The Note: Joe Biden and the Waiting Game


--JOE BIDEN QUOTES SON BEAU IN HUMAN RIGHTS AWARDS SPEECH: Vice President Joe Biden made no explicit mention of his contemplation of a 2016 presidential campaign Saturday night at the Athenagoras Human Rights Awards, but he did speak about one of the things believed to be the chief sticking point to a run: grief over the death of his son, Beau, who passed away in May after a fight with brain cancer. The vice president, who was this year's recipient of the award, the highest bestowed by the Greek Orthodox Church, shared something he said his son often said. "Put one foot in front of the other, as my son Beau used to say, just keep moving forward," Biden said. "It is my faith that has kept me moving forward." ABC's MATTHEW CLAIBORNE and DEVIN DWYER have more.

--JOE BIDEN COURTS FIREFIGHTERS UNION WITH 2016 DECISION EXPECTED: Vice President Joe Biden has the "very likely" support of the nation's largest union of firefighters should he decide to enter the 2016 presidential race, a top union official tells ABC News. Biden placed a personal call to Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, early Friday morning to discuss his potential candidacy and a strategy to win, Schaitberger said. News of the call was first reported by the Washington Post. "You certainly came away with the view and feeling that he is moving toward seriously making a decision," Schaitberger said. An IAFF endorsement would be a big boost out of the gate for Biden should he jump into the race, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes.

--A TEXAS WEEKEND: Six GOP presidential hopefuls descended on Plano, Texas on Sunday for the North Texas Presidential Forum hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition at Prestonwood Baptist Church, speaking to an estimated crowd of 7,000, according to ABC's CANDACE SMITH and KATHERINE FAULDERS. Sen. Ted Cruz received the most enthusiasm as he brought his message of religious liberty back to his home state of Texas. Carly Fiorina took much of her time discussing her opposition to abortion, even getting personal telling the crowd she couldn't have children herself and how that impacted her views today. "A little later in our marriage, I learned that I could not have children of my own so I came to know in a profoundly personal way how precious a gift of life is. And then of course there's science. I'm a person that believes that science is never in opposition with our faith," she said. Ben Carson did manage to get a lot of laughs out of the crowd -- probably the most of any candidate at the forum -- and cracked some jokes directed at the current administration. As for Jeb Bush, the last candidate to arrive, his last name was an asset in his home state of Texas. He joked with Pastor Jake Graham about riding on the George Bush turnpike. "A Bush riding on a Bush," Graham laughed.

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's RYAN STRUYK: All eyes will remain on Vice President Joe Biden today, as he's still making up his mind about whether he'll jump into the race for President. He'll be at the White House this afternoon to delivers remarks on climate change and then attend President Obama's meeting with Treasury Secretary Lew after that. Tonight he'll make remarks at a United Service Organizations reception at the Naval Observatory. While the Democratic field awaits Biden's decision, Bernie Sanders is in Oskaloosa, Iowa for a town hall meeting at noon. A new CNN/ORC poll this morning shows him inching up in support since the first debate. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who retains essentially the same support in the poll, is off the trail today. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will hold a rally in South Carolina tonight, seeking to hold onto his narrow lead over Ben Carson, who remains off the trail on his book tour this week. Marco Rubio holds a rally in Salt Lake City tonight. And if you're staying up late, Martin O'Malley will be on 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.'


