Tag Archives: jeb bush

Rubio campaign reeling after sharp attacks during last Republican debate

Marco Rubio faced withering criticism of his readiness to be president and his policy depth in the last Republican debate before tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other candidates launched an aggressive campaign to slow the Florida senator’s rise.

Rubio’s responded with an uneven performance on Saturday night that could hurt his bid to emerge as an alternative to Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. If anything, his showing gave new hope to Christie, Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, all of whom need strong finishes in New Hampshire to keep their White House bids afloat.

Cruz, the Iowa caucuses winner, also took criticism at the debate for controversial political tactics, with one candidate disparaging him for having “Washington ethics” and being willing to test the campaign’s legal limits.

New Hampshire’s primary could further winnow an already shrinking GOP field or leave the primary muddled. Hard-fought, expensive and far-ranging, the campaign has become a fight for the future of the Republican Party, though the direction the GOP will ultimately take remains deeply uncertain.

Rubio, a first-term senator from Florida, has sought to appeal both to mainstream Republicans and those eager to upend the status quo. But his rivals, particularly Christie, have been blistering in their criticism of what they see as his slim qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief.

“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” Christie said. “You just simply haven’t.”

Christie has built his closing argument around his criticism of Rubio, and he kept up that approach on the debate stage. He accused the senator of being a candidate governed by talking points — then pounced when the senator played into his hands by repeating multiple times what appeared to be a planned response to criticisms about his qualifications.

“That’s what Washington D.C. does,” Christie said. “The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.”

Rubio wavered in defending his decision to walk away from the sweeping immigration bill he originally backed in the Senate — perhaps the legislation he’s most closely associated with — and said he wouldn’t pursue similar legislation as president.

“We can’t get that legislation passed,” Rubio said of the bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the United States illegally. The senator found his footing later in the debate when outlining his call for more aggressive action to fight the Islamic State and emphasizing his anti-abortion stance.

Cruz was the victor in Iowa, triumphing over billionaire Trump by drawing heavily on the support of evangelical voters. But he’s faced criticism for messages his campaign sent to voters ahead of the caucuses saying rival Ben Carson — another favorite of religious conservatives — was dropping out and urging the retired neurosurgeon’s supporters to back him instead.

Cruz apologized for his campaign’s actions Saturday, but not before Carson jabbed him for having “Washington ethics.”

Those ethics, he said, “say if it’s legal, you do what you do to win.”

Trump was back on the debate stage after skipping the last contest before the Iowa caucuses. After spending the past several days disputing his second-place finish in Iowa, he sought to refocus on the core messages of his campaign, including blocking Muslims from coming to the U.S. and deporting all people in the country illegally, all while maintaining he has the temperament to serve as president.

“When I came out, I hit immigration, I hit it very hard,” Trump said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, the temperament,’ because I talked about illegal immigration.”

Kasich, who has staked his White House hopes on New Hampshire, offered a more moderate view on immigration, though one that’s unpopular with many GOP primary voters. He said that if elected president, he would introduce legislation that would provide a pathway to legalization, though not citizenship, within his first 100 days in office.

The debate began shortly after North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.

Asked how he would respond to North Korea’s provocations, Bush said he would authorize a pre-emptive strike against such rockets if it was necessary to keep America safe. Cruz demurred, saying he wouldn’t speculate about how he’d handle the situation without a full intelligence briefing. And Trump said he’d rely on China to “quickly and surgically” handle North Korea.

Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

Scott Walker’s approval rating stands mired at 38 percent

Scott Walker is setting himself up to run for a third term as governor.

Walker says he will wait until late 2016 or after the end of the year to make a formal decision, but also says he feels good about the progress he’s made and thinks he can build off it.

Walker made the comments to reporters Jan. 26 after he signed a bill at the Rock County Courthouse expanding the state’s Family Care program to the county.

Meanwhile, the latest Marquette Law School poll could mean trouble ahead for his next campaign. It found Walker’s approval rating mired at 38 percent, while 57 percent of registered voters in the state disapprove of the job he’s doing.

In September 2015, when the last poll was taken, 38 percent approved and 58 percent disapproved of the governor.

Only 36 percent of state voters say they would like for him to run for another term, while 61 percent would not like to see him run.

In September 2015, 35 percent supported a third term for Walker, while 62 percent did not.

