Obama Will Deliver Early State of the Union

President Obama “will deliver his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, an early date for the annual ceremonial appearance on Capitol Hill,” the New York Times reports.

“The White House recommended that date for a variety of reasons. The House was not scheduled to be in session the week after, ruling that one out. And holding it later seemed, from a White House standpoint, to be pushing it too close to the start of the presidential primary season, with the Iowa caucuses set for Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. This year’s address was held on Jan. 20.”

Cruz Torches Rubio Over Foreign Policy

Ted Cruz offered “his strongest denunciation so far of Marco Rubio’s foreign policy views, assailing his Republican presidential rival as a proponent of ‘military adventurism’ that he said has benefited Islamic militant groups,” Bloomberg reports.

He even tied Rubio to Hillary Clinton and says the Florida senator’s support of her policy led to the Benghazi attacks.

Trump Really Wants to Win

Nicco Mele: “One of the things I learned in political campaigns is that generally speaking the candidate who wants it most tends to win. You have to really want it. And lately I think Trump has decided he wants it. I’ve been on his email list since his announcement, and the frequency of the emails has increased from monthly to almost weekly, and the tone of the emails has shifted recently from ‘buy more hats’ to something that very nearly sounds presidential. I think something has changed and he’s decided he wants this, which is crucial.”

Bush Strategist Thinks It’s Unlikely Jeb Can Win

Matthew Dowd, chief political strategist for George W. Bush, told the Washington Post he thinks it’s highly unlikely Jeb Bush will win the Republican presidential nomination.

Said Dowd: “I had always doubted Jeb’s ability to run an effective campaign in this environment for a few reasons: He is not as good of a retail politician as his brother, he has been away from elective office for too long, and times have changed.”

He added: “While there is an outside shot he can surface sometime next year, the odds are incredibly low and it will take the five candidates ahead of him falling apart.”

Trump Says His Critics Can’t Take a Joke

Donald Trump “was in full insult mode at a campaign rally here on Monday night as he egged on a man who called President Obama a ‘dumbass’, the New York Times reports.

“Trump, in defending some of his recent jabs before making new ones, resorted to the old trick of suggesting that anyone who took offense at his remarks simply didn’t have a sense of humor… Trump contended that he was simply telling ‘jokes’ when he mocked Ben Carson’s oft-told tales about his violent youth and a New York Times reporter’s physical disability.”

Said Trump: “We can’t tell any more jokes, you know.”

GOP Leaders Plot Strategy to Avoid Shutdown

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “strategy for avoiding a government shutdown is taking shape, with his leadership team seeking a clean break from the divisive intraparty warfare that plagued John Boehner’s (R-OH) tenure,” The Hill reports.

“GOP leaders on Monday predicted there would be no shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding and made clear that they expect an omnibus package to be approved with Democratic support before money runs out on Dec. 11.”

Warren Still Won’t Endorse Clinton

Thirteen women Democratic senators endorsed Hillary Clinton at a Capitol Hill fundraising event, the Washington Post reports.

“But one particularly influential female Democratic senator didn’t join her colleagues: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — the anti-Wall Street crusader who was courted to run as the darling of very liberal Democrats — has not endorsed Clinton, nor has she promised she will.”

“Her absence served as an awkward reminder of Clinton’s enduring struggle to generate support and enthusiasm among an influential segment of her party’s most liberal members. It also illustrates the leverage that Warren holds in an election that Democrats are calculating will be waged on issues of economic advancement and fairness.”

Christie Says Trump’s 9/11 Parties Never Happened

Gov. Chris Christie rebuked a claim by Donald Trump that “thousands” of Muslims held “tailgate parties” in northern New Jersey on September 11th, NBC News reports.

Said Christie: “It didn’t happen, and the fact is people can say anything but the facts are the facts, that did not happen in New Jersey that day and it hasn’t happened since.”