THE BIG IDEA:
Hillary Clinton has struggled to effectively answer questions about her paid speeches on Wall Street and all the support she receives from big banks. During a previous debate, she invoked the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to argue she was just doing her job as a senator for New York. Last night, during a New Hampshire town hall broadcast on CNN, Anderson Cooper asked the Democratic front-runner if she made “a bad error in judgment” by accepting $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for three speeches. She didn't hesitate to say no.
Her explanation sounded flip. "That's what they offered,” she said, adding that “every secretary of state that I know” has also given such high-priced speeches.
Cooper followed up by asking why she’d take the risk of making such appearances if she was going to run for president. Clinton said it was because she was not totally sure she would get in the race. "To be honest, I wasn't committed to running," she replied.
The most problematic part of her answer came when she insisted something that is demonstrably untrue: “They’re not giving me very much money now, I can tell you that much. Fine with me.”
Watch Clinton's full two-minute response, quickly blasted out by the RNC, here:
-- The latest FEC reports reveal that Hillary reached a major milestone during the fourth quarter of 2015: Donors in the financial sector have now given more to support her campaigns than Bill’s. A deep dive into the numbers from Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Anu Narayanswamy just posted: “Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.”
- “In all, donors from Wall Street and other financial-services firms have given $44.1 million to support Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and allied super PACs, compared with $39.7 million in backing that former president Bill Clinton received from the industry."
- "Only about $75,000 of the $75 million Sanders has raised for his 2016 campaign has come from donors in the finance sector."
- “With the $21.4 million that Wall Street has given for her current White House bid, Clinton is on track to quickly exceed the nearly $23 million that she raised in her three previous campaigns combined from the PACs and employees of banks, hedge funds, securities firms and insurance companies." (Read the full story here.)
-- Other than the tone-deaf sound bite, made close to the town hall’s 11 p.m. finish, Clinton delivered a particularly strong performance. She sounded positively presidential. She nailed the dismount on a question about the use of force, showed empathy to a questioner with terminal cancer, offered an eloquent defense of her progressive bona fides and beautifully deflected a question about why she’s losing the youth vote so badly. "They don’t have to be for me,” she said. “I'm going to be for them.”
-- But let’s be real: the ratings probably were not that good for the full telecast. Cable news, the blogosphere and the mainstream media will likely all seize on the Goldman answer today. Here's a taste of the initial reaction:
It's as bad as Jeb not having an answer to the Iraq question. https://t.co/EK5UIIElzo— Jackie Kucinich (@JFKucinich) February 4, 2016
Hillary Clinton made more in 1 speech to Goldman Sachs than Bernie Sanders' net worth https://t.co/QEft7i0rmX *— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) February 4, 2016
Speaking fee question awkward terrain.#DemTownHall— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 4, 2016
Man this segment on the Goldman speeches is just brutal.— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 4, 2016
-- The Clinton campaign, in damage-control mode on this issue and trying to regain its footing after the close finish in Iowa, has postponed two finance industry fundraisers until AFTER the New Hampshire primary. “Clinton was originally supposed to attend an event in Boston on Friday, organized by Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine, the managing partner of Sankaty Advisors, an affiliate of Bain Capital,” Tom and Matea report. “The fundraiser has been rescheduled for a later date that the campaign would not reveal. In addition, a New York fundraiser billed as a ‘Conversation with Hillary,’ co-hosted by Matt Mallow, chief legal officer for the asset management firm BlackRock, that was originally scheduled for Jan. 28 has been moved to Feb. 16.”
-- It is hard to overstate how much the base in both parties HATES the big banks. It’s especially salient right now with the box office success of “The Big Short,” which doesn’t just cast bankers in a bad light but intentionally leaves viewers outraged that none really went to jail. The distaste for the financial services industry comes up constantly when I interview voters at Democratic and Republican events.
-- Make no mistake: Heidi Cruz’s work at Goldman Sachs could become a BIG problem for her husband in the coming months. The Texas senator is trying to get out front of the attacks. "I agree in many ways with Bernie Sanders," Cruz said at a college in Henniker, N.H., yesterday. "They say, ‘Gosh, Ted, you sound exactly like Bernie, saying it’s all big money and lobbyists and corruption.’ Well you know what? That’s right. It is! Washington is corrupt."
