Political MoJo

Rubio Makes Fun of Trump for Spelling "Choker" Correctly

| Fri Feb. 26, 2016 2:18 PM EST

At a campaign rally on Friday morning, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida took out his phone and read from Donald Trump's Twitter account, hoping to mock the GOP front-runner. Things did not go according to plan. 

Rubio made fun of Trump's spelling of the word "choker"—except that Trump's tweet, as Rubio read it, spelled the word correctly. "He spelled choker C-H-O-K-E-R," Rubio said. "Chocker."

Trump did misspell the word in an earlier tweet, which he deleted.

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Chris Christie Endorses Donald Trump for President

| Fri Feb. 26, 2016 2:06 PM EST

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced on Friday that he is endorsing Donald Trump for president.

"I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States," Christie said in a joint press conference with Trump by his side. 

"I will lend my support between now and November in every way that I can for Donald, to help make his campaign an even better campaign than it's already been and then to help him do whatever he needs to do to help make the country everything that we want it to be for our children and grandchildren."

Christie dropped out of the presidential race on February 10, after a sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican primary. He told reporters he finalized his decision to endorse the real estate magnate Thursday morning. Among other reasons for backing Trump, Christie said he'd have the best chance to win the general election. "The one person Hillary Clinton does not want to see on that stage come next September is Donald Trump," he said.

"He's been my friend for many years," Trump said of Christie. "He's been a spectacular governor."

This is a breaking news post. We will update as more news becomes available.

Lindsey Graham Just Perfectly Summed Up the 2016 Race: "My Party Has Gone Batshit Crazy"

| Fri Feb. 26, 2016 9:13 AM EST

While Republican presidential candidates continued scream-debating in Houston last night, Sen. Lindsey Graham took a shot at his former challengers with a series of insults that capture the insanity that is the remaining GOP presidential field.

The South Carolina senator, who was speaking at the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner, nailed it with the following jabs:

At one point, Graham donned Donald Trump's trademark "Make America Great Again" cap and sarcastically endorsed the real estate magnate.

We'd say we miss you, Lindsey, but this is the party Republicans built.

Donald Trump Really Doesn't Understand How Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood Works

| Fri Feb. 26, 2016 12:10 AM EST

During Thursday's CNN-Telemundo GOP debate, front-runner Donald Trump strayed from his colleagues on the campaign trail by saying some nice things about Planned Parenthood. 

"Millions and millions of women—cervical cancer, breast cancer—are helped by Planned Parenthood," he said. "So you can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly."

He's made similar points before. "They do some very good work," Trump said of Planned Parenthood on Sunday's Meet the Press. "Cervical cancer, lots of women's issue, women's health issues are taken care of.”

But throughout the campaign, Trump has said—and he reiterated this point at Thursday's debate—that as long as Planned Parenthood continues to provide abortions, he would defund the women's health provider as a show of his pro-life bonafides.

"I would defund it because of the abortion factor, which they say is 3 percent. I don't know what percentage it is," he said at Thursday's debate in Texas. "But I would defund it, because I'm pro-life."

But here's the thing about Trump's pro-life pledge: The federal Hyde Amendment already prohibits the use of federal funding for abortions, except for those performed in cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is at risk. This amendment has been attached to federal appropriations bills regularly since the 1970s. Planned Parenthood receives virtually no federal funds to provide abortions. It's that simple.

 

Cory Booker Takes a Veiled Jab at Bernie Sanders on Prisons

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 8:06 PM EST

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, the only black Democrat in the Senate, took a subtle jab at Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday for ignoring issues affecting African Americans in his own state of Vermont.

Campaigning for Hillary Clinton at a black church in Florence, South Carolina, on Thursday, Booker fired up the crowd with invocations of past violence against African Americas—from "gas and billy clubs" on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to the martyred teenager Emmett Till—while framing Clinton as the only candidate in the race voters could trust to fix the criminal justice system. "If you don't mind all this talk in this campaign about race, I want to get real with y'all for a minute," Booker said. His support for Clinton, he explained to the church audience, was because "she was here when it wasn't election time. I'm here because she was supporting criminal justice reform before it was [popular] to talk about it on the campaign trail."

