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Ben Carson says he sees no 'path forward' and will skip GOP debate

Coming out of Super Tuesday, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton adjust to their leading roles in the race for the White House.

  • Ben Carson all but quits GOP campaign and promises to announce his plans Friday
  • Inside the Clinton campaign playbook against Donald Trump
  • Voters prove Trump's dominance and other takeaways from Super Tuesday
  • Analysis: Hillary Clinton wins by mending divisions, Trump by exploiting them
  • Chris Christie did not want to make headlines this way

Hillary Clinton rallies labor supporters in New York

 (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Hillary Clinton returned to New York for a Super Tuesday victory lap, rallying support Wednesday from organized labor that will be key both to preserving her lead in the Democratic nomination fight and powering her in a general election.

“As long as you are fighting for working families in America, I will be in the trenches fighting alongside of you,” she said to more than 5,000 supporters at New York's Javits Convention Center. “Labor will always have a seat at the table when I am in the White House.”

Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York, called her strong performance Tuesday “one for the history books,” but she stopped short of claiming she had the nomination in hand, even as she looked ahead to a battle with the eventual Republican nominee.

Progressives turn their focus from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump

 (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)
(Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)

A day after Hillary Clinton built a commanding advantage in the Democratic race on Super Tuesday, some liberal forces that had been more sympathetic to Bernie Sanders appear ready to line up behind Clinton with an eye to the bigger looming challenge: Donald Trump.

Though voters in dozens of states have yet to cast ballots and Sanders has amassed a significant campaign war chest on the strength of his grass-roots appeal, Democrats appear more eager than ever to close ranks at a time when Republican divisions are only deepening.

Donald Trump is redrawing the presidential map? Not so fast.

Jump or dump? GOP leaders pick sides over Trump

 (Screenshot)
(Screenshot)

As Donald Trump gets closer to grabbing the GOP presidential nomination, national Republican leaders are under growing pressure to pick sides in the contest.

Here are some of those who have recently come out publicly, either for or against Trump's candidacy.

Hillary Clinton's team looks for new plays to run against Donald Trump

 (Mark Cornelison / Lexington Herald-Leader)
(Mark Cornelison / Lexington Herald-Leader)

Hillary Clinton’s sprawling network of operatives and opposition researchers were all set to go with an exhaustively investigated playbook to use in the general election — against Jeb Bush. They also had one for Scott Walker. And Marco Rubio.

But Donald Trump?

Clinton's team had bet they wouldn't need to pull that one from the shelf. Now, putting a Trump playbook together is proving vexing. After Trump and Clinton's sweeping triumphs on Super Tuesday, the prospect of a matchup against the impulsive billionaire prone to angry outbursts, outrageous statements and questionable alliances no longer seems too good to be true.

“I say to people, ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ ” said David Brock, a longtime Clinton confidant who helps run a coalition of super PACs focused on getting her elected president. “This is very complicated. There is not a typical playbook you can run.”

L.A. Times Editorial Board: Trump unfit to be president

 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

"Much of the Republican base has taken leave of its senses, a flight blamed alternately on inchoate anger, disgust with inside-the-Beltway candidates and misplaced affection for a plain-speaking cartoon character who often seems to utter whatever nonsense comes into his head," the editorial board writes.

It closes with, "The voters still have time to choose a better standard-bearer."

John McCain won't weigh in on Donald Trump: 'I’m running for reelection'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

The overriding reaction among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to Donald Trump's near-lock on the GOP presidential nomination is fear, coupled with confusion about how Trump’s ascendancy might scramble party politics at the state and local level.

Even the normally loquacious Sen. John McCain refused to take a side Wednesday in the battle over Trump’s imprint on the party.

“I’m running for reelection,” McCain said. “That’s where I’m coming down.”

Other lawmakers insisted that their voices no longer mattered much, given the country’s mood and the particular anger Republican voters have toward the Washington establishment.

“I’m not sure you transfer very much support when you endorse somebody else,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. “Clearly, this is a year where people who are in office are likely not to be as helpful to a political candidate as they might have been before.”

Blunt said he would support the GOP nominee and that it was too early to tell whether Trump would be a drag on the rest of the party.

Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who was first elected to the House during the tea party wave of 2010, pushed back at the notion that Republican leaders needed to stand against the Trump tide, even if his policies are at odds with long-held party principles.

“Is Trump a departure from what we have seen in the Republican Party for the last several decades? Yes,” he said. “But people get to decide where the party goes. There is no person that owns the party.”

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who endorsed his colleague Marco Rubio in early November, showed frustration that his colleagues have been so reticent.

“They should have been taking sides a long time ago,” he said. “Pick a candidate and make it known. The fact is simply this: There seems to be a lot of people running for president that are running for honorable mention, and we really don’t get a mulligan on who our nominee is.”

Democrats were eager to observe the damage from the sideline. Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday morning about the “Frankenstein” candidate the Republicans have created in Trump.

