POLITICO Playbook: DEBATE DAY EDITION: 2 iPhone games Cruz plays to decompress — OIL PLUNGE: soon may be cheaper than some bottled water

BREAKING — Chicago Tribune lead, “WHAT DID HE KNOW, WHEN DID HE KNOW IT? Top Emanuel aides aware of key Laquan McDonald details months before mayor says he knew, Tribune review shows,” by Jeff Coen and John Chase: “Emanuel’s top staffers became keenly aware the McDonald shooting could become a legal and political quagmire in December 2014 — more than three months before the mayor has said he was fully briefed.”

— Reuters/Jakarta: Suicide militants “launched a gun and bomb assault in the center of the Indonesian capital, … killing at least [7, including 5 attackers] in an attack on a [Muslim-majority] country that Islamic State had threatened to put in its ‘spotlight.’” http://reut.rs/1Rn7cmg

— AT LEAST 3 Powerball winners will split $1.6 billion, the largest jackpot in U.S. history: “California had one of them, sold at a 7-Eleven in a strip mall in Chino Hills [San Bernardino County]. … Florida and Tennessee also reported one.” Odds: 1 in 292.2 million. Winning numbers: 4–8–19–27–34; Powerball 10. http://lat.ms/1Rn3SHO

— Jennifer Epstein @jeneps: “Overheard in Des Moines: Secret Service agents talking about winning Powerball and never coming back to Iowa again with a politician”.

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

Good Thursday morning, and happy debate day. Seven Fox Business debaters at 9 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in South Carolina: Trump at center stage, flanked by Cruz and Rubio; plus Carson and Christie; then Bush and Kasich on the ends. Anchors are Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo. At the 6 p.m. kids’ table: Fiorina, Huckabee and Santorum, moderated by Trish Regan and Sandra Smith. Rand declined to join the undercard.

TWEET DU JOUR — @RichLowry: “From my convos, GOP estab mood on Trump moving from fear/loathing to resignation/rationalization, ie he’d run better than cruz & slam Hillary.”

INSIDE THE CAMPAIGNS — “How Ted Cruz wins debates: Cruz tells POLITICO in an exclusive interview about his retooled and aggressive debate strategy,” by Shane Goldmacher and Katie Glueck: “Cruz described how he overhauled his debate strategy … ‘The first couple of debates I sat back and very much let it come to me,’ Cruz said aboard his campaign bus in Iowa. … ‘We made a conscious decision to assert myself more aggressively into the conversation … because if every question was going to begin with ‘Candidate A, will you please insult Candidate B?,’ I didn’t want to be involved in that. But I also didn’t want to stand there silently for two hours’ … Cruz spoke more than any of his rivals in each of the last two debates. …

“[H]is old colleagues and foes recognize the Cruz they knew in [Princeton debates] — the polish, the dramatic pauses, the tactical topic shifts. … Instead of mock debates, Cruz’s brain trust has gathered more informally around tables to talk about expected lines of inquiry and attack. … On [debate day], Cruz aides say, the senator simply wants to decompress with his wife, Heidi, and two young daughters. He reads the Bible … but also plays games on his iPhone. The current rotation includes Plants vs. Zombies 2 and Tower Madness 2.” http://politi.co/1RGfjef

DEBATE-DAY DEBUT: Hillary campaign video sounds like a cheesy ad for a greatest hits CD, “The GOP’s Greatest Hits of 2015.” 1-min YouTube https://youtu.be/ZF4rFIfjzAc

— Lead story of today’s (Charleston) Post and Courier, “Praise, pummeling follow Haley’s speech: Republican Party rift on display as Trump, some conservatives slam GOP rebuttal while others admire its ‘inclusive, optimistic’ message.” http://bit.ly/1RmGGcL

— 8 GIFs from NextGen Climate: “Last month, the Democratic and Republican candidates … took the stage for … presidential debates-and they didn’t hear a single question about climate change.” http://bit.ly/1n0WC8b Ad in today’s (Charleston) Post and Courier, Des Moines Register and N.H. Union Leader http://bit.ly/1OQsu9C

— CORRECT THE RECORD’s “GOP Debate Dossier: Smaller Line-up, Same Points: Overzealous, Out of Touch, and Oh-So Extreme” http://bit.ly/1l9czHC

