Home » Archives by category » Political News (Page 3)

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam Veterans

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam Veterans

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins endured 38 hours of relentless attacks, killed an estimated 175 enemy fighters, sustained 18 different wounds and evaded a tiger on the loose in the jungle of Vietnam in 1966.

On Monday, nearly half a century later, he was awarded the nation’s highest military honor by President Obama.

“This is strictly a humbling experience for me,” Adkins, now 80 years old, told reporters at the White House. “I want to dedicate this to the five soldiers who paid the ultimate price in this battle.”

During the wee hours of the morning on March 9, 1966, Adkins’ camp came under fire from a formidable North Vietnamese outfit. After learning his fellow soldiers were wounded, Adkins ran repeatedly into enemy fire, navigating through exploding mortar rounds to drag his comrades to safety.

Over the next 24 hours, Adkins continued to deflect enemy fire, fending it off as his camp’s perimeter was infiltrated. When they were ordered to evacuate, Adkins and a small group of soldiers dug their way out of a bunker and fought their way out. When they couldn’t reach an evacuation helicopter, Adkins led the group of surviving soldiers into the jungle, where they hid for 48 hours before being rescued.

“And after all they had been through, as if it weren’t enough, there was something more. You can’t make this up,” Obama said at a White House ceremony. “There in the jungle, they heard the growls of a tiger. It turns out, that tiger might have been the best thing that happened to Bennie…He says, the North Vietnamese were more scared of that tiger than they were of us.”

After the enemy fled, Adkins and his squad made their escape and were rescued the next morning.

Adkins went on to serve a third tour of duty and later earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees before founding an accounting service.

On Monday, he was one of two Vietnam veterans recognized at the White House in a ceremony the president admitted came too late.

“Normally this medal must be awarded within a few years of the action,” Obama explained. “But sometimes, even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time. Yet, when new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor. And it is entirely right and proper that we have done so and that is why we are here today.”

The president went on to thank those whose persistence and research resulted in the two men finally getting the recognition they deserve.

U.S. Army Spc. Four Donald P. Sloat was honored for an astonishing act of self-sacrifice at the age of just 20.

On Jan. 17, 1970, when Sloat’s squad was serving as a blocking force for tanks and armored personnel carriers, the lead soldier tripped a wire connected to a hand grenade booby-trap. Sloat picked up the grenade and intended to throw it, but realized it was close to detonating.

“There were Americans in front of him and behind him, inside the kill zone. So Don held on to that grenade, and he pulled it close to his body, and he bent over it. And then, as one of the men said, all of a sudden there was a boom,” Obama said.

Sloat’s actions saved the lives of three of his comrades. On Monday, his brother accepted the Medal of Honor in his place.

“Over the decades our Vietnam veterans didn’t always receive the thanks and respect they deserved. That’s a fact. But as we have been reminded again today, our Vietnam vets were patriots and are patriots. You served with valor. You made us proud. And your service is with us for eternity,” the president said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

State Department to Reopen US Embassy in Central African Republic

State Department to Reopen US Embassy in Central African Republic

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department announced on Monday that it plans to reopen its embassy in the Central African Republic after two years of closure.

“The Central African Republic and its people are at a crucial juncture,” a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry said. Kerry also noted that the U.S. “is determined to help make this moment of opportunity a success.”

The embassy in the Central African Republic’s capital city of Bangui closed in 2012 due to rebel threats and a government takeover. On Monday, the United Nations began a peacekeeping mission in the country, leading to sufficient peace and stability for the U.S. to reopen its embassy.

“Only a fully inclusive, peaceful and democratic political transition process can stop the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic,” Kerry said. “That process must include the voices of all Central Africans, especially refugees and internally displaced persons.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Holder Unveils New Steps to Prevent Homegrown Terror

Holder Unveils New Steps to Prevent Homegrown Terror

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the U.S. must do more to prevent homegrown terror with the rise of ISIS.

In a video message Monday, Holder says the country will begin new pilot programs to confront the threat.

“These programs will bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and United States attorneys to improve local engagement, to counter violent extremism,” he says.

Holder says law enforcement is increasing outreach to Muslim communities in the U.S., hoping to detect terrorist threats before they emerge.

“We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad,” he notes.

