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Martin O'Malley in the next Democratic debate unless he stumbles in Iowa

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All things Clinton | All things Trump

Clinton vs. Trump: Inside the first debate

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  • Martin O'Malley looks primed to make the cut for the next Democratic debate, but his low standing puts him at risk of exclusion
  • Ted Cruz used the arrests of two Iraqis refugees to bolster his argument against allowing Syrians into the U.S.
  • What did billionaire Ron Burkle get out of his relationship with the Clintons? The Times' Evan Halper has details
  • Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House
  • John McCain is weighing in on Cruz's citizenship
  • Cruz winds up his bus tour of Iowa

Clinton presses gun issue with Obama as leverage

 (John Locher / Associated Press)

(John Locher / Associated Press)

President Obama’s push for stronger gun regulations provided Hillary Clinton with a new opportunity to criticize Bernie Sanders on Friday.

The back-and-forth between the two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination began with Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times, where he said he would “not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”

Afterward, Sanders’ campaign manager told reporters “there's about zero daylight between the president and Senator Bernie Sanders.”

Clinton’s team, which has tried to make gun control a key issue in the primary, pounced.

“That’s just not true,” said John Podesta, campaign chairman for the former secretary of State.

He said the Clinton campaign did not work with the White House on the president's op-ed. But he used it to highlight the decision by Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, to vote for a 2005 law giving gun manufacturers and dealers immunity from product liability lawsuits, something opposed by Clinton and Obama.

Reporters asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if Sanders might not qualify for Obama's support if he wins the nomination. Earnest said the senator has “made clear that he was willing to revisit that position” on gun liability.

“That's exactly the goal here, right? We want people to change their minds,” he said.

Voter voices: How Hillary Clinton connected with Asians at California event

 (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Jeanne Serrano traveled nearly 400 miles from the Bay Area suburb of Vallejo to San Gabriel to hear Hillary Clinton's pitch to Asian American voters. When the 46-year-old attorney walked out of the hotel ballroom after the Democratic presidential hopeful's speech Thursday, she was nearly in tears.

Clinton had devoted time to calling for immigration reform, and she drew some of her strongest applause when she vowed to shorten wait times for those seeking visas.

“I have a brother that we have been waiting more than 15 years and still he is not here, he is the last person we have in the Philippines,” Serrano said. “To hear her talk about it — I was so fired up.”

It was exactly the kind of connection Clinton's campaign was looking to make at the San Gabriel Hilton in the official kickoff of an effort to cement support from the fastest-growing racial group in the nation. 

On Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hillary Clinton talks about selfies and Kardashians

Hillary Clinton, taping an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, spent much of her time discussing selfies – both her appreciation for them and how they have dramatically changed interactions with voters on the campaign trail.

The Democratic presidential candidate lamented that many voters have become so caught up in the selfie craze that she winds up missing out on some of the very personal conversations that she cherished during past campaigns.

“I’ll shake hands with somebody, and they’ll say, ‘you know I want to tell you about,’ and then they’ll tell me about you know their child with addiction problems, their parent with Alzheimer’s. They will really share that moment. That has diminished greatly because of the selfie.”

“I would like to have more the conversation because I learn a lot from what people tell me but right now, you know, it’s the tyranny of the selfie,” Clinton said.

Clinton said the best selfie-takers are tall and have long arms, and that she has become adept at taking the pictures along the rope line after events. The former secretary of state also discussed how much she enjoyed taking a selfie with reality television star Kim Kardashian, whose phone was equipped with a device to ensure perfectly lit pictures.

“She takes out her phone and she presses a button, I’ve never seen this anywhere else,” Clinton said. “You hold it up, it has light all the way around it. Like little tiny, tiny light bulbs.”

DeGeneres interjected that she had seen the device, and that it makes people look better.

“It makes anybody look better! I have been desperately looking for one of those ever since!” exclaimed Clinton.

DeGeneres speculated that the device was a new Kardashian business venture, to which Clinton responded that she planned to purchase one if it was ever for sale.

Clinton appeared for a half-hour on the show, which is scheduled to air on Monday. She also spoke about spending time with her granddaughter over the holidays, the struggle of running for president as a woman, her poor singing skills, her mother’s hard-scrabble childhood, and how “proud” she was of President Obama for his announced executive action on guns earlier this week.

DeGeneres played a portion of a Saturday Night Live skit where Clinton played a bartender named Val who appears alongside cast member Kate McKinnon playing Clinton.

“That’s so funny!” the real Clinton said as the skit ended. She described watching McKinnon’s impersonation as “an out of body experience.”

“I mean when I see her doing me, I say ‘oh no that’s not me,’ and then I’m within inches of her. And some of it’s off, but some of it’s a little too close for comfort,” Clinton said.

And she concluded with a charades-like game that had her and DeGeneres pantomiming topics such as “dentist” and “paparazzi” as surprise guest Tony Goldwyn guessed teh answers.

Goldwyn, an actor who plays President Fitz Grant on the television show Scandal, has stumped for Clinton in Iowa.

“Following you is hard,” Clinton told him. “So I get back to Iowa and people are going, ‘Is President Grant coming?’”

Martin O'Malley is in the next debate, unless he stumbles in Iowa

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will probably squeak into the next Democratic presidential debate later this month, but his low standing in the polls puts him at risk of getting booted if the dark horse candidate’s numbers fall in Iowa over the next week.

