Tuesday, June 30, 2015

George Custer's Defeat at the Little Bighorn

Battle of the Little Bighorn - History In An Hour
Another anniversary has come and gone from another famous battle. On June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer led the U.S. Seventh Cavalry on an attack against the Lakota, Dakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes at a village just west of the Little Bighorn river in Montana. He and 700 U.S. cavalrymen were about to go to battle against over 1,500 Native American warriors. The battle that was about to occur remains legendary in American history.

What most interests me about the battle is why it has become so famous. It was not large by any means, but continues to be remembered. Earlier this month, I published posts about D-Day and the Battle of Waterloo. It's easy to see why those two battles are remembered. The former decided the fate of the western front in Europe and over 1 million men took part. The latter, several decades before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, determined who would rule a continent and involved around 200,000 men. The Battle of the Little Bighorn didn't even have over 4,000 troops fighting. Yet we remember it like we remember D-Day and Waterloo.

I think part of the reason it's remembered is because of the man who led the U.S. cavalry on that fateful day. George Custer was larger-than-life. Many people believe he is a hero, but he's actually very controversial and, in my opinion, wasn't that good a military commander at all. He did fight with great vigor and heroism in the American Civil War, but after that there was a slippery slope. The Battle of Washita showed how sloppy Custer could be. On November 27, 1868, Custer led the Seventh Cavalry in a surprise attack against a Cheyenne village near the Washita river. Chief Black Kettle was killed and the 250 Native American Indians were taken by surprise. Sadly, many women and children were killed during the attack, which never should happen in a battle.

What happened next is one of the greatest stains on Custer's career. One of his subordinates, Major Joel Elliott, decided to lead 19 other men eastward after observing several Native Americans flee. While the major decided to give chase, Custer ordered his men to start destroying the village and organize the prisoners, but then trouble arose as described by historian Jerry D. Morelock in a 2011 article from Armchair General:
Sometime after Elliott departed, Lieutenant Edward S. Godfrey raced up to Custer's command post to report a startling development. After the initial attack, Godfrey had led his platoon north of the river and then east to search for more ponies, but upon clearing some small intervening hills, he related to Custer, "I was amazed to find that as far as I could see down the ... valley there were tipis - tipis [and] mounted warriors scurrying in our direction."
Custer knew he had to retreat, but what about Major Elliott and his men? Rather than alert and save them, Custer ordered his men to mount up and move out with the prisoners. Elliott and his men were left to fend for themselves. In a letter to his superiors following the battle, Custer claimed victory and exaggerated the number of Indian casualties, but Elliott and his troopers weren't accounted for. It wouldn't be until December before their mutilated bodies were found. Worse, Chief Black Kettle was actually one of the peaceful chiefs in the Native American tribes, who was willing to negotiate with the United States. Captain Frederick W. Benteen, an officer in the Seventh Cavalry, was very angry at Custer for the loss of his friend Elliott.

The Battle of Washita set up major resentment against Custer. Benteen sent letters to the press that were published in newspapers to bash Custer for his decisions. The officer and the commander became bitter rivals. This rivalry followed all the way to June 25, 1876, when Custer decided to split his command like he did for the attack on the Washita village. This was Custer's first great mistake because the Little Bighorn village was one of the largest ever assembled. He deliberately kept Benteen out of the fighting by having the regiment's senior captain swing left away from the village along with 113 men from three companies. Twenty perfect of the force was sent away from the village to block Indians from escaping, despite the fact that scouts reported the village as the largest they ever saw.

Custer's next mistake was to give another sizable portion of the Seventh Cavalry to Major Marcus A. Reno, some three companies with 131 men, to attack the southern end of the village. Custer would take the remaining 215 men comprising a total of five companies north to strike the Indians from the other end. Any troops left were kept as a reserve to defend a supply line and ammunition packs. Reno gave the first attack, but as his men crossed the Little Bighorn river and charged from the south, they immediately realized that they were running into trouble. A small battalion of cavalry was charging an enormous village of Native Americans. The cavalrymen were not even a tenth of the village's population. The difficulty of this attack is explained in Nathaniel Philbrick's The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn:
Between 1868 and 1878, there were eighteen cavalry attacks on Indian villages of two hundred tepees or fewer, and every one of these attacks proved successful. No U.S. cavalry officer before or since had what Reno now faced: the chance to see if a mounted battalion could push the collective psyche of a thousand-tepee village past the breaking point and transform this giant seething organism of men, women, children, horses, and dogs into a stampeding mob.
Reno, who was under the influence of alcohol after drinking before the battle, ordered his men into a defensive skirmish line. The men dismounted, most forming into a line and firing their Springfield carbines while the remaining few gathered the horses. He was soon attacked by an overwhelming number of warriors. At this point, Custer reportedly saw the battle unfold and went back to his five companies to attack the village. What he didn't see was how quickly the battle turned to the favor of the Native Americans. Custer had declined to bring Gatling guns, the machine guns of the time, with him into battle because of how slow they were. These powerful weapons could have completely altered the first fighting. Reno realized he was about to be massacred and decided to retreat. It was heavily disorganized, but eventually the men mounted their horses in a nearby timber and raced across the river to move atop nearby bluffs.

What Custer was trying to do is rightly considered an envelopment attack, where the attacking force attacks two sides of the defending force. It can work, but was executed poorly in this battle. Custer proved too late while Reno's force was too small. Now acknowledging that he needed Benteen, Custer sent a messenger to the captain asking him to be quick and bring ammunition packs. When receiving the message, Captain Benteen decided to head toward the nearest gunfire, which was where Reno and his battalion was fighting. With Reno's men exhausted and wounded, Benteen made the decision to stay and support him. With new support, Reno and his men would survive, but the captain firmly believed Custer had abandoned them and was riding off into glory.

