Different Views on America’s Highest Honor

Washington Post: “Few official acts reveal more about an individual president than the Presidential Medal of Freedom designations. While the general categories have remained fairly constant since President John F. Kennedy established the modern version of the honor in 1963 — public servants, creative artists and athletes are traditionally well represented — the specific choices often pose a study in contrasts.”

“The demographic differences between Presidents Obama and George W. Bush’s honorees, for example, are quite telling. African Americans represented roughly the same portion of each man’s designations—18 percent of Obama’s, compared to 17 percent for Bush —but women have made up 36 percent of the medal’s recipients under the current president versus 15 percent during Bush’s time in office. In a similar vein, Obama has awarded the honor to a higher proportion of Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans and gay and lesbian Americans than W did.”

Clinton Promises Not to Say ‘Illegal Immigrants’

Hillary Clinton addressed criticism of her use of the phrase “illegal immigrants” in a Facebook chat hosted by the Spanish-language television network Telemundo, Yahoo News reports.

Said Clinton: “That was a poor choice of words. As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.”

Early States Flooded with TV Ads

“For residents of the four early voting states seeking respite this holiday weekend from the political rantings of a charged relative, the traditional comfort of television might not provide much of an escape,” the New York Times reports.

“Presidential campaigns and the groups supporting them have booked almost $5 million in advertising time during Thanksgiving week in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to an analysis by Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks political advertising.”

Kentucky Restores Voting Rights to 180K Felons

Outgoing Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) “has signed an executive order to restore the right to vote and hold public office to thousands of non-violent felons who’ve served out their sentences,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

“Kentucky was one of four states that did not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they completed all the terms of their sentences. Around 180,000 in Kentucky have served their sentences yet remain banned from casting ballots.”

Why Trump Will Be Very Hard to Take Down

Rick Klein: “He’s gone from thousands of cheering Muslims in New Jersey to hundreds of people now tell him he’s right. He had his chief rival say he saw the same thing on TV, only to say a few hours later that he actually didn’t. Donald Trump’s latest addition to his campaign highlight reel has the hallmarks of his political style. This was a tall tale with a purpose, calibrated to a moment of jitters and anti-Muslim fears and sentiments. Trump, naturally, isn’t apologizing or acknowledging that what he said he saw did not in fact occur as he describes it.”

“It now appears unlikely that any one comment or set of comments will unravel Trump. Even in this instance, his supporters grant him a general sense of being honest if not entirely truthful… As the anti-Trump forces gather, that’s a more formidable opponent than the mogul himself. Voters view him as speaking truth to power – and that means skepticism of anyone or anything seeking to stand in his way, even when he’s telling stories that are simply not accurate.”

Carson Blames Media for His 9/11 Mistake

“Ben Carson continued to walk back his assertion on Monday night that, like Donald Trump, he also saw video footage of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, blaming the media in the process for having ‘an agenda,'” Politico reports.

Said Carson: “They asked me: Did I see the film? I did see the film. I don’t know where they were, but I did see a film of Muslims celebrating. And I was making the point that it was inappropriate.”

Rubio’s First Ad Is Tribute to His Father

Sen. Marco Rubio’s “first early-state broadcast ad — a tribute to his father and a strategic move to highlight his biographical story — will begin airing Thursday in Iowa,” NBC News has learned.

“The 60-second spot is the first in a $20 million ad buy that begins Thursday and extends through February in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, according to a campaign aide.”

Trump Regains Lead in Iowa as Cruz Surges

A new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa finds Donald Trump leading with 25%, followed by Ted Cruz at 23%, Ben Carson at 18% and Marco Rubio at 11%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “The Iowa Republican Caucus has become a two-tiered contest: Businessman Donald Trump and neurosurgeon Ben Carson lead on the outsider track, and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio lead among party insiders. The other candidates will need miraculous comebacks to crack the top tier with slightly more than two months before the voting begins.”