Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie end presidential bids


Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 10, and here’s what we’re talking about:

Lindsey Graham on the stump for Jeb Bush in South Carolina


In New Hampshire exit polls, a tale of woe for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s bracing 22-point defeat in New Hampshire came at the hands of voters who seemed to reject not so much her policies but Clinton herself — making her rebound all the more complicated unless the state proves to be an outlier.

That verdict comes through clearly in the exit poll of New Hampshire’s Democratic primary voters. Just over a third of them cited honesty and trustworthiness as the most important attribute for the next president, and Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, won those voters 91% to 5%. Asked if one candidate or both shared their values, a third said only Sanders did, and he won those voters 97% to 2%.

The repudiation was across the board. Sanders won almost all categories of voters, including women. Clinton had made them a specific target, but Sanders won women’s votes by 11 points.

New Hampshire is almost wholly white, more liberal and less religious than most states, which may make the defeat here a blip when the election season is concluded. But the sharp divisions evident Tuesday suggest trouble ahead for the national front-runner.

As the campaign moves into more diverse states, one big question will be whether African American and Latino voters decide by virtue of race and ethnicity or age. If minority voters form a bloc, Clinton’s strength in states like South Carolina and Nevada is assured. But if young minority voters break away from their elders to back Sanders, Clinton’s advantage would be diminished.

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Carly Fiorina ends presidential campaign with a message to girls

After poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Carly Fiorina announced Wednesday that she is ending her presidential bid.

“I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now,” she said in a statement. “While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”

The White House bid by Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, was always considered a long shot. She has never held elected office, and the only other time she ran — for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s California seat — she lost by 10 points.

Still, she gained attention as the only woman in the GOP field, and she had fleeting momentum last year after two solid debate performances. She spent considerable amounts of time on the ground in the first two voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, greeting voters at churches, town halls and fairs.

Ultimately, it failed to pay off. Fiorina received 4.1% of the vote in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, and 1.9% in last week’s Iowa caucuses.

Her statement included a message to young girls and a promise to stay visible fighting for conservatism.

“Do not let others define you,” she wrote. “Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism.

“A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made,” she wrote.


Clinton, Sanders seeking support from black voters as race heads to South

(Elise Amendola/AP)

In her quest to bolster support among black voters, Hillary Clinton has touted her close ties to the Obama administration.

And on Wednesday, with the South Carolina primary in her sights, Clinton announced the endorsement of the state’s House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford.

An early supporter of then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, Rutherford’s Columbia, S.C., House district is overwhelmingly black.

Clinton, who was trounced in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, believes her support among black and Latino voters will benefit her as the race heads to South Carolina and Nevada. Several polls have shown the former secretary of State has strong support among black voters, while many do not know much about Sanders.

But Sanders has not been dismayed.

For weeks, his campaign has stressed that his message of income inequality and criminal justice reform will resonate with black voters once his campaign can engage them.

On Wednesday, he also received support from prominent black author and educator Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In an interview with Democracy Now, Coates, whose 2014 “The Case for Reparations” essay in The Atlantic won a Polk Award, said he would vote for the Vermont senator.

“Had you told me this, like, a year ago, I certainly would not have expected, you know, an avowed socialist to be putting up these sorts of numbers, and actually be contending for the Democratic Party nomination, but I think it’s awesome,” Coates said. “I think it’s great.”


Clinton allies launch $25-million effort targeting minority voters

Hillary Clinton supporters are launching a $25-million effort aimed at turning out black and Latino voters, according to the Associated Press. The organization will be advised by Guy Cecil, who runs the multi-million dollar pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA. Priorities, which collects substantial sums from Wall Street, is a frequent target of Bernie Sanders.

The new group, to be called Every Citizen Counts, will not be focused on helping Clinton in the primary. But still, it is another campaign committee controlled by friends of Clinton that is positioned to collect unlimited sums. It threatens to give Sanders yet another line of attack.

The Clinton super PACs have been treading cautiously so far. The attacks they have leveled against Sanders have been limited mostly to pitching news organizations unflattering stories about Clinton’s rival and media appearances by one of the masterminds behind the groups, David Brock, a longtime Clinton loyalist. But they have yet to use the tens of millions of dollars they have raised to unleash a major advertising effort against the senator, a move that would carry the risk of backlash in a race where Sanders has tapped into voter resentment over such spending.


Ted Cruz takes on Donald Trump as ‘not conservative’

The Republican presidential primary has not winnowed to a two-candidate race after New Hampshire, as Ted Cruz had hoped. So the Texas senator, who won the Iowa caucuses, is ramping up for another showdown against front-runner Donald Trump.

