The Republican Party’s efforts to take on Donald Trump intensified Thursday with the emergence of a new PAC run by a former top Romney aide running ads against the bombastic poll leader—the first expenditures against him this year. And late Thursday, the conservative magazine National Review released a special issue and announced a symposium devoted to taking on Trump and casting him outside the conservative fold. But the effort still lacks serious financial backing, as the main super PACs in the race—those backing candidates—have treated Trump with kid gloves. And the conservative magazine lost its sponsorship of a forthcoming GOP debate for its anti-Trump position.
With days until the Iowa caucuses, the television ads are flying every which way. Former First Lady Barbara Bush cut an ad for Jeb Bush. A new Hillary Clinton spot implicitly hits Bernie Sanders arguing she’s only who capable of “Getting every part of the job done”—a continuation of her message this week attacking the insurgent candidate. And Trump is going negative with paid media for the first time. His new TV ad hits Cruz on “amnesty.” And the Marco Rubio campaign claims “Marcomentum” in a pair of early state ads.
Bush talks about how he tries to strike a “balance” in using his family on the campaign trail—reflecting both their incredible value to his campaign and his own need to rise out of their shadow. The help from Barbara Bush and the forthcoming assistance from George W. Bush indicate that at this juncture, the balance is shifting toward help from his family. He’s not the only one. Rand Paul will get last-minute help in Iowa from his father, Ron Paul, the day before the caucuses.
The new Washington parlor game: arguing who is worse for the GOP: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. The Sanders and Clinton campaign spar on foreign and domestic policy. And what it’s like to moderate a debate for the dozens of presidential candidates you’ve never heard of.
Here are your must-reads:
Clinton’s New Attack: Sanders Can’t Get Anything Done
Echoes of 2008, TIME’s Sam Frizell writes
Why Trump Is Winning Over Christian Conservatives
TIMEs Alex Altman and Elizabeth Dias report on how Trump’s style is winning over voters who abhor his positions
Bernie-Mania’s Barrier: Democratic Delegate Math
Democratic rules are a challenge for Sanders [Cook Political Report]
National Review, Conservative Thinkers Stand Against Trump
Unified effort, but impact appears minimal [CNN]
As Jeb Bush Struggles, Some Allies Blame His ‘Super PAC’
Right to Rise in the crosshairs [New York Times]
“You can’t ignore them because that’s weird, that’s kind of a strange thing, but you can’t over-rely on them either. There’s a balance.” — Jeb Bush on his family at a town hall in New Hampshire Thursday
“It’s the closest I’ve ever been to being Donald Trump, playing Monopoly” — Ted Cruz discussing his love of all games a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H.
Bits and Bites
Barbara Bush Cuts Ad for Jeb [TIME]
Clinton Super PAC Offers ‘Off the Record’ News Tips [Burlington Free Press]
Ron Paul to Campaign With His Son, Rand Paul [Des Moines Register]
National Review Cut from GOP Debate Over Anti-Trump Stance [National Review]
Clinton Ally Questions Sanders’s Commitment to Black Lives [Washington Post]