In case the contrast he was trying to draw wasn't clear, Booker got more specific. "This is not just a South Carolina issue," he said. "I don't care what state you come from. Heck, Vermont! People told me, 'Cory, they don't have black people in Vermont.' I'm sorry to tell you this, there are 50 states; we got black people in every state! That's true!"

He continued, "And the problems of racial disparity did not begin in this campaign. They go deep in every state. Vermont has 1 percent African Americans. But their prison population is 11 percent black! You want to speak about injustice—I see campaigns and candidates running all over this country. Don't you come to my communities, talk about how much you care, talk your passion for criminal justice, and then I don't hear from you after an election. And I didn't hear from you before the election!"

Clinton has focused on winning black voters in counties where she lost big to Barack Obama (including Florence County, where Obama beat her by 42 points), emphasizing Sanders' votes against gun control measures and her friendship with a group of African American women who lost their children to gun violence or in police custody. But her aggressive push on criminal justice is in part defensive; she's been criticized on the left for supporting, among other things, welfare reform and the 1994 crime bill. At a fundraiser in Charleston on Wednesday night, she was confronted by a young black woman about comments she'd made as First Lady in support of the crime bill, alleging that "super-predators" were threatening urban communities. Clinton said on Thursday, "I shouldn't have used those words."

Former Mexican President to Donald Trump: "I'm Not Going to Pay for That Fucking Wall"

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 3:57 PM EST
 
Vincente Fox on Donald Trump

Former Mexican President Vincente Fox to Donald J. Trump: I'm NOT going to pay for that f****g wall."

Posted by Jorge Ramos on Thursday, February 25, 2016

In an interview with Jorge Ramos on Fusion, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said emphatically that if Donald Trump were to be elected to the Oval Office in November and make good on his promise of building a wall along the US-Mexico border, Mexico should not foot the bill, as Trump has suggested.

"I declare: I'm not going to pay for that fucking wall," Fox said. "He should pay for it. He's got the money."

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Former KKK Grand Wizard Urges Followers to Get Off Their "Rear End" and Support Trump

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 2:55 PM EST

David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, added his name to Donald Trump's ever-growing list of racist supporters when he urged listeners of his radio show on Wednesday to volunteer to help elect the real estate magnate to the White House.

"Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage," Duke said.

Duke sought to shame his listeners into mobilizing and getting off their "rear end that's getting fatter and fatter for many of you every day on your chairs."

He stopped short of an official endorsement. "But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action," he said. "I hope he does everything we hope he will do."

While Duke did not detail exactly which of Trump's campaign promises he was referring to, it's safe to assume they include the Republican front-runner's pledges to ban Muslims from entering the United States and to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Duke's call to arms on Wednesday fits squarely into a recent analysis of Trump's base. According to that analysis, 20 percent of his supporters think freeing slaves after the Civil War was a wrong move for the country, and 70 percent would love to see the Confederate flag flying above state grounds again.

The audio clip from Duke's show was first reported by BuzzFeed and can be heard below:

FBI Director Ducks the Most Important Question in the Apple Fight

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 2:00 PM EST

If Apple is forced to help unlock the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, what else can the government make private companies do? Don't ask FBI Director James Comey.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee repeatedly asked Comey that question during a committee hearing on Thursday. It was Comey's first public appearance before Congress since a Los Angeles court ordered Apple last week to help the FBI by writing new code that would bypass security features on Farook's phone. Apple refused, and the battle between the company and the FBI is now major national news.

The fight centers on whether Apple, by complying with the court order to write new code for the FBI's use, would set a precedent allowing the government to request essentially anything from tech companies to aid investigations, whether it was cracking encryption or sneaking surveillance tools into software updates. But when faced with several questions on the topic, Comey pleaded ignorance.

