Monday, February 8, 2016

Good morning everyone! Happy Monday to you!

The show is live from New Hampshire through Wednesday this week. Joining the show this morning are Mike Barnicle, Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, Bill Kristol, Fmr. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Chris Jansing, Hallie Jackson, James Pindell, Mary Kissel, Robert Costa, Kasie Hunt, Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush, Chuck Todd, Kate Snow, Gov. Chris Christie, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, Stuart Stevens, Craig Shirley, Sara Eisen, Sam Stein, Margaret Carlson and in Taji, Japan, a pod of dolphins is being driven into ‪#‎TheCove‬. Dead Risso's dolphins are now being removed from the killing cove. After both skiffs left, about 3 dolphins were driven back out to open sea. 2016-8-2 9:11am ‪#‎dolphinproject‬ ‪#‎tweet4dolphins‬.
5 takeaways from the GOP debate by POLTICO, Christie goes Jersey, Trump tones it down and Bush hushes up. 
Here’s what everyone is supposed to write: Marco Rubio, the communal target of the GOP field looking to knock him down, stumbled badly, reciting his pre-scripted pablum of a soulless establishment-candidate cyborg.

Meh. Rubio wasn’t great. The morning-after narrative is Marco the Rube — and his weird triple talking-point repeat just might be enough to slow down the young man in a hurry, even though the polls have shown him only modestly rising into second place here behind Donald Trump. The reality is that the final Republican debate before the New Hampshire primaries was a messy, multilevel scrum that didn't do much to clarify an unpredictable race that seems ripe for big momentum changes in the final three days. The stakes couldn’t be higher: About a third of GOP and independent primary voters remain up for grabs.

In fact, the much-anticipated showdown at Saint Anselm College here was, truth be told, a little bit boring, a late-2015 Democratic snoozer in Trump’s pajamas. Here are five takeaways:

1. Chris Christie beat up Marco Rubio and took his lunch money. Chris Christie, the beefy Jersey brawler, needs a halfway decent showing here to live and fight another primary day (his war chest and approval ratings are too low to withstand another thrashing). Polling at a measly 5 percent in the state that was supposed to be favorable to him, Christie – known for heckling his hecklers before they even heckle him – was perfectly content to take his frustrations out on Rubio, whose third-place finish in Iowa has turned into a real surge into second place behind Trump here.

It didn’t take long for Christie to go all schoolyard on the polished Florida senator: In the debate’s opening moments, he mocked Rubio spouting talking points and declared that he “simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States.” Then Rubio got pantsed: He blasted Christie for failing to show up in his state until 36 hours after the recent East Coast blizzard – only to have the quick-witted prosecutor fire instantly back with a reference to Rubio’s D-minus Senate attendance record.

Rubio: “They had to shame you into going back.”
Christie, for the win: “The shame is, Marco, you would actually criticize someone for showing up to work."

2. Electability trumps purity - finally. The contrast between Iowa, a state dominated by evangelicals and anti-immigration voters, and New Hampshire, one of the final places in the nation with a sizable cache of moderates, was stark. The tone of the race shifted perceptibly on Saturday night, from a competition among the candidates to assert their conservative purity to a general-election mindset that accounted for the mainstream views of median America.

Take the protean Trump, who sounds a little like Lester Maddox in Georgia and Judd Gregg in these parts. The developer, who spouted a strictly anti-government line in previous debates, defaulted to a kinder, gentler approach that echoed that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has suggested he approved the expansion of Medicaid in his state to appease his maker at the Pearly Gates.

No, Trump still hasn’t outlined his fabulous health care plan – but he assured the locals his proposal would ensure that nobody is left "dying on the street" without health care coverage. "There will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying. As a Republican I don’t want that to happen," he said. "We’re going to take care of people dying on the street ... You're not gonna let people die sitting in the middle of a street in any city in this country."

3. Donald Trump, downsized. The Donald looked wan, thinner and more chastened after his humbling Iowa defeat, like an El Greco version of himself. He’s still the front-runner, but he’s lost his maverick swagger – and now has the flop-sweat whiff of a tired horse harrumphing into the homestretch. Moreover, he seemed un-outsidery, reasonable, and reasonably well-informed – painstakingly offering a defense of eminent domain, the governmental practice of seizing private property for a public or private development project, like Trump casinos in Atlantic City.

Without eminent domain — a trigger issue for the dominant libertarian wing of the New Hampshire GOP — he argued "you wouldn't have roads, you wouldn't have hospitals, you wouldn't have anything… you wouldn't have schools, or bridges." He may have been right on the issue – but he opened himself to the kind of defending-is-losing assault that he has waged so effectively against his opponents.

Enter Jeb Bush, eager to give the bully his beating: Delving into the Trump oppo file, he came out with a two-decade-old anecdote of Trump displacing an elderly homeowner to build his Trump Plaza Hotel. "What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City," the former Florida governor said. "That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong."

4. Jeb is still Jeb. Bush has been showing signs of life – leaping to double-digits in several recent polls here. And he’s been on a testosterone tear over the past week – lashing Rubio (his Florida protégé-turned-rival) for his inexperience and dumping on Trump with a vehemence not seen since he kicked off his thus-far disappointing campaign. Still, for the zillionth time in the GOP debates, Bush was offered Trump jugular – and delivered a decisive paper cut. His rousing eminent domain line dissipated when Trump counter-attacked: Bush, he said, "wants to be a tough guy" -- and then proceeded to silence him with a commanding "Lemme talk -- quiet!"

