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.

Record producer Sir George Martin, known as “the fifth Beatle,” has died, aged 90. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr broke the news on Twitter and led tributes. Developing (BBC)

Quick News

  • Sanders, Trump win Michigan
  • Can Trump be stopped?
  • Worried GOP scrambles
  • SCOTUS nominee: Obama interviewing?
  • Biden in Israel / Netanyahu spat
  • Obama immigration briefs: Getting hot
  • US: New concessions to Cuba
Sanders, Trump Win Michigan (AP, Reuters. Politico, Politico, me)
• Bernie Sanders breathed new life into his WH bid with a crucial win in Michigan’s primary Tuesday night, chipping away at Hillary Clinton’s dominance in the Democratic presidential race. Republican Donald Trump swept to victory in both Michigan and Mississippi, overcoming fierce efforts to blunt his momentum
• Even with Sanders’ win, Clinton and Trump moved closed to a general election face-off. Clinton breezed to an easy victory in Mississippi, propelled by overwhelming support from black voters, and she now has more than half the delegates she needs to clinch he nomination. Trump padded his lead over Ted Cruz, who won Idaho
• “Every single person who attacked me has gone down,” Trump said at one of his Florida resorts. (Weirdly) he was flanked by tables packed with his retail products, including steaks and wine, and defended his business record more than he outlined his policy proposals (because he doesn’t seem to have many – except so-called “fascist” salutes, of course)
• Sanders, meanwhile, said Michigan signaled “that we are a national campaign.” “We have already won in the Midwest, New England and the Great Plains and as more people get to know more about who we are and what our views are, we are going to do very well.” – statement (has to start winning with African-American voters – needs them for the general, if he wins)


• Clinton has 1,214 delegates and Sanders 566, including superdelegates. Democrats need 2,383 to win. Trump leads with 428 delegates, Cruz has 315, Rubio has 151 and Kasich has 52. Winning the nomination requires 1,237 delegates
Can Trump Be Stopped?
• Next week’s winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida loom large as perhaps the last chance to block Trump short of a contested convention fight. Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio) finished third in Michigan, behind Trump and Cruz. It wasn’t the boost he was looking for heading into next week’s crucial contest in his home state (massive understatement)
• For Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla), Tuesday marked the latest in a series of disappointing nights. He emerged from Michigan and Mississippi with no new delegates, a grim outcome for a candidate with the support of the GOP establishment. Rubio insisted he would press on to Florida next Tuesday (Rubio’s last stand)
• If Rubio and Kasich can’t win at home, the GOP primary appears to become a two-person race between Trump and Cruz. Some mainstream Republicans have cast both Trump and Cruz as unelectable in a Nov face-off with the Democratic nominee. But they’re running out of options. Trump is looking set to win Hawaii’s caucuses
• The economy ranked high on the list of concerns for voters in Michigan and Mississippi, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Among Democrats, 8 in 10 voters in both states said the country’s economic system benefits the wealthy, not all Americans. Sanders has sought to tap into that concern
• Democratic debate tonight at 9 pm EST in Miami. Second meet-up in four days for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Univision will broadcast in Spanish. Simulcast in English on CNN and Fusion. Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos of Univision and Karen Tumulty of WaPo – which is a debate host – are moderating (Politico)


Worried GOP Scrambles (Politico, me)
• The GOP establishment’s strategists are charting a course to defeat Donald Trump that winds all the way to the Republican National Convention. The plan requires John Kasich and Marco Rubio to hold off Trump in winner-take-all Ohio and Florida on 15 March. And it requires Ted Cruz to fend him off in upcoming conservative bastions (loooong shot, then)
• Well-heeled donors, who have funneled millions of dollars to anti-Trump groups, are in preliminary talks to convene a meeting or conference call after 15 March. The purpose is to assess whether the multi-million dollar offensive against Trump is working and “what the path forward would be.”
• Stop-Trump strategists say they’re considering spending a lot of money in later states – as they did in early ones.They want to deprive Trump of the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the GOP nomination and force him to an unpredictable convention where his victory wouldn’t be certain


• The idea that Trump may fall short of the delegate mark may serve to keep Trump’s three rivals in the race – even if they’re lagging badly. As long as there’s the possibility of a Cleveland fight, it may make more sense for them to stay in than drop out
• On 15 March, 367 delegates – nearly 15% of all the party’s delegates – will be awarded. A Trump win in Florida and Ohio, many contend, would give him an insurmountable lead. A loss in either state could leave an opening for his rivals
• If the race goes to a contested convention, after the first ballot many delegates would be allowed to vote for a candidate who didn’t win their home state. Would Trump collapse? There’s Trump as wheeler-dealer to consider. Some say the self-proclaimed master of the deal could forge a compromise and invite someone onto his ticket


