Posts Tagged Super Tuesday

Hillary Clinton Assumes Control After Dominant South Carolina Victory over Bernie Sanders

HIllary South CarolinaHillary Clinton is now in firm command of the Democratic race for president after a loud statement of a victory in South Carolina.

Clinton leaves the state with a growing delegate lead that she is increasingly unlikely to ever surrender. Bernie Sanders leaves with neither momentum nor math on his side, and without a clear path to capturing the nomination.

“Tomorrow, this campaign goes national,” Clinton said tonight in her victory speech.

Indeed, she’s better positioned for a national campaign. She also has a regional advantage that’s likely to become evident on Super Tuesday, where seven of the 11 states with Democratic contests are in the South.

The first four contests give Clinton three wins and one lopsided loss. They also answer some of the broadest questions about her ability to turn out Barack Obama’s old base answers that are starting to break in Clinton’s favor.

African-American voters constituted a larger share of the electorate in South Carolina this year than they did in 2008, despite the obvious historic nature of Obama’s candidacy. Clinton carried black voters by more than 70 percentage points on Saturday, a week after winning African-Americans in Nevada by north of 50 points.

Just days before the Super Tuesday “SEC” Democratic contents, Hillary Clinton holds at least a 20-point lead in three of the key states Georgia, Texas, and Virginia. Majorities of Democratic primary voters in these states have made up their minds as to whom to vote for.

As the race shifts to the South, the Democratic contest will now feature states with larger percentages of African American voters especially in Georgia, where they made up just over half of those voting in the Democratic primary in 2008. This year, while white voters are somewhat divided between Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders in these three states, three in four black voters are supporting Clinton.

Sanders maintains his a large lead among voters under thirty, but Clinton is beating him among voters between 30 and 44 in all three states, an age group that Sanders won easily in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Clinton has an even larger lead among voters 45 and older. Men are divided between the two candidates, but Clinton has a strong lead among women.

Most voters think both candidates understand people like them, but they have more confidence in Sanders when it comes to favouring regular people over big donors, and Sanders is generally seen as the more principled candidate. Honesty is an even bigger concern when it comes to Hillary Clinton: though two-thirds of Democratic voters say Sanders is honest, just over a third of voters say the same for Clinton. Even among black voters, less than half describe her as honest.

But Clinton is generally seen as more qualified to be president — particularly in Georgia, where less than half of Democratic voters view Sanders as qualified. As a result, Clinton is seen as better able to handle a number of issues, including improving race relations in America, gun policy, being commander-in-chief, health care, and standing up on to a Republican Congress. In Texas and Virginia, Sanders does better on fixing income inequality, but in Georgia with its higher proportion of black voters Clinton wins on this issue as well.

Clinton and Sanders supporters have different priorities: most Clinton supporters are backing her because they think she gives the Democrats a good chance to win in November, while Sanders supporters are more concerned with accomplishing a progressive agenda. Clinton supporters tend to want to continue the policies of Barack Obama, while Sanders supporters overwhelmingly want to switch to more progressive policies than that of the current administration.

Looking ahead to the general election, Clinton may have some trouble garnering the enthusiasm of Sanders supporters should she win the nomination. Sanders supporters are more likely than Clinton supporters to say the Democratic Party doesn’t represent them, and less than half of Sanders supporters are even somewhat enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, though most would still vote for her.

 

 

 

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Rubio and Trump Continue Verbal Battle Ahead of Super Tuesday

Marco

 

Fresh from an endorsement by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump accelerated his political slug fest with opponent Marco Rubio on Saturday just days before the delegate-rich Super Tuesday contests.

With dueling appearances in Arkansas and Georgia, the billionaire businessman and U.S. senator from Florida continued an onslaught of personal insults that began on a debate stage on Thursday and looks likely to continue for months.

“The majority of Republican voters do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee, and … they are going to support whoever is left standing that is fighting against him to ensure that we do not nominate a con artist,” Rubio told reporters in Georgia.

