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Obama’s favorable rating jumps to 58 percent

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* Congressional leaders met with President Obama and top administration officials this morning to begin discussions on the so-called "fiscal cliff." "While we’re going to continue to have revenue on the table, it’s going to be incumbent for my colleagues to show the American people that we’re serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “And I believe that we can do this and avert the fiscal cliff that’s right in front of us today.”

* In the spirit of bipartisanship, Obama wished Boehner a happy birthday. “We didn’t make him a cake because we didn’t know how many candles we’d need,” Obama joked. For the record, Boehner turned 63.

* As talks begin, Obama's favorable rating has jumped up to 58 percent, according to a new Gallup poll. That's his highest number since 2009. The Democratic Party also got a bump, but not the GOP.

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are the latest Republicans to take issue with Mitt Romney's comment on "gifts." “That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party — our comments that are not thought through carefully,” Martinez said at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty agreed.

* Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) has pushed back his decision on whether to run against Christie in 2013 due to the ongoing relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.


* A missile landed near Jerusalem for the first time since 1970. Israeli troops have lined up on the Gaza border, and a senior Israeli government official said a ground war could be imminent. 

* Former CIA director David Petraeus testified in secret on Capitol Hill on Friday morning, and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Petraeus described the attack that killed four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as a planned terrorist attack. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been very critical of the administration's handling of Libya, praised Petraeus.

* Jill Kelley, the socialite who triggered Petraeus's downfall when she complained about threatening e-mails from Petraeus mistress Paula Broadwell, has visited the White House three times this year, according to AP.

* David Letterman, who has been no friend of Republicans in recent times, says Republicans "should take responsibility for their miscalculation and their poorly conceived policies and antiquated ideology. Thank you very much." (Rimshot.)

* The newest super PAC: Republicans for Immigration Reform.


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The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
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