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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.”

Marco Rubio, Donald Trump make final pitches on ABC “This Week”

ABC’s “This Week” featured the two GOP New Hampshire front runners, Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (in an exclusive interview), jockeying for position ahead of the Tuesday vote.

ABC, which hosted Saturday night’s final GOP debate before the New Hampshire primary, promised coverage centered on the election.

Trump led off, and clearly, as on “Face the Nation,” had Jeb Bush on the brain.

During the debate, Bush criticized Trump for using eminent domain in Atlantic City in an unsuccessful attempt to seize an elderly woman’s property for a limousine parking lot. Trump defended it as a justifiable use of the process.

“I let the court stand,” Trump said. “We could have gone a different way” and appealed.

Turning to Bush, who in many polls is barely in the top 5, Trump said, “Jeb Bush doesn’t understand what eminent domain means.” He cided the Bush family using “private eminent domain” to secure land for the Texas Rangers stadium.

When show host George Stephanopoulos noted that would have been George H.W. Bush, Trump said that didn’t matter … the equivalent of conflating Donald’s actions with those of his own father years ago.

Trump recycled his claims about the stacked crowd at the Saint Anselm College debate, saying that it “shows how broken the system is” and that the Trump campaign was given 20 tickets.

“Ninety percent gave to various candidates, most to Bush,” Trump said.

Trump cited Rubio, saying, “Why does nobody get any response but Bush” during the debate as proof of his claim.

Rubio, second in most recent New Hamshire polls, escaped any real critique from Trump, who simply said that Florida’s junior senator had a “rough night.”

Rubio had comments more pointed related to Trump, whom he said is “running out of time” to learn foreign policy.

In a previous debate, Rubio said, Trump “didn’t know what the nuclear triad was” and on Saturday while talking North Korea, “the most [Trump] could say was something about China and leverage.”

Rubio also had to talk abortion, in response to a debate exchange.

“Abortion is a human rights issue,” Rubio said. “If Jeb wants to make that political, that’s his right.”

Rubio held to his personal position that an “unborn child has the right to live, irrespective of the circumstances under which the child is conceived,” an umbrella that precludes “crisis pregnancy” scenarios.

Meanwhile, Rubio had an interesting “behind the curtain” style defense of his canned talking points about Barack Obama, which found the senator smacked repeatedly by Chris Christie Saturday night.

“We raised more money last night in the first hour of that debate than any other debate,” Rubio said at the open, and at the close, of that interview.

In a later segment, Hillary Clinton said it’s “sad what Senator Rubio has become in the course of this campaign,” saying he’s “diving as far right as he can.”

Marco Rubio comes under withering criticism in Republican debate

Marco Rubio faced withering criticism of his readiness to be president and his policy depth in the final Republican debate before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other candidates launched an aggressive campaign to slow the Florida senator’s rise.

Rubio’s responded with an uneven performance on Saturday night that could hurt his bid to emerge as an alternative to Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. If anything, his showing gave new hope to Christie, Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, all of whom need strong finishes in New Hampshire to keep their White House bids afloat.

Cruz, the Iowa caucuses winner, also took criticism at the debate for controversial political tactics, with one candidate disparaging him for having “Washington ethics” and being willing to test the campaign’s legal limits.

New Hampshire’s primary could further winnow an already shrinking GOP field or leave the primary muddled. Hard-fought, expensive and far-ranging, the campaign has become a fight for the future of the Republican Party, though the direction the GOP will ultimately take remains deeply uncertain.
Rubio, a first-term senator from Florida, has sought to appeal both to mainstream Republicans and those eager to upend the status quo. But his rivals, particularly Christie, have been blistering in their criticism of what they see as his slim qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief.

“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” Christie said. “You just simply haven’t.”

Christie has built his closing argument around his criticism of Rubio, and he kept up that approach on the debate stage. He accused the senator of being a candidate governed by talking points — then pounced when the senator played into his hands by repeating multiple times what appeared to be a planned response to criticisms about his qualifications.

