Terror Takes Center Stage at 5th GOP Debate

Fascinating debate last night in Las Vegas.

The debate was focused like a laser on terrorism and national security. It was the last GOP debate this year, and comes after two big terror attacks – Paris and then in San Bernardino. It also happened on the same day, Los Angeles closed every school in the system after a threat received by officials suggesting a jihadi attack on students was imminent. That turned out to be a hoax.

But the GOP field was united in believing President Obama (and Hillary Clinton) are not taking the threat of terrorism seriously enough, and are not keeping Americans safe.

No clear winner, but flash polls and analysts say Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Bush and Trump had pretty good nights.

Pollster Frank Luntz called Christie and Cruz the big winners.  National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru said Trump started ahead and no one laid a glove on him. The publisher of Political Wire called Rubio and Cruz the best debaters, and said Christie did a good job.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio clashed over immigration and government surveillance.

Donald Trump stood by his controversial plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Trump saying “We are not talking about isolation; we’re talking about security. We are not talking about religion, we are talking about security.”

Jeb Bush was aggressive and went after Donald Trump numerous times including landing one of the best lines of the night saying Trump was a “chaos candidate,” and he would be a “chaos president.”

We’ll have analysis and the highlights today.

The WH unveils a new terror alert system at 11am. Catherine Herridge will report.

AP is reporting Austria has arrested 2 alleged terrorists with ties to the Paris terror attack.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is on a surprise trip to Iraq to offer support for the country’s fight against ISIS.

Hillary Clinton unveiled plans for fighting terrorism in Minnesota yesterday.. home to America’s largest population of Muslim immigrants. Clinton said she wants to crackdown on ISIS recruiting in the West. She also wants closer vetting of visa applicants including social media history, wants to end those on the no-fly list from buying guns, and restore a ban on assault weapons. She also condemned GOP comments about Muslims, and said “"To all our Muslim-American brothers and sisters, this is your country, too, and I am proud to be your fellow American.” But Clinton also said American Muslims have a responsibility to ferret out terrorism in their midst.

Congressional leaders have agreed in principal to a huge 1.1 trillion dollar budget and tax deal that would also lift a 40-year-old ban on oil exports. The Wall Street Journal today writing, “Congressional leaders late Tuesday reached a sweeping deal on spending and tax legislation, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republicans, in an agreement that would avoid a government shutdown and make major changes to energy policy and the 2010 health law.”

WSJ Reporters Kristina Peterson and Richard Rubin writing, “The likely winners include large manufacturers, medical device makers and labor unions, who would all get tax breaks they've been seeking for years. Lawmakers plan to combine the tax bill with the spending bill, creating a giant end-of-year fiscal deal that will create certainty for businesses and taxpayers -- as long as it doesn't collapse under its own weight.”

The Fed expected to end nearly a decade of monetary policy today by raising interest rates for the first time in almost 10 years.  The Central Bank would raise short-term interest rates probably by a quarter point. Fed Chief Janet Yellin will hold a news conference later this afternoon after the announcement. Stocks and oil prices climbed yesterday. We get reports on housing and production today along with earnings from FedEx and Oracle.

The government announced it was extending the deadline for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.

A medical chopper crashed near Phoenix killing two people. 1 person survived.

The jury in the trial of the first officer in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore told the judge yesterday they were deadlocked, but the judge ordered them to keep trying. We’ll be monitoring.

Two feet of snow fell in Colorado. Salt Lake City got a foot of snow.