US Campaign Update, 17/01/16: Top 10 Stories

1. In CNN, Stephen Collinson discusses Clinton and Sanders debate on health care, guns.


With Sanders threatening to upset Clinton in the first two nominating contests next month, the former secretary of state sought to stall his momentum, puncture his progressive credentials and raise questions about whether the self-declared socialist has the skills and experience to be president.
She used the final debate before voting starts in Iowa and New Hampshire to make a case to faithful supporters of Obama, who some Clinton allies worry might be shifting to Sanders. She'll need them to build a winning coalition capable of winning the Democratic nomination and mounting a successful race in the general election.


2. In MSNBC, Alex Seitz-Wald reports that Sanders dominates Democratic debate.


Bernie Sanders dominated Sunday night’s Democratic debate here, overpowering Hillary Clinton in a format she typically controls. With polls showing Clinton on the ropes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders’ strong performance may have further imperiled Clinton’s once-inevitable path to her party’s presidential nomination.  
Touting his surging poll numbers in the two key early states, Sanders was prepared and in command throughout the two-hour debate sponsored by NBC News and YouTube. In previous appearances, Clinton has easily dominated the stage. But turning in his strongest debate performance yet, Sanders drove the conversation – brushing aside her attacks as he doggedly returned to his core message of political revolution.


3. In Des Moines Register, Jennifer Jacobs explains why Iowans split on the recent Democratic debate winner.


Other surveys in Iowa have shown different results, but The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll Jan. 7-10 found Clinton still in front, but with her lead reduced to just 2 points ahead of Sanders. He’s the front-runner in New Hampshire, according to the’s rolling average.
Iowa politics watcher Christopher Budzisz, a politics professor at Loras College, said: “Sanders has made momentum arguments, and he never shies away from invoking the ‘revolution’ label. Part of this is to stress that he is electable.”


4. In The Daily Beast, Tim Mak argues why Sanders’ ISIS strategy is a disaster.


Sanders has repeatedly said the United States should not take the lead in the fight against ISIS. But the unserious part of his proposal is the suggestion that he suggests Saudi Arabia and Iran should work together to fight Islamic extremism—seemingly oblivious to the schisms in the region.
“We have to understand that the Muslim nations in the region—Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan—all of these nations, they’re going to have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground. They are going to have to take on ISIS. This is a war for the soul of Islam,” said Sanders at the Democratic presidential primary debate in November.


5. In Reuters, Jeff Mason and Steve Holland argue why Clinton’s strategy could pose problems.


Hillary Clinton has distanced herself from President Barack Obama on a number of high-profile issues since starting her bid for the White House. Now, under pressure from left-leaning challenger Bernie Sanders, she is embracing him and his legacy with fervor.
That strategy could pose problems for Clinton in the long run as Republicans look for fodder to portray her as representing Obama's third term should she win the Democratic nomination.
As she faces an unexpected challenge from Sanders in the early voting states, Clinton's move to portray herself as an heir to Obama's policies is aimed at courting young voters and progressives who are part of the president's political base.

6. In Bloomberg, Mark Halperin gives Clinton a “B” grade for her Democratic debate performance.


Calm and mechanical rather than energized or conversational, offering up talking points in the manner of a candidate with a sizable lead rather than one with a major fight on her hands. Kept up her assault on Sanders for his various gun votes, the most comfortable terrain from which to snipe at her rival. Had less opportunity to talk about national security than she probably would have liked, and failed to score points off Sanders on the topic, as she has in past debates. Trained her attention far more on Sanders this time than on Trump and the Republicans. As usual, was steeped in policy and gravitas, with occasional flashes of humor. Did nothing to arrest the momentum Sanders had coming into the debate, but made no obvious blunders.


7. In Huffington Post,  Zach Carter reports why Rubio wants people to buy guns.


Many critics of U.S. gun laws have argued that the ease with which people can purchase firearms domestically enables those with terrorist motives to access weapons they need to commit violent acts.
Rubio's praise for citizens arming themselves against ISIS echoes a common argument from gun enthusiasts. Easy access to guns, they argue, makes it easier for citizens to shoot mass shooters and other violent people when they begin killing people. Armed civilians almost never break up mass shootings.


8. In The New York Times, Patrick Healy And Amy Chozick write about Clinton challenging Sanders on policy shifts.


Hillary Clinton targeted Bernie Sanders’s electoral appeal with some of her strongest language yet in a debate on Sunday night, seizing on Mr. Sanders’s recent policy shifts on universal health care and gun control to try to undercut his image as an anti-political truth teller.
Mrs. Clinton also repeatedly aligned herself with a former political rival, President Obama, as she sought to portray her current one, Mr. Sanders, as a fringe candidate who did not stand with Mr. Obama on major issues like Wall Street regulation. Mr. Sanders, in turn, gave no quarter as he criticized Mrs. Clinton as dishonest in her attacks.


9. In Associated Press, Lisa Lerer and Nancy Benac explain why Democrats debate passion versus practicality.


The debate over gun control took on a special importance given the event was just blocks from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine parishioners were killed during Bible study last summer. Clinton has made the issue a central theme of her campaign, citing it as one of the major differences between the candidates.
The two tangled over financial policy, too, with Sanders suggesting Clinton won't be tough enough on Wall Street given the big contributions and speaking fees she's accepted from the nation's financial firms.


10. In CNN, Theodore Schleifer writes about Cruz’s message to tea party supporters.


The Texas senator typically asks audiences to distinguish between "campaign conservatives" and "consistent conservatives," but Cruz's remarks Saturday were essentially a dare to those gathered here to look finely at opponents' histories on seven key battles. In a retooled stump speech flush with Trump overtones and delivered right before Trump took the stage himself, Cruz offered a checklist of fights that he had led that his opponents -- like Trump -- hadn't.
"How many people here have been burned by politicians?" Cruz asked the crowd, hours after Cruz bashed Trump's record as more liberal than conservative. "The stakes in 2016 have never been higher. Our country is hanging in the balance. So I've got a very simple question for the folks here: How do we not get burned again?"