US politics

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President Barack Obama said it was “novel” that Republicans were blaming him for their primary “circus” and criticised the GOP for “creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive”. Here are his comments, made at a press conference alongside Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. Read more

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Donald Trump is going for the kill in Florida on March 15. After sweeping three of the four states that voted on Tuesday, the pugnacious tycoon wants to knock out “Little Marco” – his pet name for Marco Rubio who has seen his Marcomentum turn into Marcollapse after he failed to win a single delegate on Tuesday night. Read more

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Polls will soon close in Michigan and Mississippi. Republicans are also voting in Idaho and Hawaii, but the focus is Michigan, which has the most number of delegates on offer and may give an indication of how rust-belt states, including Ohio on March 15, will vote. In the GOP race, the big question is whether Donald Trump is losing steam. Ted Cruz did better than expected on Saturday, winning two states and giving the mogul a run for his money in Kentucky and Louisiana – a performance that landed the Texas senator with more delegates than Trump on the night. Read more

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Michael Bloomberg is not running for president. The New York billionaire ended months of speculation that he might challenge another New York billionaire – no prizes for guessing who that is – and the Democratic contenders. The former New York mayor concluded that he could not win enough electoral college votes in November and worried that entering the race would hand the White House to a Republican.

“There is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” he said in deciding not to launch an independent bid. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

He has been called a phoney, a fraud and a threat to democracy — and that is just by members of his own party. Other critics have compared Donald Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. I have shared in the widespread horror at Mr Trump’s rise but at the same time, a small voice in the back of my head has sometimes asked: “Is he really that bad? Might all this hysteria be a bit overdone?”

The Republican debate on Thursday ​elevated farce to new heights. ​​Donald Trump ​raised eyebrows when he hit back at earlier innuendo by Marco Rubio about his masculinity.

“He referred to my hands [suggesting that] if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” he told the roughly 17m viewers who tuned in to the debate. Read more

The Donald Trump media feeding-frenzy is in full flow. But beyond all the fun stuff about the horse-race and the insults, have there been any really good articles explaining the Trump phenomenon? I have found two recent pieces particularly interesting. Thomas Edsall explains how – “The economic basis for voter anger has been building for over 40 years” – and has some interesting numbers on the stagnation of real wages, the shrinking of the middle-class, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and the impact of Chinese accession to the WTO.

Another good analysis, this time on the Vox site, looks at the kinds of people who are attracted to Trump’s rhetoric – and in particular at political scientists’ work on the rise of authoritarian attitudes in America. Apparently, people’s attitudes to parenting are a good predictor of their attitudes to Trump. Those who value obedience in children, above all, are “authoritarian” types, who also like Trump. But there are also is a large group of people with “latent authoritarianism”, which is aroused when they feel under threat. Read more

Just when you thought the White House race could not get any uglier, Mitt Romney, the patrician former Republican presidential nominee, took direct aim at Donald Trump, the clear GOP frontrunner following Super Tuesday.

Mr Romney skewered Mr Trump, calling him a “fraud” who was unfit to serve as president. Read our story for the full attack, but here is a taster: “There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.” Read more

Donald Trump is the only story in town. As I write in a hotel in Boca Raton, the punters at the bar are waxing lyrical about the billionaire who last night said he felt “awfully good” at his plush resort just up the coast. Trump will now focus on winning Florida on March 15 to try to deliver a fatal blow to Marco Rubio, the young Cuban-American from the Sunshine State, who was the great hope of the establishment but has only won one state so far, Minnesota.

The Republican establishment is in complete shock over the state of the race, which has widened the deep fissures in the party of Reagan. Read our story on how a group of Republican foreign policy experts, including former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick, are about to release a harsh attack on Mr TrumpRead more

Is Trump a threat to American democracy?
Donald Trump now looks highly likely to secure the Republican nomination for the US presidency. Gideon Rachman discusses what this means for US democracy and the rest of the world with FT columnists Ed Luce and Martin Wolf.

