Thursday, February 25, 2016

Far Right Leaders Hedging on Support for Ted Cruz?

There's drama on the Democratic side of the presidential contest, but nothing like the circus that continues on the Republican side where focus from various perspectives seems aimed at stopping Donald trump.  From the outset of the GOP contest Ted Cruz has sought to secure the support of the most extreme far right and Christofascist factions.  Now, with Cruz perceived to be faltering, some of the extremists seem poised to bail on Cruz (who I continue to view as creepy and utterly unprincipled).  National Review looks at the rumors of a jump from Cruz to Rubio by these ugly elements.  Here are highlights:
A group of conservative activist leaders that voted late last year to endorse Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio held a conference call Tuesday to re-evaluate their positions based on new developments in the Republican presidential race, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. 
The upshot: If Cruz is not successful on Super Tuesday — by carrying his native Texas at the least — some of his prominent backers are prepared to defect to Rubio. The call was held by members of The GROUP, a secretive cabal of prominent conservatives led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and the Senate Conservatives Fund’s Ken Cuccinelli. The outfit has endeavored since late 2014 to coalesce “the movement” of grassroots activists nationwide behind a single GOP candidate, hoping to prevent a splintering of the conservative vote that would allow a more moderate Republican to clinch the nomination.
Not all members were invited to the discussion, which was apparently guarded from Cruz’s most loyal backers. Perkins, who did not respond to repeated calls seeking comment before this story’s publication, said afterward he was not aware of any conference call, and said there isn’t “a snowball’s chance” that he will support Rubio. (He also said any suggestion of Cruz’s allies abandoning him are “lies from the Rubio camp.” In fact, the call and recent conversations surrounding it were confirmed by multiple sources, including those not aligned with Rubio.) 
 The GROUP voted in early December on an endorsement, and after five rounds of balloting Cruz clinched the 75 percent super majority needed for members to publicly support him. 
That support, which included an endorsement from Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, helped lift Cruz to a victory in Iowa’s caucuses. But in the weeks since, doubts have arisen about Cruz’s “emotional connection” with the base, his backers say, and concerns have mounted about the “liar” label sticking to the Texas senator. Cruz’s key allies in the conservative movement have gone into damage-control mode, assuring nervous supporters of his continued viability. But even some of Cruz’s strongest advocates, such as GROUP member and longtime activist Richard Viguerie, have in recent private conversations confessed to doubts. 
Then came Saturday night. Cruz’s deflating third-place finish in South Carolina — where he unexpectedly lost the evangelical vote to Trump — landed like a thud on his activist allies, many of whom watched the election returns together in California at a weekend-long meeting of the Council for National Policy.
The Texas senator’s poor showing in South Carolina, particularly among evangelicals there — he finished six points behind Trump, and only five points ahead of Rubio — emboldened Rubio backers at the CNP gathering to question Cruz’s prospects moving forward. And Cruz’s own supporters were forced to acknowledge ominous shortcomings for a candidate whose path to the nomination runs directly through states that are ideologically akin to South Carolina.
Cruz supporters conceded that his path forward is suddenly murky, and lamented that Trump — with an assist from Rubio — had successfully upended their candidate’s core message of trustworthiness. They also complained that Cruz has not forged a personal connection with the Republican base, without which they fear his absolutist positions and organizational strength are hollow.
Rubio’s backers inside The GROUP, who by rule have remained publicly silent due to Cruz winning a supermajority of their fellow members, have not yet pushed for release from their vow of non-support. But they are laying the groundwork for a mass defection to Rubio should Cruz collapse on Super Tuesday. Particular attention is being paid to Texas, Cruz’s make-or-break home state, where an Emerson poll Wednesday showed him ahead — but Trump and Rubio within the margin of error.
If Cruz doesn’t at least deliver Texas on Tuesday, sources involved with the discussions say, there is a chance that some high-profile conservatives will begin jumping ship to Rubio and pressuring Cruz to exit the race.
As for Tony Perkins' denails, don't believe them.  The man is a pathological liar in my view and an opportunist looking to further his own interest and that of the hate group, FRC.

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