US Campaign Update, 26/01/16: Top 10 Stories

1. In Reuters, Ginger Gibson and Steve Holland write about Clinton’s foreign policy, strategy in defeating ISIS and Islamophobia.

 

Clinton, who lost the Democratic primary to Barack Obama in 2008, was for months the clear front-runner to be the party's nominee this time around, but opinion polls have showed a surge of support for Sanders in recent weeks.
She argues that while Sanders' goals on issues such as social inequality are laudable, some are unobtainable and he lacks the experience to tackle a wide range of issues.
"When you're in the White House you cannot pick the issues you want to work on, you've got to be ready to take on every issue that comes your way, including those you cannot predict," Clinton told the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines on Monday.
The Clinton campaign presaged an attack line for Clinton by issuing a news release accusing Sanders of flip-flopping on a variety of issues, such as on gun control and whether he would support normalizing U.S. relations with Iran.

 

 2. In The Boston Globe, Jim O’Sullivan explains why Trump targets Cruz in New Hampshire.

 

Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, kept up his attacks Monday on his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, during one of his final appearances in the state before the GOP nomination battle officially kicks off.
 
Coasting for months on a wide lead in polling both nationally and in New Hampshire, Trump made his visit Monday night to a packed high school gymnasium as Cruz continues to gain ground in polls of Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. Standing at a podium on a stage beneath a “Make America Great Again!” banner, Trump repeated his doubts about presidential eligibility for Cruz, who was born in Canada to a US-born mother and Cuban-born father.

 

 

3. In The Washington Post, Abby Phillip talks about Clinton’s performance in the recent town hall forum hosted by CNN .

 

Clinton's long career in public life has been both a blessing and a curse. They underscore her argument to voters that she has the most experience of any candidate in the Democratic race. But the long history of acrimony between Clinton and her political opponents underlie the uncertainty many voters have about her candidacy.
In her answer, Clinton sought to use the contentiousness of her political life as part as proof that she has been waging a long, hard fight for her causes.
"I’ve been around along time. People have thrown a lot of things at me. I can't keep up with it, I have to keep going forward," Clinton said. "They come up with these outlandish things; they make these charges and I just keep going forward because there’s nothing to it."

 

4. In Bloomberg, Toluse Olorunnipa explains why Clinton’s strengths are also her weaknesses, according to Obama.

 

President Barack Obama said that while Hillary Clinton has the most experience among candidates vying to succeed him, her strengths can sometimes be her weaknesses, allowing Bernie Sanders to make an appeal to the main concerns of the Democratic Party’s core voters.
“Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot, and just let loose. I think Hillary came in with the both privilege and burden of being perceived as the front-runner,” Obama said in an interview with Politico released Monday morning. “If you are a front-runner, then you’re under more scrutiny and everybody’s going to pick you apart.”
The president said Sanders would likely be subjected to more rigorous vetting if he wins early nominating contests. Polls show Sanders competitive with Clinton in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, the opening contest in the nomination race, and leading in New Hampshire, which holds a primary the following week.

 

5. In ABC News, Benjamin Siegel and Devin Dwyer report why Rubio has downplayed the endorsement of the Des Moines Register.

 

The Florida Republican, who also said he was "grateful" for the Register's endorsement, has struggled to gain traction in Iowa ahead of the caucuses early next month, placing third in a Fox News poll of the state released Sunday behind Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump.
In recent days, several top Republicans appear to be coming to terms with a potential Trump victory in Iowa over Cruz. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said he wants Cruz defeated in his state. Former Kansas senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole told the New York Times the Republican Party would suffer with Cruz as the nominee, compared to Trump.
Asked if Trump's standing hurts his chances, Rubio, who has received endorsements from more than a dozen members of Congress, said voters should resist supporting the "next person in line or who the people in Washington tell us we're supposed to be voting for."

 

 6. In The Atlantic, Molly Ball writes about Ted Cruz's revolution.

 

“Ted Cruz is the only committed conservative I’ll have a chance to vote for in my lifetime,” said Rick Zaino, a 50-year-old electrical-service worker. He’s never been involved in a campaign before, but now he spends two hours every night making phone calls and knocking on doors for Cruz. “Republicans and Democrats are both for the government, not the people,” he added. “All our freedoms are being usurped every day.”
Cruz was accompanied in New Hampshire by members of the local GOP insurgency: Bob Smith, an odd duck who managed to get himself elected to two terms in the U.S. Senate before being drummed out by his fellow Republicans in 2002; Jack Kimball, a Tea Partier who became chairman of the state Republican Party, drove it into penury, and was ousted by an establishment cabal in 2011; and William O’Brien, a former speaker of the state House who lost his post a year ago after Democrats joined with moderate Republicans to elect a more congenial GOPer instead. This is the fate that normally awaits renegades. Cruz is betting that times have changed.

 

 7. In Slate, Jim Newell writes about the GOP’s warm treatment to Donald Trump.

 

In reality, the Republican establishment wants to win this election. I don’t want to give GOP elites too much credit now, given how incompetently they’ve managed the cycle so far, but it looks like they’re making an honest-to-goodness “play” here. Some might even call it a “strategy.” The most appropriate term, though, would be “moonshot.”
Their first objective is to take out Cruz. That means stopping him in Iowa. If he loses Iowa, a narrative sets in about how he blew it, and he might then finish out of the top three in New Hampshire. From there, he would likely not be able to make the dominant sweep through the South over the next month that his delegate strategy requires. If we look at Cruz’s Iowa trend line over the past week as he’s been taking incoming fire from all sides, it seems that this part of the plan is working.

 

 8. In Politico, Hadas Gold reports that Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly.

 

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Kelly has a "conflict of interest" and shouldn't moderate the debate, leading Fox to issue a statement saying Kelly has no conflict and thanking Trump for "trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him."
On Monday, the network's statement grew serious.
"Sooner or later Donald Trump, even if he’s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick the journalists — we’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly" a network spokesperson said.

 

 

9. In MSNBC, Alex Seitz-Wald reports that Sanders is planning to raise taxes.

 

“We will raise taxes, yes we will,” Sanders said to moderator Chris Cuomo of CNN at a Democratic forum on the campus of Drake University.
It’s the kind of blunt, un-politician-like talk that has endeared Sanders to his fans, but it’s also a comment ready-made for a political attack ad.
Sanders went on to say that a focus on taxes entirely misses the point, because his plan would reduce health insurance premiums by even more than it would raise taxes. The campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has attacked her opponent’s health plan for tax hikes, a charge Sanders Monday night called “unfair criticism” because his plan would ultimately save people money.

 

 

10. In CNN, Jennifer Agiesta reports that Trump has hit a new high in the race for the Republican nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

 

Trump has topped the 40% mark for the first time in CNN/ORC polling, standing at 41%. That more than doubles the support of his nearest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who notches 19% support in the poll. No other candidate hit double-digits. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio landed at 8%, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6%, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 5%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4%, and the rest at 3% or less.
Despite the new high-mark for Trump, the GOP race remains fairly stable compared with where it was in the most recent CNN/ORC poll in late December.
In that poll, Trump stood at 39%, Cruz at 18% and Rubio at 10%. Carson's 4-point dip, from 10% to 6%, between the two surveys is the largest change in the field, and it is not large enough to be a statistically significant change given the new poll's 5-point margin of sampling error.