Christie is smartly punching up, forcing his way back into the 2016 conversation. Watching Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio beat each other up, and suck up cable and talk radio oxygen, Christie yesterday put himself in the middle of it. The New Jersey governor said that Rubio and Cruz “have no experience in governing.” He also attacked Cruz for curtailing the National Security Agency’s metadata collection program. Asked whether he thought Cruz has made the country less safe on “Morning Joe,” Christie responded: “Sure he has.” Donald Trump is now criticizing Christie on the trail too, attention that is beneficial to him at this point. “How is Chris Christie running the state of NJ, which is deeply troubled, when he is spending all of his time in NH?” he tweeted on Monday. “New Jerseyans not happy!”
— What he has going against him: The second look will bring fresh scrutiny for Christie, and Christie’s underlying liabilities have not gone away.
The Newark Star-Ledger fired back at the Union Leader endorsement with a blistering editorial. Tom Moran, a member of the Star-Ledger editorial board, interviewed Grant Bosse, the Union Leader’s editorial page editor, and then faults the New Hampshire paper for caring more about showmanship than performance. “The paper has been paying close attention to Christie’s speeches in New Hampshire, and his visit to the editorial board. And that’s a dangerous game when it comes to a slick character like our governor. Take Bridgegate. The editorial made no mention of it. … How about pension reform? The board in Manchester did not know that Christie broke his core promise on that by skipping pension payments. … The editorial said he ‘dealt admirably’ with Sandy. That would come as a shock to the actual victims, 60 percent of whom say they are dissatisfied with the state’s response. … On jobs, the paper saw no reason to check Christie’s dismal record. … How about the nine credit downgrades on Christie’s watch as governor?”
The head of the New Jersey police union ripped into Christie yesterday for calling him a “pig” while campaigning in New Hampshire. From today’s Asbury Park Press: “Christie said Patrick Colligan, a 24-year veteran of the Vernon Township police force who became president of the New Jersey State PBA last year, is a ‘pension pig.’ Colligan has a salary of $121,000 and would receive a yearly $78,650 pension if he retired next year … ‘That’s what it’s always been about. It’s about feeding at the trough as much as he possibly can,’ Christie said. … The two have been sparring over pension reforms and Colligan responded by accusing Christie of falsely promoting himself as ‘a qualified lawman’’ in his campaign … ‘The sad fact is that Chris … was simply one of the biggest money-bundlers for George W. Bush before he was appointed to be U.S. attorney,’ Colligan said.”
— Christie will be in D.C. tomorrow: Christie’s 3:30 p.m. appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidate forum in the Reagan Building will be high stakes, especially because he still needs to get back in the game on fundraising. It will also give him a national platform to look tough on national security and strong on Israel. The appearance will follow a fundraising lunch with lobbyists and an evening meet-and-greet at the Capitol Hill Club.
The Fix’s Chris Cillizza gives him a two-week window to prove he belongs in the second tier: “For months and months, Christie had the stink of a loser on him. … As much as people dislike losers, they l-o-v-e a comeback story, which is the space Christie is trying to get into right now. He probably has two weeks — up to and including the next Republican debate Dec. 15 in Las Vegas — to keep and build that momentum.”
To show the boomlet is real, we need to see a poll demonstrating meaningful movement in the Granite State. And he’ll need to be back on the main stage for that next debate. Among national Republicans in a Quinnipiac poll released this morning, he is tied for seventh place with 2 percent, tied with John Kasich and Rand Paul.
— A final reality check: The Christie (and Rubio) attack on Cruz with regard to the NSA is unfair. There were NOT the votes in the Senate to extend bulk collection of metadata. Period. Cruz backed a carefully-negotiated compromise effort that went as far as the Senate was going to go in allowing government surveillance, especially with the influx of civil-liberties-minded Republicans from western states after the midterm elections. The initial USA Freedom Act failed during last year’s lame-duck session, and negotiators had to go back to the drawing board once the GOP assumed the majority. The purists on both sides—Rubio for a surveillance state and Rand Paul for privacy—would have allowed a lot more government power to lapse if they had succeeded in obstructing the compromise.