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For anyone outside Trumpistan who thought the tycoon could never win the Republican nomination, this may be the time to reassess your views. Donald Trump won a sweeping victory on Super Tuesday, taking relatively liberal states such as Massachusetts and Vermont and conservative southern states that included Georgia and Alabama. Read more

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It’s the biggest night in the electoral calendar so far, so White House Countdown is doing things a little differently. We’ll keep it short for now, but we’ll be sending a second version of this email out once the dust has settled, with all the results and reaction. Read more

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There is panic inside the Republican Party on the eve of Super Tuesday as Donald Trump steams towards the GOP nomination – even after he failed to condemn the Ku Klux Klan this weekend. Some influential Republicans privately say they would not vote for Trump in November, while Ben Sasse, the Nebraska GOP senator, today became the first Republican member of Congress to declare openly that he could not support TrumpRead more

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Maybe we should rename this newsletter “White House Meltdown” after the Republican debate in Texas which saw Marco Rubio launch waron Donald Trump. While the presidential contenders brawled in Texas, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who last week told me that the GOP was facing its own Shia-Sunni conflict, said his party “has gone bats**t crazy”.Back in September, Jerry Springer, the host of the eponymous show, tweeted that “watching the Repubs debate…if they’re going to do my show, the least they could do is ask me!” What would Springer say about the debate last night, which resembled a Monty Python sketch? Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, described it as a “Texas demolition derby”.

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Donald Trump is winning more friends. While many mainstream Republicans pull their punches when asked about the tycoon and his inflammatory rhetoric, Vincente Fox, the former president of Mexico, today showed his cojones – to use a favourite expression of Madeline Albright, former secretary of state.

“I’m not going to pay for that f*****g wall,” Fox told Jorge Ramos, a prominent Mexican-American journalist who was once evicted from a Trump rally. “He should pay for it. He’s got the money.” Read more

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Donald Trump’s decisive victory in Nevada has given him a big boost before the March 1 Super Tuesday contests when 11 states will vote. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who between them won fewer votes than Trump in Nevada, are rapidly running out of time to challenge the tycoon. Trump surprised everyone – except himself – by winning demographics across the board, including the highly and poorly educated. “I love the poorly educated” he declared in his victory party. Read more

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Donald Trump has always been brash. But the tycoon is becoming bellicose. When a protester interrupted a rally in Las Vegas on Monday night, he said he wanted to punch him “in the face”. Things are getting more heated at his rallies. He took aim at the media again today – a favourite pastime despite the fact that free coverage saves the need for advertising dollars – saying they were a “disgusting” bunch who were “probably worse than (Ted) Cruz but not much”. Read more

(Charleston, South Carolina) Jeb Bush is wobbling. The last thing he needed the day before the crucial South Carolina primary was headlines like “Bush machine running on fumes” about his campaign coffers running dry and reports that – barring a miraculous surge in the state – friends will soon urge him to quit the race to clear the way for Marco Rubio.

That would narrow the establishment field to two: John Kasich, the Ohio governor whose relatively moderate stance makes him a difficult sell to conservatives in the Bible Belt states that dominate the Super Tuesday grouping of primaries on March 1, and Rubio. Mainstream Republicans increasingly view Rubio, a 44-year-old telegenic Cuban-American, as the candidate with the best chance of beating Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and giving the GOP its best shot at winning the White House in November. Read more

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Donald Trump has come under an unprecedented attack. Pope Francis said Trump was “not Christian” if he planned to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian,” he said after leaving Mexico. Trump called the comments “disgraceful” and responded that only he could protect the Vatican from Isis. Read more

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(Aiken, South Carolina) White House contenders make many unrealistic promises in the heat of the presidential campaign. But Marco Rubio made a bold move during a rally in Aiken, South Carolina on Wednesday when he vowed to ban something that made life tough in the 1970s. Unless you’re a fan of KC & The Sunshine Band, you better put your dancing shoes away if the Cuban-American enters the White House. Read more