Make no mistake: Chris McDaniel (R) walks into tonight’s Mississippi Senate primary runoff the favorite. That’s the assessment of just about every Republican operative keeping a close eye on the race — even those friendly with Sen. Thad Cochran (R). With that in mind, some GOP operatives are already starting to contemplate what would happen if McDaniel makes it to the general election.
— The oppo hits leveled against the state senator will leave a mark to last long after Tuesday. State party leaders, the Barbours, and officials at the NRSC have done everything from calling McDaniel a criminal to linking him with white supremacists. Just as bad: They’ve said repeatedly that should McDaniel win the nomination, Travis Childers (D) could go on to win in the fall.
— Democrats think Childers could potentially beat McDaniel, too (though it would be very difficult; notably, most strategists rank Mississippi as a much less promising pick-up opportunity than either Kentucky or Georgia). And they’re delighted because the GOP’s attempts to paint McDaniel as an extremist isn’t a message that needs any tweaking for the fall. If the goal is to win over 100,000 or so Cochran supporters, Democrats might start by simply duplicating an ad Cochran’s campaign is running now.
— In the weeks after Tuesday’s runoff, watch to see if McDaniel is able to reconcile with any part of the Cochran campaign, the NRSC, or maybe most importantly, Haley Barbour himself. Any such meeting of the minds would be a big symbol for Mississippi voters and no doubt offer a boost to his fundraising. Republicans have made awkward relationships like this work before: Just remember Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul in 2010.
McDaniel’s best asset is that he’d still be running in Mississippi, in a midterm year, at a time when President Obama‘s approval numbers are nearly dipping into the 30s in some polls. But even in a good state and strong environment, there could be a lot of drama there the next five months — if McDaniel does, in fact, win Tuesday night.
— Alex Roarty
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It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.
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