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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.
 

February jobs report 8:30 am Eastern: Projected – 190,000-200,000 new jobs and unemployment stays at 4.9% (Reuters, WSJ)
 
Quick News
  • GOP fight night: 10 jabs
  • “Bullying” “Greed” “Showing off”
  • Romney rips Trump
  • Trump strikes back
  • Where is Trump money for veterans?
  • SCOTUS nominee: Latest
  • Obama: 20m insured by Obamacare
  • Mosul dam in danger of collapse
 
GOP Fight Night: 10 Jabs (Politico, Politico, WaPo, Hill, me)
• “I have to say this, he hit my hands,” Donald Trump said of Marco Rubio at Thursday night’s Fox News GOP debate in Detroit. “Nobody has ever hit my hands. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Knowingly: “And he referred to my hands if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.” (unzips pants – didn’t!!)
 
• Rubio ripped Trump for manufacturing his clothing line overseas. Trump shot back: “This little guy has lied so much about my record.” Brawl ensued. Then Trump said he would start migrating his clothing line stateside (why not already?)
 
• Ted Cruz implied that Trump was “misleading the American people” about his immigration views because he refuses to release the tape of an off-the-record conversation with NYT in which he discussed shifting his hardline position. “If you didn’t tell them that, the tapes will prove you innocent,” Cruz said. Brawl. “I’ve given my answer, lyin’ Ted” Trump concluded (presidential…)
 
• Fox played a series of videos showing Trump changing his mind on crucial issues – decision to go to war in Afghanistan, Syrian refugees, whether G.W. Bush lied about WMD in Iraq. “Many other examples,” said Megyn Kelly.” Trump defended his flip flops, then: “I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible.” (in Trump’s case, he just didn’t know what he was saying)
 
• Kelly noted that “so-called little guys” said they had been “fleeced” by Trump at Trump University. “The class has been certified and in that case you counter-sued the lead plaintiff,” she said. She read from an appeals court decision comparing students to “Madoff victims.” “Give me a break. Let’s see what happens in court,” Trump said (he’s for the little guy, all right)

 

“Bullying” “Greed” “Showing Off” (Politico, Politico, WaPo, Hill, me)
• “The bullying,” Chris Wallace said, as the crowd cheered. “The greed. The showing off. The misogyny. The absurd, third-grade theatrics.” “Well look, he was a failed candidate,” Trump said of Mitt Romney. “He should have beaten President Obama very easily. He failed miserably.”
 
• “Donald has not shown a seriousness about foreign policy,” Rubio said. “Trump rebutted with an attack: “Believe me, he is not a leader. I will prove to be  a great leader.” Rubio retorted: “He was pressed on a policy issue … his reaction was just to attack somebody else with a name.” (that’s what his followers like – his opponents don’t get that)
 
• Trump interrupted Cruz at one point. Cruz responded with soothing noises. “Breathe, breathe, breathe,” he said. “I am, Ted,” Trump replied. “You can do it. You can breathe. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard,” Cruz said (Cruz is starting to get how to get under Trump’s skin – a former prosecutor and very smart)
 
• At another point, Trump sought to interject as Cruz described some of Trump’s past business missteps. “Donald, learn not to interrupt,” Cruz said. “It’s not complicated. Count to ten, Donald. Count to ten.” (Trump was getting ticked)
 
• Despite the pile-on: “I’ll support Donald if he’s the nominee,” Rubio said. “Yes, because I gave my word that I would,” Cruz said. John Kasich agreed, but “sometimes he makes it a little bit hard. Trump feigned surprise: “Even if it’s not me? … The answer is, yes I will.” (so – total capitulation by rivals – is it over bar the shouting?)
 

• List: 25 (and counting) Republicans who won’t back Trump as nominee (Hill)

 

Romney Rips Trump (NYT, AP, Politico, me)
• Mitt Romney called Donald Trump a phony” and “a fraud” in a ripper of a speech on Thursday in which he urged Republicans to rally around another candidate – but didn’t name one. The Utah speech was a last-ditch effort among GOP leaders to blunt Trump’s momentum before he runs away with the presidential nomination (won’t work – will only fire up followers)
 
• “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said to applause. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.” Romney said, “This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”
 
• “There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured,” Romney said. Sen McCain (R-Ariz) praised Romney for speaking out and expressed concern over Trump’s “uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues.”
 
