Report: Scalia Died From Heart Attack

On Saturday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at Cibolo Creek Ranch in Marfa, TX. It was revealed today that the justice passed away from a heart attack.

The death certificate for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will list myocardial infarction — a heart attack — as the official cause of death, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told WFAA on Sunday.

Scalia was pronounced dead shortly before 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. His death was confirmed by news outlets about three hours later. There was no sign of foul play.

The justice had told his friends the night before his death that he had not been feeling well.

Scalia was the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, and was appointed in 1986 by President Reagan.

This post has been updated.

ICYMI: Albright Admits 'Special Place in Hell' Comment Delivered in 'Wrong Context'

Introducing Hillary Clinton at a New Hampshire rally ahead of the primary last week, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told the crowd that ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” The comment was meant to shame female voters into supporting Clinton over Sanders. In the end, however, it seems to have backfired, as 55 percent of female voters in the Granite State chose Sanders, according to NBC News. The reality was even worse among millennials, with 82 percent of women under 30 supporting the Vermont senator.

Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see Albright attempt to clarify her remarks in the pages of The New York Times days later, admitting that the campaign event probably wasn’t the best time to utter the phrase she’s used ‘a thousand times’ before.

“I have spent much of my career as a diplomat. It is an occupation in which words and context matter a great deal. So one might assume I know better than to tell a large number of women to go to hell,” she wrote. 

“I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line,” she continued. “I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condemning those who disagree with my political preferences. If heaven were open only to those who agreed on politics, I imagine it would be largely unoccupied.”

Clinton defended Albright’s comments during the Democratic debate last week in Milwaukee, saying that it’s been a refrain of hers for the last 25 years.

“Well, look I think that she’s been saying that for as long as I’ve known her," Clinton said, adding that “we have to empower everyone, women and men, to make the best decisions they can make.”

“I have spent my entire adult life to make sure that women are empowered to make decisions…even if that decision is not to vote for me,” she continued.

“I have no argument with anyone making up her mind about who to support…I hope that there will be a lot more [women] supporting me” by November, she said.

Spin Room: Rep. Meadows Questions Bad Blood Between Cruz, Rubio

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) was in the post-debate spin room Saturday night to speak on behalf of his preferred candidate and friend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“Sen. Cruz has been consistent on immigration,” Meadows told reporters, explaining one of the many reasons he’s voting for him.

“What would have happened if there hadn’t been champions against amnesty” like Cruz to thwart the Gang of Eight bill? Meadows wondered out loud.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of those Senate “gang” members, has been Cruz’s most vocal foe as of late. He stepped up his attacks Saturday night, calling Cruz a liar regarding his waffling support of amnesty.

It wasn’t just immigration that drew sparks between the two senators. Ahead of the Greenville battle, Rubio’s campaign sent out several press releases condemning Cruz’s attacks on Rubio’s pro-life record. Cruz spoke at the Faith and Family Presidential Forum in Greenville on Friday, where he questioned Rubio’s sincerity in wanting to defund Planned Parenthood. The Florida senator, Cruz argued, did not adequately support his effort to halt funding to the pro-abortion organization last fall.

"We could have defunded Planned Parenthood in the wake of those videos but too many Republicans in Washington, especially leadership, were afraid to stand and fight."

Several Rubio surrogates, including Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), pushed back against Cruz’s comments.

“I am bitterly disappointed Ted Cruz would try to intentionally mislead my fellow South Carolinians,” Gowdy said in a statement. “There is no one in Congress more unabashedly pro-life than Marco Rubio." 

I asked Meadows to weigh in on the apparent bad blood between Cruz and Rubio. He diverted to the larger campaign issue.

“I don’t know that there’s bad blood,” Meadows said. “Really the question tonight has been one of the pro-life record. I think every candidate up there is pro-life. I think the fundamental question is: Are you going to be an advocate, or are you going to be a champion? And Sen. Cruz has a record for being a champion as it relates to defunding Planned Parenthood and really get rid of some of the horrific practices that we see. This is a battle right now to try to win the hearts, and souls and minds of voters and that compare and contrast is something that should be debated.

