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Monday, February 22, 2016
1 Days until the Nevada Caucuses (GOP)
5 Days Until the South Carolina Primary (DEM)
260 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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- RESULTS: Trump, Clinton Emerge Victorious Saturday Business mogul Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both took home victories in Saturday contests, delivering decisive bellows to their rivals.
- Trump took 32.5% of the vote in South Carolina’s Republican primary, a 10-point victory over his closest challenger. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came in second place, with 22.5%, besting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 22.3% by just over 1,000 votes.
- Cruz’s total was nearly three times as much as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who took 7.8%, himself barely beating Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 7.6%. Bush, who suspended his campaign that night, won about 1,600 more votes in the Palmetto State than Kasich. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in last place, with 7.2% of the vote.
- Meanwhile, Clinton won the Nevada Democratic caucuses – also held on Saturday – with 52.6% of the vote, 5.5 points over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who took 47.3%.
- Clinton’s victory amounted to 22 delegates to Sanders’ 16 (including superdelegates), with one delegate yet to be allocated (results from three counties have yet to be fully tabulated). Trump swept all 50 delegates in South Carolina.
- LOOKING FORWARD: Presidential Candidates Game Out Strategies for Months Ahead A field of presidential candidates that once included 23 has now thinned to seven, with the five remaining Republican candidates looking to their own Nevada caucuses Tuesday and the two Democrats to their South Carolina primary Saturday, and contenders on both sides staring down Super Tuesday next month – when thousands of delegates will be allocated and votes in a dozen states cast.
- Donald Trump The billionaire spoke like a frontrunner Saturday, declaring victory in South Carolina and looking ahead to “big wins” in Nevada (“I think we’re going to do terrific) and Super Tuesday (“going to be very, very exciting. We expect to do very, very well.”). “Let’s put this thing away and let’s make America great again,” he said to supporters.
- While Trump’s Palmetto State victory cements his status as the leader of the race (he now controls 67 delegates to Cruz’s 11 and Rubio’s 10 – no one else has more than 5), he still needs to get out the vote in Nevada (avoiding the organizing failures from the race’s first caucuses, in Iowa) and overcome challenges from Ted Cruz in many Super Tuesday states.
- Once again, in South Carolina, Trump performed well with the same demographics that gave him a blowout win in New Hampshire and second-place finish in Iowa: men, moderates, older voters, and voters without college degrees. In the Palmetto State, however, he also won the support of white evangelicals by 8% – a group that has been reliably pro-Cruz, and gave the Texan a win in Iowa. If Cruz cannot wrest evangelicals back in his column, it could be very bruising going forward.
- The hopes of anti-Trump Republicans are now centered on a brokered convention, and the assumption that as his rivals drop out, more delegates can be snatched away from him. In his South Carolina victory speech, Trump poked holes in that theory.
- “So I was watching upstairs and it was really amazing to be watching what I was watching…A number of the pundits said, ‘well, if a couple of the other candidates dropped out if you add their scores together it’s going to equal Trump,’” the businessman pointed out. “But these geniuses…they don't understand that as people drop out I'm going to get a lot of those votes also. You don't just add them together.”
- Marco Rubio The Florida senator managed to breathe new life into his presidential campaign, beating Ted Cruz for a second-place finish in South Carolina, after an embarrassing fifth-place in New Hampshire.
- “After tonight this has become a three-person race,” Rubio declared in a speech to South Carolina supporters, “and we will win the nomination!” The senator gave his remarks flanked by three South Carolinians who barnstormed the state for Rubio in the final days: Nikki Haley, the state’s Indian-American governor; Tim Scott, an African-American senator; and Trey Gowdy, a white congressman. Receiving key endorsements from that diverse trio was key to Rubio’s strategy, and success, in the Palmetto State.
- According to a Washington Post exit poll, Rubio won 47% of voters who named electability as the most important attribute of a candidate, and 27% of voters looking for a President who shares their values; also performing well among those with college graduates (27% broke for Rubio), with postgraduate degrees (32%), and with incomes of at least $100,000 (26%).
- Rubio also was boosted by Haley’s support, and received the votes of 36% of Republican voters looking for a candidate with political experience – the establishment wing of the party. Finally, among voters who oppose Trump, Rubio soared: winning 31% of voters who want to offer illegal immigrants a path to legal status and 33% of those opposing a ban on Muslim immigration.
- In Nevada and on Super Tuesday, Rubio will look to replicate his South Carolina strategy: winning the anti-Trump wing with establishment endorsements. Since the South Carolina primary, the Floridian has already picked up the backing of Nevada Sen. Tim Scott, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (ahead of Rubio’s visit to the Super Tuesday state).
- Ted Cruz The Texas senator’s third-place finish in South Carolina does not bode well for him. He lost the support of evangelical voters – the conservative bloc of Republicans he will need to win back if he has any prayer of beating Trump.
- Cruz is setting his sights on March 1, known as Super Tuesday or the SEC primary, where his home state of Texas and five other Southern states will vote, and March 5, with three more Cruz-friendly contests. Cruz is hoping to bring conservatives back into his tent, and beat Trump’s ground game, to win victories in these states to allow him to deny Trump the Republican nomination.
- John Kasich The Ohio governor did not campaign much in South Carolina, and is not much damaged by his fifth-place loss. Instead of playing in the first-in-the-South primary, Kasich chose to campaign in March 1 states such as Massachusetts and Vermont and March 8 states like Michigan.
