The Note: Democratic Debate Speed Read


--ANALYSIS -- CLINTON EMBRACES OBAMA LEGACY, AS SANDERS AIMS FOR DEMOCRATS’ HEARTS: The Democrats’ final debate before 2016 voting starts brought clarity to the choice ahead for Democratic primary voters, in a battle that’s pitting the party’s head against its heart. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders offered the louder and bolder vision tonight in South Carolina, channeling some of the anger that’s blossoming in both parties in 2016, ABC’s RICK KLEIN writes. His is a play for the hearts of voters, including segments of the Democratic Party that are disappointed in the Obama years. Hillary Clinton, still the front-runner but facing a more intense challenge than she anticipated, offered aggressive lessons on political practicality. She urged a more intense examination of her rival’s record, and embraced President Obama’s legacy more fully than she has in the past. Nowhere was her appeal to voters’ heads more evident than in arguing that Sanders’ single-payer health care plan is dangerous for Democrats to attempt to even pursue, given the battles it took to make Obamacare law.

--DEBATE SPEED READ: ABC’s PAOLA CHAVEZ and JENNIFER HANSLER have more on the best lines of the night. and TOM THORNTON and ALI DUKAKIS boil down the debate in one minute. WATCH:

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Has Donald Trump met his match in Ted Cruz? It’s not just the Iowa appeal that has that matchup dominating the Republican race two weeks before the caucuses. Consider how Cruz is handling Trump – and yes, it’s Cruz handling Trump, and not the other way around. Trump has been trying to draw him out for months with small and often veiled attacks. Cruz refused to engage. Then the birther buzz began, courtesy of Trump. Cruz found an opening for what may go down as the most effective attacks of the race: “New York values.” Cruz took his lumps for it. But he knows that being attacked by The New York Daily News, Bill de Blasio, and, especially, Hillary Clinton is a good thing in the Democratic primary. He’s now focused scrutiny on Trump’s past statements and positions – scrutiny he’s been able to avoid via his own bluster and media ubiquity until now. Cruz has vulnerabilities of his own, including some that are only just now surfacing. Trump is now unloading on a man he now calls “a nasty guy” whom “nobody likes.” Cruz is savvy enough to know what kind of words hurt, and what’s just noise.

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE:  In the morning Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley will participate and speak at the King Day at the Dome this morning in Columbia. Participants will march from Zion Baptist Church to the State House steps to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and to draw attention to present day economic equalities.Clinton will then travel to Toledo, Iowa where she holds an organizing event tonight. Sanders heads to Birmingham, Alabama where he tours civil rights landmarks and attends another MLK Day rally. And Martin O’Malley--who fought to get more time last night, but failed--spends the entire day in Columbia. Before the march he attends an MLK Day church service and this afternoon he speaks at a rotary club.  Donald Trump also has a two state day. This morning he speaks at the place it all started for Ted Cruz: Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Cruz announced his candidacy there back in March.) In the afternoon, Trump holds a rally in Concord, New Hampshire. Cruz is also  in NH holding a bus tour through the state. He’s making five stops starting in Keene this morning and ending in Whitefield tonight. John Kasich is also in New Hampshire.  Marco Rubio has a packed day in Iowa with four town halls and a meet and greet. He begins the day with an 8AM event in Decorah and ends with a 7pm stop in Bettendorf. Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum are also in the state. Ben Carson, like the Democratic candidates, is in South Carolina today with a packed day.


SANDERS GOES AFTER CLINTON’S SPEAKING FEES. Bernie Sanders has drawn contrasts with Hillary Clinton on health care, paid family leave and Wall Street reform. During Sunday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina, Sanders went one step further, launching arguably his most personal attacks of the former secretary of state yet, ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS and LIZ KREUTZ report. NBC’s Lester Holt asked the progressive what the biggest differences are between him and Clinton on the issue. “Well, the first difference is I don't take money from big banks. I don't get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs,” Sanders responded.

SANDERS ACCUSES CLINTON OF ‘DISINGENUOUS’ ATTACKS ON GUN CONTROL RECORD. The first policy question of Sunday’s debate here was aimed at Bernie Sanders’ complicated gun control record. The independent senator from Vermont, who often admits he is from a state with little gun control, defended his previous votes and argued he was better positioned to bring people together on the issue, ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS reports. “I think Secretary Clinton knows what she says is disingenuous,” Sander said during the NBC Democratic presidential debate. “I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. I support what president Obama is doing in terms of trying to close the gun show loopholes.”

HILLARY CLINTON ACCUSES BERNIE SANDERS OF WANTING TO ‘TEAR UP’ OBAMACARE. At the Democratic presidential debate here tonight, Hillary Clinton just made the argument she and her campaign have been making over the past week to Bernie Sanders’ face. Her critique is that Sanders’ single-payer health care proposal would undo Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, and “start over again with a whole new debate.” ABC’s RICK KLEIN has more.

SANDERS WON’T FULLY COMMIT TO CLOSING CONTROVERSIAL GUN CONTROL LOOPHOLE. Shortly before visiting Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston where nine people were killed last summer in a mass shooting, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would not fully commit his support to closing the so-called “Charleston loophole,” a gun control provision which allowed the accused shooter to purchase his gun. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS explains more.

MARCO RUBIO GOES ALL-IN ON GUNS FOLLOWING DEBATE. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seems to be doubling down on gun control following the most recent Republican presidential debate. In New Hampshire on Friday, Rubio stopped by a gun store for a bit of retail politics. He later held a rally at Sturm, Ruger & Co., a firearms manufacturing company in Newport, where he was gifted a rifle. “My wife and I, we're gun owners,” he told the company’s employees. “This our first rifle in our home. It will be a nice addition.” According to ABC’s INES DE LA CUETARA, Rubio said they feared President Obama or his administration making it harder for "law-abiding people like them" to buy guns, something he also mentioned during Thursday's debate.

CLINTON ‘FLATTERED’ BY KARL ROVE ATTACK AD. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled. ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ has more.

TRUMP RAMPS UP ATTACKS ON TED CRUZ, SAYS ‘HE’S A NASTY GUY.’ With two weeks left before voters in Iowa cast the very first votes in the 2016 presidential election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is turning up the heat on his fiercest rival in the Hawkeye State -– Sen. Ted Cruz, ABC’s JOHN SANTUCCI reports. "I don't think Ted Cruz has a great chance, to be honest with you," Trump told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS in an interview on “This Week” Sunday.


SPRINGSTEEN SUPERFAN CHRIS CHRISTIE HAS ‘FALLEN IN LOVE WITH ADELE.’ It’s no secret that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan, ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS notes. But when asked to pick just one favorite music artist during a town hall in Iowa tonight, the Republican presidential candidate revealed he has developed a musical crush on a second artist: Adele.


@billclinton: Details matter. @HillaryClinton says what she's going to do and how. I'm with her.

@ColinTReed: From @AmericaRising: The Results Are In - @HillaryClinton clear "loser" of last night's debate 

@ezraklein: Some thoughts on Bernie Sanders' single-payer plan, which I don't think quite adds up: 

@ZekeJMiller: Chris Christie brands Ted Cruz: "the most inside guy in this race" …

@nationaljournal: Does the future of the Democratic party belong to Bernie Sanders?