5. No pleasure, Cruz. The Iowa bubbly has turned flat awfully fast for Ted Cruz, who unexpectedly upended Trump in Iowa less than a week ago. Cruz won’t win New Hampshire: His firebrand, religion-fueled conservatism is a hard sell north of the Mason-Dixon and east of the Mississippi. Knowing he had little to win and lots to lose, Cruz kept his head down – and sought to clean up his campaign’s creepy caucus-day tactic of telling voters that Ben Carson had already dropped out of the race to pick up the sagging surgeon’s supporters.
“Ben, I’m sorry,” Cruz told Carson, adding that he “knew nothing about this” – blaming an initial CNN report claiming that Carson was planning to take a brief respite from the campaign trail.

“I’m very disappointed,” Carson replied.

Rubio choked. The Florida senator went into Saturday night’s GOP debate with momentum. He ended it as a viral glitch sensation.

Even Willie Geists 8 year old daughter asked her dad why he (Marco Rubio) said the same thing again. A 8 Year old kid noticed it.
Marco Rubio knew exactly what he was doing on Saturday night.

The problem was he flubbed it.

Rubio awkwardly pivoted four times to a well-rehearsed line that President Barack Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing” as he tried to drill home the idea that he’s the inevitable general election candidate – an unforced error that his rivals pounced on and that quickly went viral.
“There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody,” Chris Christie charged.

It was a defining moment as Rubio’s opponents successfully turned two of his greatest strengths — his eloquence and message discipline — against him in the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, casting the Florida senator as a lightweight leader who has been lifted by little more than lofty and canned rhetoric.

Christie led the charge on stage, and rival campaigns joined in, gleefully tweeted out a new “Marco Rubio Glitch” Twitter account that captured the robotic repeats and gained more than 1,000 followers quickly after the debate wrapped up.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was representing Jeb Bush in the spin room, told reporters that Rubio only reinforced the doubts about his readiness for the White House. “He’s really good at talking points and sound bites but he was off his game tonight,” he said. “I think the case for Marco being ready to be commander in chief took a hit tonight.”

The debate’s sustained attacks forced Rubio into a defensive crouch most of the night, as the third-place Iowa finisher turned in his shakiest performance on the national stage. By the evening’s end, sweat was visible on his brow.

And after the debate stage lights went out, Rubio’s campaign furiously tried to minimize the gaffe. “What voters saw was that Marco was given repeated opportunities to hit Obama and he did,” Rubio’s senior adviser Todd Harris told reporters in the spin room.

In a fundraising email sent to reporters, Rubio’s campaign insisted that Rubio confidently laid out his accomplishments and showed he’s the conservative who can take on Hillary Clinton. “This week the other candidates made one thing clear: They were going to try and take out Marco tonight. 

They failed,” the email read, also stating in all caps, “AND YES, HE STUCK TO HIS GUNS ON WHY OBAMA HAS BEEN AN AWFUL PRESIDENT!!!”

The other top two finishers in Iowa, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, coasted through most of the night. It marked a stark contrast to the final debate in Iowa, when Trump was absent, and everyone targeted Cruz.

Much of the new dynamic came down to Christie, who had few notable confrontations in past debates, but relished going after Rubio on Saturday.

Christie urged Republicans not to make the “same mistake we made eight years ago” in electing a first-term senator, Barack Obama. Bush eagerly piled on. “We’ve tried it the old way,” Bush said, echoing Christie’s warning of a repeat Obama act.

When Rubio listed some of his Senate accomplishments, Christie hammered him on that, too, in particular Rubio’s backing of a bill cracking down on Hezbollah, and his spotty attendance record for Senate votes. “That’s not leadership,” Christie said. “That’s truancy.”

Rubio tried to hit back at Christie over attendance, only to have it boomerang. The Florida senator pointed that Christie only reluctantly went back to New Jersey for 36 hours during a big snow storm. "They had to shame you into going back,” Rubio said.

Christie shot back — “The shame is, Marco, you would actually criticizes someone for showing up to work."

Rubio had some missed opportunities, as well. His campaign is centered on his appeal as a next-generation Republican who can “turn the page” on the past. But when asked how he would contrast with Clinton in a general election, he left out his generational appeal entirely.

Rubio found his footing in the closing minutes with an impassioned defense of his opposition to abortion, turning the question against the Democrats.

“They are the extremists when it comes to the issue of abortion, and I can’t wait to expose them when it comes to a general election,” he said to huge cheers.

Cruz and Trump mostly returned to their détente from earlier debates. Though Cruz has talked about “Trumpertantrums” on the trail, he declined to repeat those accusations on stage and said nothing when Trump declared, “I actually think I have the best temperament.”

Trump, who has led widely in the polls here, seemed content to hew to the major themes of the campaign.

“We’re going to win with Trump. We’re gonna win,” Trump said at one point. “Our country is going to hell,” he said at another.

One of the debate’s most memorable moments came when Trump returned to spar with Bush, his favorite debate foe.
Bush had been criticizing Trump over his support for eminent domain ("Eminent domain is a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump had said), when Trump lifted his finger to his mouth and shushed Bush.

"Quiet," Trump said. The crowd of more than 1,000 booed loudly.

“That’s all of his donors and special interests,” Trump shouted. The booing continued and so did Trump.

"The RNC told us we have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're not loving me is I don't want their money," Trump said.

Trump, who has promised to be “the greatest jobs president that God has ever created,” was asked how many jobs he would create and how exactly he would do it. He dodged both.

“I will bring jobs back from China, I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico,” Trump said.
But Trump’s evasion went unchallenged, both by the moderators and his foes.

John Kasich, who is competing for many of the same voters as Rubio, Christie and Bush, tried to stay above the fray. He joked, when he first got an opportunity to speak, that each of the 100 town halls he’s held in New Hampshire were “a lot more fun than what we saw here today.”

“A lot more positive,” Kasich said.