Overseas, Holder says the U.S. is working with partner nations and Interpol, hoping to track Westerners who have made the trip to Syria and Iraq, and flag them before they attempt to come home.  

“Ultimately, the pilot programs will enable us to develop more effective and more inclusive ways to build a more just, secure, and free society that all Americans deserve,” he says.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bill Clinton Is a Fan of “Ready for Hillary”

Bill Clinton Is a Fan of “Ready for Hillary”

Feng Li/Getty Images(INDIANOLA, Iowa) –  At Iowa Steak Fry, you couldn’t miss them even if you tried.

Members of the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary were out in droves Sunday: signing up new volunteers, slapping their bumper stickers on attendees’ cars, handing out T-shirts and pins with Clinton’s face — and cheering like fan girls at any and all mentions of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016.

Hillary Clinton rarely, if ever, mentions the group that’s essentially considered her “campaign-in-waiting.” But Sunday, her husband, Bill Clinton, gave them some rare encouragement.

“Amazing. They are amazing,” Clinton said during in impromptu press conference at Tom Harkin’s 37th and final Steak Fry. “You know I saw some of them here. I think with the rules we’re not supposed to have any contact with them. They’re like Energizer Bunnies. They’re just everywhere.”

While he had positive words for his wife’s fans, he gave a clear no-comment when asked whether she would disappoint those supporters by not running.

“I will not be baited. I cannot be baited,” he said while walking away. “I’m waiting to be a grandfather, and I want a happy grandmother.”

Hillary Clinton also dismissed ABC News’ question about whether being in Iowa made her want to run in 2016, instead saying her return to the state is just about the 2014 midterms.

Even so, she said she’s happy to be back in the Hawkeye state: “It’s great to be back,” she told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl. “It’s fabulous!”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

‘I’m Baa-aack!’: Clintons Give Hillary’s 2016 Efforts an Unofficial Start in Iowa

‘I’m Baa-aack!’: Clintons Give Hillary’s 2016 Efforts an Unofficial Start in Iowa

John Moore/Getty Images(INDIANOLA, Iowa) — If and when Hillary Clinton runs for president again, history will record that her campaign began in all but name with a swarm of young and “ready” activists, stage-managed banter about grilled hunks of Iowa meat, and a concession that she’s “thinking about” what she referred to only as “that other thing.”

“Hello Iowa — I’m baa-aack!” Clinton told a crowd of more than 6,000 gathered to honor the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, on a field outside Des Moines.

“I’ve got a few things on my mind these days,” Clinton added, drawing rising applause from the group of Democratic activists. “First and most importantly, Bill and I are on constant grandchild watch.”

She said she just might have to sprint off the stage if Chelsea goes into labor, and added: “Then of course — there’s that other thing. Well it is true, I am thinking about it. But for today, that is not why I’m here. I’m here for the steak.”

Framed by a giant American flag, a few tractors, and bales of Iowa hay, Clinton’s speech doubled as a tribute to a retiring liberal stalwart and an initial reintroduction to Iowa’s party faithful.

Her calls for populist Democratic policies and elected Democrats who can help in “moving America forward” received polite, though only occasionally enthusiastic, applause.

Harkin, the event’s host, offered to build on the “Comeback Kid” nickname Bill Clinton famously earned in 1992, after he exceeded expectations in the New Hampshire primary.

“President Clinton and Hillary Clinton are now the ‘Comeback Couple,’” Harkin said.

There was nothing approaching an announcement of candidacy, of course, and no hints about a timeline. Both Clintons parried questions about whether their appearance at an Iowa institution like the Steak Fry means the former secretary of state is running for president again.

“It’s great to be back in Iowa,” Hillary Clinton told reporters who swarmed near her after her designated time behind the steak grill.

Peppered with questions about 2016, she rolled her eyes for dramatic effect.

“This is about the people running right now — 2014,” she said.

But the former president couldn’t help but effuse when asked about the “Ready for Hillary” volunteers who crisscrossed the Steak Fry grounds, about 20 miles outside Des Moines.

“Just like Energizer Bunnies. They’re everywhere,” Clinton said.

Pressed by ABC News on whether his wife would disappoint those supporters by not running, the former president spoke loudly with his no-comment.

“I will not be baited. I cannot be baited,” he said. “I’m waiting to be a grandfather, and I want a happy grandmother.”

Clinton’s appearance drew more than 6,000 Democratic activists — and more than 200 journalists — for the 37th and final Harkin Steak Fry, held on the grounds of the annual National Hot Air Balloon Championships.

As Clinton’s first visit of the year to an early-voting state, the event offered a glimpse of what a potential second Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would look like, with all its strengths and weaknesses.

Conversations with a range of attendees revealed more acceptance than eagerness about another Clinton campaign.

Virtually all said they’d likely support Clinton. But several attendees offered up other potential Democrats — notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — as people they’d like to see run as well.

Clinton was the only potential 2016er to attend the Steak Fry, which has historically been a proving ground for Democrats in advance of the Iowa caucuses. Yet the Clintons spent little time mingling with possible caucus-goers; they arrived via motorcade at the back of the sprawling field, and even their few moments of grilling time was fenced off from the press and attendees.

Clinton’s challenges in Iowa are a microcosm of the broader obstacles she could face in a second presidential candidacy. She needs to turn around memories of a dysfunctional and ultimately doomed effort to connect one-on-one with voters in the state that kicks off the presidential process.

In 2008, Clinton finished an embarrassing third in the Iowa caucuses, behind Barack Obama and John Edwards — a result she called “excruciating” in her book. Now, should she run, Clinton needs to find a way to look forward, when at least part of her appeal is based on looking back.

The Democratic Party, too, is in a different place than it was in the pre-Obama era. Harkin, the day’s host, spoke of the broader angst inside the party on the eve of the event. He told ABC News that he and fellow liberals are “always nervous about people moving too far to the right.”

“So where is Hillary on that?” Harkin was asked in an interview that aired on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

“Well I don’t know,” Harkin said. “I mean, I think this is something that will be developed and we’ll find out when, if she, if she decides to run. You know, what’s her vision for America?”

Cathy Jaschke, a 66-year-old Medicare specialist from Ankeny who attended the Steak Fry, said she’s concerned that the sense of inevitability surrounding Clinton’s candidacy could once again hurt her in Iowa.

“People think it’s a given, and that could be a problem,” said Jaschke, who said she supported Bill Richardson and then John Edwards in the 2008 caucuses. “It’s expected. It’s not something you can get on and get excited over.”

But the event in Indianola also showed off the considerable advantages her candidacy would enjoy. The Clintons themselves traveled with few staffers and no formal campaign apparatus, but they didn’t need an entourage: The quasi-grassroots organization Ready for Hillary took care of the organizing necessary to make her appearance look like a major political event.

Ready for Hillary bused in supporters from six colleges and universities, an implicit response to those who remember her failure to attract the fervor of young voters nearly seven years ago.

The group’s bus — bought and wrapped with pro-Hillary slogans in Iowa — was parked at the Steak Fry entrance. More than 300 volunteers milled the grounds, slapping bumper stickers on cars whose drivers welcomed the additions, and adding names to the group’s growing database.

The baby-blue signs that lined the event site read simply, “Ready,” as if the “for Hillary” part is no longer necessary to convey the mission. Organizers said that’s intended as a message that Democrats are as interested in 2014 as they are 2016 — and to remind Clinton herself that she has a campaign army in waiting.

“The message to her, that she’s been getting wherever she travels, is, ‘We’re ready for you,’” said Adam Parkhomenko, Ready for Hillary’s executive director and a cofounder of the group. “If you decide to run, there’s going to be thousands of people who have your back.”

A few other potential candidates, notably Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have showered money on Iowa candidates this year.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Iowa Wednesday, and liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is mulling a run for president as a Democrat, made a weekend stop in the state that included events both before and after the Clintons were in Iowa on Sunday.

But there’s no Obama-like figure anywhere on the Democratic horizon these days, leaving Hillary Clinton as the far-and-away frontrunner.

Harkin called it a “joy and honor” to welcome two people who “have become a part of our Iowa Democratic family,” and he closed his final speech at the event with the warmest of tributes to his former colleague.

“There are many more chapters to be written in the amazing life of Hillary Clinton,” Harkin said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Roger Goodell ‘Should Go If He Lied’

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Roger Goodell ‘Should Go If He Lied’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., added his voice to the growing debate surrounding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s fate, saying that if Goodell lied about the NFL not having seen the violent video of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice knocking his then fiancé unconscious until TMZ posted the video Monday, then “he should go.”

