Here is where we stand at the moment. In a little more than 72 hours that gaggle of grifters, fools, and gangsters known as the republican field for president will show up on a Fox News stage. Of course, they won't all be there at the same time. No, in an effort to hold the confusion down to a minimum and possibly influence who stays in and drops out of this wild charge toward the convention, Fox has established what amounts to a play off system.
According to the rules established by Mr. Roger Ailes and company only the top ten contenders, determined by an average of five reputable polls--still unnamed and chosen exclusively by Fox--will make the prime time arena. The remaining seven will be invited to a sort of NIT tournament held that afternoon when many of the potential electorate are far more interested in Dr. Phil Mc Graw's psycho babble than politics. When asked, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina described the situation this way, "It sucks."
The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that, as of today, the prime time line up will be, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. The losers bracket will be filled out by Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina George Pataki, Senator Graham, and Jim Gilmore.
It could be argued that given their latest poll numbers, some of those seven should be grateful anyone at all will give them free air time. According to the NBC/WSJ survey, Fiorina, Graham, and Pataki are at less than one percent, running behind Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, who are both polling 1.4% . Former Virginia Governor, Jim Gilmore is sitting at ground zero, meaning not even a single person mentioned his name.
When it comes to former Texas Governor, Rick Perry the only good news out of all this is he is less than one point behind both Chris Christie and John Kasich, so there is still an opportunity for him to slip in the back door.
Just in case things don't fall right, Perry has already begun downplaying the importance of participating in the evening event, saying he is more focused on the long term. While you have to say something, he actually has a point. Earlier this afternoon, The St. Louis Post Dispatch noted that in August of 2007 the eventual GOP nominee, John McCain was sitting at 7%, well behind the leader, Rudy Giuliani. In fact his numbers had gone so far south he was also trailing Senator Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. By February of 2008 Giuliani and Thompson were out of presidential politics forever and Romney was beginning to think about 2012.
Other factoids provided by the poll include, Big Don Trump has gone from 1% in early June, to leading the pack with 19%. Meanwhile Jeb Bush has dropped 8%, Marco Rubio 9%, and Scott Walker, 2%.
The poll also tells us, Uncle Donald's loyal fan, Ted Cruz leads among tea party types with 22%, but Trump and Walker are close on his heels at 20% each. When it comes to everyone else who is a registered republican Brother Cruz has problems.
Speaking of which, when it comes to the Hispanic vote, The Don is in serious trouble, despite his cheery predictions he'll carry the demographic. NBC and the Wall Street Journal teamed up with Telemundo for second poll which focused soley on Latinos.
The survey showed 75% of Hispanics view Mr. Trump unfavorably and 61% went to the top of the meter by saying they viewed him "very" negatively. 55% said the candidate's announcement speech, at least the, "rapist, drug dealer and I assume some good people," part of it was racist, insulting, and has no place in presidential politics. 14% of those asked said Trump at least had the guts to say what he really thought about an important issue.
Overall 67% said Trump is hurting the image of the republican party, 12% say he is helping it, and 16% believe he has no impact one way, or the other
Those last two numbers are swords that can cut both ways. The downside being that, among Hispanics, the image of the GOP is so incredibly putrid a brutal clod like Trump either improves it. or at least doesn't diminish it. It's rather like saying if Senator Jim Inhofe were to move from Oklahoma to Texas the collective IQ of both places would go up.
So there we have it. It's obvious Fox News wants to be the supreme arbiter in the republican nomination process. There's no other reason for them to sponsor a debate with such stringent, not to mention questionable, restrictions this early in the season.
Indeed--cull the herd immediately and minimize the blood letting from now through the primaries. The goal being, find a viable, clear cut, front man as quickly as possible so the donor pool won't be diluted for months on end, giving Clinton an advantage. After all, it wasn't an informed public who kicked our ass the last two times out, it was the extended nomination process.
Ladies and gentlemen, Fox News welcomes you to the latest episode of American presidential politics.