Steve Holland http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland Steve Holland's Profile Thu, 05 Nov 2015 00:00:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 Stung by last debate, Bush says he’s prepping less for next one http://blogs.reuters.com/talesfromthetrail/2015/11/04/stung-by-last-debate-bush-says-hes-prepping-less-for-next-one/ http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/11/04/stung-by-last-debate-bush-says-hes-prepping-less-for-next-one/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 22:38:58 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2662 Jeb Bush has heard all the talk about what he did wrong at the last debate of Republican presidential candidates.

His response: He’s going to do less debate preparation for the next debate and instead will just speak his mind.

“Less debate prep, more me being me,” he said.

Bush said this during a session the former Florida governor had with a group of reporters on his new “Jeb Can Fix It” campaign bus as it rolled through the colorful wonder of New Hampshire in the fall.

“I’m going to be myself by saying what’s on my mind,” Bush said, as he munched on strips of Paleo-compliant turkey jerky.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush departs the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office conference room after participating in a roundtable discussion with law enforcement in Goffstown, New Hampshire, November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl

Bush’s dreary debate performance in Colorado contributed to a fresh drop in his favorability numbers among Republican voters.

Now he’s challenging reporters to be the first to write a story about his political comeback. He woke to the news that a Quinnipiac University poll gave him only 4 percent support among Republican voters nationwide.

He’s been drawing sizable crowds in New Hampshire, whose first-in-the-nation primary is on Feb. 9, and he is committed to returning to the state over and over again in the coming weeks.

On his bus, Bush said his challenge is to “be better as a performer on the debate stage.”

“I do pretty good when I’m out with real people interacting with them, have fun doing it. But the debate process is different,” he said.

Bush goes into the next debate, on November 10 in Milwaukee, aware that he needs to hold his own. His plan is to do what other candidates do: Say what they want to instead of actually answering the question that is posed to them.

“It’s not a debate. It’s a chance to be able to say what you think. So I’m going to take advantage of that,” he said.

Bush has been taking greater aim at fellow Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, lately, but an attack on Rubio’s Senate voting record in Boulder backfired when his former mentor had a nimble response.

Bush would not bite when asked about Rubio’s financial history, a question that came up in the Colorado debate and has since given rise to several news reports about Rubio’s financial past.

“A candidate running for president that has a chance to be president will be thoroughly vetted,” he said.

But he was willing to point out that Rubio has not had dramatic success during his brief time in Washington.

“One bill he sponsored turned into law,” Bush said.

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Jeb 2.0: Bush relaunches campaign with e-book, tour http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/02/us-usa-election-bush-idUSKCN0SR0CB20151102?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/11/02/jeb-2-0-bush-relaunches-campaign-with-e-book-tour/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2015 05:05:11 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2660 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Battered by weeks of negative headlines, Republican Jeb Bush launches a campaign reboot on Monday with a “Jeb Can Fix It” tour and release of an e-book that reveals a more personal side to a 2016 candidate who has struggled on the public stage.

Bush’s dismal performance at a debate of Republican presidential candidates last week in Colorado was an added burden to a candidate once considered the favorite for the nomination and now suffering drooping poll numbers and fund-raising.

In Tampa on Monday, Bush hopes to begin a political comeback. He will give a speech presenting himself as a problem-solving politician who carried out conservative reforms as Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007.

A campaign aide said the speech will be a “rejection of the ‘competing pessimisms’ created in the (President Barack) Obama era in favor of leadership that solves problems.”

He will take the message to South Carolina and then on a three-day bus tour of New Hampshire.

The tour coincides with the release of a 730-page e-book, entitled “Reply All.” It is a compilation of many of the email exchanges he had with Floridians during his time as governor.

The emails cover everything from his drive for tax cuts and education reform in Florida to dealing with hurricanes.

Beyond the work issues, there was plenty of the comical, such as when a 9-year-old girl wrote to tell him she did not like her piano lessons because “my teacher smells of dead alligators.” She wanted to know if Jeb and brother George had taken piano while growing up.

“Yes, I had piano lessons,” Bush emailed her. “It was tough and I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I wasn’t that good at it. But you know what? It gave me discipline which helped me as an adult.”

Another writer wanted to know how the bilingual Bush became so fluent in Spanish.

“I learned Spanish by marrying a Mexican girl, by living in Venezuela and by taking Spanish courses in school. The first two were the most important,” Bush replied.