“If Roger Goodell lied, as a lot of people believe he did — because the security apparatus of the NFL is so competent and experienced that for them to not have known about this tape seems incredible — he should go,” Blumenthal said Sunday on This Week.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been under fire from critics who believe someone in the NFL must have seen the video of Rice hitting his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer.

An initial video, published on TMZ Sports in February, showed the Ravens star player dragging a seemingly unconscious Palmer out of an elevator at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. A police report confirmed that there was an altercation between the two, during which Rice struck Palmer unconscious. Goodell met with Rice in July, and suspended him for two games, drawing outrage from many who thought Rice deserved harsher punishment.

A second video, posted online on Sept. 8 by TMZ Sports, shows what happened inside the elevator. Rice can be seen hitting Palmer and knocking her into a railing inside the elevator. Rice was cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL shortly after the video was posted.

Blumenthal served five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general, during which time he dealt with domestic violence and abuses cases. The senator said both the NFL and Congress need to step up.

“Regardless who runs the NFL, it ought to be making a serious commitment, stronger penalties. Six-game suspension is way too lenient, and equally important, resources, funding for domestic survivor groups,” Blumenthal said. “Violence ought to be met with better services and the Congress has an obligation there too to do better and do more.”

While the video has upset many, Blumenthal said the attention surrounding the incident could be a “turning point.” The graphic caught-on-camera exchange has thrust not only the incident itself, but the larger issue of domestic violence, to the forefront of national conversation.

“Mostly this crime — it is a crime — occurs behind closed doors surrounded by stigma, shame, secrecy,” the lawmaker added.

Blumenthal said out of this violent incident “could be a real opportunity that we need to seize from Congress and from the NFL to do more.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Is Iowa Ready for Hillary? Sen. Tom Harkin Still Has Questions

Is Iowa Ready for Hillary? Sen. Tom Harkin Still Has Questions

United States Senate(DES MOINES, Iowa) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be headlining Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry on Sunday, but the longtime progressive senator indicated that shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement should she decide to run for president in 2016.

Harkin, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate and was hosting his last annual Steak Fry, said progressives should raise questions about Clinton’s foreign policy and economic positions.

“As someone who has carried the liberal, progressive populist banner for many years, we’re always nervous about people moving too far to the right,” the Democratic lawmaker told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl for This Week. “See we, a lot of us believe the center ought to be moved back, that the center has moved too far right.”

Clinton is making her first trip to Iowa since 2008 for the signature political event that attracts thousands of Iowans, politicos and Democratic hopefuls seeking state and nationwide exposure. She was to headline the event with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Asked where Clinton’s positions fell on the political spectrum, Harkin responded, “Well, I don’t know, I mean I think this is something that will be developed and we’ll find out when, if she, if she decides to run. You know, what’s her vision for America?”

When asked if he had “real questions” about Clinton’s stances on issues, Harkin said, “I do about everybody” considering a run for the White House.

He added that President Barack Obama’s positions have been less progressive than he had hoped they would be.

“I must be frank with you, I thought Barack Obama was a great progressive and a great populist and quite frankly, I haven’t, some things have happened that I don’t agree with,” Harkin said.

And while most eyes on Clinton this weekend are reading signs for what her return trip to Iowa means for her 2016 presidential prospects, Harkin said Clinton’s trip will have more impact on the 2014 midterm elections, as she and former President Clinton begin hitting the campaign trail for Democrats facing tough election battles.

“She wants to focus on 2014 and how we can keep the Senate and elect some key people around the country, so she’s going to be out there working hard,” Harkin said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

WH Chief of Staff Expresses Confidence Iraqi Army Can Take on ISIS

WH Chief of Staff Expresses Confidence Iraqi Army Can Take on ISIS

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Saying that the United States is at war with ISIS, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough expressed confidence in the Iraqi army to take on the militant Islamic group even though it has failed to do so effectively in the past.

“There is now a new multi-ethnic government in Baghdad. They will support a unified, capable multi-ethnic Iraqi force so that they can take this fight to ISIL,” McDonough said Sunday on This Week.

ISIL is also known as ISIS, or the Islamic State.

The White House chief of staff was asked by ABC News’s Martha Raddatz if there is a limit on how many U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq.

