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Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Tuesday, Jan. 5, and here's what we're talking about:
- Donald Trump hits Ted Cruz over being born in Canada
- Jeb Bush says President Obama's action on guns is outside the scope of his office
- Hillary Clinton hit up Iowa, and she dispatched Bill to New Hampshire, where he was feeling nostalgic
- Trump's new ad shows immigrants at a "southern border," just not the U.S. border
- Ben Carson's new plan would cut taxes for the wealthy and raise them for the poor
- 2016 is here! Five unknowns that could help determine the election winner
Clinton says she's more prepared than Sanders for the White House
When Hillary Clinton tries to draw contrasts between herself and other presidential candidates, she usually talks about Republicans, not fellow Democrats.
But during a Sioux City event, Clinton obliged when asked to explain how she differs from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her closest competitor in the primary.
Clinton said she would be as tough on the financial industry as Sanders vows to be, if not tougher, and portrayed herself as more prepared to deal with a wider set of challenges.
“I have a broader, more comprehensive set of policies about everything, including taking on Wall Street,” Clinton said.
Sanders has emphasized economic populism in his campaign, pledging to break up big banks and reduce income inequality. He's accused Clinton of being too soft on the financial sector.
For her part, Clinton said that when it comes to issues including education and healthcare, “I have a long record. I have been on the forefront of change for decades.”
She added, “I will get into that White House. I don’t need a tour. I know right where the Oval Office is.”
Cruz's Canadian birth a problem, Trump says
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, increasingly facing pressure from GOP rival Ted Cruz, raised questions Tuesday about the Texas senator’s Canadian birth and whether it would hurt the party’s chances if he were its nominee.
“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post.
“It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans," Trump said. "The courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”
Cruz, who has largely avoided directly criticizing Trump, responded with a humorous but pointed tweet. It featured a link from the television show “Happy Days” showing the character Fonzie water-skiing over a shark. That episode gave rise to the term “jumping the shark” to describe going comically overboard.
The issue Trump raised is one that most legal experts consider settled.
The Constitution requires presidents to be “natural-born citizens.” The children of American citizens who are born abroad are automatically granted citizenship. Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother was an American citizen.
Trump has long questioned President Obama’s citizenship and Hawaiian birthplace, even after the president released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.
Trump is the front-runner in national GOP presidential polls, but has slipped behind Cruz in Iowa, the state that holds the first nominating contest in the nation on Feb. 1. He has grown increasingly aggressive in remarks against Cruz in recent weeks, questioning his temperament and his evangelical faith.
Hillary Clinton finds a way to go after corporations that want to head overseas: their patents
U.S. corporations that reduce their tax bills by stashing cash overseas could feel a pinch at the patent office if Hillary Clinton is elected president.
A member of the crowd at a Clinton event Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa, asked her whether patents could be used as leverage to get businesses to repatriate their revenue.
"Yes," Clinton said. "We can and we will."
The audience member said patents could be suspended when taxes aren't paid in the United States, and Clinton responded: "You're right."
"We've got to get a fair, consistent tax program so corporations pay their fair share," she said.
Clinton added: "I don't believe they should be able to park money that should be taxed overseas."
Clinton has vowed to overhaul the tax code should she become president, and her campaign said last month that she'd tax corporations that want to leave the United States, a tougher plan than what President Obama has proposed.
Obama's action on guns spotlights partisan split among White House hopefuls
President Obama’s executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence were swiftly condemned Tuesday by Republicans running for his job, while Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders applauded the effort to bypass a gridlocked Congress.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told Fox News that Obama was “obsessed with undermining the Constitution in general, but the 2nd Amendment in particular,” Rubio said the president's move to tighten criminal background checks on gun buyers would “do nothing to prevent violence.”
“This executive order is just one more way to make it harder for law-abiding people to buy weapons or to be able to protect their families,” he said.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) both vowed to rescind Obama’s orders. On Twitter, retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson said: “The President's actions have everything to do with advancing his political agenda & little to do with actually protecting American citizens.”
But Obama’s emotional plea for public support of tighter gun controls was warmly embraced by two of the Democrats seeking the White House.
“We can protect the Second Amendment while protecting our families and communities from gun violence,” Clinton said on Twitter. “And we have to.”
Sanders (D-Vt.) vowed to uphold Obama’s executive actions.
"It's become clear that no mass shooting, no matter how big or bloody, will inspire Republicans to put children and innocent Americans over the interests of the NRA,” Sanders said of the National Rifle Assn. in a written statement. “They are simply more loyal to gun lobbyists than our children.”
Jeb Bush says Obama is going beyond his authority on guns
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joined the chorus of Republicans on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill who are decrying President Obama's executive actions aimed at limiting gun violence, and called it a power grab outside the bounds of the president's authority.
"In Florida, the way we did it is punish people that committed crimes with guns. And it worked," Bush said during a campaign event here.
A woman in the audience interrupted: "Trayvon Martin would disagree," she said, invoking the teenager whose 2012 shooting death in Florida drew outcries and set off a national debate on race and gun violence.
She called Florida's stand-your-ground law "asinine."
Bush, who left office in 2007, was unfazed.
"The simple fact is that gun violence has declined by about 30% when we imposed severe penalties for people committing crimes with guns," he said. "We’re a pro-2nd Amendment state, and I’m totally proud of that."
