Brash, Insult-Filled GOP Debate Positions Trump For Huge Carolina Win


The most raucous and otherwise remarkable debate in modern presidential history took place Feb. 13 in South Carolina — and seems likely to lead to a stunning victory for front-runner Donald Trump in the state's primary Feb. 20.

Peace Center Greenville, SCTrump — by insulting several of his rivals and GOP eminences as well as most of the audience — managed to surpass even his own unmatched record among major contenders for contrarian positions that have confounded his establishment opponents.

Yet nearly all instant polls showed him as winning the debate. A Drudge poll (albeit unscientific) showed him winning 53 percent of the 650,000+ votes cast by 11 p.m. Sunday. Eleven other polls assembled by the Conservative TreeHouse site showed Trump winning, at least initially. Details: Who do you think won the Republican Debate tonight? 

Even a more scientific poll by CBS, the moderator of the debate at the Peace Center auditorium in Greenville, SC, showed Trump finishing second with 24 percent to Marco Rubio, who polled 32 percent in a sample of 601 persons in the overnight poll. 

Out of all the polling since the presidential race began last spring, these results carry special significance as a predictor of how the South Carolina and national GOP contests will play out.

Even though the polls drew from national and not state samples, they seem to indicate that Trump did not seriously hurt himself and none of his five remaining opponents (with the possible exception of Rubio) helped himself significantly.

That's great news for Trump, who currently leads polling in South Carolina by 42 to 20 for Ted Cruz and 15 percent for Rubio in a CBS poll released Feb. 14. Nationally, Trump also leads by large margins over his GOP rivals, although the margin is single digits over Cruz for the most part.

Even better for Trump than the margins, the specifics of the next stage of the race and of his rivals' vulnerabilities enhance his strengths further.

In essence, all of Trump's rivals have major weaknesses at least in the short term. Several are being accused of scandalous behavior, as examined below. Yet none are likely to drop out before the South Carolina primary, which will be regarded as a predictor for the 11-state March 1 votes, most of them in the South.

This is likely to split the anti-Trump vote and deny his rivals a chance for victory in this crucial next phase of the campaign. In the modern era of primaries, no GOP presidential candidate has ever won the party nomination without winning a contest in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. 

Saturday's Debate

Donald Trump National Review cover Jan. 21, 2016Trump is shown in a recent cover story by the neoconservative National Review, which assembled contributors to denounce the GOP front-runner.

Bret Baier of Fox News reported the Feb. 13 debate under the headline: Fireworks erupt between Trump and Bush, Rubio and Cruz at GOP debate.

"Sparks flew," the story began, "at the toughest and liveliest GOP primary debate yet Saturday night, as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush clashed over the Middle East and George W. Bush’s legacy, trading insults at a rapid clip – and the two Cuban-American senators in the race accused each other of lying on immigration and even questioned each other’s Spanish-speaking skills."

"And just when it seemed Trump and Ted Cruz might steer clear of each other," Fox News continued, "the two leading Republican candidates entered the ring toward the end of the debate when the Texas senator questioned the billionaire businessman’s pro-life credentials." In the same vein, the Los Angeles Times reported, GOP candidates use the words 'lie' and 'liar' 22 times.

Most of Trump's attacks stemmed from questions or attacks directed his way. What was unusual was his willingness to raise the ante even in a conservative state where former President George W. Bush is reported to enjoy an 84 percent approval rating and is scheduled to join his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on the campaign trail Feb. 15.

Perhaps the most memorable exchange occurred after Trump disputed Jeb Bush's contention that the United States should be fighting both ISIS in Syria as well as resisting Syria's government of President Bashar al-Assad and undercutting Russia, which Assad's government has invited to increase its longtime military presence.

“Jeb is so wrong,” said Trump. “You have to knock out ISIS. .... You decide what you have to do after. You can’t fight two wars at one time.”

Bush, however, responded that Russia is not a U.S. ally, and Assad’s hold on power prevents a solution to the war. Trump then repeatedly attacked the decision under President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003. Trump called it a “big fat mistake” that “destabilized the Middle East.”

