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Sun Sentinel says it won’t make an endorsement in Republican primary

The Sun Sentinel won’t to endorse in the Republican presidential primary, the newspaper’s editorial revealed this week.

In an editorial posted Friday, the editorial board said it was “not going to make an endorsement in Florida’s March 15 Republican presidential primary because the kind of person who should be running is not in the race.”

“We cannot endorse businessman Donald Trump, hometown Sen. Marco Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz because they are unqualified to be president. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the best of the bunch, but if you measure a candidate by the caliber of his campaign, Kasich’s lack of traction and organization make a vote for him count for little,” the board said in its editorial.

It continued: “We showed our cards a year ago, before the extraordinarily large field of Republican candidates shaped up. We favored the adult in the room, Jeb Bush, a smart, experienced and principled conservative. But the nation wasn’t ready for another Bush, and our former governor wasn’t ready for the anti-establishment edge in today’s Twitter-fueled campaign era.”

Here’s what the newspaper had to say about three of the remaining Republicans in the field:

On Trump: “The presidency is serious business, not reality television. Trump may be entertaining, but he lacks the experience and temperament to be president. He does not deserve your vote.

On Rubio: “Rubio lacks the experience, work ethic and gravitas needed to be president. He has not earned your vote.”

On Cruz: Cruz scares us. “He also should scare Republicans who want to win in November. Cruz has not earned your vote.”

The paper said Kasich would be “a strong candidate in November” if he were to survive the primary. However, the editorial board said while he is “the most qualified of the four candidates left standing, he lacks the presidential presence.”

“Perhaps in a more-rational election year, the Sun Sentinel would endorse John Kasich,” the newspaper said in its editorial. “But we can’t urge you to vote for someone who doesn’t have a chance of winning the nomination.”

Fox gets 16.9 million viewers for GOP debate

The 16.9 million people who saw Fox News Channel’s coverage of the Republican presidential debate on Thursday have made it the fourth most-watched debate in a primary season ever.

The Nielsen company said Friday that’s also the fourth most-watched Republican debate of the 2016 campaign cycle — a testament to the extraordinary interest these events have had for television viewers. The debate stages are getting less crowded, with the Detroit debate featuring Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

It was the 11th Republican debate so far; the Democrats have had six.

The two previous debates on Fox News Channel reached 24 million viewers last August and 12.5 million in January.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Viewer’s Guide: GOP debate about Donald Trump vs. everyone else

And then there were four.

Ben Carson‘s departure from the GOP presidential race means the quartet of remaining Republicans on the debate stage Thursday night get more time for attacks as Donald Trump treads a path to the GOP nomination and his three rivals try to trip him up. Cheered on by many Republican leaders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich are racing the primary clock to March 15, likely their last chance to stop Trump in a series of winner-take-all contests.

Some things to watch Thursday night as the candidates meet at 9 p.m. EST for the Fox News Channel debate in Detroit:

HE WHO WAS NOT NAMED

Love him or loathe him, Trump has taught the poohbahs of the Republican Party what a power grab really is — and he’s done it by winning over large swaths of the GOP’s own core supporters far from Washington. His wobbling over whether to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke finally gave the Republican leaders of Congress a way to go after the billionaire publicly — without uttering Trump’s name. Trump responded by saying House Speaker Paul Ryan would have to get along with a President Trump or pay some sort of “big price.” On the eve of the debate, Ryan’s office confirmed that Trump’s campaign had contacted the speaker’s staff in a first sign of outreach. Notably, Trump has started talking about unifying the GOP. Look for Trump to be asked about the existential rift in the party and how he expects to govern.

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RUBIO, RUDE? TRUMP, TOO?

The Florida senator who once insisted on staying above the scuffling has leapt right into it, emulating Trump’s schoolyard-taunting style.

At campaign events in the past week, Rubio made sometimes crude jokes about everything from Trump’s tan to the size of his hands — he even suggested that the billionaire wet his pants at the last debate. Look for whether a newly confident Rubio, emboldened by his first primary win in Minnesota Tuesday, keeps it up or takes a more statesmanlike approach.

And what to expect from Trump? “I can’t act overly presidential because I’m going to have people attacking from every side. A very good man, Ben Carson’s not there anymore, so now we’re going to have more time for the fighting,” he said. “When people are hitting you from different angles, from all different angles, unfortunately you have to hit back. I would have a very, very presidential demeanor when I win, but until such time, you have to hit back,” he told NBC on Thursday.

