With one day to the South Carolina Republican primary and six remaining Republican contenders, we still have plenty of fireworks going off in the 2016 race. On Thursday night, competing town halls on MSNBC and CNN allowed viewers to hear from the candidates once more before they vote on Saturday.
Here’s just a glimpse into the status of each candidate’s campaign. Who’s topping the polls? Who’s targeting who? As you’ll see, Cruz and Rubio are leaving nothing to the imagination.
Donald Trump: Trump was forced to explain his position on the Iraq War multiple times at Thursday night’s CNN GOP town hall in South Carolina. First, one voter confronted him demanding to know whether he truly believed former President George W. Bush “lied” about the war as he suggested at Saturday’s debate. Trump said he’d need to look at the transcript to determine what he actually meant. Then, Anderson Cooper reminded Trump about an interview he did with Howard Stern in 2002, when he voiced his support for the Iraq war – a clip Jeb Bush's campaign has been using as ammunition to prove their "Trump lies" narrative. Trump dismissed the interview, declaring he “wasn’t a politician” at the time. Meanwhile, his feud with the pope (yes, the pope), has been dominating the news cycle.
Ted Cruz: The Cruz campaign faced some heat Thursday for photoshopping a fake picture of Sen. Marco Rubio shaking hands with President Obama. While it wasn’t the most egregious campaign move ever played, Rubio has been using it to prove that Cruz has a pattern of making things up. The Texas senator is fighting back. After Rubio skipped a scheduled speech at the Conservative Review Convention Thursday, Cruz sent out a statement insisting Rubio isn’t a conservative and is hiding behind his “liberal record on amnesty for illegals.”
Marco Rubio: Rubio and friends have set all their sights on Cruz this week. He and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sounded off on the controversial photoshopped picture, using it to prove that every day it appears the Cruz campaign does or says something that “isn’t true.” The media has been surmising Haley may even be Rubio’s eventual VP pick. But, she insists her plate is full.
Jeb Bush: The Bush campaign is telling his supporters about this Trump moment Thursday night when CNN’s Anderson Cooper confronted the businessman about his previous support for the war in Iraq. The Bush team says it again proves “you can’t trust Donald Trump.”
John Kasich: A touching moment at one of Kasich’s town halls went viral Thursday. After a young man shared his heartbreaking story about his family’s struggles and tragedies, Kasich gave him “one of those hugs” the young man had heard about.
Ben Carson: On Friday, Fox News played clips of a focus group event Carson took part in, in which he found out voters consider him to be intelligent, yet want him to show more fire on the campaign trail. The retired neurosurgeon has no plans to drop out of the 2016 race. On “Morning Joe” Friday, Carson said he is hanging on at least until several of the southern state primaries.
Standings: The newest South Carolina PPP survey has Trump in front with 35 percent, Cruz and Rubio with 18 percent, Kasich with 10 percent and Bush and Carson with 7 percent. In Nevada, Trump is in front with 45 percent.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders answered questions from a town hall audience Thursday night on MSNBC ahead of Saturday’s Nevada Caucus. Sanders tried to defend his choice to define himself as a democratic socialist by denying it has anything to do with communist regimes and more to do with Social Security and Medicare. Clinton, meanwhile, insisted she would put immigration reform at the top of her 100-day presidential agenda. She is receiving backlash for an interview she did with CBS News’ Scott Pelley that aired Thursday when she said she’s “always tried” to be honest with the American people. Pelley aptly noted that sounds an awful lot like she’s leaving some “wiggle room.”
The two Democratic contenders are neck-and-neck in Nevada: Clinton, 48, Sanders, 47. On Friday, the Washington Free Beacon released a poll showing Sanders leading Clinton by six points in Colorado. The Vermont senator will gain even more momentum after seeing a new Associated Press-GfK survey that indicates Democrats consider him to be more and more electable as the primary nears.