New year, same big lead for Donald Trump. The NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, which came out Tuesday, reveals that Trump continues to lead the Republican presidential field by a wide margin in 2016, with 35 percent to second-place Ted Cruz's 18 percent. In third is Marco Rubio with 13 percent, followed by Ben Carson with 9 percent, Jeb Bush with 6 percent, Chris Christie with 4 percent, and Carly Fiorina with 3 percent.
The poll, the first of 2016, also found that the real estate magnate's supporters are very loyal. Over half — 51 percent — of Trump supporters said they would "absolutely" vote for him, while 33 percent said there was a "large chance" they would. Only 36 percent of Cruz supporters say they'd "absolutely" vote for him and just 26 percent of Rubio voters said the same.
The poll, which surveyed 3,181 Republican or Republican-leaning registered voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Becca Stanek
The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been dissected by pundits, reporters, average citizens, and now Seth Meyers, who believes there was a clear winner and loser at the end of the night.
Going into the debate, there was a double standard, Meyers said on Tuesday's Late Night. After rolling a clip of a conservative talk show host's advice to Clinton (don't laugh, don't smile, don't cough), he declared, "She has to act like a ninja bank robber weaving through a grid of red lasers. Meanwhile, Trump just has to be a C+ Walmart greeter." Based on the expectations his supporters helped set up, "all Trump had to do was be a normal person and he would have been declared the winner," Meyers said. "Yet he still managed to lose."
Trump wasn't prepared for the "most important 90 minutes of his campaign," Meyers continued, so he gave rambling non-answers about cyber warfare and terrorism and made a strange comment about the possibility that "somebody sitting on their bed weighing 400 pounds," not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee. "Trump is so superficial he even fat-shamed a dude he just made up," Meyers quipped. If he really wanted to make a splash, he said, Trump should have released his tax returns, rather than interrupt Clinton to say he's "smart" because he doesn't pay any federal income tax, and if he did, that money would be "squandered." "Oh, the government would squander your money?" Meyers asked. "Says the guy who covers his penthouse in gold like an old prospector who just won the lottery." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
The polls were tightening to a near-tie before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debated Monday night, and on Tuesday night's Kelly File, Megyn Kelly asked election prognosticator Larry Sabato how he thinks the debate will affect each candidate's numbers. John Kerry and Mitt Romney won their first presidential debates, got bumps in the polls, then lost their elections, she noted.
"There's a reason why we have three debates," said Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. After a bad first debate, like Trump had, "the story line can change and the candidates can improve their performance or deteriorate, depending on what they have learned from the first debate." More important than debates, however, are the political fundamentals, Sabato said, "and the thing that helps Donald Trump the most, and that's helped him all year long, is he's the change agent. We've had two terms of one party, and in modern times, we like to switch parties after eight years."
That's the good news for Trump and his supporters. David Plouffe, President Obama's former campaign manager, was less bullish on Trump's chances on Tuesday's Kelly File, telling Kelly that Trump absolutely will not win Pennsylvania and putting Clinton's odds of winning at "100 percent." He knows people think that's "crazy," Plouffe said (and Sabato agreed), "but I've been through this a couple times." Watch below. Peter Weber
Hillary Clinton is adding another Republican to her endorsement list: Former Sen. John Warner of Virginia.
A Clinton campaign aide told The Washington Post that Warner, 89, will announce his support at an event Wednesday in Alexandria with Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). While Warner, a World War II veteran and former U.S. Navy secretary and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has gone against the party before — he opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork and endorsed the Democrat running for his seat rather than the Republican — this is the first time he is endorsing a Democrat for president.
Warner retired in 2009 with high approval rates, and was known for his extensive knowledge of national security affairs. "I am proud to have John's support, and to know that someone with his decades of experience would trust me with the weighty responsibility of being commander in chief," Clinton told the Post in a statement. Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton brought up former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado in her debate against Donald Trump on Monday night, using only the things Trump said about her, not her name, but then quickly released an ad with Machado talking (in Spanish) about how Trump's insults and comments about her weight humiliated and shamed her. Trump repeated his criticism of Machado's weight on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, a point Megyn Kelly obliquely brought up when she interviewed Machado on Tuesday night's Kelly File.
