Posts Tagged Virginia

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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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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Former Senator Jim Webb to Visit Iowa and New Hampshire

 Jim WebbPotential presidential and former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., Webb will be back in Iowa on Wednesday, he is due to stops in Sioux City, according to a news release.

The Democrat, who also served as secretary of the Navy, visited Iowa for several days in April, including a trip to the Iowa Capitol.

Webb has set up an exploratory committee to determine whether to run for the White House. He previously said he plans to make a final decision “in good time.”

Webb will also make his first visit of the year to New Hampshire on May 15 when he attends the annual dinner of Veterans Count, hosted by the New Hampshire-based organization committed to providing last-resort financial relief to needy veterans. The dinner will be held at the Service Credit Union in Portsmouth.

Webb keynoted the Veterans Count dinner in May 2014 and set up an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run in November 2014.

Also on May 15, Webb is scheduled to meet with Seacoast business leaders at a private lunch hosted by Portsmouth businesswoman and Republican activist Renee Plummer.

The Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday that it will sanction six debates among candidates for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

The schedule has not been determined but the debates will begin this fall and the four early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will each host a debate.

As yet, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are the only two announced candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Webb is stressing in public appearances and on Twitter that he has long discussed the plight of African-Americans in U.S. cities and that he specifically used Baltimore as an example in a September speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

“We live indisputably in the greatest country on earth. The premise of the American dream is that all of us have an equal opportunity to succeed,” Webb had said during the Washington speech.

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Former Democratic Senator Jim Webb Forms First Presidential Exploratory Committee

Jim webbReady for Jim? We’re talking Jim Webb here said to be a populist, centrist Democrat with a rollicking resume, and one who just might transcend the dreaded campaign fundraising challenge. He’s formed the first exploratory committee among the pack of potential presidential hopefuls, and has some spectacle to provide weary voters. It was not generated by a focus group. Mr. Webb’s political action committee is called “Born Fighting,” for example. The former U.S. senator from Virginia was also a U.S. Marine company commander in Vietnam who was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. Then he went to law school. Then he became a counsel to Congress, a Harvard University scholar, an assistant secretary of defense, Secretary of the Navy, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a film-maker, and the author of ten books the last of which was titled “I Hear My Country Calling”, and published in May.

Mr. Webb is eager to share his Scots-Irish pedigree; his ancestors arrived in America in the 1700s and he’s unapologetic about the family’s “strong citizen-soldier military tradition that predates the Revolutionary War.” His dad looms large: Mr. Webb says his father flew bombers during World War II and cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. Interesting resume, and it gets more interesting. The potential White House hopeful has also been a professor at the Naval Academy his alma mater and a Hollywood screenwriter whose original story “Rules of Engagement” was a snappy box office hit at one point.

“Mr. Webb has six children and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Hong Le Webb. He speaks Vietnamese and has done extensive pro bono work with the Vietnamese community dating from the late 1970s,” his official bio notes.

Yes, all interesting. This background could create buzzworthy dynamics on the campaign trail and the debate podium, and pique the curiosity of voters who claim they want new alternatives. Will it attract major donors as well? Maybe. Mr. Webb’s biggest challenge is preserving his personal authenticity while meeting the broad requirements of a presidential job description that will require him to sell the Democratic Party, balance the books and protect the nation.

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Governor Romney in High Demand to Stump for GOP Mid-term Candidates

Romney midtermAlmost two years after his Election Day defeat, Governor Mitt Romney is the Republican man in demand.

The twice-defeated White House contender is campaigning across seven states this week, covering nearly 6,000 miles in five days to raise money and energy for Republican midterm candidates from Georgia to Colorado.

Romney has repeatedly insisted he’s not running for president again, and his closest aides laugh off a possible 2016 bid. But top GOP strategists and donors suggest his continued high profile in Republican politics highlights the party’s murky future and a crowded 2016 field that is both flawed and without a clear front-runner

Just a month before the unofficial beginning of the next presidential primary season, Democrats have already begun to rally behind prospective candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. The race for the Republican nomination, however, is as wide open as most political veterans can remember.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had begun to assume a party leadership role before a traffic scandal tainted his brand. Major questions persist about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s commitment to the 2016 contest. And the rest of the potential field features conservatives, such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who have yet to demonstrate widespread appeal.

That leaves Romney as this season’s strongest draw for Republican midterm candidates battling for control of Congress.

He earned a rock star’s reception on Wednesday at The Varsity, a landmark Atlanta restaurant, where he campaigned alongside Attorney General Sam Olens after headlining a closed-door fundraiser for Senate candidate David Perdue.

Romney shook hands and autographed paper plates at The Varsity before ordering a hot dog and onion rings as diners snapped pictures.

In thanking Romney for making the trip, Olen said, “I wish you were on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

“I’m just sad I’m not able to be there either,” Romney said, responding to a reporter’s question about his interest in another run. “I’d like to be in the White House. I wish I would have had the chance.”

The appearance was one leg in an aggressive five-day campaign swing covering some of the nation’s premier midterm battlegrounds: Colorado, Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Kentucky and Louisiana. Having swapped his private campaign plane for commercial travel, Romney is working long days to attend private fundraisers and public rallies to help leading Republican governors, Senate candidates and former allies like Olens.

Talking to reporters Wednesday, Romney downplayed his role in a Republican Party that has “a whole series of different voices that are pulling in different directions.”

“My role is just as one more voice,” he said. “I was honored to become the Republican nominee, so I continue to have some voice. But I’m not running for anything, just trying to run to help people who are running for something, and I’m making my effort known in the states that welcome me.”