A career politician, Walker has worked almost exclusively in politics since dropping out of Marquette University in 1990. Last year, he launched a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, becoming the first candidate to drop out of the crowded race.

The Marquette poll, which is the most extensive in the state, also looked at presidential preferences among Wisconsinites who said they would vote in the primaries.

In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton received 45 percent of voters’ support, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 43 percent. Martin O’Malley, who has since dropped out of the race, had 1 percent support.

In the November Marquette poll, Clinton had 50 percent, Sanders had 41 percent and O’Malley had 2 percent.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump was supported by 24 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 18 percent and Ted Cruz at 16 percent. Ben Carson was backed by 8 percent, with Chris Christie at 5 percent. Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina received 3 percent each. Jeb Bush and John Kasich were each at 2 percent, with Mike Huckabee at 1 percent and Rick Santorum at 0.

Those numbers represent a dramatic turnaround from the November poll, in which Carson led the Republican field in with 22 percent, while Trump and Rubio each had 19 percent of voters’ support. Cruz stood at 9 percent in the November poll.

For Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, Russ Feingold is supported by 50 percent of registered voters, with Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receiving 37 percent. Those numbers are almost unchanged since November.

Year in Review: A crowded field of candidates vies for the White House

“Will she run?” was the question in early 2015.

In April, an email to donors and a “getting started” video to supporters announced Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the presidency. 

She went on a listening tour in key primary states and then, on a sunny afternoon in June, the former secretary of state, senator and first lady made her way through a crowd to a platform in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

After the last notes of Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” and the crowd’s roar quieted, Clinton set out the framework of her campaign. “America can’t succeed unless you succeed,” she said. “That is why I am running for president of the United States. Here, on Roosevelt Island, I believe we have a continuing rendezvous with destiny. Each American and the country we cherish.”

The presidential election of 2016 dominated politics in 2015, which was ending with three Democrats and 14 Republicans running for the Oval Office.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley joined the Democratic race on May 30, saying the “American dream seems for so many of us to be hanging by a thread.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist from Vermont, officially entered the race on May 26 and continued to run hard for the nomination as the cycle shifts into election season.

Addressing “brothers and sisters” in his announcement, Sanders said, “We begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that ‘Enough is enough.’ This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires, their super PACs and their lobbyists.”

On the Republican side, today’s front-runner entered an already crowded race for the party’s nomination with these words: “Wow. Whoa.”

Tycoon and TV personality Donald Trump announced his candidacy at Trump Tower in New York City in June with a blistering critique of President Barack Obama and a vow to build a “great, great wall” on the border with Mexico.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said in his first official campaign statement.

For the rest of the year, Trump continued to stir outrage with bizarre behavior and statements that have not been heard in U.S. presidential politics since before the Civil Rights era. As the year ended, the Republican establishment was quaking at the prospect of fielding a candidate who comes off as a playground bully. GOP leaders already are preparing for a brokered convention.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s camp is enjoying every minute of it.

Yet, with each offense Trump commits, his support among Republican voters grows stronger.

Trump’s bombastic style crowded out a number of other hopefuls, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker launched his campaign in Waukesha with the opening remark, “I love America,” and a predictable speech about baseball, Boy Scouts, Vietnam, God and country.

The governor sought to capitalize on his popularity with tea partiers for his assaults in Wisconsin on public sector unions, reproductive choice, gun restrictions and voting rights. But Walker seemed to disappear on the debate stage, faded in the polls and saw his donations dwindle.

Walker withdrew from the presidential race on Sept. 21 and, after many absences from the governor’s mansion, returned to Wisconsin with a $1 million campaign debt. He still owes the state $67,280 for security costs that taxpayers provided him during his travels.

By December, the GOP field was down to Jeb Bush, Ben Carson. Chris Christie. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Trump. 

New poll: Clinton leads all GOP candidates

Hillary Clinton leads all the GOP White House contenders in hypothetical general-election showdowns, according to the MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll.

Clinton’s lead comes despite the fact that the contentious — and often bizarre — Republican presidential primary is swallowing all of the air in the media. Democratic candidates Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have been nearly missing from the headlines for weeks.

