Former candidate Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, saying the U.S. senator from Texas represents the party’s best chance of winning the White House.
In a statement, the former Florida governor called Cruz a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated an ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.
“Washington is broken, and the only way Republicans can hope to win back the White House and put our nation on a better path is to support a nominee who can articulate how conservative policies will help people rise up and reach their full potential,” Bush said.
The 63-year-old Bush, whose father and brother served as president, dropped out of the presidential nomination fight after losing badly in South Carolina on Feb. 20.
The endorsement comes as establishment Republicans scramble to stop front-runner Donald Trump from winning the nomination because of his divisive proposals like a plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
Cruz has run in second place behind Trump and could conceivably win enough Republican delegates to take the nomination.
Ohio Governor John Kasich’s lone path to the nomination is to extend the nomination race until the party’s national convention in July. The idea is to deny Trump the required 1,237 delegates needed and force party leaders to consider someone else.
A source close to Bush said Bush picked Cruz because he has the most viable path to the nomination and has shown that he can win states. The source said Bush considers a push for a contested convention to be a “hail-Mary strategy at best.”
In the weeks after he withdrew, Bush met in Miami with former rivals Cruz, Kasich and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio dropped out of the race after losing Florida last week. Bush spoke by phone to Cruz on Monday.
In his statement, Bush resumed his sharp criticism of Trump, saying Republican voters must move to overcome “the divisiveness and vulgarity” that Trump has brought into the political arena “or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee and reverse President (Barack) Obama’s failed policies.”
“To win, Republicans need to make this election about proposing solutions to the many challenges we face, and I believe that we should vote for Ted as he will do just that,” Bush said.
In a statement, Cruz said Bush’s endorsement “is further evidence that Republicans are continuing to unite behind our campaign to nominate a proven conservative” to defeat Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.
Amid the turmoil within the Republican establishment (if such a thing exists) and the chaos of the GOP leadership (which is non-existent today) comes a sign of relief from South Carolina’s primary disaster.
Yes, party-destroying Donald Trump won again and is now officially the leader of the primary pack but amid that disaster came along with something most Republicans secretly wanted: the demise of the House of Bush.
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and the man his father, former President George W. Bush, really wanted to be elected President after him, gave up his losing race for the nomination.
Jeb brought in the brother he neither admired or cared for, former President George W. Bush, in a last-minute attempt to save his campaign in South Carolina. Voters rejected him and his brother.
One message came through: We’ve had enough of Presidents named Bush. You got two chances and the last one was such a colossal failure we never want anything to do with your family again.
I often wrote about the many failures of George W. Bush during his two-terms in the White House. He was a liar who misled the world about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and he used that lies to declare a war that left that country in chaos and civil war.
His absolute disregard for the rights of American citizens led to creation of the Patriot Act and oversaw the creation of a Nazi-like “Department of Homeland Security” that peeks into the lives of all Americans while violating protections of the constitution.
Some thought Jeb Bush was a shoo-in when he announced last year that he would seek the nomination for the job held in elections won in 1988 by his father and in 2000 and 2004 by his brother.
America has had a few sons who ran and won the jobs once held by their fathers: John Quincy Adams followed John Adams and George W. Bush took the seat held by his father, George H.W. Bush.
Other relatives have held the job: Cousins Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Tycoon Joseph Kennedy wanted several of his sons to run the nation but oldest son Joe Jr. died when his plane blew up in World War II and while John Kennedy got elected President, he was assassinated in his first term and younger brother Bobby fell to another gunman’s bullet while seeking the nomination, final son Ted was too busy boozing and chasing women to go any higher than the Senate.
George H.W. Bush only had one term. He forgot his promise on taxes, made in his original inaugural address, and fell in his re-election bid to Bill Clinton, whose wife is now seeking the nomination on her second try.
Supposedly, the founding fathers, perceived an elected President “by the people and for the people.” What happened in too many occasions was the few from the privileged class determined by party “elites” whose allegiance to the people is often suspect.
Out of this chaos this year comes billionaire Donald Trump, a self-promoting, monomaniacal, misogynist who — somehow and incredibly — is considered the “common man” desired by angry voters who feel the system has failed them.
One can successfully argue that the system is a failure and the rise of Donald Trump proves it. The Democrats also have their “anti-establishment candidate,” self-declared Socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running a hard fight against party leader-preferred Hillary Rodham Clinton — the former First Lady, Secretary of State under Barack Obama, and the candidate who, is she can secure the nomination, may be the only one to derail Trump but will probably have to do it in the general election.