"The Trump campaign can't really deny that he harassed you over your weight, because it's on camera — many times," she said. "They seem to be denying the specific charges Hillary leveled, which is the language of 'Miss Piggy' and 'Miss Housekeeping.'" She asked if Machado had any witnesses when Trump called her those names, and Machado said, in slightly stilted English, said it happened 20 years ago and that she came forward to share her story for her Latino community and to "open some eyes."
Kelly noted that Machado now says Trump's comments helped drive her into eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, then read a 1997 interview in The Washington Post in which Machado appears to say she had eating disorders for years before winning Miss Universe. Machado said no, "I never had any problem before the Miss Universe" pageant. "No, I'm sorry, but that was not true," she added after Kelly read the quote. "Maybe in that moment, they — the company, Miss Universe, and in specific, this person — they manipulated a lot of information about me."
"I'm here because I know this person, and he is not a good person — that is the point," Machado said. "The point is, no more abuse for us. No more abuse for the girls. If you gain weight, if you don't look the most beautiful girl in the world, you have your mind, you have your heart, you are strong, you are intelligent. And in the future, that ladies can be a president, too." Peter Weber
President Obama is honoring the late Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel who died Tuesday at age 93, calling him a "Founding Father of the state of Israel and a statesman whose commitment to Israel's security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism."
"There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves," Obama said in a statement. "My friend Shimon was one of those people." Obama recounted that he first met Peres in Jerusalem when he was a U.S. senator, and that he'd asked him for advice. "He told me that while people often say that the future belongs to the young, it's the present that really belongs to the young," Obama said. "'Leave the future to me,' he said. 'I have time.' And he was right." He described Peres as a "soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves."
In 2012, Obama presented Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, and said Americans are "in his debt because, having worked with every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy, no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries — an unbreakable alliance that today is closer and stronger than it has ever been." Peres never gave up on the "possibility of peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and Israel's neighbors," Obama said, adding he believes there is "no greater tribute to his life than to renew our commitment to the peace that we know is possible." While a "light has gone out," Obama said, "the hope he gave us will burn forever." Catherine Garcia
For the first time in its history, The Arizona Republic newspaper is supporting a Democrat over a Republican for president, endorsing Hillary Clinton.
In an editorial published Tuesday night, the board said Clinton, not Donald Trump, understands that the "challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head, and the ability to think carefully before acting." Clinton not only has the "temperament and experience to be president," but she knows how to "compromise and to lead with intelligence, decorum, and perspective," the editorial says. For decades, Clinton has withstood "scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians," including some attacks that "strain credulity," while Trump "hasn't even let the American people scrutinize his tax returns, which could help the nation judge his claims of business acumen." The board goes on to tick off several of Trump's "demeaning comments" about women, a disabled reporter, and POWs, saying they prove he has a "stunning lack of human decency, empathy, and respect."
When it comes to immigration, Arizona "went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels," the editorial says, and it earned the state "international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration." The editorial board does believe Clinton has made some "serious missteps," like the use of a private email server while secretary of state, but she "does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies" and is the "superior choice" to Trump, who "responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads." Read the entire editorial at The Arizona Republic. Catherine Garcia
Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the Oslo Accords, died Tuesday. He was 93.
Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago, and was on a respirator at a hospital near Tel Aviv when his health quickly declined and he died, the official Israel News Agency reports. During his long career in politics, Peres — who in 1934 emigrated at age 11 from Poland to British Mandate Palestine — held almost every significant position in the Israeli government. He was first elected to parliament in 1959, and had two brief turns as prime minister.
Peres served a seven-year term as president from 2007 to 2014, and argued for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a key player in putting together the Oslo Accords, and was jointly awarded the Nobel prize in 1994 with Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister at the time, and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Peres, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012 and founded the Peres Center for Peace, is survived by his wife, Sonya, and three children. Catherine Garcia