Posts Tagged Tennessee

Trump and Clinton Expected to Win Big in Super Tuesday Contests

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.


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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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SCOTUS Ready To Hear Legal Arguments Over Same-Sex Marriage

supreme_court_buildingThe U.S. Supreme Court hears landmark arguments on whether the Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage, and activists on both sides of the contentious social issue converged on the white marble courthouse Monday to voice their views.

Anti-gay rights activists rallied in front of the courthouse steps condemning same-sex marriage, while a line snaked around the block of people, many displaying gay rights messages, hoping to snag one of the limited number of seats available in the courtroom for Tuesday’s 2-1/2 hour oral arguments.

The nine justices will be hearing arguments concerning gay marriage restrictions imposed in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 13 states that still outlaw such marriages. The ruling, due by the end of June, will determine whether same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide.

Before gay marriage became legal after a court ruling in the liberal northeastern state of Massachusetts in 2004, it was not permitted in any state. Now it is legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.

Gay rights activists call same-sex marriage a leading American civil rights issue of this era.

At a small Monday morning rally, opponents of gay marriage, mainly representatives of Christian organizations, railed against judges who have struck down state gay marriage bans.

“Homosexuality is not a civil right,” said one of the speakers, Greg Quinlan of the group New Jersey Family Policy Council.

Steven Hotze, a conservative Texas doctor, raised concerns about the impact legalized gay marriage would have on Christians who oppose it. “It would force individuals to have to condone, accept, even celebrate, sexual immorality,” Hotze said.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy may cast the deciding fifth vote on a court closely divided on gay rights. The four liberal justices are expected to support same-sex marriage, and Kennedy has a history of backing gay rights.

Tuesday’s arguments will be divided into two parts. The first, set for 90 minutes, is on whether the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean states must allow gay couples to marry. The second, scheduled for an hour, concerns whether states must recognize same-sex marriages that take place out-of-state.

The legal repercussions for same-sex couples are broad, affecting not just their right to marry but also their right to be recognized as a spouse or parent on birth and death certificates and other legal papers.

President Barack Obama is the first sitting president to support gay marriage. His administration will argue on the side of the same-sex marriage advocates. Nineteen states have filed court papers backing same-sex marriage. Seventeen are supporting the four states defending their bans.

Opinion polls show support among Americans for same-sex marriage has been rising in recent years.

Mary Bonauto, the lead lawyer arguing for gay marriage, said the case “doesn’t rest on where public opinion stands.” She also said people living in states where it is now legal have become comfortable with the idea of same-sex couples marrying.

Opponents say the legality of same-sex marriage should be decided by individual states, not judges. Some argue it is an affront to traditional marriage between a man and a woman and that the Bible condemns homosexuality.


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President Obama’s SOTU Address: Big Stage – Small Ideas

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, amounted to a rehash of a lot of old promises and offered little in terms of creative of new imaginative ideas. The President in recent days saying he has a phone and a pen and will act where he could however; despite the threat, President Obama will find the reality very different.

The constitutional constraints on his authority and lack of cooperation in Congress are a recipe for low-yield initiatives with limited reach. But limited executive actions, such as the ones he announced on Tuesday night, might be all government can bear to do in an election year when Congress’ balance of power is on the line.

The president renewed his call for Congress to increase the national minimum wage, to overhaul immigration laws, to broaden access to preschool education, to expand international trade. These were all features of his 2013 State of the Union address and remain unmet goals of his second term. This time Obama presented them as pieces of a larger whole, parts of an overarching opportunity agenda that acknowledges that even in a recovering economy, not all Americans are reaping the benefits.

“Let’s make this a year of action,” Obama declared, in what has become the rallying cry of his sixth year in office. “What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

But the new packaging can’t mask the hard slog Obama still faces in Congress. And his path might be obstructed not just by adversaries, but by allies as well.

Certainly Republicans, who control the House, can do much to thwart him on efforts such as immigration. House GOP leaders say they want to act on legislation this year, but conservative lawmakers have been mounting stiff opposition. Republicans also could initiate a showdown over increasing the nation’s borrowing authority later this month by insisting on spending cuts or rollbacks on the president’s health care law. Obama has vowed not to negotiate.

Obama’s call for Congress to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour could be the type of initiative that serves Democrats more as an election-year issue than an accomplishment. Polls show that a majority of Americans support the increase, a finding Senate Democrats might seek to exploit by scheduling votes that are bound to fail as a way to illustrate Republican opposition.

Obama also is calling for an expansion of the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds. Some Republicans and conservative economists have also called for broadening the tax credit so it provides additional help to workers without children. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has even proposed replacing the tax credit with a federal wage supplement for certain low-paid workers. Unlike Obama, however, Republicans have suggested expanding the tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage. So which one will it be?

Obama has also been pressing for trade legislation, asking Congress for “fast track” authority that would allow him to more easily complete negotiations with Asia-Pacific nations and with the European Union. Republicans favour the trade agreements, but Obama has faced opposition from Democrats. On Monday, a broad coalition of groups typically associated with Democrats, including labour unions and environmental organisations, released a letter demanding Congress vote against Obama’s request.

Indeed, with Democratic control of the Senate at stake in the November election, Democrats will be eager to show voters contrasts between the two parties and won’t be in a mood to challenge some of their main constituent groups. As the year unfolds, Obama and Senate Democrats could face competing interests.

“The tricky piece in this is Senate (Democrats) and whether or not there will be a full alignment of what they think works for them going into 2014 and what works for him,” said Patrick Griffin, a Democratic lobbyist who handled legislative affairs in President Bill Clinton’s White House. “I’m not sure the Senate Democrats could care less whether they make a deal on anything.”

That gloomy prospect places the burden on Obama to act on his own.

“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” he declared.

But executive actions have their limits. They can’t assign new spending, their impact tends to be narrowly targeted, and they can be reversed by subsequent presidents.

In his showcase go-it-alone initiative of the night, Obama said he will increase the minimum wage for new federal contracts. But the increase won’t affect existing contract workers who may be working now below the minimum wage, and renewed contracts will only require the higher wage if other terms of the contract change. The order will cover those new contracts that take effect in the beginning of 2015.

Republicans fret that Obama might overstep his bounds. But on this one, House Speaker John Boehner was dismissively unimpressed:

“The question is, how many people, Mr. President, will this executive action actually help? I suspect the answer is somewhere close to zero.”

As is common with President Obama he now heads to Maryland and Pennsylvania for economic-themed events Wednesday after calling for 2014 to be “year of action” in his State of the Union speech. Thursday the president will travel to Wisconsin and Tennessee in an effort to sell his policy prescription directly to the public after the ceremonial report to the nation.


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