Ted Cruz isn't waiting until next week for the demise of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. The morning after finishing second to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump in three states (Mississippi, Michigan, and Hawaii) and winning a fourth (Idaho), Cruz kicked off the next stretch of the campaign with a rally in Rubio's backyard—Miami—and he did not come in peace.
As many political observers have noted, the Texas senator's pivot toward the Sunshine State is apparently motivated by one impulse: to finish off Rubio. Florida is a winner-take-all state, and Cruz is not seen as a strong bet to beat Trump there. Under conventional calculations, there would not be much reason for Cruz to spend time and resources in the state. But Cruz apparently has another goal in mind: to take away votes from Rubio and crush the Florida senator's last-ditch hopes to win his home state and remain a player in the presidential race.
At the rally, Cruz let his opening act handle most of the knife-work. "Floridians are abandoning Marco Rubio," declared Miami-Dade GOP vice chair Manny Roman, a Cuban American who was censured by his local party committee last year for breaking ranks and endorsing Cruz. He rattled off the results of Tuesday's elections and said, "I'm calling on Marco Rubio, especially after last night, to suspend his campaign and endorse Ted Cruz." The crowd roared with delight.
Then it was Cruz's turn. He boasted of his victory in Idaho, and he told the gathering—which included Rubio's base voters (conservative, Hispanic Miami-Dade County Republicans)—that the man whom they had elected senator six years ago was toast. "There are only two candidates this race that have any plausible path of getting to 1,237 [delegates]," Cruz proclaimed. It was a "clear two-man race," he noted, making his now-familiar case that it's time for the party to unify between the one candidate left who can beat Trump. That is, himself: "It's easy to talk about the party coming together, but talk without action, words without action, are empty."
Cruz announced the presence of a special guest: a former Republican presidential candidate with business experience and a long record of talking about foreign policy. No, it wasn't Mitt Romney, but onetime Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Before dropping out of the race, Fiorina once observed that Cruz was someone who "says whatever he needs to say to get elected." But that has since been forgotten. She was greeted warmly by the Cruz supporters. Talking about last week's Virginia primary, Fiorina said, "I saw my own name on the ballot—it was kind of a thrill. But then I checked the box for Ted Cruz."
Miami-Dade Republicans were likely not waiting for Fiorina to endorse a candidate before deciding how to vote. But with Rubio desperately seeking a miracle win in Florida, Cruz, who lags in third in the polls here, seems determined to make certain Rubio loses—even if that means Trump bags all the state's delegates.
To use a historical analogy, Rubio is Mufasa, desperately clinging to the edge of a cliff to escape the unexpected stampede of wildebeests. And Cruz flew all the way down to Florida…to push him off.
On the campaign trail, Sen. Bernie Sanders often mentions his work as a civil rights activist in the early 1960s, when he was a campus organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). As a leader of the University of Chicago chapter, he led sit-ins to protest racial discrimination at university-owned properties and picketed a Howard Johnson's restaurant.
Now we know a little bit more. L.E.J. Rachell, a researcher with the CORE Project, which is dedicated to collecting and preserving the records of CORE, recently uploaded four documents offering more details about Sanders' involvement with the group. During this period in 1961, UChicago's CORE chapter was sending white and black volunteers to university-owned housing facilities in the neighborhood to determine if the school was honoring its anti-discrimination policy.
The most interesting of the CORE Project documents is a testimonial written by Sanders himself. In it, he details a "test" he conducted of a hotel just off campus. He visited to see if it would rent a room to his older brother, Larry, and the clerk assured him that they would. When UChicago CORE finished its testing, the results were clear—rooms that were available to white students were not available to black students. The next year they launched a series of sit-ins to force the university's hand.
Take a look:
The CORE Project
Here's a testimonial from Wallace Murphy, an African American man who visited the university realty offices to inquire about an apartment rental one week before Sanders' drop-in:
Tim Murphy and Jeremy SchulmanMar. 3, 2016 2:25 PM
On Thursday, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney trashed his party's 2016 front-runner, Donald Trump, as a phony and con artist who is leading the GOP to electoral disaster. And sure, there's some truth to that. But the two formerly pro-choice Northeast Republican businessmen have more in common than they'd like to acknowledge—from their records on immigration to their favorite sport(s) stars to their choice of profanity. Okay, maybe not the last one.
See if you can tell them apart:
Photo credits: Trump: Allen Eyestone/Zuma; Romney: Eric Draper/Zuma
For months, Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has counted on a big performance on Super Tuesday, when delegates were up for grabs in 11 nominating contests. After it racked up a big win in New Hampshire and came away with virtual ties in Iowa and Nevada—and lost disastrously in South Carolina—the senator from Vermont was quick to point out that on March 1, voters "will pick 10 times more pledged delegates on one day than were selected in the four early states so far in this campaign." And on March 1, his campaign got shellacked.
