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Wake Up To Politics - January 27, 2016

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016
5 Days until the Iowa Caucuses
286 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

  • Trump: “I Won’t Be Doing The Debate” Republican presidential frontrunner announced Tuesday that he will not attend Thursday’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa on FOX News. Citing, her questioning of him at the FOX debate in August, Trump claims the network’s flagship anchor Megyn Kelly is biased against him and demands that she be removed from the moderating table.
  • Trump’s refusal to participate at the debate, an unprecedented and highly unorthodox move, was announced in a statement from his campaign.
  • “Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one,” the statement read, continuing: “Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn’t play games.”
  • FOX responded to Trump’s announcement, with a statement saying, “Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly…but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”
  • The statement also read; “We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly,” noting “We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.”
  • This is not the first time Trump has threatened to boycott a debate: since announcing his presidential bid, the billionaire mogul has expressed anger over all the money networks make from the debates, which he claims is solely because of him.
  • Now, however, Trump appears to be serious, a move that could cost or benefit him: he could come off as scared to confront his opponents or the moderators, and could offend Iowa days before their crucial caucuses; or he is able to remain the center of attention even without showing up.
  • Trump indicated that he would host a separate event in Iowa that night, to raise money for veterans and Wounded Warriors.
  • To close her FOX News show Tuesday, Kelly referenced Thursday’s debate, saying: “I'll be there.”
  • And so will I! Wake Up To Politics is going back to Des Moines, where I have been credentialed for the Republican debate. This means I will have the opportunity to question GOP candidates and their surrogates in the Spin Room, so make sure to send me some questions you want asked at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com.
  • Whiteboard Wednesday Every week, I use my whiteboard to draw an update in the presidential race. Here is this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday:
  • The numbers in the whiteboard all come from an average of polls conducted in the presidential race this week. The percentages (written in brown) are derived from this average, which than result in the rankings (written in black). The +/– numbers (written in red or green) compare the candidate’s percentage this week to their showing the week before.
  • On the Republican side, most candidates lose ground this week – with one notable exception: Donald Trump. As we creep closer to Iowa, Trump is picking up momentum, with national polls showing him closer to or above 40% support. Other than Trump’s gains, the race stays about the same. Ted Cruz doesn’t lose much support (–1%), but Marco Rubio (–3%) and Ben Carson (–5%) both continue dropping fairly significantly. Symbolic of his stagnant campaign, Jeb Bush does not change at all from his standing last week. As he loses some of the momentum he had from gains in New Hampshire (which have now subsided), Chris Christie drops (–1.5%), although Mike Huckabee picks up some ground, moving from ninth place to seventh. The rest of the field sees minimal changes.
  • Meanwhile, on the Democratic side – all three candidates lose ground from last week, a sign of the uncertainty that faces the Democratic race, which hinges on the results of the Iowa caucuses next week. 

White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule At 11am, President Obama will meet with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
  • At 11:45am, Obama will meet “privately” with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, with “no formal agenda”. According to the White House, the two discussed a meeting at the Congressional Holiday Ball last month, but the timing is notable as it comes just days after Obama shot down parallels between his and Sanders’ upstart campaigns in a Politico interview earlier this week.
  • Obama met with Sanders’ main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, on December 7.
  • At 12:30pm, the President will hold his weekly lunch with Vice President Joe Biden.
  • At 2:30pm, President Obama will sit for interviews with local television anchors from across the country.
  • Finally, at 5:45pm, the President will speak at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, recognizing non-Jews who rescued Jews from the Holocaust, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C to mark the UN-declared International Holocaust Day.
  • The awards, presented by Yad Vashem (the official Holocaust memorial of Israel) will be bestowed upon two Americans (Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee and Lois Gunden of Goshen, Indiana) and two Polish citizens (Walery and Maryla Zbijewski of Warsaw).

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate: Today The Senate convenes at 11am today for the first time this week. The chamber will hold one vote today: on confirmation of John Michael Vazquez to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. Vazquez, currently an attorney in private practice, was nominated for the judgeship in March 2015 (the seat has been vacant since February 2015). Vazquez’s nomination has been floating in limbo since the Judiciary Committee reported it to the full Senate last September; his confirmation vote is part of a deal between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid to vote on five judicial nomination before Presidents’ Day.
  • In addition, the Senate will debate Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) Energy Policy Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill to “modernize” U.S. energy policies on efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and reauthorizing conservation programs.
  • House: Today The lower chamber is not in session today, as House Democrats decamp to Baltimore, Maryland for their annual retreat. Over the course of the three-day retreat, speakers will include “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Kahn Academy founder Salman Kahn, leadership speaker Simon Sinek, and political cartoonist Tom Toles. President Obama and Vice President Biden will both address the retreat Thursday.
  • This is an opportunity for congressional Democrats to set their 2016 legislative strategy and agenda; the theme of this year’s retreat is “united for opportunity,” a contrast to the splintered Republican caucus.

Question of the Day

  • Today’s Question On the campaign trail Tuesday, Hillary Clinton was asked if she would consider appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. Her response? “Wow. What a great idea. Nobody has ever suggested that to me,” she said. “He may have a few other things to do,” she noted, but continued: “I would certainly take that under advisement,” Clinton said. “I mean, he is brilliant and he can set forth an argument and he was a law professor. He has got all the credentials.”
  • Who is the only former President to have served on the Supreme Court? Answer the trivia question by emailing me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com; correct respondents will get their name in tomorrow’s Wake Up!
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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