A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT DON’T REALLY MATTER, BUT COULD BE KIND OF FUN … TODAY is 02/02/2020 — a palindrome . … Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow — but who cares, because a rodent doesn’t determine the change in seasons.
TRUMP HAS STRENGTHENED … NEW NBC/WSJ POLL, by WSJ’s Aaron Zitner: “The poll … found some signs that the president’s political standing has strengthened in recent months, due largely to a more energized Republican Party base.
“Mr. Trump’s job approval in the January poll stood at 46%, with 51% disapproving, in line with results throughout the Trump presidency. But the share who ‘strongly approve’ of his job performance hit its highest mark, at 36%. Approval among independents rose to its highest level since the summer. A separate measure found that while half the country holds a negative overall view of Mr. Trump, 43% of voters view him favorably — the largest share since his first month in office.” WSJ
TABLE SETTER … NYT, A1 … JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS: “Democratic Candidates Focus on All-Consuming Hunger to Unseat Trump”: “After a long campaign of ideological clashes, policy debates and talk of a grand reckoning on the direction of the Democratic Party, the presidential primaries starting on Monday will be shaped by a less lofty but increasingly urgent matter: determining the best candidate to defeat an incumbent who has already proved to be a political survivor.
“With Republicans ready to acquit President Trump of two impeachment charges next week, the nation’s political table has been set for 2020: Congress will not remove him from office, despite the wishes of many liberals, leaving the fate of Mr. Trump to the November general election and the candidate nominated by Democrats in the coming months.
“From the liberal left to the moderate middle, the major presidential contenders are now honing or recalibrating their final appeals before Iowa’s caucuses to make the case that they represent the party’s best chance to overcome Mr. Trump’s well-funded re-election operation and win back the White House this fall. …
“John Norris, who has caucused here every four years since 1976 and is a leading supporter of Ms. Warren, said his fellow Iowa Democrats feel a burden heavier than any he can recall. ‘It’s Trump,’ said Mr. Norris. ‘We saw it a little bit in ’04 — it was we got to stop George W., Iraq war — but this is that on steroids.’” NYT
WAPO’S JENNA JOHNSON in Des Moines: “Sanders’s caucus target: Latino voters usually overlooked in mostly white Iowa”: “Although Latinos make up just 6 percent of Iowa’s population — the vast majority of the state’s residents are white — they have more than doubled in number over the past two decades. There are more than 50,000 registered Latino voters in the state, plus thousands more who are eligible, making them a potential force in caucuses that campaigns expect to draw up to 240,000 voters.
“Sanders’s operation has done far more than his competitors in seeking the support of those voters, having belatedly realized in his 2016 campaign the growing heft of Iowa’s Latino voters — and their attraction to him.”
BIG NEWS … “Des Moines Register poll scrapped after apparent mishap,” by Steven Shepard and Elena Schneider in Des Moines: “The widely anticipated Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers was scrapped shortly before it was set to be released Saturday night after complaints from Pete Buttigieg’s campaign about how it was conducted.
“The stunning announcement by the media sponsors and West Des Moines-based pollster Selzer & Co. means the results of the historically accurate survey won’t be released before Monday caucuses. The decision left the campaign and political media universe, which has descended on Des Moines, dumbfounded.
“Buttigieg’s campaign raised serious concerns about the poll with CNN and the Register, a source familiar with the situation said. Lis Smith, a senior adviser to Buttigieg’s campaign, confirmed on Twitter that the former South Bend (Ind.) mayor’s campaign had been in touch with the media outlets about the issues and hailed their decision to withhold the results.
“‘Our campaign received a report from a recipient of the Iowa Poll call, raising concerns that not every candidate was named by the interviewer when asked who they support,’ Smith tweeted. ‘We shared this with the organizations behind the poll, who conducted an internal investigation and determined not to release it. We applaud CNN and the Des Moines Register for their integrity.’”
CAUCUS FRONTS … Sioux City Journal: “Hoops or Caucus” bug … “Game changer: Caucus prompts schools to rethink plans” … The Courier (Ankeny, Iowa): “Caucus crunch time” … Star Tribune: “‘WE BETTER NOT SCREW THIS UP: Senator’s closing spring comes with warning for party” … The Gazette (Cedar Rapids): “Picking a favorite still elusive for some Democrats” …
— THE REGISTER’S 10 QUESTIONS: “Who will win? … What will ‘winning’ look like? … Where will candidates win? … How many ‘tickets’ will there be out of Iowa? … Is the ground game still king? … Is ‘Klomentum’ real? … What does ‘electability’ look like? … Will the satellite caucuses be successful? … Will the new rules streamline caucus night or create new hiccups? … Will Iowa keep its caucuses and stay first?”