Republican leaders, meeting behind closed doors, are seeking a way — any way — to stop Trump’s march to the nomination. Their options are running out and they feel nominating Trump will destroy their party.
Perhaps a demise of the GOP is worth seeing Trump win the nomination. A number of Republicans say that if Trump wins, they will either not vote in December or may hold their nose and vote for Hillary is she wins the nomination.
It will be ironic is the only way the Republicans can stop Trump is by putting a Democrat into the White House for another four, and possibly, eight years.
First, Bush, then perhaps the Republican Party as a whole. We’re doing to need a lot bigger hole to dig in the political cemetery.
Donald Trump barreled to victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary Saturday, deepening his hold on the GOP presidential field as the race moved into the South. “Let’s put this thing away,” he shouted to cheering supporters.
Out West, Hillary Clinton pulled out a crucial win over Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, easing the rising anxieties of her backers. At a raucous victory rally in Las Vegas, she lavished praise on her supporters and declared, “This one is for you.”
The victories put Clinton and Trump in strong positions as the 2016 presidential election barreled toward the March 1 Super Tuesday contests, a delegate-rich voting bonanza. But South Carolina marked the end for Jeb Bush, the one-time Republican front-runner and member of a prominent political family, who withdrew from the race.
“I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master,” Bush told supporters in an emotional speech.
Trump’s strong showing in South Carolina marked his second straight victory in the Republican primaries and strengthened his unexpected claim on the GOP nomination. No Republican in recent times has won New Hampshire and South Carolina and then failed to win the nomination.
“There’s nothing easy about running for president,” Trump said at his victory rally. “It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean, it’s vicious. It’s beautiful — when you win it’s beautiful.”
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, a pair of freshman senators, were fighting for second place, while Bush and others lagged far behind.
“This has become a three-person race,” Rubio declared.
For both parties, the 2016 election has laid bare voters’ anger with the political establishment and the influence of big money in the political system. The public mood has upended the usual political order, giving Sanders and Trump openings while leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.
Trump’s victory comes after a week in which he threatened to sue one rival, accused former President George W. Bush of lying about the Iraq war and even tussled with Pope Francis on immigration. His victory was another sign that the conventional rules of politics often don’t apply to the brash billionaire.
Trump was backed by nearly 4 in 10 of those who were angry at the federal government, and a third of those who felt betrayed by politicians in the Republican Party.
For Cruz, even a second-place finish in South Carolina would be something of a disappointment. The state was his first test of whether his expensive, sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation could overtake Trump in a Southern state, where the electorate is tailor-made for the uncompromising conservative Texas senator.
Florida’s Rubio was seeking to position himself as the mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz, candidates many GOP leaders believe are unelectable in November. Rubio scored the endorsements of several prominent South Carolina politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, overcoming a dismal debate performance two weeks ago.
South Carolina was a bitter disappointment for Bush, who campaigned alongside members of his famous family, which remains popular in the state. Though he was once considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination, new fundraising reports out Saturday showed that donations to his super PAC had largely stalled.
Also in the mix was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had low expectations in South Carolina and was looking toward more moderate states that vote later in March. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson vowed to stay in the race, despite a single-digit showing.
The crowded Republican contest was a contrast to the head-to-head face-off among Democrats. Clinton has emerged a favorite of those seeking an experienced political hand, while Sanders is emerging young voters and others drawn to his call of a political and economic revolution.
The Nevada results highlighted Clinton’s strength with black voters, a crucial Democratic electorate in the next contest in South Carolina, as well as several Super Tuesday states. The Hispanic vote was closely divided between Sanders and Clinton.
According to the entrance polls of voters, Clinton was backed by a majority of women, college-educated voters, those with annual incomes over $100,000, moderates, voters aged 45 and older and non-white voters. Sanders did best with men, voters under 45 and those less affluent and educated.
The former secretary of state captured the backing of voters who said electability and experience were important. But in a continuing sign of her vulnerability, Sanders did best with voters looking for a candidate who is caring and honest.
Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victory, but then declared that “the wind is at our backs. We have the momentum.” With a vast network of small donors, Sanders has the financial resources to stay in the race for months.
Clinton’s win means she will pick up at least 19 of Nevada’s 35 delegates. She already holds a sizeable lead in the delegate count based largely on her support from superdelegates — the party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice, no matter the primaries and caucuses.
