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More GOP challengers line up against Trump, more states cancel their primaries

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump now has three GOP primary challengers, but they won’t be given a chance to compete in at least four states after Republicans there decided to scrap their presidential nominating contests in favor of supporting Trump.

The Republican parties of Nevada and South Carolina, both crucial early nominating states, voted this weekend not to hold contests, as did Kansas and Arizona.

“With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement. “President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinians, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020.”

South Carolina’s move is an attempt to sideline the state’s former Republican governor, Mark Sanford, who on Sunday declared his intention to challenge the president in the GOP primary. Also in the running against Trump are former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Trump was asked Monday if he would debate any of his Republican rivals.

“I don’t know them,” the president responded. “I would say this: They are all at less than 1 percent. I guess it’s a publicity stunt. We just got a little while ago (a poll showing) 94 percent popularity or approval within the Republican party. So to be honest, I’m not looking to get them any credibility. They have no credibility.”

He added, “One was a person that voted for Obama, ran as a vice president four years ago and was soundly defeated, another one got thrown out after one term in Congress and he lost in a landslide and the third one — Mr. Appalachian trail — he wasn’t on the Appalachian trial; he was in Argentina.”

Sanford, a conservative who clashed with Trump when he served in Congress, said on MSNBC on Monday that he’s running because Republicans have turned their back on their values in favor of personal allegiance to Trump.

“Right now, the sun, moon and stars too often basically orbit around Donald Trump,” Sanford said of the attitude of the GOP. “And if it’s not personal allegiance to him, not issue allegiance or idea allegiance, but if it’s not personal allegiance, it’s not good enough.”

Sanford said he would consider legal or other challenges to South Carolina GOP’s action, but acknowledged his entire campaign is an uphill battle against the incumbent.

Trump fired back at Sanford by bringing up his much-publicized infidelity scandal and knocked “The Three Stooges” running against him as a “all badly failed candidates.”

Republicans pushed back on the idea that there was anything unusual about the state parties’ decisions to scrap primaries and caucuses, noting that both parties have made similar moves when they have incumbent presidents up for re-election.

“These are decisions made entirely by state parties, and there are volumes of historical precedents to support them,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “Nevertheless, President Trump will dominate and prevail in whatever contest is placed before him.”

But in most recent cases that the Trump campaign cited, such as Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, there was no declared primary challenger to the incumbent. In contrast, Trump now has three rivals who have served in the top-levels of elective office.

In Nevada, the state’s GOP at a convention Saturday also decided to forgo their caucus, which typically comes right after Iowa and New Hampshire in the nominating calendar.

“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte,” Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald said in a statement, referring to the city where the Republican National Convention will be held next year.

Kansas’ GOP also came to the same decision on Friday.

“The Kansas Republican Party will not organize a Caucus for the 2020 election because President Donald Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party,” the party announced on Twitter.

The state party estimated it would cost $250,000 to hold the presidential caucus and said the money could be better spent on contesting tough races.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Kelli Ward made a similar argument after his party also voted this weekend to nix their primary.

“This is nothing new, despite the media’s inauthentic attempt to portray it as such,” Ward said, referring to other times parties with incumbent presidents have forgone primaries. “Arizona Republicans are fired up to re-elect President Trump to a second term and will continue to work together to keep America — and Arizona — great.”

More states could follow as they set their presidential nominating plans for the future.

But Iowa and New Hampshire, the two most important states in the nominating process, are planning to go ahead with their contests.

Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told Radio Iowa that state party leaders have “never considered” canceling their famed caucus.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, meanwhile, is governed by state law, not the parties, so “there wouldn’t an option for New Hampshire to cancel,” Joe Sweeney, the communications director for the state party told NBC News.



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Sanders wins Nevada Democratic caucuses with wave of young and Latino voters

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LAS VEGAS — Bernie Sanders has won the the Nevada Democratic caucuses, NBC News projects.

Sanders, coming off a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses and a narrow victory in the New Hampshire primary, rode a wave of support from young voters, liberal voters and Latinos to a runaway first-place finish in Saturday’s contest. It remains too early to call second and third-place finishers.

With 4.2 percent of precincts in the state reporting, Sanders had 44.7 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Joe had 19.5 percent, while former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg had 15.6 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had 11.8 percent. Mike Bloomberg, who is surging in national polls but turned in a rocky debate performance in Las Vegas this week, is skipping the first four states and wasn’t on the ballot here.