“The only way to beat Donald Trump is to highlight his record,” Cruz said during a campaign swing Wednesday through Myrtle Beach, S.C., before heading back to the Senate for evening votes.

Cruz attacked the celebrity billionaire as “not conservative” and warned South Carolina to look for a candidate who has “walked the walk.”

He meant himself.

“If you want a president who will repeal Obamacare, ask: Who has led the fight to repeal Obamacare? If you want a president who will stop amnesty and secure the borders, ask: Who has led the fight to stop amnesty and secure the borders?”

Cruz was referring to his efforts that lead to the 2013 government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act and his subsequent role in temporarily blocking Homeland Security funds to protest President Obama’s immigration policies.


Basketball, ice cream and Democratic politics

Bernie Sanders celebrated his win in New Hampshire’s presidential primary by shooting hoops with the hosts of ABC’s daytime talk show “The View” and tasting “Bernie’s Yearning,” the ice cream named after the Vermont senator.

“This the first time I’ve tasted it,” Sanders said. “Excellent. Really good.”

Sanders won Tuesday’s primary by a wide margin, but the states of Nevada and South Carolina, which vote next, should be more favorable to Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“How do you keep this momentum?” Whoopi Goldberg asked Sanders.

“With a lot of effort, I’ll tell you,” he said. “There’s a lot of hard work in front of us.”

Sanders, who met with the Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem on Wednesday morning, said his views on criminal justice and economic inequality will connect with black and Latino voters, who have generally leaned toward Clinton in public polls.

For example, he highlighted the high rates of unemployment among black youth.

“Don’t tell me we don’t need to invest heavily in the African American community and create decent-paying jobs,” he said.


Chris Christie drops out of GOP race

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose brand of tough-talking politics was overtaken by the Donald Trump phenomenon, dropped out of the race Wednesday after lagging a crowded Republican field in the New Hampshire primary.

“I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win,” Christie wrote Wednesday, in a message on his campaign’s Facebook page.

“It is both the magic and the mystery of politics that you never quite know when which is going to happen, even when you think you do.

“And so today, I leave the race without an ounce of regret.”

Christie never expected to do well in the Iowa caucuses, but the second-term governor had staked his White House ambitions on a strong showing in New Hampshire, spending more than 70 days on the trail there. Instead, he finished a disappointing sixth and last night announced he would scrap a scheduled trip to South Carolina and return to New Jersey to reassess.

Christie’s hopes in New Hampshire were buoyed after a strong performance in Saturday’s debate, in which he mocked and mauled Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for repeating a scripted attack line against President Obama.

“There it is,” Christie said, pouncing when Rubio kept repeating the stock line. “There it is, the memorized 25-second speech.” Since then, Democrats have sent people in robot suits to Rubio events.

But while the attack appears to have severely damaged Rubio, who finished fifth, it failed to boost Christie.

Four years ago, Christie was seen as a rising star in the Republican party and was courted by donors and strategists who thought he would be a strong challenger to Obama. But his brand took a hit after the bizarre Bridgegate scandal in September 2013, when aides to the governor ordered the closure of an access lane to the George Washington Bridge, in an episode of apparent political retaliation against a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse him.

Christie also had trouble with many conservatives who loathed Obama and could never forgive the governor for his friendly greeting of the president after Hurricane Sandy — a few days before the 2012 election.

By the time he entered the race, Christie was overshadowed by the fundraising juggernaut of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and then by Trump, who managed to out-do Christie’s own brand of frank pugnacity.

“The reality is that Trump out-Christied Christie, with his bombastic speech and his tell-it-like-it-is behavior,” said Brigid Callahan Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.

“For voters among whom that had some appeal, there was another celebrity candidate to do that.”

Christie now faces two years left in his term in a state with deep financial problems. To make things harder, he no longer can count on any political leverage with Democratic legislators. The governor’s approval rating in the state is around 33%, half of what it was at his peak, Harrison said.

Christie might have had a decent shot to win the GOP nomination four years ago, when he turned down entreaties from prominent Republican figures who wanted him to run, Harrison said.

“He thought that moment could be replicated,” she said. “The reality was, that was his moment, and he didn’t have the confidence in himself to take that chance.”