Trump won a majority of the delegates in South Carolina and he has a chance to win them all. With votes still being tabulated, he was projected to win at least 38 of the 50 at stake.
Democrats and Republicans will swap locations in the coming days. The GOP holds its caucus in Nevada on Tuesday, while Democrats face off in South Carolina on Feb. 27.
The polling of voters in Nevada and South Carolina was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected caucus sites.
Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Las Vegas, Alex Sanz in Greenville, Hope Yen and Laurie Kellman in Washington and AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
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After a week of bitter attacks, Republicans face off Saturday in South Carolina’s presidential primary, a contest that could determine Donald Trump’s strength as a front-runner and help clarify whether a more mainstream politician will ever emerge to challenge him.
Democrats are holding a caucus Saturday in Nevada, the first test for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a more racially diverse state. While Clinton’s campaign once saw the Western battleground as an opportunity to start pulling away from Sanders, her team is nervously anticipating a close contest with the Vermont senator.
“We are here to win,” Sanders declared Friday during a rally in sparsely populated Elko, Nevada.
For both parties, the 2016 election has revealed deep voter frustration with Washington and the influence of big money in the American political system. The public mood has upended the usual political order, leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.
No candidate has shaken the political establishment more than Trump. He spent the week threatening one rival with a lawsuit, accusing former President George W. Bush of lying, and even tangling with Pope Francis on immigration — yet South Carolina is still seen as his state to lose in Saturday’s voting.
“We have a movement going on, folks,” Trump told a 5,000-person crowd in Myrtle Beach on Friday. “And we can’t blow the movement. We have to make sure we get a big mandate. We have to go out tomorrow we have to go out and vote.”
For Trump, a victory in South Carolina could foreshadow strong showings in the collection of Southern states that vote on March 1. Wins in those Super Tuesday contests could put the billionaire in a commanding position in the delegate count, which determines the nomination.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is banking on a well-regarded get-out-the-vote operation and an army of 10,000 volunteers to help overtake Trump on Saturday, as well as in the Southern states that follow. But a failure to top the real estate mogul here could puncture that strategy, though Cruz will still have more than enough money to run a long campaign.
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are fighting to establish themselves as credible alternatives to Trump and Cruz, candidates some GOP leaders believe are unelectable in November. While neither Bush nor Rubio expects to win South Carolina, they’re battling to finish ahead of one another — with the loser in that contest likely to face tough questions about his long-term viability.
Rubio scored the endorsements of several prominent South Carolina politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, and seems to have rebounded after a dismal debate performance two weeks ago. Bush hopes his deep family ties to South Carolina — his brother and father each won two primaries here — will be a lifeline for his struggling campaign.
Also in the mix is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has low expectations in South Carolina and is hinging his White House bid on more moderate states that vote later in March, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has a small but loyal cadre of followers.
For Democrats, the contest between Clinton and Sanders has become closer than almost anyone expected. Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, has energized voters, particularly young people, with his impassioned calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and providing free tuition at public colleges and universities.
Clinton is hoping to offset Sanders’ youth support by winning big majorities among blacks and Hispanics. She’d eyed Nevada, where one-fourth of the population is Hispanic, as the first in a series of contests that would highlight that strength.
But Clinton’s campaign has been downplaying expectations in Nevada in recent days. A victory for Sanders — or even a narrow loss to Clinton— would give his campaign a boost heading into the Democratic contests on Super Tuesday.
Prognostications are difficult in Nevada, which holds a late-morning caucus. Democrats will gather at 200 caucus sites across the state, including six at Las Vegas Strip casinos so housekeepers, blackjack dealers and others with weekend schedules can attend.
Unlike in Iowa, caucuses are not a part of the political fabric of Nevada. Campaigns and parties have been holding training sessions so voters won’t be intimidated by the process.
Democrats and Republicans will swap locations in the coming days. The GOP holds its caucus in Nevada on Tuesday, while Democrats face off in South Carolina on Feb. 27.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Ken Thomas in Elko, Nevada, contributed to this report.
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Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are locked in a high-stakes political chess match in South Carolina, strategically moving money and other campaign resources around in a bid to pull ahead in the Republican primary race — or at least keep their campaigns afloat if they don’t.
The maneuvering comes as some Republican leaders fear Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will begin piling up the delegates needed to secure the nomination before one of the more traditional candidates can concentrate the support of voters turned off by the brash billionaire and fiery Texas senator, who so-called establishment Republicans believe could jeopardize the party’s chances of winning in November’s general election.
