Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush campaign together in Tampa on Oct. 31, 2012. (Reuters/Brian Snyder/File)

THE BIG IDEA:

Mitt Romney says concern about Jeb Bush’s electability was a major reason he seriously considered running for president a year ago.

“A Bush-versus-Clinton head-to-head would be too easy for the Democrats,” he told my colleagues Dan Balz and Philip Rucker during an interview last week in Boston for a broader story about the political events of 2015.

The 2012 GOP nominee recalled thinking, “I like Jeb a lot, I think he’d be a great president, but felt he was unfairly but severely burdened by the W. years — and when I say the W. years, it’s not only what happened to the economy, but the tragedy in Iraq.”

Mitt says he expressed this point to Bush’s face during a private sit-down in Utah last Jan. 22. “Jeb, to be very honest, I think it’s very hard for you to post up against Hillary Clinton and to separate yourself from the difficulty of the W. years and compare them with the Clinton years,” Romney recalls telling the former Florida governor when they met at his house in a Salt Lake City suburb. Romney says Bush responded by saying “he was going to make his campaign about the future, not about the past.”

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“I didn’t say anything at that point,” Romney recalled. “But as he left, I said to myself, ‘Gosh, in my opinion, it’s not going to be as easy to make that separation as I think he gives the impression it will be.’ One of the few things I predicted that turned out to be true.”

Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio on Romney’s campaign plane during a swing around Florida in October 2012. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The former Massachusetts governor says he felt as well positioned as anyone to secure the 2016 Republican nomination, but he worried about higher Democratic turnout and Clinton’s barrier-breaking status as possibly the first woman president.

Romney says he’s still getting lots of encouragement to run — but won’t do it. “Every day I get a call or letters,” he told Dan and Phil last week, sitting in the offices of Solamere Capital, the private equity firm run by his eldest son Tagg. “I go to church, I get harangued at church. ‘Oh, you’ve got to run!’ Look, I had one person who was running for president, and I won’t give you the name … called me and said, ‘I hope you don’t close the door. We may need you.’ That’s a person running for president! A candidate. A Republican. I’m not giving it a second thought.”

Mike Murphy snaps a selfie of himself and John McCain in August 2004 during a walk-through before the start of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden. In January 2006, Mitt Romney ended his formal relationship with Murphy after the consultant expressed ambivalence about working on his campaign with McCain in the race. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

— Romney blames Mike Murphy, one of his former advisers who is now running Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC, for some of the negative commentary he faced while publicly mulling a third bid. “I recognized the hand of my good friend, Mike Murphy, [who] in my view was fanning the flames of, ‘No, he’s the disaster. It would be terrible. Only Jeb!’ I must admit that had the opposite effect [of what] he might have intended, which is just like, ‘I’ll show them.’” Murphy, the Bush adviser, says this was “absolutely not true” and fires back: “I think the doubts were more organic than he believes.”

Romney’s comments about Bush are damaging because he retains sway and influence with the very donors and voters Bush needs to revive his campaign. Bush is competing against Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and John Kasich for 2012 Romney voters in New Hampshire, and Romney’s critique goes squarely toward undermining a central rationale for his candidacy. Bush, through a spokesman, declined repeated requests to be interviewed for the story. Ten of the candidates spoke on the record.

— Six more interesting quotes from the piece on the bizarre and tumultuous year that was 2015, co-authored by Robert Costa and Matea Gold:

Jeb senior adviser Sally Bradshaw, on how the Bush team saw the race at the start of 2015: “We assumed there would be an establishment candidate or several and an anger candidate. Our assumption was that [the anger candidate] would be Ted Cruz. No one anticipated a Trump candidacy at that point.”

Trump: “When I made this speech about illegal immigration, I had no idea what it was going to become…. I had no idea it was going to resonate in the way it has.”

RNC chair Reince Priebus: “I’m not one of these people that think that Donald Trump can’t win a general election. I actually think there is a huge crossover appeal there to people that are disengaged politically that he speaks to.… Trump taps into the culture. Some people in politics don’t get it, don’t understand it, are frustrated by it. It doesn’t matter. He does.”

John Kasich: “If I said one of the things [Trump] has said about Hispanics, Muslims or women, I’d have to go into a witness protection program.”

Rick Perry thought the race would come down to him and Jeb. He described them as “two of the most successful GOP governors maybe in the history of the country.” “The electorate is really disgusted with Washington and the bullet goes through Washington and hits anybody that’s got any experience. They just lump us all into one.”

