President Obama's town hall on gun control Thursday provided a window into how he is trying to reach out to gun advocates in order to make universal background checks a reality. But the contrast between the thoughtful event and the Donald Trump rally playing out at the same time in Vermont illustrates why this isn't likely to succeed. In a boisterous rally in Burlington, frequently interrupted by Bernie Sanders supporters, Trump drew cheers when he promised to do away with gun-free school zones, calling them targets. Obama, meanwhile, is pledging not to support any candidate who doesn't back his idea of gun control reforms—which could disqualify Sanders.
In advance of a poverty forum hosted by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Saturday, Jeb Bush is releasing his plan to reform the nation's welfare programs. His proposal would dramatically change the current system, eliminating federal food stamps, and cash and housing assistance for needy families, instead shifting the funds to "Right to Rise grants" for states to develop their own systems to take care of their needy. Bush would also institute tougher work requirements for welfare—a traditional GOP concern.
Marco Rubio's attacks on Chris Christie's record have provoked one of the field's strongest attack-dogs, with Christie's counter-punch going right for Rubio's weakness: his perceived inexperience. Ted Cruz's support is showing no signs of fading in Iowa despite a new assault by Trump and frequent criticism from Rubio.
Carly Fiorina questions Cruz's Canadian citizenship. Why some conservatives praise Sanders on immigration. And Maine's governor said what?
Here are your must-reads:
Bush Makes the Case That Trump Is Not Conservative
TIME's Philip Elliott on Bush's latest assault on Trump
Why Conservatives Praise Bernie Sanders on Immigration
Some unlikely support for Sanders, TIME's Sam Frizell reports
Democrats Mine Pentagon Files for Dirt on Rivals
The requests, filed under the Freedom of Information Act, mainly seek correspondence between the candidates and Pentagon officials [Politico]
Trump’s Attacks Aren’t Fooling Ted Cruz’s Supporters
In Iowa, Cruz is showing resilience [BuzzFeed]
Blunt Political Assessments in Bill Clinton Transcripts
Newly released documents offer a fresh look at Bill Clinton’s later years in the White House [New York Times]
As Obama Tries to Bridge Divide on Guns, It Seems As Wide As Ever
The president takes part in a CNN firearms forum in an effort to engage with those skeptical of his motives.
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.” — Maine Gov. Paul LePage in response to a question about substance abuse in his state. The comment has drawn criticism from Democrats and has become a liability for Chris Christie, whom he has endorsed for president
"I find it odd that Senator Ted Cruz did not renounce his dual Canadian citizenship until 2014." — Carly Fiorina on Fox News Thursday evening
Bits and Bites