Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican front-runner Donald Trump swept to victory in Arizona on Tuesday but rival Ted Cruz showed some fight with a win in Utah that gave hope to establishment Republicans who fear Trump would lead the party to ruin in the presidential election.

On the Democratic side, favorite Hillary Clinton routed challenger Bernie Sanders in Arizona to stretch her advantage in the race for her party’s presidential nomination.

Sanders, however, won contests in Utah and Idaho to bolster his case that he still has a chance despite Clinton’s big lead.

The nominating battles in Arizona and Utah, plus the Democratic contest in Idaho, were overshadowed by attacks in Brussels in which at least 30 people were killed and raised security concerns among U.S. voters.

Trump helped himself in Arizona with a hardline anti-immigration message and tough talk on Islamic militants to easily defeat Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Trump had the backing in Arizona of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the most prominent supporters of a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

The win furthered Trump’s argument that he will eventually win the Republican presidential nomination and that the party should rally around him. He won all of Arizona’s 58 delegates.

“Much bigger win than anticipated in Arizona. Thank you, I will never forget!” Trump said on Twitter. “Hopefully the Republican Party can come together and have a big WIN in November, paving the way for many great Supreme Court Justices!”

Cruz, though, won big in Utah’s caucuses, giving hope to those Republicans who fear Trump’s proposal to deport 11 million illegal immigrants and build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico would guarantee a Democratic victory in the Nov. 8 election.

Cruz appeared to be on track to win all of Utah’s 40 Republican delegates. Since the state’s 40 delegates are awarded proportionate to the popular vote, he needed to win at least 50 percent of the vote to take all the delegates.

He appeared to benefit from Mormons who dominate the Republican vote in Utah. They did not take kindly to a Trump attack on native son Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee who has led the anti-Trump opposition.

Trump had questioned whether Romney, an elder in the Mormon church, was really a Mormon.

“Trump’s poor showing in Utah is a reminder that while many love his glib comments, those remarks can also have a downside. Questioning Mitt Romney’s faith is something that was sure to backfire in Utah,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Clinton seized on the Brussels attacks to argue that neither Trump nor Cruz can be trusted to lead the fight against Islamic State militants.

Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and Cruz said he would send police patrols into Muslim neighborhoods in the United States.

“This is a time for America to lead, not cower,” Clinton told supporters in Seattle in a victory speech.

Sanders said his Utah and Idaho victories were powered by young people and working-class Americans who support his “political revolution.”

“These decisive victories in Idaho and Utah give me confidence that we will continue to win major victories in the coming contests,” he said.

Trump is trying to beat back efforts to deny him the nomination. His opponents want to stop him from securing the 1,237 delegates needed ahead of the July convention. Trump now has 678 delegates.

“I think it is going to be very hard for them to do,” Trump said on CNN of any effort to deny him the nomination if he falls short. “I have millions of votes more than anybody.”

Sanders is looking for wins in many of the six Democratic contests this week. Alaska, Hawaii and Washington will vote on Saturday. Clinton will keep adding to her delegate total even if she is not the winner in a given state because Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally in all states.

Tuesday’s Republican contests were the first since U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida dropped out a week ago after Trump drubbed him in his home state.

Kasich is the only other candidate still in the race, splitting the anti-Trump vote with Cruz.

 

(Additional reporting by Alana Wise, Emily Stephenson and Eric Beech in Washington and Luciana Lopez in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler, Paul Tait)

Photo: 

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.