At least they’re talking about it, I noted. The Democratic debates haven’t even touched the topic.

“Exactly,” Meadows said, before emphasizing Cruz’s pro-life passion.

“I can tell you that knowing Sen. Cruz, when I call him on defunding Planned Parenthood, I got an immediate phone call back. We were working together in a bicameral way where we got the House and Senate working. Even some people who have endorsed other candidates have mentioned the fact that Sen. Cruz is willing to work with them on important issues that affect the average American.”

Both Cruz and Rubio, several media outlets agree, had strong performances last night. But, they have a lot of catching up to do to Donald Trump, who is way ahead in the Palmetto State polls. While the business mogul didn’t have the best night, he can still count on his supporters’ votes. Hours before the debate, some of his fans told me they would vote for him no matter what transpired on the stage last night.

South Carolina Republicans will head to the polls on Feb. 20.

Legal Community Mourns Passing Of Justice Scalia, ‘One Of The Greatest Justices Our Country Has Known’

As Christine tragically wrote yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away at the age of 79. A great friend and colleague of fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has also been a subject of interest given that the two are polar opposites on the Court, died in his sleep while on a hunting trip in Texas. Various members of America’s legal community offered their condolences.

Robert P. George of Princeton University noted “Over the course of our nation’s history, many jurists have been described as ‘towering figures in the law.’ Antonin Scalia had the distinction of being one of the handful for whom the description is actually justified.”

“He preached the principle that the Constitution should be interpreted in a way that honors the text—the words on the page—and understood as the words were intended by those whose act of ratification made them the fundamental law of the land,” he added.

“Antonin Scalia was my dear friend and I shall miss him. His death is a grave loss to the Nation and a blow to the cause of fidelity to the Constitution. My deepest condolences to his widow Maureen and to his children and grandchildren. Requiscet in pace.”

Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch said, “Justice Scalia's death reminds us how much our liberties depend upon principled individuals in positions of power. His Supreme Court opinions stand as testament to his genius, wisdom, and his patriotic desire to share the original vision of the Founding Fathers with his fellow Americans.”

Fitton was also adamant "the American voter should decide on Election Day who appoints Scalia's replacement."

The Federalist Society mourned and thanked the late justice for all of his work in various forums and lectures of theirs over the years–and for his work as a legal scholar:

Justice Scalia was among the greatest members of the Supreme Court in our nation's history, and will long be remembered for his intelligent, principled, and tenacious dedication to our Constitution and to faithful interpretation of the law as its is written. He has had an enduring impact on the way our country approaches law and the Constitution, and we are grateful for that extraordinary contribution as well as the tremendous kindness he has shown the Federalist Society and many of its leaders and members since our founding."

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network called the late Scalia one of the greatest justices in our country’s history:

Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the greatest justices our country has known. My condolences go out to his family and colleagues. Justice Scalia’s decades on the Court have transformed our country’s approach to the law through his unwavering commitment to the text and original meaning of the Constitution. This president, who has shown such contempt for the Constitution and the laws, is the last person who should be appointing his successor. The American people on both sides of the aisle are disgusted with the status quo in Washington and another nomination by this President would just bring about more of the same. The people’s voice should be heard in November to determine who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Scalia as an “intellectual giant,” whose interpretation and dedication of our founding document is something that would surely be missed with his passing:

“Justice Scalia was an intellectual giant. His originalist interpretation of the Constitution set the standard for the court. He had an unwavering dedication to the founding document that has guided our country for nearly 230 years. His humor, devotion to the Constitution and quick wit will be remembered for years to come. Barbara and I send our prayers to Justice Scalia’s family. “The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year. Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

Scalia was the first Italian-American justice on the Supreme Court. While progressives despicably celebrate his death, we must also be reminded, as some have already done so on social media, that Scalia would have probably found this ghastly bunch to be entertaining. He would have probably shrugged, said “hey, that’s their right; I may not like what they’re doing, but it’s freedom of speech ad expression.” A position he often reiterated when he discussed a past flag burning case, wherein he said (comically) that he would have thrown this flag burner into jail if he were king, but he’s not. Therefore, this person burning the American flag was protected free speech. He also would add that exercising rights is not like strengthening muscles, noting that you could be exercising you First Amendment rights, but it could be in a horrific fashion, or for horrific causes. Yet, given what we have seen from Justice Scalia, he probably would have shrugged off this vitriol spewed about his death.