• Thursday’s clash came four years after Romney and Trump stood side by side in Las Vegas, with Trump saying it was a “real honor and privilege” to endorse Romney’s WH bid. Romney praised Trump for his ability to “understand how our economy works and to create jobs for the American people.”
 
• Thursday, Romney ripped Trump’s business background, ticking off bankruptcies and: “What ever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not,” Romney said. “Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark.”

 

• Fortune magazine on Thursday refuted a claim Trump made during a speech about the size of his company, saying he doesn’t operate a Fortune 500 company. Wed, the magazine published an article saying Trump’s actual income is most likely only a third of the $362 million in 2014 that he claims (this is why he won’t release taxes) (Hill)
 
Trump Strikes Back (NYT, Politico, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump struck back at Mitt Romney Thursday afternoon. “I backed Mitt Romney, you can see how loyal he is,” Trump said of his 2012 endorsement. “He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.” (it’s normal now – no reax to him saying a devout married Mormon would pleasure him)
 
• “Mitt is a failed candidate, he failed, he failed horribly,”Trump said at a rally in Portland Maine. “He failed badly. That was a race that should have been won.” “He let us down. He let us down. He was horrible in the third debate. Something happened.”
 
• Trump said he had held fundraisers for Romney. So many people came in for one fundraiser with wet shoes from the rain, Trump said, that “I ruined my carpet, that’s why I ruined it. And nobody thanked me.” “You help somebody and then he turns.”
 
• Romney’s slams against Trump’s business skills were particularly effective at getting under his skin. Trump went on an extended rant about his wealth, listing his largest building projects and suggesting that Romney, a multimillionaire, wasn’t that rich. “I’m a much, much better businessman than him,” Trump said (bigger than him in every way? hands and – things?)
 
• “And Jeb
[Bush] convinced him not to run. Can you imagine? Jeb. Jeb!” “I’ll tell you the real reason Mitt chickened out – it was me.” “Mitt Romney should not run. He’s a choke artist.”

 

• Thursday afternoon, Romney tweeted: “If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement.” (Hill)

 

Where is Trump Money for Veterans? (WaPo, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump has donated less than half of the $6 million he raised for military veterans late last January, WaPo reports. About $3 million has made its way to 24 charities the GOP presidential frontrunner picked as beneficiaries (this has been swirling around online for a few weeks – WaPo has first big dig into it)
 
• Trump boycotted the seventh debate on 28 Jan in a feud with the host Fox News. Instead, Trump conducted a rival fundraiser elsewhere in Des Moines, vowing the proceeds would benefit groups that aid military veterans (people were skeptical, noting that he had no history of donating to veterans’ groups)
 
• “If the media spent half as much time highlighting the work of these groups and how our veterans have been so mistreated, rather than trying to disparage Mr Trump’s generosity for a totally unsolicited gesture for which he had no obligation, we would all be better for it,” Trump campaign spox Hope Hicks said in an email
 
• Trump’s campaign had earmarked donations for $50,000 or $100,00 to 24 separate charities. Many organizations remain confused about the promised contributions, having received incomplete or nonexistent amounts. “Where’s the rest of the money going?” asked Keith David of the Task Force Dagger Foundation, which has received $50,000
 
• Most of the $3 million accounted for stems from donations from Trump’s wealthy friends, including billionaire investor Carl Icahn and Stewart Rahr, a New York City philanthropist who disbursed $1 million himself. Another $1.67 million originated from small donors online
 
 

• Former Trump hostage Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ), whose confused, angry and meek – face as he stood behind Trump at the tycoon’s Super Tuesday victory speech thrilled Twitter, said in a Thursday presser: “No, I wasn’t held hostage. No, I wasn’t sitting there thinking, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?'” – shocking case of Stockholm Syndrome…

 

SCOTUS Nominee: Latest (WSJ, Politico, NYT, me)
• The WH is reviewing potential Supreme Court nominees who not only have received past Republican support, but also have ties with top GOP lawmakers. President Obama is vetting U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane Kelly, Iowa – Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a relative of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis)
 