Nonetheless, the rhetoric is politically potent with fear running so high in the wake of the Paris attacks. And, because of Cruz’s brand, it’s harder for him to talk Senate procedure or explain that a compromise was better than nothing at all.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— MARCO RUBIO IS SURGING NATIONALLY. The Floridian has leapfrogged Ben Carson into second place nationally with Republican voters, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University released this morning. Donald Trump is still leading the pack with 27 percent of GOP voters’ support, compared to 17 percent for Rubio. Carson and Cruz are each pulling 16 percent, while Jeb Bush nabs just 5 percent. It’s a precipitous fall for Carson — he scored 23 percent in last month’s survey. Trump scores the highest among GOP voters who care most about the economy, terrorism and foreign policy. But with Iowa fast-approaching, the contest isn’t yet solidified. Two-thirds of Republican and Republican-leaners say they might change their minds. Trump also tops the field when GOP voters are asked about who they “definitely” will not support: The Donald gets 26 percent on that question, followed by 21 percent for Jeb.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s lead is growing in the Democratic race. She now outpaces Bernie Sanders among Democrats and Democrat-leaners, 60 to 30 percent, compared to 53 to 35 percent a month ago. Nonetheless, Hillary is still battling high personal negatives (51 percent unfavorable to 41 percent favorable), with Sanders scoring nearly the reverse (44 fav/31 unfav). Sixty percent of voters say Hillary isn’t honest and trustworthy, compared to 28 percent for Sanders. But both Clinton and Bernie do well in head-to-head matchups with Republicans: Clinton beats Trump by six points in a general election compared to an 8-point lead for Sanders. Both beat Rubio by one percentage point.
— The Supreme Court handed the Obama administration a procedural but important victory in its efforts to get the justices to rule this term on President Obama’s plan to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Jerry Markon reports the court rejected a request from Texas and other states for a 30-day extension to file legal briefs: “If granted, the extension would have made it very unlikely that the court could hear the case during its current term. Instead, the justices accepted the Justice Department’s request for a shortened eight-day extension, meaning that if the court decides to take the case, a decision would probably come by late June. A victory for the government would allow it to start enrolling immigrants in the program before the president leaves office in January 2017 — an outcome the administration has been seeking with heightened urgency … The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit last month upheld the injunction preventing the deferred-action program from taking effect, prompting the administration to seek Supreme Court review.”
— An Alaska medical examiner is doing an autopsy on the body of the Juneau mayor after he was found dead. “I cannot say if it was foul play or if it was not. I need to get cause of death first,” Bryce Johnson, Juneau’s police chief. The Alaska Daily News adds: “Fisk, 70, was found in his downtown home Monday afternoon by his son … after he had missed appointments that morning. Fisk was divorced and lived alone. Johnson said it is not obvious what caused Fisk’s death, but there is no evidence of suicide. There were injuries that may have come from a fall or assault, and the autopsy might determine which is more likely.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual fired his police chief over the botched response to an officer’s shooting of an African-American teenager, as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Justice Department to investigate if there were civil rights violations in the cops’ handling of the case. (Mark Berman and Mark Guarino)
- A conference committee finalized the $300 billion highway bill. The final version increases spending on roads by billions of dollars annually through 2020, protects funding for transit, increases money for pedestrian and bicycle programs, and includes $200 million to hurry installation of a railroad safety feature known as positive train control. Frustrating conservatives, it also reverses cuts to crop insurance. (Ashley Halsey III)
- The House approved two resolutions of disapproval related to the EPA’s new regulations on coal-fired power plants. The Senate passed the same measures last month. (Karoun Demirjian)
- As he left Paris, Obama expressed confidence that a climate deal can be reached in the next 10 days. (Steven Mufson)
- Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposed a bipartisan bill that would require travelers using visa waivers to get their fingerprints taken and provide photos before entering the U.S. They would also make people who have been to Iraq or Syria in the last five years get a traditional visa. (McClatchy)
- Flake also pressed Mitch McConnell to allow a Senate vote this month to approve Roberta Jacobson as the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico. It’s a rebuke of Rubio, who put a hold on the nomination because of Jacobson’s work to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Politico)
- Mental health moved up the agenda. Speaker Paul Ryan gave important backing to legislation that would empower a new HHS assistant secretary to oversee substance abuse and mental health programs. (Mike DeBonis)
- Ten percent of nonprofits with at least 1,000 employees requested an “accommodation” to opt out of Obamacare’s birth control requirement after the Supreme Court allowed them to. (Lena H. Sun)
- A man who has spent 13 years at Guantánamo was arrested in a case of mistaken identity, with the U.S. government acknowledging that Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was a “low-level Islamist foot soldier and not an al-Qaida courier and trainer as previously thought,” the Guardian reports.
