SIREN: The cavalry is coming to Hillary’s rescue. The main super PAC supporting Clinton, which planned to stockpile its cash for the general election, has decided to play hard in the Democratic nominating contest. Priorities USA Action will launch a $500,000 radio campaign in South Carolina today and spearhead a $4.5 million effort to drive early turnout of African American, Latino and female voters in the March primary states. Matea Gold has the scoop on the first big infusion of outside money on Clinton’s behalf, which comes in the wake of her 22-point loss in New Hampshire:

The super PAC ad in South Carolina presents her as the natural heir to Barack Obama. In the ad produced by an African American media firm in St. Louis, a narrator says: "We need a president who will build on all that President Obama has done. President Obama trusted Hillary Clinton to be America's secretary of state.”

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The mobilization effort for Super Tuesday kicks off in Georgia, where early voting began on Monday and Bill Clinton travels tomorrow. Beginning today, voters will be targeted across a variety of mediums - in the mail, on the radio and online - with ads that tie Clinton and Obama together.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton deabte at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee last night in their final showdown before the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 20. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

THE BIG IDEA -- About last night...

If all Rudy Giuliani ever said during his 2008 campaign was a noun, a verb and 9/11, all Hillary Clinton said in Milwaukee Thursday night was a noun, a verb and Barack Obama.

The president’s name was invoked more than 30 times during the two-hour debate on PBS.

As the race for the Democratic nomination moves to more racially diverse states, especially South Carolina (where African Americans will make up the majority of the electorate in the primary), Clinton tried harder than ever to seize the Obama mantle.

Asked to name two leaders who would influence their foreign policy decisions, for instance, Sanders said Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Clinton used her turn to talk once again about how much she loves Obama. “Maybe because I understand what President Obama inherited,” she said, “I don't think he gets the credit he deserves.”

Clinton seized on an interview Sanders gave NBC after his victory in the New Hampshire primary. “There’s a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people. What presidential leadership is about is closing that gap,” he had said. Asked if Obama has done that, Sanders said “NO”: “I think he has made the effort. But I think what we need, when I talk about a political revolution, is bringing millions and millions of people into the political process in a way that does not exist right now.” Citing the comment, Hillary said Bernie sounded like a Republican.

-- Clinton was relentless about injecting POTUS into every issue that came up:

On health care: “You know, before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare. … I am a staunch supporter of President Obama's principal accomplishment -- the Affordable Care Act -- because I know how hard it was to get that done.”

On criminal justice reform: “There have been some good recommendations about what needs to happen. President Obama's policing commission came out with some. I have fully endorsed those.”

-- HRC also effectively used Obama as a shield to defend herself against Sanders’s attacks:

On taking money from Wall Street: In 2008, Senator Obama “was the recipient of the largest number of Wall Street donations of anybody running on the Democratic side ever,” she replied, yet he still signed Dodd-Frank into law. “So, let's not in any way imply here that either President Obama or myself would in any way not take on any vested interested, whether it's Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies, or frankly, the gun lobby to stand up to do what's best for the American people,” she said.

On having a super PAC, when Sanders does not: “You're referring to a super PAC that we don't coordinate with, that was [originally] set up to support President Obama, that has now decided that they want to support me. They are the ones who should respond to any questions.”

On voting for the war in Iraq: “As we all remember, Senator Obama, when he ran against me, was against the war in Iraq. And yet when he won, he turned to me, trusting my judgment, my experience, to become secretary of state. I was very honored to be asked to do that and very honored to serve with him those first four years.” A minute later, she pivoted to her role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Obama and Hillary start to make nice in June 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola/file)

-- For everyone who lived through the drama of 2007 and 2008, it is surreal to watch Clinton act like she and Obama have always been BFF. She spent more than a year attacking him with as much or more gusto as she’s now attacking Sanders. Remember when she boasted to USA Today that “Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again”?

