Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wrapped up a four day New Hampshire bus tour Thursday afternoon in Manchester. Speaking to 150-200 people, Cruz painted a dark portrait of America as a “country in crisis” and “at the edge of a cliff”, with saving the country as beyond both Democrats and other Republicans.
Cruz’s basic theme was a combination of the destruction caused by President Obama, saying that “constitutional rights are under assault each and every day”, and the role of faith, prayer and Judeo-Christian values in restoring America to its rightful greatness, declaring that “there is an awakening that is sweeping this country.”
Cruz fully embraced his reputation as a man intensely disliked by many, including his Republican Senate colleagues. Although his disdain is first and foremost directed at President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democrats generally, he enthusiastically attacked the “bipartisan corruption of career politicians in both parties.” His audience seemed to share that view, primarily rejecting Democrats but also showing disdain for Republicans. Later, as the crowd dispersed, two 40-ish men were discussing their Cruz enthusiasm. Their bonding intensified as each revealed that they were first drawn to Cruz “when he called Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate.”
His world has been torn asunder and he’s not quite sure what to do about it. Among Jeb Bush’s observations at a recent town hall was the somewhat stilted characterization that “the world has been torn asunder.” There’s truth in that statement, but it’s not the way that other candidates or most voters would say it.
Jeb Bush is a candidate out of sync with the current mood in his party who, notwithstanding some significant strengths, continues to struggle at gaining traction as the New Hampshire primary approaches. He held a lengthy town hall Friday night in Hollis, New Hampshire, speaking with about 200 people for an hour and a half. Casting himself as the “only guy taking Donald Trump on”, Bush argued that both electorally and substantively the Republican Party and the country will ultimately decide that they want “a serious leader” and that he is that “serious leader.” His audience was very attentive and receptive, starting and ending with a standing ovation for Bush, but mostly they listened as he spoke for about 20 minutes and then answered 16 questions over an hour and ten minutes.
Donald Trump drew a crowd to Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel today, but he slipped in and out without encountering the protesters and gawkers waiting for him at the main entrance. A crowd of about 200-300, along with a significant press contingent, gathered in anticipation of his appearance at a benefit luncheon.
Seemingly split about evenly between people voicing opposition to Trump and those curious or drawn to the spectacle, their anticipation would be unsatisfied. Aided by a bullhorn, a group steadily chanted anti-Trump slogans as his arrival drew near. A single pro-Trump demonstrator wearing a sandwich board promoting a shooting range and a “Make America Great Again” hat meandered through the crowd, periodically bellowing out support for Trump. The anti-Trump protesters tried chanting over him at times and held signs in front of him at one point, but he was largely left alone.
On a raised spot on the side of the steps that glide up into the Plaza I squeezed in among a group of early teens from Tennessee. Excited at having already seen Lady Gaga and, they thought, DJ from Full House on their maiden voyage to New York City they were eager to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump. They liked New York, they said, but could do without the rudeness. With a deep drawl one girl noted that New Yorkers “don’t say yes ma’am and no ma’am” and instead people “say F you to you”, reporting on instances of that occurring. An Ohio teen also on our elevated observation post seemed quite familiar with Trump via Celebrity Apprentice. Appearing reasonably familiar with the presidential race she nonetheless did not know that her state’s governor (John Kasich) is also in the race.
The crowd, already restless, began dispersing once word spread that Trump was inside. By the time he left via a side exit more than an hour later few people remained and his departure was barely noticed.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hosted a rally on the steps of City Hall Wednesday to denounce many of Donald Trump’s statements, especially his call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States. Joined by Public Advocate Tish James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, NY State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Liz Krueger and many members of the City Council, Mark-Viverito strongly condemned Trump.
Tonight Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a menorah relighting in Manhattan’s Carl Schurz Park. The menorah, initially lit last night for the first night of Hanukkah, was vandalized overnight. Mayor de Blasio joined rabbis from Chabad-Lubavitch of the Upper East Side and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Council Member Ben Kallos, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and a crowd of about 200 people in a non-traditional relighting ceremony, intended as a public display of defiance to the vandalism. The park is adjacent to the Mayor’s official residence, with the menorah about two blocks from his door.
After brief remarks from the hosts and Mayor de Blasio, the candles were lit. The evening concluded with the mayor joining other men (but no women) in a dance:
Republican presidential candidate George Pataki’s most recent New Hampshire campaign swing was overwhelmingly focused on the San Bernardino attack and ISIS. I joined two of his three open press events Friday; a visit to a retirement community in Lebanon, New Hampshire and an appearance at a Chesire County Republican Committee holiday party.