“We do need to get the field down to Trump, Cruz and somebody,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee heavyweight from Mississippi. “New Hampshire tried, but it’s clear as mud.”
Indeed, the only thing that is clear heading into Saturday’s South Carolina primary appears to be Trump’s grip on the lead. Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, is also in the mix for a strong finish.
But the more mainstream lane populated by Bush, Kasich and Rubio is more jumbled. Bush’s campaign now sees an opening to capitalize on Rubio’s fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, while Kasich’s strong second-place showing there has given him reason to keep his campaign going. Rubio’s team, meanwhile, is quietly confident that South Carolina will prove to be a comeback story for the Florida senator.
Kasich’s finish in New Hampshire has scrambled what might have been a do-or-die contest between Bush and Rubio in South Carolina. After initially viewing the first-in-the-South primary as too much of a long-shot for a moderate Midwesterner, Kasich abruptly changed his schedule this week and announced plans to campaign in South Carolina almost every day until Saturday’s primary.
The newly confident Ohio governor also recently put a small batch of ads on television in South Carolina — something he hadn’t planned until after his New Hampshire success.
“Exceeding expectations is why we’re there,” Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said.
For Kasich, exceeding expectations would be to finish ahead of Bush, the former Florida governor. Bush has deep family ties to South Carolina — his father and brother each won two Republican primaries here — and a poor showing Saturday could leave him without a compelling rationale to keep his campaign going.
Right to Rise USA, the heavily funded super PAC backing Bush, has reduced its radio and television ad spending by nearly $3 million across seven states that vote in the coming weeks, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) data. The cuts impact some states that vote on Super Tuesday, the delegate-rich March 1 voting bonanza.
The super PAC made the biggest change in Texas, where it cut more than $1 million in ads it had planned through the March 1 primary. The group also cut back in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma — all Super Tuesday states — as well as Michigan and Idaho.
Right to Rise spokesman Paul Lindsay cast the moves as a “delay” in spending that “will give us the opportunity to prioritize following South Carolina.”
Rubio is also trimming back his ad spending, though his cuts come in South Carolina. According to the CMAG data, Rubio’s campaign has scaled back its remaining paid media in the state by more than half. However, his allied super PAC does appear to be picking up the slack by increasing its ad buys ahead of Saturday’s voting.
Rubio aides said the moves were aimed at bringing the campaign’s ad spending down to the level of its competitors in South Carolina, not a sign of financial troubles or an indication that the Florida senator was lowering expectations in the state.
As the third major contest in the primary campaign, South Carolina is accustomed to settling divergent results in Iowa and New Hampshire, with the winner here emerging as the nominee in each presidential cycle from 1980 to 2008. But those typically were two-man contests as the race headed South: Ronald Reagan dispatched George H.W. Bush in 1980, the elder Bush defeated Bob Dole in 1988 and George W. Bush topped John McCain 12 years later.
This time, the gaggle of candidates means there’s no clean divide on ideology, personality or anything else.
Even before South Carolina votes, Republican leaders — and even some voters — are making the case that candidates who aren’t competitive need to swallow their pride and let go of their presidential ambitions.
“I’m just hoping through this election — or maybe the next one — we whittle it down a little to two or three really good candidates,” said Bill Hann, a 69-year-old Republican from Daniel Island, South Carolina, who is still deciding between Rubio, Kasich and Bush. “Just too many voices right now.”
Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina GOP chairman who remains unaligned, put it more bluntly. He said that if a candidate finishes in the single digits Saturday, “you ought to quit.”
Barrow reported from Columbia, South Carolina. AP writers Chad Day and Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.
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Serious issues face Saturday night’s Republican presidential debaters in South Carolina, a state with deep-rooted military culture and home to a mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. But style is going to beg for attention alongside pressing matters of policy.
Foremost, how will Marco Rubio do after his disastrous turn on the stage in New Hampshire?
And will Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, after carping at each other bitterly from a distance, do it face to face?
Can Ben Carson finally make a mark?
You get the drift.
The Greenville, South Carolina, debate is hosted by CBS News and takes place, perhaps paradoxically, in the Peace Center.
We get it: Rubio says he believes that President Barack Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing” by making policy designed to change the country, a point the Florida senator robotically made over and over in New Hampshire even as rival Chris Christie — now gone from the race — tormented him about out. Rubio eventually acknowledged he blew it.
His fall from third place in Iowa to fifth place in New Hampshire confirmed that. Now, he has said, he doesn’t have the luxury of abstaining from the swipe fest between candidates. Look for him to engage.
But it’s tricky situation for him, not to mention one with huge pressure. How does he prepare for the debate when the big knock against him last time was that he was over-rehearsed?
KASICH, COMEBACK KID?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s second-place finish in New Hampshire vaulted him into contention after months of standing at the edge of crowded debate stages and participating whenever he could get a word in over the cacophony of Trump vs. everyone else. His challenge now is to use the exposure of the debate to build a campaign in South Carolina virtually from scratch and to emphasize a theme he previewed Friday: Building a political legacy should be based on implementing change, not “stopping stuff.” He’s hoping to stay viable until the race heads to friendlier territory for him.
Kasich didn’t single out rivals with the remark. But Cruz has become known for fighting against many things in Congress, chief among them the president’s health care law.
Rubio’s poor performance has created a potential opening for Jeb Bush, who has declared that South Carolina is where it all begins for him. He’ll need a solid showing in South Carolina given his prominent family’s political ties to the state.
At this point, Carson has little to lose by speaking up, and that’s what he plans to do.
“I’m going to be much more boisterous,” he said on Fox TV.
TRUMP vs. CRUZ
The two candidates with early-state victories under their belts may have the most to lose in Saturday night’s debate.
Their increasingly bitter duel has killed the one-time bromance between the two. Cruz released a television advertisement before the debate accusing the real estate mogul of a “pattern of sleaze,” spurring Trump to fire back on Twitter with another round of questions about his Canadian-born rival’s eligibility to be president. Although their rivalry was well underway before the New Hampshire debate, they largely stood aside from it, other than a few jabs here and there, as Christie took a rhetorical buzz saw to Rubio.
OH, THOSE ISSUES
There’s not a lot of daylight among the GOP rivals on gun rights, but the moderators might try to tease out some differences on the subject.
As well, expect questions relevant to the military-minded voters of South Carolina, home to The Citadel military college, Shaw Air Force Base and other important defense installations. The Republicans have tripped over themselves promising an expensive expansion or modernization of the armed forces.
And Rubio, for one, has expressed support for allowing women to serve in combat while saying he opposes forcing them to do so by making them eligible for any future military draft.
Follow Laurie Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman
For Donald Trump, for one night, there was so much winning.
The billionaire political novice on Tuesday posted a decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary, a once-unthinkable first for an enterprise built on the promise of putting America on top and turning politics on its head. Restive Democrats had their own act of anti-establishment defiance, lining up behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, while delivering a broad rejection of Hillary Clinton’s second bid for the White House.
“We are going to make our country so strong,” Trump told a raucous crowd in Manchester, with typical bombast. “We are going to make America so great again. Maybe greater than ever before.”
With votes still being tallied, Trump led with 35 percent of the vote. In his wake was a field of Republicans still-struggling to break out of the pack. With about 16 percent, Ohio. Gov. John Kasich surged from relative obscurity to second-place, a feat his poorly funded campaign will struggle to replicate. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio jostled for third place, while a disappointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie trailed behind.
The results offered little clarity to the nomination battles likely to stretch on into the spring — giving the parties’ establishment fits and testing voters’ commitment to the outsider excitement. Republicans head to South Carolina, a hotbed of tea party groups and evangelical voters that will test Trump’s staying power.
“I think they’re all really potential threats,” Trump said of his rivals Wednesday morning on MSNBC. “But I’m ok at handling threats.”
Sanders was leading Clinton by 22 percentage points, with roughly 90 percent of the vote tabulated. Democrats move on to Nevada, where Sanders will leave his New England neighborhood and try to prove his mettle with a more diverse and urban electorate.
“We have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” he told a cheering crowd in Concord. His campaign launched ads Wednesday in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts — all states where they believe Sanders can grow.
Clinton tried to show she’d heard the message.
“People have every right to be angry,” she said, as she conceded to Sanders. “But they are also hungry. They’re hungry for solutions. What are we going to do?”
A night of victory speeches from a reality TV tycoon and avowed democratic socialist was all-but unimaginable six months ago, before outsider fever gripped both parties’ search for a president. But the outcome had been brewing for months. Trump’s campaign seized the top slot in New Hampshire and never relented, despite rivals dumping millions into advertising and late signs that Rubio’s strong third-place showing in Iowa had earned him a second look.
In remarks Tuesday night, Rubio acknowledged his bungled debate performance Saturday night hurt him: “It’s on me,” he said.
Ted Cruz, the Iowa winner and a favorite of social conservatives, proved unable to win over New Hampshire’s more moderate brand of Republican. Those voters went to Kasich, who staked his campaign on New Hampshire, and declared his second-place showing an affirmation of his largely positive campaign.
“Light overcame the darkness,” he said.
A subdued Christie was heading back to New Jersey to “take a deep breath” and review whether to keep at it, he told supporters. His campaign canceled a planned event Wednesday in South Carolina.
Sanders’ win was also telegraphed for weeks, as his indictment of Wall Street and big money in politics caught fire in a state that was once considered a reservoir of good will for both Clinton and her husband. Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton won the state by 2.5 percentage points in a late comeback over then-Sen. Barack Obama.
But on Tuesday Sanders’ coalition was strikingly broad, cutting across both ideological and demographic lines, according to an exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the television networks. The poll found Sanders won a majority of votes from independents, voters under 45, self-identified liberals, moderates, men, and perhaps most cutting for Clinton, who is striving to be the first woman president, women.
As she bats back allegations of mishandling classified information on her email server, Clinton struggled with voters who prioritized honesty and trustworthiness.
Asked which of the two candidates is honest and trustworthy, nearly half of voters said they think only Sanders is, while about the same proportion said they both are. Few said only Clinton is.
Clinton, former secretary of state, was strong among voters who value experience.
On the Republican side, the results zeroed in on the party’s current rift. Nearly half of voters said they preferred someone with experience in politics, while half want someone from outside the political establishment. Of those, almost 6 in 10 voted for Trump.
From New Hampshire the parties’ paths to the nomination diverge.
Nevada has been considered Clinton territory, in part because of her strong relationships to the Latino community and longtime Democrats in the state. Still, Sanders has been pouring money and staff into the state.
Republicans head to South Carolina where a more conservative electorate awaits. The state is the first in a string of southern contests that will ultimately test whether Cruz, Rubio or both can force Trump into a long process.
They will also prompt another question: whether Bush can parlay his family’s long South Carolina ties into new energy for “the long game,” as he calls it. All four of those candidates have expansive organizations in South Carolina and several Super Tuesday states.
Hennessey reported from Washington. AP writers Lisa Lerer, Ken Thomas, Holly Ramer, Steve Peoples, Julie Bykowicz, Thomas Beaumont and Julie Pace, and AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump is aiming for his first win in New Hampshire’s fast-approaching primary, while rival Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, said their campaigns will go on no matter what the outcome Tuesday.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, facing an uphill campaign in the state against Bernie Sanders, took a trip to Michigan.
With the otherwise intense race for the White House seemingly toned down Sunday, it’s easy to forget that this leadoff primary could be a make or break situation for several lagging campaigns.
Trump said he doesn’t need to win New Hampshire, but would like to. Republican hopeful Marco Rubio continues to downplay his rough outing in Saturday night’s GOP debate, while touting his overall campaign momentum after his third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Trump, who is facing intense pressure to perform after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses, opted Sunday for just one of his signature rallies in Plymouth; and when he visited a diner, the billionaire real estate mogul spent less than five minutes interacting with potential voters before sitting down for a meal with staff.
On the Democratic side, New Hampshire favorite Sanders and Clinton — who narrowly won Iowa — are avoiding predictions about Tuesday and looking beyond to South Carolina and Nevada, the next two states up in the nomination process.
At his rally, Trump delivered a meandering version of his usual campaign speech and urged supporters to get to the polls.
“If you’re not going to vote for me do not vote,” he dead-panned.
The billionaire businessman had begun his day with an attempt to do things “the New Hampshire way” by engaging in more personal interactions with voters, stopping by Chez Vachon, a hole-in-the-wall Manchester restaurant that specializes in French Canadian fare and is a popular stop for political candidates.
But while some candidates work to connect with voters by answering questions and even sitting down at their tables, Trump spent less than five minutes circling the restaurant, greeting diners and shaking hands before sitting down for his own breakfast.
At another diner in Tilton, reporters invited along for the visit were greeted by one of Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. “We’re dividing and conquering,” said the younger Trump of his father’s absence.
For Republican Govs. Chris Christie, John Kasich and Bush, the task is to make sure the closing argument here isn’t their last.
Christie sought to capitalize on his debate effort to batter Rubio, a first-term senator, as unprepared for the presidency. But he also took aim his fellow governors as they battle for many of the same voters in an effort to remain relevant beyond Tuesday.
The governors thus far have struggled to keep Rubio from emerging as the alternative to Trump and Ted Cruz. Cruz, the Texas senator won Iowa, though he’s looking beyond New Hampshire to a run of Southern primaries with more conservative electorates.
Under assault from Christie during Saturday’s debate, Rubio repeated his standard critique of President Barack Obama several times and played into Christie’s argument that the first-term senator is a scripted, inexperienced politician from a do-nothing Congress.
Rubio was back on message Sunday. “People said, ‘Oh, you said the same thing three or four times.’ I’m going to say it again,” Rubio said in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
For Democrats, Sanders drew another large crowd Sunday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he reprised his indictment of a “rigged economy” and “corrupt campaign finance system.”
Taking a break from the New Hampshire campaign trail, Hillary Clinton stopped in Flint, Michigan, which continues to deal with the fallout of a lead-contaminated water system.
At the House of Prayer Missionary Church, Clinton noted that for two years, Flint residents drank poisoned water despite officials declaring it safe. She urged Congress to approve $200 million to fix Flint’s water system and vowed to “fight for you in Flint no matter how long it takes.”
Barrow reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman contributed from Washington and Thomas Beaumont, Sergio Bustos, Holly Ramer, Kathleen Ronayne, Ken Thomas contributed from New Hampshire. David Eggert contributed from Flint, Michigan.
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Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is using every bit of momentum his campaign received from the Iowa caucuses to show New Hampshire voters that he — not his competition — is the Republican for all Americans.
Rubio describes caucus winner Ted Cruz as chronically “calculating” and points to the failure of others to pull in higher numbers as testament to their inability to lead. He calls New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a sore loser after Christie accused him of being the “boy in the bubble” who won’t take questions.
Rubio’s attacks on his opponents come with one glaring exception: billionaire Donald Trump, who edged him for a second-place finish in Monday’s caucuses. Rubio has reasoned that Trump has unveiled insufficient policy, and therefore, hasn’t given him reason enough to criticize him, even though they disagree on several fundamental issues.
Instead, Rubio appears to be biding his time, quietly courting his rivals’ potential voters. By doing so, he’s pursuing a course of consolidation.
“He needs to coalesce the vote before he can challenge Trump,” said Republican pollster Greg Strimple, who is unaligned with any of the campaigns. He said he has been impressed with what he calls the Rubio team’s “message and strategic discipline.”
Rubio captured headlines with his strong third-place finish in the leadoff contest Monday, finishing behind Cruz — the heavy favorite among Iowa’s disproportionately influential evangelical conservatives — and less than a percentage point behind Trump, who had seesawed with Cruz between first and second place in most preference polls in Iowa.
If Rubio tops Cruz in New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday and finishes ahead of candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he will have more evidence to support a point he’s been hammering for weeks: He is the candidate to unite the party.
“When I am our nominee I can bring this party together,” Rubio told more than 300 people at a campaign event Wednesday in Bow, New Hampshire. “We cannot win if we are divided against each other.”
While Republican voters in Iowa skew more toward the evangelical conservative, the New Hampshire Republican primary often draws independents and more fiscally conservative voters. Rubio’s campaign is hoping he can show support in two states with very different electorates as evidence of a campaign with longevity and fortitude.
With his wife and four children in tow, Rubio maintained a dizzying schedule in New Hampshire this week, squeezing every drop of energy out of his better-than-expected finish in Iowa.
By Tuesday, a sleep-deprived Rubio kicked off the day in New Hampshire doing 15 television and radio interviews to local stations.
Rubio’s bus was rolling up to the lakes region north of Concord on Wednesday on a schedule of a dozen public appearances between Tuesday and Saturday’s last pre-primary debate at St. Anselm’s college in Manchester.
While Rubio was criticizing various rival candidates at times during the interviews, Trump’s name never came up. When asked about it, he said Trump has laid out few plans, and that he had no public policy quarrel with Trump.
“So when the time comes and it’s appropriate, we’ll do so,” he said.
Still, Trump differs sharply from Rubio on immigration policy by supporting the deportation of all people in the U.S. illegally. Rubio supports deporting “criminal aliens” but is open to a process by which people in the country illegally may stay after immigration security is addressed.