-- The head of Goldman unintentionally made an in-kind contribution to Sanders by attacking him on CNBC. Lloyd Blankfein said the senator’s attacks on bankers and the "billionaire class" makes this “a dangerous moment.” In 2008 he endorsed and raised money for Hillary. His wife has maxed out to her this year, Politico notes. But on Squawk Box, he played coy: “I don’t want to help or hurt anybody by giving them an endorsement."
ON THE OTHER HAND, BERNIE'S OBAMA PROBLEM IS REAL:
-- The Vermont senator spent yesterday on the defensive after saying that Clinton is a progressive only on “some days.” (John Wagner chronicles the blow-by-blow here.)
The hour-long Q&A with Cooper highlighted his challenge, especially going into the South, where Obama is overwhelmingly popular. He tried to thread the needle between being ideologically pure and touting all the compromises he's made.
He defended himself against attacks that he’s not actually a member of the party he’s seeking to lead. “Of course I’m a Democrat,” he said.
At times he was argumentative. “It’s not accurate to say it’s my way or the highway,” he told the host.
The most damning moment came when Cooper asked why he gave a “ringing endorsement” to a book by liberal radio host Bill Press called "Buyer's Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”
“No, I didn't give it a ringing endorsement,” Sanders said.
“But you blurbed it,” replied Cooper.
“No, not true,” he said.
“Okay. You tell me what you did,” Cooper shot back.
“I wrote a blurb for it,” Sanders then acknowledged. “And what the blurb said is that I think the next president should be very aggressive in bringing people into the political process.”
Then asked if the president let progressives down, Sanders cited trade: “I think in some areas.” Then he praised him. “President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken us a very, very long way from those dismal days. Are we where we want to be today? No," he said. "But we have come a long way and President Obama deserves an enormous amount of credit for that.”
-- Hillary, meanwhile, continued to link herself as closely as ever with Obama. She noted that both Obama and the late Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) wouldn’t qualify as progressives under Sanders’ standard. "I'm amused that Senator Sanders has set himself up as the gatekeeper of who gets to be a progressive," she said.
A former top Obama adviser posted a picture of the book's cover, complete with the blurb in question:
Lending your name & endorsement to this critique is no small thing in the heat of an election to replace Pres Obama. pic.twitter.com/xyxTVgwyvc— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) January 31, 2016
And Clinton got lots of air cover from her allies:
Hillary is a progressive EVERY day. Bernie is a Democrat "some days." https://t.co/GP6TpUyjEK— Barbara Boxer (@BarbaraBoxer) February 3, 2016
-- They're back at it again tonight: Clinton and Sanders agreed to debate on MSNBC from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. It'll be their first one-on-one matchup. The campaigns also locked in March 6 for a debate in Flint, Mich.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Rick Santorum dropped out and endorsed Marco Rubio. The winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses has few followers in his own right, which is why he dropped out, but his backing sends a significant signal to social conservatives that Rubio is acceptable. It will make it harder for Cruz to consolidate his support in the evangelical lane. It's another reminder that Rubio has deep roots in this wing of the party. People forget he campaigned in New Hampshire for Mike Huckabee in 2008. And he opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest -- a position that would prove devastating in a general election. The Florida senator expressed a desire for Santorum to be "very active in our campaign" during an interview with NBC. Notably, he also bent over backwards to avoid saying anything negative about Trump yesterday -- answering questions about The Donald with attacks on Cruz.
-- And, "in one sign of where Romney allies are leaning, Susan Duprey, who was Ann Romney's chief of staff during the 2012 campaign, announced her endorsement of Rubio,” CNN’s John King reports.
Santorum explained the endorsement to Greta Van Susteren:
-- Rubio also got the backing of Pat Toomey. The Pennsylvania senator faces a tough reelection campaign, and many D.C.-based Republican strategists do not believe he can survive in the Keystone State with Trump or Cruz at the top of the ticket. He's not a household name, but Toomey has serious street cred among fiscal conservatives as the former head of the Club for Growth. Chris Chocola, another ex-president of the group, backed Rubio last month.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott cut this 30-second spot promoting Rubio that will hit the airwaves in his home state today:
IS THIS A METAPHOR? Engine trouble forced Donald Trump's plane, "Trump Force One," to land in Nashville around 4:40 p.m. last night. The FAA is investigating, but Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks downplayed the diversion as a "minor mechanical issue." Trump got a charter plane to continue to Little Rock, Ark. for an evening rally. But the airport was certainly excited to have him on the ground:
The Clinton campaign is releasing a pre-debate web video that accuses Sanders of suggesting in his latest ad that he has endorsements he didn’t get:
GET SMART FAST:
- President Obama will call for a 1.6 percent pay raise for federal employees in his 2017 budget proposal next week. This year's raise was 1.3 percent. (Joe Davidson)
- The budget will also include a proposed $5.5 billion to create summer and first-time jobs for youths over four years and a $2 billion scheme to create apprenticeships over five years. (Steven Mufson)
- The IRS "suffered a hardware failure" and many of its computer systems were unavailable for tax processing last night, USA Today reports. The agency has temporarily stopped accepting electronically-filed returns.
- Robert Durst, the subject of HBO's "The Jinx" miniseries, pleaded guilty to gun charges, which carry a possible 85-month prison term. The move could pave the way for his extradition to California, so he can be tried for allegedly murdering friend Susan Berman. (ABC News)
- A Kansas man whose lawyer says he is mentally ill pleaded guilty in connection with a plot to plant a bomb outside an Army post, acknowledging that he wanted to aid ISIS. (Associated Press)
- A friend of the 13-year-old girl who was abducted and killed in Blacksburg said she found out that she was having an inappropriate relationship with an adult man and reported it to a school official in the weeks before her disappearance. (Moriah Balingit and Justin Jouvenal)
- The U.N. peace talks on Syria fell apart. They've been postponed at least three weeks as Bashar al-Assad's Army, backed up by Russian air strikes, advanced against the rebels in Aleppo. (Reuters)
- Trade ministers from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations formally signed the TPP in New Zealand. (David Nakamura)
- Florida declared a public health emergency in four counties with confirmed cases of the Zika virus. And the federal government told pregrnant women not to travel to Jamaica or Tonga. (Ariana Eunjung Cha and Lena H. Sun)
- The litigious ex-attorney for the D.C. Madam, who is pushing to release more records about her clients, has also filed a lawsuit against Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell because they haven't convened a constitutional convention. (Elise Viebeck)
- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched a probe of the Flint water crisis on Wednesday, but the city's emergency manager -- served a subpoena the night before the hearing -- didn't appear. A subpoena is also being issued for the EPA’s former regional administrator, who resigned last month. (Karoun Demirjian)
- New U.S. intelligence estimates put the strength of ISIS at between 20,000 to 25,000 fighters, compared to an estimate of 19,000 to 30,000 a year ago, before the U.S. bombing campaign began. (USA Today)
- A longtime computer scientist at the National Institutes of Health was sentenced to six years in prison for repeatedly slamming a hammer into his roommate’s skull after learning that his dog — while under the care of the roommate — had been killed by a car. (Dan Morse)
- A former Energy Department employee accused of attempting to infiltrate the agency’s computer system to steal nuclear secrets and sell them to a foreign government pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempting to damage protected government computers in an email “spear-phishing attack.” (Spencer H. Hsu)
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- DeRay McKesson, the Black Lives Matters activist, jumped into the Democratic contest for mayor of Baltimore, where he grew up. It's a crowded race, including the husband of a prosecutor going after the cops on trial for Freddie Gray's death. The primary, tantamount to the election, is April 26. (Wesley Lowery)
- Sanders began receiving Secret Service protection yesterday.