“They lied” about WMDs [weapons of mass destruction], Trump said.

“I am sick and tired of him going after my family,” Jeb Bush responded. He said he is proud of his brother’s efforts to keep the country safe.

Trump then cited 9/11. “The World Trade Center came down," Trump said. "That’s not keeping us safe.”

Rubio jumped in to say the Bush administration “kept us safe.”

Many in the crowd loudly booed Trump for his comments, which included his refusal to back off his criticisms last summer of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain of Arizona and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.

Trump then made a response almost unthinkable in conventional politics: He denounced the audience as dominated by party donors and other establishment figures. He said his campaign is largely self-funded and he travels with a small staff and his wife. A local TV station has previously reported, Loyal supporters of GOP granted tickets to debate in Greenville.

Regarding other candidates, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the second place winner in New Hampshire, faces a tough struggle to finish well in any of the contests before March because of his low poll numbers, more moderate-conservative platform, and heavy investment into New Hampshire campaigning.

Conversely, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is continuing in the race despite his eighth-place finish in New Hampshire. Carson's religious-oriented conservatism retains appeal in the South especially, and his continuing campaign helps build his brand name as an author and lecturer in useful fashion so long as he keeps campaign expenses reasonable.

Trump, doubtless positioning himself to pick up Carson supporters down the road, continued to undermine Cruz's victory in the Iowa caucuses. Trump said Cruz's team "lied" to win there by falsely telling caucus participants that Carson had dropped from the race and so they should support Cruz instead. More immediately,Trump's attack on Bush could also attract some Democratic and independent voters. South Carolina holds an open primary, which means the GOP race is open to other than party members.

Coming Attractions

Saturday's debate was so rapid fire that Trump did not take the opportunity to repeat his recent attacks on Cruz as being ineligible for the presidency because of his Canadian birth and still-opaque family Jeb! and the Bush Crime Familyhistory.

But Trump reiterated those attacks late last week on Twitter. Trump said he has legal standing as a candidate to mount a complaint, unlike suits by ordinary citizens questioning President Obama's eligibility during the 2008 campaign and first years of his presidency. Courts dismissed the suits for lack of standing.

In Cruz Birthplace, Secret Loans Undermine His Presidential Run, our Justice Integrity Project reported Jan. 31 that Cruz is both legally and politically vulnerable to the attacks even though Cruz, his supporters and some independent legal critics defend his eligibility under the Constitution's requirement that presidents must be "natural born" citizens, not simply citizens. That column contains an extensive appendix of legal and political commentary to assist readers in reaching an independent decision.

More generally, a number of particularly harsh attacks are in the works regarding GOP candidates. Trump is routinely castigated as a liar, bigot and political rookie. But there has been little detectable adverse result so far.

More recently and perhaps seriously, several of his major opponents are undergoing harsh attacks against their core public personas. The allegations of financial, sex, and in some instances drug scandals are not likely to reach mainstream audiences because they are so serious and the mainstream is so reluctant to probe matters of such potential controversy. But the claims percolate with at least some members of the public and perhaps more importantly at this stage with political insiders, who may be reluctant to invest more heavily in financial support. 

Probably most important is a new book published Jan. 26 by Roger Stone and Saint John Hunt, Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family. It alleges that Jeb Bush is the product of pseudo-patriotic family dynasty that has enriched itself for a century by reprehensible crony capitalism. It documents Bush help to enable Hitler's rise in Germany and extends to Jeb Bush's two terms as Florida government that positioned him for wealth and his current campaign.

We shall examine the book in more depth in a future column.

For now, we identify Stone as former Nixon and Reagan White House aide, and consultant to seven other GOP presidential campaigns, including Trump's until the end of July. Stone has recently written three previous books, including investigations of the Clinton family (The Clintons' War on Women published in October), and also revealing, in Nixon's Secrets and The Man Who Killed Kennedy dark secrets from the Nixon and Johnson careers.

