The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images
December 14, 2015 8:17 AM EST

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul earned a reprieve from CNN, with the network granting him a spot in Tuesday’s primetime GOP debate despite failing to meet its publish qualifications. The development avoids an embarrassing, and potentially fatal blow to Paul’s beleaguered campaign, which has struggled to carve out a space for the libertarian lawmaker as the race shifts focus to foreign policy issues. Chris Christie, meanwhile, regained a spot in the debate as his New Hampshire surge continues.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has taken the top spot in Iowa polling, and is drawing the ire of Donald Trump, who called him a “maniac” Sunday. Cruz responded in song. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is doing what he can to maintain the GOP’s brand amid a divisive presidential primary, promising that Congress will be more productive in the coming year to counteract the bluster on the campaign trail.

Hillary Clinton is facing new scrutiny over whether she used her position for the gain of her family, after a conservative watchdog group issued a complaint questioning whether Clinton brokered access for a business associate of her son-in-law. It’s the latest controversy to emerge from Clinton’s emails, which are being released on a monthly basis.

Trump says the EPA is hurting his hair. Cruz credits shrinks for his surge. And President Barack Obama takes a climate victory lap.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Paul Ryan Says ‘Inclusive’ House Agenda Must Counter Polarizing Campaign

Ryan embraces his bully pulpit [New York Times]

U.S. Bombing of ISIS Oil Facilities Showing Progress

After slow start, small signs of success surfacing, TIME’s Mark Thompson reports

Conservative Group Calls for Federal Inquiry Into Hillary Clinton Son-in-Law Request

Allegations that Clinton intervened to give special access to family member’s business colleagues [TIME]

Rand Paul Makes CNN Debate Stage After Network Skirts Own Rules

Last-minute reprieve granted, with little explanation [TIME]

Donald Trump Sells Out of His Own Signature at $13 a Copy

TIME’s Sam Frizell investigates the collectibles

Cruz campaign credits psychological data and analytics for its rising success

Surging campaig says its tech is putting it over the top [Washington Post]

Sound Off

You look at the way he’s dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a, you know, frankly like a little bit of a maniac. You’re never going to get things done that way.” —Donald Trump on Ted Cruz in an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

“In honor of my friend @realDonaldTrump and good-hearted #Maniacs everywhere” —Ted Cruz responding to Trump on Twitter with a link to a clip from Flashdance.

Bits and Bites

Watch Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush Return to SNL to Mock Trump [TIME]

Obama Trumpets Paris Climate Deal: ‘We Met The Moment’ [TIME]

Christie hits Rubio on missed Senate votes: ‘Baloney’ [Washington Post]

Donald Trump Says EPA Water Regulations Are Hurting His Hair [TIME]

Joe Klein: Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ National Security Problem [TIME]

Sen. Bob Corker Failed to Properly Disclose Millions of Dollars in Income [Wall Street Journal]

Ohio Planned Parenthood Clinics Disposed of Fetuses in Landfills, Probe Finds [TIME]

White House Says It Won’t Declare Muslim National Holiday [TIME]

Pro-Clinton super PAC sends Trump hats to GOP 2016ers [CNN]

Attack Spurs New Chapter in History of Dread in the U.S. [New York Times]

How Ted Cruz tried to make frenemies with Cher [Washington Post]

Trump really wants to win Iowa; here are 6 signs that he’s worried [Washington Post]

The White House Holiday Photo Line: A Tradition of Awkwardness [New York Times]

Obama’s fragile climate legacy [Politico]

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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