“That’s what Washington, D.C., does,” Christie said. “The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.”

Rubio wavered in defending his decision to walk away from the sweeping immigration bill he originally backed in the Senate — perhaps the legislation he’s most closely associated with — and said he wouldn’t pursue similar legislation as president.

“We can’t get that legislation passed,” Rubio said of the bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the United States illegally. The senator found his footing later in the debate when outlining his call for more aggressive action to fight the Islamic State and emphasizing his anti-abortion stance.

Cruz was the victor in Iowa, triumphing over billionaire Trump by drawing heavily on the support of evangelical voters. But he’s faced criticism for messages his campaign sent to voters ahead of the caucuses saying rival Ben Carson — another favorite of religious conservatives — was dropping out and urging the retired neurosurgeon’s supporters to back him instead.

Cruz apologized for his campaign’s actions Saturday, but not before Carson jabbed him for having “Washington ethics.”

Those ethics, he said, “say if it’s legal, you do what you do to win.”

Trump was back on the debate stage after skipping the final contest before the Iowa caucuses. After spending the past several days disputing his second-place finish in Iowa, he sought to refocus on the core messages of his campaign, including blocking Muslims from coming to the U.S. and deporting all people in the country illegally, all while maintaining he has the temperament to serve as president.

“When I came out, I hit immigration, I hit it very hard,” Trump said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, the temperament,’ because I talked about illegal immigration.”

Kasich, who has staked his White House hopes on New Hampshire, offered a more moderate view on immigration, though one that’s unpopular with many GOP primary voters. He said that if elected president, he would introduce legislation that would provide a pathway to legalization, though not citizenship, within his first 100 days in office.

The debate began shortly after North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.

Asked how he would respond to North Korea’s provocations, Bush said he would authorize a preemptive strike against such rockets if it was necessary to keep America safe. Cruz demurred, saying he wouldn’t speculate about how he’d handle the situation without a full intelligence briefing. And Trump said he’d rely on China to “quickly and surgically” handle North Korea.

Watch Chris Christie unload on Marco Rubio in NH debate (video)

Chris Christie’s contempt for Marco Rubio was put on full display in the New Jersey Governor’s big moment on the debate stage on Saturday night in Manchester, four days before the New Hampshire primary.

Christie blasted Rubio for never having made a “consequential decision,” and simply not prepared to lead the nation.

“I like Marco Rubio, and he’s a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions,” Christie said.

And that was just the beginning. Let’s just say that nobody is writing that Marco Rubio won this debate.

Watch:

 

Chris Christie warns NH primary could lose place if rivals finish at top

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doubts the future of New Hampshire’s primary if Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio take the three top spots Tuesday.

The Republican presidential candidate, in an aggressive campaign throughout New Hampshire, warns voters about the three leading candidates because they have spent relatively little time in the state.

As the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, New Hampshire voters are steadfastly protective of the state’s status. That could end if Trump, Cruz and Rubio do well on Tuesday.

“If you reward those folks who don’t show up here, there is no reason for New Hampshire to be first,” Christie said.

Although Christie has spent considerably more time in New Hampshire than many of his GOP presidential rivals, but he still polls near the bottom. Speculation is that he’ll fold his campaign if he does poorly in next week’s primary.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

New Jeb Bush ad uses Rick Santorum’s stumble to take shot at Marco Rubio

Jeb Bush is jumping on Rick Santorum’s inability to identify an accomplishment of Marco Rubio, using the footage of in a new television advertisement.

As first reported by CNN, the 60-second spot will start running in New Hampshire on Saturday. The advertisement features clips from Thursday’s interview with Santorum on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” During the interview, Santorum struggles to suggest something Rubio had done during his first term in the Senate.

After showing about 30 seconds of Santorum fumbling through the interview, Sean Hannity is heard interviewing Bush and rattling off a list of his accomplishments during his time in the governor’s mansion.

“I was a reform-minded conservative. I did cut taxes every year. I balanced budgets every year. When I left, there were $9 billion in reserves, we reduced the state government workforce by 13,000,” the former Florida governor is shown saying in the advertisement. “My record, I think, shows the path of what could happen in Washington, D.C.”

The advertisement is the second in as many days using the “Morning Joe” footage. On Thursday, Chris Christie released a 30-second spot based on the interview.

Recent polls show Rubio gaining ground in the Granite State. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll has Rubio in second place in New Hampshire with 17 percent. The survey found Bush was at 9 percent, and Christie was at 4 percent.

New poll puts Marco Rubio at 2nd place in New Hampshire

Marco Rubio is gaining ground in New Hampshire, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.

Among likely Republican primary voters, Rubio is in second place with 17 percent, up 6 points from the Jan. 28 NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. The new survey found Donald Trump continues to lead the Republican field with support from 30 percent of respondents, while 15 percent picked Ted Cruz.

John Kasich leads among the governors with 10 percent, followed by Jeb Bush at 9 percent. Chris Christie is at 4 percent.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found 11 percent of respondents said they might vote differently on primary day. That may bode well for Rubio. Much like in Iowa, Rubio and Cruz are the second-choice favorites in New Hampshire.

According to the survey, 20 percent of likely Republican primary voters said Rubio was their second choice; while 16 percent said Cruz was their second choice.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton, 58 percent to 38 percent. The results haven’t changed much since the last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which had Sanders leading Clinton 57 percent to 38 percent.

The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday.

Mitch Perry Report for 2.5.16 – “An artful smear”

Good morning from Nashua, New Hampshire.

I have to admit that my first thoughts this morning are not what happened at last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but will I make it safely to Manchester this morning to see Sanders.

Folks, it’s snowing pretty hard in southern New Hampshire this morning (7:10 a.m.). I ran around in a parking lot about an hour ago to get a workout in, but the snowflakes are piling up.

This California native and Florida resident for the past 16 years has never driven in snow.

OK, enough of my angst. How about last night’s debate? Clinton took the gloves off, saying she was tired of the “attacks by insinuation and innuendo” against her integrity by Sanders, along with his questioning her credentials with the progressive community because of the financial contributions she’s received from Wall Street.

Clinton made $275,000 in some individual speeches over the past couple of years from Wall Street banks, but she called it a “very artful smear” to insinuate that meant she was beholden to those institutions.

Sanders thought that was a rather harsh assessment. MSNBC used the split screen throughout to show Bernie’s various facial expressions throughout the debate, something that will no doubt be used by the other networks for the remaining three debates scheduled.

Speaking of debates, only Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina won’t be at Saturday night’s GOP debate to be televised by ABC. What gives with that? Gilmore has barely registered this entire cycle, but Fiorina actually received more votes than both Chris Christie and John Kasich in Iowa.

Yet Christie and Kasich will be on the big stage tomorrow night, while Carly will be watching with the rest of us.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson will once again be absent from the campaign trail today. Although Ted Cruz has had to apologize for having his staff pass the word (based on a CNN report) that Carson was quitting the race after Iowa.

Gentle Ben is apparently still in the contest, but trust me – for all intents and purposes, he might as well be out. This is prime time, and he’s been MIA all week.

OK, wish me luck on my commute!

In other news …

Jeb Bush said there’s been too much anger in this GOP presidential race, saying, “We need someone who has a proven record, who has a servant’s heart.”

• • •

In Keane, New Hampshire, on Thursday Chris Christie told a small crowd how he’d go about selecting Supreme Court justices – just in case he gets that opportunity.

• • •

Will Marco Rubio‘s conflicting stances on immigration ultimately hurt his candidacy? One guy who a lot of reporters spoke to on Wednesday thinks so.

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