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    Presidential politics move fast. What we're watching heading into a new week on the 2020 campaign: ___ Days to Iowa caucuses: 14 Days to general election: 288 ___ THE NARRATIVE With voting to begin in just two weeks, the sprint to the Iowa caucuses is decidedly complicated by the beginning of President Donald Trump's historic impeachment trial in the Senate. The proceedings will prevent the two leading progressive candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, from spending as much time in the kickoff caucus state as they'd like, giving an advantage to moderate rivals Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. At the same time, the progressive movement is struggling to project a united front after a dispute over gender threatened to splinter the left. Taken together, the evolving dynamics add yet another layer of uncertainty to the already unsettled Democratic primary fight at a critical moment. ___ THE BIG QUESTIONS How excited are black voters about these Democrats? The week opens with Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and a spotlight on the Democratic Party's critical relationship with African American voters. The party's best-known black candidates, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, have already been knocked out the race. On paper, Joe Biden has maintained a dominant advantage over the rest of the field among black voters, but the ultimate Democratic nominee will not only need to win black voters in the primary, he or she will need to convince them to turn out in greater numbers in 2020 than they did in 2016. We'll be talking to plenty of African American leaders and watching how the candidates are received at multiple forums dedicated to King and racial justice across various states, including Iowa and South Carolina. Will impeachment change the primary? History is being written in Washington this week as the Senate begins Trump's impeachment trial on Tuesday. While the proceedings are not expected to lead to the Republican president's removal, they could play a major role in the first voting contest of the Democratic Party's primary season. Four Senate Democrats running for president, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bennet, Sanders and Warren, are required to attend each day of the trial, which will severely limit their ability to rally supporters on the ground in Iowa. Will it hurt them? Will it ultimately help Biden and Buttigieg? And stepping back, will it diminish the importance of Iowa's Feb. 3 caucuses? Can Trump peel off any Bernie bros? All of a sudden, Republicans, led by Trump, are deeply concerned about whether Sanders is being treated fairly by the Democratic Party. Perpetuating a conservative conspiracy theory, the president claimed last week that establishment Democrats “are rigging the election” against Sanders by forcing him to stay in Washington for the impeachment trial just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The conspiracy ignores the fact that Warren, Klobuchar and Bennet are in the same position as Sanders. It's laughable to think Trump and GOP leaders are genuinely concerned about Sanders, but it's not quite so crazy to imagine some disaffected Sanders supporters ultimately supporting Trump this fall — or sitting out the election altogether — if Sanders doesn't emerge as the Democratic nominee. In a general election that may come down to razor-thin margins in a handful of swing states, it wouldn't take many angry Sanders supporters to make a real impact. Will the unity illusion hold? Less than a week has passed since the progressive alliance between Warren and Sanders was shattered with a “he said, she said” dispute tinged with sexism. The liberal leaders have avoided any further public criticism of each other since the Jan. 14 debate, but tensions remain, particularly among their most passionate supporters. Democrats cannot afford any permanent divisions in their energized left wing if they hope to defeat Trump in the fall. And rank-and-file primary voters have little appetite for Democrat-on-Democrat violence. That makes the Sanders-Warren rift a critical dynamic to watch moving forward. Does Bernie have a woman problem? Even before the Warren accusation, it was no secret that many female supporters of Hillary Clinton had been nursing a years-long grudge against Sanders. They blamed him for not working hard enough to help the party's first female nominee after their divisive 2016 primary battle. Sanders didn't do himself any favors with those voters on Sunday when he described gender (and age) as a political “problem.' It was an inarticulate answer at best to a dangerous question that Sanders should have been better prepared to answer. Given the decisive role women have played in helping Democrats in the Trump era, Sanders and his party need to do better. ___ THE FINAL THOUGHT Democrats have yet to prove they can assemble a coalition capable of defeating Trump. And on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the party is facing new questions about its leading candidates' standing with women, African Americans and far-left activists. It's risky to assume that Trump's turbulent presidency alone will be enough to bring everyone together behind the Democratic nominee in November. That makes the delicate discussions over gender and race playing out now all the more dangerous. ___ 2020 Watch runs every Monday and provides a look at the week ahead in the 2020 election. ___ Follow Peoples at https://twitter.com/sppeoples ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • The nation is marking the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with tributes Monday recalling his past struggles for racial equality, observing the federal holiday named for him against the backdrop of a