NATION POLITICS TRAIL GUIDE

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rules out third-party run for president

Today, a look at how a Donald Trump nomination might affect Wall Street and the battle over trade and reforms in the Democratic race in Michigan.

  • Michael Bloomberg had been flirting with a run for president but says he's decided against it
  • Last night's Democratic debate offered a contrast between Bernie Sanders' idealism and Hillary Clinton's pragmatism
  • Volatility in the Republican Party may affect the U.S. economy if Donald Trump wins the nomination

  • Can Marco Rubio pull in the suburban family votes he banked on?

Pastor who backs Ted Cruz is 'absolutely fine' after being shot

Pastor Tim Remington leads a prayer during a rally for Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Saturday. (Kathy Plonka / Spokesman-Review) None
Pastor Tim Remington leads a prayer during a rally for Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Saturday. (Kathy Plonka / Spokesman-Review)

Forty-eight hours after praising the rise of Ted Cruz as “nothing short of a miracle” during a rally for the Republican presidential candidate, an Idaho pastor was experiencing a miracle of his own Monday – recovering from a bullet to the head and other gunshot wounds sustained in an ambush outside a Coeur d'Alene church.

Tim Remington, a popular leader of the community’s religious right, was shot six times Sunday afternoon by a suspect authorities identified as a 30-year-old former Marine, Kyle Andrew Odom of Coeur d’Alene. A manhunt was underway Monday to find him and a silver Honda that sped from the Altar Church parking lot.

Rubio vows come-from-behind win in Florida

Marco Rubio declared Monday that he will notch a come-from-behind win in his home state next week just as he won his U.S. Senate seat six years ago.

“It always comes down to Florida,” the Republican presidential candidate told several hundred people in a Tampa Convention Center ballroom.

He kept an upbeat tone at two campaign rallies Monday, departing from the acerbic taunts he has lobbed at Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner, over the last week.

“Conservatism is at its best not when it’s about fear, not when it’s about anger,” Rubio said. "Conservatism is at its best when it’s about principles and it’s about optimism.”

But with Trump leading in statewide polls before the March 15 GOP primary, Rubio did sneak in a jab tailored to local tastes.

He linked the New York business mogul with Florida's former governor, Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned independent-turned Democrat who lost to Rubio in the 2010 Senate race.

Rubio called Trump “one of the biggest contributors to Crist” in that race.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Trump gave $4,800 to Crist’s Senate campaign. That was the maximum personal contribution allowed at the time.

The mention of Crist drew boos from the crowd and allowed Rubio to remind his supporters of how he surprised the Republican establishment when he beat Crist. 

“We were deep underdogs, dozens of points down,” Rubio recalled.

Wil Nickerson, a travel agent from Spring Hill, echoed Rubio’s optimism.

“I’m feeling good,” Nickerson said. "I think we're going to take Florida, I really do, especially after taking Puerto Rico. It'll stimulate a lot of the Hispanic population here in Florida, who have a lot of friends and relatives [who go] back and forth."

But John Bernstein, a longtime supporter, acknowledged Rubio's presidential campaign may be "on its last legs."

"There'll be so much pressure on him to withdraw if he doesn't win Florida," said Bernstein, a chef in St. Petersburg. "I think that probably would be the nail in the coffin."



Donald Trump's new ad against Marco Rubio reflects tough fight in Florida

 (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

In a sign of his vulnerability in next week’s Florida primary, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has started airing a brutal television ad calling rival Marco Rubio a corrupt politician.

The 60-second spot targeting the Florida senator comes as Trump is struggling to limit the damage of a multi-million-dollar ad assault by Republican groups trying to stop the New York billionaire’s march toward the party nomination.

Polls have found Trump holding a double-digit, but narrowing, lead over Rubio in Florida's March 15 primary, a winner-take-all contest for 99 delegates.

If Trump wins Florida, it would all but kill Rubio’s candidacy. If he loses, it will be harder for Trump to win a majority of delegates before the party's July convention, casting his nomination in doubt.

It’s not yet clear how extensively Trump is airing the ad, but his willingness to spend money in Florida underscores how seriously he takes Rubio as a threat, even with the senator running far behind him and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in delegates.

Florida is one of the costliest states for TV advertising, with separate media markets for Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and half a dozen other metro areas around the state.

In a written statement, Trump said Rubio “takes his orders from the Republican establishment and Super PACs who are spending millions of dollars to keep their puppet alive and well so he will continue to do what they say.”

The ad says Rubio switched his vote on a Florida legislative vote after making $200,000 from selling his house to the mother of the bill’s lobbyist, abused a Republican Party credit card to pave his driveway and to “live it up” in Las Vegas, and double-charged the state and the Republican Party for airline tickets.

“In my opinion, he is a total crook and I am doing the people of Florida a great favor by further exposing him,” Trump said.