Trump, speaking in front of his private plane in Arkansas, along with Christie, whose endorsement on Friday shocked Republican leaders anxious about his likelihood of winning the nomination, belittled Rubio and accused him of being fresh.

“I watched this lightweight Rubio, total lightweight, little mouth on him, ‘bing, bing, bing’ … and his new attack is he calls me a con artist,” Trump said. “The last thing I am is a con man.”

Their back and forth came while voters went to the polls in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, taking place a week after South Carolina’s Republican primary.

Donald TrumpFormer Secretary of State Clinton is expected to beat Sanders handily there. The state’s large African-American population is expected to favor her over Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

A big win would give Clinton added momentum ahead of Tuesday, when roughly a dozen U.S. states make their choices for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

With hundreds of delegates at stake in Tuesday’s contests, the day could be a critical turning point for candidates in both parties.

Nominations in both parties are contingent on winning a majority of the votes by the delegates sent to the party conventions in July.

The Tuesday contests could upend the Republican race further if underperforming candidates drop out. Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas who won the Iowa nominating contest, must do well in his home state on Tuesday to regain momentum. Texas will send 155 delegates to the Republican National Convention, more than 10 percent of the 1,237 delegate votes needed for the party’s nomination.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is behind in the polls, said his state’s contest on March 15 would determine whether he stays in the race.

With the high-profile exception of Christie, many “establishment” Republicans have coalesced around Rubio in the hope of stopping Trump from gaining their party’s mantle in the general election.

Rubio stopped short of calling on his fellow candidates to drop out on Saturday.

“When voters have a clear choice between two people, that’s when Donald Trump starts to lose, so the sooner that happens, the better off we’re going to be as a party,” he said.

Rubio, who has criticized Trump for resisting releasing his tax returns, had not released his own by Saturday afternoon. He said Trump did not want his to be made public because they might reveal him to be less wealthy than believed.

“I think part of it is he’s not as rich as he says he is,” Rubio said.

At a campaign rally in Georgia, Cruz said a Trump victory would doom the party’s chances of winning the White House.

 

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Cruz and Rubio Plot Trump Downfall in CNN GOP Presidential Debate

marco rubio and Ted cruz in iowaOutside Challenger Donald Trump’s grasp on the Republican presidential nomination growing increasingly stronger, the billionaire businessman’s rivals get one more chance to challenge the GOP front-runner on the debate stage before next week’s slate of Super Tuesday contests.

The situation is likely more dire for the other GOP candidates than they’d like voters to believe. Yet Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have so far shown little willingness to take on the former reality television star when the national spotlight shines brightest.

That could change Thursday night in Houston.

“The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee,” Rubio told NBC, suggesting that Trump is winning only because the other candidates are splitting up the majority of the electorate.

For his part, the New York billionaire predicted the relative civility between Rubio and himself is about to disappear. The ninth Republican debate of the presidential campaign will take place just a few days before 11 states hold GOP elections that will either cement Trump’s dominance, or let his rivals slow his march to his party’s presidential nomination.

Both Cruz and Rubio know full-well that the strategy of ignoring the front-runner is not working. How they tackle Trump remains to be seen, to date, Trump has proved largely immune to traditional political attacks, something he reveled in on Wednesday. “I seem to have a very good track record when to do go after me,” the New York real estate mogul told NBC.

The task is made more complicated by the shift from single-state campaigns to a new phase of the race, where the candidates must compete across several states at the same time. Next Tuesday features voting in a mix of states that include Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Virginia, with more to come in the weeks after.

Trump won Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Tuesday with more than 45 percent of the vote, scoring his third consecutive primary victory in dominant fashion. Rubio edged out Cruz for runner-up for the second consecutive race, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson far off the pace.

As they seek to become the Trump alternative, Cruz and Rubio have significant liabilities of their own.

Cruz comes into the debate at the weakest point of his presidential campaign after a staff shakeup and three consecutive third-place finishes.

