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Elections 2016

It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running for President

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Chase is the Founder and Creative Director of therepubliq.com, Host and Executive Producer of OutCast Austin, an award-winning LGBT weekly radio program on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin. In 2011, he was named the Critics Pick for 'Most Gaybiquitous' in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin. In 2012, CultureMap Austin named him one of Austin's Top LGBT bloggers and he received the AGLCC's Chamber Award for Social Media Diva.

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Elections 2016

Thousands Turn Out For Bernie Sanders in Two Texas Stops

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U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ message of modern-day populism brought out Texans by the thousands on Saturday.

In Austin, Texas’ liberal hub, the Vermont Democrat had particular appeal to the mix of older Austin liberals and younger progressives who have migrated here by the tens of thousands in recent years. And later in the day, Dallas-Fort Worth supporters showed up at a suburban concert venue to cheer their hero.

The Texas visit comes a day after early voting in Tuesday’s Texas Democratic primary ended and with Sanders trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 10 points in the state, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll published this week.

The deficit didn’t seem to bother Sanders.

His message, albeit predictable, was delivered in the same fiery tone that has resonated with the supporters who have helped the Vermont senator close the gap between him and the frontrunner to deliver higher-than-expected results in other states.

“We were 50 points down in Iowa and ended in a virtual tie. We were 30 points down in New Hampshire — we won that state,” he said.

He doubled down on his criticism of his Democratic rival for being at the behest of special interests and the corporate machinery he hinted she would be beholden to if elected president.

“We are listening to the American people, not wealthy campaign contributors,” he said. “And what the American people are telling us is that they are sick and tired of establishment politics, sick and tired of establishment economics. They want a government which is going to represent all of us.”

He also hit Clinton for voting for the war in Iraq while she was a U.S. senator, and for supporting the “homophobic” Defense of Marriage Act, which passed in 1996 when her husband was president. He also criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it shipped jobs away from American workers to those foreign countries.

Sanders reiterated his commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding Social Security and health care, proposals considered taboo by his GOP rivals who insist Sanders is little more than a modern-day socialist.

But the candidate saved his fiercest criticism for the current GOP frontrunner, billionaire Donald Trump, whom Sanders seemed convinced will win that party’s nomination.  He conceded that immigration reform is a divisive issue that won’t be easily solved. But he said the rhetoric toward minorities has spun out of control and needled Trump for his now infamous comments about Mexico.

“I would hope that every American would stand up against the xenophobia and against the racism that we are hearing,” he said. “It is not acceptable to refer to Mexicans who come in to this country as criminals, as rapists, as drug dealers.”

“I believe that Donald Trump’s idea of dividing us up is a horrific un-American idea,” he added at the end of his 40-minute speech in Austin. “We will defeat Trump because the American people do not want an American president who insults Mexicans and Muslims, who insults women and African Americans, and veterans and basically anybody who is not like Donald Trump. And thankfully, most Americans are not like Donald Trump.”

Though they were happy to see Sanders on Saturday, some supporters said an earlier visit might have helped the candidate by swaying undecided Democrats to his side during early voting.

“I was wondering when he would show up. I figured he would some time before Tuesday and here he is,” said Robin Rieck, a precinct chair from neighboring Bastrop County. “He’s spread thin, but I would liked to have seen him sooner.”

Others said he should have paid more attention to the border, especially with his support for a comprehensive overhaul of the current immigration system.

“I am actually disappointed in that regard. Hillary has really stepped up her game in that regard, but that’s one area he’s lacking in,” said Eric Martinez, who moved to Austin from the Mexican state of Guerrero 10 years ago. “That’s also a mistake. He should have been here [in Texas] a lot sooner.”

In North Texas, his highest-profile backers introduced him: former state Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, former state Rep. Domingo Garcia and state Rep. Marisa Marquez.

Hightower, who earlier introduced Sanders in Austin, breezily greeted the crowd, “Hello, revolutionaries.”

When Sanders spoke, any mention of or allusion to Clinton elicited boos.

Sanders’ Dallas crowd of about 7,000 was one of the largest — if not the largest — of a series of candidate events in the Metroplex in the last week. Elsewhere in the country, Sanders has attracted similar crowds.

Saturday’s two Sanders events marked his only two recent appearances in the state in the run up to the primary. Clinton’s only recent event was last weekend in Houston. She has delegated most of her Texas campaigning to Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to return before Election Day.

