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Wednesday, February 24, 2016
3 Days until the South Carolina Primary (D)
6 Days until Super Tuesday
258 Days Until Election Day 2016 I'm Gabe Fleisher for this SNOW DAY (!) edition of 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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- Trump Wins Third Consecutive Victory in Nevada Donald J. Trump celebrated another blowout victory Tuesday, winning the Nevada caucuses with nearly twice as many votes as his closest competitor.
- Trump took 45.9% of the Nevada vote, with Marco Rubio (23.9%) and Ted Cruz (21.9%) far behind. Although Rubio placed ahead of Cruz, the margin (about 1,800 votes) was so small compared to the gap between him and Trump, it’s not likely to matter. With 30 delegates to be allocated proportionally, the Associated Press has projected that Trump will win at least 12, with Rubio and Cruz taking at least five each. The other eight delegates are yet to be allocated.
- With a third commanding victory under his belt, Trump’s path to the nomination is clearer than ever before – with the path for each of his rivals more hazy than the next.
- Trump himself exuded confidence in his Las Vegas victory speech Tuesday night. “It’s going to be an amazing two months,” he declared. Then: “We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest.”
- The mogul also boasted about the entrance polls, which showed him beating Ted Cruz among conservative Christians and winning Hispanics, as well (despite his two Cuban-American opponents, and a history of racially-charged comments). “I love the evangelicals! Number one with Hispanics,” he bragged in his victory speech.
- Entrance polls may also have provided a clue at why he won: according to CNN, 58% of Nevada caucusgoers said they were angry with the federal government. Trump has emerged as the “angry” candidate in an increasingly angry Republican Party, and this anger has fueled turnout: over 75,000 Nevadans voted in the GOP caucuses, more than doubling 2012 turnout, which also benefited Trump.
- The collective eyes of the Republican Party now turn to the next set of contests on March 1, when over a dozen states will vote in the GOP primary race. In his caucus-night speech, Ted Cruz set his sights on those contests, saying: “One week from today will be the most important night of this campaign: Super Tuesday.”
- Ben Carson, who took a 4.8% of the Nevada vote, is also looking to March 1; his close confidant and business manager Armstrong Williams called the date “a moment of truth,” when Carson may consider exiting the race if his odds do not improve.
- But with Trump leading in nearly all of the Super Tuesday states as well, Marco Rubio is skipping ahead. After pinning hopes on Nevada (where he spent six years living as a child, and has numerous relatives residing), Rubio didn’t even spend caucus night in the state, instead decamping to Michigan. Opting not to deliver a speech Tuesday night, Rubio made his pitch on television Wednesday morning.
- On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Rubio looked past even Super Tuesday to March 15, when five states cast ballots. Among those are Florida, where Rubio currently represents in the U.S. Senate, and Ohio, where John Kasich currently serves as governor. Winning their respective home state primaries is crucial for both Rubio and Kasich (who took just 3.6% in Nevada, after barely campaigning in the state and focusing on March contests).
- “That’s where you have to start winning states,” Rubio said of the March 15 contests.
- Be it March 1 or March 15: at some point, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich are going to have to start racking up wins to make a credible case that they can beat the seemingly unbeatable Trump.
- Today on the Trail Where are candidates campaigning today?
- On the Republican side, much of the field has descended on Texas, to campaign in the March 1 state ahead of Thursday’s debate there. Marco Rubio will hold a rally in Houston. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson will attend a “Voters Summit” hosted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, a two-hour Houston event with interviews of four GOP candidates (Rubio and John Kasich will also participate via satellite). Donald Trump declined the invitation to appear on Kelly’s special, unsurprising due to his criticism of her in the past.
- In addition, the Cruz campaign has announced he will hold a Houston rally, joined by a “special guest”. According to CNN, the guest will be Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who will formally endorse his fellow Texan. Abbott’s backing shows that Texas’ GOP establishment will rally behind their junior senator ahead of the state’s primary next week, which Cruz is expected to win. However, earlier this week, Donald Trump delighted in the possibility of stealing Cruz’s home state (“I’d really like to win Texas. Wouldn’t that be great?”), which would be a huge blow to Cruz.
- Meanwhile, John Kasich will hit two states later in the primary calendar: holding a town hall in Mississippi (which votes March 8) this afternoon, before heading to Louisiana (March 5 primary) for another town hall.
- On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton will address the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. statewide luncheon in West Columbia, South Carolina – ahead of Saturday’s Democratic primary in the state. Bernie Sanders is instead focusing on March states, with Clinton the likely Palmetto State winner. The Vermont senator will hold rallies in Tulsa, Oklahoma (March 1 primary) and Kansas City, Missouri (March 15 primary).
- Editor’s Note: Sanders’ rally is being held a mere 245 miles from Wake Up To Politics headquarters here in St. Louis - or, as I pitched it to my parents, a short 3 hour and 42 minute drive. No takers.
