The Note: Democrats Take Center Stage on National Security


--HILLARY CLINTON SET TO LAY OUT ISIS STRATEGY: This morning, Hillary Clinton will unveil her plan to combat ISIS during remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ notes. According to her aides, her speech will focus broadly on three objectives: "1) Defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and across the region. 2) Disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing, arms, and propaganda around the world. 3) Harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats." Earlier this week Clinton called the rhetoric from the GOP who don't want Syrian refugees coming to U.S. "a new low" and said not allowing them would undermine "who we are as Americans."

--BERNIE SANDERS DETERMINED TO BE HEARD ON FOREIGN POLICY: During a whopping 32-minute interview Tuesday, Yahoo's Katie Couric asked Bernie Sanders simply, "What about those who say you're not that strong on foreign policy?" The Vermont senator scoffed. "Oh, really? Well, compared to whom?" he said with a little guttural gruff. "Many of the serious problems we face in the Gulf region and the Middle East are, in fact, attributable to the war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into. And it is not only that I voted against it - and Secretary Clinton voted for it - I helped lead the opposition against it." Such a response, in a nutshell, is the crux of Sanders' argument for why he is fit to be commander in chief, and he's sticking to it. it would have been easy for the independent Sanders, 74, to shy away from this topic, his perceived weakness, in the days after the head-to-head debate in Iowa. But he has done the opposite. The bellicose rhetoric from Republicans on the other side has offered the progressive an excuse to hit the airwaves, opening himself up to interviews focused on foreign policy. ABC's MARYALICE PARKS has more.

--HAPPENING TODAY: The Sanders campaign says the Vermont senator will address his vision for responding to ISIS as a part of a major speech he has scheduled at Georgetown University this afternoon.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: Jeb Bush probably didn't have national security policy in mind when he talked about his now-famous willingness to "lose the primary to win the general." But if this is a grown-up moment in politics post-Paris, Bush is vying to be in the right place at the right time. His call for ground troops in Syria avoids both the "bomb the s---" out of them rhetoric and the no-new-ground-war talking point that the brother of George W. Bush may be tempted to embrace. He has broken with his fellow candidates and most current GOP governors in not calling for an end to refugee migration with Syria. (Though his methods for identifying Christians first and foremost remain murky.) The moment has not brought out the best of our political discourse, with calls for religious tests for refugees and one schoolyard taunting going on between President Obama and a few Republican candidates. But getting serious can still matter in this race -- just maybe.


PRO-KASICH SUPER PAC COMPARES TRUMP AND CARSON TO OBAMA: A pro-Kasich super PAC said this morning that it started running a television advertisement that shows images of Paris and ISIS -- while the narrator references "beheadings" -- and compares Donald Trump and Ben Carson's inexperience in office to Present Barack Obama's when he entered the White House, BEN GITTLESON notes. The advertisement contrasts them with Kasich, who it says was out ahead with a plan to combat ISIS, and is part of an $11.5 million ad buy on the part of New Day of America on New Hampshire- and Boston-area television from the summer through the New Hampshire primary in February.



TED CRUZ CHALLENGES PRESIDENT OBAMA TO 'COME BACK AND INSULT ME TO MY FACE'. A fired-up Sen. Ted Cruz Wednesday morning challenged President Obama to a debate over Syrian refugees, lashing out at Obama over his Tuesday comments in the Philippines. "I want to encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face," Cruz said. "Let's have a debate on Syrian refugees right now. We can do it anywhere you want. I prefer it in the United States and not overseas where you're making insults. It's easy to toss a cheap insult when no one can respond, but let's have a debate. "I got to tell you, it is utterly befitting of the president to be enraging in those kind of personal insults and attacks," he continued. ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports the Texas Republican and presidential candidate appeared outside the Capitol Hill Club with recent supporter Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who also called Obama's comments "more than a little rich."