As 2016 race goes national, challenges expand for N.H. winners Trump and Sanders

With a roar of discontent toward the political establishment, New Hampshire voters sent the presidential contest into what seems likely to be an extended march that will quickly move to territory far less hospitable to Tuesday night’s big winners, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

After a riotous eight days that ended with the first successful Democratic insurgent win here since 1984 and the first Republican win ever by a TV host and real estate entrepreneur, the races now diverge. Tuesday marked the end of regional contests and the beginning of a national campaign, with all the financial and logistical demands that entails.

On Feb. 20, Democrats in Nevada and Republicans in South Carolina will vote. On Feb. 23, Nevada Republicans will make their picks, and four days later Democrats will compete in South Carolina. Then the race widens to more than a dozen states, many in the South, that vote on March 1.

“And here’s what we’re gonna do,” Hillary Clinton said after her loss in New Hampshire, speaking for all the candidates Tuesday night. “Now we take this campaign to the entire country.”

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Now boarding ...


Bernie Sanders hits Harlem

The first stop Bernie Sanders made after leaving New Hampshire was Harlem, where he began his push to boost support among the African Americans whose votes are crucial to winning upcoming states in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Sanders had breakfast with the Rev. Al Sharpton at the iconic restaurant Sylvia’s.

“I asked him very bluntly about Flint,” Sharpton said after the meeting. “I asked him very bluntly about issues of police brutality and police misconduct.” Sharpton said he also asked Sanders to join Hillary Clinton in meeting with other civil rights leaders next week, which the Vermont senator agreed to do.

“I have not made an endorsement and will not until after that meeting,” Sharpton said. “Probably after that meeting I will.”

Later, on MSNBC, Sharpton said: “My concern is, as the first black family in the White House moves out at the end of the year, our concerns don’t move out with them.” Sharpton was pressed on whether Sanders, who has had a bumpy relationship with black activists after some early run-ins with the Black Lives Matter movement, is going to come across as pandering.

“Both sides are going to be accused of that,” Sharpton said. “You’ve got to convince people you mean it, you have the track record and you’ve shown the commitment.”


A long road ahead

Want to know what could happen next in the presidential primary contest? You’ll need a map.

There will be 29 primaries or caucuses held over the next month, along with a host of debates, including the Democratic face-off Thursday night in Wisconsin. And as Cathleen Decker notes in her analysis this morning, the contests will quickly move to territory far less hospitable to Tuesday night’s big winners.

For context, remember that the Republican race in 2012 played out until April 10. The Democratic contest between Hillary Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama eight years ago dragged on through each and every primary and caucus, all the way to the end of the calendar. Clinton ended her bid on June 7, 2008.

It’s way too early to know if Californians will be so lucky to hold such weight eight years later with our June 7 primary. But Sanders promised to keep on from Maine to California.

And no one on either side dropped out after New Hampshire. Not even Jim Gilmore.

Excerpted from today’s Essential Politics newsletter.

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Cash flows to Sanders after big win


Media fixation hurt my N.H. finish, Marco Rubio says

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio speaks with Stephanie Tespas outside Gilbert Hood Middle School in Derry, N.H.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Marco Rubio said the media’s intense focus on his Feb. 6 GOP debate performance contributed to his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire.

On Wednesday, the Florida senator accused the media of fixating on the fact that he repeated a talking point several times. Critics said Rubio’s performance made him look robotic and scripted.

During the next 72 hours before the New Hampshire primaries, Rubio said every question he received challenged his depth of knowledge.

“That’s absurd,” Rubio argued on NBC’s “Today.” “No one in this race, for example, has shown greater depth, knowledge, understanding or better judgment on the foreign policy issues than I have.”

On Tuesday night, Rubio told disappointed supporters that he bore the blame.

“It’s on me,” Rubio told the crowd at a downtown Manchester hotel. “I did not do well on Saturday night. That will never happen again.”

On Wednesday, Rubio predicted that as the GOP race tightens going into South Carolina, candidates will have to start explaining their policy plans in full.

Businessman Donald Trump skirts over issues and panders to voters by focusing on their frustrations about lingering weaknesses in the economy, but he doesn’t detail how he would fix problems, Rubio said.

“To be president, you can’t go around telling people what’s wrong. You have to tell people how you’re going to fix it,” Rubio said.

Rubio asserted that he has proposed in-depth plans to deal with tax, energy and regulatory reform. He added that he plans to retool his campaign to focus on fundamentals in order to prove he brings experience to the race.

“It’s not just about winning the election; it’s about what’s at stake here,” Rubio said. “There’s going to be a real focus on policy, and we’ll see how people hold up.

“I’m going to be the nominee,” he predicted.


