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'Inside Politics' Forecast
03:28 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

American Crossroads has plans to go after Hillary Clinton's criminal justice record

John Kasich is now the last governor standing in the GOP 2016 race

Washington CNN  — 

The fall of Jeb Bush, the high-stakes Supreme Court battle, an unlikely ally for Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton’s push for African-American support are just some of the headlines that top our “Inside Politics” forecast.

1) Clinton rolls into South Carolina with a “mothers” strategy

African-Americans will constitute a majority of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina on Saturday, and Hillary Clinton is hoping those voters are open to what you might call motherly advice.

Five African-American mothers who lost sons to gun violence will join the Clinton campaign for South Carolina events, including the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.

The Bernie Sanders campaign will counter with an ad featuring Garner’s daughter – a reminder of the generational split playing out in the Democratic race.

CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson says the South Carolina competition is being watched as a barometer of how the conversation about racial inequality will carry on as the primary calendar unfolds.

“One of the things progressives want to see is to put racial inequality on par with income inequality. If they can make Sanders as passionate about that issue, they feel they would have won, as well as pushing Clinton to the left.”

2) Should Sanders send Karl Rove a thank-you note?

For the politics makes strange bedfellows file: Bernie Sanders and Karl Rove!

Well, not exactly.

But a conservative group that Rove had a big hand in creating is launching ads in South Carolina attacking Hillary Clinton’s record on criminal justice issues – something that could help Sanders even as he campaigns on the theme that such groups have an oversized influence in politics.

American Crossroads is the conservative organization, and Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast laid out the strategy.

“They’re going to do everything they can to try to erode her standing with African-American voters as they head into this primary next week.”

3) Third time not the charm for the Bush family

The collapse of the Jeb Bush campaign teaches many lessons about this cycle – especially about the mood of Republicans.

One is that conservatives have long memories and were suspicious of renewing the Bush dynasty from the start. Remember, President George H.W. Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge and put David Souter on the Supreme Court. President George W. Bush expanded Medicare and used taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street and the auto industry.

So it was a skeptical audience to begin with – and then add in Jeb Bush’s disagreements with the GOP base on immigration and education.

And then there is this: Experience – often an asset in politics – is a major liability this year. So is the title “governor,” once considered a giant advantage in presidential politics.

At the start, the crowded Republican field had eight current or former governors. In addition to Bush, there were conservative starters like Scott Walker and Rick Perry, a former Iowa caucus winner in Mike Huckabee and a powerful personality in Chris Christie.

And now that Bush has bowed out? Well the field is down to five: two political newcomers (Donald Trump and Ben Carson) two freshman senators (Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) and just one governor: John Kasich of Ohio.

So the experience lane now belongs to Kasich. Good luck with that.

4) Obama focuses on his high court pick – with the campaign in mind

While we were counting votes in Nevada and South Carolina, President Obama was taking some weekend time to do some homework – on a giant election-year decision.

The president is reviewing candidates for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, knowing full well Republicans are already on record saying they won’t confirm an Obama nominee.

Peter Baker of The New York Times peeled back the curtain on the President’s deliberations.

“We’ve had an election-year nomination (before), but never had one come out in the midst of such a high-intensity, high-octane, modern, technologically advanced campaign. Whoever he picks will be the star of all campaign commercials in a way that will be unique.”

5) Clocks ticking: This is likely to be a record-setting fight

Need a way to put this Supreme Court battle in context? Well, start the clock, or the calendar countdown.

NPR’s Domenico Montanaro said there is little doubt this nomination battle will be record-setting.

“When you look at the history on this, back in 1968 President Lyndon Johnson nominated two justices in an election year. They both got hearings within two weeks. That’s what the White House’s strategy here is, to expose some cracks within senate Republicans and see if they can get those hearings quickly.”