Talk Media News
 

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
 

Quick News
  • Trump overwhelms rivals
  • GOP panics about Trump
  • Clinton rolls to major victories
  • Can Clinton clinch it?
  • Top GOP leaders denounce Trump
  • WH sit-down-GOP on SCOTUS: No deal
  • SCOTUS: “Watershed” Texas abortion case
  • Apple, FBI on Hill: Encryption
 
Trump Overwhelms Rivals (NYT, me)
• Donald Trump won lopsided victories in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee, and narrower ones in Arkansas, Vermont and Virginia. He’s begun to amass a wide delegate advantage towards the GOP presidential nomination, despite growing resistance to his candidacy among Republican party leaders (total, utter screaming freakout in fact)
 
• With strong support from low-income white voters, especially those without college degrees, he dominated on Super Tuesday in moderate, secular-leaning Massachusetts, just as easily as he did in the conservative and heavily evangelical Deep South (they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore)
 
• “I am a unifier,” he told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla, after the winners of about half the day’s contests had been declared. “Once we get all of this finished, I am going to go after one person: Hillary Clinton.” (watch out, people – he plans to pivot to being a reasonable person – your heads will spin – it will be fake but might be convincing…)
 
• Sen Ted Cruz reasserted himself with victories in his home state, Texas, neighboring Oklahoma, and is reported early today to have won Alaska, earning a reprieve as he fends off questions about his viability. The wins strengthened his case that he’s the only alternative capable of overtaking Trump (GOP establishment hates him, too – having a bad time of it)
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• The results were a grievous setback for Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla). Though Rubio handily won the Minnesota caucuses, his otherwise limp finish may have cost him any leverage he had to demand that other candidates defer to him. “Do not give in to sham artists and con artists,” he urged supporters in Miami

 

GOP Panics About Trump (NYT, me)
• Cruz showed the limits of his political reach: He didn’t come close to Trump in much of the South, he failed to resonate in more moderate in more moderate Massachusetts and Virginia, and the lineup of states that vote later in March may be less hospitable to his brand of rigidly ideological politics
 
• Republicans have been increasingly outspoken in recent days, warning that if Trump is the nominee, it will consign the party to a general election catastrophe. Tuesday, several financial patrons of the GOP organized a phone call to drum up funding for an anti-Trump effort. A few outside groups have plans to attack Trump in TV ads in coming weeks
 
• Advisers to Rubio and Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) have acknowledged that a contested convention may be their most realistic chance at claiming the nomination (which will only really work if Trump doesn’t sweep the delegate table first)
 
• Trump added at least 190 delegates, for a total of over 280, extending his advantage to more than triple the delegates of Cruz, his nearest rival. But because Tuesday’s contests allocated delegates proportionally, his victories fell short of offering him an impregnable lead (yet)
 
• Kasich sought to put the best face on the wide losses he suffered Tuesday – though he ran close to Trump in Vermont. Ben Carson has ceased to be much of a factor in the race, but says that he won’t get out (don’t goooo – we want more “fruit salad” and “Uncle Joe is smokin like a chimney”)

 

• Delegates at time of writing: Republicans – Trump: 285 (+203); Cruz: 161 (+144); Rubio: 87 (+71); Kasich: 25 (+19); Carson: 8 (+3); 1,237 to win / Democrats – Clinton: 544 (+453); Sanders: 349 (+284); 2,383 to win (NYT)
 
Clinton Rolls to Major Victories (NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton took full command of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday as she rolled to major victories over Bernie Sanders in Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and a squeaker in Massachusetts. Clinton showed notable strength among Southern white voters and came away with a strong delegate lead over Sanders
 
• Based on results from Democratic primaries and caucuses in 11 states, Clinton succeeded in containing Sanders to states he was expected to win, like Vermont and Oklahoma, and overpowering him in predominantly black and Hispanic areas that were rich in delegates needed for the nomination
 