Ben Carson was mostly a non-factor. He complained multiple times about not getting sufficient time to speak, interjecting at one point that he was “Not here just to add beauty to the stage.”

The candidates engaged in revealing discussions of both foreign policy and the definition of torture, as Cruz tried to find a middle ground in the GOP’s approach to international intervention. He advocated for “carpet-bombing” but promised incongruously that it would be “targeted,” as well.
“Kill the enemy and then get the heck out,” Cruz summarized his international doctrine.

Cruz also said he was open to bringing back waterboarding, as did Trump, who said, “I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

A night with Trump back on the debate stage wouldn’t be complete without a least a few slights. And he saved his sharpest barbs against Cruz for his concluding statement, giving Cruz no chance to respond, when he accused him of cheating to win Iowa last week.

“That’s because he got Ben Carson’s votes, by the way,” Trump said with a smile. Shane Goldmacher and Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report.

Here's How You Know Marco Rubio's Robot Gaffe Is Serious by David Corn. It won't be easy for his campaign to reboot after this. Not long after the conclusion of the GOP debate in New Hampshire, Michael Steele, a former chair of the Republican Party, was sitting in a booth at JD's Tavern in Manchester, a favorite watering hole for journalists, pundits, and political tourists, and he was shaking his head. A reporter had told him that she had just heard from Marco Rubio's camp. The once-surging presidential candidate had two hours earlier become the goat of the night, after he robotically repeated talking points in response to Chris Christie's fierce attack that junior senator from Florida was nothing but an inexperienced empty-suit legislator whose best asset was his ability to deliver memorized rhetorical flourishes—that is, to robotically repeat talking points.

Responding to Christie—and proving his assailant's point—Rubio had multiple times recited a prepared line in which he slammed President Barack Obama for purposefully ruining the United States. This was Rubio's emperor-has-no-clothes moment. And after the debate, he dared not enter the spin room to explain his broken-record impersonation. But his advisers, up until now one of the most savvy teams on the GOP side, quickly developed their post-debate spin. They were telling reporters that the debate demonstrated that Rubio was so committed to criticizing Obama that he would seize every opportunity to do so. At the bar, when Steele heard this, he laughed sadly. "No, no, no," he said. "It was a major blunder."

That's how most of the professionals saw it. Even on Fox News, which had been Rubio-friendly turf, his screw-up was the headline of the night. Like a wolf, Christie had pounced and ripped apart Rubio's soft underbelly. (Christie had been practicing this assault earlier in the day.) And the politerati watched in amazement at Rubio's implosion (that word seemed to be the consensus description in the swanky Google-sponsored media filing center at the debate). Now there's no telling how New Hampshire voters—especially those still-undecided, late-breaking voters—will respond to this. They're a volatile and fickle bunch, as likely to be swayed by a non-controversial moment (say Ted Cruz speaking about his half-sister's death from an overdose) as an exchange deemed uber-significant by the press crowd. Yet it's hard within the media bubble not to see Rubio's brain freeze as a helluva plot development.

Candidates do rise and fall as media creatures. Rubio placed third in Iowa, and became the story of the week, as political journalists focused on him as the new break-out candidate. At a town hall meeting in Derry on Friday, his supporters marveled at the large number of camera crews trailing the Florida senator. The presence of this horde gave the Rubio backers the feeling that their man Marco did indeed have momentum. And in the political-media echo chamber, this has a self-reinforcing aspect: candidate dubbed hot by the media receives more media attention and the chance to become hotter. The narrative was Rubio gaining an edge in the so-called establishment lane of the race and being in the position to pull away from Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie. (During that appearance, Rubio recited his well-polished stump speech, which included the riff about Obama that he would repeat four times at the debate.)

Post "Marcobot," the media tale is quite different. Is Rubio ready? Is there any there there? Can this guy think on his feet? Does he have the smarts to be president? He can expect the press to keep a watchful eye on his words and note his penchant for repeating a series of well-honed lines. (Which is, after all, what a stump speech is.) What this means is that Rubio's best asset could turn into a liability. Of all the candidates, he is the smoothest. His team has crafted powerful messages that cast him as a forward-looking, new-generation leader (with, of course, all the obligatory attacks on the president and Hillary Clinton). And Rubio is a talented performer who can utter these memorized passages—which contain few original policy details—with tremendous feeling, eloquence, and a dash of good humor. He tells his poignant son-of-an-immigrant story well. The man can look as if he is gazing right into the future. This is what got him to the point where establishment Republicans were wondering if he would be the one to save them from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Poof. That magic is gone. Or at least we now see the strings. And after the debate, Rubio is going to have to show he's not just a pretty face who can hit a rhetorical mark. (At the Derry event, a 48-year-old local woman, who was undecided, told me, "I'd do him." And she was wearing a wedding ring.) In Washington, Rubio has been privately derided by senators and staff as a show-horse and a light-weight. Christie's assault puts this version of Rubio into the spotlight.

And there's this. A few days ago, the Rubio campaign was telling reporters—not for quotation—that after the Iowa caucuses a trickle of money from Jeb Bush funders had started to flow into its coffers and that these funders were saying, "Let's talk after New Hampshire." But unless Rubio overcomes this screw-up and places a strong second, it's a good bet those Bush funders and other GOP moneybags will stick to a wait-and-see stance.

The morning after Rubio's malfunction, at a pancake breakfast in Londonderry—where Democrat operatives appeared in cardboard outfits depicting the candidate as "Marco Roboto"—Rubio offered his much-anticipated response to this stumble: "After last night's debate, everyone is saying, 'Oh, you repeated yourself.' Well I'm going to be saying it again." Meaning that he would persist in proclaiming that Obama knows what he's doing as he supposedly wrecks America. And on ABC News, Rubio said, uh, the same thing: "It's what I believe and it's what I'm going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running."

