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Republican Presidential Primary Cluster Open Thread

Republican Presidential Primary Cluster Open Thread

Is it too early to drink?

Welcome to our pre-debate open thread. I’ll be updating periodically until the festivities begin. Refresh your browser frequently for the latest updates… if you dare.

Tonight’s debate

Back on the main stage: Sen. Rand Paul
Joining the undercard for the second time ever: Jim Gilmore
Throwing his own party: Donald Trump

Our coverage of the debate will begin just before 9:00 ET. No undercard coverage from us this time.

What will a Trumpless debate look like?

It will have much better hair! Hey-o. Tip your waitresses. I’ll be here all week. Seriously. I will be here all week.

But seriously, with Trump gone, we have a few possible scenarios:

1) A good Rubio v. Cruz fight. We saw a few of these moments during the last debate.
2) Cruz spends a good portion of his time insulting The Donald from afar.
3) Carson falls asleep on stage for real this time.
4) Rand Paul gets in at least one “Audit the Ted” quip.
5) Kasich talks about his father, the mailman. Did you know his father was a mailman? Because his father was a mailman.
6) All of the above.

My money’s on #6.

Is Cruz’s campaign beginning to view Rubio’s growing support as a threat? Certainly looks that way:

Senator Ted Cruz, who has been harshly criticizing Donald J. Trump all week on the campaign trail and in television commercials here, is now broadening his attacks to include Senator Marco Rubio, an unmistakable acknowledgment that Mr. Rubio is gaining support in the closing days before the Monday caucuses.

Mr. Cruz incorporated a critique of Mr. Rubio into his closing stump speech at a rally in West Des Moines on Wednesday night, arguing that his colleague had effectively given up the fight against same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court ruling last year legalized those unions.

“Several of the leading Republican candidates, including both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, said publicly this decision is settled, it’s the law of the land, we should accept it, surrender and move on,” said Mr. Cruz, drawing boos. “Those are word for word the talking points of Barack Obama. There is something profoundly wrong when Republican presidential candidates are reading Barack Obama’s talking points on marriage.”

Just as striking, Mr. Cruz’s campaign quietly began running an ad in Iowa Thursday targeting Mr. Rubio over his support of “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

Showing images of Mr. Rubio standing with the so-called Gang of Eight senators who wrote the 2013 immigration overhaul, the spot features a clip from Rush Limbaugh explaining that the Florida senator was a part of that group while Mr. Cruz was not.

The ad, which Mr. Cruz’s campaign did not release to the media, also flashes a message on screen: “Rubio betrayed our trust.”

For the Democrats, Rubio is Public Enemy No. 1:

What if Trump decides to make an appearance at the primetime event anyway?

IJ Review’s Joe Perticone has that scoop:

Exclusive footage from the RNC headquarters:



Trump threatened to sit out tonight’s debate if Fox News did not capitulate to his demands; demands which included replacing Megyn Kelly as a moderator. For the backstory of that alleged fight, see here.

When Fox News refused to boot Kelly, Trump announced he would not attend the debate but would instead throw his own party.

donald trump megyn kelly fox news debate

Later, we learned Trump demanded $5 million dollars to appear in the debate. Naturally, Fox told him to keep steppin’.

Is there really a raging war between Fox News and Donald Trump?

Doubtful. More feasible? This is political theater at its absolute worst.

Further, it’s conceivable Trump’s decision to abstain from tonight’s debate was calculated. In doing so, Trump avoids sparring with Cruz, particularly after their latest round of verbal assaults, on live TV mere days before the Iowa caucus. Trump might be good at talking trash, but doesn’t fair so well when slapping Cruz on stage. And that whole amnesty thing? Neither Cruz nor Trump are blameless. Both have changed their positions on amnesty, however, one of Trump’s biggest selling points has been his big beautiful wall. There’d be no escaping that discussion tonight. Finally, Trump gets to reinforce his standing as Ultimate Outsider by being “at war with Fox News” who has quite literally been one of his biggest promoters.

Also likely:

Trump is bringing friends!

Both Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee will join Trump at his party, though I’ve seen no confirmation regarding their attendance in the undercard debate.

Will CNN air Trump’s event?

Great question. The Internet is also confused about this. At first the network announced they would broadcast Trump’s party, then later said they would not. We’re working on confirmation and will update when we have it.

The entertainment has arrived:

Trump claims his temper tantrum exclusive party will benefit veterans, but is that true?

Veterans might get something, but it will be peanuts compared to what Trump makes off this sideshow. All donations to his “pro-veteran” cause go straight to Trump’s personal foundation. From The Federalist:

GOP front-runner Donald Trump announced that he would hold his own pro-veterans event during the debate to raise money for veterans. Trump even set up a special website to solicit donations to help veterans.

“Honor their valor,” the website,, states. “Donate now to help our Veterans.”

The website, which is nothing more than a single page with stock photos and a credit card donation form, claims that “100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.”

There’s only one problem: 100% of the money raised on the site goes directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, according to a disclosure listed at the bottom of the page.

“The Donald J Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,” the disclosure reads. “An email confirmation with a summary of your donation will be sent to the email address provided above.”

But the Donald J Trump Foundation gives lots of dough to vets, right? Um, yeah… not exactly. The Weekly Standard has that story:

As Emily Canal of Forbes reported in October: “The Donald J. Trump Foundation has donated $5.5 million to 298 charities between 2009 and 2013 (the most recent year available), according to the non-profit’s 990 tax forms from those years. Of that, only $57,000 has been donated to seven organizations that directly benefit military veterans or their families, Forbes found. Wounded Warriors was not among the organizations Trump’s foundation gave to in that time period.”

Some veterans say that the billionaire has been AWOL when it comes to helping veterans. “Donald Trump is not a leader in veterans’ philanthropy, unless he’s donated a lot of money that nobody knows about,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the New York Times in July. “We were founded in New York. We are headquartered in New York. I’ve been here 10 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Donald Trump.”

Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.”

In an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that “Mr. Trump has made significant financial and in kind contributions to many Veterans organizations, personally and not through the Donald J. Trump foundation.” Trump’s spokeswoman did not reply to an email asking if she could share an estimate of Trump’s personal donations to veterans organizations.

The Trump Foundation’s $57,000 in donations to veterans groups from 2009 to 2013 amounted to far less than Trump’s donations to the Clinton Foundation. “Trump is listed on the Clinton Foundation’s donor page as having given somewhere between $100,001 and $250,000,” the Daily Caller reported last year.

Trump campaign spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, was asked which veterans organizations would be participating in or benefiting from tonight’s event. She couldn’t name one. Brutal. From our friends at Red State:

Wait, so who the heck is this Jim Gilmore guy?

Our next sideshow-hating President, of course:

The former Governor of Virginia has an impressive resume and pleasant demeanor. Here’s Gilmore in the last debate he attended:

Speaking to The Blaze, Gilmore said his goal was spread good ideas:

“My goal here is to exceed what people think and to actually put some good ideas out there,” he added.

When asked about his low poll numbers, Gilmore had a brazen response: “I don’t care.”

“You know you asked me the wrong question,” he said. “You asked me about polls. What do I care about that? What I care about is getting the ideas out there for the people of New Hampshire then the winning and losing will take care of itself.”

Gilmore 2016?

If you’re watching the undercard debate, I want to hear from you!

Cast your vote now:

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Democrats…

Current status:


Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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I will be watching the actual debate, not the circus.

Here’s a question…. for the amount of bitching Trump has done about the media making money off him (would his inauguration be on pay per view?), is he going to charge CNN to broadcast his little event?

Trump’s move is exposing “Veteran-o-phila” for all it ever has been. Political pandering. That’s why the VA sucks in every way. Best thing for veterans: go the route of General Washington: the greatest honor is in being a regular citizen, as Washington put it: “Call me Mister Washington”.

    Radegunda in reply to bvw. | January 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    General Washington? What a loser. Trump assures us that he, Donald J. Trump, will “easily go down as the greatest president in the history of this country!” He’s got better teeth than Washington, though the hair might be a toss-up.

      Radegunda in reply to Radegunda. | January 28, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Our resident Trumpbots appear to be perfectly comfortable with Trump’s extravagantly self-worshiping statements.

      Or will they say we’re just too dumb to know when Trump the Unfiltered Truth-Teller becomes Trump the Master of Literary Hyperbole?

      Maybe the Trumpsters can tell us when to switch our listening mode from “Trump always says exactly what he thinks!” to “Trump is a great showman! You can’t take it all literally, dummy!”

      Radegunda in reply to Radegunda. | January 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      It would be nice to think the down votes are for Trump’s absurdly preening statement, but chances are the down votes are for my temerity in calling attention to something that Trump actually said. Apparently that violates the True Doctrine of Trumpism.

      Maybe they’re because you will not reveal who you support?