“I’m not in a position right now to tell you limits one way or the other,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry will have “news” this week when he testifies in Congress regarding countries that may join the United States in military action to eliminate ISIS, McDonough said. The chief of staff did not, however, provide details on when the U.S. might take action in Syria.

During a primetime address to the country last week, President Obama laid out his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the extremist Islamic group that has snatched territory in Iraq and Syria in recent months and is responsible for the grisly executions of two American journalists and most recently David Haines, a British citizen who was kidnapped last year.

Raddatz asked McDonough if the executioner had been identified.

“Obviously we’re doing everything we can to find that out and everything we can to continue to keep the heat on ISIL,” McDonough said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bill Maher Takes Aim at Minnesota Congressman

Bill Maher Takes Aim at Minnesota Congressman

HBO/Janet Van Ham(WASHINGTON) — Incumbent GOP Rep. John Kline’s Minnesota congressional seat is a little less safe thanks to comedian and television host Bill Maher.Maher has decided to target Kline for his “Flip A District” campaign…

Three Democrats Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016

Three Democrats Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016

U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading back to Iowa for the first time since 2008 this weekend to speak at the 37th Harkin Steak Fry. And since she says she’ll probably decide on a 2016 run “after the first of the year,” ABC News took a closer look at three other Democrats who could challenge her for the nomination if she decides to run for the White House for the second time.

1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator — speaking to ABC News’ David Muir earlier this year — said she is not running for president, but could she change her mind? It’s happened with other candidates before, including then-Sen. Barack Obama before the 2008 election. Warren, who recently released a book, is a favorite among more progressive Democrats. But an ABC News/Washington Post poll in June showed that among registered voters, 69 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor Clinton for the party’s nomination over seven other hypothetical contenders. Warren received only 7 percent.

2. Vice President Joe Biden
As the current vice president, Biden could not be any closer to the Oval Office than he is in his current position. The former Delaware senator, now in his 70s, has not ruled out another run for the White House.

He’s already run twice for the highest elected office in the land. In fact, just days after his potential 2016 rival Clinton visits Iowa, the vice president will be making his own stop in the Hawkeye State, the Des Moines Register reported. The same poll in June that showed a majority of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor Clinton by a large margin showed Joe Biden garnering 12 percent support.

3. Gov. Martin O’Malley
The governor of Maryland told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos last month that he is “seriously considering running in 2016,” and there are indications he might run regardless of whether Clinton makes a run or not. While he may not be as well-known nationally as Warren, Biden or Clinton, O’Malley has made news recently by publicly distancing himself from the White House over immigration. O’Malley was also just in Iowa, stopping there on Sunday to campaign for Jack Hatch, a state lawmaker challenging incumbent Republican Terry Branstad for governor.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sen. Gillibrand: If Goodell Lied, ‘He Has to Step Down’

Sen. Gillibrand: If Goodell Lied, ‘He Has to Step Down’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has tentatively added her voice to the rising chorus calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s resignation in the wake of the Ray Rice incident.

“If he lied, then he has to step down,” Gillibrand said on the latest episode of the ESPN-ABC News podcast “Capital Games.”

“What I’ve said up till now is, I expect Roger to create a zero tolerance policy and change the NFL, but … you can’t lie to the American people about the facts,” she said.

According to the senator, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose name has been bandied about as a possible Goodell replacement, “would make a great NFL commissioner, just based on her talent, her intelligence, her love of the sport.”

Appointing Rice commissioner would ignite the NFL’s female fan base and give the league a fresh perspective on issues with which it has long struggled. Choosing Rice would be not only a symbolic gesture, but a functional one as well.

“You know, we always fight for breaking every glass ceiling … But it’s more than just a message. Women often bring to leadership a different style of leadership, one that often is more focused on consensus building, often more focused on transparency and accountability,” Gillibrand said.

“I think what Condi or any other strong, capable woman could bring to the NFL is probably a voice they haven’t been hearing, and one that would do great, great benefit to the organization,” she added.

ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Andrew Brandt echoed Gillibrand’s contention that Rice should not be merely a token candidate.

“Would she be on the list if there wasn’t a Ray Rice issue, if he was retiring as commissioner would she be on the list? For her I would say yes,” Brandt said, adding that Rice has “impeccable credentials, impeccable integrity.”

