Sanders hits Clinton without mentioning her name.  Trump hits Carson head on using his religion against him.

Sanders hits Clinton without mentioning her name. Trump hits Carson head on using his religion against him.

THE IOWA JJ dinner was where candidate Barack Obama made his move on Hillary Clinton in 2008 and never looked back. After two weeks of solid performances and earned praise for sitting through an 11-hour interrogation, Bernie Sanders knew he had to answer in Iowa with a message that would take him forward in the first primary states. He’s not ceding any ground to Clinton, who is now in the best position she’s been to win the nomination. As for Republicans, Donald Trump is not taking Ben Carson’s surge lightly.

Without saying the name “Clinton” once, Bernie Sanders distinguished himself from the expected Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, including her husband in his remarks, by implication.

This latest campaign shift from Sanders comes as the Republican race changes, too, with Ben Carson now overtaking Donald Trump in Iowa. So, what does Trump do? From The Hill

“Have you ever seen a guy sweat like Rubio?” Trump asked. He also derided Carson, who in some Iowa polls is leading Trump, as “super low on energy.”

“He’s even lower-energy than Bush,” he said.

Trump also took an indirect shot at Carson for his religion.

“I’m Presbyterian. That’s down the middle of road,” he said. “I mean, Seventh-day Adventist I don’t know about.”

Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, a Protestant denomination that believes in a literal reading of the Bible.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trump said “the level of hatred between Republicans and Democrats” as Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi was “unbelievable.” Going on to make the case that he can be a “unifier,” unlike others running.

A huge majority of Republican voters prefer an outsider candidate to one with experience in Washington, and most see political rookies Donald Trump and Ben Carson as possible general election winners, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. [ABC News]

People can talk about frontrunners, but as the 2016 campaign makes the final fall turn before the holidays, where everything usually freezes until the New Year, challengers are ignoring the horse race. I write “usually freezes,” because this is not a normal election cycle.

Bernie Sanders made it clear at the Iowa JJ dinner that he isn’t going to stop until after the ballots are cast and he has no way to win.

An excerpt from Bernie Sanders’ speech

[…] And let me be clear about the current trade deal that we are debating in Congress, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is not now, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements. I did not support it yesterday. I do not support it today. And I will not support it tomorrow. We had a chance months ago to stop it in its tracks on the vote for fast track authority. That vote was the fork in the road and I’m glad I took the right road at the right moment in time.

In 1996, I faced another fork in the road – another very difficult political decision. It was called the Defense of Marriage Act – brought forth by a Republican-led Congress. Its purpose was to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into law. Let us remember, that support for gay rights back in 1996 was not what it is today.

And I’m sorry to tell you that that bill won by an overwhelming majority of 342 to 57 in the House and 85 to 15 in the Senate, big majorities which included too many Democrats. That was not a politically easy vote. Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse. Let us be clear. That’s just not true. There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters. Not everybody held that position in 1996.

Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and it already is causing massive devastation all across our planet. It is a very sad moment in American history when almost all Republicans running for president reject science and the need for bold action to combat climate change. Sadly, they prefer to take the super PAC campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry rather than to protect the planet for our kids and grandchildren.

And if you agree with me about the urgent need to address the issue of climate change, then you would know immediately what to do about the Keystone pipeline. Honestly, it wasn’t that complicated. Should we support the construction of a pipeline across America and accelerate the extraction of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world? To me, that was a no-brainer and that is why I have opposed the Keystone Pipeline from the beginning.

My friends, I want to bring you back to a very eventful year and a tragic moment in the modern history of our country. The year is 2002. The issue is whether Congress should vote to invade Iraq. Public opinion and most of the media were for the war. And it turned out that big majorities in Congress were too. The vote was 296-133 in the House 77 to 23 in the Senate voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war. Let me tell you that I listened to what Bush had to say, to what Cheney had to say, to what Rumsfeld had to say. I didn’t believe them and I voted no.

If you go to my website, you can see exactly what I said at that point and the fears that I had about the destabilization of that region if we invaded Iraq. It gives me no joy to say that I was largely right about the war. I am proud to tell you when I came to that fork in the road I took the right road even though it was not the popular road at the time.

Throughout my years in Congress I have voted time and again to rein in Wall Street, the big banks and the big insurance companies that control too much wealth and wield too much power in our country. In 1999, I voted against the deregulation of Wall Street, including ending the Glass-Steagall Act. The House vote was 362 to 57. Yes, I was in a small minority. Yes I took on Wall Street which spent $5 billion lobbying for this deregulation. But the vote I cast was the right vote.
At a time when the top six banks in this country have assets of almost 60 percent of our gross domestic product and have incredible economic power, the truth is that it is not Congress that regulates Wall Street, it is Wall Street that regulates Congress. That is why I favor breaking up the big banks, because if a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist.

And today those Wall Street interests are trying to buy the government of the United States with their bundled contributions and their super PACs. Well I don’t take their money and I never will. And I don’t have a super PAC either. Telling the big banks to cut it out is not going to work unless we cut it out. We have to cut out our reliance on their money if we expect to rein them in. That is why we have built a campaign that has received more than a million contributions from hundreds of thousands of contributors. It is unprecedented, and it is a real-world demonstration that together we can beat the old, corrupt and toxic system of campaign finance that is keeping in place a rigged economy that sends all the new wealth to the top. It’s time to break the link between money and special interest favors in politics, and as your president I will.

So my friends, those are the choices I made when I came to the forks in the road. I think they tell you a lot about the choices I will make as president. And my message to you today is the same as it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.
I promise you tonight as your president I will govern based on principle not poll numbers. I pledge to you that every day I will fight for the public interest not the corporate interests. I will not abandon any segment of American society – whether you’re gay or black or Latino or poor or working class – just because it is politically expedient at a given time.

So as we go forth tonight, our job in this election is to build a winning coalition of voters beginning here in Iowa and spreading across this nation who will elect the next Democratic president. I believe I can build that coalition because I know we have begun to build it in huge rallies and small gathering. People are excited to be part of a political revolution that will change this nation and give us a future to believe in.

In conclusion, let me leave you with words that have inspired me and I think fit our circumstances today. The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison wrote them when attacking the evils of slavery: I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.

Well my friends, let us make sure that everyone knows that on the issues of equality, and justice, and ending a rigged economy that is held in place by a corrupt political system, on battling climate change, on halting the draining of American jobs to faraway places, on these issues and so many more:

We are in earnest;
We will not equivocate;
We will not excuse;
We will not retreat a single inch; …