1. In Reuters, Steve Holland reports that National Review magazine tells conservatives to shun Trump.
National Review, a New York-based magazine founded in 1955 by famed conservative thinker William F. Buckley Jr., drew heavy scorn from Trump, on Twitter and at a Las Vegas news conference, for its issue entitled: "Against Trump."
"Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP (Republican Party) in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones," National Review said.
2. In CNN, David Wright reports that Trump’s political adviser describes him as a “person of deep faith.”
An adviser for Donald Trump's campaign defended the businessman's spirituality after he misspoke when quoting a Bible verse at Liberty University, insisting that "he's a person of deep faith, he's just not a person that puts it on his sleeve."
Sam Clovis, Trump's campaign co-chair, appeared on CNN's "New Day" Thursday morning and rejected the suggestion that Trump was pandering to evangelicals in light of Trump's admission that he misspoke saying "2 Corinthians" rather than "second Corinthians" at Liberty because he was referring to notes from Tony Perkins.
3. In Bloomberg, James Nash talks about the Las Vegas political rally with Trump, Clinton, Bush and Cruz.
Donald Trump threw punches at Republican rivals Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush in a Las Vegas rally, while former President Bill Clinton, speaking nearby, slammed Republicans for preying on middle-class voters’ fears, as the leading presidential campaigns descended on Nevada a month before it becomes the first Western state to cast votes in this year’s races.
Held at opposite ends of the famed Las Vegas Strip, the dueling rallies highlighted the importance of Nevada in both the Republican and Democratic nominating cycles, even as most of the political class remains fixated on Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
4. In CNN, Eugene Scott talks about Sanders’ position on slavery reparations.
"Senator Sanders is the most progressive member of the United States Congress and has unabashedly advocated and promoted policies that overwhelmingly benefit the Black community," Sanders' National Press Secretary Symone D. Sanders told CNN.
"During this election, no other candidate has so boldly spoken out on the issues of race, police brutality, income inequality or criminal justice reform. Sen. Sanders understands that African-Americans in this country have been victims of systematic and institutional racism," she added. "He gets that and has proposed both legislation and policies in attempts to address it."
5. In Bloomberg, Sahil Kapur talks about Rubio’s strategy for Iowa and New Hampshire.
It's a return to the message Rubio delivered in his first answer at the first televised debate last August, and comes as his path to the nomination has narrowed. While Rubio's campaign refuses to discuss strategy in public, people close to the senator say he stands a strong chance of victory if the contest winnows to a three-way race with Trump and Cruz.
The electability argument is based on a political reality. Many Democratic operatives say Rubio would pose the toughest challenge for Clinton in a general election. In Rubio's orbit, it's an article of faith. The view is based on three factors: Rubio's rhetorical talent; his Hispanic background, which could appeal to voters in the growing demographic; and a feeling that he comes off as less offensive to moderate voters than Trump or Cruz.
6. In Politico, Michael Crowley talks about Cruz’s position on torture.
“He says he opposes torture, but he does not say what constitutes torture,” said Jack Goldsmith, an opponent of waterboarding and other severe interrogation tactics who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration.
“None of the candidates come out in favor of ‘torture,’” Goldsmith said. But, he added, after reviewing several campaign statements provided by POLITICO, most “signal that they would ramp up interrogation, possibly to waterboarding.”
7. In The New York Times, Maggie Haberman writes about Trump’s reaction to the series of essay published by the National Review.
Donald J. Trump called an impromptu news conference on Thursday night in Nevada to criticize National Review, the conservative magazine that published a series of essays denouncing his candidacy.
“That’s a dying paper, really. I mean pretty much. I got to tell you, that’s a dying paper,” Mr. Trump said of the publication. He took to Twitter to ensure his comments were seen more broadly, echoing his past disapproval about the magazine’s editor, Rich Lowry.
8. In The Des Moines Register, Brianne Pfannenstiel writes about Trump’s campaign style in Iowa.
Trump's campaign style draws a stark contrast with other Republican candidates, past and present, who have become entangled in the controversial things they say. Many cite 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's comments about the "47 percent" of Americans dependent on government benefits as a game-changer. Trump, who has made similarly inflammatory remarks, has come out unscathed.
Tom McIntee, a 62-year-old attorney from Iowa City, said the controversial things Trump says "are the things people say outside of polite society when they're talking to their friends. And what it's doing is it's liberating people to be able to discuss these issues."
9. In Associated Press, Ken Thomas explains why Clinton questions Sanders electability.
A focus group conducted by an unaffiliated Democratic strategist during the last debate found Clinton's message fell flat. Her attacks, according to a memo describing the event, backfired when Sanders reinforced his message in his responses.
"It is not about Senator Sanders. It is about his message," said Chris Kofinis, who conducted the group. "When you attack him, you're not actually addressing the problem."
Sanders released a gauzy, uplifting ad Thursday with images of his overflowing rallies over a soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel's "America." The wordless spot contrasts with a recent Clinton ad in New Hampshire about her experience and plans.
10. In Associated Press, Erica Werner explains why Republican senators consider Cruz as their least favorite.
Some GOP lawmakers and pollsters view Cruz as more problematic than businessman Trump, since Trump might have more cross-over appeal to independents. Polling shown to House Republicans recently identified Cruz as the most difficult presidential nominee for any of them to share a ballot with.
"''He would definitely be a negative," said GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, who represents an evenly divided Long Island district. King dismissed Cruz as a "fraud" and said, "I don't know of anyone else in Washington, certainly, who gets this opposition from his own people. ... I'm talking about people as conservative as he is who just can't stand him."