Sanders said he was encouraged with his Texas prospects.

“As I look around, we had a great rally in Austin this morning; this is just fantastic,” Sanders said in Dallas. “So I think we have a surprise coming for some people on Tuesday.”

Julián Aguilar contributed to this report.

[gdlr_icon type=”icon-camera-retro” size=”16px” color=”#999999″]TOP IMAGE: Vermont Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters in Austin, Texas on Feb. 27, 2016. / photo credit: Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

[gdlr_notification icon=”icon-external-link” type=”color-background” background=”#ffcc20″ color=”#ffffff”]This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.[/gdlr_notification]

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Elections 2016

Greg Abbott Endorses Ted Cruz for President

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* Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, becoming the highest-ranking elected official in Cruz’s home state — and the country — to support the U.S. senator’s campaign. 

Abbott made his endorsement in a video that was released Wednesday morning.  

“Conservative values are at his core,” Abbott said of Cruz in the video, adding that Cruz is a “constitutionalist whose judgment I trust to appoint the right judges to the United States Supreme Court.” 

Abbott and Cruz appeared together Wednesday afternoon at a rally in Cruz’s hometown of Houston, where Abbott hailed Cruz as his most trusted partner in his fight against the federal government. 

“Lawsuits are not enough to change a broken Washington, D.C.,” said Abbott, who sued the Obama administration 30-some times as attorney general. “To fix Washington, D.C., we need leaders like Ted Cruz.” 

Declaring that the country is at a “constitutional tipping point,” Abbott also boosted Cruz on an issue the senator has been vocal about following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: his replacement. Abbott, warning there is “no margin of error,” declared Cruz the best candidate to appoint conservative jurists. 

Speaking after Abbott, Cruz offered an extensive recollection of when he first interviewed with Abbott for the job of solicitor general of Texas. Cruz’s wife Heidi was skeptical of his prospects, and Cruz admitted he “had no business at all with interviewing for the job, much less doing it.” 

“If you had told me in November 2002, when I was sitting in his office interviewing … that 13 years later I’d be standing here today and Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, would be endorsing me as president of the United States,” Cruz said, quickly getting drowned out by cheers, “my reaction, quite frankly would’ve been like Heidi’s reaction when I first interviewed for the job: ‘It ain’t never gonna happen.'” 

Cruz now has the support of the two most powerful elected officials in Texas: Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as former Gov. Rick Perry. Cruz has also been endorsed by roughly a quarter of the Republicans representing Texas in Congress and nearly half of the GOP members of the state Legislature.  

Abbott’s endorsement comes as Cruz faces serious competition on his home turf from billionaire Donald Trump, who continues to rack up wins as Cruz promises a strong showing on March 1. As results came in that showed him finishing third Tuesday night in the Nevada caucuses, Cruz said Super Tuesday would mark the “most important night of this campaign.” 

Abbott, the former attorney general, is a mentor of sorts to Cruz, who served as solicitor general under Abbott from 2003 to 2008. On the campaign trail, Cruz regularly recalls the nine trips he took the U.S. Supreme Court as Texas’ top lawyer. He also cites the wisdom Abbott imparted as an attorney general determined to put his office on the front lines of conservative battles. 

Abbott’s endorsement comes after months of uncertainty about whether he would formally support any candidate in a race that started out with several participants with strong ties to Texas. Abbott had hoped to capitalize on Texas’ expanded influence in the nominating process by luring White House hopefuls here to discuss issues important to the state, such as border security. Abbott met with at least two candidates: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who in March toured the border with Abbott, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who visited the Governor’s Mansion in October.  

It was not until the end of January that Abbott suggested he could make an endorsement, saying he could “weigh in” on the race before March 1. In recent weeks, his silence had become more noticeable to Cruz supporters eager to see the senator shore up his home-state support with the clock ticking until its nominating contest.  

Abbott and Cruz are set to speak separately Wednesday night at the Harris County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Houston. One other presidential candidate, Carson, is also scheduled to appear at the event, which is being held on the eve on the Republican debate in Houston. The Texas primary is Tuesday. 