presidential election year. In an early tribute to King, Vice President Mike Pence spoke Sunday in Memphis, Tennessee, at a church service in which he recalled the challenges and accomplishments of the slain civil rights leader. Before the service, Pence toured the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony. “I’m here to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who from walking the dirt roads of the Deep South, to speaking to hundreds of thousands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, touched the hearts of the American people and led the civil rights movement to triumph over Jim Crow,' Pence said Sunday at the Holy City Church of God in Christ. Pence spoke about King’s religion and how he “challenged the conscience of a nation to live up to our highest ideals by speaking to our common foundation of faith.' Acknowledging the nation’s divisions, Pence said that if Americans rededicate themselves to the ideals that King advanced while striving to open opportunities for everyone, “we’ll see our way through these divided times and we’ll do our part in our time to form a more perfect union.” As a presidential election looms this fall, divisions rankle, according to recent opinion polls. Among black Americans, more than 80% said last year that President Donald Trump’s actions in office have made things worse for people like them, while only 4% said they thought Trump's actions have been good for African Americans in general. That's according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The same poll found about two-thirds of Americans overall disapproves of how Trump handles race relations. Trump is seeking to woo black voters, knowing he is unlikely to win them over en masse but hoping for more black support in critical swing states later this year. His campaign has stepped up outreach efforts, including to African Americans and Latinos, marking a departure from 2016 when Trump's volunteer “National Diversity Coalition” struggled to make an impact. The campaign already has spent more than $1 million on black outreach, including radio, print and online advertising in dozens of markets, the campaign has said. In King's hometown of Atlanta, Monday's commemorations could draw attention to the continuing leadership role of the clergy in African American thought and politics. The Rev. Howard-John Wesley, senior pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, will be the keynote speaker at a service Monday at organized by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. It will be held in the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which King and his father both led. Wesley has argued that Christ should be remembered as a political radical and that Christians should challenge injustices of the established political and social order. King's economic and antiwar activism can sometimes be bleached out of celebrations of the holiday, he has said. Wesley has been on sabbatical in recent months from the pulpit at his church, which has grown rapidly under his leadership. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican appointed earlier this month by Gov. Brian Kemp, planned to attend the Ebenezer Baptist Church event. Ebenezer Baptist is now pastored by the Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of several Democrats who could challenge Loeffler in a November special election. Monday's planned gathering is one of a series of events honoring King's legacy, including a Saturday night gala in Atlanta hosted by the King Center and a series of service projects organized by community groups. ___ Associated Press writer Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump’s defense team and the prosecutors of his impeachment are laying out their arguments over whether his conduct toward Ukraine warrants his removal from office. Trump's lawyers on Sunday previewed their impeachment defense with the questionable assertion that the charges against him are invalid, adopting a position rejected by Democrats as “nonsense.” The trial resumes on Tuesday with what could be a fight over the ground rules. By then, both sides will have submitted briefs and four Democratic presidential candidates will have been forced back to Washington from the early nominating states to join every other senator in silence, sans phones, on the Senate floor. What they're likely to hear in this extraordinary setting is the House Democrats' impeachment articles that charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his pressure on Ukraine for political help. From the White House, the senator-jurors are expected to hear that Trump committed no crime, the impeachment articles are invalid and he's the victim of Democrats who want to overturn his election. “Criminal-like conduct is required,” said Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional lawyer on Trump's defense team. Dershowitz said he will be making the same argument to the Senate and if it prevails, there will be “no need' to pursue the witness testimony or documents that Democrats are demanding. But the “no crime, no impeachment” approach has been roundly dismissed by scholars and Democrats, who were fresh off a trial brief that called Trump's behavior the “worst nightmare” of the country's founders. In their view, the standard of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' is vague and open-ended in the Constitution and meant to encompass abuses of power that aren't necessarily illegal. The White House is pushing an “absurdist position,' said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the lead Democratic prosecutor of the impeachment case. “That's the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you.” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., another impeachment prosecutor, called it “arrant nonsense” and said evidence of Trump's misconduct is overwhelming. The back-and-forth came as all concerned agitated for the Senate to get on with the third impeachment trial in the nation's history. Behind the scenes. the seven House managers were shoring up which prosecutor will handle which parts of the case and doing a walk-through of the Senate. . No senators were more eager to get going than the four Democratic presidential candidates facing the prospect of being marooned in the Senate ahead of kickoff nominating votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. “I'd rather be here,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on New Hampshire Public Radio while campaigning Sunday in Concord. During the trial, Sanders and other senators are required to sit for perhaps six grueling hours of proceedings daily — except Sundays, per Senate rules — in pursuit of the “impartial justice” they pledged to pursue. But there was scant evidence that anyone's mind was really open about whether Trump earned vindication or ouster. Mystery, however, abounded over the trial's ground rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shed no light on how the proceedings will follow — and differ from — the precedent of President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1999. “The president deserves a fair trial. The American people deserve a fair trial. So let's have that fair trial,” said Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, one of the seven impeachment prosecutors. But what's fair is as vigorously disputed as the basic question of whether Trump's pressure on Ukraine to help him politically merits a Senate conviction and removal from office. The stakes are enormous, with historic influence on the fate of Trump's presidency, the 2020 presidential and congressional elections and the future of any presidential impeachments. Whatever happens in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said, Trump will “be impeached forever.” Members of Trump's team countered that if they win a vindication for Trump, it means “there will be an acquittal forever as well,” Trump attorney Robert Ray said Sunday. “That is the task ahead.” For all of the suspense over the trial's structure and nature, some clues on what's to come sharpened on Sunday. The president's lawyers bore down on the suggestion that House impeachment is invalid unless the accused violated U.S. law. Dershowitz's argument, backed up by Ray, refers to an 1868 speech by Benjamin Curtis, who after serving as a Supreme Court justice acted as the chief lawyer for Andrew Johnson at his Senate impeachment trial. Johnson was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. “The core of the impeachment parameters allege that crimes have been committed, treason, bribery, and things like that, in other words, other high crimes and misdemeanors,” Ray said Sunday. Republicans have long signaled the strategy, which has, in turn, been disputed by other scholars. 'Rubbish,” said Frank Bowman, a University of Missouri law professor and author of his own book about the history of impeachment for the Trump era. “It’s comically bad. Dershowitz either knows better or should,” said Bowman, who said he had been Dershowitz's student as a law professor at Harvard. Even as he made the case for Trump's acquittal, Dershowitz on Sunday distanced himself from the rest of Trump's defense team and said he would merely speak about the Constitution at the trial. He refused to endorse the strategy pursued by other members of that team or defend Trump's conduct and said he didn't sign onto the White House left brief filed Saturday, which called impeachment a “brazen” attempt to overturn the 2016 election. “I'm a liberal Democrat ... I'm here as a constitutional lawyer,” Dershowitz said. 'I'm here to lend my expertise on that issue and that issue alone.” Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for witnesses and documents that weren't part of the House proceedings. A few Republicans said they want to know more before deciding. It's relevant because new information from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is being incorporated in the House case. At the same time, Senate Democrats want to call John Bolton, the former national security adviser, among other potential eyewitnesses, after the White House blocked officials from appearing in the House. With Republicans controlling the Senate 53-47, they can set the trial rules — or any four Republicans could join with Democrats to change course. Crow spoke on CNN's “State of the Union” and Dershowitz was on CNN and ABC's “This Week.” Ray was on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures.” Schiff appeared on ABC and Nadler on CBS's “Face the Nation.” ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Hunter Woodall in Manchester, N.H., contributed to this report. ___ Follow Laurie Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman
  • When Sen. Kamala Harris’ advisers assessed the Democratic primary field early in her campaign, they viewed Joe Biden as headed for an inevitable collapse and Bernie Sanders as unlikely to recapture the magic of his 2016 campaign. A year later, Harris is out of the race, and Biden and Sanders are front-runners for the Democratic nomination. Both have overcome speed bumps in their campaigns, including a heart attack for Sanders, refined the rationales for their candidacy, and maintained the support of key Democratic constituencies — black voters for Biden and younger voters for Sanders. The durability of two white men in their late 70s has surprised many Democrats and prompted questions about representation and electability in a party that will count on high turnout among women, minorities and young voters in November’s general election faceoff against President Donald Trump. Biden, 77, and Sanders, 78, would each be the oldest president in