A day later, the fate of Custer and his men was discovered. The lieutenant colonel and his 215 men were all dead east of the Little Bighorn river on several hills. It appeared that Custer had tried to cross the river according to accounts from Native Americans, but was repulsed and ordered a retreat up the hills. His men dismounted into skirmish lines and remained there as the Cheyenne and Lakota warriors surrounded and annihilated them. As Indian warriors charged up the hills on horseback or running on foot, the cavalry skirmish lines became disorganized and the men started to group together. Custer was probably awaiting the assistance of Benteen, but with the confusion of the message and the slow speed of the mule train, Custer was left on his own and his many mistakes running up to the battle were what destroyed him. On June 25 we always remember this battle, which shocked the United States just before the centennial celebrations.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Young Republicans and Gay Marriage

Steven Benson
The decision of the Supreme Court is one that I feel is important to the unity and freedom of the United States. Personally, I do believe same-sex marriage should be legal. If two individuals want to be in love, no one should stop them. The Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage is important to the individual freedom that makes America great. It is truly a step in the right direction. I wanted to look at some poll numbers regarding same-sex marriage and the Republican Party, which shows that the party itself is slowing transforming into a party that will support gay marriage. Here's a January poll from the Pew Research Center:

Being born in 1996, I'm part of the millennial generation. Younger generations do not see as much of a problem with gay marriage, which wasn't understood or popular in previous generations. If these trends continue, then gay marriage will be acceptable in the Republican platform once millennials are heading the Republican National Committee. Politically, it highly benefits the GOP to support gay marriage because most of the country does.

Most social progress is in the future and I think this ruling by the Supreme Court is an important step forward. At the same time, I want everyone to remember that we should respect intelligent debate and the beliefs of those who do not support gay marriage. Most of them are not haters or bigots, but people who simply have a different opinion. Freedom of speech on all sides is the chief reason that the United States is a great country.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bobby Jindal has Announced Candidacy for President

Bobby Jindal announces candidacy - BuzzFeed
Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, has announced his candidacy for president. Jindal, another rising star in the Republican Party, is the son of Indian immigrants and a Rhodes scholar from an Ivy League school. He is very experienced in politics (especially for the young age of forty-four) and has headed Louisiana's healthcare and school systems before becoming governor. Like any other presidential candidate, Jindal's candidacy is a long shot and he must stick out in order to come close to speaking as the nominee at the GOP convention. Here's his announcement speech:

The Republican field is swelling. Historically, it is the widest Republican field in the history of American presidential elections, with the potential of breaking the record held by the Democrats in their 1976 primaries (sixteen candidates). With Jindal's announcement, there are thirteen Republican candidates. His poll numbers are very low, so Jindal must distinguish himself. Right now, those poll numbers mean that he won't participate in a debate with the top candidates on Fox News. I'm waiting to see if any bump in the polls occurs from his speech.

Jindal, like other Republican candidates with bad poll numbers, must "own" an issue to give himself media coverage in order to rise in the polls. Jindal, like Martin O'Malley in the Democratic primaries, is in a very difficult position. His poll numbers have fallen badly in his own state, which never helps any candidate. Louisiana is a small southern state anyway, which is expected to go Republican in the presidential election. In comparison, Jeb Bush was the governor of the crucial swing state of Florida.

What about his race? Sociological voting is a factor in winning presidential elections. That cannot be denied, but at the same time the Indian demographic in the United States is not bigger than the Hispanic or African-American demographics. Some have argued that he has distanced himself from his Indian roots, but I don't believe that will matter when Indians ponder voting for the first president from their ethnic background. My problem is that it isn't that big a demographic politically.

It probably would have been better for Jindal to have run in 2012 rather than 2016. He has been building himself up as a social conservative and an expert in public policy (something that appeals to the center-right establishment), but at the same time there are better candidates that fill Jindal's shoes. Social conservatives have Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee clearly in their camp. Ben Carson, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz also appeal to this group. Jindal would have had a better chance in the 2012 Republican primaries because only Santorum could be considered someone who strongly identifies with evangelicals. Aside from him, the only real competition would have been from Perry or Michele Bachmann.

As for his establishment appeal, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham are all fitting a spot Jindal could have held. Carly Fiorina is also carving herself as one who identifies with the center-right establishment. As a whole, there is little reason to believe Jindal has a good chance at winning the presidency, but like everyone else he can win. His strategy will be by "owning" an issue. At the same time, he should impress debate audiences with his knowledge on public policy and views on social issues. He must win Iowa and South Carolina in order to have a shot at the GOP nomination. If he wins there, then he might be hailed as the Republican Party's Barack Obama because of his minority appeal.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rand Paul's Flat Tax Plan

Rand Paul - CNN
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced his tax reduction plan if he becomes president. Tapping into the tax reformers and supply-side enthusiasts, Paul has introduced a flat tax that would have a rate of 14.5 percent on incomes and another 14.5 percent on businesses. It will tax wages, salaries, capital gains, rents, and dividend income. It's also a plan that gets rid of the unnecessary estate tax we have right now. At the same time there is an element of protectionism in his plan. The tax will not apply to companies with goods that are produced in the United States and exported. Imports, like goods coming from China, will be taxed at the 14.5 percent rate when they come to the United States. That should make industrial unions happy.

For exemptions, the first $50,000 in income will be tax free for a family of four (less for a family with less children and more for a family with more children, naturally). The payroll tax is eliminated and according to economist Stephen Moore the average worker with an income of $40,000 will get a $3,000 pay raise from that tax elimination. Many of the other tax loopholes and deductions will be eliminated. Paul argues this will raise revenue because it means the wealthy would no longer have big deductions to hide their capital. With lower taxes, the rich will be more interested in bringing back their money from tax shelters to the United States. The Laffer curve at its work.

The Tax Foundation has conducted their own research on Paul's tax plan. According to the Tax Foundation's Andrew Lundeen and Michael Schuyler, Paul's plan would increase the gross domestic product of the United States by over 10 percent and cause a monumental 35.9 percent increase in capital investment. Around 2 million jobs will be created from the flat tax. In other words, their research argues that the economy will skyrocket which will lead to more tax revenue in order to avoid a large deficit. At the same time, Paul intends to do large spending cuts to balance the budget.

Overall, I think it is a good tax plan. It's certainly more politically plausible than the elimination of the income tax put forward by Rand's father Ron Paul in 2012. However, if implemented I think this tax plan will collide with Paul's monetary policy. The problem is that Paul's plan does not exempt wages for corporations. This means corporations might have to cut wages. Now I can't be sure of the full effects because Moore argues that the plan isn't like a European value added tax. In Europe, many countries already pay high income tax rates. Paul's plan sets income tax rates at much lower brackets, so his tax plan doesn't add any new taxes, but instead has a replacement consumption tax. However, if the Federal Reserve continues to inflate, then real wages fall while prices rise. The problem is that Paul is committed to low inflation, but that inversely means higher unemployment.

