The Hill's 12:30 Report

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump up in Rubio's home state | GOP senator chased by elephants | Biden, Lady Gaga team up for Academy Awards | 8 in 10 Hispanics don’t like Trump

RETIREMENT ALERT – FREEDOM CAUCUS LOSES A FOUNDER: Via The Hill’s Cristina Marcos, Rep. Matt SalmonMatt Salmon GOP lawmakers give Trump bad reviews on debate performance House GOP talks 'minibuses,' moves toward Senate in spending fight Gloom sets in for GOP MORE (R-Ariz.), a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, announced Thursday that he won't seek reelection. Reason: The standard answer — he wants to spend more time with his family. Election effect: His district is deeply Republican. http://bit.ly/21jyfo9

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NEW POLL – LOS HISPANOS NO QUIEREN A TRUMP: Via The Hill’s Bradford Richardson, A new poll finds that 8 out of 10 Hispanics view Trump unfavorably, including 7 out of 10 who have a “very unfavorable” impression. How they see Rubio and Cruz (both of Cuban descent): Rubio is seen favorably by an 8-point margin, 45 percent to 37 percent, while Cruz is viewed negatively, 44 percent to 39 percent. http://bit.ly/1XOCOS7

OOOOF – THIS WON'T SIT WELL WITH RUBIO: Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, A new Quinnipiac survey has Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIvanka Trump stars in first campaign ad for her father Clinton camp on Trump cameo in Playboy film: 'a strange turn of events' Trump raises mic concerns when asked about next debate MORE leading in Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio, Heck help out at car crash scene Florida paper endorses Clinton, writes separate piece on why not Trump GOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions MORE's (R-Fla.) home state of Florida. Trump: 44 percent, Rubio: 28 percent. Rounding out the field are Ted CruzTed CruzJudge rejects attempt to stop internet oversight transfer Tech groups file court brief opposing internet transition suit Cruz criticizes federal law enforcement on terrorism MORE at 12 percent; John Kasich, at 7 percent; and Ben Carson, at 4 percent. http://bit.ly/1Qgm5Wd

Tweet from Rubio's communications director Alex Conant: How reporters think: "There's 20 days, 15 elections, 3 debates, millions spent before Florida. BUT OMG A POLL SAYS MARCO IS LOSING TO TRUMP" http://bit.ly/1TH1Sv4 

Happy Thursday! Filing from a joint presentation by the American Enterprise Institute, Center for American Progress, and Brookings Institution on the changing demographics in the country and their effect on elections, 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. Follow along on Twitter for updates from the event — and send comments, story ideas and happy hour suggestions to cmartel@thehill.com and on Facebook

JUST RELEASED... LET THE GAMES BEGIN: Via NH1's Paul Steinhauser, Gov. Maggie Hassan's (D-N.H.) Senate campaign has released a web video blasting Republican Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteGOP senator: Block cash payments to state terror sponsors The Trail 2016: Just a little kick Abortion rights group ads tie vulnerable GOP senators to Trump MORE (N.H.) over the Supreme Court nominee. Watch: http://bit.ly/1Oxynnp

TOPIC TO WATCH FOR IN THE DEBATE TONIGHT: Via The Hill’s Naomi JagodaDonald Trump says he will decide in the coming months whether to release his tax returns. He weighed in after 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said there was likely a "bombshell" hidden in Trump's tax returns and amid growing pressure for the businessman to open up his finances. http://bit.ly/1TGXs7f

ANNOUNCED TODAY – THE DREAM TEAM: Via The Los Angeles Times’s Christi ParsonsVice President Biden and Lady Gaga are teaming up during Sunday’s Academy Awards for a special presentation aiming at combating sexual violence. http://lat.ms/1Lf7wls

NEW POLL – DON’T COUNT KASICH OUT YET: GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has 22 percent support in Pennsylvania, (unchanged since October), followed Marco Rubio, with 16 percent (up by 5!), John Kasich, with 15 percent (up by 12 points!), Ted Cruz, at 12 percent, and Ben Carson, with 6 percent. http://bit.ly/24rnSO7

GOP ESTABLISHMENT: OH, YUP. THIS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN: Via The Hill’s Cristina Marcos and Jordain Carney, Republicans in Washington are coming to grips with the increasing likelihood that Donald Trump will be the party’s presidential nominee. So naturally, a few House members have joined the bandwagon. No senators have endorsed Trump yet, but Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears Trump, Clinton discuss counterterrorism with Egyptian president MORE (R-Ala.) is confident his colleagues would come around. http://bit.ly/21tGIC0

THE HILL TO EXPAND AS DIGITAL TRAFFIC GROWS: “Few [news organizations] have lapped up [the political season] with more gusto than The Hill,” writes USA Today’s Roger Yu.

