Posts Tagged Alabama
Americans began voting Tuesday in what is deemed the most pivotal day in the presidential nominating process, with frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hoping to wipe out their rivals.
Voters in a dozen states will take part in “Super Tuesday” a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT).
If Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump an outspoken billionaire political neophyte who has unexpectedly tapped into a vein of conservative rage at conventional politics win big, it could spell doom for their challengers.
Hours before polls opened, the duo made last-ditch appeals to supporters ahead of a day like few others on the calendar leading up to the November election for the White House.
Trump’s Republican rivals, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, were frantically trying to halt the real estate magnate’s march toward nomination, seeking to unite the party against the man they see as a non-conservative political interloper.
Clinton is riding high after thrashing rival Bernie Sanders in South Carolina over the weekend, securing an astronomical 86 percent of the African-American vote in her third win in four contests.
Should she win black voters by similar margins in places such as Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, she should dominate there to become once again the inevitable candidate.
That was her status at the start of the campaign before the rise of Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.
She was leaving nothing to chance, traveling to multiple states on Monday to urge a strong turnout.
Clinton also took aim at the increasingly hostile campaign rhetoric on the Republican side led by Trump.
– Scapegoating, finger-pointing –
“I really regret the language being used by Republicans. Scapegoating people, finger-pointing, blaming. That is not how we should behave toward one another,” she told hundreds gathered at a university in Fairfax, Virginia.
“We’re going to demonstrate, starting tomorrow on Super Tuesday, there’s a different path that Americans ought to take.”
Trump’s incendiary campaign has infuriated Republican rivals, including mainstream favorite Rubio who has intensified his personal attacks and stressed Trump would have trouble in a general election.
The Florida senator warned supporters in Tennessee that US media and Democratic groups will jump on Trump “like the hounds of hell” if he wins the nomination.
But Trump is clearly in the driver’s seat. He is leading in polls in at least eight of the 11 Super Tuesday states.
And a new CNN/ORC poll shows the billionaire expanding his lead nationally, earning a stunning 49 percent of support compared to second place Rubio, at 16 percent.
Cruz of Texas is third, at 15 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 10 percent and John Kasich at six percent.
Trump punched back against Rubio, calling him “Little Marco,” mocking him for sweating on the campaign trail and warning that he could not stand up to strong men like Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, in which he has accused Mexico of sending rapists across the border, mocked women and the disabled and urged a ban on Muslims entering the country, would have been the undoing of a normal candidate.
But the 2016 cycle has been anything but normal, with a furious electorate keen to back an outsider who scorns the political establishment.
“I’m representing a lot of anger out there,” Trump told CNN.
“We’re not angry people, but we’re angry at the way this country’s being run.”
In the latest controversy, Trump came under withering criticism for not immediately disavowing the support of David Duke, who once led the Ku Klux Klan.
Rubio said Trump’s failure to promptly repudiate Duke, who has expressed support for Trump, makes him “unelectable.”
Some conservatives have said they will shun Trump if he is the nominee.
“This is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” said Senator Ben Sasse, accusing Trump of being a non-conservative plotting a “hostile takeover” of the party.
Trump supporters “need to recognize that there are a whole bunch of other people who say, if this becomes the David Duke/Donald Trump party, there are a lot of us who are out,” he told MSNBC.
If Trump sweeps the South, where many of the Super Tuesday races are taking place, it could be lights out for his Republican challengers.
Texas is the largest prize on Tuesday, and Cruz is banking on winning his home state. He trails in nearly all other Super Tuesday states.
595 Republican delegates are up for grabs Tuesday, nearly half the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination.
Some 865 Democratic delegates are at stake, 36 percent of those needed to win.
Sessions, a conservative heavyweight known for his hardline immigration views, backed Trump at a packed rally in a local football stadium here, praising his stance on immigration and trade and calling his campaign a “movement… that must not fade away.”
“The American people are not happy with their government,” Sessions said. “We have an opportunity Tuesday. It may be the last opportunity we have for the people’s voice to be heard.”
The Alabama senator, who has never endorsed a candidate in a Republican presidential primary, repeatedly praised Trump’s position on immigration, which includes his proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and deport illegal immigrants. “You have asked for 30 years, and politicians have promised for 30 years, to fix illegal immigration,” Sessions said. “Donald Trump will do it.”
Sessions is the first sitting U.S. senator to formally endorse Trump, and his decision to back the real estate mogul and former reality-show star is a major blow to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Sessions’ closest allies in Washington, who had lobbied for his support.
Still Sessions hinted that he didn’t entirely agree with all of Trump’s views. “You know, nobody is perfect. We can’t have everything,” he told the crowd here. But, he added, “I think at this time, in my opinion, my best judgment, at this time in America’s history, we need to make America great again.”
