The Hill's 12:30 Report

The Hill's 12:30 Report

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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Seven-day sprint to Iowa | Perry endorses Cruz | Tina Fey is back on SNL playing Palin | CNN Dem town hall at 9 p.m. tonight

SEVEN-DAY SPRINT TO IOWA: Just seven days away from the Iowa caucuses, here's a look at where each candidate stands and what they're trying to accomplish. 

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE is the definitive favorite for the Republican nomination, even though victory is by no means guaranteed for him in Iowa. Now he needs to avoid any last-minute erosion. His goal: Do not let Cruz take his momentum in Iowa.

Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE has a very real shot at winning Iowa -- and is Trump's toughest competitor. He is expected to pound home his anti-establishment conservative message in the next week. His goal: Beat Trump.

Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE is solidly in a distant third place behind Trump and Cruz. But Iowa isn't "Rubio territory," so his real battle: not to compete with the candidates in front of him but with those immediately behind.

Ben Carson would need to pull a major upset to have a shot.  This is unlikely at this point.

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich are putting their eggs in the N.H. basket, so in Iowa they just need a strong showing to set them up for the primary in N.H. Their goals: Finish ahead of each other.

Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum would need a serious momentum shift to have a strong showing in Iowa. Paul is the best performing of this quartet, with 3.4 percent support. The end seems near for each of these candidates.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE and her allies have been attacking Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE with vigor in recent days -- a shift that underlines how serious a threat she faces from him. Her goal: Do. Not. Repeat. 2008 (when she came in third in Iowa, the beginning of the end for her campaign).

Bernie Sanders needs an influx of new caucusgoers and a big turnout from liberal Democrats. Going though his team's mind: An Iowa victory would be transformative for the Sanders campaign in a way that victory in New Hampshire would not (N.H. has always been a better bet for him, with his home state Vermont next door).

Martin O'Malley would need to dramatically outperform expectations to have any shot. His real power is if he tells his supporters (5 percent) who their second choice should be in the Clinton-Sanders race. 

More detailed expectations from The Hill's Niall Stanage

Welcome back from the snow-filled weekend. The snow totals in the district were over 20 inches. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of what you missed this morning -- and what's on tap for the rest of the day. Send tips, comments, story ideas and happy thoughts to and follow me on Facebook. 

NEW THIS A.M. -- PERRY'S NEXT CHOICE: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ended his own Republican presidential campaign in September, is endorsing Ted Cruz's presidential bid. Watch: 

BET OBAMA'S HAPPY NOT TO HAVE TO RUN A CAMPAIGN: Politico's Glenn Thrush spoke with President Obama about the 2016 election. When asked if Clinton is facing "unfair scrutiny," Obama said,  "yes" -- and he even admitted a tinge of regret that his own campaign had been so hard on her eight years ago. But when asked if Bernie Sanders reminded Obama of himself in 2008, he quickly shot back: "I don't think that's true."

OH. COME. ON. -- MATCH-FIXING ACCUSATIONS SUNDAY: Betting was suspended on a tennis match at the Australian Open Sunday when red flags were raised over suspected match-fixing on a doubles performance. Now for the "OH COME ON" moment: Right as the Australian Open started, BuzzFeed and BBC published a year-long investigation accusing players of throwing matches to help some Russian and Sicilian gamblers make a killing. Who would throw a match when the issue is on the front pages?!

KASICH'S HAIL MARY IN N.H. COULD BE AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY: Via Yours Truly and Jesse Byrnes, the real race in the New Hampshire primary doesn't even involve Donald Trump. Instead, emerging as the establishment favorite is much more critical. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) couldn't have picked a better time to rise in the polls over Jeb Bush, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R). 

-- But here's what to watch on primary day: "The separation between [Kasich] and other [establishment candidates] is more important than the separation than between [Kasich] and Trump," said Dean Spiliotes of Southern New Hampshire University.

'UNCLE MIKE' IS TESTING THE 2016 WATERS: Via The New York Times's Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman, billionaire Michael Bloomberg is revisiting a potential White House run. Why now: Advisers say Bloomberg is galled by Donald Trump's dominance and troubled by Hillary Clinton's stumbles and the rise of Bernie Sanders. What's next for Bloomberg: He has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign.

OVER THE WEEEKEND: Vernon Alston, a U.S. Capitol Police Officer died shoveling snow at his home during the blizzard.

WHAT EVERYONE'S BEEN SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA THIS WEEKEND: The National Zoo tweeted a short video of panda Tian Tian frolicking in several feet of fresh snow. And to be clear, using the word "frolicking" is no exaggeration. ;)

'GIVE ME ATTENTION,' SAYS ISIS...BASICALLY: ISIS released a montage of the attacks in Paris with final messages from the attackers. It's sickening.



The Washington Post's Philip Rucker (The photo is telling)
No, folks, ain't a pic of a Sanders or Trump rally. Verrrrry long line in the West Des Moines cold to see Hillary.

RealClearPolitics's Rebecca Berg
John Kasich walks into a town hall without his now-signature teal-ish down jacket. He says his wife told him to buy a black one.

Wendy's  (Aren't we splitting hairs at this point...?)
The 4 for $4 Meal: a trayful of mouth-filling glory.

Burger King tweeted back: 5 for $4, because 5 is better than 4.

Twitter user Brittany Guernsey tweeted at Wendy's: what are you firing back?

Wendy's responded: edible food



Congress is having a snow day; The Supreme Court made it in however!" Here are some of their rulings:

Supreme Court upholds electricity demand rule

SCOTUS won't let N. Dakota enforce 'fetal heartbeat' abortion law

Justices decline death penalty case

High court rules juveniles sentenced to life can seek parole

6 p.m. EST: Politico event with former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about his new book, "A Passion for Leadership." Live stream: 

7 p.m. EST: Performance and rally in Des Moines, Iowa, with Mike Huckabee and Josh Turner.



9 p.m. EST: The Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa -- one week until the caucuses!



Today is National Irish Coffee Day!

WE PRETTY MUCH ALL KNEW THIS WAS COMING, BUT: Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live in honor of Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump. It's glorious. Plz watch.

LET IT GO, D.C. POLICE. LET IT GO!: A D.C. police cruiser blasts the soundtrack from "Frozen" during the blizzard. Watch: 

IF YOU'RE FEELING THE BERN, COOL DOWN WITH THIS: Sorry, everyone -- the pun was necessary. Ben and Jerry's has created a special flavor of ice cream for Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. It's mint ice cream with chocolate.

And with that, send me photos of the snow totals in your area!


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