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Jim GallowayGreg BluesteinTamar Hallerman

All three GOP candidates rescind their pledges to back Republican nominee

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Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after a rally in Janesville, Wis., on Tuesday. Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after a rally in Janesville, Wis., on Tuesday. Anthony Wahl/The Janesville Gazette via AP

In November, we may look back and say this is precisely where GOP chances to win the White House fell apart. From the Associated Press:

The three Republican presidential candidates aren’t committing to supporting whomever the party chooses as its standard-bearer in the fall campaign. That could make for a messy and fractured GOP nominating convention in July.logo-all

Early in the campaign Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich indicated they would support the eventual nominee. The three were asked about that again Tuesday night in town hall appearances in Milwaukee hosted by CNN.

Trump said he was rescinding his promise because “I have been treated very unfairly.” He listed the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party and party establishment among those he believes have wronged him. On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Trump said, “I only want the people to support me. …I will take my chances with the people.”

“I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and children,” Cruz said, referring to Trump’s jabs at his wife, Heidi. Cruz said if Trump were the nominee that would hand the election to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Kasich said that “if the nominee is somebody that I think is really hurting the country and dividing the country, I can’t stand behind them.” But he said he would wait and see how events unfold.

The candidates were in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s primary next week.

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Here’s the video from a Donald Trump rally in Janesville, Wisc., that was commanding the Internet last night:

From the Associated Press:

Police are looking for a man who pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old girl as opponents and supporters of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump clashed outside a Wisconsin rally.

The altercation is the latest in a series of confrontations that have marred recent Trump events.

Janesville Police Sgt. Aaron Ellis said Wednesday that investigators have photos taken by participants at the demonstration outside the Holiday Inn Express on Tuesday, which could help to identify the man with the pepper spray.

Ellis said the girl told police she punched another man who groped her. Police also want to interview that man.

The girl and a 19-year-old woman standing next to her in the crowd were taken to a hospital, treated and released. Ellis says the girl could face charges for punching the other man.

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Former state lawmaker Edward Lindsey takes issue with Monday’s missive from Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz – who said President Barack Obama’s increasing popularity could bode well for Democratic chances of keeping the White House. Writes Lindsey:

With all due respect Professor Abramowitz, the track record correlation between popular incumbent and electing a successor is not as strong as he makes it out. 

In 1960, the Gallup poll showed President Eisenhower with a strong 58 percent  approval rating, but Nixon still  lost narrowly to Kennedy.  In 2000, President Clinton also had a strong 57 percent approval rating but Gore still lost – albeit in a contested electoral college count. He did narrowly win the popular vote.  By contrast, Reagan only had a 51 percent approval rating in 1988, but Bush won by a wide margin, including 426 electoral votes.

 A more refined indicator maybe whether the incumbent is a drag on his party.  President Truman bottomed out at 22 percent approval rating in February 1952, and never rose significantly after that. President Bush had only slightly better ratings in 2008.  In both cases, their parties lost in landslides. 

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North Carolina’s attorney general, a Democrat running for governor, says he won’t defend in court a new state law preventing Charlotte and other local governments from approving protections for LGBT citizens at restaurants, hotels and stores, the Associated Press reports.

Roy Cooper made the announcement Tuesday, a day after gay rights advocates sued the state to seek to overturn the law. The federal lawsuit lists Cooper among the defendants because of his official position, but he opposes the law and wants it repealed.

The GOP-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican seeking re-election, approved the law last week. They say Charlotte went too far with a local ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their preference. The law also addresses bathroom use in schools and state agencies.

Cooper is challenging McCrory for governor this fall.

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A Washington Post piece on the friction that same-sex marriage has created between the business and social conservative wings of the Republican party includes this:

Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, argued that there does not need to be an “inherent conflict” between the faith community and the business community.

“The notion that this is a Manichean choice between money and morality is largely a myth,” he said. “The faith community needs to be clearer about what its objectives are, and some in the business community need to stop mischaracterizing what the legislation actually does.”

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How about this for a reversal of fortunes: Just a few days ago, the Atlanta Hawks and the rest of the city’s pro franchises were condemning state lawmakers for passing the “religious liberty” legislation.

Now, in the wake of Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto, the Atlanta City Council is trying to seize a major sporting event from a rival dealing with its own fallout over a controversial law. From our AJC colleague Dan Klepal:

The 2017 NBA All-Star weekend is scheduled for Feb. 17-19 in Charlotte, N.C., which made headlines last week when North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill voiding Charlotte’s anti-discrimination law protecting gay and transgender people.

Actually, the North Carolina law establishes statewide protections against discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex — but not sexual orientation or gender identity. And the state law supersedes any local ordinance, meaning no city or county in the state can pass such a law.

That, combined with Deal’s veto, left Councilman Andre Dickens an open jump shot: “As the home to the civil and human rights movement, our diverse set of people and businesses (would) welcome this global event with open arms.”

The NBA has said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” about the North Carolina legislation.

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The University of Georgia’s new head football coach is already making waves at the Capitol – as the hidden hand behind controversial legislation. From the AJC’s Seth Emerson:

ATHENS — Kirby Smart acknowledged Tuesday that he was indeed asked about Georgia’s Open Records laws when he visited the state capitol recently. But Georgia’s new head football coach said he “doesn’t deserve credit” for a controversial measure that slows the public’s access to athletics information.

The bill, brought up and agreed to late on the night of March 22, would allow athletics programs in the state of Georgia to wait 90 days to respond to inquiries under the Open Records Law. That has been decried by First Amendment advocates.

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The state Inspector General is investigating potential misuse of taxpayer-funded charge cards by a staffer in Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Read more here

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Some unusual pew news from Alabama, via the Christian News Network:

The governor of Alabama and a female staffer are no longer members of the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa following the release of audio footage in which the governor engaged in sexually-charged talk with the woman that suggested they had been physical with each other.

While it is unknown exactly when the church fellowship was ended or under what circumstances, Senior Pastor Gil McKee [said] Friday, “While church discipline is a church family matter, both Governor Robert Bentley and Mrs. Rebekah Mason are no longer members of First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.”

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Commenting on the disarray that often defines the state of the federal budget is a bipartisan pastime on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers, including Roswell’s Tom Price, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, have talked for years about revamping the process but few substantive changes have emerged so far. (Price is promising a big rewrite later this year.)

David Perdue, a member of the Senate’s budget-writing panel, steps up with his own suggestions today. The list includes contentious items such as giving the budget, which is currently non-binding and functions as essentially a policy blueprint, the power of law and forcing Congress to act on the issue.

“The first step to solving our exploding debt crisis is to fix the budget process right now. We can no longer afford the gridlock—and this should not be a partisan effort,” Perdue says in a new video.

Any legislative proposals that are even remotely controversial have virtually zero chance of advancing in this contentious election year  – never mind any serious rewrite of the nation’s budget laws that would force tough choices at a time when Congress and the White House are controlled by different parties.

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A teenager who toured an Ohio high school while posing as a state senator has pleaded guilty to impersonating a peace officer, the Associated Press reports:

Prosecutors say they’ll recommend probation for Marion resident Izaha Akins. The 18-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to the felony charge.

Authorities say Akins spoke to a government class at Mohawk High School in Sycamore for an hour last December. Officials didn’t realize they’d been duped until Republican Sen. David Burke showed up weeks later for a scheduled appearance.

Burke calls what Akins did an extremely elaborate scheme. The impersonating a peace officer charge applies anyone who poses as a state employee.

There is no truth — none whatsoever — to the rumor that suspicions were first triggered when the teenager failed to ask for campaign contributions.