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Jumbled GOP field hopes for survival in South Carolina

Hoping for survival in the South, a muddled field of Republican presidential contenders descended Wednesday on South Carolina, no closer to clarity about who can stand between Donald Trump and their party’s nomination.

Not me, Carly Fiorina announced, dropping out of the campaign. A Chris Christie spokeswoman said his race was over, too. But a sizeable field remained.

To the dismay of party leaders, all signs point to a drawn-out battle for delegates following Trump’s resounding victory in New Hampshire. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, under immense pressure to prove himself after a devastating fifth-place finish, was looking for a fight that could last for months or even spill into the first contested GOP national convention since 1976.

“We very easily could be looking at May — or the convention,” Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan told The Associated Press.

If Trump had Republicans on edge, Democrats were feeling no less queasy.

Rejected in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton sought redemption in Nevada, where a more diverse group of voters awaited her and Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, a Vermont senator and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, raised $5 million-plus in less than a day after his New Hampshire triumph. The contributions came mostly in small-dollar amounts, his campaign said, illustrating the resources he’ll have to fight Clinton to a bitter end.

Both Clinton and Sanders — the first Jew to win a presidential primary — worked to undercut each other among African-Americans and Hispanics with less than two weeks until the Democratic contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders met for breakfast in Harlem with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist. Clinton, meanwhile, announced plans to campaign with the mother of Sandra Bland, whose death while in police custody became a symbol of racial tensions. And Clinton’s campaign deployed South Carolina state Rep. Todd Rutherford to vouch for her support for minorities.

“Secretary Clinton has been involved in South Carolina for the last 40 years,” Rutherford said. “Bernie Sanders has talked about these issues for the last 40 days.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand and victor in the leadoff Iowa caucuses, returned to the center of the fracas after largely sitting out New Hampshire. He drew contrasts with Trump as he told a crowd of 500 in Myrtle Beach that Texans and South Carolinians are more alike than not.

“We love God, we’re gun owners, military veterans and we’re fed up with what’s happening in Washington,” Cruz said.

Almost all the Republicans have spent months building complex campaigns and blanketing airwaves in South Carolina, which heralds the start of the GOP campaign’s foray into the South. After that primary on Feb. 20, seven Southern states including Georgia and Virginia will anchor the Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, with oodles of delegates at stake.

The state, with its array of conservative GOP voters, will test Trump and the others in new ways. Having courted social conservatives in Iowa and moderates in New Hampshire, the candidates face an electorate infused with evangelical, pro-business and military-minded flavors.

Rubio’s campaign has looked forward to the state. Yet his path grew far trickier after a fifth-place New Hampshire letdown, which terminated talk of Republican leaders quickly uniting behind him as the strongest alternative to “outsiders” Trump and Cruz.

His campaign’s suggestion that the race could veer a contested convention seemed to signal to mainstream Republicans that the party would be ill-served by allowing the Trump phenomenon to last much longer. GOP officials have already had early discussions about such a July scenario, which could be triggered if no candidate secures a majority of delegates by convention time.

For Gov. John Kasich, whose second-place showing was New Hampshire’s primary stunner, the task was to convert newfound interest into support in a state ideologically distant from his native Ohio. With a minimal South Carolina operation compared to his rivals, Kasich must work quickly.

Seeking votes at a local business in Charleston, Kasich worked to burnish his reputation as a results-oriented leader.

“If you don’t go to the gym, you get flabby,” Kasich said. “And if the country doesn’t solve its problems, it gets flabby.”

Heading into the final two-week sprint, Trump was leading in South Carolina among all demographic groups, an NBC/Marist/Wall Street Journal poll showed, with Cruz and Rubio a distant second and third. Already, more than $32 million has been spent on TV ads here, according to CMAG/Kantar Media data — much of it by Right to Rise, the PAC backing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Though he placed fourth on Tuesday, Bush was hoping that Rubio’s slump would forestall his own ouster from the race. After a rally in Bluffton, he said voters in New Hampshire “pushed the pause button” on anointing any candidate — and turned to his brother, George W. Bush, for help. His campaign debuted a new ad featuring the former president, who plans to campaign in the Palmetto State.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Chris Christie ends 2016 White House bid

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican nomination for president on Wednesday, a day after his disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire’s primary.

Campaign spokeswoman Samantha Smith said Christie told staff at his campaign headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, late Wednesday afternoon, and was calling donors and other supporters.

Christie on Tuesday night told supporters he was heading home to New Jersey to “take a deep breath,” await the final tally of results from New Hampshire, and decide what to do next. He said he was leaving New Hampshire “without an ounce of regret,” but spoke of his campaign in the past tense at one point and canceled a Wednesday event in next-to-vote South Carolina.

