THE BIG IDEA:
— On paper, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez makes lots of sense as a potential running mate for the eventual Republican nominee. She’s a Latina in a party that struggles with Hispanics and women, a former district attorney in a moment when the public yearns for security and a conservative who got reelected in a blue state last year with 56 percent of the vote.
In practice, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association has become a punch line among some GOP elites in D.C. She’s gotten a reputation within corners of the consultant class as Palinesque: gaffe-prone, not intellectually curious, and not up for the rigors of a national campaign.
Making it in Santa Fe is not the same as making it in Washington. New Mexico’s population is, after all, just 2.1 million.
— The latest setback for any future aspirations Martinez might have came yesterday when the tape of a police officer’s belt recorder was released publicly. The governor sounds intoxicated as she speaks with the cop about a noise complaint in her hotel room and a report that bottles had been thrown from the balcony. The officer then discusses what to do about her with a security guard from the Eldorado Hotel and Spa.
“Honestly, you know, I’ve only really been working here for like a month and a half,” the guard tells the cop in the exchange around 1:30 a.m. the Sunday before last. “So this actually is my first run-in with this sort of thing.… I would never expect the first time to be the governor. I really don’t know what to do in this situation because I can tell that she’s — kind of –”
“Inebriated,” the cop finishes.
“Yes,” the guard replies.
The governor’s office told local news media that snowballs, not bottles, were thrown from the room. And her office said yesterday that she only had a drink and a half. Apologizing for telling a police dispatcher not to send officers, the governor told the Albuquerque Journal last Friday that she was “absolutely not” drunk during the episode. Listen to the four-minute audio here.
— Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both sons of Cuban immigrants, are obviously in the top tier of the GOP contest. But if the nominee is looking for a Hispanic from the West to join the ticket, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval might be a safer bet, especially after this hotel episode. The former federal judge was also easily reelected last year.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Hillary asks Bernie supporters to join her once she’s the nominee. “It’s hard for me to believe that anybody who would support Senator Sanders would want to see any of the Republicans elected president of the United States,” Clinton said in Iowa last night. “I would just ask that when this nomination is wrapped up that they come and join with us to make sure that we don’t turn the White House back over to the Republicans.” After incorrectly claiming during Saturday’s debate that ISIS shows videos of Trump to lure recruits, Clinton also tweaked her line of attack to say that videos of Trump are being shown on “Arabic television” to incite jihadists. (Abby Phillip)
— Shot: Americans support barring Syrian refugees from the U.S., 51 percent to 43 percent, according to Quinnipiac polling released this morning.
Chaser: Thirteen more refugees, mostly children, drowned overnight off the coast of a Greek island while trying to sail in a makeshift boat from Turkey to Europe.
— More from this morning’s Q poll: Americans oppose Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from coming to the country by a more than 2 to 1 margin (66 percent to 27 percent). The partisan divide on the issue, however, is sharp. Democrats would accept Syrian refugees (74-22) while Republicans (82-13) and independents (51-42) would ban them. All three groups oppose barring all Muslims: Dems (79-18); Republicans (51-41) and independents (67-22). A majority (55 percent) of Americans believe domestic extremists are a bigger threat than foreign radicals, while 55 percent think Islam is a peaceful religion. Americans also support (50-42) sending ground troops to fight ISIS.
On other issues: Americans want the next president to fight climate change, 69 to 23 percent, while a narrow majority, 50 to 27 percent, oppose new gun control laws. But a large 89 to 9 percent majority back background checks for purchases at gun shows and online. (Full breakdown here.)
— On the economy, a new Pew survey shows 45 percent of Americans rate the economy as “fair,” compared to 27 percent who see it as “excellent” and 28 percent who rate it as “poor.” Americans are less optimistic about the economy next year than they were a year ago. Last December, 31 percent believed the economy would improve over the next year. Only 20 percent do right now. While 41 percent say that plenty of jobs exist in their communities, the highest level in eight years, 68 percent of those with incomes of less than $30,000 feel they’re falling behind. And 73 percent of total respondents support raising the minimum wage.