— AMERICAN BRIDGE memo from Jessica Mackler, “GOP Fight Club: More Punches, Less Policy”: “As predicted, the fight for the Republican nomination has devolved into a political blood bath … [with candidates] ripping each other to shreds.” 1-min. video, “Rumble of Grumbles: Watch the GOP KO Themselves” http://bit.ly/1Sjzoa3

SHOTS FIRED — N.Y. Times A1, top of col. 5, “Cruz Neglected To Report Loan From ’12 Race: Money From Goldman Helped in Senate Bid,” by Mike McIntire: “[T]he couple’s decision to pump more than $1 million into Mr. Cruz’s successful Tea Party-darling Senate bid in Texas was made easier by a large loan from Goldman Sachs, where Mrs. Cruz works. That loan was not disclosed in campaign finance reports.” http://nyti.ms/1OQkJAA

— CRUZ BLASTS BACK , per Katie Glueck: Catherine Frazier, the campaign’s national press secretary, told reporters at a Cruz rally in Dorchester, S.C., that the loan was, in fact, disclosed, because it was reported on his Senate financial disclosure form. “This has all been out in the open, it’s simply an issue of semantics … This was all of his own personal money.” Cruz dismissed the issue as “an inadvertent filing question.” http://politi.co/1n0xLRZ

ROUGH WEEK for Cruz in the N.Y. Times (not exactly his target market). The Times’ top campaign story of the past MONTH on its most-tweeted, -Facebooked and -emailed charts is David Brooks’ column from Tuesday’spaper, “The Brutalism Of Ted Cruz: How a gladiator campaign is winning evangelical support.” http://nyti.ms/1N8vfOh

** A message from the National Retail Federation: In response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay notes, “It’s time for Washington to recognize that we do best when the government isn’t tying the hands of entrepreneurs and job creators behind their backs through federal mandates or promoting special interests over those of real people who just want to work.” Read more: http://bit.ly/22ZwtqK **

TOP TALKER — “Republicans whisper about a contested convention: At the party’s annual winter meeting, the talk was all about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” by Alex Isenstadt in Charleston, S.C.: “RNC Chairman Reince Priebus … has begun considering a variety of scenarios, such as what would happen if no candidate won a majority of the primary vote in eight states- one of the requirements …

“[T]he second-guessing is in full stride. Some have begun to wonder whether the decision to limit the number of debates and to shorten the primary calendar — changes that Priebus instituted after the disappointing 2012 presidential election — have inadvertently strengthened Trump’s hand.” http://politi.co/1l81DtC

— HAPPENING TODAY — “Republican Party begins preparing for contested convention,” by AP’s Steve Peoples and Bill Barrow in Charleston: “The RNC will hold a briefing outlining possible scenarios with party officials and the presidential campaigns.” http://apne.ws/1njXcO9

ARTICLE OF THE DAY — Yahoo’s Jon Ward, “Rubio’s supporters are the future of evangelicalism. But will they vote?”: “Someone like Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, … is 65 years old but has become a leading thinker and writer representing the generation of conservative evangelicals [turned off by] Falwell’s Moral Majority [and] Cruz’s insistence on fusing religion and politics …

“Rubio’s faith outreach liaison, Eric Teetsel[:] ‘[A]dvocates for other candidates say, “America is in need of revival and my candidate is the one who can bring it.” … No. That is not where revival comes from.’ … If Rubio is competing with Cruz or Trump deep into the primary calendar, they will be competing for faith voters in states [Va., N.C., Ill.] that … have large numbers of Keller evangelicals who have never seen a primary that mattered in their state.” http://yhoo.it/1N94LMx

LYNN SWEET: “The team advising the Barack Obama Foundation on the selection of an architect for the Obama Center includes the husbands of Caroline Kennedy and Meryl Streep.” http://bit.ly/1PcAEFj

DATA DU JOUR: smallest Obama SOTU audience — AP: “Nielsen … says 31.3 million people watched, … his smallest audience for the annual speech. His lowest previous was last year’s, … which had 33.3 million … Obama’s ratings peak [for the annual address] was his first[,] in 2009, … 52.4 million people. This year’s speech was carried live on 12 networks and on tape delay on Univision. … [T]he least-watched State of the Union speech by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton was their last.”