– Jimmy Finkelstein, the New York-based businessman who owns The Hill, told USA Today he plans to accelerate the momentum by boosting staffing by 25 percent this year. Video production also is a priority, and he has thought about expanding it beyond politics and policy. And its print product, he speculates, will likely be gone in five years. Read the Q&A with Finkelstein here: http://usat.ly/1T9vCRy 

IF YOU WATCH ONE VIDEO TODAY: Here’s an interview with a 15-year-old Swedish girl who explains why she joined ISIS and why she regrets it. http://bit.ly/1mY8Z47

AN INTERESTING TAKE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman has a fascinating piece about how Marco Rubio could ultimately win more delegates than Donald Trump in the race, even with fewer overall primary votes. It’s worth reading. http://53eig.ht/21tyhGI

GUYS, IT’S OFFICIALLY THE FUTURE: Via Time magazine’s Anand Shah and Theodore Waddelow, here’s how close we are to driverless cars and what it will still take to make them a success. http://ti.me/1RpP7l9

OBAMA’S “SCOOP” ON LINKEDIN: President Obama posted about his first job as an ice cream scooper on LinkedIn. “Scooping ice cream is tougher than it looks. Rows and rows of rock-hard ice cream can be brutal on the wrists.” http://bit.ly/1OxfUHL

ANNOUNCED TODAY – PLANNED PARENTHOOD PUMPS IN THE CASH: Planned Parenthood is launching an ad buy worth at least $1 million in support of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonIvanka Trump stars in first campaign ad for her father Clinton camp on Trump cameo in Playboy film: 'a strange turn of events' Trump raises mic concerns when asked about next debate MOREHow so: The ads will target Michigan, Texas and Virginia ahead of their March primary elections. Watch: http://bit.ly/1WLn1lL  

 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Donald Trump
Signing a recent tax return- isn't this ridiculous? http://bit.ly/20Xd6uF

Politico’s Gabe Debenedetti
With Reid's endorsement, just four Senate Dems are left not endorsing Clinton: Menendez, Merkley, Tester, Warren. http://bit.ly/1Q3Dgc1

ABC News
WATCH: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform GOP senators press Treasury to withdraw estate tax proposal Obama defeat is Schumer victory MORE's convoy charged by elephants during trip about poaching: http://bit.ly/1QHB5hT 

 

ON TAP:

1 p.m. EST: Howard University holds a Black History Month discussion with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

1:30 p.m. EST: The McCain Institute holds a discussion on human trafficking. Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Wells Fargo board to decide on executive clawbacks MORE (D-N.D.) will be speaking.

1:45 p.m. EST: The Senate will vote on a resolution honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. EST: The House votes. 

3 p.m. EST: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will discuss his latest book, “The Court and the World:  American Law and the New Global Realities” at the Newseum with NBC justice correspondent Pete WilliamsDetails: http://bit.ly/1WJr8ik 

5:35 p.m. EST: President Obama delivers a statement from the State Department.

6 p.m. EST: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump defends his 3 a.m. tweetstorm Clinton's 'superpredators' comment most damaging by either candidate It's Bernie Sanders vs. Gary Johnson for millennial votes MORE (I-Vt.) participates in the MSNBC college tour with anchor Chris Matthews in Chicago.

6:30 p.m. EST: The International Spy Museum holds a book discussion on "United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists."

6:30 p.m. EST: The Atlantic Council holds a discussion on the 25th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Albania and the U.S. Albania Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati will speak. Details: http://bit.ly/1oCASj7 

8 p.m. EST: The Washington Press Club holds its 72nd annual congressional dinner. Participants include Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria GOP leaders express reservations a day after 9/11 veto override McConnell opens door to changing 9/11 bill MORE (R-S.C.), and Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDems gain upper hand on budget Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante and retired Associated Press special correspondent Linda Deutsch.

8:30 a.m. EST tomorrow: The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its second estimate of the U.S.’s fourth-quarter GDP. 

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

8:30 p.m. EST: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ben Carson participate in the CNN, Telemundo and Salem Radio Republican presidential debate in Houston. CNN's Wolf Blitzer will moderate.

 

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF ...

Today is National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day and National Clam Chowder Day!

“FULLER HOUSE” TO BE RELEASED: Netflix’s follow-up to “Full House” will premier at 3:01 a.m. EST tomorrow morning, midnight Pacific Time. http://lat.ms/1XOAlH8

TRUMP LOVES THE POORLY EDUCATED: No, actually. That’s a Trump quote. Anyway, Jimmy Kimmel had a ball with that line. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/1oCGFoS

A FEW OF US HAD TO RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE, HUH? To celebrate gaining their 1 millionth Twitter follower, the Montreal Canadiens are creating a Twitter promo that automatically tweets a photo of a jersey featuring new followers’ names. Now apply this to a few immature people who then (obviously) created obscene Twitter handles ... Head smack. http://cbsprt.co/1S3pYyT

And with that, here’s a paralyzed bunny that got a homemade wheelchair. It’s the talk of Facebook right now – for good reason. It’s adorable. http://bit.ly/1mZtai5

 

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