— A new CNN-ORC poll continues to show Trump dominating the GOP field: He wins Republican and GOP-leaning voters with 39 percent, with Cruz finishing a distant second with 18 percent (up two points since last month). Ben Carson and Marco Rubio lost some traction, both coming in at 10 percent. Trump smashes his competition on who can best handle the economy, illegal immigration and ISIS.
— Squeezing the vice on Vladimir Putin, the Treasury Department barred businesses from dealings with dozens more Russian companies and individuals. It’s part of ongoing U.S. sanctions against the Russian energy sector and came one day after the European Union extended sanctions against Russia for another six months over its intervention in Ukraine. Wonder what Trump thinks…. (Steven Mufson)
GET SMART FAST:
- The GDP grew by 2 percent in the third quarter, falling below experts’ estimates. (Wall Street Journal)
- NASA has indefinitely postponed the launch of its next Mars lander (called InSight) because of a leaking instrument. (Rachel Feltman)
- Iraqi forces stormed Ramadi’s city center in their latest push to recapture the city from ISIS. (Pamela Constable and Mustafa Salim)
- Britain is deploying troops to Afghanistan to help retake Helmand province from the Taliban. (Pamela Constable)
- Kentucky altered its marriage licenses to accommodate county clerks who are against same-sex marriage, one of Republican Matt Bevin’s first moves as governor. (Sandhya Somashekhar)
- The Obama administration is boasting that 8.2 million Americans signed up for insurance through HealthCare.gov, but that number includes more than 2 million people who purchased coverage last year and had it automatically renewed despite warnings that they should shop around to avoid rate hikes. (Amy Goldstein)
- Senate Republicans claimed victory after the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services committed to a probe of fetal tissue research funding. Planned Parenthood welcomed the development, though, saying it wants updated guidance. (David Weigel)
- Up to 3,200 prisoners were mistakenly set free early in Washington state since 2002 because of software-coding errors that miscalculated sentences, which the state’s corrections department knew about for three years before going public. (Seattle Times)
- Last year nearly 31,000 Americans, or 9.6 of every 100,000, died from alcohol-induced illnesses, an increase of 37 percent since 2002. That doesn’t include DUIs or homicides influenced by alcohol. If those categories were included, the number of deaths would be close to 90,000. (Christopher Ingraham)
- After a teenager convicted of gang rape was freed from prison after only three years, India’s parliament passed a law allowing prosecutors to try juveniles as adults if they are charged with violent crimes such as rape and murder. (Rama Lakshmi)
- A hacker who allegedly stole identifications and scripts from a number of celebrities was charged in federal court in New York. (New York Times)
- Three more people in Hawaii have been infected with dengue fever, bringing the total number of diagnosed cases to 170. (Hawaii News Now)
- Brazil’s attorney general said he’s investigating allegations that bribes were paid to a powerful politician to secure contracts for the building of venues for next summer’s Olympics in Rio. (AP)
- Zimbabwe will start using the Chinese yuan as its official currency. (Adam Taylor)
- Boeing will pay the FAA $12 million in fines to settle complaints its safety regulations fell short of standards. (Bloomberg)
- Ford recalled 313,000 Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis cars because their headlights can suddenly go out, a defect already blamed for 11 deaths. (USA Today)
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS
- Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.), who toppled Democrat Tom Perriello in 2010, announced his retirement, creating a possibly competitive race in the Charlottesville area. (Rachel Weiner)
- The top editor of the Las Vegas Journal-Review told staff last night he’s leaving in the wake of Sheldon Adelson taking control. The Adelson family is running a letter on the front page of today’s edition promising to be “fair, unbiased and accurate.” (CNN)
- Bowe Bergdahl was arraigned in military court at Fort Bragg and deferred his plea until next year as to whether to have a jury or a judge hear the desertion case against him. (Dan Lamothe)