YOU’RE INVITED to NFL EVENT in D.C. TONIGHT: Playbookers are invited to join the NFL Network and Politico tonight at 6 at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) for NFL Films’ “America’s Game and the Iran Hostage Crisis.” The screening will be followed by a conversation led by Luiza Savage, documentarian and Politico’s editorial director of events.

— Livestreaming on Politico at 7:30 p.m.: The amazing panel includes director and executive producer Tate Donovan; Alex Paen, American reporter in Iran during the hostage crisis; Rocky Sickmann, U.S. Marine held hostage during the crisis; Ramin Asgard, a longtime U.S. diplomat on Iran whose many roles included reinstating U.S.-Iran sports exchanges; and Nahal Toosi, Politico’s foreign affairs correspondent. Trailer: 1 min. YouTube http://bit.ly/1Rocz4V

HILLARY STRATEGERY — “Clinton’s Iowa déjà vu: Just when it seemed Clinton had shed the demons of 2008, Bernie Sanders is causing flashbacks,” by Annie Karni in Des Moines: “With three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, the Clinton campaign is … watching the polls tighten uncomfortably — a 13-percentage-point drop nationally in the last month — as they go on the attack against an authentic, inspirational candidate with a clarion message and momentum on his side.” http://politi.co/1ZlvOeC

— “Sanders ad burst coincides with upward movement in polls,” by AP’s Julie Bykowicz: “In the past three weeks, Sanders’ campaign has spent about $4.7 million on ads to Clinton’s $3.7 million … 1,000 more Sanders commercials than Clinton ads on broadcast TV, according to … Kantar Media’s CMAG. … The turnabout in ad spending … prompted the Clinton campaign last week to send an email to supporters with the subject line ‘nervous.’” http://apne.ws/1ZvPVMy

— Boston Globe, middle of A1, “Clinton takes subtle approach in courting Warren,” by Annie Linskey:”Clinton keeps in occasional touch with Senator Elizabeth Warren. The most recent phone chat centered on a topic Warren holds dear: pressuring Wall Street bankers. Warren thanked Clinton for writing an op-ed arguing that Democrats needed to fight off Republican efforts to water down regulations on the financial services industry, Clinton recalled. And Clinton wished Warren a Happy 2016 … Warren … speaks far more regularly with Clinton’s campaign chief financial adviser Gary Gensler.” http://bit.ly/1J4aKaG

- The Nation endorses on cover of Feb. 8 edition, “Bernie Sanders for President: With integrity and principle, the Vermont senator is calling Americans to a political revolution.” Link live at 6 am http://bit.ly/1n0yTVJ

AIR WAR … JEB ad, “Recovery,” talks about his daughter’s former drug addiction. http://bit.ly/1l7Yp9L

… CHRISTIE Iowa ad, “Strong and Clear,” highlights “his record prosecuting terrorists, reminding viewers that Hillary Clinton helped craft Obama’s foreign policy.” http://bit.ly/1JLEsB6

… CRUZ video, “Cruz Commander” shows Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson giving his endorsement. http://bit.ly/1JLHeGG

SPOTTED: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and his likely Dem challenger Rep. Tammy Duckworth, all in coach, last night on United 1062 from DCA to ORD … Chris Matthews at Reagan National Airport yesterday, near Gate 25.

SEND YOUR spottings to mallen@politico.com and dlippman@politico.com.

2016 PLAYERS — KRISTINE MICHALSON to Rubio: Yesterday was “my last day working for Senator Dan Coats and the Joint Economic Committee. … [Today] I am starting … as the Director of Press Advance for the Marco Rubio for President campaign where you will find me in a variety of excellent states asking venues if they have Wi-Fi for the incoming media.”

— MICAH JOHNSON to Rubio: The press secretary for Sen. Bob Corker will wrap up five years in the Senate tomorrow and join Rubio’s campaign as a regional spokeswoman. The pride of Kodak, Tenn. (not far from her favorite place, Dollywood), Micah started in the Corker office as an intern. Micah also was vice president of the Senate Press Secretaries Association.

MARK SALTER in Esquire, “We Deserve Better Than Donald Trump”: “There have been lots of candidates in the past I’ve disagreed with, even loathed. There’s only one I’ve wanted to punch in the face.” http://bit.ly/230uIcG

MEDIAWATCH — “A Media Columnist [Jim Rutenberg] Who Will Name Names,” by NYT’s public editor Margaret Sullivan: “Something else that readers may like about him is his longtime aversion to the use of anonymous sources in his work. … He wrote to me: … ‘I fear that important people on the media beat have come to expect anonymity automatically, so I don’t know how well my ban will hold up as I move forward with the column, but I’m going to do everything I can to keep anonymity at a minimum.” http://nyti.ms/1SjoYac

— “Al Jazeera America shutting down,” by Joe Pompeo, Hadas Gold and Peter Sterne : “Al Jazeera America brass said the channel’s business model was ‘no longer sustainable.’ It will shut down by April 30, an Al Jazeera America executive [CEO Al Anstey] told staff, saying the decision was made by the channel’s board of directors and was not a reflection of the quality of their work.” With text of memo http://politi.co/1Kej2Yh

— “CBS News announces Bob Schieffer to contribute political commentary”: “Schieffer, who retired from CBS in 2015 as Chief Washington Correspondent, will appear on CBS News programs through the 2017 Inauguration.” http://bit.ly/1PrGLWP

— “NBC News Sought Sit-Down Interview With Clinton Accuser Juanita Broaddrick,” by BuzzFeed’s Kyle Blaine: “NBC News pursued, but ultimately did not obtain, an on-air interview with Juanita Broddrick, the woman who 17 years ago publicly accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in the ’70s … A producer for NBC News traveled to Van Buren, Arkansas, in an attempt to secure a sit-down interview with Broaddrick … [and] NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell.” http://bzfd.it/1l7ZQF4

BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK cover story, “United’s Quest to Be Less Awful,” by Drake Bennett: “United’s boarding process-five cordoned-off lines corresponding to their own boarding groups-was instituted in 2013 to bring organization to the expectant throng at the gate. But [United] found was that the lines were self-perpetuating. As soon as someone got in the queue, others felt compelled to do the same. Well before boarding time, the lines would trail out across the concourse. … [P]lanners in United’s airport operations department … ran experiments … with only two main lanes: one for the group currently boarding and one for the group that was next.” http://bloom.bg/201uyzB See the cover. http://bit.ly/1ZluLvf

TRAILER OF THE DAY — “George Clooney and Julia Roberts Reunite in Jodie Foster’s Hostage Drama ‘Money Monster’” http://slate.me/1l7Yyde

TIME cover, “David Bowie, 1947–2016” ( 1989 Herb Ritts photo): “This issue marks the second time that Bowie has appeared on the cover of TIME; he was first featured on the cover July 18, 1983, for the release of his ‘Let’s Dance’ album.” See the cover. http://bit.ly/1J4aPuK Cover story by Culture Editor Isaac Guzman http://ti.me/1SjqCsq

BUSINESS BURST: WSJ 2-col. lead, “Stocks Take Beating as Alarm Grows: Investors flee amid anxiety over global economy, oil; Dow nears correction territory” … “Stocks plunge as a dismal start to 2016 gets worse,” by AP Business Writer Alex Veiga: “Stocks tumbled again [Dow down 365 points, 2%] on fears of a global slowdown and alarm over plummeting oil prices, officially sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index into a correction, or a drop of 10 percent or more from its peak.”

— Times of London cover, “Petrol may soon be ‘cheaper than water,’” by Transport Correspondent Graeme Paton: Oil “and diesel are set to become cheaper than bottled water after a collapse in the value of oil, experts have predicted.” http://thetim.es/230zoiP

— GE moving HQ to Boston from Fairfield, Conn. — Boston Globe banner, “GE CHANGES THE TERRAIN BY MAKING BOSTON ITS BASE: Company is largest ever to pick the city; ripple effect expected,” by Jon Chesto: The announcement marks “the end of a high-stakes competition to woo GE from its longtime campus in suburban Connecticut, besting New York, Providence, and other cities [and] further solidifies the region’s reputation as a magnet for innovation. GE said it will have roughly 800 people in Boston: 200 from corporate staff and 600 digital industrial product managers, designers and developers … It’s a major victory for Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh.” http://bit.ly/1OQd4SV

