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OFF TO THE RACES: Campaigning on values, not policy

Don't miss yesterday's Tales from the Trail from our NBC News embeds.

NBC's Perry Bacon Jr. writes: "America is very unlikely to turn from a health care model based on private insurance companies to one in which the federal government decides the costs of every medical procedure. The Mexican government almost certainly won't build a huge border wall to keeps its citizens from entering the United States, particularly when the American president is demanding it. While they aren't admitting it publicly, it's likely that Bernie Sanders (government-run care) and Donald Trump (the wall) understand these proposals are far-fetched. But Sanders and Trump are running for president with a different model than many of their rivals. They are campaigning on themes and values, not policy."

A New Hampshire poll from WBUR shows that a large share of the state’s undeclared voters yet to settle on a candidate or a party.

CLINTON: POLITICO reports that Bill Clinton is getting nervous about the campaign's strategy. "Bill Clinton, according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, has been phoning campaign manager Robby Mook almost daily to express concerns about the campaign’s organization in the March voting states, which includes delegate bonanzas in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas."

From the New York Times, on Clinton's speaking fees: "[T]he new attacks strike at what even some allies believe may be one Mrs. Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities: not her positions on financial regulation, but her personal relationships with Wall Street executives, along with the millions of dollars Mrs. Clinton, her husband, and their family foundation have accepted in speaking fees or charitable contributions from banks, hedge funds and asset managers. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama has never earned speaking fees from Wall Street."

The RNC hits Clinton: “Seven Years Ago Today, Clinton Was Sworn In As Secretary Of State And Since That Time, Our Nation's Security Has Suffered.”

CRUZ: Bob Dole says that a Cruz presidency would mean "cataclysmic" losses for the GOP and that Donald Trump would do better.

Meanwhile, Cruz says that the GOP establishment is "uniting" behind Donald Trump.

The New York Times looks at how Donald Trump is forcing Cruz to change his strategy.

JFK’s grandson: “Ted Cruz Is No Jack Kennedy”

RUBIO: His ceiling might not be as high as previously predicted, writes the Des Moines Register: "The Register asked two dozen poll respondents who have “very favorable" or “mostly favorable" views of Carson and Rubio what it would take to make one of them their No. 1 choice. The answer from all but one: At the moment, they can’t see themselves caucusing for either on Feb. 1."

Party elders have not settled on him, despite an early flurry of endorsements that has largely stalled, POLITICO notes.

SANDERS: He’s out with a new ad featuring the Simon and Garfunkel anthem “America.”

The AP says his health care plan would be more generous than Medicare.

"Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is preparing for a protracted battle with Hillary Clinton by hiring staffs and laying groundwork in more than a dozen contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states," the Washington Post reports. "Sanders has deployed about 50 paid campaign aides apiece to Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states on the calendar, according to advisers. Paid staffs are on the ground in all of the 11 “Super Tuesday” states that have contests on March 1, a presence that appears to at least match that of the Clinton camp."

TRUMP: Some veterans are rejecting Sarah Palin's suggestion that the president is partly to blame for her son's behavior.

Latinos in Florida say that Trump is hurting the GOP brand, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Interviews with Florida Hispanic Republicans suggest that while Mr. Trump benefits from pockets of support, many regard him with unease, or even hostility. Some said they worry he was pushing other GOP candidates such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to adopt harsh rhetoric and more-extreme positions on immigration and other issues."

"Senate Democrats’ plan to force Republicans to take a politically uncomfortable vote on Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country fell apart Wednesday," writes the Washington Post. "Republicans leaders declined to strike a deal and hold a vote on the issue, leading Democrats to then filibuster legislation that would effectively prevent the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States."

And around the country...

MICHIGAN: From the AP: "A day after doctors reported high levels of lead in Flint children, Gov. Rick Snyder's top aide told him the "real responsibility" for the city's water issues rested with local government officials, emails show. Then-chief of staff Dennis Muchmore later told the governor that residents were "caught in a swirl of misinformation" about lead contamination and that it was up to city and county leaders to confront the issue, according to the emails, which were released Wednesday."

Former Bush 43 speechwriter Matt Latimer writes on the crisis in Flint in the New York Times: "I do not for a moment question the sincerity of those voices in the party who call for a new approach to persistent poverty or who seek to welcome African-Americans and others into the fold. I don’t believe it’s impossible for conservatives to help a place like Flint. But first you have to show up."


*** Thursday’s “MSNBC Live with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews 11a ET - Ted Cruz surrogate Former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) on the candidate’s strategy and Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich on the ground game for Republicans and Democrats 11 days head of the Iowa Caucuses and anticipation of Saturday’s Des Moines Register endorsement. NBC’s Tony Dokoupil also joins on the water crisis in Flint with his interview of the local mom that started the investigation into the water crisis.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: Andrea Mitchell live from Indianola, Iowa at a Hillary Campaign rally. Guests will include the Washington Post’s Abby Phillip at the Clinton event in Iowa, an undecided student voter from Simpson college in Iowa, Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register and NBC’s Luke Russert and meteorologist Raphael Miranda on the impending blizzard!