The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images
December 22, 2015 8:35 AM EST

Lindsey Graham became the fourth candidate to drop out of the GOP presidential race Monday when the South Carolina declared he had no path to the nomination and withdrew in time to remove his name from his home state’s ballot. But Graham, whose campaign was centered around his hawkish foreign policy, succeeded in shaping the race as his views and positions have helped marginalize isolationist tendencies in the party. But Graham was less successful in pushing the GOP to be more inclusive on immigration and social issues.

Ben Carson‘s campaign is flailing as the retired neurosurgeon has failed to convince voters he’s ready to serve as commander in chief, but his top aides haven’t been helping much, as the campaign devotes an extraordinary percentage of its resources to raising more cash—and lining its consultants’ pockets. Once tying Donald Trump atop the polls, he’s now ceded most of his support to Ted Cruz, who has consolidated evangelical support in Iowa and is on his way to doing so around the country. Cruz’s focus on the fundamentals—campaign events, endorsements, and field work—are paying off as Feb. 1 approaches. Cruz is also stepping up his rhetoric on the campaign trail to attract Trump supporters.

Hillary Clinton is calling for more federal funds to fight Alzheimer’s, her latest detailed policy roll-out as her Democratic and Republican rivals struggle to gain attention for even their major policy plans. Meanwhile, Trump takes his criticism of Hillary Clinton to more unsavory places.

How politicians are using “Star Wars” to raise money. Trump’s campaign misstatements earn him the “Lie of the Year” award from a fact-checker. And Obama will appear on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

How Ted Cruz Is Winning the GOP Race–on the Ground
Cruz is out-working most of his rivals on endorsements and campaign events [TIME]

What Lindsey Graham’s Exit Says About the Republican Race
TIME’s Alex Altman on the latest candidate to quit the race

Republican Ben Carson’s Presidential Campaign Burns Through Cash
Consultants get rich off their candidate, as he spends more money to raise money [Wall Street Journal]

After Paris: A Muslim Community in Virginia Shares Its Story
TIME’s Elizabeth Dias on how one community confronts a new climate of intolerance

The War in Afghanistan Follows Obama to His Vacation in Hawaii
After six Americans are killed, a reminder of the war that isn’t ending [Washington Post]

Hockey, Cigars, ‘Star Wars’ and Campaign Cash
In a year-end frenzy, lawmakers try unusual venues and promotions to boost their campaign coffers [Politico]

Sound Off

“I know where she went — it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it—No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.” — Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton’s debate bathroom break Monday

“This is not like a Marco Rubio thing where you get three questions and then he leaves. We actually stay here. And we answer questions for a while. So raise your hands up.” — Chris Christie dinging his Republican rival for a reputation of holding brief and infrequent campaign events in New Hampshire

Bits and Bites

Why Bernie Sanders’ Tax Pledge Matters [TIME]

Clinton to Call for Alzheimer’s Cure, Increase Spending to $2 Billion Annually [USA Today]

Joe Klein: Hillary Clinton Is Strong on Fighting ISIS—but Democrats Don’t Seem to Care [TIME]

The White House Science Czar Talks Space [TIME]

President Obama Will Appear on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [TIME]

Donald Trump Says Clinton’s Bathroom Break During the Debate Is ‘Too Disgusting’ to Talk About [Washington Post]

Ben Carson Calls President Obama ‘Naive’ on ISIS [CNN]

Calling Donald Trump a ‘Jerk’ Doesn’t Seem to Be Helping Jeb Bush [Washington Post]

Ted Cruz Sharpens Tone While on Tour, in Nod to Donald Trump [New York Times]

Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends [New York Times]

Talk Radio Rallies Around Ted Cruz [Politico]

PolitiFact Awards Donald Trump its ‘Lie of the Year’ [Politico]


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