Marco Rubio speaks at a town hall at Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown, Iowa, yesterday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

THE BIG IDEA:

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — If you read the transcript of Marco Rubio’s town hall meeting here yesterday, you could be forgiven for thinking the speaker was Ted Cruz.

Commentators often put the Florida senator in the so-called establishment lane, pitting him against Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich. But on the trail this week, he sounds nothing like an establishment candidate.

Asked for his “current thinking on immigration” by a woman in an overflowing community center an hour outside Des Moines, Rubio freely acknowledged a shift. He warned that the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS, is recruiting doctors and students to sneak into the United States. “This is no longer the issue it used to be,” he said. “ISIS understands our immigration system and is deliberately manipulating it to get killers in … and we cannot allow that to happen.”

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Asked about Common Core, Rubio began his answer by declaring: “First of all, I don’t even think we need a federal Department of Education.” The answer that followed largely involved promising to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities and his opposition to amnesty. (He ignored a reporter’s question about whether he still supports a pathway to citizenship afterward.)

— The 44-year-old’s stump speech has been undeniably influenced by the populist anger that Donald Trump has tapped into. “We are going to be a great country again,” Rubio said as he closed the town hall. “America’s going to be greater than it’s ever been, if you give me the chance to be your president.”

— He has de-emphasized the optimistic language about “a new American century” that was the hallmark of 2015. The Post’s Rubio beat reporter, Sean Sullivan, also observes that “his criticism of Obama and Clinton is more piercing, the elbows he is throwing at his GOP opponents are sharper and his warnings about the national security risks of siding with them over him are more dire and more frequent.”

— Rubio is also stepping up outreach to social conservatives. He’s going up this weekend with a new commercial in Iowa that says his Christian faith shapes every decision he makes. “Our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time, to accept the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ,” he says to the camera. “The struggle on a daily basis as a Christian is to remind ourselves of this. The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan. To those who much have been given, much is expected. And we will be asked to account for that. Were your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven?” (Watch here.)

— The Floridian is making inroads with Bush voters in Iowa, who think he would post up better against Hillary Clinton in a general election. Doug Butler, 55, who works at a local manufacturer, planned to caucus for Bush until he came to see Rubio. “Jeb certainly knows the issues … but I’m ready for the next generation,” he said afterward. “My biggest reason for shifting support is he can communicate. I don’t know what it is about the Bushes. That little hesitancy they have when they talk is just disorienting.”

— Rubio promised to spend a lot more time in Iowa over the final weeks, but he’s still not staking his hopes on any one of the first four states. One of the big knocks on Rubio over the past year, especially in the Hawkeye State, has been how little time he spends engaging with voters. That’s changing in the final weeks, as he steps up his public schedule. “A lot of people are just starting to pay attention,” said state Sen. Jack Whitver, chairman of Rubio’s Iowa campaign. “After New Year’s is when a lot of people go from the dating stage to the marrying stage.”

Rubio’s aides were trying to get him to wrap up the town hall here so that he could get on to a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register. Rubio wanted to stay a little longer. “I’m fired up now,” he said. “The coffee is kicking in!”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:


John McCain rings his bell as he volunteers with Salvation Army at a local mall in Phoenix on Dec. 21. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

John McCain questioned Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be president. The Arizona senator, who has long clashed with Cruz in the Senate, said in an Arizona TV interview that “it’s worth looking into” whether Cruz is a natural-born citizen, a requirement to be president. When asked how Cruz could run for president if he was born in Canada, McCain answered, “I do not know the answer to that.” McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, and the Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring him a natural-born citizen when he ran for president in 2008, Katie Zezima notes. “McCain said Wednesday the issue is different because the Canal Zone was a territory and U.S. military base and there was precedent set when Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona when it was a territory, ran for president. ‘That’s different than being born on foreign soil,’ he said. ‘I think there is a question,’ he said of Cruz. ‘I am not a constitutional scholar on that but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it.’” This is what happens when your Senate colleagues, especially the Republicans, hate you.