The last time Rubio messed up big-time—when he awkwardly grabbed a bottle of water and took a swig while delivering the official GOP reply to Obama's State of the Union address—he chose to respond with humor and made a series jokes about that awkward incident. This time, he's going with defiance. That may be an indication that his advisers believe that this mess is damn serious and cannot be joked away. No doubt, this hang-tough approach will work fine with his pre-existing fans. But can Robo-Rubio sell it to a wider audience?

Children out there, this is a fable. I don't know what animal Marco Rubio most resembles in this regard. Maybe a kangaroo? But here's a story in which a man's strength has also turned out (for this news cycle) to be a weakness. What happens next depends on whether he has other skills in his pouch.

Surging Republican hopeful Marco Rubio wilted under sustained attack in the latest US presidential debate, denting his stature going into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary dominated by frontrunner Donald Trump.

The telegenic, 44-year-old Florida senator -- who polls suggest has the best change of winning the White House for the Republicans -- was savaged by his rivals late Saturday for his lack of experience, floundering on a debate stage where he often shines.

A strong showing in New Hampshire would confirm Rubio as the establishment candidate-of-choice for the nomination after his strong third-place finish in Iowa, behind Trump and evangelical US senator Ted Cruz.

Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich, meanwhile, need to wrest some of the momentum away from Rubio if they are to keep their presidential dreams alive as the voting schedule shifts south and west.

The most sustained attack was waged by New Jersey governor Christie, a no-nonsense former federal prosecutor who has campaigned hard in New Hampshire and denigrated Rubio for being controlled by his team.

"Marco, the thing is this. When you're president of the United States... the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn't solve one problem," Christie said.

The senator was mocked for repeating the same rehearsed line over and over again -- doing exactly what Christie criticized him for.

"Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing," Rubio said on a loop.

"There it is: The memorized 25-second speech," Christie interjected.

- 'Leadership' -
The usually-poised Rubio was booed for accusing the governor of dragging his feet in leaving the campaign trail when his state was hit by a deadly East Coast snowstorm last month.

"They had to shame you into going back. You stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back," Rubio said.

Meanwhile former Florida governor Bush -- whose dream of following his father and brother into the White House will likely live or die after Tuesday's primary -- stepped up his game, questioning Rubio's experience and butting heads with Trump.

"Leadership. You learn this, you learn it by doing it," he declared "It's not something that you just go up, and on the job do it."

In New Hampshire, Trump commands 35 percent of support among likely Republican voters, a 21-point lead over closest rival Rubio, according to the latest 7News/University of Massachusetts Lowell poll.

Texas Senator Cruz, who won the Iowa caucus but is expected to do less well in New Hampshire, had 13 percent voter support. With nine percent undecided, there is everything to play for.

Even if Trump wins, the party establishment, appalled by his insults, incendiary rhetoric and lack of political experience, is expected to rally behind his potential runner-up.

Bush, whose mother has fondly chastised him for being too polite, laid into Trump for allegedly trying to take the property of an elderly woman in Atlantic City. "That is downright wrong," said Bush.

"Jeb wants to be a tough guy tonight," shot back Trump, whose message of being a winner will take a significant knock if he finishes anything other than first after coming second in Iowa.

"Let me talk. Quiet," added Trump to boos.

Kasich, a Republican governor from the swing state of Ohio, who is on the lookout to tap New Hampshire's independent voters, also made a spirited pitch.

"If I get elected president, head out tomorrow and buy a seat belt, because there's going to be so much happening in the first 100 days, it's going to make your head spin," he told the audience.

The debate got off to a chaotic start when retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, flagging in the polls, was filmed waiting in the wings as the announcers called him to the stage in vain.

"The acoustics back stage were horrible and there was too much noise out front so you just couldn't hear," he told AFP. "I kept listening for my name, I didn't hear it."

- Trump claims debate victory -
Trump, who boycotted the previous debate, told reporters backstage that he had won the debate, even if a Quinnipiac University poll says 30 percent of the party would not support him.

"I actually think I have the best temperament," he said on stage, when asked about criticism from Cruz that is too hot-headed.

The real estate tycoon has whipped up a passionate following among white blue collar Americans fed-up with career politicians and increasingly frustrated by struggling to make ends meet.

"We have galvanized and created a movement," he added when asked how he would counter Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton's quest to make history by becoming the first woman president of the United States.

John Kasich makes final, positive pitch as opponents turn on each other in GOP debate.

John Kasich stuck with his "stay positive" strategy in the final debate before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, on which the Ohio governor has staked his presidential campaign.

The approach meant he waited more than 22 minutes for his first chance to speak Saturday night and seemed to have disappeared in the debate's first half. But as the night continued, Kasich managed to keep a positive, even joyful tone. He interrupted successfully, he outlined major policy plans, and at one point he used speaking time to laugh goofily about the debate tactic of responding when another candidate wages an attack.

For Kasich, the debate offered one last chance to persuade New Hampshire's famously last-minute deciders to give him a chance. He has polled as high as second in the Granite State, with most recent polls showing him in third.

After he had outlined what he called a "practical" approach to immigration, a compassionate view of conservatism and a vision for working across party lines, Kasich clearly thought he'd made his point -- and started celebrating.

"And we can do it! And we can do it!” he exclaimed, over applause, after he talked about uniting Republicans and Democrats to break gridlock.

And then:
“Anybody who is here tonight, if I get elected president, head out tomorrow and buy a seat belt. ... We're going to move America forward. I promise you."

Left out of awkward opening
As the debate opened, it seemed Kasich's positive approach might leave him out of the debate. The event's early moments turned into a circus of confusion and a barrage of attacks.

