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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio stumps in Nevada ahead of caucuses

Florida senator picks up a slew of endorsements in the Silver State

♦By Andy Donahue, contributor

on-the-trail-nevadaNORTH LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CFP) — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida campaigned at the Texas Station Hotel and Casino in North Las Vegas prior to Nevada’s “First in the West” Republican Caucus.

Ranking Nevada Republicans joined the presidential hopeful in one of the most definitive signs of establishment encouragement any conservative candidate has enjoyed. With what began with only Lt. Governor Mark Hutchenson, Rubio’s endorsements have increased to include State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, who is running for the U.S. House, and U.S. Senator Dean Heller.

Rubio campaigns in North Las Vegas

Rubio campaigns in North Las Vegas

This event was the first for Heller as a Rubio supporter, as he initially endorsed Jeb Bush. While conceding, “others could attest it took (him) a little bit longer” to join the Rubio campaign, Heller still proclaimed “this is Marco Country we are in today.”

Heller noted that Rubio’s diverse range of legislative endorsements makes his campaign distinct: “There’s a reason why Marco Rubio gets the support of his colleagues in Washington D.C.” because he “is the real deal America needs.”

Upon arriving on stage, Rubio welcomed supporters who have “been with us for so long” and “others (like Heller) who have come on out team in the past few days.”

Expressing confidence in his standing in Nevada, Rubio focused on the viability of Democratic candidates and the gravity of the 2016 election, which he framed as deciding “what kind of country will America be in the 21st century.”

The two possibilities Rubio offered were a country in decline or a country that reaches new heights. Espousing the latter, Rubio pledged to unify the party through new conservatism.

Forecasting defeat if the party is divided entering the autumn, Rubio said he is the only candidate able to unite the GOP. Recognizing that “there are not enough of us,” Rubio shared his plan to expand and grow his “conservative movement.”

Rubio extolled free enterprise as “the greatest economic system” and the only way to help people who have been told for decades that Republicans do not care about them. He said free enterprise seeks to make “poor people richer without making rich people poorer.”

Rubio also pledged that if elected, he would wage a “real war on terror,” based on honesty and intelligence. Expressing dedication to members of the American military and their families, Rubio committed himself to providing for veterans and also said anyone who lied to grieving military families is disqualified from holding office as commander-in-chief.

Rubio, who spent part of his childhood living in Las Vegas, said the experience helped his family “discover the American dream” and helped him learn that many Americans are only a “generation or two removed” from people who immigrated into the United State and sacrificed for the current generation to seize modern opportunities.

“The time has come for this generation to do its part,” he said.

On The Trail: Ted Cruz takes small government message to New Hampshire

Texas senator is in a close race for second place in the Granite State’s GOP primary

♦By Patrick Scanlan, contributor

on-the-trail-new-hampshireNORTH CONWAY, New Hampshire (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been braving the cold New Hampshire weather in hopes of scoring support for his presidential bid from those fed up with the federal government and “establishment politics.”

In North Conway, Cruz met with about 100 supporters packed into historic Zeb’s General Store on January 19. Outside the store, supporters braving the cold held signs that read, “Join the NH Rebellion, Stop the Corruption,” and “Secure Our Border.”


Ted Cruz campaigns in New Hampshire

“We are here because our constitutional rights are threatened every day,” Cruz said, citing what he called infringements on First and Second Amendment rights. He also lamented the size of the current federal government, including “the alphabet soup of agencies that have been killing small business.”

Cruz promised to “repeal every word of Obamacare,” and “keep the government from getting between us and our doctors,” while also pursuing an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

The group, which is the nation’s largest abortion provider, came under fire from Cruz and other conservatives after uncover videos emerged showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing procurement of fetal tissue.

Though Cruz called for decreases in government healthcare regulation, he stressed the importance of “honoring the commitments made to every soldier, sailor and marine.”

While speaking about foreign policy issues, Cruz pledged that during his first day in office he will “rip to shreds the catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal,” so that “under no circumstances will Iran be able to acquire nuclear weapons.” He also spent time addressing the threat of ISIS to the United States.