Besides his legal acumen, his views on his job as a jurist should be commended as well. In an interview with Leslie Stahl of CBS News’ 60 Minutes, Scalia said that he doesn’t attack people, he attacks ideas–and sometimes very good people have some horrible ideas. This circles back to his friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with whom his family would celebrate New Years Eve every year. Scalia added that if you cannot separate the two, you really shouldn’t be a judge.

At the same time, many of the left misconstrue the basic principles within his legal philosophy, especially the one where he feels that legislatures, not the Constitution (or the courts), should be the vehicle for change in our society. As he aptly noted in the interview, there is nothing in the Constitution that bars the people from passing laws legalizing same-sex marriage, the death penalty, or abortion. If you want abortion on demand, pass a law. If you want marriage equality, pass a law. Tired of the death penalty? Then, pass a law through the legislature, which has already been done in some states.

This isn’t controversial, though to many on the progressive left, it’s anathema. That may be more tragic than the hate being hurled at him over the Internet. Regardless, rest in peace, Mr. Justice. You were the most brilliant member of the Court. Your opinions, your wit, and your humor will be sorely missed.

The Craziest GOP Debate of The Cycle: Trump Defends Planned Parenthood, Cruz and Rubio Spar, Audience Boos

We're just one week away from the South Carolina primary and tonight the remaining six presidential candidates took the debate stage in Greenville to make a final push. Debate moderator John Dickerson opened the night with a moment of silence dedicated to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier today after serving for three decades on the high court.

The debate, hosted by CBS News, was certainly the most entertaining of the cycle with candidates repeatedly going after each other with an audience that loudly booed throughout the night.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio - While there was no clear winner for tonight's debate, the high-stakes cage match can be called a tie between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who had a lengthy sparring match over illegal immigration. One of the most memorable moments of the night between the candidates came when Cruz accused Rubio of going on Univision and promising amnesty to a Spanish speaking audience. Rubio responded by saying, "I don't know how Cruz knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish." To which Cruz responded, in Spanish, "We can do this in Spanish, if you want." Cruz was also able to land a punch on Rubio when he called the Gang of 8 legislation Cruz calls the Gang of 8 the "Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan."

After stumbling badly in New Hampshire and being pummeled by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the last debate (who has since dropped out of the race), Rubio needed a solid performance tonight and he delivered. Cruz did well to keep his composure after a number of solid rounds with Donald Trump, the moderator and even the audience while taking incoming accusations of being a "liar" from all directions. 

Cruz's weakest moment of the night came when he was pushed by Trump on his support for Chief Justice John Roberts during his nomination process in 2005. Cruz said on the stage he would not have appointed him, but was in fact a strong advocate for Roberts 10 years ago and wrote he should be a "quick confirm."

Governor Jeb Bush - South Carolina is friendly to the Bush family with a network of strong support. Bush had a good showing tonight, but not enough to get him ahead of Cruz or Rubio on election day. It was clear from the beginning the debate live audience was favorable to him, which was helpful, especially when he defended his brother George W. Bush and answered questions on the topic of foreign policy. Bush also got a boost from Rubio who said during the debate, "I thank God it was George W Bush in the White House on 9/11, not Al Gore." It should also be noted this was one of the most applauded lines of the night. 

Governor John Kasich - John Kasich was the adult in the room tonight and even called the discourse on the stage "crazy" at one point. However, his downfall came when he openly defending his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio under Obamacare, which has been a long held criticism of the Governor by conservatives. 

Donald Trump - Coming off his New Hampshire primary win, businessman Donald Trump couldn't stand the heat on the South Carolina stage. He came off as unhinged, angry and liberal. There were three major moments from him that stood out. 

