Today’s installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* President Obama talked at some length about 2016 politics with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast, which was released this morning. The president was cautious not to endorse, but he “repeatedly praised” Hillary Clinton “without reservation,” while offering “more tempered praise” for Bernie Sanders.
* In results that are very hard to believe, Loras College released a poll of Iowa Democrats late last week and found Clinton leading Sanders by a nearly two-to-one margin, 59% to 30%. No other recent poll shows Clinton with that kind of advantage.
* Speaking of Democratic polling, the latest Suffolk poll shows Sanders maintaining his lead in New Hampshire, topping Clinton by nine points, 50% to 41%.
* How serious is Donald Trump about winning next week’s caucuses? On Friday night, the Republican frontrunner “slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Sioux Center, Iowa,” and yesterday, Trump even attended church services in Muscatine, Iowa. (He reportedly “left two crisp $50 bills in the collection plate.”)
* Iowa’s Joni Ernst will not endorse before the caucuses, but the right-wing freshman will introduce Marco Rubio at a Des Moines rally this week.
* Reflecting on the loyalty of his backers, Trump boasted over the weekend, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”
* Clinton picked up endorsements over the weekend from two more newspaper editorial boards with sizable audiences in New Hampshire: the Boston Globe and the Concord Monitor.
* Ted Cruz picked up endorsements over the weekend from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry – despite sharing a home state, the two do not have a close relationship – and media personality Glenn Beck. On Saturday, Beck went so far as to say, “I have prayed for the next George Washington. I believe I have found him.”
* Barry Bennett, Ben Carson’s former campaign manager, is now serving “as an informal adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.”
* And though this isn’t substantive in the slightest, it’s the first 2016 piece I’ve seen in a while that had me laughing out loud: “The Presidential Candidates Ranked By Their Usefulness In A Bar Fight.”