Trump goes birther on Cruz

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Buzz Cut:
• Trump goes birther on Cruz
• Cruz pleads for unity
• Christie out with new ad, new hires
• Hillary says she’s not a socialist
• Thumbs up

Donald Trump
had some legal advice for Ted Cruz this morning. In a phone call to “Fox & Friends,” Trump said that his rival should get a legal ruling on his eligibility for the presidency and “take care of it in a preemptive fashion” before it becomes a problem.

Trump’s warning is that Cruz, who was born to an American mother living in Alberta, Canada in 1970, could land Republicans in a legal battle if they choose him as a nominee. And while Cruz would surely face a legal test, few have been concerned about it. Trump is changing that.

Trump’s concern trolling of Cruz is the next inevitable escalation of the conflict between the two men. It flared when audio recorded at a Cruz fundraising event revealed the Texan speaking ill of Trump’s chances to be the Republican nominee.

Cruz managed to appease Trump and stave off attacks, but now we are 26 days away from Iowa, and Cruz’s lead in the first nominating contest looks durable.

Truce over.

The question is how damaging this will be for Cruz. Never forget how important Trump’s birtherism vis-à-vis President Obama was to his emergence as a Republican contender. We didn’t know it then, but it was the first Trumptation and the model for all of his subsequent media melees.

A said 43 percent of Republicans, and more than half of Trump’s supporters, believe Obama is a Muslim despite his repeated professions of Christian faith.

Obama birtherism would seem to be a vanishing breed. Just 18 percent of Republicans in a September poll said they believed the president was born somewhere other than the United States. But at the high-water mark for the movement, for which Trump became the chief spokesman, another poll found that 37 percent of Republicans thought Obama was lying about being Hawaiian.

So there is danger here for Cruz. While his nativity is not in doubt, there are plenty who believe that to be a “natural born citizen” by the standard set in the Constitution one must be not only born inside the boundaries of the United States, but also to parents who were citizens.

Think back to the uproar over Trump’s plan to repeal birthright citizenship. This stuff has real potency inside some sects of the GOP.

We don’t know how many of Cruz’s supporters are unaware of his Canadian-ness. It is clear, however, that Trump’s goal is to do to Cruz what he did to Ben Carson. We know Cruz will be a much tougher target, but this fight is just beginning.

The real beneficiary stands to be Marco Rubio. While Rubio, the establishment frontrunner, has been fending off constant hits from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush’s moribund campaign, Cruz has mostly been getting off easily.

If the Trump-Cruz fight is on and is this ugly it will help Rubio catch his breath and perhaps gain some ground on Cruz.

Cruz pleads for unity - DMR: “Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is making uncompromising principles the cornerstone of his presidential candidacy, asked Iowa conservatives Tuesday not to battle each other at upcoming precinct caucuses, warning it could lead to the Republican Party’s loss of the White House next year. ‘The stage for the silly season is over. Washington wants us splintered. They want us fighting among ourselves. That is how the Washington candidate comes right up the middle with 23%, steals the nomination’ and then loses the general election, Cruz told about 125 people at a campaign stop at the Onawa Public Library near the Iowa-Nebraska border.”

Christie out with new ad, new hires - As a direct response to an attack ad from a pro-Rubio PAC,  Chris Christie’s out with a new ad in New Hampshire calling out intraparty fighting. Christie says any fighting between Republicans will result in a victory for Hillary Clinton. Christie also announced new additions to his team, a sign he is preparing for a longer fight than initially expected.

Oppo-shoppo - Daily Beast links Marco Rubio and David Rivera to an in-state tuition proposal the two co-sponsored during their time in the Tallahassee statehouse in 2003. But the bill did not make it through, and no such legislation was adopted until 2014.

Christians today celebrate Epiphany, when Magi – Middle Eastern seers – find the baby Jesus after following the Star of Bethlehem as a prophecy foretold. But what about their famous gifts? History: “Both frankincense—also known as olibanum—and myrrh have been traded in the Middle East and North Africa for upwards of 5,000 years. It is believed that the Babylonians and Assyrians burned them during religious ceremonies. The ancient Egyptians bought entire boatloads of the resins from the Phoenicians, using them in incense, insect repellent, perfume and salves for wounds and sores; they were also key ingredients in the embalming process. Myrrh oil served as a rejuvenating facial treatment, while frankincense was charred and ground into a power to make the heavy kohl eyeliner Egyptian women famously wore. Sacks of frankincense and potted saplings of myrrh-producing trees appear in murals decorating the walls of a temple dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for roughly two decades until her death around 480 B.C.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Republican Nomination –
Trump 35 percent; Cruz 19.5 percent; Rubio 11.5 percent; Carson 8.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump – Clinton +4.8 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Republicans +0.5

WashEx: “‘Uh, you’d have to ask… I am not one,’ Clinton said after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked her whether or not she identified as a socialist during an interview on Hardball. As Clinton fumbled question, Matthews even gave the candidate an out by saying, ‘I’d say you're a pretty typical Democrat…but is that a question you want to answer or would you rather not?’ ‘I can tell you what I am,’ Clinton said. ‘I’m a progressive Democrat…’”

Made time for Dem donors - Newly released Clinton emails illustrate how the care and feeding of wealthy supporters of her campaigns and family foundation were a priority for Hillary Clinton despite her hectic schedule as the nation’s top diplomat. Politico reports: “While handling diplomatic issues, she took time to meet with billionaire George Soros, now one of her presidential campaign's top donors. She gave briefings to mega-donor and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, sent birthday wishes to billionaire Haim Saban, and lunched with supporter and philanthropist Jill Iscol.”

“[Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi] feeds of course this whole question about her trustworthiness, which has been a liability for her for some time.  What we don’t know is whether this issue will assert itself further as we get, you know, closer to the voting later this year.” – Brit Hume on “The Kelly File” Watch here.

Hillary: ‘I know right where the Oval Office is’ - WSJ: “Ask voters why they prefer Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and many will tell you that she is the most electable candidate. Mrs. Clinton rarely makes that argument herself. But she did just that Tuesday, at the very end of the last event of a two-day, six-city Iowa campaign tour…Mrs. Clinton addressed her opponent directly at an earlier event on Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa. A young man noted that many young voters are drawn to Mr. Sanders. He asked her how she would contrast herself to the Vermont senator. ‘I have a long record and I have been on the forefront of change for decades,’ she said…She finished with a nod to her long experience. ‘And I will get into that White House. I don’t need a tour. I know right where the Oval Office is.’”

Maxim: “Do you love emojis and sex? Coincidence? I think not. According to a new survey by, frequent emoji use suggests constant sexual thoughts, which makes sense to everyone who loves the eggplant or peach emoji. The survey, which polled 5,675 singles, showed that 40% of people who think about sex multiple times a day drown their texts in emojis and use them in every text, while those who only think about sex once a day are less generous with their emoji use and only throw one in every now and then. Basically, the hornier you are, the more emojis you use. So, if someone texts you an emoji, it probably means they’re thinking about sex. Maybe.”

“I think this [President Obama’s executive action on guns] is a trivial change, this isn’t going to make any difference. That’s what makes all of this so absurd, it is an assault on the Constitution, on the separation of powers, on Congress, and to do what? To do something significant you could understand. This is a minor expansion of the definition of ‘engaged in business.’” – 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.