Clinton’s biggest GOP lead is against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has the highest unfavorable ratings of any candidate in either party. Clinton trumps The Donald by 52 to 41, according to the poll released today.

Clinton’s lead against Ben Carson, her closest Republican rival, is 48-47, which is well within the margin of error. Her next closest contender is Marco Rubio, whom she leads 48–45.

Clinton holds stronger leads against Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush —51–44 and 49–45, respectively.

Among registered Latino voters, Clinton holds a far more commanding lead over every GOP candidate. Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, performes the best against Clinton among Latinos, trailing her 58–39.

The fastest growing minority population in the United States, Latinos gave President Obama 71 percent of their vote and Mitt Romney only 27 percent, the lowest that a GOP candidate has received in the three previous election.

But, with the exception of Donald Trump, Latino voters nationally seem more receptive to Republicans in 2016, despite high-profile immigrant bashing from several GOP candidates. Most analysts, however, believe it will be extremely difficult for Republicans to get the approximately 40 percent of the Hispanic vote  needed to win the White House. 

Reaction to Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering U.S.

Here’s what people are saying about Donald Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the U.S.:

“This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive. @realDonaldTrump, you don’t get it. This makes us less safe.”

— Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and Democratic candidate for president, via Twitter.

“Demagogues throughout our history have attempted to divide us based on race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin. Now, Trump and others want us to hate all Muslims. The United States is a great nation when we stand together. We are a weak nation when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us.”

— Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator and Democratic candidate for president.

“Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”

— Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and GOP candidate for president, via Twitter.

“Well, that is not my policy. I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate that would put in place a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where ISIS or al-Qaida control a substantial amount of territory. And the reason is that’s where the threat is coming from.”

— Ted Cruz, Texas senator and GOP candidate for president.

“There are folks in this race who don’t care about what the law says because they’re used to being able to just fire people indiscriminately on television. So, they don’t have to worry about what laws say or not say.”

— Chris Christie, New Jersey governor and GOP candidate for president.

“Trump’s overreaction is as dangerous as President Obama’s under-reaction.”

— Carly Fiorina, former technology executive and GOP candidate for president.

“Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries. I do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.”

— Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and GOP candidate for president.

I think this whole notion that we can just say no more Muslims, and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in. Religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. … It’s a mistaken notion.

— Dick Cheney, former vice president, speaking with radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“That does not reflect serious thought. Just when you think he can’t stoop lower, he does.”

— Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

“As a conservative who truly cares about religious liberty, Donald Trump’s bad idea and rhetoric send a shiver down my spine. American exceptionalism means always defending our inalienable rights, not attacking them when it’s politically convenient.”

— Matt Moore, chairman of the Republican Party of South Carolina, via Twitter.

“There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”

– Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the Republican Party of New Hampshire.

“Is Trump talking about Muslim-American citizens? If so, the right to enter one’s country of citizenship is an internationally guaranteed human right.”

— Leti Volpp, an expert on immigration law at the University of California at Berkeley.

“You have an issue with people coming in. Imagine it’s a human body and you have this thing that’s entering the body breaking it down and creating illnesses. All he is saying is don’t let anything else in right now and fix the problem before we do. It shouldn’t be religion-related, but unfortunately it is religion-related.”

— Trump supporter John Metzer, who works in real estate in Atlanta, at a Trump rally Monday night in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

“Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty will denounce the reckless, demagogic @realDonaldTrump plan for Muslims.”

— Russell Moore, president of the ethics and religious liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, via Twitter.

“I thought long ago that things he said would hurt his prospects, and he continues to go up.”

— Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who called Trump’s plan “just foolish.”

GOP candidates are normalizing racism

This year is ending as it began, with unarmed black citizens being slaughtered in the streets by police officers in situations where the use of deadly force is wholly unwarranted. 

Various studies show that blacks are 2 to 3.5 percent more likely than whites to be killed by police, and a number of studies say African-American victims are twice as likely to be unarmed.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is milking the police killings to promote the myth that blacks are responsible for 81 percent of white murders. Never mind that whites kill 82.4 percent of white victims and blacks kill 90 percent of black victims. Never mind that the vast majority of murder victims are killed by someone they know or who lives nearby.