In five Southern states, where African American voters made up a large portion of the electorate, Hillary Clinton left Sanders in the dust. Three days after conceding the South Carolina primary by 48 points, he lost by overwhelming margins in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Arkansas. In Texas, where the majority of Democrats are nonwhite and 252 delegates were at stake, he lost by more than 30 points. Sanders banked heavily on strong performances in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, and Oklahoma, and he was counting on winning at least three of them. (He'd left South Carolina behind last week to campaign with Iron Range workers in Bob Dylan's hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota.) He did win three, along with his home state of Vermont, where just 26 delegates were at stake. But a loss in Massachusetts was a setback, and the enormous margins down South set him way back in the delegate count.
Tuesday's results put Sanders in a difficult position as the campaign shifts into high gear this month, because they challenge the underlying theory of how he can win. The premise of his underdog campaign was that he could score a few early victories and build momentum for states down the road. Once voters in those states saw he was the real deal, the thinking went, they'd give his candidacy a second look. Those early victories were essential to expanding his coalition and, to a lesser degree, to convincing at-large superdelegates to join his side. To put it bluntly: If Sanders can't win a white liberal state like Massachusetts, there aren't too many other states he can.
Things will get worse for Sanders before they get better. Because of the way the primary map is drawn, Clinton's best states—basically, Southern states with high African American populations—will all have voted by the middle of March.After Kansas, Nebraska, and Louisiana vote on Saturday (where the prospects are good, good, and very bad for Sanders, respectively),he'll hit a brutal two-week stretch in which 980 delegates will be awarded in Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Clinton is the clear favorite in almost all of those states.
But while Tuesday's performance might usher in the chorus of Clinton allies calling on him to drop out (as if they needed the excuse), Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, pledged that the campaign would push on to the convention. And he has the means to fight on if he wants. Money, the perennial candidate killer, is not an issue—at least not for now. Sanders raised an absurd $42 million in February—$6 million of it on the Monday after the South Carolina blowout. Because he relies so heavily on small-dollar donors who haven't hit the $2,700limit, he can in theory keep circling back for more money to buy ads and build organizations in every state that comes up. And if he can roll with the punches, he just might make it to the sweet spot of the schedule, a four-week, 15-state stretch that represents his last best shot to turn things around, starting with Idaho, Utah, and Arizona on March 22. If he can't reel off a winning streak then, it'll be over quick.
Sanders seems determined to push forward, but he has given little indication he'll try to replicate the kind of scorched-earth approach his opponent employed against Sen. Barack Obama eight years ago, or that the Republican field is currently employing against Donald Trump. He's not running again in four years, when he'll be 78; he's not angling for a spot on the ticket; and he's made clear he plans to support whomever the Democrats nominate.
Moments after he lost in South Carolina last Saturday, his campaign blasted out yet another fundraising email, this time with a message from the candidate. "When I first decided to run for president," he wrote, "my greatest fear was that if I were to run a poor campaign or did not do well, that it would be a setback not just for me, but for the ideas driving our campaign." It was a glossier version of what he'd told a reporter last March, months before he ever entered the race—that "if I do it, it has to be done well, and that's not just for my ego." He's done all of that and accomplished a great deal, but the math is looking pretty grim.
Hillary Clinton couldn't beat Barack Obama in South Carolina, so she did the next best thing. She worked for him.
The networks declared Clinton the winner of Saturday's South Carolina primary as soon as the polls closed on Saturday night, handing the former secretary of state a crushing victory in a state that her opponent, Bernie Sanders, had tried hard to win over but then mostly ignored in the final week of the race. Eight years after her 29-point loss to Obama here signaled the beginning of the end of her campaign (even if she didn't know it at the time), her victory over the Vermont senator was meant to make a broader statement about her opponent's viability in states that aren't solidly white.
Clinton's most powerful surrogates were the mothers of five African Americans who died in police custody or as a result of gun violence.
Just days away from Super Tuesday, Clinton poured her resources into the South's first primary state, dispatching her husband, Bill, back to the campaign trail. But her most powerful surrogates were the mothers of five African Americans who died in police custody or as a result of gun violence; they spoke to small groups at black churches in counties where Obama had run up some of his biggest margins. Clinton's strategy wasobvious: She won by doing everything she didn't do the last time. Clinton wrapped herself in the legacy of the man who defeated her. She talked relentlessly about gun control and systemic racism. And she tried to ease voters' lingering distrust by couching her message in deeply spiritual overtones here in the heart of the religious left. Hillary Clinton found religion in South Carolina, in the most literal sense.
Introducing the former first lady at a crowded black church in Florence on Thursday, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker mentioned "faith" 16 times in the final 90 seconds of his speech. Clinton picked up right where he left off. "I couldn't help but think about the many, many hours of my life that I have spent in a church like this one," she said.
