POLITICO Playbook: DAVID BROOKS thinks/hopes Trump, Cruz ‘doomed’ — NYT: Rubio ‘resurgent

Good Tuesday morning, and welcome back! The National Zoo video of giant panda Tian Tian making snow angels got 54 million views, per AP. THANK YOU to the 300 heroic Playbookers who jammed the room for last night’s Playbook cocktails with Tom Donilon and Robert Gates. Gates, who had stayed in town for the event, was amazed and tickled by the hearty turnout. Ben Chang posted a pic of Jon Ward grilling out in the Capitol Hill snow. http://bit.ly/1Pz5m1T

DAVID BROOKS is every pundit! “Stay Sane America, Please! Sanders, Cruz and Trump are all doomed (I think)”: Trump, Cruz or Sanders “could win the election … I will still refuse to believe it. … Cruz and Trump will go after each other with increasing ferocity over the next many weeks or months. There is a decent chance, given their personalities, that they will make each other maximally unattractive and go down in each other’s death embrace. …

“[T]he Trump and Sanders turnout problems are real. … It’s quite possible that the big story post-Iowa will be how badly these two underperformed.” http://nyti.ms/20194WL

By Mike Allen (@mikeallen; mallen@politico.com) and Daniel Lippman (@dlippman; dlippman@politico.com)

TOP TWEET — @BillKristol: “Here’s a bet for my friend @matthewjdowd: Trump won’t be GOP nominee. For dinner at a swanky place near @ABC.”

NICOLLE WALLACE op-ed in N.Y. Times, “Sarah Palin, Rage Whisperer: We saw her crowds in 2008. We should have seen Trump coming”: “That he would refine and recalibrate his proclamations in a general election or as president is a widely held assumption among the Republican establishment. It’s possible that this is the kind of false comfort that people on a sinking ship murmur to one another about how death by drowning really isn’t a bad way to go.” http://nyti.ms/1JB7HXE

THE CONVERSATION — “As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Soar, G.O.P. Leaders’ Exasperation Grows,” by Jonathan Martin in Des Moines: “The establishment candidates [Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Christie] and their allies have spent approximately $35 million attacking one another … The … effect … has been to stunt the growth of [these] candidates, keeping them clustered together in New Hampshire polls while Mr. Trump soars.” http://nyti.ms/1KBL689

BREAKING: Quinnipiac Iowa finds neck-and neck race, virtually unchanged from Jan 11: Trump 31%, Cruz 29%, Rubio 13%. No one else above 7%. THERE’S HOPE FOR OTHERS! 2% undecided (not a typo); 39% might change their mind. http://bit.ly/1SHXb3F

NATIONAL: Trump more than double Cruz, and hits new high, in CNN/ORC: Trump 41%, Cruz 19%, Rubio 8%, Carson 6%, Bush 5%, Christie 4%. 63% of Republicans say he’s their candidate most likely to win in November; 16% say Cruz and 10% Rubio. 68% of Republicans think he’ll be the nominee. Last summer, 40% said Jeb; now 5% think that.

— Jennifer Agiesta, CNN Polling Director: Trump “leads among both men and women, younger and older voters, white evangelicals, conservatives and both self-identified Republicans and independents who lean toward the party. There are two subgroups where Trump’s lead is less dominant: college graduates and tea party supporters. Even among those groups, however, he remains at the head of the pack. Among those holding degrees, 26% back Trump, 20% Cruz, and tea party supporters split 37% for Trump, 34% for Cruz.” http://cnn.it/23qfVIG

CRUZ AT THE BUSH 2000 CAMPAIGN — “When Ted Cruz Wanted to Be Part of the Establishment: He climbed over colleagues in search of W’s favor, only to be rejected-setting him on his outsider’s course,”by Shane Goldmacher and Daniel Lippman for Politico Magazine: “Five years ago … [i]n a never-before-reported meeting in Bush’s Dallas office, Cruz began to outline his 2012 campaign playbook for the former president … Cruz explained how he would consolidate conservatives yearning for a political outsider, how he would outflank the frontrunner on the right, how he would proudly carry the mantle of the ascendant tea party to victory over entrenched elites. … Bush cut Cruz off before he could finish. ‘I guess you don’t want my support,’ Bush interrupted. ‘Ted, what the hell do you think I am?’ …

