Is an anti-Cruz, pro-Rubio alliance forming in Iowa among Huckabee and Santorum fans?

posted at 1:01 pm on December 30, 2015 by Allahpundit

If there is, is there any way to explain it apart from pure spite? Huckabee and Santorum combined are averaging less than three percent in Iowa. Rubio is nearly 20 points behind Cruz in the state. Denying Cruz some extra social-con votes won’t do much to help Rubio but it might be enough to help Donald Trump, the least socially conservative candidate in the race, top Cruz if the caucuses are close. That’s a natural thing to do if you’re angry at Cruz for dislodging your hero as the GOP’s premier evangelical and want to punish him, but as a strategy for affecting the outcome, it’s incoherent.

The only way I can make sense of it is to imagine that anti-Cruz evangelicals are playing a long game. They can’t help Rubio win Iowa, but if they end up helping Trump beat Cruz there, Cruz might be sufficiently wounded that Rubio becomes the social-con choice in South Carolina (especially if he finishes ahead of Cruz in New Hampshire). But there’s a problem with that too. If the goal is to beat Cruz in Iowa by any means necessary, they should be throwing their votes to Trump, not Rubio. Barring a last-minute surprise surge next month, Rubio’s a nonfactor in the race until New Hampshire.

“This is real. There exists this feeling that Senator Cruz is only the most recent Christian conservative presidential candidate, and that the two individuals who preceded him in the 2008 and 2012 caucuses have not been given the respect that they deserve as voices in the Christian conservative movement,” says Jamie Johnson, a former member of the Iowa GOP state central committee who supported Santorum in 2012 and has not thrown his weight behind a candidate after supporting former Texas governor Rick Perry earlier this cycle.

“It is absolutely clear to me that many Huckabee and Santorum supporters are going to swing toward Marco Rubio, because he is a Christian conservative who they feel embodies more of the character traits that Huckabee and Santorum embody,” Johnson says. “That’s what I’m hearing from both camps.”…

[A]n operative with one conservative campaign says he reached out to Rubio’s team to discuss forging an alliance against Cruz. On the ground at an event in Iowa, the operative says he approached Rubio press secretary Brooke Sammon and told her, “We have a common enemy, and I’m a firm believer that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Rubio campaign declined to comment on the exchange…

The anti-Cruz effort may not be limited to ad campaigns. Sources familiar with the discussions say there are proposals to pool resources that can be used for voter outreach and education as well. A primary target of such a campaign would be Iowa’s churches, where Cruz’s opponents believe parishioners have been misled about the Texas senator’s record on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Rubio as a second choice for Huckabee and Santorum fans makes more sense than it may seem. Rubio endorsed Huck in 2008. Like Santorum and unlike Cruz, he’s strongly interventionist. His economic pitch isn’t as overtly blue-collar as Huck’s and Santorum’s is but his tax plan was ostentatiously pro-family. Most importantly, Rubio’s political appeal owes less than Cruz’s does to his stature as a voice for evangelicals, which means Rubio as nominee would leave more room for prominent Christian conservatives like Huckabee and Santorum to exert influence. I can buy all of this, right up to the point where Cruz’s record on gay marriage is somehow a major liability but Rubio’s isn’t. The day SCOTUS’s gay marriage ruling came down this summer, Huckabee was vowing civil disobedience. Rubio? He was urging people to respect the law of the land. Ted Cruz reacted to the decision by calling for retention elections for federal judges, to make them more accountable to popular will, and by proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Obergefell ruling and return marriage law to the states. Rubio? He said at the time that he opposed an amendment that would do that. (Months later, he told an interviewer that he agreed the states should control marriage.) I can understand disliking Cruz’s federalist approach to marriage if you’re socially conservative even though I don’t agree. I can’t understand strongly preferring Rubio, who seems more passive than Cruz does after adverse court rulings, on that issue. Which makes me think SSM is really just a fig leaf for whatever’s really motivating Cruz critics to prefer Rubio.

Maybe what’s going on here is a simple matter of Huck and Santorum fans trying to get their candidates’ attention. The only way anti-Cruz social conservatives can really make a splash in Iowa for Rubio is by getting Huckabee and Santorum to drop out and endorse him. That might give Ben Carson’s dwindling fan base pause to consider Rubio too, and it would help feed the inevitable media narrative (which has already begun with Trey Gowdy) that big-name Republicans are lining up for Rubio. I don’t think Huckabee or Santorum will quit before the caucuses as a matter of simple pride: They’re both former winners, and Santorum’s victory came after a very late surge in 2012, so they’re probably resolved to hang around to the bitter end and hope some of the old magic returns. This NRO piece may be a vehicle by their supporters to gently ask them to reconsider that. If H&S don’t suspend their campaigns and back Rubio, the almost certain winner in Iowa will be the supposedly fake social conservative Cruz or the actually fake conservative Trump. This is their respective teams’ way of nudging them to do what little they can to help Rubio avert that.

