January 29, 2016

A disproportionate amount of Democrats show interest in watching the Republican debates, according to a recently released Pew survey reported by Politico. On the flip side, far fewer Republicans tune in to watch the Democratic showdowns.

Among people who have watched at least one debate, 70 percent of Democrats said they have seen a Republican debate, according to the survey that was released prior to Thursday night's debate. Only about half of Republicans responding to the same question said they had watched a Democratic debate.

Meanwhile, of Republicans who have watched debates, a whopping 94 percent said one of those debates was a GOP debate; a smaller 86 percent of Democrats who had watched debates could say one of them was a Democratic debate.

There could be a number of reasons for such a result, not the least of which is the draw of watching Donald Trump's performances. Additionally, there has been outcry about the Democratic debates' extremely inconvenient timing — all the debates have been on weekends, including the Saturday before Christmas and a Sunday in the middle of Martin Luther King Jr. Day's holiday weekend. Jeva Lange

8:39 a.m. ET

Following their endorsement of Donald Trump in May, the National Rifle Association's Victory Fund is now putting its money where its mouth is by launching a $2 million advertising campaign in six battleground states that hammers Hillary Clinton for the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

In the ad, Marine Corps veteran Mark Geist, who fought in Libya, urges voters to do "their part" by voting against Clinton. "A lot of people say they're not going to vote this November because their candidate didn't win. Well, I know some people who won't be voting this year either," Geist says from an oversaturated cemetery:

When responding to the investigation released by House Republicans on Tuesday, which found no evidence that Clinton, then secretary of state, was culpable for the deaths of four Americans, Clinton said, "I think it's pretty clear it's time to move on." Jeva Lange

8:34 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has some Icelandic politicians very, very confused. Despite the fact that it's illegal to accept donations from foreign nationals, Talking Points Memo reports that the Trump campaign has been including members of Icelandic parliament in its email blasts asking for money. The Iceland Monitor reports that "at least three prominent Icelandic politicians" have gotten an email from Trump asking for campaign funding and outlining his fight against "Crooked Hillary and her pathetic cronies, as well as the dishonest liberal media."

"I have no idea why he emailed me the letter," MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson of Iceland's Independence Party told Morgublaðið newspaper. The head of the Left Party, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, called "this whole matter very perplexing." "The letter left me speechless," Jakobsdóttir said.

The Trump campaign has also reportedly been emailing members of the U.K. House of Commons and at least one member of the Australian parliament. Becca Stanek

7:45 a.m. ET
Feng Li/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has a likeability problem: In May, over half the voting population — 55 percent — viewed her negatively. Now her former opponent is stepping up to the plate to say, "Hey, I too once disliked Clinton, and this is why she won me over."

President Obama has clearly been itching to get on the campaign trail in support of Clinton, whom he beat in the 2008 Democratic primary. Still, concerned by how much of Clinton's base comes from people simply voting for who they perceive to be the lesser of two evils, Politico writes that Obama's goal going forward is to "[remind] voters there was a time he didn't like her so much, but he came around — and they should too."

"[Obama] can make the case as the highest profile convert to be her supporter," White House communications director Jen Psaki said.

While Obama evidentially harbors no concerns about discrediting a Trump presidency, the White House wants to at the very least energize Clinton's backers beyond a "not Trump" vote in November. "You want people to feel as passionate about Hillary Clinton being president as they do about stopping Donald Trump. If this isn't a close race, it's still going to matter a great deal for her presidency," Obama's 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe said. Jeva Lange

7:37 a.m. ET

In what marks a major first in American politics, two transgender women have won Democratic primaries, and will now be running for Congress. Coincidentally, both women are named Misty. In Utah, Misty K. Snow won, and will be running against Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Misty Plowright won in Colorado's 5th congressional district, which Politico reports is "the most conservative in the state," and will challenge Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).

Both women won their respective primary races by sizable margins, too. Snow, a grocery clerk, won by a margin of 20 percentage points, while Plowright, who works in IT, won by 3,400 votes. Becca Stanek

7:13 a.m. ET
John Sommers II/Getty Images

A slight improvement in Donald Trump's poll numbers has him neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton less than a month out from the beginning of the general election season. The Quinnipiac University survey, released on Wednesday, gives Clinton a slight edge of 42 percent to Trump's 40 percent. Trump lagged 4 points behind Clinton at the beginning of June.

Sixty-one percent of voters also believe that the competition between the two candidates is leading to the increase of hate and prejudice in the U.S. "It would be difficult to imagine a less flattering from-the-gut reaction to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton," the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, Tim Malloy, said.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus two points. Jeva Lange

5:47 a.m. ET
Chris Roussakis/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Ottawa for a North American Leaders' Summit that will focus on regional cooperation on trade and climate change. Obama will also deliver an address to Canada's Parliament. Pena Nieto arrived in Canada early for a state visit, and he and Trudeau announced agreements to lower barriers between the two countries. With Obama, the three leaders are expected to announce a continent-wide climate change partnership, aiming to produce 50 percent of North America's energy from renewable sources by 2025.

The trade discussions follow likely Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump's pledge Tuesday to scrap NAFTA and withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Britain's vote to exit the European Union. "This is a time when a lot of leaders in the world are talking about building walls," Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told The Associated Press. "What you are going to hear from the leaders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico is that we are a continent and we believe in building bridges. We really believe in the open society."

Trudeau and Obama are both advocates of robust measures to to fight climate change, but the young Canadian leader and the U.S. president are at different stages of their leadership, The New York Times notes. "Unlike his Canadian counterpart, the American president's hair is now gray, his speeches wizened by his experiences — and his message is likely to reflect the hard lessons he has learned as he has tried for nearly eight years to curb the climate-warming emissions of Canada's neighbor to the south." Peter Weber

5:22 a.m. ET
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

European Union leaders are meeting today in Brussels to continue talks regarding next steps following last week's Brexit vote. Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, who campaigned against the Brexit, attended the summit on Tuesday, but it was his last. He is absent on Wednesday. The U.K. has been given some time to let the dust settle before activating Article 50, thus triggering the formal leaving process, but on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "I want to say very clearly tonight that I see no way to reverse this. We all need to look at the reality of the situation. It is not the hour for wishful thinking." EU Council President Donald Tusk echoed that sentiment, saying Europe is ready to "start the divorce process."

The remaining 27 members of the EU are eager to stem the fallout of the vote and maintain the strength and integrity of the trading bloc without Britain. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, "We have to show Europe brings a real added value that can be felt by our fellow citizens." Jessica Hullinger

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