The opening TV shots showed the candidates being introduced and walking in from the wings. But Ben Carson and then Donald Trump refrained from entering the stage until the end, apparently because they didn't hear their names called over the applause. Candidates eventually brushed past the two -- Jeb Bush patted Trump on the shoulder and sort of shrugged -- as the ABC News moderators sought to bring Carson and Trump onto the stage.

They finally did so and sought to start the debate. But Kasich remained in the wings, awaiting the introduction he'd apparently never heard.

"Where's Kasich?" Chris Christie asked. "What about Kasich? Can I introduce Kasich?"

When Kasich finally entered the stage, he took up a no-attacks strategy. Kasich has avoided criticizing his opponents, last week lambasting a negative ad from his own political action committee. He spent the remainder of the week boasting of, and earning headlines about, his positive campaign, although the PAC has continued to run an ad that mocks other candidates and criticizes their negative ads.

The opening several questions of the debates asked candidates to defend or respond to attacks they'd levied against or received from other candidates. Kasich has avoided direct attacks, so moderators didn't ask him questions.

When they finally asked him a question, Kasich sought to sell his positive approach.

Compared with the debate's opening minutes, "every one of my 100 town halls in New Hampshire were a lot more fun than what I saw here today, were so much more positive,” he said.

These ads are hammering John Kasich. Are they fair?

Not a target
Kasich's rise to second in New Hampshire has attracted several negative ads. But candidates left Kasich alone during the debate, focusing on another candidate who took the stage in St. Anselm College riding a new wave of momentum.
Republican Candidates Debate In New Hampshire Days Before State's Primary
Marco Rubio had been rising off his better-than-expected performance in Monday's Iowa caucus. So candidates hammered him. Christie's angle, that Rubio was using canned answers to cover up for his lack of experience, resulted in boos for Rubio, especially when he responded by repeating three more times a talking point he had used a few moments before.

And when other candidates had opportunities to hit Kasich -- on some of his moderate stances, for instance -- they refrained. A moderator teed up Christie, reading him a quote from a few weeks ago in which Kasich said Ohio's economic situation was better than that in New Jersey.

"He deserves credit for his record on jobs. He's done a very good job as governor of Ohio," Christie said of Kasich, before defending his own record.

Kasich is hoping for a top-tier finish in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. At the town hall meetings he's held -- more than any other candidate -- he's given voters a chance to ask him questions and take a look at him up close. The campaign events, a strong network of grassroots advocates and commercials run since July by his political action committee could give him an edge over other candidates Tuesday.

But do the lack of attacks Saturday show candidates aren't worried about him?

“We’ve had an issue with relevance, and I think in New Hampshire we have made ourselves relevant,” said Tom Rath, a New Hampshire politico who is advising Kasich. Even though other candidates didn’t feel the need to attack Kasich, “we are suddenly very material to the conversation,” he said. “We have traction now.”

Trump continues to lead New Hampshire polls, but his slide into second place in Iowa has raised questions about the durability of his support. New Hampshire voters who are considering Trump often say they're also considering candidates ranging from Kasich to Cruz.

Many New Hampshire voters planned to tune in to Saturday's debate and have lined up last-minute trips to see candidates in person before they make their final decision. Indeed, half of all voters in the last two elections hadn't made up their minds by the Sunday before the primary, according to Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

"Those that are choosing in the last week are going to break for Kasich," said former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, who is one of Kasich's national chairpeople.

The Ohio governor's debate showing may help him get a second look, but others candidates shined Saturday as well. Political commentators listed him among the stronger performers of the night, along with Christie and Bush. Rubio turned in a consensus weak performance.

Of Kasich's approach, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said: "We don't elect Debbie Downers."

Graham, of South Carolina, last month canceled his own GOP presidential bid and endorsed Bush.

"A positive message is important, but you've got to show experience and resolve," he told reporters after the debate. "Jeb Bush is the most prepared to be commander in chief on Day One, not John Kasich."

Having fun
Perhaps Kasich's strongest moment came two-thirds of the way through the debate. He ​turned a question that played to his talking points -- are there too many deals in Washington, or too few? -- into a chance to outline his oft-stated vision for more cooperation among Republicans and Democrats.

Kasich seized the moment and claimed the floor once more, interrupting without the obnoxious quality that plagued him in the fall. He rattled off a plan for his first 100 days in office, if he becomes president: freeze federal regulations, cut corporate taxes, cut the estate tax, outline a plan to balance the budget, secure the border with Mexico and outline a plan to pay for Social Security.

Bush, riffing with Kasich by then, jumped back in. Then, Kasich dissolved into laughter, thinking he should get another turn. Perhaps Bush had mentioned his name.

The debate essentially stopped for a moment. Kasich was soaring after finding a way to deliver what he thought was his most important point. (I said my entire 100-day plan in 25 seconds, he kept telling reporters after the debate.) And he couldn't stop laughing.
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich
"Jeb mentioned me! Time for me to go again," Kasich guffawed. "I thought I heard it, Jeb. No, I'm just kidding. Thank you all very much for listening and being patient with all of us tonight."

Kasich, on live television, was having fun. Tuesday's primary will show whether New Hampshire voters noticed and bought in.

"Please give me a chance to carry this message forward to the United States of America," Kasich said to close. "Thank you, loved it, and God bless you." Chrissie Thompson and Meg Vogel contributed reporting.

Poll: Trump's lead in New Hampshire grows, while Sanders' edge shrinks. Donald Trump holds a growing lead in New Hampshire, according to the latest CNN/WMUR tracking poll, while on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders' still-wide lead is a bit smaller.

Overall, 33% of likely Republican primary voters say they back Trump, giving him a 17-point edge. After seeing his lead shrink to 11 points following a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Trump once again more than doubles the support of his nearest competitor, Marco Rubio.