Trump and other Republican presidential contenders are not interested in the facts, but rather in exploiting racist Americans to get their votes. They offer followers the comforting lie that every unarmed black man killed by police gets what he deserves — that the man with the badge is always right and the man with the dark skin is always wrong. They’re promoting a kind of racist McCarthyism in which protesters and sympathizers of Black Lives Matters are un-American.

Recently, Trump and his supporters showed their true feelings when a black protester was punched, stomped and kicked at a campaign rally in Alabama. Unfazed by the violence, Trump hollered, “Get him out of here.” He later told an interviewer the protester got what he deserved.

The recently released video from the Chicago Police Department failed to make a dent in the position held by Trump and his supporters. In it, cameras show officer Jason Van Dyke driving his squad car up to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and, within seconds, shooting him 16 times. McDonald, who held a small knife, never even approached Van Dyke. About a dozen officers surrounded the teen. Van Dyke’s life was never remotely in danger.

Right-wing commentators and GOP presidential candidates dismissed the video either as having been misleadingly edited or an anomaly.

Running for the highest office in the land brings with it great responsibility. Even before they’re nominated or elected, presidential candidates are in the spotlight. Their words are widely exposed and influential.

Several among this year’s bumper crop of GOP candidates have used the limelight to promote racial and ethnic divisions — the old divide-and-conquer technique, as Scott Walker has referred to it. Rather than illuminating one of our society’s most disabling problems, they’re helping to fuel it. What might this nation become if one of these candidates, lacking in both knowledge and dignity, ended up behind the country’s most visible “bully pulpit.” 

Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and others have tapped into the frustration that bigots have endured under the rise of “political correctness.” The left has successfully made it socially unacceptable to stomp about spewing words of hatred toward blacks, Mexicans, women, Muslims, gays and others. For the haters, The Donald is a liberator, because he refuses to abide by these new rules of civil discourse. His followers view him as honest and courageous, even though he’s spouting the same laugh lines that brought high ratings to the fictional Archie Bunker, the hot-head bigot on the 1970s TV smash All in the Family.

A large part of Trump’s allure is he gives permission for racists to unleash ugly feelings that have been socially unacceptable for at least two decades. But the inevitable effect of condoning racism will be to enlarge it. 

The Republican Party is leading us back to a future of Jim Crow voting laws and public lynchings. People of sound mind and goodwill must counter this pox on our society with everything we can muster or else watch our social fabric tear and unravel. That would ultimately destroy all of us — including the racists.

Trump wants all Muslims in the U.S. to be registered and tracked by government

Donald Trump’s support for a government database to track Muslims in the United States is drawing sharp rebukes from his Republican president rivals as they try to distance themselves from a proposal that legal experts say is unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported today.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the prospect of a registry “abhorrent.” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the idea was “unnecessary” and not something Americans would support.

Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has largely avoided criticizing Trump, said, “I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens.”

“The First Amendment protects religious liberty, and I’ve spent the past several decades defending the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz told reporters in Sioux City, Iowa.

Dr. Ben Carson rejected the idea of tracking U.S. citizens based on their religion.

Instead, he said the U.S. should have a database on “every foreigner who comes into this country.”

Many people have compared the concept to Hitler’s forcing of Jews to wear yellow stars on their clothes in Nazi Germany.

The first reference to a database came in a Trump interview with Yahoo News published Thursday. Later that day, an NBC News reporter pressed him on whether, as president, he would implement a database system for tracking Muslims in the United States.

“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” he replied.

Trump also told the reporter that Muslims would “have to be” registered and said the registration process could occur at “different places.”

On Fox News Channel  Friday evening, Trump said, “I want a watch list for the Syrian refugees that (President Barack) Obama’s going to let in if we don’t stop him as Republicans. … I want to have watch lists. I want to have surveillance. I mean, we’re not a bunch of babies,” he said.

Trump has also the U.S. should increase surveillance of mosques and consider closing those that are tied to radicals. He said the country should be prepared to suspend some civil liberties

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The attacks have raised fears in the U.S. and prompted the House to pass legislation this past week essentially barring Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has slotted the bill for possible Senate consideration, though it’s unclear whether the chamber could get enough votes to override a threatened veto by President Barack Obama.

Civil liberties experts told AP that a database for Muslims would be unconstitutional on several counts. The libertarian Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro said the idea violates basic privacy and liberty rights.