Saint John Hunt is the author of two previous books, Bond of Secrecy and Dorothy, each regarding his CIA-employed parents. One was the historically important covert agent, prolific author, and convicted Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt. The other Dorothy Hunt, who also held important posts in World War II and post-war diplomatic and intelligence services and who died in a 1972 airplane crash under highly suspicious circumstances while trying to extricate her family from the Watergate crisis by attempting delivering hush money on that trip.

Rubio and Cruz have also been pilloried recently (and separately) by the National Enquirer and investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a frequent guest on the Alex Jones Show for some of his most spectacular scoops. These outlets are ignored or at best disdained by the establishment media. but nonetheless reach millions of readers, listeners — and voters.

Rubio, with his clean-cut look, conservative values, former cheerleader wife and four children, has been a repeated target of the National Enquirer in recent months. Three articles since mid-December excerpted below have been:

'Family Man' Marco Rubio's Love Child Stunner!

Senator Marco Rubio's Cocaine Connection!

Shady Lady Who Could Ruin Marco Rubio!


Madsen has reported many sex scandals reaching the highest levels of both major parties including his scoop 10 years ago that then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), then the nation's third highest-ranking official and vehement "family values" conservative and war-hawk, was a gay pedophile. No other reporter dared touch that story until Hastert was indicted in 2015 on charges of hiding blackmail payments. Hastert is awaiting trial. Although Madsen frequently provides controversial commentary and reporting for U.S. and international outlets, he has also been published several hundred times in recent years via opeds in mainstream newspapers, and is president of the Tampa Bay Press Club.

Madsen now reports that the Enquirer plans a story on Rubio based on Madsen's recent columns on his subscription website, the Wayne Madsen Report. One such story, Rubio's coke house, gayish dance troupe, and foam Marco Rubio Chippendale Dance Troupeparties, published Jan. 29, received well over 100,000 page views after he gave permission for it to be reprinted on the Public Intelligence Blog of Robert David Steele Vivas, a former U.S. intelligence officer like Madsen. Steele's introductory note to the column said the purpose of publication was to illustrate hypocrisy allegedly deceiving Christian evangelicals, and not to oppose bisexual or gay candidates. 

As indicated by the title, the column alleged a pattern of behavior by Rubio conflicting with his conservative platform and other public image. Although much of the information was circumstantial or source-based, other parts were based on court records where the conventional (and even gay) media have stopped short of including relevant information so that readers could assess the facts.

The articles are illustrated by such images as the one at right, showing Rubio as a teenager in performing as a Chippendale-style dancer, and a video clip last month of Rubio on the Tonight Show describing to host Jimmy Fallon what it was like to attend a "foam party."

Rubio said on the clip that he met his wife at one such party, which involve soap suds cascading out on a dance floor, thereby hiding groping or other sexual activities participants might want to undertake.

Madsen has alleged that "foam parties" in the Miami area two decades ago were primarily if not exclusively for gays. This raises the still-unanswered question of where and when such an important foam party for the Rubios might have been. None of that, however, is suitable fare for typical political commentary, even with 24-hour cable shows that typically focused on trivia also, but not trivia with implications.

For those commentators — including Stone, Hunt, Madsen, Jones, and this author — who explore political intrigue on an in-depth basis, a secret alternative lifestyle by a successful politician would not be a surprise. The hidden history of politics is filled with examples of politicians who succeed not despite their character flaws but because such scandals permit them to be controlled by their puppet masters while in office and ostensibly living moral lives.

The reaction included more than 10,000 shares on Facebook, as well as harsh criticism from several gay organizations or publications, including the Log Cabin Republicans.

Madsen reported on Feb. 1 a similar tale about Cruz, Cruz's close ties to New York's activist gay "Lavender Mafia." The story did not specifically allege that Cruz is gay, only that that he has quietly benefited from high-profile New York City gay donors whose motives bear further examination given Cruz's stridently anti-gay rhetoric and scorn for "New York values." Oddly, a young gay had been found dead under suspicious circumstances in the very same apartment that served as the locale for the Cruz fund-raiser just six months later.

