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Mitch Perry Report for 2.22.16 – 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.

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

“Marcobots” to continue to dog Marco Rubio on campaign trail

Twenty-five minutes into Saturday night’s Republican presidential primary, Chris Christie went “full Jersey” on Marco Rubio. The New Jersey governor delivered a series of verbal blows that the Florida Senator failed to answer. Instead, Rubio somewhat mechanically repeated his memorized lines attacking President Barack Obama.

“Let’s dispel this notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing,” Rubio said. “He is trying to change this country.” He repeated a variation of that three more times. Critics immediately tagged his response as “robotic.”

Seizing the moment were Kevin McAlister and Eddie Vale, operatives with the liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century. The two improvised costumes to greet reporters and audience members attending Rubio’s first public appearance early Sunday morning in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

On WMNF-FM in Tampa on Thursday, interviewed McAlister beginning by asking him about the pair’s prank.

McAlister: We were in our hotel rooms doing rapid response for American Bridge and came up with this idea to dress in cardboard boxes as robots, so we managed to get to Lowe’s Saturday night right after the debate and stayed up pretty late, until around 1:30 a.m. making these costumes, and we were able to get out to Rubio’s first event Sunday morning.

FP: I got there around 8:15 a.m or so and you guys were already there. What time did you get there?

McAlister: We got there a little before 8. It worked out way better than we thought it would. I think that some of that was just getting into the last three days of the election up in New Hampshire. Reporters were looking for something else to cover and fortunately, we were there with these robot costumes.

FP: I put up my photo on Facebook of you guys immediately. I looked at the New York Daily News homepage at about noon, and the photo of you guys was staring at me. That thing went worldwide. You couldn’t have been expecting that type of coverage.

McAlister: No, not at all. I think it really tapped into what people have been saying about Rubio, even before the debate, that he is just about his talking points. To his credit, he is good at giving the same stump speech over and over again. But I think Chris Christie sort of opened the hole that says that maybe there isn’t much substance behind it.

FP: Now on Tuesday, Election day, all of a sudden you guys were back in the news. There was some footage at a Rubio rally that spread. What happened on Tuesday?

McAlister: So Rubio was going to different polling locations. It was Election Day. And we were there to greet him and make our case again that he’s just another robot. And I guess between staff and volunteers for Rubio, it got a little aggressive. I think it finally hit a chord and they weren’t too happy that we were there. So there was a lot of pushing and shoving. I mean, in any campaign you expect that volunteers and staff are going to try and cover signs and that sort of thing, but it got aggressive. One of the robots was put in a headlock by Rubio’s New Hampshire campaign manager– the director – the chairman. And it just got pretty aggressive. So we took that as a sign that we had actually hit on a nerve with Rubio and his staff. And it was just a little surprising. You hope that a candidate and his staff wouldn’t really get shaken up by Christie and two guys wearing cardboard boxes. For us, it really sort of questioned whether he’s ready to be commander in chief if he can’t handle us.

FP: Well, Chris Christie was a prosecutor, as he was always reminding us, so he can be quite aggressive. Now I know American Bridge – I’ve been getting your releases for a couple of years now. A lot of them are anti-Marco Rubio. Do you go off on other Republican candidates or – what’s the mission that you guys are trying to do during this campaign season?

McAlister: Our general motivation is just exposing Republicans and holding them accountable. We do focus on Rubio, but we’re also focusing on Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. And we do a lot in senate races and governors races and house races, too. So I’m sure that while you’re focused on what we’re doing with Rubio just because of Florida, we are out there doing a lot on other candidates.

FP: We’ve got so many primaries coming up here, of course. Will you guys be out there on the road in the next few weeks and months?

McAlister: Well the funny thing is that Eddie and I actually went down to South Carolina yesterday (Wednesday). We skipped the election coverage in New Hampshire on Tuesday night and took a flight down to South Carolina so we could be at his events down there, and I think we sort of threw off Rubio and his staff that we were actually trailing them. We did have to get back to D.C. to get back to our day jobs after wearing cardboard boxes for several days. We do have plans to keep this narrative up to make sure that everybody knows that criticism of Rubio exists. And between South Carolina nine days from now and Nevada three days later, there are some plans in the works to keep this going.

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

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina have suspended their presidential campaigns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news …

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

• • •

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

• • •

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

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

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

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

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

• • •

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

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.

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