Marci Hamilton, a Yeshiva University legal expert on religious liberty, said requiring Muslims to register appears to be a clear violation of the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom.

“What the First Amendment does and what it should do is drive the government to use neutral criteria,” Hamilton said. “You can use neutral criteria to identify terrorists. What it can’t do is engage in one-religion bashing. That won’t fly in any court.”

At a Tennessee rally Friday evening, Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “Mr. Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, he’s attacked women, and now he’s attacking Muslim Americans. At some point you have to ask yourself, is that the kind of country we are?”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted Trump’s words as “outrageous and bigoted.”

Amid protests, GOP candidates debate taxes, immigration, military spending

Taking the stage at the Milwaukee Theatre on Nov. 10 for the fourth GOP presidential debate were celebrity businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the leaders of most recent polls, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

As he has in other recent debates, Trump seemed to fade from the spotlight at times. He also seemed to embrace a role as a referee of sorts, complaining that Kasich was taking too much time from Bush and exclaiming about Fiorina, “Why does she keep interrupting?”

Outside the theater, activists demonstrated, urging the Republican candidates toward an agenda that addresses racial, economic, social and environmental injustices — or at least for certain candidates to tone down racist rhetoric.

The debate showcased a significant policy debate within the Republican Party on immigration. Trump and Cruz advocated for deporting an estimated 11 million immigrants, while Kasich and Bush called that impractical.

Cruz said Republicans would lose the presidential race if they offer “amnesty” to immigrants living in the country without legal documents. “We can embrace legal immigration while believing in the rule of law,” he said.

Earlier, Trump had reiterated his promise to build a secure wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. “We are a country of laws,” he said. “We need borders. We will build a wall.”

That’s a popular position with some of the most conservative Republican primary voters, but Kasich and Bush argued that’s not a practical position for the GOP nominee to take into the general election.

“For the 11 million people, c’mon folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across the border,” Kasich said — a line that drew enthusiastic applause from the audience. Bush put it in starker terms: “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign when they’re hearing this.”

Indeed, Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman Brian Fallon wrote on Twitter about the exchange, “We actually are doing high-fives right now.”

One person who wasn’t asked to weigh in — and didn’t insert himself into the discussion — was Rubio, who has had to walk back his involvement in a failed U.S. Senate plan to dramatically overhaul the country’s immigration policies with a plan that included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which some Republicans decried as unfair amnesty.

Rubio has been attacked by Bush and Trump in the past as an absentee lawmaker, yet it was Rand Paul who hit the Florida senator the hardest during the debate.

Paul slammed Rubio’s plan to expand tax credits for families with children, which Paul said amounts to a new expensive welfare program. “We have to decide what is conservative and what isn’t,” Paul said.

And a Paul-Rubio exchange about military spending highlighted another policy divide within the party. “Can you be a conservative and be liberal in military spending?” Paul asked, pointing to Rubio’s plans to expand the military.

Rubio fired back: “I know that Rand is a committed isolationist. I’m not.”

Kasich repeatedly elbowed his way into the debate, saying at one point, “Look, I hate to crash the party.” Kasich and Cruz had a testy exchange late in the debate on whether big banks should be propped up with federal help as they fail. Cruz said flatly that he would not, for example, give the Bank of America bailout money even if it were teetering on the brink.

Kasich took another approach, saying he wouldn’t ignore people who have their life savings in these banks. He said executive experience matters, arguing that “on-the-job training for president of the United States doesn’t work.”

Bush noted early on that he only had four minutes of speaking time in the last debate. Although he still wasn’t the chattiest candidate on stage, he did make use of the longer response times moderators allowed this time and called out Clinton as out of touch on the economy.

“Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama’s policies get an ‘A.’ Really?” Bush asked. “One in 10 people aren’t working or have given up looking for work, one in seven people live in poverty, and one in five are on food stamps. That is not an ‘A.’ It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”

Coming into the debate, Carson was expected to face tough questions about certain discrepancies in his life story. Yet moderators touched only lightly on that topic.

“I have no problem with being vetted,” Carson said. “What I do have a problem with is being lied about and putting it out there as truth.”

He said he’d been scrutinized more than Clinton, pivoting the discussion from himself to the Democratic front-runner. “People who know me,” he said, “know that I’m an honest person.”