“Cruz bashes the ‘Washington cartel’ … [b]ut 16 years ago, as a young domestic policy adviser for Bush’s 2000 campaign, Cruz himself had sought Washington’s embrace. He’d … taken an 80 percent pay cut and moved to Austin, with visions of a big, important White House job to follow. … [In the Bush campaign] Cruz was known for trying to angle additional time with Bush, both on the trail and at the governor’s mansion, where the policy team would brief Bush in private sessions. … ‘He lacks a subtlety that a lot of other people bring. He makes it feel like he wears his ambitions on his sleeve,’” said one Bush 2000 aide. http://politi.co/23qg9iU

SNEAK PEEK — ROBERT DRAPER in upcoming N.Y. Times Magazine, “Cruz’s Evangelical Gamble: The candidate’s strategy to win the White House depends on turning out millions of new religious voters”: “What unites the evangelical bloc with the rest of the Republican base is a shared hostility toward not only those they see as antagonists to the American way of life — ISIS, undocumented immigrants, apostles of political correctness — but also their perceived appeasers in Washington.” http://nyti.ms/200yJ1Z

PEAK CRUZ? N.Y. Times, bottom of A1, “2000 Recount Shaped Cruz’s Image as Outsider,” by Matt Flegenheimer: “’I was far too cocky for my own good,’ Mr. Cruz wrote in his book, ‘A Time for Truth.’” http://nyti.ms/200VG5c … L.A. Times A1, below fold, “The Texas job that launched Cruz into politics,” by Noah Bierman: “[H]e turned the relatively obscure position of state solicitor general into a political launchpad.” http://lat.ms/1RKAPy4

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MARCO’S MOMENT? “Rubio ditches his dreary message: The Florida Republican tries to offer voters a glimmer of sunshine as his 2016 rivals dish gloom and doom,” by Anna Palmer: “Rubio didn’t reference a single Republican opponent on Monday. He reserved his criticism for President Barack Obama and Democratic policies.” http://politi.co/1QyuxAo

— NYT A11, “Where’s Rubio? In Iowa, Right on Time, He Says,” by Jeremy Peters in Marion (online: “A Resurgent Marco Rubio Sprints to the Finish in Iowa”): “[S]omething appears to be shifting for Senator Marco Rubio … It is a change evident in his growing crowds; a string of endorsements; a friendly nod from a popular Iowa senator, Joni Ernst; and the cautious confidence he is starting to express.” http://nyti.ms/1nMwwG9

VIDEO DU JOUR — “How To Get Revenge With A Football by Marco Rubio”: 2-min. video from Benny Johnson and Independent Journal Review shows politicos and journalists catching, dodging or getting hit by footballs seemingly thrown by Marco. Cameos by Grover Norquist, Tucker Carlson, Sens. Cory Gardner, Steve Daines and Jim Inhofe, Dr. Ben Carson, SE Cupp, Rep. Trey Gowdy, Arthur Brooks, Warren Rojas, Larry O’Connor, Daniel Lippman and Brody Dill, the original kid from Iowa famously hit by Rubio with a football last summer. http://bit.ly/1Nx0anF

NEW “DAILY SHOW” FLOPS — “Why Are Americans Ignoring Trevor Noah? This crazy campaign should be his coming-out party. Instead, it’s our first election since 2000 where The Daily Show might as well not exist,” by Slate’s Willa Paskin: “[T]here is a Daily Show-shaped hole in the culture, despite a lesser version of the show airing every weeknight. … Noah backs away from thorny issues like they are bombs that can be defused with a charming quip. He’s out to neutralize, not to awaken. How did the program devoted to scaling bull**** mountain in all its incarnations … come to feel so beside the point?” http://slate.me/1Qp2rWo

ARTICLE OF THE DAY — WashPost A1, below fold, “How Petraeus avoided felony charges over leak:Officials describe former general’s route to misdemeanor plea deal,” by Adam Goldman: “The plea agreement left some in the Justice Department angry, particularly at the FBI, and some agents have argued privately that it will hamper future efforts to secure prison terms in leak cases. … The plea agreement … probably has ended whatever ambition he had to become president.