Pataki devoted most of his remarks at both events to the San Bernardino attack and ISIS, and most of the dozen or so questions posed to him focused on the same topics.
Pataki’s first stop was Quail Hollow, a booming retirement community just north of the center of Lebanon which is itself right in the middle of New Hampshire. Pataki’s early evening visit to the dining room had the potential for catastrophe, as interrupting dinner can be a hazardous move for a politician. As he walked around greeting the 35 or so residents seated for dinner Pataki quipped “escape now if you don’t want to hear me talk.” A woman responded “we’ll listen to you, we’ll give you a chance.” They did, listening closely and engaging with Pataki, albeit after another woman bellowed “Quiet!” as residents talked over Pataki initially. He wisely warmed up the crowd by announcing that his mother’s 100th birthday is today (Monday).
Ohio Governor John Kasich continued his New Hampshire focus with a recent three day visit, trying to push his way into the top tier of candidates. His visit featured four town halls, including a Manchester town hall Friday which I attended.
New Hampshire polls continue to have Kasich mid-pack with Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio ahead of him, although Carson appears to be fading. Kasich has, like all of the non-Trump candidates, struggled for attention. He has far more electoral office experience than any of the other “major” Republican candidates, with substantial state and federal experience, but that has not resonated with voters yet in this season of anti-government fervor. (He has more time in elective office than Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio combined.)
It was smiles and praise as the 108th and 109th mayors of New York City appeared together this morning in the Bronx. Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio spoke at a ceremony marking the planting of more than 1 million trees in the City under the “MillionTreesNYC initiative.” The program was launched during the Bloomberg administration, with inspiration and significant involvement by Bette Midler.
Bloomberg and de Blasio have rarely appeared together since de Blasio took office. They recently crossed paths at the Al Smith Dinner, where Bloomberg delivered a funny, but stinging, “tribute” to the current mayor. They previously shared a stage at de Blasio’s inauguration, which featured some biting critiques of the Bloomberg years. Among those critiques was a speaker who referred to Bloomberg-era New York City as a “plantation.” Today, however, they spoke of plantings, not plantations.
Bette Midler, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Council Member Mark Levine, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Executive Director of New York Restoration Project Deborah Marton also joined the ceremony, held at Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx.
Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the creation of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) Alliance, formed with the goal of supporting and promoting the park. Located in Northeast Queens, FMCP is approximately 900 acres and includes within it Citi Field and the National Tennis Center. The Alliance is composed of a mix of government and commercial businesses, with some civic groups and labor.
de Blasio spoke outside the Queens Museum, also located within the FMCP, with the 1964 Worlds Fair Unisphere behind him.
Joined by Council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, de Blasio fielded both on topic and off topic questions. He demurred on answering security-related questions, noting that he had a second press conference scheduled for this afternoon with Police Commissioner William Bratton and stating that he would address such questions at that later press conference.
Mayor de Blasio today attended his second Flight 587 memorial service as mayor, arriving early and avoiding a repeat of his 2014 public relations disaster.
The memorial service is held annually in Rockaway on the date of the 2001 crash of American Airlines flight #587, with a moment of silence timed to the exact moment of the crash. Last year de Blasio infamously arrived after the moment of silence, bringing simmering discontent with his then-frequent lateness to a boil. Today de Blasio arrived early, speaking with many mourners before the 9:05 ceremony began and visiting the granite memorial wall afterwards. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat and NYS Assembly Member Guillermo Linares also attended.
Mayor Bill de Blasio today joined New York City members of the House of Representatives in urging newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan to pass legislation permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. de Blasio hosted a meeting and press conference at City Hall with House members Charles B. Rangel, Joe Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, Jose Serrano, Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Yvette Clarke. Dan Donovan attended the closed press meeting, but did not attend the press conference. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Public Advocate Tish James also attended the press conference.
For Mayor de Blasio it was a moment of shared interest, if not unity, with a group that he’s had a variety of political differences with. Renewal of the Zadroga Act, funding treatment for first responders ill from the effects of working in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, is a strongly shared interest transcending a variety of differences de Blasio has with City House members. It faces strong opposition in the Republican Congress, however, and a floor vote in the House is not certain to occur.
Ohio Governor John Kasich continued his focus on campaigning in New Hampshire Friday, with a town hall meeting in Hopkinton that he described as his 27th New Hampshire town hall. Kasich had two other public events during a two day visit, with a town hall Thursday night and filing for the New Hampshire primary ballot Friday morning. Continue reading Kasich In New Hampshire – Round 27→
Insight, analysis and reporting on New York and national politics