"I think the answer would best come from a technical expert and a good lawyer. I'm neither of those," he said in response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, about the potential limits on the government's powers to demand help from tech companies. Comey is in fact a good lawyer—he received a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1985 and served as deputy attorney general, the second-in-command at the Department of Justice, during the Bush administration.

Another committee member, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), later tried again. "Where does this authority end?" he asked Comey. "Can you paint a very bright line for us with respect to where you think that authority ends?"

"I don't think I can," Comey replied. "I'm really not qualified as someone to give you a good answer to that one." When Himes attempted to clarify, asking if the FBI thought its ability to request help stopped with just Farook's iPhone—a position Comey has taken over the past week—Comey again ducked. "I actually have not thought of it," he told Himes. "The FBI focuses on case and then case and then case."

Comey did acknowledge that the Apple case "would be instructive for other courts," but he argued that the order would be limited because it applied only to an iPhone 5c—the model Farook used—running a specific version of Apple's iOS operating system. Many tech experts disagree with that argument, saying the FBI's request for new code could be demanded for almost any device.

While Comey did not directly address the notion of precedent, some of the FBI's supporters in law enforcement have said publicly that the Apple case could give them the ability to demand that companies provide them access to the phones of criminal suspects for any number of crimes. Apple is currently fighting at least 12 other similar orders for help gaining access to phones held by law enforcement, and Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, a leading advocate for giving government access to encrypted devices, says his office has 175 phones that law enforcement officials want to access.

Clinton Tries to Win Back the Voters Who Abandoned Her Eight Years Ago

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 12:06 PM EST

Barack Obama's last campaign stop of the 2008 South Carolina primary was a five-minute cameo at the "Pink Ice Gala" in Columbia, hosted by Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation's oldest African American sorority. The senator from Illinois was reluctant to attend, the New York Times later reported, but his consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, was insistent. "You want to win, don't you?" she asked. "Well then, you need to go to Pink Ice."

Obama did win South Carolina, and it wasn't because he stopped at Pink Ice. But it was a useful symbol for why he won. Over the final weeks before the primary, college-educated African American women who were supposed to be one of Clinton's core constituencies—former President Bill Clinton had himself courted Alpha Kappa Alpha members months earlier—broke for Obama in large numbers, with 80 percent of black women in the state voting for him over Hillary Clinton.

To state the obvious: Clinton would like to avoid that scenario on Saturday, as she tries to fight off another primary challenge from an underdog senator. With her opponent, Bernie Sanders, spending most of the week campaigning in other states, she hunkered down, sending five African American mothers whose children lost their lives in police custody or to gun violence to speak to church groups in places like Orangeburg County (where she lost by 42 percentage points in 2008) and Sumter (which she lost by 53). She's stumping with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the state's impoverished "corridor of shame" along I-95, and she's booking trips to churches and historically black colleges and universities. Her husband flew in for a last-minute blitz in predominantly white cities.

They don't just want to win; they want to win in a way that shows Sanders can't. So with three days to go before the South's first primary, Clinton did what people who want to win do: She put on the sorority's colors (or a green coat, anyway) and went to talk to some Alphas.

Justice Scalia Reportedly Spent His Final Days in Texas with an "Elite" Hunting Society

| Thu Feb. 25, 2016 11:39 AM EST

Amid the bizarre conspiracy theories that have emerged over Justice Antonin Scalia's death on February 13, the Washington Post is now reporting an even stranger detail surrounding the late justice's death in West Texas.

According to the Post, 79-year-old Scalia was at Cibolo Creek Ranch in the company of 35 other members of an "exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s." The owner of the ranch, John Poindexter, and Scalia's traveling companion are both high-ranking members of the group, the Post reports.

The story, however, does not officially tie Scalia to the Order.

From the Post:

Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto "Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes," which means "Honoring God by honoring His creatures," according to the group's website. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. The Order's name is in honor of Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and fishermen… Poindexter told CultureMap Houston that some of the guests dressed in "traditional European shooting attire for the boxed bird shoot competition" and for the shooting of pheasants and chukar, a type of partridge.

According to the group's website, the fraternity calls itself a "true knightly order in the historical tradition." Read the entire report here.