Talk Media News

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

Quick News

  • Iowa caucuses: Final frenzy
  • Trump messes up mass
  • Candidates’ corner
  • How the Iowa caucuses work (sort of)
  • Oregon protest: Rally planned for today
  • Syria peace talks: Latest
  • Obama to visit US mosque

Iowa Caucuses: Final Frenzy (AP, NYT, WaPo, me)

• In a final frenzy to turn out supporters for tonight’s Iowa caucuses, the presidential contenders are scrambling to close the deal with the first voters to have a say in the 2016 race for the WH. Several will hold rallies today in a last-ditch effort to draw voters. Many hopefuls even looked ahead to the New Hampshire primary on 9 February and later contests

• The one agreement among all candidates: The outcome will boil down to turnout, and they’re trying to make whatever argument they can to ensure their supporters and, perhaps, a few last minute deciders, show up tonight

• Republican Donald Trump, with a slight edge over Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Iowa, predicted that “many” senators “soon” would endorse him rather than their Texas colleague. Trump didn’t name any such senators, and none immediately emerged (well, they won’t yet – they’re still desperately hoping anyone other than Trump or Cruz will pull it off)

• Democratic Hillary Clinton, in a tight race with Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders, suggested that political point-scoring helped explain the hubbub over the State Dept’s announcement Friday that it was withholding some “top secret” emails on the home server she used while secstate. She also accused Republicans of using the scandal to try to “beat me up.”



Trump Messes Up Mass
• Trump attended mass in a non-denominational church in Council Bluffs. The billionaire took communion when it was passed, but momentarily confused, he mistook the silver plates being circulated around the auditorium and dug several bills out of his pocket. “I thought it was for offering,” he said with a laugh to his staff (he’s so down with Christian rites…)


• Trump hammered Cruz for sending some Iowa voters a mailer that suggests they’ve committed a “voting violation” for poor participation in past presidential caucuses. “It is so dishonest. It is so dishonest,” Trump said in Council Bluffs (why does he always say everything twice, everything twice? anyone noticed that?)

• “I want to ask every one of you here to vote for me 10 times,” Cruz said at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City. “Now, look, we’re not Democrats. I’m not suggesting voter fraud. But if every one of you brings nine other people to the caucus tomorrow night, you will have voted 10 times.” Cruz campaigned with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson (complete with duck calls)

• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla), in a tight race for third place with Cruz, said on CNN: “I think as people learn more about his
[Cruz] record, they’ll realize that he really is very calculated. He’s always looking to take whatever position it takes to win votes or raise money.” (he’s partly why senators are hanging on – they think Rubio is palatable)

• Sanders, in Marshalltown, implored young and disaffected voters to help him mount “a political revolution.” He said the campaign isn’t just about his policy positions. “It is about revitalizing American democracy. That’s what you’re doing here.” Sanders joined Vampire Weekend on stage at the University of Iowa to sing “This Land Is Your Land” (kids love him – and his age)


• Who’s leading the Iowa and New Hampshire polls? (NYT)
• Beyond the top three sit a crowded pack of candidates: Ben Carson, former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla), Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio), former Hewlett Packard chief Carly Fiorina, and the last two Iowa winners, former Sen Rick Santorum (R-Pa) and former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-Ark). Plus, on the Democratic side, former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-Md)

• The last-minute scramble comes as campaigns filed campaign financial disclosures showing how much they raised in January. In addition to the candidates, the outside political groups helping them – super PACs – must turn in progress reports on their fundraising and spending. Sanders raised $20 million in January, which is formidable

• In the last major poll before the caucuses, Trump had the support of 28% of likely Republican caucus-goers, with Cruz at 23% and Rubio at 15%. The Iowa poll, published by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, also found Clinton with 45% support to Sanders’ 42% in the Democratic race – taken from Tuesday to Friday, margin of error plus or minus 4 points

• One development – the weather – was beyond the candidates’ (even Trump’s) control. A snowfall forecast to start late tonight appeared more likely to hinder the hopefuls in their rush out of Iowa than the voters. Kasich already has decamped to New Hampshire


Candidates’ Corner (WaPo, Hill, Hill, Reuters, AP, me)

• Hillary Clinton has begun channeling Bernie Sanders’ outraged rhetoric with a fiery new tone. “I’m going after all of them,” she declared in Davenport, her voice escalating to a shout. “When I talk about going after those companies, those businesses, those special interests, I have a much broader target list than my opponents.” (Republicans think it’s phony – and…)

• GOP 2016er Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show: “I would find it hard to believe that they would be eager to nominate someone who is under indictment and could well face felony incarceration. If she is indicted we’re not talking about speeding tickets.” (incarceration? really, ted?)

• The Democratic National Committee on Sunday said it has agreed to sanction more debates after coming under fire over a limited schedule. The DNC will sanction an MSNBC debate this Thursday in New Hampshire once the candidates all agree on the details. There will be a CNN town hall Wednesday evening (we’re going to get debated out now)

• Three out of every five Americans views Donald Trump unfavorably, according to Gallup’s most recent two-week average for all of the candidates. That’s the highest among the Republicans and the highest of any candidate in the race at this point. In fact, no candidate in the past 25 years has been viewed more unfavorably by Americans than Trump (store it away for future ref)


How the Iowa Caucuses Work (Sort Of) (CBS News, Politico, me)

• Caucuses are tonight, starting at 7 pm CST. There’s no set end time… Registered Republicans and Democrats – “neighbors” – gather to express their choice of candidate for president, which will determine how their state’s delegates vote at the annual conventions this summer

• The caucuses take place at community centers, school gyms, churches – sites that offer space for a number of people to gather. There are 1,681 precincts that will hold caucuses. The Democrats will also hold a “tele-caucus” for people living overseas and several “satellite caucuses” at places like nursing homes, or places with large numbers of night shift workers