On Tuesday, a woman asked Rubio his opinion of Trump’s public mockery of a New York Times reporter who is disabled.
“I think we all, obviously, not just disagree with it, but find it distasteful,” Rubio answered quietly. “I think he’s been called out for that repeatedly and I think people see it for what it is.”
It’s part of a pattern of careful treatment of Trump by Rubio. By contrast, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released a full-page newspaper ad attacking Trump and was airing a two-minute campaign ad in New Hampshire featuring clips of Trump’s on-air insults.
It was clear, even before it started, that Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate would be dramatically different.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump had voluntarily given up his regular place at center stage. He skipped the debate, preferring to mount a rally across town to punish Fox News Channel for “toying” with him.
The billionaire businessman’s absence was addressed early and then his Republican rivals quickly moved on, getting a far better opportunity to shine. Overall, the two-hour affair featured a sober tone focused more on substance than personality.
There were exceptions, of course. Ted Cruz defended his authenticity and Marco Rubio faced pointed questions on immigration.
But just days before Iowa’s leadoff caucuses, there were none of the breakout moments that have sometimes characterized the more colorful debates featuring Trump, battling Cruz for first place in the 2016 primary season’s opening contest.
Some takeaways from Thursday’s Republican debate:
ELEPHANT NOT IN THE ROOM
Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to dominate the stage. There is little doubt he helped his rivals by not showing up.
He was mocked early and largely forgotten. Cruz set the tone with a sarcastic impression of his top rival: “I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly,” Cruz said. “Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way …”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also weighed in: “It’s not about Donald Trump. He’s an entertaining guy. He’s the greatest show on earth.”
Beyond a few playful jabs, the two-hour debate was a Trump-free zone, one of the few such events in the race so far.
CRUZ THE FRONT-RUNNER
Cruz fought to make sure he was positioned at center stage in Trump’s absence, but did little to take advantage of the opportunity. He tried to embrace the role of de facto front-runner at the outset, pointing out that he was being attacked by several rivals — even before there were any pointed exchanges.
Cruz later faced sharp questions on immigration, national security and, perhaps most importantly, whether he was trustworthy. Trust is the theme of the fiery conservative’s campaign, and several candidates questioned his authenticity.
“Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes,” Rubio charged.
Cruz fought back by accusing Rubio of bending to the will of donors on immigration, but it was hardly a decisive victory.
NO AMNESTY FOR RUBIO
Rubio did not help himself among the conservatives who question his position on immigration. The issue is by far his greatest vulnerability as he tries to convince skeptical GOP activists that he doesn’t support so-called amnesty.
The debate moderators played a series of video clips highlighting Rubio’s apparent shift on the issue, which put the first-term senator on the defensive at the outset of a key exchange.
At best, Rubio may have clouded the issue of whether he had backed off his earlier calls for comprehensive legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship.
But rival Jeb Bush seemed to get the best of him in an exchange in which Bush questioned Rubio’s retreat on the issue.
“You shouldn’t cut and run,” Bush charged.
BUSH CLOUDS LANE
Bush repeatedly beat back questions about his long-term viability in the 2016 contest, insisting he has a path to the nomination and would ultimately defeat leading Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“We’re just starting. The first vote hasn’t been counted. Why don’t we let the process work?” Bush said.
Overall, Bush had more success on the debate stage without having to contend with Trump. His strength — and full-steam-ahead approach — was a pointed reminder that the fight for the party’s mainstream wing is far from over.
Bush and Rubio are competing with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to win over the GOP’s centrist wing. Some party officials hoped Rubio would have emerged as the consensus choice by now.
Bush defended rounds of anti-Rubio attack ads.
“This is beanbag compared to what the Clinton hit machine is going to do to the Republican nominee,” Bush said.
It was a risky move politically, but Donald Trump helped raise $6 million to benefit veterans at an event three miles away from the debate stage.
Instead of going after his rivals on national television, Trump read out the names of wealthy friends who’d pledged major contributions to veterans’ causes. When he announced he’d pledged $1 million himself, the crowd erupted in cheers.
He explained to the Drake University crowd that he had little choice but to skip the debate. Trump admitted he didn’t know if the decision would hurt him in the polls, but tried to cast it as a sign of strength.
“You have to stick up for your rights. When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” he said.
As for the debate, Trump predicted it would have far fewer viewers without him on the stage. That may be true, but Iowa voters will decide in four days whether Trump hurt his chances in the 2016 race simply to prove a point.
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