“We need a commander-in-chief who will say to the world, ‘We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will destroy ISIS.’ If we stand as one and defend freedom and Judeo-Christian values, we will restore the last best hope for mankind.”

While making his case to the New Hampshire voters, Cruz also embraced his role as a outsider who is disliked by the Washington establishment.

“If you see a candidate that Washington embraces, run and hide,” he said.

Recent polling in New Hampshire shows Cruz battling for second place with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, well behind Donald Trump.

On The Trail: Candidates troop to Concord to file for New Hampshire primary

Southerners Graham, Rubio and Cruz among the candidates filing for February 9 ballot

♦By Patrick Scanlan, contributor

on-the-trail-new-hampshireCONCORD, New Hampshire (CFP) — Presidential candidates have been spending important time in New Hampshire over the past two weeks, passing through the Secretary of State’s office to file for candidacy and secure a spot on the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary ballot. The filing period attracts unknown underdogs and current poll leaders alike, who will all share equal space on the New Hampshire ballot.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in New Hampshire

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in New Hampshire

The majority of candidates filing, including U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida, expressed support for keeping the New Hampshire primary first in the national nominating calendar, allowing any U.S. citizen the ability to run for president and set the tone for the rest of the election.

Graham called the retail politics of the Granite State “an antidote to big money.”

“This is the last place where you can break through without being rich,” Graham said. He said that increasingly, the modern political process, with an emphasis on national polls and use of social media, is changing the way candidates run for president.

“The way you become heard now is not going to house parties and town halls, it’s whatever you need to say or do to get your national polling up,” he said.

Cruz said that “if our first elections were decided by large states, they would all be decided by slick Hollywood TV ads” and the winners “would just be whoever spends the most money.”

Cruz also took time to talk about larger issues. He stressed the importance of uniting conservatives with “common sense conservative values” and cited his previous record of standing up to Washington and big government, especially dealing with complex current issues such as immigration.

“If the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton are both advocates of amnesty, millions of working men and women will say, ‘To heck with all of you, you’re a bunch of corrupt Washington cronies, and I ain’t showing up,” Cruz said.

During his tour through the State House in Concord, Rubio defended himself over recent headlines related to the controversy of his use of a Florida GOP credit card for personal expenses, which he said was being drummed up by his political opponents.

“Those aren’t public documents, guys. Those are documents that were leaked by the chairman of the Republican Party, who was supporting my opponents,” Rubio said.

“The main issue in this election is moving forward and understanding the challenges before American and the challenges before our people,” he said.

The New Hampshire primary is February 9.

On The Trail: Jeb Bush touts ability to “disrupt the old order” during stop in Nevada

Former Florida governor meets voters at a college in Las Vegas

♦By Andy Donahue, contributor

on-the-trail-nevadaLAS VEGAS (CFP) — In one of his final public appearances before drastically rearranging his presidential campaign, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush visited the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas on October 21, saying his experience as governor of Florida shows he has the ability to “disrupt the old order.”

Jeb Bush campaigns in Nevada.

Jeb Bush campaigns in Nevada.

Bush recalled an experience while campaigning for governor of Florida in which he spent four days living with the family of a disabled child that was dependent on a state program. In light of that immersive experience, he requested permission from a judge to work with the legislature when the same program was about to be taken over by the federal government.

Bush credited this assertive action for making his state one of the national “models for the developmentally disabled” and said it was an example of how as “a consistent conservative … taking care of the most vulnerable in or society should be a core value for this country” and “shift power away from Washington.”

Bush also talked about a young woman he met in 2014 who grew up in difficult circumstances but found success with support from a Christian school funded by Florida’s school voucher program, one of the largest in the country. He said implementing the voucher program took a “lot of fighting” to overcome the opposition of teachers’ unions, but it enabled the woman to become the first member of her family to graduate from college.

“Don’t let anyone tell you children can’t learn,” Bush said. “Your precinct, your zip code, the level of income of your family should not create the destiny of your life.”