American history on Inauguration Day. “We like to pride ourselves on not being the party of old, white men,” said Sue Dvorsky, the former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, who endorsed Harris in the campaign. “But there is something to the fact that these two, they’re known quantities in a time when everything is so utterly unknown.” Biden and Sanders still face stiff competition in the early voting states that could block their paths to the nomination. They’re locked in tight, four-way races in Iowa and New Hampshire with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. A win for any of the candidates in the first two contests would give their campaigns a crucial jolt. Yet Biden and Sanders, two ideological foes, have increasingly been tangling in ways that suggest they expect to be the last two standing in the Democratic primary. Sanders has questioned Biden’s judgment in voting for the Iraq war in 2003, while the former vice president has cast the Vermont senator’s government-run health care proposals as risky and astronomically expensive. On Saturday, Biden called for Sanders to disavow a misleading video a Sanders aide put out suggesting the former vice president endorsed Republicans’ calls for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Other campaigns are still grappling with how best to cut into Biden and Sanders’ support. Buttigieg, another more moderate candidate, could benefit from a Biden dip in the early states, but he has made no measurable progress with voters. Warren and Sanders, two progressive favorites, have seemed destined for an inevitable clash, but both tried to back away from the first rift that emerged last week: a disagreement over whether Sanders told Warren in a private meeting that a woman can’t beat Trump. The prospect of a Biden-Sanders faceoff deep in the primary isn’t what many Democrats would have predicted a year ago, as the party’s primary filled out with a diverse cast of senators, governors and rising political stars. At the time, Democratic strategists openly speculated that Biden, especially, in his third bid for president was bound to stumble due to his frequent verbal miscues and a resume from 40 years in politics that can appear out of line with a party shifting to the left. Admirers who worked alongside him in the Obama White House privately worried that a bruising campaign would erase the goodwill he built up over eight years as vice president, particularly after he grieved publicly over the 2015 death of his son, Beau. Some rivals tried to pounce quickly, with Harris launching an aggressive and deeply personal debate stage attack on Biden’s opposition in the 1970s to federally mandated school busing. The moment gave Harris a sudden boost and appeared to raise questions about Biden’s viability. But it proved to be a sugar high for Harris, and Biden quickly rebounded. Sanders has also faced questions about whether he could replicate the enthusiasm of his 2016 campaign, when he split the vote in the Iowa caucuses with Hillary Clinton and raised eye-popping sums of money from small donors that allowed him to challenge her to the end of the primary campaign. Without a head-to-head race against a flawed opponent like Clinton, and with Warren, another progressive star, in the race, some Democrats posited Sanders would struggle to replicate his past success. But Lily Adams, who served as Harris’ communications director, said of both Biden and Sanders: “Once the summer was over, it was clear both of them had durability.” Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and a Biden supporter, said other campaigns focused too much on Biden’s and Sanders’ age, without realizing that their years in the public eye came with an upside. “When people have seen a Joe Biden or a Bernie Sanders in action for 10, 20, 30 years, their opinions of them, if they liked them, become baked in,” Rendell said. Sanders has led the Democratic field in fundraising, pulling in $34.5 million in the fourth quarter — all raised after an October heart attack that pulled him off the campaign trail for several days. Sanders has kept up a robust campaign schedule ever since, with even his rivals commenting on the senator’s energy. “Bypass surgery generally makes the patient healthier than he or she was before,” Rendell said. “That’s almost a plus for Bernie. ... Just look at him.” With so many once-promising rivals out of the race as the Iowa caucuses near, both campaigns are relishing, so far, proving doubters wrong. “You know, a year ago our friend from Texas was going to be the president — Beto,” said Sanders’ top political adviser, Jeff Weaver, referring to former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. “Kamala Harris was going to be president, and on and on and on.” Biden aide Symone Sanders blamed “the media and the pundit class” for underestimating her boss. Voters, she added, “consistently said they knew who Joe Biden was.” With the first primary votes yet to be cast, Democratic sentiment could still quickly turn against Biden and Sanders. The senator, who struggled in the 2016 campaign with minority voters, faces the same questions about his ability to appeal to black voters as the race heads to South Carolina and other Southern states. Biden must prove that he cannot just win, but also energize young Democrats who vote in lower numbers in general elections and could make the difference in a close race against Trump. But already, Biden and Sanders have won grudging respect from some former doubters, who say the two septuagenarians have proven they’ve learned a thing or two from their previous White House bids. “It is remarkably, remarkably hard to run for president. And these two guys have done it before,” Dvorsky said. “If you’ve done it once, you’re not starting from scratch. You’re starting already on second base.”