There was a spate of anti-Cruz birtherism across the Republican spectrum yesterday:

  • Ann Coulter said it is “absolutely false” that Cruz is a natural-born citizen.
  • Rand Paul brought up the issue at an event, noting that Cruz is eligible to be prime minister of Canada.
  • Trump called on Cruz to go to court and ask for a declaratory judgment to clear up the matter.

Ted Cruz holds a media availability at the Clay County Event Center in Spencer, Iowa. (Reuters/Mark Kauzlarich)

Cruz defended his eligibility in Iowa. Speaking to reporters before an event in Rock Rapids yesterday, Cruz said that his birth in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother did not change the fact that he was a natural-born citizen. “It’s settled law,” Cruz said. “The child of a U.S. citizen, born abroad, is a U.S. citizen. People will continue to make hay of it as a political matter, but as a legal matter it’s quite straightforward. It’s occurred many times in history.” He even invoked McCain. (David Weigel)


Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders stand on stage with Harry Reid during a party event last night in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

— Hillary Clinton made pointed overtures to Bernie Sanders supporters in Nevada at a dinner that drew 2,200 Democrats. “It was the Sanders boosters who were loudest, maybe because … they were eager to be heard in a state where Sanders is fighting for relevance,” Abby Phillip and John Wagner report from a much-anticipated cattle call in Las Vegas. “Clinton comes into this contest with significant advantages. She won the state in 2008 and has the edge to win it a second time on Feb. 20. Still, the former secretary of state also faces an energized opposition — many of them younger voters and caucuses who she will need if she is the nominee.”

  • Clinton told Sanders supporters that she, too, is on their side, but is more prepared than other Democrats running to do the job. “I need you,” she told the room. “You can also count on me to stand my ground especially when it comes to those powerful interests that are holding back American families. If Republicans weren’t worried why are hedge fund billionaires already running ads against me?”
  • “Sanders used his remarks to try to make the case that he could energize more voters in the fall, citing the large turnouts he’s had at his campaign rallies, particularly among younger voters. ‘That result will not happen with establishment politics and establishment economics,’ he said. ‘We will not succeed unless we galvanize the American people.'”
  • As Clinton spoke, the crowd remained divided. “Sanders supporters shuffled their seats, others raised their signs and at times grumbled vocally,” Abby and John relay. “At one point, campaign organizers walked through the aisles gesturing with a finger to the mouth that supporters should express their disagreement with Clinton silently.”

Jeb Bush in New Hampshire (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

— Jeb Bush told The Post that the GOP primary in New Hampshire is now a five-way race for second-place behind Trump. “Trump’s the front-runner and there’s a jump ball for second,” he said in an interview with Ed O’Keefe. Asked whom he would consider in that five-way race, Bush said himself, Christie, Cruz, Kasich and Rubio. Bush then homed in on Christie and his fiscal record. “New Jersey’s credit ratings has been downgraded nine times during Christie’s tenure due to shortfalls with the state’s pension system.” Bush noted he took Florida from a double-A to triple-A bond rating. “Our pension was never raided to pay for the current obligations,” Bush said in a clear knock at Christie.

It could be another red day on the markets. Chinese stocks tumbled 7 percent, and regulators halted trading for the second time this week. (Simon Denyer)

