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Donald Trump holds commanding lead in SC, says new CNN poll

South Carolina Republicans think Donald Trump has the best chance of winning the general election this November, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll.

The survey found 53 percent of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters said Trump had the best chance of winning the general election in November. Nineteen percent of respondents said Ted Cruz had the best chance of winning the general election, while 16 percent said Marco Rubio.

Trump continues to hold a commanding lead in the polls, with 38 percent of likely Republican primary voters saying they were backing Trump in the primary. Cruz was in second with 22 percent, followed by Rubio at 14 percent and Jeb Bush at 10 percent. Ben Carson is at 6 percent, while John Kasich, who placed second in the New Hampshire primary, is at 4 percent.

Fifty-eight percent of Republicans said Trump would be the best person to handle the economy, while 53 percent said he was the best candidate to tackle illegal immigration.

On social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, Cruz came out on top, with 28 percent of Republicans saying he would be the best candidate to deal with the issues.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, 56 percent to 38 percent.

The CNN/ORC International poll was conducted from Wednesday through Monday. Results among likely Republican voters have a margin of error of 5 percent; while the margin of error for results among Democratic primary voters is 6 percent.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton maintain sizable leads in national NBC News tracking poll

Republicans nationwide think Donald Trump will be their party’s nominee, according to a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.

The survey found 56 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters believe Trump will be the eventual Republican nominee; while 22 percent said Ted Cruz would be the nominee. Ten percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters said Marco Rubio would be the nominee.

The New York businessman continues to lead the Republican field with 38 percent support, followed by Cruz at 18 percent and Rubio at 14 percent. Ben Carson is at 8 percent, while John Kasich is at 7 percent. Jeb Bush rounds out the field with 4 percent.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, 50 percent to 40 percent. Sixty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters said they believe Clinton will be their party’s eventual nominee.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey weekly tracking poll was conducted from Feb. 8 through Sunday. The online survey sampled 13,129 adults ages 18 and over; 11,417 of which said they were registered to vote.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.11.16 – Carly and Chris bid adieu to the circus

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina have suspended their presidential campaigns.

This reporter had the chance to see the New Jersey governor (yes, that is the day job he’s pretty much blown off for months) a week ago in Keene, N.H. The fun part about that was how intimate it was: It was a small crowd (maybe too small, an indication of how he was going to perform on Tuesday), but other than a few opening remarks, the 90-minute event was all about him taking questions from the audience.

He was confident, humble, and forthright. When discussing health care, he admitted that he didn’t have a perfect solution, saying nobody did (yes, he wants to repeal the ACA).  He was funny at times, and kind. For those who wanted to see him blow up on someone, that didn’t happen, though he did give the cable networks a 10-second bite when he asked a man what the heck he was talking about (after the man went on for over two minutes without getting to his question).

I think he was a very good candidate, but he was toast before he got into the race. The BridgeGate scandal just stunk to high heaven, and even if he himself wasn’t personally involved, it happened on his watch with some of his top deputies. It reinforced the perceptions that he was a bully who went after his opponents, and it killed him.

However, depending on how this race ends up, his verbal takedown on Marco Rubio will go down in American political history. If Jeb Bush (or John Kasich) ends up somehow capturing the nomination, they’ll owe Christie big-time.

When I went to a GOP presidential cattle call in New Hampshire last April, there were two Republicans who impressed me purely with their presentation skills: Ted Cruz and Fiorina.

She really didn’t have much of a record to run on, frankly, but she was a good political athlete. Her tenure as a businesswoman was checkered, and she got mauled when running for U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer in 2010. So why was she running?

Her verbal skills kept her in the game for awhile. And frankly, she got screwed by ABC last week when she wasn’t allowed into the Saint Anselm College debate in Manchester despite receiving more votes than Bush and Kasich in Iowa. That made no sense, and showed a level of disrespect to her campaign.

They’re both gone. Who’s taking odds on when Ben Carson departs?

In other news …

NARAL pro-choice America is blasting Marco Rubio for his stance on not believing abortion for women, even in the case of rape or incest.

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Rubio says he’s moving on to South Carolina, in the wake of his lousy week in New Hampshire.

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You better believe the Rubio camp is taking seriously the charges that he hasn’t accomplished enough to make him qualified to become the next president. Wednesday his campaign team added this post to their website.

