New Hampshire: Sanders Bathes In The Afterglow Of Victory, Unloads on Republicans

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) addressed his rabid crowd of supporters, where he laid out his agenda for America that drastically drags the country towards the left.

He thanked the people of New Hampshire, and congratulated Hillary Clinton and her supporters for a vigorous campaign.

Yet, he also acknowledged the many thousands of his supporters, who worked tirelessly, day and night knocking on doors and making phone calls. He noted that they won because of their energy. Sanders also said that his win sends a message that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy donors and their super PACS.

He noted that his campaign from the outset had no money (and no real organization) in the beginning, but they were going to take on one of the most powerful political machines in the country. Because of a huge turnout, and he channeled his inner Trump by saying “YUGE,” he said we won because we harnessed the energy and the excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed.

Sanders said that what happened tonight, in terms of enthusiasm and an aroused electorate, is what’s going to happen across this country. He reminded his supporters that Democrats and progressives should never forget that they win when voter turnout is high; Republicans win when people are demoralized and voter turnout is low.

He also said this win will send notice to the political establishment of the county, that the American people will not accept a corrupt campaign finance system. We will not bring back huge tax breaks for billionaires–and we cannot allow right-wing Republicans win in November. The people want real change.

In reflecting that change, Sanders took pride in the fact that he doesn’t have a super PAC and he will never have one, which drew loud cheers among the crowd. Sanders added that his campaign’s financial support comes from 3.7 million individual contributions, with an average of $27.

In typical Bernie fashion, he said that America was founded on the principle of fairness, and that it’s not fair that we have such a horrible income inequality problem, where the 20 wealthiest Americans in this country own more wealth than the bottom half in the nation.

Sanders also tried to explain to his detractors that he would pay for his free college initiative by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation. He also said that he is going to stop the practice of mass incarceration, and that it was our moral responsibility to work with other countries to transform our energy system that’s more sustainable and cleaner.

The rest of his address was a red meat buffet for the progressive left. He supported a Medicare for all, single-payer health care system. Sanders said that he would defend the nation responsibly (gee, I hope so), and that he was right to vote against the Iraq War. He stressed that we cannot be the policemen of the world.

On immigration, Sanders proposed fixing it, creating a pathway for citizenship to bring these people out of the shadows. He also voiced his support for abortion rights, and for expanding Social Security so people can live with dignity in retirement. Corporations will also pay their fair share in taxes.

The self-described democratic socialist described his humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York before saying he’s ready to fight in Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond.

Chris Christie "Taking a Breath"; Think Over Campaign

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will be heading back to New Jersey to 'take a deep breath' and figure out the state of his campaign after his sixth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary.

Due to his sixth-place finish, Christie does not qualify for the debate on Saturday in South Carolina.

While this isn't an outright campaign suspension, it's certainly not looking good for the Christie camp.

Hillary: "I Have Some Work To Do With Young People"

Hillary Clinton���s supporters were still cheering her name after her crushing defeat in New Hampshire Tuesday night during her concession speech. Her voice sounded tired and cracked after a week of campaigning in the Granite State.

“I still love New Hampshire and I always will,” she assured voters.

Clinton's progressive opponent Bernie Sanders beat her soundly and quickly in the first Democratic primary of the 2016 race. She congratulated him and immediately switched her focus to the future.

“Now we take this campaign to the entire country,” she continued. “We’re going to fight for every vote and every state.”

One of those is Michigan. She took a brief detour from campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday to travel to Flint and speak to residents who were affected by the lead poisoning crisis.

“The kids I met in Flint were poisoned because their governor wanted to save money,” she fumed.

She is ready to work for people who are angry, yet “hungry for solutions,” she insisted.

She admitted, however, that she has room to improve on certain demographics.

“I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people.”

The millennial vote in New Hampshire went to Sanders overwhelmingly - particularly young women. They chose Sanders by a rate of 82 percent to Clinton's 18 percent. 

In fact, the only demographic she did win was voters who earn over $200,000 or more.

She also pledged to rein in Wall Street – another promise that voters are likely to question

Donald Trump Victory Speech Highlights

"So beautiful," said Donald Trump as he walked on to the stage to give is victory speech in New Hampshire.  

Donald Trump thanked his entire family, those who help and volunteered for his campaign, and ultimately the people of New Hampshire.

Trump went on to highlight the main principles of his campaign and acknowledged the other Republican candidates. 

"I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created," Trump said.  "By the way, we're going to knock the hell of ISIS."

"We don't win with anything," he said.  

To close his speech, Trump emphatically expressed his excitement to start campaigning in South Carolina for the primary held on Saturday, Feb. 20.    

Here's Bernie Sanders, Just Shooting Some Hoops

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) celebrated his victory in the New Hampshire Democratic primary by shooting some hoops in a gym before his speech.

The image was shared on his official Snapchat account @bernie.sanders.

What a time to be alive.

