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If Donald Trump loses Iowa, he's not backing down

Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Sunday, Jan. 10, and here's what we're talking about:

  • Donald Trump, who remains a strong national front-runner for the Republican nomination, said he will not exit the GOP primary should he lose Iowa
  • Trump and Ted Cruz are taking different paths to target voters
  • Sunday poll watch: Cruz leads in Iowa and Bernie Sanders is ahead in New Hampshire
  • Hillary Clinton continues to jab Sanders over gun-control
  • Martin O'Malley looks primed to make the cut for the next Democratic debate, but his low standing puts him at risk of exclusion

I've seen things and I've watched things. 

Donald Trump in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. Trump was questioned about his past support of gun control and abortion rights and why he's changed positions on those issues.

Hillary Clinton's new ad has one focus: Republicans

Hillary Clinton's new television ad does not mention any of her challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Instead, the focus of the 30-second spot, titled "Incredible," is on Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other Republican presidential hopefuls. 

From GOP calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act to defunding Planned Parenthood, the ad touts Clinton as the best candidate to take on Republicans. 

Despite Clinton's strong lead nationally for the Democratic presidential nomination, she does trail Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the early nominating state of New Hampshire. 

In recent weeks, she has hammered Sanders on gun-control, but on the campaign trail her focus has mostly centered on Republicans. 

Snapshot Reno: Donald Trump urges supporters to register to vote

Hillary Clinton continues to assail Bernie Sanders on gun control

The three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination don't disagree on much - except, perhaps, on gun control.

Hillary Clinton, the front runner, has sought to showcase a clear difference with Bernie Sanders, her chief rival in the party’s 2016 primary.

In debates and at town hall-style events, the former secretary of State has assailed the senator from Vermont for his vote in favor of a 2005 law giving gun manufacturers and dealers immunity from product liability lawsuits. It’s a proposal that then-Sen. Clinton did not support.

“I think he has been consistently confusing to say that he would vote to repeal this absolute immunity from any kind of responsibility or liability,” she said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The Dec. 2 massacre in San Bernardino and other recent mass shootings have brought gun violence back into the public spotlight, and renewed the debate over whether federal gun laws should be strengthened.

In a tearful speech at the White House last week, President Obama announced an executive action that calls for law enforcement officials to essentially warn private gun sellers that they may be vulnerable to prosecution if they don’t conduct background checks on gun buyers.

National polls have repeatedly shown that Americans support background checks on gun sales to help weed out felons and the mentally ill.

Sanders has said his vote on the 2005 measure was “complicated” and has said he’s open to revisiting the issue.

“If you have a small gun shop owner in northern Vermont who sells a gun legally to somebody and then, you know, something happens to that guy, he goes nuts or something, and he kills somebody, should the gun shop owner be held liable? I think not,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

But if a manufacturer is sending guns “into an area and really knows that those guns are not being used or bought by the people in that area … should we hold that manufacturer liable? Absolutely,” he added. 

On Sunday, seeking to bolster her standing among gun-control supporters, Clinton announced the endorsement of former Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona. Giffords was injured in a 2011 shooting outside a Tucson grocery store and ever since the incident she has been a staunch advocate of stricter gun-control reforms. 

"Most of the people running for president talk a lot about how tough they are," Giffords wrote in her endorsement of Clinton. "But most of them have shown they aren’t tough enough to stand up to the gun lobbyists."

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m. This post was updated with information about Gabby Giffords' endorsement of Clinton. 

Sunday poll watch - Cruz ahead in Iowa and Sanders leads in New Hampshire

 (Michael Reynolds / EPA)

(Michael Reynolds / EPA)

The 2016 presidential contest kicks off on Feb.1 with Iowa caucuses and polls seem to be released almost daily in the race for the White House.

On Sunday, a new NBC News/Marist poll was released of Iowa and New Hampshire voters. 

Here are some highlights from the polls. 

Republican side - Iowa: 

Ted Cruz - 28%

Donald Trump - 24%

Marco Rubio - 13%

The Iowa poll of likely Republican caucus-goers has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. 

Democratic side - New Hampshire: 

Bernie Sanders - 50%

Hillary Clinton - 46%

The New Hampshire poll of likely Democratic primary voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. 


A loss in Iowa means nothing to Donald Trump

Donald Trump is trailing in Iowa with about three weeks until GOP caucus-goers cast the first ballots of 2016, but should he falter in the state the billionaire businessman has no plans to exit the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently surpassed Trump in several Hawkeye State polls after making significant inroads with evangelical voters – a large and influential voting bloc in the state’s GOP caucuses.

When asked Sunday if he would quit the race should he lose on Feb. 1 in Iowa, Trump was direct.

“I'm not leaving. No, I'm not leaving," Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” "...There's no maybes. I'm not leaving.”

In an interview that touched on President Obama's recent actions on enforcement of gun laws, and North Korea's unconfirmed claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb, Trump again questioned if Cruz is eligible to become president because he was born in Canada

The Constitution requires presidents to be “natural-born citizens.” Cruz and most legal scholars argue that he is not disqualified for the presidency because his mother was an American citizen, and children of U.S. citizens born abroad are automatically granted citizenship.

Trump didn't back down, however.

“From Ted's standpoint and from the party's standpoint, he has to solve this problem," Trump said. "Because the Democrats will sue him if he's the nominee."

Appearing on CNN, Cruz argued that Trump is only pushing the issue because Trump is in danger of losing.

“Three weeks ago, almost every Republican candidate was attacking Donald Trump," he said. "Today, almost every Republican candidate is attacking me. And that kind of suggests maybe something has changed in the race."

They can say whatever they want. More power to them. I think it's a deadend, blind alley for them, but let them go.  

Hillary Clinton speaking Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," about recent attacks from Republicans -- such as Donald Trump -- who have assailed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for his past sexual transgressions.

In Iowa, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump take different paths

Donald Trump launched his TV advertising just after New Year's with his familiar swagger: He was so far ahead in the polls that it might be a waste, he said, but he felt guilty for not spending his money.

The reality was more sobering.

After six months of branding opponents and critics as losers, Trump faces the threat of becoming one himself in Iowa, the first state to hold a Republican presidential nominating contest. The ads are a crucial part of Trump's strategy to keep Ted Cruz from beating him in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

Cruz's appeals to evangelicals, tea party followers and other conservatives have made the Texas senator the current favorite in Iowa, though the New York billionaire remains a solid front-runner in the rest of the country.

Cruz's surge in Iowa is jeopardizing Trump's quest to "run the table" by winning every GOP primary and caucus nationwide.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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