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A proposal to remove Florida’s statue of a Confederate general in the U.S. Capitol advanced in a state House committee Wednesday.

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Jeb Bush wasted no time going after John Kasich, fresh off the Ohio governor’s second-place finish in New Hampshire.

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Hillsborough County PTC head Kyle Cockream says he wants the Legislature to reconsider a proposal in the House that would not mandate that Uber and Lyft drivers have Level 2 background checks, which require getting fingerprinted.

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Pam Bondi is psyched that the U.S. Supreme Court has put a checkdown on President Barack Obama‘s Clean Power Plan.

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And Kevin Beckner had an OK month of fundraising for his race for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts. Democratic incumbent Pat Frank? Not so much.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.5.16 – “An artful smear”

Good morning from Nashua, New Hampshire.

I have to admit that my first thoughts this morning are not what happened at last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but will I make it safely to Manchester this morning to see Sanders.

Folks, it’s snowing pretty hard in southern New Hampshire this morning (7:10 a.m.). I ran around in a parking lot about an hour ago to get a workout in, but the snowflakes are piling up.

This California native and Florida resident for the past 16 years has never driven in snow.

OK, enough of my angst. How about last night’s debate? Clinton took the gloves off, saying she was tired of the “attacks by insinuation and innuendo” against her integrity by Sanders, along with his questioning her credentials with the progressive community because of the financial contributions she’s received from Wall Street.

Clinton made $275,000 in some individual speeches over the past couple of years from Wall Street banks, but she called it a “very artful smear” to insinuate that meant she was beholden to those institutions.

Sanders thought that was a rather harsh assessment. MSNBC used the split screen throughout to show Bernie’s various facial expressions throughout the debate, something that will no doubt be used by the other networks for the remaining three debates scheduled.

Speaking of debates, only Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina won’t be at Saturday night’s GOP debate to be televised by ABC. What gives with that? Gilmore has barely registered this entire cycle, but Fiorina actually received more votes than both Chris Christie and John Kasich in Iowa.

Yet Christie and Kasich will be on the big stage tomorrow night, while Carly will be watching with the rest of us.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson will once again be absent from the campaign trail today. Although Ted Cruz has had to apologize for having his staff pass the word (based on a CNN report) that Carson was quitting the race after Iowa.

Gentle Ben is apparently still in the contest, but trust me – for all intents and purposes, he might as well be out. This is prime time, and he’s been MIA all week.

OK, wish me luck on my commute!

In other news …

Jeb Bush said there’s been too much anger in this GOP presidential race, saying, “We need someone who has a proven record, who has a servant’s heart.”

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In Keane, New Hampshire, on Thursday Chris Christie told a small crowd how he’d go about selecting Supreme Court justices – just in case he gets that opportunity.

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Will Marco Rubio‘s conflicting stances on immigration ultimately hurt his candidacy? One guy who a lot of reporters spoke to on Wednesday thinks so.

Ben Carson downsizing his campaign staff

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is downsizing his campaign staff amid following his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, a spokesman confirms.

Larry Ross gave no details on how many staffers are being laid off or how many will remain, but said the personnel cuts “were made to wisely and prudently position the campaign for the coming months.”

Carson last month accepted the resignation of his finance chairman, Dean Parker, who had been criticized for his spending on salaries and consultants.

Carson’s campaign paid about two dozen staffers during the last three months of 2015, newly released campaign finance records show. Those salaries totaled about $250,000, among the lower end of what campaigns had spent on payroll in recent months.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Carly Fiorina calls debate process “broken” after learning she’s shut out of Saturday night forum

With Rand Paul dropping out of the GOP presidential race, the field is winnowing out.

That doesn’t mean that the rest of the 10-person field gets to stand on one debate stage this Saturday night.

Although ABC, the debate sponsor, says they haven’t yet announced the lineup of candidates, Carly Fiorina says she has learned she won’t be invited – and she’s not pleased about that.

“Our debate process is broken,” the only female Republican candidate writes to Party Chair Reince Priebus and other members of the Republican National Committee. “Networks are making up these debate rules as they go along–not to be able to fit candidates on the stage–but arbitrarily to decide which candidates make for the best TV in their opinion. Now it is time for the RNC to act in the best interest of the Party that it represents.”