- Jimmy Carter would pick Trump over Cruz because he is “malleable,” but he doesn't think he'll be the nominee. The 91-year-old made the comments during an appearance before Britain’s House of Lords. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
- New records show that President Clinton had the chance to but didn't pardon his daughter's future father-in-law, ex-Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-Iowa), on charges of swindling investors. It's unclear whether the pardon request -- made just 8 days before he left office in January 2001 -- ever reached the president's desk. Mezvinsky served five years in prison. (Politico)
- Casino mogul Phil Ruffin, a business partner and friend of Trump, gave $1 million last year to a super PAC supporting the real estate tycoon's presidential run. The contribution from Ruffin, who owns Treasure Island in Las Vegas, made up the bulk of the $1.74 million that the Make America Great Again PAC raised before shutting down, according to documents filed last night with the FEC. (Matea Gold)
- George F. Will celebrates Trump's loss in his column today: "It probably is too late for the Democratic Party to get what it needs, which is a third candidate, someone somewhat likable and somewhat plausible. It is not too soon to hope that Republicans will soon get what they need, which is a contest without Trump, who is a negative illustration of Emerson’s axiom that “the force of character is cumulative.”
- Trump's newest ad features the voices of regular voters at his rallies talking about why they support him. (Watch here.)
- Mike Biundo, a GOP operative from New Hampshire, has joined the John Kasich campaign as a national adviser following Rand Paul's departure from the contest. Biundo was a senior adviser to Paul's campaign and ran Rick Santorum's 2012 race before joining the Mitt Romney team. (Ed O'Keefe)
- The speaker of the New Hampshire House, Shawn Jasper, endorsed Christie.
- Carly Fiorina is in real danger of not qualifying for Saturday's GOP debate. “It’s hard to justify a single candidate, the only woman, being excluded,” she told The Hill.
- Martin Shkreli, the pharma bro best known for jacking up the price of a drug by 5,000 percent, will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. He's expected to take the 5th amendment. (Mike DeBonis)
- A sexual assault case against comedian Bill Cosby can proceed, a judge ruled, clearing the way for a trial. (Karen Heller)
- Barbara Bush will join Jeb at his town hall tonight in Derry, N.H.
- Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive. (Todd C. Frankel)
WEATHER WATCH: There is a 60 percent chance of snow during next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Politico's Steve Shepard reports.
-- “At mosque visit, Obama seeks to mend fences between Muslims and the West,” by Greg Jaffe: “President Obama made his first visit to a U.S. mosque as president on Wednesday and sought to repair the increasingly frayed relationship between American Muslims and their fellow citizens. … The president often sounded like a concerned parent, worried for the country he leads as it prepares to replace him in a presidential election marked by inflammatory and anti-Islamic rhetoric. ‘Here at this mosque, twice last year, threats were made against your children,’ Obama said at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. ‘Around the country, women wearing the hijab . . . have been targeted. We’ve seen children bullied. We’ve seen mosques vandalized.’”
If you're interested, watch the president's full 45-minute speech here:
-- Republicans criticized Obama's visit: "Maybe he feels comfortable there," said Trump, who wants to halt all Muslim immigration into the United States, on Fox. Rubio tried to argue that Obama calling for tolerance was somehow divisive. “I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done," Rubio said. "Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam."
-- "A tough call on Libya that still haunts," by Kevin Sullivan: "After a March 2011 meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who wanted to bomb Libya "Clinton joined a White House meeting of President Obama’s National Security Council by phone and forcefully urged the president to take military action. Clinton’s decision to shed her initial reluctance and strongly back a military operation in Libya was one of the most significant — and risky — of her career ... Clinton has pointed to the international military operation as a signature moment in her four-year tenure as the top U.S. diplomat ... But Libya today has deteriorated into a virtual failed state run by hundreds of private militias ... Clinton has repeatedly defended the Libya military intervention as U.S. 'smart power at its best' ... But where Clinton sees 'smart power,' her attackers see poor judgment and a failure to learn from mistakes made in Iraq ... Much of the criticism has been over the killing of Gaddafi when the U.N. mandate was only to protect civilian life."
-- "Ethicists approve '3 parent' embryos to stop diseases, but congressional ban remains," by Joel Achenbach: "An elite panel of scientists and bioethicists offered guarded approval Wednesday of a novel form of genetic engineering that could prevent congenital diseases but would result in babies with genetic material from three parents. The committee ... concluded that it is ethically permissible to 'go forward, but with caution' with mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRT) ... But the advisory panel’s conclusions have slammed into a congressional ban: The omnibus fiscal 2016 budget bill passed by Congress late last year contained language prohibiting the government from using any funds to handle applications for experiments that genetically alter human embryos. Thus the green light from the scientists and ethicists won't translate anytime soon into clinical applications."
