Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Sunday, Jan. 24, and here's what we're talking about:
- Donald Trump says he disagrees with how the government spends money, so he pays only "a little tax"
- Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are fighting over who would be best-positioned to win the general election
- A tale of two rallies as Clinton and Sanders campaign in a small Iowa town along the Mississippi River
- Trump: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters." New York City's mayor: No thanks.
- Sanders and Trump both say they'd be happy to see Michael Bloomberg in the race
- President Obama says his achievements -- healthcare, Iran and immigration among them -- will be "harder to undo than you think"
In addition to winning the coveted endorsement of the Des Moines Register ahead of Iowa's caucuses next week, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton netted two more over the weekend, from the Boston Globe and the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. Her campaign touted both as they look to break through in that state, whose primary is eight days after Iowa. Clinton trails rival Bernie Sanders in several polls of the state, where his familiarity as a senator representing neighboring Vermont has boosted his candidacy.
Some names will always get liberal blood boiling on the campaign trail. Koch, Bush or Cheney, just for starters.
Bernie Sanders has been throwing another name in the mix – the Waltons. During his campaign speeches, he criticizes the family -- the owners of Wal-Mart and one of the nation’s wealthiest clans -- as an example of corporate greed.
At Luther College here on Sunday, he said the Waltons are de facto recipients of welfare because so many of their employees receive government assistance like food stamps and subsidized housing.
“Get off of welfare,” Sanders said to wild applause. “Pay your workers a living wage.”
A coalition of progressive groups estimated in 2014 that Wal-Mart workers receive $6.2 million in taxpayer-funded assistance each year.
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) used a pair of appearances in Los Angeles on Saturday to urge young student activists to continue to fight for equality in the United States, warning that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump could set the country back with his divisive rhetoric aimed at immigrants and Muslims.
“I've been around a while and Trump reminds me so much of a lot of the things that George Wallace said and did,” Lewis said in an interview with The Times after speaking at Cal State L.A. “I think demagogues are pretty dangerous, really. ... We shouldn't divide people, we shouldn't separate people.”
“Sometimes I feel like I am reliving part of my past. I heard it so much growing up in the South,” he said.
Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, called Sunday for this year's Republican candidates to release their income tax returns -- an apparent jab at billionaire front-runner Donald Trump.
Trump, whose wealth and business enterprises have come under increased scrutiny, said he's "working on" making his filings public soon. But he made no secret that he pays only "a little tax."
"I try to pay as little tax as possible, because I hate what they do with my tax money," Trump said on "Meet the Press." "I hate the way they spend our money, the way they give it to Iraq, the way they give it to Iran."
Romney has largely stayed on the sidelines during the 2016 contest. Four years ago, his ability to shield his wealth from taxes drew criticism, especially as he disparaged the "47%" of lower-income Americans who pay no taxes but rely on government services.
"4 years ago today, I released my taxes; became issue. 2016 candidates should release taxes before first contests," Romney said in a tweet.
Trump said his returns were in the process of being compiled to make public.
"This is not, like, a normal tax return," he said. "I have big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we'll be working that over in the next period of time, you'll be very satisfied."
President Obama acknowledged Sunday he has given thought to the possibility that a Republican successor might try to reverse his accomplishments in the White House.
But, he said, "they're harder to undo than you think."
In an interview on "CBS Sunday Morning," Obama did not specifically discuss his signature achievements, including the Affordable Care Act, the Iran nuclear deal and executive actions on immigration -- all policies that top GOP presidential hopefuls' vow to reverse.
"What you discover when you're president is that -- that the institutions and programs and things that you have put in place and built -- if you've done a good job and you've done them sensibly -- you know, in some cases may need tinkering with, can be improved," Obama said. "But if they're good things, they're harder to undo than you think."
As the president's final term begins to close, he also hinted he would have little nostalgia leaving behind the "bubble" of the office.
"The bubble is the hardest thing about the presidency, and I don't think anybody with sense ever gets used to it," he said. "And it's-- it's the thing that makes me happiest about my tenure coming to an end."
But what never gets old, Obama confided, is the view from the presidential helicopter taking off and landing over the capital city.