1) Trump called President George W. Bush a liar and claimed he knew there weren't weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before invading in 2003. This is an unfair, untrue liberal attack line that has been used against President Bush and Republicans for years. Not only did President Bush have the support of his cabinet and intelligence from the CIA when he made the decision in invade Iraq two years after 9/11, he had the support of the UN and dozens of coalition countries before going into the country. Trump also accused Bush of not keeping the country safe before 9/11 and essentially blamed the former President for the worst terror attack in American history.

2) Trump said Planned Parenthood does "many wonderful things for women's health" while trying at the same time to dismiss abortion. Keep in mind Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards makes this same argument in order to keep $500 million in taxpayer funding each year. The abortion giant repeatedly claims it only uses taxpayer money for women's health, not for abortion, ignoring the fact that money is fungible. Trump made that argument for Planned Parenthood tonight from the Republican, pro-life debate stage. There's also this: 

3) Trump said if elected he will work with Congress to impose a tax on companies who manufacture products in Mexico and China and then import them into the United States for sale. Will he then impose a mandatory tax on his Trump brand? Or will he ask for a special exception? After all, his company ties and suits are made in Mexico and China.

Dr. Ben Carson - Last week Dr. Ben Carson's campaign significantly downsized it's staff, indicating an end to his 2016 presidential run will be coming soon. Tonight reinforced that prospect. Not only did Carson struggle, again, on the issue of foreign policy, he failed to properly combat the issue of medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which is supposed to be his strong suit. 

The next Republican presidential debate is Thursday, February 24 on CNN and will be co-sponsored by Salem Communications in Houston.

Ben Carson Cites Fake Stalin Quote in Closing Statement

In his closing statement in Saturday's debate, Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson cited a quote from Josef Stalin saying that the three ways to destroy America were to undermine its patriotism, morality, and spiritual life. Carson then stated that "we the people" are able to stop this decline.

One problem: Stalin never said that quote. The quote is originally from a Facebook image that has been shared since 2011.

While the sentiment of Carson's closing statement was nice, it's a huge unforced error to include a fake quote. It makes Carson look silly.

Donald Trump Hits Jeb Bush On Syria

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush sparred over the military decisions in Syria and whether or not Russian intervention has helped the situation.

"To allow Russia to have influence makes it harder," Bush said.

"Jeb is so wrong," Trump said.  "You have to fight ISIS first... you can't fight two wars at one time... that's why we've been in the middle east for 15 years and we haven't won anything."

'Fight For 15' Protest Group Marched Outside Debate Tonight

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Supporters of the campaign known as "Fight for 15" made an appearance at Saturday night's GOP debate venue here in Greenville, South Carolina. The group, a project of the Service Employees International Union, is an "international movement of underpaid workers taking a stand against poverty wages," according to its social media pages. They are on a mission to raise the minimum wage to $15.

The conservative group America Rising Squared got their hands on a recent “Fight for 15” email which indicated the group was planning to send a bus of protesters to tonight’s event. They arrived in due time, according to Twitter.

Brian Rogers, executive director of AR2, has a slightly different definition of "Fight for 15" that you won't find on the campaign's website:

“Contrary to what its big labor union funders want to portray, the ‘Fight for $15’ is actually a highly-orchestrated multi-million dollar effort by the SEIU to increase its shrinking membership rolls and gain hundreds of millions in new members’ dues,” he said in a statement Saturday. 

The American Action Forum released a study last year that concluded raising the minimum wage would result in the loss of 6.6 million jobs. Does that sound like a worthy goal to “fight” for?

One of the protesters’ reported targets is the media filing center. I’ll let you know if they make their way in. 

Obama: I Will Nominate Scalia's Successor in Due Time

After spending the afternoon on the golf course, President Obama made his way back to the White House Saturday evening to make a statement about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Watch below: 

LIVE OPEN THREAD: GOP Candidates Battle in South Carolina

The remaining GOP candidates are prepped, the debate stage is set and the battle one week from the South Carolina is set to begin. Follow the reaction of our writers and editors below and please join the conversation in the comment section. 

Graham in SC: Scalia Loss Should Be 'Wakeup Call' For Republicans

GREENVILLE, S.C. - The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday has shaken conservatives in Washington. Scalia was a larger than life, contagious personality who fought to defend the Constitution to his last. All of the 2016 presidential candidates have released statements to recognize his incredible record on the highest bench in the nation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was in the media filing center ahead of Saturday’s GOP debate in Greenville, SC to chat with some of the press before the anticipated event. Graham, who dropped out of the 2016 race weeks ago, has since endorsed former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).