-- "A year after 'the Somber Bowl,' the Super Bowl's ads go happy again," by Drew Harwell: "Millions of Americans who tuned in for the glitz and grandeur of last year’s Super Bowl ads were instead force-fed a sad smorgasbord: Abused wives and lost dogs, cyber-bullying and overeating, even an insurance commercial where a dead boy dreamed of all the things he’d never do. But this year, advertisers at America’s most-watched sporting event are swapping out the pall for what made the spectacle so popular in the first place: Cute puppies in costumes, zany sight gags and a parade of celebrities designed not to remind viewers of the world’s problems, but to distract from them, with fireworks. If Super Bowl ads mirror what corporate America thinks the country wants to see right now, one thing is clear: We could all use a laugh. Or, at the very least, a break, from a dispiriting news cycle and doom-and-gloom political season that has filled commercials with foreign terrorists and domestic dread."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL
This scene from a New York Times story about Jeb Bush went viral:
Four in 10 Tweets about Jeb yesterday mentioned his plea for applause, according to our analytics partners at Zignal Labs. These are the words and hashtags associated with Jeb’s name in stories and tweets on Wednesday:
— Pictures of the day:
The Clinton campaign is circulating this far and wide on social media:
Here's a panorama of her crowd in Manchester, via her state director @mvlacich:
Cruz also had a packed house in Nashua (via @KathrynBFOX25):
While Trump boasted of a 12,000-strong crowd in Arkansas (via @realDonaldTrump):
Rubio breaks the no-phony-props rule in New Hampshire:
Rubio: "I may have to wear this at the debate." pic.twitter.com/ryL99mcHmh— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) February 3, 2016
It's hard to tell what is going on here with Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.):
— Tweets of the day:
Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, only got 12 votes in the Iowa caucuses. Yet he declared a bizarre sort of victory after Rand Paul and Santorum dropped out.
Started out as 1 of 17 GOP Candidates, now with Rand Paul & Rick Santorum out, 1 or 9. #StillStanding— Jim Gilmore (@gov_gilmore) February 3, 2016
Trump accused Cruz of using "fraud" to win Iowa:
The State of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated- a total fraud!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
This is how Trump replied when Sanders said at the CNN town hall that he'd be the easiest Republican to defeat:
Sanders says he wants to run against me because he doesn't want to run against me. He would be so easy to beat!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2016
Cruz threw serious shade right back with these retweets:
Trump says he's upset at Ted Cruz for disrespecting Ben Carson.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 3, 2016
Which is kinda weird, considering Trump compared Carson to a child molester
Cruz poked fun at Trump all day:
Carson refused to engage in the Twitter war, posting instead about immigration:
Anyone who comes to this country and wants to be a part of it must accept our laws, our Constitution and our national values.— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) February 4, 2016
Richard Dreyfuss' sons responded to questions about whether their dad supports Cruz (Dreyfuss attended a Cruz event in Iowa):
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) continues to offer Congress's best reactions to Trump news:
(Wasn't me.)— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) February 3, 2016
Anonymous US politician nominated Donald Trump as Nobel Peace Prize - Telegraph https://t.co/xLvVh0G7Zm
Sasse has gotten under Trump's skin:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) documented President Obama's visit to a Baltimore mosque:
Pres. Obama salutes Muslim American service members who "fight, die, and bleed for OUR freedom". Elijah my son is 1. pic.twitter.com/lkue53TdSt— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 3, 2016
This is an actual water pipe from Flint (via @ShaunKing):
Lawmakers offered emotional reactions to the Flint crisis as the Oversight Committee held a hearing:
Flint is my hometown. I grew up in Flint. I raised my children in Flint. I'm a son of this town, and the #FlintWaterCrisis breaks my heart.— Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) February 3, 2016
Satirist nails reality for millions of Americans. Should provoke us all to Liberty & Justice for all. pic.twitter.com/PiaMei9xIo— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 3, 2016
A taste of the congressional hearing on Flint:
