Posts Tagged Rand Paul

High-Stakes At Play for Presidential Candidates in Iowa

Iowa CaucusesIn a high-stakes test of enthusiasm versus organization, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders hope to ride voter energy into victories in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, as Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton bank on sophisticated get-out-the vote operations months in the making.

The caucuses kick off the 2016 presidential nominating contests, marking a new phase in a tumultuous election that has exposed Americans’ deep frustration with Washington and given rise to candidates few expected to challenge for their party’s nomination when they first entered the race.

After months of campaigning and more than $200 million spent on advertising, the race for supremacy in Iowa is close in both parties. Among Republicans, Trump appears to hold a slim edge over Cruz, a fiery senator from Texas. Clinton and Sanders entered Monday in a surprisingly tight Democratic race, reviving memories of the former secretary of state’s disappointing showing in Iowa eight years ago.

“Stick with me,” Clinton said as she rallied supporters Sunday in Council Bluffs. “Stick with a plan. Stick with experience.”

Sanders, the Vermont senator who has been generating big, youthful crowds across the state, urged voters to help him “make history” with a win in Iowa.

In a show of financial strength, Sanders’ campaign announced Sunday it had raised $20 million in January alone. While Sanders has a large team in Iowa, his operation got off to a later start, particularly compared with Clinton, who has had staff on the ground in the state for nearly a year.

Monday’s contest will also offer the first hard evidence of whether Trump can turn the legion of fans drawn to his plainspoken populism into voters. The scope of the billionaire’s organization in Iowa is a mystery, though Trump himself has intensified his campaign schedule during the final sprint, including a pair of rallies Monday.

Cruz has modeled his campaign after past Iowa winners, visiting all of the state’s 99 counties and courting influential evangelical and conservative leaders. With the state seemingly tailor-made for his brand of uncompromising conservatism, a loss to Trump will likely be viewed as a failure to meet expectations.

Seeking to tamp down expectations, Cruz said Sunday that he’s just pleased to be in the mix for first place.

“If you had told me a year ago that two days out from the Iowa caucuses we would be neck and neck, effectively tied for first place in the state of Iowa, I would have been thrilled,” Cruz said.

Cruz has spent the closing days of the Iowa campaign focused intensely on Marco Rubio, trying to ensure the Florida senator doesn’t inch into second place. Rubio is viewed by many Republicans as a more mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz, though he’ll need to stay competitive in Iowa in order to maintain his viability.

The campaigns were anxiously keeping an eye on the weather. A snowfall forecast to start Monday night appeared more likely to hinder the hopefuls in their rush out of Iowa than the voters. Republican John Kasich already had decamped to New Hampshire, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush following behind Monday afternoon, hours before the caucuses start.

The trio of governors has had a light footprint in Iowa, banking instead on strong showings in New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary to jumpstart their White House bids. Yet some Republican leaders worry that if Trump or Cruz pull off a big victory in Iowa, it would be difficult to slow their momentum.

Bush, for example, started the year as a fundraising juggernaut. But according to records released Sunday, both his super PAC and campaign fundraising declined significantly in the later months of 2015 as he struggled to keep up with Trump.

Unlike in primaries, where voters can cast their ballots throughout the day, the caucuses begin across Iowa at 7 p.m. CST. Democrats will gather at 1,100 locations and Republicans at nearly 900 spots.

Turnout was expected to be high. The Iowa Republican Party expected GOP turnout to top the previous record of 120,000 people in 2012. Democrats also expect a strong turnout, though not nearly as large as the record-setting 240,000 people who caucused in the 2008 contest between Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Iowa has decidedly mixed results in picking the parties’ eventual nominees. The past two Republican caucus winners, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, faded as the race stretched on. But Obama’s unexpected 2008 victory was instrumental in his path to the nomination, easing the anxieties of those who worried the young black senator would struggle to win white voters.

While both parties caucus on the same night, they do so with different rules.

Republicans vote by private ballot. The state’s 30 Republican delegates are awarded proportionally based on the stateside vote.

Democrats take a more interactive approach, with voters forming groups and publicly declaring their support for a candidate. If the number of people in any group is fewer than 15 percent of the total, they can either choose not to participate or can join another viable candidate’s group.