ONTO MANCHESTER … CHRIS WALLACE spoke to SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn.) on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: “I think we have to do well here, there’s been a lot going having been gone the last few weeks that I didn’t expect to have happen. But I’m going to New Hampshire no matter what. There’s a debate, I’m on the debate stage. I’ve got the endorsements of every major paper in New Hampshire, including The Union Leader. … So of course I’m going there, we have a strong operation there — and then going beyond.”
TRUTH TALK from PETE BUTTIGIEG to CHUCK TODD: TODD: “Do you reconsider your candidacy if you don’t finish in the top three?” BUTTIGIEG: “I’ll let others set the goalposts. But, look, let’s face it. I need to have a good finish here in Iowa. We know it, and we’re working very hard to do that.”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS to ANDREW YANG on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: STEPHANOPOULOS: “But, you know, the Iowa caucuses, as you know, have a pretty unique way of voting. You’re actually going to see four different results coming out of tomorrow night. The first round, the second round after realignment, and any candidate who doesn’t get 15 percent in a certain precinct, your supporters have a chance then to go and back someone else on the second ballot. Where do you expect most of your supporters to go in those precincts where you don’t get 15 percent? And are you going to encourage them towards a particular candidate?
YANG: “Well, first, we plan to exceed 15 percent in a vast majority of locations. And as to what our supporters might do if we don’t reach that threshold in a particular place, we have a very, very diverse group of supporters. I can’t speak for where they would head. I do have a sense that many of them have supported Bernie in the past, but many of them supported President Trump, and they might just leave. So, there are a whole range of possibilities and I can’t speak to the minds of literally thousands of Iowans.”
… AND BEYOND: FRONT PAGE OF THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: “Biden widens his lead in Texas,” by Robert T. Garrett: “Former vice president Joe Biden has stretched his lead in Texas in the Democratic presidential fight, buoyed by gains among Hispanics, a new Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll has found.
“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has the most enthusiastic backing of any of the major Democratic presidential contenders, according to the poll. However, among Texas Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Sanders is running further behind Biden than he did in two statewide polls by UT-Tyler last fall.
Good Sunday morning.
SUPER BOWL STUFF: SEAN HANNITY will interview the president before the big game. The game — between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs — begins at 6:30 p.m. in Miami.
EARLY CLIP … TRUMP complained to Hannity that MIKE BLOOMBERG is short and wants to stand on a box at the Democratic debate. The clip, via CNN’s Brian Stelter
— FRONT PAGE of the Miami Herald is an homage to Don Shula and the “NFL’s greatest team of all time”
IF YOU ARE INTO THIS KIND OF STUFF … The Chiefs are one-point favorites. Las Vegas says the Super Bowl MVP will thank his teammates first (+140). A bettor can get +1200 if the player thanks his coaches or owners first — that would be wager $100 to win $1,200. Bet the coin toss.
SNEAK PEEK … THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD … Monday: THE PRESIDENT will have lunch with VP Mike Pence. Tuesday: THE PRESIDENT will deliver the State of the Union at the Capitol. Wednesday: THE PRESIDENT will have lunch with Defense Secretary MARK ESPER. Thursday: TRUMP will speak at the National Prayer Breakfast, and will participate in a swearing in of new ambassadors. He is scheduled to have lunch with Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO and then he will meet with the president of Kenya. Friday: THE PRESIDENT will travel to Charlotte to speak at the North Carolina Opportunity Now summit.
TICK TOCK … WAPO’S SEUNG MIN KIM and RACHAEL BADE: “Inside the Senate trial: McConnell stops rebel push in GOP for witnesses”
NYT Q-HED … PETER BAKER on A1: “While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled”: “With the end of the impeachment trial now in sight and acquittal assured, a triumphant Mr. Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.
“The president’s Democratic adversaries rolled out the biggest constitutional weapon they had and failed to defeat him, or even to force a full trial with witnesses testifying to the allegations against him. Now Mr. Trump, who has said that the Constitution ‘allows me to do whatever I want’ and pushed so many boundaries that curtailed past presidents, has little reason to fear the legislative branch nor any inclination to reach out in conciliation.” NYT
ERNST: TRUMP WILL CHANGE NOW … On “STATE OF THE UNION” with CNN’S JAKE TAPPER: TAPPER: Assuming President Trump is acquitted on Wednesday, and assuming you’re going to go to acquit him…” ERNST: “Right.” TAPPER: “Yes. Are you confident that he won’t do this again, that he won’t try to get another foreign country to look into a political opponent, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg or someone else?
