Posts Tagged Florida

Trump Storms to Nevada Caucus Victory

Trump NevadaBusinessman Donald Trump inched closer to the U.S. Republican presidential nomination after easily outdistancing his rivals in the Nevada caucuses Tuesday, giving him his third win in four early nominating contests.

Broadcast networks called the state for Trump almost immediately after voting ended, with the state Republican Party confirming the victory soon after.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was in second place, with Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator from Texas, coming in third.

Trump’s decisive win is likely to further frustrate Republican establishment figures who, less than a month ago, were hoping that the outspoken billionaire’s insurgent candidacy was stalled after he lost the opening nominating contest in Iowa to Cruz.

But since then, Trump has tallied wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and now Nevada, with a suite of southern states ahead on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

“If you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win too much, and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country,” Trump said at a victory rally in Las Vegas.

Polls suggest Trump will do well in many of those Super Tuesday states, placing further pressure on Cruz, Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, another presidential candidate who was not a factor in Nevada, to come up with counter-measures quickly.

In the run-up to Nevada, most of Trump’s rivals left him alone, preferring to tussle with each other in a bid to be the last surviving challenger to the front-runner.

Not long after Trump’s win was certified in Nevada, Cruz’s campaign released a statement criticizing Rubio for not winning the state, but did not mention Trump at all.

Rubio, who has emerged as the Republican establishment’s favorite to derail Trump’s progress, can take some solace in finishing second. But that also has to be viewed as somewhat of a setback considering that he had frequently campaigned in Nevada, having lived there for years as a child. A Cuban-American, he had attempted to rally the support of the state’s large Latino population.

Rubio had also benefited from the departure Saturday of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, from the race. That brought an influx of new funds, a bevy of endorsements, and a wealth of media attention. But none of it was enough to overtake Trump.

As for Cruz, he is facing mounting questions about the viability of his campaign. After Cruz’s Iowa win, Trump has made serious inroads among his core base of conservative supporters, draining anti-government hardliners and evangelicals.

Cruz attempted to appeal to Nevada’s fierce libertarian wing, appealing directly to those who supported local rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed protest against the federal government in 2014 and a similar more recent one staged by Bundy’s sons at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. But that, too, was not enough.

The upcoming March 1 primary in his home state of Texas is looming as a make-or-break moment for him.

Despite early reports on social media of procedural irregularities at many Nevada caucus sites, the Republican National Committee and the party’s state chapter said voting ran smoothly. Higher-than-normal turnout was reported, although historically, few of the state’s citizens participate in the Republican caucus.

Nevada’s contest had been viewed as a test of whether Trump had organizational might to match his star power. Unlike primaries, caucuses are more dependent on the abilities of campaigns to motivate supporters to participate. Trump’s failure to do that in Iowa was viewed as contributing to his defeat there.

He had no such problems in Nevada. And he is expected to win the bulk of Nevada’s 30 delegates, That would give him more than 80 before February ends, dwarfing the tallies of Cruz and Rubio.

While more than 1,200 are needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has built a formidable head start.



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Trump Keeps Surging in Latest Polls

Donald Trump pollsDonald Trump continues to dominate the field in the latest national poll and his attacks on Sen. Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be president seem to have some legs.

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday finds the real-estate mogul leading the Republican primary with 36% support among Republican voters, a 19-point edge over the Texas senator, who is second at 17%. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has 11%, and all other candidates are in single digits.

The poll also asked voters if they believe Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, is a natural-born citizen and thus eligible for the presidency. While two-thirds said he was, 12% said he was not and 24% weren’t sure.

Monmouth asked the same of Trump for comparison, and found that 91% of Republicans said he’s a natural-born citizen, 2% said he’s not and 7% weren’t sure.

President Barack Obama has also faced steady skepticism about his U.S. citizenship despite the fact that he was born in Hawaii. In a 2014 Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, 19% of Americans said Obama was definitely or probably not a legal U.S. citizen.

For its poll, Monmouth surveyed 1,003 adults by telephone from January 15 to 18, including 385 Republican voters. The Republican sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Polls have continually shown Trump leading the field since this summer, though Cruz has drawn neck-and-neck with the billionaire businessman in Iowa.

In a separate poll, released by Florida Atlantic University was released on Wednesday says Donald Trump is crushing the competition among likely Florida voters.

The Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative says when it comes to likely Floridian Republican voters, Donald Trump draws 47 percent of the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz came in second with 15 percent, and Marco Rubio came in third with 11 percent of likely voters.