• Voters arrive at a school or firehouse or wherever and check in before the caucus begins at 7 pm. Voters also have the opportunity to change their registration at the door if they wish to caucus with another party (trump is urging voters to do just that). Once inside the room, the process diverges between the two parties


• 6 counties to watch: Polk – largest, including Des Moines. Scott – has been solidly Dem, may be trending more GOP. Johnson – Iowa City & Uni of Iowa, solidly Dem, important for Sanders. Woodbury – conservative, Huckabee and Santorum won here. Sioux – could be crucial for Ted Cruz. Cerro Gordo – Clinton should do well here

• For Republicans, it’s fairly straightforward. Caucus attendees show up, and they can hear messages of support from either one of the candidates, a rep from the campaign, or a supporter. People cast a ballot for their preferred candidate, and national convention delegates are awarded proportionately based on the results (all go home, get ignored for four years)

• For Democrats it’s more complicated. They break into groups that support an individual candidate. If the number of people in any candidate’s group is less than a specific threshold – usually 15% of those in attendance – they can either choose not to participate or join another candidate group (still with me?)

• And, most importantly, because the number of delegates at each caucus precinct is predetermined, the results for the Democratic race reported at the end of the night aren’t vote totals – they’re delegate allocations (of course they are). Barack Obama didn’t win 38% of the vote in Iowa in 2008; he won about 38% of the delegates available


• The NTSB has wrapped up its investigative phase into the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia last year that killed eight people and injured about 200 others, and is releasing today the factual information gathered so far that could shed light on the cause. Next, investigators analyze the evidence, prepare a report and make safety recommendations (AP)

Oregon: Rally Planned for Today (AP, me)
• About a dozen people paid their respects Sunday afternoon at a makeshift memorial that has sprung up where rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by police last week on U.S. Highway 395 north of Burns. Mourners included Brandon Curtis, a founder of the Pacific Patriots Network, which is demanding the removal of law enforcement from Burns
• The network said it had rallies planned for today in Burns and called for like-minded people to gather in the small eastern Oregon town. “This is a call to action against an armed militarized police force,” said B.J. Soper, a network leader. The network also organized a rolling rally through Burns Saturday night. Locals say the conflict is upsetting (they’re so done with this)
• Meanwhile, the four people occupying a national wildlife refuge held their position Sunday. They have demanded that they be allowed to leave without being arrested. The jailed group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, and 10 others who were arrested last week remained in custody. Through his lawyer, Bundy on Saturday again called on the occupiers to leave
• A federal judge in Portland on Friday denied Bundy’s and several other leaders’ release from jail, saying Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne pose a danger to the community and she is concerned they wouldn’t follow orders to return to Oregon for criminal proceedings (i’ll bet – do they even really recognize the court?)

• Court docs detail some of the evidence against the occupiers. The charges against the defendants say the refuge’s 16 employees have been prevented from reporting for work because of threats of violence


• An emergency meeting of the World Health Organization is being held in Geneva to discuss the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus. The meeting will decide whether to declare a global emergency, which would lead to money, resources and scientific expertise being thrown at the problem. Zika has been linked to brain abnormalities in babies (BBC)
Syria Peace Talks: Latest (Reuters, me)
• Syria’s main opposition group is considering a “proposition” by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura that could pave the way to the delegation pressing ahead with talks after holding their first meeting with him on Sunday, a Western diplomatic source said
• Reps of the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political and militant opponents of President Assad, had warned earlier in the day that they may yet walk away from the Geneva talks unless the suffering of civilians is eased (the talks are on a knife’s edge – could stumble over anything)
• With ISIS bombers killing about 70 people near the country’s holiest Shi’ite shrine, the Syrian govt’s chief delegate retorted that the blasts in Damascus merely confirmed the link between the opposition and terrorism – even though ISIS has been excluded from the talks
• The UN is aiming for six months of talks that would focus on achieving a broad ceasefire, while working towards a political settlement to the civil war that has killed over 250,000 people, driven more than 10 million from their homes and drawn in global powers (meanwhile, the russian-backed syrian govt is gaining territory and has no incentive to make concessions)
• HNC spox Salim al-Muslat described discussions with de Mistura as very positive and encouraging “concerning humanitarian issues.” The UN special envoy’s office said he would meet the Syrian govt delegation today at 11 am and the HNC at 5 pm. The HNC wants a halt on attacks on civilian areas, the release of detainees and a lifting of blockades


Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini has awarded the Fath (Victory) medal to navy commanders for capturing U.S. sailors who entered Iranian territorial waters in January, Iran’s state media said Sunday. Iran freed the sailors a day after detaining them – there are still many details about the incident that remain unexplained by the Pentagon (me, Reuters)

Obama to Visit US Mosque (WaPo, AP, me)

• President Obama will make the first visit during his presidency to a U.S. mosque this week – the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday – the WH announced Saturday. A WH statement said Obama was making the visit ” to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”

• “As the president has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes – and our men and women in uniform defending our country.” At the mosque, Obama will hold a roundtable with community members. The trip comes a month after prominent Muslim Americans met senior WH officials

• At a time when some leading GOP presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, have suggested barring foreign Muslims from entering the country, Obama has argued that such efforts are wrong. “We’re not going to strengthen our leadership around the world by allowing politicians to insult Muslims or pit groups of Americans against each other,” Obama has said

• American Muslims are among Obama’s most enthusiastic backers but some feel he hasn’t done enough to address their concerns at a time of social unrest. And though Obama is a Christian, recent polls show that 29% of Americans, and nearly 45% of Republicans, believe he is a Muslim (obama doesn’t care any more how things look. he’s pretty done with that)

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Victoria Jones – Editor