Presidential Race Update

Leading Stories

Following the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night, Ballotpedia polled Republican and Democratic insiders on the candidates' performances. Jeb Bush was named the “biggest loser” of the night by 54 percent of Republicans and Democrats. "Jeb did nothing to reassure his nervous supporters," one GOP insider commented. According to 41 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats, Bush’s fellow Floridian Marco Rubio won the debate. (Ballotpedia)

  Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus expressed disappointment with how the CNBC debate was moderated. He said in a statement on Wednesday night, “While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters. Our diverse field of talented and exceptionally qualified candidates did their best to share ideas for how to reinvigorate the economy and put Americans back to work despite deeply unfortunate questioning from CNBC. … CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled.” (The Huffington Post)

  Poll: A poll of Oklahoma voters released on Wednesday found Ben Carson leading Republicans in the state with 25 percent. Donald Trump and Marco Rubio followed with 21 percent and 19 percent, respectively. No other Republican candidate received double-digit support. Most voters – 27 percent – remained undecided. (The Oklahoman)

  Poll: In the same poll of Democratic Oklahomans, an even greater number of respondents said they were undecided: 46 percent. Hillary Clinton topped the field, otherwise, with 30 percent. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley polled at 21 percent and 1 percent, respectively. (The Oklahoman)



  William Daley, President Obama’s former chief of staff, former Commerce Secretary and Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager, warned the Democratic presidential field not to wade too far into “Left-wing economic populism.” He said, “We all get the fact that you’ve got to win a primary to get the nomination. But as we all know, because we’ve seen it, there is some sort of imaginary line there, whether you are on the right or the left. If you cross that in the primary process, it is very difficult to get back to where the general election is, and that is in the middle. Romney found that out. He really probably didn’t believe it ’til election day or the day after . . . You find that out, only too late.” (Chicago Sun-Times)


Hillary Clinton

  During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said she opposed abolishing the death penalty. “We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied and very unfortunately, often times in a discriminatory way. … I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare,” Clinton said. (The Wall Street Journal)

  During the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night, Clinton aired ads in Iowa and New Hampshire focusing on the individual stories of women dealing with unequal pay and college affordability issues. “Mrs. Clinton’s early ads have been criticized privately by some senior Democrats as unmemorable biographical spots that have not broken through the clutter of television advertisements. But the new ones also focus attention away from Mrs. Clinton, who has sometimes been faulted for turning the discussion to herself too frequently,” noted Maggie Haberman of The New York Times. (The New York Times)

  Clinton is holding a fundraiser next month featuring all but two female Democratic senators – Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). (The Huffington Post)

  On Wednesday, Clinton called the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank a “no-brainer.” She added, “For the life of me, I don’t understand the arguments [against it]. The Export-Import Bank’s sole purpose is to support United States business abroad." (Politico)


Lawrence Lessig

  Lawrence Lessig is scheduled to appear at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in November to discuss campaign finance policy. (American Enterprise Institute)


Martin O’Malley

  Craig Varoga, Martin O’Malley’s chief strategist during his 2010 reelection campaign in Maryland, called O’Malley’s presidential run “very sad.” He said, “He had a good record as [Baltimore] mayor and governor, but didn’t lay the groundwork for a serious campaign, announced too late, has never found an issue that voters care about or that sets him apart from either Clinton or Sanders, has never raised much money outside of Maryland and is now grasping at straws and gimmicks to get 60 seconds of passing attention on cable shows.” (Washington Times)

  O’Malley held a press conference near the University of Colorado-Boulder where he called on Republican presidential candidates to challenge the National Rifle Association (NRA). "In these beautiful mountains of Colorado, I am in search of a very elusive being. And that is a Republican candidate with the backbone to take on the NRA," O'Malley said. He also criticized his Democratic rivals, saying, “Once Secretary Clinton and Sen. Sanders get done bickering about 'shouting' and who's sexist and who's not, I hope they come back to the main issue here, which is that we need common-sense gun legislation.” (The Huffington Post, The Hill)