- Robert Durst will return to Los Angeles by the summer to face murder charges for the death of friend Susan Berman. The case was popularized by the HBO miniseries “The Jinx.” (Los Angeles Times)
- Ten South Carolina supporters of Lindsey Graham endorsed Jeb Bush a day after the senator ended his campaign, including David Wilkins, who chaired Graham’s campaign in the Palmetto State and who served as an ambassador under W. (Charleston Post and Courier)
- The other Koch Brother — billionaire Palm Beach businessman Bill Koch, president of Oxbow Corp. and the 1992 America’s Cup yachting champ — will hold a $1,000 a head fundraiser for Rubio at his home on Jan. 10. (Palm Beach Post)
- Ted Cruz promised to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement if elected. (Katie Zezima)
- Trump’s proposed plan to cut income taxes for every level could cost the government $9.5 trillion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center. (Kelsey Snell)
- Trump will appear on Fox News during the 11 p.m. hour for a New Year’s Eve special. (Politico)
- Evangelist Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) quit the Republican Party because the omnibus funded Planned Parenthood, an organization he compares to Nazis. (David Gibson)
- Greg Brannon, the tea party-backed doctor who lost a Senate primary last year to Thom Tillis but had Rand Paul’s active support, will challenge Sen. Richard Burr in next year’s GOP primary. (The News & Observer)
- Bernie Sanders is going up on the air in Nevada today with the one-minute bio spot he’s been running in Iowa and New Hampshire. Ahead of stops in Reno and Las Vegas next week, the campaign is trying to show they’re serious about organizing for the Feb. 20 caucuses.
- Charity Navigator, one of the nation’s largest watchdog groups for charities, has removed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation from its “watch list,” lifting a cloud from the global philanthropy. (Rosalind S. Helderman)
Great deep dive –> “The quiet impact of Obama’s Christian faith,” by Greg Jaffe: “President Obama did not grow up in a religious household and became a practicing Christian as an adult. He has written more extensively about his spiritual awakening than almost any other modern president, addressing it in two books before he was elected to the White House and in more than a dozen speeches since. His faith had been central to his identity as a new kind of Democrat who would bring civility to the country’s political debates by appealing to Republicans through the shared language of their Judeo-Christian values. With just one year left in his second term, Obama now holds a different distinction: No modern president has had his faith more routinely questioned and disparaged. Recent polls show that 29 percent of Americans and nearly 45 percent of Republicans say he is a Muslim. … Throughout his political career, Obama has described his faith as one that acknowledges doubt and man’s inherently sinful nature. ‘He has a very stoic and fatalistic view of mankind,’ said Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) … For Obama, faith is a means to move from that dire reality — the world as it is — to the promise of the world as it ought to be. This idea of faith as an ennobling struggle runs through virtually all of his most ambitious speeches.”
Is Obama too concerned about collateral damage? –> “As bombing in Syria intensifies, a debate about the rules of engagement,” by Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung: “President Obama’s order to intensify air attacks in Syria has led to new internal debate over whether to loosen tight restrictions on strikes against Islamic State targets that risk civilian casualties … But so far, at least, the White House has resisted proposals to change the rules of engagement for the bombing. Each strike … is weighed against likely collateral damage and must be individually approved by top officers at the coalition operations center in Baghdad. … In Iraq, local commanders have publicly complained about U.S. reluctance to strike targets in populated areas. According to new figures released by the military Tuesday, about 56 percent of all coalition aircraft return from ‘strike missions’ without having used their weapons, either because of bad weather or a judgment that the risk of civilian casualties is too high.”
