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Texas senator is in a close race for second place in the Granite State’s GOP primary
♦By Patrick Scanlan, Chickenfriedpolitics.com contributor
NORTH 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.”
“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.
Graham’s decision opens up political space for the February 20 South Carolina primary
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CFP) — Mired in single digits in the polls and relegated to the undercard in the Republican debates, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has ended his bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
But Graham, who made national security and the battle against ISIS the centerpiece of his White House run, said his campaign has changed the conversation within the Republican field on those issues, pushing the party toward a more hawkish stance.
“I got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party,” he said in a YouTube video posted December 22 announcing his departure. “I believe we made enormous progress in this effort.”
Graham said most the Republican candidates have come around to his thinking on one issue in particular–the need to use American ground forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Graham’s departure allows him to take his name off the ballot for the South Carolina primary, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing defeat in his home state.
South Carolina will hold its pivotal presidential primary on February 20, less than two weeks after the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. The vote in the Palmetto State will be the first test of strength in the South.
After his withdrawal announcement, Graham told CNN that he has no plans to endorse any of the other candidates in the field. However, his departure could free up Graham supporters in South Carolina to sign on with other candidates.
During the campaign, Graham has been a strong critic of GOP front-runner Donald Trump, which could give him a strong incentive to back another candidate who could defeat the real-estate magnate.
Graham, 60, won his third term in the Senate in 2014. He is one of the Senate’s strongest hawks on military and national security issues, but he has also run afoul of some conservatives in his party for supporting immigration reform and crossing the aisle to make bi-partisan deals with Democrats.
The remaining Southern GOP candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.
Former Texas governor says “no room” for “nativist appeals” in GOP race
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ST. LOUIS (CFP) — Four months before the first vote is cast, former Texas Governor Rick Perry has suspended his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination — but not before taking a veiled blast at front-runner Donald Trump over his negative comments about Latino immigrants.
“We cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further,” Perry said, without mentioning Trump by name. “There is no room for debate that denigrates certain people based on their heritage or their origin.”
“We can secure the border of this country and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric … Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ.”
Perry, who has languished near the bottom of the polls in the crowded GOP field, announced the end of his campaign September 11 in an appearance before the Eagle Forum, a conservative women’s group. The decision to drop out came after news reports that his campaign no longer had enough money to pay staff.
Saying “some things have become clear to me,” Perry went on to laud what he termed “a tremendous field of candidates.”
“I step aside knowing our party’s in good hands as long as we listen to the grassroots, listen to the cause of conservatism,” he said.
Perry, 65, a former Air Force officer who was a cotton farmer in West Texas before getting into politics, left office in January after serving 14 years as governor, the longest tenure in the state’s history.
This was his second try for the White House. He ran in 2012, entering the campaign as one of the favorites only to see his stock plummet after a series of of gaffes, including a moment in a debate when he could not remember the name of a federal agency he had previously pledged to abolish. He later blamed his faltering performance on lack of preparation and the aftereffects of back surgery.
Perry had hoped for political redemption in the 2016 race, but his candidacy never caught fire in the polls. He was one of the most outspoken critics of Trump, particularly over his assertions that many illegal migrants from Mexico were criminals.
Perry was one of nine Southern Republicans seeking the nomination. The other candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
The lone Southern seeking the Democratic nomination is former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.
Watch video of Perry’s withdrawal announcement: