The Note: The Palin Factor

VIDEO: Sarah Palin Endorses Donald Trump for
WATCH Sarah Palin Endorses Donald Trump for President


--PALIN ENDORSES TRUMP WITH RAUCOUS 20-MINUTE SPEECH: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump during a raucous speech at the presidential candidate's rally in Ames, Iowa last night. Palin brought her folksy style to the stage, saying that Trump would "kick ISIS' a**" and saying that America should stop "pussy-footing around," eliciting cheers from the audience. "When I heard she was going to endorse me I was so honored, you have no idea. I was so honored,” Trump said at his rally in Ames, Iowa. Palin gave a ringing endorsement to the real estate mogul. "He's perfectly positioned to let you make America great again. Are you ready for that, Iowa?” said Palin. “No more pussy-footing around.” Palin spoke for nearly 20 minutes. Palin will travel with Trump to two events tomorrow in Norwalk, Iowa and Tulsa, Oklahoma. ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, JOHN SANTUCCI and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI have more.

--PALIN’S MOST MEMORABLE LINES: ABC’s ALANA ABRAMSON has more of some of Palin’s best lines from her speech last night.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The Palin-Trump alliance marks the ultimate triumph of personality over policy in the Republican Party – at least for this very big campaign moment. Sarah Palin was Donald Trump before Trump took to politics, and Tuesday night’s endorsement event (“no more pussy-footing around”; “drill, baby, drill”) showed she still may have more catch-phrases than him. In backing Trump, Palin is putting her considerable pull among tea partiers and other grassroots conservatives to the test. She’s signaling to them that ideology matters less than attitude – a proposition she tested, intentionally or not, when she joined John McCain’s ticket in 2008. That was as intense a national roller-coaster as we’ve witnessed in politics, so it’s fair to expect dips and turns along the way. It’s also fair to note that Palin is unlikely to motivate many possible Trump voters in Iowa who weren’t already on board. But in its timing and its implications, with Ted Cruz having just started to break through by questioning Trump’s conservative credentials, you betcha this matters for Iowa and beyond. Trump has a figure who can be described as Trump-like to campaign on his behalf – one famously boosted to national prominence by none other than John McCain. The revolving door of politics and reality TV has opened to a new pairing at the center of the presidential race.


IN THE NOTE’S INBOX -- JEB’S PLAN MAKING AN APPEARANCE IN EARLY STATES. The Bush campaign tells The Note: “Starting today, you will begin to see ‘Jeb’s Plan for America,’ in book form at Jeb events in the early states (or you can download it at The plan outlines Jeb's plan to make America safer, stronger, freer and demonstrates the stark contrast between Jeb's serious, comprehensive proposals and the other unserious candidates in the race. … On Friday Senator Lindsey Graham endorsed Jeb because of his ‘detailed’ ‘comprehensive’ policy proposals, and numerous other leaders and grassroots activists have supported Jeb for his ‘forward-looking’ vision.”


FROM THE IOWA CAUCUS BUREAU with ABC’s JOSH HASKELL: It surprised almost everyone Tuesday when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who has pledged to not endorse a candidate before the caucuses, jumped head first into the 2016 race by saying h’ed like to see Ted Cruz defeated because of his stance against ethanol subsidies. Branstad, the longest serving governor in Iowa and in the country, said to the Des Moines NBC affiliate after the Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, IA that he knows Cruz is ahead in the polls, “but the only poll that counts is the one they take on caucus night and I think that could change between now and then.” Cruz has called to phase out the Renewable Fuel Standard which requires fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a designated volume of ethanol. Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of ethanol which has been championed by Branstad and members of his family including his son Eric who runs the advocacy group America’s Renewable Future. Eric Branstad told ABC News last week that "we want Iowans to know that Senator Cruz came to Iowa in the very beginning with his palm in our face saying that he had already made his decision.”


DISS OF THE DAY with ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW: FUEL FEUDS. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad -- the longest serving governor in United States history -- tries to avoid endorsing candidates before his state’s caucuses. But yesterday, when asked if he wanted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to lose the caucuses, Branstad shocked reporters by saying “yes.” “I think it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him,” Branstad said at the Renewable Fuels Summit in Iowa. The reason for Branstad’s brutal honesty? Federal ethanol mandates. Cruz does not support the federal requirement that ethanol from corn must be mixed in gasoline, while Branstad is a big biofuel fan. Cruz’s main opponent, Donald Trump, reveled in the rejection, writing on Twitter: “Wow, the highly respected Governor of Iowa just stated that “Ted Cruz must be defeated.” Big shocker! People do not like Ted.”


TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Donald Trump and Sarah Palin hold a town hall in Norwalk, Iowa before heading to Oklahoma for a rally in Tulsa. Hillary Clinton is also in the Hawkeye State today. This morning she is being interviewed by NPR and tonight she will stop by an organizing event in Burlington, Iowa. Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are also in the state. Fiorina has a packed day with five events including two “Coffee with Carlys,” two town halls and she is addressing the Iowa Right to Life Forum this morning in Des Moines. Huckabee holds four events—his “Huckabee Huddles”—beginning this morning in Harland and ending tonight in Cherokee. Santorum also has five events beginning this morning with a retail stop in Sibley and then holding four town halls from Rock Rapids to Rockwell. Ted Cruz continues his bus tour in New Hampshire. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Bill Clinton are all also in New Hampshire.



BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER DIES IN VAN CRASH. A volunteer for Ben Carson's campaign died -- and three other workers were injured -- during an accident in Iowa Tuesday, leading the Republican candidate to immediately suspend his campaign activities. According to a statement released by the Carson campaign, a van transporting the three volunteers and a campaign field director, "hit a patch of ice and flipped on its side where it was struck by another vehicle" around 11 a.m. local time near Atlantic. Carson suspended all campaign activity for the rest of the day in South Carolina and flew to Omaha, Nebraska, where one of the volunteers, identified by the hospital as Braden Joplin, had been taken for treatment, ABC’s KATHERINE FAULDERS reports. He died several hours later, the hospital and campaign said in a joint statement.

BERNIE SANDERS OPENS UP 60-33 LEAD AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON IN NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has opened up his widest lead yet over rival Hillary Clinton in the crucial state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll released Tuesday. The new WMUR/CNN/UNH poll out shows the Vermont lawmaker with a whopping 27-point lead over the former Secretary of State -- 60-33 percent. That’s a climb of 10 percentage points for Sanders since mid-December and a drop of 7 points for Clinton. ABC’S RYAN STRUYK and BRAD MIELKE note it marks Sanders’ highest support and widest lead in any poll in any state so far.

NOTED: SANDERS NARROWS CLINTON’S NATIONAL LEAD TOO. Bernie Sanders is narrowing Hillary Clinton’s national lead less than two weeks before the crucial Iowa caucuses, according to a new poll released Tuesday. ABC’S RYAN STRUYK reports the Monmouth University poll shows Clinton with 52 percent support from Democratic primary voters nationwide and Sanders with 37 percent. Sanders climbed 11 percentage points in the Monmouth poll, his highest support yet. Clinton led by 35 percent in the Monmouth University poll released in mid-December.

SANDERS LIKENS CHENEY’S EXPERIENCE TO CLINTON’S. Bernie Sanders conceded yesterday that yes, as a former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has more foreign policy experience than he does. But he did not stop there. The progressive superstar then evoked a name notorious in liberal circles from President George Bush’s administration, ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS notes. “In terms of experience, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of state for four years, and that gives her a lot of experience… but there is a difference between experience and judgment,” he told reporters in Underwood, Iowa after making similar comments during his event in the rural town earlier. “Dick Cheney had a lot of experience. A whole lot of people have experience ,but they don’t necessarily have the right judgment. I think I have the right judgment to conduct sensible foreign policy.”

CRUZ HIGHLIGHTS CONTRAST WITH TRUMP. In the final weeks before the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, Republican candidate Ted Cruz is talking more about Donald Trump than he ever has before on the campaign trail. On Monday night in Whitefield, New Hampshire, made it clear he will go far and hard to show the policy differences that distinguish him from his chief opponent in the Republican presidential field, giving voters specific issues that show a distinction between himself and Trump. Cruz started the second day of his New Hampshire bus tour with only a brief reference to Trump, saying that he'd hire him to build a wall on the border, ABC’s JESSICA HOPPER notes. But as his campaign bus navigated winding snowy New Hampshire roads, Cruz began to add more lines about the real estate mogul in his interactions with New Hampshire voters.

TRUMP CATCHES TED CRUZ IN A FLIP-FLOP ON BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP. In the latest exchange of attacks between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Trump tweeted a video Tuesday morning showing Cruz flip-flopping on the issue of birthright citizenship. ABC’s JONATHAN KARL and HAYLEY WALKER note the video highlights a stark contrast between Cruz’s support for the policy in 2011 compared to comments he made in 2015, when he claimed that he has been against the policy for many years. Cruz is considered an American citizen because of his mother and many legal scholars have come to the consensus that he is a “natural-born citizen.”

THINK YOU KNOW ALL THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES? YOU HAVEN’T MET THE “LESSER-KNOWNS.” The debate calendar has included as many as 22 candidates in the 2016 cycle. But on Tuesday night, another 23 got their moment in the spotlight, debating each other at the “Lesser-Known Candidate Forum” at St. Anselm College in Manchester. The debate, which was carried live by C-SPAN, has been in place since 1972, serving to highlight the dozens of fringe candidates that run alongside more well-known politicians, according to ABC’s BRAD MIELKE. In New Hampshire alone, where it only takes a $1,000 and a few signatures to enter a party’s primary, the ballot will include 28 Democrats and 30 Republicans.



PALIN’S SON ARRESTED FOR PUNCHING AND KICKING GIRLFRIEND, POLICE SAY. Sarah Palin's son was arrested last night in a domestic violence incident, police said, one day before the former Republican vice presidential candidate endorsed Donald Trump for president. Track Palin, 26, was arrested in Wasilla, Alaska, late Monday and charged with three misdemeanors, including assault, interference with the reporting of a domestic violence crime and weapons possession while intoxicated, according to Alaska court records, ABC’s BEN GITTLESON reports.



@KateBennett_DC: Exactly one year from today a new President will take the helm. @POTUS has 365 days remaining at @WhiteHouse

@jmartNYT: Striking: @BernieSanders & @tedcruz make same case for general: we can bring new voters into process, estab cannot 

@daveweigel: If you're not in New Hampshire you're missing a beautiful tidal wave of negative ads from Rubioworld …

@mikiebarb: The 10 most mystifying lines from Sarah Palin's slam poetry endorsement of Trump --my attempt at a translation: …

@PhilipRucker: Strong @GlennThrush @anniekarni reporting on Hillary and Iowa …