Twitter users were amused by the candidate's unusual victory celebration:

Hillary Clinton Loses Women in New Hampshire

Despite being told by aging feminists and a former secretary of state that a vote for Bernie Sanders was betraying their gender and risking eternal damnation, women in New Hampshire were feeling the Bern on Tuesday night. Sanders won the female vote by seven points, and won men by 31.

At the time of publication, Sanders had a nearly 20-point lead over Clinton in the Granite State. In the Iowa caucuses, Sanders was narrowly defeated by Clinton.

While the results aren't exactly a shock, as Sanders had been polling extremely well in New Hampshire since August, his success with New Hampshire women is definitely notable. In Iowa, Clinton won the female vote by 11 points, a gap that stretched to 26 points when narrowed down to married women. (Sanders won both unmarried men and unmarried women in Iowa by 10 points and 36 points, respectively.)

New Hampshire has to serve as a wake-up call for the Clinton campaign: women clearly aren't going to blindly vote for another woman, and attempts to make sexism a campaign issue are not going to work.

Total Defeat: Sanders Destroyed Clinton in New Hampshire Primary

Well, it's over:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) certainly used his home court advantage, beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by almost double-digits. With 15 percent of the vote in, Sanders is leading Clinton 58/40–and destroyed her with voters who held trust/honesty and “cares about folks like me” in high regard. As Cortney noted earlier this evening, only five percent of New Hampshire Democrats viewed the former first lady as honest and trustworthy.

Concerning women, more than four out of five women broke for Sanders over Clinton (82/18). With age, 67 percent of Hillary’s support came from voters over 50; 60 percent of Sanders’ supporters came from those are under 50. Regarding income, the only bracket Clinton won...was Democrats who make $200k or more; Sanders took the rest. 

Again, like in Iowa, it’s the old guard vs. the new order. It’s young vs. old. It’s authenticity vs. charlatanism. It’s honesty vs. untrustworthiness. And in most cases, Clinton is losing to Sanders.

At the same time, it’s a bit remarkable that a disheveled senior citizen, who is a democratic socialist, is driving turnout.

Sanders is celebrating his victory playing basketball with his grandchildren.

Parting Thought: Over 50 percent of Democrats were dissatisfied with the federal government. Is that because a large portion of Democratic voters (41 percent) want a president more liberal than Obama?

Over at the RNC, they're quite happy, of course.

“After an embarrassing showing in Iowa, Hillary Clinton’s resounding loss in New Hampshire is another devastating blow for her campaign. No amount of spin can make up for such a crushing defeat in a state that has for decades been in the Clintons’ corner. It’s clear that the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s reckless conduct as Secretary of State has become a massive liability for her campaign and that even Democrats find her dishonesty and hypocrisy unacceptable. The prospect that Democrats could nominate a self-avowed socialist is growing more probable by the day, and shows how off course Hillary Clinton’s coronation has gone.

UPDATE: The Clinton camp has conceded:(via The Hill):

After splitting the first two contests, an outcome we've long anticipated, attention will inevitably focus on the next two of the 'early four states," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in the memo.

"The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February, and we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong – potentially insurmountable – delegate lead next month."

Well, on the delegate math, the Clinton crew might be onto something.

58 Presidential Candidates on the Ballot in New Hampshire

Apparently in the New Hampshire primary, all you need is $1,000 or 100 signatures to run for President of the United States.

Along with the nine republican and two democratic candidates that most of us know, 47 other names will be on the ballot for selection on Tuesday.  All told, there are 58 people on the two ballots combined; 30 Republicans and 28 Democrats.

Ouch: Only 5 Percent in NH Poll Say Hillary is Trustworthy, Sanders 93 Percent

We knew it wasn't going to be a good night for Hillary Clinton. But, this early exit poll indicates it's going to be a downright hellish evening in New Hampshire for the Democratic presidential candidate. Democrats in the Granite State were asked to judge the trustworthiness of Clinton and her opponent Bernie Sanders. They were almost unanimous.

Yikes.

Perhaps this poll helps explain why Sanders is ahead in New Hampshire by double digits. Her dismissive attitude toward her email scandal and Wall Street connections may account for why the state is giving her the cold shoulder. 

The numbers to come may be just as painful. 

LIVE BLOG: Battle in New Hampshire

8:03: Bernie Sanders is declared the winner of the Democrat (socialist) primary. Hillary Clinton conceded the race 30 minutes before it was called. 

"After splitting the first two contests, an outcome we've long anticipated, attention will inevitably focus on the next two of the 'early four states," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in the memo.
"The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February, and we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong – potentially insurmountable – delegate lead next month."

8:00: With 4 percent reporting, Donald Trump has been declared the winner of the New Hampshire primary.

7:42: Traffic to a polling place in Merrimack is atrocious. 

7:27: Video of the long lines:

7:25: There are long lines at a number of polling places around New Hampshire, both for registering and for voting, which isn't surprising since the Secretary of State predicted record turnout earlier today.

7:00: Majority of polls are officially closed and the vote totals are starting to roll in. You can follow live election results here. 6:45: Polling for the first-in-the nation primary closes in 15 minutes as voters anxiously await results.