JEB BUSH AND MARCO RUBIO: THE FRENEMIES OF 2016. As is always the case in politics, there are friends and foes, allies turned archrivals. But for GOP candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, the relationship is far more nebulous. The longtime mentor and protegee are now seeing themselves forced into a rivalry by a primary that, whether they like it or not, has pitted the two Floridians against each other. And while they still attempt to remain civil, the long-brewing battle between the two camps is slowly bubbling up. Bush's son, Jeb Jr., unleashed on the senator while speaking to a group of College Republicans in New York last week. "As a Floridian, I'm a little disappointed, because he's missing, like, 35 percent of his votes," Jeb Bush Jr. said, per Politico. "And it's just, kind of, like, dude, you know, either drop out or do something, but we're paying you to do something, it ain't run for president." His words went much further than his father's, who usually speaks in generalities about Rubio's missed Senate votes, choosing instead to allude to his performance without invoking Rubio by name unless asked specifically. ABC's INES DE LA CUETARA and CANDACE SMITH have more:

BERNIE SANDERS SAYS PROPOSED PAYROLL TAX 'WOULD HIT EVERYONE.' Bernie Sanders brushed off Donald Trump's latest criticism of the self-proclaimed democratic-socialist Sunday, but used Trump's salvo that he's "going to tax you people at 90 percent. He's going to take everything," to raise an issue central to his campaign -- income inequality. "If I had to respond to every absurd thing that Donald Trump says, I'd spend my whole life doing it," Sanders told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on "This Week." Sanders argues that in order to bridge the widening wealth and income inequality gap in America, the country needs a revamped tax policy that forces Wall Street, big corporations, millionaires and billionaires -- like Trump - to pay up - and doesn't impose further taxes on the middle and working class. However, when pressed by Stephanopoulos about whether the proposed Senate tax legislation he backs, which would use a payroll tax to fund a mandate for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave from all U.S. employers, Sander confirmed that the bill would require taxing all citizens -- not just the top 1 percent.

CARSON: DECLARING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE WOULD HAVE TURNED OVER BIN LADEN IN TWO WEEKS. GOP presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson remains steadfast in his assertion that if the United States had declared its intention to achieve energy independence after the September 11th terror attacks, modern Arab governments would have turned over Osama bin Laden within two weeks. "I think they would have been extremely concerned about what the ramifications of that would have been," Carson said on ABC's "This Week." "And I believe they would have been considerably more cooperative." Carson is the only major Republican candidate who opposed President Bush's decision to invade Afghanistan after 9/11, ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS notes.

RAND PAUL BANKS ON COLLEGE STUDENTS TO WIN IOWA. Presidential hopeful Rand Paul spent part of last week back in college, touring universities throughout Iowa as part of his campaign's strategy to win the state by banking on attracting young voters. At a stop at the University of Northern Iowa, while the senator was live-streaming his day, Paul told ABC News that he felt a little bit like he was on a reality television show. "I guess you can call it fun," Paul said. "I'm sure I've said four or five things probably that you know shouldn't say on TV." The live stream and Paul's social media presence are part of his campaign's strategy to go where the young people are. "I've got three teenage sons and they don't watch any broadcast news. They don't watch any cable news. They just simply get the news from their friends. They get the news from comedy channels," Paul said. "So we try to get out there to the venue where kids are and I think that will also help us." Going where the kids are last week meant going to colleges across Iowa, ABC's JESSICA HOPPER reports. It's also strategic. The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 1, while schools are in session. The Paul campaign is hoping to get 10,000 students to caucus for them.

THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL NAME GAME. The 2008 presidential election was all about the last names -- from campaign names to headlines, ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ writes. Fast forward seven years later and Republican and Democratic hopefuls are sticking to their first names. So, who actually goes by their birth name? Spoiler alert -- not as many candidates as you think.

BERNIE SANDERS EMBRACES 'SNL' SKIT, TALKS ABOUT 'ONE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR.' Bernie Sanders usually shies away from anything silly, but on the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday he showed he can take a joke, embracing his "appearance" on "Saturday Night Live," where he was played by comedian Larry David. Viewers raved that David, with a white wig and half-baked Brooklyn accent, nailed the Vermont senator, joking Sanders only owns one pair of underwear. Sunday, speaking to reporters outside a fundraiser in Iowa City, Sanders very seriously -- at least for a moment -- disagreed, according to ABC's JOSH HASKELL and MARYALICE PARKS. "This is a serious question," the senator said. "Last week I bought my second pair of underwear. "That's a joke," he bellowed.

