Republican and Democratic Party presidential hopefuls started a last push before Saturday caucuses in South Carolina and Nevada. South Carolinians will be voting in the primaries for Republican candidates while Nevada will hold caucus for Democratic Party candidates.
Donald Trump is leading the pack in many opinion polls closely followed by Senator Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. The race got an interesting jolt when Pope Francis labelled Donald Trump a non-Christian if he builds a wall on Mexican-American border. Trump responded in his usual brash style labelling it a disgrace for a religious figure to call him non-Christian for his politics. Jeb Bush on the other hand got support from his elder brother and former President George Bush who appeared in South Carolina to deliver a stump speech for the first time in this campaign. Trump criticized the Bush family for their past political decisions including war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marco Rubio got a boost when South Carolina Governor Nikki Hailey endorsed his candidacy. Ted Cruz relied on attack ads to question the experience and depth of Rubio and Trump. Republican Party establishment hope that one of their more reliable candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich will take a lead in South Carolina to stop the momentum for Trump campaign. David Brooks and Thomas Friedman provided much needed support by questioning the suitability of Trump in their opinion pieces published on Friday.
Until recently it was believed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will easily win in a diverse state like Nevada which has large numbers of African-American and Hispanic voters. But in recent weeks Senator Bernie Sanders closed the gap and is now considered a serious contender in Nevada. First time and youth voters are rallying around Sanders for his passionate message of better social services and government support for down trodden segments of the society. Many opinion makers have questioned the viability of Sanders policies and consider him a socialist candidate. A win in Nevada could prove a much needed boost for Hillary Clinton campaign and make her ascendency unstoppable although it is expected that campaign will drag on for some more time. David Brooks and Thomas Friedman in their pieces lent support to Hillary Clinton by questioning the pragmatism of Sanders.