IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Read: Hawkish Hillary Clinton to Talk ISIS Strategy

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Hillary Clinton speaks at the Central Iowa Democrats Fall Barbecue
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Central Iowa Democrats Fall Barbecue in Ames, Iowa November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mark KauzlarichMARK KAUZLARICH / Reuters

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Hillary the Hawk

In a speech she’ll deliver this morning in New York, Hillary Clinton will describe her strategy to combat ISIS. And you can expect a hawkish-sounding address, especially compared with President Obama’s rhetoric. A Clinton campaign aide previews the speech, saying the Democratic candidate will call for 1) defeating ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the region; 2) disrupting ISIS’s network; and 3) beefing up defense/security capabilities in American and across the world. Now while those three areas aren’t necessarily different than what Obama has said in the past, we can pretty much guarantee that she’ll say it with sharper-edged rhetoric. After all, foreign affairs and national security is the one area where she can move to President Obama’s right. The question we have is if Bernie Sanders has the credibility to exploit it. Remember, while Barack Obama was to Hillary Clinton’s left on Iraq in 2007-2008, he actually was tougher than she was when it came to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sanders gives his why-I’m-a-socialist speech

Meanwhile, at 2:00 pm ET from Georgetown University in DC, Sanders will deliver an address on him being a self-described socialist. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality Sanders believes, as did [Franklin] Roosevelt, that all Americans should have a right to a job with a living wage; health care; education; social security; housing and freedom from unfair competition and monopolies,” his campaign says. The New York Times has more: “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be channeling Franklin D. Roosevelt more than Eugene V. Debs on Thursday afternoon as he delivers the most important speech of his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination: an attempt to demystify democratic socialism, his long-held political philosophy, and tie it to his vision of America.”

Can our current politics handle a Paris-style attack in the United States?

We raised this subject earlier this week, but it bears repeating again: Can our current politics (which are more polarized than they were 14 years ago) handle a Paris-style attack in the United States? The past week suggests it probably can’t. In fact, it’s been about as bad of a week for American political leadership as we’ve seen since the government shutdown days of 2013. Think about it: The House of Representatives is already voting on legislation -- today -- on additional certifications and background investigations for Syrian refugees. The question of whether to admit these refugees has turned into a huge political fight on the 2016 campaign trail and in state capitals across the country. President Obama has used two overseas news conferences to blast his critics at home. And Ted Cruz fired back at the president: “Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face.” It’s been a mess. And it’s gotten so bad, we’ve seen liberal columnists like Eugene Robinson take issue with Obama’s tone. And we’ve seen conservatives like John Podhoretz criticize the GOP field, and Michael Gerson worry about Islamophobia from American politicians.

Majority of Americans oppose allowing more Syrian refugees

“The latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll shows that 56% of Americans disapprove of allowing more migrants fleeing violence in Syria and other nations into the country, while 41% approve and the issue divides sharply across party lines,” Allison Kopicki, John Lapinski, and Hannah Hartig write. “About 8 in 10 Republicans disapprove of accepting more Syrian refugees - including 64% who strongly disapprove. Nearly two thirds of Democrats support the president's policy, while more independents disapprove (59%) than approve (40%).”

National Bloomberg poll after the Paris attacks: Trump leads the GOP pack

Here are the numbers, according to a new national Bloomberg poll: Trump 24%, Carson 20%, Rubio 12%, Cruz 9%, Bush 6%, Christie 4%. Back in September, the numbers were Trump 21%, Carson 16%, Bush 13%, Fiorina 11%, Rubio 8%, and Cruz 5%.

Jeb and allies have spent $20 million over the airwaves -- and have little to show for it

As of one us writes: “Jeb Bush and his allies have now spent approximately $20 million in TV ads in the 2016 presidential race - more than twice as much as any other candidate or outside group, according to ad-spending data from NBC News partner SMG Delta. And they have little to show for it, will poll numbers for Bush currently stuck in the single digits both nationally and in the early states. The pro-Bush Super PAC, Right to Rise, has spent $19.5 million in TV ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while the campaign has spent an additional $438,000. By comparison, Conservative Solutions Project - a 501c4 group supporting Marco Rubio that doesn't have to disclose its donors - has paid $8.4 million in TV ads so far. And Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has spent $8.1 million, while the Super PAC backing her has spent an additional $199,000.”

Biggest Spenders So Far (through Nov. 21)

  • Team Bush: $19.9 million ($19.5 million from Right to Rise Super PAC, $438K from campaign)
  • Team Rubio: $8.4 million (all from outside group Conservative Solutions Project)
  • Team Clinton: $8.3 million ($8.1 million from campaign, $199K from Priorities USA Super PAC)
  • Team Kasich: $7.3 million (all from two outside groups)
  • Team Christie: $5.7 million ($5.3 million from America Leads Super PAC, $407K from campaign)
  • Team Jindal: $3.3 million (all from outside groups)
  • Team Sanders: $3 million (all from campaign)
  • Team Graham: $1.7 million ($1.6 million from Super PAC, $100K from campaign)
  • Team Carson: $1.5 million (all from campaign)

Biggest Spenders This Week (from Nov. 15-21)

  • Team Bush: $2 million (all from Right to Rise)
  • Team Sanders: $940,000 (all from campaign)
  • Team Clinton: $741,000 (all from campaign)
  • Team Rubio: $619,000 (all from Conservative Solutions Project)
  • Team Kasich: $352,000 (all from New Day for America)
  • Team Christie: $313,000 (all from America Leads)
  • Team Carson: $214,000 (all from campaign)


On the trail

Donald Trump is in Iowa… Ben Carson swings through Alabama… Jeb Bush spends his day in New Hampshire… John Kasich stumps in South Carolina… Rand Paul holds a rally at George Washington University in DC… And Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are in Iowa.

Click here to sign up for First Read emails. Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone. Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter. Follow us @chucktodd, @mmurraypolitics, @carrienbcnews