ERNST: “I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things, whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is, he needs to go through the proper channels.” TAPPER: “Mm-hmm.” ERNST: “So, again, using the DOJ and other international organizations to get to that corruption.”
MAUREEN DOWD: “I feel like I have spent my career watching the same depressing dynamic that unspooled Friday night: Democrats trying, sometimes ineptly, to play fair and Republicans ruthlessly trying to win.
“I watched it with the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings. I watched it in the 2000 recount with Bush versus Gore. I watched it with the push by W., Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to go to war in Iraq. I watched it with the pantomime of Merrick Garland.
“Democrats are warning Republicans that they will be judged harshly by history. But in the meantime, the triumphant Republicans get to make history. And a lot of the history that Republicans have made is frightening: the endless, futile wars, the obliviousness to climate change, the stamp on the judiciary.”
CHUCK TODD got SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-Tenn.) on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: “You’re comfortable acquitting him before he says something of regret? Would that not, would that not help make your acquittal vote more comfortable?”
ALEXANDER: “I wasn’t asked to decide — assess his level of regret. I was asked, ‘Did he, did he make a phone call? And did he, at least in part, hold up aid in order to influence an investigation of Joe Biden?’ I concluded yes. So I don’t need to assess his level of regret. What I hope he would do is when he makes his State of the Union address, that he puts this completely behind him, never mentions it, and talks about what he thinks he’s done for the country and where we’re headed. He’s got a pretty good story to tell if he’ll focus on it.”
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ in Columbia, S.C.: “Black voters love Ayanna Pressley. But convincing them to back Elizabeth Warren isn’t easy.”: “Just 6 percent of African Americans in the state support her, according to a January Fox News poll. Warren’s policy-heavy candidacy has yet to resonate with black Americans who are broadly wary of government and the racial biases that exist within it. …
“Pressley has taken the image of Warren as a wonkish Harvard Law professor and tried to turn it on its head. Often surrogates put their candidate on a pedestal: Joe Biden as the only candidate equipped to be president ‘on Day One,’ or Sanders as the leader of a political revolution.”
L.A. TIMES: “2 California bases picked as possible coronavirus quarantine sites,” by Alex Wigglesworth: “The Defense Department said Saturday it has agreed to house up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel because of the coronavirus and that two of the four facilities selected are in California.
“Travis Air Force Base in Solano County and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County are the two California sites that were selected, Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. The others are Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the 168th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Colorado.
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION front page: “Wild race for Senate is just the beginning: Georgia voters may want to buckle their seat belts for this ride”
THE PRESIDENT’S SUNDAY — AT 6:05 P.M., the president will leave Mar-a-Lago for Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach for a Super Bowl party. He is scheduled to watch the FAU marching band perform. At 8:35 p.m., he is scheduled to leave the club for the airport to fly back to D.C. He’s expected at Andrews at 10:55 p.m. and at the White House at 11:15 p.m.
THE FIRST EXCERPT from Lachlan Markey and Asawain Suebsaeng’s new book, via The Daily Beast.