- Whiteboard Wednesday This week, instead of polling, Whiteboard Wednesday examines the past and future of the GOP nomination race with three big-picture whiteboards:
- A look back at the fallen, a look forward to the March 1 states (visual proof of how much more is at stake than the four contests we’ve had so far), and the Republican nomination race as a March Madness contest (inspired by John Kasich’s comment he won the 2016 “governors bracket”):
White House Watch
- Obama Submits Guantanamo Bay Plan, Dead on Arrival in Congress President Barack Obama sent a nine-page plan on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to Congress on Tuesday, making steps towards fulfilling an eight-year-old campaign promise. The one problem? Congress.
- The Obama Administration’s Guantanamo Bay blueprint, required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, detailed the population of the facility, and the 35 detainees (out of 91) eligible for transfer. Although the plan did not specifically mention any sites, it does reference 13 sites (state and federal prisons, as well as other Defense Department facilities) Guantanamo prisoners could transfer to.
- These 13 sites could house detainees that “we cannot transfer at this time to foreign countries, or who are subject to the military commission proceedings,” according to senior administration official. How will the site be chosen? By “working with the Congress,” the same official said.
- Congress seems to have other ideas. On Monday, before Obama submitted his plan, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) penned a joint statement opposing the closure of Guantanamo Bay. After the plan was released, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) filed a resolution authorizing a House lawsuit against the president if the Administration transfers any detainees by executive decree, without congressional approval.
- Regardless, President Obama urged Congress to consider the plan in Tuesday remarks. “If [closing Guantanamo] were easy, it would have happened years ago -- as I wanted, as I have been working to try to get done. But there remains bipartisan support for closing it, Obama said. “And given the stakes involved for our security, this plan deserves a fair hearing. Even in an election year, we should be able to have an open, honest, good-faith dialogue about how to best ensure our national security.”
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) responded Tuesday, signaling openness to considering the plan – but claiming that bipartisan agreement is not on Obama’s side.
- “We’ll review President Obama’s plan, but since it includes bringing dangerous terrorists to facilities in U.S. communities, he should know that the bipartisan will of Congress has already been expressed against that proposal,” McConnell said.
- The President’s Schedule President Obama has a busy day today: meeting with veterans, sitting down with a head of state, signing two bills into law, and welcoming a number of musicians to the White House.
- At 10:35am, the President and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss ISIS, the Syrian conflict, Syrian and Iraqi refugees, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Jordan’s “political and economic reform initiatives”.
- At 2pm, Obama will sit down with two leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a top veterans group: National Commander John Biedrzycki and Executive Director Bob Wallace.
- At 4:15pm, President Obama will sign H.R. 1428, the Judicial Redress Act of 2015, into law. This legislation allows European citizens to sue the U.S. government for illegal disclosure of personal information, a right only extended to U.S. citizens under current law.
- At 4:45pm, he will sign H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, into law. According to the House Ways & Means Committee, the legislation will “bring America’s customs and border protections system into the 21st century by facilitating international trade opportunities and strengthening enforcement laws.” Among other provisions, the law will make a ban on Internet taxes permanent.
- Finally, at 7pm, the President and the First Lady will host another “In Performance at the White House” event, as a tribute to the late singer/songwriter Ray Charles. President Obama will speak at the event, which will include performances by Yolanda Adams, Leon Bridges, Andra Day, Anthony Hamilton, Brittany Howard, Demi Lovato, Sam Moore, Jussie Smollett, The Band Perry and Usher.
- First Lady’s Schedule At 11am, ahead of the “In Performance” event, First Lady Michelle Obama will host a daytime workshop for more than 130 middle school, high school and college students from across the country on Ray Charles’ musical legacy.
- Vice President’s Schedule Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Mexico City today to lead the delegation for the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, an annual meeting of American and Mexican government officials launched by Biden in 2013.Capitol Hill News
- Senate: Today At 11am, the Senate will hold a roll call vote on the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf is expected to be confirmed, despite some bipartisan opposition based on the FDA’s plan to combat the opoid epidemic. Six senators voted against Califf in a procedural vote Monday: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Rob Portman (OH), and Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Joe Manchin (WV), Ed Markey (MA), and Bill Nelson (FL). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also opposes Califf, but is on the campaign trail.
- Dr. Califf is a cardiologist by training, and has served as Deputy FDA Commissioner since January 2015. His prior experience inside the FDA is the root of some lawmakers’ worries of his inability to take the agency in a new direction on opoids.
- House: Today The House will vote on seven bills today, including:
- the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act, which would require all federal prison officers to carry pepper spray;
- the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act, which would redesignate the Martin Luther King, Junior, National Historic Site in Georgia as a historical park;
- the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act, which would establish a 10-year trust for Native Americans to propose asset management plans, and an Under Secretary of Interior for Indian Affairs to coordinate it;
- the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act, which would add a Wall of Remembrance to the Korean War memorial to list the names of soldiers killed in Korea.
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