OBAMA ALUMNI — RON KLAIN on HuffPost, “Now That the Ebola Epidemic Is Over, These Are the Lessons Learned”: “On Thursday, Liberia will be declared ‘Ebola-free’ by the World Health Organization, joining Sierra Leone and Guinea — signaling an end to the Ebola epidemic. What did we learn? First, it did not have to be this bad. … On the other hand, it could have been much, much worse. … Third, government can work. … Fourth, we still have a long way to go to be ready for the truly dangerous global pandemic to come.” http://huff.to/1n0zuqv

TRANSITIONS — “Nicole Mann has joined Ketchum as SVP and director of public and corporate affairs, based in Washington … [She was] senior director of global public affairs and policy communications for Teva Pharmaceuticals in … Before that, she led public affairs programs for clients at the D.C. offices of Qorvis Communications and Waggener Edstrom.”

— Katherine A. Vargas, former White House director of Hispanic media, has started her new gig as public affairs manager at Google, where she’ll managing the company’s media partnerships including the very inspiring Women Rule, Washington Ideas Forum and other media partnerships around the Presidential debates.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Monica Notzon … Will Baskin-Gerwitz, spokesman for Missouri Democratic Party … Natasha McKenzie

BIRTHDAYS: Susan Glasser (hat tips: Theo, Peter) … Maureen Dowd (flat-cap tips: brother Kevin, nephew Patrick) … Shepard Smith is 52 … CBS stalwart Bill Plante (h/t Jackie Berkowitz) … LCV President Gene Karpinski … Erin Haber, celebrating 3–0 with Jay, Alix, Mom and The Dad at Tosca (h/t Dad) … Eric Alterman is 56 … AP alum Chuck Babington, founder of WaVe Communications with Jim Kuhnhenn … Toby Harnden of The SundayTimes of London and a Telegraph alum, who studied modern history at Oxford … Brennan Moss (hat tips — the 15 disciples: Peter, Michael, Cody, Jimmy, Paul, Tim, Seth, Chris, Dave, Pratt, Brig, Tommy, Blake, Brady and Eric) … Frank Raines, former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae … Jack Torry, Washington correspondent for Columbus Dispatch … Michael Block, attorney adviser in CFPB’s office of intergovernmental affairs and a White House alum … NPR alum Andrea Seabrook, founder of DecodeDC … Margaret Chadbourn of ABC News … WaPo’s Molly Gannon … Politico education editor Marcella Bombardieri … David Vyorst … Doug Michelman of Sprint, formerly with Visa …

… DNC’s Alexandra Shapiro, a McAuliffe and DCCC alum (h/t Carla Frank) … Ben Koltun of Hamilton Place Strategies (h/t Sabrina Siddiqu) … NPR’s Jen Liberto is 4–0 … William Harrison Johnson, director of political and public affairs at Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries … Teddy Eynon, partner at Fox Rothschild … former N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue … Duncan Currie … Andy Gussert … Megan Milligan … Ruby Macklem … Mary Jane Cobb (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Ellen Wulfhorst, chief correspondent of the Americas at the Thomson Reuters Foundation … Colin Milligan … Jack Herzog, son of John and Laura … Julian Bond … John Ellsworth, Gold Star Father and chairman of Military Families United … Regina Schofield, a Bush 43 DOJ alum now director of corporate engagement and education outreach at Battelle … Jeffrey Webb of Google elections and advocacy … Patty Link … Charlotte Hudek … Laura Pena … Marc Schloss … David Green … blues singer Clarence Carter is 80 … Faye Dunaway is 75 … movie writer-director Steven Soderbergh is 53 … LL Cool J is 48 … Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) is 47 … actor-singer Grant Gustin is 26 (h/ts AP)

** A message from the National Retail Federation: Retailers care about jobs because the industry is the nation’s largest private sector employer and the leading creator of jobs. One in four American jobs — 42 million positions — are supported by retail. A third of Americans found their first jobs in retail and nearly two-thirds have worked in retail at some point in their lives, according to NRF research. As of December, retail employment in 2015 had increased by nearly 175,000 jobs over 2014.

Retail jobs are good jobs. Studies show that retail jobs pay wages competitive with similar positions in other industries, that most retail workers are happy in their jobs and that hiring managers throughout the economy value retail experience highly when evaluating job applicants. Unlike other industries that might be concentrated in a few specific locations, retail employees live and work in every city and town from Maine to Hawaii, and retailers are vital members of each community they serve. Learn more at nrf.com/SOTU. **

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