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CRUZ’S STAND

Thanks to Rubio’s win Tuesday, Cruz can no longer say he’s the only Republican who has shown he can beat Trump. But he won three states on Super Tuesday — Alaska, Oklahoma and his home state of Texas. And the delegate math shows that Cruz is emerging as the candidate who might stop Trump. Look for some confidence from Cruz, because on Super Tuesday alone he came close to Trump. For the night, Trump won at least 237 delegates and Cruz won at least 209. Rubio was a distant third with at least 94.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who a week earlier joked at a dinner about killing Cruz, acknowledged on CBS that the Texas senator might be the party’s best hope to beat Trump.

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KASICH, STILL

The debate setting is likely most helpful to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is looking for a strong showing in Michigan in the state’s March 8 contest, to survive.

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FOX AND TRUMP, FRENEMIES

Trump has uttered barely a peep about the fact that Fox News Channel is hosting the debate, and that his sometime-nemesis Megyn Kelly, is one of the moderators.

This is a marked change from the upheaval that led to Trump boycotting Fox’s debate just before the leadoff Iowa caucuses. Trump had demanded that Kelly be removed; Fox refused and Trump headed a few miles away to host his own event.

He later said that could have been one of the reasons he lost Iowa to Cruz.

Trump has not tweeted about Kelly in weeks. In an interview with the Associated Press this week, Kelly said she thinks Trump has more confidence now.

“He knows he can handle me. He can handle any interviewer,” she said.

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TRUMP UNIVERSITY

How good is a degree from Trump University? “Worthless” — as are his promises — according to former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Romney will brand the billionaire businessman as “a phony, a fraud” in a Salt Lake City speech on Thursday, as party of a push by GOP establishment figures to paint the billionaire as unfit to represent the party. Trump should have a few things to say about it. He already started slugging on Thursday morning, saying that Romney “begged” him for his endorsement four years ago, and called him a “failed candidate.”

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REMEMBER BEN CARSON?

Kelly said he wouldn’t have gotten much attention even if he had stuck around for the debate. Fox will concentrate its questions on Trump, Cruz and Marco Rubio — making for potentially awkward moments for Kasich.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump cemented as 2016 leaders

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, emboldened by commanding victories Tuesday across large swaths of the country, are beginning to focus on each other in the race for the White House.

Clinton previewed a “love and kindness” message while Trump traded his typical rollicking rallies for a sober media conference where he pressed his case that Clinton is a proven failure as a longtime politician.

Both spoke from Florida, where the general election is often won or lost. That wasn’t one of the dozen states that weighed in on a day known as Super Tuesday because it’s the busiest of the 2016 primary season.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won his home state, Oklahoma and Alaska, buttressing his out-of-the-gate win in the Iowa caucuses a month ago, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio notched his first victory, in Minnesota.
“Our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat, and that will beat Donald Trump,” Cruz thundered to supporters gathered at the wood-paneled Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas.

Still, he’d been counting on more appeal in the Southern states and among evangelical Christian voters. Trump, who dubs his surging campaign the “Trump Train,” has derailed those plans.

Rubio and the other Republicans still in the race, John Kasich and Ben Carson, struggled Tuesday to convey optimism even as they vowed to fight on.

Simple math reinforces a bind for the Republicans who reject Trump, as the brash billionaire businessman carried seven states and continues to barrel toward the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination.

Trump won at least 203 delegates Tuesday. Cruz collected at least 144 delegates and Rubio picked up at least 71. Overall, Trump leads with 285 delegates; Cruz has 161, Rubio has 87, Kasich has 25 and Carson has eight. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination.

Increasingly, leading Republicans talk of a contested convention in July as their best remaining option for stopping Trump, whose divisive rhetoric about immigrants and ethnic and religious groups has some fearing a GOP wipeout in November.

Like Cruz, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was victorious in his home state.

He also picked up victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado, and he assured supporters he’d take his fight to “every one” of the remaining contests. With a staggering $42 million raised in February alone, Sanders has the campaign cash to do just that — though Clinton is well on her way to the 2,383 delegates needed on the Democratic side.

Tuesday’s results left little doubt as to the front-runners in the race.

Clinton collected wins in seven states, and Trump swept up victories in seven, including Virginia, another important general election battleground.