A Flint resident brought bottles of brown water as well as clumps of her own hair to today's oversight hearing on Capitol Hill.— Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) February 3, 2016
Yesterday Paul Ryan invoked "Bravehart" as he called for uniting "the clans" in a speech at Heritage. Our colleague Paul Kane flag a problem with this messaging:
The danger of the Braveheart metaphor is Wallace ended up disembowled and chopped to pieces in front of angry mob https://t.co/TpuCX81qrK— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) February 3, 2016
And a funny moment on the trail:
Kasich, answering independent NH voter who complained McCain picked unqualified running mate in Palin: "I'm not thinking of picking Sarah"— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) February 4, 2016
— Instagrams of the day:
The King Cake went fast in Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne's office:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The New York Times, "Ted Cruz, a public firebrand on social issues, is cooler when it comes to wooing donors," by Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman: "Cruz sounded despondent at the possibility that same-sex marriage could become legal when he called into the radio show of Tony Perkins, a vehement opponent of gay rights ... But seven months later, when Mr. Cruz visited the Midtown Manhattan office of a major Republican supporter of same-sex marriage, he sounded almost indifferent: If New York politicians wanted to legalize it, that was their business, he told Paul Singer, the billionaire investor who had bankrolled efforts to strike down laws forbidding same-sex marriage across the country. There was no reason the issue had to drive a wedge between the two men, the Texas senator said ... As he finds himself locked in an intense struggle for the support of the party’s top donors, instances in which he curried favor, or merely associated, with people who do not share his views on some contentious issues are being dredged up and shared by people who believe that Mr. Cruz has been disingenuous, especially in his solicitation of money from people he has coolly dismissed as having 'New York values.' In interviews, donors and activists do not suggest that Mr. Cruz has contradicted himself. But they say that, in contrast to his aggressive public persona, he places a distinctly softer emphasis on some of his most stridently conservative views when privately addressing people who might find them offensive."
-- The New York Times, "The Fives Stages of Donald Trump's grief over his loss in Iowa." Alan Rappeport examines The Donald's reaction to his second-place finish in the caucuses, outlining the phases of mourning: "Silence: Normally a force on television and social media, Mr. Trump went dark after his loss on Monday night ... Frustration: he expressed exasperation at voters for failing to appreciate that he is self-funding his campaign ... Attack: he assailed the Texas senator for being 'too long, rambling, overly flamboyant' in his victory speech. Mr. Trump tried to tar Mr. Cruz as the 2016 version of Howard 'The Scream' Dean ... Regret: Trump admitted that more focus should have been put on his ground game ... Denial: He accused the Cruz campaign of fraud because it had distributed 'voter violation' fliers to compel people to caucus and because it had told voters, based on a misinterpreted news item, that Ben Carson was quitting the race."
-- BuzzFeed Politics, "Why Rand Paul Lost," by Rosie Gray and Tarini Parti: "Just before the Republican debate last year in Colorado, a senior aide to Rand Paul had an idea. Sergio Gor, the campaign’s communications director, decided he wanted to obtain an eagle for Paul to appear with before the debate. Staffers were dispatched to try to find the eagle to rent ... One estimated that several people spent half a day on the task. Eventually a falcon was located, but by that point the scheme had leaked out to other staffers, who quashed it. 'We spent like half a day on this ridiculous project that I’m not even sure was approved by the higher-ups,' said one staffer. After that, other staffers nicknamed Gor 'Condor' ... The episode is emblematic of the scattershot approach that characterized much of Paul’s bid ... Gor was the main point of press contact for reporters with the campaign and his title, communications director, connotes a certain level of message-shaping on a campaign. But five sources said Gor was a polarizing figure who alienated colleagues and was difficult to work with. One former adviser referred to Gor as 'Kurt Bardella on steroids,' comparing him to the hard-charging former Darrell Issa spokesman. Five sources told BuzzFeed News that the rest of the press shop moved to the basement of campaign headquarters in D.C. in the fall, in order to physically get away from Gor."
