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Wake Up To Politics - February 4, 2016

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Thursday, February 4, 2016
5 Days until the New Hampshire primary
278 Days Until Election Day 2016 I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.    2016 Central

  • Paul, Santorum Suspend Presidential Bids Two more Republican presidential candidates suspended their campaigns Wednesday, just two days after the Iowa caucuses: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
  • “It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” read a statement from Paul announcing his exit. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.”
  • “Brushfires of Liberty were ignited [in the campaign, and those will carry on, as will I,” Paul continued.
  • Paul finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses Monday, ahead of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie, among others. With nearly 5% of the vote, Paul received one delegate. However, the path forward to the nomination for him was unclear, and he still has to return to Kentucky and fun for Senate re-election.
  • With Paul officially refocusing on his Senate race, he received renewed support from FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, two top conservative groups, in what was supposed to be an easy win for Paul – but has been complicated by the entry of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, the wealthy and openly gay likely Democratic nominee.
  • Santorum, meanwhile, announced his suspension later Wednesday in an appearance on Fox News’ “On the Record”.
  • “We decided that I think we could be better advocates for [the campaign’s goals] in supporting someone who shared those values and is in a better position to do well in this race,” Santorum told Greta Van Susteren, before revealing who that “someone” is.
  • When Van Susteren asked, Santorum announced that he was endorsing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, calling Rubio a “tremendously gifted young man…[and] a born leader”.
  • “He is the new generation and someone that can bring this country together,” Santorum also said of Rubio.
  • With Paul and Santorum out of the race (on the heels of Mike Huckabee’s suspension Monday night), the Republican presidential field thins to just 10 candidates, as a new phase of the nomination fight begins.
  • Democrats to Hold First One-On-One Debate in New Hampshire Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will meet for a new-sanctioned debate at the University of New Hampshire in Durham tonight.
  • Tonight’s event, airing on MSNBC at 9pm Eastern Time, will be the first one-on-one debate between Clinton and Sanders, since Martin O’Malley suspended his campaign Monday night.
  • Coming on the heels of CNN’s Democratic town hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday (where both of the candidates answered question separately), the MSNBC debate is expected to continue the back-and-forth between Clinton and Sanders on who is the more “progressive” candidate.
  • Sanders is expected to continue his line of attack from Wednesday’s forum, criticizing Clinton for what he sees as a laundry list of non-progressive stances: her super PAC, donations from Wall Street, Iraq War vote, trade policy, and initial support of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Meanwhile, Clinton will likely hit back against Sanders, calling herself the “real progressive” in light of Sanders’ votes on gun control and immigration reform, and past categorizing of Planned Parenthood and President Obama as “establishment”.
  • This debate could be the most contentious of the Democratic campaign thus far, as both candidates are expected to go more negative than ever in an attempt to win the New Hampshire primary, just days after their virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses Monday, which Clinton won.
  • While the debate, moderated by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd, will probably focus on domestic policy, national security is also expected to come up, an area in which Sanders is considerably weaker. This debate will provide insight into how Sanders has improved on the issue since launching his campaign, and how both candidates attempt to appeal to New Hampshire independents (who can vote in either party’s primary Tuesday).
  • This is the first of four new debates the Democratic National Committee confirmed just yesterday, with a March debate in Flint, Michigan, an April debate in Pennsylvania, and a May debate in California also added to the schedule. The additions came after both Sanders and Clinton pushed for more debate opportunities, a surprising twist in a cycle where the few Democratic debates were thought to help Clinton.
  • Now, with Sanders on her heels, she needs them as much as him.
  • Trump Calls for Iowa Re-Vote Just days after humbly conceding the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to accuse Ted Cruz of committing fraud and stealing the caucuses.
  • Trump’s complaints are centered around two “dirty tricks” conducted by the Cruz campaign: a mailer accusing Iowans of “voter violations” (which Trump called “a misdemeanor at minimum”) and a caucus-night message to precinct captains to inform Carson voters that their candidate was dropping out (he didn’t) and to vote for Cruz.
  • “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” Trump tweeted. Later, Trump seemed to be fine with simply taking Cruz out of the equation, calling for the Texan “immediately disqualified in Iowa, with each candidate moved up one notch.”
  • Cruz told reporters Wednesday that the Carson release was, in fact, CNN’s fault. “The news story said that Ben Carson was not continuing on from Iowa to New Hampshire; he was not continuing to South Carolina,” he said. “He was going home to Florida. That was a news story CNN had posted. And our political team passed it on to our supporters. It was breaking news that was relevant. Now, subsequently the Carson campaign put out another statement saying that he was not, in fact, suspending his campaign. And I apologized to Ben for our team not passing on their subsequent clarification.”
  • CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin responded to Cruz’s blaming her network, saying: “That was B.S.”

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule In the morning, President Obama will address the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event organized by the Fellowship Foundation, a Christian organization, and hosted by members of Congress. Obama, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan, will speak to the 3,500 attending the breakfast, as every President since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 has done.
  • In the afternoon, Obama will honor the Golden State Warriors for their 2015 NBA Championship title.
  • Finally – later in the afternoon, the President will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia. The main issue on the table will be Colombia’s peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, ahead of the March 23 deadline to seal an agreement, and how the United States can collaborate with Colombia during and after the negotiations.
  • In addition to their bilateral meeting, both Presidents will speak at a reception marking the 15-year anniversary of Plan Colombia, an effort between the U.S. and Colombia to create a “more secure, more prosperous and more peaceful democracy with a vibrant free-market economy” in the latter nation. Current and former U.S. and Colombian officials who contributed to Plan Colombia, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, and NGO representatives will be in attendance.
  • Vice President’s Schedule In the morning, Vice President Biden will host President Santos and others in the Colombian delegation for a breakfast at the Naval Observatory, Biden’s official residence. Along with a number of U.S. senators, the group will discuss the FARC peace talks.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate: Today The upper chamber will continue consideration of amendments to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, a bipartisan energy bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to expand the conservation fund and update the electricity grid, among other policies.
  • Despite support from both parties, the bill is threatened by a Democratic amendment to include $600 million in federal aid to Flint, Michigan to repair the city’s pipes and fix the water crisis there. Discord over how much aid should be sent could sidetrack debate over the bill and sink its chances of passage.

Question of the Day

  • Today's Question Which 2016 presidential candiate first entered the national stage with a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast?
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light