• Senate Democrats ripped Grassley on Thursday over his decision late Wednesday to cancel a Judiciary Committee markup on routine committee matters. Democrats had planned to use the hearing to pressure Republicans on the high court vacancy by repeatedly raising the issue
 
• Top Senate Democrats can’t wait for video of President Obama’s nominee being ignored outside Sen Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky) suite just off the Senate floor, perhaps snacking on the Hershey’s chocolate kisses he keeps in small bowls in his outer office – the images would be gold in what promises to be a brawl over Obama’s pick
 
• “I feel it’s about time that we have a national debate on the Supreme Court and how it fits in with our constitutional system of govt,” Grassley told attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington on Thursday
 
• Meanwhile, 67% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats say they want the Senate to hold hearings on a nominee, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Thursday. Plus, 58% say they want Obama to nominate a justice this year, and 41% say they would prefer the seat remain vacant until after the elections (not sure if it’s exciting to most voters yet, though)
 
• North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time and the military to be in “pre-emptive attack” mode in the face of growing threats from its enemies, state media said today – this after the UN Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions Wed for its nuclear program (Reuters)
 

Obama: 20m Insured by Obamacare (Hill, Reuters, AP, me)

• “Today I can announce that thanks to the [health care] law, 20 million more Americans now know the security of health insurance,” President Obama told a crowd in Milwaukee after being introduced by a local man who said the law saved his life. Brent Brown said he was a Republican who didn’t vote for Obama
 

• Obama delivered a speech in Milwaukee, Wis – a swing state – to celebrate the city’s victory in the WH healthcare sign-up challenge this year. About 75% of the city’s uninsured people who were eligible for Obamacare – 38,000 out of 51,000 – signed up for coverage, the most of the 20 cities participating
 

• “Congressional Republicans have tried and failed to undermine it about 60 times. They’ve told you what they’ll replace it with about zero times. They sure won’t tell you what would happen if they actually repeal it. Twenty million people would have their insurance taken away from them,” Obama said, as the crowd cheered
 

• Obama made his case a day after GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump released an outline of his own healthcare plan. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) recently tasked four GOP chairmen to come up with a replacement plan, though top Republicans acknowledge it’s unlikely to be ready before 2017 (they can’t figure out how to cover people without a mandate)
 

• Obama argued that Republican resistance to the law is politics – an “issue of ideology.” “‘We’re just against it,'” he said, mocking Republican leaders. “Facts, evidence don’t comport with their conviction that the Affordable Care Act means an end to the American way.” (Obama didn’t mention high deductibles – not so affordable for many)

 

• “We will defeat Donald Trump because the American people do not want a president who insults Mexicans, Muslims; who insults women; who insults African-Americans and who planned the effort for this ‘birther’ nonsense, which attempted to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama for one reason: the color of his skin,” Bernie Sanders said in Lawrence, Kansas, Thursday (LJ World)

US Evacuation from Iraq if Mosul Dam Collapses (Reuters, Hill, me)
• A U.S. security message warned its citizens to be ready to leave Iraq in the event of what it has said could be a catastrophic collapse of the country’s largest hydro-electric dam near Mosul. The message cited estimates that Mosul, northern Iraq’s largest city and under control of ISIS, could be inundated by as much as 70 feet of water within hours of a breach

• Cities downstream the Tigris River such as Tikrit and Baghdad could be inundated with smaller, but significant levels within 24-72 hours. Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi said Sunday precautions were being taken, but described the likelihood of such a scenario as “extremely small.”

• ISIS seized the dam in August 2014, raising fears they might blow it up and unleash a wall of water on Mosul and Baghdad that could kill hundreds of thousands. The dam was recaptured two weeks later by Iraqi govt forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, but the disruption of maintenance operations has increased the likelihood of a breach

• An Italian company has been awarded a contract to make urgent repairs to the dam, which has suffered from structural flaws since its construction in the 1980s and requires constant grouting to maintain structural integrity. (doesn’t sound good) The U.S. security message said it had “no specific information that indicates when a breach might occur.”

 

• Rocking into the weekend with “Spirits” – The Strumbellas

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Victoria Jones – Editor