  • In the closing days before the first votes are cast in the Democratic presidential contest, the party's leading hopefuls are splitting their time between the critical early-voting states South Carolina and Iowa at events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats vote first for their nominee, South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary is a crucial proving ground for a candidate's mettle with black voters. The state's showcase holiday celebration, Columbia's King Day at the Dome, is a notable and highly visible event for a Democratic politician. The festivities are marked by a march through the streets of downtown Columbia and a rally at the Statehouse. All the top-tier candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, California businessman Tom Steyer and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — planned to start Monday with prayer services around Columbia. Joining them in the capital are Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Sanders spokesman Michael Wukela said the King event in South Carolina was about “respect pure and simple,” noting that racial inequality in areas including criminal justice and poverty highlights the relevance of commemorating a civil rights icon here. “If you can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with people who face these challenges every day yet still manage to embrace a vision of hope and grace, then you don’t deserve their respect, much less their vote,” he said. King Day at the Dome began in 2000 as a reaction to state lawmakers' decision that year to keep the Confederate battle flag flying from the Statehouse's copper-covered cupola, a place of prominence that drew opposition. Tens of thousands of people marched through Columbia’s downtown from the prayer service to the Statehouse. Lawmakers eventually agreed to a compromise that moved the flag to a flagpole, albeit one prominently situated in front of the building. The deal also recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the state and created Confederate Memorial Day. In 2015, following the racist massacre of nine Bible study participants at a historic black church in Charleston, lawmakers voted to remove the flag from the grounds. In years past many Democratic presidential hopefuls have made their way to the north-facing facade of the Statehouse, including John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Last year, Sanders and Sen. Cory Booker, who has dropped out of the 2020 race, attended. Many of the candidates in the wide field planned to travel to Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday for the Brown and Black Forum, recognized as one of the nation's oldest minority-focused presidential candidate events of its kind. Traditionally a debate, the event in recent years has been more of a one-on-one candidate forum. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is not competing in the early-voting states but has put some of his multimillion-dollar ad spending there — plans to join a King Day parade in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tech businessman Andrew Yang is in the midst of a 17-day bus tour of Iowa and plans to remain there. ___ Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
  • The New York Times has endorsed not one but two candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar from the party's moderate wing and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren from the progressive wing. The paper said Sunday it had chosen the two most effective candidates from the moderate and progressive sides of the party — without stating a preference for either approach. It praised Warren as 'a gifted story teller' and Klobuchar as “the very definition” of Midwestern charisma and grit. When mentioning another front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Times acknowledged his years of experience, but also noted his age, 77, desire, and occasional gaffes. “It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders,” the paper said, borrowing from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address. The paper mentioned Sen. Bernie Sanders' age, 78, “serious concerns” about his health and noted his unwillingness to compromise. The paper praised another of the front-runners, 38-year-old Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, as likely to have “a bright political future.” The newspaper changed its approach to presidential endorsements this year, airing footage of candidate interviews and details about the endorsement process on a special edition of “The Weekly,” the FX network series about the Times. In previous election years, the Times has often chosen a candidate popular with the party establishment. The Times endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016 and over a charismatic but unproven newcomer Barack Obama in 2008. In 2004, the Times endorsed John Kerry and in 2000 chose Al Gore. Each time they chose a candidate who was popular with the Democratic establishment and, except for 2008, the eventual nominee.