HOW HILLARY CLINTON GOT HER GROOVE BACK. When Hillary Clinton walked off the debate stage on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, she knew she did well -- she just didn't know how well. Then one of her aides tossed her a phone. Booming from the speaker were loud cheers coming from her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. It was at that moment, according to an aide who was with her, that it all sank in. "I love you all!" Clinton exclaimed, as she made her way to a debate watch party for her supporters at the Wynn hotel. "I'll talk to you later! I love you!" And for the rest of the week, as she traveled from Nevada to Texas to New Hampshire to Alabama, Clinton has seemed like a new woman. Not only did her well-reviewed debate performance shut down many of her doubters, but the Democratic presidential candidate also seems to have gotten her groove back, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ reports.

IN POST-DEBATE PUSH, HILLARY CLINTON HIGHLIGHTS GUN DIVIDE WITH BERNIE SANDERS. In a debate many pundits believe was dominated by Hillary Clinton, some of her strongest moments rode on gun control, and now she is pressing the issue in what could be an advantage over Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton made her first visit to New Hampshire on Friday since the campaign cycle's first Democratic debate, ABC's BRAD MIELKE reports. Holding a town hall at Keene State College, the former secretary of state said the gun lobby had "intimidated" elected officials from regulating the industry. But she didn't stop there. She also took the opportunity to draw a contrast with her biggest rival.

GOWDY DEFENDS BENGHAZI COMMITTEE AHEAD OF CLINTON'S APPEARANCE. The top Republican and Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi both weighed in on the committee's focus Sunday, days before former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear before the panel on Capitol Hill. Committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, downplayed recent comments from Republican lawmakers about his investigation and Clinton. "I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends, shut up talking about things that you don't know anything about. And unless you're on the committee, you have no idea what we have done," Gowdy said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, called Gowdy a "good man," but said the committee has "failed" the families of the four Americans killed in the attacks. "We still have been zeroed in on Hillary Clinton," Cummings said. "It's very unfortunate." ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL has more.


"The inside story of Trump campaign's connections to a big-money super PAC," by The Washington Post's MATEA GOLD, TOM HAMBURGER, and JENNA JOHNSON. As he brags that he is turning down millions of dollars for his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has leveled a steady line of attack against his rivals: that they are too cozy with big-money super PACs and may be breaking the law by coordinating with them. "You know the nice part about me?" he told reporters in Iowa in August. "I don't need anybody's money." What Trump doesn't say is that he and his top campaign aide have connections to a super PAC collecting large checks to support his candidacy - a group viewed by people familiar with his campaign as the sanctioned outlet for wealthy donors. This summer, Trump appeared at at least two events for the Make America Great Again PAC, which took his campaign slogan as its name and received financing from his daughter's mother-in-law. A consultant for the super PAC is a Republican operative who has previously worked with Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, according to several people with direct knowledge of their ties.


BERNIE SANDERS REACTS TO LARRY DAVID'S 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' IMPERSONATION. Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed delight over "Curb Your Enthusiasm" actor Larry David's impersonation of him on "Saturday Night Live," joking that he may invite the fellow Brooklyn native to join him on the campaign trail. "I think we'll use Larry at our next rally. He does better than I do," Sanders said on Sunday's "This Week," ABC's BENJAMIN BELL notes. David portrayed Sanders during SNL's opening sketch, which parodied the first Democratic debate of the 2016 campaign cycle that took place this week in Las Vegas.


@JordynPhelps: The wait continues as @VP Biden departs his Delaware residence to return to Washington

@danmericaCNN: Nice piece by @Hadas_Gold on HRC's mostly female press corps. I've always been impressed by the women who cover HRC.

@jmartNYT: Rand has finally given up the "i beat Hillary head to head" talking pt & started saying polls are wrong

@TheFix: Kids reenact the first Democratic debate [Video].