The Note: Cruz Takes On Trump


--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Don’t look now, but is Donald Trump pulling his punches on Ted Cruz? A day after unleashing a new series of attacks on his chief rival on the Sunday shows, Trump didn’t mention Cruz by name at either of his big campaign events Monday. (That doesn’t account for Twitter, where he’s still on his birther kick, but still…) That decision comes after a few days where major conservative talk radio hosts – notably, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin – have publicly warned him of the dangerous game he’s playing in attacking Cruz. It’s impossible to overstate the cover people like Limbaugh and Levin have given Trump in their willingness to accept him as a conservative, despite countless statements he made in the past that point to a much different ideology. Now that Cruz’s “New York values” attack has brought those statements back to the surface, any hesitation among conservative leaders is notable, particularly down the campaign’s stretch. Trump may yet best Cruz in Iowa and beyond. But for one of the few times in a campaign he’s dominated, Trump is going to need to find a new strategy.

--HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN ENDORSES CLINTON: The largest LGBT civil rights organization announced today that it is endorsing Hillary Clinton, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI reports. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, “While they fight to take us backwards, Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world. We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, and believe that she is the champion we can count on in November -- and every day she occupies the Oval Office.” In 2008, the organization endorsed Obama over Clinton. HRC released a video along with their endorsement. WATCH

DISS OF THE DAY with ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW -- BRITS BASH TRUMP. The British Parliament pounced on Donald Trump yesterday, opening up the floor at Westminster Hall for debate over whether or not to ban the Republican presidential candidate from entering the United Kingdom. An online parliamentary petition received over 570,000 “nays” for Trump to ever visit the U.K. again following his call to temporarily prevent Muslims from entering the U.S. During what amounted to a three-hour roast, members of Parliament took turns debating the state of politics across the pond and Trump’s political positions, dubbing him a “wazzock,” “demagogue,” "idiot" and “buffoon” during speeches. Trump owns several properties in the United Kingdom including a Trump portfolio crown jewel -- Trump Turnberry in Scotland -- which recently lost a bid to host the 2020 British Open because of Trump’s statements. While Trump did not acknowledge the snubs yesterday, Trump International Golf Links said in a statement, “It is absurd parliamentary time is being wasted debating a matter raised as part of the American Presidential election.”

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Donald Trump says he has a “big announcement” with a “special guest” at his 6pm Ames, Iowa rally tonight. Trump also holds a morning town hall and appears at the Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona in the afternoon. Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum are all also in Iowa and will address the Renewable Fuels Summit. Ted Cruz is in New Hampshire on his bus tour and has another busy day with six stops starting this morning in North Conway at 10AM and ending tonight in Rye at 6:30pm. John Kasich is in the Granite State as well with four events and a stop for his wife. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is in Iowa. He has four town meetings starting this morning in Fort Dodge and ending tonight in Sioux City. Jeb Bush addresses the Council on Foreign Relations this afternoon in New York. Ben Carson is in South Carolina. He has a closed press event this morning with the Greater Low Country Republican Club in Charleston before a meet-and-greet and press avail in nearby Mt. Pleasant.

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT IN THE NOTE -- Beware A GOP Calendar Front-Loaded With States Friendly To Trump And Cruz by FiveThirtyEight’s DAVID WASSERMAN. In a few weeks’ time, it’s possible that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will steamroll their way through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and dominate the so-called “SEC Primary” — the collection of 13 mostly Southern states that will vote on March 1 — horrifying many GOP elected officials and depriving any other candidate of a night to celebrate. The GOP’s primary calendar is surprisingly front-loaded with states friendly to insurgents like Trump and Cruz. But because of Republican National Committee rules, all but one of these states will award their delegates on a proportional basis, intentionally making it difficult for any one candidate to build a durable or commanding lead.