"Somebody once asked me a long time ago when my husband was president if I was a praying person," she added, drawing a murmur from the crowd. "I said, 'Well, I am, but if you've ever lived in the White House you know you have to be—there's just no alternative to it.'" That got some laughs.
"And I think our country right now needs faithfulness, doesn't it?" said Clinton.
"Yes it does!" shouted an audience member.
The mothers' stops at churches in Holly Hill and Sumter began with prayer and delved into biblical understandings of trial and grief. Lucia McBath, the mother of the slain Florida teen Jordan Davis, told one audience that "we've turned away from God, and that is the reason why we're seeing what's happening in this country."
It helped that Clinton is a Methodist who can recite 1 Corinthians 13 from memory.
It was part of a pattern. A Clinton campaign ad airing in the state in the final week of the primary began with a lingering close-up shot of a church, as Morgan Freeman explains, "Her church taught her to do all the good you can for all the people you can, for as long as you can." A radio ad featured a black pastor who recalled reading his Bible at a bakery when Clinton walked in. "She gently asked me what was I studying," he said. "I said '1 Corinthians 13.' And what happened next, I'll never forget. She said, 'Love is patient, love is kind,' and went on to recite the rest of the verses by heart."
You find the voters where they are, and you speak to them in the language they speak, and in South Carolina, it means you go to a lot of churches. It helped, though, that Clinton is a Methodist who can recite 1 Corinthians 13 from memory, while Bernie Sanders is Jewish and doesn't like to talk about it. It wasn't pernicious, but it was real. On Sunday, Sanders made an unannounced visit, accompanied by former NAACP president Ben Jealous, to the historic Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia. He delivered a version of his stump speech and was greeted politely but unenthusiastically. Three days later, Clinton received a series of ovations at the same church while speaking to a luncheon of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters. She wanted to talk about second chances.
"At a CNN town hall, the poet laureate of South Carolina asked me about forgiveness," Clinton said. "I don't know if any of you were able to see it, but it may have been one of the more important questions I've been asked over the course of this campaign. What, she asked, could we do to try to promote the idea of forgiveness in our country? I told her I couldn't have been standing there without having been forgiven and learning how to forgive over the course of my life."
This time around, Clinton is intimating that her opponent's coalition is too white to win.
Clinton got some amens for that, but her biggest ovation, there and elsewhere, came when she talked about her good friend, President Barack Obama. Eight years ago, after Obama had won the overwhelming majority of African American voters in the state that she'd been counting on as a firewall, she shifted gears, making a protracted but doomed argument that her black opponent couldn't win white working-class voters like she could.
This time around, Clinton is intimating that her opponent's coalition is too white to win. She's casting herself as the natural follow-up to the Obama administration, pledging to back him up 100 percent on whomever he nominates for the Supreme Court and to protect the Affordable Care Act against Republican attacks. "We all worked hard to elect President Barack Obama eight years ago," an African American woman said in a radio ad paid for by Clinton's super-PAC. "We need a president who will build on all that President Obama has done. President Obama trusted Hillary Clinton to be America's secretary of state." Voters seemed to buy that argument; the most common explanation I heard from Obama backers as to why they'd moved to Clinton was the fact that she'd worked with him.
Sanders' campaign had worked for months to chip away at Clinton's lead in the state by exploiting a generational divide, as he had done with great success in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. He courted young, activist-minded African American voters at the state's historically black colleges, and in the final weeks he criticized his opponent's past support for welfare reform and the 1994 crime bill. But he seemed to recognize the long odds.
At Sanders' only South Carolina campaign rally of the week, a team of surrogates, including the rapper Killer Mike, told students at Claflin University, a historically black college, that Clinton had enabled a "genocide" of black youths and had told Black Lives Matter activists to "shut up." Killer Mike reminded them aboutan incident on Wednesday at a Clinton fundraiser in Charleston, where Clinton backers chided a young African American woman who had asked the candidate about her past use of the racially charged term "super-predators." When it was Sanders' turn, he told them that the Clinton administration's welfare reform efforts in the 1990s had doubled the number of Americans living in extreme poverty.
The voters Sanders was seeking were out there. Several I spoke with at Claflin brought up Sanders' embrace of Black Lives Matter and his civil rights activism in the 1960s. Another was leaning toward Sanders because the black academic Cornel West had come to Orangeburg to campaign on his behalf. Everyone wanted to hear more about Sanders' plan to make public universities free. There just weren't enough of those voters. As Sanders and his surrogates talked down the Clinton record and railed against money in politics and mass incarceration, the floor at Claflin was half empty, and the handful of students in the bleachers looked like they were killing time before dinner.
One reason for the poor showing? There was another rally happening across campus, at neighboring South Carolina State University—for Hillary Clinton.