After walking away with the majority of delegates in Wyoming and Colorado, Sen. Ted Cruz was on a roll. His knowledge of the “obscure, internecine” delegate fights gave him a tactical advantage over front-runner Donald Trump, which could end up deciding the Republican nomination for president.
“This is how elections are won in America,” said Cruz.
The Texas senator saw a silver lining to his declining polls as he heads into Tuesday’s critical Indiana primary. According to the National Review, “The political world was captivated – and Trump supporters were infuriated – by the Cruz campaign’s successful effort to elect large blocs of friendly delegates at a series of state-party conventions.”
But then something unexpected happened. It seems delegates, like regular voters, are susceptible to public opinion … and public opinion was swaying toward Trump. The billionaire real-estate mogul trounced Cruz in Florida, Arizona, New Hampshire, and five northeastern states, which abruptly shifted the fickle political winds.
“Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening,” noted the New York Times, “threatening his hopes of preventing Mr. Trump’s nomination by overtaking him in a floor fight.”
Cruz led a smooth, well-groomed campaign during North Dakota’s state convention. He flew in to make personal appeals, and his staffers “ran rings” around the less-organized Trump campaign by compiling and distributing lists of their preferred delegates to convention votes. Cruz’s campaign declared victory when his preferred candidates won 18 out of 25 unbound convention delegates.
But even at the time, pundits were wondering how loyal those candidates would be if the Republican nomination heads toward a contested convention in Cleveland. The delegates are vital in Cruz’s goal to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates he’ll need on the first ballot in Cleveland. Some candidates told Politico they were only leaning toward Cruz, or simply opposed to Trump.
Now, as delegates watch Cruz’s increasing struggle against Trump’s overwhelming popularity, many are rethinking their commitment, possibly concerned about a bitter convention battle that could tear the GOP apart.
“I think [last Tuesday’s vote] spooked a lot of people,” says Jim Poolman, a North Dakota delegate who had previously committed to a first-ballot convention vote for Cruz. “But I want to be clear, I think the will of the people does mean something, as well. Donald Trump has gotten a lot of support across the country, and just [last Tuesday], winning five [states] is one heckuva showing.” Poolman hedged his support for Cruz by stating he will see how the remaining primaries play out.
Other North Dakota delegates also are wavering.
David Hogue, a state senator and Cruz-approved delegate, told the National Review he’s been “vacillating.”
Dick Dever said, “What I have said is I’m leaning towards Cruz, but I’m not committed to anybody. And after [Tuesday’s vote], I think Trump has the momentum going forward.”
Rick Becker, a former North Dakota gubernatorial candidate who is still loyal to Cruz, is concerned about party chaos if delegates ignore the wishes of their congressional districts.
“Yes, you’re unbound, you can vote for whoever you want,” he said. “But if Trump gets really close, should you even ignore your wishes, ignore your congressional district’s wishes, and just vote for Trump to try to salvage the Republican party from being torn apart?”
Jessica Unruh, a state senator on the Cruz slate, admits she is reconsidering her options. She states, “That’s why I’ve been supportive of Cruz and not fully committed to him, because I would not want to see that happen to the Republican party.”
Prior to Trump’s landslide victory in last week’s Pennsylvania primary, Cruz boasted it had dozens of staffers devoted to acquiring as many of the state’s 54 unbound delegates as possible. Despite those efforts, Cruz won only three.
This weakening of support for Cruz raises the stakes in Indiana. “With unbound delegates warily eyeing recent primary results,” noted the National Review, “there’s little chance Cruz will be able to stanch the bleeding without decisively halting Trump’s surge. Even if he does win in Indiana, Cruz will need to prove he can keep on winning, in California and elsewhere, to satisfy delegates who may personally prefer him to Trump, but are worried about throwing the party into chaos before the general election.”
Southern states, which were initially seen as firmly in Cruz’s camp, now have some delegates echoing a growing sentiment: a “sense of resignation” that Trump will win the nomination.
“Honestly, we didn’t think [Trump] could get this far. And he did,” said Jonathan Barnett, the Republican national committeeman for Arkansas.
The largest concern among unbound delegates is presenting a unified front against the Democrats in November. To them, this is a bigger issue than Cruz vs. Trump.
“No matter what happens in Cleveland, I am in the ‘anybody-but-Hillary’ camp,” says Poolman. “The most important objective is to get a nominee and unite the party.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the King David hotel in Jerusalem on February 25, 2014. (Haim Zach/GPO/FLASH90)
Following a report that claimed Germany’s government is losing its patience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over disagreements on a two-state solution, Israeli officials reassured the media that ties between the two countries are as strong as ever.
“Ties between Israel and Germany are close and good, and they will continue to be,” the official told Haaretz.
The report, published on Saturday in Germany’s Der Spiegel and titled “Skepticism of German-Israeli Friendship Growing in Berlin”, quoted several German officials expressing “concern” over Netanyahu’s policies, mostly regarding the issue of construction in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.
“Israel’s current policies are not contributing to the country remaining Jewish and democratic,” said Norbert Röttgen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the chair of German parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Der Speigel reported. “We must express this concern more clearly to Israel.”