• Kim Jong-un says North Korean scientists have developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles. The claim is impossible to verify from images published today and experts have long cast doubt on such assertions (BBC)
SCOTUS Nominee: Obama Interviewing? (Reuters, NPR, me)
• President Obama has started to interview candidates for the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, NPR reported Tuesday, citing sources close to the process. Among the interviewees are Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals; Judge Sri Srinivasan of the same court;
• Also Judge Paul Watford of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – San Francisco; Judge Jane Kelly of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals – St Louis; and U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves in Washington DC. The first three individuals are considered to be the leading contenders
• AG Loretta Lynch earlier on Tuesday asked not to be considered as a nominee, the Justice Dept said in a statement. Lynch had been rumored to be under consideration
• Republicans who control the Senate don’t want to see the court shift ideologically to the left and have said they will not hold a vote on Obama’s nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has said the next justice should be chosen by the winner of the presidential election (and if it’s Democrat. some GOP senators are saying they still won’t confirm…)


• Iran’s Revolutionary Guard test fired two ballistic missiles this morning, Iranian news agencies said, continuing a military exercise that has drawn a threat of a diplomatic response from the U.S. They had the phrase “Israel must be wiped out,” written on them, Fars news agency reported (BBC)
Biden in Israel / Netanyahu (AP, Haaretz, me)
• VP Joe Biden arrived in Israel Tuesday for a two-day visit that includes meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders – West Bank – as Palestinians unleashed a wave of attacks that killed an American student near where Biden was visiting and wounded a dozen Israelis before he was shot and killed by Israeli forces
• Just ahead of the visit, Israel disputed a WH claim that PM Benjamin Netanyahu “surprised” the Obama admin by canceling a planned visit to Washington, saying that the WH knew Netanyahu was considering not coming. He had been expected to come to DC for the annual AIPAC summit (this was handled really, really badly)
• But Netanyahu’s office said Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. had already informed the WH last week there was a “good chance” Netanyahu wouldn’t make the trip. It said the ambassador told the WH there would be a final decision Monday. That day, Israeli news reports erroneously reported that Netanyahu wouldn’t travel because he didn’t want to meet President Obama
• An Israeli official said Netanyahu wanted to avoid potential meetings with presidential candidates at the summit. Tuesday, WH spox Josh Earnest said, “If they weren’t able to make the meeting they should have just told us before they told the reporter. I think it’s just good manners.” He added later, “There’s no offense taken.” (sure)
• Netanyahu’s office said the PM is “looking forward to the visit of Biden and discussing how we can meet the many challenges facing the region.” Biden isn’t expected to offer any new initiatives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his Israeli or Palestinian meetings
Obama Immigration Briefs: Getting Hot (Hill, me)
• Democratic lawmakers were to file an amicus brief to the Supreme Court Tuesday in support of President Obama’s 2014 actions to shield up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) spearheaded the effort, signed by a total of 186 House Dems and 39 Senate Dems
• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) announced last week that the House would vote on a resolution authorizing the filing of an amicus brief on the legality of Obama’s executive actions. House Democrats decried the move, saying the GOP-authored brief wouldn’t speak for them
• “We are confident the Supreme Court will recognize the legality and necessity of the president’s actions to help bring our immigration system back into line with the values and needs of our country,” Pelosi and Reid said in a joint statement
• Texas and 25 other states are challenging the executive actions, which have been on hold since a federal judge’s ruling last year. “The president is not permitted to write law – only Congress is. The House will make that very clear, and we will do so as an institution on behalf of the American people,” Ryan said last week
• The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on 18 April – ruling expected by end of June. But if the court issues a deadlocked 4-4 tie, the lower court’s decision to keep the programs on hold will remain in place, or the case may be tried again in the next Supreme Court term


US: New Concessions to Cuba  (Reuters, me)
• President Obama’s admin will announce further measures to ease travel and trade restrictions on 17 March, ahead of his historic visit to the Communist-ruled island on 21/22 March, congressional sources said Monday. It will be the first visit by a sitting U.S. president since 1928
• The new rules will mark the latest effort by Obama to use his executive powers to sidestep Congress and chip away at the more than half century-old economic embargo against Cuba (expect furious reax from some lawmakers)
• The measures are expected to include changes to make it easier for individual Americans to visit Cuba if they qualify under 12 authorized categories of travel such as educational or cultural visits, a further loosening of trade and banking rules, and maybe revised regs on how the U.S. dollar can be used in trade with Cuba, sources briefed on discussions said
• Some lawmakers feel the WH isn’t getting enough back from President Raoul Castro’s govt in exchange for the eased regs. The admin believes that moves to loosen the embargo would help benefit the Cuban people. “Shouldn’t we get something from the Cubans in return?” one Democratic aide asked
• Obama plans to hold talks with Castro in Havana, but also intends to meet dissidents to show that Washington remains committed to promoting human rights on the island, a source of tension with the Cuban govt. About 20 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, were expected to accompany the president


• Watch: first extended (only 1:42 – but still…) trailer for season 6 of Game of Thrones

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Victoria Jones – Editor