The Daily 202: Civil war makes Ben Carson’s campaign chaotic – C hristians in CHINA feel full force of authorities’ repression

The Daily 202: Civil war makes Ben Carson’s campaign chaotic – Christians in CHINA feel full force of authorities’ repression

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The Daily 202
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Civil war makes Ben Carson’s campaign chaotic
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Ben Carson spoke to The Washington Post in the basement of his Maryland home yesterday. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

By James Hohmann

THE BIG IDEA: A long-simmering battle between Ben Carson’s business manager and his campaign manager is coming to a head.

— Many who supported Ben Carson in the fall are backing Ted Cruz in the winter. The retired neurosurgeon has plummeted in the polls since coming under the white hot spotlight of media scrutiny. The aftermath of the Paris attacks highlighted his lack of foreign policy experience. The soft-spoken, mild-mannered temperament that the conservative base once found so appealing no longer fits the angry mood of the moment.

— Looking to revive his flagging campaign, Carson told The Post in an interview yesterday that he is going to make changes. “I’m looking at every aspect of the campaign right now,” he told Robert Costa and Jose A. DelReal. “Everything is on the table, every job is on the table. And we’re going to analyze it very carefully.” He added that he wanted to more efficiently spend money and that he would ask staff to take pay cuts.

— What happened next did not exactly leave the impression that Carson is getting his operation under control:

  • Carson declined during the sit-down in his basement – he was alone and unstaffed – to say whether campaign manager Barry Bennett would remain in charge.
  • A few hours later, the campaign distributed a statement that quoted Carson saying all of his senior advisers would remain in place “with my full confidence.”
  • Then Carson went on CNN in the 10 p.m. hour to criticize The Post’s story, calling it overhyped “sensationalism,” even though it was based on a recorded interview. “They were convinced that I was gonna fire everybody and we were going to just go in a completely different direction, and that’s absolutely not true,” he told host Don Lemon. Carson walked back his comments about an impending shake-up: “The key word there is ‘may.’ We’re always going to be looking at it. … No one is ever 100 percent guaranteed that they’re always going to be there.”

— Sources tell Bob and Jose that Carson has been interviewing consultants for prominent roles in the campaign without Bennett’s knowledge. Armstrong Williams, who has been Carson’s longtime business manager and is not formally part of the campaign, has battled Bennett over strategy and messaging. Both Williams and Bennett often communicate directly to Carson with competing messages.

— Late last night, the two rivals offered contradictory messages about the status of the campaign:

  • “We had our standard 3:30 p.m. call and I asked him about the story. He said he has 100 percent faith in the team,” Bennett said.
  • “Take what the candidate said to you, in his home and on his invitation, seriously,” Williams said. “That is what he said and what he believes.”

— When you run for the House or seek statewide office, you learn a lot about how campaigns work. When you try to start in politics with a presidential campaign, standard rookie mistakes – like not dealing well with conflicting advice and not having clearly delineated lines of authority – get magnified. Dwight Eisenhower was our last president who had never held elected office before seeking the presidency, but he had commanded the Allied invasion on D-Day.

— First-time candidates are also more likely to think the problem is staff, not themselves: During the interview with my colleagues, the doctor said that some unnamed aides keep pleading with him to be more bombastic and to go after Trump and Cruz more forcefully. He said he won’t do it. “That’s just not who I am,” he said.

Welcome to The Daily 202, PowerPost’s morning newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter.
With contributions from Michael Smith.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

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A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother after she turned them in to Border Patrol agents earlier this month near Rio Grande City in Texas. The mother said she brought her son on the 24-day journey from El Salvador to escape violence. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

— The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that will target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, Jerry Markon and David Nakamura scoop.

  • The nationwide campaign, to be carried out by ICE agents as soon as early January, would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America … More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year.”
  • “The proposed deportations have been controversial inside the Obama administration, which has been discussing them for several months. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has been pushing for the moves … in part because of a new spike in the number of illegal immigrants in recent months.”
  • “Experts say that the violence that was a key factor in driving people to flee Central America last year has surged again, with the homicide rate in El Salvador reaching its highest level in a generation. A drought in the region has also prompted departures.”

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Rapper Killer Mike, left, and Illinois state Rep. La Shawn Ford, right, listen as Bernie Sanders speaks during a Chicago meeting. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

— Shadow-boxing Hillary, Bernie trashes Rahm in Chicago: Sanders said during a visit to Chicago that, if he becomes the party’s nominee, he could make do without the support of Rahm Emanuel, the city’s embattled mayor and a confidant to the Clintons. “If the question is do I want or need Rahm Emanuel’s support for president, with all due respect for the mayor, no I don’t,” Sanders said. John Wagner reports from the Windy City that “Chuy” Garcia, who lost to Emanuel in a mayoral runoff in April, appeared with Sanders on stage. When a reporter asked about Rahm, Sanders pointed to Garcia. “This was my guy,” he said.

  • Emanuel continues to brush off calls for his resignation over his botched handling of a police shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old. He says dashcam video of the 2014 incident was not publicly released until after he was reelected because of a pending legal case.
  • One young man who stood behind Sanders on stage last night wore a T-shirt that said, “Rahm failed us.”

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Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd as she is applauded by Rahm Emanuel after an event in Chicago last year. (Reuters/Jim Young)

CNN/ORC’s poll of the Democratic contest finds Hillary expanding her lead in the wake of last weekend’s debate. Clinton leads 50-34 nationally, down from 58-30 in the same poll last month. “But those overall results mask a shift back toward Clinton following the debate,” says CNN pollster Jennifer Agiesta. “In interviews conducted before the debate, Sanders ran closer to Clinton, with 37% support to Clinton’s 45%. Among those interviewed after the debate, Clinton’s lead grew to 60% vs. Sanders’ 27%.” The former secretary of state tops Sanders 72-15 on who is best to handle foreign policy and 63-18 on who is best to face ISIS. (Check the crosstabs here.)

At least six people were killed in a series of overnight storms. Three died from tornadoes in Indiana and Mississippi. Two were killed in a Tennessee storm.

The U.S., French and British embassies in China warned their citizens of possible threats against Westerners in a popular entertainment district of Beijing called the Sanlitun. (Emily Rauhala)

Syria announced it is open to U.N.-organized peace talks to find a solution to the country’s crisis, starting next month in Geneva. (AP)

— Coming attraction: Ted Cruz’s controversial dad, Rafael, is coming out on Jan. 1 with a new book that he describes as a call to action for Christians in the United States ahead of the 2016 primaries. Katie Zezima got an advance copy: “Cruz writes that the United States is going down the wrong path — he compares it to the Costa Concordia, an Italian cruise ship that ran aground in 2012, killing 32 people. ‘America, too, is headed straight toward a perilous reef,’ Cruz writes. … The 76-year-old pastor warns that the United States could soon give in to secular humanism … Cruz writes that there is no such thing as separation of church and state … On Roe vs. Wade, he writes: ‘The blood of more than 58 million babies cries out to God like the blood of Abel.’”

GET SMART FAST:

1. Russia is now exchanging intelligence information with the Taliban in its fight against ISIS. (Andrew Roth)

2. The British government wants an explanation for why the U.S. stopped a Muslim family from London on its way to Disneyland. The family says it is because of its religion. (Griff Witte, Lindsey Bever and Justin Wm. Moyer)

3. The Justice Department shut down a program that allows local police departments to keep most of the assets they seize. (Christopher Ingraham)

4. Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters marched at the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport last night, causing massive traffic delays and 13 arrests. (Star Tribune)

5. The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood killer, Robert Dear, wants to represent himself in court. (Denver Post)

6. The IRS mistakenly handed out $46 million in tax refunds in 2013 flagged as potentially fraudulent. (Lisa Rein)

7. Indiana will allow alcohol sales on Christmas for the first time in decades. (New York Times)

8. Irritating China and asserting American leadership, President Obama will host a summit of Southeast Asian leaders at the Sunnylands retreat in Southern California early next year. (David Nakamura)

9. The Beatles’ full catalog of music is now available for streaming through major sites like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Prime and Tidal. (Wall Street Journal)

10. A New Zealand judge ruled that Internet mogul Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of racketeering, money laundering and copyright infringement. (Andrea Peterson)

11. At least 200 civilians have been killed in Syria by Russian airstrikes since September, according to Amnesty International. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)

