Elections

More than 1.2 million registered Republicans in Kentucky have the chance to take part in the state’s Republican presidential caucus on Saturday.  At stake are Kentucky’s 46 delegates to the national convention. 

Some are predicting only a fraction will turn out to cast their ballots.

"I’m telling you, across the state I’ve talked to any number of Republicans who don’t even know there is a caucus," said Scott Hofstra of Elizabethtown.

Hofstra chairs the Central Kentucky Tea Party and is the volunteer chairman for the Ted Cruz campaign in Kentucky.  He says the voters who are going to the caucus are excited, but a little apprehensive.

"Even if they’re aware of it, they’ve not been very well-informed about what the caucus is all about and how it’s going to work," Hofstra added.  "The state just has not done a good job of getting the word out.”

The Kentucky Republican Party set up a website and telephone hotline for voters to get more information ahead of Saturday.  State GOP Chairman Mike Biagi says he feels good about the public’s awareness of the caucus.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

At least two protesters at presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally in Louisville Tuesday have filed police reports that allege they were attacked by Trump supporters.

Henry Brousseau, 17, says he was punched in the stomach by a Trump supporter at the event in the Kentucky International Convention Center.

The Courier-Journal reports Brousseau and a small group of other protesters unfurled banners and chanted “Black Lives Matter” about 15 minutes into Trump’s speech. Brousseau told police Trump supporters pulled at the banners and that a woman punched him in the stomach until he dropped the sign he was holding.

Brousseau filed a complaint with Louisville Metro Police, and told officers he had photos of the woman who punched him.

The paper reported Thursday afternoon that a second protester, Molly Shah, also filed a complaint with police alleging she was attacked Tuesday.

Gary Coronado / AP

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich meet Thursday in the 11th debate of this year's Republican presidential primary. It airs at 9 p.m. ET on Fox News.

It's the first forum since Trump won seven states on Super Tuesday, solidifying his status as the candidate to beat in the Republican field. It's also the first debate since last week's raucous insult-fest in Houston.

Here are four big things we'll be watching for tonight:

What Will Marco Rubio Do?

Last week's debate marked the beginning of Rubio 2.0 — the Florida senator's shift from portraying himself as an above-the-fray, ideas candidate to becoming an attack dog focused on Trump. On the Houston stage, Rubio hit Trump for hiring immigrants who were in the country illegally to build Trump Tower, fraud allegations against Trump University, and a lack of details in the real estate mogul's proposals.

NPR

The results of the biggest voting day in the presidential contest thus far may not have been everything that front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had hoped, but they were enough to set the course for the remainder of the nominating season.

And they were surely enough to intensify the pressure on their respective rivals.

For believers in Bernie Sanders’ promise of a “political revolution,” Super Tuesday may have seemed like the end of a dream.

And for Republican office holders and party officials anxious about having Donald Trump as their presidential nominee, Super Tuesday must have been a nightmare.

Sanders went down in seven of the 11 states holding Democratic events, only winning in four where the Democratic vote was relatively small. These included his home state of Vermont, where he won with 86 percent amid turnout lower than it had been in 2008.

Trump, Clinton Win Tennessee Super Tuesday Primary

Mar 2, 2016
Creative Commons/Matt Johnson

Republican turnout in Tennessee outpaced Democrats by more than a 2-to-1 margin, a show of muscle that encouraged the state's GOP leaders even if they didn't back winner Donald Trump.

Trump took nearly 39 percent of the Tennessee primary vote. Ted Cruz was second, with 24. 7 percent, and Marco Rubio finished third, with 21.2 percent.

Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was in third place behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The governor said he was "encouraged" by the voting totals, but he hasn't yet said whether he would support Trump if he ends up the GOP nominee.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won in a landslide. She took 66 percent of primary vote, with Bernie Sanders a distant second, with 32 percent.

J. Tyler Franklin

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stopped in Louisville on Tuesday to rally with supporters in advance of Kentucky’s GOP caucus.

The event, at the Kentucky International Convention Center downtown, was rowdy and frequently interrupted by protesters. As is typical for his rallies, Trump ordered security to escort the protesters out of the building.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who last week endorsed Trump in a move that upended conventional political wisdom, took the stage to introduce Trump — and take shots at his opponents.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Thousands of people from across the region turned out for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s rally in downtown Louisville on Tuesday.

Before the rally began, hundreds huddled under umbrellas or wrapped themselves in rain gear to stay dry as they waited to make their way into the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Many of the people came in support of Trump. Some came for the spectacle. And others sought to protest the controversial real estate mogul’s campaign.

We love everything about him,” said Brian Metzger of Charlestown, Indiana.

“This is the most unique opportunity America has had to get someone who is not an establishment candidate,” said David Epperson of Louisville.

“Build some walls and keep this immigration problem we have down, and go after ISIS,” said Jennifer Kerr of Louisville.

Super Tuesday was a big night for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They each captured seven states in their respective Democratic and Republican races, extending leads over their remaining rivals.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A survey shows Donald Trump with a big lead among Kentucky Republicans ahead of the March 5 presidential caucus.

The poll was conducted by the Western Kentucky University Social Science Research Center, and shows Trump with 35 percent support.  Marco Rubio was second with 22 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 15 percent .  John Kasich and Ben Carson are further behind. 

WKU Political Science Professor Joel Turner says Trump maintains a double-digit lead, despite having a lower favorability rating among Kentuckians.

"I think what that signifies to a lot of people is that it's not so much about Trump, like who he is, but what he represents.  He has tapped into that anger and frustration that people have toward government," Turner told WKU Public Radio.  "Our surveyed showed that some 90 percent either feel angry or frustrated at government as opposed to five percent who are relatively happy.  Trump symbolizes that for a lot of people."

The big day is finally here — after tonight's Super Tuesday results, there will be a much clearer picture of how both the Republican and Democratic races could shake out. Will Donald Trump continue his dominance? Can Marco Rubio catch up? Can Ted Cruz rebound? Will Hillary Clinton roll through the South? Can Bernie Sanders bounce back after a devastating South Carolina loss?

Tennessee voters are heading to the polls to make their choices in the state's Super Tuesday presidential primary.

The primary comes after several days of spirited campaigning around the state by all five candidates seeking the Republican nomination and by one of the two Democrats remaining in the race.

Sixty-seven delegates are up from grabs in the Democratic primary, while 58 Republican delegates will be split up among any candidates that reach a threshold of 20 percent of the vote.

While Tennessee Republicans have given the nod to religious conservatives in the last two presidential primaries, Donald Trump has drawn huge crowds and widespread support in this year's campaign.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander have endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Ryland Barton, Kentucky Public Radio

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson urged Kentucky Republicans on Monday to choose a “calm” alternative — himself — in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, drawing a contrast to frontrunner Donald Trump.

Carson spoke in Lexington in advance of the Kentucky Republican presidential caucus on Saturday. He said people who are fearful and angry about the state of affairs in Washington, D.C., and the Middle East need to check their emotions.

“Typically people who are frightened and angry do not make good decisions,” Carson said. “It’s very important that we calm down and actually start thinking logically.”

Carson hinted, but wouldn’t say explicitly, that Trump is catering to that fear and anger.

Polls show Trump with major leads in most of the 13 Republican primaries that will take place on Tuesday, though Sen. Ted Cruz has the lead in his home state of Texas.

Creative Commons

Kentucky Republicans are hoping for a big turnout for the party’s inaugural presidential caucus on Saturday, even though the event isn’t generating as much excitement locally with the absence of Sen. Rand Paul in the race for the White House.

Last year, Paul convinced his home state’s party to switch from a primary to a caucus format. At the time, Paul was simultaneously running for Senate and president — but state law barred him from appearing twice on the May primary ballot. Paul also argued that the earlier election date would make Kentucky more relevant in the presidential nomination process.

Scott Lasley, the Warren County Republican Party chairman who helped engineer the caucus, said the effort has been partially successful.

“We’re more important than we were, but it’d still be nice to be more important,” Lasley said.

The contest comes just four days after Super Tuesday, when 12 states hold primary elections, monopolizing the attention of the five candidates vying for the Republican nomination.

Trump, Carson To Campaign In Kentucky Ahead Of Super Tuesday

Feb 29, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons/Marc Nozell

Riding a new wave of momentum into what could be a decisive Super Tuesday for the GOP, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will spend at least some of this coming Tuesday in Louisville.

The real estate mogul is scheduled to hold a rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville at 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to his campaign’s website. The Republican Party of Kentucky confirmed he would be in the city in an email Saturday.

Trump isn’t the only Republican presidential candidate scheduled to come through Kentucky in the coming days. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will campaign in Lexington on Monday, according to the RPK. He is scheduled to host a town hall meeting at the Lexington HIT Center at 10 a.m.

Carson, who led a crowded GOP field earlier this year, has seen his support drop in recent weeks, as the race has appeared to coalesce around Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is actively working behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility of Donald Trump being the Republican presidential nominee.

An article published by The New York Times has the following details:

*McConnell has "laid out a plan that would have (GOP) lawmakers break with Mr. Trump explicitly in a general election." Sources told the Times McConnell said Republicans would drop a Trump general election bid "like a hot rock."

*McConnell is still hopeful Florida Senator Marco Rubio will win the Republican presidential nomination.

*McConnell has assured Republican Senators facing re-election that he will support them if they feel like they need to "run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him."

*The Times article says McConnell "has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump's loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton."

*McConnell and other Republican Senators are becoming frustrated with Ohio Gov. John Kaisch's refusal to exit the race.

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