Rick Santorum says Trump “may have understood the game better than any of us.” The 2012 runner-up said his suffocating presence has slowed the normal rhythms of the campaign, in which candidates rise, are exposed to scrutiny and either prosper or lose altitude. “It’s more incremental,” he said. “They’re not getting the attention that leads to a higher spike and leads to a faster decline. Trump has been a depressant factor on this rise and fall, and it’s stretched it out.” (Read the whole story.)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Donald Trump in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Saturday (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

— Traditional candidates typically use their first commercial to introduce themselves to voters, going heavy on biography. Not Donald Trump. His first ad fully embraces the most incendiary of his proposals. It notes that he’s called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. “He’ll quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil,” the narrator says over an ominous montage. “And he’ll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.”

  • In an interview Sunday with The Post, which got a first look at the spot, Trump said that he has six to eight ads in production and that his was a “major buy and it’s going to go on for months.”
  • This one will run in Iowa and New Hampshire. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said other ads will go up soon in Nevada and South Carolina.
  • “Trump said he concluded that he may end up regretting not spending more of his own money to secure the nomination,” Robert Costa and Phil Rucker report. “He said he recalled thinking, ‘I’m $35 million to $40 million under budget, and to be honest, I don’t think I need [ads] because I have such a big lead. But I don’t want to take any chances, and I almost feel guilty not spending money.’”
  • Trump also said his TV spots will intersperse rally footage with images designed to draw viewers to focus on the issues of his campaign, rather than showing him speaking directly to the camera. As a producer on “The Apprentice,” he said he came to see straight-to-camera ads featuring candidates as boring and manufactured. Watch the ad and read the story here.

— Jeb Bush’s new spot in New Hampshire is built around a clip of his recent speech at The Citadel, in which he promised “to take out ISIS with overwhelming force.” Over ominous images of terrorists and newspaper headlines, the governor says: “Serious times require serious leadership.” Projecting resolve, Bush says “we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism” and “we have but one choice: to defeat it.” Bush kicks off a three-day New Hampshire swing tomorrow. Watch here.

— Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s first TV ad, which will begin running in New Hampshire tomorrow, is heavy on biography. “John Kasich never gives up,” a narrator says. “The spot opens with moody shots of McKees Rocks, Pa., where Kasich grew up, and black-and-white family photographs,” Rucker notes. “In a gravelly voice, a male narrator says: ‘He lived a hard-scrabble life in a rusty steel town. John Kasich never gives up. When he lost his parents to a drunk driver, he had the faith to carry on.’” Watch here.

— Speaking of straight to camera: Ted Cruz presents himself as principled and trustworthy in a new ad going up today in Iowa. “Barack Obama sticks by his principles. It’s time for Republicans to stand by ours. That’s how we win. And that’s how I’ll lead,” he says. “As president, I won’t compromise the values that make us who we are.” Watch here.

— Sneak peek at Rubio’s national security speech in Hooksett, N.H.: “On one side of this race we have, of all people, Obama’s former secretary of state…. On the other side of this election is the party of Reagan, the party of strong national defense and moral clarity. Yet we have Republican candidates who propose that rulers like Assad and Putin should be partners of the United States, and who have voted with Barack Obama and Harry Reid rather than with our men and women in uniform. We have isolationist candidates who are apparently more passionate about weakening our military and intelligence capabilities than about destroying our enemies.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. A new ISIS video purports to show the death of five British citizens at the hands of a man speaking English with a British accent. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
  2. Chinese trading was halted early after stocks plummeted, with the Shanghai Index dropping 6.9 percent while the Shenzhen Composite fell 8.2 percent. Oil prices are rebounding. (Wall Street Journal)
  3. The U.S. military shut down its drone base in Ethiopia, which has been operational since 2011, saying it is no longer necessary. (AP)
  4. Seven troops have been killed in the last three days by militants who attacked an air force base in India. The military is still fighting the attackers for control of the compound. (Rama Lakshmi)
  5. At least six were killed and 100 injured when a 6.4 earthquake hit northwest India overnight. (AP)
  6. Half of all Americans say they feel angrier today than a year ago in a survey conducted by NBC, Esquire and Survey Monkey. Among the groups polled, whites and Republicans are the angriest of all. (Yanan Wang)
  7. Three gang members were arrested in connection with the murder of a mayor in Mexico just a day after she was inaugurated. (AP)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. A New Hampshire state representative, Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, heckled Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop over Bill Clinton’s history of infidelity. (Abby Phillip)
  2. Bernie Sanders said Saturday that he raised $33 million for his primary campaign in the final quarter of 2015, just shy of the $37 million that Clinton reported a day earlier. Hillary raised $55 million overall when $18 million earmarked for the DNC in the general election is included. (John Wagner)
  3. Chris Christie was traveling outside New Jersey for 261 days in 2015, or 72 percent of the time. Recall that he ripped into Rubio last week for missing Senate votes. (Wall Street Journal
  4. Ovide Lamontagne, a perennial candidate in New Hampshire (who always loses), is now chairing Carly Fiorina’s effort in the Granite State. (Union Leader)
  5. Chief Justice John Roberts implored lawyers to work together and judges to take a more hands-on role to improve a federal litigation system that has grown “too expensive, time-consuming, and contentious.” (Robert Barnes)
  6. Larry Kudlow continues to say that he’s very serious about challenging Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. (The Hill)