In this vein, Bernie’s comeback near the very end of the debate was solid, especially for uncharacteristic brevity that makes it so replayable on cable: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.” According to Facebook, that line was “the top social moment" of the whole night.

-- But, for most of the night, Sanders kept stumbling into the traps Clinton had set.

He got flustered and sounded defensive as he insisted that he has, in fact, been a consistent Obama supporter in the Senate and tried to explain that critiquing someone’s shortcomings does not constitute disloyalty. “President Obama and I are friends,” he said. “I have been a strong ally with him on virtually every issue.”

Then Bernie let himself get angry: “Madam Secretary, that is a low blow.”

-- Obama alumni piled on and sided with Clinton after she noted that Sanders wrote a blurb for the cover of a book called “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama let progressives down.”

David Axelrod: “Not a low blow. Senator Sanders was among those who mused in '11 about encouraging a challenge from left to Obama.… Also, when you write a blurb for a book ... one assumes you agree!”

Dan Pfeiffer: "Sanders & Clinton are playing by 2 set of rules. She's constrained by political reality; Sanders isn't. That's a hard game for her to win."

-- Bernie also made a MAJOR misstep when he said race relations will "absolutely" be better under a President Sanders than President Obama. “Because what we will do is instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners,” Sanders explained. “We’re going to make sure those kids stay in school are able to get a college education."

Clinton sagely rejected the premise of moderator Judy Woodruff’s question. “President Obama has set a great example,” she said. “He has addressed a lot of these issues that have been quite difficult, but he has gone forward. Now, what we have to do is to build on an honest conversation about where we go next.”

It took only a few minutes for the Clinton press shop to blast out the clip of the answer, and you can take it to the bank that the campaign will make sure black voters in South Carolina hear about it several times between now and Feb. 27. It will probably even go in her stump speech.

-- After the debate, targeting Latinos in Nevada, the Clinton campaign seized on Bernie’s explanation that he voted against the 2007 immigration bill – co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy – because the Southern Poverty Law Center said its provision for a guest-worker program was “akin to slavery.”

Obama’s secretary of labor, Tom Perez, came to Milwaukee to spin for Clinton. “I used to work for Senator Kennedy,” he told David Weigel. “It’s insulting to suggest that Senator Kennedy would support anything that’s akin to slavery. … The challenge in the 2007 vote is that, while Senator Sanders was well-intentioned, when you insist on the perfect you get nothing done.... The DREAMers that I meet are not waiting for revolution!”

As the New Republic’s Brian Beutler explains, while Clinton has been using Obama as a human shield for weeks, “she was finally able to deploy her fidelity to Obama in a way that isolated Sanders from the cherished and undisputed leader of the Democratic Party.… For the first time, she effectively portrayed Sanders as one of President Obama’s most inconstant allies.”

Watch some tape of Clinton linking herself to Obama:

THE POST’S FACT CHECKERS examine 11 suspicious or interesting claims:

  • On Hillary’s attack that Bernie voted for “regime change” in Libya: “Clinton pushes the envelope a bit. Sanders was a co-sponsor of a nonbinding Senate resolution that passed by unanimous consent and called for Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to ‘resign his position and permit a peaceful transition to democracy.’ … There is no explicit mention of ‘regime change.’”
  • Regarding almost all income going to the top 1 percent: “One of Sanders’s favorite talking points is based on an outdated statistic.”
  • On mass incarceration: “Sanders is making quite a promise — that as president he would reduce the prison population by nearly 600,000 people in four years.”

-- Read our annotated transcript of the full debate here.

The Post’s Dan Balz and Abby Phillip, on the front page of today’s newspaper, say “the debate probably changed few minds in the Democratic race”: “Nor did it answer some of the key questions that will be at the heart of the campaigning in the weeks ahead. For Sanders, it is a question of whether he can expand his appeal from a largely white base of supporters and attract votes of African Americans and Hispanics. For Clinton, it is whether she can retool her message to counter the enthusiasm behind Sanders’s candidacy.”