12. South Africa kicked a North Korean diplomat out of its country after he was arrested for illegal rhino horn training. (AP)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

1. Rand Paul told Fox that he will refuse to participate in the next undercard debate if he does not make the main stage. (BuzzFeed)

2. Kentucky’s new Republican governor, Matt Bevin, reversed his Democratic predecessor’s 11th-hour executive order to restore voting rights to more than 100,000 nonviolent felons. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

3. Sanders promises to make the Federal Reserve “a more democratic institution” in an op-ed for the New York Times: “The sad reality is that the Federal Reserve doesn’t regulate Wall Street; Wall Street regulates the Fed.”

4. Curt Anderson, who was the chief strategist for Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign, rips into Cruz in an op-ed for Politico, saying the Texan is a bigger narcissist than Trump. “We do not need a leader who loves to play the martyr,” Curt writes, “because the thing about martyrs is that they always die.”

5. Marco Rubio is strong in Utah. With Rep. Bob Bishop announcing his support, three of the state’s four House members have now endorsed the Floridian. The fourth, Jason Chaffetz, told the Salt Lake Tribune Rubio has the best chance to defeat Clinton but he’s waiting for the race to shake out before backing anyone.

6. NBA players, including reigning MVP Stephen Curry, will appear in Christmas Day commercials to decry gun violence. (New York Times)

7. The Florida postal worker who landed a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn, now a convicted felon, announced he will challenge DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a House primary next year to raise awareness about money in politics. (Matt Zapotosky)

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Douglas Hughes speaks to reporters outside federal court on Nov. 20 after he entered a guilty plea. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

THE WORLD IS A VERY SCARY PLACE THIS CHRISTMAS EVE:

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Pastor Su, a protestant preacher from Guiyang, China, reads the Bible on his iPhone. Pastor Su’s Church, Living Stone, was recently shuttered in a sweeping crackdown on Dec. 21. Seeking comfort, Su turns to scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That’s Romans 2:28. (Photo by Emily Rauhala/TWP)

A real war on Christmas! –> “Christians in CHINA feel full force of authorities’ repression,” by Emily Rauhala: “The slight and soft-spoken Protestant preacher is no stranger to surveillance. Su Tianfu has worked for years in China’s unregistered ‘house churches,’ and he said he has been interrogated more times than he can count. But even Su is surprised by what has happened in Guiyang this month: a crackdown that has led to the shuttering of the thriving Living Stone Church, the detention of a pastor on charges of ‘possessing state secrets’ and the shadowing of dozens of churchgoers by police. A local government directive leaked to China Aid, a Texas-based Christian group, and reviewed by The Washington Post advises local Communist Party cadres that shutting down the church is necessary to ‘maintain social stability’— a catchall phrase often used to justify sweeping clampdowns. The Dec. 9 raid on the church in a relatively sleepy provincial capital is conspicuous because of the timing — about two weeks before Christmas — and because the government’s tactics were revealed.”

— Wearing a Santa hat in BRUNEI can get you fined or sentenced to prison, Adam Taylor reports.

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A woman takes a picture yesterday in front of a Christmas tree at the Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity, the site of Jesus’ birth. (AFP/Musa Al-Shaer)

Violence in the West Bank makes for a quiet Christmas in BETHLEHEM this year. “The city celebrated as the birthplace of Jesus is usually filled with parades and parties this time of year. This year? It’s not exactly like Christmas was canceled, but it is a somber, dutiful affair,” William Booth, our man in Israel, reports.

  • “It’s a sad Christmas to be honest,” said Nabil Giacaman, a Palestinian Christian and owner of a souvenir shop, who a few days before the holiday hadn’t bothered to decorate his store. “I’m just not in the mood.”
  • “The Palestinian leadership decided to tone down the celebrations this year out of respect for the dead.”
  • Plenty of room at the inns: “The number of tourists to Bethlehem in October and November were half the number of previous years.”

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Al-Shabab fighters perform south of Mogadishu. The defections of two American Islamic extremist fighters in Somalia highlight tensions within the insurgent group over whether it should remain affiliated with al-Qaeda or switch allegiance to the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

— ISIS is aggressively trying to build a branch in SOMALIA, more than 2,000 miles from Syria. “Winning ground there won’t be easy,” our Kevin Sieff reports from Nairobi. “Al-Shabab, a Somali group linked to al-Qaeda, has a long-standing presence in the country at Africa’s eastern edge. It has threatened those who join the Islamic State with death. But that hasn’t stopped a trickle of fighters — likely a few dozen — from switching sides, raising concerns among U.S. officials … Somalia holds potentially huge rewards for the extremist group: It is a marginally governed nation with the continent’s longest coastline, bordering three U.S. allies — Ethi­o­pia, Djibouti and Kenya.”

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

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An oil pump in Venezuela, a U.S. adversary that has been weakened by the falling oil prices/ (Reuters/Isaac Urrutia)

Another upside of cheap gas! –> “Obama’s foreign policy goals get a boost from plunging oil prices,” by Steven Mufson: “Plunging crude oil prices are diverting hundreds of billions of dollars away from the treasure chests of oil-exporting nations, putting some of the United States’ adversaries under greater stress. After two years of falling prices, the effects have reverberated across the globe, fueling economic discontent in Venezuela, changing Russia’s economic and political calculations, and dampening Iranian leaders’ hopes of a financial windfall when sanctions linked to its nuclear program will be lifted next year. At a time of tension for U.S. international relations, cheap oil has dovetailed with some of the Obama administration’s foreign policy goals — pressuring Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, undermining the popularity of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and tempering the prospects for Iranian oil revenue.”

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Weldon Angelos is serving a 55-year prison sentence for selling marijuana while having a gun. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

— POTUS signed 95 commutations last Friday, but many who have been treated unjustly by the justice system — victims of the war on drugs’ excesses — remain behind bars. Sari Horwitz tells one such story this morning:

Obama’s clemency list brings joy to the lucky and anguish to the disappointed“: “The booming voice of a prison official called an inmate to the main office. About 25 minutes later, the official came on the intercom again, summoning another prisoner. Weldon Angelos knew exactly what was happening. The prisoners had heard a rumor the night before that President Obama might grant early release to certain drug offenders before he left Washington for the holidays. Angelos was excited, anxious. This was it. The lucky inmates on Obama’s list were being called inside to take phone calls from their attorneys, who would tell them the good news. After the two inmates were called, the minutes ticked past 30, then 45, and the intercom remained silent. ‘I felt sick,’ said Angelos, 36, who is serving a 55-year sentence for selling about $1,000 worth of marijuana. ‘It was devastating.’ And for Angelos and his supporters, that is the cruelty of the clemency process set up by the Obama administration to give relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past couple of decades in the nation’s war on drugs.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: The five biggest Trump moments of the year. The Donald is more than just a presidential candidate. He’s a media sensation. Since declaring his candidacy this summer, Trump has sucked up most of the oxygen in the Republican race as seen by this graph of who won social and tradition media.

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This is particularly true on Twitter. Trump, and his polarizing positions on everything from immigration to John McCain’s heroism, has set social media afire like no other candidate. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs show that the interest in Trump in all media — positive and negative — just keeps growing:

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We’ve given you the five most buzzed about Democratic and Republican moments of this campaign year. Finally, these are the five top Trump moments of 2015, ranked by the amount of buzz generated:

5. Trump trolls the Las Vegas Dem Debate

4. Trump attacks McCain, and Time Magazine launches “Donald Trump Insult Generator”

3. First GOP Debate in Cleveland

2. Australian Boy Band crooner Ashton Irwin expresses doubts about Trump candidacy; Trump loses to an avocado in an online poll

1. Trump calls for ban on Muslim immigrants to the U.S.

— Your daily dose of Trump:

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Donald Trump in Michigan this week (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

George F. Will writes in his column today that he’s becoming even more alarmed about Trump: “In 2016, a Trump nomination would not just mean another Democratic presidency. It would also mean the loss of what Taft and then Goldwater made possible — a conservative party as a constant presence in U.S. politics. … It is possible Trump will not win any primary, and that by the middle of March our long national embarrassment will be over. But this avatar of unfettered government and executive authoritarianism has mesmerized a large portion of Republicans for six months. The larger portion should understand this: One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either.”

