Chris Stirewalt — If Trump is to be denied the Republican nomination it will not be because he loses support. He will have to be beaten.

Chris Stirewalt — If Trump is to be denied the Republican nomination it will not be because he loses support. He will have to be beaten.

FOX News First: Jan. 25
By Chris Stirewalt

Buzz Cut:
· GOP Power Index: Bush bust nudges Trump up
· Trump does First Presbyterian of Muscatine
· Perry endorses Cruz, joins him on the campaign trail
· Hillary says she’ll win Dem nod, no need for Bloomie
· She’d likely rather have the rabbit than the medal

When it comes to his core supporters, Donald Trump is probably right that he could shoot a person on 5th Avenue and not lose support – as long as he had a good explanation. But using Trump’s humorous hypothetical, would it make him more or less likely to secure the Republican nomination?
Less, obviously.

Trump has been the big dog in national and state polls of Republican primary voters since July. He has achieved this feet by having the staunchest supporters of any candidate. No attack ad, no media outrage, no gaffe has seemed to dissuade his supporters.

If Trump is to be denied the Republican nomination it will not be because he loses support. He will have to be beaten.

As the most recent Fox News poll shows, about 56 percent of the Republican Party wants someone other than Trump. And except for among the 20 percent supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, very few of those voters are likely to shift to Trump as long as any viable option remains.

Trump’s supporters and media defenders have scoffed at the effort by the National Review and an increasing number of others to raise the alarm about what a Trump nomination would mean for the GOP. And they are quite right to scoff, at least as far as Trump’s supporters go. The purpose of National Review’s broadside as well as the other efforts is not to change the mind of Trump’s core supporters, but to impress upon the rest of the party the need to coalesce behind a single candidate.

So if Trump were shooting people outside of Saks, it would incentivize the rest of the party to get organized.

The recent fatwa against Cruz by many in the Republican establishment highlights how hard it might be for him to unite his party against Trump. But, Fox News First expects that partisan allegiance and adherence to conservative principles would overcome much of that. That’s why Cruz continues to have the best path to the nomination.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also has a clear runway to victory, but his situation is more complicated. The determined, multi-million dollar effort, by Jeb Bush and his super PAC to sack Rubio has been expensive for its victim too. Rubio has had to spend too much money defending himself against Bush & Co.
There’s still 46 percent of the vote that doesn’t belong to either Trump or Cruz. And Rubio will need to move fast and have the resources to stake a claim to a big enough share of that vote to be competitive when the delegate counts start racking up in March. Bush, who is out of contention for the nomination and lacks a credible case to make as an electable nominee, has succeeded in bleeding Rubio and keeping the senator’s focus downward rather than focusing on the candidates ahead of him.

For that reason, Rubio, who long has long held the number two spot in the GOP Power Index slides to third – collateral damage to the big Bush bust of 2016.

1) Ted Cruz; 2) Donald Trump; 3) Marco Rubio [-1]; 4) John Kasich [+1]; 5) Jeb Bush [-1]; 6) Chris Christie

On the radar – Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Rand Paul

What would you say? – Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index. We will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to [email protected]

Punishing pre-postmortem on Jeb – Steve Hayes looks at the most damaging and costliest bust of the 2016 cycle, Jeb Bush’s super PAC-based campaign, and explains that it’s been worse than you think: “… as Team Bush uses its paid media to target virtually everyone other than Trump, and to try to bury Marco Rubio, it becomes more and more likely that the lasting legacy of Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid will be its prominent role in making Donald Trump the nominee and contributing to the crisis of conservatism that will follow.”

Trump does First Presbyterian of Muscatine – WaPo: “Trump, a Presbyterian, visited the First Presbyterian Church [of Muscatine, Iowa], where he sat in the fifth row and clasped his hands in prayer as he listened to the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Pam Saturnia, urge those in attendance to ‘unite our hearts and minds as we worship God.’ Saturnia also referred to the immigration debate, which for months has propelled Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination.”

[But he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express…]

Trump turns against Keystone deal, accuses Cruz of Canadian bias – Toronto Star: “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he would reject the Keystone XL pipeline if TransCanada Corp. didn’t give the U.S. a ‘big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights.’ … Trump once favoured rapid Keystone approval. He appears to be launching an effort to use the project as fuel for his attempt to challenge the patriotism and the eligibility of top competitor Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who was born in Calgary and held dual citizenship until 2014. ‘Ted Cruz will approve the Keystone pipeline because it benefits Canada!’ he said.”

[Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., trolled Trump hard on Twitter over the weekend.]

Perry endorses Cruz, joins him on the campaign trail – Politico: “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is endorsing Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, Perry told POLITICO in an interview Sunday night…Perry, who is famously skilled at retail politics, will campaign with Cruz Tuesday across Iowa, and will join Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King to stump for Cruz again Wednesday. Perry and King will both join Cruz at a Des Moines rally Wednesday night.”
Ernst to attend Rubio rally – WaPo: “Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will attend a rally here in Iowa next week for presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as signs mount that the state’s GOP establishment and elected officials are turning against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).”

[Watch Fox: A new Fox News poll of Democratic caucus and primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will be released tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET.]

Telegraph: “Burns Night, held in honour of Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns, is celebrated at the end of January every year. The night is a way to celebrate the life of the 18th century bard and it falls on his birthday – Monday, January 25. The tradition started a few years after the poet’s death in 1796, when his friends commemorated his career on the date of his death (July 21) each year. So began the Burns Supper… Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland…His poem (and song) ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year) …The full ritual of the night involves whisky, haggis and poetry readings. Those who partake are piped in and then The Selkirk Grace – the prayer of thanks attributed to Burns – is said before dinner. The prayer goes: Some hae meat and canna eat ,And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst

Real Clear Politics Averages
Republican Nomination – Trump 34.8 percent; Cruz 18.8 percent; Rubio 11.6 percent; Carson 8.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump – Clinton +2.5 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Republicans +0.5

Time: “Despite a tightening race, Hillary Clinton said Sunday she’s confident she’ll secure the Democratic nomination, dismissing speculation that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking an independent bid for the White House. ‘He’s a good friend of mine,’ Clinton said. ‘The way I read what he said is if I didn’t get the nomination, he might consider it. Well, I’m going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn’t have to.’ With only 8 days until the Iowa caucuses, Clinton said she feels ‘great’ about her ground game in the state, which is working to ensure enthusiasm is ‘not just here today, gone tomorrow.’”

Bernie turning up heat in Iowa – The (Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa) Courier: “Sen. Bernie Sanders urged a crowd of fired-up followers to keep their enthusiasm for the long haul in a campaign event in Cedar Falls on Sunday evening. Sanders spoke to more than 1,250 people at the West Gym on the University of Northern Iowa campus Sunday night. Sanders said the U.S. has had a steady history of opening voting rights to more people, from African-Americans more than 150 years ago to women nearly 100 years ago.”

Hillary campaigns with Planned Parenthood president in Iowa – Iowa City (Iowa) Press-Citizen: “Entering the final week before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton traveled around eastern Iowa on Sunday, stopping off in North Liberty to address a crowd of about 500 for the ‘Women for Hillary Get Out the Caucus’ event. Clinton was joined at the podium in the Garner Elementary School gymnasium by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood endorsed Clinton earlier this month, marking the organization’s first endorsement in a presidential primary.”

[In an editorial headlined “New Hampshire should go to Hillary,” the editorial board for the Boston Globe endorsed Hillary Clinton.]

How Hillary’s team managed Weiner scandal – Daily Beast: “When the wheels begin to fall off of [Anthony Weiner’s] 2013 mayoral campaign in the wake of yet another sexting scandal (full frontal this time, ugh), [Huma Abedin] is captured—through a series of surreptitious phone calls—taking orders from Hillary Clinton’s right-hand man (and ex-deputy assistant secretary of state), Philippe Reines. In one scene, shortly after the scandal’s hit the news, Weiner and Abedin are huddled together in their makeshift campaign office. Weiner is adamant that Abedin join him on the campaign trail, but she resists, claiming she has a phone call with ‘Philippe’ that she has to take. ‘Act like a normal campaign candidate’s wife,’ Weiner insists. ‘You don’t know anything,” mutters Abedin, before rolling her eyes off-camera.’”

Runner’s World: “Early Saturday morning, Ludivine, a two-and-a-half-year-old hound dog, was let out of the house in Elkmont, Alabama, to do her business. Prone to roaming around town at will, Ludivine snuck out of the backyard and made her way to the starting area of the inaugural Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon about a quarter mile away. Ludivine proceeded to mingle with the runners, run the entire 13.1-mile course, cross the finish line in an unofficial 1:32:56, and have a medal draped over her floppy brown ears—all without her owner, April Hamlin, realizing she had wandered off in the first place… When Ludivine stopped to investigate a dead rabbit around the 2-mile mark, [sixth-place finisher Tim Horvath] caught back up with her. For the rest of the race, Ludivine stayed within 50 meters of Horvath, hopping on and off the course.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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