The race for second place has tightened once again, with the slight edge Rubio appeared to grab following his third-place finish in Iowa shrinking. Overall, 16% back Rubio, 14% Ted Cruz, 11% John Kasich, 7% Jeb Bush, 6% Carly Fiorina, 4% Chris Christie and 2% Ben Carson.

The poll was completed as Saturday night's debate in New Hampshire was getting underway, and the results do not reflect reactions to the debate itself.

Though support for both Cruz and Rubio is within the margin of error of where they were immediately post-Iowa, what had been a five-point gap between the two has narrowed to two points, suggesting the race for second place in New Hampshire is about as close as it was before Iowa.

It's unclear when voters will make a final decision, as several nights of tracking have shown few shifts in the share who say they've made up their minds. A sizable 30% of likely GOP voters say they are still trying to decide whom to support, down just four points since the immediate post-Iowa numbers.

Find your presidential match with the 2016 Candidate Matchmaker

These results represent the most recent four nights of interviewing in the tracking poll. The University of New Hampshire's Survey Center, which completed the interviews, will be calling voters Sunday and Monday, and CNN and WMUR will release an update to the numbers again on Monday evening.

Two-thirds of likely Republican primary voters say they expect a Trump win Tuesday, up a tick since immediately post-Iowa, and slightly fewer now say they've ruled out a vote for Trump: 30% would not vote for Trump now, down from 37% who said so just after Iowa.

Over on the Democratic side, Sanders holds 58% among likely Democratic primary voters, well ahead of Clinton's 35%. That's a tighter race than right after Iowa, when the poll suggested Sanders led Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin.

And despite Sanders' far-wider lead, the sense of inevitability among likely Democratic voters that he will win is about the same as the expectations game on the Republican side for Trump: 66% say they think Sanders will win compared with 21% who see a Clinton victory as likely.

The CNN/WMUR poll was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey

There is such a small margin between everyone in that GOP race, anyone of them could end up in second place while that same person could end up in sixth place. Right now, Marco Rubio is at number two, however, he could feasibly end up in sixth place tomorrow.

And, then Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and John Kaisach surged a bit in those polls to be in the range of gaining second place. Donald trump does still lead but he dropped and then surged back up.

Madeleine Albright Throws Shade To Young, Female Voters.
Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, vouched for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday and threw shade to young women who supported rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), The New York Times reported.

Sanders took the majority of votes from young women in the Iowa caucus, which Clinton ultimately won last week by a small margin.

Albright discussed the importance of electing the first female President while she introduced Clinton, the Times reported.

“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done,” Albright said. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Gloria Steinem is apologizing for insulting female Bernie Sanders supporters. “And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…”

That’s the statement feminist icon Gloria Steinem is regretting after a weekend of backlash from young female voters. Steinem made the comment in an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher Friday. She was discussing Hillary Clinton’s struggle to gain the support of younger women. In Iowa, Clinton won only 14 percent of voters between the ages of 17 and 29.

Steinem, who is 81, began by saying that most women become more active in politics as they grow older, because women lose power as they age. Young women, she said, ask, “Where are the boys?” as in, “Who are the boys voting for?” The Internet backlash was swift and ferocious, especially from women who support Bernie Sanders.

“It’s such a ridiculous thing to say. A feminist, basically saying that young women are incapable of having thoughts and opinions of their own. Unreal,” wrote a commenter on Reddit, where Steinem’s quotes were thoroughly debated. The group “People for Bernie” launched an online petition demanding Steinem take back her statement.

“As students of your own powerful model of feminist activism in the media, we demand that you admit your mistake and apologize,” they wrote.

Steinem did just that on her Facebook page Sunday, but said her quote was “misinterpreted.”

“I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics,” Steinem said.

She did not address the post specifically to Sanders supporters, but focused on the strength of politically active women today.

“What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what’s happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back,” she continued. “Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.”

The apology garnered hundreds of comments.

“I first donated to Bernie’s campaign one week after he declared and still wonder what took me a week,” wrote Kira Elise. “This election is a make or break moment for the direction our country is going and I want Bernie as my president.”

The comment received more than 500 likes in one hour.

Steinem’s comments came under fire just as another feminist icon was feeling the same scorn. Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, told voters in New Hampshire Saturday: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Thought many people translated the quote as “a special place in hell for women who don’t support Hillary Clinton,” Albright has been broadcasting variations of it for more than a decade. She said it in 2004 during a reunion at Wellesley College, the alma mater she shares with Clinton. Then she started saying it all the time, then it was on a Starbucks cup, then Taylor Swift started saying it.

And so did Sarah Palin, to which Albright responded: “Though I am flattered that Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics.”

That’s no longer the case. On Saturday, Albright acknowledged that her comments made waves, but didn’t back down:

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Young women voters have been the target of the Clinton campaign since its beginning, with the help of Katy Perry and Lena Dunham, “Yaaas Hillary!” T-shirts and supporters who rant in all capitals. Whether it will be enough, when polls show Sanders winning women under 35 by an almost 20-point margin, is yet to be seen.

Bernie Sanders and Larry David appear together, finally, on 'SNL'

Bernie Sanders took a quick break from the campaign trail in New Hampshire to travel to New York City to dispel a rumor that’s been dogging his 2016 presidential bid: That he is actually comedian Larry David.

The Vermont senator and Democratic hopeful appeared side by side in a sketch with David on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” proving once and for all that Sanders and David are, in fact, two different people.

The pair played passengers aboard a sinking cruise ship, with David arguing that his personal wealth should entitle him to a seat alongside the women and children in the lifeboat.

“Hold on! Hold on! Wait a second! I am so sick of the one percent getting this preferential treatment!” Sanders said, repeating a common refrain from his stump speeches. “Enough is enough! We all need to unite if we’re going to get through this!”

