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.
Insiders vs. outsiders at tomorrow night’s debate
There’s a good chance there will be two different debates going on at the main GOP debate in California tomorrow night. The first sub-debate is among the outsiders Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, who all need momentum to continue feeding off the 2016 beast (given that they don’t have infrastructure and establishment support). Yes, Trump is likely to be the center of attention again, but Carson and Fiorina have extra pressure to deliver. After all, when you’re an outsider and have the momentum, you can’t afford to lose it. And if you lose it, you usually don’t get it back. The second sub-debate is among the insider/establishment Republicans -- Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, even John Kasich. Bush and Walker, in particular, are fighting to regain momentum (see the NYT/CBS poll). Don’t be surprised if some of these insiders decide to target Jeb instead of Trump. Why? Going after Jeb (or the last name Bush) might be an easier path to prove your conservative bona fides than standing toe-to-toe with The Donald.
Expect a rough night for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell
Here’s another prediction about tomorrow night: It’s going to a rough debate for House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Already, we’ve seen Trump and Ted Cruz take shots at the GOP-led Congress over the Iran deal, which we now know won’t be blocked (see below). And then there’s the fight over Planned Parenthood and the possible looming government shutdown. Whether you’re an insider or outsider at tomorrow night’s debate, expect plenty of GOP attacks on Congress. Speaking of the looming government shutdown, be sure to read budget expert Stan Collender’s “The Five Questions That Will Determine If There’s A Government Shutdown.” Collender has put the chances of a shutdown at 67%.
Another poll: Trump, Carson lead the GOP pack
Ahead of tomorrow’s debate, a New York Times/CBS poll shows that Trump and Carson are leading the GOP pack -- Trump 27%, Carson 23%, Bush 6%, Huckabee 6%, Rubio 6%, Cruz 5%, Fiorina 4%, Kasich 3%, Paul 3%, Walker 2%. That Walker at 2% isn’t a typo, by the way…
Jeb’s Super PAC goes up on the air
“The Super PAC backing Jeb Bush today kicks off a $24-million TV campaign for Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that aims to educate Republican voters who, according to the committee's internal polling, know surprisingly little about Bush beyond the last name,” the Tampa Bay Times writes. Here’s the Right to Rise TV ad that begins running in Iowa and New Hampshire today -- and South Carolina next week: “As governor, he helped create 1.3 million new jobs. He vetoed billions in government spending. He cut taxes $19 billion, balanced eight budgets, and shrank state government… Proven conservative, real results.”
Last night’s two different rallies -- Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’
Here’s NBC’s Ali Vitali covering Donald Trump’s big rally in Dallas last night, where immigration -- surprise, surprise -- was the major topic. “From his first moments as a candidate, Donald Trump has been forceful about his plans for illegal immigration. So it's no surprise those plans, and controversial tone, were front and center on Monday night in Dallas at American Airlines Arena in front of more than 15,000 people. Trump hit the major points of his immigration plan — slamming sanctuary cities and pressing his reasoning that illegal immigration must be stopped. ‘We have to stop illegal immigration. We have to do it,’ he told a Dallas crowd that instantly erupted into cheers and chanted ‘U-S-A!’” More Trump: "We are a dumping ground for the rest of the world.” And here’s NBC’s Shaquille Brewster covering Bernie Sanders’ rally in Northern Virginia last night: “Under the bright lights and above the sea of blue ‘Bernie’ signs, Sanders hit his common themes of engaging in a political revolution that takes power from the one percent and moves it to the middle class. To get a sense of the crowd, when Sanders asked at the top: ‘Are there any students here tonight?’ An overwhelming majority of hands were raised.”
Sanders at Liberty University: A true man-bites-dog story
Speaking of Sanders, his speech at conservative Liberty University earlier in the day yesterday was a true man-bites-dog story -- a Democrat (err, actually a socialist) going into the heart of social conservatism. You certainly don’t see that every day. That takes political courage.
Wall Street Journal: Sanders’ proposals will cost $18 TRILLION
That’s the good news for Sanders yesterday -- his courageous speech at Liberty and his big crowd in Northern Virginia. Here’s his bad news and what has some Democrats believing is his liability in a general election: The Wall Street Journal puts a price tag for all of the spending that Sanders has proposed. The amount? $18 trillion over a decade. That’s trillion with a “T.”
Senate Republicans attempt re-vote on Iran deal
NBC’s Frank Thorp reports that, at 6:00 pm ET tonight, the Senate will hold a second vote on the motion to advance a resolution of disapproval against the Iran deal -- the same motion that failed last week via filibuster. And tonight’s motion is expected to fail again. Per Thorp, Republican leaders planned the re-vote in an effort to stress their frustration with Senate Democrats blocking them from reaching a final vote on a resolution of disapproval. A final vote on that resolution would result in it passing and President Obama needing to use his veto pen. But none of the 42 Democrats who support the Iran nuclear deal and voted to block the resolution of disapproval are expected to flip. Asked about the prospects of any Democrats flipping their votes on Tuesday's vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called the revote a "waste of time," saying they will "meet the same outcome."
On the trail
Trump delivers a speech for/on veterans at 9:30 pm ET in Los Angeles.