New Hampshire looms, but already candidates gaze South

The next 2016 presidential confrontation is the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, but already some candidates have planted one foot in the South.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican had a dismal showing in Iowa, pinned all his hopes on South Carolina as he announced a tour of the state. Calling himself the Nick Saban of the 2016 campaign didn't seem to help last night. Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

Hillary Clinton's Democratic campaign sent her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to shore up her firewall with a visit to Columbia on Wednesday.

And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio released word that he netted the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., just before the caucus results came in.

"Marco Rubio understands that here in America, it's not about where you start, it's about where you are going," he said in a statement. "We have one shot in 2016 to beat Hillary Clinton and that shot is Marco Rubio, and with him as our candidate, we win."

Perhaps the biggest tactical question this week is how much time Texas Sen. Ted Cruz devotes to New Hampshire, with the friendlier demographics of the South clearly on his mind.

He's long targeted the SEC primary states, whose evangelical Republican electorate is similar to the GOP bloc that delivered him a victory in Iowa.

And he has a visit to Upstate South Carolina on Tuesday to celebrate the endorsement of Rep. Jeff Duncan, a tea party Republican elected during the 2010 surge.

The Republican primary in South Carolina is Feb. 20. The Democratic primary in South Carolina is Feb. 27.

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Now that Iowa is behind us, who from Georgia is headed to New Hampshire this week? AJC reporter Katie Leslie wants to link up. Kleslie@ajc.com

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The Des Moines Register reports that the Democratic contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was so tight last night, that six precinct caucuses were determined by a coin flip. Here’s the one in Davenport, Iowa:

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If you’re former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, you’ve got to be wondering if your former friend, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has just put the lid on your political career. From the Washington Post:

[T]he political scion has worked hard to distinguish himself as a formidable candidate independent of being both the brother and son of former presidents, but this strategy appears to have largely failed in Iowa, where four of the top five Google searches with his name were about his family.

Iowans wondered: “Is Jeb Bush related to George W. Bush?” “Who are Jeb Bush’s parents?” “Who is Jeb Bush’s father?” and “Is Jeb Bush George Bush’s brother?”

Bush’s top trending question was “What does Jeb Bush stand for?”, which may be the most concerning query of all for the candidate who finished sixth in Iowa.

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On the Republican side, neurosurgeon Ben Carson has lost his electoral virginity. Judging from the statement his campaign put out this morning, Iowa wasn’t an altogether wholesome experience. Said Carson:

I am grateful for the confidence Iowans have placed in me, as tonight we defeated three former sitting governors and two previous Iowa Caucus winners. Regardless of how the media has attempted to marginalize me and my campaign, I still have the highest favorability rating and have remained among the leading candidates in every major survey.

For months, my campaign has survived the lies and dirty tricks from opponents who profess to detest the games of the political class, but in reality are masters at it. Even tonight, my opponents resorted to political tricks by tweeting, texting and telling precinct captains to announce that I had suspended my campaign - in some cases asking caucus goers to change their votes.

One of the reasons I got into this race was to stop these deceptive and destructive practices, and these reports have only further steeled my resolve to continue and fight for ‘We The People,’ and return control of the government back to them.

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Back in Georgia, Max Blau at Atlanta magazine has followed up on state Rep. Allen Peake’s admission that he has engaged in a little civil disobedience, on occasion delivering “product” to eligible parents in need of medicinal marijuana. One slice of the extended Q&A:

Blau: Have you heard from law enforcement since you first admitted to doing this?

Peake: I’ve chatted with my lawyers. And I’ve just made sure that I wasn’t putting my family and my business at risk. They don’t think I’ve done that. I’ve heard from a very small minority who think I should be in jail, and I should resign. But the overwhelming response has been: “Absolutely, I’d do it for my child as well.”

I don’t want to go to jail. What I do want to do is show the insanity of our current laws that make criminals out of parents and citizens who only want to improve the quality of their life, for their child, or for themselves. And so, from that standpoint, it’s a risk that’s been worth taking.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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