Graham didn’t just chat about the campaign cycle, however. Journalists asked him to weigh in on the now wide open Supreme Court. Can President Obama get a new justice approved before he leaves office? they wondered.

“If he can’t find a consensus choice,” Graham insisted, “it won’t happen.”

The senator indicated he is still bitter about Obama ushering in the rules change to a simple majority pick for appellate judges. That move, Graham said, “broke trust with him.” He went even further, calling it a “breach of power.”

“This should be wake up call for Republicans,” Graham said. “If you can’t win the White House, then this appointment is going to be made by a Democrat.”

He doesn’t trust Trump to appoint a conservative and he called Ted Cruz “unelectable.”

“Wake up and vote for someone who can win,” he emphasized.

If a Democrat does the win the White House, presumably frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Graham said he could find a way to compromise.

“If Hillary wins and picks a qualified candidate I’d vote for them,” he said.

Clarence Thomas Trends on Twitter As Users Hope He Dies Next

Earlier today, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away from natural causes at the age of 79. In response to this tragedy, fellow Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was trending on Twitter as users expressed a desire that he be the next justice to die. Thomas, like Scalia, is a member of the Supreme Court's conservative wing.

Classy:

Depravity.

McConnell Makes a Stand: Vacancy Shouldn't Be Filled Until America Has a New President

After three decades on the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia has died. 

The overwhelming question hanging over partisan Washington gridlock and a heated presidential election is now, of course, what's next?

There are a number of things and options to keep in mind as we move forward. 1) Obama will move quickly and likely already has a name for his preferred nominee ready to go 2) The Senate can demand the nominee be a compromise 3) The Majority Leader and the Senate can delay or refuse to confirm Obama's nominee. This by default has the potential to run out the clock on Obama's second term before another nominee can be appointed and confirmed by the Senate. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has released a statement, saying the vacancy should not be filled until Americans choose the next president.

 "Today our country lost an unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans. Justice Scalia's fidelity to the Constitution was rivaled only by the love of his family: his wife Maureen his nine children, and his many grandchildren. Through the sheer force of his intellect and his legendary wit, this giant of American jurisprudence almost singlehandedly revived an approach to constitutional interpretation that prioritized the text and original meaning of the Constitution. Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to the entire Scalia family," McConnell released in a statement. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.

To be clear, McConnell and the Senate have the constitutional authority to block confirmation of a nominee from Obama. They do not have the constitutional authority to keep Obama from issuing a nomination. The President has the right to issue a nominee and the Senate has the right to block a nominee, either by vote or by refusing to bring the nomination up for a vote on the floor.  

2016 Presidential Candidates React to Justice Scalia's Passing

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away due to natural causes on Saturday at a ranch in Texas. He was 79.

Ahead of the GOP primary debate in Greenville, SC, the candidates released statements mourning Scalia's passing:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our...

Posted by Ted Cruz on Saturday, February 13, 2016

Donald Trump:

Official statement released on his website:

I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the Scalia family after the passing of Justice Scalia. Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time. His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms. He was a Justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL):

Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history...

Posted by Marco Rubio on Saturday, February 13, 2016

Jeb Bush:

Ben Carson:

Official statement released on his website:

I am saddened to hear the news about Justice Antonin Scalia. We have lost a great man and a great Supreme Court Justice. For the past three decades, his towering intellect and trenchant wit has characterized the deliberations and decisions of the high court. He made Americans proud, not only because he gave to the court the power and persuasion of his brilliant legal mind, but because he defended the Constitution with an unshakeable commitment to the text and to the intent of the Founders.

In an age where it is popular to subscribe to a "living Constitution" and during a time when political and judicial leaders prefer legal decisions that are politically convenient, Justice Scalia always dutifully carried out his responsibilities to interpret the law, not to make new ones. Time and again, he ruled based on where the black letter of the law led him, not according to the politics of the moment. For that reason, he has angered Americans on both the left and the right, but he has never wavered in his dedication to the Constitution.

