The following is an excerpt from Benjy Sarlin | December 14, 2015 | msnbc.com |
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – In the 1970s, a comedy group called The Firesign Theater launched a
fictional candidate for president named George Papoon with a catchy pledge: Papoon for president. You know he’s not insane.
The joke, of course, was that Papoon was off-the-wall bonkers. But his “not insane” slogan could perfectly fit a class of Republican candidates exasperated by Donald Trump’s rise and jostling to become the last best alternative.
The fight is overwhelmingly centered on New Hampshire, a state whose independent streak has made Trump a strong front-runner, and whose centrist streak has made it the obvious launching pad for the mainstream GOP contenders who tend not to do as well among Iowa’s staunchly conservative caucus-goers.
New Hampshire’s primary is scheduled for Feb. 9, eight days after Iowa.
Right now, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and a handful of lower-tier candidates, like Carly Fiorina, are running essentially the same game plan: Camp out in the Granite State and corner the market on voters turned off by the Trump brand by touting their own experience, gravitas, and mental stability. (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is an equally important player, but appears less invested in going all-in on New Hampshire.)
Their plans all contrast with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is riding Trump’s wake with obsequious praise for the real estate titan and focusing primarily on Iowa to jumpstart his run.
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