Bernie Sanders

  In an interview with Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver published on Wednesday, Weaver said he would consider Hillary Clinton for vice president. He said, “Look, she'd make a great vice president. We're willing to give her more credit than Obama did. We're willing to consider her for vice president. We'll give her serious consideration. We'll even interview her.” (Bloomberg)

  Speaking at George Mason University on Wednesday, Sanders said that “the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.” He said states should regulate the sale of the drug as it does alcohol and tobacco. “That means that recognized businesses in states that have legalized marijuana should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution,” Sanders added. (The New York Times)




The following selection of quotes comes from the transcripts of Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debates prepared by The Washington Post. (First, Second)


Jeb Bush

  On his greatest weakness: You know, I am by my nature impatient. And this is not an endeavor that rewards that. You gotta be patient. You gotta be -- stick with it, and all that. But also, I can't fake anger. I believe this is still the most extraordinary country on the face of the Earth. And it troubles me that people are rewarded for tearing down our country. It's never been that way in American politics before.

  On Marco Rubio’s missed votes in the Senate: I'm a constituent of the senator and I helped him and I expected that he would do constituent service, which means that he shows up to work. He got endorsed by the Sun-Sentinel because he was the most talented guy in the field. He's a gifted politician. But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate -- what is it, like a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well, they're looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.


Ben Carson

  On rising prescription drug prices: Well, there is no question that some people go overboard when it comes to trying to make profits, and they don't take into consideration the American people. What we have to start thinking about, as leaders, particularly in government, is what can we do for the average American? And you think about the reasons that we're having such difficulty right now with our job market. Well, the average small manufacturer, whatever they're manufacturing, drugs or anything, if they have less than 50 employees, the average cost in terms of regulations is $34,000 per employee. Makes it a whole lot easier for them to want to go somewhere else. So what we're going to have to start doing instead of, you know, picking on this group or this group, is we're going to have to have a major reduction in the regulatory influence that is going on. The government is not supposed to be in every part of our lives, and that is what is causing the problem.

  On discrimination against LGBT: Well, obviously, you don't understand my views on homosexuality. I believe that our Constitution protects everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other aspect. I also believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And there is no reason that you can't be perfectly fair to the gay community. They shouldn't automatically assume that because you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman that you are a homophobe. And this is one of the myths that the left perpetrates on our society, and this is how they frighten people and get people to shut up. You know, that's what the PC culture is all about, and it's destroying this nation.


Chris Christie

  On the Democratic presidential candidates: Where I see the weakness is in those three people that are left on the Democratic stage. You know, I see a socialist, an isolationist and a pessimist. And for the sake of me, I can't figure out which one is which. But I will -- but I will tell you this, the socialist says they're going to pay for everything and give you everything for free, except they don't say they're going to raise it through taxes to 90 percent to do it. The isolationist is the one who wants to continue to follow a foreign policy that has fewer democracies today than when Barack Obama came into office around the world. But I know who the pessimist is. It's Hillary Clinton. And you put me on that stage against her next September, she won't get within 10 miles of the White House. Take it to the bank.

  On the Justice Department: The fact is that this Justice Department under this president has been a political Justice Department. It has been a Justice Department that decided that they want to pick who the winners and losers are. They like General Motors, so they give them a pass. They don't like somebody else like David Petraeus, they prosecute them and send a decorated general on to disgrace. It's a political Justice Department.

  On regulating fantasy football: Carl, are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football? We have -- wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we're talking about fantasy football? Can we stop? How about this? How about we get the government to do what they're supposed to be doing, secure our borders, protect our people, and support American values and American families. Enough on fantasy football. Let people play, who cares?


Ted Cruz

  On his greatest weakness: I'm too agreeable, easygoing. You know, I think my biggest weakness is exactly the opposite. I'm a fighter. I am passionate about what I believe. I've been passionate my whole life about the Constitution. And, you know, for six-and-a-half years, we've had a gigantic party. If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy. But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.

