GOP front runners face new challenges after Paris

With the terrorist attacks in Paris last week shifting the media’s focus on the presidential campaign to national security issues, establishment figures in the Republican Party are taking the opportunity to delegitimize the two non-establishment front-runners.

Former chairman of the South Carolina GOP Katon Dawson, who has unsuccessfully tried to organize an anti-Trump PAC, said the following:

The losers are going to be Donald Trump and Ben Carson on national security. As the Republican base sobers up, they are the two, if this story lasts a long time, it’s going to hurt.”

It seems as though the paradigm shift has particularly hit Dr. Carson the hardest, as his comment at the Nov. 10 debate that “the Chinese are (in Syria),” is now seen in a new light which is shining brightly on foreign policy prowess.

The latest national polls by PPP and Bloomberg conducted post-Paris show Carson’s support dropping by as many as five points compared to polls conducted before the attacks occurred last Friday.

The decline in Carson’s numbers may have long term implications if what some of his security advisers have been saying is true.  Former CIA director Michael Hayden, for example, was asked to speak with Dr. Carson by the candidate’s campaign coordinators and made the following observation:

I had one lengthy phone call with (him) two months ago . . . his instincts are all right, but this is a database in which he’s very unfamiliar.”

Another former state GOP chairman, Fergus Cullen of New Hampshire, seems to agree that the latest trends will be a long-term problem for Carson.  “I’m not so worried about (him),” Cullen said. “I respect him for his accomplishments in life, but he is completely unprepared to be president . . . and that will take care of itself at the polls.”

As for Trump, his support has been holding steady at around 25 percent of GOP voters nationally. In New Hampshire, he is holding a massive double-digit lead over all other contenders, but he still hasn’t cracked the 30-point mark.

In South Carolina and Iowa, Mr. Trump holds slight leading margins over Dr. Carson, although no polling data in those states have been published since Friday’s attacks.

 

[Politico] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy AP]