Cruz Defeats Frontrunner Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican Caucuses

It looks like Ted Cruz is peaking at the right time…

The 45-year-old Cuban-American United States Senator and presidential hopeful won the Iowa Republican caucuses, in the first vote of the US presidential campaign.

Ted Cruz

Cruz bested frontrunner Donald Trump, raising questions about the billionaire’s reliance on his celebrity instead of traditional political organization.

Meanwhile, fellow Latino Marco Rubio‘s stronger-than-expected showing could mark him as the establishment’s best hope against a grassroots revolt in next week’s New Hampshire primary and beyond.

Cruz’s big win sets him up as a force to be reckoned with in the delegate-rich, Southern states to come and offers movement conservatives hope that one of their own can become the Republican nominee for the first time since Ronald Reagan.

“Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next President of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment,” Cruz said.

With about 99% of the GOP vote in, Cruz was ahead of Trump 28% to 24%. Rubio was at 23%.

“It is breathtaking to see what happens when so many Americans stand up and decide they’re fed up with what happens in Washington and they want something different. They want a leader they can trust, they want a leader that stands for them against the corruption of Washington,” Cruz told CNN.

Rubio will also leave Iowa with a leg up over other establishment rivals including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who have a lot at stake in New Hampshire.

“This is the moment they said would never happen. For months, they told us we had no chance,” a jubilant Rubio said. “They told me that I needed to wait my turn, that I needed to wait in line. But tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message — after seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer to take our country back.”

Cruz To Stand Next to Donald Trump During Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Debate on CNN

Ted Cruz is right of center…

The 44-year-old half-Cuban American U.S. Senator from Texas and presidential candidate will stand to the right of polling front-runner Donald Trump during CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate from Las Vegas.

Ted Cruz

The cable news network announced its lineup and stage positioning for Tuesday’s debate, with Trump, the polling front-runner, taking the center podium.

Meanwhile, New Jersey governor Chris Christie will take the mainstage, an increase in his polling numbers getting him out of the not-ready-for-primetime debate of lower-pollers.

On the 1,400-seat Venetian Theatre stage for the fifth Republican primetime debate, from left to right, will be: John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Trump, Cruz, Jeb Bush, Christie and Rand Paul.

CNN Republican Presidential Debate

The lineup and positioning for the earlier debate will be George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham.

Podium order was determined by the average of the national polls from November and December.

Wolf Blitzer will moderate the 8:30 PM ET primetime debate, with CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash joining Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt as questioners.

The focus of the debate will be national security.

CNN will begin its live coverage of the debates at 6:00 pm ET.

Rubio Named the Winner of the First Republican Debate

Marco Rubio is gaining some respect in his presidential bid…

The 44-year-old Cuban American politician, the junior U.S. Senator from Florida, has emerged as the real winner of the first debate among 10 of the 17 candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination despite the show put on by business tycoon Donald Trump.

Marco Rubio

The nation’s leading media and analysts unanimously gave the win to Rubio – he managed to present himself as the new blood the party needs to inspire voters and defeat the Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton.

Rubio jumped into the national arena as a senator in 2010, and two years later made a name for himself with his nominating speech for Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Nonetheless, Rubio came into the debate as seventh in the polls, far below the big favorites – Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The latter two disappointed in a debate where they were supposed to look “presidential” in contrast to the buffoonery of Trump, whose outrageous remarks have been the big news of the campaign over the past six weeks.

They committed no real gaffes, but neither Bush nor Walker excited the crowd, while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie engaged in a heated argument about government spying, and Ohio Governor John Kasich had a good night in front of a supportive audience in Cleveland.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Texas Senator Ted Cruz were the invisible men on a night when, except for a few out-of-line remarks, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also went unnoticed though he came into the debate fourth in the polls.

“Natural talent tends to shine through in big moments when the bright lights turn on. The senator from Florida, who had dipped in polls after a bump in the wake of his announcement, was terrific on Thursday night,” the Washington Post said Friday.

Rubio, without getting theatrical, managed to sell better than any other candidate his “American dream” – he has built an admirable political career despite being the son of a waiter and a housekeeper who left Cuba before the 1959 revolution.

“If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

“How is she – how is she gonna lecture me – how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago. If I’m our nominee, we will be the party of the future,” Rubio said.

Besides shaking up the list of favorites, the debate also served to show that Republicans remain very much on the right, which makes life difficult for the most moderate of them, Jeb Bush, and distances them from voting groups that are key to regaining the White House after its eight years as home to a Democrat.

“Overall, however, the debate did little to expand the appeal of the Republican brand. With the exception of Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform, the candidates offered little that would make their party more palatable to the portions of the electorate – especially women, young adults, and minorities – where they have struggled in recent presidential elections,” said William A. Galston, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and former advisor to ex-President Bill Clinton.

“The party’s eventual nominee will have to do more to convince persuadable voters that Republicans stand for more than the sentiments of their aging, mostly white, mainly male, and highly disgruntled base,” the political analyst said.

Rivera Considering Run for U.S. Senate

Will Mr. Rivera go to Washington?

Geraldo Rivera is considering a run for U.S. Senate.

Geraldo Rivera

The 69-year-old half-Puerto Rican talk show host recently announced that he’d contacted the local GOP in New Jersey, where he is considering a run in the next election cycle in 2014, during his radio show.

“I mentioned this only briefly to my wife … but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker,” said Rivera, according to The Hill.

“I’m not going to drill this out, because obviously I’ve got commitments to Fox and to here at the radio program and I’m really having a great time,” he said. “But I figure at my age, if I’m going to do it, I’ve got to do it.”

Rivera anchors Geraldo at Large on Fox News and hosts on Los Angeles radio station 790 KABC. If he decided to jump into the race, it could set up a showdown between two highly recognizable figures.

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark and a prominent national Democrat, has already filed papers registering his Senate campaign after considering a run to challenge Republican Chris Christie in the race for governor in 2014.

Rivera also floated the notion of a potential run on his Twitter account this week, asking followers, “Wondering how folks feel about me running in N.J. under GOP banner against either Lautenberg or Booker for U.S. Senate?”