“When the latest controversy erupted over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about Israel, only one 2020 presidential candidate rushed to her defense: Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator, the only Jewish candidate in the Democratic primary, embraced the African-American, Muslim congresswoman… No other presidential contender came out as quickly — or as forcefully — as Sanders, who laid down a clear line in the crowded Democratic field between those running as true progressives on foreign policy and those who support an existing U.S. policy that tends to favor Israel over Palestine. Sanders’ reaction to Omar’s comments — in which she said Israel’s allies ‘push for allegiance to a foreign country’ — served other purposes as well: it helped solidify his hold on the party’s left wing and dovetailed with his intensified outreach to older African-American voters, a critical constituency that failed to warm to him in 2016.”

Dem frosh turn tables – Fox News: “The passage Thursday of a broad anti-bigotry resolution that exposed chasms in the Democratic caucus regarding Israel marked a coup of sorts for a tight-knit band of House freshmen who – in a matter of hours – were able to shift the spotlight away from embattled Rep. Ilhan Omar’s allegedly anti-Semitic remarks and refocus on issues like Islamophobia and pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. … After its passage, Omar and her allies were able to cheer the resolution as a win against Islamophobia. ‘Today is historic on many fronts.’ … Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., said in a joint statement. … On the sidelines, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign began fundraising, claiming AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) was ‘coming after’ her, Omar and Tlaib for questioning American foreign policy.”

Omar slams Obama’s message of ‘hope and change’ – Fox News: “Rookie Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, fresh off igniting an intra-party uproar with comments widely viewed as anti-Semitic, took a swipe at former President Barack Obama, saying in an explosive interview the 44th president’s message of ‘hope and change’ was a ‘mirage’ and blasting his administration’s drone and border detention policies. Omar, D-Minn., took aim at the president’s famed slogan, while further criticizing the Democratic Party for ‘perpetuating the status quo,’ in the interview with Politico. ‘Recalling the ‘caging of kids’ at the U.S.-Mexico border and the ‘droning of countries around the world’ on Obama’s watch,’ Omar charged that Obama ‘operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor,’ the piece reads.”

Tim Alberta: ‘The Democrats’ dilemma’ – Politico: “[Omar faces] resistance not just from party elders but from many of their fellow freshmen, centrists who campaigned as fixers not firebrands, moderates who are watching warily as the Democrats’ brand is being hijacked by the far left. One of these members is Omar’s neighbor in Minnesota: Dean Phillips, a wealthy businessman who represents the 3rd District. To better understand these dueling visions for the Democratic Party, I sat down with both Omar and Phillips, spent several days in their communities and talked with some of their constituents. What I learned is that, despite the cautionary tale offered by years of vicious Republican infighting, Democrats are dangerously close to entering into their own fratricidal conflict. On matters of both style and substance, the fractures within this freshman class are indicative of the broader divisions in a party long overdue for an ideological reckoning.”

“In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 22

Politico: “In the latest sign that Joe Biden will run for president, his team has brought on Cristóbal Alex, the head of the influential Latino Victory Fund, according to a source familiar with the move. It’s not clear what role Alex would fill in a Biden presidential campaign. He served as Hillary Clinton’s National Deputy Director of Voter Outreach and Mobilization in 2016. Alex declined to comment but publicly disclosed on Tuesday that he was departing from Latino Victory Fund. He tweeted that he believes ‘Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our nation. I am committed to doing everything in my power to defeat him, and my next steps will reflect that.’ The tweet sparked praise of Alex from many corners of the progressive world, including from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and newly elected Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas).”

Warren targets Amazon, big tech – NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, announced another expansive idea on Friday: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook. The proposal — which comes on the same day Ms. Warren will hold a rally in Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood that was to be home to a major new Amazon campus — calls for the appointment of regulators who would ‘unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,’ as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace. Ms. Warren’s plan would also force the rollback of some acquisitions by technological giants, the campaign said, including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze.”

Booker snags top S.C. hire – WVIC:Brady Quirk-Garvan, who has served as the Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party for five years, announced that he is stepping down in order to endorse Senator Cory Booker for President. With his announcement, Quirk-Garvan become the first South Carolina Democratic Party official to make an endorsement in the 2020 presidential nominating contest. … Quirk-Garvan has worked on dozens of political races in South Carolina. In 2008, he worked for President Obama’s campaign in Ohio. Since 2014, he has served as the Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party.”

Harris’ crowd-pleasing tax rebate plan comes with a hefty price tag – San Francisco Chronicle: “Even at this early stage in the presidential race, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has hit upon a crowd-pleasing proposal: Give a $500 monthly tax credit to families earning less than $100,000. But while it has become Harris’ surest applause line at campaign appearances, some economists caution that it will never pencil out – that it will pile onto a national deficit that is already projected to top $1 trillion a year in the early 2020s and cost the economy more than 800,000 jobs.”

Gillibrand still lacks New York endorsements for 2020 – NYT: “No one from New York’s 21-member congressional delegation is yet backing [Kirsten Gillibrand’s] bid for president. And neither is New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, or its other senator, Chuck Schumer, who as minority leader is staying neutral because numerous senators are in the race. … Home-state political insiders almost certainly will not prove decisive in a presidential primary race that begins in Iowa and New Hampshire. But Ms. Gillibrand’s missing support back home is revealing of both her New York relationships and how she has constructed her national profile, often by staying far from the state’s notoriously fractious and rough-and-tumble fray. In interviews with two-thirds of New York’s Democratic congressional delegation, lawmakers this week offered a variety of rationales and dodges for why none of them has lined up behind their colleague.”

Buttigieg pitches court packing, ditching Electoral College – Fox News: “Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg on Friday highlighted his push to add justices to the Supreme Court and scrap the Electoral College in presidential elections, as he campaigned in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House. The South Bend, Indiana mayor … said the 2020 election should not be about President Trump, telling reporters that ‘of course we’ll confront him, we’ll call him out. We’ll beat him. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him, it’s about us.’ As he headlined ‘Politics and Eggs’ at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics – a must stop for White House hopefuls – the 37-year old contender and Afghanistan war veteran joked that he’s a ‘young person with a funny name coming out of nowhere….I think it’s safe to say I’m not extremely famous.’”

Moulton wants to run against Trump on National Security – Atlantic: “The most that the Democratic presidential candidates tend to say about national security involves condemnation of Russia for hacking the 2016 election or broad comments about restoring America’s standing in the world. Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts sees an opening. Some of the Democratic presidential candidates are running to the left. Some are running down the middle. Moulton told [journalist Edward-Isaac Dovere] he will run through VFW halls and college campuses, leaning in on a national-security focus which, even in a field this huge, he is all alone in focusing on—a stance that not only differentiates him, but could eventually draw the others out on foreign affairs. Moulton is clearly a long shot… But his calculus—and that of other more moderate, less well-known candidates—is that the party is veering too far left for its own good in an election against Trump.”

Bullock hires veteran adviser to his PAC – Politico: “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has hired veteran Democratic operative Jenn Ridder to work for his PAC, in the latest sign that the Western Democrat is nearing a presidential run. Ridder will join Bullock’s Big Sky Values PAC as a senior adviser, but she would be an obvious choice to manage Bullock’s campaign should he decide to run for president. … Ridder’s hiring is the latest in a series of behind-the-scenes moves laying the groundwork for Bullock’s potential run.”

Nevada Dems plan to bulk up caucuses – AP: “Nevada Democrats are proposing changes to their presidential caucus that could dramatically alter the way candidates compete in the state, opening the process to an early-vote and virtual participation. The proposal would expand a single day of caucuses around the state to add four days of early caucuses and two days of early virtual caucusing. The plan, which still needs approval from the Democratic National Committee, would allow more people to participate while likely driving candidates to appear earlier and more often leading up to the main event on Feb. 22, 2020. It would also likely force candidates to invest more resources to more deeply organize and target voters.”

Iowa Poll alert – Des Moines Register: “Results of a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll on Democratic presidential candidates headed toward the 2020 Iowa caucuses will be released online at 7 p.m. CST Saturday. The poll asks likely Democratic caucusgoers who their top choice for president would be among 21 potential candidates for their party’s nomination. Results also will be aired by CNN, posted at CNN.com Saturday night and appear in the Des Moines Sunday Register. The poll will also test likely Democratic caucusgoers’ opinions on a range of issues, from ‘Medicare-for-all’ to their interest in socialism to what they would like candidates to talk about during their campaigns.”

White house hustles to limit fallout from Trump emergency – WaPo: “The White House is privately ramping up pressure on undecided Republicans to limit defections ahead of the Senate vote on President Trump’s emergency declaration – even as the administration has yet to tell Congress which military projects would be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall. The vote expected next week is on a resolution to nullify Trump’s Feb. 15 declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, which allows him to access $3.6 billion… Trump wants to use that money for border barriers, after Congress refused to give him all the wall funding he sought. In recent days, the White House has increased its efforts to count votes and persuade fence-sitting GOP senators… Undecided senators have received calls from the White House, and the message, according to one of the senators, is clear: Trump is taking names and noticing who opposes him — particularly if you are running for reelection next year.”

Pentagon prepares to get money if need be – AP: “The Pentagon is planning to tap $1 billion in leftover funds from military pay and pension accounts to help President Donald Trump pay for his long-sought border wall, a top Senate Democrat said Thursday. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told The Associated Press, ‘It’s coming out of military pay and pensions. $1 billion. That’s the plan.’ Durbin said the funds are available because Army recruitment is down and a voluntary early military retirement program is being underutilized. The development comes as Pentagon officials are seeking to minimize the amount of wall money that would come from military construction projects that are so cherished by lawmakers. … Durbin, the top Democrat on the Appropriations panel for the Pentagon, was among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who met with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Thursday morning.”

Good luck with that: Trump advisers urge him to stick to script – Politico: “As he watches the 2020 Democratic candidates fire up campaign crowds, President Donald Trump is itching to upstage them with rallies of his own. … For now, Trump’s Republican allies and campaign officials believe an early reelection strategy built around his role as chief executive in dignified settings like the Oval Office and the Rose Garden will carry more weight with voters than his signature freewheeling arena speeches. It’s unclear whether Trump, the most politically combative president in recent history, can truly stay above the campaign fray… But Trump’s advisers are still hoping he will capitalize on his incumbency by largely sticking to official events and private, no-cameras fundraisers for the next several months, according to three sources familiar with his campaign, one of whom said the president is making a ‘conscious effort’ to rise above the Democratic scrum.”