-- Most in the pundit class declared Clinton the winner:

The MSNBC host:

The Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau chief:

The face of CNBC in Washington:

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza: “Beginning to end, this was Clinton's best debate of the election. In the first half hour, Clinton poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast the Vermont senator as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals. She was calm and cool throughout -- even when fighting on Sanders's home turf on wage inequality. Clinton also effectively cast Sanders as insufficiently loyal to President Obama, a point that will resound with black voters among whom Obama remains extremely popular.”

The New York Times’ Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy: “Mr. Sanders, who is facing pressure to appeal to racially diverse voters in Nevada and South Carolina, demonstrated little capacity to broaden his political message in compelling new directions beyond overhauling the economy, campaign finance and health care … Instead, he stuck to the familiar themes of his stump speech … and did not present his vision in any new way or frame the issue in personal terms for average voters.”

Vox’s Matthew Yglesias: “Hillary didn't score any knockout blows or hit any home runs, but the reality is that she didn't need to. Playing small ball and successfully turning the debate into a series of tedious, hard-to-follow exchanges is good enough for the candidate who currently enjoys a large lead in national polls … Despite his stellar fundraising and New Hampshire performance, Sanders is still a major underdog who has a limited amount of time to change the dynamic before delegates start getting assigned very quickly. Sanders did nothing to assuage related doubts about his electability and his grasp of foreign policy matters, and didn't add anything new to his well-known critique of Clinton.”

Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet: Hillary looked like “a policy whiz with passion.”

Sanders greets supporters after last night's debate. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

-- Bernie’s bigger problem is that he’s starting to be seen as a ONE-TRICK PONY: While Sanders repeated the same points he always does, Hillary showed messaging agility. She criticized Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker twice in his home state, talked about a local police shooting and tailored his message. “I’m not a single-issue candidate, and I don’t believe we live in a single-issue country,” Clinton said.

NYT’s Nick Confessore: “’Senator Sanders, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?’ ‘Wall Street billionaires.’”

NYT’s Nicholas Kristof: “It's fair for Sanders to note that he was right on Iraq and Clinton was wrong. But it's a point to make once or twice, not 1,000 times.”

Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “Clinton can speak deeply to particular issues affecting particular groups of people in a way Bernie can't yet.… I think there's a way for Hillary to essentially say ‘my incrementalism will get you to the same goals without needless stumbles.’”

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball: “Another way more debates may help Hillary: highlights the repetitiveness of Bernie’s hyperfocused message.”

Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh: “She did a more nimble and supple job meeting her challenge than he did his, presenting herself as a deeply knowledgeable candidate whose progressive stands are tempered by real-world practicality.”

-- Candidly, part of the explanation for this kind of reaction might be that reporters have grown exhausted of writing about Sanders – like Marco Rubio – just saying the exact same thing over and over and over again…

But many others, including in the African American community, continued to criticize Sanders' tone. “Hillary KNOWS she has Bernie upset. She's talking softer and softer as he yells more and more," wrote New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow. "My verdict: Hillary didn't win debate as much as Sanders lost it.  He had upper hand, but charm crossed over into shrillness."

One outlier: Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin gave both candidates a “B”: “All in all, it proved to be a solid, low-energy substantive session that will be forgotten quickly. Clinton “didn’t stop Bernie’s momentum, but didn’t make her current plight worse by any means, which for her this week is a victory of sorts.” Sanders “verged on condescension once or twice, but also showed that he plans to keep throwing the occasional elbow. More than ever, acted confident about his chances to win.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hold a press conference in Munich. (Sven Hoppe/EPA)

-- “The United States, Russia and other powers agreed to a ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria’s civil war, to take place within the next week, and immediate humanitarian access to besieged areas," Karen DeYoung reports from Munich. "But the proof of commitment will come only with implementation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the cessation of hostilities as the ‘first step’ toward a cease-fire, a more formal legal construct that can involve the turning in of arms and demobilization of forces. Instead, he described the immediate goal as more akin to a truce … with humanitarian relief to begin as early as this weekend. Secretary of State John Kerry and Lavrov emphasized that the agreement is not perfect.... Lavrov said the projected date for ending at least some of his country’s airstrikes in Syria is a week from Friday.”

