NEWS AND OPINION:
A bodacious announcement, monumental follow-up speeches and relentless campaigning appear to have paid off for Sen. Ted Cruz. He’s got “big momentum,” according to Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which gauged the outcome of the Texas Republican’s news announcement last week that he would run for president. “His support has increased from 5 percent to 16 percent in just over a month, enough to make him one of three candidates in the top tier of GOP contenders, along with Scott Walker and Jeb Bush,” the pollster says. The Wisconsin governor has garnered 20 percent, Mr. Bush 17 percent.
“Cruz has really caught fire with voters identifying themselves as very conservative since his announcement. After polling at only 11 percent with them a month ago, he now leads the GOP field with 33 percent to 25 percent for Walker and 12 percent for Ben Carson — with no one else in double digits,” Mr. Jensen says.
Will the Cruz surge continue? That will depend on how Mr. Cruz fares on the long march to 2016 — which is also the case with his many rivals on both sides of the aisle. He appears all in though. Mr. Cruz opened his national headquarters in Houston on Tuesday and is bound for 10 campaign stops in Iowa and South Carolina through Saturday. These remain grass-roots events in college auditoriums, motels and even a winery in the Hawkeye State, and then it’s on to the Palmetto State, where Mr. Cruz headlines a town hall meeting at the Beacon Drive-In restaurant in Spartanburg, a dessert reception in Greenville and lunch at the Palmetto Pig BBQ in Columbia — where pork is king and banana pudding costs $1.95.
— Bumper sticker spotted one block from the U.S. Capitol.
OBAMA’S UTAH FACTOR
Rev up Air Force One — it’s time for another presidential trip somewhere. Following a quick hop to Kentucky on Thursday, President Obama is bound for Utah, and his destinations including Salt Lake City and Hill Air Force Base, where he’ll “deliver remarks on the economy,” and so forth and so on. The folks out that way are taking cryptic note of the visit.
“Utah will become the second-to-last state the president has visited while in office. It’s about time. If you look at election numbers, it’s not hard to see why it’s taken so long. In 2012 Obama received less than 25 percent of the Utah vote, the lowest percentage of any state, when he ran against Utah’s adopted favorite son, Mitt Romney,” says a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, which notes that 26,000 people currently work at Hill AFB, contributing an annual $3.3 billion to the state.
“The visit to Utah’s largest military installation comes as the president is being challenged by Republicans in Congress to get his hawk on. Mr. Obama’s 2016 budget request would raise Pentagon expenditures to about $561 billion. But many Republican lawmakers, citing tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine, would like to see even more, and they are willing to cut domestic programs to get it,” the editorial continues.
There is a complicated backdrop. Among other things, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is eyeing an expansion of the Utah Test and Training Range by 700,000 acres to accommodate the fierce and remarkable fighter jets at Hill, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Needless to say, environmental groups are concerned the plan could compromise pristine areas of wilderness.
Mr. Obama last visited Utah as a presidential hopeful in 2007, back when Hillary Rodham Clinton was still the favorite for the 2008 Democratic nomination. He repeated “his mantras of hope and change,” promised a more inclusive America and “zeroed in on Clinton, labeling her as a Washington insider who is beholden to lobbyists,” the editorial recalls. “Here’s betting he doesn’t say that again.”
South Dakota, incidentally, is the only other state the president has not visited.
MR. WEST ON DIRE MATTERS
“America finds itself in what may perhaps be the worst global security situation since the prelude to World War II — and that is not hyperbole. We are at a point where our allies feel abandoned and our enemies feel emboldened. I believe that this degraded situation emanates from one single mistake over the past six years — basing foreign policy and national security on election campaign promises,” writes Allen West in his inaugural column for Townhall.com.
“When President Obama proclaims that he was elected to ‘end wars,’ he failed to realize that there are only two ways by which that occurs — victory or defeat. You cannot ‘end a war’ by unilateral declaration that you are quitting — that only tends to empower an adversary. Now there are those who will castigate me as a ‘warmonger,’ but I subscribe to two simple premises; ‘peace through strength’ and ‘decisive victory through overwhelming power.’ These are two fundamental principles that we have abandoned,” the former Florida Republican and Army officer notes.
MR. SANTORUM ON JOURNALISM
“ISIS actually quoted me accurately compared to The New York Times, which is sort of a remarkable comment on the state of the media today.”
— Potential presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, comparing Islamic State media to a particular American publication on Fox News.
THE TRIALS OF MSNBC
Much has been made over MSNBC’s current audience numbers, which drew an all-time low 132,000 prime-time viewers in the coveted 25-to-54-year-old range. Even the total number of viewers on Rachel Maddow‘s nightly talk show has dropped by 19 percent. Fox News, meanwhile, continues to dominate rival news channels as the most watched, and has done so for the past 159 months. That’s over 13 years, folks. MSNBC, meanwhile, is looking for a new strategy to stay afloat.
“Strident demagoguery may sell for a short period of time, but it has little staying power. In contrast, the talking head shows on Fox and CNN deal with dissent in a much more mature manner, and usually feature more of it than MSNBC prime-time shows do,” says Ed Morrissey, senior editor at HotAir.com and a broadcast talent himself.
“Conservatives who think that MSNBC will suddenly lean to the right may be missing the point too. Even if that produces a burst of curiosity, it’s not going to stick unless the quality of the broadcasts improves,” Mr. Morrissey continues, noting that on-the-air “progressive tribal signaling” has its limits. “They need talent more than anything else, and a way to make themselves relevant to more than just the progressive fringe.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 59 percent of Americans would support a deal lifting sanctions on Iran if the nation restricts its nuclear program; 47 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree.
• 31 percent overall oppose the idea; 43 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats agree.
• 59 percent overall are not confident that the deal would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; 75 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent overall say they are confident the deal would work; 24 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 50 percent of Democrats agree.
• 39 percent overall support the establishment of an independents Palestinian state; 31 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
• 36 percent overall oppose the idea; 50 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,003 U.S. adults conducted March 26-29.
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