**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
• GOP donors start anti-Trump barrage
• Audience throws hardballs at Hillary
• GOP donor sows chaos for Dems in Iowa
• ObamaCare misses mark
• Ironic igloo deemed problematic
GOP DONORS START ANTI-TRUMP BARRAGE
DES MOINES, IOWA – A super PAC aimed at stopping Donald Trump is putting its money where the Republican Party’s mouth has been for months. The ad, which focuses on Trump’s liberal positions of the past and of the present, dovetails with a recent television and online barrage from groups supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The Quinnipiac University poll out today of likely GOP Iowa caucus-goers shows just how high the stakes are for the last-ditch effort to block Trump. The Republican frontrunner leads Cruz by the scantest of margins 31 percent to 29 percent with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a furlong behind Trump and Cruz. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from last month. The rest of the pack is knotted up far behind Rubio.
Funding for the group, Our Principles PAC, remains unknown, but its spokeswoman Katie Packer Gage, was a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. Other GOP heavy hitters are rumored to be on the team as well.
Gage said that the ad is focused on Iowa “for now.” Though she did not comment on the size of the ad buy, those with knowledge of the group’s activities, including one Iowa GOP operative, suggested the initial push is backed by at least $1 million dollars. Other buys are said to be planned for subsequent primary markets in New Hampshire and South Carolina
The 30-second spot is a trimmed down version of a longer loop of Trump’s flip-flop for liberal positions that made the rounds on the internet last week.
Attacking Trump for inconsistent and liberal positions might not be a winner with the new voters – including many Democrats and left-leaning independents – Trump is trying to attract to the caucuses. As a Fox News poll out over the weekend shows, Trump is an overwhelming favorite among those who say they plan to attend their first caucus on Monday. This surge in first-time caucus goers would be unprecedented in Iowa political history.
But the Quinnipiac poll gives a snapshot of two electorates in Iowa: one with the Trump surge in new caucus goers, and one without. Cruz wins under the normal model, Trump wins when the surge is present.
While Iowa waits to see if history is about to be made, Republicans seem focused on hitting Trump with the GOP base and eroding his support among more predictable caucus goers.
Cruz hits Trump hard in Iowa - Dallas Morning News: “Entering the Iowa homestretch under attack and still overshadowed by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz hit back Monday by painting the billionaire as a phony conservative and evangelical. And he projected confidence that he’ll finish strong in the first test of the 2016 contest next Monday night. He asserted that Trump supports taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood and “Bernie Sanders-style socialized medicine.’ And he launched a coordinated effort to portray Trump as a ‘New York liberal.’”
READERS REACT: GOP POWER INDEX
“My thought at this point is I’m willing to wait the week to let IA and NH folks have their say. But if a candidate doesn’t come in the top 4 (or definitely 5) in either of those contests, it’s time to get out of the way.” – J.E. Schreiner
“I believe you are right on with your Bush assessment. As a strong supporter of both Governor Bush and Senator Rubio here in the State of Florida, I am deeply disappointed with Mr. Bush in how he has handled the Rubio situation….I will be voting for Marco Rubio without question now as the best bet to beat Clinton. How sad for Jeb Bush and the State of Florida.” – Dennis Bignham
“Trump has been the big dog in national and state polls of Republican primary voters since July. He has achieved this feat by having the staunchest supporters of any candidate. No attack ad, no media outrage, no gaffe has seemed to dissuade his supporters.” – Ray Quigley
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
On this day in 1979, “Dukes of Hazard,” a television show about cousins living in the rural South, premiered. The show has created many references that have become mainstays in pop culture, but one of the shows central themes revolved around a more controversial image: crazy car chases with the family vehicle named The General Lee, which had a Confederate flag painted across the roof. Although TV Land pulled reruns of the show over the appearance of the flag, the Atlantic says that its inclusion in the popular show actually neutralized the message. As the article explains: “The Dukes of Hazzard solidified the idea that the flag could have—or at least could claim to have—an alternate meaning besides the original one of defiant racism. But the show also made clear how awkward that alternate meaning can be. It suggested the way that a flag, layered onto to the body of a car, can have its own kind of layered meaning. And the layering continued. The defiance continued. As late as 2005’s feature-filmed reboot of the show, the Confederate flag remained atop the General Lee.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Republican Nomination – Trump 36.2 percent; Cruz 19.3 percent; Rubio 11.0 percent; Carson 7.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump – Clinton +2.7 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Republicans +0.5
AUDIENCE THROWS HARDBALLS AT HILLARY
WaPo: “The question came from a young man named Taylor -- a first time caucus-goer -- who said he leans toward supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Taylor noted that many of his friends are ‘passionate’ supporters of Sanders, but they find Hillary Clinton to be ‘dishonest.’ …Clinton was on her feet and before long, her voice raised, her arms waving with passion. ‘I’ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age,’ Clinton told the questioner. ‘I have been fighting to give kids and women and the people who are left out and left behind the chance to make the most out of their own lives.’ By that point, the crowd was cheering and applauding her answer. ‘I’ve taken on the status quo time and time again!’ Clinton said.”