“It … does not protect him from further punishment — such as stripping him of a star — by the military. The Army recently recommended that Petraeus not face further punishment, but the final decision rests with Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who is considering how to rule.” http://wapo.st/1ZPJxdS

FIRST LOOK — “Hillary for America Launches Digital Commitment Cards “ — A Clinton official: “Hillary for America is officially launching a nationwide, online application that enables voters to build a personalized, digital card expressing their commitment to vote for Hillary Clinton in their state’s primary or caucus. … Hillary for America’s digital team will promote the app over email, social media channels, a wide network of supportive digital influencers, and through other means.” http://bit.ly/200BQHb

GREAT READ — “Clinton Wants To Talk To You About Love And Kindness,” by BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer:”In the early days of her husband’s administration, Hillary Clinton tried to start a national conversation about basic human decency, only to be mocked. … ‘I don’t have a personal … sense of disappointment, or being misunderstood, because I’m aware that I present personally a kind of Rorschach test to so many people … So when I get the zing, or the criticism, you know, I don’t take it so much to heart … I won’t take it personally. Not anymore. It’s not gonna get to me.’” http://bzfd.it/1QxGxCf

OBAMA ALUMNI — “Obama Insiders: Clinton, Not Sanders, Is His Natural Heir,” by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur: “Ben LaBolt … said in an e-mail[:] ‘Senator Sanders has been in Congress for decades but hasn’t tackled any major longstanding challenges-he’s been too busy shouting his point of view across the aisle with few results.’ … Jon Favreau … said Sanders’ campaign ‘resembles Howard Dean’s a lot more than it resembles Barack Obama.’ In key respects, he said, ‘Hillary is much closer to Obama than Bernie is.’” With cameos by Anita Dunn and Tommy Vietor http://bloom.bg/1ZPlxHQ

TALES FROM THE TRAIL — N.Y. Times A1, below fold, “For Crunchtime in Iowa, Clinton Loosens Up,” by Amy Chozick in Davenport: “Clinton does not rouse large crowds the way Mr. Sanders does. One of her largest events yet, a get-out-the-caucus rally in West Des Moines on Sunday, attracted 900 people. Instead, she tries to impress her crowds, made up mostly of older women and their husbands, by appearing prepared and knowledgeable about local dynamics. …

“Clinton rarely tells jokes , but she does occasionally rhyme. ‘No bank is too big to fail, and no executive is too powerful to jail’ is a favorite. She likes to imitate accents, ranging from Bill Clinton’s Arkansas drawl to that of a French cameraman. … (‘Bonjour, bonjour.’)” http://nyti.ms/1nvA5Rc

AIR WAR — “Cruz super PAC goes negative on Trump,” by Katie Glueck : “One spot, titled ‘Extreme,’ bashes Trump over his record on abortion, in keeping with Cruz’s message that Trump is a recent convert to the conservative cause, with a long previous history of liberal views. … The other ad, called ‘I like Ted,’ is a television version of a digital ad the group launched last week, featuring audio from Trump who gave a flattering introduction for Cruz in 2014 at a Lincoln Day fundraising dinner in Palm Beach, Fla.” http://politi.co/1nvgiRS The ads http://bit.ly/1Phqw2u http://bit.ly/1POOo9P

— NEW CRUZ ad, “New York Values,” also hits Trump, uses clips of him saying: “Hey, I lived in New York City and Manhattan my whole life and so my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa.” And “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” http://bit.ly/1nMEJdj

