December 19, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton were arguing over Syria during Saturday's Democratic debate when Martin O'Malley jumped in. "May I offer a different generation's perspective on this?" Perhaps he played the youth card a little too obviously, because that drew boos from the audience.

O'Malley mentioned the Cold War, and said the U.S. has to think beyond those divisions and coalitions to fight the Islamic State. Clinton, he said, was "gleeful" as secretary of state when Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi "was torn apart." Where in the Constitution, he asked, does it give the U.S. president the responsibility to topple dictators? Foreign policy is complicated, Clinton responded. "If the United States doesn't lead," there is a vacuum. The audience cheered that.

And for the record: Sanders is 74. Clinton is 68. O'Malley is 52. Peter Weber

10:02 p.m. ET

Rep. Jason Chaffetz isn't getting any head pats for his decision to "not defend or endorse" Donald Trump while still voting for him.

After the Access Hollywood recording featuring Trump making vulgar comments about women came out earlier this month, the Utah Republican said he could "no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine." Later, he went on MSNBC and told Lawrence O'Donnell, "How in the world could I look my 15-year-old daughter in the eye and say, honey you know what your dad endorses Donald Trump for president, and I can't do the end of the day I've got to look at myself in the mirror and say, I call balls and strikes as I see them, and you know what, no matter which party, if you're going to act like that and that's how you think, you're not gonna get my endorsement, you're not gonna get my support. I hope we do that on both sides of the aisle. It's just wrong, and we've got to call it out as wrong."

On Twitter Wednesday night, Chaffetz — whose handle @jasoninthehouse sounds like a Disney Channel show from the '90s — announced that he will vote for Trump because "HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA." This didn't sit well with many in the media, including Business Insider's Josh Barro, who told Chaffetz he is a "pathetic, craven hack," The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, who asked him to "explain where the line is between endorsing and voting for someone," and The New Republic's Jeet Heer, who said Chaffetz could "play with words all you want; if you vote for Trump and encourage others to, you are endorsing him. He's on you." Chaffetz is also receiving 140-characters worth of flack from constituents and other random Twitter users, calling him a "shell of a man," a "coward," and "pathetic." Have fun reading your mentions for the next few days, Congressman! Catherine Garcia

9:00 p.m. ET
Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

Rescue workers in the rebel-held Idlib province in Syria say at least 26 people, mostly schoolchildren, were killed Wednesday in air strikes conducted by either Syrian or Russian warplanes.

The Syrian Civil Defense group said on Facebook the attack was against a residential area and school in the village of Haas, near Aleppo, with 20 children among the dead. The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several locations were hit in Haas, including an elementary school and a middle school, killing one teacher and 15 children.

On Syrian state television, a military source was quoted as saying several militants were killed in the air strikes, but did not mention children. In a statement, Anthony Lake, the head of UNICEF, said if the attack was deliberate, "it is a war crime." Catherine Garcia

7:58 p.m. ET
AFP/Getty Images

With the battle for Mosul still underway in Iraq, the U.S. and allies are already looking ahead to their next big fight: taking control of Raqqa, Syria, from the Islamic State.

Raqqa is the terror group's de facto capital, and there is a sense of "urgency" to capturing the town, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the U.S. commander in Iraq and Syria, said. "Intelligence feeds tell us there is significant external operations planning taking place, centralized in Raqqa," he said, without elaborating on the plots. The U.S. is still training local forces whose assistance is needed to take over and hold the city, and also trying to figure out how to get Turkey and Kurdish YPG fighters, known enemies, to work together in the operation.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the Raqqa fight will start "within the next few weeks," and there are enough resources to fight for Mosul and Raqqa at the same time. "Yes, there will be overlap, and that's part of our plan and we are prepared for that," he said Tuesday. "And second, there's no delay. This is proceeding on plan, even as Mosul is proceeding on plan." The U.S. anticipates the fight for Raqqa will take longer than the battle for Mosul; that offensive began last week, with Iraqi forces making their way through smaller villages as they head to Iraq's second-largest city, held by ISIS since 2014. Townsend also said ISIS is using drones in a "constant and creative" way; while they typically use them for reconnaissance, during one incident, they pretended a drone was crashing in order to lure the enemy into an explosion, The Guardian reports. Catherine Garcia

6:36 p.m. ET
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Fox News on Wednesday released its latest poll, showing Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump by three points, within the margin of error of the poll of likely voters.

Clinton leads Trump 44 to 41 percent, down from last week when she was up six points. In a four-way race between Clinton, Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the Green Party's Jill Stein, Trump's biggest supporters are white evangelical Christians (+56) and whites without a college degree (+28), while Clinton's are blacks (+77), unmarried women (+27), voters under 30 (+18) and women (+10). Clinton is seen as being better to handle foreign policy (+15 points), immigration (+3), and terrorism (+3), with the economy viewed as Trump's strength (+4). Less than half of likely voters see Trump as being qualified to be president (46 percent) and more than half don't trust his judgment in a crisis (56 percent). Catherine Garcia

4:58 p.m. ET

Two earthquakes shook central Italy on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey has confirmed. The first quake measured at a 5.4 magnitude and was followed up just a few hours later with a stronger, 6.0-magnitude earthquake. Though the quakes' epicenters were near the cities of Visso and Perugia, buildings and windows in Rome — nearly 100 miles to the south — were reportedly rattled by the shaking.

The central Italian regions hit by the quake are reportedly suffering from power outages and structural damage, but there are not yet any known injuries or casualties. The tremors hit the same area of Italy that was shaken in August by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, which ravaged towns and killed nearly 300 people. Becca Stanek

4:54 p.m. ET

Muskets went out of fashion in the mid-19th century, when the smoothbore weapons gave way to the muzzle-loading rifle. But former Rep. Joe Walsh, who represented Illinois' 8th district as a Republican congressman from 2011 to 2013, plans to arm himself with the erstwhile firearm for the inevitable insurrection, should Donald Trump lose to Hillary Clinton in November:

If you're not swayed by Walsh's call to arms, perhaps you'd like to go to battle with Jake Tapper instead? Kimberly Alters

3:54 p.m. ET

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo started his interview with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday's episode of New Day by him telling he "looked like Grumpy Cat" at the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner last week — and things just got more tense from there. Giuliani, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, promptly responded to Cuomo's observations that he looked upset about the jokes Hillary Clinton was making about him at the Al Smith dinner by saying that, as a former prosecutor, he was just unhappy because the "crimes she committed are so many."

But for each claim Giuliani made about the crimes Clinton had allegedly committed, Cuomo came back with a fact that disputed it. "You certainly can have your own opinion, but you seems like you are feeding the Trump argument that [the FBI investigation into Clinton's private email server] was fixed, that it was rigged," Cuomo said.

When Giuliani was eventually cornered into admitting he has "no facts to prove" Trump's claims that the investigation of Clinton's email usage was rigged, he accused Team Clinton of bribery instead — at which point Cuomo couldn't hide his disbelief. "I mean, Rudy! I have looked up to you my entire life because you're so accurate," Cuomo said. "And all of a sudden you're in Trumpland, and the facts are all over the place."

Eventually, Cuomo tells Giuliani, "You're not even close to connecting anything right now." Watch the entirety of the contentious interview in the two videos, below. Becca Stanek

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