The results that have come in so far allowed Sanders to take the lead in the overall pledged delegate count, jumping ahead of Buttigieg. More delegates will be awarded as results continue to come in.

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Sanders’ win — in the third contest in the 2020 Democratic primary — strengthens his status as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and shows that the Vermont senator can compete strongly among a more diverse electorate: participants in Saturday’s contest are much more racially diverse than voters in any presidential contest so far this year, according to results from the NBC News entrance poll.

A decisive victory gives Sanders momentum heading into next Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, where polls show him running a close second to Biden. Sanders, looking to lock up a commanding delegate lead in his quest for the nomination, has also been devoting more time in California, the state that offers the largest delegate prize on Super Tuesday, March 3. Before caucus doors closed in Nevada Saturday, he was in Texas, the second-biggest Super Tuesday state.

At a raucous rally in El Paso, held earlier as results first began trickling in that showed him in the lead, Sanders delivered an uplifting message about his vision for America while excoriating President Donald Trump.

“I have absolute confidence that we can create a government that is based on compassion, is based on love, based on truth,” Sanders told the crowd, prompting loud applause. “Not what we have now of greed, corruption and lies.”

“We have a president today who is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration,” he added. “Who is a racist. A sexist. A homophobe. A xenophobe, and a religious bigot.”

Entrance poll data showed that Sanders overwhelmed his rivals among the state’s youngest caucusgoers, capturing the votes of two-thirds of those aged 17 to 29. The Vermont senator was also the clear favorite of Latino Democrats, winning about half of their votes. And as in previous contests, Sanders is garnering wide support from voters describing themselves as “very liberal.”

Roughly half of these caucusgoers named him their first choice, and he also won half the votes of participants who favor replacing private insurance with a single government plan.

Sanders also performed well with African American voters. Entrance poll results showed Sanders with 27 percent of the black vote, trailing only Joe Biden, who got 36 percent. African American voters made up about 1 in 10 participants at the Nevada caucuses.

Ahead of the caucuses, the state’s culinary union — one of the most influential unions in the hospitality-industry-heavy state — appeared to come out against the candidate with a flyer proclaiming that his “Medicare for All” plan would “end Culinary health care.” Despite that, more than half of Nevada caucusgoers said they supported Sanders’ signature “Medicare for All” proposal, according to results from the NBC News Entrance Poll.

Sanders also led among voters who said they preferred a nominee who could beat Trump, with 23 percent — ahead of Joe Biden’s 19 percent and Buttigieg’s 18 percent, the entrance poll showed.

And he led among voters who said they decided in the last few days, winning 24 percent of them. Buttigieg was next at 18 percent, and Warren had 17 percent despite her fiery and widely praised debate performance on Wednesday. Biden was next with 15 percent.

Biden, for his part, addressed supporters in Las Vegas as results came in, telling them that, “Now we’re going on to South Carolina and win and we’re going to take this back.”

Democrats across the nation were watching closely to see who Nevada chose Saturday — and hoping the event didn’t resemble the disaster that struck Iowa’s nominating contest earlier this month.

Despite fears of repeated chaos — Nevada’s new early-voting system, high turnout and a never-before-used digital tool were among the factors that could have caused complications with the count — the results reporting appeared to go mostly as planned, even if it did go more slowly than in past years.

According to vote count observers for the National Election Pool, a consortium of news organizations, there were a handful of precincts where confusion about the counting rules and or incorporating the early vote was delaying the reporting of results. The observers reported these problems in at least six of the sixty-three locations where they are collecting votes.

Politics watchers weren’t counting on a smooth results report Saturday, even as the Nevada Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee sought to tamp down fears.

The Democratic National Committee dispatched some three dozen staffers to the state to help with everything from volunteer recruitment to technical assistance, while another team in Washington was set to assist with data processing. And DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who stayed away from Iowa on caucus day, has been on the ground here Saturday.

Perez, however, refused earlier this week to commit to releasing the results of the caucuses Saturday after the contest concluded, telling The Associated Press he prized accuracy over speed. “We’re going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy,” Perez said.

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Labour has no God-given right to exist, says Lisa Nandy MP

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IT’S DO or die this weekend for Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy as Labour Party members start to vote for their next leader.

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Watch live: 2020 Democratic candidates speak after Nevada caucus

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Watch live coverage of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates speak after the Nevada caucus.

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