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Takeaway: Sanders faces a pivotal moment in Nevada. Republicans get hawkish on national defense.

Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt from Potomac Research Group Senior Analyst JT Taylor's Morning Bullets sent to institutional clients each morning. 


JT Taylor: A Controlled Bern & The Hawks In South Carolina - bernie

The next two weeks of the Democratic primary are pivotal, determining whether Clinton can contain Sanders' momentum.  Her "firewall" will face its first test in Nevada, where the state's diversity mirrors the U.S. as a whole.  With the contest now a dead heat, a Sanders victory in Nevada could give him enough momentum to knock a hole in Clinton's double-digit lead in SC, calling into question the integrity of her wall across the other Southern states. Someone had better tell the Clinton campaign that fire does sometimes jump firewalls...  


JT Taylor: A Controlled Bern & The Hawks In South Carolina - cruz

Republican candidates in veteran-heavy SC have been competing for the title of most-hawkish. Marco Rubio has been hitting Ted Cruz as "weak on national security," for his votes on defense reauthorization bills. Meanwhile Cruz pledged to expand the military by 100,000 active-duty troops and "unleash the holy wrath" of America on its enemies. Bush is on tour this week with venerable hawk Senator Lindsey Graham, and even John Kasich has toughened his rhetoric.

Excluding Bernie Sanders, every candidate in this race would be more interventionist than President Obama -- there's a growing consensus on Capitol Hill as well as the campaign trail that current policies and spending on defense are inadequate. To reiterate our colleague LtGen Gardner's point, it's hard to see how the current environment doesn't result in increased defense spending.