BREAKING: Donald Trump Declared Winner of New Hampshire Primary; Kasich Comes in Second

LIVE ELECTION RESULTS HERE

UPDATE 10:02 PM: With a sixth place finish in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Christie will not make the debate stage in South Carolina Saturday.

UPDATE 9:08 PM: Governor John Kasich has officially secured second place with 15 percent of the vote. 

After losing Iowa to rival Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump has been declared the winner of the New Hampshire primary. Although still early, Trump is doubling vote counts received by Governor John Kasich, who is sitting in second place. 

You can view live election results here.

According to Fox News exit polling, Trump won among voters who prioritized the economy, jobs, terrorism and wanting an outsider candidate to lead the country. Voters also agreed with Trump's stance to halt Muslim immigration. 

Moving onto South Carolina, where the next primary will be held on February 20, Trump is well ahead in the polls. Polling going into New Hampshire tonight were accurate for Trump.

Stay tuned for updates.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Ben Carson: Yeah, I'm Totally Open To Being Trump's Vice President

Speaking on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that he would consider being the running mate of one of his fellow candidates as long as they shared a "significant philosophical alignment." When pressed further, Carson admitted that this includes Donald Trump. He declined to name someone who he would not entertain a run with.

Interesting. While rumors of Carson dropping have swirled since the Iowa caucuses (turns out he was just refreshing his wardrobe), being publicly open to the idea of being vice president cannot be comforting to his supporters.

Like Matt wrote earlier: is it time for Carson to bow out from the race?

First Exits: Independent Voters Break For The Democrats, Could Spell Trouble For Hillary

The first exit polls are out, and most Republican voters were undecided until a few days ago. Moreover, the most recent GOP debates proved to be a very important factor for New Hampshire voters as well. Around a quarter of Democrats came to their decision within the last few days (via CNN):

Republican voters expressed deep worries about both the economy (three-quarters were very worried) and the threat of terrorism (6-in-10 very worried). About 9-in-10 said they were dissatisfied with the federal government, including about 4-in-10 who were angry about the way it was working. And for many, the dissatisfaction extends to the GOP itself. Half said they felt betrayed by politicians from the Republican Party, and about the same share said they wanted the next president to be from outside the political establishment.

Though Democrats voting on Tuesday were less apt to say they felt betrayed by their party or to express anger with the federal government, about three-quarters said they were worried about the economy. About 4-in-10 said they thought life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than life today, and 9-in-10 said they thought the nation's economy favored the wealthy.

Still, Democrats who went to the polls Tuesday -- to vote in a race featuring two seasoned politicians -- were more apt than Republicans to say they wanted the next president to have experience in politics, only about one-quarter said they preferred a president from outside the political establishment.

Only about one-quarter of Democrats said they made up their minds in the final days of the contest, well below the share of Republicans deciding late.

CNN’s political director David Chalian added that regarding independent voters, who make up the majority of registered voters in New Hampshire–they’re making up more of the electorate in the Democratic primary than the Republicans (41/35).

John King added that when it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton with registered Democrats, it’s a close race. Sen. Sanders begins to pull ahead when independents are added into the mix.

Parting thought: Things could change, as New Hampshire polling isn’t the most accurate (via WaPo):

The truth is that New Hampshire primary polls are frequently wrong in predicting not only the margins of victory but also the winners.

• In 1980, a CBS poll showed Ronald Reagan beating George H.W. Bush by 45 points, though his actual margin of victory was 27 points.

• In 1984, the final Washington Post-ABC News poll had Walter Mondale tied with Gary Hart, and the final CNN poll had Mondale winning by six points. Hart won by nine.

• In 1988, Gallup had Bob Dole beating George H.W. Bush by eight points, and the Post-ABC poll had Dole up by three. Bush won by nine.

• In 1996, CNN-Time showed Dole winning by 15 points. Patrick Buchanan won by one point.

• In 2000, the average of all polls showed John McCain beating George W. Bush by eight points. McCain won by 18 points, more than twice what polls predicted. Though this was a larger average error than in 2008, it was not labeled a “fiasco.”

Why are polls often wrong? It’s not usually because of methodological issues but because of timing. When pollsters conclude their interviews (some by Friday, others as late as Sunday), many voters have not made up their minds. Exit polls show that 30 to 45 percent of voters make their decisions in the final three days of the campaign; 15 to 20 percent do so on Election Day itself.

Stay tuned for more updates.

UPDATE: GOP voters split between wanting an "outsider" over an establishment candidate.

It's Come To This: Trump Repeats Supporter's Remarks On Cruz, Called Him A P**sy

Well, as New Hampshire voters head to the polls, let’s not forget how the Donald christened the occasion by repeating what one of his supporters said about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). At a rally prior to Election Day, a Trump supporter called Cruz a “p**sy,” which drew a mock chastisement from the billionaire business magnate (via the Hill):

[Warning: some strong language]:

Trump: Repeating Cruz Is A 'P**sy' Was 'Like A Retweet'

Language warning: Donald J. Trump shrugged off calling Sen. Ted Cruz a "p**sy" by claiming, "It was like a retweet." Read more: http://trib.al/YJndxyb

Posted by The Daily Caller on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"She just said a terrible thing," Trump said, stopping his own remarks at the arena in Manchester and pointing out a woman in the audience, beckoning her to raise her voice.

