Bernie's Big Day in D.C.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a media gaggle in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 26. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had a big, but mixed day in Washington Wednesday, meeting one-on-one with President Barack Obama at the White House, but also getting blasted by another key Democrat, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who criticized the presidential hopeful’s health care plan as unrealistic.

Just days before the crucial Iowa caucuses, Sanders also got a chance to reversee a previous stand on gun legislation, as Democrats on Capitol Hill pushed to roll back a 2005 law that protects firearms manufacturers from liability when their guns are used to commit crimes.

'Big Men': Is Trump America's Berlusconi?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in front of a wax statue of John Wayne during a news conference at the John Wayne Museum on Jan. 19 in Winterset, Iowa. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

A wealthy businessman-turned-politician promised his countrymen a “miracle,” serving voters a cocktail of bombastic nationalist rhetoric and boasts about his business acumen.  

Prominent publications such as The New York Times branded him “a man of no particular ideology,” who “exploited vague slogans” on the campaign trail. The Economist, Roll Call's sister publication, called him “a controversial tycoon with few coherent policies,” observing that the man “acts like a businessman who has seen a market niche ... and is rushing to fill it.”  

Obama Urges 'Better Politics' to Tackle Challenges

"Democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens,” Obama told Congress and a nationwide audience. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama used his last State of the Union address to prod both Congress and the American people, saying America’s political system needs an overhaul if the country is to successfully tackle a list of “challenges.”  

In an unique address to a joint session of Congress, Obama laid out a mostly optimistic vision for a United States, one he said should be followed long after he leaves office to provide “prosperity and security for generations to come.”  

Rand Paul Celebrates Birthday on the Trail

Paul celebrated his 53rd birthday on Jan. 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., celebrated his 53rd birthday this year on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.  

On Jan. 7, hundreds of supporters presented the presidential hopeful with a birthday gift, a scroll of 1,007 precinct captains committed for caucus night.  

The Low Expectations for Obama's Last SOTU

Obama says he's optimistic heading into his last State of the Union. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama says he's upbeat about his final State of the Union address, but the public might not be there with him.  

"I don't think I've ever been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am now," the president said in a video preview of the speech. His senior aides echoed the party line, saying it will be a different kind of speech, more aspirational; the word "optimistic" seems to be the White House word of the week.  

Adele Dragged Into the Presidential Election

Rubio was mocked by Christie, Adele style. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used Adele’s “Hello” to mock Sen. Marco Rubio on Thursday over some of the Florida Republican's past statements supporting Christie.

Onward Christmas Warriors ...

Does Cruz have Santa's back? Survey results suggest voters are skeptical (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It's beginning to feel a lot like the War on Christmas, at least for culture warriors alert to any signs of an anti-Santa strain. Lucky for them, Donald Trump is around.  

In the latest example of pollsters having fun, the folks at Public Policy Polling have surveyed the land and, after checking it twice, found out that among voters who believe there is an assault on yuletide cheer, the billionaire developer is the 2016 presidential candidate they most trust to protect America from the War on Christmas. "I think that those people who are inclined to believe there is a War on Christmas, that they think their country is turning away from them, or is muffling them, then Donald Trump has put himself forth as their champion, and will call out what they think is going on," said Jim Williams, a PPP polling analyst.  

Amid ISIS Worries, Voters Warm to Obama's Economy

Will Obama get credit for the economy being less of a concern?. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Polls show voters are giving President Barack Obama higher marks for guiding the economy, but security concerns could be clouding recent snapshots of the electorate’s mindset.  

Trends in voters’ collective worries have transformed, for now at least, the 2016 election cycle into one focused in large part on national security and foreign policy issues. In recent months, terrorism has surged to the top of lists of voters’ top concerns nearly 10 months before the presidential and congressional elections. “I don’t think that’s a reflection that the president’s policies have worked,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican up for re-election in 2016. “I’m guessing they’re saying national security is their top concern right now.  

Donald Trump, the Accidental Populist

Trump responds to a cheering crowd of supporters on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's brash campaign-trail tactics are an accidental stumble into a brash and unprecedented populist presidential bid rather than the convictions of a true believer, campaign observers say.  

“I think he has stumbled on this populist campaigning style," said GOP political strategist John Feehery. "I don't think he's that ideological."  

Obama Approval Rating Rises; White House Predicts Democrats Will Keep Senate

The final Obama approval rating before the midterm elections is in — and it isn't stopping the White House from declaring they expect Democrats to keep control of the Senate tomorrow anyway.  

The Gallup daily tracking poll had the approval rating for President Barack Obama rising 1 point Monday to a still-dismal 41 percent. His disapproval rating held steady at 54 percent. As we've noted before, Obama's poll ratings are much worse in many of the battleground states that will decide control of the Senate .