Donald Trump credits his success to immigration, national security plans

He came, he fought, he conquered — and Donald Trump took his bow Wednesday morning after his win at the Republican New Hampshire primaries.

“It’s a movement. People want to see a smart country. They want to see us take the country back,” Trump said on NBC. “We don’t win anymore.”

The GOP front-runner credited his success to his campaigning on immigration, jobs, national security and border control. He called himself the candidate who represents what Americans want — minus the politics.

“I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.”

When Trump laid out his plan to build a wall separating the United States from Mexico, he said people frustrated with illegal immigration saw the hard-line approach as an example of how a businessman would perform as president.

That experience would also parlay into combating a threat like Islamic State, he said.

Trump also justified his repetition of a vulgar word shouted by a supporter in New Hampshire as just “having fun” in the moment. He said he doesn’t consider himself a politician like other candidates, but will refrain from such language in the future.

“Political correctness is killing us in this country,” Trump said on “Today.”


Jeb Bush: Trump provokes, disparages, divides

After his fourth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, Jeb Bush asserted Wednesday that his campaign’s focus on offering realistic policy plans will beat out the fearmongering of businessman Donald Trump.

The former Florida governor, who is fighting to make his way back into the main pool of GOP contenders, acknowledged Trump’s 35% share of votes in Tuesday’s primary. But he said that also shows that about two-thirds of remaining voters don’t support him.

“He provokes people, he disparages people, he divides people,” Bush said of Trump on CNN’s “New Day.”

“Trump’s a master of capturing people’s angst,” he added.

If elected president, Bush said he would shift power back to the states and repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. He also announced that his brother, former President George W. Bush, will help push his agenda on the trail in South Carolina.

As for John Kasich’s second-place win, Bush told Fox News that the people of South Carolina won’t support the Ohio governor.

“He has nothing going on down there,” Bush said on “Fox and Friends.”

Bush also denied reports that his campaign will launch an attack against Kasich and Rubio in the coming weeks.


Here’s how John Kasich plans to win the GOP nomination

If John Kasich wins the Republican presidential nomination, it will be through a strategy of attrition, focused on his strength at home in Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest.

Buoyed by his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, Ohio’s governor arrived before dawn Wednesday in South Carolina, which holds the next GOP contest Feb. 20.

He appeared on NBC’s “Today” show, where he vowed — notwithstanding his pledge to run a positive campaign — to fight back if attacked.

“I’m not gonna sit there and be a marshmallow and have somebody pound me,” Kasich said. “We’re not just gonna sit back and take a pounding from anybody. But at the same time we’re going to tell people what we’re for, and I think people really, really like it.”

A senior campaign strategist, meantime, described Kasich’s hoped-for path forward, which amounts to a last-man-standing strategy as others fall away, starting with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the South Carolina contest.

The strategist spoke on condition he not be identified discussing the campaign’s envisioned road map.

Kasich doesn’t hope to win South Carolina, the strategist said, but simply finish strongly enough to survive if Rubio or Bush -- or both -- drop out.

On March 1, when more than a dozen states vote, the Kasich strategy is to win a handful of states and stay in the mix, with Massachusetts, Vermont, Tennessee and Virginia seen among his prime targets.

Michigan on March 8 is seen as vital a must-win state, that will see the same sort of intense focus that Kasich applied to New Hampshire.

From there, Kasich hopes to roll up wins at home in Ohio, and in Illinois and Missouri, which would catapult him forward into the remaining contests and help build an irreversible lead in the delegate count.

The one unknown, as it has been throughout this most unconventional campaign, is how Donald Trump, the overwhelming winner in New Hampshire, performs from here.

“I’m not going to try to predict what happens to him,” said the Kasich strategist. “But as the race narrows, others will rise, and he’s not going to get the support of the votes of people backing others who drop out.”


Editorial: Trump wins N.H. while the GOP establishment churns

Before the New Hampshire primary, analysts predicted that Donald Trump would finish first on the Republican side and that Sen. Bernie Sanders would easily defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ballot. So it transpired, but there were also some heartening surprises in Tuesday’s results.

First the bad news: Donald Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, after his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, is an ominous development. The Republicans and “undeclared” independents who voted for Trump have entrusted their hopes to a demagogue with no experience in government who demonizes minorities, demeans women and promises to reinstitute waterboarding of suspected terrorists and “a hell of a lot worse.” That the voters were driven to support him by frustration with the unfulfilled promises of professional politicians is an explanation for their behavior, but not an excuse.

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