This is actually a glaring example of the asymmetry this year (which Cruz loves to point out) between the conservative and “moderate” lanes. Normally it’s the conservative vote that’s split six ways while one clear-cut moderate champion consolidates his wing of the party. This year it’s Cruz who’s consolidated the conservative vote, leaving too few socially conservative voters between Huckabee, Santorum, and Carson to vault Rubio into second place in Iowa, let alone first, even if he won over every one of their supporters. Meanwhile, it’s the moderates who are bitterly divided between Rubio, Christie, Bush, and Kasich (and Trump, of course). If I were Cruz, after reading this NRO piece I’d dial up a few conservative friends with deep pockets and ask them to pony up a little cash for Christie and Kasich in New Hampshire in the interest of holding down Rubio’s support — assuming Cruz hasn’t done that already. Speaking of which, your exit question: Why is longtime Clinton pal Ron Burkle suddenly contributing to John Kasich’s campaign? Hmmmmmm.


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“It is absolutely clear to me that many Huckabee and Santorum supporters are going to swing toward Marco Rubio, because he is a Christian conservative who they feel embodies more of the character traits that Huckabee and Santorum embody,” Johnson says.

If so, they’re correct.

And don’t let the doorknob hit ya where the good lord split ya.

Because for Huckabee and Santorum, Hugh Gubmint trumps social conservatism.

Steve Eggleston on December 30, 2015 at 2:21 PM

Just to agree and comment — to be a so-con, you start with con.

Which is funny because El Partido Republicano Legado, believers in Hugh Gubmint trumping every kind of conservatism, screwed both of them out of their NextInLine™ statuses (with Romney sticking around until he got more delegates than Huckabee in 2008 and Jeb! jumping in now with the express purpose of sinking Santorum).

They don’t know their Party job is to just stand there and talk about Jesus.

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 2:51 PM

#Cruz2016

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 2:52 PM

There’s a reason to oppose Cruz, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Huckabee or Santorum:

Ted Cruz – “Legal Status for 11+ Million Illegals, Double Legal Immigration, Raise H1B visas by 500%”
~~
“I like Ted Cruz, but, yes, he’s a disaster on immigration.” -Ann Coulter

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/12/18/coulter-gop-candidates-monkeys-only-trump-can-save-u-s-from-turning-into-uganda/

anotherJoe on December 30, 2015 at 2:52 PM

Wow! Three people are going to form an alliance.

Brilliant

Key West Reader on December 30, 2015 at 2:56 PM

Isn’t Rubio Mormon? Or was that just a hoax/rumor going around? Not that it matters, of course.

Buckshot Bill on December 30, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Not too many evangelicals are Mormon.

Or, for that matter, Cuban Mormon.

Weird. That seems to Rubio’s thing.

anotherJoe on December 30, 2015 at 3:09 PM

Is an anti-Cruz, pro-Rubio alliance forming in Iowa among Huckabee and Santorum fans?

Follow-up question: would any such putative alliance be big enough to notice?

I’m really not seeing cause for preferring Rubio to Cruz. Both are fairly conservative in general, but Rubio is way too cozy with the establishment GOP that is actively hostile to conservatives, which basically destroys any credit he gets for taking conservative positions. That is, you can count on Rubio to say all the right things, but you can just as much count on him to do nothing that displeases the Rockefeller Republicans and RINOs. So what good is he to a conservative?

Which makes me suspect that any such putative alliance would be of the like-minded politicians and donors: mouth conservative sentiments but vote like a RINO.

So overall, this sounds like people who were supporting Rubio already trying to make an excuse for it by claiming Huckabee and Santorum are being dissed and mistreated.

There Goes the Neighborhood on December 30, 2015 at 3:09 PM

Buckshot Bill: Rubio was born in a Mormon family at the time, but he’s long since either apostatized or never formally joined. You aren’t a member of the Mormon church until baptism, and the Mormons don’t baptize anyone under 8 years old– which may well have been long after the time Rubio’s family severed connections.

At best, he’s got some cultural Mormonism in him, but he’s no way, no how a member of the LDS church, nor was he ever.

Vanceone on December 30, 2015 at 3:10 PM

Isn’t Rubio Mormon? Or was that just a hoax/rumor going around? Not that it matters, of course.

Buckshot Bill on December 30, 2015 at 2:58 PM

He was a Mormon as a kid when his family lived in Vegas.

His family started going to the Catholic Church when he was 10 or so and he’s Catholic today.

So he’s both. And probably Baptist too. It all depends on the faith of the donor he’s talking to.

kcewa on December 30, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Buckshot Bill: Rubio was born in a Mormon family at the time, but he’s long since either apostatized or never formally joined. You aren’t a member of the Mormon church until baptism

Vanceone on December 30, 2015 at 3:10 PM

He was baptized as a Mormon when he was 8.

kcewa on December 30, 2015 at 3:13 PM

long post

short answer is that it’s pure spite

commodore on December 30, 2015 at 1:12 PM

I figure it’s people trying to keep Cruz from gaining momentum by undercutting his support from social conservatives in favor of Rubio. IOW, I don’t think lack of respect being shown to Huckabee and Santorum has anything to do with it. Just an attempt to suggest Cruz is not really the choice of social conservatives.

There Goes the Neighborhood on December 30, 2015 at 3:16 PM

Huck has a bitter, petulant side. He was furious when two prominent Southern Baptists supported Fred in 2007.

Bob Novak, Baptists Not on Board:

Inside baseball: Judge Pressler of TX was a major leader of the Southern Baptist conservative resurgence in the 80s.

..Pressler is known to be concerned that Huckabee plays to the establishment and would be subservient to the State Department and the New York Times.

On Oct. 26, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal quoted Pressler as saying: “I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention.” The next week, during their California encounter, Huckabee confirmed reports from people who know him that his good-natured facade conceals thin-skinned irritability. The candidate jumped Pressler with bitter complaints.

Shortly thereafter, bitterness was demonstrated during an interview with Zev Chafets of the New York Times. Huckabee was irritated that Richard Land, a prestigious Southern Baptist leader, had not endorsed him. “Richard Land swoons for Fred Thompson,” he said, though as a policy Land endorses no one. Huckabee appears to believe that everyone in the Southern Baptist Convention is obliged to support him: “If my own abandon me on the battlefield, it will have a chilling effect.”

Huckabee’s encounter with Pressler two months ago did not deter the judge from telling me this week much the same thing he said to the Journal’s Fund: “I don’t know of conservative appointments he made, and I don’t know of any contribution to the conservatives.”…

Novak is a bit unclear. I assume the reference to the Arkansas Baptists means theological conservative. I’m not sure if the contributions refers to theological or political conversatives.

I do know that Phyllis Schlafly said Huck left the Arkansas Republican party in shambles.

People forget this stuff because it’s been 8 years, and Huck has been on a PR tour via Fox.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:16 PM

He was a Mormon as a kid when his family lived in Vegas.

His family started going to the Catholic Church when he was 10 or so and he’s Catholic today.

So he’s both. And probably Baptist too. It all depends on the faith of the donor he’s talking to.

kcewa on December 30, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Exactly

Rubio flew on the wings of the Tea Party and sold us all a bill of goods. I will NEVER vote for him because he is nothing more than a GOPe Hack. In it for the money, too young, too stupid, too inexperienced and too gullible.

I was a founding member of our Tea Party and raised funds, donated my time, resources, sweat and tears only to have this HACK try to elevate himself into the top tier. And for WHAT? Nuzzling up to Harry Reid? GTH Rubio.

Key West Reader on December 30, 2015 at 3:17 PM

OT, or not, but made my day!

Schadenfreude on December 30, 2015 at 3:19 PM

In 2007-2008 I researched all of this. I also know that many Arkansas homeschoolers were furious over Huck’s educational acts while he was governor.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:21 PM

…Just to agree and comment — to be a so-con, you start with con….

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 2:51 PM

??? Def-con, Fisc-con. The word conservative begins with con, but it doesn’t mean confidence man, but at root, someone who conserves.

conserve (v.)…
late 14c., from Old French conserver (9c.), from Latin conservare “to keep, preserve, keep intact, guard,” from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + servare “keep watch, maintain” (see observe). Related: Conserved; conserving. As a noun (often conserves) from late 14c.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:35 PM

No big A, nothing like that is happening. Just two sore losers campaigns trying to slow down what has already occurred. This is about supporters and money for the near future, and stopping the death of both campaigns in Iowa.(HINT. THEIR DEAD ALLAH! DEAD!)

flackcatcher on December 30, 2015 at 3:39 PM

Flackcatcher,

It was off that neither candidate wants to simply drop out and endorse Rubio. They both want to stay in.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:43 PM

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:43 PM
You are right, I should have made that clear. Still, both are running zombie campaigns, with their former supporters swinging over to Cruz early in the caucus process. My friends on the ground are very impressed with the Cruz ground operation. So, there is some jealousy going on with the two.(The NAH NAH aspect of presidential politics still surprises me.)

flackcatcher on December 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM

They’re both smoked and irrelevant t…..we should hire a mob in jock straps to run past them Spiking Footballs at their “I’m leaving the playground” speeches..
.

williamg on December 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM

??? Def-con, Fisc-con. The word conservative begins with con, but it doesn’t mean confidence man, but at root, someone who conserves.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 3:35 PM

?