Iran accused Saudi Arabia of delivering an airstrike on the Iranian Embassy in Yemen’s war-battered capital, a claim that could not be immediately verified but reflected the deepening tensions between the regional powers. “The Associated Press reported there was no visible damage at the embassy compound in Sanaa, which is held by rebel fighters who have faced more than nine months of airstrikes from a Saudi-led military coalition,” per Hugh Naylor and Brian Murphy. “Iran gave no immediate details on its claim, which was carried by state-run media.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. House Republicans sent a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act to the White House for President Obama’s veto. (Mike DeBonis)
  2. Alabama’s Supreme Court chief justice ordered county clerks to stop offering same-sex marriage licenses. (Sandhya Somashekhar)
  3. The Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland — who later died in custody — was indicted for perjury and fired from the force. (Mark Berman)
  4. At a community meeting in Burns, Ore., last night, dozens of local residents said they support the anti-BLM views held by the armed protesters at the nearby federal wildlife refuge BUT called on them to end their standoff. (The Oregonian)
  5. TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, sued the U.S. government for rejecting the project, arguing that President Obama overreached his constitutional authority. The company will file a second lawsuit seeking $15 billion in damages. (AP)
  6. Los Angeles prosecutors declined to charge Bill Cosby with sexual assault for two incidents that allegedly occurred in 1965 and 2008. (AP)
  7. The FBI will collect data on animal abuse charges for the first time this year. (Colby Itkowitz)
  8. The Pentagon announced two Guantanamo Bay inmates were sent to Ghana, part of the White House push to reduce the prison’s population before Obama leaves office. (Missy Ryan and Adam Goldman)
  9. Police shot and killed 986 people in the United States in 2015. (Steven Rich and Sandhya Somashekhar)
  10. California declared a state of emergency after a gas leak caused thousands of residents to be evacuated from their homes in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)
  11. Chipotle, reporting that December sales dropped 30 percent year-over-year, revealed it was served with a grand jury subpoena connected to an FDA investigation into last year’s Norovirus outbreak in California. (Roberto A. Ferdman)
  12. Iowa hotel rooms are going for as much as $9o0 a night during the week of the Iowa caucuses. (Des Moines Register)
  13. Ten women filed a lawsuit against Bill Gothard, who was a major force in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement, charging him and other ministry leaders with sexual abuse, harassment and coverup. Reached by phone, he denied the allegations. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
  14. A judge ruled the police officer awaiting retrial for the death of Freddie Gray must testify in the trial of the officer who drove the police van used to transport Gray. (Lynh Bui)
  15. Florida Atlantic University fired a professor who wrote on Facebook that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax designed to pass gun-control legislation and who allegedly harassed one of the victims’ families by demanding evidence of the boy’s existence. (Susan Svrluga)
  16. Saturday’s Powerball drawing will be the biggest in U.S. history with an estimated $700 million jackpot after no one won last night’s drawing. (ABC News)
  17. The Labour Party crack-up continues in London. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn moved the shadow defense minister to another post after she opposed him on nuclear weapons, and he fired two other members of his top team who criticized him.(AP)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Joe Biden said this of not running for president: “I regret it every day. But it was the right decision for my family and me.” (NBC Connecticut)
  2. Ben Carson’s ex-campaign manager Barry Bennett, who resigned just last week, said Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee “unless something cataclysmic happens.” (CNN)
  3. Trump’s campaign issued 20,000 tickets to a Vermont rally at a venue that has only 1,400 seats. (WCVB)
  4. Gary Johnson, who served two terms as New Mexico’s governor, will run for president again as a libertarian. He received 1.3 million votes in 2012. (David Weigel)
  5. Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Barry Svrluga)
  6. Hillary Clinton has set a fundraising goal of $50 million for the first quarter, her bundlers were told on a finance call yesterday. (CNN)
  7. But Sanders is outspending Clinton on TV ads this week, $900,000 to $750,000. (NBC News)
  8. Marco Rubio‘s rally in Dallas last night was interrupted by a man yelling that he is “owned by Jews.” The Florida senator has rarely been heckled. (Sean Sullivan)
  9. Rubio and Rand will attend the State of the Union, but Cruz will skip it to be on the campaign trail.
  10. With the Supreme Court expected to decide this Friday whether to review Bob McDonnell’s convictions, George F. Will devotes his column to urging the justices to do so. (Read here.)
  11. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) raised $2.1 million in the fourth quarter, meaning he raised $9.8 million in 2015 and has $12 million cash on hand. His Democratic challenger, Ted Strickland, hasn’t reported his numbers yet.
  12. Congressional Black Caucus chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) endorsed Hillary. (The Grio)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:


Hillary Clinton tours the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas yesterday. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— “Report: Clinton-led State Department gave ‘inaccurate’ answer on email use,” by Carol Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman: “Two years before the public learned of Hillary Clinton’s private server, the State Department gave an ‘inaccurate and incomplete’ response about her email use when it told an outside group that it had no documents about Clinton’s email accounts beyond her government address, according to a report from the State Department’s inspector general to be released Thursday. The State Department made its statement in response to a 2012 records request from the independent watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The response came even though Clinton’s chief of staff, who knew about the secretary’s private account, was aware of the inquiry…. In addition, the IG review found that agency staff had not searched Clinton’s office for emails…. His office is preparing an additional report that could touch even more directly on Clinton’s conduct — examining the use of personal email and its effect on the department’s compliance with its duty to preserve records.”