His endorsement came just days after Trump won the backing of his former rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“I am becoming mainstream! All these people are endorsing me!” Trump gleefully declared after the Alabama senator announced his support. “But Sessions… that’s a biggie.”
The endorsements came as Trump heads into Super Tuesday with what seems to be unstoppable momentum. According to polls, the businessman leads in all 10 states voting on Tuesday — except for Texas, where he narrowly trails Cruz. The Trump camp is so confident heading into Super Tuesday that the candidate is spending most of that day campaigning in states such as Ohio and Florida, home turf of his rivals John Kasich and Marco Rubio, where Republicans will vote later this month.
Still, much of the Trump rally here was dedicated to trashing Rubio, who has spent the last three days furiously attacking the GOP frontrunner in a bid to consolidate the anti-Trump wing of the party. Before the candidate took the stage, he was preceded by a string of speakers, attacking Rubio as soft on immigration and protecting American workers. At the podium, Trump spent more than half his speech trashing the Florida senator, whom he referred to again and again as “Little Marco.”
“He’s not cool. He sweats too much. And I don’t want him negotiating for us,” Trump said. “We don’t need a guy who is sweaty and scared.”
Over an hour of remarks, the New York businessman reveled in the crowd size while he offered them his usual menu of patriotic pledges and carefree criticism of the media, his opponents and political correctness that he said his crowd similarly despised.
“We’ve gotten an amazing reception,” Trump said as he began his remarks, turning his back to the podium at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium and pointing to the rafters behind him. “Has this been crazy? Man!”
The event had the trappings of a big Friday night high school match-up. Trump flew by the stadium in his private jet shortly before 6 p.m., doing a loop around the arena before landing. The fly-by was announced over the stadium’s loudspeaker to cheers.
The event was previously planned to be held at the nearby Civic Center but was moved to the 43,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium, a venue normally home to high school football games, to accommodate the crowd. The City of Mobile confirmed late Friday that 30,000 people attended.
“It was one of the greatest events Mobile ever put on aside from Mardi Gras,” said Colby Cooper, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s chief of staff.
Trump whose victory in national and early-state polls is no longer a surprise has in recent weeks taken steps to quickly professionalize his political operation. And his event at a stadium that each year hosts college football’s Senior Bowl was an effort to assemble the grandest show of force yet.
Those who attended saw Trump, clad in a navy blue jacket and his own cherry-red “Make America Great Again” red baseball cap, win the admiration of hometown hero Jeff Sessions. The Alabama Republican senator did not endorse Trump, but came on stage to endorse Trump’s immigration positions while wearing his own, off-white, Trump-branded hat.
And those in the crowd also heard the new Republican front-runner train his eyes once again on the old one, Jeb Bush, needling him as having low energy and saying he would do the bidding of special interests.
“Here’s a simple question: Who would you rather have negotiating with China, Japan, Mexico, any of them? Trump or Bush?” he asked, as the raucous crowd chanted his name back to him. “Ah, what a group.”
Bush and his allies once again aggressively looked to rebut the real estate magnate’s message, reflecting a new muscular stance against the Trump that Bush first unveiled this week in New Hampshire. This time, Bush supporters took his counterargument straight to Trump’s own voters. Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise, arranged its own flyover at the stadium as a jet carried a banner reading: “Trump 4 higher taxes, Jeb 4 prez.”
And Bush’s official campaign said it also emailed supporters in Alabama pointing out Trump’s previous liberal positions on abortion, gun rights and tax issues.
“Trump’s positions are deeply out-of-step with the Alabama way of life,” the email reads, according to the campaign. “Trump’s history of supporting Democratic ideas will not go unnoticed in Alabama and we trust you will make it known.”
Bush and Trump have sparred since the “Apprentice” star launched his campaign in June. Most recently, they have fought over the former Florida governor’s use of the term “anchor baby,” which many see as derogatory toward Latinos.
Much of Trump’s remarks here rehashed the themes he has made central to his campaign, seizing upon an economy he said was stalling and immigration laws that he said need revamping. Barely mentioned at all: Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee who Trump thinks might not make it to the general election given unanswered questions about her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
Attendees gathered as early as 6 a.m., and some traveled from as far away as Florida and California to attend.
That’s the message Trump dished to his voters. At times appearing more prepared than usual referencing what seemed to be notes on his podium and relaying new statistics about illegal immigration to his crowd, a joyful Trump offered to sign copies of his book, waved his arms to encourage applause at some of his one-liners and made an effort to his southern crowd by calling the Bible his favorite book and lamenting the decline of the Alabama steel industry.
“We have a stock market not doing so well, we have a country not doing so well, we’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump said. “We have politicians who don’t have a clue. They’re all talk, no action. What’s happening to this country is disgraceful.”
The Republican front-runner, buoyed by his crowd, was nevertheless enjoying the moment.
“I’d like to have the election tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t want to wait.”