Castle Mountains is surrounded on three sides by Mojave National Preserve and is home to forests of Joshua tree, pinon pine and juniper.

-- In a huge win for conservationists, Obama will today designate more than 1.8 million acres of California desert for protection. He will create three national monuments to create the second-largest desert preserve in the world, Juliet Eilperin reports. President Obama has already set aside more of America’s lands and waters for conservation protection than any of his predecessors: he has unilaterally protected more than 260 million acres of America’s lands and waters under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

-- Closer to home, the first confirmed case of THE ZIKA VIRUS has been reported in MARYLAND. The state health department refused to give details about the person, other than that they had recently traveled in a country where the mosquito-transmitted illness is rampant. "Three cases of Zika, including one in a patient who is pregnant, have been reported in the District," per Julie Zauzmer and Ovetta Wiggins. "Maryland public health officials said that they anticipate more cases (and) have sent samples from 17 patients suspected to have the virus to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing." 

THE LATEST ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE IN SOUTH CAROLINA:

-- George W. Bush will campaign with Jeb in South Carolina on Monday evening at the North Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

-- Marco Rubio has finally started to go directly after Trump.

-- Cruz hit Rubio in an ads, but then he pulled it off the air when it emerged that the main actress has starred in softcore adult films:

In a telephone interview with The Post's Justin Wm. Moyer, the actress said she understood. “I didn’t want to hurt the Ted Cruz campaign,” she said. "Everyone is trying to tear down Ted Cruz.” On Twitter, she appeared more frustrated:

GET SMART FAST:

  1. The final four occupiers of the Oregon wildlife refuge surrendered, ending a 41-day armed occupation between anti-government activists and the FBI. The protestors broadcast the standoff’s final hours on YouTube to an audience of 60,000 and engaged in hours of dramatic negotiations before surrendering. (Carissa Wolf, Mark Berman and Kevin Sullivan)
  2. Brazil’s health ministry said that a 20-year-old woman infected with Zika has become the country’s third adult fatality linked to the virus. Scientists caution they’re only beginning to understand its risks to human health. (Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff)

  3. A senior North Korean military leader was reportedly executed for "factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption.” (CNN)
  4. Ohio police killed a man after he injured four people during a machete attack on a Middle Eastern restaurant in Columbus. (AP)
  5. Wellesley College appointed its first African-American president. Dr. Paula A. Johnson, a Harvard Medical School professor, is a respected advocate for women’s health. (Boston Globe)
  6. 46 Georgia prison officers were indicted for accepting bribes to aid inmates with illegal activity, exposed by an undercover FBI sting. The charges accused correctional officers of accepting payments from inmates to smuggle contraband into prisons, as well as using their law enforcement credentials to shelter drug deals outside of prison walls. (Yanan Wang)
  7. The NYPD officer who fatally shot unarmed black man Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, was convicted of manslaughter. (Mark Berman)
  8. Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine) said he will not appoint a new education commissioner, choosing to act as commissioner himself. (Bangor Daily News)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Jim Webb announced he will not run for president as an independent because he cannot raise enough money. (Rachel Weiner)

  2. Donald Trump and Univision reached a confidential settlement over litigation that he initiated after the network dropped his Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants in retaliation for his comments about Mexicans. (Politico)
  3. Rubio cracked a molar while eating a Twix bar on a flight to D.C. He visited a dentist in S.C. to get a temporary fix until he has more time. (Wall Street Journal)

  4. Joe Biden has now traveled more than 1 million miles on Air Force Two. (Medium)

  5. Al Sharpton will meet with Hillary next Tuesday in New York City, along with National Urban League President Marc Morial and NAACP President Cornell Brooks. (Politico)

