Essential Politics: A new lineup on the GOP stage


I’m Christina Bellantoni, the Essential Politics host today. Let’s get started.

In an election season as unpredictable as this one, perhaps it’s fitting that the undercard forum of lower-tier presidential candidates has scrambled its makeup. Stranger still, the so-called happy hour debate to take place before the main event will include two sitting governors and the guys who were runners-up to get the Republican nomination in 2012 and 2008.

The earlier meeting of hopefuls, kicking off at 4 p.m. Pacific, includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former New York Gov. George Pataki didn’t poll high enough — a threshold of 1% support in one of the four polls used to narrow down the field — to make the stage.

When things kick off for the big show at 6 p.m. Pacific, Donald Trump will continue to hold center stage, just edging out retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is closely following him in polls. (Including our USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national poll released Sunday.)

There will be eight candidates instead of 10, since Christie and Huckabee were knocked down to the earlier forum.

Here’s Seema Mehta on the things to watch tonight, from questions about Carson’s personal story to whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be assertive on stage.

Kurtis Lee, covering the debate in Milwaukee along with Michael Finnegan, tees up the evening by noting that the moderators of tonight's debate on Fox Business could become part of the story, given how much of a focus the candidates put on CNBC moderators the last time they met.

And Maria Bartiromo tells Stephen Battaglio she is prepared to take the hits if the candidates get ruffled by the questions she and Neil Cavuto ask.

Given the late Monday 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling rejecting President Obama's executive order that would have granted temporary protection from deportation to about 5 million immigrants in the country illegally, and Sen. Marco Rubio’s new elevated status within the field of candidates, you can expect immigration to return as a hot debate topic.

Our team on the ground, in Los Angeles and D.C. will have you covered for both debates. Follow along on Trail Guide and via @latimespolitics, and we'll round up our analysis in this space tomorrow.


Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) tried her hand at some trickery in a weekly magic video hosted by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.).

Pocan, who helped pay for college by doing magic shows, started the gimmick earlier this year and sometimes brings in his colleagues. Sanchez, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, correctly identified several cards without looking in the latest edition.

She holds a gavel as she accurately separates cards by color from a shuffled deck.

Sanchez spokesman Alex Nguyen, who previously worked for Pocan, told Sarah Wire that the representatives filmed the trick in one take last Wednesday.

"He’d been practicing that trick all day," Nguyen said of Pocan.


L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s email endorsement dustup last week highlights the difficulties of campaigning while in public office. What falls in the category of official taxpayer funds, and what do campaigns need to finance? Christine Mai-Duc breaks it down.


-- Seth Meyers tells Meredith Blake why he loves cracking jokes about politics and says he has "nothing but sympathy" for debate moderators.

-- Kate Linthicum explores how Sen. Bernie Sanders is using his background as the son of a Polish immigrant in a spirited new push to connect with Latino voters. She spent time with Sanders in Las Vegas, a place where the senator is adding staff to compete with the army of organizers Hillary Rodham Clinton has had on the ground since April.

-- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) received the Thomas Merton Award recognizing peace and social justice efforts from Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center at a dinner Monday night. Past recipients of the award include Dorothy Day, Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis and Martin Sheen.

-- State Sen. Connie M. Leyva will introduce legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for rape and some other sexual crimes to increase the chance that victims will get justice, Patrick McGreevy reports.

-- Clinton scored the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters.

-- Christi Parsons and Paul Richter detail what they learned about President Obama’s White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Miss yesterday’s newsletter? Here you go. Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox daily. And keep an eye on our new politics page throughout the day for the latest and greatest. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to