“Sports are still considered a male-dominated thing,” acknowledges Julie Foudy, a former Olympian and World Cup champion. “I still think, with all the strides we’ve made with Title IX and the number of girls that are playing, the hardest area to break into is the professional game …. It’s a constant challenge.”

As for drawing the line on domestic violence: “I don’t buy the argument that you should do it because your fan base is women,” Foudy says. “Do it because it’s the right damn thing to do!”

The relationship between sports and politics is a reciprocal one, Gillibrand says.

“If you play sports, particularly competitive sports, you learn … your job is to hit your best shot, and your opponent’s going to hit his or her best shot against you as well. And it doesn’t mean anything, it just means you have to stay tough, stay focused, and know why you’re in the game,” she said on “Capital Games.”

“There’s an indicator, when they look at these things, that says if a woman’s played competitive sports, she might be more likely to run.”

Whether or not they play competitive sports, “I want women and girls to believe in themselves just as much as men and boys do. I want them to trust their own power … not just for their own sense of self, but for all of us,” Gillibrand says in her new book, Off the Sidelines. “Girls’ voices matter. Women’s voices matter. From Congress to board meetings to PTAs, our country needs more women to share their thoughts, and take a place at the decision-making table.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Reiterates ISIS Strategy in Weekly Address

Obama Reiterates ISIS Strategy in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama reiterated the strategy he outlined on Wednesday with regards to how the U.S. intends to handle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“As Commander in Chief,” Obama said, “my highest priority is the security of the American people.” After his Wednesday speech in which the president stated in no uncertain terms that those who seek to threaten Americans will find “no safe haven,” he spoke sternly once again, noting that his administration and the U.S. military have “prevented terrorist attacks, saved American lives and made our homeland more secure.”

Still, sending combat troops to the Middle East is not on the table, and that the fight against ISIS “can’t be America’s…alone.”

After going over the highlights of his strategy, the president praised the American people for their resilience on the week of the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, saying that “thirteen years after our country was attacked — we continue to stand tall and proud. Because we’re Americans.  We don’t give in to fear. We carry on. And we will never waver in the defense of the country we love.”

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

As Commander in Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people.  And I’ve made it clear that those who threaten the United States will find no safe haven.  Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, we took out Osama bin Laden, much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and leaders of al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia.  We’ve prevented terrorist attacks, saved American lives and made our homeland more secure. 

Today, the terrorist threat is more diffuse, from al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists—like ISIL in Syria and Iraq.  As I said this week, our intelligence community has not yet detected specific ISIL plots against our homeland.  But its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States.  And, if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States.  So we’re staying vigilant.  And we’re moving ahead with our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist organization.

To meet a threat like this, we have to be smart.  We have to use our power wisely.  And we have to avoid the mistakes of the past.  American military power is unmatched, but this can’t be America’s fight alone.  And the best way to defeat a group like ISIL isn’t by sending large numbers of American combat forces to wage a ground war in the heart of the Middle East.  That wouldn’t serve our interests.  In fact, it would only risk fueling extremism even more. 

What’s needed now is a targeted, relentless counterterrorism campaign against ISIL that combines American air power, contributions from allies and partners, and more support to forces that are fighting these terrorists on the ground.  And that’s exactly what we’re doing.     

We’re moving ahead with our campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists, and we’re prepared to take action against ISIL in Syria as well.  The additional American forces I’ve ordered to Iraq will help Iraqi and Kurdish forces with the training, intelligence and equipment they need to take the fight to these terrorists on the ground.  We’re working with Congress to expand our efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition.  We’ll continue to strengthen our defenses here at home.  And we’ll keep providing the humanitarian relief to help Iraqi civilians who have been driven from their homes and who remain in extreme danger. 

Because we’re leading the right way, more nations are joining our coalition.  This week, Arab nations agreed to strengthen their support for the new Iraqi government and to do their part in the fight against ISIL, including aspects of the military campaign.  Saudi Arabia will join the effort to help train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces.  And retired Marine general John Allen—who during the Iraq war worked with Sunnis in Iraq as they fought to reclaim their communities from terrorists—will serve as our special envoy to help build and coordinate our growing coalition.

Today, every American can be proud of our men and women in uniform who are serving in this effort.  When our airstrikes helped break the siege of the Iraqi town of Amerli [Ah-MER-lee], one Kurdish fighter on the ground said, “It would have been absolutely impossible without the American planes.”  One resident of that city said—“thank you, America.”

Today we’re showing the world the best of American leadership.  We will protect our people.  We will stand with partners who defend their countries and rally other nations to meet a common threat.  And here at home—thirteen years after our country was attacked—we continue to stand tall and proud.  Because we’re Americans.  We don’t give in to fear.  We carry on.  And we will never waver in the defense of the country we love.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

GOP Weekly Address: ‘State Is Under Attack from the Federal Government’

GOP Weekly Address: ‘State Is Under Attack from the Federal Government’

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Congressional candidate Andy Tobin, R-Arizona, delivered the weekly Republican Address on Saturday, speaking strongly about the importance of “putting people first” and ending an “attack from the federal government.”

Tobin, currently the Speaker of the Arizona House, pointed the finger at “overregulation” and federal debt and ObamaCare for the imbalance of power taxpayers experience compared to the government.

Calling the existing gridlock in Washington “disappointing,” Tobin spoke about the “good-faith effort” being given by Republicans and accused Democrats of avoiding votes, specifically noting the Democratic failure to pass their immigration bill. “They’re more worried about losing their Senate majority than the concerns of the American people,” Tobin said.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello, I’m Andy Tobin.  I serve as Speaker of the Arizona House, and I’m the Republican candidate for Arizona’s First Congressional District.
 
Before I begin: we have had terrible flooding in our state this week.  At least two Arizonans died.  Our hearts go out to their families, and our thanks go to the first responders.  Their service inspires us always.   

I’m running for Congress for a simple reason: our state is under attack from the federal government. Day after day, the powers-that-be in Washington try to bury us in more regulations and more havoc.  This has to stop.  Not just here, but everywhere people are working harder only to have Washington take more of their money and more of their freedom.
 
How do we restore the balance of power for hardworking taxpayers?

Well, one thing we can do is go after overregulation.  Here in rural Arizona, the EPA’s mandates threaten to shut down the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-powered plant that is vital to our state’s economy.  These mandates will mean higher water and electricity prices for Arizona residents.  They also threaten the viability of this plant, putting hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.  Instead of perpetrating a war on coal, Washington should be protecting coal, protecting these jobs, and supporting American energy.

Second, we need to repeal ObamaCare.  I run a small business involved in employee benefits, so I’ve seen firsthand the rate increases, and the way this law is crushing businesses and pushing people into part-time work.  It’s also costing our seniors money they don’t have and doctors they’ve relied on for years.  Let’s start over and focus on ideas that lower costs and put the patient back in charge.

Third, we need to get ourselves out of all this debt.  It’s a drag on our economy and investment, and it’s not something we should be passing on to our kids.  Not too long ago, our state was one of many caught in the grip of recession and a budget crisis.  Working together, we turned things around.   Cut government by 25 percent.  Balanced the state’s budget.  And passed the largest tax cuts in our state’s history, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.  Now we’re moving in the right direction, building a better future for our children and their children.
 
And you know how we got it done?  By finding common ground, making the tough choices, and recognizing that Arizona would only recover if we all recover. 
 
That’s why the gridlock in Washington is so disappointing.  You have Republicans making a good-faith effort, bringing real ideas to the table to help our economy, but Senate Democrats won’t give them a vote.  They didn’t even pass their own bill to help us deal with the crisis at our border.  They’re more worried about losing their Senate majority than the concerns of the American people.  
 
I’ve dedicated my life to serving others.  It was instilled in me as the son of a police officer. To get America back on track, we need to put the people first, be their voice, especially for parts of the country like rural Arizona that have been forgotten by Washington.
 
Thank you for listening.  May God bless Arizona and the United States of America.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Makes Good on World Cup Bet, Sends Beer to Belgian Embassy

Obama Makes Good on World Cup Bet, Sends Beer to Belgian Embassy

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During the height of World Cup fever back in June, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo bet President Obama through Twitter that the Belgian soccer team would advance to the World Cup quarter finals by defeating the United States team.

 

Hey @BarackObama, I am betting some great Belgian beers that our @BelRedDevils will make it to the quarter final! :-) #ComeOnBelgium #BEL

— Elio Di Rupo (@eliodirupo) June 26, 2014

 

Belgium successfully beat the United States 2-1.