The article referenced an incident in February which it argued had soured relations between the two countries. After German-Israeli state talks in Berlin, the Israeli daily Israel Hayom printed a headline suggesting that Merkel supported Netanyahu’s resistance to the two-state solution. In fact, said Merkel’s advisors, the opposite was true; Netanyahu had “twisted her words”, the article claimed.
Merkel “had repeatedly made it clear to Netanyahu that she believes the effects of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories are disastrous” and represent an obstacle to peace, read the Der Speigel article. The German chancellor and her advisors “were furious”.
According to the article, Merkel’s government has “lost hope that the peace process can be revived so long as Netanyahu remains in office.” Der Speigel even quoted Merkel as saying that she “understand[s] why President Abbas continually seeks out the [United Nations] Security Council” rather than engage in direct negotiations with Israel.
Relations between Germany and Israel have traditionally been very strong; Israel relies on Germany’s support on the international stage. In a speech made at the Knesset in 2008, Merkel said that Israeli security was part of Germany’s “raison d’état.”
However, Der Speigel argued that “times may be changing”, with even “avowed Israel supporters” in the German government reluctant to continue “accommodating” Netanyahu. It cited a recent vote at the European Union in which, contrary to Netanyahu’s direct request, Germany’s foreign minister voted in favor of a resolution on the Middle East conflict labeling settlements “illegal under international law”.
The Israeli official who denied the report said that it was “most likely an internal German attempt to bash Merkel over her close relationship with Netanyahu.”
Read more at http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/66764/israel-denies-report-sour-relations-germany/#G72UptmUeOVVAWBu.99
Just two years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambled to respond to cases of Ebola in the United States, the federal organization is now admitting it initially underestimated the threat posed by the Zika virus in the United States, leaving one expert to call for a major restructuring of the organization.
News of the Zika virus emerged earlier this year, when cases in Brazil, particularly among pregnant women, were reported in increasing numbers. While the impact of Zika on adults and children is still being studied, medical experts have concluded the virus causes shrinking of the skulls in unborn babies, which leads to other serious health challenges.
At the start of the year, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, implored everyone to remain calm, stressing that mosquitoes carrying Zika could appear in the U.S. but the threat here is much lower than in Latin America.
Now, as the Obama administration presses for a $1.9 billion emergency response to Zika, the CDC’s Zika preview is much more serious.
“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
For experts, that big of a shift is unacceptable.
“That’s not the kind of quote that you want from a government agency that is charged with protecting the citizens from infectious diseases,” said Dr. Tom Borelli, who earned degrees in microbiology and biochemistry and frequently writes on the impact of a bloated federal government and is now calling for Congress to restructure the CDC.
He told WND and Radio America that getting caught unprepared is becoming routine for the CDC.
“The CDC should not be surprised about epidemics. First it was Ebola in 2014. Now in 2016 we have the Zika virus. Who knows what’s next?” said Borelli, who said the CDC has evidence as early as 2008 that Zika could be transmitted through sexual activity.
Borelli said the CDC started giving a more sober assessment of the Zika threat when new studies showed the mosquitoes carrying the disease could migrate to 40 of the 50 states. He said a more focused agency would have been on top of this, but the CDC has too many unnecessary irons in the fire.
“The CDC has been suffering its own disease of mission creep. They’ve gotten into everything from salt, e-cigarettes, alcohol, guns, football injuries. You name it, they’re doing it. But they forgot about one of founding principles on which they were created, which is to protect us from infectious diseases. They took the eye off the ball,” said Borelli, who notes the CDC receives about $7 billion a year from taxpayers.
So what would have been a competent response?
“First of all, they would have known that it would represent a public health risk if it did get to the United States,” Borelli said. “Then, kind of like Ebola, what you do is make sure you can keep it contained and help Brazil out to keep the disease contained there. And you implement procedures and methodologies to contain the mosquitoes. But they didn’t.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Dr. Tom Borelli:
Tom Borelli calls for Congress to restructure CDC after Zika response
He said the same unpreparedness is seen in other health concerns.
“A recent document came out that showed that the CDC sent a memo to their staff that some of these kids coming over the border through Mexico are carrying tuberculosis,” Borelli said. “Here’s another infectious disease that we used to have a handle on. Yet the CDC has its own private emails warning its staff but not the rest of the United States about what’s going on.”
Borelli said Congress needs to force the CDC to get back to its original mission through the power of the purse.
“You cut the budget and you have them focus on infectious diseases. They’ve gotten a little bit lazy,” he said. “Once upon a time, we had really controlled infectious diseases. But now we’re getting these exotic diseases from Africa just because of worldwide travel. This is the focus that they really should be on.”
He fully expects any effort to shrink the CDC back down to size to be met with fierce protest from Democrats and the media as well as Democrat demands that the solution to CDC ineptness is to provide more taxpayer funding.
“That’s how we got into this mess,” Borelli said. “Every issue, they throw money at it to distract it from its core mission.”
Borelli does believe the CDC should continue to exist as way to keep an eye on national and global trends regarding infectious diseases. But he said that’s all it should do.
“If that’s all they did, they’d be a lot better at it,” he said.