She is assured of winning at least 457 of the 865 delegates at stake Tuesday. Sanders will gain at least 286. When including party leaders, Clinton has at least 1,005 delegates, and Sanders has at least 373.

Clinton held on to older voters and strongly prevailed among Hispanics and African-Americans, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research. Trump, a political newcomer, pulled in two-thirds of voters looking to install an outsider in the White House, while GOP voters seeking an experienced candidate were split between Rubio and Cruz, both first-term senators.

Speaking from his gold-flecked Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump asserted that his candidacy is a “movement” and that he is expanding the Republican Party even as many of its leaders have distanced themselves from him.

A moment after Trump professed to have good relationships with his party’s elite; he issued a warning to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had declared earlier Tuesday that “this party does not prey on people’s prejudices.” Trump said that if the two don’t get along, Ryan is “going to have to pay a big price.”

One way Trump claimed he would unify the party was by training his fire on Clinton.

He said she should be disqualified from even running for office because she broke from government protocol by using a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton tried to turn Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan on its head, saying the country instead must be made “whole again.”

“What we need in America today is more love and kindness,” she said. “Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment.”

Trump ridiculed her comments. “She’s been there for so long,” he said. “If she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years.”

Rubio said his supporters would never rally around Trump. He and Kasich showed little sign of relenting, especially with their home states of Florida and Ohio voting on March 15.

“We are so excited about what lies ahead for our campaign,” Rubio said at his Tuesday night rally in Miami, his hometown. “You see, just five days ago we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner in this race.”

He portrayed his attacks on Trump as having an impact already, though that wasn’t evident in Super Tuesday’s results.

“Two weeks from tonight right here in Florida,” Rubio said, “we are going to send a message loud and clear: The party of Lincoln and Reagan will never be held by a con artist.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio scrambling to catch Donald Trump ahead of Super Tuesday

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio continue to swing at Donald Trump ahead of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries that could help the Republican front-runner expand his delegate lead in an increasingly caustic nomination fight.

From Rubio mocking “Hair Force One” to Cruz dismissing Trump’s wealth as a result of “picking the right Daddy” and suggesting the billionaire has business ties to the Mafia, the two first-term senators have unleashed a personal and policy-based barrage. And they’re using the Sunday talk show circuit to warn that nominating Trump would be catastrophic for the party in November and beyond.

“We’re about to lose the conservative movement to someone who’s not a conservative and (lose) the party of Lincoln and Reagan to a con artist,” Rubio said Sunday on Fox News.

Trump, for his part, relishes his position, mocking the Republican establishment and his flailing rivals ahead of a glut of Tuesday primaries that offer up almost a quarter of the GOP’s total delegate count.

“It’s amazing what’s going on,” he told NBC, calling his campaign a “movement.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton received another burst of momentum Saturday after her lopsided victory in South Carolina, fueled by an 84-16 advantage among African-Americans, a key Democratic constituency that will also play a dominant role in several Super Tuesday states.

“We got decimated, that’s what happened,” Sanders said on ABC, though he promised to continue his campaign against what he describes as a political and economic oligarchy.

On CNN, Trump explained his own brand of populism. “I’m representing a lot of anger out there,” he said on CNN. “We’re not angry people, but we’re angry at the way this country’s being run (and) angry at the way the Republican Party is being run.”

Trump also rejected calls from Rubio — who he repeatedly referred to Sunday as “Little Marco” — and Cruz to release his tax returns, saying he can’t share returns that are under IRS audit. The senators on Saturday released summary pages of several years’ worth of their personal returns. Trump says he’s already shared his personal financial details in separate disclosure forms.

“You can’t tell much from tax returns” anyway, Trump said on CNN.

Trump sidestepped questions about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke this week urging his followers that a vote against Trump is a “treason to you heritage.”

Asked whether he wanted to explicitly reject Duke’s backing, Trump said, “I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Separately, Cruz warned conservatives that the “Trump train” could become “unstoppable” if he rolls to big victories Tuesday. Cruz cast Trump as a carbon copy of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and suggested that not even Trump “knows what he would do” as president.

Tuesday, Cruz said, “is a battle to determine where conservatives go.”

Rubio added on CBS that Trump “is trying to pull off the biggest scam in American political history.”

Still, Cruz confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper that he “will support the Republican nominee, period, the end.” Rubio has recently sidestepped questions about whether he would support Trump, insisting that the first-time candidate will not win the nomination.

The line-up Tuesday includes several Southern states that form the core of Cruz’s desired path to the nomination, but he finds himself trailing Trump everywhere but his home state of Texas. Rubio does not lead anywhere, leaving the two senators mostly to scramble for second-place finishes and as many delegates as possible.

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life both in life and in politics and we’re going to do well. We’re going to pick up a lot of delegates,” Rubio said on CBS. “We’re going to be in as many states as it takes to ensure that I’m the nominee.”

Both Rubio and a fourth candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are looking ahead to home state primaries on March 15. Kasich admitted Sunday on NBC that “if I don’t win Ohio, then, you know, ballgame over.”

Among Democrats, South Carolina was a moment for Clinton to wipe away bitter memories of her loss to Barack Obama there eight years ago. She won the support of nearly 9 in 10 black voters, crucial Democratic backers who had abandoned her for Obama in 2008. Clinton picked up most of South Carolina’s 53 delegates, winning 39 to Sanders’ 14.

Sanders, expecting defeat on Saturday, left the state before voting finished and turned his attention to states outside the South that vote in next Tuesday’s contests.

On ABC, Sanders noted that he still garnered strong support from voters under the age of 30, and he predicted he would fare better overall in Super Tuesday states like Minnesota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and his native Vermont. All have much whiter electorates than South Carolina and other Southern states that vote in March.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

PPP poll: Donald Trump holds 20-point lead over Marco Rubio in Florida

Donald Trump is dominating Marco Rubio in a new poll of likely Republican Florida primary voters.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday night, Trump holds a 20-point lead over Rubio. Trump leads the Republican pack with 45 percent in the Sunshine State, followed by Rubio at 25 percent. Ted Cruz is at 10 percent, followed by John Kasich at 8 percent and Ben Carson at 5 percent.

Trump dominates in a head-to-head match up with Rubio. In a two-man race, Trump leads Rubio 52 percent to 38 percent. Rubio would win over voters who supported Cruz, Kasich and Carson; but Trump would maintain a double-digit win over Rubio.

Florida has the most delegates at stake in the March 15 winner-take-all primary. Rubio has said several times he thinks he can win his home state. During an appearance on the Today Show on Friday morning, he said: “We are going to win Florida.”

“We’re not behind by double digits in Florida. Those polls that they’re doing, that you’re citing are wrong. Not only do we have our own numbers, but I know my state,” he told Today Show hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. “We’re going to win Florida, and we’re going to do well on Super Tuesday.”

The Public Policy Polling survey comes one day after two Florida polls showed Rubio trailed Trump in the Sunshine State. A Quinnipiac University Poll showed Trump with a double-digit lead over the Florida senator; while an Associated Industries of Florida survey showed a much narrower margin between the two men.

There may be room for movement in the polls. Thirty-six percent of respondents said it was possible they would change their mind before the March 15 primary.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 464 likely Republican primary voters in Florida on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. The Republican poll has a margin of error of 4.6 percent.

AIF poll shows Donald Trump leads Marco Rubio by small margin

Don’t call Florida for Donald Trump quite yet.

Trump continues to lead in Florida, but that margin is shrinking, according to a new Associated Industries of Florida survey of likely Republican primary voters. Trump leads the GOP field with 34 percent, followed by Marco Rubio with 27 percent. Ted Cruz rounds out the Top 3 with 17 percent.

The survey found Rubio is the most well liked among the top three Republican hopefuls. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Rubio. Of those, 20 percent stated that they had a very favorable opinion of the Florida senator. Nine percent of respondents said they had a very unfavorable opinion of Rubio.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Trump; while 51 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Cruz.

That margin separating Trump and Rubio paints a much different picture of the race from the Quinnipiac University Poll released earlier Thursday. In that survey, Trump leads the Republican pack with 44 percent compared to Rubio’s 28 percent.

On Wednesday, Rubio told CBS This Morning that he will “win in Florida.”

Florida’s winner-take-all primary is on March 15. Millions of Floridians requested vote-by-mail ballots, and thousands of votes have already been cast.

The poll found Ben Carson and John Kasich tied with 5 percent support. It also found 12 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The Associated Industries of Florida poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday evening. The poll surveyed 600 likely Republican primary voters and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Donald Trump 44%, Marco Rubo 28%, according to Quinnipiac poll of Florida GOP primary

Donald Trump is clobbering Marco Rubio in Florida, according to a new poll of likely Republican voters.

A Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday showed Trump has a commanding lead over Florida’s native son. The survey showed Trump led the GOP field with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Rubio with 28 percent of the ballot.

On Wednesday, Rubio told CBS This Morning anchors he believed he could win his home state.

“Well, we’ll win in Florida now that Gov. Bush is no longer in the race,” the Florida senator told CBS News’ Gayle King. “Him and I split a lot of the support in Florida, so that will help us.”

Jeb Bush suspended his campaign on Saturday after a poor showing in three early primary states. In the days since his announcement, many of his Florida supporters have thrown their support behind Rubio.

“Florida is the single biggest prize of the primary season because it is the largest state to allocate delegates on a winner-take-all basis. If Sen. Rubio can’t win in his own home state, it is difficult to see how he can win elsewhere,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll in a statement Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 705 likely Florida Republican primary voters from Feb. 21 through Feb. 24. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

The poll Floridians want the Republican nominee to be a strong leader, with 32 percent of respondents saying that was the most important quality; while 23 percent said honesty.

Among likely Republican primary voters in the Sunshine State who wanted a candidate with strong leadership qualities, 66 percent picked Trump; while 16 percent picked Rubio. The men are tied at 30 percent among voters who wanted a candidate who is honest.

The poll found 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters who said they supported a candidate said they might change their mind before the March 15 election.

The poll could signal trouble for Rubio. The Florida senator hasn’t won a nominating contest yet, placing second in the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus. He came in third in Iowa; and came in fifth in New Hampshire.

The Quinnipiac University survey is the first poll of Florida primary voters in about a month, and all of the recent polls showed Trump with a commanding lead. The new poll found Ted Cruz was in third place with 12 percent, followed by John Kasich at 7 percent and Ben Carson at 4 percent.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich all face must-wins in home states

In their efforts to derail Donald Trump from the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are all facing enormous pressure in their home state primaries, which account for about a fourth of the delegates up for grabs in the next three weeks.

Failure to defend their turf could leave each explaining what states they can win going forward — and make the New York billionaire look all the more inevitable.

After Trump’s impressive win in Nevada, the presidential race now shifts to Super Tuesday, featuring 11 largely Southern states, including Texas, with 155 GOP delegates. Those delegates will be awarded proportionally. On March 15 will come primaries in Florida, with 99 delegates, and Ohio with 66, and they are winner take all.

If no one can dent Trump’s advantage by then, the race for the nomination may be all but over. But home states have buoyed candidates in the past. Four years ago, eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney used his native Michigan to quash a surprisingly stout challenge from Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia and neighboring South Carolina but did little elsewhere.

Of the trio with looming home-state primaries, Cruz may be in the strongest position. “I wanna say, I cannot wait to get home to the great state of Texas,” Cruz said Tuesday night after losing in Nevada to Trump. “Tonight, I’ll sleep in my bed for the first time in a month.”

But Cruz will have to win more than just Texas on Tuesday if he doesn’t want to be looking up at Trump in the delegate count.

Kasich and Rubio, meanwhile, may be battling for many of the same votes from traditional Republicans uneasy with the bombastic Trump and the firebrand conservative Cruz. As long as both remain in the race, they could continue to split the establishment bloc. And they’ll have to run Tuesday’s gauntlet before they can even reach must-wins at home.

The home-state jockeying is underway.

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FLORIDA

Current and former members of Congress from Florida who had been backing Jeb Bush signed on with Rubio this week after the ex-governor left the race. That’s not to say Rubio’s a slam dunk in his state.

Trump is the only Republican still in the race who had an obvious campaign presence in Florida — office space and paid employees on the ground — as of late last month. Trump is a part-time resident. Bush also was building a Florida operation and some of that may flow to Rubio.

“Now that Jeb is out of the race, that helps Marco tremendously,” said Marcelo Llorente, a former Republican legislator in Florida who knows both men well.

Cruz strategist Jason Johnson released a memo arguing that if Rubio’s hopes are built around winning Florida, that won’t work because almost half of the delegates needed to win the nomination will have been awarded by then. “That’s an even less plausible path to victory than Mayor Rudy Giuliani‘s ‘wait for Florida’ strategy in 2008,” Johnson said, referring to Giuliani’s short-lived presidential run. But Johnson’s argument presumes Rubio won’t do well Super Tuesday.

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TEXAS

The Texas senator has spent more time in the South than his rivals and built networks of supporters he hopes can not only help him in Texas but also nearby states. That approach did not work in South Carolina, the only Southern state where it has been tested.

Cruz has for years been considered his state’s most popular politician and Gov. Greg Abbott is his friend, mentor and ex-boss — although Abbott has so far held off making a presidential endorsement.

Cruz also has the backing of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, along with nearly one-fourth of the Republicans representing Texas in Congress and about half of the Republicans in the state Legislature. He’s also built a strong ground game, boasting 27,000 volunteers, but a similarly strong organization didn’t spell victory in South Carolina.

Texas may not have a decisive winner, unless the top candidate can get a majority of the votes cast statewide and in each congressional district. Otherwise, delegates will be awarded proportionally based on full-state results and results in each district.

The only campaign or outside group advertising in Texas so far supports Rubio. Ads by the Conservative Solutions PAC tag Cruz as “calculated, underhanded.” Still, polls suggest Cruz is the favorite.

“He’s a native-son candidate,” GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak said. “Support for him is very strong.”

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OHIO

Kasich is looking to the Midwest and Michigan’s March 8 primary to help carry him through to his neighboring home state a week later. His bid for the nomination is already a longshot and whatever viability he might have now surely would vanish if he faltered in Ohio.

A new Quinnipiac survey has Kasich lagging Trump but within 5 percentage points of him, marking progress for the governor.

Kasich brushes off any notion he may not win his state. “The last thing I’m worried about is how we’ll do in Ohio,” he said Tuesday.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.22.16 — Marco Rubio’s narrow pathway

Sorry, GOP Establishment, but Ben Carson and John Kasich aren’t shutting down their campaigns.

Those rallying around Marco Rubio Monday morning are hoping they would, two days after Donald Trump‘s decisive victory Saturday night in South Carolina forced Jeb Bush out of the race.

Rubio says it’s a three-man race between himself, Trump and Ted Cruz, but he needs to come up with victories soon if he’s going to be a serious challenger to the New York City business mogul.

Kasich has no path to the nomination, says Terry Sullivan, Rubio’s campaign manager. In a memo distributed Sunday, Sullivan wrote, “The path for winning the nomination for John Kasich looks unrealistic given the threshold requirements in most states. With the current state of the race, Kasich is currently not in contention for 81.7 percent of the delegates awarded during the week of March 1st. He hasn’t shown any ability to appeal to voters outside the very small moderate/liberal subset of the Republican primary electorate. He has fewer resources, lower name ID, and less national infrastructure than Jeb Bush, who last night determined there was no path to the nomination.”

Perhaps true, but Kasich actually may have a shot at winning a state or two (obviously Ohio, on March 15), and he presents a distinct brand of Republican leadership that is appealing to center-right voters, those who supported Bush and/or Chris Christie.

Upshot? He ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Actually, Kasich was back in his home state on Sunday to sign a bill prohibiting Ohio from contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions, blocking government funds to Planned Parenthood. According to CNN, Planned Parenthood isn’t explicitly named in the legislation, but the law will prevent more than $1 million in funding from the state health department from going to the nonprofit to fund programs such as HIV testing, health screenings and prevention of violence against women

Kasich also received the backing Sunday of billionaire financier Stanley F. Druckenmiller. So, no, Kasich isn’t departing anytime soon.

And Carson?

Despite his disappointing last place finish in the Palmetto State, the former pediatric surgeon somewhat incredulously told his supporters that “this is only the beginning.”

Say what?

Rubio can only win if the other guys get out. But they’re not. When asked about that at one point his advisers were saying that South Carolina would be the place where he would get his first victory, he said that Trump’s success is because there are so many candidates still in the race, versus the one-on-one matchup in the Democratic primary.

True. But it’s not going to change in the next few weeks, meaning Marco’s chances are very, very slim at this point. However, he is still in it right now.

In other news …

Jeb Bush’s failure this year on the campaign trail marks him as the fourth former Florida governor to strike out when attempting to become president.

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If you like your politics with some controversy, then you have to admit that Alan Grayson did not disappoint at his appearance at the Tiger Bay Club in Tampa on Friday afternoon.

• • •

Tampa’s move to decriminalize possession of weed seems to have freaked out the editorial board over at The Tampa Tribune.

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