• Trump Won't Denounce KKK?

    Donald Trump blamed a “lousy earpiece” for why he claimed he didn’t know who David Duke was during a CNN interview earlier today. On NBC’s Today show Monday, Trump said he knows who Duke is (a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who will vote for him), but claimed he never met him. Trump also said he only didn’t know the white-supremacist groups that host Jake Tapper asked him about. Nevertheless, Trump refused several opportunities to denounce the racists supporting him. Earlier this evening, he tweeted that he disavowed their support.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you believe Trump? Why or why not?
    • Do you think this will hurt him in the polls? Why or why not?
    • How should opponents attempt to capitalize on this? Why?
  • Apple v. the Federal Government

    Several of the people who were wounded in December’s San Bernardino terror attack are planning to file a legal brief to appeal to Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone of one of the shooters, a lawyer for the victims said earlier this week. Stephen Larson told Reuters the information on Syed Farook’s phone extends beyond the Justice Department’s criminal investigation. “They were targeted by terrorists, and they need to know why, how this could happen,” Larson said. Larson said he was contacted a week ago by the Justice Department and prosecutors about representing the victims. He plans to file an amicus brief in court by early March. Apple has refused to help the FBI gain access to Farook’s phone, arguing that it would set a dangerous precedent. FBI Director James Comey said over the weekend that authorities are not looking to “break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land,” according to a statement.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Apple unlock the phone? Why or why not?
    • How does this make you feel about Apple products?
    • How would you feel if you were a victim of the shooting?
  • Kasich Strips Planned Parenthood in Ohio

    John Kasich signed a bill over the weekend that strips money for Planned Parenthood in Ohio. The bill covers over a million dollars from primarily federal resources which would have gone toward HIV testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as other services. By signing this bill into law, Kasich is preventing this money from going to places like Planned Parenthood due to his hard and fast stance against abortion. Many are questioning whether this is a political move by the moderate Kasich to attempt to shore up additional support from more conservative Republican primary voters.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you think this decision was politically motivated? Why or why not?
    • Do you think this will help Kasich rally conservative voters? Why or why not?
    • Is Kasich still a viable presidential candidate? Why or why not?
  • Trump Takes South Carolina; Rubio, Second

    Donald Trump is the projected winner in the South Carolina Republican primary. The frontrunner business mogul ended up with 32 percent of the vote, besting second-place Marco Rubio by ten full percentage points and nearly 80-thousand votes. Rubio bested rival Senator Ted Cruz for second place by little more than a thousand votes. The Palmetto State is Trump's second primary victory, coming off a landslide win in New Hampshire and a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. In response, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has announced he is suspending his campaign.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Can Rubio or Cruz catch Trump? Why or why not?
    • Should Cruz be worried that he has now lost to both Trump and Rubio in a heavily evangelical state? Why or why not?
    • Did Bush drop out too early? Too late? Why?
  • Trump on Iraq

    Though Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that he opposed the Iraq War before the invasion began, a 2002 interview with Howard Stern revealed that he in fact supported an invasion, BuzzFeed reported yesterday. During the September 11, 2002, interview, Stern asked Trump if he supported invading Iraq. “Yeah I guess so,” Trump said. “I wish the first time it was done correctly.” Trump continues to claim that he was against the Iraq War before it began. However, there is no evidence of him publicly denouncing the war. “Well, I did it in 2003, I said it before that,” Trump said of his stance. “Don’t forget, I wasn’t a politician. So people didn’t write everything I said. I was a businessperson."

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Trump's view on Iraq matter? Why or why not?
    • Do you believe Trump supported the Iraq conflict?
    • Do you think this is meaningful media coverage? Why or why not?
  • Clinton and Trump Rule in South Carolina Polls

    Only four days before the South Carolina primary, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold substantial polling leads in their respective parties. According to the newest CNN/ORC data, Trump leads the Palmetto State with 38 percent support, beating out Iowa caucus winner Ted Cruz's 22 percent, Marco Rubio's 14 percent, Jeb Bush's ten percent, Carson's six, and Kasich's four percent despite a "surge" after placing second in last week's New Hampshire primary. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Clinton polls at 56 percent, holding an 18-point lead over self-described "democratic socialist" Senator Sanders.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why do you believe Trump is leading in South Carolina?
    • Why do you believe Clinton is leading in South Carolina?
    • Which Republican has the most to gain by a strong showing? The most to lose by a poor showing?
  • The Death of a Justice

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will undergo an autopsy in Texas, according to state law after he was found dead yesterday on a ranch near Marfa. The ranch where he was staying does not have a medical examiner and in the absence of a physician, an autopsy is performed according to Chapter 49 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It is within a coroner's power however to waive an autopsy when no foul play is expected as is the case here. 

    President Obama announced that he will nominate a new justice to the Supreme Court last night during a brief but impassioned speech addressing the death. "I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time," Obama said, calling the duty to do so "bigger than any one party." Obama remembered Scalia as a child of immigrants who influenced a generation of lawyers, and that the justice will be remembered for his wit and "colorful opinions."

