Election Wrap: Cruz Blasted by Branstad Amid Fight for Iowa

While Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad won’t endorse a Republican presidential candidate until after the caucuses, he did tell reporters who he doesn’t support: one of the state’s frontrunners, Ted Cruz.

  • Branstad said he’d like to see Cruz defeated as he’s “the biggest opponent of renewable fuels,” Des Moines Register reports
    • NOTE: As the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, Branstad wields major influence within the Iowa GOP
  • The rhetoric between Cruz and Donald Trump, who’s vying with Cruz for the lead in Iowa, continues to heat up
    • On the stump this weekend, Cruz said Trump is “rattled” by his gains while Trump called Cruz a “nasty guy,” AP reports
    • Cruz said today he wouldn’t swap insults with Trump but then criticized him for his support of TARP and 2009 stimulus bill
    • At the Renewable Fuels Summit today, Trump took a shot at Cruz after Branstad made his comments, saying “other candidates are supported by the oil industry” and can’t support ethanol

ON THE TRAIL

  • Ben Carson suspended campaign events today after 3 volunteers and 1 campaign employee were involved in a car crash in Iowa
  • Downtown Des Moines hotels will charge Manhattan prices as part of financial windfall Iowa enjoys every four years as host to first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Bloomberg reports
    • During the final week before Feb. 1 caucuses, rooms that would normally rent for $200 or less have fetched $600 or more
  • Bernie Sanders drew more than 5,000 supporters to a rally in Birmingham, Ala., late yesterday, AP reports
  • In a Monday appearance in Iowa, Marco Rubio said faith has been the “single greatest influence in my life,” courting evangelical voters, AP reports

ADS

  • Cruz campaign is spending $700k on TV and radio spots in Iowa for its ad that features Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson endorsing the candidate
  • Pro-Cruz super-PAC Keep the Promise I makes $2.5m ad buy in Iowa and S.C. for spot highlighting Cruz’s commitment to doing what he says he’ll do
  • Conservative Solutions PAC, which supports Rubio, released 2 ads hitting Cruz for his tax plan and saying Cruz “calculates his positions for political gain”
    • Group also released ad saying Rubio is the Republican “Democrats fear most”
  • Super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, Priorities Action USA, made six-figure digital buy in ad saying that Republicans fear her because she’d crack down on Wall Street, stand up to gun lobby and protect Planned Parenthood

ENDORSEMENTS

  • Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights group, has endorsed Clinton
  • Amid rumors that Sarah Palin is planning to endorse Trump, the daughter of John Wayne -- the legendary actor born in Iowa -- gave him her backing

POLLS

  • Sanders has closed in on Clinton’s lead nationally; Clinton still beating him 52%-37%, Monmouth University poll shows
  • Morning Consult poll shows 61% of Sanders supporters and 53% of Clinton supporters back a “system where most Americans get their health care coverage through the federal government,” similar to Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan
    • 52% of all Democrats prefer govt-run system to one where most Americans get health insurance through private company

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • Record number of Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2016, according to Pew Research Center Study, Bloomberg reports
    • Eligible Hispanic voters will reach 27.3m, 40% increase since 2008
    • Clinton holds wide lead with Hispanics among Republican and Democratic rivals
    • Experts say Trump could mobilize voter turnout, given his campaign pledge to crack down on undocumented immigrants and push for a wall along U.S/Mexico border

FLINT

  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Clinton is politicizing Flint’s water crisis, AP reports
    • NOTE: During Sunday’s debate, Clinton said she’s “outraged” by water situation
  • Flint Mayor Karen Weaver endorsed Clinton, saying “we need someone there fighting for the city of Flint,” Washington Post reports

ETC.

  • Documentary on Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner, called “Weiner,” premiers at Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, New York Times reports
    • Film “comes at an uncomfortable time” for Clinton, as she deals with attacks “reminding voters of the more sordid sexual episodes of her husband’s past,” according to NYT story
    • Documentary closely examines Abedin during her husband’s failed New York City mayoral campaign in 2013

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

  • In the Democratic primary for Md.’s open Senate seat, polls show Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards are nearly tied, Washington Post reports
    • Van Hollen is supported by 38% of likely primary voters; Edwards has 36%
  • In Fla.’s Senate race, Republican candidate David Jolly has vowed to not spend any time fundraising, instead leaving the task to his professional campaign fundraisers, AP reports
  • Republican Party of Maricopa County in Ariz. has vowed to support “anybody but” John McCain in his 2016 re-election bid, AP reports
    • McCain faces strong Tea Party opposition; he’s facing primary challenge from former State Sen. Kelli Ward
    • Same group voted to censure McCain 2 years ago
  • Wis. GOP has seen an increase in donations this cycle for total of $2m as Sen. Ron Johnson defends his seat against likely rematch with Russ Feingold, the Democratic incumbent he ousted in 2010, according to Wisconsin State Journal
    • NOTE: Changes in state finance law signed by Gov. Scott Walker in December allow parties to receive donations of “unlimited size” from donors, up from $10k previously