In North Carolina, Donald Trump is building his lead according to Public Policy Polling. Its new poll puts him at 38 percent to 16 percent for Ted Cruz, 11 percent for Marco Rubio, 8 percent for Ben Carson, 6 percent each for Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush, 4 percent for Chris Christie, 3 percent each for Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, 2 percent for John Kasich, and 1 percent for Rick Santorum, Tom Jensen writes on the PPP blog.

The survey was done before Sarah Palin’s endorsement, so Trump may still be rising. He was at 33 percent in the state a month ago. The North Carolina primary is March 15. Key endorsements for Rubio haven’t helped him. He’s dropped 3 points.



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Trump Hits Jeb Bush Over Campaign Debacle

Donald TrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump mocked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his own state on Saturday, saying recent campaign cuts show he’s not ready to be president.

“Here’s a guy who wants to run our country, and he can’t even run his own campaign. And you know what? He’s cutting back big,” Trump told a raucous crowd of thousands gathered along the riverfront of one of Florida’s most conservative cities.

The comment came the day after the Bush campaign said it was cutting payroll by 40 percent by trimming staff and requiring an across the board pay cut for those remaining.

Trump said Bush, the son and brother for former presidents, is “losing badly and embarrassing his family.”

“Bush has no money. He’s cutting. He’s meeting today with mommy and daddy and they’re working on their campaign,” Trump said.

He chastised Bush for paying his finance director more than $1 million and said that if campaign staffers were willing to work for lower pay, he should have made that deal when the campaign started.

“You don’t wait till you’re failing,” he said.

By contrast, Trump said he’s only spent about $2 million on his campaign and he’s leading in polls.

“So, I’ve put up less money than anybody else and I’m No. 1,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be better if we had a country that would spend the least and be No. 1? Think about it.”

The Bush campaign responded by saying people are getting tired of Trump.

“Donald Trump needs a new schtick. Launching absurd attacks at his opponents to distract from his lack of ideas and liberal record is beginning to wear thin with voters. Donald Trump is increasingly showing each day that he is not a serious enough person to be commander in chief and lead the world’s most powerful military,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in an email.

Bush wasn’t the only rival Trump targeted during a speech that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes. Florida’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson also took hits.

“You’ve got Rubio doing poorly, and he sweats like a dog,” Trump said. “You’ve got Carson. I don’t know what the hell’s going on there. I don’t get it.”

It was the second straight day Trump campaigned in Florida, where he leads in recent polls, a point he took joy in letting the crowd know.

“Trump is No. 1. Rubio, waaaaay back,” Trump said. “You’re talking about a guy who’s sweating, now he’s really sweating.”

He also said Rubio is disloyal because he is challenging Bush for the nomination after saying for years that Bush was his political mentor.

“Everybody said he’d never run. Even I thought, he’ll never run because Bush was his mentor.” Trump said. “Those two guys are fighting like crazy, and I’m laughing watching them fight.”

A spokesman for Carson, Doug Watts, said in an email: “We love and respect Mr. Trump.”

The Rubio’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.


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Donald Trump makes stop in Tennessee & talks gun laws

TrumpAs the seemingly endless debate on gun control rages in the country in the wake of yet another mass shooting, GOP front-runner Donald Trump took the stage in Franklin, Tennessee, on Saturday and made his thoughts clear in front of a raucous crowd.

Trump said he was a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment and that any gun legislation that emerges as a result of mass shootings in the U.S. should be limited to addressing mental health.

He went as far as to imply that if teachers were armed at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, where nine people were killed on Thursday, the campus “would have been a hell of a lot better off.”

“The Second Amendment of our Constitution is clear,” Trump said, reading from his second policy paper on gun rights. “Every time something happens, they don’t blame mental illness, that our mental healthcare is out of whack and all of the other problems. And by the way, it was a gun-free zone. I will tell you, if you had a couple of the teachers or somebody with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”

2016 presidential candidates are handling the latest mass shooting under a familiar microscope – and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may have stumbled in South Carolina. Trump criticized Bush for his “  stuff happens” comment, where Bush was referring to how governments should respond to crises.

On Friday, Bush said, “I had this challenge as governor, ’cause we had look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

“I thought it was a very bad word,” Trump said. “He used the words ‘stuff happens’ – I thought it was a very bad phrase to use. I actually was watching that and I thought, ‘Wow, he certainly has taken heat.’ I thought it was certainly an inappropriate phrase.”

However, later in the press conference, Trump expressed similar sentiments when asked how mass gun shootings could be stopped.

“No matter what you do you will always have problems,” Trump said. “That’s why people are watching the news. There’s always going to be problems. There’s always going to be horrible things happening. And that’s not necessarily politically correct. There will be problems in the world – that’s the way it is. I think we can make a big dent with mental health. If we can solve a big chunk of the mental health problem in this country, that would be so fantastic.”