  On his tax plan: Becky, if you want a 10 percent flat tax where the numbers add up, I rolled out my tax plan today, you can find it online at It is a simple flat tax where for individuals, a family of four pays nothing on the first $36,000. After that you pay 10 percent as a flat tax going up. The billionaire and the working man, no hedge fund manager pays less than his secretary. On top of that, there is a business flat tax of 16 percent.

  On the debate: You know, let me say something at the outset. The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions -- "Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?" "Ben Carson, can you do math?" "John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?" "Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?" "Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?" How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?


Carly Fiorina

  On reducing the tax code to three pages: You know why three? Because only if it's about three pages are you leveling the playing field between the big, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected who can hire the armies of lawyers and accountants and, yes, lobbyists to help them navigate their way through 73,000 pages. Three pages is about the maximum that a single business owner or a farmer or just a couple can understand without hiring somebody. Almost 60 percent of American people now need to hire an expert to understand their taxes.

  On government-controlled retirement plans and minimum wages: I think it's a wonderful thing that that businesses start a 401(k). The point I'm making is this, the Federal Government should not be in a lot of things. There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government in setting up -- retirement plans. There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government to be setting minimum wages.


Lindsey Graham

  On the Obama administration’s foreign policy: Here's the problem. We're being walked all over because our commander in chief is weak in the eyes of our enemies. Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine today if Ronald Reagan were president? Why are the Chinese stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our system? Why are they building islands over resource-rich waters? Because they can get away with it. At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, the foreign policy of Barack Obama needs to be replaced, and the last person you want to find to replace his foreign policy is his secretary of state. So to the Chinese, when it comes to dealing with me, you've got a clenched fist or an open hand. You pick. The party's over, to all the dictators. Make me commander-in-chief and this crap stops.

  On climate change: Now, you don't have to believe that climate change is real. I have been to the Antarctic. I've been to Alaska. I'm not a scientist, and I've got the grades to prove it. But I've talked to the climatologists of the world, and 90 percent of them are telling me that greenhouse gas effect is real. That we're heating up the planet. I just want a solution that would be good for the economy, that doesn't destroy it.

  On Democratic presidential candidates: At the end of the day, folks, I am trying to solve a problem and win an election. I am tired of losing. Good God, look who we're running against. The number one candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The number two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don't think he ever came back.


Mike Huckabee

  On Social Security and Medicare: First of all, yes, we've stolen. Yes, we've lied to the American people about Social Security, and Medicare. But, you know what we're not telling them? It's their money. This isn't the governments [sic] money. This is not entitlement, it's not welfare. This is money that people have confiscated out of their paychecks. Every time they got a paycheck, the government reached in and took something out of it before they ever saw it. Now, we're going to blame the people. … This is a matter not of math, this is a matter of morality. If this country that does not keep its promise to seniors then what promise can this country hope to be trusted to keep? And, the fact is, none of them.

  On reducing diseases rather than benefits: And I'll tell you one thing that we never talk about -- we haven't talked about it tonight. Why aren't we talking about -- instead of cutting benefits for old people, cutting benefits for sick people -- why don't we say, "let's cure the four big cost-driving diseases...diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's?" If you do that, you don't just change the economy, you transform the lives of millions of hurting Americans.


Bobby Jindal

  On the budget deal:  I think this is a very bad deal. Whenever they tell us in D.C. they're going to cut tomorrow, that means they're never going to cut. Tomorrow never seems to happen. Instead, why don't we actually follow our conservative principles? Why not insist on structural reforms? Why not cut spending? … If I were -- I were to lead, we would pass a conservative budget, challenge the President to do the right thing. And, here's the problem, the Republicans never want to fight. Give Pelosi and Reed credit, they forced Obamacare and socialism down our throats, why won't the Republicans fight half as hard for freedom and opportunity. This was a bad budget.