— “For Hillary Clinton, old news or new troubles?” by Karen Tumulty and Frances Stead Sellers: “The ghosts of the 1990s have returned to confront Hillary Clinton, released from the vault by Donald Trump and revved up by a 21st-century version of the scandal machine that almost destroyed her husband’s presidency. This is a moment that her campaign has long expected. What remains to be seen is whether a reminder of allegations of sexual impropriety against Bill Clinton — which were deemed to have varying levels of credibility when they were first aired — can gain new traction in a different context. The fresher case being made is that Hillary Clinton has been, at a minimum, hypocritical about her husband’s treatment of women, and possibly even complicit in discrediting his accusers. And it is being pressed at a time when there is a new sensitivity toward victims of unwanted sexual contact, and when one of the biggest news stories is the prosecution of once-beloved comedian Bill Cosby.”

“Juanita Broaddrick had accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978, when she was working on his Arkansas gubernatorial campaign.… Broaddrick, now a Trump supporter, tweeted Wednesday: ‘I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73 … it never goes away.’ In an interview, she said she had watched Bill Clinton’s first solo campaign appearance on his wife’s behalf on television Monday. ‘He looked so beaten, and he looked like everything in his past was catching up to him. He looked so downtrodden. It made my heart sing,’ Broaddrick said.”


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Undated photo released by North Korea’s news agency, distributed by Reuters)

— “Few options on the table to pressure Pyongyang” after nuclear test, by Karen DeYoung and Anna Fifield: “Any additional pressure on North Korea — already the most severely sanctioned country in the world — would have to involve major action by China, its largest trading partner and supplier of much of its foreign aid…. But Beijing has been reluctant to risk action that could seriously destabilize North Korea, sending hordes across its border, perhaps leaving nuclear weapons unsecured, and ceding a strategic bulwark against the powerful U.S., Japanese and South Korean military alliance in the northern Pacific…. Attempts to impose further restraints on North Korea’s nuclear supply line are viewed as likely to have only modest, if any, effect. The country received most of what it needed from abroad to develop nuclear weapons years ago, and its program is now mostly indigenous…. One avenue for further economic pressure would be to sanction Chinese banks that do business with North Korea, although there is widespread reluctance to take measures against major Chinese institutions that are pillars of the international financial system.”

  • The Obama administration and nuclear experts are increasingly confident that it was not actually a hydrogen bomb.
  • A1 analysis — “North Korea got less attention as Obama focused on Iran nuke deal,” by David Nakamura: The administration “pursued a decidedly less-clear strategy on containing North Korea, a rogue state that already possesses an atomic weapon.”
  • Overnight, South Korea announced it will resume cross-border propaganda broadcasts that Pyongyang considers an act of war. “Seoul also began talks with Washington that could see the arrival of nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft and submarines to the Korean Peninsula,” the AP reports. “The South stopped earlier broadcasts after it agreed with Pyongyang in late August on a package of measures aimed at easing animosities.”
  • Hillary Clinton called for more sanctions and said Kim Jong Un tried to “blackmail” the world with the test. (Abby Phillip)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— Pictures of the day:

Hillary Clinton wished her SNL doppleganger, Kate McKinnon, a happy birthday:

While SNL celebrated Hillary and Sarah Palin in this video:

Meanwhile, Hillary posted this, saying: “Strong sweater game.”