Rubio, speaking to reporters before a rally in Tampa, said Trump’s accusations were “almost identical” to attacks former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist launched in their 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate.

Rubio, the underdog at the time, won the race.

“People in Florida are aware of all those things,” Rubio said. They've all been looked at up and down, back and forth.”

Michael Bloomberg declines independent presidential bid: 'I could not win'

 (Keith Bedford / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Keith Bedford / European Pressphoto Agency)

Michael Bloomberg said Monday he would not enter the presidential race, acknowledging his concerns that a third-party bid could help elect Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz.

Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, had been considering an independent run as an alternative to Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Republican and Democratic front-runners. But polls showed he would seriously lag behind them both.

"When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win," Bloomberg wrote Monday in an essay announcing his decision.

In bowing out, he had no shortage of criticism for all sides, saying the candidates are offering "scapegoats instead of solutions" — Democrats attacking trade policies and Republicans fighting immigration.

But Bloomberg took special aim at Trump, whom he said he has known casually for years, even agreeing to appear on Trump's reality show "The Apprentice" twice.

"He has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears," Bloomberg wrote. 

"There is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience."

Bloomberg says he's not running because the math doesn't work

When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win. 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announcing his decision not to run as a third-party candidate for president.

Clinton: No easy answers on encryption


The legal fight between Apple and the FBI over iPhone encryption makes Hillary Clinton feel as if she is in "the worst dilemma ever," she said Monday at a software development company here.

The distrust between tech companies and the government over accessing encrypted communications is a “serious problem that has to be somehow worked through,” Clinton told 35 employees at Atomic Object.

“There has got to be some way to avoid breaking data encryption and opening the door to a lot of bad actors," she said. "But there has to be some way to follow-up on criminal activity and prevent crimes and terrorism.”

She added, “I am someone who is just feeling like I am in the middle of the worst dilemma ever."

The Democratic presidential hopeful visited the company on a campaign swing before the Michigan primary Tuesday. She leads rival Bernie Sanders in statewide polls. 

Silicon Valley companies have rallied behind Apple after a federal magistrate judge in Riverside, Calif., ordered the company to write software to help the FBI unlock the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook.

The FBI wants to search the phone for Farook's contacts, locations, texts and other possible clues from the weeks before he and his wife shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2.

“Isn’t there some way without opening the door and causing even more and worse consequences to figure out how you get information?” Clinton said.

Apple argues that writing software to circumvent the phone’s encryption would open the door to similar court requests in other cases, as well as to demands by foreign governments seeking to monitor human rights groups and political activists.

The FBI argues that no data should be out of reach of a court-approved search warrant.

Criminal investigators around the country have increasingly found themselves unable to search electronic devices as Apple and other companies have boosted use of high-end encryption algorithms to protect customers from cyber attacks and government surveillance.

“This is a problem. And it’s a problem we’ve got to come up with some way to solve. And I am not expert in any way to tell you how to do it,” Clinton said.


Voter voices: Backing Donald Trump

Voters give many reasons for supporting Donald Trump: He's an outsider, he tells it like it is, he will fix government.

Here are some snapshots: 

Taking on Donald Trump again, the Club for Growth aims for a repeat performance with ads

The conservative Club for Growth is again taking on Donald Trump with a repeat showing of two ads it believes helped halt the billionaire's rise in early voting states.

The club is known for trying to oust GOP lawmakers who go soft on conservative economic policies. But it has emerged as one of the main groups attacking Trump, where its ads in Oklahoma and Iowa may have helped Texas Sen. Ted Cruz clinch victories.

The $2-million ad buy on cable and digital is now running in Illinois in advance of March 15 voting.

"As voters come to know Trump’s record, they will turn to true pro-growth conservatives," Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh, a former congressman, said in a statement Monday.

“Primary voters need to know that Trump has spent years arguing for far-left positions on taxes, healthcare, bailouts and the abuse of eminent domain. And now he sounds like the worst kind of politician, warning voters that he will change positions when he feels like it."

Trump, meanwhile, launched his own attack Monday on Marco Rubio in Florida, the next must-win contest for the senator who is trailing Trump in his home state.

Analysis: Democratic debate again pits Clinton's pragmatism and Sanders' idealism

 (Geoff Robins / AFP/Getty Images)
(Geoff Robins / AFP/Getty Images)

For all their shared views, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come to this presidential contest with very different theories of how to command the presidency, driven by the Democratic schools in which they grew up and prospered.

In Sunday's presidential debate, Clinton demonstrated her pragmatic positioning, which caused her continued grief as Sanders hammered her on positions she has taken that date back to the more centrist 1990s. Sanders demonstrated his inflexible ideological bent, which caused him grief as Clinton hammered him on choosing purity even when that meant opposing steps such as money for the auto industry bailout on which so many jobs in Michigan depended.