- Puerto Rico scrounged up $355 million to make a debt payment that lets the island avoid defaulting, at least for now. (Wall Street Journal)
- The University of Kentucky covered a mural on its campus that depicts slaves working on a plantation. (James Higdon and Nick Anderson)
- AT&T will increase its unlimited data plans by $5 monthly, the first time it has hiked its rate for the plan in seven years. (Brian Fung)
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Mark Zuckerberg and his wife will eventually donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares — roughly $45 billion worth — to charities that “advance human potential” and “promote equality.” It’s one of the largest-ever philanthropic commitments. (Read The Post’s A1 story; Read the Zuckerbergs’ announcement, written as an open letter to their daughter.)
- Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, whose campaign for Senate in Florida has floundered, lost his campaign manager, deputy campaign manager and senior adviser in a major shakeup. The DSCC prefers Rep. Patrick Murphy in the primary to succeed Marco Rubio. (Politico)
- Trump acknowledged feeling “guilty” about getting out of the draft in the Vietnam War. (Reuters)
- Jeb said he is not sure whether he would have attended the Paris climate talks as president because proposed changes to environmental policy could deter economic growth. (Ed O’Keefe)
- Ben Carson called the Syrian refugee camps he visited in Jordan “really quite nice,” a comment that drew ridicule from NGOs. (NBC)
- Chelsea Clinton will co-host a holiday-themed fundraiser for her mom on Dec. 17, the first time she has done so. (Politico)
- Republican Sen. Joni Ernst retired from the Iowa Army National Guard, ending a 23-year career that included a 2003 deployment to Iraq. (Des Moines Register)
- Roxane Gilmore, the former first lady of Virginia, criticized current first lady Dorothy McAuliffe’s plan to install a $250,000 ramp at the governor’s mansion for handicapped accessibility, blaming the McAuliffes for allowing the current entrance to deteriorate. (Laura Vozzella)
- Conservative pundit Mary Katharine Ham gave birth to a little girl she named in honor of husband, White House technology adviser Jake Brewer, who was killed three months ago when he was struck by a car during a charity bike race. (Jessica Contrera)
- Steve Forbes is coming out with a new book next week to tout the flat tax. The two-time presidential candidate has met recently with Cruz, Christie and Rand. (Washington Examiner)
- A Turkish court appointed a five-person expert panel to determine if an Internet meme depicting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Gollum from “Lord of the Rings” is offensive after a doctor was fired for posting the image to Facebook. With Russia’s new sanctions, you’d think they have bigger fish to fry… (Sarah Kaplan)
— “New Iraq task force expands direct U.S. role in battle against Islamic State,” by Missy Ryan: “The decision to post a specialized military unit of about 200 service members in Iraq marks an important shift in U.S. operations in Iraq, where up to now U.S. troops have been limited largely to advising local forces rather than launching independent operations. The elite U.S. personnel will be conducting raids against the Islamic State, exposing them to additional risks on the ground. … Several U.S. officials … said the new force was expected to be stationed near Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. Officials said the team may include at least 200 Special Operations forces, known as ‘operators,’ as well as support troops. The support troops will focus on intelligence, planning, and the operation and maintenance of aircraft, vehicles and other equipment.”
— “Iraqis think the U.S. is in cahoots with the Islamic State, and it is hurting the war,” by Liz Sly: “On the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State, suspicion of the United States runs deep. Iraqi fighters say they have all seen the videos purportedly showing U.S. helicopters airdropping weapons to the militants, and many claim they have friends and relatives who have witnessed similar instances of collusion. Ordinary people also have seen the videos, heard the stories and reached the same conclusion — one that might seem absurd to Americans but is widely believed among Iraqis — that the United States is supporting the Islamic State for a variety of pernicious reasons that have to do with asserting U.S. control over Iraq, the wider Middle East and, perhaps, its oil. …’It is not in doubt,’ said Mustafa Saadi, who says his friend saw U.S. helicopters delivering bottled water to Islamic State positions The Islamic State is ‘almost finished,’ he said. ‘They are weak. If only America would stop supporting them, we could defeat them in days.”
— “A grim bargain,” by Chico Harlan: “In wide swaths of the Deep South, public schools struggle, turning out workers who lack basic skills. Agricultural work has long faded, while job opportunities in once-prosperous industries such as textiles and timber have been lost to cheaper options in Latin America or automation at home. Politicians say they must give freebies to lure companies here, or offer nothing at all and watch the region — which already lags behind the rest of the country on most measures of well-being — fall even further behind. But in some cases, when opportunity arrives, it highlights a grim bargain: Jobs come at great cost but offer only a slightly better version of a hard life. The region’s weaknesses — a low-skill workforce that doesn’t expect particularly high wages — become its competitive strengths.”
