Marco Rubio hosted a Super Bowl watch party in Manchester, New Hampshire, last night. Hundreds of people came to the event to see the Florida senator, who is trying to finish second place in the First in the Nation presidential primary. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)


Good morning from Concord, New Hampshire. Chris Christie mused at a rally this weekend that the days between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary make for the “the longest week in American politics.”

"It's like dog years," the New Jersey governor said. "For those of us who are behind … we would like it to be a little longer."

For Marco Rubio, the calculus is trickier. We still don’t have any reliable polling to gauge how much of a bounce he actually got from his strong third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses one week ago or how much his poor debate performance on Saturday might have curbed his momentum. In that sense, it’s hard to say whether a few more days is good or bad for his hopes. (Donald Trump is still favored to win tomorrow’s primary, but everyone agrees that the battle for silver and bronze is fluid and volatile.)

As he seeks to close strong, the Florida senator is explicitly making the case to Republicans that they should rally behind him if they want to avoid a protracted nominating contest that could stretch toward the summer. His rationale is that this would make it easier for Hillary Clinton to become president. “We can’t win if we’re divided,” he says. The implication is that if voters back one of the governors—Christie, Jeb Bush or John Kasich—there will be a four-way race, instead of a three-way race, going into South Carolina.

Rubio also devotes a significant chunk of his stump speech to explaining why he believes he’s the most electable candidate to face the former Secretary of State in the fall. He closes his appearances by promising to come back often in the fall. “Because we’re going to win New Hampshire in the general election,” he says, a line that always draws cheers.

He boasted to a large crowd in a middle school cafeteria, during his second of four Sunday stops, that Clinton had attacked him on CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier in the morning. “They attack me more often than any other Republican because they know if I’m our nominee we win,” he said. (The senator didn’t mention that Clinton was merely responding to a question asked by the host about an attack he’d leveled on her the night before.)

Regardless of whether he’s actually the most electable, a debatable proposition, the pitch seems to be resonating. It came up in more than a dozen interviews I conducted yesterday with undecided voters who are trying to pick between Rubio and someone else.

Maureen Ayotte, who owns a pet grooming salon in Manchester, is torn between Rubio and Trump. The 49-year-old said electability is “extremely important” because “there’s a lot of things that need to change in Washington.”

“I think Rubio could beat Hillary Clinton,” she said.

Asked if she thinks Trump could win a general election, she paused for a full six seconds. “Uh,” she said. “I want to say and I want to believe that he could, but that’s a scary toss-up. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Marc Gillman, 52, is also weighing backing Rubio or Trump. He likes the billionaire's political incorrectness, specifically as it relates to the Middle East. But he worries about former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumping into the race as an independent if Trump becomes the GOP nominee, dividing the vote and sending Clinton to the Oval Office. “There’s a saying: don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. At the end of the day, what matters is who can win," he said. "No one is perfect.”

Others invoked the Bill Buckley Rule, named after the founding editor of National Review, who said activists should get behind the most conservative candidate who can win. After eight years in the wilderness, many Republicans are willing to look the other way when it comes to Rubio’s inexperience and apostasies because they think he would post up best against Clinton.

Though conservatives theoretically abhor identity politics, many Rubio supporters freely cite his Cuban ethnicity, youth and affiliation with the swing state of Florida as the reasons they back him. Another reason Rubio himself offers up is that his humble roots will make it hard for Democrats to caricature him in the fall. “I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck,” he says. “I’ve had student loans.”

This worked for Rubio in Iowa. One in five GOP caucus-goers said being able to win in November is the single most important candidate quality. Of that group, Rubio won a remarkable 44 percent, according to network entrance polls, twice as much as the next candidate.

Breanne Deppisch contributed.


Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl 50. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

-- "If this indeed was Peyton Manning’s final NFL game, he got his storybook ending. But Manning mostly was along for the ride as the Denver Broncos followed the lead of their spectacular defense to beat the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, at Levi’s Stadium," Mark Maske writes from Santa Clara. "Manning secured the second Super Bowl triumph of his legendary career in his fourth appearance in the biggest game of all, bolstering the case for him to move up the list of the sport’s greatest quarterbacks. But he had two turnovers, throwing an interception and losing a fumble. He was sacked five times and threw for only 141 yards in a 13-for-23 passing performance." See a round-up of The Post's coverage here.


