The TAKE with Rick Klein

The week where it all happened isn’t done happening yet.

Storylines that have bubbled beneath the surface of an often-overshadowed Democratic primary race are coming into an intense glare going into the presidential debate Friday night, which will air on ABC starting at 8 p.m. EST.

The Iowa caucuses that were supposed to help clarify the race have instead confused things. Two candidates are declaring victory out of Iowa, no candidates have dropped out and one national front-runner pulled himself out of New Hampshire to regroup and recharge back in Delaware before the debate.

Seven candidates have qualified for the debate and all have their own challenges Friday night. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders both come in with the confidence of Iowa winners but the shakiness of knowing they need to notch an actual clean win.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang underperformed in Iowa and can’t afford to be far back again. Sen. Elizabeth Warren needs to stop an apparent slide, while Tom Steyer needs to get into the campaign conversation before another billionaire starts making debates.

Then there’s former Vice President Joe Biden, off his “gut punch” in Iowa, and off of the New Hampshire trail entirely since Wednesday. He is positioning himself as the answer to big questions around electability and party unity — arguments that don’t work as well if he isn’t winning elections and unifying the party.

Voters this week somehow voted without really electing anyone, and Democrats find themselves on edge and fearing matchups against President Donald Trump. Debates all happen at particular moments in political time, and this happens to be a difficult one for a party that is struggling with its future.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

For a lot of national reporters, there was an endless horizon of snow on the ground when they took off from Iowa and blankets of snow (with some pine trees) when they landed in New Hampshire.

These two often-overlooked states with outsized political roles are incredibly different though, and now it’s New Hampshire’s turn to be in the spotlight.

The Granite State has a strong libertarian streak. Manufacturing and fishing are powerful industries. It has a complicated relationship with gun policy and a high number of independents.

There are only 10 countries, and yet Joe Biden has not been to all of them this campaign. The state touches Canada, as well as Vermont and Massachusetts — giving a home-field advantage to two candidates in the top tier.

People in the north country like to joke that there are more moose than people. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of true swing voters up there. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been working hard to win them over. As has Sen. Michael Bennet, who is traveling to tiny Dixville Notch Sunday, where the first votes in the state are cast at midnight Tuesday.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

Three days after the Iowa caucuses, the state party finally reached 100% of statewide precincts reporting, but earlier in the day, Iowa Democrats were faced with a major potential setback. After “broad irregularities” were found in the reporting, according to a Democratic official, Tom Perez — the de-facto figurehead of the party — called for a recanvass of the results.

The move showed a crack in the united front the DNC and the Iowa Democratic Party have been presenting up until this point and appears to signal the national party’s lack of confidence in the state party returns. If the IDP moves forward with a recanvass, which must be requested by a candidate and approved by the state party within 48 hours, they would have to double check their math worksheets and reporting forms from each caucus site to ensure that they were tallied and reported accurately.

This is the first time the IDP is using a paper trail, part of a series of changes to their caucus process after 2016, which were — in part — ushered in due to a major push from Sanders’ team in the wake of him losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton. But the paper records have only shed light on inconsistencies in the reporting process and led to more delays.

A recanvass could take a long time — making the process even messier — as Iowa already appears to be losing its status as first.


ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Friday morning’s episode features WMUR’s Adam Sexton with a preview of the New Hampshire debate. Then, ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl talks about President Donald Trump’s post-impeachment trial plans.

ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast. In the wake of President Donald Trump’s acquittal, “The Investigation” co-hosts Chris Vlasto, John Santucci and Katherine Faulders recap the critical moments that led to this historic impeachment trial. Then, for this 50th and last episode, “The Investigation” takes a look back at the headlining guests who joined the podcast over the past year.


New Hampshire Democratic Debate: The first debate after the Iowa caucuses will be hosted by ABC News/WMUR-TV/Apple News on Friday. ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir and ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis will moderate the debate, which airs from 8 p.m. (EST) to 11 p.m. (EST). They will be joined in questioning by WMUR-TV Political Director Adam Sexton and WMUR-TV News Anchor Monica Hernandez. The Democratic Debate will air live nationally on the ABC Television Network and locally on WMUR-TV. ABC News will livestream the debate on ABC News Live featured on Apple News, Roku, Hulu, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the ABC News site and mobile phone apps. WMUR-TV will also livestream the debate on and WMUR’s mobile app.


Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.


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