    Discussion Questions:

    • How do you believe Scalia will be remembered?
    • Do you believe Obama will be able to get a replacement confirmed? Why or why not?
    • Who do you think Obama will nominate? Why?
  • Dems Debate in Wisconsin

    Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton squared off in another Democratic debate last night, which focused on health care.  Sanders argued for a massive overhaul while Clinton stressed a more pragmatic approach. Clinton criticized Sanders’ single-payer, Medicare-for-all plan, accusing him of making promises “that cannot be kept.” She argued the proposal would dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “Based on every analysis I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, the numbers don’t add up,” she said. Sanders responded that he would not “dismantle anything,” adding “health care is a right of all people.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • What strategy do you think Clinton should use against Sanders? Why?
    • What strategy do you think Sanders should use against Clinton? Why?
    • Do you think Sanders can ultimately defeat Clinton? Why or why not?
  • Kasich Second to Trump

    While Donald Trump waltzed to victory in the New Hampshire GOP primary, Ohio Governor John Kasich won the battle for second place ahead of third-place Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush in fourth, and Marco Rubio, who finished fifth after taking a severe hit from his widely panned debate performance this past weekend. Trump declared victory with 35 percent while Kasich came in second with nearly 16 percent of the vote, based on 92 percent of the returns. Such a tally means Kasich will likely grab four New Hampshire delegates, while Trump gets ten, Cruz and Bush three apiece, and Rubio gets two.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you think Kasich can keep this momentum? Why or why not?
    • Do you think Rubio can rebound? Why or why not?
    • What do you think it will take for Cruz to overtake Trump in future states?
  • Struggles with the Introductions

    Saturday evening's Republican primary debate in New Hampshire opened with what can only be described as chaos. Upon his introduction to enter the stage, Ben Carson ambled out and failed to walk to his podium, instead stopping in the walkway. Just as Carson started walking to his place, moderators David Muir and Martha Raddatz—unaware of the delay—continued to name Ted Cruz, causing the retired neurosurgeon to stop in his tracks and let the Texan senator bypass him. He remained in the hallway even longer, even after a stage manager tried to wave him away; and when Donald Trump was introduced, he, too, stopped in the walkway with his sleepy colleague. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush both walked past the pair as they stood, cluelessly awaiting their re-introductions.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Who do you think won the debate? Why?
    • Do you think Rubio faltered during this debate? Why or why not?
    • Which Republican do you believe will win New Hampshire? Why?
  • Clinton and Sanders Clash on Progressive Values

    Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled last evening over who had better progressive credentials during a town-hall meetup in Derry, New Hampshire. The former secretary of state defended her record after the Vermont senator mounted an attack on her connection to Wall Street. “I’m a progressive who gets results and I will be a progressive president who gets results,” she said. Sanders criticized Clinton for not being liberal enough on issues such as trade agreements, Wall Street regulation, climate change, and her backing of the war in Iraq. The two will face off again in New Hampshire on February 9 in the second party-nominating contest after Clinton was declared the winner by a narrow margin in the Iowa caucuses.

    Discussion Questions:

    • How would you characterize the town hall?
    • Who do you think will win New Hampshire? Why?
    • What does Sanders have to do in your opinion to overtake Clinton?
  • One State Down

    Ted Cruz won the Republican Party’s Iowa caucuses Monday night. With roughly 28 percent of the vote, Cruz outpolled Donald Trump, who brought in 24 percent, and Marco Rubio, who fell 2,000 votes short of catching the frontrunner business mogul for second place. Cruz’s victory came as a surprise to many analysts, as Trump went into the night with a comfortable lead in Iowa polls, and most experts predicted a large turnout would work in the populist Republican’s favor. Additionally, Rubio’s surprising third-place finish indicates momentum in a race where he was previously written off. Cruz was likely propelled to victory by strong support from evangelical voters, whom the Texan senator courted for months. According to poll data, he pulled in votes from 43 percent of self-identified conservatives and 33 percent of evangelicals.

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign declared victory in Iowa early Tuesday morning, after a long night locked in a tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both the former secretary of state and the Vermont senator garnered roughly 49 percent, but with nearly all results in, Clinton’s camp said she had secured a margin of victory that can’t be overcome with the remaining votes in the arcane caucus math. “After thorough reporting—and analysis—of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates,” declared Clinton’s Iowa state director, Matt Paul. Clinton reportedly won about four more state delegate equivalents than Sanders, with one precinct yet to report totals. Late Monday, Clinton was undeterred even when she hadn’t yet won, hosting a victory party during which she said she was “breathing a sigh of relief” even when the results were unclear. During his caucus-night speech, Sanders asserted the voting was a “virtual tie.” Despite final polling data favoring a clear Clinton victory in the first-in-the-nation caucus, the race came down to a several thousand votes, and a razor-thin margin that resulted in a “too-close-to-call” election for much of the night.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Who gained the most based on Iowa results? Why?
    • Who suffered the worst defeat? Why?
    • How do you believe these results will impact the New Hampshire primaries?