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.

It’s Groundhog Day again. again
Quick News

  • Cruz wins Iowa, Trump loser, Rubio strong third
  • Trump was out-organized
  • Clinton claims win / Sanders, Clinton – tight race
  • Clinton: “Big sigh of relief”
  • Obama/Ryan/McConnell: Huddle-hug today
  • Pressure mounts to stay in Afghanistan
  • Rio Olympics to go ahead despite Zika
Cruz Wins Iowa: Trump Loser: Rubio Strong Third (NYT, AP, WaPo, WSJ, Politico, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), powered by a surge of support from evangelical Christians, dealt a humbling loss to Donald Trump (won’t stay humble for long) in the Iowa caucuses Monday, throwing into question the depth of support for Trump’s unconventional candidacy. Turnout was about 185,000, a record, according to Edison Research
• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) finished a strong third, bolstering his case to consolidate the support of Republicans uneasy about the two top finishers. With 98% of precincts reporting, Cruz had nearly 28% of the vote, Trump 24% and Rubio 23% (Rubio nearly beat Trump to an embarrassing third place)
• Cruz’s victory was hard-earned. He fought off a barrage of attacks in the campaign’s final weeks from Trump (Oh Canada) as well as from Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, and GOP leaders in Washington who warned that the hard-line Cruz would lead the party to electoral disaster this fall (they’ll really rally around Rubio now, with his strong finish)
• “To God be the glory,” Cruz told jubilant supporters. “Tonight is a victory for the grass roots.” (God and grass roots working together?) The Republican race could be turbulent, with the vote fragmenting between Cruz’s evangelicals and tea party adherents, Trump’s blue collar newcomers and Rubio’s mix of conservatives and pragmatic Republicans who just want to win
• Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-Ark) ended his 2016 bid, a campaign that wasn’t nearly as prominent as his previous run at the GOP nomination in 2008, where he won eight states, including the Iowa caucus. He opted to throw all of his chips at Iowa, but ended up with 1.8% of the vote
• “‘No one remembers who came in second’ – Walter Hagen” – tweet by @RealDonaldTrump on 17 June 2014… – Trump’s tweet from two years ago is getting retweeted like crazy overnight
Trump Was Out-Organized
•Trump paid the price for building only a rudimentary political organization in the state. “I love you people. I love you people,” a subdued-sounding Trump unconvincingly told a crowd of Iowans in West Des Moines. “We will go on to get the Republican nomination, and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever they hell they throw out there.” (lame/phony)
• The victory for Cruz was a validation of the Iowa tradition that success there comes from intensive retail campaigning. The question now for Cruz is whether to compete aggressively in New Hampshire next Tuesday or divide his time between there and South Carolina on 20 Feb, which has an evangelical population closer in size to Iowa’s. Trump leads in NH
• The strong finish by Rubio, the choice of a plurality of voters who said they made their decisions in the last week, will allow him to begin making the case to Republican donors, activists and elected officials that he’s the strongest candidate acceptable to them who can win over grass roots conservatives (over the long run, he could actually pull this off)
• Trump hurt himself recently. He spoke of “Two Corinthians” instead of the Second Book of Corinthians, a telling lapse in the eyes of evangelicals. He boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still “wouldn’t lose voters”, and he skipped the only debate held in Iowa to avoid a confrontation with Cruz and Fox News. It was enough to make Iowans uneasy
• Trump needed a robust get-out-the-vote organization, but he was badly out-organized by Cruz. He didn’t campaign one-on-one and humbly request support. At times, Trump even mocked Iowans. He repeatedly noted that the winner of the GOP caucuses hadn’t won the nomination in 16 years, chiding hem for picking losers, even using the word “stupid”


• A furious Ben Carson’s team claimed that Ted Cruz’s campaign deliberately sent emails to supporters to spread false rumors at caucus sties that Carson had dropped out, so his supporters would caucus for other candidates. “That is really quite a dirty trick,” Carson said to reporters. “That’s the kind of thing that irritated me enough to get into this quagmire.” (Politico)
Clinton Claims Win: Sanders, Clinton: Tight Race (NYT, Reuters, AP, WaPo, Politico, me)
• Hillary Clinton and Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) were locked in an intensely tight race in the Iowa caucuses early today as Clinton’s strong support among women and older voters was matched by the passionate liberal foot soldiers whom Sanders has been calling to political revolution. Clinton aides claimed a win around 4:00 am. Sanders called the race “a virtual tie” – had not conceded at time of writing
• The close results were deeply unnerving to Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as her advisers, some of whom had expressed growing confidence in recent days that they had recaptured political momentum. The Sanders campaign said on a plane early this morning that Clinton aides declared victory early to pressure networks into calling it
• The close vote means that Clinton and Sanders are likely to split Iowa’s share of delegates to the Democratic convention 22-21, with one left to be decided, and Sanders will be able to argue that the Iowa result was a virtual tie. As the results trickled in, the third candidate in the race, former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-Md), announced that he was pulling out of the race
• The virtual tie instantly raised the stakes for the primary next Tuesday in New Hampshire. Sanders holds a solid lead in polls there and has the advantage of being from Vermont; candidates from neighboring states have won the state’s primary in recent decades and Sanders is admired in the state
• Clinton advisers said late Monday night that the Clintons were discussing bringing on additional staff members to strengthen her campaign now that a pitched battle may lie ahead against Sanders (Clinton wanted a bigger win – plus declaring a win at 4 am with 99% reporting and 49.9% to 49.6% was arrogant – and she already has that rep)


• MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, in his first primetime appearance since his suspension, apologized on the air Monday night, after a young female voter said: “The fact that I haven’t gotten benefits in three months because the VA is so fuc*ed really makes me concerned,” (you should be). “A bit of French that snuck in on our English translation,” Williams oozed
Clinton: “Big Sigh of Relief”
• At her caucus night party, Clinton sought to put the best face on a tight result that had nearly half of Democrats voting against her. “As I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief – thank, you, Iowa!” she said, joined on stage by Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea
• Sanders drew ecstatic cheers as he said he took on the Clintons – “the most powerful political organization in the United States of America” – and drove them into a tie. He said a “very profound message” had been sent to “the political establishment, the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment”- too late for establishment politics/economics
• Iowa Democratic Party officials said they’re still gathering results from a small number of precincts where those in charge failed to report results. Polk Country Democratic Party chair Tom Henderson said he’d tracked down results from 166 of 167 precincts and that someone was being sent to knock on the door of the chair of the last outstanding precinct (gone to bed?)
• Clinton, 68, performed well among women, moderates and older Iowans. Her shifts to the left on trade, the environment and gay marriage helped her win over Democrats, though not the many liberals and young people who mistrusted her pragmatic style of politics and her ties to wealthy interests and Wall Street
• Sanders, 74, drew strong support from first-time Democratic caucusgoers, who accounted for more than four in 10 voters. But they made up a smaller share of the electorate than in 2008. Sanders was also widely supported by younger voters and independents, but voters 65 and older accounted for about three in 10 voters and they went for Clinton


• In a handful of Iowa Democratic caucus precincts, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss (WTF?). It happened in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where supporters of Sanders and Clinton disputed the results after 60 caucus participants apparently disappeared (huh?) from the proceedings. As a result of the coin toss, Clinton got an extra delegate (crazy) (Des Moines Register, me)

Obama / Ryan / McConnell Huddle-Hug Today (Roll Call, Hill, me)

• President Obama is asking Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) to stick around for lunch today after their first formal meeting together. Obama and Ryan will dine after they meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) in the Oval Office, WH spox Josh Earnest said Monday (so no bourbon summit for Obama and McConnell today, then)

• Earnest told reporters the three amigos should discuss several matters on which they appear to agree. That list includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (but McConnell doesn’t want a vote until after the 2016 elections), battling the heroin epidemic, criminal justice reform, the WH’s cancer “moonshot” for a cure and authorizing the fight against ISIS

• Also expected to be on the agenda are the earned income tax credit and what to do about the Puerto Rico financial crisis, which Ryan has said he will take action on early this year. Both parties call criminal justice reform a priority, but so far a single bill both could support has yet to surface on Capitol Hill (it may go nowhere – Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark) wants to scuttle it)

• McConnell has brought up a draft bill for an Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS supported by Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would give Obama almost unlimited powers to fight the terrorist group. Last Feb, Obama sent up a version that would slap restrictions on the kinds of missions troops could carry out, among other limits (so may go nowhere)


Pressure Mounts to Stay in Afghanistan (Hill, me)

• A slew of setbacks in Afghanistan has prompted concern about President Obama’s plan to withdraw all but 5,500 troops by the end of the year – and his presidency. SecDef Ash Carter said at a presser Thursday: “We’re in this for the long run. That is, the president has made a commitment, and all the coalition members have, to stick with Afghanistan.”

• Gen John Campbell, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has said he’d like to keep troops in the country as long as possible. Campbell is scheduled to testify today before the House Armed Services Committee, and Senate Armed Services Committee later this week (going to be quite lively – advise robust snax + warm, wintry drinx)

• Over the past few months, six U.S. airmen were killed by a suicide bomber and a Special Forces soldier was killed in a firefight. The admin also named ISIL-Khorasan, or ISIL-K, a growing group of ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan, a terrorist organization. More broadly, the Pentagon has expressed concern that security has deteriorated

• In Oct, Obama announced the 9,800 troops now in the country would stay through most of 2016. Troops numbers would fall to 5,500 by the end of the year, he said. Attempts to restart peace talks or reconciliation with the Taliban are complicated. The Taliban has said they won’t negotiate until all foreign troops are out. The next major meeting is scheduled for 6 Feb

• “A date certain for withdrawal only emboldens the Taliban and undermines reconciliation talks,” Sen John McCain (R-Ariz), Armed Services chair, said in a statement last week (gobbling and dribbling of snax with excitement during McCain’s questioning time this week is permitted)


• The fiscal year 2017 Pentagon budget will call for more than $7 billion for the fight against ISIS, a roughly 35% increase compared with the previous year’s request to Congress, U.S. officials say. SecDef Ash Carter is due to disclose his spending priorities for the $583 billion 2017 defense budget in a speech today to the Economic Club of Washington (Reuters)

Rio Olympics To Go Ahead Despite Zika (Reuters, BBC, me)

• There’s no chance that the Rio Olympics will be canceled because of a Zika virus outbreak, Brazil said Monday. Authorities said there was no risk to athletes and spectators “if you are not a pregnant woman” at the August event. (money money money) Experts are worried that the mosquito-borne virus in Latin America is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences

• Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned a disease linked to Zika posed a global public health emergency requiring a united response. The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. There have been around 4,000 cases in Brazil alone since October

• Brazilian health minister Marcelo Castro told Reuters that the epidemic was worse than believed because in 80% of the cases the infected people had no symptoms. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff earlier authorized health and sanitary inspectors to use force if necessary to gain access to private buildings – so the govt can eradicate breeding grounds for mosquitoes

• The WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola. It means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection. The WHO faced heavy criticism for waiting too long to declare the Ebola outbreak a public emergency. Currently, there’s no vaccine or medication to stop Zika, which is in 24 countries in the Americas

• WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan said delaying travel was something pregnant women “can consider,” adding that if they needed to travel they should take personal protective measures by covering up and using mosquito repellent. Critics are saying that the current outbreak could have been sparked by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil in 2012

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Victoria Jones – Editor