Notations From the Grid: An Another Interesting & Challenging Day On the Virtual Beat on the US Presidential Campaign

As we have been assessing our World today, we have been witness to a very heated debate on the US Presidential Campaign.      What we got from the Washington Post captured it all--and this is as Donald Trump this morning was feeding another interesting conspiracy theory on Justice Scalia's Death by noting the unusual circumstances behind his death.     This is as we reviewed reports this morning that he had a history of heart problems and was deemed too weak to have surgery for a shoulder injury recently.       We also seeing reports that there are questions about the Trump ground game in South Carolina as Jeb Bush (who deployed his Brother the former President), Marco Rubio (who has been on an aggressive fundraising effort) and Ted Cruz seem to have a superior ground game.   The problem with this is that Trump has confounded the sceptics before.

Here is the Washington Post Snapshot that works to capture all sides:

The Daily Trail
v v
In which Donald Trump threatens to sue, again
He had a day. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
He had a day. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
How does a presidential candidate follow up the weekend when he renewed his party's "existential crisis"?
If you're Donald Trump, you begin the day with a tweetstorm that accuses Jeb Bush of leaning on his "mommy" and brother, andsay he and Ted Cruz aren't electable -- again throwing in, as an aside, that Cruz might not even be eligible to run for president at all. That's before most people have had their breakfast.
To top off the morning, you imply that former President George W. Bush, campaigning for his brother in South Carolina today, may be sorry he ever stepped back into the political spotlight.
You hold an event where you go nuclear on Ted Cruz,warning your audience that Cruz is a "liar" and "nuts." You threaten legal action against the Texas senator. And you hint at a third-party run if the GOP doesn't intervene on your behalf and somehow get rid of Cruz spots like "Supreme Trust" (below), one of a pair of new attack ads today hitting Trump on abortion. (VIDEO)
Supreme Trust | Ted Cruz TV Ad
Then you release a lengthy statement making both threats even more explicit. That statement starts out this way:
Ted Cruz is a totally unstable individual. He is the single biggest liar I’ve ever come across, in politics or otherwise, and I have seen some of the best of them. 
and closes with a section that begins like this:
One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him relative to the fact that he was born in Canada and therefore cannot be President. If he doesn’t take down his false ads and retract his lies, I will do so immediately. Additionally, the RNC should intervene and if they don’t they are in default of their pledge to me.
That would be the pledge Donald Trump signed last summer ruling out a third-party run -- with an asterisk the size of South Carolina: he would abide by that agreement... as long as he felt he'd been treated fairly by the Republican Party. 
All that was a lot to fit in by lunchtime; afterwards, many candidates might have been tempted to call it a day. Then again, most candidates would not have hinted that they might abandon their party four days before its first Southern primary. Donald Trump is not most candidates.
So instead, he held a freewheeling press conference that began with these words: "We're going to have a little fun."
At this point in the campaign, if you are a Republican official, that line from the party's presidential front-runner is enough to bring on a cold sweat and an eye twitch.
After a chaotic weekend debate, all eyes were back on Trump today. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
After a chaotic weekend debate, all eyes were back on Trump today. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
What was important about this afternoon wasn't so much what was said at the press conference (when Trump called Cruz “a very unstable guy” and urging reporters to question the senator’s Christianity: “I have never seen anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz. He goes around saying he’s a Christian. I don’t know. You’re going to have to really study that.”)
It's what wasn't said -- or at least, what got drowned out by Trump's holiday moves: everything else. The rest of the field was once again pushed to the sidelines. The two senators in the race -- Cruz and Marco Rubio -- had a chance to grab the spotlight, with Senate Republicans on the front lines of the fight to deny President Obama the chance to fill a Supreme Court seat. They didn't.
Not thrilled. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Not thrilled. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Cruz did get in a few hits of his own today: He unleashed those new anti-Trump ads. He called Trump's sister Maryanne Trump Barry, a judge, a "radical pro-abortion extremist." But if an attack falls in the news cycle and no one hears it, did it really happen?
Today was Monday. For the Republican Party, a weekend probably never felt quite so far away.
Back in the spotlight. REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt
Back in the spotlight. REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt
  • Chris Cillizza thinks Senate Republicans made a big mistake on the Scalia Supreme Court opening: "Refusing to even take part in the process — even though that process could have easily yielded the GOP’s desired result — hands Obama and Senate Democrats a political cudgel to bash the GOP. It’s an unforced error by Senate Republicans that will be difficult to mop up. And one that could cost them at the ballot box in November. 
  • More weekend fallout from that time Donald Trump scratched at old GOP wounds on live television by pushing a debate over the Bush doctrine, and essentially forcing his GOP rivals to rally around it
  • A reminder that Trump's claim that he "predicted Osama bin Laden" previously drew four Pinnochios.
  • Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) called Trump a "truther" for his criticism of former President Bush's record on fighting terrorism, and on Iraq. At his press conference today, Trump doubled down on his critique of the argument that "President Bush kept us safe after 9/11": That was like saying the opposing team "scored 19 runs in the first inning, but after that we played pretty well," he said.
  • South Carolina has traditionally come through for the Bushes -- but nationally, there's some data to suggest Trump's critique of the 43rd president may not cost him as much as some of his opponents might assume: Republicans like George W. Bush. They don’t love him
Hitting South Carolina mailboxes:
And then there's this (from Ted Cruz's senior communications adviser)
Will Clinton's firewall hold? (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)
Will Clinton's firewall hold? (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)