Fiorina says she will be the only candidate still in the race not invited on to the stage this Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Fiorina says it’s ridiculous that while she did better in Iowa than some of the other candidates on Monday night, they’ve been invited to the debate, while she has been shunned off the stage.

“To review, we beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say. This campaign has the same number of delegates as Governors Bush and Kasich while Governor Christie has zero. We’re ahead of Dr. Carson in New Hampshire polling. We are 6th in hard dollars raised and have twice the cash on hand as either Governors Christie or Kasich. We are already on the ballot in 32 states, and there is a ground game with paid staff in 12 states.

“Yet, all of these candidates will be invited to the ABC debate. I will not.”

No word yet from the RNC on her statement.

Donald Trump calls for Iowa election do-over

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is accusing rival Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses and is demanding a do-over.

On his official Twitter account Wednesday, Trump said: “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.” He based his claim of fraud largely on developments that had been known for days and had not stopped him from congratulating Cruz on his victory Monday night. The Cruz campaign had no immediate response.

Trump tweeted earlier: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated.”

The inflammatory accusation marked a reversal for Trump, who on Monday night delivered a concession speech thanking Iowans for his second-place finish and congratulating Cruz. On Tuesday night in New Hampshire, he told reporters he was “very happy with what happened in Iowa.”

But by Wednesday, Trump was laying out a list of accusations. He said Cruz had told Iowans that “Trump was strongly in favor of ObamaCare and ‘choice’ – a total lie!” Trump says he would repeal President Obama’s health care law if he’s elected. He used to support abortion rights, but changed.

He pointed to a mailer sent by the Cruz campaign that was headlined “voting violation” and resembled an official notice. The mailer showed recipients their history of voting or not in past caucuses, along with the turnout record of their neighbors, and drew complaints from Iowa’s secretary of state.

And Trump called out Cruz backers for circulating a false rumor Monday night that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race as caucusing was underway.

“Many people voted for Cruz over Carson because of this Cruz fraud,” Trump wrote, suggesting the efforts may have given Cruz a winning edge.

Iowa Rep. Steve King, a national co-chairman of Cruz’s campaign, wrote on Twitter Monday evening: “Looks like (Carson) is out. … Skipping NH & SC is the equivalent of suspending. Too bad this information won’t get to all caucus goers.” Carson has called the comments “dirty tricks.”

Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN on Wednesday that Cruz apologized personally to Carson for the mistake. He said the Cruz team “as a campaign” never alleged Carson was dropping out.

“It may be that some of the surrogates or some of our caucus precinct captains … went too far,” Tyler told CNN. If so, he added, “that was in error, that was wrong.”

Trump’s Twitter reaction to his Iowa showing strayed significantly from his public comments on several morning TV shows Wednesday and at a rally on Tuesday night.

Asked about Cruz at a press conference before the rally, Trump said Cruz had insulted Carson and Iowans but would not say whether he thought the Texas senator had run a dirty campaign.

“I don’t know, I can’t tell you yet,” he said.

But Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was pointed on the matter Wednesday.

“What Senator Cruz did to Ben Carson was a disgrace and an insult to Doctor Carson and the process,” he said. “What Senator Cruz did to the voters of Iowa was also a disgrace in regard to their phony voter violation form. Additionally, they misrepresented Mr. Trump and unfortunately this happens all the time with crooked politicians.”

Asked whether the campaign planned to file a formal complaint, he said: “Wait and see.” Officials from the Iowa Republican Party did not respond immediately to questions about their process for handling complaints like Trump’s.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump says Ted Cruz’s Iowa victory based on fraud

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is taking issue with the results of Monday’s Iowa caucuses, accusing contest winner Ted Cruz of fraud.

In attacks posted on his official Twitter account Wednesday, Trump says “either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.”

A previous tweet posted by the billionaire businessman accused the Cruz campaign of telling Iowa voters that Ben Carson was quitting the race so he could steal Carson votes.

Trump came in second behind Cruz in Monday’s leadoff Iowa caucuses — which he had previously described on Twitter as a “long-shot great finish.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump bashes Ted Cruz as “dishonest” in speech in Milford, N.H.

Milford, New Hampshire –

Because of the sheer ubiquitous cable news coverage he’s enjoyed over the past half-year, there are parts of a Donald Trump speech that are familiar territory, even if their new rants, such as his description about why he boycotted last week’s Fox News debate.