"You know what she said? Shout it out, 'cause I don't want to," Trump continued. "OK, you're not allowed to say – and I never expect to hear that from you again – she said ... he's a p**sy."

"That's terrible, terrible," Trump said as the audience erupted into a mix of laughs and cheers and he threw his hands into the air and moved away from the microphone.

Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokesperson, called this incident a free speech victory:

We have a full-blown assault on the First Amendment. Donald Trump has single-handedly brought back freedom of speech. And yes, he did repeat what a voter said. But, at the same time, this is also the “Live Free or Die” state. This is where your rights are really important to you as an individual. And the fact that Donald Trump is out there saying what he thinks and means is important.

So, we have presidential candidates seemingly embracing attacks, like calling each other p**sies, on the campaign trail. At the same time, this is fitting with Trump’s character.

Expanded Medical Marijuana Bill Proposed in Iowa

A bill in Iowa proposed today by Republican State Rep. Peter Cownie would expand the state's current medical marijuana law and would open up the drug to more patients with a variety of conditions, as well as permit people to grow marijuana. Currently, medical cannabis is only available in oil form for people with epilepsy.

Some Republican House lawmakers are supporting legislation that would create a system for manufacturing, distributing and possessing some forms of medical marijuana in Iowa, though it's unclear what type of support the bill will get from party leaders.

The bill would expand the state's current law on medical marijuana, which allows some epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil.

The new legislation would expand it to include more products and patients though it would prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana.

Twenty three states, plus the District of Columbia, permit the use of cannabis for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Friendly Reminder: Bernie’s $70 Billion-a-Year ‘Free College Aspect’ Is Not ‘Awesome’

MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff was on a bus taking New Hampshire voters to the polls in Durham, when he asked first-time voter Grace, whom she was supporting. She was backing Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) due to his democratic socialist leanings, and the fact that the “free college aspect was awesome.” She added that most of her friends are going for Bernie as well.

It sounds like a nice plan, but as with many of Bernie’s policy’s–they’re half-baked. Let’s go back to Kevin James’ May of 2015 column, where he detailed the free college initiative–and how it would fail:

The idea would cost $70 billion per year, more than twice what the federal government spends on Pell grants. And much of that money would provide a free education to students whose families can already afford it.

But even more important than how much we spend and who we spend it on, we should ask ourselves what impact free public college would have on the delivery system of higher education. That is, would free college make higher education more efficient, more innovative and higher quality?

[…]

Right now we have a decentralized system where students can take much of their student aid with them to the institution of their choosing. This enables a wide variety of organizations – public and private – to offer a range of different educational programs.

In contrast, free public college would limit choice as many private institutions, now trying to compete with a highly-subsidized, free public option, would likely struggle to survive. In addition to reducing options, this would significantly reduce pressure on public institutions to serve students effectively.

Many free college proponents would likely point out that by providing aid directly to institutions, the government can actually exert more direct control over how they operate. For example, Sanders' bill would require institutions to reduce their reliance on adjunct professors. But are such top-down controls really likely to create the dynamic and innovative system that we need? By trying to dictate innovation from Washington, such a proposal is more likely to create a system that is rigid, bureaucratic and unresponsive to the changing needs of students and the economy over time.

[…]

… there are a remarkable number of regulatory barriers preventing new and innovative educational institutions from gaining a foothold. Thus, what occurs naturally in other industries – innovative market entrants shaking up the status quo – rarely occurs in higher education. Policymakers must work to clear out unnecessary regulatory underbrush that impedes new options.

Fundamentally, the "price" of free public college is more than the money taxpayers would spend on it. By moving us to a system based largely on public institutions managed through top-down regulation, Sanders' proposal would exacerbate the challenges above, not solve them.

Let’s not kid ourselves; education has a multitude of problems, and James adds that government needs to focus on making things cost less that deliver, instead of just throwing money at the issue–a typical move by Democrats since it’s easy to sell and explain, regardless of the economic consequences. He also wrote that we should “foster more entrepreneurship in higher education,” and force colleges to have more skin in the game, instead of just worrying about meeting enrollment quotas and graduation rates; they should be invested more in the outcome of their students. The huge part of this will come from the entrepreneurial side, which under socialism, cannot thrive.