David Weigel argues that Trump is basically mimicking the SHOCK JOCK model that thrived after the FCC stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987: “Whether he moves to the White House or returns to Mar-a-Largo, Trump’s campaign has challenged and changed the way politics is covered. Political media have adapted slowly, treating nearly every Trump eruption as a gaffe — the kind a normal politician might make on his way to defeat. The world of talk radio never saw Trump this way, because the phenomenon ran through it more than a generation ago.”

Humorist Dave Barry calls 2015 “the worst year ever” in his annual Year in Review column: “Are we saying it was worse than, for example, 1347, the year when the bubonic plague killed a large part of humanity? Yes, we are saying that. Because at least the remainder of humanity was not exposed to a solid week in which the news media focused intensively on the question of whether a leading candidate for president of the United States had, or had not, made an explicit reference to a prominent female TV journalist’s biological lady cycle. That actually happened in 2015, and it was not the only bad thing.”

–Pictures of the day:

Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez was very gracious after a mix-up briefly awarded her the Miss Universe crown. “Your destiny is written for you. And my destiny was this,” she posted on Instagram. “I was able to bring happiness to my country after becoming Miss Universe for only a couple of minutes…”

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@gutierrezary

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) released an unusual Christmas poem, urging Obama not to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to the Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan, S.C.:

Courtesy Sen. Scott

Courtesy Sen. Scott

Scott posted a more light-hearted answer from the game show “Jeopardy”:

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(@senatortimscott)

Ted Cruz is raising money off of a quickly-retracted Post editorial cartoon that featured his daughters. “Seems like a better idea for a cartoon: Hillary and her lapdogs,” he tweeted.

(@tedcruz)

(@tedcruz)

Michelle Obama posted this snap of Bo, the First Dog:

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(@michelleobama)

— Tweets of the day:

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Rand Paul speaks in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Rand Paul celebrated Festivus, a fake holiday made famous in a Seinfeld episode, by listing his grievances against rivals in a hilarious tweet stream:

Where to start but @realDonaldTrump. If u bring the Yiddish, know what it means. Guess that’s more of a kvetch than a grievance #Festivus

— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

I have no grievances against my fellow doc @RealBenCarson because I have not heard a word he has said in any debate. #Festivus — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

.@CarlyFiorina has ZERO trouble making it back from commercial breaks @HillaryClinton. Just saying. #Festivus #waronwomensrooms — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

to my absentee friend @marcorubio, I didn’t put your $170k+ salary in my waste report today. But I could have #Festivus — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

My friend @tedcruz has still not pledged to issue exec order declaring Canadian “bacon” is not real bacon. Makes me suspicious. #Festivus

— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

.@JebBush is always trying to change the debate rules to allow extra time for awkward pauses in answers. Not gonna happen. #Festivus — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

to my comrade @SenSanders: Unless you’re Santa Claus, Socialism runs out of other people’s money #Festivus — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

Can’t forget @barackobama today. He gets 2 play WAY more golf than me & he doesn’t have 2 go through TSA lines #Festivus #AiringofGrievances — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2015

— Instagrams of the day:

The GOP presidential frontrunner posted his Christmas card:

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(@realdonaldtrump)

Marco Rubio treats his family to a stop at Chutters Candy Shop in Littleton, N.H., which claims to have the world’s longest candy counter:

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(@marcorubio)

“In the Granite State with the Comeback Kid,” @HillaryClinton captioned a photo with her husband:

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North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) celebrated with her family, Star Wars-style:

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(@senatorheitkamp)

Georgia Rep. Rick Allen (R) says “Polo the Blue Heeler brought some Christmas cheer to 513 Cannon” yesterday:

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(reprickallen)

And it looks like Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz will get a white Christmas:

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(@jasoninthehouse)

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GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

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Hillary at a town hall in Mason City, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

— New York Times, “Hillary Clinton seizes on Trump’s remarks to galvanize women,” by Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman: “Behind the scenes, the Clinton campaign mobilized a wide network of female supporters to denounce Mr. Trump as ‘sexist,’ as a practitioner of ‘pathetic, frat-boy politics,’ and as more suited to running for ‘president of the fourth-grade football team.’