SUNDAY SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

  1. Ben Carson said on ABC’s “This Week” that his campaign shake-up was necessary to arrest his poll decline. Three of Carson’s senior staffers, including his campaign manager, quit after an internal power struggle with the retired neurosurgeon’s longtime business manager. Carson’s new manager, retired Maj. Gen. Robert Dees, has never worked for a campaign before. Carson said more “substantial changes” in the future are possible but indicated that his business manager, Armstrong Williams, will stay by his side despite making “some bad judgments.” (Amber Phillips)
  2. Ex-manager Barry Bennett, meanwhile, unloaded to Time Magazine. Asked why Williams has such influence on Carson, he said: “I don’t know. I think they need some psychologists to figure that out.”
  3. Donald Trump brushed off a question about al-Shabab using clips of him in a recruitment video. “What am I gonna do?” he asked John Dickerson. “I have to say what I have to say.” He said radical groups have “used other people, too.” (CBS News; David Weigel)
  4. Trump said he would not rule out spying on Israel or any other country. (CBS)
  5. Bernie Sanders said Trump should focus on accepting climate change and improving worker wages rather than Bill Clinton’s infidelities. (CNN)
  6. Carly Fiorina said on CNN that attacking Bill won’t hurt Hillary, and the only way to defeat her is to focus on her record. (CNN)
  7. Rand Paul said he hasn’t been on the campaign trail much since mid-December in part because he has been performing pro-bono surgeries. (NBC News)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

Ryan Bundy talks on the phone yesterday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore. Bundy is one of the protesters occupying the refuge to object to a prison sentence for local ranchers for burning federal land. (AP Photo/Rebecca Boone)

— “Armed activists in Oregon touch off unpredictable chapter in land-use feud,” by Wesley Lowery, Peter Holley and Carissa Wolf in Burns: “An unpredictable new chapter in the wars over federal land use in the West unfolded Sunday after a group of armed activists split off from an earlier protest march and occupied a national wildlife refuge in remote southeastern Oregon. The [dozen or so] activists, led by rancher Ammon Bundy [Cliven’s son], set themselves up in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, defying the organizers of a rally and march held Saturday in support of two local ranchers set to report to federal prison Monday to serve a sentence for arson. Some of the occupiers said they planned to stay indefinitely. Harney County Sheriff David Ward said authorities from several law enforcement organizations were monitoring the situation…. Amanda Peacher, a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting, reported that the men had entered a building at the refuge that was unstaffed over the weekend.”

— Republican candidates staying mum about the standoff for now: “Some of the issues involved — constitutional rights, allegations of federal government overreach and individual liberties — have come to the fore in the GOP primary race. And as Western states are poised to play a larger role in the contest, so has the issue of property rights in a region where the federal government controls about half of the land,” Katie Zezima and David Weigel report. “But few candidates seemed willing to wade into any of these issues Sunday.” The only camp that went on the record was John Kasich’s … to decry it. “I know a good federal compound for Bundy and his gang: a U.S. penitentiary,” tweeted senior strategist John Weaver.

Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Nimr was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in Saudi Arabia’s east, an oil-rich region where the Shiite minority of an estimated two million people complains of marginalisation. (Mohammad Reza Nadimi/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest on the rupture between Iran and Saudi Arabia, from Liz Sly in BeirutAs the Saudis told the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh that he has 48 hours to leave the kingdom, Iran’s supreme leader warned that there will be “divine vengeance” for Saudi rulers after they executed 47 people, including political dissidents.

Why it matters –> U.S. fears tensions could affect fight against ISIS,” by Karen DeYoung: “Obama administration officials expressed deep concern Sunday that the abrupt escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran could have repercussions extending to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s civil war, and wider efforts to bring stability to the Middle East. Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it was severing diplomatic ties with Tehran after mobs stormed the Saudi Embassy there late Saturday, the administration called on both sides to take a step back. ‘We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences,’ State Department spokesman John Kirby said Sunday. ‘We will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions.’ But the public call for calm papered over long-simmering disagreements over Iran and other matters between the United States and Saudi Arabi…. Administration officials were privately critical of the Saudis for provoking the weekend’s upheaval with the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.”

“Clearly this raises serious questions that we have to raise directly with the Saudi government,” Clinton said at a New Hampshire town hall, when asked how she would handle the situation as president. “We have governments we work with on a number of issues whose policies and values are antithetical to ours, to be just blunt about it.”

— “What Benghazi family members say Hillary Clinton said about the video,” by Glenn Kessler: The Fact Checker reviewed Clinton’s recent statements in which she directly denied telling members of the families of those killed in the Benghazi attacks that the culprit was a videomaker (Clinton and the relatives had private conversations when their relatives’ remains were returned at Andrews Air Force Base in September 2012). The conclusion? No rating because, as Kessler put it: “Clearly we cannot come to a resolution that would be beyond dispute.” Here’s the evidence: “The surviving family members basically fall into three camps: Clinton talked about the video; Clinton said something odd; Clinton never mentioned the video. By contrast, in interviews, family members generally are consistent about other administration officials.” BUT: “None of the other family members who agreed to be interviewed said Clinton made any reference to a video.”

— A British exit could be just the start of Europe’s unraveling in 2016,” by Griff Witte: “Britain is likely to throw fresh instability into the mix with a referendum on whether to leave the European Union. Once judged an unlikely prospect, many observers now see a 50/50 chance that populist-minded, immigration-fearing British voters will elect to cut this island nation adrift from a continent beset by existential struggles. If they do, it would mark the first time in the E.U.’s history that a country has chosen to withdraw…. A British exit could hasten a broader E.U. breakup, with continental leaders despairing that an already strained union may struggle to survive without one of its cornerstone members.”

OBAMA’S NEW EXECUTIVE ACTIONS ON GUNS: 

Obama arrives back in D.C. yesterday after his two-week vacation in Hawaii. (Pool)

What POTUS will order: “One of the main proposals Obama is poised to adopt would require some unlicensed gun dealers to get licenses and conduct background checks on potential buyers. The change is aimed at occasional dealers, including some who sell online frequently or rent tables at gun shows but do not have a storefront.”

How it’s playing: 

  • Obama will sell his move during a town hall at George Mason University on Thursday afternoon. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will host. (Juliet Eilperin)
  • Rubio promised to undo the orders on his first day in office. “He is obsessed with gun control,” Rubio said in Raymond, N.H. “I believe that every single American has a Constitution — and therefore God-given right — to defend themselves and their families.”
  • The NRA used the announcement to launch a new membership drive. (Washington Examiner)
  • Gun control groups have found success by shifting their focus from the federal government to state and local governments. “The organization Everytown for Gun Safety — which received $36 million in contributions last year, with the biggest chunk coming from Michael Bloomberg — has eclipsed a number of older gun control groups in publicity and influence,” Eric Lichtblau writes in the New York Times. “Mr. Bloomberg has pledged to spend at least $50 million of his own money in the group’s push for tougher gun restrictions.”

Listen to President Obama’s weekly address, which focused on guns:

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Four days into the new year, Trump still dominates the conversation. Half of all media mentions related to 2016 have focused on The Donald. The most mentioned story so far is about Trump being used in a terrorist recruitment video. Meanwhile, Sanders generated buzz with his strong fundraising number. Here are the Zignal Labs word clouds tracking mentions of the three candidates during the past 72 hours:

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— Pictures of the day:

“From our family to yours, happy New Year!” wrote Michelle Obama:

FLOTUS also shared her #2015BestNine:

Hillary wished everyone a Happy New Year:

As did Ben Carson and his wife, Candy:

So did Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly:

Bristol Palin introduced her new daughter, Sailor Grace, to the world, in a cute photo with 7-year-old Tripp, saying: “never thought 2015 would play out like it did, but I look at my babies and know everything is exactly where it should be”:

— Tweets of the day:

Carly Fiorina took pandering to a new low by tweeting that she was rooting for Iowa over Stanford in the Rose Bowl:

The Cardinal proceeded to demolish the Hawkeyes 45-16.