  On corporate taxes:  We do have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. I'd get rid of it. I'd get rid of all the corporate welfare. Make the CEOs pay their same tax rates the way the rest of us do.

  On paid maternity leave: Here's the problem. The last seven years, President Obama has tried to teach the American people that government is the answer to all of our problems. Where has that gotten us? We're on a path toward socialism. The way that folks can get better paying jobs with better benefits is if we have a growing economy. That means to repeal all of ObamaCare, a lower flatter tax code. … So, yes, I want families to have better paying jobs and better benefits, but we're not going to get that with a government mandate, we're going to get that with a growing economy.

  On cutting taxes: Look, if Senator Santorum wants to concede the tax cut wing of the Republican Party, I'm happy to fight for that side of the Republican Party. He's exactly right. I explicitly want to shrink the size of government; 22 percent over 10 years is not too much. We cut our state budget 26 percent in eight years. This is a fundamental choice. We mustn't become a cheaper version of the Democratic Party, a second liberal party. We need to proudly say we're willing to cut taxes, shrink government, grow the American economy. President Kennedy said it to the Democratic Party. Why can't we say it in the Republican Party in 2015, let's cut taxes.


John Kasich

  On cutting taxes and Medicare: Why don't we just give a chicken in every pot, while we're, you know, coming up -- coming up with these fantasy tax schemes. We'll just clean it up. Where are you gonna clean it up? You have to deal with entitlements, you have to be in a position to control discretionary spending. You gotta be creative and imaginative. … This stuff is fantasy. Just like getting rid of Medicare and Medicaid. Come on, that's just not -- you scare senior citizens with that. It's not responsible.

  On legalizing marijuana to create revenue in Ohio: Well, first of all, we're running a $2 billion dollar surplus, we're not having a revenue problem right now. And, sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster. Drugs is one of the greatest scourge in this country, and I spent five years of my administration working with my team to do a whole sort of things to try to reign in the problem of overdoses, and it goes on and on. We could do a whole show on that.


George Pataki

  On establishment politics: We need an outsider to run our party and to win the next election. Washington has become a corrupt insider game and everybody talks about how they're going to change the taxes, grow the economy. Nothing seems to change. … But I understand that to change Washington you have to understand government as well. You can't just be an outsider. You can't just be someone who throws stones at Washington. You have to be someone who can actually bring people together across party lines. I can do that, I will do that if I have the chance to lead this party.

  On the budget deal: I think it was a bad deal, but I would have voted for it for a very simple reason. Barack Obama is the first president in American history to hold our military hostage. He knew that we needed funding for overseas contingency operations, $40 million dollars that would go to support our troops. And, he was prepared, and had vetoed it, unless this deal went through. I have two sons, they both served overseas. One in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan, and I understand that we have got to do far more to help our military, help our veterans, and help protect our security. This is a bad deal, but to protect our military, I would have signed it.

  On cyber threats: And what I would do is put in place a policy where if we know a company, say, a Chinese company, is hacking into American companies, stealing trade secrets, as we know they do every day, we will retaliate against that company and say that that company's not going to be allowed to continue to do trade with the United States.

  On climate change: I want Republicans to embrace innovation and technology. … We could export those technologies to places like China and like India so we would grow our economy, have a far greater impact globally, have a secure domestic source of energy, and cleaner, healthier air. That's the solution. Embrace science, embrace innovation and change.


Rand Paul

  On the Federal Reserve: You want to study income inequality, let's bring the Fed forward and talk about Fed policy and how it causes income inequality. Let's also bring the Fed forward and have them explain how they caused the housing boom and the crisis, and what they've done to make us better or worse. I think the Fed has been a great problem in our society. What you need to do is free up interest rates. Interest rates are the price of money, and we shouldn't have price controls on the price of money.