— “Trump faces last-minute ad assault,” by Alex Isenstadt : “[A] new anti-Trump group [is] spending more than $1 million in a last-ditch effort to defeat him. Our Principles PAC, a newly formed super PAC set up by [Katie Packer,] a former top aide to Mitt Romney, is set to begin airing a TV ad in Iowa that calls into question his devotion to conservative positions — and asks Iowa voters bluntly, ‘How much do we really know about Donald Trump?’” http://politi.co/1PyPCFE … The ad http://bit.ly/1nvJhFl

PLAYBOOK HIGHLIGHT REEL — “Rubio plans March summit in Miami for donors,” by Shane Goldmacher and Anna Palmer: “Donors who have raised a minimum of $27,000 for the Florida senator’s campaign — that’s 10 maximum $2,700 checks — are invited to a ‘leadership huddle’ in Miami on March 10 and 11. The gathering is scheduled days before the crucial, winner-take-all primary in Florida on March 15.” http://politi.co/1S7XvsO

BOSTON GLOBE endorses Kasich: “New Hampshire Republicans can do their party a critical service on Feb. 9by voting for an experienced political figure with a record of results, and thus dealing a blow to the divisive, demagogic.” http://bit.ly/1SgrCwn

— Concord Monitor also went Kasich today. Other New Hampshire papers that endorsed him: Portsmouth, Nashua, Fosters, Bow Times, Valley news.

HAPPENING TODAY: “Jill Zuckman of SKDKnickerbocker is being honored [today] in NYC at a luncheon hosted by PR News as a ‘Top Woman in PR’ for her work to free Alan Gross from prison in Cuba, as well as her work on behalf of … US airlines and seven labor unions … Emily Lenzner is on the list as well.” http://bit.ly/1Qp2NfK

MEDIAWATCH — “How Bloomberg covers Bloomberg,” by Hadas Gold: “Some newsroom staff in Europe on Monday received an e-mail from the media organization’s Standards Team, which oversees editorial quality at Bloomberg … ‘Please don’t write … anything on Mike Bloomberg’s potential presidential run without speaking to [Senior Executive Editor of Standards at Bloomberg LP] Tim Quinson or someone else on the Standards team … We have a holding story that should cover many eventualities.” http://politi.co/1VmPVb5

— “All Three NBC News Broadcasts to be Anchored from Iowa”: “NBC News will provide special on-the-ground coverage of the Iowa caucuses as ‘Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,’ ‘TODAY,’ and ‘NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt’ all broadcast live from Des Moines to mark the first nominating contest of Decision 2016. The three shows will originate from the coffee shop in the iconic West End Architectural Salvage building, beginning with ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday.”

— “Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow Will Spearhead MSNBC Live Politics Coverage,” by Variety’sBrian Steinberg: “Williams and primetime host Rachel Maddow will co-anchor the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news network’s coming coverage of the Iowa caucus, slated to start Monday, February 1 at 6 p.m. The pair will hold forth from New York, and will be joined by Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, who will be stationed in Iowa.” http://bit.ly/1OUBgQO

— “Fox News: Donald Trump Fears Megyn Kelly,” by The Wrap’s Brian Flood : “’If I think I’m going to be treated unfairly, I’ll do something else,’ Trump [told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer]. Fox News fired back with the following statement … ‘Sooner or later Donald Trump, even if he’s president, is going to have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick the journalists-we’re very surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly.’” http://bit.ly/1Sgrpt1

TV TONIGHT — “Michael Moore will be a guest on FOX News … [tonight where he’ll] talk to Megyn Kelly about the 2016 election cycle, candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, as well as the GOP field. Some history: Michael Moore had a very memorable interview with Bill O’Reilly on set during the DNC in 2004”: http://bit.ly/1TkTS1q