Thursday he headlines a GOP rally in Michigan before a Kentucky fundraiser to benefit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s the kind of schedule usually reserved for a political party’s elite, not a twice-defeated elder statesman who insists his political career is over.

“The wandering eyes for Romney are a byproduct of the uncertainty of the field,” said former Romney aide Kevin Madden, who described Romney as a “known commodity.”

Even as the GOP’s prospects this fall look good, polls suggest the party’s brand is unpopular. And Republican leaders have ignored recommendations to address key issues such as immigration legislation ahead of the next presidential contest.

Still, donors say they aren’t yet worried. All the Republican hand-wringing, he said, is like retailers worrying about Christmas sales in July.


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Eric Cantor to Step Down Early and Thanks House Members

CantorU.S. Rep. Eric Cantor tells a Virginia newspaper he will resign his seat in the House of Representatives months earlier than expected stepping down Aug. 18 to make sure constituents have a voice during the “consequential” lame-duck session.

Cantor, a Republican, relinquished his leadership role following a devastating primary defeat in June, when Dave Brat beat him by a whopping 12 points. Brat, who teaches at Randolph-Macon College, will face another Randolph-Macon professor in the general election.

Now, two months removed from his defeat, Cantor says he supports Brat’s candidacy to represent Virginia’s 7th District. He has asked Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to arrange a special election for his successor. The Times-Dispatch explains:

By having a special election in November, the winner would take office immediately, rather than in January with the next Congress. “That way he will also have seniority, and that will help the interests of my constituents (because) he can be there in that consequential lame-duck session,” Cantor said.

On Thursday, Cantor asked to address the House floor for one minute. Cantor told the assembled House members that it has been “an honor and a privilege” to serve as majority leader, but he warned “our nation and our economy cannot meet its full potential if we in America aren’t leading abroad.” Citing the ongoing crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, Cantor said “never before have I been more worried about our prospects of peace due to our diminished engagement on the world stage.”

“Instability and terror seem to be coming from every corner of the globe,” he said. “The Middle East in chaos, Iran marching to towards a nuclear weapon, and Russia has reverted to a Cold War footing and invaded Ukraine.”

“We’ve got to make leadership abroad a priority,” he said.

Cantor also paid tribute to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who broke down and dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief during the speech. Cantor told the House that Boehner provided an “example of firm leadership” as well as “not being afraid for showing us all your kind heart and soft spot from time to time.”

Cantor also thanked Boehner for his “patience” during their regular meetings, which occurred at least once a day, every day the House has been in session for the past five years.

Cantor noted that the signing of the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which diverted $126 million of federal funds to tackle childhood cancer and other pediatric diseases and disorders, as one of his proudest moments as majority leader.

After closing by thanking his colleagues for “their service, their friendship and their warmth,” Cantor received a standing ovation for several minutes from across the House chamber and received hugs from two of his closest allies, his “closest friend and confidant,” incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

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Cantor Beaten in Primary in Blow to Republican Establishment

Eric Cantor, Diana CantorU.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost to a Tea Party challenger on Tuesday in a stunning Republican primary upset that sent shockwaves through Congress and gave the conservative movement a landmark victory.

Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, was easily beaten by college economics professor David Brat, who accused Cantor of betraying conservative principles on spending, debt and immigration.

The result could halt efforts to craft a House immigration reform bill, as nervous Republicans hustle to protect themselves against future challenges from the right ahead of the Nov. 4 midterm elections. It could also make Republicans even more hesitant to cooperate with President Barack Obama and Democrats for fear of being labeled a compromiser.

Cantor had been seen by many as an eventual successor to House Speaker John Boehner, and his defeat will mean a shake-up in the Republican leadership at the end of the year among House members nervous about the depth of public anger toward Congress.

A seven-term congressman with ties to the financial industry, Cantor had spent more than $5 million to head off the challenge from Brat, a political newcomer who teaches at Randolph-Macon College.

Brat spent only about $122,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and was not seen in the media or national Republican circles as a danger to Cantor.

The victory also emboldened conservative leaders, and could encourage a challenge to Boehner when the new leadership team is chosen. “Eric Cantor’s loss tonight is an apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment. The grassroots is in revolt and marching,” said Brent Bozell, a veteran conservative activist and founder of the Media Research Center and ForAmerica.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Brat had about 56 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44 percent.

“I know there are a lot of long faces here tonight,” Cantor told supporters. “It’s disappointing, sure.”

Brat, speaking to an ecstatic crowd, said: “This is the happiest moment, obviously, of my life.”

The result was a blow to the Republican establishment, which had scored a string of victories over the Tea Party in primaries to select candidates for the November elections. Republicans are hoping to pick up six seats to gain a Senate majority, but are considered heavy favorites to retain a House majority.

“We all saw how far outside the mainstream this Republican Congress was with Eric Cantor at the helm, now we will see them run further to the far right with the Tea Party striking fear into the heart of every Republican on the ballot,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, who heads the House Democratic campaign committee.

During the primary campaign, Brat repeatedly accused Cantor of supporting some immigration reform principles, including “amnesty” for undocumented workers. In response, Cantor had sent voters a mailer boasting of his role in trying to kill a House immigration bill that included that provision.

Brat also accused Cantor of losing touch with his central Virginia district while serving the party’s leadership.

Republican strategists suggested Cantor had been too slow to realize how real the threat from Brat was.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Cantor had helped make Brat better known by attacking him by name in the late stages of the campaign.

The result unleashed immediate speculation about a possible replacement for Cantor when the House meets to pick new leaders at the end of the year, including Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also faced a Tea Party challenge on Tuesday, but he beat a crowded field of six challengers who also had accused him of not being conservative enough.


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