The speech also featured the color verbiage that his rallies have become synonymous with. When discussing foreign policy, Trump said Iraq had become the “Harvard University for terrorists.” For the first time, Trump endorsed a safe zone in Syria for migrants but once again reiterated that they shouldn’t be allowed in the United States. He went on to say the migrants could be a “Trojan horse” for ISIS.

The latest Trump rally took place at The Factory at Franklin, which was built in 1929 for manufacturing. At one point, it made high-end mattresses and sofas before sitting dormant for seven years. It was eventually refurbished into a cultural touchstone, serving as the concert venue, theater and a vibrant farmer’s market it is today.

The rally was packed with supporters, as chants of “America loves Trump!” rang out from the audience of about 1,500. Hundreds more waited outside in the rain even though they couldn’t get inside. Trump briefly addressed the overflow crowd afterwards to loud applause.

“Donald Trump is my hero so I’d do anything for Donald Trump,” said 26-year-old firefighter Bradley Herring. Herring drove nearly ten hours from Raleigh, North Carolina to see Trump.

“He’s a businessman, he’s rich,” Herring said. “If he can build a billionaire empire, he can build a rich country. ”

Before Trump took the stage, conservative stalwart Rep. Marsha Blackburn took the stage, making her the second high-profile elected official to speak at a Trump rally. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions briefly spoke at Trump’s event in Mobile, Alabama. Blackburn railed against illegal immigration and Planned Parenthood before welcoming Trump to Tennessee.




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Perry Campaign Struggling to Gain Traction and Raise Funds

Rick PerryFormer Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stopped paying his 2016 presidential campaign’s staff in the key early primary state of South Carolina, amid flagging poling numbers and sluggish fundraising.

Spokesman Lucy Nashed said late Monday that “tough decisions have to be made in respect to both monetary and time-related resources.”

“Governor Perry remains committed to competing in the early states and will continue to have a strong presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Nashed said in a statement. “The Governor is also looking forward to his trips to South Carolina this Thursday and to Iowa next week.”

Perry has spent more time than any White House hopeful in Iowa, which opens presidential primary voting, and has frequently visited New Hampshire and South Carolina, sites of the next two primaries.

It wasn’t clear if the pay suspension would be permanent. It was first reported by National Journal.

Katon Dawson, Perry’s South Carolina state campaign chairman, didn’t return messages seeking comment Monday night. But some other Perry South Carolina staffers said they would continue to work as volunteers, at least for the time being, believing the former governor’s fortunes may improve.

Perry campaign officials in other states referred questions about salaries to headquarters in Austin, which declined to comment beyond Nashed’s statement.

“As far as I know, we still have a plan and we’re still on track,” said Sam Clovis, the campaign’s Iowa state chairman.

Meanwhile, a group of Opportunity and Freedom super PACs promoting Perry’s candidacy, which are in far healthier state financially, having raised nearly $17 million by mid-July are planning to compensate for the shrinking campaign.

Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the super PAC, said the group would step up “to aggressively support the governor in a number of different ways.”

“We’ve got plenty of money,” Barbour said. “That’s what I know. And we’re going to put that money to use in Iowa to make sure the governor is in the top three there. The super PAC is not going to let Rick Perry down.”

Barbour added, “He’s going to get one breakout performance at a debate and he’ll really jump up in the polls. Voters need to see him perform very well at a debate…This is a very fluid field, things will change a lot, and we will continue to be very patient.”

The super PACs are legally barred from coordinating with Perry’s official campaign. Barbour said he anticipated after the campaign’s financial filing last month that the super PACs would need to step up and do some of the responsibilities traditionally handled by campaigns, such as building a ground organization. He said they have begun building an extensive field program in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are critical to Perry’s strategy.

“We saw this was coming,” Barbour said. “We started working on our own plan. We knew we would have to go build a ground game.”

Perry spent 14 years at Texas governor, the longest tenure in state history, before leaving office in January.

He’s hoping to convince Republican primary voters that he’s humbler and better prepared than in 2012, when his first presidential bid opened to strong fundraising and a brief surge in the polls, but fizzled amid a series of public gaffes.

Perry now trains his attention on enough support in national polls to assure a spot on the main stage at the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library next month.

Perry aides said he hopes to continue raising money and is committed to a strong performance in the early contests next year. Perry is planning to campaign in South Carolina on Thursday and to visit Iowa next week.