  • A White House adviser on Europe and Russia issues has been placed on administrative leave pending a security-related investigation, two people with knowledge of his exit said Sunday. Andrew Peek was escorted off the White House compound on Friday, according to one of those familiar with his departure. In response to questions, the National Security Council, the foreign policy unit at the White House, said in a statement that 'we do not discuss personnel matters.” Peek, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, has been in the position since November. His two predecessors in that position — Tim Morrison and Fiona Hill — both testified in the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Before joining the State Department, Peek was a fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas. He graduated from Princeton University in 2003, received a master's degree from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2005 and earned a doctorate in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Peek was a U.S. Army intelligence officer serving in Afghanistan where he advised now-retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen on several matters, including intelligence and Pakistani aspects of the war. Before Afghanistan, he was an adviser to Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.
  • Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech Sunday in remembrance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a church service in Tennessee. Pence spoke at the Holy City Church of God in Memphis the day before the federal holiday named after the civil rights leader. “I’m here to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who from walking the dirt roads of the Deep South, to speaking to hundreds of thousands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, touched the hearts of the American people and led the civil rights movement to triumph over Jim Crow,' Pence said. Before the service, Pence toured the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where King was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony. “But we’re not here today to speak about that terrible day, but about a life of consequence and a life well lived,” Pence said. Pence spoke about King’s religion and how he “challenged the conscience of a nation to live up to our highest ideals by speaking to our common foundation of faith. The vice president added: “”He touched the hearts of millions of Americans and his words continue to inspire through this day.” Acknowledging the nation’s deep rift, Pence said that if Americans rededicate themselves to the ideals that King advanced while striving to open opportunities for everyone, “we’ll see our way through these divided times and we’ll do our part in our time to form a more perfect union.”
  • Bernie Sanders said Sunday that outside political groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums backing candidates for public office should be abolished — including those supporting his own bid for the White House. But the Vermont senator stopped short of directly calling on Our Revolution, a political nonprofit he founded, to cease its efforts on behalf of his Democratic presidential primary campaign. “I would think that we should end super PACs right now. So I would tell my opponents who have a super PAC, why don't you end it? And certainly that's applicable to the groups that are supporting me,” Sanders said. The remarks, made during a candidate forum with New Hampshire Public Radio, are the first substantive response from Sanders after The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Our Revolution's advocacy for his White House bid appeared to skirt campaign finance law. For years, Sanders has railed against the torrent of money allowed to flood the political system in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 Citizens United decision. But he has saved special ire for super PACs, which is shorthand for super political action committee. Our Revolution is not a super PAC. But the tax-exempt political nonprofit he founded in 2016 functions much like one — but without having to reveal who its donors are. Like super PACs, these nonprofits were similarly empowered to raise and spend unlimited sums after the Citizens United decision. The only catch is that such groups must take steps keep their activities separate from the candidates they support. Our Revolution, however, appears to be violating campaign finance law because the group was founded by Sanders, legal experts say. The campaign finance act says that groups “directly or indirectly established” by federal officeholders or candidates can’t “solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds” for federal electoral activity that exceeds the “limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements” of the law. Those limits are currently set at $2,800 for candidates and $5,000 for political action committees. It's far from clear if the Federal Election Commission will take action. The agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance laws, does not currently have enough members to legally meet following a recent resignation. Our Revolution, meanwhile, has taken in nearly $1 million from donors who gave more than those limits and whose identities it hasn’t fully disclosed, according to tax filings for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Much of it came from those who contributed six-figure sums. The group has denied any wrongdoing. A debate over big money in politics has riven the Democratic primary with Sanders and fellow progressive, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, leading the attack on rivals including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who have relied on big-dollar donors. Sanders has also attacked Biden for accepting support from a super PAC founded by his allies. During the 2016 campaign, he also criticized his rival Hillary Clinton for relying on their support. But he was far more circumspect about Our Revolution on Sunday, chalking it up to a “broken' campaign finance system that he would try to overhaul if elected president. “You've got groups all over the country that legally can do what they want. And I would be very happy to say and to urge an end to all that if other candidates do the same,” Sanders said. “So I am not in favor of these things ... But that's the world that we live in.' He also suggested there's not much he can do to curb Our Revolution's election activity, which includes turning out his supporters to the polls. “The function of Our Revolution was to generate grassroots political activity, to get people involved in the political process and I think they've done a very good job at it,' Sanders said. Legally — and in fact, I have nothing to do with them — they operate absolutely independently of our campaign.' ___ Slodysko reported from Washington.