  6. President Obama formally nominated John B. King, Jr. to lead the Department of Education, where he has been acting secretary since Arne Duncan left. (The Hill)
  7. Sen. Mitch McConnell is expected to call a vote today on Obama's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, despite pushback from lawmakers in both parties. (The Hill)
  8. Top Christie donor Kenneth G. Langone threw his support behind John Kasich. (New York Times)
  9. Rielle Hunter, the woman who had a daughter with John Edwards during his 2008 campaign, said the status of their on-again-off-again relationship is “over.” (Emily Heil)
  10. Martin Shkreli, the pharma bro who pleaded the Fifth before Congress last week, offered Kanye West $10 million for his new album. Under the terms of the offer, Kanye would release the album to him and him alone. (USA Today)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Clinton Foundation received subpoena from State Department investigators,” by Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman: “Investigators with the State Department issued a subpoena to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation last fall seeking documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as secretary of state. The subpoena also asked for records related to Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who for six months in 2012 was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons …The potential consequences of the IG investigation are unclear. Unlike federal prosecutors, who generally use subpoenas issued by a grand jury, inspectors general frequently subpoena documents without seeking approval from a grand jury or judge. Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), have alleged that Abedin’s role at the center of overlapping public and private Clinton worlds created the potential for conflicts of interest.”

-- In related news, a federal judge ordered the State Department to make four additional releases of Clinton's emails between Saturday and the end of February. He said "all remaining documents" released by "the close of business" on Feb. 29, which is the day before Super Tuesday. (Politico)

-- “Clinton, feminists and the politics of voting for ‘the old white guy’,” by Frances Stead Sellers: “For many female Democrats, voting for Clinton represents a more complex calculation: There’s the gender-neutral argument — that the former secretary of state, senator and first lady is the most qualified candidate to run the country. And there’s the women’s-interests argument — that Clinton is attuned to causes close to their hearts such as abortion rights and equal pay … Women don’t vote en bloc. Nor do they believe that electing a woman will necessarily advance women’s causes … Some remain troubled by the questions about whether Clinton betrayed feminist values in defending her husband’s presidency against his female accusers. Many younger voters see Clinton as having risen to power on an outdated form of feminism that emphasized getting ahead in the workplace but paid less heed to race and economic inequities … A recent poll found just 38 percent of women said getting more women elected to office is a top priority for improving women’s lives.”

Louise Lucas (D) works at her desk on the floor of the Virginia State Senate in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

-- “Black state lawmaker shares deep frustrations with her own party,” by Laura Vozzella: “The Democratic state senator who almost helped Republicans win a bitter judicial-nomination battle this week said she rebelled against Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his allies because she believes that leaders of her party have ignored black lawmakers’ concerns. Sen. L. Louise Lucas (Portsmouth) said her short-lived alliance with the GOP had little to do with who sits on the bench … Instead, she said, her move grew out of long-simmering grievances with fellow Senate Democrats, who she said have passed over black senators for key committee slots, taken their votes for granted, and left them to fend for themselves in partisan and personal battles with Republicans. “I’m getting tired of being treated like I’m invisible,’ Lucas said in an emotional interview with The Washington Post and the Vir­ginian-Pilot. “It’s always just, ‘You sit there and you be good, and just vote with us and we’ll take care of you.’ Well, I didn’t get elected to do that.’”

The collision of two black holes holes, a tremendously powerful event detected for the first time ever, is seen in this still image from a computer simulation. (Caltech/MIT/LIGO Laboratory/Handout via Reuters)

-- Cosmic breakthrough: Physicists detect gravitational waves from violent black-hole merger,” by Joel Achenbach and Rachel Feltman:  “Mapping the abundance of black holes and frequency of their mergers could get a lot easier. Scientists announced Thursday that they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space … hailed as a triumph for a controversial, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Until now, astronomy has been almost exclusively a visual enterprise … But now gravitational waves can be used as well. They could potentially take a census of black-hole mergers, spot the collisions of ultra-dense neutron stars, probe the inner dynamics of exploding stars and discover theoretical ‘cosmic strings’ left over from the big bang … [and] could improve methods for estimating the distances to other galaxies.”