    Ragspierre in reply to bvw. | January 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    My kids used to call Abraham Lincoln “Uncle Blinken”, and George Washington was “the man with clouds on his ears” from the ubiquitous portrait.

Derek and Matilda Zoolander had a son named Donald J. who has already developed his first modeling look – the selfie comb over.

I’ve been drinking for some time and I don’t need to watch the debate to know how the cow ate the cabbage. Trump and Cruz are not in the uniparty unless they are lying. The rest are in the uniparty and are being set up to be a place holder so Hillary will win and the country club “R”epublicans can stay at the country club instead of having to go, you know, actually GOVERN. I’ll vote Cruz in the primary or Trump in the general. I WILL NOT VOTE FOR ANY OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES. And if someone else gets in, I may not vote for ANY “R”epublican in any race, depending on the tricks the GOPe plays in the convention.

I noticed my belly button lint has been accumulating of late. Probably need to do something about that, tonight should be a good time for that.
Then once that chore is completed I’ll take the cat out for a walk. He enjoys chasing after me and attacking my feet and legs. He then scrambles to the nearest tree and taunts me to come up and fight like a dog.

Obama bullies his opponents — Nasty!
Trump bullies anyone who gets in his way — He knows how to win!

Obama reveals an inflated sense of self — Pathological narcissist!
Trump boasts that he will “easily go down as the greatest president in the history of this country” — He’s confident!

Boehner and McConnell cut deals with Democrats — Scummy RINO sellout traitors!
Trump says he gets along great with Pelosi and Reid and he can make deals with anyone (except Cruz) — He’s a genius!

Rubio made a deal with Schumer — Anyone who sits down with Schumer is dead to me!
Trump says he’s close to Schumer in many ways and can work with him — He’s a great negotiator!

Obama makes a joke at the expense of Special Olympians – Heartless creep!
Trump mocks a reporter’s physical disability – He’s not politically correct! It’s refreshing!

People wonder if Trump fans are disregarding inconvenient facts – How dare you question our intelligence!
Trump tells people they’re “stupid” if they don’t vote for him – He’s unfiltered! He’s honest!

Palin endorses Trump – See, he’s the real conservative!
Trump disses people who call themselves “mavericks” and don’t sit down to cut deals – He can get things done!

Politicians do favors for donors – Corruption!
Trump buys favors from politicians – He’s a businessman! They all do it!

Do Trumpbots never feel embarrassed to be so hypocritical?

    Radegunda in reply to Radegunda. | January 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Wow, there’s already someone proudly waving the “Hypocrites for Trump!” banner. No doubt there will be more.

    Radegunda in reply to Radegunda. | January 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Obama has trouble apologizing for anything he’s done — Self-righteous narcissist!
    Trump says he doesn’t repent or ask forgiveness because he doesn’t do anything that requires it — He’s a true Christian!

What a hilarious post, Kemberlee! I’m ROFL! Great title, too. I love the embedded animated GIFs. Those pretty much sum up this whole “Cluster”.

“I used to be disgusted, now I’m just amused.”

“When Fox News refused to boot Kelly, Trump announced he would not attend the debate but would instead have his own event.”

I’d suggest it was when Fox gave Trump the gift of an absurd and/or biased Twitter response. With that move, Fox gave Trump a gift.

The picture of the dumpster fire is just awesome!!!!

“Is it too early to drink?”

Never too early. Ask Rags 🙂

Sammy Finkelman | January 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Will CNN air Trump’s event?

CBSN will.

These Debates are NOT Debates. They are an excuse for the Leftist Press, to attack Conservatives. If these were real Debates, they would be on a neutral Site. The Leadership of both Political parties, is horrible. Trump, showed that he has guts. He is not afraid to be Bold. That’s Good. We need it.

So Trump refusing to walk into an ambush is “taking his ball and going home,” or “being a cry-baby.”

This spin is so obvious it’s hardly worth pointing out, but I will anyway.

Fox has shown themselves for what they are… little better than the MSNBC’s of the world.

Notice the blackout of Trump on Fox (online) today. Not a headline ‘above the fold’. There! They are teaching him a lesson. Talk about taking your ball and going home! The leading thing on Trump is way down low in 8-point font and negative news, to wit “Reports question Trump’s giving to veterans groups.”

I was hoping that there was at least one network that was somewhat neutral. Somewhat unbiased. With the Meygan Kelly tantrums (she should be fired) alas, not even Fox is close to impartial. She is so arrogant she thinks the news is about her instead of doing her job, which is reporting the news.

And they ask me why I drink.