Nine Republicans took the stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas for one CNN presidential debate. But in reality, the candidates had two different and significant debates that night — and both could portend the future of the contest for the GOP nomination.

In the first ring, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida debated national security and immigration. In the other ring, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New York businessman Donald Trump held an altogether different debate on presidential competence.

As for the other candidates, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky injected their way into the debate at times. The three others on stage — former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ben Carson — were non-factors in the evening’s conversation, for the most part.

New Hampshire
Here today: Marco Rubio

Jeb Bush Begins ‘The New Hampshire Project’ to Try to Resurrect His Chances in the State in the NY Times: "Jeb Bush will next hit the campaign trail for a packed day of town-hall-style events in New Hampshire at 8 a.m. Saturday in Contoocook, and finish up nearly 12 hours later in Nashua. Then he will return to the state, again and again.

"In a sign of how critical Mr. Bush considers New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Feb. 9, his presidential campaign recently started what it is calling 'The New Hampshire Project.'

"The New Hampshire Project is, at its core, a fund-raising push with a goal of raising $1 million by the end of December to buy television ad time in the state."

Giffords Helps Start New Hampshire Anti-Gun Violence Group from the Associated Press: "Helping to launch a bipartisan coalition in New Hampshire, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Tuesday urged Democrats and Republicans alike to be bold and courageous in preventing gun violence.

"Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was badly wounded in a 2011 shooting that left six people dead and 13 injured in Tucson. She spoke in Concord a day after the third anniversary of the mass shooting of 20 first-grade children and six educators at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School and less than two weeks after a couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

" 'Stopping gun violence takes courage — the courage to do what's right, the courage of new ideas,' she said. 'I've seen great courage when my life was on the line. Now is the time to come together, to be responsible.' "

This New Hampshire Town Is Decidedly Not “Trump Country” in the National Journal: "If Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are look­ing for hope in their to-date un­der­whelm­ing pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns, Tues­day night’s pat­rons of the Rusty Ham­mer should give them more than a glim­mer.

"While many of the na­tion’s Re­pub­lic­ans seem in thrall of de­veloper-turned-real­ity-TV-star Don­ald Trump, the Ports­mouth Re­pub­lic­an Party mem­bers who gathered to watch the fifth GOP de­bate at the up­stairs bar ap­peared far more im­pressed with the former Flor­ida and cur­rent New Jer­sey gov­ernors.

"When Bush poin­ted out that the Kur­ds al­lied with the United States against the Is­lam­ic State are them­selves Muslim, and there­fore ban­ning Muslims from the coun­try would be coun­ter­pro­duct­ive, heads at the bar nod­ded. When Bush called Trump the 'chaos can­did­ate,' they laughed and clapped."

Here today: Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton

Iowa No 'Slam Dunk' for Surging Ted Cruz from NBC News: "Ted Cruz rocketed to frontrunner status in Iowa last week after scoring a high-profile endorsement and a ten point lead in one of the state's most respect polls.

"But even with Cruz's hefty purse of campaign cash, striking ground organization and key supporters, longtime caucus observers and influential conservatives caution that a Cruz victory in the state is still far from a sure thing with more than a month to go before the opening contest of the presidential race.

" 'Anything could and likely will happen before caucus night. Things happen in the polls in even the final four days in the field,' venerable Iowa pollster Ann Selzer said. 'The assignment Iowa is given is to look at the field. And there's no advantage to lock in, so why would they?' "

Iowa Has Highest Graduation Rate in the Country from WHO-TV: "New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before nationwide, and Iowa is at the top.

"Data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics shows Iowa has a 90.5 graduation rate for the 2013-2014 academic year, compared to the 82.3 percent graduation rate nationally.

"The nation’s graduation rate is at its highest level since implementing a consistent way for each state to calculate graduation rates five years ago."

Lena Dunham to campaign for Clinton in Iowa on CNN: "Lena Dunham, the star of HBO's 'Girls' and a well-documented Hillary Clinton supporter, will campaign for the former secretary of state's presidential bid in Iowa on January 9, according to a Clinton aide.

"Dunham will make two stops: One in Des Moines and another in Iowa City.

" 'Girls' fans may find Dunham's trip particularly interesting. The character she plays in the show at one point attends the Iowa Writers' Workshop, though the crew was not allowed to film on the actual University of Iowa campus."

South Carolina
Here today: No one

Economists: South Carolina finally back from Great Recession from the Associated Press: "South Carolina’s economy is humming. The unemployment rate is at an eight-year low and lawmakers will open next January’s session trying to figure out how to spend an additional $1.2 billion in projected tax revenue.

"Some of the recovery from the Great Recession was expected as part of a typical economic cycle.

"But University of South Carolina economists said South Carolina has also done some things well to encourage growth."

Secessionist Party demands reinstatement of reservation for Statehouse rally in the Charleston Post and Courier: "A South Carolina group that believes the state should again secede from the United States and form its own country is vowing to sue the state unless its canceled reservation to hold a rally at the Statehouse on Sunday is reinstated.

"James Bessenger, founder of the South Carolina Secessionist Party, said Tuesday the group has sent a letter to the state Department of Administration demanding reinstatement of an 11 a.m. Sunday reservation for its planned commemoration of the 155th anniversary of South Carolina’s secession from the Union in 1860, which led to the Civil War.

"Bessenger said the reservation, designating an area on the Statehouse grounds in which to gather and providing barricades and security, was requested in October and granted on Nov. 23. It was revoked this month after S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith asked for it to be canceled because of threats by groups planning to protest the event."

National Headlines

The Boston Globe's Jim O'Sullivan: Candidates focus on national security

Associated Press: Donald Trump says he’s ‘totally committed’ to GOP

Associated Press: Fact-checking the Republican debate

Wall Street Journal: Death-Penalty Use Continues to Decline in U.S.

NY Times: In Republican Debate, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio Become Targets

Buzzfeed: Congressman Backs Effort To Strip “Donald J. Trump State Park” Of Its Name

Washington Post: 

Washington Post: 


Follow @BostonGlobe's 2016 team: @JamesPindell, @Akjohnson1922,@JOSreports, @MViser, @AnnieLinskey, @TracyJan, @SarahSchweitzer, @GlobeRowland@ShiraCenter and @FeliceBelman.  


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