To reiterate, Huckabee is not a Social Conservative. To be a Social Conservative, he would have to be a Conservative to begin with.

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Caught a bit of Eric Erickson subbing for Rush today. He was reading all sorts of articles from 1980 about how Reagan was going to destroy the Republican Party and the only person who could save them was Gerald Ford. Really interesting.

Cindy Munford on December 30, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Rubio, the last real hope for the GOPe.

Full-court press coming soon.

Go Ted, go Trump. Smash the GOPe.

Meremortal on December 30, 2015 at 4:08 PM

Is an anti-Cruz, pro-Rubio alliance forming in Iowa among Huckabee and Santorum fans?

In the immortal words of Andrew Breitbart – So!

D-fusit on December 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM

I was a founding member of our Tea Party and raised funds, donated my time, resources, sweat and tears
Key West Reader on December 30, 2015 at 3:17 PM

Thank you for your time and effort.

God Bless the TEA Party.

portlandon on December 30, 2015 at 4:20 PM

(The NAH NAH aspect of presidential politics still surprises me.)

flackcatcher on December 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The egos are huge and untempered by character and self-control, there’s a lot of nastiness.

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Okey-Dokey.

INC on December 30, 2015 at 5:11 PM

Both Santorum and the Huckster may be socially conservative, but they are also big government guys. Rubio is also a big government guy. Any one of the three of them is just a slightly different flavor of the same-old, same-old.

Cruz is a small government guy. Cruz is the only small government guy. Nobody in Washington hates Cruz because he doesn’t get along with them. They’re all far too gone down the psychopath trail to give a damn about whether somebody likes them or whether they like somebody.

Cruz is a threat to the big government Disneyland that they all feel they have a permanent E-ticket to. That’s why they hate him. That’s the only reason.

Cruz 2016.

trigon on December 30, 2015 at 5:21 PM

Lol. In your wet dreams AP……

Indiana Jim on December 30, 2015 at 5:52 PM

Oh NO! Whatever will he do without those 12 people!

brainpimp on December 30, 2015 at 6:06 PM

They have motivated me to send Ted more money.

jazzuscounty on December 30, 2015 at 7:36 PM

“This is real. There exists this feeling that Senator Cruz is only the most recent Christian conservative presidential candidate, and that the two individuals who preceded him in the 2008 and 2012 caucuses have not been given the respect that they deserve as voices in the Christian conservative movement,”

If that is truly what is motivating them it just shows how far they have fallen…no one is owed respect…you have to go out and earn it and if your message is falling on deaf ears in 2016 it just means the times have passed you by and it’s time to pack it in…both Huckabee and Santorum ran as outsiders, just the way Cruz is running…both have suggested they would not be adverse to using the budget process to get what they wanted, even if that included shutting down the government…now they are sidling up to the establishment’s Great Cuban Hope…very sad.

ironmarshal on December 30, 2015 at 11:20 PM

Huck didn’t run in 2012. My impression was that high up people asked him not to run, to give a clear path for Romney. Huck played ball and figured he would be the top dog in Iowa in 2016.

There are too many socons running in an era where some of the main social issues have been resolved for now. Those issues will probably heat up again down the road, but for now, the landscape has been created by Trump, and his issues are trade, immigration, defense and general executive competence.

cimbri on December 31, 2015 at 2:08 AM

Good Lord, that is masterful trolling!

Some good points but the fact is that overall, campaigns have little idea who their supporters will tend to go to as a second choice. What they claim is really just the personal preference of whoever in the campaign was asked.

~~

And Iowa’s unique process makes such speculation ridiculous. While Huck & Rick may be around 3% each statewide (and both were under-reported in polls in their last run in Iowa), that is nowhere near uniform. Their evangelical Christian constituencies are concentrated in several areas. This means they are likely to win the 15% in the precinct caucuses in those areas needed to win delegates to the state convention (where national delegates are actually awarded).