Here We Go: Voting Underway New Hampshire, Trump and Sanders Are Frontrunners


MANCHESTER, NH -- Coming out of Iowa, a few narratives began to congeal: Hillary is going to struggle to put Bernie away. Trump isn't a mirage, but his support is overstated, and he's beatable. Cruz's ground game is the real deal. Rubio is a legitimate contender. Other GOP campaigns are on life support. So how will the revamped script read after tonight? On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders appears destined for a significant win, battering Hillary in a state that may be in the Vermonter's backyard, but that she famously won in 2008. Thus, the prohibitive Democratic frontrunner will emerge from her first two primary elections having tied and lost to a Socialist. The road ahead will get less arduous for her, but it's likely to be a much longer journey than she'd bargained for. In RepublicanWorld, things are murkier.  The increasingly profane Donald Trump is the odds-on favorite to win comfortably. He's up by 17 points in the RCP average. The only question seems to be whether he'll underperform his polls again, not whether he'll prevail at all. Even a few days ago, this may have been less clear. I've spoken to three separate, plugged-in sources who've all told me the same thing: In the days following his surprisingly robust Iowa finish, Marco Rubio appeared to be on track to seriously challenge Trump for first place here in the Granite State.  That's how trajectory looked, they say. But after a debate performance that was at best mixed, featuring a memorably painful exchange with Chris Christie, Rubio finds himself in a dogfight for second place.  New polling has him sitting anywhere from second to fourth, the latter of which would be a disaster for his campaign.  Why the focus on Rubio?  Allahpundit explains:

I’m not overstating it when I say that the nomination may hinge on how Rubio finishes tonight. If he’s a strong second, he’ll be a strong favorite in betting markets to win it all; if he finishes behind Kasich and (especially) Bush, there’ll be mass panic within the GOP establishment about how to stop Trump and Cruz over the next six weeks. If Rubio can’t pull out a win in South Carolina or Nevada after this, he’s likely done, and whether he can win there depends in part on whether he can surprise everyone tonight.

May hinge.  A silver medal for Rubio here keeps him on pace to make a strong play for the GOP crown, especially as rivals continue to drop out.  He'll demonstrate that he can take a hard punch and get right back up.  It'll be off to South Carolina, where Ted Cruz will be lying in wait with a fresh line of attack (which Rubio should be able to parry, assuming he's not once again caught like a deer in the headlights by an obviously-telegraphed hit).  The field will thin out, and Rubio will take a major step closer to the three-man race he wants.  Another bronze would be an under-performance, as the conventional wisdom would take root that Rubio's debate gaffe inflicted real damage, ramping up pressure to over-perform in at least one of the two remaining February nominating contests. Not good, but salvageable.  But if the Florida Senator ends up in fourth place or worse, it's a catastrophe for his candidacy.  This cycle may be too unpredictable to declare his campaign over after that type of outcome, but he'd be in deep, deep trouble.  And because the likeliest beneficiary of Rubio's potential New Hampshire swoon is John Kasich -- who, let's face it, lacks a path to the nomination, even if he comes in second place -- a Marcoplosion might usher the race into a Trump vs. Cruz stage.  (On that note, I recommend Liam Donovan's sharp piece on the GOP establishment's foolish and short-sighted dalliances with The Donald).

As for the other candidates, Ben Carson's tactical decisions continue to point toward an exit ramp sooner or later, especially in light of his indignance over the Cruz campaign's exploitive maneuver in the Hawkeye State.  Cruz, by the way, is almost in a no-lose situation in New Hampshire, unless he really bombs.  An unsurprising middling result doesn't hurt him much with South Carolina up next, but an unexpectedly strong showing (fueled by his ground operation) would give him another burst of energy and momentum. Carly Fiorina, who has campaigned hard, hasn't made many inroads since her sparkling debate showings early in the cycle.  I'm not sure she survives an 'afterthought' finish in New Hampshire.  And despite their big night on Saturday, the remaining trio of governors all need to make big statements here, which can't happen. Chris Christie may be in the most danger, having gone all-in on the Granite State with relatively little to show for it in the polls.  If Jeb Bush finishes behind, say, Trump, Rubio, Kasich, and maybe Cruz, he'll again have poured enormous resources into a state in which he ended up petering out.  Placing in the top three (not beyond the realm of possibility, according to some polls) would be a boost, however, and he certainly has the money and infrastructure to keep truckin' basically for as long as he wants.  At least one governor's campaign will effectively or literally end tonight.  Maybe two.  And possibly even three, depending on how things shake out.

So if the eleventh hour analysis is correct, and Rubio's post-New Hampshire standing is a major cipher to unlocking the dynamics of the remainder of the race, what can we expect from him this evening?  His team has begun downplaying the risky "3-2-1" strategy we wrote about late last month, with the candidate emphasizing slow but steady delegate accumulation.  Is that a sign that they're pre-spinning what they now expect to be a third-place or worse result tonight?  Or is it the same sort of sly expectations management that undeniably contributed to the "Marcomentum" media boomlet after Iowa?  We'll soon find out.  I'll leave you with a few sights and sounds from the campaign trail over the last few days, followed by yet another stark illustration of how certain longstanding political rules of thumb simply don't seem to apply to Donald Trump -- who is running far ahead among an electorate that is known for prizing retail politics and policy depth:


Parting thought (via AP): Who's the "real" Rubio?  The guy who got stuck on repeat at the debate, and who allegedly doesn't react well to setbacks?  Or the guy who recovered well in that same debate, seemed unfazed by mid-interview heckling on national television, and whose charisma is winning over voters one by one on the ground?

Congress Criticizes Obama Budget For Putting Climate Change Ahead of National Security

President Obama’s final budget request is full of the bloated bureaucracy we’ve come to expect. The proposal, which is over $4 trillion, places a fee on oil and raises taxes. Of particular target though is Obama’s plan to fund environmental initiatives at the demise of economic prosperity.

A few specifics:

The economy will continue to grow by about 2.5% over the next decade. Congress will enact a $10-a-barrel tax on fuel oil, raising $319 billion over 10 years. Congress will pass immigration reform, resulting in another $170 billion in new revenue over the next decade. And off-budget war spending will decrease by $636 billion through 2026.

As you can imagine, this request raised more than a few red flags.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) was pleased that Obama’s budget would help his state’s infrastructure, but was concerned about the price Americans will pay with the proposed tax increases.

“A $10 tax on every barrel of oil would cripple Alaska’s economy, which is already reeling from low oil prices. He also proposes to increase taxes on Americans by $3.4 trillion over the next ten years and wrack up $10.6 trillion in new debt, which would total a whopping $27.4 trillion by the end of his budget. This is also unacceptable. Alaskans sent me to D.C. to grow our economy and ensure that the next generation is not saddled with our debt. This budget does the opposite.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul had another reason for being concerned about the president’s proposal. He argues that placing such a high priority on climate change dangerously takes attention away from national security at a time when the terror threat is red hot.

“The President’s budget request does not reflect the fact that we face the highest terror threat level since 9/11,” he said. “While the budget calls for a number of necessary security enhancements, it still falls short where we need it most. Our city streets have become the front lines in the war against Islamist terror, yet the President proposes slashing funding to state and local first responders. The threat at our borders is rising by the day, yet the President proposes cutting the number of border patrol agents. And while I am pleased to see the White House has finally included a few budget lines to address terrorists’ recruitment of Americans, the President’s overall budget still proposes spending billions more on countering climate change than on countering violent extremism here at home.”

Last week, President Obama tried to brag about the latest jobs report that showed an unemployment rate that had dropped under 5 percent for the first time in 7 years. Reality, however, paints a different picture. The real number is more like 10 percent. Oh, and the GDP only grew by .8 percent in the fourth quarter, investors.com reports.

Is it any wonder Congress is hesitating to take advice from the man who presided over this ailing economy?

Testimony: ISIS Likely To Strike in U.S. Within The Year

Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned about ISIS striking inside the U.S. within the year. 

"[ISIS] will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016," Stewart said during testimony. 

NSA Director James Clapper, who was also testifying, warned ISIS is using the refugee stream from Iraq and Syria to disguise fighters and to transfer them into the United States. This is the same tactic intelligence has seen used a number of times throughout Europe. ISIS has also been using refugee camps to recruit new fighters. 

Further, Clapper confirmed ISIS has in fact produced and used chemical weapons in Iraq.

Awkward: Iowa Dems Are Refusing to Release Raw Vote Totals

After last Monday's ridiculously close caucus in Iowa, many Bernie Sanders supporters were crying foul at the results. Now, they have another reason to be suspicious: the Iowa Democratic Party has announced that they will not be releasing the raw vote totals from the caucuses. The party did, however, release the vote totals in 2008.

Despite calls to simplify the caucus process and prevent the errors that plagued this year's caucuses, Iowa Democrats are holding firm to their current system.

Sanders' boost brought him to a quarter of a percentage point within Clinton's number. The winner of the popular vote, meanwhile, remains unclear as state party officials have declined to release raw votes.

The mistakes have also led to calls for the Iowa Democratic Party to change its process, which differs from the Republican Party's method of conducting a simple, secret straw poll. The Democrats use complex math formulas, coin tosses and past voter turnout to calculate numbers from a series of headcounts.

On Sunday, The Des Moines Register quoted a news release by Iowa's Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire, who promised to convene a committee that would "improve on our caucus process while preserving what makes it special."

Many, however, are drawing the obvious conclusion that refusing to release the numbers indicates that Clinton didn't win the popular vote in Iowa.

Massive Turnout Expected For Granite State Rumble

Hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire voters are expected to flock to the polls today. Secretary of State William M. Gardner predicts that 282,000 Republican ballots will be cast, along with 268,000 Democratic votes. There are also over 389,000 Independent voters who can vote in either primary (via CBS Boston):

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said he never expected to see anything like the 2008 voter turnout for the state’s first-in-the-nation primary for a long time–but this year, he says, there may be even more activity.

“I expect that we’ll exceed 500,000,” Gardner told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “I think we’ll get up into even 550,000.”

[…]

Independent voters, officially known as “undeclared,” make up 44 percent of registered voters. They can vote in either primary, making them a key group on Tuesday.

Besides Independent voters, USA Today  also mentioned that out-of-state college students could declare residency in New Hampshire, which should boost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) numbers, given that young voters are overwhelmingly backing him in this primary.

The publication added that there would be something of a “political earthquake” if either Sanders or Trump should lose. The chances of that, albeit very slim, is more on the Republican side, though that still doesn’t mean that people will be watching who will be the runner-up in the GOP contest. The historic high turnout could also help the anti-establishment wings of both parties, and if Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, and Bush do poorly tonight, they should all consider doing something else than running for president.

Top Clinton Aides Abedin and Sullivan Sent Classified Info on Personal Email Accounts, Too

When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busted last year for using multiple private email accounts and a private home-brew server to conduct all of her official government business, she claimed all email was reviewed and that emails containing personal information were deleted upon her departure from the position. The rest, she reassured, was turned over to the Department as required. 

Now that we know Clinton hosted thousands of pages of top secret, classified information on her server, including extremely sensitive human source information, the looming question has become whether the aides she assigned to go through her email, not to mention those who received classified information through email, had the required security clearance to do so. Considering the Inspector General reviewing the case had to obtain special clearance to handle a number of Clinton's emails because of the high level of sensitive material contained within them, the answer to that question is likely no. 

Today, Judicial Watch is out with a report showing not only did top Clinton aides Huma Abedine and Jake Sullivan also use unsecured, personal email accounts to communication with Clinton during her time at the State Department, but they received classified information from her on those accounts.

Judicial Watch today released nearly 70 pages of State Department records that show that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides, Deputy Chiefs of Staff Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, received and sent classified information on their non-state.gov email accounts.  The documents, also available on the State Department website, were obtained in response to a court order from a May 5, 2015, lawsuit filed against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) after it failed to respond to a March 18 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The new documents show that Hillary Clinton used the clintonemail.com system to ask Huma Abedin (also on a non-state.gov email account) to print two March 2011 emails, which were sent from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (using the moniker “aclb”) to Jake Sullivan on Sullivan’s non-state.gov email account.  The Obama State Department redacted the Blair emails under Exemption (b)(1) which allows the withholding of classified material.  The material is marked as being classified as “Foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.”

The newly released Abedin emails include a lengthy exchange giving precise details of Clinton’s schedule using unsecured government emails. The email from Lona J. Valmoro, former Special Assistant to Secretary of State Clinton, to Abedin and Clinton reveals exact times (including driving times) and locations of all appointments throughout the day. Another itinerary email provides details about a meeting at the United Nations in New York at 3:00 on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, with the precise disclosure, “that would mean wheels up from Andrews at approximately 12:00pm/12:15pm.

“These emails show that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only Obama official who should be worried about being prosecuted for mishandling classified information.  Her former top State aides (and current campaign advisers) Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan should be in the dock, as well,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said about the findings in a statement.  “The Obama State Department has now confirmed that Clinton, Abedin, and Sullivan used unsecured, non-government email accounts to communicate information that should now be withheld from the American people ‘in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and properly classified.’ When can we expect the indictments?”

Yesterday the FBI officially confirmed what we already knew: Hillary Clinton is under criminal investigation for a number of reasons. One of them is due to her use of a private email server to store and share classified information. Her closest aides may soon be under FBI criminal investigation as well, if they aren't already.

North Korean Scientists Have Outsmarted the Global Community

In what started last month as a hydrogen bomb test, and then progressed into to an actual missile launch on Sunday just hours before the Super Bowl, has become something more than just another crazy outburst from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  In recent days, many believed that Sunday's missile would come crashing down after the launch and be salvaged for study and that the satellite released into orbit would simply tumble through space without direction.  Both of these rumors may be false.   

According to CBS News:

In a statement Tuesday, South Korea's Defense Ministry said it believes the North deliberately blew up the rocket's first stage after burnout to prevent South Korea from retrieving rocket debris. It was deliberately rigged to blow up after separation Sunday, for the express purpose of confounding foreign analysts.

And as for the tumbling satellite:

Additionally, Western analysts initially believed the satellite itself was "tumbling" and not stable enough to transmit data back to its controllers and fulfill its official mission as an Earth observation satellite. However, Pentagon officials told CBS News correspondent David Martin the North Koreans have stabilized the satellite. 

With all that is going on in the world, I would not put it past our incompetent leaders to have botched this whole ordeal.  The constant underestimation of our enemies is going to eventually put American lives at risk.  

Report: Hillary's Wall Street Speech Transcripts Would 'Bury Her'


In my piece this morning examining the floundering and mildly desperate state of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, I asked this question: "We know she was reckless in her handling of national security secrets, but she's assiduously protective of whatever she said in those speeches. Why?" The assumption is that rather than corroborating her implausibly revisionist characterizations of what she said to those elite bankers who paid her six-figures per speech (her typical fee), the hidden transcripts would reveal a very chummy posture toward her supposed mortal enemies, or whatever. Such a revelation would further undermine her credibility among the Democratic base's rabidly anti-Wall Street base, buttress one of Bernie Sanders' central lines of attack, and again expose her as self-serving and genetically incapable of ruthful candor. Which brings us to this Politico story. Drip:

When Hillary Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs executives and technology titans at a summit in Arizona in October of 2013, she spoke glowingly of the work the bank was doing raising capital and helping create jobs, according to people who saw her remarks. Clinton, who received $225,000 for her appearance, praised the diversity of Goldman’s workforce and the prominent roles played by women at the blue-chip investment bank and the tech firms present at the event. She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. “It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” ... Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon dismissed the recollections as “pure trolling,” while the Clinton campaign declined to comment further on calls that she release the transcripts of the three paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, for which she earned a total of $675,000.

Why not produce the transcripts to prove that this is "pure trolling"?  No comment.  Got it.  Vanity Fair  notices an intriguing quote from one of Politico's sources:

If the transcript came out, “it would bury her against Sanders,” the source added later. “It really makes her look like an ally of the firm.” The drip-drip of quotes characterizing Clinton’s comments will only increase the pressure on the candidate to redefine her strategy against Sanders, who is running away with the lion’s share of young voters, particularly women, who overwhelmingly favor the Vermont senator’s populist campaign. Clinton retains her dominant position in the primary states after New Hampshire. But her seeming inability to hold off the brutal attacks on her cozy relationship with Wall Street speaks to a startling lack of foresight.

That last bit is key.  Bernie Sanders isn't going to "bury" Hillary Clinton, nor is anything in those transcripts. The party establishment simply won't allow it, as the recent torrent of "sexism" bullying demonstrates.  They're just getting started against him; plus, the race will soon shift to more favorable Clinton terrain.  But Hillary and her team will have to get their hands dirty in destroying Sanders, which isn't likely to go over well with his hordes of young fans, whose antipathy toward her already poses a potential general election problem.  More worrisome for Democrats, though, is Hillary's stunning unpreparedness to handle questions about her high-dollar speeches to financial firms. For all the attention paid to Marco Rubio's repetition of a canned (but correct) line at the latest debate, that was a tactical misstep.  Clinton's responses on this issue belie a shocking strategic blind spot, both before and after delivering those lucrative addresses.  She's been awkward and unconvincing overall, and on the question of releasing the contents of her remarks, she's careened from unresponsive cackling, to signaling an openness to doing so, to demanding that other candidates do the same first.  Stated bluntly, Hillary Clinton is not a very good or appealing political candidate.  She is off-puttingly calculating, painfully inauthentic, and often flatly dishonest.  Questions of influence peddling aren't going anywhere.  The FBI's criminal investigation is real.  Her unfavorability rating is high.  Her trustworthiness numbers are low.  Her relatability is weak.  And yet, she'll be Democrats' nominee, because they have no other choice.  Hence the appearance of some hilariously accurate swag at a recent Clinton rally.  Oof:



Is It Time For Ben Carson To Call It A Day?

As New Hampshire votes today, the gifted neurosurgeon is registering near the bottom of the barrel concerning the polls, and there isn’t much hope he will do better as this primary continues. Granted, his campaign insists he’s going to stay in the race, but executed a Thursday Night Massacre last week, slashing staff as his campaign war chests aren’t as full as they were when he was a top tier candidate (via WaPo):

Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination has struggled to keep pace with rivals, will cut more than 50 staff positions Thursday [Feb. 4] as part of an overhaul and downsizing of his campaign.

Salaries are being significantly reduced. Carson’s traveling entourage will shrink to only a handful of advisers. And instead of flying on private jets, Carson may soon return to commercial flights.

[…]

Campaign officials, who confirmed the moves after The Washington Post obtained an internal memo about the layoffs, stressed that key aides in upcoming GOP primary contests will remain in place and that Carson is determined to stay in the 2016 race.

But they acknowledged that Carson’s funds have diminished as he has fallen from the top tier, forcing him to make sweeping changes to a campaign that had swelled into a bustling operation of about 125 people.

While he finished fourth in Iowa, Carson is projected to garner three percent of tonight’s vote for an eighth place finish–behind Fiorina and Gov. Chris Christie:

Trump holds 31%, down two points from the February 3-6 release, but within the poll's margin of sampling error.

Behind him, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio earned 17% support -- within the margin of sampling error of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 14%, but significantly ahead of the fourth and fifth place candidates in the poll, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7%.

Behind Bush, Carly Fiorina stands at 5%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 3%.

As we head into South Carolina, he’s trailing Bush, but maintaining another fourth place standing.

So, things don’t look better going into the Palmetto State, and they’re probably not going to get better heading into Super Tuesday. There doesn’t seem to be much of an avenue to clinch his way back into the top tier. It’s a solid three-man race between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, though a small handful of polls are showing Bush at second (we’ll see about that … if true, it could be too little, too late). Even with Rubio’s less than stellar debate performance last Saturday, his campaign saw a surge in fundraising over his answer about abortion and social issues. Concerning Carson, his performance was soporific, though dotted with the usual quips. In other words, and this is for a long time now, the man just doesn’t have a presence that should get people excited about him. Maybe primary voters were excited about him for a hot second, given his incredible life story and anti-establishment sentiments, but as this marathon dragged on–people jumped ship.

We’ll see what happens after tonight.

Last Note: Also, look at what Fiorina, Kasich, and Christie do afterwards. I would add Bush, but he has money that can easily carry him through South Carolina. He could stick it out a bit longer.