BERNIE SANDERS DOUBLES DOWN ON CRITIQUE OF HILLARY CLINTON’S SPEAKING FEES. During a one-on-one interview with ABC News Monday in Columbia, South Carolina, Bernie Sanders stood by and escalated his attacks on Hillary Clinton over her taking speaking fees from corporate banks. The Vermont senator had just finished arguing he was “not into personal attacks and mean-spirited attacks.” When challenged about whether bringing up Clinton’s speaking fees at the debate constituted personal attacks, Sanders replied: “Well, I think it is a fact. A fact. Anyone disagree with me? She has received $600,000 in one year as speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. If that’s not true, I will apologize. It’s true.” ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS has more.

CHRIS CHRISTIE’S BEEF WITH MICHELLE OBAMA’S HEALTHY EATING INITIATIVE. In a move sure to appeal to 11-year-old voters across the country, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie promised to do away with First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch initiative to a boy who bemoaned that the pizza and crispitos once served at his school cafeteria have gone away under the Obama administration. If he is elected president, Christie told 11-year-old Jacob Royal on Monday while campaigning here in Iowa, he can go back to eating “whatever you want to eat" at school. "The first lady has no business being involved in this,” Christie told Royal during a town hall at a Village Inn, according to ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS.

WHAT JEB BUSH’S EDUCATION POLICY MEANS FOR YOU. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, in an apparent homage to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has released his education policy, calling it “the civil rights issue of our time,” ABC’s CANDACE SMITH reports. The former Florida governor plans to reform the financing system by modifying current college savings accounts and allowing families and individuals, beginning with early education, to save tax-free for education. He would also streamline the money being spent on students, by allowing states to give funds directly to parents. We ask a few experts to help us a break down Bush’s proposal and analyze what it would actually mean for students and families.

TRUMP JOKES WITH MAN WHO COMPARED CLINTON TO BARKING DOG. When a man at a New Hampshire Donald Trump rally compared Hillary Clinton to a barking dog that was in the audience Monday afternoon, the real estate mogul didn't cut him off and continued the discussion instead. “What was that — a dog?” Trump asked when the dog made a loud noise. “Hillary!” a man in the crowd shouted to laughter, referring to Clinton. But Trump didn't repudiate the man, instead joking around with him, ABC’s BEN GITTLESON notes. “Huh? Oh, It’s Hillary — oh,” Trump replied. “Only in New Hampshire. Right?

NOTED: IVANKA TRUMP FEATURED IN NEW RADIO AD. GOP front-runner Donald Trump released a new radio ad yesterday starring his daughter Ivanka Trump. The spot features the 34-year-old businesswoman talking about her father's influence on her as a parent. The new presidential campaign ad debuted Monday in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire two weeks before the Iowa caucuses and about three weeks before the New Hampshire primaries, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes. "I consider myself fortunate to have learned from the best, both as an entrepreneur and most importantly a parent," Trump, the executive vice president of acquisitions and development at the Trump Organization, says.

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX -- COUNTRY MUSIC STAR JOSH TURNER JOINS MIKE HUCKABEE ON THE TRAIL. Grammy Award nominee and multi-platinum selling country music star Josh Turner will join Mike Huckabee for a rally and special performance in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 25, according to the Huckabee campaign. "Josh is an amazing talent and a great performer with one of the most unique voices in the business,” Huckabee said in a statement. “But more important than his musical accomplishments, Josh is a strong Christian who loves the Lord and loves his family. I'm excited to join him in Iowa for a fantastic event.” The event takes place at Wooly’s in Des Moines at 6 PM CT.


@TheBrodyFile: Video Exclusive: Does @realDonaldTrump Cry? Watch His Answer to @TheBrodyFile … #CBNNews #2016

@TexasTribAbby: Wendy Davis campaigning for HRC in NH: "This is where any momentum against her stops" 

@jeremybird: We were all there. Sanders himself threatened to challenge Obama in '11. We prepared for his run bc of IA stops & rhetoric. Facts.

@TomBevanRCP: The Choice for Democrats: Evolution or Revolution | RealClearPolitics …

@jameshohmann: In NH, a lot of Bush backers I talked with LIKE Jeb but LOATHE Trump. This means they could defect btwn 2/1 and 2/9. …