Those numbers are awarded proportionately, based on statewide and congressional district voting, as Iowa Democrats determine their 44 delegates to the national convention.



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Trump Raises “Natural Born Citizen” Issue Over Ted Cruz Presidential Bid

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses a legislative luncheon held as part of the "Road to Majority" conference in WashingtonDonald Trump wants Ted Cruz to go before a judge to “immediately, like tomorrow” to determine whether or not he is a “natural born citizen” and therefore eligible to run for president.

Trump made the request for Cruz to seek a declaratory judgment from federal court on the issue during an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Trump cast such a move as “for the good of Ted.”

“You go in seeking the decision of the court without a court case. You go right in. You go before a judge, you do it quickly. Declaratory judgment. It’s very good,” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “So when there’s a doubt, because there’s a doubt. You want the court to rule.”

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and held dual citizenship. His family moved to the U.S. when he was a young child. In June 2014 he renounced his Canadian citizenship.

The decision to confront Mr. Cruz more directly comes as Mr. Trump, who has dominated most national and state polls for months, faces the prospect of losing to the Texas senator in next month’s Iowa caucuses. Popular among evangelical Christians and conservatives, Mr. Cruz has become a favourite to win the first contest of the nominating process.

The clash represents a shift in the Republican race because Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz have largely steered clear of each other thus far, professing mutual admiration and agreement on many issues.

But earlier today on MSNBC, Trump suggested there was still a “cloud” over Cruz.

“It’s a problem for him, and it’s a problem obviously for the Republicans,” Trump said. “Let’s assume he got a nomination and the Democrats bring suit, the suit takes two to three years to solve, so how do you run?”

Trump’s stated doubts seem to differ from his opinion in September when he was asked about Cruz’s eligibility for the White House.

“I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way and I understand Ted is in fine shape,” Trump told ABC News at the time.

Today, another GOP candidate, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, also voiced concerns.

“I think without question he is qualified and would make the cut to be prime minister of Canada,” Paul quipped on the radio show Kilmeade and Friends. He continued by claiming he was not “an expert on the natural-born clause in the Constitution” and speculated the Cruz could face litigation over the matter.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) questioned Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) eligibility to be president, piling on to recent attacks over the Texas senator’s citizenship.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” McCain said of Cruz’s eligibility in a radio interview on “The Chris Merrill Show” in Arizona.

“I know it came up in my race because I was born in Panama, but I was born in the Canal Zone which is a territory. Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory when he ran in 1964.”

McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, faced similar skepticism while he was running for president, but McCain noted that there are differences between his and Cruz’s birthplaces.

The Arizona senator was born on a U.S. military base. Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother was a U.S. citizen.

“Yeah, it was a U.S. military base,” McCain said. “That’s different from being born on foreign soil, so I think there is a question. I am not a Constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.”

The Constitution says that in order to run for president, one must be a “natural born citizen,” long regarded as anyone born to a U.S. citizen, regardless of where that person is born.

Even White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest weighed in. Alluding to the debate over President Obama’s nationality, Earnest joked that it would be “quite ironic if after 7 or 8 years of drama around the President’s birth certificate, if Republican primary voters were to choose Senator Cruz as their nominee, somebody who actually wasn’t born in the United States and only 18 months ago renounced his Canadian citizenship.”


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Senator Ted Cruz Takes Lead in Latest Iowa GOP Poll

Ted CruzConservative US Senator Ted Cruz has risen to lead the field of Republican presidential contenders in the politically-crucial state of Iowa, a new poll showed on Monday.

The poll the first in which Cruz has led the field, shows the Texas senator with 24 percent support from voters who intend to take part in the February 1, 2016 Iowa caucuses, the first real measure of voter support in the 2016 presidential campaign.

As recently as October, Cruz, 44, had just 10 percent support in the Monmouth poll.

His fortunes have changed, however, after a critical endorsement from a popular Republican lawmaker in this heartland state, and as voters cool on retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, an earlier favourite.

“This marks the first time Ted Cruz has held a lead in any of the crucial early states,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey, highlighting what he called a “Cruz surge in Iowa.”