Many of the demonstrators gathered outside the theater had participated in a day of action, which began with fast-food workers going on strike at many locations in Milwaukee and at least 269 other cities.

Later, demonstrators assembled at the offices of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights and social justice group, and marched to city hall. Outside city hall, demonstrators gathered for a rally that included speeches and music. 

Then they marched from city hall to the Milwaukee Theatre. There a mix of protesters were assembled — some on the right and many more on the left, calling for the GOP to address immigrant rights, climate change, stagnant minimum wages, poverty, racism and war.

Christie, Huckabee bumped from main stage at Milwaukee GOP debate

Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee have been bumped from the main stage at the GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee on Nov. 10.

George Pataki and Lindsey Graham have been cut from the lineup altogether. 

Debate sponsor Fox Business Network announced the moves earlier this week, dealing a blow to Christie and Huckabee as they struggled to stand out in the crowded Republican field amid signs of momentum in states where the first primary contests will be held.

The decision underscores concerns about the pivotal role that national opinion surveys have been playing in shaping the contest for the GOP nomination. Statistically, pollsters say, there is no significant difference between candidates lumped together near the bottom of the pack in national polls, which typically have a margin of error of 3 percentage points or more.

“I tell people, ‘Ignore the national polls and just follow those early states,”’ said Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who argues that early opinion surveys are notoriously unreliable. “Except that now national polls drive the debates, and debates drive the polling.”

According to debate criteria issued by Fox Business last week, candidates must score 2.5 percent or higher in an average of the four most recent major polls conducted through Nov. 4 to be featured in the prime-time debate. They must hit the 1 percent mark to qualify for an undercard debate airing before the main event.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry provides a cautionary tale of the potential impact. Fundraising dollars dried up after Perry was relegated to the undercard debate earlier in the year.

Pataki, the former New York governor, and Graham, a South Carolina senator, already faced a tough road to the GOP nomination. Their omission even from the undercard debates will make it even harder for them to convince voters — and donors — they have a viable path to the nomination.

“It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day,” Graham campaign manager Christian Ferry said in a statement. “In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets.”

Pataki spokeswoman Alicia Preston said the focus on national polling undermined candidates’ efforts in the early-voting states where they spend much of their time.

“National news networks are doing the job that has always been left to the people in individual states like New Hampshire,” she said. “It’s the voters’ right and responsibility to choose candidates. This national focus diminishes the significance of the Primary process.”

Activists want debates to address issue of voter access

Dozens of civil rights groups want to shift the focus of presidential candidates from the early voting states to citizens’ voting rights.

A coalition of groups, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, is pressing presidential debate moderators to ask candidates in both parties about protecting access to the polls.

The next opportunities for such questions will be on Nov. 6, when the Democratic candidates gather for a forum in South Carolina, and on Nov. 10, when the Republicans assemble at the Milwaukee Theatre for a sold-out debate hosted by the Fox Business Network.

“Voting is the language of our democracy,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the LCCHR. “Every candidate seeking our nation’s highest office must explain their position on the crucial voting rights legislation in Congress and say what they would do to make sure that no citizen is denied the right to vote.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, clearing the way for state-based campaigns to make it more difficult for certain populations to vote.

In Wisconsin, conservative lawmakers passed a voter photo ID law and reduced polling hours.

Legislation in the U.S. House and the Senate would strengthen the Voting Rights Act, but few presidential candidates have taken stands on the pending legislation.

The moderators for the Milwaukee debate — set to begin at 8 p.m. — are FBN managing editor Neil Cavuto, FBN markets editor Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker.

A news release from FBN said the debate would focus on “jobs, taxes and the general health of the economy, as well as domestic and international policy issues.”

Milwaukee to host GOP Debate

The GOP presidential candidates will debate in Milwaukee on Nov. 10. The main debate will be at 8 p.m. and the candidates in the lower tier will debate at 5 p.m. at the Milwaukee Theatre.

Calls to join a protest outside the theater on Nov. 10 went out in mid-October from the Black Lives Matter movement. Others organizing a protest include the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee, Youth Empowered in the Struggle-UWM, U.S. Palestinian Community Network-Milwaukee, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, UWM students for a Democratic Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, No Drones Wisconsin, ACLU Student Alliance-Marquette, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Occupy Milwaukee and more.