January 5, 2016

It’s on. As the first caucus and primary states approach, the super PAC air war is kicking into high gear. While Jeb Bush‘s super PAC had taken the lead on the attacks over the past several months, groups backing Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio got in on the game in a big way Monday, launching assaults on Rubio and Chris Christie, respectively. The negative spots come as crowd-counts are rising in the early states, indicating that more voters are tuning into the presidential race. Meanwhile the tenor of Republican ads is taking a dark turn, as candidates and outside groups turn to fear over inspiration to win over voters.

President Obama will announce his executive actions on guns, including an effort to unilaterally close the gun show loophole Tuesday morning. The move, praised by Democrats, is uniting Republicans as much on the process as on the substance. as they condemn his end-run around Congress. But Obama’s steps are more limited than what he asked Congress to do three years ago, instead restating that federal law requires those making a living from the gun trade to register as dealers, while threatening stepped-up enforcement for those who fail to do so.

Former President Bill Clinton spent Monday stumping for his wife in New Hampshire Monday and will make his first solo trip to Iowa on Thursday as the Hillary Clinton campaign deploys every tool in its arsenal to lock in a win. Clinton’s speech revealed why he’s his wife’s most potent weapon, delivering a strong testimonial to his wife in a speech carried live by cable networks, while lamenting the tone of the presidential race. But he also exposes her to new lines of attack, both personal and political.

Republican presidential candidates are betting that voters will get serious about Donald Trump in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, but there’s no evidence yet that it’s happening. And Trump is taking to the airwaves in hopes of fending off the attacks coming from all sides.

The state of the race in New Hampshire. Donald Trump’s ad uses the wrong border. And Meet the Obama White House’s ‘Smurfettes’

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Meet the Obama White House’s ‘Smurfettes’
An excerpt from TIME correspondent Jay Newton-Small’s new book, “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Work”

President Obama Targets Gun Show Loophole in New Executive Actions
TIME’s Maya Rhodan previews Obama’s announcement Tuesday

Christie and Rubio Try to Take Down Trump, Indirectly
Back-to-back speeches on national security reveal a common foe and divergent messages [TIME]

Bill Clinton Touts Hillary’s Activism in First Appearance on Campaign Trail
The former president is also opening up Hillary’s campaign to a new line of Republican attacks, TIME’s Sam Frizell writes

Why the Feds Have Not Ended the Oregon Militia Standoff
TIME’s Alex Altman on the law enforcement strategy

Forget Hopes and Dreams: The GOP Race Is All About Nightmares
The Republican race takes a dark turn [Washington Post]

Donald Trump Casts Long Shadow on GOP in New Hampshire
TIME’s Philip Elliott sets the scene in the Granite State

Sound Off

“Sometimes I follow this debate in the presidential elections, especially when I watch the other guys debating, and I think, ‘You know, I don’t fit anymore.’ First of all, I’m a happy grandfather, I’m not mad at anybody. And I thought an election was supposed to be a job interview.” — Bill Clinton on the tone of the presidential race while stumping for his wife in New Hampshire on Monday

“Yeah, I am not familiar with it. OK. I’ve got to get out of here.” — Ohio Gov. John Kasich repeatedly professing ignorance of the Oregon militia standoff Monday during a campaign swing in Iowa

Bits and Bites

Here Are the Five Most Interesting Anecdotes From Candy Carson’s New Book [TIME]

Here’s What’s Wrong With Donald Trump’s Campaign Ad [TIME]

White House Urges Iran and Saudi Arabia to ‘Show Restraint’ [TIME]

Rubio Super PAC Blasts Christie’s Record, Ties to Obama [TIME]

Donald Trump tried to win over Fox’s Megyn Kelly [Vanity Fair]

Republican Presidential Candidates Respond to Oregon Standoff [TIME]

Right to Rise Super PAC’s Series of Misleading Claims About Jeb Bush’s Record [Washington Post]

Donald Trump Finally Buys TV Ads, and Lots of Them [New York Times]


Contact us at editors@time.com.

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