As Ben Carson’s stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters, Murray said.

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump was the second choice of Iowa Republicans with 19 percent support, followed by Marco Rubio (17 percent); Ben Carson, (13 percent); Jeb Bush, (six percent); Rand Paul (four percent) and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich each with three percent.

Two months ago, Carson topped the Monmouth survey with 19 percent support, but his poll numbers have been in free-fall in recent weeks following a number of gaffes in the area of foreign policy and security.

His slip-ups have occurred at precisely the moment when Americans are paying more attention to candidates’ foreign policy acumen because of perceived security threats abroad and at home.

Marco Rubio, the fresh-faced senator from Florida, is seen by many as the favourite of the party establishment given the lackluster showing on the campaign trail so far of his state’s former governor Jeb Bush.

Like Cruz, he appears to have improved his standing with Iowa voters, increasing his support by seven percentage points since the last poll, up from 10 percent in October.

The telephone survey of 425 likely participants in the Iowa caucuses has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent.


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Mixed Fundraising Reports for Republican Presidential Candidates

Ted CruzTed Cruz raised $12.2 million in the past three months for his Republican presidential bid, about twice what competitor Marco Rubio collected in the same time period.

The new numbers are being circulated by the campaigns ahead of a deadline next week to report fundraising to federal regulators. The quarterly figures mark a practical and symbolic measure of strength for all presidential candidates, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Republican Rand Paul raised about $2.5 million in the third quarter for his 2016 presidential campaign, a sharp slowdown from the prior three months and a number that could underscore worries about the viability of his campaign.

The total reported by the Paul campaign on Thursday for the three months ended in September was just over a third of the $7 million that the U.S. senator from Kentucky raised in the second quarter.

Several candidates struggled to raise money over the summer months, with celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump commanding attention in what remains a 15-candidate fight for the nomination.

So far it appears that another political outsider, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, is leading in quarterly fundraising. His campaign said last week it raised $20 million between July 1 and Sept. 30. Rubio’s campaign briefed donors who have gathered at a retreat in Las Vegas.

Cruz’s figures were released by his campaign Thursday night.

Most of the 2016 presidential candidates also benefit from allied super PACs and nonprofit groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money on their behalf. The campaigns are not legally allowed to coordinate with those groups, however.

Rubio’s campaign started October with $11 million cash on hand, according to Thursday’s donor briefing. That’s about what Carson had in the bank after expenses, suggesting that Rubio’s team is spending its resources more cautiously than some of his competitors.

Both Cruz’s and Rubio’s campaigns sought to project momentum heading into the fall.

The Cruz campaign noted it raised more than $1 million in the final 24 hours of September.

The attendee at Rubio’s donor retreat said fundraising improved in September, when it raised $1 million in online donations alone. October, which wasn’t included in the quarterly total, will be the campaign’s best month so far, according to the briefing the Rubio donor attended.

Jeb Bush is expected to surpass his $11.4 million haul from last quarter, according to people involved with the campaign. That’s more money than some donors expected and may alleviate some concerns about his decline in the polls. However, Mr. Bush’s fundraising pace has slowed considerably over the last three months as he lost his front-runner status to Donald Trump. In the second quarter, Mr. Bush raised $11.4 million in just 15 days, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Bush’s supporters are counting on the super PAC backing him, Right to Rise, to offset any rival’s campaign fundraising advantage. Right to Rise raised a record-setting $103 million in the first six months of 2015. It isn’t required to report its contributions and expenses to the FEC until Jan. 31, just days before Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina host the first nominating contests.


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Carson, Trump Tie for Top Spot in Iowa: Monmouth University Poll

MU PollThe Monmouth University Poll of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers finds Ben Carson and Donald Trump tied for the top spot.  This marks the first time since July 26 that a poll in any of the first four nominating states has not shown Trump with a nominal lead.  Not surprisingly, given the top two contenders in the poll, most Iowa Republicans prefer someone without a traditional political pedigree.  At this early stage, though, the vast majority of voters say their eventual support could go to one of several other candidates in spite of their current preference.

When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (23%) and Donald Trump (23%) tie for the top spot.  The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%).  The last two Iowa caucus victors, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, each garner 2% of the vote.  None of the other six candidates included in the poll register more than 1% support.