  • A strategy shift: “For months, Mrs. Clinton’s strategy was to hang Mr. Trump’s more outrageous pronouncements around the necks of other Republican contenders, seeking to portray the party’s entire field as extreme. But by going after Mr. Trump more assertively now than most of his Republican rivals have dared, Mrs. Clinton is projecting strength, and she is calculating that women, especially young voters, will reward her.”
  • In an interview with The Des Moines Register late Tuesday, she said of Trump, “It’s not the first time he’s demonstrated a penchant for sexism.”
  • Combativeness plays into the Clinton campaign theme: “The blue ‘Hillary’ signs that blanket her rallies carry the slogan ‘Fighting for us’ in big block letters. But poking Mr. Trump is not risk-free. He is unlike any rival Mrs. Clinton has confronted before, and has proved willing to say almost anything.”

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to a Dutch TV station in Damascus on Dec. 16. (AFP/Handout)

— Wall Street Journal, “U.S. pursued secret contacts with Assad regime for years,” by Nour Malas and Carol E. Lee: “The Obama administration pursued secret communications with elements of Syria’s regime over several years in a failed attempt to limit violence and get President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power, according to U.S. and Arab officials. Early on, the U.S. looked for cracks in the regime it could exploit to encourage a military coup, but found few … Unlike the secret White House back channel to Iran, however, the Syria effort never gained momentum and communication was limited … At times, senior officials spoke directly to each other and at others, they sent messages through intermediaries such as Mr. Assad’s main allies Russia and Iran.”

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Carly Fiorina leaves a Spaghetti Dinner in the north country town of Littleton, N.H., back in August. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— New Hampshire Public Radio, “In N.H. Primary, North Country campaign stops are few and far between,” by Dan Barrick: “Northern New Hampshire has seen little of the presidential candidates this year. Of the nearly 850 campaign stops by candidates of both parties across the state since May, just 39 have taken place north of the White Mountains. That scarcity is largely due to demographics. Most of New Hampshire’s residents live in the densely populated Southern Tier, the wedge stretching south from Manchester and east towards the Seacoast. By contrast, just 2 percent of New Hampshire residents call the North Country home … But Northern New Hampshire is more than just a more forested, less-populated version of the state as a whole. The issues and challenges facing residents there differ significantly from the rest of the state. The region’s residents are, generally speaking, older, poorer and less educated than folks in the southern part of New Hampshire.”

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Donald Trump autographs a supporter’s chest following a speech on Dec. 2 in Manassas. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

— Politico, “Donald Trump’s gender gap,” by Steven Shepard: “On the surface, it doesn’t appear that Trump’s gendered attacks have damaged his candidacy throughout his 6-month-old presidential campaign. Trump remains not just the national front-runner — he’s also ahead in many of the key early-nominating states. But Trump’s current coalition in the primaries relies heavily on male voters — especially less-educated men. The female vote is less important in Republican primaries — where, because women are more likely than men to be Democrats, they make up a minority of the electorate — and a candidate who appeals mostly to working-class males can emerge in a fractured field. … Fully 74 percent of non-college men who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents have a favorable impression of Trump, compared with 57 percent of male college graduates. Those numbers drop off among women. The poll found that 50 percent of female college graduates have a favorable view of the real estate mogul. And there’s less of a difference across the education level — just 51 percent of female non-college graduates say they look upon Trump favorably.”

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Guards at Guantanamo Bay (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

— Miami Herald, “9/11 judge shields Guantánamo captive’s ‘misogynistic rant’ about female guards from public record,” by Carol Rosenberg: “In the latest episode of a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t Guantánamo war court record, the judge in the Sept. 11 trial retroactively sealed what one prosecutor called ‘the misogynistic rantings’ of an accused 9/11 plot deputy. Also now under seal: A Nov. 17, 2014, note, seized by the military, from the alleged plot mastermind to another captive with advice on how to handle the female guard flap at the Pentagon’s most clandestine prison. The decision to deny the public access to the documents — which for a time appeared illegibly in the court record — follows the Pentagon’s likewise blacking out wide swaths of a transcript of an open hearing on the same topic … A prosecutor referred to a March 2014 letter from alleged plot deputy Ramzi bin al Shibh to the then commander of the lockup, a female officer. A military lawyer for another accused deputy protested. Air Force Maj. Michael Schwartz called it ‘inflammatory, prejudicial’ to his client, Walid bin Attash. He asked that it be stricken from the court record.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Ted Cruz defends Alabama’s decision to shut down 31 DMV offices in predominantly African American areas. David Weigel: These places provide driver’s licenses, and an ID is now needed to vote. “It’s not surprising to see a Democrat like Hillary Clinton coming in and attacking states, particularly Southern states,” Cruz said when asked about the issue. “Frankly, it’s a bigotry from the Democrats. They look down on the Southern states like we’re a bunch of hicks. Look, I’m from Texas and Hillary Clinton is not a big fan of my state either. We don’t need more politicians from Washington looking down on us like a fly-over company. … Hillary Clinton thinks we’re just a bunch of ignorant rubes, and we need to be governed by what she deems as moral and philosophical betters.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

House Republicans don’t want John Kerry to make it easier for Iranians to get visas. From the Washington Examiner: “In a letter signed by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and five GOP committee chairmen, the lawmakers told Kerry they are ‘deeply concerned’ he is negotiating a deal with the Iranian government that would lift some of the requirements. They also suggested Kerry is reneging on the terms of the visa waiver law that were closely negotiated between Congress and the Obama administration.”

DAYBOOK:

— Programming note: There will be no 202 on Christmas, but we’ll be back Monday.

— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: It’s a quiet day in the early states.

— On the Hill: Recess

— At the White House: President Obama is on vacation in Hawaii. The communications staff released what it said is the First Family’s 14-song Christmas playlist:

  • O Tannenbaum, Vince Guaraldi Trio (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  • Let It Snow, Boyz II Men
  • All I Want for Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Jackson 5
  • 8 Days of Christmas, Destiny’s Child
  • Someday at Christmas, Stevie Wonder
  • The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
  • Silent Night, Ledisi
  • Do You Hear What I Hear, Yolanda Adams
  • Away In A Manger, Kenny Burrell
  • Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
  • The First Noel, Frank Sinatra
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Luther Vandross
  • Little Drummer Boy, Whitney Houston
QUOTE OF THE DAY:

The Conway Daily Sun writes up an interview with Marco Rubio: “We had roughly 20 minutes with him on Monday, and in that time, he talked about ISIS, the economy, his political record and his background. But it was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points. He said a lot but at the same time said nothing. It was like someone wound him up, pointed him toward the doors and pushed ‘play.’ If there was a human side to the senator, a soul, it didn’t come across.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

“Today’s showers should be more scattered and amount to less than those behind Wednesday’s drenching, which deposited 1.67 inches in D.C., a new record for the date,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Temperatures surging into the low-to-mid 70s shatter records throughout the area. Thunderstorms with strong wind gusts cannot be ruled out and the National Weather Service has placed the region in a marginal risk zone for severe weather. Winds from the southwest could gust to 25 mph, and even higher in any thundershowers.”

— The Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-91, their third straight win. (Jorge Castillo)

— The Post’s Going Out Guide highlights fun activities to enjoy this weekend if you’re staying in town:

  • Today a water-skiing Santa Claus performs on the Potomac.
  • This is the last day to see “The Christmas Story in Art” for free at the National Gallery of Art.
  • “Motown: The Musical” plays at the National Theatre each day this weekend.
  • The Caps play the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The “Daily Show” considers Trump as the “white ISIS”:

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(@ComedyCentral)

Jeb Bush shares his favorite Christmas carol and the worst Christmas gift he ever got:

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(@jebbush)

A 7-year-old girl called 9-1-1 because her “Elf on the Shelf” fell to the floor while her mom was napping and she was afraid she wouldn’t get any Christmas gifts. Watch a cute, two-minute package from a New Jersey affiliate here.

Hillary went on TV with a new ad promoting her proposal for increasing federal spending on Alzheimer’s research:

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(@hillaryclinton)

Rand Paul jabbed at the TSA during his Festivus tweet stream, saying it is more like “Touching Squeezing America” than the “Transportation Security Administration.” For good measure, he threw in a link to the song: “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”

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(@randpaul)

The White House’s West Wing Week has an “Intern Edition”:

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(@thewhitehouse)

Finally, watch robotic reindeer pull a sleigh:

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(thewallstreetjournal)

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