CORRECTION … DANIEL’S Weekend Reads on Saturday included a three-month-old Reason article about Jonathan Kaiman that was included in error. Columbia Journalism Review and other outlets have written about this piece, and Felicia Sonmez wrote Reason requesting a correction. Read that letter
BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman (@dlippman):
— “The Woman Shaking up the Diamond Industry,” by Ed Caesar in The New Yorker: “Eira Thomas’s company has used radical new methods to find some of the biggest uncut gems in history.” New Yorker
— “‘Angels’ in Hell: The Culture of Misogyny Inside Victoria’s Secret,” by NYT’s Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Katherine Rosman, Sapna Maheshwari and James Stewart: “A Times investigation found widespread bullying and harassment of employees and models. The company expresses ‘regret.’” NYT
— “The Lucrative, Largely Unregulated, and Widely Misunderstood World of Vaping,” by Amanda Chicago Lewis in The California Sunday Magazine: “As medical researchers scramble to find the source of a fatal lung disease and officials seek to ban the sale of vape pens, our correspondent set out to separate reality from hysteria.” California Sunday Magazine
— “The Voyage to the End of Ice,” by Shannon Hall in Quanta Magazine: “Whenever it happens, the transformation will affect the entire planet. An increasingly dark Arctic Ocean will amplify warming in the Arctic. An ice-free Arctic will likely scramble weather patterns across the globe. Depending on the physics of ice, many of these effects could happen as soon as this decade.” Quanta (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “Her Uighur Parents Were Model Chinese Citizens. It Didn’t Matter,” by Sarah Topol in the NYT Magazine: “When Zulhumar Isaac’s parents disappeared amid a wave of detentions of ethnic minorities, she had to play a perilous game with the state to get them back.” NYT Magazine
— “Ari Emanuel, WME, and the Great Hollywood IPO That Wasn’t,” by Richard Rushfield in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue: “The entertainment industry’s reigning super-agent planned to put his firm—and the very power structure of Hollywood—on the line with an audacious, now scuttled public offering. With that future on hold and the likes of Netflix and Disney commanding more ground by the day, what’s an ambitious modern macher to do?” Vanity Fair
— “Mark Cuban Once Crashed the NBA’s Party. Now He Hosts It,” by Katie Baker in The Ringer: “It’s been 20 years since the tech billionaire bought the Dallas Mavericks, a timeline that has seen the 61-year-old evolve from a disrupting force into one of the league’s most formidable constants.” Ringer (h/t Longform.org)
— “The pod delusion,” by Matt Labash in The Spectator: “Why I hate all podcasts — even the ones I like.” Spectator
— “They Shut Down the City,” by Xiaoyu Lu and Allen Young in China Channel: “On January 23, the day before Chinese New Year’s Eve, Wuhan locked down. Nobody was allowed out. My family cancelled plans to visit our ancestors in the cemetery. [Now] my neighbourhood is nearly deserted. I sleep unusually well. I read old books and make long-term plans. Neighbours remind us to stock up on food, and tell us of those with high fevers who are being sent to the hospital. They’re afraid they might be taken too.” China Channel (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “This Sculpture Holds a Decades-Old C.I.A. Mystery. And Now, Another Clue,” by NYT’s John Schwartz and Jonathan Corum: “Kryptos, a sculpture in a courtyard at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., holds an encrypted message that has not fully yielded to attempts to crack it. … Three of the four passages of the sculpture have been decrypted … But after nearly three decades, one brief passage remains uncracked. And that has been a source of delight and consternation to thousands of people around the world.” NYT
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at email@example.com.
TRANSITIONS — Michael Beckerman will be VP of U.S. public policy at TikTok. He previously was the founding president of the Internet Association. Axios … Sandeep Mathrani will be CEO of WeWork. He previously was CEO of Brookfield Property Partners’ retail group. WSJ
BIRTHDAYS: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is 68 … Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) is 73 … The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins … Ellen Malcolm, founder and board chair of EMILY’s List (h/ts Jon Haber and Teresa Vilmain) … Gabriella Uli, executive assistant to the White House Cabinet secretary … Drew Walker, assistant director of the White House Visitors Office … NBC’s Carrie Dann … The New Yorker’s Michael Luo … Teddy Downey, CEO and executive editor of the Capitol Forum … The Hill’s Reid Wilson … Paul Bedard … Andy Hemming, senior consultant at Red Flag, is 34 (h/t Blain Rethmeier) … Caroline Frattaroli … Nika Nour … Robin Gilchrist … Barry Diller is 78 … Dan Knight, senior manager of business communications and marketing at Koch Industries … Aaron Keyak, managing partner and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies … Anita Ford … Emily Howell …
… Heather Smith, comms director for Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) (h/ts Gavin Proffitt and Scott Bennett) … Adrienne Lee Benson … Mark Tercek … Sam Schifrin, national security adviser for Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), is 31 … Patrick Hayden of the North American Export Grain Association … L.A. Times’ Ben Oreskes … Avery Pierson, legislative correspondent for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) (h/t Emily Saleme) … Howard Rubenstein is 88 … Bobby Whithorne, director of North America comms at GoFundMe … RGA’s Amanda Kitchen O’Malley … Jen Duck … Sean Evins, government and politics outreach manager at Facebook, is 34 … Ben Lacy … Clare Randt … Mina Sharif … Haley Ast … Fred McClure … Traci Kraus … Jonathan Mudd … Sally Albright … Ahmir Rashid … David Pakman is 36 … Lance Khazei … Victorino “Vic” Matus … Jonathan Lachman
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