The presumptive GOP front-runner was in Milford, New Hampshire on Tuesday night, giving his second speech since being humbled on Monday evening, when he lost out to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses, despite polls that said that he was the favorite going into the first election of the 2016 presidential cycle.

Trump would get around to Cruz in due time, but he seemed exasperated by what he felt was excessive coverage of the man who finished behind him in Iowa, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

“The headlines said, ‘Trump Comes In Second. He’s humiliated!’ There were 17 people when we started. Now you have 11. I come in second. I’m not humiliated,” he said, as the sympathetic crowd cheered.

“Trump: no good. Rubio: unbelievable night!” he said, mocking the press coverage. “They said, ‘he’s very, very close,’ before noting the actual distance between second and third was over 2,000 votes.

“How come the person that comes in third on many of the networks, is being covered like one of the great victories in the history of politics in this country?” he asked.

Trump later trashed his top rival for the moment — Ted Cruz.

On Tuesday, Cruz issued an apology to Ben Carson after his staff falsely told Iowa caucus goers that Carson planned to quit the race, calling it a “mistake.” Cruz had also been criticized by the Iowa Secretary of State because of a mailer sent out to potential Iowa voters that seemed designed to look like an official notice warning recipients about “low voter turnout in your area.”

Trump trashed Cruz for those actions.

“These are truly dishonest people,” Trump said. “What kind of people do we have running for office?” he asked.

“I think I know why. You know why? Because he’s born in Canada!,” Trump said with expert timing, adding that if the Texas Senator gets the GOP nomination, the Democrats are going to “sue his ass.”

The New York City real estate magnate also couldn’t resist bashing “the legendary”Jeb Bush for his rather pathetic showing on Monday, a sixth-place finish that broke down into paying $2,884 for every vote. Trump said Bush should have just promised every voter a thousand dollars if they voted for him. “He would have won,” he mused.

Introducing Trump was former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who formally endorsed him in his brief speech.

Organizers opened up a second room with a video screen because of the size of the crowd, though there was still plenty of space inside the hall in Milford.

Before the speech, Trump supporters said they weren’t surprised or upset about his loss in Iowa.

“Nobody thought he had a chance, ever,” said Robert Ferry, a resident of Worcester, Massachusetts. “He got into it and fought and fought, and he came in a very respectful second, for a guy who people said he’d never make it and self-destruct, he didn’t.”

Rich Peters, also from Worcester, said if Trump doesn’t get elected this year, “we’re screwed.”

Peters agreed when I asked if he thought that Trump was lacking details in his policy prescriptions. Then he said he read his recently published book, and no longer thinks that.

“His book explains everything,” he said, adding that “it’s probably the finest political book I’ve ever read.”

Peters also likes Ted Cruz, but said even Mike Huckabee (who quit the race after Iowa), saying, “He’d be better than Hillary.”

“We can’t go socialist,” Peters added. “It’s never worked in the world in history,” before saying again how screwed up the country would be if Trump doesn’t win the election.

Des Moines Register poll: Donald Trump captures top spot in Iowa

With two days before the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump leads among likely Republican caucus-goers, according to the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released Saturday.

Trump leads Ted Cruz in Iowa 28 percent to 23 percent. Marco Rubio is in third with 15 percent, followed by Ben Carson with 10 percent and Rand Paul with 5 percent.

Fifty-five percent of likely Republican caucus-goers polled said their minds were made up; 45 percent of respondents said they could still be persuaded.

When asked who their second choice of candidates would be, 20 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers said Rubio, while 17 percent said Cruz.

The poll found 71 percent of Trump supporters said their minds were made up. According to Bloomberg Politics, in the final Iowa Poll before the 2012 GOP caucus, 51 percent said their minds were made up.

Trump’s lead is a reversal from a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll in early January. That poll showed Cruz leading Trump, 25 percent to 22 percent.

Seventy percent of likely Republican caucus-goers said they had a favorable opinion of Rubio; while Jeb Bush was among the most disliked candidates. The survey found 53 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of the former Florida governor.

The Iowa Poll is considered one of the most respected polls. The Iowa-based firm of Selzer & Company was awarded an A-plus rating from the FiveThirtyEight blog.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 45 percent to 42 percent.

The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll was conducted from Jan. 26 to Jan. 29 and has a margin of error 4 percent.

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