  • A long list of conservatives in the caucus state attacked the former HP CEO for doing exactly what they hate so much about career politicians. Other Iowans said Fiorina’s endorsement cursed the team.
  • After days of blowback, she claimed she was just kidding and that the tweet was “tongue-in-cheek.”
  • Ironically, Stanford administrators angered the university community by passing over both Bill and Hillary in 2001 so that Fiorina could deliver the commencement speech at Chelsea’s graduation ceremony.
  • In a rich twist, Fiorina attacked Ted Cruz yesterday for … pandering. “Ted Cruz is just like any other politician. He says one thing in Manhattan, he says another thing in Iowa,” she said on CNN. “He says whatever he needs to say to get elected.” That sounds a lot like the pot calling the kettle black.

Those with curls will appreciate this tweet from Rand Paul:

And Donald Trump began turning his twitter account against Hillary (#generalelection?):

— Instagrams of the day:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) toured the damage from floods in Missouri:

Bernie Sanders shared some artwork from his Iowa fans:

Chris Christie shared off his #2015BestNine:

“Spotted: the Marco Rubio bus made a pitstop at The Q in Cleveland on its way from Iowa to New Hampshire,” the Rubio account tweeted. This is the site of this summer’s Republican National Convention:

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) shows off her grandkids who plunged into the waters of Cabrillo Beach at this year’s Polar Bear Swim:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) shared her #2015BestNine:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) declares that winter has finally arrived in Vermont, with this view from the front porch of his home on New Year’s weekend:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times, “Bernie Sanders, needing early lift, builds Iowa, ground operation,” by Trip Gabriel and Amy Chozick: “The campaign has quietly assembled an extensive ground game, with 100 paid staff members and with trained volunteer leaders for each of the state’s 1,681 caucus precincts.The field team is meant to be the engine for a Sanders upset in the caucuses on Feb. 1 — the vehicle to turn out the tens of thousands of grass-roots supporters who show up for Mr. Sanders’s rallies, even if they no longer earn him headlines. Mr. Sanders almost certainly needs a victory in Iowa for his candidacy to remain viable. For Mrs. Clinton, the stakes are also high, though different: A loss here would revive memories of her third-place finish in the 2008 Iowa caucuses won by Barack Obama.”

— Wall Street Journal, “Trump and his debts: a narrow escape,” by Peter Grant and Alexandra Berzon: “In 1990, Mr. Trump … was in deep financial trouble. He and his companies owed $3.4 billion and couldn’t make the payments. That posed the risk of lenders seizing his hotels, casinos and other assets. Worse, $830 million of the debt carried his personal guarantee. Creditors, if they wanted, could force him into personal bankruptcy. He survived. Today he is a billionaire … Mr. Trump has no government record to weigh. One way to gauge the kind of president he might be is to examine his business career, and particularly how he dealt with its biggest crisis. He began by bringing creditors around to the realization … The developer was worth more to them financially alive than dead. A global group holding $2.1 billion of debt, mostly on New York properties, agreed in 1990 to a complex plan that gave Mr. Trump years to work his way through. He also squeezed money out of his casino empire and shifted it to struggling properties. He ran all three of his casinos through bankruptcy court.”

Associated Press, “Pentagon: Hundreds of military kids sexually abused annually,” by Richard Lardner, Eileen Sullivan and Meghan Hoyer: “Children of service members are sexually assaulted hundreds of times each year, according to data the Defense Department provided exclusively to The Associated Press. The abuse of military dependents is committed most often by male enlisted troops, the data show, followed by family members … With more than 1 million military dependents, the number of cases appears statistically small … Those numbers fall well-short of a full picture. Ages of the offenders and victims, locations of the incidents and the branches of service that received the report of sexual abuse were omitted. The Defense Department said in a statement that ‘information that could unintentionally uniquely identify victims was withheld from release to eliminate possible ‘re-victimization’ of the innocent.’”

— Politico, “How Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff helped a Democratic bundler,” by Rachel Bade: “Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills did a favor for a former Bill Clinton staffer-turned-Hillary campaign donor, giving the auto dealer, who was heavily invested in China, access to a bilateral U.S.-China event at the State Department where he could promote his private business interests. In spring 2011, Mills invited Thomas ‘Mack’ McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, to attend the official dinner after McLarty asked for access because of ‘our substantial family investment in the automotive sector (including electric vehicle development in China).’ McLarty later detailed in a thank you email to Mills that the dinner allowed him to connect with both Hillary Clinton and Chinese leaders who deal with the private sector — which, he added, ‘is of course important to … our automotive activities in China.’ Mills forwarded the email to Clinton.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Steny Hoyer criticized the Obama administration for delaying sanctions against Iran. From his press office: “I am disappointed that the Administration has delayed punitive action in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests,” Hoyer said. “The recent missile tests, along with the firing in proximity to a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, raise serious concerns about whether Iran will adhere to the remainder of its commitments under the [nuclear deal]…. That challenge must be met with a decisive response.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

A naked man wearing a Ronald Reagan mask was caught peering into a couple’s home in Alabama. From Alabama.com: “The man, who was naked except for what appeared to be a Ronald Reagan rubber mask covering his head and a sock covering his private parts, ran off when Jersey Belle’s Danielle Yancey and her husband spotted him. The ordeal, however, was caught on their home security video and later posted to Facebook as a warning to neighbors and other.”

DAYBOOK:

— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton campaigns in Davenport, Iowa, and will speak at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds at 11 a.m. Central. She will then speak in Cedar Rapids at 3 p.m. Bill Clinton will campaign in Nashua and Exeter, N.H., for Hillary. Ted Cruz will be in Boone, Carroll, Winterset and Missouri Valley, Iowa at various retail stores. Marco Rubio starts his day at 8 a.m. in Hookset, N.H., before flying to Iowa for a stop in Burlington. Bernie Sanders holds two town halls in Manchester. Chris Christie is also in New Hampshire, and will make stops in Manchester and Concord. Carly Fiorina will be in Salem and Nashua. Mike Huckabee eats at a GOP breakfast in Ames, Iowa at 8:30 a.m. He will then travel to Ogden, Webster City, Clarion and Iowa Falls. John Kasich holds a town hall in Des Moines at 11 a.m. Rand Paul makes stops in Dover and Laconia, N.H.

— On the Hill: Recess

— At the White House: President Obama meets with Loretta Lynch, James Comey and Salley Yates to discuss ways to use executive action to implement gun control. Vice President Biden remains on vacation in Wilmington, Del.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“I want to tell everyone to get ready,” a hoarse Ted Cruz told volunteers on a conference call. “Strap on the full armor of God. Get ready for the attacks that are coming. Come the month of January we ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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

“Considering every day but one in the last 34 has been warmer than normal, today’s penetrating cold comes as a shock,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “In fact, this is the coldest air since the beginning of last March.… The cold air rushing in today is biting, driven into the region on winds sustained from the northwest at 10-20 mph, gusting to 25 mph. It’s one of the rare times this winter thus far I’ve needed to mention wind chills, which fall into the 20s during the afternoon. Skies are variably cloudy, and a few snow flurries or snow showers are possible, especially in western and northern areas [little or no accumulation].”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore is sacked by Ryan Kerrigan in the first half. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

— The Redskins beat the Cowboys 34-23 to finish the regular season with a 9-7 record.

  • Washington will host the Green Bay Packers in a wild-card playoff game this Sunday at 4:40 p.m. at FedEx Field. (Liz Clarke)
  • In poor taste: Dallas fans did the wave while Redskins defensive back Dashaun Phillips lay motionless on the field during yesterday’s game. (Scott Allen)
  • Peyton Manning played for the first time since hurting his foot in early November, coming off the bench to lead the Denver Broncos to a win over the San Diego Chargers to earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Carolina Panthers secured the NFC’s No. 1 seed. (Adam Kilgore; Mark Maske)

— The Miami Heat crushed the Wizards 97-75. (Jorge Castillo) 

Allison Silberberg, who will take over as mayor of Alexandria today (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

— Allison Silberberg will be sworn in as Alexandria’s mayor today. A top priority is to limit development in Old Town and to establish an ethics commission to review whether lawmakers should vote on projects involving people who donated to their campaigns. (Patricia Sullivan)

— Fairfax County schools receive a threat of violence about 100 times a year, or about one every other school day. (T. Rees Shapiro)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Watch Trevor Noah imitate Ben Carson on “The Daily Show”:

“Watch this @google ad,” Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, “and then turn on a TV in a primary state to see how far behind political ad making has fallen”:

Watch the Trumps count down to New Year’s 2016 from the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla:

Watch a montage of the Paul family celebrating the holidays:

And, finally, here are eight painful sports injuries caught on live TV: