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Morning Reads: GOP Candidates Dive Into the Issues, Come Up Empty-Handed

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Candidates Dive Into Issues, Come Up Empty-Handed

Donald Trump shakes hands with Ted Cruz following the CNN Republican Presidential Debate. (RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican debate –> No anatomy jokes here. The candidates focused on “issues” instead of personal attacks at last night’s debate in Miami. But, Jeb Lund at The Guardian quipped, “Just because it’s quieter doesn’t make it any smarter.” The New York Times has some fact checks.

Ezra Klein at Vox: “Was this debate substantive? Sure, in the sense that it focused on weighty policy topics like Social Security and trade and the assembled candidates mostly used their inside voices. But the things the candidates actually said were, by turns, wrong, misleading, misinformed, confused, or ridiculous. This substantive debate mostly showed how weak a grasp on the issues the candidates actually have.”

AND: Brian Beutler at New Republic on the inability of the other candidates to effectively coalesce against Trump: “Just days before Trump could effectively end the primary by taking the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida, the collective-action problem manifested as sheer bafflement. For two hours, Trump, who refrained for the first time ever from taunting his rivals, drew almost no sustained criticism… [S]uddenly, at the most critical juncture of the race, none of the rivals, who one week ago were happy to call Trump a con man, were willing to implore GOP primary voters to reject him.”

AND: Instead of condemning the often racially-tinged violence at Trump’s rallies, when asked about it by CNN’s Jake Tapper, every one of Trump’s rivals, including the above-it-all John Kasich, changed the topic. “Jake, here’s what I think is happening,” Kasich said. “There are people out there who are worried about their jobs.” Rubio and Cruz scrambled to get even further out of the way. In the latest incident, a black man was sucker punched at a Trump rally as he was already being escorted out by police. His 78-year-old assailant said in an interview “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.” Dave Weigel reports for The Washington Post.

You can’t go home again –> John Boehner’s old congressional district is enthusiastic about Trump, writes Patrick O’Connor for The Wall Street Journal. Ohio is one of several states to vote Tuesday, and the (maybe unreliable) polls show its Governor Kasich in a toss-up with Trump.

Another potential home state loss? –> Florida also votes Tuesday, and its senator Marco Rubio looks like he has less chance of winning there than Kasich has of winning Ohio. This BloombergPolitics article by Michael Bender blames the amount of time Rubio spent running for president for his low poll numbers back home: “For all of the Florida senator’s attention to the national political scene — getting out front on an immigration issue party leaders identified as a priority, backing away when conservative activists rejected it, campaigning for other Republican candidates, orchestrating his own immigration apology tour along the way — Rubio has left his most important voters — the ones who’ve actually pulled a lever for him — unattended.”

Whatever happened to “First, do no harm?” –> Dr. Ben Carson will endorse Donald Trump, reports Robert Costa for The Washington Post. Trump: “We spoke for over an hour on education. And he has such a great handle on it. I’m going to have Ben very involved with education, something that’s an expertise of his.”

“The Obama Doctrine” –> In a longread at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg chronicles the decision-making behind, and criticism of, eight years of Obama foreign policy. Goldberg had access to a number of high-level administration officials, and the president himself. His report comes at a time when there’s a good chance our next president will be more hawkish on foreign policy.

Not much help –> Despite the rhetoric politicians like to use about “helping small businesses,” a new report from the group Good Jobs First finds that in three fairly different states — Florida, Missouri and New Mexico — “at least 68 percent of overall state economic development spending goes to large companies and programs that support those companies.”

Dislike –> “Facebook Reactions are a gift to advertisers and law enforcement alike,” Ali Winston reports at the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal. “In the same way that Gmail and other Google services scrape the content of user emails and search results to generate targeted advertisements, the emojis will provide a new method to produce more detailed analyses of individual sentiments and preferences. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies also will revel in the new trove of open source intelligence delivered by Facebook’s new feature, which they will be able to mine for sentiment analysis of criminal and terrorism suspects.”

Correction –> At Wired: “Correction at 9:58 a.m. on 3/09/2016: Due to an oversight involving a haphazardly-installed Chrome extension during the editing process, the name Donald Trump was erroneously replaced with the phrase ‘Someone With Tiny Hands’ when this story originally [was] published.”

Morning Reads was written by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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