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Senator Marco Rubio Tells Top Donors “He Is In”

Romney Accepts Party Nomination At The Republican National ConventionU.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida told top donors on Monday that he will run for the White House because he is “uniquely qualified” to represent the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential race, according to reports.

During a conference call with donors, Rubio criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as a leader from yesterday and said the 2016 race will be a choice between the past and the future.

Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who rode the Tea Party wave of 2010 to national prominence, will formally announce his presidential bid later on Monday with a speech at Miami’s Freedom Tower.

That is where thousands of Cuban exiles fleeing the communist-run island in the 1960s were first registered by U.S. authorities. Rubio is expected to make a muscular foreign policy a focal point of his campaign, portraying himself as the Republican most ready to handle threats to America in a chaotic world.

Rubio’s support registers in single digits in opinion polls of the likely contenders in what is expected to be a crowded Republican presidential field. But aides believe Rubio, who was on 2012 nominee Mitt Romney’s short list for vice president, will rise when voters take a closer look at him.

He will be the third Republican to formally announce a White House bid, following Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Rubio’s attempt to capture the campaign spotlight follows Clinton’s declaration of her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in a video announcement on Sunday that grabbed worldwide media attention.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, will hit the campaign trail in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday. Iowa holds the kickoff contest in the parties’ presidential nominating process early next year.


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Cassidy Wins in Louisiana – Republicans Gain 9 Senate Seats in This Election Cycle

GOP midtermDemocratic Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her Senate runoff race Saturday night, felled by the red tide that’s swept the South and ties to an unpopular President that she couldn’t shake. Landrieu’s Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy won easily meaning Republicans have picked up nine Senate seats this election cycle and will have control of 54 seats in the chamber next year.

Once seen as Democrats’ strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving “a soldier on the field.”

In her concession speech, Landrieu touted her own “record of courage, honesty and integrity and delivering for the state when it mattered the most.”

The senator also said she didn’t regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.

“This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it,” she said, touting some of the benefits of the law.

“Shake it Off,” Taylor Swift’s pop anthem to moving past defeat and ignoring critics, played as Landrieu hugged the staff and family members gathered on the stage.

And tears could be seen throughout the crowd as the event wound down on Saturday night.

An energetic Cassidy, meanwhile, opened his victory speech with a surprised, “whoa!” He told his supporters his win was the “exclamation point” on the declaration that “we want our country to go in a conservative direction,” which was made with the GOP’s resounding wins on Nov. 4.

He was introduced at his victory party by GOP Sen. David Vitter, who endorsed the congressman and has been active in the race for him. And Cassidy was joined on stage by his onetime GOP foe in the race, retired Air Force colonel Rob Maness, who ran as a conservative alternative to him during the first round of voting but endorsed him in the runoff.

Landrieu ran hard through the very end, insisting even Saturday morning, outside the school where she cast her ballot, that there was still a shot.

Landrieu’s campaign pitch centered around her clout in the Senate, and what she can do for the state in Washington. But that argument lost much of its potency on Nov. 4, when Democrats lost the Senate and Landrieu could no longer tout a committee chairmanship.

And Landrieu was never able to effectively localize the race and distance herself from the president, while Republicans tied her to him at every opportunity.

Indeed, even Landrieu’s supporters seemed to know it was over before Election Night.

Cassidy ran a largely error-free, if exceptionally safe, campaign. He held infrequent campaign stops during the runoff and stayed entirely out of the state for the final week of the runoff, returning only for a Monday debate and two rallies Friday.

The Republican National Committee had around 300 staffers in the state and used the runoff period as a testing ground for field and data methods. Republicans wanted, they said, to put an “exclamation mark” on their wins on Nov. 4.

Republicans matched their party’s post-World War II record for most House seats held Saturday night by retaining two Louisiana constituencies also  in runoff votes.

The GOP holds 246 seats, compared to 188 for Democrats, with one race, in Arizona’s 2nd District, still outstanding. The 246 seats match the total the GOP had in 1947-49 when Harry S. Truman occupied the White House.

In the midterm election rout, House Republicans prevailed on Democratic turf, netting 12 seats and winning in New York, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. Republican challengers knocked out long-term Democratic incumbents in Georgia and West Virginia, seats that the GOP now could hold for generations as the party maintains its stranglehold on the South.

The GOP had entered the Nov. 4 midterm elections with a 234-201 edge. Democrats had held out hope of minimizing their losses despite Obama’s low popularity and historic losses for the party occupying the White House. Democrats did manage to win three Republican-held seats in California, Florida and Nebraska, but Republicans had far greater success around the country.

Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman’s 74.

There’s still an automatic recount in a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area. Rep. Ron Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by fewer than 200 voters.

If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover’s administration.



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