- Now that he is the last governor standing in the GOP race, Kasich is attempting to take establishment votes from Marco Rubio, and win moderate states on Super Tuesday. The one problem: Kasich needs to actually win a state, and build a credible case that he can win the nomination: or his bid will only serve to split establishment votes and hand the nomination to Trump or Cruz.
- Ben Carson And, Ben Carson is…still in the race for some reason. After finishing last place in South Carolina, the retired neurosurgeon announced he was staying in: despite no apparent path to victory.
- Carson is heading to Nevada, where he hopes to pick up some more delegates (he currently has 3), but another poor showing could finally force Carson out of the race.
- Jeb Bush Finally, the former Florida governor: Bush ended his embarrassing White House bid Saturday, after months of failing to break out in a Trump-dominated field. Bush began the primary season as the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination, with pedigree and money on his side, but his family name soon emerged as a negative for Bush, whose awkward campaigning and failed decisions doomed his bid.
- Much of Bush’s support is now expected to flow to Rubio, with many establishment lawmakers switching their endorsement from one Floridian to the other: including Nevada’s Dean Heller, and Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart (who will all announce their Rubio endorsements today).
- Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders The Democratic race now heads to South Carolina, where African-American support is key. Overcoming her New Hampshire loss to win in Nevada, Clinton is back in the driver’s seat, with Sanders scrambling to find states he can do well in.
- Clinton received wide minority support in Nevada, and if she replicates that in the Palmetto State, another victory is expected to come her way. The race will then turn to Super Tuesday, where Clinton is favored almost everywhere, and Sanders looking to Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont as potential victories.
- Momentum in the race, coupled with a large pledged delegate and even larger superdelegate lead, is on Clinton’s side, and the race is once again the former Cabinet secretary’s race to lose.
White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule President Obama has a fairly light Monday to start off the week:
- At 11:10am, the President will speak before a gathering of all 50 state governors in the State Dining Room and take their questions. This presidential Q&A session is an annual part of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, which opened last Friday and ends today.
- The governors in Washington for the Winter Meeting have already gotten presidential face time, at the NGA’s annual White House dinner and reception Sunday. The meeting today, however, is more focused on business than social affairs, and the governors are expected to present their plan to reduce nationwide use of opioid painkillers, after the epidemic dominated much of the Winter Meeting sessions.
- At 12:30pm, President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet for their weekly lunch in the Private Dining Room.
Capitol Hill News
- Senate: Today After 10 days of recess, the Senate returns to session Monday for the first time since Justice Antonin Scalia died. As members of the Senate once again descend on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have their first chance to huddle together and settle on a strategy to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat.
- With lawmakers spread miles apart in their home states, many Senate Republicans broke ranks with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s message. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and others running for re-election openly disavowed McConnell and called for a hearing on President Obama’s forthcoming nominee.
- The entire Republican conference will meet in their weekly policy meeting Tuesday to set messaging, with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also expected to meet with GOP members of his panel this week to decide whether the nominee will get a hearing.
- Also today, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on Robert Califf’s nomination to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, or head of the FDA. To continue to a final confirmation vote, Dr. Califf must receive the support of 60 senators in today’s vote, which may prove problematic.
- Califf’s nomination is opposed by many moderate Republicans, such as Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), and even some Senate Democrats, including Bernie Sanders (VT) and Ed Markey (MA). Califf is a cardiologist by training, and has served as Deputy FDA Commissioner since January 2015.
- In addition, the Senate will also hold its reading of Washington’s Farewell Address: a Senate tradition which has marked Washington’s birthday (which is today) since 1893 (the House had a similar practice until 1984).
- Annually on this day, the Senate selects on of its members, alternating between each political party, to read the entire Farewell Address to the Senate. At the conclusion of the reading, the appointed senator will inscribe their name in a black, leatherbound book kept by the secretary of the Senate.
- Sen. Chris Coons (R-CT) is this year’s appointed reader of Washington’s famed Farewell Address, a warning against political parties and alliances with foreign nations.
- Coons will read aloud the words of our first president, which have never been more prescient than the present day, as the fight over Scalia’s successor heightens: “All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency,” Washington wrote to future generations of Americans. “They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party.”
- House: Today The lower chamber is still in recess, not to return until Tuesday.
Question of the Day
- Thursday’s Answer With Donald Trump threatening to sue Ted Cruz over his Canadian birth, the trivia question was: which U.S. president was alleged to have been born in Canada?
- The answer…Chester A. Arthur, whose Vermont birth (near the Canadian border) made him subject to the first birther claims in presidential history.
- Wake Up To Politics reader Gary Mueller can personally attest to Arthur’s American birth, reporting: “A couple of years ago my wife, Bonnie, and I were traveling through northern Vermont and visited the Chester A. Arthur historic site. Tiny little bright yellow house very much in the middle of nowhere. Close to the Canadian border. We even had to stop on a winding country road to allow a herd of cows to pass! The home was identified as a reconstruction of the home where Arthur lived as an infant. Inside were displays describing the controversy over Arthur's birthplace.”
- GREAT JOB… Steve Gitnik, Sarah Marx, Marlee Millman, Brody Goldberg, Joe Bookman, Janice Goodman, Rick Isserman, Bobby Frauenglas, Matt Nuefield, and Gary Mueller – who all correctly answered the question!
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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