The Texas senator ousted a senior aide on Monday after the aide promoted an inaccurate news report that Rubio had condemned the Bible during a chance encounter with Cruz’s father. The aide’s dismissal helps legitimize Trump and Rubio charges that Cruz has been running an unethical campaign.

Even while vulnerable, Cruz signaled an aggressive stance heading into the debate. He lashed out at Trump and Rubio as “Washington dealmakers” while talking to reporters in Houston on Wednesday. Rubio, Cruz said, had worked with Democrats to craft an immigration overhaul, while Trump has given money to Democrats and backed their priorities at times in recent years.

“I don’t think the people of Texas and I don’t think the people of this country want another Washington dealmaker to go and surrender more to the Democrats, giving in to the failed liberal agenda,” Cruz said.

Rubio, meanwhile, is just one debate removed from a primetime meltdown. The Florida senator repeated himself several times in a New Hampshire debate less than three weeks ago, triggering what he now calls “the New Hampshire disappointment.” He avoided a similar mistake in the subsequent debate, but critics in both parties will be laser-focused on anything that suggests the 44-year-old legislator isn’t sufficiently prepared to move into the White House.

But Rubio, who has been reluctant to publicly talk about Trump by name, stepped up his aggressiveness Wednesday.

In an appearance in Houston, he criticized Trump for what Rubio said was a failure to strongly oppose the federal health care law derided by critics as “Obamacare.”

The Florida senator also said “the front-runner in this race, Donald Trump, has said he’s not going to take sides on Israel versus the Palestinians because he wants to be an honest broker.”

Rubio said there was no such thing “because the Palestinian Authority, which has strong links to terror, they teach little kids, 5-year-olds, that it’s a glorious thing to kill Jews.” He also named Trump in accusing him of thinking “parts of Obamacare are pretty good” drawing boos.

Emboldened by the recent departure of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush from the race, Rubio has fresh momentum after two consecutive second-place finishes. His team is convinced they must dispatch with Cruz before turning their full attention to taking down Trump.

Rubio also said that he’d respond to Trump and Cruz if attacked in Thursday’s debate, but that, “I didn’t run for office to tear up other Republicans.”

And after eight debates, it’s unclear what sort of attacks could work against Trump. As his resume would suggest, he’s proven to be a master showman on primetime television.

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Romney fighting for political appeal and support in Michigan.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney’s presidential bid enters a real make or break phase this week ahead of the Michigan primary. The GOP campaign has had no less than seven frontrunners in this campaign, and the worrying aspect for the largely organised and heavily financed Romney campaign is his struggle to break through the field.

Rick Santorum’s surge is consistent Texas Governor Rick Perry’s at his peak. A little higher than Herman Cain’s surge and slightly than Newt Gingrich’s lofty pre-Christmas heights, and nobody can rule out another Gingrich surge either.

The current debate involving the Catholic Church and Obama Administration has in no doubt aided the Santorum surge, with his values based appeal to the conservative support base. One has to wonder whether the much publicised spat was a strategically placed controversy by the Obama Administration to kill off Romney’s bid, or a calculated risk on their part however; Santorum’s rise is potentially the most serious yet. The previous negative advertising used by the Romney campaign against in particular, Gingrich may not be as effective in this instance. I asked the question some weeks ago, what does Romney stand for?

Herein, lays Romney’s biggest flaw in his campaign to date. He has been effective in ripping apart previous challenger’s surges without people asking what does Mitt Romney stand for? In this instance Santorum, unlike previous challengers has demonstrated an ability to learn, identify himself clearly and definitively as the social values candidate, while at the same time, slowly but steadily attacking Romney on his record in public office. Santorum is oozing confidence at present and appears sincere, natural and passionate on whatever issue he is speaking about.

Santorum combines a deeply held social conservatism with a genuine blue-collar appeal. Romney has appeared out of sorts at CPAC constantly using the phrase “Conservative values” and at one point referring to himself as “Severely Conservative”, he has also seemed uneasy and unnatural when trying to appear passionate on describing his love for his native birth state Michigan, appearing almost desperate, when citing his love of the trees and lakes in one speech, ouch! Romney has also found it troublesome to shake the label of being out of touch and being a member of social elite attributed to him by the Obama team.