-- Breanne Deppisch and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL

There were 360,000 total mentions of the two Democratic candidates during the debate. Sanders received the lion's share of the attention with 57 percent, compared to Clinton's 43 percent. Here's a look at the state-by-state breakdown of those mentions, via our analytics partners at Zignal Labs. Blue states are those where a majority of the volume was about Sanders. Red states were ones where Clinton tweets outnumbered Sanders tweets during the debate. The bluer the state, the higher the percentage of Sanders tweets. The redder the state, the greater the percentage of Clinton tweets.

The Internet also weighed in on an important Sanders-related question: How many U’s are there in the word "yuge"? In all, there were 149 mentions of the word (a Sandersian pronunciation of the word "huge") during the two-hour debate. Zignal Labs breaks down the frequency of each spelling:

  • Yuge: 115
  • Yuuge: 4
  • Yuuuge: 15
  • Yuuuuge: 12
  • Yuuuuuge: 3

The question for Sanders is whether tonight's debate performance is enough to translate the momentum of his victory in New Hampshire into a bona fide national campaign. If he can, it will be yuge.

-- Nationally, the majority of the conversation during the debate on Facebook specifically was about Bernie on their platform (57 percent to 43 percent). But, among Facebook users in South Carolina, Hillary generated more buzz: She had more unique users post about her (111,300 to 89,700) and more overall interactions. (419,300 to 334,300).

The top five issues discussed on Facebook during the debate:

  1. Wall Street
  2. Jobs
  3. Racial Issues
  4. The Affordable Care Act
  5. Education

Meanwhile, President Obama is in Los Angeles and appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show":

This baby wins for No. 1 tiny Trump fan:

A budding 14-year-old journalist had some fun with Clinton's bright yellow (chartreuse?) jacket, which drew a lot of chatter on Twitter:

The Clinton campaign's chairman accused Sanders of plagiarism:

Congressional Black Caucus member Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Sanders supporter, was not pleased after the group's PAC endorsed Clinton:

The RNC is preparing for Saturday's debate in chilly Greenville:

Republican candidates touted their crowds in South Carolina:

Clinton and Rubio traded insults on Twitter:

A Cruz supporter slammed Trump:

Trump's already thinking about 2020:

Jeb Bush turned 63:

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) tweeted photos of Iran mocking the United States to celebrate its Revolution Day:

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) vaped in the middle of a hearing to argue against a proposal banning the practice on airplanes:

Here's a video of the moment:

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) was not impressed:

Ex-Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) was spotted at the Capitol:

Here's how Dingell explained himself:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) stuck up for Beyonce after her Super Bowl halftime performance came under fire:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) snapped these photos at the Renwick Gallery:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is running for Senate. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

-- New York Times, “Alan Grayson’s Double Life: Congressman and Hedge Fund Manager,” by Eric Lipton: “This highly unusual dual role — a sitting House lawmaker running a hedge fund, which until recently had operations in the Cayman Islands — has led to an investigation of Mr. Grayson by the House Committee on Ethics. Emails show how Mr. Grayson’s work for the hedge fund at times interfered with his other duties. These activities have long concerned his campaign aides. In private emails, Mr. Grayson’s aides pleaded with him to close the hedge fund, convinced it conflicted with his image as a scold of Wall Street. Mr. Grayson said that, since returning to public office in January 2013, he had not actively solicited new outside investors to the fund and that none had joined … and [maintains] he has done nothing wrong. ‘Here is something that is not true: that I somehow traded on my membership as a U.S. congressman to get clients for this fund.’”

