Donald Trump says he will end any gun-control executive action implemented by Obama

Clinton and Sanders crisscross New Hampshire

Ending a day of campaigning across New Hampshire on Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said his strong grass-roots support positions him to pull off "the biggest political upset in the modern history of America."

But Sanders was also put on the defensive over his record on gun control, precisely the issue that front-runner Hillary Clinton sought to set herself apart on as she campaigned in the state and just as President Obama is set to unveil new gun safety measures this week. 

Sanders, the self-styled democratic socialist, was asked in Plaistow about what an audience member described as his "complete 180" on gun issues, a premise Sanders denied. Although Sanders is to the left of Clinton on most major issues, his stance on guns has skewed more conservative, including opposition to background check and support for shielding firearms makers from lawsuits. Since he began running for president, though, he has voiced support for stronger gun laws in a way he has not while representing a pro-gun state in Congress.

"Do not believe everything you read or everything you hear from our opponents," Sanders said, sparking an exchange about his views and votes on guns, including his opposition to the 1993 Brady background check bill.

"I've cast 10,000 votes in my life, and you can pick one vote, and there were reasons why I cast that vote," he said. "But the truth of the matter is that coming from a state that does not have virtually any gun control – we've had Democratic governors and Republican governors opposed to gun control – I think I have done the right thing on this issue throughout my career."

Across the state in Derry, Clinton applauded Obama's plan to act within his authority to strengthen background checks. Clinton has said that if elected, she would close the loophole that allows sales at gun shows without background checks.

At an event Sunday evening in Keene – not far from the Vermont-New Hampshire border – she was to be introduced by former Democratic Rep. Dick Swett, who lost his congressional seat in part because of his support for gun measures in 1994. Also, a television advertisement highlighting Clinton's gun safety proposals that was in limited rotation last year was again airing on New Hampshire’s sole network affiliate, WMUR.

The two leading Democratic presidential hopefuls nearly crossed paths Sunday in a state that could end or prolong the race for the party's nomination. Sanders and Clinton began their days within five miles of each other, in Londonderry and Derry, respectively.

Sanders will continue to campaign in New Hampshire on Monday as Clinton heads to Iowa. Former President Clinton will campaign publicly for the first time this cycle Monday in New Hampshire, a state that has been so crucial to both his and his wife's political fates.

Polls show a tight battle in the state, with Sanders benefiting from a regional advantage after decades representing Vermont. Sanders cited strong fundraising in the most recent quarter: an average donation of less than $30 from 2.5 million contributors.

"I am sensing a level of enthusiasm and support at the grass-roots level," he said. "We are going to take on the establishment, and we're going to win."

So, Carly Fiorina, about that Rose Bowl tweet

That was a tongue-in-cheek tweet, which the people of Iowa understand, because I was asked over and over again in Iowa, having attended a Hawkeye tailgate. I was asked. They knew that my heart was torn. 

Carly Fiorina speaking on CNN on Sunday about a tweet she sent out on New Year's Day voicing support for Iowa over her alma mater Stanford. She was assailed by some as shamelessly pandering for votes ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Ben Carson optimistic despite staff resignations

 (David Zalubowski/AP)
(David Zalubowski/AP)

His top aides have resigned and his poll numbers are falling fast, but GOP candidate Ben Carson insisted Sunday his campaign is on track for the race ahead.

With less than a month until the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, the retired neurosurgeon said a shakeup of his faltering presidential campaign was needed.

After Carson struggled to show a strong understanding of international and domestic issues in recent GOP debates, his once-soaring poll numbers began to tumble, leading to upheaval among his top staffers.

“Whenever you have something that is not working the way you want it to, you have a few choices,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “You can double down on it, you can ignore it, or you can analyze it and make appropriate changes.”

Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, and Doug Watts, his communications director, quit last week. Carson, who has never run for office before, is expected to announce a new campaign leadership team this week.

Despite the shake-up, Carson has continued to raise huge sums. His campaign announced Wednesday that it had raked in $23 million in the final three months of the year.

Much of the money has been immediately recycled into his fundraising, however, a lucrative operation for the campaign operatives who run it.

“We have had very good people," he said Sunday. "They’ve had very good ideas, and no one predicted that we would even be in the hunt. And, you know, a novice in this area with no background, no campaign, no funding mechanism. So it really is quite spectacular, what we were able to do."

In Iowa, where he previously had strong support from evangelical voters, Carson has seen his poll numbers fall sharply. He now appears in the middle of the crowded 2016 field.

He now trails billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with Iowa voters who identify themselves as Christian conservatives. 

In New Hampshire, heckler shouts at Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton's sexual history

Some unknowns that could determine the winner in 2016

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Anyone who confidently predicts the outcome of this year’s presidential race is either not serious or seriously delusional.

Particularly on the Republican side, the number of plausible scenarios outstrips anyone’s ability to forecast. But we can highlight five of the key unknowns.

How will Donald Trump respond to losing?

Rarely does a candidate run the table in the primaries. Except for incumbent presidents seeking a second term, almost every candidate loses somewhere.

For Trump, that first loss could come early. In Iowa, which holds the first contest of the nominating race on Feb. 1, Trump has trailed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in most polls for the last month.

Snapshot: On the trail with Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire

The Times' Michael A. Memoli is on the campaign trail with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders today in New Hampshire.

Sanders, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, trails frontrunner Hillary Clinton in national polls. However, in New Hampshire, Sanders has a slight advantage based on an average of several polls. 

Follow Memoli on Twitter for updates.

Donald Trump not concerned about his appearance in terrorist recruitment video

Donald Trump brushed aside concerns Sunday about a terrorist recruitment video released by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Africa that showed the GOP presidential front-runner calling for closing U.S. borders to Muslims.

Part of a video purportedly from the Somalia militant group Shabab shows Trump at a news conference last month calling for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

On Sunday, Trump said he would not tone down his call for barring Muslims.

"Look, there's a problem," he on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” "I bring it up. Other people have called me and say, 'You have guts to bring it up because frankly, it's true but nobody wants to get involved.' Now people are getting involved.”

Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States after deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Most other presidential candidates have denounced his proposal, noting that America's Muslim allies are crucial to the fight against Islamic State.

When asked if he was concerned that the terrorist recruitment video used his image, the billionaire businessman said he was not.

“They use other people too," Trump said. "What am I going to do? I have to say what I have to say. And you [know] what I have to say? There's a problem. We have to find out what is a problem. And we have to solve that problem."

Shabab has long aligned itself with Al Qaeda, but a break-away faction recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Two weeks ago, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said during a Democratic candidates' debate that Islamic State had used Trump's criticism of Muslims in recruiting videos. Trump demanded an apology, insisting her claim was untrue.

Trump followed up Sunday with tweets attacking Clinton.

"Al-Shabbab, not ISIS, just made a video on me - they all will as front-runner and if I speak out against them, which I must. Hillary lied!"

With voters in Iowa set to kick off the 2016 election season with caucuses on Feb. 1, Trump said he was confident his campaign has the momentum to carry him to victory in Iowa and other early nominating states.

In his comments on “Face the Nation” he also took aim at President Obama, who this week plans to explore an executive order on closing a loophole in the law that allows gun sales in some cases without requiring buyers to pass a background check.

“I don't like anything having to do with changing our 2nd Amendment,” Trump said, vowing to revoke any executive order on guns imposed by Obama. “We have plenty of rules and regulations."

Bernie Sanders on Bill Clinton's sex life

I think we have got more important things to worry about in this country than Bill Clinton's sex life. 

Bernie Sanders, speaking on CNN, about a recent spat between Donald Trump and the Clintons. Trump has invoked former President Clinton's past sexual transgressions.

Donald Trump clip is featured in recruitment video released by Al Qaeda affiliate

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Al  Qaeda's East African affiliate has released a recruitment video targeting American blacks and Muslims that includes a clip of presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States.

The 51-minute video by the Somalia based Shabab militant group presents the U.S. as a country of institutionalized racism against blacks that also persecutes Muslims. The video presents radical Islam as the solution.

The clip of Trump on the campaign trail consists of his infamous proposal for the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" to protect the country. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had earlier claimed that the Islamic State, another extremist organization, was using such quotes to recruit followers, prompting Trump to call her a "liar."