“These results mark a significant shake-up in the leaderboard from Monmouth’s Iowa poll taken before the first debate,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.  “Carson and, to a lesser extent, Fiorina have surged, while Walker has faded into the background.”

In mid-July, Walker was the front runner in Iowa, with Trump and Carson following behind.  Since then, Walker’s support has dropped by 15 points, while Carson’s has increased by 15 points and Trump’s by 10 points.  Support has also increased for Fiorina by 7 points since Monmouth’s last Iowa poll.

Only 12% of likely Republican caucusgoers say they are completely decided on which candidate they will support in February.  Another 42% have a strong preference now but are willing to consider other candidates, 27% percent have a slight preference, and 20% say they are really undecided even if they are able to name a choice now.  Just 1-in-4 voters (25%) say they have their choice narrowed down to one or two candidates, while most (54%) say they can see themselves caucusing for any of 3 to 4 candidates currently in the race. Another 17% say they are realistically considering giving their support to 5 or more candidates in field.

Among voters who say their current decision is strongly locked in, Trump leads with 30%, compared to 22% for Carson.  Among those who say they only have a slight preference or are up in the air, 25% support Carson and 16% back Trump.

“Trump’s support is currently more solid than Carson’s, but Iowa voters are still considering quite a few candidates before they come to a final decision,” said Murray.

Iowa GOP caucus goers say that, regardless of who they support in the primary, the country needs a president from outside of government who can bring a new approach to Washington (66%) rather than someone with government experience who knows how to get things done (23%).  Among those who prefer an outsider, more than two-thirds are backing one of the three candidates who have never held elected office – Trump (32%), Carson (26%), or Fiorina (13%).  However, even among those who say the country needs someone with government experience, 30% are currently supporting one of these three candidates.

Looking at the fundamental strengths of leading candidates, Iowa Republicans now hold an almost universally positive opinion of Ben Carson at 81% favorable to just 6% unfavorable, compared to 63% favorable and 11% unfavorable in July.  Carly Fiorina has also seen her numbers improve to 67% favorable and 8% unfavorable, up from 44% and 10% in July.  John Kasich’s name recognition has also gone up but the gap between his positive and negative ratings remains similar at 32% favorable and 23% unfavorable, compared to 24% and 17% in the prior poll.

Donald Trump’s rating has ticked up slightly – now standing at 52% favorable and 33% unfavorable, compared to 47% and 35% in July – while the ratings for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush have taken a dip over the past month.  Walker’s rating is now 64% favorable and 16% unfavorable, compared to 73% and 9% last month.  Bush’s rating is now 32% favorable and 51% unfavorable, compared to 40% and 42% last month.  Ted Cruz’s rating of 58% favorable and 21% unfavorable is similar to the 53% and 17% rating he held last month.

The poll also identified candidate support among key groups of GOP caucus goers, including:

Tea Party –Trump leads Carson 27% to 22% among Tea Party supporters, with Cruz at 16%.  Among non-supporters of the Tea Party, Carson takes a 25% to 19% lead over Trump.

Ideology – Very conservative voters split their vote among Carson (24%), Trump (23%), and Cruz (16%).  Somewhat conservative voters are most likely to back either Carson (25%) or Trump (23%).  Moderate to liberal voters prefer Trump (26%), followed by Fiorina (18%) and Carson (17%).

Evangelicals – Evangelical voters favor Carson (29%) followed by Trump (23%).  Non-evangelical voters prefer Trump (24%), Carson (18%), and Fiorina (13%).

Gender – Men prefer Trump (27%) over Carson (17%), while women prefer Carson (30%) over Trump (19%).

“After more than a month of Trump winning virtually every Republican demographic group, we’ve finally got a little variation in voting blocs to talk about,” said Murray.

Hawkeye State Republicans are divided on whether their final decision about who to support in the Republican primary will come down to the candidate’s positions on the issues (45%) or their personal qualities and experiences (45%).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 27 to 30, 2015 with 405 Iowa voters likely to attend the Republican presidential caucuses in February 2016. This sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.


