Campaign Update: Sanders meets with Obama, snow could impact Iowa caucuses

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(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama, Sanders talk foreign policy, economy — and politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders says he and President Barack Obama talked about foreign policy, the economy and “a little bit of politics” as Sanders visited the White House today.

It was the first extended conversation between the two since Sanders launched an unexpectedly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama hasn’t publicly taken sides — but in a recent interview he said Clinton would be ready to go on Day One, while suggesting that Sanders needs some more scrutiny.

Talking to reporters in the White House driveway after today’s meeting, Sanders acknowledged he and the president have had differences, but he said he has largely backed Obama’s agenda.

The Vermont senator said the president has been “even handed” in his treatment of the candidates vying to replace him, and he showed no interest in trying to strike any sharp contrast with Obama.

Sanders said with a laugh that he didn’t directly ask for Obama’s endorsement. He says he did ask for an update on the fight against Islamic extremism and the effort to warm relations with Iran.

Clinton wants another debate before New Hampshire

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton says she wants the Democratic National Committee to add another presidential debate before the New Hampshire primary and urging Bernie Sanders to join her on stage.

Clinton says in a phone interview with MSNBC that she’s “anxious” for another debate, adding, “let’s try to make it happen.” She says she wants DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the other campaigns to support another debate.

Sanders’ campaign has said it has no plans to do so because the DNC hasn’t sanctioned the debate. The Vermont senator’s campaign has said it wouldn’t want to jeopardize its participation in two debates planned for after the New Hampshire primary in Wisconsin and Florida.

The DNC has said it’s sticking with its debate schedule.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley supports adding another debate.

Trump not backing down from Fox debate boycott

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump isn’t backing down from his threat to boycott this week’s GOP debate. It’ll be a chance for candidates to make their closing arguments before voting begins in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in a pair of television interviews today that Trump “knows when to walk away from a bad deal.”

He said of Fox News, “They think they can toy with Mr. Trump.” But, speaking on MSNBC, he added that Trump “doesn’t play games.”

The decision comes after a showdown between the network and GOP candidate over who should moderate tomorrow night’s debate. Trump has been in a feud with Fox News host and scheduled debate moderator Megyn Kelly since the first Republican primary debate. That’s when Kelly took Trump to task over derogatory statements he’d made in the past aimed at women.

Cruz looks to shore up support among Iowa evangelicals

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hopes to shore up support among Iowa’s Christian conservatives, even as Republican rival Donald Trump makes gains with the influential group.

Cruz plans to court social conservatives and evangelical voters at a Wednesday night rally addressing his anti-abortion beliefs while highlighting Trump’s record of flip-flopping from a once pro-choice position.

Winning evangelical voters is essential for Cruz to do well in Monday’s Iowa caucus and he has been building support among them for months. But Cruz told a closed-door meeting of Iowa pastors on Monday that if Trump wins Iowa, he may go on to secure the nomination.

Winning evangelical voters — who catapulted underdog candidates to the lead in Iowa in 2008 and 2012 — could make or break the kickoff contest for either candidate.

Iowa snow may fall too late to impact caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Snow is being forecast in Iowa for early next week, but people gathering for the presidential caucuses likely won’t be hindered.

Mindy Beerends, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Des Moines, says there could be rain and a little snow during the caucuses, set to begin at 7 p.m. Monday, but early projections show no accumulating snow until early Tuesday.

Weather is always an unpredictable factor of the caucuses, which typically draw hundreds of thousands of Iowans to precinct gatherings to choose presidential candidates and conduct political party business.

The bigger problem could be for the many campaign staffers and reporters in Iowa who want to leave after the caucuses. They could find their exit complicated by steadier snow Tuesday.

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