The Romney campaign has already made large ad purchases, which are not likely to feature positive Romney bio slots. The problem the Romney Campaign has is their inability to frame a negative attack label on Santorum to date. Turning negative has contributed to the surge in unfavourable feelings voters have about Romney, and independents like other voters favour a politician who plays dirty. This presents the risky proposition that any such negative attack ads may not work and actually be used against Romney himself. Romney has been unable to manipulate Santorum’s electoral weakness on cultural issues, as Santorum has gone to great lengths and efforts to question the role of women in the workplace and in the military, and emphasise his opposition to contraception.

Santorum on the other hand has a strong record on supporting global health programs and earned a reputation for being a champion of faith-based anti-poverty efforts. Santorum also appears to be a more acceptable candidate to the GOP establishment who raced to attack former speaker Gingrich when he assumed the front runner status, the language and commentary used in their description of Santorum is subtlety complimentary, yet composed.

Another major factor working against Romney in Michigan is his well-publicised opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors who only last week announced its largest ever profits in history, which undermines Romney’s argument that bankruptcy would have been a better way to go for the auto companies. This makes Santorum’s appeal to ordinary blue collar worker all the more prominent in the state’s primary battle.

Romney has failed to win over supporters and the conservative base despite six years of campaigning largely due to a fundamental lack of enthusiasm. He has to win Michigan it is as simple as that, it is a battleground state in the general election and a failure to a secure victory here, will raise new doubts ahead of the critical Super Tuesday contest and Romney’s fragile front-runner status once and for all.

Romney’s best chance of victory is message, he needs to give voters and supporters a clear vision on where he will take the country and present a break-out policy initiative to seize the upper hand. He can no longer depend on his tried and tired tactics of highlighting his business credentials, attacking President Obama’s record and tearing down fellow GOP rivals.

Romney needs to inspire American’s and give them a reason to vote for him. One good policy initiative, which he can take to the country, may enable him to display a dynamism, passion and level of enthusiasm that will make him the all-appealing stand-out candidate. Failure to change step and stick with the old tried and tested tactics will only lead to his challenge for the highest office in the land falling apart slowly but surely.

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Newt and Cain on the Campaign trail in Georgia

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, recognising that  his campaign “all hinges on Georgia,” was on the campaign trail on Saturday with a very familiar face in the state, fellow Georgian Herman Cain.

“I think Georgia is a very, very important state,” Gingrich said. “We actually have a very good chance of doing well here and that gives us a springboard then to go across the whole country.”

But the former House speaker cautioned “there are no slam dunk states anywhere in America.”

Gingrich got a much-needed lift on Saturday from another Georgian in his home state: Former rival Herman Cain.

The Atlanta businessman, who bowed out of the race in early December and later endorsed Gingrich, said the former House Speaker’s economic plan comes the closest to his trademark “9-9-9” plan for a nine percent corporate business flat tax, income flat tax and national sales tax.

“I’m still working on him,” Cain told an audience of about 300 at a meeting of the Forsyth County Republicans.

Georgia, with its 76 delegates, will be the largest prize up for grabs during the critical Super Tuesday primaries on March 6. Recent polls have shown Gingrich in first place ahead of Mitt Romney.

Gingrich had said earlier this week there was a possibility he could lose here, but on Saturday amended that prediction to say, “We actually have a very good chance of doing well here, and that gives us a springboard then to go across the whole country. I think that’s part of what we are counting on.”

Gingrich and Cain, a former presidential candidate himself, appeared at three separate events.

The two men, who say they have been friends for years, not only cracked jokes with one another as they passed each other on stage, but also were full of compliments for each other during their speeches.

“Newt is not afraid to engage in a little smackdown when necessary,” a smiling Cain told the crowd in Cumming, Ga. “That’s bold leadership.”