Conflicts for the most part are too complicated and sensitive for news coverage in most circumstances, especially because they necessarily involve well-funded and thus eminent institutions. But in this campaign election cycle especially candidates who prospered by leveraging their official positions are vulnerable. As two examples, Bush and Kasich earned millions by working for Lehman Brothers before the investment house failed, thereby helping start the 2007-2008 financial panic. In each instance, Bush and Kasich leveraged their former official positions to bring Lehman investments that resulted in disastrous losses. 

Cruz is especially tainted because he failed to report $1.2 million in loans from Goldman Sachs (his wife's employer) and Citigroup that helped enable his election to the U.S. senate in violation of campaign finance law. Bottom line: Trump competitors have a tough case to make that they are so much better than him, and they don't have much time to make it.

Big Picture

Taking a broader perspective, Trump took time from his South Carolina campaigning to speak Feb. 12 at the University of South Florida. Madsen, who covered the Trump rally along with a reported 230 others receiving media credentials, wrote that the school's arena was filled to its capacity of 16,000, with standing room only.

That scene, like the rest of what's been reported on the campaign trail so far, is necessarily a fragmentary view of the emerging patterns.

Even so, it now appears that the Republican race is moving to decisive junctures whereby the party's weakened establishment, to the extent it exists, is losing its last chances to stop Trump. Its best alternatives in terms of poll numbers — Cruz, Rubio and Bush — all have problems just at the time that one of them needs to break out from the pack to look like a winner, or at least the strongest contender. Instead, all five of Trump's remaining rivals have rational reasons to stay in the race, at least for the time being.  

More generally, those who follow politics in a reasonably dispassionate manner should appreciate this time in the campaign especially. It's that one time every four years when candidates from the same political party — who obviously know the most dirt about their colleagues — have a motive to put it out, either directly or indirectly, thereby enlightening the public.
Soon, party loyalty will take over and solidify behind the likely nominee. Revelation of secrets will stop, and those disclosed will be dismissed as old news.
That's bad news for reporters, and the public. The good news? It appears that the public is already getting wise and sensing the big picture: Things are worse than most are reporting or even imagining. Hence the Trump phenomenon.
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GOP Debate Poll Results

Conservative Tree House, Who do you think won the Republican Debate tonight?  Sundance, Feb. 13, 2016. Here’s a list of Polls:

  • Drudge Report
    • TRUMP  54.39%  (281,876 votes)
    • CRUZ  21.2%  (109,874 votes)
    • RUBIO  13.18%  (68,316 votes)
    • KASICH  5.41%  (28,024 votes)
    • BUSH  3.23%  (16,720 votes)
    • CARSON  2.59%  (13,446 votes)
  • Right Scoop Poll
  • FOX5 Poll
  • BLAZE PollE
  • Time Magazine Poll
  • Syracuse Poll
  • Heavy.Com Poll (scroll down)
  • The Street Poll
  •  Conservative Firing Line Poll
  •  PolitOpinion Poll
  •  Wall Street Journal Poll
  •  Fox31 Poll

The Hill, Poll: Rubio won GOP debate, Bradford Richardson, Feb. 14, 2016. An overnight poll conducted after Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate finds that a plurality of viewers thought Republican hopeful Marco Rubio won the contest. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the CBS News poll saw Rubio as the winner, followed by 24 percent who picked Donald Trump, 19 percent who selected Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and 12 percent who gave the win to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The poll surveyed 601 respondents after the debate and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Related News Coverage

ABC News, Nastiness Rises in Latest GOP Debate, Staff report, Feb. 14, 2016. With the Republican presidential field whittled down to just six candidates, the first presidential debate since the New Hampshire primary and the last one before the Palmetto State’s Feb. 20 nominating contest turned into a rollicking attack-fest that left virtually no contender unscathed. During one of the debate’s feistiest exchanges -- a shout-out between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- the moderator, John Dickerson of CBS News, invited the Texas senator to “pick from the buffet” of jabs that had just been leveled.

