The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images
December 11, 2015 9:46 AM EST

As the holiday season approaches, Republican presidential candidates will face off in their fifth contest on Tuesday in Las Vegas as the field reshuffles before the new year. The surging Chris Christie who was banished to the kids table at the most recent debate in Wisconsin, has regained a spot on the main stage under the criteria announced by CNN, which rely on state-based polling as well as national surveys. Meanwhile Rand Paul appears set to be shifted to the earlier undercard debate, while Carly Fiorina is at risk of following him. The good thing for those candidates—they will have more opportunities in January to rise to the main stage, as the Republican National Committee is moving debates earlier in the cycle with the massive field of contenders.

Hillary Clinton has reversed course on Donald Trump. After laughing him off early this week, she’s getting more serious about him—a reflection both of his latest comments and support for some of them among her own supporters. Stymied by Republicans in Congress, President Barack Obama is planning another unilateral push to curtail the availability of firearms. The move comes after the governor of Connecticut imposed a ban on those on the no-fly list from purchasing guns in his state by executive action.

A focus group shows why taking on Trump may only make the problem worse for the GOP. Ted Cruz unloads on Trump behind closed doors. And Warren Buffett brings in the cash for Clinton.

Here are your must-reads:

MUST READS

Jeb Bush’s Daring Challenge to the Donald Trump Celebrity Circus

TIME’s Joe Klein on Bush’s gamble

Obama Looks to Expand Background Checks for Gun Sales

Unilateral action will come after GOP-controlled Congress balks [Associated Press]

To Democrats, Donald Trump Is No Longer a Laughing Matter

Trump catches Clinton campaign seemingly off-guard [New York Times]

Attacks on Trump just make these voters like him more

Focus group reveals GOP establishment challenges [Washington Post]

The Paul Ryan way

Unlike Boehner, the new speaker has managed to keep nerves calm in the face of a shutdown [Politico]

SOUND OFF

“You know, I have to say, Seth, I no longer think he is funny,” —Hillary Clinton to Late Night host Seth Meyers Thursday on Donald Trump, completing an about-face on the GOP front-runner

“Who am I comfortable having their finger on the button? Now that’s a question of strength, but it’s also a question of judgment. And I think that is a question that is a challenging question for both of them.” —Ted Cruz on Ben Carson and Donald Trump at a fundraiser according to audio obtained by the New York Times

BITS AND BITES

Poll: 57% of Americans Oppose Trump’s Muslim Ban [NBC]

Texas director of Bush young donor effort to join O’Malley campaign [Houston Chronicle]

Ted Cruz Questions Donald Trump’s ‘Judgment’ to Be President [New York Times]

In Heritage speech, Cruz looks to thread the needle on foreign policy [Washington Post]

Fear of Terrorism Lifts Donald Trump in New York Times/CBS Poll [New York Times]

Trump: I Was ‘Not Really’ Frightened by That Bald Eaglea [TIME]

1 Million New Americans Have Enrolled in Obamacare [TIME]

Connecticut To Deny Gun Sales To Individuals On Federal Terrorism Watch List [Hartford Courant]

Warren Buffett Goes to Bat for Hillary Clinton on Wall Street [Wall Street Journal]

Congress Pushes for Delay in ‘Cadillac Tax’ on Health Plans [Wall Street Journal]

The hidden legacy of 70 years of atomic weaponry: At least 33,480 Americans dead [McClatchy]

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