HOT ON THE LEFT
A U.N. panel is expected to rule Friday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained." From the BBC: Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition on sex assault charges in Sweden. Assange has said his passport should be returned if the U.N. panel ruled in his favor.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Paula Jones: I can't believe Bill Clinton has the nerve to campaign for Hillary. From Inside Edition: The woman who once sued Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, said it makes her furious to see him stump for his wife."'I can’t believe he’s got the nerve to do it," she said ... Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, made headlines in 1994 when she accused Clinton of propositioning her and exposing himself. The court eventually threw out her suit on the grounds that she failed to demonstrate damages."
On the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face off at a debate in Durham, N.H., to air on MSNBC from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Here's the rundown for everyone else:
- Trump: Exeter, Portsmouth, Manchester
- Cruz: Portsmouth, Hooksett, Weare, Laconia
- Rubio: Portsmouth, Stratham, Manchester, Salem
- Kasich: Pelham, Concord, Alton
- Bush: Pittsfield, Derry
- Christie: Keene, Newport, Henniker
- Fiorina: Windham, Nashua, Rindge, Nashua
- Gilmore: Rindge, Concord, Belmont, Center Harbor, Nashua
At the White House: President Obama attends the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton. Later, he welcomes the 2015 NBC Champion Golden State Warriors to the White House, holds a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and delivers remarks on Plan Colombia. (Read Karen DeYoung previews the meeting here.)
On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to consider the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The House meets at 10 a.m. for legislative business and will consider the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Some of my best friends are moderates." -- Bernie Sanders at CNN's town hall
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Metro riders on the Red Line should expect delays because of a power problem outside the Grosvenor stop. It is not immediately known how long the delays would last.
-- Some rain is possible today and in the evening, with colder air moving in, maybe some wet snowflakes, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts.
-- The Warriors crushed the Wizards 134-121, with Stephen Curry scoring 51 points.
Deeply troubling --> "D.C.'s 911 call center is getting more calls, but it's not always getting them right," by Ann E. Marimow: "In recent months, emergency call takers in the District sent a firetruck to the wrong address — on 14th Street instead of 40th Street. They didn’t tell police the details of a license plate that a sharp-eyed citizen noticed and reported while witnessing a possible domestic dispute. And when someone calling about a property theft asked why no officers were arriving, she was told that nobody was available because of a shift change. That was incorrect. The 911 call center that sends police officers, firefighters and paramedics throughout the nation’s capital is struggling with accuracy and precision — even as it tries to get emergency units to the streets more quickly."
-- Cash-strapped Metro trying to gets its fiscal house in order: "Kevyn D. Orr — who had a major role in guiding Detroit through the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, enabling the once-dying city to get tenuously back on its feet — will serve as a part-time 'strategic executive adviser' to Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld," Paul Duggan reports. "The contract with Orr’s law firm, for up to $1.74 million, was finalized last week." He will advise the agency on fixing its troubled finances, which could include restructuring debt, taking a hard line against wage and benefit hikes in labor negotiations this year and trying to wrest more money from area jurisdictions.
-- Mike Bloomberg, mulling independent bid, goes after top Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe: "Everytown for Gun Safety, a group bankrolled by the former New York mayor, poured $2 million into TV ads last fall in a failed bid to help Democrats take back the state Senate. On Wednesday, Everytown launched a social media campaign against McAuliffe, who last week stunned gun-safety advocates by announcing that he had struck a gun deal with Republican legislators and the National Rifle Association. It shows side-by-side photos of McAuliffe and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre." (Laura Vozzella)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Students at Wellesley, Hillary's alma mater, endorse Bernie:
Watch Bernie play a Brooklyn rabbi in the 1999 romantic comedy "My X-Girlfriend's Wedding Reception" (Hat tip to BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, who unearthed the clip last year):
When a man fainted during a Sanders press conference yesterday, Bernie ran to his aid. Watch the endearing moment:
When a mom told Hillary that her kids were "feeling the Bern," Clinton did this dance:
Our video team summarized last night's two-hour town hall into three minutes:
First lady Michelle Obama recorded messages with Julianne Moore and Lena Dunham about girls' education:
Could you handle the Marine combat fitness test? Watch civilians try: