— -- NOTABLES
--CHRIS CHRISTIE REBUTTED RIVAL TED CRUZ'S CLAIM THAT THE MAJORITY OF CRIMINALS ARE DEMOCRATS in an interview on "Good Morning America" today, according to ABC's JORDYN PHELPS. "I have not noticed that in my background and experience," the Republican presidential candidate and former federal prosecutor told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "But it doesn't really matter in the end George, some of this stuff that gets said George, what the American people are really worried about right now is the safety and security of their homes, of the homeland and that's what I'm focusing on." http://abcn.ws/1O3hNw0
--WHAT CRUZ SAID: In the wake of Friday's deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz claimed the "overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats" and that the Democrats and media are politicizing the shooting. The Texas lawmaker was asked about the shooting, which left three dead, during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt Monday. During the interview, Cruz said he believes Democrats are soft on crime because "an overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats." "Now listen, here's the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn't report that. What they report, and there's a reason why the Democrats for years have been viewed as soft on crime, because they go in and they appoint to the bench judges who release violent criminals," Cruz added. ABC's JESSICA HOPPER, ALI WEINBERG and PAOLA CHAVEZ have more. http://abcn.ws/1NmuNMF
--POLLING NOTE -- BEN CARSON FALLS FROM FRONTRUNNER STATUS: A new national poll out today shows 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson falling from the top of the race for the Republican nomination amid voters' doubts about his experience and the strength of his leadership, ABC's RYAN STRUYK notes. The neurosurgeon garners 16 percent support in a new Quinnipiac University poll released today, dropping 7 percentage points in the last month to trail frontrunner Donald Trump by double-digits. Trump garnered 27 percent support, while Sen. Marco Rubio took 17 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz earned 16 percent. All other GOP candidates earned 5 percent or less. Carson had been neck-and-neck for the lead with the real estate mogul in early November. But now, he's locked in a battle with Rubio and Cruz, both of whom are seeing their highest support in months. http://abcn.ws/1O39Jvl
--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: If there's a Paris effect in the GOP race, it looks like Ben Carson is the one feeling it -- and not Donald Trump. The new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday morning shows Carson down 7 points over the past month, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz now in a virtual tie with him for second place. His numbers have suffered across the board, but this may be the most telling: Republicans saw him as having the right experience to be president, 64-30, a month ago; now that's 42-46 -- turned around and underwater. It's no collapse, but it's a major warning sign for a candidate with weak credentials on foreign policy and national security, notwithstanding a trip to a Syrian refugee camp right after Thanksgiving. This is another factor that makes the Ted Cruz-Marco Rubio rivalry fascinating and important. If Carson supporters are up for grabs, it's those two senators who seem, for now, best positioned to take advantage.
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT IN THE NOTE -- JOHN KASICH'S QUIET CAMPAIGN TO CUT ABORTION ACCESS. From FiveThirtyEight's ALLIE GROSS: John Kasich, Ohio's governor and now a GOP presidential hopeful, has signed 16 legislative proposals related to family planning funding and abortion access across the state. Anti-abortion provisions are not limited to the Buckeye State, but Ohio stands out for the rate at which it's adopting this legislation. The measures have altered when, where and by whom a pregnancy can be terminated in the state. And although Ohio is seen as a wild success story for anti-abortion advocates, the details of Kasich's hard-line stance are often obscured. As governor he concealed his administration's role in the creation of several anti-abortion measures, and now he is viewed as one of the most moderate candidates in a GOP race that tips far to the right. http://53eig.ht/1Q0zzGi
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX
CLINTON TO TOUT ENDORSEMENTS OF HER INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN: Hillary Clinton's campaign will today announce endorsements of her $250 billion infrastructure plan -- which she says is "a down payment on the future," ABC's LIZ KREUTZ notes. From the campaign: "The supporters include 3 former Chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisors -- Alan Kreuger, Austan Goolsbee and Laura Tyson -- as well as experts like Rosabeth Moss Kanter at Harvard and Alan Blinder at Princeton, CT Governor Malloy, former PA Governor Rendell and a former Deputy Secretary of Transportation, among others."
DONALD TRUMP FEELS 'GUILTY' FOR NEVER SERVING IN VIETNAM. In a small town at the base of New Hampshire's White Mountains, in front of a relatively small crowd, Donald Trump shared some unusually personal stories at a rally Tuesday night, ABC's BRAD MIELKE notes. While the billionaire is accustomed to delivering speeches to thousands of screaming supporters, he decided to take questions from the crowd of roughly 900 who braved freezing temperatures and icy roads on Tuesday night. The first: what made the successful businessman decide to run for president? Trump turned reflective as he mentioned the Vietnam War. "I love the country. I've seen what it can do," he said. "I didn't serve. I haven't served. And frankly I had deferments because of college, like a lot of people did...I always felt a little bit guilty." He also cited a high draft number and "a foot thing" for not being drafted. That guilt continued to gnaw at him, he said, prompting him to donate money to build the Vietnam Veterans Plaza in New York, "as a way of making up," and eventually to run for president. Trump contributed $1 million in matching funds to build the memorial in 1983. http://abcn.ws/1N32aVB
JEB BUSH 'NOT SURE' HE WOULD HAVE ATTENDED CLIMATE SUMMIT. As world leaders descended on Paris to discuss climate change earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush disavowed the meeting, according to ABC's CANDACE SMITH. "I'm not sure I would have gone to the climate summit, if I was president today," he told reporters after his town hall meeting yesterday. He was then asked if he was opposed to the agenda that the world leaders had set forth. "I worry about the economic impact for our country," he said. "I worry that, put aside intentions, these proposals could have an impact on the here and now that people are really struggling right now so, I would be uncertain on whether I would attend a meeting like that would seem like the movement is towards policies that would hurt our economy."
CLINTON CALLS FOR 'MORE LOVE AND KINDNESS' DURING MONTGOMERY BOYCOTT COMMEMORATION. Speaking from inside the historic church where the Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized, Hillary Clinton renewed her calls for criminal justice reform, gun control, and "more love and kindness" during remarks at an event to honor the 60th anniversary of the demonstration Tuesday. "Those of us who serve in politics, or want to lead our country, have a special responsibility to bring Americans together, not pull us apart," Clinton said from the pulpit of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, A.L. where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once served as pastor, "And it may be unusual hearing a presidential candidate saying we need more love and kindness, but that's exactly what we need right now." ABC's LIZ KREUTZ reports, Clinton invoked a sermon Dr. King gave at this church the first night of the bus boycott. "Justice is really love in calculation," he said, "Justice is really love correcting that which works against love. Standing beside love is always justice." http://abcn.ws/1XEYRsN
NOTED: CHELSEA CLINTON TO HOST FIRST FUNDRAISER WITH MOM. Chelsea Clinton -- who has been largely absent from her mom's campaign -- is set to jump into the fray this month, in an end of the year campaign fundraising push. Invitations for the New York City fundraiser dubbed "Family Holiday Celebration with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton" boast actress Drew Barrymore and her husband Will Kopelman as the other co-hosts, ABC's MATTHEW CLAIBORNE notes. Chelsea Clinton though, has been largely absent this campaign season, appearing with her mother on Roosevelt Island in June and again at Foundry United Methodist Church in September. http://abcn.ws/1YG5Y6G
TED CRUZ ON HOW 'STAR WARS' APPLIES TO PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz says the wisdom of "Star Wars" can be applied to the campaign trail. "An important question to ask of any presidential candidate is which 'Star Wars' figure would you be? And I got to say, anyone who says Luke Skywalker ought to be eliminated right off the bat. The only right answer to that is Han Solo," joked Cruz at a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa. Cruz called Han Solo the "coolest character in all of cinema" and said that he's loved "Star Wars" since he was a boy, ABC's JESSICA HOPPER writes. http://abcn.ws/1OE8oOd
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
ONE OF BERNIE SANDERS' BIGGEST SUPPORTERS IS A ROOSTER NAMED MR. CLUCKY. As the socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders attracts lots of unique fans. But not all of them have a Bernie Bus. For months, Martin Buckley has been riding "the 101" -- a powder-blue bus decked out in American flags, Bernie Sanders signs and Christmas tree branches -- up and down the East Coast in support of his favorite candidate. "It's a 1992 handicapped children's bus from Ohio," he said while giving ABC News a tour. The bus runs entirely on vegetable oil, which "smells like vanilla cake when it first starts up." As Sanders supporters chanted outside the New Hampshire Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Sunday, Buckley ticked off items he had brought on board: a funeral organ, a 40-gallon water tank hidden inside a London steamer trunk, a counter acting as "Constitution Cafe," doors to act as bunk beds, and solar panels on the roof, which doubles as a stage for demonstrations. Oh, and a 9-year-old rooster. ABC's BRAD MIELKE has more. http://abcn.ws/1Rk9G3w
@keithcrc: .@SteveForbesCEO in new book out 12/8: GOP hopefuls must be radical to win http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/steve-forbes-gop-hopefuls-must-be-radical-to-win-calls-for-pure-flat-tax-end-obamacare-leash-fed/article/2577424 ... @SecretsBedard @michaelpfalcone #tcot #RS
@ShaneGoldmacher: Donald Trump has been to NH 16 times in 2015. Not once has he spent the night to campaign on back-to-back days. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/donald-trump-new-hampshire-retail-politics-216338 ...
@AJSpiker: .@RandPaul plans 7 campaign stops in Iowa http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/12/01/rand-paul-plans-7-campaign-events-weekend/76608564/ ... #StandWithRand
@TheFix: Ted Cruz is the sleeping giant in the Republican race. http://wpo.st/Ekgt0
@nytpolitics: Almost everyone in the GOP's elite agrees something must be done about Trump. Almost no one's willing to do it. http://nyti.ms/1Tt3ohh