[gdlr_icon type=”icon-camera-retro” size=”16px” color=”#999999″]TOP IMAGE: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott speak at a press conference in the Capitol about Cruz’s Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act of 2015 (S. 2302), in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2015. / photo credit: Chris Maddaloni for The Texas Tribune

[gdlr_notification icon=”icon-external-link” type=”color-background” background=”#ffcc20″ color=”#ffffff”]This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.[/gdlr_notification]

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Elections 2016

After Scalia Death, Cruz Amps Up Talk of Supreme Court

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For months, Ted Cruz has warned audiences across the country about what the 2016 presidential election could mean for the U.S. Supreme Court

“The next president could get up to four Supreme Court justices,” Cruz said in a recent radio interview. “We are one liberal justice away from a five-justice liberal majority the likes of which this country has never seen.” 

In Cruz’s telling, that majority could be responsible for a host of decisions with grave consequences: the removal of Ten Commandments monuments from public grounds, the end of gun rights as the country knows them, the striking down of all prohibitions on abortion — even the court “ordering the chisels to come out to take off the crosses and stars of David on the tombstones of our fallen soldiers.” 

With the sudden and unexpected death Saturday of Justice Antonin Scalia, Cruz’s case is becoming more salient than ever — and he is moving quickly to capitalize on it. The U.S. senator from Texas is vowing to put up a fight if President Barack Obama tries to nominate a replacement, and Cruz is seeking to inject even more drama in to the race for the White House, declaring it a “referendum on the Supreme Court.”  

“Today we saw just how grave the stakes are,” Cruz said at the ninth Republican debate Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina. “Two branches of government hang in the balance — not just the presidency, but the Supreme Court.” 

Cruz’s campaign sees opportunity in the battle over the bench, which adds a real-life example to Cruz’s relatively abstract warnings about the future of the court. “It’s no longer theoretical,” Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe told reporters after the debate.  

Cruz was the first presidential candidate to formally react to Scalia’s death Saturday, issuing a statement that called him “one of the greatest Justices in history.” Cruz quickly followed up the statement with a tweet that suggested the next president should name Scalia’s replacement. A few hours later, Obama made clear he will try not to let that happen, saying he intends “to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time.” 

Scalia’s death is portending an epic political battle heightened by an election year in which candidates from both parties were already talking in dramatic terms about the future of the court. In an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Cruz said he “absolutely” will filibuster any nominee Obama puts forward to replace Scalia.  

“Let the election decide it,” Cruz said. “If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election.” 

At the same time, Cruz is using the conversation sparked by Scalia’s death as a wedge against his GOP rivals, most pointedly Donald Trump. On the debate stage, Cruz flatly said the billionaire “will appoint liberals” to the court if elected, a warning he has echoed in media appearances since their meeting in Greenville.  

“If Donald Trump becomes president, the Second Amendment will be written out of the Constitution because it is abundantly clear that Donald Trump is not a conservative,” Cruz said on “This Week.” “He will not invest the capital to confirm a conservative.” 

Cruz’s campaign amplified the message later Sunday with the release of a TV ad that lists some of the issues that could come before the court then says Americans “cannot trust Donald Trump with these serious decisions.” The 30-second spot, titled “Supreme Trust,” includes part of a 1999 interview in which Trump describes himself as “very pro-choice” and says he would not ban partial-birth abortions as president.  

Trump is also finding political value in the renewed debate about judicial nominees, reviving questions about Cruz’s onetime support for Justice John Roberts, whose two decisions upholding Obama’s health care law have angered conservatives. In 2005, Cruz, then the solicitor general of Texas, wrote a glowing op-ed for the National Review that urged swift confirmation of Roberts after then-President George W. Bush nominated him.  

Cruz “put John Roberts on the Supreme Court,” said Trump, stretching the truth, in an interview on Fox News following the debate. “He was the one that pushed for John Roberts. John Roberts has been a disaster. John Roberts had two chances to knock out Obamacare, and he didn’t do it.” 

Cruz, for his part, insists he regrets supporting Roberts in the wake of his betrayals on Obamacare. If he had his way, he says, he would not have nominated him in the first place.  

Abby Livingston contributed to this report. 

[gdlr_icon type=”icon-camera-retro” size=”16px” color=”#999999″]TOP IMAGE: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to supporters in Hollis, New Hampshire, after his apparent third-place showing in the state’s Republican presidential primary on Feb. 9, 2016. / photo credit: Allegra Boverman

[gdlr_notification icon=”icon-external-link” type=”color-background” background=”#ffcc20″ color=”#ffffff”]This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.[/gdlr_notification]

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