Christie dropped out of the race the same day that Carly Fiorina announced on social media that she, too, was calling it quits. The former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard won just 4 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Christie had 7 percent.

Christie had been banking on a strong finish in New Hampshire and spent more than 70 days campaigning in the state, holding well-received town halls and meet-and-greets.

Tuesday’s result, though, appeared to be the final blow for a candidate whose campaign saw glimmers of hope at times, but had trouble from the get-go raising money and building support in a crowded Republican field dominated by another brash East Coaster, businessman Donald Trump.

While Trump posed a challenge to the entire Republican field, his dominance seemed especially damaging to Christie, who had branded himself the “telling it like it is” candidate.

When he returns home to finish his second term as governor, Christie will face a slew of unsolved problems and rock-bottom approval ratings from residents who, polls show, feel he neglected New Jersey to pursue his national ambitions.

Christie racked up a long list of notable endorsements from state legislative leaders in New Hampshire. At the end of 2015, he appeared to be breaking into the top tier after a video of him discussing a friend’s struggle with drug addiction went viral.

The terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, in particular, played to Christie’s advantage, allowing him to talk about his previous job as a U.S. attorney and play up his law-and-order credentials. And a commanding performance during the final GOP debate before the New Hampshire primary earned him strong reviews.

But with a field filled with numerous other options, including current and former governors and senators, Christie never consolidated support, despite being praised by both fans and rivals as one of the Republican Party’s best communicators.

Christie may have missed a better chance at the White House four years ago, when some of his party’s most powerful statesmen and donors begged him to run in 2012. But Christie declined, saying that he didn’t feel ready.

Christie’s aggressive political team worked to rack up endorsements and wide victory margins in his re-election bid for governor as a springboard for 2016. At the same time, his aides took their game of doling out political favors and punishments too far, leading to one of the most dumbfounding political scandals in recent memory. Aides purposely created traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee to punish the mayor, who chose not to endorse Christie’s re-election.

While Christie first laughed off the suggestion that his team had anything to do with the plot, the denials quickly unraveled following the release of emails, including one from a top aide that read, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Three people have been indicted in the scheme, including a former high school classmate of the governor who has pleaded guilty and is working with federal prosecutors.

Other Republicans who have left the race include South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Carly Fiorina suspends her presidential campaign

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has suspended her presidential campaign, a day after she finished seventh in the GOP presidential pack in New Hampshire, getting a little over 4 percent of the vote.

“This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said in a statement released at 3 p.m. EST. “Election after election, the same empty promises are made, and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”

Fiorina also finished seventh in last week’s Iowa caucuses and has struggled in the polls since entering the contest last year.

She failed to qualify for last week’s Fox News debate in New Hampshire receiving more votes than John Kasich and Chris Christie in Iowa. The exclusion caused her to call on the Republican National Committee to fix its “broken” debate process.

Her biggest moment in the campaign happened after her appearance in the first “kiddie’s table” debate last August, where her impressive debate performance compelled CNN to change its criteria for who would get into its main Sept. 16 debate at the Reagan Library in Southern California.

She never polled much higher than about 5 percent, though.

Fiorina may not be the only candidate to depart the race after New Hampshire. Multiple news reports have surfaced saying that New Jersey Governor Christie will also suspend his presidential campaign later Wednesday.

Here’s Fiorina’s statement.

“This campaign was always about citizenship — taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

“Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish. We must fix our festering problems by holding our bloated, inept government bureaucracy accountable. Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.

“To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.

“As I have said to the many wonderful Americans I have met throughout this campaign, a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others. I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.”

Marco Rubio adds “long list of accomplishments” in state House to campaign website

In the aftermath of his disappointing fifth place finish on Tuesday night in New Hampshire,  the Marco Rubio campaign has realized it must confront the growing concerns about his candidacy.

Although much has been made about how rattled he became during Saturday night’s debate after a verbal takedown by Chris Christie, questions about his qualifications to be president also grew to a new level in New Hampshire.

After Rubio-surrogate Rick Santorum stumbled on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked to identify Rubio’s accomplishments in his political career, campaigns for both Christie and Jeb Bush employed the clip in devastating ads that ran during the weekend in the Granite State.

Apparently, Team Rubio realizes that vulnerability because a new post has appeared on the campaign’s website: “Marco Had a Long Record of Accomplishment in the Florida House.”

The section refers to how as House Speaker in 2006-2007 Rubio “balanced the budget without raising taxes,” and passed budgets with less spending than then-Gov. Charlie Crist or the Florida Senate wanted.