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New Hampshire forum offers preview of upcoming debate

Span forum

Some 14 Republicans who want to be US president on Monday kicked off a week of political drama when they took part in a forum in New Hampshire where they confronted questions from the public.

Mr Trump, the outspoken businessman who has soared to the top of current polls of Republican possibles, declined to take part after he was criticised by one of the media organisations hosting the event, but Monday’s forum was the first chance for the public to see so many candidates in one place.

As it was, 11 of the 14 were there in person while three – Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, took part by video because of their need to be present for a controversial vote in Washington DC.

All of the questions put to the candidates by moderator Jack Heath, a local broadcaster, had been provided by members of the public.

The first of the candidates to be questioned – the order was worked out in advance by means of a draw – was former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Mr Perry was asked about the challenge of immigration.

“The American people don’t trust Washington DC to deal with immigration until we secure the border,” he said at the event, broadcast live on C-Span.

“What compelled you to run?” Heath asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “How do you run for president and tell the truth about entitlement reform?” Heath asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Heath asked the same entitlement question to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker but added that “some critics will say you’re anti-senior, anti-kid, anti-human.”

There was a second round of questions that was even shorter than the first. Each candidate got one or two questions and about 90 seconds to answer. Then Heath gave them 30 more seconds to say whatever they wanted.

The event at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, at which the candidates did not get to question each other directly , came ahead of the first so-called official Republican debate, which is being hosted by Fox News and is scheduled to take place on Thursday evening.

That first official debate has created no small amount of controversy because under rules set up by Fox News, and backed by the Republican National Committee, only the top 10 candidates based on an average of recent national polls, will be allowed on stage at the 9pm event.

The remaining seven will face off earlier in the day at 5pm, a time when far fewer viewers will be tuning in, Reuters said. Critics say winnowing the field at this early stage undermines the importance of early state primaries in places such as Iowa, and New Hampshire.

As it was, Monday evening’s event was an opportunity for candidates to try and get their message out to as many members of the public as possible. This was particularly true for a number of the candidates trailing in the polls and who may not make the cut-off for Thursday’s event.

Former businesswoman Carly Fiorina, the only woman candidate, said the biggest challenge for any candidate was being willing to take on the “status quo”.  Ben Carson, a doctor and the only black candidate, told the audience that there was no requirement that a US president be a professional politician.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose parents moved to the US from India, said he was determined to ensure people no longer talked about “hyphenated Americans”.

Asked how he would lead the US in the international arena, Senator Lindsay Graham said his foreign policy would be “a clenched fist or an open hand – you choose”.

The debate took place as another poll on Sunday placed Mr Trump at the head of all 17 candidates to have so far declared. The NBC News/WSJ survey showed him ahead with 19 per cent, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker trailing with 15 per cent and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 14 per cent.

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Donald Trump Leads Republican Field in Latest National Poll

<> on February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.Despite the best effort of the mainstream and conservative media Billionaire Businessman Donald Trump leads a new Republican presidential nationwide poll released, marking the first time he’s held the top spot since announcing his candidacy.

Trump secured 17% support, according to the Suffolk University/USA Today Survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush garnered 14%, while the rest of the 2016 field remained in single digits: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the newest entrant to the race, was at 8%; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 6%; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 5%; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 4%; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 3%.

All other Republican hopefuls received less than 2% of the vote and about one-third of GOP voters 30% remain undecided about who they will back.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 5.25 percentage points.

Trump’s ascendance in the polls follows widespread media coverage of his comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants, whom he has disparaged despite varying levels of condemnation from the rest of the Republican field.

“Trump is making daily headlines in advance of the primary season,” said Suffolk University poll director David Paleologos in a statement accompanying the poll results. “This has vaulted him to the top of the pack on the backs of conservative voters.”

Gallup issued a separate poll on Tuesday showing 41% of Republicans said they considered Trump a “serious candidate.”

National polls even those in the summer of 2015 have become more meaningful in 2016, given television networks’ decisions to use them to determine which of the 17 Republican presidential hopefuls make the first GOP debates. Many lesser-known candidates have criticized these policies.

If Trump were to earn the nomination, Clinton defeats him soundly by 17 points, according to the Suffolk survey.



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