[A new ad from Team Hillary highlights the Democratic frontrunner’s long career in public life painting her as an advocate of children in the documentary themed spot.]
GOP donor sows chaos for Dems in Iowa - NYT: “A ‘super PAC’ founded by the former TD Ameritrade executive Joe Ricketts is spending more than $600,000 on a television ad in Iowa lashing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont as ‘too liberal’ in the final days of his close race against Hillary Clinton in the state’s caucuses. The spot, being aired by the ESA Fund, describes Mr. Sanders’s policy positions on a range of issues, such as tuition-free college and single-payer health care, saying that it amounts to a flood of new government spending. …The spot is expected to be backed by $600,000 in spending on television ads, and there will be additional expenditures on radio and digital advertising.”
HILLARY SLIPS AGAIN IN NEW GRANITE STATE POLL
Boston Herald: “Hillary Clinton faces a 16-point deficit to a challenger almost universally liked by New Hampshire Democratic voters — from liberals to independents — while Republican Donald Trump has widened his big lead over rival Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll shows. With just two weeks left and a dwindling number of wavering voters, Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, who were laughed off as lightweights a year ago, are now clear favorites to win the pivotal leadoff primary in the Granite State, the poll shows.”
OBAMACARE MISSES MARK
NYT: “When the Affordable Care Act was drafted, the Congressional Budget Office expected people to sign up quickly for new health insurance. Now, two years into the law, it’s clear that progress is going to be slower. The Obama administration acknowledged as much in late 2014, and again in October, when it presented its own modest predictions. Monday, the budget office also agreed, slashing its 2016 estimate by close to 40 percent. … The new budget and economic outlook now predicts that about 13 million people will get their health insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces this year, down from an earlier estimate of 21 million. The budget office’s estimates for future years won’t be released until March, but it seems reasonable to assume they will also come down. Currently, the 2017 estimate is 24 million.”
IRONIC IGLOO DEEMED PROBLEMATIC
Fortune: “Airbnb will let you rent out all kinds of shelter to guests, but apparently not Brooklyn resident Patrick Horton’s igloo. Horton, who lives in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, listed the igloo he made in his backyard on the home-sharing service as a joke, according to DNA info. Horton and his roommates made the igloo over the weekend, with snow provided by the Jonas blizzard. However, Airbnb sent Horton an email on Sunday evening, telling him he couldn’t list his igloo as it didn’t meet the service’s occupancy standards. ‘Unfortunately, your igloo, while very well constructed, has failed to meet our occupancy standards and has been removed from search results,’ a Airbnb spokesman told Horton. ‘Be sure to pick a place with running water, electricity, and a roof that doesn’t melt.’”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The Canadian diversion, it seems to have worked. It put Cruz on the defensive. And then [Donald Trump] attacked him on the Goldman Sachs money – you attack New York values but you take New York money. And then now he is attacking him on his persona. He is a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Can’t make deals. It's had its effect.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.