It lists his 100 percent ratings from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as a quote from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist saying Rubio was “the most pro-taxpayer legislative leader in the country.”

When he was House Speaker, Rubio published a book called “100 Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future.” The site lists how he was able to implement some of those ideas during his tenure, including those on eminent domain, higher education, K-12 education, crime, small government and government transparency, and executive power.

During his Senate campaign in 2009, Rubio said 57 of the 100 ideas had become law. PoliFact Florida called that comment “Half True,” claiming that only 24 of them had became law.

The Rubio campaigning is also urging supporters to re-tweet this statement, “Many people know about @marcorubio’s leadership in the U.S. Senate, but do you know about his Fla. House work.”

Marco Rubio promises supporters he’ll do better as campaign moves to South Carolina

Marco Rubio vows that he will never allow what happened to him in Saturday night’s GOP debate to happen again.

“I want you to understand something,” he told the crowd of disappointed supporters at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire, Tuesday night. “Our disappointment tonight is not on you; it’s on me. It is on me. I did not do well on Saturday night – listen to this: That will never happen again. That will never happen again.”

His vow is to not falter in his campaign as he did under a verbal assault he received at the hands of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the GOP debate in Manchester.

“Let me tell you why it will never happen again,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about this campaign, it is about this election. It’s about what’s at stake in this election.”

Christie blasted Rubio for his lack of experience during the debate, and Rubio failed to respond, instead repeatedly reciting his criticisms about Barack Obama.

In the days after the debate, he tripled down on those comments, saying he didn’t understand why the media was making such a big issue about it and continued his anti-Obama mantra.

He dropped the facade Tuesday night, after he finished a disappointing fifth in the race, behind not only Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but John Kasich and Jeb Bush as well.

He did, however, best Christie, who appears now to be considering dropping out of the race.

Rubio’s nationally televised gaffe may have affected the race: 65 percent of GOP voters said they were influenced by Saturday night’s debate. Also, ABC News found nearly half of Republican primary voters saying they’d made their final decision in just the past few days. Only 20 percent of Democratic voters reported being late deciders.

The question now: Is Rubio’s campaign fatally wounded?

That remains to be seen. You can watch Rubio’s concession speech here.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.10.16 — GOP is still looking for its establishment candidate

So much for “Marcomentum.”

Eight days ago, the national media, with some justification, was spreading the word that Marco Rubio was the unexpected star of the Iowa caucus, despite the fact that he received fewer votes than Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Rubio began rising in the polls in New Hampshire, and it seemed that the battle of the governors (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich) was all about who would come in third, and live to continue their campaign.

That didn’t happen.

Rubio finished fifth in New Hampshire Tuesday night, not only behind Trump and Cruz again, but also behind John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

So now who is the Republican Party establishment going to rally around to stop the Trump machine?

Based on last night, it perhaps should be Kasich, who Democrats have always acknowledged would be a formidable general election candidate, if he could somehow survive a very conservative GOP primary season. Kasich isn’t really getting all that much love from the punditry, however, not like Rubio did last week. He should, though. For months Kasich, Bush and Christie had decided to put all their chips into the Granite State, and it was the Ohio governor who came out on top with a solid second-place finish with nearly 16 percent of the vote.

Trump received 34 percent in winning, but Kasich deserves credit; he got more votes than the other two governors who were his rivals. Pundits are dismissing it, however, saying that he can’t win in the South. Well, maybe not South Carolina, but Kasich does have solid conservative credentials, despite what Bush and his Super PAC was telling N.H. voters.

Although he’s not being mentioned that often Wednesday, Cruz’ third-place finish is impressive, since N.H. didn’t seem to be a state that was ever going to favor him. He certainly will be a major contender in the Southern states.

Bush and his minions are selling his fourth place finish as a comeback, which is smart. Bush is performing well as a candidate, and it will be fascinating to see whether he can break through the Trump insurgency in South Carolina.

It looks like Christie is done, and purely for entertainment sake that’s a sad development. The New Jersey governor has definitely made this campaign more entertaining, and his takedown of Rubio on Saturday night will never be forgotten by political junkies. However, the numbers simply weren’t there for him Tuesday night.

And Rubio? It was a great first step to admitting in his concession speech last night that he failed under the Klieg lights on Saturday evening. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech last night, we all fall at some point in life. It’s all about getting back up.

Meanwhile, how freaked out is the Democratic Party establishment about the utter rejection that Clinton received Tuesday? Judging by some of her surrogates, not very. They continue to say that Bernie Sanders is a limited candidate, and I agree that he has got to get his act together regarding foreign policy.