  • Democratic presidential candidates spent the weekend grappling with how to address questions surrounding sexism and gender bias as they sought to balance support for women against concerns of a political blowback. After his wife went public with her own experience of sexual assault at the hands of her doctor, businessman Andrew Yang said that “our country is deeply misogynist.' Other White House hopefuls, however, didn't go so far. Billionaire Tom Steyer said that while systemic sexism exists, he “hopes' half of America is not misogynistic. Meanwhile, the tensions between Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont continued to unfold. Days after he and Warren engaged in a debate stage dispute over whether he once privately told her that a woman couldn't be president, Sanders seemed to downplay the problem of sexism in politics on Sunday, suggesting the challenges women face are similar to those he faces running for president at the age of 78. Asked by reporters for a response, Warren said only that “I have no further comment on this.” Democrats have spent years blasting President Donald Trump as a sexist for the way he talks about and treats women. But as the first votes of the Democratic contest approach in nearly two weeks, the candidates' comments showed that questions about gender and sexism are also tricky for those seeking to defeat Trump. And for some, there's no easy way to talk about it. For Warren, gender hasn't been central to her candidacy, which has instead focused largely on massive proposals to reshape economics and politics. She confronted the question of whether women can be elected to high office during last week's debate, noting that the two women on the stage — herself and Klobuchar — were the only candidates that hadn’t lost a single election they ran in over the past three decades. But since then, she has generally avoided opportunities to keep the fight going — or escalate it. Sanders, who was criticized in 2016 for not doing enough to condemn the sexist tactics of some of his supporters, stepped up his outreach to women over the weekend. He gave a brief speech on Saturday at the Seacoast Women’s March in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, telling the crowd that ”we are in this together” and that men and women must work for equal pay and abortion rights. But questions about his views could linger after he spoke on New Hampshire Public Radio. Asked if he thinks female candidates have a different experience as presidential candidates than him and whether gender is still an obstacle for female politicians, Sanders answered yes. “I think everybody has their own sets of problems,” the Vermont senator said. “I'm 78 years of age. That's a problem.' He then went on to note that age concerns could also be a challenge for Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who turned 38 on Sunday. “If you're looking at Buttigieg, he's a young guy,” Sanders said. “And people will say, well, he's too young to be president. You look at this one, she's a woman,” he continued. “So everybody brings some negatives, if you'd like. I would just hope very much that the American people look at the totality of a candidate, not at their gender, not at their sexuality, not at their age, but at everything. Nobody is perfect. There ain't no perfect candidate out there.' He avoided talking about the private meeting with Warren that reignited the gender debate in the first place. “I really don't want to get into what was a private conversation,” Sanders said on the public radio program. “But to answer your question, let me just say this: It is hard for me to imagine how anybody in the year 2020 could not believe that a woman could become president of the United States. And if you check my record, I've been saying that for 30 years.” Still, the dispute between Warren and Sanders gave voice to long-simmering anxieties among Democrats that voters aren't ready for a woman in the White House. Hillary Clinton and her campaign aides have said sexism played a major role in her loss to Trump in 2016, but they’ve also acknowledged how difficult it was to call out the issue during the campaign, out of concerns that Clinton would come across as weak or alienate certain voters. In the 2020 campaign, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has repeatedly mentioned the struggles facing women in politics. During the November debate, she said that “women are held to a higher standard.” And she's argued that if Buttigieg were a woman, he wouldn’t be as successful in the primary as he’s been. Some voters in Iowa said that question is weighing on their minds as they prepare for the caucuses on Feb. 3. “I think Elizabeth Warren has good reason to be concerned about the underlying attitude,” said Shel Stromquist, a 76-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, who said he’s debating between Warren and Sanders but is leaning toward Sanders. “She is a woman running for president, and we just know the underlying gender bias that our political system has.” ___ Woodall reported from Manchester, N.H. Associated Press writer Will Weissert in Des Moines, Iowa, and Meg Kinnard in Florence, S.C., contributed to this report