“They’re trapped,” he said later in a brief interview. “I don’t think there’s much to be done."

Ben Carson: 'I do not see a political path forward'

 (Olivier Douliery / Getty Images)
(Olivier Douliery / Getty Images)

Ben Carson all but ended his presidential bid Wednesday, saying he does not see how he can win the GOP nomination and that he'll skip Thursday's debate.

"I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results," Carson said in a statement, adding that he would continue to lead a "grassroots movement on behalf of 'We the People.'"

Carson said he would not attend the GOP debate in Detroit on Thursday but would discuss his future during an appearance Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. 

Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, has not won a single state and had his strongest finish Tuesday in Alaska's caucuses, where he won 10.9% of the vote.

He was initially a favorite of evangelical voters, who admired his uplifting personal story about a rise from poverty to become an internationally acclaimed physician, and his deep reliance on his faith.

But Carson stumbled throughout the campaign, making controversial statements and sometimes offering non sequitur answers during the debates. And he slipped in the polls as the focus of the race shifted to foreign policy because of crises around the world, an area in which he had no experience.

Ben Carson says he's on his way out of the Republican race

Trump's success has nothing to do with the media’s propping him up. The responsibility lies with Trump having a much better intuitive read on the GOP electorate and the modern media environment.

Matthew Dowd, political analyst and former Republican strategist, on the party establishment's missed opportunities to stop the presumptive nominee

Next to weigh in on the Republican race: Mitt Romney

Donald Trump hasn't run away with the nomination (yet)

Despite Donald Trump's string of victories on Tuesday, he has to do better in upcoming contests to claim the Republican nomination for president before the party's national convention this summer.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is emerging as the candidate who could stop him — with a little help from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

A close look at the delegate math illustrates Trump's problem. So far Trump has won only 46% of the delegates, even though he has won 10 of the first 15 contests. It takes an outright majority of delegates to win the nomination.

On Tuesday, Cruz muted Trump's delegate gains by winning delegate-rich Texas, the senator's home state.

The delegate math illustrates the importance of the March 15 primaries in Florida and Ohio, in which the statewide winners get all the delegates. 

Clinton camp: Bernie Sanders has a delegate math problem

 (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

As Bernie Sanders' campaign argues it still has a viable path to the Democratic nomination and a message to get there, Hillary Clinton's aides had a quick retort: math.

In a memo released to reporters Wednesday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook touted her string of double-digit victories on Super Tuesday that have helped her build on her lead among pledged delegates who will choose the Democratic nominee.

According to figures cited by Mook, Clinton netted more delegates in Texas alone (78) than Sanders has in any of the five states he's won (58).

"These results point to a clear conclusion: With a pledged delegate lead of more than 180 and momentum on our side, we anticipate building on this lead even further making it increasingly difficult and eventually mathematically impossible for Sen. Sanders to catch up," Mook wrote.

Mook's memo, which was largely intended to underscore Clinton's overwhelming lead and Sanders' daunting path to the nomination, raised serious questions about Sanders' strategy of investing heavily in states where he sees a chance to win while ignoring others where Clinton is favored. Mook pointed to two contests next week, in Michigan and Mississippi, to illustrate the point.

Sanders advisors said Wednesday morning that Michigan was a "critical showdown state." His campaign is spending heavily on television ads there already.

Mook countered that even if Sanders were to "eke out" a victory in Michigan, the Clinton campaign's sophisticated delegate targeting strategy and her demonstrated strong performance among African American voters will more than offset it.

"The end result is that Sen. Sanders will spend millions of dollars in Michigan but not make any net gain in pledged delegates because he isn't competing in states like Mississippi," he wrote.

The campaign memo focused largely on pledged delegates - only briefly mentioning an ultimate Clinton trump card: superdelegates.

Don't write off Bernie Sanders, his campaign says

 (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Top officials from the Bernie Sanders campaign were defiant and resolute the morning after Super Tuesday, saying he was the Democrats' best hope to beat Donald Trump and pledging to keep battling Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination.

They said Sanders aimed to win just five out of 11 states Tuesday, and fell short only in Massachusetts.

"It would be nice if we drew an inside straight flush. We drew a flush," said campaign manager Jeff Weaver. "We still think we have a winning hand."

The latest count showed Clinton with 195 more pledged delegates than Sanders, a hurdle dismissed by campaign consultant Tad Devine, who said winning the primary campaign "requires more than the skills of arithmetic."

The campaign hopes Sanders' message about economic inequality and the dangers of trade deals will resonate in Michigan, which holds its primary Tuesday. Devine called it a "critical showdown state."

Weaver warned that Clinton would not fare well against Trump, the Republican front-runner, referencing polls that show voters have doubts about her honesty. Integrity will be a key issue in the campaign, and Weaver said "you never get to your message if you're always trying to convince people you're honest."

Clinton hopes Super Tuesday will be a turning point that allows her to start locking down the Democratic nomination, and her campaign has highlighted her strong support from black voters.

