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.”

The Climate Cliff

Politico: “On Dec. 11, Obama administration diplomats will be in Paris working to clinch a global climate deal that will hinge on whether they can back up a pledge to provide billions of dollars to help poor countries deal with climate change. That same day, Republicans back in Washington will be trying to hold that money hostage with a government shutdown hanging in the balance.”

“Congress must pass a new spending bill by Dec. 11, when a stopgap measure expires. The simultaneous deadlines on each side of the Atlantic Ocean give Republicans a tool to derail a legacy-defining pact for the president and score a rare victory on climate policy. They also significantly raise the stakes in this year’s game of shutdown chicken.”

Wonk Wire: Republican candidates receive failing grade on climate change

Trump Won’t Be Pinned Down

New York Times: “No one ever expected Mr. Trump to turn himself into the issues expert of the Republican presidential field. Yet the verbal shortcuts and salesmanlike stretches that he has relied on for months — generalities used to dodge questions, and questionable recollections — are tripping him up as the tenor of the campaign has grown more serious.”

“Mr. Trump’s avoidance of specifics is seen by some of his admirers as a refreshing contrast to musty politicians who play by the rules. And he has a knack for muddying the waters with catchall phrases that allow his supporters and detractors to read whatever they want into his statements.”

“But his refusal to be pinned down on the details of his positions has repeatedly prompted reporters and interviewers to engage in a guessing game as to what he means. And he tends to choose all of the above.”

Paris Attacks Bring New Life to Christie Campaign

“In the course of a two-hour campaign stop here, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey brought a handful of men and women to tears describing the deathbed wishes of his cancer-ridden mother, cracked them up with the declaration that his presidency would be golf-free and riveted them with his remembrances of the family friends he lost on Sept. 11, 2001,” the New York Times reports.

“Afterward, a stream of voters walked up to him, pledging their votes to an unexpected vessel for their newly heightened anxieties about security and terrorism.”

“It is too early to tell how the Paris attacks will ultimately reshape the topsy-turvy Republican presidential race. But this much is clear: It has brought sudden intensity, attention and focus to the once-moribund candidacy of Mr. Christie.”