Tory Newmyer is off today. Fortune’s Ben Geier is filling in for him.
Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
After Thursday evening’s substantive Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Republicans still left vying for their party’s presidential nomination (minus former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who won’t be included) will take the stage in New Hampshire. It will be the last GOP debate before the state’s primary contest. With so much riding on Tuesday’s vote — not just in terms of delegates, but momentum—expect a lively, and perhaps vicious, debate on Saturday evening. Here are a few things to expect.
Ted Cruz won last week’s Iowa Caucuses, which means he’s bound to have a target on his back during Saturday’s debate. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still leading in New Hampshire, so expect Cruz to focus his firepower on him. You can expect sparks to fly over recent accusations from the Trump campaign that Cruz used smears and tricks to win in Iowa. Trump generally aims to hit as hard as he can during debates. Will he soften his tone this time around?
Despite placing third in Iowa, Marco Rubio has to be feeling good about himself heading into New Hampshire. He’s clearly the current GOP establishment candidate of choice, beating Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich for that mantle. Can Rubio capitalize on his momentum in New Hampshire, or will the Trump behemoth be too much for him to overcome? A strong showing in Saturday’s debate could help him, so look for Rubio to try early to establish himself as the most electable, but still conservative, candidate.
Governors’ Last Gasps
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Ted Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are still hanging tough in the Republican primary race. (Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is also technically still in the running as well.) None of them have been able to use their executive experience to win over a sufficient amount of support from voters thus far. If any of them are going to assume on the identity of the “Comeback Kid,” New Hampshire is an ideal place to start. All three of them will likely come out swinging.
• Cruz isn’t spending anymore in New Hampshire
Despite his big win in Iowa, Ted Cruz isn’t investing any more funds in New Hampshire, staffers say. With Donald Trump atop the polls and Marco Rubio gaining steam, Cruz doesn’t seem to consider the state winnable. Instead, he’ll continue his focus on South Carolina and the other upcoming Southern primary states. Since the beginning of the race, the Texas Senator has said he’d win big in the “SEC Primary,” referring to the southern college football athletics conference. Given his strong performance with evangelical voters in Iowa, Cruz may very well make make good on that prediction. Bloomberg Politics
• Obama wants positive talk on economy
Calling attention to the fact that unemployment has fallen below 5%, President Obama took aim at Republicans, especially those running for President, for their “doom and despair” on the economy. The President also touted the 71 consecutive months of American private sector job growth and accused Republicans of being negative about the economy simply because it was good politics. Politico
• Is Bernie gaining on Hillary? Maybe.
One recent poll says that Hillary Clinton’s lead over Bernie Sanders has shrunk to just 2 percentage points nationally. The Washington Post, though, says you should be skeptical. The new poll, from Quinnipiac, is likely an outlier, the paper argues. The averages of other recent polls suggest that while Sanders has certainly gained more support in recent weeks, the lead Clinton had has not fallen to the point where the two are in a virtual tie. Still, Sanders seems almost certain to win in New Hampshire, which could change the tenor of the race. The Washington Post
Around the Water Cooler
• Bernie Sanders to appear on SNL
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. Bernie Sanders will meet his doppelgänger on “Saturday Night Live” this week. Larry David, famous for creating and starring in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” is hosting the show this week. David has portrayed Sanders multiple times on the program this year, mixing Sanders’ real speech patterns and mannerisms with a penchant for the outrageous. Though neither SNL nor the Sanders campaign has commented on the matter, sources say the real Senator will make a cameo in this week’s episode. The Washington Post
• Mourning the loss of a candidate in New Hampshire
Martin O’Malley ended his unlikely campaign for the Democratic nomination last week after barely registering at the Iowa caucuses. The New York Times took a look at what it’s like to work for a candidate in anticipation of a primary, only to have another state decide for you that your guy wouldn’t be around to see the voting. The New York Times
• #BlackLivesMatter is going electoral
For nearly two years, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been one of the most powerful burgeoning forces in progressive politics. Its leaders have met with candidates and its supporters have disrupted election rallies. Now, though, one of the most prominent names in the movement is going mainstream and running for mayor of Baltimore. Deray Mckesson, who was on Fortune’s list of “World’s Greatest Leaders” last year, filed to run for mayor of his hometown, which has recently been the site of much protest over police brutality. The move may very well a presage a new phase for #BlackLivesMatter as it looks to make a deeper impact in American life, not just though protest but by claiming political posts. Medium