TRANSITIONS — WENDY SHERMAN back to Albright Stonebridge after serving as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. “Among her varied global responsibilities, Ambassador Sherman led the U.S. negotiating team that reached agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran. … [Other new hires:] Daniel Feldman … [was] Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State … Nicole Wong … served previously served at the White House as Deputy [CTO] of the United States, where she led the application of technology, data, and innovative practices across the government.” http://bit.ly/1TkUmVp

— “FamousDC continues to expand with new video series, managing editor”: “FamousDC today named Kathryn Lyons as Managing Editor of the growing media company. In this new role, Kathryn will launch a brand new video series and oversee all content. … Kathryn joins FamousDC from NBC News.”

— “DGA Announces New Independent Expenditure Director”: “Joe Shafer … comes most recently from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration in Pennsylvania, where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff. … Shafer also ran the successful 2011 special and 2012 re-election campaigns for West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. During the 2010 election cycle, Shafer worked as the Northeast Political Director for the DCCC.”

BIRTHDAYS : House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is 51 … Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) (h/t SarahLovenheim) … Jim Jordan … Eric Nelson, a Politico alum now managing editor of digital content at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce … Jarrod Bernstein, Obama and Bloomberg alum, now SVP at CarePoint Health and father to Jake and Lily, is 36 (h/ts Rachel Rubenstein, Hilary Brandenberg and Daniel Ensign) … Jim Papa, EVP of Global Strategy Group and head of its Washington office (h/ts Bill Burton, Matt Canter and Amanda Thayer) … Mike Quaranta, principal at the Podesta Group and a Mike Castle alum … Cristina Antelo of the Podesta Group … Justin Green, IJ’s political editor and the pride of Sutton, Neb., is 27 (h/t Benny Johnson) … Lindsay Bomar, senior comms. manager at AdvoCare International and a Bloomberg alum … Isabel Lara, media relations director at NPR … Sarah Pompei, director of corporate comms. at HP, a Romney alum and the pride of Newport Beach, Calif. … Jessica Phan, staff assistant for the White House Internship Program (WHIP), is 25, celebrating in Hawaii (h/t Sophia Kim) … Brett Layson, a senior LA for Sen. Johnny Isakson (h/t sister Jessica Layson Davis) …

… Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent at National Review, is 3–0 … Mala Krishnamoorti Parker, Bush 43 alum and VP of coalitions at the American Trucking Associations (hubby tip: Richard) … Portman alum Derek Lyon, now director of legal, regulatory, and gov’t reform policy for Jeb 2016 … Lindsay Hayes, director of events for the DGA (h/t Jeff Wexler) … Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton … CNN alum Daryn Kagan … Matt Miller, chief policy officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America … Joel Noyes, Hess senior manager for gov’t affairs and public policy and a Bush 43 WH alum … Cheri Jacobus … Margie Omero, managing director of Purple Insights at Purple Strategies … Susan Muntzing … Sabena Siddiqi … Christian Deschauer, former aide to Tom Davis and now director of gov’t relations at Transurban … Laura Kuhl … Sam Norris … Emily Hughes … Christina Spector … Imelda Green (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … WashPost’s Robert Mitchell … Jeremy Settle … WTOP’s Paula Wolfson Stevenson … Allie Carter … GOP consultant Cheri Jacobus …cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 87 … Bob Uecker is 81 … activist Angela Davis is 72 … Richard Portnow (“Trumbo,” “The Sopranos”) is 69 … Eddie Van Halen is 61 … Ellen DeGeneres is 58 … Wayne Gretzky is 55 (h/ts AP)

DESSERT — “Ben & Jerry’s founder unveils new ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ ice cream flavor,” by Nick Gass and Ken Vogel: It features “a milk chocolate disk covering the top of plain mint ice cream. The disc is meant to represent ‘the huge majority of economic gains that have gone to the top 1% since the end of the recession.’ … Sanders campaign is running a contest for supporters to win the pints.” http://politi.co/1OUz3EN

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