• “What a super Tuesday!” Clinton declared to cheers at a victory rally in Miami. In her recent signature line mocking Donald Trump’s slogan, she said: “America’s never stopped being great. We have to make America whole – fill in what’s been hollowed out.” (that needs a bit of work to get punchier – get Bill on it)
 
• Sanders’s advisers described Tuesday as their candidate’s most difficult moment on the primary calendar, given the diverse electorate, the relative lack of states with liberal populations, and the dearth of caucuses. Sanders won the caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota on Tuesday
 
• Sanders cast his ballot in Vermont and held a victory rally shortly after he was declared the winner there at 7 pm. “By the end of tonight, we are going to win many hundreds of delegates,” he predicted to a cheering crowd in Burlington. “We have come a very long way in 10 months.” (think he knows it’s over but he has the cash to continue – and should)

 

Can Clinton Clinch It? (NYT, me)
• The closest race was in Massachusetts, where Sanders campaigned aggressively and where many liberals shared his politics. But Clinton, buoyed by strong support in the Boston area and working class towns like New Bedford, edged out Sanders, who fared best in western Massachusetts and towns bordering Vermont and New Hampshire
 
• Clinton won about six in 10 white voters in Alabama and Arkansas, and she performed strongly in white rural parts of Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia – results that her advisers highlighted as evidence that she could do well with working class white voters in Ohio, Michigan and other states – being targeted by Sanders and Trump (and where she was weak in 2008)
 
• Tad Devine, a close aide to Sanders, said that campaign advisers would huddle today to develop strategy on the most politically advantageous states and areas to spend money in hopes of rebounding in the delegate race – “Michigan, Washington State, Wisconsin, even New York,” Devine mentioned, adding there was “good terrain” in “Kansas and Nebraska.”
 
• With 11 more states behind them, Clinton advisers say her most urgent – and trickiest – task will not be to tear down Sanders, but to show the Vermont senator respect so that his legions of young voters and lower income white supporters will ultimately embrace her candidacy (she’s disrespected him, for many, and has her work cut out if they’re going to show up in Nov)

Top GOP Leaders Denounce Trump (AP, Hill, USA Today, me)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) on Tuesday denounced Donald Trump’s “seeming ambivalence about David Duke and the KKK.” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) warned that anyone who wants the Republican presidential nomination must reject racism. “This party does not prey on people’s prejudices,” Ryan told reporters

• At the same time, Ryan reiterated that he’ll support the eventual GOP presidential nominee. (!!) Never mentioning Trump’s name, Ryan and McConnell were clearly referring to the billionaire’s appearance Sunday on CNN when he refused to disavow the support of Duke and other white supremacists. Duke is a former GOP state legislator from Louisiana

• Trump subsequently disavowed Duke, blaming his Sunday performance on a “lousy” earpiece (a go-to excuse of his when interviews go south). He heckled a protester at a rally Monday night, repeatedly asking her: “Are you from Mexico?” (not even going to comment on that – speaks for itself)

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) issued a statement Tuesday, saying that “Trump’s radical agenda” is “a perfect reflection of many in the House Republican Conference.” She cited recent policy fights over the GOP refusing to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds, Syrian refugees and  their blocking renewal of the Voting Rights Act

• A group of about 30 African American students from Valdosta University were kicked out of a Trump rally by law enforcement officials Monday night. “The only reason we were given was that Mr Trump did not want us there,” 22-year-old senior Brooke Gladney told USA Today. The campaign denied any role in their ouster from the event

 

WH Sit-Down with GOP on SCOTUS: No Deal (Hill, AP, WSJ, TPM, me)
• In a WH meeting that lasted 30 minutes at most on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Judiciary Committee chair Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told President Obama that any Supreme Court confirmation process during a presidential campaign would politicize the court (and blocking it won’t?)
 