Obama is directing federal law enforcement officials to warn private gun sellers that they may be vulnerable to prosecution if they don’t register with the government and check the backgrounds of potential gun buyers.
But Bush criticized what he called the "impulse of the left" to always seek more restrictions on "law-abiding gun owners."
"It’s not going to solve any problems by having the so-called gun-show loophole be taken care of by executive order. The president doesn’t have authority to do it," he said. (Obama did not announce a closure of the gun-show loophole, nor did he issue an executive order, which is a legal mechanism at his disposal.)
"If there’s an issue related to federal gun laws, he ought to go to Congress and try and force consensus to make it happen. He doesn’t have this power," Bush said. "And certainly the best way to do it is the way we have always done it: Allow states to decide what kind of gun control laws that they have."
Poll: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz lead GOP presidential field nationally
Donald Trump, whose insurgent campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has stoked outrage among some factions of the party, remains atop the crowded field of GOP hopefuls with less than a month until voting in the 2016 election begins.
In a poll released Tuesday by NBC News/Survey Monkey, Trump is at 35% among GOP voters nationwide. He's followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 18% and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio with 13%.
While Trump holds a sizable lead nationally, the poll is not reflective of state-specific surveys in early nominating states including Iowa and New Hampshire. For example, in Iowa, which kicks off the parties' nominating process Feb. 1, Cruz is leading Trump by about 4 percentage points based on an average of several state surveys.
A solid indicator in how fluid the crowded race for the GOP presidential nomination remains is the number of Republican voters who say they are still undecided.
Half Trump's supporters say they are unsure whether they will actually cast a vote in support of him. Moreover, just under half the supporters of Cruz and Rubio said they are not certain they will support either candidate.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton remains the front-runner for the party's nomination, outpacing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 53% to 36%.
Clinton's support is massive among black voters, a key voting bloc in South Carolina and other early states. Among African Americans, Clinton leads Sanders 73% to 12%.
The polls on the Democratic and Republican sides were conducted from Dec. 28 until Jan. 3 and sampled nearly 3,700 adults nationwide.
Big banks can't win, Sanders says
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will outline his plan to reform Wall Street by increasing taxes and penalties on big banks in an effort to grow the middle class.
“If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” Sanders said in prepared remarks released by his campaign ahead of his speech. “When it comes to Wall Street reform, that must be our bottom line.”
Sanders has also called for more federal oversight of banks, repeatedly insisting that the reforms put in place after the economic crisis failed to go far enough. In a Dec. 23 editorial in the New York Times, Sanders criticized the Federal Reserve and called for it to stop allowing big banking institutions to run the economy.
“The sad reality is that the Federal Reserve doesn’t regulate Wall Street; Wall Street regulates the Fed,” Sanders wrote. “It’s time to make banking work for the productive economy and for all Americans, not just a handful of wealthy speculators.”
Sanders and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton spar when it comes to increasing taxes and clamping down on Wall Street. Sanders wants to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, a Depression-era law designed to separate commercial, investment and insurance banking services.
Clinton does not agree, and Sanders uses that division to accuse his rival of keeping close ties with the financial sector, not the rest of the country.
"What can you do? Secretary Clinton, in a recent debate, when asked about does she want corporate America to like her and she said yes she does,” Sanders said in New Hampshire on Monday. “I myself can live without the love of Wall Street."
Clinton warns voters about electing a Republican president
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton launched sharper attacks Monday against GOP candidates, warning voters that if they choose a Republican for the White House, it will unravel years of policy implemented by President Obama.
Clinton’s campaign remains focused on proving she can defeat a Republican opponent while her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, cannot.
"I am absolutely determined that we're going to make sure we have a Democrat to succeed President Obama so we don't let the Republicans rip away the progress we have made together," Clinton said at an event in Davenport, Iowa.
She said Sanders' proposals, including taking on Wall Street and providing free college tuition, require too much money.
Clinton continues battering Republicans and added her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to the trail in New Hampshire at the start of 2016 to help her fight to win the White House.
"It's kind of scary this year," he said of the GOP field. "They are telling you what they believe. And so you've got to take them seriously."
Hillary Clinton has been the focus of the Republican candidates for months even as they attack each other.
"A Clinton presidency will corrode the character of this nation. Why? Because of the Clinton way,” former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina said at one of the GOP debates.
Clinton herself landed punches Monday on Republicans' views of U.S. foreign policy and the economy. "I don't think all the Republicans are that ignorant," Clinton said in Davenport.
"I think they are doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers and other of their big donors and puppeteers who say to them, 'You better not say climate change is real.'"
"We cannot afford to have a Republican in the White House.”
Bill Clinton's political muscle memory took him down a well-worn path Monday in New Hampshire: the rally in Nashua, the lunchtime mingle in Manchester and the afternoon town hall in Exeter.
Like the snow flurries on one of the coldest days of winter so far, Clinton's Arkansas twang was so familiar in the hamlets of the Granite State that it seemed to signal that the time to pick a president is near again.
"All Americans should have the right to meet at least one president in a lifetime," Clinton told one patron at the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester between campaign events. "In New Hampshire, your odds go way up!"
It's been 20 years since Clinton, the 69-year-old former president, appeared on the ballot here. The self-styled "comeback kid," whose second-place finish in the 1992 primary helped propel him to the White House, was dispatched to the state to begin making a public case for the second White House bid of his wife, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, just a month before the first ballots are cast.