Only those supporting candidates who draw under the limit in a precinct have to go to a second or third choice. So only a small fraction of the total support of the two would be up for grabs, not enough to affect the outcome.

Adjoran on December 31, 2015 at 7:09 AM

Maybe they can pick up Pataki’s supporters as well.

talkingpoints on December 31, 2015 at 7:15 AM

Both Santorum and the Huckster may be socially conservative, but they are also big government guys. Rubio is also a big government guy. Any one of the three of them is just a slightly different flavor of the same-old, same-old.

Cruz is a small government guy. Cruz is the only small government guy. Nobody in Washington hates Cruz because he doesn’t get along with them. They’re all far too gone down the psychopath trail to give a damn about whether somebody likes them or whether they like somebody.

Cruz is a threat to the big government Disneyland that they all feel they have a permanent E-ticket to. That’s why they hate him. That’s the only reason.

Cruz 2016.

trigon on December 30, 2015 at 5:21 PM

This. Trump is anti-establishment and pro-business, but not small government. An improvement over what we have, but Trump is better.

If WWIII wasn’t breaking out it would be worth giving Paul a chance, but now is not the time for Paul on the international front.

talkingpoints on December 31, 2015 at 7:19 AM

Oops. Cruz is better.

talkingpoints on December 31, 2015 at 7:21 AM

This. Trump is anti-establishment and pro-business, but not small government. An improvement over what we have, but Trump is better.

Oops. Cruz is better.

talkingpoints on December 31, 2015 at 7:21 AM

Freudian slip there. =)

Stoic Patriot on December 31, 2015 at 7:53 AM

To reiterate, Huckabee is not a Social Conservative. To be a Social Conservative, he would have to be a Conservative to begin with.

Axe on December 30, 2015 at 4:02 PM

I always thought of Huckabee supporters as the pro-life democrat wing of the GOP.

jhffmn on December 31, 2015 at 7:57 AM

A Big Government Conservative is a Progressive.

It is a good thing to see Progressives realizing that they are being kicked to the side, and that all they have now is negativism. That means they get ugly, shrill, and their popularity shrinks even more…I like having Trump and Cruz in the race just for that, alone. Do I have problems with both of them? Yup. Yet they both do a lot better on having some agreement with my outlooks than the rest of the pack do.

Now if only R party members could get together to change the organization of the R party to kick out the elites and restructure the thing to be accountable to its MEMBERS, then they might have something there. Because the elite-enabling structure must go.

ajacksonian on December 31, 2015 at 8:20 AM

The Huckster only ran to keep evangelical votes from Cruz. Santorum is just bitter.
All knives are going to be aimed at Cruz because he is the one they all fear. Cruz would end their cushy control of Washington. What is really funny is the Trump fans who fail to recognize that Trump is the most establishment candidate of them all. Trump supported and voted for Bill, Hilary and Schumer. He helped Pelosi and Reid hold both houses of congress. Now Trump says Bill is a woman abuser but he gave the Clinton Foundation millions and was best buds with Bill for years, flying around together in his private plane, partying and playing golf with the abuser. One only has to look at the subject of immigration to see how ignorant Trumo’s supporters are. Trump has said he will build a wall WITH A BIG DOOR to allow the expedited repatriation of all the good illegals who will be made legal! It would be funny if the future if the country did not hang in the balance.

CRUZ 2016!!!

fight like a girl on December 31, 2015 at 9:36 AM

The GOPe and their faux candidate hacks will do whatever is necessary to prevent any outsider(read as a reformer) get control of the reins, for then their corrupt complicit co-ruling days will be numbered.
They openly tried to destroy both Cruz and Trump for quite a while now, but the game they won with Palin isn’t working anymore. Perhaps, one knife too many in our backs has finally awoken enough people to start the political revolt that was so long in coming?

Don L on December 31, 2015 at 9:43 AM

If protecting the rights of Christians was a priority for them, and I’m not saying it is, they should favor Carson, Cruz or Trump (oddly enough, Trump doesn’t seem to harbor the hostility to Christians that the establishment does). We all know that Rubio will do whatever is expedient at the time, so even if santorum and Huckabee are fine with that, their base, such as it is, may be looking for more predictability, if not principle.

virgo on December 31, 2015 at 1:59 PM

Nothing wrong with a little spite,as long as it helps Trump in Iowa.Santorum and Huckabee voters switching to the amnesty loving POS Rubio will help the Donald beat the amnesty loving phony Cruz!

redware on December 31, 2015 at 3:10 PM

Eventually after all the rhetoric, the colors start to show.

RdLake on January 1, 2016 at 5:55 PM

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