It is imperative that the Senate not allow President Obama to diminish Justice Scalia’s legacy by trying to nominate an individual who would carry on the President’s wishes to subvert the will of the people. Given the dire condition our democracy currently finds itself under Obama's lack of leadership, I call on the Senate to stop any attempts to fill this crucial seat until We The People elect a strong Constitutionalist this November.

We will miss him sorely. We pray for his family and friends, and we pray for America, which today lost a patriot and a faithful servant.

Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also offered condolences to Scalia's family and the other Supreme Court justices.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):

Hillary Clinton:

This post will be updated.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at Age 79

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died, the San Antonio Express-News reported on Saturday afternoon. He was 79.

Scalia passed away in his sleep while on a hunting trip in Marfa, Texas. Foul play is not suspected.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa, the paper reported.

According to a report, Scalia, an associate justice, arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation, the paper reported.

Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986. He was the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), released a statement extending condolences to the Scalia family:

A statement from Chief Justice John Roberts:

Resquiescat in pace.

Scalia Dies at Age 79

BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at Age 79

Posted by Townhall Video on Saturday, February 13, 2016

This story has been updated.

Voters in SC Ready For Trump: 'We Won't Be Swayed' By Tonight's Debate

GREENVILLE, S.C. - I'm here in downtown Greenville ahead of Saturday night's GOP presidential debate at The Peace Center. Down the street from the venue, a flurry of "Trump" signs led me to his local campaign headquarters. Hundreds of visitors have been filing in and out since this morning, organizers told me. One receptionist said "she's never seen anything like it" since she started working there a month ago. 

All ages were walking through the HQ, many of whom were eager to take pictures with the lifesize cutout of Trump in the lobby.

"We won't be swayed tonight," one Trump supporter said, speaking for his family. Meaning, no matter what happens at tonight's debate, Trump is their guy. "Jeb's not going to get anything done" and Rubio "doesn't have the experience," he said, dismissing the Republican frontrunner's opponents.

Why do so many South Carolinians have Trump fever? I asked several people who were picking up Trump bumper stickers and yard signs and the most frequent responses focused on two issues: The economy and, his most vocal issue, immigration.

In fact, the first person I talked to said only one word when I asked him why Trump had his vote: "Immigration."

Trump's campaign seems to be well aware that his anti-amnesty stance has hit a nerve with his supporters. They encouraged visitors at the local headquarters to open a binder on the table that had a list of reforms Trump intends to make as president. The very first tab outlined his plans for immigration. 

A group of young male students from South Carolina's Furman University echoed that sentiment. One of the young men said he's voting for the businessman because of his strong stance on ISIS and immigration.

"He's going to build a wall," he said.

"Is Mexico going to pay for it?" I asked.

"No," he laughed. "I'd like to see some of Trump's money go toward it."

Interestingly, one of the other students said he's torn between Trump and Bernie Sanders. Why? He said simply because "he's a millennial" and he likes the Washington outsiders.

Most other visitors at the HQ, however, agreed that we cannot let Sanders or Hillary Clinton win in November. One gentleman scoffed at Sanders' offering his supporters "free ice cream, free college," etc. 

"What are they, elementary children?" he said.

Other voters I spoke with said they are huge fans of Trump's no nonsense rhetoric.

"He says what's on everyone's mind," one visitor noted.

In just a few hours, we'll see if Trump continues telling it like its when he joins the stage with his five remaining opponents, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and John Kasich.

I'll be covering the debate live here in Greenville. Stay put at Townhall for coverage.

Donald Trump Settles Univision Lawsuit

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has settled his lawsuit against the television network Univision. Univision refused to broadcast the Miss Universe pageant following Trump's comments about Mexicans. The suit was settled for an undisclosed sum.

On Saturday, Trump took to Twitter, saying all was well between himself and the network and that he "looked forward" to appearing on Univison for an interview. He then deleted the tweets.

A screenshot, via Politwoops:

So while things may be smoothed out legally for Trump, it's unclear as to whether or not he'll ever appear on Univison.