The Donald posted this short clip of a packed house in New Hampshire, saying “I love you, I love Tom Brady”:

Rand Paul aides tweeted a photo of him and Jerry Seinfeld (remember Paul’s “Festivus” tweet stream?):

“At the end of the day, the best part of this campaign is getting to share it with the people that you love,” Carson posted.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), running for Senate, says he is “proud to have participated in Central Florida’s first same sex marriage one year ago today”:

Mike Huckabee sent out a fundraising plea that promised three targets (Common Core, Obamcare, and the tax code) for a $25 donation:

— Tweets of the day:

Obama lauded the comeback in U.S. car sales:

A New York Times correspondent mocked Carly Fiorina’s bid to link Trump to Kim Kardashian:

Jeb gave this little guy a turtle and a life lesson:

The Capital Weather Gang gives us a sense of weather perspective:

Ex-Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) announced he was diagnosed with lymphoma:

And these two lovebirds celebrated their anniversary:

— Instagrams of the day:

Arkansas Rep. Tim Crawford’s (R-Ark.) 1st District contains the duck capital of the world (Stuttgart, in case you were wondering). He showed off his collection of duck calls:

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) welcomed her new granddaughter, Rose Barbara:

And Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) celebrated the news that “Stand and Deliver” teacher Jaime Escalante made it onto a postage stamp:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times, “Pentagon will extend military honors to drone operators far from battles,” by Michael S. Schmidt: “The Defense Department on Thursday is scheduled to announce that it has created a designation to recognize service members who had a direct effect on combat operations even though they were operating remotely, Pentagon officials said. Drone pilots are likely to receive many of the awards, but they may also be given to operators who launch cyberattacks. … Current and former military officials had been deeply divided about whether to recognize the drone pilots. An initial Pentagon plan in 2013 to honor them with a ‘Distinguished Warfare Medal’ was criticized by some veterans’ groups, which feared that the award would rank higher than combat medals like the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. The Veterans of Foreign Wars sent a letter to Mr. Obama expressing its objections to the proposed medal. Some veterans have derided such recognition as a ‘geek cross.’ Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the planned medal during his final days at the Pentagon in 2013. But the proposal was scuttled by his successor, Chuck Hagel, amid the fury from the veterans’ groups.”

— Politico, “Rubio ditches thrift and flies private jets almost exclusively,” by Shane Goldmacher: “After spending most of 2015 bragging about his thriftiness when it came to flying commercial and coach, Marco Rubio quietly has been using a private jet almost exclusively for his campaign travel for nearly two months and plans to continue to do so through the primaries. The jet-setting represents a dramatic about-face for the Rubio campaign. As recently as September, Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan bragged that ‘Marco flies 95 percent commercial, always coach.’ … Rubio has traveled overwhelmingly by chartered jet since the Republican debate held in Milwaukee in mid-November. Now, Rubio is spending an estimated tens of thousands of dollars every day to keep a Cessna Citation Excel plane by his side. The jet can comfortably sit a half-dozen passengers, with room for a couple more to squeeze on. … Without a single early-voting state to bank on, Rubio faces an imperative to cover long interstate distances quickly, perhaps more than any other candidate.”

–Fast Company, “How the Hillary Clinton campaign built a staff as diverse as America,” by Alyson Krueger: Nathaniel Koloc is the campaign’s director of talent acquisition and development, a role the writer believes is unprecedented in the campaign world, which usually hires friends of friends and by word-of-mouth. It transformed the Clinton campaign’s roster: “Each department boasts steals from impressive firms including IBM, General Assembly, Etsy, Yelp, Google, Gawker, Facebook, Kiva, and DreamWorks. The digital team has talent from the New York Times and the analytics team from New York University’s formidable think tank on housing policy. The number of people from within politics is striking—for being so low. Less than half of the analytics team and almost none of the tech team ever held a campaign position … The campaign’s diversity extends far beyond career history. Over 50% of the campaign is female. Of the campaign’s more than 500 staffers nationwide, more than one-third are people of color; nearly 40% of Hillary for America’s senior staff are people of color.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. From David Nakamura: “The backing from the nation’s largest business coalition is a boost to the administration’s efforts to rally the private sector behind the deal, which represents the largest regional trade pact in U.S. history. The Chamber joins the National Association of Manufacturing and the Business Roundtable in issuing formal endorsements this week.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

A New Hampshire gun store owner gave Donald Trump an AR-15 rifle, but the Secret Service had to first inspect it. From the Washington Examiner: “Black Ops Arms owner Mark Limoges said, ‘A Secret Service agent came to the store, took the gun. We removed the bolt out of it. They took possession of the weapon and then presented it to us before we went into the room to present it to Mr. Trump.’”

