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News Wrap: Obama meets with GOP leaders to discuss common ground

February 2, 2016 at 6:45 PM EDT
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrives to meet with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House in Washington February 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX254BC

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

GWEN IFILL: And I’m Gwen Ifill.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: on to New Hampshire. Presidential candidates face high stakes in next week’s primary after Iowa voters hand a surprising victory to Ted Cruz and a slim win to Hillary Clinton.

GWEN IFILL: Also ahead this Wednesday: Is Oklahoma’s free pre-kindergarten program worth the cost?

WILLIAM GORMLEY, Georgetown University: In Tulsa, the single best predictor of a child’s verbal test skills is not race, or income, but whether that child was in pre-K the previous year.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And looking into The New York Times’ archives of never-before-published photographs in black history.

GWEN IFILL: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street took another beating today as oil fell back below $30 a barrel, and Chevron and ExxonMobil turned in their worst quarters since 2002. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 295 points to close at 16153. The Nasdaq fell more than 100 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 36.

GWEN IFILL: President Obama held a relatively rare meeting with the top House and Senate Republicans today, but it’s not clear they accomplished much. The White House hoped to lay out a bipartisan agenda.

But, beforehand, even as he spoke of cooperation, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s glad that — quote — “The days of Barack Obama’s presidency are numbered.”

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: We get along with each other personally. We agree to disagree on these things, and so we will put those disagreements in check, see where the common ground is, go act on that common ground to get some things done. And then on the big issues that we don’t agree, we believe we have an obligation to our constituents and our fellow citizens to offer alternatives, and that’s what we’re going to be doing this year.

GWEN IFILL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides can work on stopping the heroin epidemic and containing the Zika virus.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iraq, there’s word that thousands of civilians trapped inside Fallujah are running out of food and basic medicine. The governor of Anbar province appealed today for the U.S. coalition to airdrop humanitarian aid into the city. Security forces are trying to retake Fallujah from Islamic State militants.

GWEN IFILL: Talks aimed at ending Syria’s civil war appeared to sputter in Geneva today. The Syrian government refused to meet with the opposition, and the rebels condemned a government offensive near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The assault, aided by Russian airstrikes, captured a village north of Aleppo. Advances by government troops are now threatening rebel supply lines there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The top American commander in Afghanistan is warning the U.S. needs to make a longer-term commitment. At a House hearing today, Army General John Campbell said that Afghan forces are plagued by poor leadership.

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan: Now more than ever, the United States shouldn’t waver on Afghanistan. Afghanistan is at an inflection point. I believe, if we do not make deliberate, measured adjustments, 2016 is at risk of being no better and possibly worse than 2015.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama’s current plan calls for cutting U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan from 9,800 to 5,500 before he leaves office.

GWEN IFILL: The top Marine and Army generals called today for women to register for the draft. The secretaries of the Navy and the Air Force declined to go that far. All four spoke at a Senate hearing on the Pentagon decision to open all combat roles to women.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Nine more migrants have drowned off Western Turkey, in rough winter seas as they tried to reach Greece. And the International Organization for Migration announced today that more than 360 people died in the attempt last month. The IOM also reported more than 62,000 migrants managed to make it to Europe in January. About one-third were children traveling alone.

GWEN IFILL: A winter storm brought here new dangers across much of the U.S. today, from New Mexico to Michigan, with blizzard warnings, tornado alerts and more. In Iowa, the snow came a day after the Democratic and Republican caucuses. Roads were so slick in some places that even the snowplows had trouble making their way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There might be some good news for the winter-weary on this Groundhog Day. The human handlers of Punxsutawney Phil say that Pennsylvania’s most famous furry rodent failed to see his shadow this morning. That’s supposed to mean an early spring. Groundhogs in New York, Georgia and Wisconsin agreed, but two in Michigan and Ohio forecast six more weeks of winter.

So, who do we believe?

GWEN IFILL: We don’t believe any of them. I’m very skeptical about this.

Still to come on the “NewsHour”: high stakes get higher ahead of New Hampshire’s primary; the U.S. moves to squash a growing Isis threat in Libya; another major city’s police force goes under review; and much more.