While Senator Paul's plan is a good one, it does have problems. I want a flat tax in our country, but I feel that it would have to be phased-in over several years. I also don't like that there is no deductions for businesses on wages, which I feel is one deduction that has to stay. The biggest problem is that this could create conflict between the Fed and the president. Finally, I cannot support protectionism. The debate over how bad tariffs are has been thoroughly concluded. Paul should be given credit for considering more reforms to the tax code like Herman Cain in 2012, but I feel he has missed some very crucial marks. Luckily, Paul isn't the only candidate who will be proposing a tax plan. We will have many this season and GOP candidates are rushing to get the advice from the most popular and respectable conservative economists.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What is the Best Job to Get Elected President?

The Oval Office - White House Museum
A friend of mine who doesn't know too much about electoral politics recently asked what is the best job for a candidate to get elected president. I wanted to share this in a blog post. In order to find out which job offers the best chance to get elected, I decided to go back to every election since 1896 and investigate what job each president held before getting elected president. It's important to remember that some president will not be included. Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gerald Ford became presidents through the death of their predecessors, not by winning an election. Here's what I got:

Vice President

Richard M. Nixon, 1969-1974
George H.W. Bush, 1989-1993


William Howard Taft, 1907-1913
Herbert C. Hoover, 1929-1933


Warren G. Harding, 1921-1923
John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963
Barack Obama, 2009-present




William McKinley, 1897-1901
Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945
Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981
Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989
Bill Clinton, 1993-2001
George W. Bush, 2001-2009

No Political Office

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961

What we see here is that there is a huge favor for governors in presidential elections. This is entirely understandable because voters want someone who can effectively govern the United States. Governors have governed a state, so that's why they have good odds at getting elected president. Governors also might have a better chance at winning their state (if it's an important battleground state) because they are usually with their voters. Senators are more distant because they work in Congress.

One of the obvious reasons politicians in Congress fair badly is because many people perceive that they are part of the problem with political division. Only three senators have been elected president in over 100 years. Representatives are in a worse position because they only serve a district of a state. In fact, you have to go back to James Garfield to find the last time a candidate from the House of Representatives won a presidential election. Part of the reason is that the House of Representatives is viewed as the junior legislature in Congress, even though there is a balance of power.

Finally, senators and representatives can be attacked more easily because all they have are voting records. In 2008, Obama launched a powerful attack ad on Senator John McCain, which stated that McCain voted in favor of President George W. Bush over 90 percent of the time. Obama had such a small time in the Senate that it was hard for McCain to attack him. No let's look at the candidates from both parties who have officially declared. Democrats are colored blue and Republicans are colored red:

Vice President



Hillary Clinton


Rand Paul
Marco Rubio
Ted Cruz
Rick Santorum
Lindsey Graham
Bernie Sanders




Jeb Bush
Rick Perry
Mike Huckabee
George Pataki
Martin O'Malley
Lincoln Chafee

No Political Office

Carly Fiorina
Donald J. Trump
Ben Carson

There is a tie between how many governors are running and how many senators are running. While governors hold the most presidential victories, senators are second even if they don't come close to matching the number of wins. Keep in mind that there are three governors who haven't announced if their running for president yet. These three are Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich (all Republicans). That would make a total of nine governors if they all ran for president.

It is also important to look at the numbers for other categories. The last time a Cabinet member won an election for president was Herbert Hoover, who headed the Department of Commerce. Clinton is the only candidate who's last job was in a Cabinet. We don't have a lot of scientific information as to how Cabinet secretaries do, but we do know that historically they rarely win elections. It will be important to see how Clinton uses her job at the State Department on the campaign trail and what voters know about her time as secretary. Another key point to remember is that Cabinet secretaries connect with voters less than even senators while working. Clinton must show how the policies she implemented were successful if she wants to win skeptical independents and how those policies helped the American people.

Finally, the only time a candidate who never held a political office won an election was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many people say that Eisenhower, the commander of the Allies in Europe during World War II, won because of his military experience, so he could use it for the situation in Korea at the time. His career as a general did involve a lot of politics even if he wasn't elected to it. No candidate who previously ran a business or otherwise unconventional job before running for president has won an election. We don't know how Trump, Fiorina, and Carson will do even if they do get very popular. At the moment, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are the most favored candidates in the Republican field. Bush was a governor of Florida and Walker is the current governor of Wisconsin.

Is Clinton about to Blow it....Again?

Clinton's New York speech - Time
On June 13, Clinton made an effort to reboot her struggling campaign with her first major speech, which was held on Roosevelt Island in New York City. At the speech she talked about the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, her husband President Bill Clinton, and her old boss President Barack Obama. Her speech was clearly leftward and specifically attacked Wall Street, tax cuts to the wealthy, and income inequality. Here's a video of her speech:

She probably should have checked her research though, because Bill Clinton cut a lot of taxes for the very people his wife attacks now. Yes, the booming economy of the 1990s was from NAFTA, welfare reform, and a capital gains tax cut in 1997. The only time Clinton significantly raised taxes was on income in 1993, from a top rate of 31.5 percent to 39.6 percent, and that was one of the reasons the Democrats lost big in the 1994 midterms.

Even with this reboot, her campaign's problems are not going to go way. If anything, there are more now from when she first announced her candidacy. She might not do something silly like hide her identity at Chipotle or talk about her "Scooby" van, but the more serious concerns are from her work at the State Department, which is just starting to unravel. Worse for her campaign, Clinton has now been told to skirt around her past positions on issues and just move left in order to fill the void Bernie Sanders was starting to fill. Doing so only helps Sanders and it shows. As of today, the RealClearPolitics average for the New Hampshire Democratic primary shows that Bernie Sanders has had a jump of support from 13.8 percent just weeks ago to 21.2 percent now. His strategy should be to focus on winning New Hampshire since he is a nearby resident from Vermont.

Bill Curry at Salon has posted a new article about one of Clinton's problems: the TPP. Clinton has seemed to duck a position on the Trans Pacific Partnership because it tears the Democrats in half. She doesn't want to make any enemies, so she's waiting for the last moment to give a position. Sanders knows it and is criticizing her. Curry argues in his article that Sanders, the democratic socialist senator, is going to inevitably win the nomination. Now I don't know how great Curry is as a political scientist, but knowing his economic views go against common knowledge on trade, I think it is perfectly safe to acknowledge that he probably isn't that reliable.

