein may have been a jail-bird, a bankrupt, and a con man. But he also had a code of honor, a beguiling honesty about himself and an appreciation of the foibles of his fellow man. He was willing to let the cards fall where they may, though he would have preferred to cut the deck. In short, I am proud to say that my grifter great-uncle, the Pet of Times Square, was nothing like Donald Trump.

Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is covering his tenth presidential campaign. He is also a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU and a lecturer in political science at Yale. His new book, Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer, is published by Blue Rider Press.

Source : Daily Beast

Resurrected Nkrumah can’t lead CPP to election victory

Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana Dr. Ransford Gyampoh has downplayed the chances of newly elected flagbearer of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, in the 2016 elections.

According to him, the party as a whole needs to do a little more to have any impact, especially in the current political landscape.

Dr. Gyampoh stressed that even if CPP’s founder and Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah was around, he would not be able to lead the current CPP to power.

“Not even a resurrected Kwame Nkrumah can lead the CPP in its current form to win an election,” Dr. Gyampoh emphasized in an interview on TV3’s News 360 on Monday, February 1.

He explained that Kwame Nkrumah was an organizer who brought people from far and wide together.

“[Kwame Nkrumah] knew how to organize people. So, if the CPP is unable to make sure that all people who trace their ancestry to Kwame Nkrumah are brought on board, then I daresay again not even a resurrected Kwame Nkrumah can lead the CPP as it stands now to electoral victory.”

Mr. Greenstreet pulled a surprise at CPP’s Congress on Saturday after beating off competition from three others including the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah to emerge winner of the party’s presidential primary.

He also becomes the fifth presidential candidate of the CPP since 2000.

Source : Ghana Web

Republican hopefuls agree: The key to the White House is working-class whites

— Lindsay Legault-Knowles is the kind of voter the Republican Party is desperate to rouse. She is white and from working-class Vermont. She fears the changes happening all around her. “It’s hard for me to have friends,” she said, “because everyone seems to disagree.”

She drove here on a cold January night to make phone calls on Ted Cruz’s behalf. The presidential candidate’s wife showed up, too. With a silk Hermès scarf draped over her shoulders, Heidi Cruz, a former Goldman Sachs executive, sat down at the campaign office next to the college student, who wore a Confederate flag T-shirt.

They came from different Americas — and never once spoke — but shared a mission: to find more people with backgrounds like Legault-Knowles’s, one call at a time.

Their encounter illustrated the urgent imperative of Republicans — historically the party of business, money and power — to broaden their coalition with many more white working-class voters. As the nation diversifies and the GOP struggles to adapt, the presidential hopefuls see this demographic bloc as the key to taking back the White House.

“Some of them have never voted,” Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said. “It’s staggering. If they can be convinced to come out and vote, we win.”

There has been a debate within the party — and the political class — about whether Republicans need to diversify to win or whether it just needs to attract even more of its core constituencies. So far in 2016, led by Cruz and Donald Trump, the election has moved decisively toward the latter. The exceptions, such as Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, are either out of the race or on the edges of it.

Trump is making the most visceral, raw appeal to people who feel left out of the economic recovery and ignored by the political establishment. He espouses hard-line views on immigration that border on nativism, protectionist trade policies and a tough approach with countries like China, Japan and Mexico that he portrays as thieves of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Cruz, a Texas senator, is taking a similar tack, especially on immigration, airing a provocative television ad last week that depicts illegal immigrants racing across the U.S. border in suits and high heels to steal jobs from Americans.

By contrast, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is trying to connect with working-class voters through policy ideas. He advocates expanding vocational education and sings the virtues of manual labor. Bush’s aspirational economic message echoes Rubio.

Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also make biographical overtures; the former talks about his unlikely journey as a son of Cuban immigrants, while the latter highlights his upbringing in a hard-scrabble Pennsylvania steel town.

“They’re my peeps,” Kasich said of blue-collar voters in a recent interview. “People who think, ‘I get screwed, I get nothing.’ That’s where I grew up. . . . That’s who I am. That’s my DNA.”

Yuval Levin, the editor of the conservative National Affairs publication, said the primary “has become a menu of options for the party as it searches for a way to bring them back. One side says we’ll focus on immigration and trade, the other focuses on cost-of-living concerns and market-driven solutions and not so much about culture.”

The mission is not limited to the campaign trail, however. Within the GOP’s congressional ranks, some reform-minded lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), are pushing anti-poverty policies. Ryan co-hosted a presidential candidates forum in South Carolina over the weekend devoted to those issues.

Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, has been encouraging party leaders to develop better policies to address wage stagnation. For instance, he supports raising the federal minimum wage, a departure from Republican orthodoxy.

“As a party we speak a lot about deregulation and tax policy, and you know what? People have been hearing that for 25 years and they’re getting tired of that message,” Romney said in a recent interview. He added, “I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage. I think as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal.”