(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- Bill Clinton unleashed on Sanders in New Hampshire yesterday afternoon, calling the Vermont senator a hypocrite and some of his followers sexist. Five choice quotes:

  • “When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts," he told a crowd of 300 at a high school in Milford.
  • “The New Hampshire I campaigned in really cared that you knew what you were doing, and how it was paid for,” said Clinton, hitting Sanders’ universal healthcare plan and free college for all proposals as impossible. (Politico)
  • “People who have gone online to defend Hillary, to explain why they supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat.” (New York Times)
  • “The former president noted a CNN report that said Sanders, despite his constant criticism of Wall Street, had taken money from wealthy donors: ‘Anybody who takes money from Goldman Sachs couldn’t possibly be President … He may have to tweak that answer a little bit, or we may have to get a write-in candidate.’ The former president said he ‘fell out of his chair’ when he read the story.” (Justin Wm. Moyer)
  • On the DNC data breach: “It was your campaign that made 25 separate inquiries in the mere space of 30 minutes trying to breach information out of computers. … In private [the Sanders campaign] sent an e-mail complaining [about the Democratic National Committee] leaving the keys in the car, and said, ‘All I did was drive off.’” (Bloomberg)
Picking up food for the road, Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts in Manchester yesterday morning. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- Meanwhile, Hillary took a quick detour to Flint, Michigan, to express her outrage directly about the poisoned municipal water supply. “I want you to know that this has to be a national priority not just for today or tomorrow,” she said from the pulpit of the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. “What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as children anywhere else in America.”

-- The Clinton campaign is struggling to hold onto women voters in tomorrow’s primary. A CNN/WMUR survey released yesterday showed Sanders beating Clinton among women by eight points — notable because Hillary won women by 11 points in Iowa. “Clinton’s struggles with women underscore the extent to which she has not yet figured out how to harness the history-making potential of her candidacy in the same way that Barack Obama mobilized minorities and white liberals excited about electing the first black president,” write Abby Phillip and Frances Stead Sellers. “Cognizant of the challenge, the Clinton campaign has sought in recent days here to address the problem, tweaking her speeches to put a focus on Clinton as an advocate for women. Clinton spent part of Friday with a group of female U.S. senators she calls the “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.”

Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, are ecstatically greeted at a Get Out the Vote Rally at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth yesterday afternoon. (Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post)

-- At a boisterous afternoon rally that drew 1,200 in Portsmouth, Bernie Sanders repeatedly pushed back against claims that his agenda is too ambitious and that he lacks the chops to be commander in chief. Four choice quotes, per John Wagner:

  • On free college: “It is not a radical idea to say that public education should go through college."
  • On universal health insurance: “For the benefit of my critics, let me say it as loudly and clearly as I can: Health care is a right, not a privilege."
  • “We can afford these programs because we’re going to transfer some of that wealth back."
  • "Lately I have been lectured on foreign policy. The most important foreign policy issue in the modern history of this country was the war in Iraq. I was right on that issue. Hillary Clinton was wrong.”

-- The Iowa Democratic Party announced revised results after finding "reporting errors" in several precincts that worked in Hillary's favor. "Clinton’s share of the delegates awarded was revised slightly downward, to 49.84 percent, while Sanders’s total was bumped up to 49.59 percent," per Wagner. "The Sanders campaign is continuing to push for a broader review."


Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Plymouth State University in Holderness yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- Weary and subdued, a different Trump has appeared in New Hampshire. “Trump’s weekend sprint to the finish line here in New Hampshire has seemed more like a haphazard lurch," Jose A. DelReal reports. "With a winter storm in the region Friday and the Republican debate on Saturday placing constraints on the campaign’s travel, Trump lost two valuable days to make his final pitch just as notoriously fickle New Hampshire voters began making their final judgments. Many have also been critical of Trump’s decision to hold a massive rally last Wednesday in Little Rock and another on Friday in Florence, S.C. On Sunday, a diner visit was one of two public campaign stops for Trump in New Hampshire. The other was a rally in Plymouth, where about 1,000 gathered to listen to one of the candidate’s usually raucous speeches. But Trump instead spoke slowly and more hoarsely than usual.”

Ted Cruz during a meet and greet at Pedraza's Mexican Restaurant in Keene yesterday. (Photo by Cassi Alexandra/For The Washington Post)

-- Cruz spent yesterday trying to woo Rand Paul supporters in rural, western New Hampshire. He offered long riffs on eminent domain, something Donald Trump struggled to defend his support for during the Saturday debate. "Two hours later, at a crowded Mexican restaurant and bar in Keene, Cruz was asked no questions about eminent domain. But he took a question about how falling oil prices might affect the economy, and ran with it into a convoluted, libertarian-flavored epistle about money," David Weigel reports.