HILLARY CLINTON'S WESTERN FIREWALL may be showingsome cracks, report David Weigel and John Wagner:

Until quite recently, Clinton's campaign saw Nevada as a chance for a face-saving victory after a long-expected defeat in New Hampshire. But that defeat turned into a trouncing, and now, the Sanders campaign is trying to prove that she can be beaten anywhere. Nevada, where he is facing off against organized labor leaders and a Latino-heavy electorate, has become the first test.
Clinton's hopes rested on her overwhelming advantage among voters of color - part of a "firewall" her aides have claimed in many states that follow overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire on the electoral calendar. Sanders, however, is betting that his appeal among young and working-class voters, revealed so dramatically in New Hampshire, is now strong enough to transcend race.
Nevada is a chance to disprove "this firewall fantasy that the Clinton campaign has put out there," said Jeff Weaver, Sanders's campaign manager. "If we do well, it destroys that myth."
Twelve Sanders campaign offices have mushroomed across the state, say Weigel and Wagner, and the Vermont senator is outspending Clinton in TV ads by roughly two to one, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Those ads, which began in November, now feature the Latina politician Lucy Flores explaining why only Sanders can fix the country. More than a hundred paid staffers have hit the ground, aided by Latino pro-Sanders groups from as far away as Los Angeles. On Sunday, Sanders even wound up in the same black Las Vegas church as Clinton, sitting at the opposite end of the first pew."
"...Clinton's performance in Nevada's 2008 caucuses taught her campaign two crucial lessons heading into this year's race.Her win of the popular vote revealed an advantage against Barack Obama among Latinos and Las Vegas union workers - an advantage that they anticipated would grow even stronger against Sanders. And her loss of the delegate count, despite the popular win, revealed an organizational weakness and strategic shortcoming that her aides vowed to correct this time around." (And they know the problem firsthand: Robby Mook, who ran her Nevada effort in 2008, is now her campaign manager.)
The Sanders team says they have numbers suggesting that both young and working-class Latinos are warming to Sanders.The Clinton team's latest bid to downplay expectations was the claim that Nevada -- a state where, in 2008, less than 70 percent of Democratic caucus-goers were white -- is now "a state that is 80 percent white voters," which looked a lot like a pre-emptive bid to undercut the idea that a strong showing by Sanders might indicate he was making inroads with voting blocs beyond his progressive white base.
That talking point drew immediate pushback from reporters -- and even Clinton herself. "Well, you know, that's not me," she said, when Jon Ralston asked her about the claim. (VIDEO)
Two more stories today highlight the idea that the Sanders generational advantage could be nearly as much of a factor as Clinton's current edge among non-white voters: Buzzfeed reports that black lawmakers and their staffers are spliitting over Sanders. So is the family of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man killed by police in 2014; his mother is planning to campaign for Hillary Clinton. His daughter, for Bernie Sanders.
Another Nevada headache for Clinton: She's now getting hit on immigration from both the left and the right. The new Spanish-language ad "Hillary's Wall" uses Bush-era clips of Hillary Clinton saying she opposed "illegal immigration" and voted for a border fence -- then starts quick-cutting between footage of Clinton and Donald Trump.
The spot, funded by the conservative American Crossroads, launched over the weekend. It's just a small buy -- mid-five figures. For now.
American Crossroads: "Hillary's Wall"
Sometimes he says things. (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)
Sometimes he says things. (Alex Holt for The Washington Post)
Still another Clinton headache will be with her long after Nevada: Bill Clinton keeps going rogue on the campaign trail,reports Abby D. Phillip.
In his post-White House years, Clinton has become a coveted Democratic surrogate. But when it comes to his wife’s campaigns, something else can happen: He seems to lose it. It was true in this crucial nominating state in 2008, where Hillary Clinton lost badly to Barack Obama. And it’s been true this month, when the former president has reemerged as a potent but unpredictable advocate who sometimes helps his wife’s cause — and sometimes doesn’t.
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