Bush makes clear in a 2006 exchange with a reporter his support for comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that has roiled the Republican race this year as billionaire Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

Bush said a more secure border is needed “but the notion that we would felonize folks that have been here and that are contributing to our progress is just plain wrong.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Republican campaigns seek more active role in debate planning http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/02/us-usa-election-debate-idUSKCN0SR00K20151102?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/11/02/republican-campaigns-seek-more-active-role-in-debate-planning/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2015 02:54:57 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2658 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representatives from Republican presidential campaigns on Sunday demanded a more active role in negotiations with TV networks over how presidential debates are conducted and sought a more limited role for the Republican National Committee.

Officials from 11 campaigns for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination met for two hours behind closed doors at a hotel in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss the way forward just days after a heavily criticized debate hosted by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado.

“The campaigns are going to take a more active role in discussing the format with the networks,” said a senior official from one campaign who attended the meeting. “They’re going to expect to have a more direct engagement with the networks.”

The negotiating role for the three debates held so far has been held by the Republican National Committee. The official said the campaigns want to limit the RNC role to handling logistics like the distribution of tickets and arranging backstage holding rooms for the candidates at the event sites.

Campaigns were angered at the RNC for its handling of the CNBC debate because the event was advertised to be a two-hour discussion of economic issues but veered wildly from that theme and the moderators struggled to maintain control.

The format for the next debate on Nov. 10 in Milwaukee to be hosted by Fox Business Network was left alone for the most part. The other five debates going forward could see some changes, the official said.

The RNC, aware of a rebellion brewing among the campaigns, had sought to defuse the situation. The RNC dumped NBC News, a partner of CNBC, from hosting a Feb. 26 debate in Houston on Friday and on Sunday, it announced it had appointed its chief operating officer, Sean Cairncross, to help negotiate debate terms with the networks.

But that wasn’t enough. The campaigns said at the meeting that they needed a better understanding up front of what the host network’s telecasts would include because, as another campaign official said, there has been a bad flow of information between the networks and the RNC to date on what the candidates should expect.

During the Alexandria discussions, this official said, the campaign representative for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sought to reinstate Spanish-language network Telemundo to the Feb. 26 debate. Telemundo and National Review are co-sponsors of that debate.

But the campaign of Donald Trump refused to go along with this demand, the official said. Trump has campaigned on a platform of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to stem illegal immigrants.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Republican Party kicks NBC News out of sponsoring February debate http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/31/us-usa-election-debate-idUSKCN0SO2B920151031?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/31/republican-party-kicks-nbc-news-out-of-sponsoring-february-debate/#comments Sat, 31 Oct 2015 05:57:13 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2656 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican National Committee on Friday dumped NBC News from sponsoring a Feb. 26 debate of presidential candidates in the fallout over a debate conducted by media partner CNBC this week that was roundly criticized by the candidates.

The move comes as several campaigns seek to change the format for the remaining debates due to concerns too many candidates are on stage and do not get enough time to speak.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus cited “bad faith” in announcing the party will suspend its partnership with NBC News for the Feb. 26 debate to be held in Houston. Telemundo and National Review are co-sponsors of the event.

Priebus told NBC in a letter that the committee wanted to ensure its candidates would be given a “full and fair” opportunity to lay out their political visions. The party has complained about the handling of Wednesday night’s debate by CNBC.

The CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado, was supposed to be devoted to discussing the candidates’ views on how to improve the U.S. economy but frequently strayed from that theme and the moderators struggled to maintain control.

“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” Priebus wrote.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were among those candidates who objected to questions during the debate. Christie wondered aloud why they were being asked about Fantasy Football competition when Islamic State militants are killing people in the Middle East.

“This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party,” an NBC statement said.

Representatives from several campaigns are to meet on Sunday to discuss how to repair what they feel is a broken debate format that is backed by the RNC and TV networks.

At least one campaign has suggested that instead of having 10 or 11 candidates on stage at the same time, that the group be split in two for two debates of 90 minutes each.

A front-running candidate, New York billionaire Donald Trump, welcomed the RNC move to cut NBC out of the debate, citing “the total lack of substance and respect exhibited during Wednesday’s night’s debate.”

“We look forward to pursuing alternatives along with the RNC to ensure candidates are given ample opportunity to outline their vision for the future of our country,” a Trump campaign statement said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott, Andrew Hay and David Gregorio)

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George W. Bush: Jeb should not worry about defending him http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/30/us-usa-election-bush-idUSKCN0SO2T220151030?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/30/george-w-bush-jeb-should-not-worry-about-defending-him/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 22:11:55 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2654 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President George W. Bush believes his brother Jeb should stop defending the White House decisions the elder Bush made, and he is seeking to reassure jittery supporters about the health of Jeb’s campaign, according to sources.

Some of Jeb Bush’s most difficult moments on the campaign trail have come when he has gotten caught up in a debate about George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003.

More recently, Jeb Bush responded aggressively when Republican rival Donald Trump charged that the former president did not keep the United States safe because the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place on his watch.

Jeb Bush’s lackluster performance at Wednesday’s debate in Boulder, Colorado, further fueled a narrative of a candidate who is struggling to find his footing and who has been forced to cut payroll and staff in response to declining campaign donations.

At a Washington hotel on Thursday, George W. Bush addressed hundreds of people who had worked in his administration. Attendees at the event said the 69-year-old former president was funny and self-deprecating and appeared to be at peace with himself and his record.

A participant said Jeb Bush’s struggling campaign came up only briefly in the question-and-answer period. The elder Bush said it is still early in the race to choose a Republican nominee for the November 2016 presidential election and that his brother remains a strong candidate.

George W. Bush volunteered that Jeb may feel the need to defend him for familial reasons.

“But he should not feel the need to do it,” the participant said Bush told the group. “The decisions that he made back then were unique to that time and space and they don’t need to be defended by him or others today.”

George W. Bush later headlined a fundraising event in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood that a donor said raised at least $350,000 for his brother’s campaign.

Two attendees at this event, described as upbeat and positive, reported that George W. Bush said Jeb can recover from his debate performance last week.

“He said that he believes in his brother, that he has a strong record, that he has it in his heart and his gut to do it,” said one major donor who attended.

Bush noted his own ability to come back after being defeated by John McCain in the New Hampshire primary in 2000.

“He said campaigns are supposed to have ups and downs,” said another attendee. “If you can’t handle the ups and downs of the campaign, you can’t handle the ups and downs of the presidency.”

With another debate coming up in Milwaukee on Nov. 10, Jeb Bush, who served two terms as Florida’s governor, is seeking to reassure his supporters that he can perform better.

“We’ve got eight more debates,” he told MSNBC on Thursday. “I’m going to have to do what other candidates do, which is: Rudely interrupt, not answer the questions that are asked, and hopefully the debate moderators will actually ask more substantive questions as well.”

The Bush campaign hopes to rebound next week with events that will play to Bush’s strengths. His “Jeb can fix it” tour will coincide with the release of an e-book about his time in office. A big speech is planned on Monday in Tampa, Florida.

Eric Ferhnstrom, who was a senior adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said Jeb Bush needs to project strength at the next debate.

“The problem for Jeb now is he is in a bit of a doom loop where bad news feeds on itself,” Ferhnstrom said. “It’s a long road to the White House and at some point everyone gets put against the ropes. The question is how quickly can you get off the ropes and back into the fight.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Republican Party chairman suspends partnership with NBC for February 26 debate http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/30/us-usa-election-debate-idUSKCN0SO2B920151030?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/30/republican-party-chairman-suspends-partnership-with-nbc-for-february-26-debate/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:49:23 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2652 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican National Committee on Friday dumped NBC News from sponsoring a Feb. 26 debate of presidential candidates in the fallout over a debate conducted by media partner CNBC this week that was roundly criticized by the candidates.

The move comes as several campaigns seek to change the format for the remaining debates due to concerns too many candidates are on stage at the same time and do not get enough time to speak.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus cited “bad faith” in announcing the party will suspend its partnership with NBC News for the Feb. 26 debate to be held in Houston. Telemundo and National Review are co-sponsors of the event.

Priebus told NBC in a letter that the committee wanted to ensure its candidates would be given a “full and fair” opportunity to lay out their political visions. The party has complained about the handling of Wednesday night’s debate by CNBC.

The CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado, was supposed to be devoted to discussing the candidates’ views on how to improve the U.S. economy but frequently strayed from that theme and the moderators struggled to maintain control.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were among those candidates who objected to questions during the debate. Christie wondered aloud why they were being asked about Fantasy Football competition when Islamic State militants are killing people in the Middle East.

“This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party,” an NBC statement said.

Representatives from several campaigns are to meet on Sunday to discuss how to repair what they feel is a broken debate format that is backed by the RNC and TV networks.

At least one campaign has suggested that instead of having 10 or 11 candidates on stage at the same time, that the group be split in two for two debates of 90 minutes each.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)

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Republicans go on the attack in feisty US presidential debate http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/usa-election-idINKCN0SN07J20151029?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11709 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/29/republicans-go-on-the-attack-in-feisty-us-presidential-debate/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 03:22:26 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2650 By Steve Holland and James Oliphant

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested rival Marco Rubio resign his Senate seat on Wednesday at a testy economic debate marked by frequent personal attacks and several heated clashes over tax policy.

With time running short until the first nominating contest in three months, the 10 Republicans in the evening’s main debate were anxious to stand out, and several were quick to leap to the attack. The candidates frequently talked over each other and the moderators in their haste to make points.

Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, defended his record of missing about one-third of his Senate votes this year while campaigning for the White House and said a Florida newspaper’s call for him to resign was evidence of media bias.

Bush, a former Florida governor who was once considered a mentor to Rubio, was not buying the explanation.

“Just resign and let someone else take the job,” Bush said. “This is a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. Was this a French work week?”

The Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the November 2016 election also clashed over their tax plans, with opinion poll front-runner Ben Carson defending his Bible-inspired proposals and former executive Carly Fiorina vowing to reduce the complicated tax code to three pages.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, said his plan, which is based on religious tithing principles, would get rid of deductions and loopholes and constitute a flat rate of about 15 percent that would be sufficient to fund a sharply reduced government.

“Remember, we have 645 federal agencies and sub-agencies. Anybody who tells me that we need every penny in every one of those is in a fantasy world,” Carson said.

Fiorina, a former executive at Hewlett-Packard, said she would reduce the tax code to three pages to level the playing field for all Americans.

“Three pages is about the maximum a single business owner, or a farmer, or just a couple can understand without hiring somebody,” she said.

Ohio Governor John Kasich was quick to go on the attack against billionaire developer Donald Trump, calling his tax plan “a fantasy.”

“We are on the verge of picking, perhaps, someone who cannot do this job,” Kasich said. “You gotta pick somebody who has experience.”

The debate came at a crucial time in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as Carson has moved ahead of Trump in some national and local polls. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows the two front-runners in a dead heat.

Lagging contenders such as Bush and Rubio are running out of time to turn the tide in a campaign dominated by provocative rhetoric that has played to the strengths of Trump, a bombastic reality television star and developer, and the soft-spoken Carson.

While the Republicans were quick to criticize each other, they agreed on one thing: their distaste for the media.

“The Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. They’re called the mainstream media,” Rubio said.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas ignored a question on the debt limit to criticize the CNBC debate moderators for the questions they had posed to candidates.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” he said. “This is not a cage match. How about talking about the substantive issues?”

Before the main event, four low-polling candidates held a separate debate. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina turned in a strong performance against Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York Governor George Pataki and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

All of the low-polling candidates took shots at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and her rival U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist from Vermont, but Graham had the sharpest aim.

“Good God, look who we’re running against,” Graham said. “The number-one candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The number-two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon, and I don’t think he ever came back.”

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail” (here)

(Additional reporting by Erin McPike, Ginger Gibson, Alana Wise, Megan Cassella and Emily Stephenson; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Ken Wills)

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Trump, Carson to face scrutiny at Republican presidential debate http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/us-usa-election-idUSKCN0SM2M820151029?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/29/trump-carson-to-face-scrutiny-at-republican-presidential-debate/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 00:26:48 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2648 By Steve Holland and James Oliphant

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) – Political outsiders Ben Carson and Donald Trump will be under pressure to prove their economic expertise at Wednesday’s presidential debate, with eight struggling rivals eager to expose what they see as policy weaknesses in the two front-runners.

The nationally televised debate comes at a crucial time in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, as Carson has moved ahead of Trump in some national and local polls just three months before the first nominating contest in Iowa.

Lagging contenders such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida are running out of time to turn the tide in a campaign dominated by provocative rhetoric that has played to the strengths of Trump, a bombastic reality television star and developer, and Carson, a soft-spoken neurosurgeon.

The two-hour debate in Boulder, Colorado, which is expected to focus heavily on economic issues, will begin at 8 p.m. EDT/0000 GMT and will air on the CNBC business TV network.

The other candidates sharing the stage will be U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

All of the trailing contenders need to shake up the race and will be trying to plant doubts with voters about whether Carson and Trump, who have never held public office, are familiar with the issues.

The economic spotlight could pose a test for the front-runners.

“It requires them to no longer just glide by on attributes like being new and bold,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former top aide to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Carson told reporters before the debate he did not intend to be drawn into a battle with Trump or anyone else.

“I’m not going to get into a bunch of fights with people,” he said, adding that some of his rivals sounded a little desperate ahead of the debate.

“I feel kind of sorry for them,” he said.

In Westerville, Ohio, on Monday, Kasich signaled he would take a tougher tone with Trump and Carson.

“I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of listening to this nonsense and I’m going to have to call it like it is in this race,” Kasich said.

Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state and the favorite to become the Democratic Party’s candidate, said in New Hampshire that a “vigorous debate” about policies had been missing from the Republican events so far.

Before the main event, four candidates who are lagging even further behind in the polls will hold a separate debate.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Governor George Pataki and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania have failed to make any headway in the race so far.

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail” (here)

(Additional reporting by Erin McPike; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Andrea Ricci, Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis)

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Republican rivals eager to turn election debate against Trump, Carson http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/28/us-usa-election-idUSKCN0SM2M820151028?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/28/republican-rivals-eager-to-turn-election-debate-against-trump-carson/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 19:14:14 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2646 By Steve Holland

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) – Seasoned politicians trailing Donald Trump and Ben Carson for the Republican nomination in the U.S. presidential election campaign are eager to shift the focus to the economy and policy in Wednesday’s debate and expose what they see as weaknesses in the two front-runners.

Jeb Bush and other candidates are trying to turn the tide in a campaign that is dominated so far by provocative rhetoric that has played to the strengths of Trump, a bombastic reality television star and developer, and Carson, a soft-spoken surgeon who has been gaining support in opinion polls.

The two-hour debate, moderated in Boulder, Colorado, by business network CNBC, will begin at 8 p.m. EDT/0000 GMT.

With Trump and Carson holding a firm grip on opinion polls of likely Republican voters for the November 2016 election, the forum coincides with an increasingly difficult time for the candidates trailing them.

Former Florida Governor Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are under pressure to shake up a race for the party’s nomination that so far is tilting away from them with the first voting to take place in little more than three months.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio also need solid performances to build on recent momentum.

Officials from several rival campaigns said they believe the debate could help make Trump and Carson less popular if they are shown to lack knowledge of the intricacies of policy.

“If they run this thing well and push people to see if they’re smart on the economy and job creation and how fiscal restraint fits into that, you could finally start separating the sheep from the goats on an important issue,” said an official in the campaign of one of the Republicans vying against Trump.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden said the debate could pose a test for Trump and Carson.

“It requires them to no longer just glide by on attributes like being new and bold,” said Madden, a former top aide to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Carson set the table for a debate about the future of sacrosanct entitlement programs by telling “Fox News Sunday” he would use health savings accounts as an alternative to popular Medicare and Medicaid health programs for the poor and elderly.

Trump, suddenly behind Carson in some polls, went on the attack on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, saying he did not think Carson would get away with “abolishing Medicare,” which Carson denied he would do.

In Westerville, Ohio, on Monday, Kasich signaled he would take a tougher tone with Trump and Carson.

“I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of listening to this nonsense and I’m going to have to call it like it is in this race,” Kasich said.

A Trump aide said Trump would be well prepared to respond to attacks at the debate.

Carson’s debate approach “is unchanged from before the recent polls and perceived attacks from Mr. Trump,” Doug Watts, a Carson spokesman, wrote in an email. He said Carson would not release more detailed plans on economic policy until later in the fall.

Without mentioning Trump or Carson specifically, the campaign of Huckabee, who has offered a detailed “fair tax” plan, said the debate will require candidates to go beyond talking points.

“All of them as a whole are going to have to give more than just the topline bullet points of their economic policies,” said Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state and the favorite to become the Democratic Party’s candidate, repeated her criticism while at a New Hampshire campaign stop on Wednesday that a “vigorous debate” about policies had been missing from the Republican events so far.

Trump frequently touts the business experience that made him a billionaire as reason enough why a Trump presidency would create a stronger economy.

He released a tax reform plan in September that would lower tax rates for all Americans and would pay for the loss of tax revenue by eliminating tax deductions and corporate loopholes.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation said it would reduce tax revenues by $10.14 trillion over the next decade when accounting for economic growth from increases in the supply of labor and capital.

Carson has proposed all Americans pay a flat tax of 10 percent on income based on the biblical notion of tithing. He would eliminate individual and corporate tax loopholes. He has said his proposal would be revenue neutral for the federal budget.

Bush has been active in taking on Trump, and an aide said he plans to do so in Boulder.

Bush may have little choice.

“Jeb is trailing in the polls, he’s got nothing to lose,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail” (here)

(Additional reporting by Erin McPike; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Grant McCool)

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US rivals see chance for opening against Trump, Carson at Republican debate http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/28/usa-election-economy-idUSL1N12R3M720151028?feedType=RSS&feedName=everything&virtualBrandChannel=11563 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/2015/10/28/us-rivals-see-chance-for-opening-against-trump-carson-at-republican-debate/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 01:06:17 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/steve-holland/?p=2644 , Oct 27 (Reuters) – Seasoned U.S. politicians
trailing Donald Trump and Ben Carson for the Republican
presidential nomination are eager to shift the campaign focus to
the economy and policy in Wednesday’s debate and expose what
they see as weaknesses in the two front-runners.

Jeb Bush and other candidates are trying to turn the tide in
a campaign that is dominated so far by provocative rhetoric that
has played to the strengths of Trump, a bombastic reality
television star and developer, and Carson, a soft-spoken surgeon
who has been gaining support in opinion polls.

The two-hour debate, moderated in Boulder, Colorado, by
business network CNBC, will begin at 8 p.m. EDT/0000 GMT
Wednesday.

With Trump and Carson holding a firm grip on the race in
polls of likely Republican voters for the November 2016
election, the forum comes at an increasingly perilous time for
lower-ranking candidates.

Former Florida Governor Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO
Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Arkansas
Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
are under pressure to shake up a race for the party’s nomination
that so far is tilting away from them with the first voting to
take place in little more than three months.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio also
need solid performances to build on recent momentum.

Officials from several rival campaigns said they believe the
debate could help make Trump and Carson less popular if they are
shown to lack knowledge of the intricacies of policy.

“If they run this thing well and push people to see if
they’re smart on the economy and job creation and how fiscal
restraint fits into that, you could finally start separating the
sheep from the goats on an important issue,” said an official in
the campaign of one of the Republicans vying against Trump.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden said the debate could
pose a test for Trump and Carson.

“It requires them to no longer just glide by on attributes
like being new and bold,” said Madden, a former top aide to 2012
Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Carson set the table for a debate about the future of
sacrosanct entitlement programs by telling “Fox News Sunday” he
would use health savings accounts as an alternative to popular
Medicare and Medicaid health programs for the poor and elderly.

Trump, suddenly behind Carson in some polls, went on the
attack on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, saying he did not think Carson
would get away with “abolishing Medicare”, which Carson denied
he would do.

In Westerville, Ohio, on Monday, Kasich signaled he would
take a tougher tone with Trump and Carson.

“I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of
listening to this nonsense and I’m going to have to call it like
it is in this race,” he said.

A Trump aide said the billionaire would be well-prepared to
respond to attacks at the debate. A Carson spokesman did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.

Without mentioning Trump or Carson specifically, the
campaign of Huckabee, who has offered a detailed “fair tax”
plan, said the debate will require candidates to go beyond
talking points.

“All of them as a whole are going to have to give more than
just the topline bullet points of their economic policies,” said
Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

Trump frequently touts the business experience that made him
a billionaire as reason enough why a President Trump would
create a stronger economy.

He released a tax reform plan in September that would lower
tax rates for all Americans and would pay for the loss of tax
revenue by eliminating tax deductions and corporate loopholes.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation said it would reduce tax
revenues by $10.14 trillion over the next decade when accounting
for economic growth from increases in the supply of labor and
capital.

Carson has proposed all Americans pay a flat tax of 10
percent on income based on the biblical notion of tithing. He
would eliminate individual and corporate tax loopholes. He has
said his proposal would be revenue neutral for the federal
budget.

Bush has been active in taking on Trump, and an aide said he
plans to do so in Boulder.

Bush may have little choice.

“Jeb is trailing in the polls, he’s got nothing to lose,”
said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy
Institute at Southern Illinois University.

For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters
blog, “Tales from the Trail” (here)

(Additional reporting by Erin McPike; Editing by Caren Bohan
and Ken Wills)

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