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Thursday, February 18, 2016
2 Days until the SC GOP Primary/NV Dem Caucuses
274 Days Until Election Day 2016 I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Haley Endorses Rubio South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), a rising star in the Republican Party, bestowed her much-awaited endorsement in the presidential race Thursday, announcing her support of Marco Rubio ahead of her state’s primary on Saturday.
- The buildup to Haley’s endorsement was considerable, with Jeb Bush himself calling it “the most powerful, meaningful one in the state” a day before: words which only reinforce the impact losing Haley’s nod has on Bush, who tried hardest to attain it.
- “I wanted somebody that was going to go and show my parents that the best decision they ever made for their children was coming to America,” Haley said at a rally with Rubio announcing her endorsement. “We say that every day is a great day in South Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, if we elect Marco Rubio, every day will be a great day in America!”
- Coupled with endorsements from Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Haley’s endorsement could boost Rubio to a first or second-place finish Saturday. But it also raises expectations for him, as senior Cruz adviser Jason Miller tried to do Wednesday.
- “If he doesn’t finish first, this is a massive loss. Rubio has to win here. He has the very popular sitting governor, very popular junior senator, very popular upstate congressman. He has every favorable position going for him that he could ever hope to have,” Miller told Politico of Rubio. “If Rubio can’t win here, under these favorable circumstances, where can he win?
- Haley is on the rise inside the Republican Party, following her State of the Union response last month in which she criticized Donald Trump and her actions following the Charleston shooting last summer. Often mentioned as a potential running mate for the Republican presidential nominee, Rubio and Haley struck a good match at their rally Wednesday. Both aged 44 and the children of immigrants, the pair stuck out as a new generation of Republicans, as opposed to Rubio’s older rivals.
- After finishing fifth in the New Hampshire primary, Marco Rubio needs a breakout performance in the South Carolina primary, and Haley’s endorsement could be the boost he needed.
- Facing Trump Lawsuit Threat, Cruz Unconcerned Donald Trump went one step further with his threat to sue rival Ted Cruz on Tuesday, sending a cease-and-desist letter from his lawyers threatening a defamation suit if Cruz does not take down an ad they called “replete with outright lies”.
- Trump is upset about a Cruz ad on Trump’s abortion record, relying on a 1999 clip of the frontrunner calling himself “very pro-choice.” Cruz leaked the Trump campaign letter to reporters Wednesday, while telling supporters at a campaign event he was unconcerned.
- “I may well not use outside counsel,” Cruz said. “I may take the deposition myself.” Cruz also took on Trump directly, saying: “You’ve been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life. Even in the annals of frivolous lawsuits, this takes the cake.”
- “Repeating someone’s own words cannot be defamation,” Cruz continued. At CNN’s Republican town hall later that night, Cruz kept up his stance. “It is quite literally the most ridiculous theory I've ever heard, that telling the voters what Donald Trump's actual record is deceitful and lying,” he said, telling moderator Anderson Cooper that he “laughed out lead” when reading the cease-and-desist letter.
- Trump did not seem to agree, responding to Cruz’s response by threatening an additional lawsuit: “If I want to bring the lawsuit regarding Senator Cruz being a natural born Canadian, I will do so,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday. “Time will tell, Teddy.”
- Today on the Trail Once again, all six Republican presidential candidates campaign across South Carolina today and both Democratic candidates campaign in Nevada. Both states vote Saturday, but each hold a contest for just one party.
- On the Republican side: Jeb Bush will hold two Town Halls and a Meet and Greet, Ben Carson will hold a “Bridging the Gap” town hall (“an open dialogue for millennials to raise their voices”) with New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson and South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore, John Kasich will hold two Town Halls (one with Canadian football quarterback Tajh Boyd) and a Volunteer Lunch, Marco Rubio will hold two Town Halls and a Rally with Sen. Tim Scott, and Donald Trump will hold a Rally and a Town Hall.
- Combined, the GOP contenders will hit at least 16 South Carolina towns today. Some will also be crossing paths: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio will all speak at The Conservative Convention hosted by Conservative Review; and Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Donald Trump will participate in Day 2 of CNN’s GOP town hall.
- On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in Las Vegas today. Clinton, for a Get Out The Caucus event; Sanders, to attend the “1st in the West Kick-Off to Caucus” Dinner. At the same time as CNN’s Republican town hall, Clinton and Sanders will also speak at MSNBC’s Democratic town hall co-hosted by Univision.
- 43% to 42% The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday asked voters when the Senate should vote on a replacement to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: this year, on President Obama’s nominee; or next year, on the nominee of the new president.
- Voters are pretty evenly split on the issue, with 43% of respondents supporting a vote on Obama’s nominee and 42% in support of waiting until next year. 15% have no opinion.
- The split is very clearly along partisan lines, with 81% of Democrats calling for a vote this year versus 9% saying next year, and 81% of Republicans calling to wait versus 11% wanting a vote on Obama’s pick. And Independents? Split, 43% for this year and 42% for next year.
- What does this mean? The American public is not very motivated either way on this issue, giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell no reason to reverse his “no hearing, no vote” posture on Obama’s forthcoming nominee. According to this poll, waiting until 2017 will cause no blowback from Independents and will only serve to excite the Republican base – giving Senate Republicans no downside to keep the seat vacant.
- These numbers could change if either side attempts to sway public opinion on the issue, but so far: the electorate is not clearly motivated either way, and there’s no large agitation for Republicans to change track.
White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule President Obama will spend his day at the White House:
- At 11:15am, he will honor the 2015 NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks in the East Room, for their Stanley Cup victory and “their efforts to give back to their [community].”
- At 2:05pm, the President and Attorney General Loretta Lynch will meet with a multigenerational group of African-American faith and civil rights leaders on criminal justice reform and community policing. The meeting, which a White House official called “a first-of-its-kind (event),” will bring together more established icons of the civil rights movement (including National Action Network president Al Sharpton, National Bar Association president Ben Crump, NAACP president Cornell Brooks, Rep. John Lewis, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights president Wade Henderson) with young leaders who rose in the Black Lives Matter protests (including Black Lives Matter Chicago co-founder Aislinn Pulley, We The Protestors and Campaign Zero co-founders Brittany Packnett and DeRay Mckesson, and Concerned Student 1950 leader Deshaunya Ware).
- At 4:40pm, President and First Lady Obama will host the annual Black History Month reception, with those African-American leaders and others in attendance.
Question of the Day
- Today’s Question As Ted Cruz faces questions over his Canadian birth, which U.S. President was widely rumored to have been born in Canada?
- Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the correct answer to get your name in tomorrow's Wake Up!
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