— “Five things you should understand about the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill,” by Kelsey Snell: Since Republicans recaptured the majority in 2014, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised he would use reconciliation to give Republicans their say on Obamacare and force a veto fight. As the debate begins, here are five realities: 1. Nobody expects this bill to become law. 2. The bill can pass with just 51 votes. 3. Senators will debate for 20 hours before any amendment votes begin. 4. Senators can offer an unlimited number of amendments. 5. Congress doesn’t have enough votes to override Obama’s veto.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ, curated by Elise Viebeck:
— According to Yahoo, these were the top 10 most-searched-for presidential hopefuls on their site during the first 11 months of 2015:
- Carly Fiorina
- Bernie Sanders
- Hillary Clinton
- Ben Carson
- Donald Trump
- Jeb Bush
- Lindsey Graham
- Scott Walker
- Chris Christie
- Ted Cruz
–Pictures of the day:
Lawmakers celebrated the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala.:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a special logo in honor of the occasion:
C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman noted that we’ve seen Paul Ryan with a beard before. This was 10 years ago:
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) warned that “winter is coming” to her state:
–Tweets of the day:
Donald Trump continued to defend his comments that Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11:
Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and his wife, Amy, introduced their new daughter, Nell Elizabeth Kennedy:
Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) met with singer, actress and TV show host Dionne Warwick, who is now a U.S. Ambassador of Health:
California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham’s French bulldog, Lily, celebrated her ability to ride on Amtrak trains, along with other pets:
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) joked about being followed on Twitter by someone with the user name “Your Mom”:
–Instagrams of the day:
Jim Craig, the goaltender for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, visited Capitol Hill to advocate for the disabled:
Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) settled their World Series bet:
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) showed off his Christmas socks:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Times, “Wary of Donald Trump, GOP leaders are caught in a standoff” by Jonathan Martin: “Many leading Republican officials, strategists and donors now say they fear that Trump’s nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains Republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections. But in a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus — and with the combative Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on — a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try. Some of the highest-ranking Republicans in Congress and some of the party’s wealthiest and most generous donors have balked at trying to take down Mr. Trump because they fear a public feud with the insult-spewing media figure. Others warn that doing so might backfire at a time of soaring anger toward political insiders.”
PALPABLE WORRIES FROM SENATE STRATEGISTS: ‘If [Trump] carries this message into the general election in Ohio, we’ll hand this election to Hillary Clinton — and then try to salvage the rest of the ticket,’ said Matt Borges, chairman of the Republican Party there, where Senator Rob Portman is facing a competitive re-election. Pat Brady, the former state Republican chairman in Illinois, where Senator Mark S. Kirk is also locked in a difficult campaign, was even more direct. ‘If he’s our nominee, the repercussions of that in this state would be devastating,’ Mr. Brady said … ‘Senator Portman is a great example I like to use when talking about this,” said Brian Walsh, a Senate campaign veteran. “He’s very well prepared, has tons of cash in the bank, and he got his campaign organized and up and running early. But if we nominate a bad presidential candidate like Trump, senators like Portman or Kelly Ayotte aren’t going to be able to outrun Hillary by that much. And there goes the Senate.'”
–New York Times, “ISIS followers in U.S. are diverse and young,” by Eric Schmitt: “American authorities this year have arrested nearly five dozen people in the United States for helping to support or plot with the Islamic State, according to a new study, the largest number of terrorism-related arrests in the country in a single year since September 2001. …A demographic snapshot of the 71 individuals arrested on charges related to the Islamic State since March 2014, including 56 this year, emerged from a comprehensive review of social media accounts and legal documents of nearly 400 American sympathizers of the Islamic State conducted by researchers at George Washington University. …The people in the George Washington University study ranged from a 15-year-old boy to Tairod Pugh, a former Air Force officer who was 47 at the time of his arrest. The average age of the American supporter of the Islamic State was 26, the report found … According to the study, about 14 percent of those arrested were women, and the vast majority were American citizens or permanent residents, emphasizing the threat the authorities are combating from homegrown recruits, compared with foreigners infiltrating the country.”
— Wall Street Journal, “White House rejects Pentagon plan to close Guantanamo as too costly,” by Carol E. Lee and Gordon Lubold: “The Pentagon’s latest cost estimate for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and building an alternative in the U.S. topped a half billion dollars, prompting the White House to reject it and send the plan back for revisions, according to administration officials. … The annual cost of operating the Guantanamo detention facility now is about $400 million. Under the Pentagon plans, operating a U.S.-based facility would run something less than $300 million, after the one-time costs, a defense official said. The estimated costs prompted Mr. Obama to reject the plan during a meeting with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month, and to send it back to the Pentagon, U.S. officials said.”
— Politico, “Bush readies his last stand in New Hampshire,” by Eli Stokols: “Stuck in the middle of the GOP pack he was expected to dominate, Bush is accelerating the time frame for his campaign’s next ad buy in the state. His campaign also announced Tuesday that it is opening four regional field offices in New Hampshire and upping its on-the-ground staff from 12 people to 20. hat concentration of resources comes after his Right to Rise super PAC has already spent $12 million on TV ads and blanketed New Hampshire with four direct mail pieces. Bush himself has made 60 campaign appearances. …Bush, whose campaign just completed a month-long run of ads in the state, hadn’t planned to go back on the air until January. But in a sign of the urgency of his predicament, the campaign announced it has reserved three weeks of airtime starting this week, in the hopes of securing a top three finish on Feb. 9.”
–– The Nation, “This is Bernie Sanders’s immigration plan,” by Julianne Hing: “He has pledged to extend Obama’s deferred action to all those who’ve been in the United States for five years and who are eligible for relief under the comprehensive immigration reform bill the Senate passed in 2013 (which died in the House). Such a move would benefit 9 million of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Sanders also called out the much-criticized programs that enlist local law-enforcement agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration policy, and called for their end. He supports a law that would protect immigrant workers who report labor abuses and violations, and a policy that would curb detention of undocumented immigrants who are awaiting processing or deportation.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Congressional candidate wants to execute some repeat border crossers. From the Huffington Post: “Iowa state Sen. Mark Chelgren (R) has a message for any immigrant felons who re-enter the U.S. illegally: You should be executed. Chelgren made made the suggestion in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Journal Express, on Monday while announcing his bid for Congress. He said he supports execution if an undocumented immigrant commits a felony in the U.S., gets deported, and then breaks immigration law a second time.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Black Friday breaks gun background check record. From USA Today: “More Americans had their backgrounds checked purchasing guns on Black Friday than any day in the on record, according to data released by the FBI this week. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,345 requests on Nov. 27, one of the largest retail sales days in the country … Previous spikes for background checks, conducted before a gun buyer can obtain a firearm, occurred after prominent mass shootings, like in December 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.”
— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton speaks about her economic plans in Orlando. Donald Trump rallies supporters in Manassas, Va. Ben Carson holds town halls in Sun City, Rock Hill and Spartanburg, S.C. Mike Huckabee greets voters in Denison and Onawa, Iowa. Jeb Bush ends the day in Portsmouth, N.H.
— At the White House: Obama and Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing at 11:45 a.m. and then lunch privately at 12:30 — the same time that Josh Earnest briefs the press. POTUS, probably still recovering from jet lag, otherwise has no public events.
— On the Hill: The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of the reconciliation bill. The House meets at 10 a.m.
— Tomorrow: Paul Ryan will deliver a “major address” at the Library of Congress to lay out what he sees as the country’s biggest challenges.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Ben Carson does not believe in hell: “I don’t believe there is a physical place where people go and are tormented. No. I don’t believe that,” he tells Sally Quinn in a fascinating interview about his faith.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— Another gross day out, but the good news is that the weekend should be nice! “Our dismal start to December continues with more rain today, which could be moderate at times,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “But there is a light — a very bright one, actually — at the end a of this damp and dreary tunnel. The first glimmer is a partly to mostly sunny, albeit cool and breezy Thursday. Mostly sunny skies and light winds then take full control Friday and through the weekend, with highs near to above average.”
— The Wizards beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-85 to snap their four-game skid. (Jorge Castillo)
— Most video footage filmed by D.C. police body cameras will be available to the public after the city council rejected an effort to keep it private. (Abigail Hauslohner)
— A Baltimore judge is expected to seat a jury today in the trial of an officer accused in the death of Freddie Gray. (Rachel Weiner and Justin Jouvenal)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Hillary Clinton’s team released a video that features young girls reading letters about why they support her campaign to break the ultimate glass ceiling:
Martin O’Malley rapped during a sit-down with students from the University of Texas at Austin:
BuzzFeed runs down the 15 reasons why December is the best month:
Watch an A320 bail on landing at the last minute because of high winds here.