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Friday, January 15, 206
17 Days until the Iowa Caucuses
298 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!!!
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- Trump, Cruz Dominate GOP Debate in Charleston With just seven candidates on stage at the Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, the race’s two leading contenders – Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – easily dominated the heated moments of the night.
- While Trump and Cruz began the race months ago with something of a “bromance” – opting to compliment each other at debates and rallies instead of firing attacks – the gloves came off Thursday when Cruz was asked about Trump’s comments that his Canadian birth disqualifies him for the Presidency.
- Cruz responded by quoting Trump himself calling the birther question a non-issue four months ago.
- “Since September the constitution hasn’t changed, but the poll numbers have," Cruz said. “I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling … but the facts of the law here are clear.”
- Then, he turned the question on Trump, noting that many birthers believe “natural-born citizenship” requires two American parents (both Cruz and Trump have just one).
- “On the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you,” Cruz said.
- Trump defended his charges by saying if Cruz does not deal with them now, it will be a problem if he makes it to the general election, even speaking hypothetically about picking Cruz as his running mate.
- “I choose him as my vice presidential candidate, and the Democrats sue because we can’t take him along for the ride,” he said. “I don’t like that.”
- Cruz responded in turn: “Donald, you — you very kindly just a moment ago offered me the V.P. slot. I’ll tell you what. If this all works out, I’m happy to consider naming you as V.P. So if you happen to be right, you could get the top job at the end of the day.”
- The moderators then turned to Cruz’s recent charge that Trump has “New York values”. The Texan explained the comment by saying, “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan…Everyone understands the values in New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and focus around money and the media.”
- But Trump stole the show by calling Cruz’s comments on New York City insulting in pivoting to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
- “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” Trump said. He continued: “The people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death. Nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell in the air.”
- “Everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved and I have to tell you that was a very insulting statement that Ted made,” Trump continued, even eliciting applause from Cruz
- Cruz was also the target of attacks from his Senate colleague Marco Rubio, who accused him of flip-flopping.
- “I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance,” Rubio said to Cruz. “That is not consistent conservatism.”
- Cruz responded, “I appreciate you dumping your oppo research folder.”
- “No, it’s your record,” Rubio retorted.
- Later, as Rubio and Cruz clashed, other candidates tried to jump in, attempting to use their debate as reasoning for not electing a senator as President.
- Jeb Bush interrupted, saying, “This latest back-and-forth between two backbench senators, it explains why we have the mess in Washington, D.C.”
- And then Chris Christie tried to jump in, as Rubio attempted to shout him down. “You already had your chance, Marco. You blew it,” Christie said.
- Bush also took on many of Trump’s proposals Thursday night, calling the frontrunner “unhinged” for his call to pause Muslim immigration and calling his tariff plan for Chinese imports “devastating for our economy”.
- Trump’s response hit Bush directly: “We don’t need a weak person being president of the United States.”
- Meanwhile, Ben Carson barely showed up at the debate, joking about his sleepy tendencies in his first answer (“I am very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when the time came.”), and then indeed speaking for just 8 minutes (Ted Cruz spoke for over 18 minutes; Trump for 17).
- Earlier in the day, at the undercard debate, Carly Fiorina dominated over Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee with attacks at Hillary Clinton (Rand Paul declined his invitation to the undercard, although his supporters broke out in chants of “We want Rand” at one point in the primetime event).
- “Unlike another woman in this race, I like spending time with my husband,” Fiorina referenced Clinton in her first answer. In her closing statement, Fiorina again turned to Clinton: “You know everybody out there watching knows this — you cannot wait to see the debate between me and Hillary Clinton. You would pay to see that fight. That’s because you know I will win, and that’s important. We gotta start by beating Hillary Clinton.”
- In between, she also took contrasted Clinton’s lack of technological know-how with her experience as CEO of HP. “Mrs. Clinton, you cannot wipe a server with a towel,” Fiorina said.
- With less than 20 days until the Iowa caucuses, fireworks were on full display at the Republican debate last night – between Trump and Cruz, Cruz and Rubio, Rubio and Christie, etc. – a sign of what’s to come as this race reaches its next stage.
- Democrats Hold South Carolina Debate Saturday The three Democratic candidates for President – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley – will follow the Republicans to South Carolina with their own Charleston debate Saturday.
- The debate, being held at the Gillard Center, is sponsored by NBC News and the Congressional Black Caucus. YouTube is also partnering with the South Carolina Democratic Party for the debate, which will be livestreamed on the video-sharing website.
- NBC’s “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt will moderate.
- Lindsey Graham to Endorse Bush According to reports, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham will endorse former Florida governor Jeb Bush for President at a North Charleston event this morning.
- Graham, who waged his own campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination but failed to gain traction and dropped out in December, is a key endorsement in the Palmetto State.
- South Carolina boasts the “First in the South” primary, and Graham’s backing could open the door for Bush, to increased support and even endorsements from Gov. Nikki Haley or Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina, or Graham’s Senate ally John McCain (AZ).
- Graham is the first of the withdrawn GOP candidates to endorse in the race; he is the fifth U.S. Senator to back Jeb Bush.
White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule President Barack Obama will continue speaking about the ideas he pushed in his final State of the Union address Tuesday, with another round of YouTube interviews. This year’s YouTube creators who will question the President are engineer Destin Sandlin (creator of “Smarter Everyday”), fashion expert Ingrid Nilsen, and Andande Thorne ("sWooZie” on YouTube).
- Vice President’s Schedule Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, where he will launch his “moonshot” to cure cancer.
- President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address that the U.S. government would be refocusing its efforts to cure cancer, and that Biden would lead the charge.
- Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer last year, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.
Question of the Day
- Monday’s Answer I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to answer this question, but earlier in the week, I asked for the first State of the Union address televised at night.
- THE ANSWER: Lyndon Johnson’s first State of the Union address on January 4, 1965.
- THE WINNERS: Joan Zucker, Jim Wilbat, Steve Gitnik, and @usarenaissance on Twitter.
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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