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The Lid: Ben Carson’s Surge Has Trump on the Ropes

Ben Carson leads Donald Trump in new poll on eve of GOP debate 1:58

Chris Christie's campaign had to respond after accusations that he was asked to leave Amtrak's notorious "quiet car" over the weekend. Out of habit, top aides immediately began planning a "traffic study" to check it out.

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Carson Pushes Past Trump in Iowa Polls Ahead of GOP Debate 2:26

'16 AT 30 THOUSAND

With another poll (this time, Monmouth University) showing Ben Carson leaping into a top position in Iowa, Donald Trump's new offensive against Ben Carson shows few signs of letting up. Over the weekend, Trump labeled Carson "super low energy" and dismissed polls showing a Carson surge as inaccurate. We've got two observations about this line of attack, though: 1) Carson hasn't changed his demeanor throughout the entire campaign, and his low-key style is *working* for him. When one of us(!) attended a GOP focus group in Indianapolis last week, voters overwhelmingly linked Carson's calmness to steady leadership. (The word "wise" came up again and again.) And 2) We're already starting to see what happens when Trump, who hasn't hesitated to trumpet his poll numbers and the integrity of the polling outfits that showed high marks for him, starts losing his top-of-the-pack talking point. It sounds cliché, but if you live by polling, you die by it, too.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • NBC's Kailani Koenig reports on Trump's appearance in New Hampshire for a TODAY Show town hall, where he tried to win over undecided voters.
  • If you missed the TODAY Show town hall with Trump, you can read a recap here.
  • NBC's Monica Alba reports that Clinton is up with a new TV ad highlighting her support for equal pay; it will run in Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • Your authors discuss Jeb Bush's troubles and why Wednesday's debate will be so important for his struggling campaign on today's @mtp.
  • And First Read this AM has more on Bush's struggles and "blah, blah, blah" response.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BUSH: At a presentation meant to assuage donors' concerns, Bush aides highlighted Rubio as Bush's top rival and aggressively tried to characterize the Florida senator as a "GOP Obama."

CLINTON: After being out-organized by Obama in Iowa in 2008, she has a big footprint in the first caucus state, with at least 78 paid staff and 20 field offices, the Washington Post reports.

KASICH: Former House Majority leader Dick Armey has endorsed John Kasich for president.

TRUMP: Ron Fournier writes in National Journal why the political climate has made a Trump presidency a possibility.

FOR THE RECORD…

"It has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars."

— Donald Trump during a TODAY show town hall on Monday

TOMORROW'S SKED

Rand Paul holds a rally in Denver ahead of Wednesday's debate in Boulder. John Kasich holds a debate sendoff rally in Westerville, OH.

Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa.

Hillary Clinton is on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.