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Wake Up To Politics - March 8, 2016

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016
245 Days Until Election Day 2016I'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

  • Michael Bloomberg Ends Speculation on Presidential Bid Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that he will not mount a third-party presidential bid in 2016, to avoid handing the White House to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
  • The billionaire business magnate ended speculation over a presidential run with an editorial in BloombergView, the editorial division of Bloomberg News, a news agency he owns. In his piece, Bloomberg warns against extremist presidential candidates in both parties, writing: “Extremism is on the march, and unless we stop it, our problems at home and abroad will grow worse.”
  • Noting the “personal sacrifices” a presidential bid would entail, Bloomberg wrote that “I would gladly make them again in order to help the country I love.”
  • “But when I look at the data, it’s clear to me that I entered the race, I could not win,” Bloomberg continued. “I believe I could win a number of diverse states -- but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.”
  • Bloomberg went even further, writing that a three-way race would make it “unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes,” forcing the presidential race into the U.S. House, where “most members of Congress would vote for their party’s nominee.”
  • “As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz,” Bloomberg wrote. “That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.”
  • Entry into a presidential race by Bloomberg, 74, has long been a favorite topic for speculation in New York and Washington, especially after he signaled willingness to go forward with a bid in a Trump vs. Sanders race.
  • According to the New York Times, the three-term mayor did look seriously into a 2016 run, hiring “several dozen strategists and staff members” who had already “conducted polling in 22 states, drafted a website, produced television ads and set up campaign offices in Texas and North Carolina,” to start the process of putting Bloomberg’s name on the ballot. Bloomberg had even put thought into his ticket, the Times report, vetting former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen as a potential running mate.
  • However, as the likelihood of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination has decreased, so has Bloomberg’s chances of entering the race. In addition, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that even matched up with the Vermont senator and his fellow New York billionaire, Bloomberg still received just 16% support.
  • In concluding his editorial, Bloomberg made clear he did not plan to stay out of the 2016 conversation completely, pledging not to stay silent “about the threat that partisan extremism poses to our nation,” even as he is not ready to endorse a candidate.
  • TODAY: Primaries in Michigan, Mississippi; Republicans Vote in Idaho, Hawaii Four states will head to the polls today to cast votes in the presidential primary race. The big prize tonight is Michigan, the first primary in an industrial state and a key test of each candidates’ strength in the Midwest.
  • Polls close first in the Mississippi primary, at 8pm Eastern Time. The most recent poll conducted on the Republican race in the state, in late February, showed Donald Trump with a 24-point lead over Ted Cruz, 41% to 17%. However, after Cruz’s late surge in Louisiana on Saturday and his Monday endorsement by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, the Texas senator could close the gap and deny Trump his final Southern win.
  • On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is expected to rely on support by African-American voters for a large Mississippi win. The RealClearPolitics average in the Democratic primary for the state shows Clinton at 62.5% to Sanders’ 18.5%. While Clinton will likely take home a large victory in the popular vote and among delegates, the exit polling will be key to watch if Sanders has increased his stock among black voters.
  • Next, polls close at 9pm Eastern Time in Michigan, where both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are favored (with 12.3% and 21.4% leads, respectively). However, the margins of victory are key: a closer race gives more delegates to the runners-up, as Clinton and Trump are looking towards increasing their delegate leads to look inevitable heading into the convention.
  • Finally, Idaho’s Republican primary will close at 11pm Eastern, and Hawaii’s Republican caucuses will close at 1am Eastern. Both will be interesting to watch to see if Trump can be denied wins, threatening his inevitability.
  • If Cruz can pick up any wins tonight, he will emerge as the best alternative to Trump. If Rubio has another bad night, his path forward seems even less shaky going into his home state of Florida. An interesting factor to watch: Kasich’s share of the vote in Michigan. As governor of nearby Ohio, Kasich has targeted the Great Lake State.
  • Today on the Trail With the exception of John Kasich (who will continuing campaigning in Michigan), the entire presidential field is looking ahead to March 15. Ted Cruz will hold rallies in North Carolina; Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio in Florida; Hillary Clinton in Ohio. All three states vote next Tuesday.
  • MEANWHILE: former President Bill Clinton will be campaigning in Illinois and Missouri for his wife. One of his events is in St. Louis, and I will be attending with press credentials. Look for my report on Clinton’s event, to be filed in the coming days, which is being held in Bridgeton, a suburb of St. Louis facing an underground fire at the West Lake Landfill. I’ll ask the Clinton campaign about the fires, and a bill on the issue being held up in Congress by Clinton supporter Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule President Obama has just one event on his public schedule today: a 3:45pm meeting with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. CBS’ veteran White House correspondent Mark Knoller called this a “suspiciously barren schedule,” speculating that it could mean Obama plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee with the spare time.
  • Biden’s Day Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will continue a Mideast tour today, on his third day in the United Arab Emirates. The Bidens will visit Dubai today, before traveling to Israel for a meeting with former President Shimon Peres. Later this week, the Vice President will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Peres’ successor, Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
  • This is Biden’s first visit to Israel since 2010, when the vice president traveled in a goodwill mission to patch up relations with Netanyahu, which was upended when Netanyahu’s administration announced a surprise plan to construct settler homes in the West Bank.
  • Biden’s current visit comes at a new rocky point for Netanyahu’s relationship with the Obama Administration, as the Prime Minister apparently canceled a plan meeting for with Obama on Monday.
  • Following the First Lady At 11:30am, First Lady Michelle Obama will speak at Union Market in Washington, D.C. to announce commitments from the private sector to support Let Girls Learn, her initiative to spread quality education to adolescent girls across the world. Obama’s remarks will mark Intentional Women’s Day, an UN-declared holiday (which is today), and Women’s History Month, which is the month of March by presidential proclamation. This year’s International Women’s Day official UN theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.

Capitol Hill News

  • House: Today The lower chamber will meet only for a pro forma session, as representatives return to their districts to gear up for the November elections.
  • Senate: Today The upper chamber will continue debate over the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bipartisan bill to authorize nearly $80 million in annual funding to combat the nation’s opoid epidemic.
  • The Senate voted 86-3 to invoke cloture on the bill, meaning today’s debate will count towards the needed 30 hours of post-cloture consideration before an upcoming final vote.

Question of the Day

  • Yesterday’s Answer Question: What was Ronald Reagan’s nickname for his wife Nancy?
  • Answer: “Mommy”.
  • GREAT JOB… Randy Fleisher, Myles Rosenblum, Joan Zucker, Bonnie Mueller, Joe Bookman, Janice Goodman, Kate Johnston, Brad Chotiner, Jeff Melanson, Denver Smith!
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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