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First Read's Morning Clips: Trump's Big Lead

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
IMAGE: Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. John Locher / AP

OFF TO THE RACES: Trump holds BIG lead in CNN poll

A new CNN/ORC poll shows Trump at 39 percent with Republicans, Cruz at 18 percent, Carson at 10 percent and Rubio at 10 percent.

The New York Times looks back at how the race came together.

The AP: "Months of intense focus on the Republican race — and front-runner Donald Trump — have reverberated through the Democratic field, prompting front-runner Hillary Clinton to turn her attention to her would-be GOP challengers and leaving her chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, gasping for airtime."

CLINTON: She told the Des Moines Register of Trump's recent language: ""I really deplore the tone of his campaign, the inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people, and his going after groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric. Nothing really surprises me anymore. I don't know that he has any boundaries at all. His bigotry, his bluster, his bullying have become his campaign. And he has to keep sort of upping the stakes and going even further."

And asked by a young girl about bullying, she advised that Americans shouldn't let someone "bully his way" into the presidency.

CHRISTIE: He says he'll be "very competitive" in South Carolina if he has a good showing in New Hampshire.

CRUZ: "Sen. Ted Cruz launched an "emergency" appeal seeking to raise $1 million in 24 hours in response to a Washington Post online editorial cartoon depicting his two young daughters as dancing monkeys."

Writes the Washington Post: "If Donald Trump’s rise has been aided by low-information voters, Cruz is gaining with certain-information voters. They consume different media and admire different heroes than the press that writes gaffe-of-the-day stories or lists of winners and losers. And they are seen as more likely to vote in the defining early contests, especially in the Bible Belt-centered March 1 primaries."

NBC's Vaughn Hillyard outlines Cruz's southern strategy.

From POLITICO: "[I]n December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority."

RUBIO: He may struggle to shore up a key voting bloc: Florida's Puerto Rican voters.

SANDERS: He responded to Trump's language about Clinton's debate bathroom break, saying in Iowa: ""I don't know what his relationship with women has been like, but he has discovered that women go to the bathroom. And it's been very upsetting for him. He must have a very unusual relationship with women."

TRUMP: He claims that his use of the term "schlonged" was "not vulgar."