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This Week on the Campaign Trail

Overview

This week reinforced what Americans are seeing more and more every day: we need to elect a Democrat as our 45th President to keep America moving forward. We again saw the stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic candidates through this week’s town halls. While the Democrats engaged in a serious and substantive conversation worthy of the American people, the Republicans offered nothing but divisive rhetoric. The GOP town halls were a reminder that the Republican candidates don’t have any new ideas for moving our country forward—they merely offered recycled and failed policies that would drag America backward. From their promises to end the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers millions, to their obsession with cutting Social Security and gutting public education, the GOP has demonstrated to the American people that we simply can’t afford to have a Republican in the White House.

Supreme Court Vacancy

Less than two hours after Justice Scalia’s passing was announced, Republican presidential candidates and party leaders vowed to block any nominee put forward by President Obama. In response, the DNC released a new video this week highlighting the GOP’s knee-jerk obstructionist reaction to the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans have their way, they’ll leave the Supreme Court without a full bench at a time when our nation faces important questions on issues ranging from abortion rights to affirmative action. Those promising to obstruct President Obama’s nomination are not only ignoring precedent, they’re ignoring their constitutional responsibilities. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor agreed earlier this week with the President and congressional Democrats when she called for a speedy confirmation process, saying, “I think we need somebody, there, now, to do the job, and let’s get on with it…” Nonpartisan observers have been rightly critical of the GOP’s preemptive obstructionism, including the National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who reported receiving a message from one Republican operative immediately after Justice Scalia’s passing that emphasized the party’s hardline opposition. And similar criticism has been mounting from other well-known conservatives—watch the video showcasing the criticism below:

VIDEO

2016 Republican Presidential Candidates

Marco Rubio

Since Marco Rubio has been in the Senate, showing up for work has been a responsibility he has quickly overlooked. This year alone, Rubio has already missed 87% of his votes, along with countless foreign policy hearings, including briefings on Syria and Iraq. Reports yesterday surfaced that Rubio has missed 68% of his hearings since taking office in 2011. While Rubio likes to argue that it’s because he’s too busy running for president, the review shows that he had a habit of missing hearings well before he launched his campaign, and the pattern extends to his other committee posts and started before he came to Washington. In 2001, Rubio secured himself a spot on the Select Committee on Security in Tallahassee, Florida following the September 11th attacks, but skipped many of the 9/11 committee briefings. The Washington Post reported  that Rubio missed “hours of expert testimony and was absent for more than 20 votes — prompting the state House speaker who had given him the assignment to express concern.”  On Rubio’s repeat failures to show up for work, DNC Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach said, “The only thing that has been consistent with Marco Rubio throughout the course of his career is his unrelenting personal ambition and failure to follow through. Rubio has consistently shirked his duties to Floridians at every step of the way. How can we trust he’ll act any differently in the White House?”

Ted Cruz 

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio made one thing crystal clear during their Sunday show appearances this week: that when President Obama fulfills his constitutional duty and nominates someone to the Supreme Court, senators should ignore their constitutional responsibilities and obstruct. In fact, Cruz even went so far as to say he won’t consider any nominee the President puts forward and will “absolutely” engage in another disastrous Republican filibuster. This proves one thing: Senators Cruz and Rubio aren’t interested in doing their jobs —they would much rather play politics and let the consequential questions before the nation’s highest court hang in the balance. On Sunday morning, a number of political commentators noted the same problems with the flawed Cruz-Rubio agenda on judicial nominations. For instance, ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd said, “I actually think the Republicans have made a mistake in their reaction to this,” while National Journal Senior Political Columnist Ron Fournier said, “the Republicans are not going to let this happen. It’s totally irresponsible.” The American people cannot afford another disastrous Republican filibuster and wait a year for senators to do their job as the constitution requires. That Cruz and Rubio think otherwise is an absolute shame and highlights what we’ve known all along: that neither of them is ready to be our next Commander-in-Chief. 

Jeb Bush 

Earlier this week on the campaign trail, Jeb Bush was joined by President George W. Bush. Many will remember his brother’s disastrous foreign policy entanglements, but his economic policies and record were no better. George W. Bush presided over massive and ineffective tax cuts that exploded the deficit, as well as huge job losses and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  As much as George W. Bush’s failed policies were a train wreck for America’s families, many of today’s Republican candidates for president are advocating even more damaging agendas that will not produce economic benefits for most Americans. GOP presidential hopefuls propose to “to cut taxes for the wealthy by far more than President George W. Bush ever did.” Under Jeb Bush’s tax plan, the Tax Foundation “estimated that the highest 1% of earners would see an 11.6% boost in take-home pay versus just 1% to 3% gains for everyone in the bottom 80%.” Bush would also do away with the estate tax, “which only applies to inheritances worth over $5.4 million.” These moves do not come without consequences: they show a “renewed willingness on the GOP side to rack up debt in order to finance sweeping tax cuts.” 

Important Polls

  • According to a poll released by Rasmussen Reports, 58% of voters believe that the any presidential nominee put forward to fill Justice Scalia’s seat deserves to have a Senate floor vote in order to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court
  • According to a poll released by Fox News, Donald Trump leads the Republican field with 36 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters

What people are writing in the states

  • On Monday, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement regarding Texas’s role in the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries: “On Super Tuesday, the eyes of the nation will be on Texas. We’re the largest prize, so what happens right here in our state will likely determine the outcome of the Democratic presidential race. Early voting begins tomorrow, February 16 and ends on February 26. We encourage every Texas Democrat to talk to their neighbors and friends and family about voting during early voting.” Read the full statement here.
  • On Thursday, Nevada Democratic Chairwoman Roberta Lange released the following statement regarding the Democratic Town Hall in Las Vegas: “As Nevadans decide who they will caucus for this Saturday, February 20, tonight’s insightful and substantive discussion touched on important issues that will help ranging from immigration reform and Social Security to higher education access and raising the minimum wage. Tonight’s town hall reminded the country why Nevada’s diverse electorate matters in this process, and why we deserve our early spot on the presidential nominating calendar.” Read the statement here.
  • On Thursday, New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller  released a statement regarding New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte finances: “Kelly Ayotte knows that the Koch Brothers are politically toxic here in New Hampshire, so it’s no wonder she’s trying to scrub her ties to them—but unfortunately for her, it won’t work. By voting with their special interest agenda and against the people of New Hampshire nearly 90% of the time, Kelly Ayotte has made herself into a valuable asset for the Koch Brothers, an asset they are prepared to spend big to keep in Washington.” Read the full statement here.

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