Asked by reporters in Suwanee, Ga., what cabinet position Cain would hold in a Gingrich administration, the former speaker shied away from naming a specific job.

Cain, however, took control of the answer himself.

“My ideal job with a Speaker Newt Gingrich as president of the United States is to be a senior adviser not in charge of anything,” Cain said. “That’s what I would want to do in a Gingrich administration.”

Cain, who dropped out of the race back in November, was one of many presidential candidates who made their way to the top of the pack at some point during the primary season.

Rick Santorum is currently in that front-runner role now, Gingrich said, but told supporters in Atlanta that he “will survive Santorum.”

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Newt & Cain on the Campaign trail in Georgia

Newt Gingrich, recognising that  his campaign “all hinges on Georgia,” was on the campaign trail on Saturday with a very familiar face in the state, fellow Georgian Herman Cain.

“I think Georgia is a very, very important state,” Gingrich said. “We actually have a very good chance of doing well here and that gives us a springboard then to go across the whole country.”

But the former House speaker cautioned “there are no slam dunk states anywhere in America.”

Gingrich got a much-needed lift on Saturday from another Georgian in his home state: Former rival Herman Cain.

The Atlanta businessman, who bowed out of the race in early December and later endorsed Gingrich, said the former House Speaker’s economic plan comes the closest to his trademark “9-9-9” plan for a nine percent corporate business flat tax, income flat tax and national sales tax.

“I’m still working on him,” Cain told an audience of about 300 at a meeting of the Forsyth County Republicans.

Georgia, with its 76 delegates, will be the largest prize up for grabs during the critical Super Tuesday primaries on March 6. Recent polls have shown Gingrich in first place ahead of Mitt Romney.

Gingrich had said earlier this week there was a possibility he could lose here, but on Saturday amended that prediction to say, “We actually have a very good chance of doing well here, and that gives us a springboard then to go across the whole country. I think that’s part of what we are counting on.”

Gingrich and Cain, a former presidential candidate himself, appeared at three separate events.

The two men, who say they have been friends for years, not only cracked jokes with one another as they passed each other on stage, but also were full of compliments for each other during their speeches.

“Newt is not afraid to engage in a little smackdown when necessary,” a smiling Cain told the crowd in Cumming, Ga. “That’s bold leadership.”

Asked by reporters in Suwanee, Ga., what cabinet position Cain would hold in a Gingrich administration, the former speaker shied away from naming a specific job.

Cain, however, took control of the answer himself.

“My ideal job with a Speaker Newt Gingrich as president of the United States is to be a senior adviser not in charge of anything,” Cain said. “That’s what I would want to do in a Gingrich administration.”

Cain, who dropped out of the race back in November, was one of many presidential candidates who made their way to the top of the pack at some point during the primary season.

Rick Santorum is currently in that front-runner role now, Gingrich said, but told supporters in Atlanta that he “will survive Santorum.”

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A new impetus for Gingrich

English: Newt Gingrich with a crowd in Ames, Iowa

 

Newt Gingrich, suddenly in danger of losing his perch as Mitt Romney’s strongest GOP challenger, is fine-tuning his presidential campaign to place more emphasis on raising money, guarding his home turf and trying to avoid nasty quarrels with the front-runner.

Rick Santorum’s stunning success in this week’s elections in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri has fuelled his claim that he, not Gingrich, is best qualified to rally conservatives who feel Romney is too moderate and unreliable.

Gingrich, the former House speaker, again faces a dilemma that has dogged him for much of the election. Should he show his feistier, meaner side at the risk of turning off voters who want pragmatic solutions more than expressions of anger? Or should he use a tamer, high-minded tone and risk losing economically anxious, resentful Republicans such as those who handed him his only victory, in South Carolina?

His aide R.C. Hammond said Gingrich favours the second option, at least for now.

“We need to go hard at demonstrating we are the one campaign of leadership,” Hammond said in an interview in Cleveland, where Gingrich spoke Wednesday without mentioning Santorum, Romney or his own poor showing in Tuesday’s voting.