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  • Police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said a man broke into a home and forced a woman and a 1-month-old boy into a car at gunpoint, according to WTVD. The home invasion and kidnapping happened Monday at 1:12 a.m. Wani Thomas broke into a home on Tangerine Drive and forced Jasmine Livermore and the baby boy, Nathaniel Thomas, into a vehicle, police said. Authorities are currently searching for all three. Thomas is considered armed and dangerous and last seen wearing a brown jacket with blue jeans. Livermore, 20, was last seen wearing gray pants, a brown shirt and a camouflage jacket. Anyone with information should call Fayetteville police at (910) 676-2597 or Cumberland County Crimestoppers at (910) 483-8477.
  • The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department rescued a man that was stuck in a tree in Atlantic Beach Sunday afternoon.  Video taken from the scene shows a ladder truck ascending into a large oak tree.   JFRD tweeted that the man was rescued from the tree safely and was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
  • As many as six people were shot in a violent weekend across Jacksonville. And the common thing in all these cases, no arrests. Two of the shootings happened within a block of each other on Justina Road in Arlington.  A man was sitting at a bus stop by when he was shot by someone in a red SUV on Saturday afternoon.  Hours later a person was shot nearby and hospitalized with injuries.  Late Sunday night a man was shot in the leg on Old Kings near Edgewood. The man was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  On Friday night two men in their 20's were injured in a shooting off Kings Road on the northwest side.  One man was hit in the lower leg and the other was struck in the upper torso. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment.  JSO says the shooting happened in a Shot Spotter area, and the technology system captured three gunshots.  On Friday around 8pm, a man in his 30’s was shot and killed on Brooklyn Road in the Moncrief area. JSO detectives were trying to locate any witnesses or video surveillance. 
  • Coming off a weekend in the 70's, a strong cold front brought drenching rain on Sunday afternoon, followed by a chill. Action News Jax Meteorologist Corey Simma is tracking temps well below average.  “Mostly sunny and cold with temperatures in the 50’s all day. And then clear and cold Monday night and Tuesday morning with some patchy inland frost”, said Simma.   Tuesday looks to be the coldest day this week, as we’ll struggle to reach 50 degrees. A breeze will keep it feeling even colder. We stay below average on Wednesday, with temperatures only in the 50’s.  The mid-60’s return on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll be near 70 but with scattered showers. 
  • The Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care and Protective Services announced the city of Jacksonville, once again, earned the no-kill designation for the year of 2019. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “A no-kill community is a city or town in which every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within that community has reached a 90% save rate or higher and adheres to the no-kill philosophy, saving every animal who can be saved.'  According to a release put out by the JHS, the save rate for APCS was 90 percent and for JHS it was 95 percent, making a citywide save rate of 93 percent.  In total, 16,874 animals entered the JHS shelters in 2019, which is a significant decrease from 19,366 animals in 2018, according to the JHS.  According to JHS, Jacksonville earned the distinction of being the largest city in the United States to earn a no-kill status. The city has maintained that status until last year when ACPS save rate fell to 86 percent.  “Examining the data and trends in 2017 and 2018 resulted in our renewed focus on cats and kittens in 2019,” said Deisler. “As a community, we had to take a look at ourselves ask – what can we do to save those lives? We knew that with the help of our community, a return to no-kill was possible. We are excited about the results from 2019 and even more excited for 2020. Thank you, Jacksonville!”

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