BEN CARSON LOOKING FOR HIS FOREIGN POLICY FOOTING. With the Paris terrorist attacks dominating the news cycle -- and increasingly becoming the talk of the presidential campaign trail -- Ben Carson appears to be confronting a foreign policy learning curve. "A year from now, I will know a lot more than I know now," about foreign policy and national security, Carson acknowledged Tuesday on PBS "NewsHour." His comments came on the same day that some his own advisers called into question the former neurosurgeon's facility with international affairs issues. And in The New York Times, Duane R. Clarridge, who has advised Carson, also offered a candid critique. "Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East," Clarridge told the Times, adding that Carson needs weekly conference calls on foreign policy so "we can make him smart." While the Carson campaign acknowledged that Clarridge has had contact with the candidate, a spokeperson denied that he is a top adviser, ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS reports.

JEB BUSH SAYS US NEEDS TO 'INTENSIFY EFFORTS IN THE AIR AND THE GROUND' TO DEFEAT ISIS. In the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said the U.S. needs to intensify its efforts to defeat ISIS. Speaking to a crowd of over 600 cadets, veterans, and faculty members at The Citadel, the military college in South Carolina, Bush said "The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force. As the words of French President Hollande have made clear, the United States will not be alone in galvanizing this global effort. Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air --- and on the ground." Bush also condemned the defense spending cuts in 2013 and called for adding 40,000 troops to the military and another 4,000 to the Marine Corps. ABC's CANDACE SMITH reports Bush continued to make the case for why he is the best candidate to lead the country.

NEW YORK MAYOR ACCUSES CHRIS CHRISTIE OF 'PLAYING TO THE CHEAP SEATS' ON SYRIAN REFUGEES. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is blasting New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie for his opposition to the U.S. accepting Syrian refugees, calling Christie an "an embarrassment to this country" and accusing him of "playing to the cheap seats." De Blasio, who strongly supports the entry of Syrian refugees who have been vetted into the United States, launched his war of words against Christie on Tuesday in response to the Republican presidential candidate saying on Monday that he would not make an exception for any Syrian refugees, not even orphans under the age of five, at this point. Christie, who has cited concerns about the vetting of Syrian refugees as his principal concern in opposing their acceptance to the U.S. and has said New Jersey will not accept any Syrian refugees at this time, hit back at de Blasio on Twitter on Tuesday, saying that it's to be expected from a "liberal politician" like de Blasio. ABC's JORDYN PHELPS has more.


TRUMP SAYS 'SERIOUSLY OVERWEIGHT' PROTESTER UPSET OVER TALK OF FOOD STAMPS. A Donald Trump rally was interrupted several times by protesters last night and the outspoken presidential candidate suggested that one of them, whom he described as "seriously overweight," was upset because he was talking about food stamps. "You know it's amazing, I mentioned food stamps at that guy who's seriously overweight went crazy -- Amazing. Amazing," Trump told the audience in Worcester, Mass. "That's an amazing sight." The protester was escorted out of the rally. Just before the protester interrupted Trump, the candidate was talking about the need to roll back the number of people on food stamps, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS reports. "We have 43 million and now it's actually probably gonna be closer to 50. 50 million people on food stamps," Trump said just prior to the interruption. The rally was interrupted a total of three times Wednesday night, once when a group held up a banner that read "Migrant Lives Matter," and the second when a man had to be pulled out of the venue by security, shouting "Trump's a racist, Trump's a racist" all the while.


@ColinTReed: .@HillaryClinton raking in campaign $$ from DeflateGate firm that targeted Tom Brady: cc @barstooltweets #nhpolitics

@RealClearNews: Why are governors getting chewed up this cycle? @CHueyBurnsRCP & @RebeccaGBerg report:

@jolingkent: Woody Johnson thinks Jeb will rise in polls "when people are ready to listen to a serious candidate." Counting on last wk before NH primary.

@daveweigel: Via @WPJohnWagner, the O'Malley campaign is running out of $ ...

@ScottFConroy: Heard the most succinct explanation of Trump's appeal while getting a haircut yesterday: "I actually like Trump. That guy's crazy, man."