  On Medicare and Social Security: The age will have to gradually rise, there is no question. It's the only way you fix Medicare, the only way you fix Social Security. You will also have to means-test the benefits and declare there's not enough money. It isn't "I put money in, I'm getting it back." There is no money, it's a stack of paper. There is no money in the Social Security account. There is no money in the Medicare account. There's only a promise to pay by the next generation, and the next generation's not big enough to pay it.


Marco Rubio

  On the Sun-Sentinel calling for his resignation: Back in 2004, one of my predecessors to the Senate by the name of Bob Graham, a Democrat, ran for president missing over 30 percent of his votes. I don't recall them calling for his resignation. … Later that year, in 2004, John Kerry ran for president missing close to 60 to 70 percent of his votes. I don't recall the Sun -- in fact, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed him. In 2008, Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes, and the same newspaper endorsed him again. So this is another example of the double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and the conservative movement.

  On his personal finance record: Well, you just -- you just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents, and I'm not gonna waste 60 seconds detailing them all. But I'm going to tell you the truth. Here's the truth. I didn't inherit any money. My dad was a bartender, my mother was a maid. They worked hard to provide us the chance at a better life. They didn't save enough money for us to go to school. I had to work my way through school. … I know what it's like to owe that money, and we've worked hard. We've worked hard our whole life to provide a better family -- a better life for our family.

  On reforming Medicare: And on this issue of the Medicare in particular, it's important because they're going to demagogue what we're saying here tonight. Everyone up here tonight that's talking about reforms, I think and I know for myself I speak to this, we're all talking about reforms for future generations. Nothing has to change for current beneficiaries. My mother is on Medicare and Social Security. I'm against anything that's bad for my mother.


Rick Santorum

  On a pollution tax on imports: What we should be -- we shouldn't be putting tariffs on anything. That hurts working men and women in this country. What we should be doing is making our manufacturing more competitive. … Why don't we -- if we really want to tackle environmental problems, global warming, what we need to do is take those jobs from China and bring them back here to the United States, employ workers in this country.

  On Obamacare: Well, I -- I would say this, that what you're seeing is -- in health care, you're seeing a lot of consolidation, and that consolidation is occurring because of Obamacare. You're seeing it particularly in an area that I am concerned about, and that's in insurance -- health insurance. You're seeing the big health insurance companies fold up. You've seen Obama try to seed health insurance companies, and they've all failed, I think, except one. Why? Because we have a system of Obamacare with minimum loss ratios that make it virtually impossible for a small insurer to operate effectively. And this was the motive behind Obamacare. This wasn't incidental. This was deliberate, to make it so impossible for small insurers to survive . . . that they consolidate into a small group. Then the left can say, "there is no competition, we need a single payer." That's why we have to repeal Obamacare.


Donald Trump

  On his greatest weakness:  I think maybe my greatest weakness is that I trust people too much. I'm too trusting. And when they let me down, if they let me down, I never forgive. I find it very, very hard to forgive people that deceived me. So I don't know if you would call that a weakness, but my wife said "let up."

  On John Kasich: First of all, John got lucky with a thing called fracking, OK? He hit oil. He got lucky with fracking. Believe me, that is why Ohio is doing well. Number -- and that is important for you to know. Number two, this was the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers when it went down the tubes and almost took every one of us with it, including Ben and myself, because I was there and I watched what happened. … And just thirdly, he was so nice. He was such a nice guy. And he said, oh, I'm never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked. He has got -- that is why he is on the end. And he got nasty. And he got nasty. So you know what? You can have him.

  On gun-free zones: But I feel that the gun-free zones and, you know, when you say that, that's target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill. That's target. They look around for gun-free zones. You know, we could give you another example -- the Marines, the Army, these wonderful six soldiers that were killed. Two of them were among the most highly decorated -- they weren't allowed on a military base to have guns. And somebody walked in and shot them, killed them. If they had guns, he wouldn't be around very long. I can tell you, there wouldn't have been much damage. So, I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe. They're a feeding frenzy for sick people.