Republican strategists describe the party’s relationship with working-class voters as a long flirtation that has veered between an all-out embrace in the years of Ronald Reagan and a drift away in the George W. Bush era.

Whites without college degrees made up 41 percent of the overall electorate in 2012, though that share has declined steadily over the years. They made up a core part of Bill Clinton’s coalition in 1992 and 1996, but have moved away from Democrats in recent elections. President Obama lost this bloc by 25 points to GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, the widest margin since Reagan’s 1984 landslide, according to national network exit polls.

As Republicans face difficulties winning over Latino, young and women voters, further maximizing support and turnout among working-class whites is critical.

“I think the Republicans are doing this out of necessity,” said Tad Devine, chief strategist for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “They’re being backed into a demographic corner right now.”

On the campaign trail, Trump fashions himself as a prophet for the aggrieved and downtrodden. Last week in Claremont, N.H., he bemoaned the skeletal remains of the region’s once-booming manufacturing economy — and he laid blame on the political leaders of both parties.

“I’m taking our jobs back from China,” Trump exhorted. “You people know better than anybody about jobs leaving an area. Look what happened to you? What the hell? . . . You look throughout New England, it’s still scarred all over the place after many years.”

The night before, he was in Lowell, Mass., sounding his familiar refrain about undocumented immigrants, whom he cast as shadowy villains responsible for sabotaging people’s livelihoods and degrading the country’s pride.

Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said the candidate’s words for the working class are deliberately personal. “People don’t feel like these jobs have disappeared,” he said. “They’ve been stolen, and they don’t mind if someone is speaking forcefully about taking them back for blue-collar Americans.”

More than anything, Trump’s rhetoric on immigration has captured the attention of working-class whites who say they had been falling away from party politics.

“None of [the candidates] are saying what they should be saying — ‘Get them out of here’ — except Trump,” said Tim Labelle, 73, a retired auto mechanic who voted for Obama in 2008. “They’re taking our jobs and they’re gonna take over our whole country if we don’t put an end to it.”

Trump claims he has widespread support from unionized workers. But Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in an interview that Trump is “trying to confuse them” with “blatant racism.”

“They’re not going to be duped by somebody saying, ‘I know we brought this engineer in for $25,000 when the average wage is $75,000, but don’t worry about that. Worry about this other guy raking your lawn, doing jobs that people normally don’t want that don’t even pay minimum wage,’ ” Trumka said. “He tries to make it seem as if these guys over here really are your enemy.”

Cruz is echoing Trump on immigration, including recently calling for a border wall. In one of his latest ads, entitled “Invasion,” businessmen and women stream across the border to show what Cruz calls the “economic calamity” of illegal immigration.

Source : The Washington Post

Explaining the strategy, Roe said, “The Republican argument can no longer be just about taxes and spending. It’s got to speak to the working poor and the culture.”

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said immigration is a useful frame for the underlying issue of the campaign.

“It’s not the issue,” Brooks said. “It’s a reason for explaining the pain being felt by the working class and the working poor, who have tenuous employment and are making $11 to $15 an hour, are not college educated, and mostly nonreligious.”

Like Cruz and Trump, Rubio has also sought to strike a hard-nosed posture on immigration, distancing himself from failed Senate legislation he co-sponsored that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But the tone of his pitch to working-class voters is different.

Addressing a bundled-up crowd last week at a New Hampshire community college’s auto shop, Rubio talked up his plans for paid family leave and a child tax credit. Surrounded by tool boxes, he said that young people need to learn tangible skills.

“What you do here in this center, we need more of,” Rubio said. “We need to be teaching more people to be welders and plumbers and pipe cleaners, auto mechanics and airplane technicians.”

Back at Cruz’s headquarters one night last week, Legault-Knowles and Heidi Cruz were joined by Bob Smith, a former U.S. senator and the campaign’s New Hampshire chairman. While the two women worked the phones, Smith, a towering Vietnam veteran and former high-school teacher, surveyed the room.

“The people we’re all talking to, they are fed up with broken promises,” Smith said. “Republican, Democrat — they’re ordinary working men and women and they’re not for anyone. They feel like outcasts. And they’re up for grabs.”

Scott Clement in Washington contributed to this report.

GOP candidates have an unruly fight over serious issues, with no clear winner

The final Republican debate of the year featured sharp exchanges over national security, personal insults and regular interruptions, but in the end there were no outright winners. In that sense, it was an almost perfect reflection of the party’s unpredictable nomination campaign.

The two-hour session was as unruly as it was substantive. It dealt with some of the most serious issues of the moment but broke down in shouting and interruptions that seemed to underscore the determination of all the candidates to make their mark as the campaign heads into the holidays and a short respite before resuming in January.

Donald Trump, who dominates the national polls, came under repeated fire for proposing to bar the entry of Muslims into the United States and for saying he would go after the families of Islamic State terrorists. Though appearing flustered at times, he held firm on his positions and refused to concede any ground, seemingly confident that his harsh rhetoric continues to find support.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, whose support nationally has eroded steadily through the fall, led the attacks against Trump, a sign of his resolve to make one more run at turning around a candidacy that has struggled for visibility. More than any other candidate, he got under Trump’s skin — but without a clear outcome.

Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), who have been circling each other for weeks in anticipation of a final showdown sometime next year, argued over security, surveillance and the best strategy to defeat Islamic State terrorists. Cruz was thrown on the defensive over security issues, and both had to defend their positions on immigration. But neither candidate scored a truly telling blow on the other.

The debate was singularly focused on matters of war and terrorism, coming at a time of heightened security concerns and on a day when schools in Los Angeles were closed because of a threat of a terrorist attack.

The discussion enjoyed only one clear consensus: that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have left the country less safe. The conversation also revealed significant divisions within the Republican Party on issues that GOP voters now see as the most important for the coming election.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) staked out his position as the least hawkish of the group, while effectively inserting himself into the back and forth between Cruz and Rubio. Carly Fiorina sought to highlight her private-sector experience. Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for a candidate who could unify the country. And retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson sought to counter impressions that his inexperience in foreign affairs makes him a poor candidate for the presidency.

At some moments, the debate delved into arcane, though important, details of how to combat terrorist threats — touching on Islamic State fighters abroad, the possibility of homegrown terrorists becoming radicalized without family or neighbors knowing, the proper vetting of Syrian refugees coming to the United States, and how best to secure the country’s borders.

At other points, the frustrations of a campaign that has defied predictions and expectations, one in which governing experience has proved to be no asset and outsiders have drawn significantly more support, spilled onto the stage.

The exchanges between Bush and Trump were particularly revealing as a measure of how the race has unfolded in ways the former governor never expected. Bush sought to cast himself as the grown-up and Trump as an unserious candidate. He called Trump’s proposals “crazy” and “unhinged.”

Trump, as has been his style all year, swatted back by talking about his strength vs. what he said was Bush’s weakness. In trying to dismiss Bush, he compared his front-running status in the polls with Bush’s single-digit support.

The back and forth between Cruz and Rubio was far more substantive but with a political edge. Rubio’s goal was to undermine Cruz’s effort to consolidate conservatives of all stripes — tea party, evangelical and libertarian — by questioning whether he is as conservative as he claims. Cruz’s rebuttals were designed to paint Rubio as an establishment conservative, out of touch with an electorate that includes many voters angry at the party’s leadership.

The exchange everyone was expecting — between Cruz and Trump — came and went with no points scored. Cruz had criticized Trump at a private fundraiser last week, suggesting that there were legitimate questions about whether the billionaire businessman had the judgment to be president.

When the issue was raised near the end of the debate, a smiling Trump mockingly warned Cruz not to attack. Cruz ducked the question, saying the voters will have to make judgments about all of the candidates’ qualifications, temperament and judgment. Once again, the two men — who have avoided going after each other — maintained their unusual alliance.

The debate marked the end of one of the most tumultuous and unpredictable years in American politics. Whether it was a harbinger of things to come or a false indicator of the state of the Republican Party is the question that will begin to be answered in seven weeks.

The lineup on the stage highlighted how, in 2015, grass-roots Republicans have rejected the governing class in favor of outsiders. Trump and Carson, two nonpoliticians, and Cruz, an anti-establishment senator, stood together as a symbol of the electorate’s fury with the established order.

Arranged farther out on the stage were a series of elected officials — among them two governors, a former governor and two senators — who have struggled to find their balance in a year when records in office, governing experience and policy white papers have been given short shrift by rank-and-file conservatives.

That’s been the theme of 2015: the establishment on the defensive and outsiders on the rise. But what comes next is the question all the candidates and many in the party leadership are asking.

Months ago, many Republican strategists assumed that the nomination contest would begin to revert to more familiar form as the primaries and caucuses neared. But that was before Trump survived one controversy after another, the latest coming in the past week with his proposal to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States. If the recent polls are correct, Trump has weathered that storm as he has survived others.

Now the uncertainty about what comes next seems greater than ever. Could Trump be the nominee? Will Republicans see a three- or four-person race into the spring, with Trump in the center of the action? Or will the campaign devolve to a two-person contest between Cruz and Rubio, as some have predicted recently? Will New Hampshire send one of the other establishment candidates into the later contests with enough momentum to become a force in the race?

Along with uncertainty comes a sense of urgency for all the candidates. When the campaign resumes in earnest after the holidays, Iowa’s caucuses will be only a month away and New Hampshire’s primary a short five weeks in the future.

Many of the candidates hope or assume that the polls will look different by late January and that Iowa or New Hampshire will deliver a surprise. History suggests that could be the case. But history has been an unreliable guide in this pre-election year. That’s why Tuesday’s debate looked and sounded the way it did.

Source : Washington Post