Video: Previewing Tonight's GOP Debate in South Carolina


I swung by Megyn Kelly's show last night and chatted with guest host Sandra Smith about this evening's South Carolina debate -- the last high-profile test prior to that state's primary election next weekend. Reliable, recent polling is surprisingly scarce in the state, where Donald Trump appears poised to rack up his second consecutive victory. What must each candidate accomplish on CBS tonight? My take, via Right Sightings:


Our own Cortney O'Brien is on the ground in the Palmetto State, where she'll be leading our Townhall team coverage throughout and after the forum.  Here's a glimpse of the scene outside the venue:


And who wants a little pop culture mixed in?


Follow Cortney's tweets and posts all night.

Colin Cowherd: NCAA Perfect Example of Socialism

An interesting piece from Colin Cowherd's sports talk show "The Herd" gives a great example of how ideas like socialism only make the rich richer, and the poor poorer.  Look no further than in men's college football to see what happens when heavy restrictions are put on teams and corporations to try and level the playing field.

"They have enacted all sorts of rules for 30 years to make it even, let's see if it's worked: Alabama is, in the last five years, 62-7. Three titles," Colin said. "That's weird, so we enact all these changes to hurt the powerful, and Alabama has never been more powerful."

As an Alabama fan, I certainly enjoy the 'rich get richer' mentality when it comes to my favorite sports team.  However, I do not believe this is exactly what our founding fathers intended.  

West Virginia Will Become the 26th Right-To-Work State

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed legislation to make West Virginia the 26th right-to-work state, but was quickly overridden by the Republican legislature. For bills that don’t deal with budgetary matters or appropriations, a simple majority is needed to override a veto. The state senate had already done so. And the State House of Delegates was expected to follow suit, given that there are 64 Republican members. The law goes into effect July 1 (via Metro News):

The House of Delegates and state Senate made quick work of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s vetoes on the bills that will repeal the state’s prevailing wage and make West Virginia a right to work state in votes taken during Friday’s floor sessions.

The Republican-controlled Senate overrode both vetoes on an 18-16 party line vote while the House voted 55-44 to override prevailing wage and 54-43 to do the same with the right to work bill.

Both now will become law. On July 1, West Virginia will become the 26th state to become right to work while the current prevailing wage will be repealed in about three months.

After debating the right to work bill for more than five hours last week, House members were mainly quiet before the veto override vote.

DHS Employee: The Obama Administration Ordered Us To 'Scrub' Intelligence Of Muslims With Terror Ties

So, in the era of fighting radical Islamic terrorism, the Obama administration reportedly told workers at the Department of Homeland Security to scrub the records of Muslims with terror ties; information that’s been collected for years, according to Philip Haney. Haney broke his silence on the matter last week in The Hill, where he said that the president’s remarks that the intelligence community couldn’t connect the dots post-underwear bomber in 2009 was infuriating since these actions would remove any chance at doing so. Haney had been a DHS employee for 15 years:

Twenty-three-year old Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253, but the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned and brave passengers subdued him until he could be arrested. The graphic and traumatic defeat they planned for the United States failed, that time.

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.” He said, “this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

Most Americans were unaware of the enormous damage to morale at the Department of Homeland Security, where I worked, his condemnation caused. His words infuriated many of us because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material—the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots. The dots constitute the intelligence needed to keep Americans safe, and the Obama administration was ordering they be wiped away.

[…]

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”

[…]

As the number of successful and attempted Islamic terrorist attacks on America increased, the type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit “honor killing” perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez, who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015).

Now, this is just one account, albeit a devastating one. It shows that the Obama administration isn’t doing what many feel right now–keeping the country safe. Nevertheless, we shall see if anything more comes of this.

Ohio Machete Attacker Could Be 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

The FBI is investigating Somali-born assailant Mohamed Barry, 30, as a possible "lone wolf" terrorist after he attacked four people at a busy Ohio restaurant Thursday night.

According to CNN:

Authorities are investigating Thursday's machete attack at a Columbus, Ohio restaurant as a potential "lone wolf" terror attack.  His motive remains unclear, but investigators are trying to determine if the Nazareth Restaurant & Deli was chosen under the mistaken belief the restaurant had a Jewish owner.