  1. The CDC says lead problems in the U.S. could extend far beyond Flint, affecting an estimated 535,000 children nationwide. (New York Times)
  2. The U.N. held an emergency meeting to publicly condemn North Korea’s rocket launch and discuss potential sanctions. (Greg Miller and Anna Fifield)
  3. Chipotle will shut down its entire chain of restaurants on Monday until 3 p.m. local time to teach employees proper food safety protocols. Competitors have seized upon the four-hour closure and are offering special promotions for the day. (New York Times)
  4. Another ISIS jailer who beheaded Western hostages was identified as a Londoner, in this case a 32-year-old convert to Islam. (Adam Goldman and Souad Mekhennet)
  5. Twitter reported banishing 125,000 terrorist-related accounts since 2015. The company is also expanding its team that monitors suspicious user activity. (New York Magazine)
  6. Spanish police arrested seven people with suspected ties to ISIS. The suspects were allegedly providing logistical support for terror activities in Iraq. (BBC)
  7. The U.S. offered nearly $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria after peace talks between President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters were suspended last week. Most of the funds will assist displaced Syrians and neighboring countries who have shouldered enormous numbers of refugees. (Carol Morello and Karen DeYoung
  8. The Turkish government, meanwhile, said it has reached the end of its “capacity to absorb” the Syrian refugees but will continue to take them in. (Boston Globe)
  9. Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli denied writing a tweet that declared support for Jeb, noting: “I don’t follow politics except for having a profound hatred for all politicians.” (CBS)
  10. A Vatican commission gathered Thursday at a church in central Rome for a private screening of “Spotlight,” the film about priest abuse in Boston. (LA Times)
  11. A Wisconsin mother faces felony charges after her 9-year old daughter was found driving her pickup truck with an infant sibling inside. The mother and her boyfriend were allegedly too drunk to operate the vehicle. (Peter Holley)


-- With the economy improving, Obama wages war of words with GOP doomsayers,” by Steven Mufson: “From the State of the Union address to campaign-style speeches, Obama is trying to jawbone Americans into taking a sunnier view of the U.S. economy, hoping to burnish his own legacy and give this year’s Democratic candidates a timely boost. But this is no slam dunk … A Washington Post-ABC News poll last month showed that 50 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, while 46 percent disapprove. … The president seems to think the lack of stronger support is partly a matter of perception, and he’s taken special aim at the rhetoric of Republican presidential candidates.”

-- “Paying criminals to stay out of trouble? D.C. could be next city to try experiment,” by Aaron C. Davis: “Under a measure that advanced in the D.C. Council last week, the city would pay 50 of its most troubled young residents annual stipends, perhaps $9,000 or more … if offenders keep up attendance with programs for behavioral health, education and job training. Most participants would be those who have committed offenses involving firearms and who D.C. police think are likely to resort to gun violence again. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), chairman of the judiciary committee and a former federal prosecutor, has cast his stipend plan as one prong of a campaign to force the District to begin addressing violent crime as a ‘public health’ crisis … and the measure won a unanimous endorsement from his colleagues in an initial vote on Tuesday.”

-- “Trump may not be worried, but his impersonators are,” by Jessica Contrera: “He’s status, glamour, prestige. People either love him or they hate him, but there’s a lot more lovers than haters in my world,” said Tim Beasley, a Trump impersonator from Virginia Beach … And the real-life version of the nation’s professional Donald Trump impersonators (yes, there’s more than one) seemed bulletproof, unstoppable, on track to win it all … Until Iowa. On caucus night, Di Domenico didn’t even bother to watch the news, positive that he and Donald would wake up as winners. “Then as I was going to bed,” he said, “my friend texted me that Trump lost. And I was like, Whaaaaat?!?” … This hiccup in Trump’s rise is devastating to his impersonators, who have been getting six calls a day asking for “fake Trump." “As long as he wins, everything will be fine and dandy,” Beasley said. “If he loses, at that point, he becomes a has-been. If he loses, well, I’ll just go back to doing more of my Rod Stewart and Neil Diamond shows.”

-- “Is this the 'mystery kibbutz' visited by Bernie Sanders in the 1960s?”, by William Booth and Frances Stead Sellers: “There was a Bernard,” recalled Albert Ely… “But I don’t know if he was the famous Bernie from America.” The residents of Shaar Haamakim, a crunchy Israeli farming commune, were both pleased and surprised to hear their home may be the “mystery kibbutz” where Bernie Sanders spent a few formative months. Israeli and Jewish journalists have been on a hunt in recent weeks trying to solve the mystery of which kibbutz Sanders visited in the 1960s. There were tantalizing clues, good guesses, dead ends … Was the kibbutz near the sea? Were there Argentine volunteers? Was it Marxist or Labor? Sanders and his campaign staff have repeatedly —somewhat inexplicably — declined to say which kibbutz … In the heady days of 1960s, Israeli kibbutzim was an accessible laboratory to observe social democracy in action. Volunteers slept in cabins, ate their breakfasts in the orchards, did menial labor … And lived socialism, the dream and the reality. “It was different back in the old days, it was true socialism,” said Amalia Alva, who arrived here in 1971. “Everything was shared.”


