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Nikki Haley to fight on in Michigan primary despite South Carolina loss to Trump: Latest updates

CPAC featured speeches from Donald Trump and Argentina’s president Javier Milei on Saturday as potential 2024 running mates make their pitches

Oliver O'Connell,Gustaf Kilander
Sunday 25 February 2024 22:30
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Nikki Haley says ‘I have duty’ to stay in race despite loss to Trump in South Carolina

Nikki Haley vowed to stay in the Republican primary race on Saturday evening despite her latest defeat by Donald Trump, this time in her home state of South Carolina.

Addressing a pumped-up crowd of supporters in Charleston, she pointed to her speech earlier in the week wherein she promised to keep fighting the former president through the Michigan primary, Super Tuesday, and beyond. Ms Haley declared: “I’m a woman of my word.”

Her campaign insists that there remains a path forward, not just to provide a rhetorical alternative to Mr Trump, but to win the contest outright. Polls indicate otherwise, despite the apparent momentum in recent primary races.

On Saturday, while Ms Haley failed to win, she still won approximately 40 per cent of the vote — better than predicted. The former governor and UN ambassador made two things clear in her remarks to fired-up supporters: One, she’s not leaving. And two, she doesn’t think Mr Trump can win a general election against Joe Biden.

“I don't believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden. Nearly every day Donald Trump drives people away,” she told the crowd in Charleston.

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As he faces a sexual misconduct probe, Gaetz says he’s the one always ‘screaming loudest’ about ethics

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, the subject of a long-running House Ethics Committee probe into whether he engaged in sex with an underage female while serving in the House of Representatives, lashed out at the chairman of that committee during a speech to a right-wing conference.

Mr Gaetz, who was also the target of a years-long Department of Justice probe into whether he violated criminal laws against sex trafficking by transporting the same underage female across state lines for illicit purposes, was not charged by prosecutors after that probe was wrapped last year.

But the GOP firebrand, whose struggles with the Ethics panel were reportedly a factor in his push to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his post last year, is still facing the internal House probe, for which investigators have reportedly spoken to the female in question as well as a former friend of the congressman who allegedly witnessed him have sex with the underage girl.

Andrew Feinberg filed this report from CPAC:

Matt Gaetz claims he’s always ‘screaming’ about ethics despite sex misconduct probe

Florida Republican defended himself during CPAC speech outside Washington

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 22:00
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Decision notes

Both Biden and Trump head into the Michigan primary as the overwhelming favorites. Biden won every county in 2020 against Sanders, who had won the 2016 Michigan primary. He is likely to repeat that feat this year against an opponent with far less support and star power than the Vermont senator, having won every contest so far by commanding margins — even in New Hampshire, where he was not on the ballot and won as a write-in candidate. While backers of the “uncommitted” campaign admit they stand little chance of winning the primary outright – Levin said in a recent television interview he thinks second place would be a good showing – “uncommitted” would qualify for delegates if it reaches the 15% vote threshold. If so, the likeliest place would be in Tlaib’s 12th congressional district, home of Dearborn.

On the Republican side, if Haley’s pattern of support from Iowa and New Hampshire continues, her best opportunities in the state will be in Democratic strongholds like Wayne County, home of Detroit; Genesee County, home of Flint; and Washtenaw County, home of Ann Arbor. Trump narrowly lost Washtenaw to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2016 but won Wayne and Genesee in convincing fashion. Haley’s relative strength in Democratic-leaning areas has not brought her close to Trump’s level of support in contests held so far. Her performance in South Carolina’s Republican primary held Saturday is likely to be a make-or-break moment for her campaign’s viability moving forward.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

Although polls in most of the state close at 8pm ET, AP will not call a winner before the last polls have closed at 9pm ET.

What do the turnout and advance vote look like?

There were about 8.1 million voters registered in Michigan as of April 2023, the last update available. Turnout for the 2020 presidential primaries was 21% of registered voters in the Democratic primary and 9% in the Republican primary. In the 2016 primaries, turnout was 16% of registered voters in the Democratic race and 18% in the Republican race.

In the 2022 state midterm primaries, about 1.1 million voters cast their ballots before Election Day, or about 55% of the total vote. That was up from the approximately 804,000 votes – about 35% of all votes – cast before Election Day in the 2020 presidential primaries.

As of Friday, more than 913,200 votes had already been cast in the 2024 presidential primaries.

How long will it take to count the votes?

In the 2020 presidential primary, the AP first reported results at 8:08pm ET, or eight minutes after the first polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 4am ET with about 99% of total votes counted. It was roughly the same time frame for the 2022 Republican primary for governor.

Are we there yet?

As of Tuesday, there will be 252 days until the November general election.

AP25 February 2024 21:35
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What you need to know about the Michigan primary

Primary Day and District Convention Day

The Michigan presidential primary will be held on Tuesday. Polls close statewide at 8 pm local time. Most of the state closes at 8 pm ET, but four counties in the Upper Peninsula are in the Central time zone and close at 8 pm CT, which is 9 pm ET.

The Michigan Republican Party will also hold congressional district conventions on March 2 to award additional delegates to the presidential candidates.

What’s on the ballot?

The Associated Press will provide coverage for both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. They are the only statewide contests on the ballot. The candidates on the Democratic ballot are Biden, Phillips and former candidate Marianne Williamson. The Republican ballot includes Haley, Trump, Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley, as well as former candidates Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy. Voters in either primary may cast their ballot for “uncommitted.”

The AP will also allocate GOP delegates based on the Republican congressional district conventions on March 2. The only result reported for these events will be the number of national convention delegates each presidential candidate has won.

Who gets to vote?

Any registered voter in Michigan may participate in either primary. Michigan does not register voters by party. Voters will be asked to indicate in writing which party’s primary they wish to participate in, and the choice is recorded.

For the March 2 GOP district conventions, only about 2,000 precinct delegates elected in the August 2022 state primary may participate. Voting by the general public is not permitted at this event.

Delegate allocation rules

Michigan’s 117 pledged Democratic delegates are allocated according to the national party’s standard rules. Twenty-five at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are 15 PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s 13 congressional districts have a combined 77 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

The 16 Republican statewide at-large delegates will be allocated in proportion to the primary results, with candidates needing to receive at least 12.5% of the vote to qualify for any delegates. The remaining 39 delegates will be allocated at 13 congressional district conventions on March 2. The candidate who receives the most votes at a congressional district convention will win two of each district’s three national delegates, with the second-place finisher receiving one delegate. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in a congressional district convention, that candidate will receive all three of the district’s national delegates.

Continued...

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 21:23
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ICYMI: FBI informant arrested again as prosecutors warn he’ll try to flee US

A former FBI informant — who was arrested last week in Las Vegas — was arrested again on the same charges in California, after being accused of making false statements against President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Alexander Smirnov was arrested on 22 February — the second time this month — on the same charges and based on the initial indictment following an arrest warrant issued from California, his lawyers said in a Thursday filing. A California district judge ordered Smirnov to appear in court at 9am on Monday 26 February.

His attorneys are now asking the court for an immediate release and say he has not set foot in the state of California since being released from custody on 20 February, days after his first arrest on 14 February. A magistrate judge in Nevada granted Mr Smirnov’srelease on various conditions.

“He has fully remained fully compliant with his conditions of release since his court-ordered release,” the filing states. The former FBI informant was arrested while having a meeting with his attorney at his law office.

“The fact that the Defendant was attending a legal consultation meeting at his attorneys’ office contradicts the notion that he is a risk of flight,” his lawyer wrote.

However, a Thursday order from the Central District Court of California wrote that Smirnov’s attorney “sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

Kelly Rissman25 February 2024 21:15
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Nikki Haley calls Congress ‘most privileged nursing home in the country’

Nikki Haley described Congress as the "most privileged nursing home in the country" while speaking at a campaign event in South Carolina on Friday, 23 February, as the weekend's primary drew nearer. The former UN ambassador spoke in her home state as polling showed Donald Trump beating her by double digits. "Don't you think we need to have mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75? I'm not being disrespectful when I say that. We all know people over the age of 75 [who] can run circles around us. And then we know Joe Biden," Haley told a crowd in Moncks Corner.

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 20:30
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The most bizarre things said at CPAC 2024

A sleepy and half-empty CPAC convened for its first gathering in 2024 at the Gaylord National Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland, but there were still plenty of wild and unsubstantiated claims to be had.

Here are some of the most bizarre things said before Donald Trump even took to the stage:

Donald Trump, juggernaut of justice: The most bizarre things said so far at CPAC 2024

‘They hate Christianity ... if you pull the Constitution out on you know, they run like it’s a crucifix,’ Alabama senator says of political opponents

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 19:45
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Wisconsin ethics committee refers Trump PAC for prosecution

A Wisconsin oversight panel recommended felony charges against a fundraising committee for Donald Trump and a Republican state lawmaker, accusing them of arranging a scheme to evade campaign finance laws.

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission claimed that Mr Trump’s Save America PAC, Republican officials, state Rep Janel Brandtjen and the campaign committee of Adam Steen, who ran against Assembly speaker Robin Vos in the 2022 primary, sidestepped campaign finance laws in an effort to unseat Mr Vos.

The ethics commission, WisPolitics.com first reported, referred the alleged violations to county prosecutors earlier this week, and recommended charges be brought against the Trump PAC, Ms Brandtjen, Mr Steen’s campaign, three county Republican parties and eight others.

Kelly Rissman has the details:

Trump PAC referred for prosecution by Wisconsin ethics committee

The charging recommendations could prove to be yet another headache for the former president during his campaign to return to the White House

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 19:00
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The Independent’s guide to the wild MAGA merch at CPAC

At this year’s CPAC, MAGA fans have been spoilt for choice with the array of merch to take their pick from.

There’s everything from Jesus hats decorated with rhinestones, MAGA-themed hammocks to relax on after a long day of culture war rhetoric, and some possibly salty “woke tears” in a bottle to quench your conservative thirst.

Not to mention the chance to take a break from the fearmongering on stage to play some January 6 insurrection pinball.

Here The Independent rounds up some of the wildest merchandise on offer:

Rhinestone hats, ‘woke tears’ in a bottle, and Jan 6 pinball: Wild MAGA merch at CPAC

‘America’s funniest anti-woke brand’ which ‘identifies as transparent’ offered ‘woke tears’ in a bottle to the CPAC crowd

Gustaf Kilander25 February 2024 18:15
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Stephen Miller claims Democrats ‘changed the law’ to go after Trump

Donald Trump's former speechwriter Stephen Miller claimed the state of New York "changed the law" to "go after" the former president. Speaking at CPAC in Washington DC on Friday, 23 February, the anti-immigration tsar said: “Big broad ... laws will be used to crush us. It will be used to obliterate us – look at what New York did when they went after Donald Trump. They changed the law – which is unconstitutional by the way – to go after one man." It came after New York Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump, his sons, company, and business associates to pay more than $350m in damages and temporarily limited their ability to do business in the state.

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 17:30
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Watch: Whitmer says GOP rush to support IVF doesn’t undercut Democrat messaging

Oliver O'Connell25 February 2024 17:00

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