However it’s so obvious that he seems genuine to Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he’s got momentum (and money) going into the Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states.

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that Trump’s victory is proof positive that extremist elements have infiltrated the GOP mainstream.

Joe Gruters, Trump’s Florida chairman, says his smashing victory is an overwhelming rebuke to the GOP establishment.

WMUR/CNN poll says nearly a third of NH Republicans still undecided

The final WMUR-CNN poll in New Hampshire shows that New York City businessman Donald Trump continues to hold a major lead and will be the likely victor Tuesday night.

The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, shows Trump up with 31 percent support. Marco Rubio is second with 17 percent, and Ted Cruz is third with 14 percent.

Next up is John Kasich with 10 percent, Jeb Bush is fifth at 7 percent, Carly Fiorina is at 5 percent, Chris Christie has 4 percent and Ben Carson has 3 percent.

The poll shows that only 46 percent of likely Republican voters have definitely decided who they will vote for, while 24 percent are leaning toward a candidate and 31 percent are still trying to decide.

UNH polling director Andrew Smith says likely voters were asked who they would support if the election were today. The percentages for the candidates include those who are leaning toward supporting each candidate, even though they may not have made a final, definite decision on who they will vote for Tuesday.

As a result, 31 percent of Republican primary voters have not made a final decision about who they will support on primary day, while 7 percent of Republican voters could not say who they would vote for if the election were held today.

The poll also showed that independent voters are split on which ballot they will take on primary day, with 46 percent saying they will vote Republican and 47 percent saying they will vote Democratic.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center of 326 New Hampshire residents who said they plan to vote in the Republican primary. It was conducted Thursday through Monday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.8.16 – Can Marco Rubio rise above ruckus?

Good morning from Nashua, New Hampshire, where snow is expected to hit New England again later Monday.

We want to get a run in before things get uglier out there, so let’s right to the point after a full weekend of campaigning.

Can Marco survive the Christie pummeling?

Let’s face it: Unless every poll out there is wrong, Donald Trump is going to win the New Hampshire GOP primary Tuesday night. There’s never been much doubt about that.

But who comes in second?

For most of the past week, it was Rubio Rising. The Florida junior senator’s stock had gone up exponentially after his solid third-place finish last week in Iowa, a finish just a few thousand votes shy of challenging Trump for second behind Ted Cruz.

But after he received the “Full Jersey” assault from Chris Christie at the  Saturday night debate, the question is: Was it serious enough for those voters who were leaning Rubio to go in a different direction? I’d say it could be.

Rubio doubled down on his comments at his first post-debate town hall Sunday in Londonderry.

Meanwhile, The New York Times lead story on Monday is how Bill Clinton blasted Bernie Sanders on Sunday at a relatively obscure campaign stop. As the Times Jonathan Martin reports, with so many other events happening across the state, there were only a handful of reporters around to catch the quotes.

John Kasich has certainly run the most positive, upbeat campaign of any of the GOP candidates. Will it be enough to allow him to break through in New Hampshire?

Donald Trump is coming to Tampa 7 p.m. Friday at the USF Sun Dome with free tickets  available.

Can John Kasich’s positive campaign bring success in New Hampshire?

Like his two fellow governors who are running for the Republican Party nomination for president, New Hampshire is a do-or-die state for Ohio Gov. John Kasich this Tuesday.

Though winning seems out of the picture, a solid placing in the top three at least is crucial for Kasich, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, which is why all three have placed so much time and investment in the Granite State.

Unlike Bush and Christie, Kasich hasn’t spent much time at all in trying to run down Marco Rubio. Could his more positive form of campaigning turn the trick in a state whose residents say they dislike negative ads and prefer retail politics?

“I think it’s about the resilience of voters,” Kasich told reporters in front of his campaign bus after appearing at a town hall at Nashua Community College in Nashua. “I think that if we come out of here and do well, people are going to say, ‘Wow. He was positive. He never went after anybody and he did really well.'”

Kasich says his campaign has been fundamentally positive, and says if it ends up working, it could show that there’s been a serious change with the electorate. “Maybe they are fed up with negative, and they want to find out what  you’re for. At least I’m hopeful that’ll be the case.”

Kasich received the best reviews this cycle for his Saturday night debate performance. He said he’s been frustrated by the debates during the past six months, often because there are simply far too many candidates on stage to make a a real impression in a sound-bite setting.

“I would so much like us to change the format, to go to a town hall format, where we can really have an in-depth conversation, ” he said, acknowledging that he has found a certain groove in the smaller field.