The White House was in the Super Bowl spirit:

The Obamas enjoyed a great spread:

Donald Trump, Jr. indulged at Buffalo Wild Wings in Manchester. Asked by a fan how many chicken wings he'd eaten, he replied:

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and his wife were in Santa Clara for the game:

Tillis is a huge Panthers fan. That's North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on the left:

And John Cornyn knows it:

North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams (D) watched with family:

So did Rep. Renee Elmers (R-N.C.):

Colorado lawmakers repped the Broncos:

And cheered after the win:

This Doritos commercial generated instant controversy:

NARAL reacted strongly to ads by Buick and Doritos:

Those tweets drew strong reaction from the right:

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) offered some commentary on the halftime show:

Many on Twitter continued to mock Rubio for his over-reliance on talking points and his repetition of the exact same line during Saturday's debate:

Beyonce, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Bruno Mars perform during last night's halftime show at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Beyonce performed a new song, "Formation," during the halftime show. She came on the field flanked by 30 dancers in Black Panther berets. The video is even more political: "A young black boy in a hoodie dances defiantly before a phalanx of armed police while Beyoncé lays atop a cop car as it sinks in Katrina’s flood waters," Chris Richards reports.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Calif.) applauded the message:

Some conservatives disapproved:

Viewers learned CBS' "The Good Wife" will wrap up on May 8 after seven seasons:

Trump was bored:

Christie and Clinton ran into each other in a green room:

Jim Gilmore forgot where his town hall was:

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) celebrated Mardi Gras:

One parade included Donald Trump in float form:

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) did some yardwork:

Sen. Angus King (D-Maine) shoveled snow:

Finally, another gorgeous photo from astronaut Scott Kelly:


-- The New York Times, "Ego, envy or airtime? Joe Scarborough's unusual spat with Marco Rubio," by Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin: "On the surface, the fight seems to be a classic case of a celebrity host being snubbed and his feelings being hurt: Mr. Rubio has appeared on 'Morning Joe' just once since becoming a senator ... Many of Mr. Rubio’s allies, and even some pundits, view Mr. Scarborough’s distaste for him as driven by something more elemental: envy. 'Almost every election cycle since Joe left Congress, there is talk that he should run for U.S. Senate, governor, or something else,” said Brian Crowley, a former Florida political reporter, adding that after Mr. Rubio became the Florida House speaker, 'he started crowding that space.'"

Scarborough hit back with a Politico op-ed: "On my backstory with Rubio, there isn't one." He wrote that "Rubio's campaign has spent the past six months shopping a story to news organizations that suggests my reporting has been influenced by some long-held personal grudge between Rubio and myself. It's an interesting narrative, but it's not true ... I have never once said a single thing negative about Rubio personally off the air. Not once ... Why? Because I do not know him ... Instead, I have questions about Rubio's ability to govern the country."

Joe then took to Twitter to challenge the Times' narrative, going several rounds with Florida reporters.

Jeb is on the hot seat. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post)

Shot --> Politico, "Bush loyalists concede the end might be in sight," by Alex Isenstadt: "'I acknowledge reality. There’s going to be three or four candidates remaining after New Hampshire,' said former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, a Jeb adviser who also worked on George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns. 'I think the field is going to narrow pretty quickly. We’ll see what happens in South Carolina.' ... 'If he doesn’t do well in New Hampshire, I think he needs to think long and hard about what he wants to do,' said one top Bush fundraiser who played a key role in his brother’s administration. Another high profile Bush financial backer, who has also been close to the family for years, said most of Bush’s donors would give him until the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20. 'That’s when they say, ‘Enough.’”

Chaser --> The Daily Beast, "Fear the Wrath of Jeb," by Will Rahn: "In a performance so animated it almost justified the exclamation point in his logo, the onetime Republican frontrunner entertained and occasionally antagonized the roughly 200 people who showed up to see him here just two days before the New Hampshire primary. And in the process he attacked his various rivals and adversaries, from the “secret squirrel committee” of pundits who say he can’t win to, of course, Trump, the “real loser” in Bush’s estimation ... 'Donald Trump, you’re the loser!' he concluded with all the angry energy of a nerdy, hormonal student yelling at an absent bully. It seemed cathartic. Then he took out time to mark the man many in Jeb-land see as a traitor, mocking Rubio’s embarrassing repetition of a talking point at Saturday’s debate. Bush would be unable to repeat the same line so many times, he explained with mock humility, because he’s too 'intellectually curious', too self-questioning and always thinking to reliably stay on message." 

-- Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz told staff on an afternoon conference call to expect "dirty tricks" from the Rubio campaign, without being more specific, per Politico. The Huffington Post said the Rubio super PAC sent a mailer in New Hampshire highlighting an old Barbara Bush quote that that the country is tired of political dynasties.

-- The State (South Carolina), "Military rhetoric overshadowing real defense issues," by Jeff Wilkinson: "Talk by presidential candidates about keeping the nation’s military strong and defeating the self-described Islamic State has been bluster aimed at swaying early primary voters rather than views for a rational path to a safer nation, retired military leaders in South Carolina say ... 'When a candidate says things like he is going to carpet bomb Syria or Iraq, those are just sound bites for the primary,” said retired Col. Bryan Hilferty of Sumter. 'You say that kind of thing in the primary to get votes.' ... The two Republican candidates who are most specific on military issues – Rubio and Bush – are third and fifth in national polling ... South Carolina is home to five major military installations as well as a large number of military retirees and families. And the military pumps $16 billion a year into the state’s economy."

-- Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Nevada Democratic caucus overlooks Sabbath observers,” by Ben Botkin: “Observant Jews and Seventh-day Adventists who want to caucus with Nevada Democrats on Feb. 20 are out of luck. The party's noon caucus falls squarely in the middle of a Saturday, a sacred day of rest and worship for both faiths … Nevada's caucuses will be the first indicators of which presidential candidates voters in the West favor and could be a key factor in whether a candidate secures the nomination. Jewish clergy pointed out that other high-profile early-state caucuses and primaries don't fall on a Saturday … ‘I do think it's unfortunate that it does disenfranchise certain members of the Jewish community,’ said Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel, chairman of the community relations council for the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas. ‘There is a significant enough population that does that might want to be able to participate in the caucus but can't because it's on the Sabbath.’ A party spokesman said the big event is set for that day and time to maximize participation.”


Sanders condemns 'Bernie Bros.' From the Huffington Post: "Jake Tapper asked Sen. Sanders about the phenomenon of his backers saying sexist things to supporters of Hillary ... He renounced them unequivocally. 'I have heard about it. It's disgusting,' Sanders said."



Gloria Steinem apologized for saying that younger women are supporting Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.” She wrote on Facebook that her remarks to Bill Maher, in which she suggested pro-Sanders feminists are just looking for guys to date, were a case of “talk-show Interruptus.”


On the campaign trail: Everyone is in New Hampshire. Here is the rundown:

  • Sanders: Nashua, Manchester, Derry, Durham
  • Clinton: Manchester, Hudson
  • Trump: Londonderry, Manchester
  • Kasich: Plaistow, Windham, Merrimack, Manchester, Hooksett
  • Cruz: Barrington, Raymond, Manchester
  • Rubio: Nashua
  • Bush: Nashua, Portsmouth
  • Christie: Hudson, Hampstead, Manchester
  • Fiorina: Manchester, Concord
  • Gilmore: Manchester, Hudson

At the White House: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 2 p.m. and considers a nomination at 5 p.m. The House is in pro forma session.


“You nominate this old truck, and let me tell you what’s going to happen: I’m going to get through that mud,” Chris Christie told a ­standing-room-only crowd in a school cafeteria Sunday, indulging in a long, folksy anecdote in which Christie compared himself to a reliable, battered truck that could get through the mud Clinton would throw at him. Then the metaphor turned from New Hampshire light to New Jersey dark. “I’m gonna run her right over on the way to the White House,” Christie said. (David A. Fahrenthold)


-- Some snow tonight and tomorrow will kick off the coldest week so far this season. "Winter wants to throw a lot at us this week," the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. "It begins with the tricky winter storm tonight and Tuesday that could bring substantial snow in our northern suburbs and hardly any in the south. Tuesday morning’s commute may be an adventure. Then, the coldest air of the winter so far plunges into the region by Thursday and hangs on right through the holiday weekend, which could yield some storminess by its tail end." See the latest snow projections here.

-- The Caps beat the Flyers 3-2.


Lady Gaga sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl:

The "puppymonkeybaby" ad from Mountain Dew generated online buzz:

Finally, here's a shot of the halftime show from Thom Tillis:

And an essential Puppy Bowl clip: