GOP debate wrap – Politico
GOP DEBATE WRAP — Relatively staid affair in Miami on Thursday night by the lights of recent GOP debates. No references to anatomical endowments! Marco Rubio mostly shelved the personal attacks on Donald Trump — some of which he has said he now regrets — but still managed to get the best of the front-runner on Cuba as well as during an exchange over Trump’s comment that Muslims hate America. Rubio said such comments would have consequences and make relations with Muslims worse not better.
“Marco talks about consequences,” Trump responded. “We’ve had a lot of consequences, including airplanes flying into the World Trade Center … You can be politically correct if you want. I don’t want to be politically correct. I want to solve problems.” … “I’m not interested in being politically correct. I’m interested in being correct,” Rubio shot back to big applause from the hometown crowd.
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On Cuba, a critical issue especially in south Florida, Trump repeatedly relied on vague generalities that he would seek a better deal than the one the Obama administration made with Havana. Rubio quickly attacked Trump with a barrage of specifics on what he would seek in return for normalizing relations: “Cuba has free elections, Cuba stops putting people in jail for speaking out, it kicks out the Chinese listening station, it stops helping North Korea evade U.N. Sanctions. … I would love a relationship between Cuba and the United States to change. But it would require Cuba to change, at least its government. Today it has not.”
On trade, Trump continue to show that he has pushed much of the GOP field away from free trade agreements and into a more protectionist, neo-mercantilist stance. But while others including Ted Cruz argued for more subtle policy changes, Trump continued to threaten massive tariffs that his opponents argued, quite correctly, would wind up costing American consumers and businesses a whole lot more money and would do little or nothing to increase U.S. manufacturing.
Then there was Putin and China. Trump continued to insist that Vladimir Putin is a strong leader and that the Chinese government showed “strength” by brutally cracking down on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989. “I said that is a strong, powerful government that put it down with strength. And then they kept down the riot.” Riot? Really?
Ohio Governor John Kasich had one of his stronger moments responding to Trump’s comment: “I think that the Chinese government butchered those kids. And when that guy stood in front — that young man stood in front of that tank, we ought to build a statue of him over here when he faced down the Chinese government.”
Thought experiment: Imagine Ronald Reagan on a debate stage admiring the strength of a Russian dictator and a brutal Communist China regime.
CNN’s Jake Tapper also pressed Trump on violence at his rallies, quoting Trump’s own comments about how he’d like to punch protesters in the face and urging supporters to “knock the hell” of people expressing dissent. Trump’s response: “We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things.”
Finally, there was Trump on delegates. For some reason, he suggested described 1,237 as “that artificial number that was by somebody, which is a very random number” when it is, in fact, simply the majority of delegates available. Trump said he believes whoever has the most delegates should win. That, of course, is not how it works. Having less than a majority means a majority doesn’t want you as the nominee. Hence the possibility of settling on a consensus nominee after multiple ballots.
SPEAKING OF DELEGATES — POLITICO’s Scott Bland and Steven Shepard: “Trump is the only Republican candidate with a realistic chance of winning the 1,237 delegates necessary to claim the party’s presidential nomination, according to a POLITICO analysis. A close examination of demographics, polling, and delegate allocation rules in the remaining states suggests there is a path for Trump to win a majority of delegates, but it is a tightrope walk that leaves the businessman with little margin for error. The outlook for his rivals is grim — there is almost no way they can get to the magic number.” http://politi.co/227DYdM
RATINGS AGENCIES STILL DOMINATE — WSJ’s Timothy W. Martin: “The three big ratings firms that played a central role in the last financial crisis never got a downgrade of their own. Investors still overwhelmingly rely on Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings when deciding whether to buy bonds. The three issue more than 95 percent of global bond ratings, a total virtually unchanged from the pre-2008 period. Profits also are nearing all-time highs …
“The resilience of the industry’s largest players was on display again this week as Moody’s, a unit of Moody’s Corp., agreed to a $130 million settlement with a California pension fund. The pact resolved one of the industry’s last remaining major crisis-related legal headaches and brought the total of fines and settlements to $1.9 billion, a fraction of the amount paid by U.S. banks for missteps during the same period.” http://on.wsj.com/24Ud5w9
GOOD FRIDAY MORNING — Thanks to all who came out for our great event at Nasdaq on Thursday with Mohamed A El-Erian. They even let us ring the opening bell and plastered your humble columnist’s face all over Times Square, which was a surreal experience and no doubt scared innocent tourists: http://bit.ly/1P2CFU8 Full event here: http://politi.co/1QAQ4bm … And as always, email me on email@example.com and follow me on Twitter @morningmoneyben.
THIS MORNING ON POLITICO PRO FINANCIAL SERVICES — Zachary Warmbrodt on the Senate Banking Committee’s movement on White House nominees — and to get Morning Money every day before 6 a.m. — please contact Pro Services at (703) 341-4600 firstname.lastname@example.org
WELCOME BACK TO MERCANTILISM — NYT’s Binyamin Appelbaum: “Trump’s blistering critique of American trade policy boils down to a simple equation: Foreigners are ‘killing us on trade’ because Americans spend much more on imports than the rest of the world spends on American exports. China’s unbalanced trade with the United States, he said Tuesday night, is ‘the greatest theft in the history of the world.’ Add a few ‘whereins’ and ‘whences’ and that sentiment would conform nicely to the worldview of the first Queen Elizabeth of 16th-century England, to the 17th-century court of Louis XIV, or to Prussia’s Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in the 19th century. The great powers of bygone centuries subscribed to the economic theory of mercantilism, ‘Wherein we must ever observe this rule: to sell more to strangers yearly than we consume of theirs in value,’ as its apostle, the East India Company director Thomas Mun, wrote in the 1600s.” http://nyti.ms/1LVpfyy
NOT SO SUPER MARIO? — Manulife’s Megan Greene on the ECB’s big move: “Draghi managed to implement the triple salchow of monetary policy … by taking a policy that normally eats into bank profitability and turning into a big transfer to the banks. Unfortunately, he also broke the only monetary policy transmission mechanism that still works in the Eurozone — the currency channel. …
“European bank shares soared by nearly 6 percent off the back of Draghi’s press conference, but the euro strengthened around 3.3 percent relative to the dollar by the end of the trading session in Europe. This is odd given how aggressively the ECB is easing monetary policy. … [T]he timing of the appreciation suggests it was directly related to Draghi’s comments that, based on the outlook, it does not seem interest rates should be cut further.
Mohamed A. El-Erian on Bloomberg View: “To make things even more uncomfortable for the ECB, the depreciation of the euro that immediately followed its announcement isn’t holding. In a counter-intuitive move, the currency has now strengthened after the central bank’s steps. … That the ECB risks moving closer to the point where unconventional policies are less effective and possibly counterproductive. After all, neither the appreciation of the euro nor the selloff in stocks will help efforts to counter deflation and improve economic conditions” http://bv.ms/2241L1B
Political Alpha: “The open question is whether this is the end of the easing cycle. … We have said many times that he is running out of room to maneuver. This seems to be the last stage in that process or very close to it”
EURO STILL UP — Reuters: “The euro hung onto hefty gains in Asia on Friday after the European Central Bank eased aggressively but suggested it was running out of room to cut interest rates, even if other stimulus options remained. The muddled message sent European bond yields surging and snuffed out a nascent rally in risk sentiment, leaving Asian share markets at a loss on how to react” http://reut.rs/1WdE5Rp
THE DAILY TRUMP FILES — POLITICO’s Hadas Gold reports audio obtained by POLITICO supports allegations that Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was roughed up by Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski: http://politi.co/1lYGlPz
And the NYT reports on protestor being punched out at a Trump rally: http://nyti.ms/1SDw3lO. The alleged puncher later told Inside Edition that he might have to kill the protestor if he sees him again. http://politi.co/1YDhWO4
MEGA DONORS WARM TO TRUMP — POLITICO’s Kenneth P. Vogel: “The GOP’s biggest donors are mostly united in their distaste for the party’s presidential front-runner Donald Trump, but they increasingly are coming to grips with the prospect of his nomination, and many are now signaling they would support him in a general election. The shift, detailed in interviews with a dozen major donors and their representatives, is less an indication that the party’s donor class is warming to Trump, and more a reflection of their disdain for Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“Their willingness to rally in opposition to Clinton should tamp down concerns on the right that the lingering unease with Trump would mean a free pass for Clinton from big-money attacks in a prospective general election matchup with Trump. … Among the major donors who told POLITICO that they would support Trump ― or oppose Clinton ― in a Trump-versus-Clinton matchup are Hubbard, T. Boone Pickens, Toby Neugebauer and Dan Eberhart.”
KASICH-MENTUM? — WSJ’s Ben Kesling: “Kasich has vowed to win the GOP primary in his home state of Ohio next week and on Wednesday took umbrage when asked about recent polls that show him lagging behind front-runner Donald Trump. ‘You think I’m stalled out?’ said Mr. Kasich when asked about recent polling that puts him, the state’s sitting governor, behind Mr. Trump in the Buckeye state. ‘Come to Ohio and we’ll see!” he said. “I’m beginning to surge.’ The poll in question, released Wednesday morning by Quinnipiac University, has Mr. Trump ahead of Mr. Kasich 38 percent to 32 percent in Ohio. Mr. Kasich claimed it used old data.
“Just after Mr. Kasich’s rebuttal, a poll released by Fox News showed the governor ahead of Mr. Trump among Ohio Republicans, 34 percent to 29 percent. Renewed vigor in his home state could help Mr. Kasich’s campaign remain viable. Ohio became even more important for his campaign following a lackluster third-place finish last week in Michigan, where he campaigned heavily. Many people at the rallies Wednesday in Ohio and Illinois said they’re either Kasich supporters, or are warming to the candidate and might vote for him in the primary” http://on.wsj.com/24TPXhx
BERLAU PUSHES BACK — CEI’s John Berlau respond’s to a recent Slate piece: “Slate … argued that the fiduciary rule would never censor financial broadcasters, but maybe it should! As I write, this pundit would be in clear violation of any ‘fiduciary rule’ that she report the contents of a regulation accurately to her readers. She says for instance it could never be used against Ramsey and others because listeners don’t pay him. Yet the rule refers many times to compensation ‘From any source’ and ‘direct or indirect’” http://onforb.es/1QLsoRP
BHARARA UNDER THE GUN? — WSJ edit page: “Wall Street holy warrior Preet Bharara may finally answer for abuses of his prosecutorial power. On Thursday a federal district court ruled that a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York violated the civil and constitutional rights of former hedge-fund manager David Ganek can proceed to discovery and trial. … This is a major development … Prosecutors and law enforcement enjoy qualified immunity that shields government officials from being sued for all but the most egregious violations of legal rights.” http://on.wsj.com/1U65qqK