“Sounds like socialism to me,” David quipped.

“Democratic socialism,” Sanders shot back.

Earlier in the show, David revived his Sanders impersonation — and his own “Curb Your Enthusiasm” character — in the pretaped spoof “Bern Your Enthusiasm.”

In it, David’s Sanders stumbles into a series of Larry David-style predicaments, like not shaking the hand of a woman on the rope line after a rally because she had just sneezed into it.

For David, who was a writer on “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-1980s, it was his first time hosting “SNL" — and third time doing his Bernie Sanders impersonation, a role some critics have said was tailor-made for him.

Later, Sanders helped David introduce the evening’s musical guests, The 1975.

"How are things going up in New Hampshire?” David asked his muse before the band came out.

“O.K.,” Sanders said.

“Just O.K.?” David asked.

“Well, it’s pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good,” Sanders replied.

Sanders, who flew from Manchester, N.H., to New York on Saturday afternoon, returned to the Granite State early Sunday morning. 

In an interview that aired on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Sanders insisted he never saw a similarity between himself and the "Seinfeld” co-creator.

“I admired him, I loved his television show,” Sanders said. “But no. I did not make the connection between Larry David and myself.”

The Vermont senator has appeared on numerous late night shows since announcing his candidacy, but had yet to appear on “Saturday Night Live.” Sanders’ Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has appeared on “SNL” several times, most recently in October.

On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Sunday, she was asked how she thought Sanders did.

“Well, I didn’t get to see it, but it’s always a fun experience,” Clinton said. “I’m sure he did great. You know, it’s a wonderful forum. It’s a crash course in trying to figure out how to do live TV. And I had a great time doing it.”

Super Bowl 2016: Broncos' defense dominates as Peyton Manning wins second titleIf this was the final game of Peyton Manning's 18-year career, he couldn't have scripted the ending much better.

A 2-yard rushing touchdown from running back C.J. Anderson -- in addition to a defensive score and three field goals from kicker Brandon McManus -- gave the Denver Broncos a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in front of 71,088 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, who had two strip-sack fumbles of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.

Manning, at 39, is the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history. Going into Sunday, he hadn't confirmed if Super Bowl 50 would be his last game. But it sure felt that way. And like his boss, Broncos general manager and executive vice president of football operations John Elway, Manning can ride off into the sunset after securing his second championship in his career.

After the win, Manning was noncommittal on his future.

"You know, I'll take some time to reflect," Manning said. "I have a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids, I want to go hug my family. I'm going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight. I promise you that. I'm going to take care of those things first, and say a little prayer to thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I'm just very grateful."

Manning is also the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. He also won Super Bowl XLI when he was with the Indianapolis Colts.

With the win, Manning became the first NFL quarterback with 200 career wins (186 regular season and 14 postseason). He had been tied with Brett Favre, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016, with 199.

"Being on two different teams, winning a Super Bowl with each team, I'm proud of that," Manning said.

Manning didn't play flawlessly, but he did enough, which is all a suffocating Broncos-led defense has needed this season. Manning's line: 13 of 23 passing for 141 yards with one interception and a lost fumble.

Manning's 18th -- and perhaps final -- season has been his most challenging.

He was benched for the first time in his career, which was a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in November. While backup Brock Osweiler filled in, Manning missed six games because of a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

But in Week 17, Manning returned, coming off the bench to lead Denver to a win over the San Diego Chargers to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Manning called it "a unique season."

"I certainly knew with this defense that this team would have a chance," Manning said. "Our defense has just been from the get-go, they've been nothing but awesome. Being hurt, the struggle early in the season wasn't a lot of fun, so I was grateful to get back healthy and to try to play my part these last couple of weeks."

It started well for the Broncos (15-4) on their opening drive, capped by a 34-yard McManus field goal to take an early 3-0.

It was a different story for Carolina (17-2).

The Panthers, having lost just once coming into this game, were accustomed to having their way offensively.

Carolina had the league's top offense this year -- averaging 31.3 points per game in the regular season and a whopping 40 points per game in the postseason. Newton was responsible for 79.3% of the Panthers' offensive scores this season heading into Sunday.

But Carolina didn't face a defense like Denver's all season. The Broncos lead the NFL in total defense, pass defense and sacks. Newton got to see -- and feel -- that up close. He was sacked seven times, tying a Super Bowl record.

The one that was the most costly came in the first quarter, Carolina's second turn on offense. On Carolina's 15-yard line, Miller forced a Newton fumble on the strip sack for an 11-yard loss while defensive end Malik Jackson scooped up the ball for the score to give Denver a 10-0 lead. It was the first fumble recovery for a touchdown in a Super Bowl in 22 years.

Later in the second quarter, Carolina coughed up the football again. This time, Broncos safety Darian Stewart forced a fumble from Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert; inside linebacker Danny Trevathan recovered.

Courtesy of a huge mistake by Broncos' cornerback Aqib Talib, the Panthers were able to capitalize and get on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run by running back Jonathan Stewart. What transpired the play before was a face mask personal foul penalty by Talib.

Talib had a terrible first half with three penalties, two of which were personal fouls.

But Carolina squandered an opportunity early in the third quarter when a 44-yard field goal attempt by Graham Gano hit the right upright. Later in the quarter, Newton threw an interception into the hands of safety T.J. Ward, quashing a promising drive that had Carolina in Denver territory.

Gano hit a 39-yarder with 10:26 remaining to cut the deficit to 16-10, but late in the period, Miller forced his second fumble from Newton. Ward recovered and returned it to the Carolina 4-yard line. Anderson iced the game with Denver's first offensive touchdown of the day with 3:08 left.