The Democratic debate was nowhere near as confrontational as Thursday's Republican gathering, with its unintelligible shouting and references to candidate anatomy, but it represented the best honing of counterarguments by one candidate against the other in the party's long presidential contest.

What Donald Trump gets right — and wrong — on immigration and trade

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Donald Trump's economic message is loud and clear: Misguided Washington policymakers have allowed foreign countries to steal American jobs, and uncontrolled immigration is driving wages down.

Trump is partly right in saying that trade has cost the U.S. economy jobs and held down wages.

He may also be correct — to a degree — in saying that low-skilled immigrants have depressed salaries for certain jobs or industries, the latest economic research shows.

Where Trump gets things wrong, economists say, is in exaggerating the downside and ignoring the benefits that trade and immigration provide to the economy.

Clinton, Sanders aides complain about tone of Democratic debate

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Aides to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders extended their candidates' squabbling during Sunday's debate into Monday, accusing each other of disrespect and making false claims.

In separate interviews on CNN on Monday, a spokesman for the Sanders campaign accused Clinton of getting Sanders' record wrong on trade, and a Clinton spokeswoman called Sanders’ tone “disrespectful” toward his Democratic rival.

“It was, at times, a little bit disrespectful,” Karen Finney, senior spokeswoman for Clinton’s campaign, said on CNN's “New Day.” “There were times where it seemed, it felt, a little bit desperate, both the tone and the nature of the attacks.”

Sanders advisor Tad Devine fired back that Clinton misstated Sanders' record.

“I think she constantly interrupted him, I think she constantly distorted his record,” Devine said, also on “New Day.” “And I think he felt a need to speak about that.”

On Sunday, Clinton attacked Sanders for voting against the bailout of the auto industry, and the two broke out into shouting over each other.

You have to win your home state. If you lose your home state, you get to stay home. Nothing more complicated than that.


John Weaver, a senior strategist for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, predicting a Kasich victory in next week's winner-take-all Ohio primary -- or else.

Ted Cruz backers go after Marco Rubio in Florida

A super PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wants to cut down Marco Rubio’s campaign at its roots — in the Florida senator’s home state.

The group Keep the Promise One launched a series of 30-second television ads Sunday attacking Rubio on his work on immigration legislation, his absences in the Senate and what the super PAC called acting as an “errand boy” for the sugar industry by promoting subsidies.

“For years, Marco Rubio has been making it snow for big sugar in Washington,” said the narrator of the ad. 

The ads appear to mark the end of Rubio and Cruz laying off of each other somewhat to focus on taking on GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Cruz had success in Saturday's nominating contests — he won delegates in Kansas and Maine — and is looking to close the gap with Trump. Florida's winner-take-all primary March 15 is shaping up as a crucial contest for all three candidates because of its large haul of 99 delegates.

How would a Donald Trump presidency affect the stock market?

Donald Trump at a rally Friday in Orlando, Fla. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Donald Trump at a rally Friday in Orlando, Fla. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

What would President Trump mean for the stock market?

Once a far-fetched notion, the question is becoming serious business for investors now that Donald Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Trump's bid "is becoming increasingly legitimate" on Wall Street, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at the brokerage firm Janney Montgomery Scott.

Investors generally aren't yet trading specific stocks in anticipation of a Trump presidency, analysts said, because Trump still must win the nomination, get elected to the White House and then try to push his programs through Congress.

Even though it appears Trump will face Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in November, "it's a little too early to make investment decisions based on Trump's standing, even if you have to now take him seriously," said Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer of First American Trust in Santa Ana.

So far, Marco Rubio's suburban strategy isn't adding up

Marco Rubio on the campaign trail. (Mike Stewart / Associated Press)
Marco Rubio on the campaign trail. (Mike Stewart / Associated Press)

Sen. Marco Rubio's mounting list of GOP presidential primary losses points to the limits of what some call his Starbucks-voter strategy, a campaign that has banked heavily on winning upwardly mobile, young suburban families.

But as Rubio's third-place and fourth-place finishes on Saturday show, his attempt to court white-collar Republicans is being vastly overshadowed by Donald Trump's success in energizing angry blue-collar conservatives.

If the trend continues, it raises serious doubts about whether the Florida senator can emerge as the establishment alternative to Trump.

The Rubio campaign has dominated in well-heeled conservative enclaves such as Kennesaw, Ga., with a Chick-fil-A next to a Starbucks and a Whole Foods market under construction. Voters here and at Rubio rallies elsewhere are highly educated, ethnically diverse and embrace Rubio as an optimistic new face for the Republican Party.

By the numbers

How does Clinton or Trump get to 270 electoral votes? Play with our map.

Third debate scorecard: Here's who's winning each round

All things Clinton | All things Trump

Who's endorsing who? Find out which celebrities support each candidate.

Find out which Republicans support Donald Trump

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