Yes, Hillary Clinton did blow it in the 2008 Democratic primaries. The polls, which you can see from the RealClearPolitics national average, indicate that. Everyone thought 2008 was her time, then Senator Barack Obama collided against her vast money machine and campaign structure to ultimately win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. For 2016, the Clinton campaign has more experience from the last presidential run, but I don't know if that's enough. Sanders has nothing to lose and he's authentic. That same goes for Lincoln Chafee and Martin O'Malley, but while she does have a chance to blow it again it is important to remember that her defeat in the primaries is hard to consider.

Clinton was at the top of the polls in 2008, which were nearly 40 percent. This time her poll numbers are much higher at around 60 percent, showing that a lot more Democrats do support her. It's an overwhelming majority in the party and only Sanders polls over 10 percent. Chafee only takes around 1 percent at times. Jim Webb, who has not announced if he's running president yet, polls a bit a better and O'Malley comes after that. Finally, Vice President Joe Biden polls double-digits, but it isn't clear if he'll run or not. In conclusion, I think the Clinton political machine can be defeated, but it will take a lot of work and remains unlikely. At the same time, I wouldn't say it's reasonable to think that the Democratic primaries will be a coronation.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Primary Schedules Differ from 2012

The 2012 Democratic Convention - USA Today
The primary schedule is shaping out to be a different from 2012. I have posted about this before back in January when I described how candidates get nominated and it has happened now. I wanted to provide some information on those big differences. First, the Democrats will have the first results from the Iowa Caucus on February 1, followed by the Republicans in Iowa the next day. These states will be crowded with more candidates than last time because both parties are participating in the nomination process. After Iowa, both parties have the New Hampshire primary on February 9 followed by South Carolina on February 20. In 2012, the Republicans went to Florida for the next primary, but this time both parties will compete in the Nevada Caucus on February 23.

March 1 is the imperative Super Tuesday where ten primaries and two caucuses will be held. Super Tuesday has the important potential of dropping out many candidates that poll low while building up the most important candidates that are likely to be a party's nominee. More states will hold primaries and causes throughout the month, but none are more important than those on March 15 when Florida will hold a primary along with Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. It is important to see which candidates win the historic battleground states of Florida and Ohio. This month will be very expensive for the campaigns, so those with the most money and organization will benefit.

April will be the most important month for me and my fellow on Wisconsinites. On April 5, Wisconsin will hold a primary. Joining Wisconsin on that day will be the District of Columbia and Maryland. In the 2012 GOP primaries, Wisconsin was the state that decided the nominee. Mitt Romney won the state and after that his chief rival Rick Santorum dropped out. Wisconsin can be just as important this time because of its status as a swing state.

After Wisconsin, the last important swing state with a primary is Pennsylvania on April 26. It is joined by Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. If the race is not decided until after Pennsylvania, then we are likely to see a brokered convention since the presumptive nominee cannot be decided. There are still some states that have not decided when their primary or caucus will be. This the case with the battleground state of Colorado and the liberal state New York. New York could be important for more moderate candidates and candidates who live there like George Pataki and Donald Trump, even though no Republican has a chance of winning it in the presidential election.

I highly recommend every person who intends to vote in the primaries to find the date for their state (or territory because they also participate in the nomination process) and be ready to support their candidate when it comes around.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Donald Trump is Running for President

Donald Trump's announcement speech - ABC News
It's official. Billionaire Donald J. Trump, the chairman and president of the Trump Organization, is running for president of the United States. The famous real estate mogul and television icon gave his announcement speech, a total of 52 minutes, at Trump Tower in New York City. Everything about it was 100 percent Trump style. Many people thought he wouldn't run because he repeatedly talked about running in previous elections until finally saying no. This time, Trump did enter the race for the White House, but I expected him to do so all along. He was actually spending money in this cycle and did not renew The Celebrity Apprentice after the end of the most recent season. Here's his announcement speech:

Before you wonder, Trump does have a chance at winning the Republican nomination and the presidency, but it's slim. Nothing is impossible in American politics. The "corrupt bargain" of 1824 and the stunning upset of 1948 prove that. Trump's position is similar to that of Ross Perot, who ran for president as an independent in 1992 and on the Reform Party's ticket in 1996. Obviously Trump isn't running as an independent or on a third party, but Perot was also a billionaire who decided to self-fund and nearly won the presidency before flaking out around the end. Do not underestimate Trump if he does start gaining traction.

Now Trump's chances of winning are small at the moment and there really isn't a clear shot that he'll come close to the GOP nomination. In recent years Trump has been an outspoken critic of President Obama and that has made him popular with the Tea Party, but when other candidates start talking about his past there will be problems for his campaign. Trump has very low perceived conservatism. For example, Trump has constantly faltered on abortion. He has claimed to have switched to pro-life, but his change in position could be attacked by others on the debate stage. Still, Mitt Romney changed his position on abortion and became the nominee.

Another problem with Trump is that he is viewed as more of a celebrity than a leader and that means many voters will find it difficult to see him as a president. However, the same thing could have been said for Ronald Reagan when he ran for governor of California and president later. A heavy negative that imperils "the Donald" are polls that show how unpopular he is with the Republican Party. A very telling Fox News poll revealed that 59 percent of Republicans said they would never support Trump. This could be a big problem for him if he is the nominee, but I'm not sure winning the nomination will even require a majority of support from Republicans because of the many candidates in the race. While Trump has two big weaknesses, he actually does have some important strengths.

No one should deny that Trump gets media attention whenever he wants it because of his name recognition. That's important for a candidate when they're running for president. It is also important to know how Trump speaks. The Tea Party loves a candidate with rhetorical skill. Trump doesn't hold back and he will speak more proudly, rudely, and loudly than any other candidate. He is excellent for throwing red meat to the base. It will be a mistake for any Republican candidate to get in Trump's way. Above all, he isn't a politician and many people will like that.

As a businessman, Trump can speak on economic issues with more credibility than other candidates. Trump himself has paraded his own success and he can use some of that on his campaign. During his announcement speech, he talked about how he has $8.7 billion and, which he can use on his campaign. That means money for ads that other candidates have to raise. GOP rivals should be worried about that wealth. Finally, personal attacks on Trump might not be effective. Since he has been in the public eye so long, the public believe they already know who he is.

Trump's strategy must be to win over enough voters who feel that they should take him seriously. It is important for him to attack Obama and Clinton in the debates because that is what he is most known for. He should get a strong applause for his no-nonsense remarks on them while showing how his policies differ from what Obama has done and what Clinton has proposed. With the TPP in the minds of many people, he has made it clear that his trade policies with China will not be free, but protectionist. This is an important difference between him and other candidates. It is a perfect topic in order to draw attention.