Gingrich wants to avoid the harsh personal exchanges with Romney that have sometimes dominated the Republican campaign, Hammond said, and he wants to show he’s a better choice than Santorum by letting voters compare their records.

Gingrich plans few public appearances in the coming week, and none in highly competitive states. He will speak at a major convention of conservatives in Washington on Friday. He plans to spend Monday through Wednesday in California, mixing a few public events with eight fundraisers, Hammond said.

On Feb. 17 and 18, Gingrich will campaign in Georgia, the state he represented in Congress for 20 years ending in 1998. He needs to win Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma in the March 6 “Super Tuesday” primary, and either win Ohio or come close. Six other states, including some small ones and Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, are voting that day.

Gingrich has vowed to stay positive before, only to abruptly attack Romney, the “elite media” and other targets, with mixed results. Gingrich’s criticisms of Romney’s Bain Capital record and Cayman Island investments fell flat with many GOP audiences, and he dropped them. But Gingrich’s acid rebukes of reporters in two South Carolina debates, plus a strong response to Romney’s attack ads, helped him revive his campaign after a steep drop in Iowa.

Many GOP insiders are dubious that the tempestuous Gingrich can stay positive for long. And some question whether he can win by doing so, given Romney’s big advantages in money and organization.

Whatever his long-term intentions are, Gingrich went out of his way Wednesday to accentuate the positive at the Jergens metal manufacturing plant in Cleveland.

Saying Washington needs wholesale change, Gingrich told workers: “It’s a lot more than just beating Barack Obama. It’s developing a positive program that allows us to create jobs, a positive program that allows us to produce energy, a positive program that allows us to fix Social Security.”

Hammond said Gingrich repeatedly cites his work with President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, plus his “big ideas” for initiatives like space exploration, to show he has the experience and vision to lead the nation to more robust, prosperous times.

“We need to build up our momentum again to roll over Romney,” Hammond said. He said Tuesday’s elections proved that Romney will have great trouble securing the nomination.

Countless Republicans will reject that view, of course. And even if Romney does falter, Santorum’s allies say it’s the former Pennsylvania senator who has earned the right to be the conservative alternative.

Gary Lacara of Fairview, Texas, said either Gingrich or Santorum should drop out so conservatives can consolidate behind one candidate who can beat Romney.

“I really like Gingrich personally, but my head says Gingrich has to get out,” said Lacara, 57, who attended a recent Santorum rally in Allen, Texas. The state’s primary is set for April 3.

Neither Gingrich nor Hammond gave any hints Wednesday that Gingrich will attack Santorum more energetically than before. In three Ohio campaign stops on Tuesday, Gingrich’s few mentions of his rival from Pennsylvania generally focused on Santorum’s complaints that Gingrich’s space exploration plans are too costly.

Gingrich’s top advisers recently huddled for several days in Las Vegas. They concluded that Romney’s flaws, including what many perceive as his being dodgy and untrustworthy, would eventually drag him down, said one participant, who would speak only on background because the meetings were private. Now that Romney’s “inevitability” has been fractured even earlier than expected, the adviser said, Republicans will scrutinize Santorum and Gingrich as bona fide possibilities to face Obama.

Gingrich’s advisers say they believe the former speaker will fare better because he has more ambitious ideas and a stronger ties to GOP accomplishments of the past three decades than does Santorum.

Of course, Gingrich also has a legacy of ethical problems and feuding with lawmakers in both parties, as Romney noted in his many TV attack ads in Iowa and Florida.

Hammond said voters are drawn to Gingrich’s “statesmanship” qualities. That doesn’t prevent Gingrich from denouncing Obama in condescending tones, calling him “the best food stamp president” in U.S. history.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Georgia Republican who backs Gingrich, says there is risk in veering too far to the nice-guy side.

“What would the results in South Carolina have been if he didn’t fight back?” Gingrey said. “I say don’t hold anything back. He needs to do what he needs to do to win.”

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