"You can't win the nomination writing off the most diverse states," said spokesman Brian Fallon on Tuesday. "That's the lesson from tonight.”

Lindsey Graham: Ted Cruz is the GOP's best chance

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) talks with reporters before attending the weekly Senate Republican Caucus policy luncheon at the Capitol. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) talks with reporters before attending the weekly Senate Republican Caucus policy luncheon at the Capitol. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Lindsey Graham says he thinks that Hillary Clinton's “dishonesty” will beat Donald Trump’s “crazy,” so the GOP must rally behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Speaking to CBS’ Charlie Rose on Tuesday, the South Carolina senator and former Republican presidential candidate said that deciding between the two top GOP contenders is like choosing to be “shot or poisoned” — the inevitable death happens, just at different rates. A strong opponent of Cruz, he joked last week that if someone killed Cruz in the Senate and senators held a trial, no one would convict the murderer.

But he said Tuesday that he has resigned himself to the fact that Cruz represents the party’s only chance of beating a Democratic nominee.

"Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means…” Graham told Rose. “We may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump."

Graham explained that he thinks voters see Trump as the anti-Obama: He speaks in a way that riles the people and satisfies their need for change.

"You'll never convince me that Donald Trump is the answer to the problem we have with Hispanics,” he said. “It will tear the party apart, it will divide conservatism, and we're gonna lose to Hillary Clinton and have the third term of Barack Obama.”

The party is expanding. They ought to be celebrating what Donald Trump is doing for the Republican Party at this particular point, but instead they’re pushing back.

Herman Cain, a 2012 presidential candidate and pizza executive, saying Wednesday on Fox News that the Republican establishment needs to accept the GOP front-runner.

Madeleine Albright argues that Hillary Clinton can unify the Democrats

Hillary Clinton can command as president and lead in both foreign and domestic affairs, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Wednesday, following Clinton’s Super Tuesday dominance.

Albright told CNN she believes that the Democratic front-runner can “bring down barriers” and clearly lay out a plan to lead the country. But she said she is concerned about what she hears Republican front-runner Donald Trump outlining — walls against Mexico and closed borders.

“People really ask, what is going on? How can we be having a discussion in which foreign policy kind of is not at the center of things?'" Albright said on CNN's “New Day” of her recent visits with people in foreign countries. "But whenever anything is said by Donald Trump, it is scary, I think, in terms of what he thinks he's going to do, or lack of understanding."

Albright predicted that the Democratic Party would have a strong chance of beating the GOP nominee.

“I do think [Trump] will go forward,” she said. “I do think that the Democratic Party will be unified.” 

Clinton's Southern sweep gives her commanding lead; Sanders vows to continue

Hillary Clinton speaks during her Super Tuesday event in Miami. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton speaks during her Super Tuesday event in Miami. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton emerged from Super Tuesday having regained the mantle of prohibitive front-runner, decisively winning the biggest and most important states in an election that confirmed her overwhelming support from minority voters and left her rival with no clear opening to catch her.

Clinton appeared likely to rack up twice as many delegates from Tuesday’s contests as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as she swept through the South with crushing victories in delegate-rich states including Georgia, Virginia and Texas. She also won a narrow victory in Massachusetts.

Along the way, she won more than eight in 10 African American voters taking part in Democratic primaries, as well as two-thirds of Democratic Latino voters in Texas and a majority of white voters in at least six of the 11 states holding Democratic nominating contests.

Analysis: Clinton wins by easing Democratic split; Trump wins by exploiting GOP divisions

Donald Trump, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, talks to reporters after his Super Tuesday victories. (Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel)
Donald Trump, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, talks to reporters after his Super Tuesday victories. (Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel)

The presidential race will go on for months, but both parties' front-runners leaped closer Tuesday to becoming nominees. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton won every state up for grabs, but they won most of them, and in doing so extended advantages they already had in delegates and momentum.

Trump was projected to win at least seven states; his nearest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, won three. Trump's swath of victories now extends from Nevada across the Deep South and up into New England.

Clinton was projected to win at least seven states, including the biggest; her challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, was projected to win four, one of them his home state. Clinton commands the map from Nevada through Texas and all across the South and up to Massachusetts.

With a big Super Tuesday, Trump has the Republican nomination in his sights

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs an autograph during a rally Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs an autograph during a rally Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Donald Trump rolled up big victories in the Northeast and across the South on Super Tuesday, taking a giant step toward clinching the GOP presidential nomination as the contest moves to a series of stiff challenges for his beleaguered rivals.

Riding a wave of anger and seething frustration, Trump carried Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Vermont.

Sen. Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, next-door neighbor Oklahoma and Alaska, strengthening his claim to be the last man standing between Trump and the nomination.

But even as Cruz called for others to quit the race, he faces a steep road ahead as the contest shifts away from the South and Cruz's advantage among its religiously oriented, deeply conservative voters.

By the numbers

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