There is no away he can deflect an attack about him being a former Democrat. He could say, "Once Obama is done, a lot of Democrats will be Republicans," or talk about Reagan, but otherwise there isn't much room. I think he should also concentrate in New Hampshire, which is close to where he lives. It isn't likely that he has a chance in Iowa. If he keeps momentum after winning New Hampshire, then experts might be talking about him as "the next Schwarzenegger."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jeb Bush Makes it Official

Jeb Bush announces candidacy - ABC News
The inevitable moment has come. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, has announced his candidacy for president. The brother to one president and the son to another, Bush has noticeably decided to leave his family name off of his campaign logo. This is similar to Hillary Clinton, who opted to not put her last name on her campaign logo either. It seems that the establishment favorites on both sides want to put some distance between themselves and their family. That's why the former governor did not have his father or brother at the presidential announcement (former First Lady Barbara Bush was there).

Like Clinton in the Democratic Party, Bush is the Republican candidate with the largest war chest and one of the most disciplined campaigns. In the background of Bush's presidential campaign is Mike Murphy, one of the most powerful political consultants in the GOP. Murphy is an influential political veteran, who has worked in many GOP campaigns including Bob Dole in 1988 and 1996, Jeb Bush in 1998, John McCain in 2000, Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2002, and Meg Whitman in 2010. He knows political dogfights well and has been with winners and losers. Since Whitman's defeat in 2010 for California governor, Murphy has remained out of presidential campaigns until now. One question we'll find out during these primaries is if Murphy's style will hold up in a changing media and political climate.

Bush's speech made it clear that he feels his family name doesn't matter. At that speech he touted his eight years as Florida governor by focusing on his fiscal conservatism. His record will be under scrutiny in debates, just like the records of other candidates. The Bush name is very important when Republicans consider who the nominee should be. Some people might argue that Jeb Bush hurts the GOP's chances of taking the White House if he is the nominee because of his last name. This is too early to say. Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, posted a good article where he argued that Jeb Bush's candidacy gives Republicans the chance to fully assess the presidency of George W. Bush from a more historical perspective.

In 2008 and 2012, the memory of the end of President Bush's second term was still there. One of the great things with the passage of years is the ability for a better historical assessment of a presidency. It was too early in 2008 and 2012 to look at the Bush presidency. Now, with more information and perspective, Republicans can better present themselves with questions that might regard his presidency. Younger candidates, however, will probably not have to deal with President Bush because of how long ago his presidency was. Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio weren't elected until 2010.

Many conservatives might reject Bush because of his brother's and father's presidencies. It's not that hard to understand. Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush had problems with maintaining their conservatism. Bush the Elder cried out "No new taxes!" and then totally betrayed his base as president. Bush the Younger might have signed two tax cuts, but it should not be forgotten that he expanded federal domestic spending with No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part-D. Here is spending for five domestic areas in the federal budget. This means defense spending, which is naturally increased in a time of war, isn't included:

Many conservatives might find Jeb Bush questionable because the two previous presidents from his family didn't hold up their fiscal conservatism at all. You are how your family raised you, after all. 

More pressing for Bush will be his positions on immigration and Common Core, which aren't that favorable in the Republican Party. George F. Will, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post, has defended Bush in a December post where he argued that critics of the former Florida governor should read his book Immigration Wars, where Bush argues for more immigration that specifically targets workforce needs and a pathway to legalization for those here illegally. On Common Core, Will is a bit more concerned because of Bush's simple argument that "standards are different than curriculum." The problem here is that Common Core standards are very influential on education policy since standards design what is tested for passing classes.

Many strategic Republicans might want to consider the attacks that could be potentially raised on Bush because of his past with corporations. Now I don't have a problem with people who work in the private sector, but that doesn't stop critics. Bush has been an adviser or board member for several companies and that means the Democrats could examine the candidate's corporate career and attack him as someone who only cared about making profit and intends to reward his big business allies as president. It is a similar attack the Obama campaign used against Mitt Romney.

In order to win the nomination, Bush's strategy should be to play the front-runner and highlight his record as governor. He is wisely playing down his family name in order to avoid conservatives who don't want a family dynasty. He has to accurately refute any attacks about immigration and Common Core during the debates. If he can he prove that he is conservative enough for the GOP, then he will win the nomination. Nevertheless, we are far from guaranteeing Bush the nomination. It also doesn't look like we are slowing on Republican candidates anytime soon. Here's Bush's announcement speech:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Legacy of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo - BBC
"To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god." Napoleon Bonaparte

Operation Overlord isn't the only important battle that happened in June. The bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo will took place today. Once again, it is important to consider what could have been as well as why the battle concluded the way it did. On June 18, 1815, a French army of 72,000 men led by the great war master Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte marched onto a field south of the small Belgian village of Waterloo. Standing on a ridge north of him was an army of 68,000 British, Dutch, Belgian, and German troops led by Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. What was about to unfold for the whole day was a battle that would decide the fate of Europe and the world. At the end of that day, there would be a total of 65,000 casualties.

What circumstances created the battle? It was the return of Napoleon from his exile on the tiny Mediterranean island of Elba. The military leader, who was born on the French island of Corsica, became an emperor in May 1804 and had to immediately do battle with the rest of the continent. Monarchies were horrified of the French Revolution, which saw the execution of King Louis XVI and the Reign of Terror. Now France had returned to a monarchy, but Napoleon wasn't anywhere near the old Bourbon regime. Britain, Austria, Russia, and Sweden decided to join together to crush him. At the same time, Napoleon felt that he had a destiny to make France the sole power of Europe and to secure more glory than any other military leader in history. His idea and legacy, along with that of many others, for a pan-European state resonates more than ever today.

For the first six years he did battle with several coalitions conquering all of Europe. By 1812, most of the continent was conquered and Napoleon had forced the Russian Empire into a peace treaty. Britain remained defiantly alone as it would over a century later in the Second World War. Britannia truly ruled the waves with the most powerful navy ever assembled, but Napoleon was the true innovator of land warfare and stood seemingly unstoppable. He decided to economically strangle the British by forcing the continent into an embargo. This did not sit well with Russia, which continued to trade. Napoleon had no choice, but to march on Moscow with an unprecedented 600,000 men.

The Russians knew they could not beat the French emperor, so they decided to retreat while taking and eliminating any resources that could be of use to Napoleon's Grand Army. When Napoleon and his men arrived in Moscow, the Russians still refused to capitulate. The French emperor had no choice, but to retreat from Russia with little supplies. The retreat, through freezing weather and blazing snow, is the biggest hole in Napoleon's impressive career. The famous legend is that only 22,000 soldiers were still alive when Napoleon's army left Russian territory in December 1812. At the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, the numbers were stacked against Napoleon and he suffered a major defeat against a coalition of Russia, Austrian, and Prussian troops. 

The French Empire lost an overwhelming amount of territory from 1813 to 1814. Napoleon had no choice but to abdicate. The victorious coalition gave him Elba, but he soon prepared to return and did so on February 28, 1815. French troops sent to arrest Napoleon ended up joining his cause. A coalition immediately gathered to defeat him once and for all. The nearest armies were led by the Duke of Wellington in Belgium and Count Gebhard von Blucher in Prussia. They planned to meet and fight the French with superior numbers. Napoleon responded by rapidly organizing an army and invading Belgium to take on each army one at a time. In this way, the battle influenced the formation of the United Nations more than a century earlier with the concept of a coalition united against one enemy to preserve peace.

By the time of the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon had indecisively defeated the Prussians at Ligny on June 16. He sent 30,000 troops under the command of Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy to pursue Blucher. Now he was facing the extremely difficult task of defeating Wellington at Waterloo. Throughout the day, Napoleon would launch massive attacks on the ridge. He first tried to bring the Coalition down from the ridge by launching an attack with infantry on the British stronghold at Hugomont near the west of the battlefield. Wellington did not take bait. Napoleon and his subordinate, Marshal Michel Ney, launched several frontal attacks that failed to destroy the Coalition's line. The emperor's ferocious artillery bombardments didn't work either and mud devastated quick troop movements

The battle eventually reached the climactic end. Napoleon sent reserves to face oncoming Prussians to the east while ordering his elite Imperial Guard to destroy the Coalition's lines. Wellington also organized for the final battle. His troops were moved into positions that would best face the Imperial Guard. If they broke Wellington's lines, then the road to the Belgian capital of Brussels would be open. The veteran French soldiers, in their blue uniforms and large bearskin caps, marched loyally and impressively up the ridge doing the bidding of their emperor. They had never been forced to retreat. Both sides exchanged volley fire and smoke blinded visibility of the fighting from a distance.

When the firing ended, the Coalition stood supreme. The men of the Imperial Guard either fought to the death or were forced back. It must have been unbelievable for Napoleon. With their defeat went his last chance as remaining the emperor of France. He eventually surrendered and lived the rest of his life at St. Helena. Had only a few things gone right for Napoleon, then the outcome could have been entirely different. Napoleon could have reorganized his army, defeated Blucher, regrouped with Grouchy, and prepared to defeat the Austrians and later the Russians. Europe would have changed forever.

Today Napoleon, Blucher, and Wellington are remembered and hailed as some of the best military leaders in history. Each man shaped Europe in his own way in defeat and in victory. The battle decided which country would be the true superpower of Europe and this was celebrated in Britain and Prussia. Napoleon Bonaparte might not have achieved everything he wanted, but he certainly came close to being the kind of god he describes. In many ways, Europe will always stand in his shadow thanks to his great long-term policies.

A large reenactment was held at Waterloo where observers got the best chance of seeing how the battle took place. Reenactments are some of the best ways to relive battles. I would highly encourage people to go to a war reenactment. They are part of reason why battles like Waterloo will never be forgotten.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rick Perry Announces Candidacy for President

Rick Perry - The New York Times
The entrance of former Governor Rick Perry of Texas into the Republican field makes ten candidates, but we aren't even close to being done with new presidential campaigns. What will Rick Perry have to do in order to win the Republican nomination? The 2016 primaries aren't going to necessarily going to be same as they were in 2012. Unlike Ben Carson or Lindsey Graham, Perry does have more room for his campaign, but it isn't clear yet if his poll numbers will get him into the first debate. Here's his announcement speech:

First a little bio. Perry originally started out as a Democrat in Texas. He even supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries, but during the Reagan Revolution many southern Democrats started to identify themselves as Republicans. This was the case for Perry, who became a Republican in 1989. He worked his way up the political ladder in the highly conservative state. Under Governor George W. Bush he was the agriculture commissioner, but later decided to run for lieutenant governor. This led to his loss of popularity with Karl Rove, one of Bush's central campaign advisers and what followed was a rivalry between the Perry camp and the Bush camp. Despite all the odds, Perry won the position of lieutenant governor narrowly. When Bush became the president, Perry became the governor.

Perry served as the governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015. He often found himself backed into a corner, but snatched victory at the last moment. He can put Texas forward as a success story. It has one of the best economies in the nation thanks to his fiscal conservatism. Many conservatives like to compare the success of Texas with the liberal failure of California. It is one of the reasons Perry is considered by many to be a good shot at the presidency.

One of the biggest questions is how he will recover from 2012. Perry might go own as one of the worst presidential candidates in history if this campaign is just as bad. In 2012, Perry was a favorite of the Tea Party who instantly jumped in the polls as a main opponent to Mitt Romney. The reason Perry wasn't the nominee was because his poll numbers collapsed from terrible debate performances. Fortunately (and hopefully) for the former governor, a repeat is unlikely as his campaign has without a doubt made sure that he has improved for televised debates. I don't think there will be another "oops" moment ( although it occurred by the time his poll numbers had collapsed), which may have been caused by his lack of concentration and increased stress following bad sleep as a result of back surgery.

Perry will be the candidate with more executive experience than anyone else in the field, but if he talks about his work in Texas then he will also have to defend any problems that may have arisen. Some Republicans might attack Perry for how he handles illegal immigration. Many voters might be dismissive of yet another president from Texas (the two most recent Republican presidents were both from Texas). He will also have to defend past controversies such as his indictment. The charges and a possible trial might leave some Republican donors and grassroots conservatives holding back from supporting Perry this time.

