The Note: GOP Enters Debate-Free Month

November 12, 2015, 8:21 AM


--BUSH STILL THINKS HE'S THE BETTER BET: The Jeb Bush that greeted veterans at an old Coca-Cola manufacturing plant yesterday was technically the same man voters saw last week. His stump speech was the same, he spoke with just as many voters as he usually does and went over his normal allotment of questions. But there was something different about this Bush, ABC's CANDACE SMITH notes. For the first time in days, his appearance wasn't mired in talks of campaign cuts or failed jabs at Marco Rubio. Today, it was just about Jeb. "I hope you want a president that loves his country and means it," Bush said As he spoke to voters in three different cities in the Hawkeye State, he rode high on his debate performance. Though he may not have won, it propelled his struggling campaign to more comfortable heights, amid discussions of a wavering donor base concerned about their candidate's prospects.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: So he's not Bob Dole's favorite guy, just like he isn't George W. Bush's man, or John McCain's. (Can you be disliked by three more effective boldfaced names, in the modern iteration of the Republican Party?) Ted Cruz isn't playing their game because he's playing a different one entirely, in casting himself as the right blend for a frustrated GOP that's sick of losing and sicker still of the party establishment. Cruz is quickly developing into the man to watch, for his understanding of the primary electorate and the deft ways he uses that knowledge. As Jeff Greenfield notes in a Politico piece, Cruz may be the most effective debater in the Republican field because he's playing chess while his opponents play checkers. He's executing a game plan that's hard to read from the sidelines; somehow, he pseudo-attacked Marco Rubio on a high-profile issue (immigration) and a low-profile one (sugar subsidies) without having to utter Rubio's name. Cruz's camp sees itself as the potential heir to Ben Carson's horde of voters. He's looking like the next man to watch in the still-fluid race -- and with Cruz, it's never dull.

--5 WAYS THE FOURTH REPUBLICAN DEBATE CHANGED THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. At first glance, the fourth Republican debate may not have prompted sweeping changes to the landscape of the 2016 presidential race. But in a splintered field of 15 candidates vying for the spotlight, it's clear that every voter, every soundbite and every percentage point matters. (Just ask Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie, who were kept off the main stage debate by one percentage point in one poll.) ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports five ways that Tuesday's debate shifted the contours of the battle for the White House.



DONALD TRUMP MODELS 'DEPORTATION FORCE' AFTER INHUMANE EISENHOWER PLAN, SCHOLAR SAYS. It was a presidential directive in the 1950s that carried the offensive yet official name of "Operation Wetback." Ordered by President Dwight Eisenhower, its controversial tactics prompted a congressional investigation and was eventually stopped because of the expense. But today the operation is the cornerstone of presidential front-runner Donald Trump's plan to round up and deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Eisenhower's program managed to deport almost an estimated 1 million Mexican undocumented immigrants, mostly temporary or seasonal workers, on trains, buses, trucks and even cargo ships, according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). It's a program Trump says he will model if elected president. But a scholar who has studied Eisenhower's program says it was neither humane, nor effective. "It was a military-style operation," Mae Ngai, a professor of history at Columbia University in New York, told ABC News. ABC's JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL have more:

MARCO RUBIO'S THEORY: 'I AM NOT GOING TO WIN THE PHILOSOPHY VOTE IN AMERICA'. Marco Rubio has a new postulate about the 2016 race -- he's not forging any friendships in the philosophy world and instead finding his Nietzsche among welders. After arguing in Tuesday night's debate that the country needs more welders and less philosophers, the Republican presidential candidate is taking his case to the campaign trail, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS reports. "I am not going to win the philosophy vote in America," Rubio jokingly told the audience at his first post-debate event in Davenport, Iowa, where he dished out joke after joke at the expense of the nation's philosophy majors Wednesday. "I'm gonna find another major to pick on here soon." At Tuesday night's fourth Republican debate, Rubio was credited with having one of the best lines of the night when he argued that the country needs more welders and less philosophers. "For the life of me I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education," Rubio said Tuesday night. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers."

TED CRUZ ADMITS HIS MISTAKE IN TUESDAY'S DEBATE. Speaking to a packed VFW in Kingston, New Hampshire last night, Ted Cruz said he "screwed up" and that he wished he could have nailed last night: naming all five government agencies he would abolish as president. "Actually I screwed up," he admitted to the crowd. "I left out education and I mentioned commerce twice." Cruz did go on to correctly list all five government agencies he would dismantle: the IRS, HUD, along with the Departments of Energy, Education...and Commerce. He also offered praise for Tuesday's debate moderators, and said the sparring match between him and John Kasich was a "good moment of clarification." He also continued laying the groundwork as an alternative to Donald Trump supporters, calling the mogul a "bold, brash voice," and saying he had been standing up to Washington long before Trump was ever running for president, according to ABC's BRAD MIELKE.

NOTED: BERNIE SANDERS LANDS BIG UNION ENDORSEMENT. Bernie Sanders has landed his biggest labor endorsement to date: the American Postal Workers Union, or APWU. The group represents 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees and retirees from across all 50 states. The APWU executive board announced its choice early this morning, ABC's BRAD MIELKE reports. The commitment comes at a critical moment for the Sanders campaign, which watched Hillary Clinton snag endorsements in October from the first- and third-largest unions in the nation: the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).


THIS WEEK'S GOP DEBATE BY THE NUMBERS. The fourth GOP debate, hosted by Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal, saw a few changes: fewer candidates onstage and a buzzer that signaled when candidates had exhausted their speaking time, to name two. But one thing didn't change. The fast-paced, high-stakes talk that has characterized debates this election cycle. ABC's MADISON JAROS takes a look at some of the highlights.


@mattbai: Is Ben Carson an impostor? ... via YahooPolitics

@AnnieLinskey: Perry, Chafee, Walker, Omalley, Jindal, Christie, Bush -- it's just not the year of the governor via @jameshohmann ...

@nytpolitics: Is Marco Rubio too young for Republicans? via @UpshotNYT

@AaronBlakeWP: Just 8 percent of GOP likes the GOP-controlled Congress. That's bad for Paul Ryan and great for Trump and Carson.

@CNNPolitics: .@realDonaldTrump talks @HillaryClinton's "massive" new hairdo via @JDiamond1

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