‘When we're on Marine One and we're flyin' and the Washington Monument's over there and-- the Capitol's in the background -- that -- look up from your smartphone for a second and -- and -- and think about this,’” he said. "It doesn't get old. It really doesn't."
The Times' Mark Z. Barabak reported for Sunday's front page on the sweeping changes that an influx of Latino immigrants brought to Marshalltown, Iowa, and residents' surprising views on the immigration debate. Here's a look at the elected officials and community leaders who shared their stories:
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg's potential independent bid for the White House brought an almost singular response from rival candidates Sunday: Bring it on.
The former New York City mayor is considering jumping into the race, particularly if Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders emerge as the parties' nominees.
Democrat Hillary Clinton said that won't be necessary, because she plans to win.
"Well, I'm going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn't have to," she said on "Meet the Press," noting that Bloomberg is a "a good friend of mine."
Trump, though, said he would "love" to have his onetime friend in the race.
"I would love that competition," Trump said on the show. "I think I'd do very well against it. I would love to see Michael Bloomberg run."
Sanders, too, welcomed the battle.
"My reaction is that if Donald Trump wins and Mr. Bloomberg gets in, you're going to have two multi-billionaires running for president of the United States against me," Sanders said. "And I think the American people do not want to see our nation move toward an oligarchy where billionaires control the political process. I think we'll win that election."
A Bloomberg candidacy would likely pull independents and those voters who lean toward Democrats, according to recent polling from Morning Consult.
The mayor's campaigns against sugary sodas and gun violence have made him a welcome target among Republicans.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- who, like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, is lagging behind Trump and Ted Cruz in polling -- conceded that Bloomberg was "a good mayor."
Cruz's spokesman has taunted Bloomberg, almost begging him to run.
But Christie said on "State of the Union" that Bloomberg would come under new scrutiny if he were to become a candidate.
Rubio held his punches and used Bloomberg's interest in the race to return to his own personal story.
"I think this is a great country where the son of a bartender and a maid can be running for the same office and have the same opportunity as the son of a millionaire," Rubio said on "Fox News Sunday." "That's why I'm running."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio does not much care for Donald Trump's claim that he could "stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose any supporters.
"This is another indication he is not ready for prime time," said de Blasio, the liberal mayor, on "This Week."
Pointing to the nation's continued unease with the rise of gun violence, he called Trump's remark "incredibly insensitive."
Trump is battling his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for dominance in the early nominating states, particularly among conservatives in Iowa. He apparently made the comment to boast about his strong support among voters he calls his "fans."
"Most conservatives love me, or I wouldn't be having the poll numbers," Trump said Sunday on "Meet the Press."
"I get along with people. Ted cannot get along with people at all."
Trump went on to bash the legendary conservative magazine National Review, which devoted its latest issue to outlining the conservative case against Trump.
"They did it because they'll get some nice publicity," he said.
Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders gave no ground Sunday as the race for the party's presidential nomination tightens in the final week before early voting.
Clinton said that when she speaks at events, "I can only tell you, I see people nodding," she said on "Meet the Press." "At the end of the day, people take this vote seriously."
The uncomfortable narrowing of polling in Iowa, where voters head to caucuses Feb. 1, threatens to undo Clinton's lead in the Hawkeye State, reminiscent of her surprise primary loss there in 2008 to now-President Obama.
While Clinton believes her vast resume makes her more experienced than Sanders, the Vermont senator claimed he was the candidate who could beat Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
"There would be nothing more in this world that I would like than to take on Donald Trump," Sanders said on the show.
He called Trump, "a guy who does not want to raise the minimum wage, but wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1% of Americans."
Sanders said: "We would beat him, and we would beat him badly."
Hillary Clinton did her homework before campaigning here Saturday, opening her stump speech with an ode to DeWitt Clinton, the former New York governor who championed the Erie Canal and became the town’s namesake.
“He was a leader who set big goals, and then he worked,” Clinton said in a brightly lit school auditorium. “He did the politics. He did all that was necessary to clear the way to make it happen.”
A few miles away in the same town, Bernie Sanders criticized the very idea of elite leadership. Speaking in the basement of a Masonic lodge, he insisted that true change can only come from the masses.
“It’s not a few people on top, coming up with clever ideas,” Sanders said.