The indictment regards his actions to force the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after she was arrested from drunk driving. She didn't resign, so Perry vetoed funding to her district's unit that deals with public corruption and fraud. The indictment came because Perry's opponents argue that he has overstretched his authority. Perry didn't have a problem with a mugshot though:

Perry's mugshot - CBS News
It is important for Rick Perry to speak more dynamically. He can "own" an issue, but he must impress people at the debates and talk about how his policies in Texas could be used nationally. Most Republicans know who Rick Perry is, so his 2012 weaknesses are already more known as are his 2012 strengths. That's why the indictment is an important issue. Perry hasn't been vetted on that yet. However, he can use it in his favor by explaining why he did it. If Perry can undermine the indictments, while promoting his economic policies in Texas, then he should be in good shape. Like I said, he can pick a certain issue and dominate it, but he doesn't have to do so because he isn't that low in the polls or that unknown.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Greatest Invasion

U.S. troops landing on Omaha Beach  - National Infantry Museum
It was on June 6, 1944 that Operation Overlord was launched by the United States, the British Empire, and other allies against Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Although this post is late, I wanted to share why the Allies won and the importance of their victory. The invasion of German territory, famously called D-Day (simply a measurement for the day of an invasion followed by D+1, D+2 and so on), was another significant win for the Grand Alliance against the Axis. By this time Germany had suffered sweeping defeats in the Soviet Union at Stalingrad and Kursk. A second front was started by the British and Americans in Italy and now a third began on the beaches of the Normandy region in France. German defeat was already inevitable by the time Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower launched Operation Overlord, but the additional front hastened the defeat of the Germans.

Victory was never certain. It was a mountainous risk for the Western Allies to launch the invasion. Although he wasn't leading the defense on D-Day, the Germans had put the war mastermind Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of the German garrison at the Normandy beaches. On June 6, Rommel was visiting his wife in Germany for her birthday. Nevertheless, his leadership had clearly touched the fives beaches the Allies were invading. They were part of the seemingly impregnable Atlantic Wall the Germans had built in case of an Allied invasion from Britain. Rommel had the beaches strongly fortified with tons of concrete that was used to build bunkers, trenches, and turrets equipped with machine guns and artillery. They looked out to the sea and the beaches, where mines and tank obstacles were lined up to stop the landings.

The biggest problem Rommel (and even most German generals) faced was his own leader. Hitler is the main reason Germany lost World War II because he was a such a lousy military commander. His poor management style in France is a perfect example, where power was divided between Rommel and Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, who was the overall commander of German forces on the western front. Both men had to answer to Hitler, who kept control over valuable armored reserves that would stop an Allied invasion if needed. President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill did no such thing with their armies. Even though Rommel is widely considered to be one of the best generals in military history, his generalship didn't count at all when Hitler gave wildly disastrous orders that overruled the field marshal. It is also important to understand that many German resources were committed to protecting the homeland at this point because of American and British bombing campaigns.

Another valuable advantage the Allies had was the art of deception. A "ghost army" was created that fooled the Germans into thinking that the invasion would be at the much closer port of Calais, which offered a more direct route to Berlin. General George S. Patton was commanding the fake army because of his poor treatment of troops suffering from a medical condition at the time known as "battle fatigue" (PTSD). His horrendous actions included slapping soldiers that had mental injuries. These incidents cost Patton command of the actual invading American armies. This worked perfectly for Eisenhower because the Germans thought that Patton would be the general who would lead the invasion of France. Instead of Patton, British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery was given the job of commanding the invasion while General Omar Bradley specifically led the American troops.

When the invasion finally took place, most German forces were around Calais rather than in Normandy. Around 150,000 Allied troops travelling aboard 5,300 ships with 1,500 tanks were involved in the initial operation, mostly Americans, British, and Canadians. Operation Overlord remains the largest amphibious operation ever ordered. Before the troops arrived on the beaches, paratroopers landed to disrupt German supply lines and hold key positions during the night. In total, some 12,000 aircraft supported the massive invasion. In the morning, the Allies landed on the five beaches (named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword). Slowly, each beach was captured as soldiers went through the extremely difficult task of controlling German defenses. No matter how much ammunition the Germans had for their machine guns in their protective bunkers, the landing craft kept coming and by the end of the day Eisenhower had the victory he needed.

Operation Overlord is one of the most decisive victories in World War II history. The Germans now had three fronts to fight and their inevitable defeat was incredibly shortened. Without the invasion, the war would have probably lasted several months longer as the German reserves could have been sent to reinforce the Russian or Italian fronts. If the invasion ended in defeat, then the repercussions are best described by World War II historian Sir Max Hastings:
The consequences of failure must be appalling: civilian morale would plummet on both sides of the Atlantic; senior commanders would have to be sacked and replaced; the prestige of the Western Allies, so long derided by Stalin for feebleness, would be grievously injured, likewise the authority of Roosevelt and Churchill. Even after three years' attrition in the east, the Germany army remained a formidable fighting force. It was vital that Eisenhower should confront von Rundstedt's sixty divisions in the west with superior combat power.
That is why June 6, 1944 is worth remembering. Thousands of soldiers, mostly young men, died in the battle to fight for the liberation of Europe and their sacrifice will always be remembered. We cannot do enough to thank men like those who took part in D-Day for their efforts to defeat Nazi Germany.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

O'Malley and Chafee are running for the Democratic Nomination

Martin O'Malley announces candidacy - Washington Times
While the Republicans now have nine candidates in their field for the nomination (and ten soon with the upcoming announcement from former Governor Rick Perry of Texas), the Democrats have just doubled the number of their candidates from two to four with the entrances of former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland and former Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. They are joining former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primaries. How do both men hold up?

If I had to pick the stronger of the two, it would be O'Malley, so I'll analyze him first. He served as governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015 and mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. He intends to be the moderate alternative to liberal Hillary Clinton and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. According to their ideology scores, Clinton and Sanders are actually quite similar. Clinton has a score of 53 (from liberal 100 to conservative -100) while Sanders has a score of 54. O'Malley only has 25. It is important for O'Malley to make himself distinguished in the 2016 presidential election. He doesn't have to move left like Clinton as a result of Sanders' candidacy.

Currently, the former governor is just as a long shot as Sanders and Chafee against the Clinton political machine. If he tries to run left then his campaign would be in a disastrous situation. The Democratic primaries will already have Sanders, there is no need for more ideologues. O'Malley will have a very difficult task ahead of him. During his announcement speech, which was given at Baltimore, protesters chanted "black lives matter" and did what they could behind barricades to ruin the candidate's announcement. There is a bigger problem for O'Malley than hecklers. Maryland's 2014 gubernatorial election was a Republican victory in a Democratic state. While O'Malley was not on the ticket, the election signaled that the voters wanted a different direction instead of another Democrat as their governor. There was a sign of this lack of support during his speech, where only 300 people attended despite thousands of invitations.