Here's Why President Obama Won't Speak at Malia's Graduation

Appearing on The Ellen Degeneres Show today, President Obama was read a love poem from his wife, Michelle, and explained why he wouldn't be speaking at his daughter Malia's graduation from the Sidwell Friends School later this spring. According to Obama, who considers his eldest daughter to be one of his best friends, he turned down an offer to speak at her graduation because he will be "sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing."

Obama also revealed that he has considered going out in disguise and talked about how hard it will be to send daughter Malia off to college in the fall.

"She's one of my best friends. It's going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time, but she's ready to go," Obama said of his 17-year-old daughter, a senior at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington. "She's just a really smart, capable person and she's ready to make her own way."

He said he declined an invitation to speak at her upcoming graduation. "I said 'absolutely not,' because I'm going to be sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing," Obama said.

Malia, 17, has not yet announced where she will be attending college, but visited some pretty prestigious schools during her college application process.

At the end of the day, despite partisan differences, it's important to remember that the president is still a human being with normal, fatherly feelings.

Pro-life Women Warn South Carolina Not to Vote for Trump

Pro-life women leaders are once again urging voters to choose “anyone but Trump” in the 2016 race. The coalition, made up of advocates from groups like Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America, sent out an urgent anti-Trump letter to voters ahead of the Iowa Caucus last month, which they say led to a “slowdown in momentum” for the outspoken billionaire. They’re hoping to have the same success in South Carolina.

Dear South Carolina voters,

As pro-life women leaders from South Carolina and across the nation, we urge Republican primary voters to support anyone but Donald Trump. On the issue of defending unborn children and protecting women from the violence of abortion, Mr. Trump cannot be trusted and there is, thankfully, an abundance of alternative candidates with proven records of pro-life leadership whom pro-life voters can support.  We have come to this conclusion after having listened patiently to numerous debates and news reports, but most importantly to Donald Trump’s own words.

The letter goes on to list a few more specific reasons as to why Trump is not the right candidate for the pro-life movement – the most egregious of which being his desire to place his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the Supreme Court. Barry is hardly a pro-life warrior – she once struck down the common sense Partial Birth Abortion ban in New Jersey.

The open letter was signed by the following pro-life activists. Will they be able to disrupt Trump's current double-digit lead in The Palmetto State?

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List

Tami Fitzgerald, North Carolina State Director, Susan B. Anthony List
Maggie Gallagher
, Columnist and author

Rep. Donna Hicks, South Carolina District 37

Laura Beth Kirsop, Chairman of the Upstate Young Republicans & Pro-life Advocate
Andrea Lafferty
, President, Traditional Values Coalition
Beverly LaHaye
, Founder and Chairman, Concerned Women for America

Aimee Murphy, Founder, Life Matters Journal

Marilyn Musgrave, Fmr. Congresswoman, VP of Government Affairs, Susan B. Anthony List

Penny Nance, President and CEO, Concerned Women for America

Melissa Ohden, Abortion Survivor and Pro-life Activist & Speaker

Star Parker, Founder and President, Urbancure

Tonya Shellnutt, State Director, Concerned Women for America South Carolina
Jill Stanek
, National Campaign Chair, Susan B. Anthony List

Rep. Wendy Nanney, South Carolina District 22

Jim Gilmore Drops Out of 2016 Race

Longshot Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore has suspended his campaign for president after only 12 people voted for him the New Hampshire primary, reports The Des Moines Register. 

The former governor of Virginia only made it onto the debate stage twice due to his poor polling. Here's a bit more about his political history before running for the highest office in the land:

Gilmore's exit from the race marks the latest disappointing campaign in a political career that once elevated him to national prominence. Elected governor of Virginia in 1997, Gilmore was chosen by then-President-elect George W. Bush in December 2000 to take the helm of the Republican National Committee. His tenure as party chief, however, was rocky and brief, and after reportedly clashing with White House aides like Karl Rove, he resigned the post after just a year on the job.

Six candidates remain in the running. 

The next GOP contest is the South Carolina primary, where Donald Trump is ahead by double digits.