Unlike every other Republican running, Kasich never criticizes his fellow candidates, and only on occasion says anything critical about President Barack Obama, something that seems de rigeur to win the nomination. Toward the end of the town hall, a woman stated before posing her question that she thanked him for running such a positive campaign, saying it was “very refreshing” as the crowd erupted with applause.

“I want to say to all the campaigns: Why don’t you all take down your negative ads and tell people what you want for the next 48 hours and let people decide,” he responded. “Take all the nonsense down.”

Kasich has been the recipient of negative ads produced by Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC and another unidentified group that calls him too liberal to be the nominee. One ad saying he’s bad for New Hampshire has been effective, based on what I’ve learned this past week.

Last week Kasich won the endorsement from The New York Times for the GOP nomination, which led to mocking from conservative quarters. Kasich joked that while some may be critical of that designation, “They all showed up to get it, I happened to get it and they went ‘awww, that’s bad.'”

The Times wrote that “Kasich is no moderate,” noting how he’s gone after public-sector unions, fought to limit abortion rights, and opposes same-sex marriage. However, they also noted how he’s “capable of compromise and believes in the ability of government to improve lives.”

“We have to have people operating as Americans, and not as Democrats and Republicans,” he told the crowd. “That just doesn’t work for our country.”

Speaking of the Times, Kasich noted the front-page story in Sunday’s edition about Bernie Sanders. The story reported that despite mounting evidence of trouble at the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 when he was the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, Sanders initially regarded the complaints as overblown.

Prefacing his remarks that it wasn’t meant to be an attack on the Vermont senator who is leading in the polls in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Kasich said Sanders obviously loves “big government.”

“He thinks it’s great. I think that big isn’t good, whether it’s government, unions, or business, I don’t like anything big,” Kasich said. “You know why he rejected it? Because he thinks that government can no harm. OK, that’s a legitimate position. It just happens to be a dead-wrong position.”

The Real Clear Politics average of polls in New Hampshire currently places Kasich in third place, 3 points below Rubio and just above Ted Cruz. Obviously, anything can happen by the time the polls close Tuesday evening.

Marco Rubio plays it cagey during first post-debate town hall in NH

Perhaps it was because the promised pancake breakfast was canceled or that he was a half-hour late, but Marco Rubio‘s first appearance before New Hampshire voters was flat compared to other events in the Granite State the past week.

Speaking less than 12 hours after his worst debate performance as a presidential candidate,  Florida’s junior senator quickly remarked on the elephant in the room as he took the stage a little past 10 a.m. That, of course, was his stunningly bizarre repeated responses – about Barack Obama knowing exactly what he is doing to the country – to a hammering from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Rubio said everyone has been criticizing him for saying the same thing three or four times in a row, but he doubled down in Londonderry, saying, “I’m going to say them again.”

A substantial crowd gathered to see Rubio, who had been on the ascendancy since his second-place finish in Iowa last week. The few folks FloridaPolitics.com spoke with said they thought too much was being made about his flub.

“I think the media is trying to make a little more hype of it,” said Nashua resident Jennifer Maurhoff. “They’re looking for a big story. ‘Oh, he did so bad,’ because he did so well in Iowa, and I don’t think that’s fair.” She said the average undecided voter may not have been watching a two-and-a-half hour debate on a Saturday night, and thought coverage focusing on the Christie exchange was a poor representation of the entire evening.

A Londonderry Republican named Jack who supports Rubio said he was “ganged up on” because of his impressive performance in the Iowa caucus. However, he didn’t sugarcoat what happened to his favorite candidate Saturday night.

“Marco probably did not have his best debate, but if you take it all in total with the prior debates, I think it’s all positive,” he said.

“I think Christie had a lot of great points, but he messed up, too,” said Robert Carley from New London, Connecticut. He mentioned Christie’s decision not return to the Garden State when it was rocked by a major snowstorm two weeks ago, a moment that Rubio hit him with during the debate. Carley said that he’s a born-again Christian, and likes how religious Rubio appears to be. He also said he hadn’t made up his mind among Rubio, Christie and Donald Trump.

Despite the pounding Rubio has taken the press in the past 24 hours, Team Rubio is staying on message, including the candidate boasting to George Stephanopolous earlier on ABC: “We raised more money last night in the first hour that debate than any other debate.”

Among Rubio’s biggest critics is the liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, which issued a statement after the debate lambasting Rubio for his robotic responses:

“The Rubiobot got stuck on repeat, offering nothing but canned talking points, and still had no answer when challenged on his lack of accomplishments and failure to show up for work. He needed a big night tonight, but a system glitch had him short-circuiting.”

Two members of the group created crude costumes and stood outside the entrance of Londonderry Middle School event calling themselves “Marco Roboto.”

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