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Wake Up To Politics - February 19, 2016

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Friday, February 19, 2016
1 Days until the SC GOP Primary/NV Dem Caucuses
63 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!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.    2016 Central

  • The Pontifex vs. The Donald Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, opened fire on Donald Trump in a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday. Despite the pontiff’s position as a world-revered figure, Trump, of course, fired back.
  • When asked by a reporter about Trump’s immigration plan, Francis responded by taking on the presidential candidate’s Christianity. “A person who thinks only about building walls – wherever they may be – and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said. “This is not in the Gospel.”
  • At a South Carolina  rally, Trump criticized the Pope, in turn. “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump said. “I’m proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president.”
  • While popes are generally apolitical, Francis has taken on a role as a more activist pope, most significantly on the issue of climate change. For the pontiff to delve into American presidential politics, however, is unheard of: and the Trump-Francis spat sent shockwaves through the race.
  • As Republican candidates attempted to deliver their closing pitches in South Carolina (ahead of Saturday’s primary in the state), suddenly all reporters cared about was a comment on Trump vs. Pope. Most of Trump’s rivals refused to engage on the issue. When asked, Ted Cruz answered: “That’s between Donald and the pope.” Similarly, Jeb Bush told reporters: “I think his Christianity is between him and his creator.” Each candidate took a different route in answering the question; while most treaded around it, John Kasich gave perhaps the most honest answer. “I love the pope,” Kasich said,” but refuse to comment on Francis’ Trump remarks, saying: “I’m not even sure I’m qualified to criticize or comment on remarks from this man.”
  • On the campaign trail, Trump has been famous for his invincibility in the face of directing or receiving attacks to or from Fox News reporters, the Republican Party’s last president and past presidential nominee, and others popular in the GOP base. Will has latest feud with Pope Francis effect his large lead in South Carolina? Probably not, seeing as the vast majority of Palmetto State voters are evangelical Christians, not Catholics.
  • Only time will tell.
  • Clyburn to Endorse Clinton Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) will deliver the most coveted endorsement in South Carolina Democratic politics Friday, announcing his support for Hillary Clinton.
  • Until recently, Clyburn planned to stay neutral in the primary race between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, which South Carolina will vote in on Saturday, February 27. In 2008, he did not endorse in Clinton’s race with Barack Obama.
  • However, Clyburn told the Washington Post that “serious conversations with my family members” caused re-evaluation. Once it was clear the congressman planned to endorse, Clinton was the obvious choice, rendering his support unsurprising, although it was still unexpected for him to break neutrality.
  • As Assistant Democratic Leader, Clyburn is the third-ranking member of his party in the House, and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress. In addition to his kingmaking powers in South Carolina, Clyburn is an eminence within the Congressional Black Caucus, which has mostly endorsed Clinton (as has the CBC PAC).
  • Clyburn’s support could help Clinton’s support among African-Americans, a key demographic in South Carolina. Clyburn will bestow his endorsement upon Clinton at 11am at Allen University in Columbia.
  • Primary Preview: South Carolina and Nevada The remaining presidential candidates will deliver final pitches to the voters of South Carolina and Nevada, who vote in the Republican and Democratic races, respectively, on Saturday.
  • Many candidates are bringing out their best surrogates: with Jeb Bush campaigning across the state with his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush; Ted Cruz barnstorming with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and Rep. Jeff Duncan; Marco Rubio holding events with Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, and Rep. Trey Gowdy; Hillary Clinton holding a rally with Bill and Chelsea Clinton, her husband and daughter; and Bernie Sanders holding a concert with Cold War Kids, Chicano Baman, and Fantastic Negrito.
  • On the Republican side, Donald Trump is expected to easily win South Carolina – once again setting up a race for second place between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. 50 delegates are at stake in the Republican race: according to RealClearPolitics, an average of polls conducted in the state since Sunday show Trump with 32.9%, followed by Cruz’s 18.1% and Rubio’s 17.1%, and then Jeb Bush with 10.5% and John Kasich with 10%. Ben Carson is at the back of the pack, with just 6.9%.
  • On the Democratic side, Nevada was once seen as a firewall for Hillary Clinton – but has seen her lead there slip away as Bernie Sanders has made a furious appeal to Hispanic voters. Whoever wins the Nevada caucuses will head to South Carolina with momentum, and polls show a shaky picture. Nevada surveys are famously unreliable, but the RealClearPolitics of polls that have been conducted in the state since last Monday show Clinton with a slight edge: 48.7% to Sanders’ 46.3%. 43 delegates are at stake.
  • Check Monday’s edition of Wake Up To Politics for full results from South Carolina and Nevada!

Daily Data

  • 5% That’s the percentage of Americans in 2015 who said Pope Francis was the man they most admired in the world, according to Gallup’s annual poll. Francis tied for second place in the poll…with Donald Trump, who also received 5%.
  • So maybe this feud is just jealousy over who’s the second-most admired man.

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule President Obama today will attend a private ceremony Friday to pay his respects to Antonin Scalia as the late justice’s body lies in repose at the Supreme Court. Scalia’s casket will arrive at the Court in the morning, carried by Supreme Court police, as Scalia’s former clerks act as honorary pallbearers.
  • Following the ceremony, which will be attended by friends and family, the Obamas, Scalia’s former colleagues on the Court, and members of Congress, Scalia’s casket will be placed in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court, on the Lincoln Catafalque (which carried Abraham Lincoln’s coffin). Thousands of tourists are expected to visit and pay their respects to the Court’s conservative giant. As is Supreme Court tradition, the former clerks will rotate standing vigil by their deceased boss all day and all night.
  • Scalia’s funeral will be Saturday; President Obama caused a political stir by announcing he will not attend, opting to send Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill instead. As with everything surrounding the justice’s passing, this announcement was immediately politicized and caused a sizable stir.
  • Also Friday, the President will meet with the nation’s 18 Democratic governors, ahead of a dinner Saturday with all 50 state executives.
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light