And the debate, held at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, was exactly that: A smorgasbord of sharp volleys that were as often about policy as they were personal. A big question Saturday night, and going forward, was whether Rubio could regain his momentum – following last weekend’s lackluster performance. A withering attack by Christie on Rubio, which had the Florida senator repeating himself, appeared to hurt him in the New Hampshire primary. Rubio himself blamed his debate performance in part for his fifth-place finish in the state. He finished behind Trump, Kasich, Cruz and Bush. Christie, though, is no longer on stage or in the race. Most polling in South Carolina still shows Rubio third, with Trump and Cruz in the top two positions, respectively.

WYFF-TV (Greenville), Loyal supporters of GOP granted tickets to debate in Greenville, Corey Davis, Feb. 13, 2016. GOP presidential debate to be held Saturday at Peace Center.

Associated Press via Watertown (NY) Public-Opinion, Scalia Death Jolts GOP Candidates Ahead of Debate, Republican White House hopefuls insisted that President Barack Obama step aside and let his successor nominate the next Supreme Court justice, in a raucous Saturday night debate that also featured harshly personal jousting over immigration and foreign policy. The debate was shaken by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hours before the candidates took the stage. Among the contenders, only Jeb Bush said Obama had "every right" to nominate a justice during his final year in office. The former Florida governor said the presidency must be a strong office — though he added that he didn't expect Obama to pick a candidate who could win consensus support.

Washington Post, Trump dials up personal attacks; S.C. voters will tell us if it worked, Dan Balz, Feb. 13, 2016. Refusing to toe the line of political orthodoxy, Donald Trump tore into one of the most revered families in Republican politics and sent a message that he’s not backing down, no matter how withering the fire becomes.  In a few boisterous minutes, the Republican presidential race was crystallized around the question that has been asked for months: Can anyone stop Donald Trump, or will the New York billionaire bulldoze the party elites with tough talk and a ­no-quarter antiestablishment message that has allowed him to dominate the GOP race for months?

Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent than it was on the debate stage Saturday night at the Peace Center here. Refusing to bow to party orthodoxy or even politeness, Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a big political bet that standing his ground is better than backing down, no matter how much he is under fire.

This was by far the rowdiest of any of the GOP debates, with Trump accusing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of being a liar and with Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tangling again over immigration.

Justice Integrity Project, Cruz Birthplace, Secret Loans Undermine His Presidential Run, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 31, 2016. Attacks on Ted Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency have seriously undermined his campaign in Ted Cruz presidential buttonthe crucial days before the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa. Today, we describe that eligibility as an open question that cannot be resolved easily, in part because the Cruz campaign is withholding the facts about his birth in Canada that are necessary for clear-cut resolution. We explore also recent revelations that the first term Texas senator’s won his upset victory in his 2012 campaign with the help of $1.2 million in Goldman Sachs and Citigroup loans that he failed to report as required by federal election law. 

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Cruz's close ties to New York's activist gay "Lavender Mafia," Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), Feb. 1, 2016 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio appear to have more things in common than merely their Cuban heritage. After Donald Trump launched a blistering attack on GOP presidential hopeful Cruz, Cruz responded by questioning Trump's "New York values." Trump cautioned Cruz by saying that while the junior senator from Texas claimed he did not care for New York values, he certainly was willing to accept New York campaign contributions.

An examination of Trump's financial support from New York yields close connections between the Christian evangelical, who has condemned homosexuality as a sin, and some of New York's top gay financiers and real estate moguls, all of whom are also major supporters of Israel. And one other "problem" for Cruz: there is a dead body involved.


Vice President Joe Biden swears in GOP Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio as Rubio's wife Jeanette looks on

Vice President Joe Biden swears in GOP Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio as Rubio's wife Jeanette looks on

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Rubio's coke house, gayish dance troupe, and foam parties, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 29, 2016. Republican insiders have reported to WMR that Florida Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio was, as a high school and college student, known to be a very extroverted homosexual in both South Beach in Miami, a popular gay area, and at college in Gainesville, Florida.

In 1989, a year before Rubio was arrested with his friend Angel Barrios and another unidentified male friend in Alice Wainwright Park in south Miami, ostensibly for drinking beer in a car after closing time in a park known as a pickup locale for gays, Rubio sang and danced in a South Miami High School troupe. The song and dance troupe was based on the Chippendales but with a very gay theme: half Chippendales and half Village People. Rubio omitted his participation in the dance troupe in his biography, American Son.

Marco Rubio and Nathan BramanSen. Marco Rubio is shown with his major funder, billionaire Nathan Braman, who also employs Rubio's wife and is a strong advocate for U.S. support for Israel and its agenda in the Middle East. Details: Norman Braman, the Money Man Behind Marco Rubio's Campaign.

Public Intelligence Blog, Jan. 29, 2016. Wayne Madsen: Marco Rubio Gay Homosexual Duplicity Update — with Photos, Jan. 29, 2016. Editor's note (by Robert David Steele Vivas): Some seem confused about why we sought permission to post this original work by Wayne Madsen. This is not about Marco Rubio being a very active gay in his youth and perhaps still today, this about Marco Rubio’s duplicity in relation to Christian evangelicals – we support gay candidates for office, we do not support people who lie about their secret lives and are therefore subject to blackmail or control as part of the price they pay for lying. With permission of the author, full text below the fold.

National Enquirer, 'Family Man' Marco Rubio's Love Child Stunner! Staff report, Dec. 16, 2015. White House wannabe Marco Rubio is terrified that the rocking revelation of a sex scandal will spell doom to his presidential campaign, The National Eenquirer has learned! “The Wilderness,” by former Newsweek political correspondent McKay Coppins, cites claims that a woman involved in Florida politics “had supposedly been impregnated by Rubio, and then went on to have an abortion,” as well as a rumor that Marco has been hiding a secret second family and sending cash to support them — and keep them quiet.

National Enquirer, Senator Marco Rubio's Cocaine Connection! Staff report, Dec 31, 2015. Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is hiding a bombshell drug scandal that could derail his bid for the Oval Marco Rubio ButtonOffice — an ex-con relative with ties to a major cocaine-smuggling operation! Brother-in-law Orlando Cicilia, married to Rubio’s older sister Barbara, was a key player in the so-called “Cocaine Cowboys” era of 1970s and 1980s Miami. He was busted on racketeering charges in 1987 for his involvement in a ring that sold millions of dollars worth of drugs, sources say!

And now ‚ a week after The National ENQUIRER first broke the story, the Washington Post has revealed that Rubio even sent the Florida Division of Real Estate a letter in 2002 — on official government stationary — that recommended Cicilia for “licensure without reservation.”

National Enquirer, Shady Lady Who Could Ruin Marco Rubio! Staff report, Feb. 2, 2016. This is the woman who could deep-six Florida senator Marco Rubio’s White House dreams! The mystery lady is smack in the middle of a sleazy sex scandal involving the GOP candidate, and in a bombshell world exclusive, The National ENQUIRER has traced her identity, and tracked her down. The gal is seen here in a “spy” photo snapped Dec. 22 in Florida, but The ENQUIRER has chosen to withhold her name.

As we reported, a new book revealed Marco — a married dad of four — once authorized a $40,000 probe into whether his rivals had dug up evidence he was hiding a “zipper problem!”

The scandal focused on this woman, a shapely former GOP political operative who is younger than Marco’s wife of 17 years, Jeanette. The woman’s name first surfaced in records for a Republican Party American Express card that Marco, 44, used when he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Those records showed he used the card to pay her expenses!

Reuters via Forward, Norman Braman, the Money Man Behind Marco Rubio's Campaign, April 17, 2015. Less than a week after announcing his 2016 campaign for president, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida doesn’t need to worry about money. It’s as good as in the bank. “Marco Rubio will have the resources necessary to run a first-class campaign, that’s already been determined,” said billionaire Florida auto dealer Norman Braman, a former Jeb Bush supporter who is now one of Rubio’s highest-silhouette donors.

Annandale Capital founder George Seay, who is hosting a Rubio fundraiser with the moneyed Dallas elite at his 7,000-square-foot, seven-bath home on Tuesday, said: “Marco has had zero trouble raising money.” At least seven other Rubio mega donors say their candidate has already received monetary commitments in excess of the $40 million he will likely need to battle through a presidential primary season that will feature a crowd of seasoned Republican candidates with strong financial backing.

Rubio’s whirlwind money-raising comes after a network of Senator Ted Cruz super PACs raked in $31 million following Cruz’s announcement in March that he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination. The breakneck pace of the 2016 fundraising, most notably characterized by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s reputed aim to raise $100 million, is emblematic of how much the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision unleashed an era of unfettered political spending by for-profit corporations and the rich, altering the financial calculus of campaigns.

New York Times, Jeb Bush to Take Stage With Brother in South Carolina, Ashley Parker, Feb. 14, 2016. Former President George W. Bush (shown in official photo) is set to take a stage in South Carolina on Monday with his brother, in an appearance George W. Bushthat offers a glimpse into the complicated dynamics of a family dynasty.

Washington Post, Debate rips open GOP wounds, and the party risks tearing itself apart, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Feb. 14, 2016. Trump is defiant as his rivals charge him with declaring “war” on the Republican Party. Trump was defiant and unapologetic Sunday, saying that he is a truth-teller and that the majority of Americans — weary of war, alienated by the political class and thirsting for a populist revival — would heed his call.

“The war in Iraq has been a disaster,” Trump said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It started the chain of events that leads now to the migration, maybe the destruction of Europe. [Bush] started the war in Iraq. Am I supposed to be a big fan?” Despite the polls, Trump’s competitors and their allies view South Carolina as perhaps their best opportunity to slow or stop Trump’s march to the nomination.

Conservative Treehouse, That Debate Moment When the Script Is Evidenced, Sundance, Feb. 14, 2016. No intellectually honest person can deny the Greenville South Carolina debate was constructed to provide maximum benefit for Marco Rubio. The structure was so brutally transparent even the customarily obtuse punditry are having a hard time obfuscating. We have been pointing to the GOP road-map for over two years. As each tripwire is crossed, the ridiculous justifications of those in denial necessarily increase; but that doesn’t mean we will stop pointing out the strings on the presidential marionette show.

Again, for emphasis:  ♦ The professional Republican party insiders want Marco Rubio to win the nomination; they have been open with their advocacy. ♦ The Greenville audience was pro-Rubio, even admitted by the republican insiders who were participating.  ♦ The media noted during the debate, the audience seemed structurally designed.  ♦ Rubio was tee’d up with a strategic softball.  ♦ And the “live” CBS production staff knew to have a graphic ready at a specific moment.  ♦ A broadcast enhancement exclusive for Senator Marco Rubio.

Once you see the strings on the marionettes you cannot watch the pantomime the same way again; because you can never return that moment when you did not know they existed.


Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Men's Trait, Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally, Jeremiah Lechler, Feb. 13, 2016. Over the past 24 hours, a flurry of scandal has unfolded involving MSNBC contributor, Washington Post opinion columnist and prolific Clinton supporter Jonathan Capehart. Writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Capehart sought to sling mud at Bernie Sanders — Swiftboat-style — in questioning Bernie Sanders’ past achievements in fighting for civil rights on behalf of African-American communities in the 1960s. (This, itself, isn’t even an original idea, as Capehart was simply jumping on the Establishment’s anti-Sander claims, which continue time after time to be disproved or found to be outright lies. (Here, here, here and here — in case you’d like some background reading.)

But that is not the central thesis of this story. Instead, let’s look a little more closely at Jonathan Capehart himself, and the flurry of lies and misdirections for which he is quickly becoming known. Capehart, who currently offers his opinions to readers of the Washington Post and viewers on MSNBC, has spent the past five years in a long-term relationship with Nicholas Schmit IV, a long-term Clinton aide. Schmit has served in various capacities for the Clinton family and the US State Department under Clinton since 2004. You can see his full resume on LinkedIn, but we’ve summarized the key timeline of his career here.

Instead of admitting his mistake and moving on, Capehart has doubled-down and attacked anyone who questions his “journalistic integrity” as an opinion writer, refusing to acknowledge that his story was factually inaccurate and has already been widely disproven.

[Capehart responded via Twitter]: "Last I checked, you neither know me or know what I do exactly. So stand down."