NBC News, which is sponsoring the debate with YouTube, announced its criteria Friday morning: A candidate must maintain a 5% average in selected polls, either nationally or in any one of the first three states on the nomination calendar.

The network will look at the five most recent polls in making its calculations. O’Malley falls short of the 5% threshold everywhere except for Iowa, where he currently averages exactly 5%.

But if new polls come out before the Jan. 14, qualifying deadline, O’Malley’s average could slide below 5%.

An NBC source familiar with the criteria said the network expects O’Malley to qualify, barring a sudden collapse, and that the network will consider rounding up in the spirit of inclusiveness if he remains close to 5% in Iowa.

The debate is set for Jan. 17 in Charleston, S.C. O’Malley has not been excluded from any of the first three debates. Missing this one would make it even more difficult for him to rally support.

Boots made for presidential walkin'? Rubio thinks so

Styling a pair of Florsheim black leather boots, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stirred up a voracious fashion discussion on the trail this week, with a New York Times fashion critic, Vanity Fair and others weighing in.

Rubio took the attention in stride (we meant to say that) when he finally responded Thursday in New Hampshire.

“ISIS is cutting people’s heads off, setting people on fire in cages, Saudi Arabia and Iran on the verge of a war,” he said, “the Chinese are landing airplanes on islands that they built and say belong to them and what are international waters and in some ways territorial waters, our economy is flat-lined, the stock market is falling apart, but boy, are we getting a lot of coverage about a pair of boots.”

“This is craziness. Have people lost their minds?”

He said the attention on fashion and not on political issues shows “where we are as a country.”

Vanity Fair reporter Tina Nguyen called the boots “frumpy” and said he likely chose them to compensate for his height (5-foot-10). New York magazine compared them to the boots of a member of One Direction.

Rubio’s Republican rivals also jumped in on the fun.

Businessman Donald Trump also told Boston radio host Howie Carr that the boots help Rubio seem taller. For once, Trump said he really wasn’t sure what to think of them.

“I don’t know, they’re big heels. They’re big heels,” Trump said on the Thursday show. “I mean, those heels were really up there. But you know, it’s almost like it doesn’t matter too much.”

Arrests of Iraqi refugees fuel Cruz's argument against accepting Syrians

 (Molly Riley / AP)

(Molly Riley / AP)

The arrests of two Iraqi refugees on charges of assisting Islamic State shows why the U.S. should keep Syrian immigrants out of the country, Sen. Ted Cruz insisted Thursday.

The men — one living in Sacramento and the other in Cruz’s hometown of Houston — came to the U.S. as part of a wave of immigrants from Iraq between 2006 and 2014 who fled their country's war and sectarian violence.

Cruz called for President Obama to suspend his plan to accept Syrian refugees and for a re-evaluation of refugees already on U.S. soil.

"These are dangerous times," he said late Thursday in Iowa. "This is a time when we need a president who says, 'I have no more solemn obligation to this country than to keep the men and women of this country safe.'”

The two men lied to immigration officials about where they traveled and their links to terrorist movements, federal law enforcement officials said.

Cruz questioned how precisely immigration officials can vet incoming refugees. He called for a reassessment of all refugees from what he labeled high-risk countries and their potential ties to terrorism using public records, communications, statements, and any actions.

“Who else is there? What are they planning next?' Cruz said. "And what can we do to prevent the next terrorist attack before yet more innocent life is taken?"

The Obama administration plans to accept about 10,000 Syrians into the U.S. during the current fiscal year, which began in October, many fewer than advocates had sought and a small fraction of what Germany and other European nations have allowed in. 

The White House says they will undergo a vetting process that is far more rigorous than, for example, someone coming in on a temporary visa. The process takes 18-24 months and includes checks by officials at the United Nations as well as the Homeland Security and State departments.

Billionaire Ron Burkle talks about the education he received from the Clintons

 (Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images)

(Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images)

Befriending Bill and Hillary Clinton — and giving them access to his private 757 jet — gave Ron Burkle more insight into world affairs than any graduate program might have.

At one point the billionaire businessman was on half of all the trips the former president made abroad. Burkle says he met 47 world leaders in 47 countries. There was a private meeting Clinton held with Nelson Mandela that went on for hours; Burkle was in the room.

Burkle, who never finished college, says he found the travel so enlightening that he structured his son’s schooling around it, arranging for a private tutor to join them on the jet so his child could join the international trips with Clinton.

“I’m not a political junkie,” Burkle said. “I’m not trying to become an ambassador or be in the middle of every election every cycle. … A lot of people are in it because they want to go to the parties or be on the Kennedy Center Board. It is not about that for me.”

Burkle talked about the experiences during an expansive interview with the Los Angeles Times this week, in which he also expressed ambivalence about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, reflected on his now-dissolved $15-million business partnership with Bill Clinton and explained why he is cohosting a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

By the numbers

All things Clinton | All things Trump

Clinton vs. Trump: Inside the first debate

How does Clinton or Trump get to 270 electoral votes? Play with our map.

Who's endorsing who? Find out which celebrities support each candidate.

Find out which Republicans support Donald Trump

Get free news and analysis in your inbox daily from our political team.

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