On the day, Miller had 2.5 sacks, six total tackles, two forced fumbles, two hurries and a pass defensed.

"I just wanted to key into my guy, key into my tackle, the center, key into Cam," Miller said on his strip sacks. "His cadence is definitely one of the hardest to get down in the National Football League. We just keyed in. That's the type of defense that we've been playing all year long."

Newton, named the 2015 NFL MVP on Saturday, finished the day 18 for 41 for 265 yards and those three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception).

Following the game, Newton for the most part kept his answers terse.

"We had our opportunities," Newton said. "There wasn't nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over, gave up sacks, threw errant passes. That's it. They scored more points than we did."

When asked to put his disappointment into words, all Newton would say was, "We lost."

It's not often a defensive player wins Super Bowl MVP. This marks the 10th time in Super Bowl history that a defensive player has received the honor. Linebacker Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII was the last defensive player to receive the honor.

"Played a heck of a football game," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Miller. "He deserves to be the Super Bowl MVP."

McManus, meanwhile, stayed perfect in the postseason, going 10 for 10 overall. He finished the day with three field goals for 34, 33 and 30 yards.

Game-time temps hovered around 70 degrees at kickoff in a beautiful day in Santa Clara. The game also had a throwback feel.

With kickoff at 3:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET), the game basked in daylight for the first half, making it feel reminiscent all the way back to Super Bowl I -- then called the "First AFL-NFL World Championship Game" -- which was held in Los Angeles on January 15, 1967.

The crowd -- mostly pro-Broncos fans judging by the amount of orange in the stands, though both fan bases still were well-represented -- filled up Levi's Stadium quickly.

Both sides got their vocal chords warmed up when the NFL honored all of the previous Super Bowl MVPs. Manning was in the locker room when his name was called, but that didn't stop a huge roar from the crowd.

Meanwhile, when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared when his name was announced (he has three Super Bowl MVP awards), the crowd booed lustily.

It then turned into adoration for Lady Gaga, who belted out a stirring rendition of the national anthem. The energy level also remained at a fever pitch for the halftime show featuring Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars. CNN's Jill Martin reported and wrote this story from Santa Clara, California. CNN's Forrest Brown contributed from Atlanta.

The weather on the east coast up in New Hampshire today is is definitely winter time. Winter Storm Mars Bringing Snow and Strong Winds to New England Monday; Blizzard Warnings Issued.

Current Radar and Winds

Winter Storm Mars is pushing into eastern New England Monday morning where a combination of heavy snow and strong winds will result in dangerous travel conditions. In parts of southeast Massachusetts, blizzard conditions are possible along with tree damage and some power outages.

Latest radar along with sustained winds and gusts.
The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings from south of Boston to Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. A larger area of eastern New England is under winter storm warnings from coastal New Hampshire to portions of Connecticut southward into central and eastern Long Island, including Boston, Hartford and Providence. In addition to the blizzard and winter storm warnings, winter weather advisories extend from Maine southwest to New York City.
Winter Weather Alerts
The snow moving into New England Monday through early Tuesday is from a strong area of low pressure passing well off the East Coast. That area of low pressure has undergone what meteorologists call bombogenesis. This is a term generally applied to a storm whose minimum pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, indicating a strong and rapidly intensifying storm system. In the case of Mars, the pressure dropped from 1004 millibars at 7 a.m. EST Sunday to 979 millibars by 1 a.m. EST Monday, or 25 millibars in 18 hours.

Despite the far offshore track of the strong low, it is still having a major impact on eastern New England due its very large area of precipitation and strong winds. An additional component of this storm is the potential for ocean-enhanced snowfall near the coast due to strong northeast winds helping to pull extra moisture in from the Atlantic.

Below is a look at what we expect to see from Winter Storm Mars, which will likely have a major impact on travel in eastern New England Monday.
Snowfall Forecast
Winter Storm Mars Forecast Key Points:

  • Moderate to heavy snowfall will impact eastern New England on Monday, along with strong winds gusting to 45 mph. Wind gusts up to 65 mph are possible on Cape Cod. The combination of snow and wind may lead to low visibility and dangerous travel conditions, particularly near coastal locations.
  • Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions are possible south of Boston from coastal Plymouth County to Cape Cod and the Islands. Whiteout conditions are even possible at times.
  • Accumulations of at least 6 to 12 inches are possible across much of eastern New England, including Boston. 
  • An area of heavier snow of up to 12 inches is expected in southeastern Massachusetts.
  • Snowfall rates of more than one inch per hour are possible at times through Monday in eastern New England.
  • Some downed tree limbs and power lines are possible in southeast Massachusetts due to strong winds and the weight of what will initially be wet snow.
  • Moderate coastal flooding is possible in eastern Massachusetts with the Monday late morning to midday high tide. Vulnerable roads and basements could be flooded, according to the National Weather Service.
  • Light snow is possible as far south as the Jersey Shore and the New York City metropolitan area. However, accumulations from Mars should be light in those areas.

Forecast Wind Gusts Monday
Southeast Coastal Impacts:

Prior to hitting New England, Mars impacted parts of the Southeast coast on Sunday.

  • Mars brought some light sleet and snow accumulations to parts of eastern North Carolina Sunday. Traffic accidents were reported due to light sleet accumulations in Wilson County, North Carolina, Sunday morning.

  • Strong winds from the low pressure system associated with Mars brought a wind gust of 70 mph to Cedar Island, North Carolina. Trees and power lines were downed in Manteo.
  • Flooding was also reported in eastern North Carolina, including from Surf City to Topsail where a few roads were reported to be impassable. Water across highway 12, just south of Cedar Island, was also reported Sunday evening.

Sunset Daily News & Sports
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Sunset Daily News
08 February 2016
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