-- Boston Globe, “Sanders has cast only one Senate vote so far this year,” by Annie Linskey: “The hunt for voters is causing Sanders to miss a lot of votes in Washington. So far this year he has cast only a single vote on the Senate floor, missing the other 19 in January and February. That makes him the most absent senator running for president. The 2016 no-shows for Sanders on the Senate floor included Wednesday when 96 of his colleagues voted to support strengthening sanctions against North Korea. The recent spate of absenteeism coincides perfectly with spikes in his poll numbers … [and] is new for the Vermont Senator, who, as recently as this fall, was being praised for his uncanny ability to cast votes and also run for president. ‘Well, that’s kind of what I’m paid to do,’ Sanders said on MSNBC in November. ‘My job is what I’m paid to do right now…, to represent the people of Vermont in the United States Senate.’

HOT ON THE LEFT

Heidi Cruz says Ted would deliver a 'combination of the law and religion' as president. From the Daily Kos: "Heidi Cruz says her husband's campaign, and, if elected, presidency, exist 'to show this country the face of the God that we serve.' That sounds sincerely horrifying, thank you very much, and I hope I never again hear 'Ted Cruz' and 'the face of God' in the same sentence."

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Chelsea Clinton: I left the church over abortion. From Townhall: The former First Daughter said at a fundraiser for her mom that she left the Baptist church because she was not happy that she was told about abortion when she was a 6-year-old. The New York Post first reported this alleged comment: “I was raised in a Methodist church and I left the Baptist church before my dad did, because I didn’t know why they were talking to me about abortion when I was 6 in Sunday school — that’s a true story." 

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Most of the field is in South Carolina.

In Greenville, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson attend the Faith and Family Presidential Forum, hosted by the Palmetto Family Alliance and the Conservative Leadership Project.

Here's the rundown for the other South Carolina stops:

  • Clinton: Denmark (before going to Minnesota)
  • Bush: Anderson
  • Kasich: Columbia, Orangeburg, Bluffton

Sanders is in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Trump is in Tampa.

At the White House: President Obama is in Palm Springs.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The House meets at 9 a.m. to consider the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

"Secretary Clinton, you're not in the White House yet.” – Sanders, during the debate

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Yep, it is still freezing out there. The Capital Weather Gang reports: “As that next cold punch to the gut arrives, some snow showers may whip through the area this evening. Given that it’s been cold, some road problems could arise. This weekend features truly bitter cold, so count on needing that scarf, gloves, hat—even balaclava—regardless of precipitation threat or not!”

-- And SNOW is possible tonight: There’s a 50 percent chance in D.C. this evening into early overnight. “This activity may impact parts of the commute, though the main risk may be later into the evening. Anything that falls can stick, and there’s the chance of upwards of an inch or so if it maximizes potential.”

-- The private information of about 12,000 D.C. Public Schools students was accidently uploaded to a publicly accessible Dropbox website earlier this week. The information remained online for several hours but has since been taken down. (Perry Stein)

-- The number two official for the Metro system resigned. It's the first big personnel shake-up since Paul Wiedefeld took control in late November. Rob Troup, who has been Metro’s deputy general manager and top engineer, said his departure was “a mutual decision." (Paul Duggan)

-- The D.C. street car project might actually be open for business as early as Feb. 26, per a letter from the fire department to the Federal Transit Administration. District officials declined to give a precise date for the grand opening. (Michael Laris)

-- The Capitals won 4-3 against the Minnesota Wild. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- The Wizards lost 99-92 to the Milwaukee Bucks. (Jorge Castillo)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

If you missed last night's debate, here's a three-minute summary from our video team:

Sanders released an emotional ad featuring an endorsement from the daughter of Eric Garner, whose 2014 choking death on Staten Island helped propel the Black Lives Matter movement:

Meanwhile, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) -- at the CBC PAC's endorsement event for Clinton -- said he never saw Sanders during the civil rights movement. Click to watch here.

The congressman's comment led to online vitriol from Sanders supporters:

America Rising compares Sanders' finger wag to former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo's:

Bonus: Check out past C-SPAN clips of Bernie testifying on crime and guns in African-American communities in 1994 and going up against John Kasich on corporate welfare in 1995 (hat tip @HowardMortman).