• They offered up no potential candidates that would win their backing and no route to filling the vacant seat. “Sen Grassley and I made it clear that we do not intend to take up the nominee or to have hearings,” McConnell said after the meeting. “This vacancy will not be filled this year.” Grassley claimed that Obama’s use of executive authority was a stumbling block
 
• VP Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Judiciary Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) attended. “All we want them to do is fulfill their Constitutional duty and do their job, and at this stage, they decided not to do that,” Reid said. “They think that they can wait and see what President Trump will do, I guess.” (meow)
 
• The president “made it very clear” in the meeting that he would consider any nominee recommended by McConnell and Grassley, according to Reid. But the GOP leaders offered no names. “They swore to uphold the Constitution. They’re not doing that. They are walking away from that,” Reid said, indicating Democrats would keep up the pressure
 
• Meanwhile, Obama has been reading through files on potential nominees and considering his options. The WH says the president hasn’t settled on a short list and could still add names to the mix. Reid said that Obama’s nominee “should be coming very quickly.” (reid is having a ball hammering the GOP over this)

 

• The European Union is preparing to spend hundreds of millions of euros on humanitarian aid, under plans to be submitted today, as Greece struggles to cope with an influx of migrants. The UN has warned of a humanitarian disaster caused by a build-up of migrants on Greece’s borders (BBC)

 
SCOTUS: “Watershed” Texas Abortion Case (Politico, me)
• The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether Texas can limit abortions to surgical centers and to doctors affiliated with nearby hospitals, potentially reshaping the national landscape on abortion during a presidential election year. Eight justices will hear Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt. Ruling likely in June – just before the 2016 conventions
 
• The case comes against a backdrop of hundreds of state laws that restrict abortions, leaving swathes of the country without clinics. The court’s ruling could more clearly define how far states can go to regulate doctors and clinics without creating “an undue burden” on women – criteria in SCOTUS in 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey
 
If they deadlock 4-4, an appellate court’s decision upholding the Texas law would stand and the high court’s decision would apply only in a handful of states – maybe a rehearing when a ninth justice is seated
 
• The law’s defenders say the rules are designed to ensure that abortion clinic standards are up to par and guarantee women’s safety. That’s disputed by more than a dozen prominent medical groups, including the American Medical Assn and the leading obstetrics and gynecology assns. They say the rules are about shutting down clinics
 
• Whether the court finds the standards protect health is crucial since the Casey decision defined “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion” as undue burdens. Expect both sides to rally outside the court today, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) to support Texas

 

• The Rolling Stones on Tuesday announced plans to play a free concert in Havana, Cuba on 25 March, just three days after President Obama visits the island (bad timing, Barack). It will mark the band’s first appearance in the Caribbean nation. The group is also launching an initiative to benefit Cuba’s musicians (think I need to go and cover this…) (Hill, me)
 
 
Apple, FBI on Hill: Encryption (Reuters, AP, NYT, me)
• FBI director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that a final court ruling forcing Apple to give the FBI data from an iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters, would be “potentially procedural” in other cases. Last week, he said it was “unlikely to be a trailblazer.” (in other words – they’d go after more phones)
 
• Comey said the tool he wants created for killer Syed Farook’s iPhone wouldn’t work on other models. But Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell, also testifying, said the tool would work on any iPhone. “This is about the safety and security of every iPhone that is in use today,” Sewell said. Both sides agree that Congress needs to get involved
 
• Comey acknowledged there “was a mistake made” shortly after the attack, when the FBI asked the county that owned the phone to reset the password for Farook’s iCloud account that stored backups of his phone’s data. Had the password not been reset, the phone may have made a fresh backup available to investigators for further examination. Comey downplayed it
 
• On 16 Feb, a federal court in California instructed Apple to write special software to unlock the iPhone 5c used by Farook, an order Apple is contesting. Monday, a federal judge in Brooklyn said the Obama admin couldn’t force Apple to help it gain access to the phone in a separate drug case
 
• Tuesday, Sewell said that breaking into the phone used by Farook would require that Apple write new software by bypass security locks. Sewell said that the FBI’s order amounted to “a backdoor into the iPhone,” and once created: “hackers and cybercriminals could create havoc on our privacy and personal safety.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor