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VOL. 131 | NO. 43 | Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stop Trump Efforts Intensify As Election Day Arrives

By Bill Dries

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It’s hard to gauge how far it is going. But the “Stop Trump” effort among local and state Republicans includes trying to talk Democrats into crossing over and voting in Tuesday’s Tennessee Republican presidential primary.

DONALD TRUMP (Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

JOHN KASICH (Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The effort included in social media postings over the weekend among some politicos became more prominent following Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s decisive victory over rival Bernie Sanders Saturday in the South Carolina primary.

That happened in the midst of a busy weekend locally for the presidential campaigns with appearances by Clinton and three Republican contenders including frontrunner Donald Trump.

Clinton’s level of campaigning in the state as well as the large crowds she has drawn indicate the crossover effort may have limited if any success once votes are counted the evening of Tuesday, March 1.

During a Saturday rally at the Millington Regional Jetport that drew 10,000 people, Trump also made reference to seeking Democratic and independent support in the primaries but in a different context.

“We don’t care where they’re coming from. We have to win, right?” Trump said. “We’re going to get independents. We’re going to get Democrats. Remember the term Reagan Democrats? … If you don’t get them, you’re really not going to win, folks.”

Locally among Democrats there has been little evidence of a Sanders efforts in Memphis.

That is despite an early goal set by the Sanders Memphis office of targeting the Memphis black Democratic support that put Bill Clinton in the White House for two terms in the 1990s but which went to Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Clinton was in Memphis Sunday to speak at two church services that are part of the demographic – Greater Imani Church Cathedral of Faith in Raleigh and Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Crosstown.

“America remains great,” Clinton said at Greater Imani, referring to the Trump “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. “But what America needs now is to be whole.”

Clinton also continued to criticize state government leaders including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for not expanding Medicaid coverage in the state under the federal Affordable Care Act.

It’s a call Clinton made last year during a campaign stop at LeMoyne-Owen College.

As her husband, former president Bill Clinton did earlier this month in Whitehaven, she also touted the nation’s economic strength during her husband’s two terms in the White House. And she pledged a return to that economic prosperity.

Trump arrived in Millington Saturday as Clinton was being projected as the winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary by a wide margin over Sanders.

Much of Trump’s Millington speech was devoted to criticism of rival Republican contender Marco Rubio, whom Trump referred to as “little Marco.”

As the Millington crowd began filing into the hangar, the Rubio campaign released a statement from Haslam.

“It is time for Tennessee Republicans who do not want the party of Lincoln and Reagan taken over by Donald Trump to rally around Marco Rubio,” Haslam said. “It is clear Marco is the only candidate who can beat Trump.”

The Rubio campaign announced Sunday that U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has also endorsed Rubio.

“The stakes are high,” Alexander said in the written statement. “If our nominee does not win, Hillary Clinton’s justices will control the Supreme Court for 30 years and we’ll be stuck with Obamacare forever.”

Alexander is among those in the state party’s establishment who have talked for years about the need for the Republican party nationally to broaden its base and seek crossover support while remaining faithful to conservative values. But Alexander’s view of broadening the party’s base is yet another context among several that are in play as election day arrives.

Still others in the local Republican establishment including former interim University of Memphis president Brad Martin were at Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Memphis rally Friday evening wearing Kasich buttons and applauding him. Martin introduced Kasich to a group of 700 people.

“At some point this race is increasingly going to be up north,” Kasich said of the primaries and caucuses to come beyond Super Tuesday. “No one thought I would be here. I’m the last governor standing. I also thought that when we were going to pick somebody to be president we were going to pick somebody who could run the country, not run for class president.”

Meanwhile Republican contender Ben Carson visited the Alpha Omega Veterans Inc. center in southwest Memphis Sunday before attending worship services at Bellevue Baptist Church.

Once in the top three GOP contenders, Carson’s support in subsequent primaries has faltered recently.

“Nothing has changed about me,” Carson said when asked about his viability. “There are things that changed where I think there were a lot of people who got concerned, particularly in the left wing media, when they saw me surging.”

Carson said he will remain in the race as long he sees support and contributions.

“The hope is that the people will soon recognize that this is not about entertainment,” he said. “This is not the WWE. This is America.”

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