Unintended consequences of ethics rules –> “Meet the author of ‘The Revenant’ — except you can’t because of his federal job,” by Ben Terris: “When ‘The Revenant,’ the highly anticipated new film adapted from Michael Punke’s book, had its big opening in L.A. — an evening featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu — the author was nowhere to be seen. He was 10,000 miles away in Nairobi, putting the finishing touches on an international trade agreement enacting a $1.3 trillion trade deal covering GPS devices, semiconductors and touch screens. Punke, 51, may be having the literary moment of a lifetime — more than a decade after his novel was released to high praise but modest sales — but as the deputy U.S. trade representative and ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Switzerland, he’s missing out on a lot of the fun. In fact, he wasn’t even allowed to talk about ‘The Revenant’ for this article. Federal ethics rules prohibit him from doing any side work — even a little promotional campaign — that might enrich him and potentially abuse his high-ranking office in the process.”
Big investigation exposes troubling gaps –> “For 55 officers involved in fatal shootings this year, it wasn’t their first time,” by Keith Alexander, Steven Rich, Wesley Lowery, Amy Brittain and Sandhya Somashekhar: “More than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings. … For a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer, it was his fourth. The findings concerned many law enforcement experts, who said most officers never fire their weapons on the job. The analysis also exposed another gap in the federal government’s oversight of fatal police shootings nationwide: the absence of a system for tracking multiple shootings by individual officers. The 55 officers were identified as part of a Post project tracking all fatal shootings by police in the line of duty in 2015. It is the first nationwide attempt to determine whether fatal police shootings are isolated events in an officer’s career or whether some officers repeatedly fire their weapons in deadly encounters. The Post also found that another 45 officers had previously been involved in non-fatal shootings.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCHLONG-GATE:
Clinton communications director Jen Palmieri announced that the campaign wouldn’t respond. And, in so doing, responded…:
Jeb Bush complained that the comment lets Clinton portray herself as a victim. (Sean Sullivan)
Dana Milbank riffs on the latest Trump imbroglio with a column borrowing from Yiddish.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Cruz was smart to announce first. To parse the Republican race for president in this most unusual campaign year, our analytics partners at Zignal Labs broke the GOP field into two categories: Trump, and everyone else. Today, they look at the most buzzed about moments across social and traditional media in the GOP campaign of 2015. For the non-Trump GOP field, the Texas senator’s declaration of his candidacy was the most mentioned day of the campaign thus far. He was the first major candidate out of the gate. And his well-choreographed speech during the convocation at Liberty University showed he’d be a top-tier candidate.
The four other biggest moments were:
- Controversy erupts over Ben Carson’s claim that he was offered a West Point scholarship
- Carly Fiorina goes after Planned Parenthood at the debate and then jumps to second behind Trump in poll
- Rand Paul announces his candidacy in Kentucky
- Marco Rubio announces his candidacy in Miami
This chart of total mentions since February 1 shows the peaks and valleys of the GOP contest so far:
— Pictures of the day:
Jill Biden took over the White House Instagram feed to show off some of her favorite holiday decorations at the Veep’s residence. Check out the education-themed tree, and a life-size replica of Champ, the family’s German Shepard:
Some intrepid readers might recognize this Gingerbread replica of the Wilmington, Del., train station, where then-Sen. Joe Biden frequently made the 90-minute commute to and from Washington:
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama let Miss Piggy take over her Instagram feed:
And the Grinch stole Christmas in Diamondhead, Miss.:
Jeb Bush notes he made a few new friends in the Granite State:
Bernie Sanders has a moment with actor Mark Ruffalo, who is explaining his green energy jobs initiative to the senator:
Carly Fiorina has one dedicated fan in Florence County, S.C.:
And finally, Donald Trump brags about being one of Barbara Walters’s 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015:
— Tweets of the day:
Scott Walker wished ex-rival Ted Cruz, who recently sent an email to help him retire his campaign debt, a happy birthday:
And The Donald mocked Jeb Bush’s new ad campaign:
— Instagrams of the day:
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) shared his holiday card:
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) snapped this photo with Santa at Osuna Nursery:
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) took his wife, Jennifer, on “Date Night” ice skating at the New Orleans Christmas in the District:
And Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) helped raise money for the Salvation Army:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Times, “As TV ad rates soar, ‘super PACs’ pivot to core campaign work,” by Nick Corasaniti and Matt Flegenheimer: “Soaring advertising costs in early primary states are compelling major ‘super PACs’ to realign their tactics, de-emphasizing costly broadcast commercials in favor of the kind of nuts-and-bolts work that presidential candidates used to handle themselves. They are overseeing extensive field operations, data-collection programs, digital advertising, email lists, opposition research and voter registration efforts. The shift away from the broadcast television buys that had been the groups’ main role in past presidential campaigns is among the most significant developments in outside political spending since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. … It is not yet known whether field and data efforts spearheaded by outside groups will be as effective as they are in the hands of a candidate.”
— Wall Street Journal, “Sun-soaked states see populations grow, Census Bureau reports,” by Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg: “The populations of big Sunbelt states bulged this past year while pockets of the Midwest and Northeast declined, accelerating a migration shift that will help shape who captures the White House in 2016. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday, which tally state-by-state population changes in the 12 months ended July 1, show how key swing states in the 2016 election are growing. Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada all notched notable gains in population. ‘These states were already important in terms of electing the president…it just means they’re going to become more important,’ said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington. … In general, Democrats see a 2016 advantage in the fact that many of these states are gaining minorities who traditionally lean disproportionately toward Democratic candidates. But after 2020, Republicans may benefit because red states, led by Texas, are projected to gain a chunk of electoral votes during the once-a-decade reapportioning of House seats and Electoral College votes.”
— Politico, “Solar blowback hits Reid’s Nevada,” by Esther Whieldon: “Harry Reid’s home state dealt a lethal blow Tuesday to rooftop solar power — the latest skirmish of a nationwide green energy battle that has pitted the Senate Democratic leader against his favorite target, the Koch brothers. The move by Nevada’s utility regulator, which voted to slash the economic incentives for homeowners to install solar panels, was most immediately a showdown between billionaires Warren Buffett, owner of the state’s largest power company, and Elon Musk, whose SolarCity is the nation’s largest installer of panels that create electricity from the sun. But it also served as a proxy fight in a national struggle about states’ green energy programs, in which free-market groups backed by industrialists Charles and David Koch have fought to roll back incentives that they argue distort the marketplace and force some customers to subsidize other people’s power choices.”
— Roll Call, “Boehner-backed candidate bows out of race to replace him,” by Warren Rojas: “Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds’ abrupt withdrawal last week from the 16-way contest to fill the vacancy created by John Boehner’s retirement is another sign of how little conservatives think of the former speaker. Reynolds was seen as a favorite among the 14 Republicans in the race and was believed to have Boehner’s backing. But that didn’t work in Reynolds’ favor among some conservatives. ‘It is pretty clear that Boehner is behind Roger Reynolds,’ Lori Viars, a board member of the Conservative Republican Leadership Committee, told Cincinnati.com in October. And that, she hinted, might not be such a good thing. ‘While Boehner is a big fish in Butler County, a lot of conservatives who vote in primaries have not been happy with him,’ she warned.”
— BuzzFeed, “How earthquake scientists In Missouri stumbled on military blasts in Iraq,” by Dan Vergano: “Iraq is girded by a network of 10 seismic monitoring stations that were set up in 2005 following the U.S. invasion, tied to a central facility in Baghdad first erected in the 1970s. Iraqi universities — using U.S. military funding — established these seismic monitors to map small earthquakes and watch for any signs of nuclear tests next door in Iran. But a team of American scientists report that the seismic data also includes a treasure trove of blast signatures in the strife-torn region. Lead scientist Ghassan Aleqabi of Washington University in St. Louis, who helped establish the Iraq network … stumbled on the data after correlating it to news accounts of car bombs and large explosions.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Republican state rep says gun-toting citizens should “help clean our society of these scumbags” after a man shot someone at a mall in Wisconsin. From the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison: “Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law-abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scumbags,” state Rep. Bob Gannon said in a statement.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Fox Business Network says its next GOP debate could feature as few as six contenders on stage. From the Washington Examiner: “Candidates must qualify for the main debate by placing in the top six of a recent national poll or within the top five in an Iowa or New Hampshire poll, according to the network.” CNN reports that there will be an undercard debate that night.
— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Marco Rubio has a pancake breakfast in Franklin, N.H. Bernie Sanders is campaigning in Red Oak and Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the morning. Then he’s going to Chicago this afternoon to appear with Chuy Garcia and talk about criminal justice reform.
— On the Hill: Recess.
— At the White House: President Obama continues his vacation in Hawaii.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.” — Donald Trump, who owns 17 golf courses, attacking President Obama for golfing too much
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— “Occasional showers are likely today as a warm front moves through, with a few areas of moderate to heavy showers possible,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Despite early fog and overcast skies all day long, morning 50s rise into the low-to-mid 60s this afternoon with a noticeable mugginess to the air. Afternoon winds increase to around 10 mph from the southeast.” Separately, we are going to have the first full moon on Christmas since 1977, notes Martin Weil.
— ALARMING: A man was assaulted by a group of teenage hoodlums aboard a Red Line train between Union Station and NoMa-Gallaudet University during Monday’s evening rush hour, Faiz Siddiqui reports. They wanted to rob him. “Lori Kaplan (senior director of audience insights at NPR), the wife of the victim, said Tuesday that her husband, whom she did not want to identify, was ‘terribly concussed’ and suffered a broken jaw. He was undergoing X-rays and MRI exams.” Flashbacks:
- Nov. 13: “A man was stabbed Friday afternoon outside the Tenleytown-American University Metro station in upper Northwest Washington.”
- On the afternoon of July 4, 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland died after being stabbed 30 or 40 times as fellow passengers watched, just outside the NoMa-Gallaudet station.
— Also troublesome: “A handgun, radio and badge were stolen Monday afternoon from the private vehicle of a U.S. Secret Service agent who had parked near the agency’s downtown headquarters,” Peter Hermann reports. “The theft occurred about 4 p.m. in the 1000 block of G Street NW, two blocks from the Metro Center station.” CNN reports that the agent is assigned to the Presidential Protective Division.
— Virginia will no longer recognize concealed carry permits from 25 states that have reciprocity agreements with the state. (Jenna Portnoy)
— Maryland Senate Democrats will attempt to override all six of Larry Hogan’s 2015 vetoes. (Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins)
— The Redskins got a boost in the legal fight to keep their name. Citing the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled the government cannot ban offensive trademarks. (Ian Shapira)
— The Redskins’ Trent Williams was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl, and Jordan Reed and Ryan Kerrigan were chosen as alternates. (Mike Jones)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Sarah Palin turned the tables on her impersonator, spoofing Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” character Liz Lemon:
A skier almost get slammed by a drone falling from the sky during a slalom run. Watch here, via NBC Sports.
A soldier surprised his six-year-old daughter by appearing at her kindergarten assembly in Iowa. Watch the video, via the Des Moines Register.
A new pro-Marco Rubio ad portrays the senator as “one Republican presidential hopeful who has actually done something” (an implicit jab at Cruz) and the one “Hillary is afraid to run against.” The Post’s Fact Checker, assessing the commercial, gives Four Pinocchios to its central claim:
Iraqi security forces work to retake Ramadi from the Islamic State (Warning: some graphic images):
Bill Bennett interviewed Paul Ryan about the end-of-year spending bill:
Highlights from the Kennedy Center Honors:
Ending on a positive note: A man buried in a Chinese landslide was pulled from the rubble after more than 60 hours. The man, Tian Zeming, was rescued around dawn. He underwent surgery for a broken hand and on his foot, which had been wedged against a door panel. The Associated Press, citing state television, reports that he had been trying to get out of his room when the building collapsed, and the door panel created a space for him to survive.