Bush also recalled a campaign visit to Colorado during which he met with Latino business owners worried about the survival of their “because of Obamacare” and “confusion and uncertainty of regulation.” He said the Obama administration was making things worse by imposing new regulations, citing specifically new EPA measures intended to lower the nation’s carbon footprint.

Bush said a 10 percent reduction in America’s carbon footprint was not the result of “anything government does but because of the revolution of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.” He said shifting industrial oversight from regulators to innovators could boost annual economic growth could from 2 percent to 4 percent.

The former governor also said he supported a consumer-directed health care system that allows patients to pick doctors, clinics and hospitals with low premiums and higher deductibles for catastrophic coverage. This will “tear down the barriers of innovation,” he said.

Bush also said as president, he would strive to “make legal immigration easier than illegal immigration” so that people will “come out of the shadows.” Specific measures he will take include introducing a guest worker program and an expedited process for so-called Dreamers, children brought to the United States illegally who grew up here.

He said there has been “political motivation to keep this (immigration) as a wedge issue,” but he believes that effort “has run out of gas.”

Bush also commended Nevada’s program of education savings accounts, which he saluted as “incredibly ambitious.”

“It is one of a kind in the country, it is very provocative, it’s bold. It’s the kind of reform you seldom see anymore,” Bush said.

Nevada will hold its presidential caucuses on February 23, 2016, with 30 delegates at stake. It is the fourth event in the 2016 primary calendar–after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina–and the first test of strength in the West.

On The Trail: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio returns to his childhood roots in Nevada

The Florida senator takes his Republican presidential campaign to the Silver State, where he lived as a child

♦By Andy Donohue, contributor

on-the-trail-nevadaLAS VEGAS (CFP)– Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio returned to his roots as he brought his presidential campaign to Nevada.

Rubio, who was born in Miami, spent part of his childhood in Las Vegas before his family returned to Florida when he was a teenager The venue for his address to the LIBRE Forum, a Latino libertarian group, was St. Christopher’s Catholic School, where Rubio was once a student.


U.S. Senator Marco Rubio campaigns in Nevada.

Recalling his upbringing in Las Vegas, Rubio noted how passing neighborhood pool reminded him that he “learned how to swim in the desert.” This narrative quickly transitioned to his Cuban immigrants parents’ efforts as emblematic of a greater American endeavor.

America is special because “people that will never be rich are successful and able to achieve happiness … if we lose that we are not special anymore,” Rubio said. He added that preserving America as a “country where that opportunity is available to people” is lawmakers’ foremost responsibility.

Inadequate economic expansion aggravated by overregulation inhibits opportunities for working Americans to be happy and successful, Rubio said. Government policies “have not allowed this economy to grow fast enough and create better paying jobs,” he said.

The solutions Rubio is proposing include increasing open and flexible pathways through college and decreasing the amount borrowed “for degrees that do not lead to jobs.” Rubio himself graduated from college with more than $100,000 in debt, which he would not have been able to pay back had he not written a successful book. Rubio quipped that the book is now available in paperback.

The senator used his Cuban roots to make a comparison between the results of centralized and free economies, challenging the audience to “go anywhere in the world where the government dominates the economy” only to see “it is the same families and companies every generation after every generation” controlling power and wealth.

Nevada holds its Republican precinct caucuses February 23, making the state the first early test of strength in the West.

Rubio has built a vibrant state level organization that has enabled him to make political gains in Nevada over the past six months. Early in the year, Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison committed to lead Silver State efforts for Rubio, and he now has one of the most robust state organizations among the GOP contenders.

To engage Nevada voters, the Rubio campaign has developed a social media presence, using “Social Media Super Delegates” such as state Senator Patricia Farley, to engage voters and heighten his profile.

Rubio’s background in Nevada also includes ties to the Mormon Church, which he and his family attended when he lived in Las Vegas. Politico reported in September on his efforts to leverage those ties as he competes for Mormon voters in Nevada, who are influential in state politics in both parties.

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