DAYBOOK:

— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Bill Clinton heads to Iowa for the first time this election cycle to campaign solo for Hillary in Des Moines and Dubuque. Ted Cruz continues his Iowa bus tour, making stops in Pocahontas, Humboldt, Webster City and Goldfield. Marco Rubio, in New Hampshire, attends a house party at 10 a.m. in Bedford followed by a town hall in Nashua. Jeb Bush makes stops in Londonderry, Greenland and Peterborough. Carly Fiorina will speak to the New Hampshire State of Representatives in Concord at 1 p.m., followed by a town hall in Concord in the evening. Ben Carson is in Iowa, making appearances in Cedar Rapids, Anamosa and Bettendorf. John Kasich holds a town hall in Hudson, N.H., at 6:30 p.m. Rand Paul hosts meet and greets in Council Bluffs and Carroll, followed by a town hall in Boone. He finishes his night by hosting a birthday party in Des Moines. Rick Santorum makes an appearance at a house party in Urbandale. Martin O’Malley will speak at a leadership tour stop in Des Moines at 7:30 p.m.

  • Mike Huckabee will finish the Full Grassley today, visiting all 99 counties since announcing in May. He also visited all 99 counties during his 2008 campaign, when he won the caucuses. The former Arkansas governor has planned 150 events in January. Today alone will bring him to Sigourney, Oskaloosa, Albia, Centerville, Chariton, and Urbandale.
  • Trump will sit down with Chuck Todd for “Meet the Press” this Sunday.

— On the Hill: The House considers two resolutions. The Senate is in recess.

— At the White House: President Obama will participate in a town hall on gun violence hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper at George Mason University. Vice President Biden will attend afternoon meetings at the White House before heading to Wilmington, Delaware, where he’ll spend the night.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Donald Trump has America’s pulse,” Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) writes in a USA Today op-ed. “I know Donald Trump personally, and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely. But I don’t think his ability to give the most interesting interviews or speeches is the only thing that has him leading in the polls. I think he is capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy.”

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

— A little warmer today: “Clouds are likely to come in waves from the Atlantic as an offshore storm passes well to the east,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “A few sprinkles are quite likely to creep to the coast but should die out quickly keeping the metro area dry. Winds from the east are barely noticeable. Highs are mainly low-to-mid 40s but could reach upper 4os in spots seeing less persistent cloud cover.”

— Three African American pastors who support Trump filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia over the state GOP’s requirement that primary voters sign a statement confirming they are Republicans. They allege that it will discourage minorities and the poor from casting ballots. (Jenna Portnoy)

— An ABC7 news truck was broken into while the television crew was attending a press conference held by the D.C. mayor and police chief on their plan to combat a spike in robberies. (WJLA)

— Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 121-115 win over the Wizards. (Jorge Castillo)

— The Capitals signed two-time Stanley Cup winning center Mike Richards to a one-year-deal. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

— Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says he may still run for Senate. “I have it circled — believe me,” Cummings said in an interview with Baltimore’s WYPR, referring to the Feb. 3 deadline to file nomination papers in the Democratic primary. Laughing, he added, “My wife reminds me every day.” Rachel Weiner notes that, “Even a very late-moving Cummings candidacy would shake up a race that at the moment features two candidates from the D.C. suburbs. Polls have consistently shown that Cummings would lead in a race against Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Obama previews his last State of the Union address:

Watch Katie Couric ask Speaker Paul Ryan if Donald Trump is good for the GOP:

See Bernie Sanders on the Larry Wilmore show:

Watch this fun Drake and Obama mashup promoting the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Hammond to the NBA all star team:

And today in cute animal stories, check out this purple-dyed kitten who was rescued:

And this unusual friendship in Russia between an Amur tiger and a goat he was supposed to eat who are now BFFs. The full story is here.