Elections

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Republicans are heading to the polls to participate in Kentucky’s GOP presidential caucus today.

Reports from across the state show bustling crowds in many caucus locations, which are open Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

More than 100 caucus-goers lined up in advance of doors opening at Henry Clay High School in Lexington Saturday morning. Organizers said the crowd has been “larger than expected,” but no official voter turnout number has been tallied.

Lexington attorney Chris Hunt was passing out information supporting candidate Ted Cruz outside of the Lexington caucus site. Hunt said he likes the fact that the caucus is so early in the nominating process.

“It’s always been a little disappointing to me as a Kentuckian that we’ve been so late in the process that a lot of the time, our primary didn’t seem to have as much impact on the election,” he said.

As presidential nominating contests play out around the country, Kentucky Republicans will have their say Saturday.   More than 1.2 million Kentuckians are eligible to vote for the state’s GOP presidential nominee. 

In neighboring Tennessee this week, voters from both parties set an all-combined turnout record.  Turnout projections have been lower in Kentucky where GOP voters will caucus for the first time in more than three decades. 

Ben Mohon will be volunteering at the caucus site in Warren County.  He says he thinks success of the caucus will be measured by more than turnout.

"If people get more involved with the local political scene, or politics in general, and if people come out saying 'I cast my vote for the candidate that's going to do right by me, I think that's a success," Mohon told WKU Public Radio.

Just over 16 percent of Republican voters cast ballots in Kentucky’s 2012 presidential primary. Turnout this year will help determine whether the state holds caucuses in the future.

Statewide voting will take place between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. local time Saturday. Caucus locations and more information is available at the state Republican Party’s website.

Creative Commons

Sen. Rand Paul’s great experiment is finally upon us: the Republican presidential caucus.

On Saturday, Kentucky Republicans will head to the polls to vote in the state party’s presidential nomination contest, determining how the state’s 46 delegates will be split up between five active candidates.

Where to vote

Voters won’t head to their normal precinct locations, instead they’ll head to designated caucus sites that have been determined by the state Republican Party.

Most counties have one caucus site that all county participants will have to travel to. Larger counties will have multiple caucus locations. To participate, voters are required to go to their designated caucus location, which can be found on the state Republican Party’s website.

Carlisle, Elliott, Estill, Harlan, Knott, Livingston, Morgan, Owsley and Trimble counties do not have caucus locations, but residents will be able to participate in adjacent counties.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio told a Kentucky sports radio host he does not regret his petty attacks about the size of Donald Trump's hands, but added if he did have regrets it would be "because Jesus would be embarrassed by it."

Rubio's quip about Trump's hands led to a cringe-worthy remark from Trump during Thursday night's debate, when the Republican front-runner defended his sexual prowess on live television. Rubio spoke to Kentucky Sports Radio, the state's largest sports talk show, one day before Kentucky Republicans cast votes in the first presidential caucus since 1984.

Rubio told host Matt Jones that Kentuckians' votes matter and that he believes politics will never be the same after this election cycle. He said Trump has dangerously divided the Republican party.

Paul Sancya / AP

The 11th Republican presidential debate reached a fever pitch on Thursday, with Republican rivals piling on Donald Trump as he slung back vulgar insults.

With the race down to just four people, the remaining candidates turned their fire solely on Trump and not each other in the Fox News Channel debate in Detroit. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz both hammered the real estate mogul on his immigration plans and some of his controversial business endeavors. Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich stuck to a positive message as a way to distinguish himself in the winnowed field.

But Trump fought back in typical Trumpian fashion. He interrupted often and jabbed frequently at his rivals, including with a joke never before uttered in presidential debates.

Trump on his "small hands": "I guarantee you there's no problem"

Pressed by Fox News Channel moderators about the name-calling that has gone on between him and Rubio in recent days, Trump immediately took issue with a characterization that the Florida senator had made about Trump's "small hands," and Rubio's inference that another part of Trump's anatomy matched that scale.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

There's a first time for everything. That's certainly held true in this campaign dominated by Donald Trump.

And Republicans opposed to Trump are beginning to abandon the idea that Marco Rubio (or anyone else) can win a majority of delegates before the first round of balloting at this summer's GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where the party will officially pick its nominee.

"We could be headed to a situation where there will be tremendous focus on trying to have a brokered convention — or a deadlocked convention because there aren't any brokers," GOP strategist Stuart Stevens, who helped run Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, told NPR during special broadcast coverage Saturday night after the South Carolina primary.

After Super Tuesday, and Trump's big wins, that's even more true.

"When you look at the math," Stevens said, "it is difficult to imagine a scenario short of a complete meltdown by Donald Trump, where one of these other two candidates [Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz] will have a majority of the delegates going into the convention at this point. It's possible, but it just starts to get in the real world very remote."

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."

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