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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, 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.
Analysis: Road to the 2016 GOP nomination frontloaded in the South
13 of the 14 Southern states have primaries or caucuses before March 15
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
(CFP) — For the gaggle of candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination, success or failure is likely to hinge on how well they can perform in a primary calendar that is frontloaded with Southern contests.
Between February 20, when South Carolina holds its primary, and March 15, when Florida and North Carolina vote, 13 of the 14 Southern states will hold either primaries or caucuses.
In that three-week stretch, a whopping 824 delegates will be up for grabs in the South, about two-thirds of the 1,237 delegates needed to cinch the nomination. And 471 delegates will be decided on a single day, March 1, when seven Southern states will vote in what is being dubbed the SEC Primary (albeit with a bit of ACC and Big 12 mixed in.)
Having almost all of the Southern states vote early (save West Virginia) is a new wrinkle in this year’s primary calendar that will no doubt add to the region’s clout in the nominating process. So it is perhaps not surprising that nine Southern Republicans decided to run in 2016, with six still in the race (as of this writing.)
While the early states might weed some of them out, the Southern frontloading of the calendar might provide temptation for the also-rans to hang on until they get to more hospitable territory, as there is barely more than a month between New Hampshire and Florida.
However, the last two GOP primary battles argue against the idea that Southerners might be particularly hospitable to Southern candidates. In 2008 and 2010, candidates from outside the South won twice as many Southern contests (16) as candidates from the South (8).
And if the field remains crowded, the rules under which delegates are allocated could leave Southern delegations fractured as the process heads north and west.
Here is how the process generally works: Each state gets a number of delegates who are selected statewide, and it also gets three delegates for each congressional district. The delegates are allocated based on how well a candidate performs across the state and in each congressional district, and the state’s three members of the Republican National Committee are automatically delegates.
In most of the states, there is a threshold percentage that a candidate has to meet before being eligible for statewide or district delegates, ranging from 5 to 20 percent. In a heavily split field, that means that candidates who don’t finish near the top may not get any delegates, but the delegations could be sliced and diced if multiple candidates cross the threshold.
In five states, candidates who win more than 50 percent of the vote statewide or in a district take all of the delegates; in Tennessee, that threshold is 66 percent. But if the field still remains fractured in mid-March, it is unlikely that any candidate will be able to win an outright majority to sweep most, if not all, of a state’s delegates.
Also, two of the larger states–North Carolina, with 72 delegates, and Virginia, with 49–have no threshold, with all delegates allocated proportionally based on the statewide vote. So no one is likely to sweep either of those states.
The two outliers in this process are South Carolina, which votes Feb. 20, and Florida, which votes March 15. In South Carolina, with 50 total delegates, the statewide winner gets all of the statewide delegates, and the winner of each congressional district receives all three. In Florida, with 99 total delegates, the statewide winner takes everything.
So, for instance, if one of Florida’s two favorite sons in the race–U.S. Senator Marco Rubio or former Governor Jeb Bush–lands in first place by even a single vote, he gets all 99 delegates and the other gets nothing. And if neither of them places first, they will have no Sunshine State support at the convention in Cleveland.
The two biggest prizes in the Southern primary calendar are Florida and Texas, where 155 delegates will be up for grabs on March 1.
While Bush and Rubio will be competing in their home state, only one candidate still in the face hails from Texas–U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. And Texas is one of the states where, if a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the statewide or district vote, he or she gets all of the delegates.
So if Cruz, a favorite son with statewide political roots, could win a majority in Texas, he would need to win a majority in just 19 of the state’s 36 congressional districts in order to match the delegate haul that Rubio or Bush might take out of Florida–an uphill climb in a fractured race, but doable.
The biggest wildcard heading into the Southern primaries is what the region’s all-important block of religious conservatives will do. In 2008, when they coalesced around Mike Huckabee, he won six Southern states; in 2012, when they got behind Rick Santorum, he won four. The South was the best region for both, although it did not work for either of them in the end.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham ends bid for GOP presidential nomination
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.
He is the third Southern Republican presidential candidate to exit the race so far, after former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
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.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ends campaign for GOP presidential nomination
Jindal’s decision comes after he was unable to gain traction in the polls or a place in the top-tier debates
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Saying it was “not my time,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has ended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“We spend a lot of time developing detailed policy papers, and given this crazy, unpredictable election season, clearly there just wasn’t a lot of interest in those policy papers,” Jindal said in a November 17 appearance on Fox News, where he announced he was suspending his campaign.
“Certainly, we thought it would end differently, but the reality is, this is not my time.”
Jindal, 44, whose term as Louisiana’s chief executive ends in January, said he will return to the think tank he founded, America Next, after he leaves office.
When he was elected in 2007, Jindal, a former congressman and official in the George W. Bush administration, was one of America’s youngest governors and was considered to be a rising star in the GOP.
But amid a budget crisis in Baton Rouge, Jindal saw his approval ratings back home plunge, and he was unable to get out of the low single digits in polling of the crowded Republican presidential field.
Jindal had been relegated to the second tier in the first three GOP debates.
Jindal becomes the second Southern Republican to exit the race, joining former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who left in September.
The remaining candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.
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, Chickenfriedpolitics.com contributor
LAS 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.”
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.