- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2015

An interesting hire: Donald Trump has named Katrina Pierson as his national campaign spokeswoman. She ran for Congress in Texas, is a former adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz, a member of the Dallas Tea Party and Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Board and founder of the Garland Tea Party. The Trump campaign calls her a “passionate advocate for freedom” and a heavyweight thinker on state and federal budgets, civil liberties, community organizing and health care. She’s got appropriate style for the marketplace.

“Hated by #GOP & feared by #DNC puts @realDonaldTrump in prime position Effectively stripping power from ruling elites,” Ms. Pierson noted in a recent tweet.

“Katrina understands the need for real change in Washington, D.C., and the importance of competence in the next election,” says Mr. Trump.

Meanwhile, Republicans trust the billionaire the most when it comes to immigration issues. Half of the GOPers say Mr. Trump is best qualified to take on the border challenges, with Sen. Marco Rubio at a very distant second with 11 percent. So says a new YouGov poll, which also found that 63 percent of Republicans agree with Mr. Trump’s public assessment of the situation: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems.” More numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

THE BIG REPUBLICAN DEAL THIS WEEKEND

It is billed as Florida’s most significant political event of the year. The Florida Republican Party’s two-day Sunshine Summit begins Friday in Orlando, complete with 2,500 activists and a bristling GOP lineup: Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Govs. Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and John Kasich; Sens. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul; Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Each candidate gets an hour onstage, not 60-second cameos.

Noteworthy Floridians will also be on hand, including Reps. David W. Jolly and Ron DeSantis, Gov. Rick Scott and former American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas. The big Statesman Dinner — staged in the Fantasia Ballroom at Disney World — boasts a keynote address by Dick Cheney.

“We look forward to firing up the grass-roots as we build the momentum to deliver our 29 electoral votes to the Republican nominee in 2016,” notes Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. And yes, C-SPAN is covering it all, beginning at 10 a.m. EST Friday.

Democrats are looking askance at the choice of Mr. Cheney as speaker, meanwhile.

“If this is who the GOP candidates are taking their policy cues from, it tells you all you need to know about where they would take this country: backward,” declares Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

AND THE BIG DEMOCRATIC DEAL

There are not 14 here, there are three. The second officially sanctioned Democratic presidential debate on Saturday features front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Bernard Sanders and Martin O’Malley, chatting and sparring with one another for two hours in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS News is the hosting news organization, with John Dickerson as moderator. Things get rolling at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.

Analysts have waggish speculations. Some say the “gloves will come off.” Some predict the muscular Mr. O’Malley’s shirt will come off. One thing is for sure, though: Mrs. Clinton — lofty hairdo and all — has ambitious plans.

“After discussing her vision for the country and the fights she will wage and win on behalf of Americans at the second Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton will stop by a debate watch party at Drake University,” her campaign advises, adding that the candidate intends to stir up “grassroots effort in all 1,682 precincts across the Hawkeye State.”

Lying in wait, however: FOX News will offer a live one-hour special titled “AEHQ: The Democratic Debate Wrap,” to follow the bout at 11 p.m. ET. Bret Baier is host, plus a panel of cryptic observers, much analysis and live reports from inside the debate hall itself.

WEEKEND CANDIDATE TRACKER

Once the big deals are done, a few candidates hit the endless campaign trail. Among Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz is off to South Carolina for the Rally for Religious Liberty on Saturday. “Religious liberty is a top priority in this campaign, and will be a top priority in my administration,” he says. Donald Trump journeys to Beaumont, Texas, for yet another jumbo rally on Saturday. Ben Carson heads for South Carolina for an event at Bob Jones University in Greenville, followed by a Sunday appearance at the International Church of Las Vegas and two rallies in Henderson, Nevada,

As for the Democrats: Both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernard Sanders will remain in Iowa for the weekend, she at a barbecue in Ames, he at events in Des Moines and Indianola.

CARSON’S QUICK REMINDER

“I hate political correctness. It’s dangerous. It’s being used to divide us and prevent us from speaking honestly about our challenges. I’m willing to stand up and fight it. Nowadays, if you’re pro-life, you’re waging a war on women. If you’re for traditional marriage, you’re a homophobe. If you emphasize work over welfare, you don’t care about the poor. How ridiculous,” says Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson. “The values upon which America was built allowed us to become the greatest force for good on the planet. We shouldn’t give them away in the name of political correctness.”

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Rancho de la Osa, a Spanish Colonial Revival guest ranch built on 239 acres in 1889 near Sasabe, Arizona. Ten bedrooms, seven baths, 18,000 square feet; includes adobe main house, guest houses. Main dining room seats 30, commercial kitchen, nine fireplaces, managers and staff quarters, out buildings. Swimming pool, eucalyptus trees, big views; in High Sonoran Desert near wildlife refuge, host to two U.S. presidents, multiple movie and fashion shoots. Priced at $1.4 million through Ranchodelaosa.com.

POLL DU JOUR

46 percent overall say illegal immigration is a “very serious” problem; 70 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

29 percent overall say illegal immigrants are “more likely to commit violent crimes”; 49 percent of Republicans, 26 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent overall trust neither political party with immigration reform; 26 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall trust the Democratic Party; 1 percent of Republicans, 14 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent overall trust the Republican Party; 62 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 5-9.

Outrage, disbelief, happy talk to [email protected]

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