Senior political writer Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight posted about how unlikable O'Malley is in his own state, which is never a good sign for any candidate. As far as the polls are concerned, O'Malley trails behind Clinton impressively in Maryland. In 2012, Mitt Romney wasn't popular nationally, but at least had the backing of most Republicans in Massachusetts. This was the same situation for President Obama in Illinois when he ran for president back in 2008. In 2008, Republican nominee John McCain also led in the polls in his home state of Arizona. It is imperative for O'Malley to lead in Maryland, otherwise he can't lead anywhere. If he cuts himself as an ideological moderate who can do business with Republicans, then he can satisfy the moderates in the Democratic Party and become a serious rival to Clinton.

Here's his announcement speech:

Meanwhile, Lincoln Chafee has just become the George Pataki of the Democratic primaries. Chafee also has a weird background. He was first the Republican mayor of Warwick before being appointed a U.S. senator. He lost to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006, but then ran for governor as an independent in 2010. He was so unpopular that he decided to not run for a second term in 2014 and is now running for the Democratic nomination. Ideologically, he considers himself liberal and that's why he has decided to become a Democrat. Some of the points he made in his announcement speech were negotiating with ISIS to end American involvement in the Middle East and having the U.S. adopt the metric system. The most interesting point he made was on the TPP, which he supports saying that it will support fair trade. This is at odds with Sanders, who says that the agreement eliminates too many trade barriers.

Chafee is probably in the same ideological position as Hillary Clinton, if not then he's either a tad more liberal or a tad more conservative (depending on who you ask). When giving his speech he clearly sent signals that he will be a hardcore dove. He has attacked Clinton for being a hawk on the Iraq War, but the problem with these attacks is that no one knows if they will work. Keep in mind that this is the 2016 presidential election, not the 2008 presidential election. What worked for Obama to get the Democratic nomination against Clinton might not necessarily work for Chafee. Besides, if the Democrats want someone further left then Sanders is perfect. He didn't support the Iraq War either. Aside from attacking Clinton on Iraq, there's not much for the Chafee campaign to do. He should try to "own" an issue and hope that makes him competitive. Here's his speech:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Santorum, Pataki, and Graham are Running for President

Rick Santorum - US Magazine
The Republican field continues to grow larger with former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Governor George Pataki of New York, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all officially announcing their candidacies for president of the United States. In the Democratic Party, former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland has announced his candidacy, but I will get to his strategy in the next post. Another Democrat, former Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, will also announce soon. Right now, I will focus on the three Republicans.

The most important development to observe is Santorum's candidacy. The reason is because he is one of the few Republicans who ran in the 2012 primaries that has decided to run again. Traditionally, the Republican Party has picked the candidate who took second in previous nomination races to be the nominee next time. For example, Mitt Romney won in the 2012 Republican primaries, but he took second place in the 2008 primaries. John McCain won in 2008, but he took second place in 2000 against George W. Bush. This strategy has had mixed results for the Republicans, but 2016 is one of the few opportunities to break that cycle since Santorum is stronger and weaker than he was in 2012.

Let's look at the former senator's advantages first. Unlike any of the other Republicans who are currently running for the nomination, Santorum has had previous campaign experience and his team knows more about strategy than they did in 2012. His campaign will likely have more discipline than Ben Carson's or Carly Fiorina's. At the same time, Santorum knows where he fell flat in 2012 and probably has stronger ways to defend himself this time. As a senator, he will have to defend his voting record, which other candidates will attack in order to prove Santorum isn't as conservative as he claims, specifically on the fiscal end. It's also important to keep in mind that most Republican voters will already be aware of the criticisms against Santorum. We don't know yet how voters will respond to old news.

The biggest problem for Rick Santorum in 2016 is that he is primarily known for his views on socially conservative issues and that means he will be colliding with Mike Huckabee. In 2008, Huckabee was the favorite of the social conservatives. In 2012, Santorum held that position. Now the two favorites of the social conservative faction in the GOP are running and that means they will be split on who to support, which hurts both the former Arkansas governor and the former Pennsylvania senator. They will have to attack each other in order for one to hold the banner of the evangelical Christians.

Here's Santorum's announcement speech:

To sum up Santorum's strategy, he has to emphasize his unquestioned conservative views on social issues. It will help him to "own" a particular issue and focus on it to distinguish himself in a very crowded field of candidates. Santorum's biggest benefit is that more people know about him this time than last time he ran for president. The two other candidates who have entered the race are as politically visible as the invisible man.

"Who the heck is George Pataki?" If that's what you were thinking when you heard his name, you aren't the only one. Pataki is an ideologically moderate Republican who served as the governor of New York from 1995 to 2006. If you were to go back to 2008 you probably would have heard of him. He was popular among Republicans, especially for cutting taxes and rebuilding New York City after 9/11. But in 2008, the Republicans rallied around another New York Republican: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. With the northern GOP choosing Giuliani over Pataki, the former governor decided not to run president and he declined again in 2012.

This time he is running, but he faces the challenge of little name appeal since he is so unknown. His task, like other minor candidates, will be to "own" an issue and hope that enhances his poll numbers. Right now it looks like he will be entering the CNN debate that has Republicans candidates with low poll numbers and he doesn't have much financial backing either. He won't be alone because Lindsey Graham is in a similar position.

Here's Pataki's announcement video:

Graham, the moderate Republican senator from South Carolina, is the ninth candidate to enter the GOP nomination race and is polling the same numbers Pataki has. Like Pataki, Graham suffers from low funding and might not even make it to his home state (the third primary on the path to GOP nomination). His strongest advantage is his views on foreign policy and he believes that will help him. With the chaos of ISIS in the Middle East, Russia in Ukraine, and now China expanding their island bases, it's easy to see why Graham would focus on foreign policy. President Obama is viewed as weak and Senator Graham promises a strong response to America's enemies if he becomes president. However, Graham's biggest problem is that he will be depicted as a RINO by the Tea Party.

Here's the senator's announcement speech:

It's possible that he might be running for president in order to obtain a Cabinet position by supporting the winner later. It is also possible that he intends to counter Rand Paul's philosophy on foreign affairs. Whatever his reasoning is, Graham is a long shot to be the Republican nominee. If he does win in South Carolina, he will have difficulty keeping that momentum in Florida, where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would fight it out. What Graham has to do is focus on foreign affairs ("owning" a particularly issue) in order to raise his poll numbers. As of now, Graham presidential's prospects are as slim as Pataki's. while Santorum's are better. It is unclear, as of now, that any of the three are likely going to be the Republican nominee, but in the primaries anything can happen.