Though Obama never responded to the PM’s tweet, he followed through on Friday by sending some Sam Adams beer to the Embassy of Belgium, along with a handwritten note congratulating the Belgian team — “See you in 2018.”

 

Just delivered @SamuelAdamsBeer to @BelgiumintheUSA to make good on the President’s #WorldCup bet w/@eliodirupo. pic.twitter.com/iyGKfH93gW

— @NSCPress (@NSCPress) September 12, 2014

 

 

President Obama making good on lost Soccer World Cup with PM di Rupo:shipment of Sam Adams arrives at embassy. pic.twitter.com/2I0XodApTI

— Embassy of Belgium (@BelgiumintheUSA) September 12, 2014

 

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rep. Mark Sanford Splits With Argentine ‘Soul Mate’

Rep. Mark Sanford Splits With Argentine ‘Soul Mate’

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Mark Sanford has decided to “call off” his engagement to the Argentine “soul mate” he had a intercontinental, extra-marital affair with as governor in 2009.

The announcement of the split with Maria Belen Chapur was buried in a 2,349-word Friday Facebook post responding to the complaint filed by the South Carolina Republican’s ex-wife, Jenny, in Charleston County Family Court Sept. 2.

“No relationship can stand forever this tension of being forced to pick between the one you love and your own son or daughter, and for this reason Belen and I have decided to call off the engagement,” Sanford, 54, wrote in the post. “Maybe there will be another chapter when waters calm with Jenny, but at this point the environment is not conducive to building anything.”

Sanford also said in the post that he would hire a lawyer for his Sept. 15 court date.

The  former two-term governor proposed to Chapur, who he had seen in secret for more than a year, in Argentina in 2012.

“Belen is a remarkably wonderful woman who I have always loved and I will be forever grateful for not only the many years we have known and loved each other, but the last six very tough ones wherein she has encouraged me and silently borne its tribulations with her ever warm and kind spirit,” Sanford wrote Friday.

Sanford’s congressional office declined to respond to the letter, while Jenny Sanford did not immediately respond to ABC’s requests for comment.

In 2009, then-Governor Sanford went AWOL from South Carolina, claiming he was hiking, then admitting that he’d been away having an affair with Chapur. Sanford returned to politics in a successful bid for South Carolina’s First Congressional District in 2012. He had served in the Congress from 1995-2001.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

White House Says ‘War’ Against ISIS Is Akin to ‘War on Terror’

White House Says ‘War’ Against ISIS Is Akin to ‘War on Terror’

mj0007/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — One day after denying the U.S. is engaged in “a war” against ISIS militants, the White House Friday said a war is in fact underway, indicating it’s an extension of the ongoing campaign against Islamic extremists.

“The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

“Sematics matter,” he added.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby echoed that assessment: “This is not the Iraq War,” he said. “But make no mistake we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The militant Islamic group goes by the acronym ISIL as well as ISIS and the name of Islamic State.

The new talking points follow a day of insistence by administration officials that President Obama’s new anti-ISIS strategy only amounts to a “counter-terrorism campaign.”

“No,” the U.S. is not at war with ISIS, Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News Thursday in Saudi Arabia. “We’re engaged in a counter-terrorism operation of a significant order. And counter-terrorism operations can take a long time, they go on. I think ‘war’ is the wrong reference term with respect to that.”

National Security Adviser Susan Rice said since there would be no “boots on the ground” — presumably referring to American combat troops in Iraq or Syria — the campaign would not fit the definition of “war.”

But Friday a different tune, made all the more noteworthy given Obama’s record of distancing himself from his predecessor’s “war on terror” terminology and repeated insistence that “core” al Qaeda have been “decimated.”

“This war, like all wars, must end,” Obama declared of the “war on terror” in May 2013.

Now, his administration is pointing to that definition to say that we are still “at war” — and that it will continue, likely for years to come.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Can New Bill Plug ‘Dangerous’ Homeland Security Gap?

Can New Bill Plug ‘Dangerous’ Homeland Security Gap?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley introduced legislation this week to stiffen rules for schools seeking to attract foreign applicants with the promise of assistance to obtain a student visa — an effort he says will prevent want-to-be terrorists from exploiting vulnerabilities in the American student entry program.

“It’s time to close the loopholes and clamp down on schools that have a poor track record with regard to foreign students,” Grassley, R-Iowa, said.

Grassley pointed to findings of a recent ABC News investigation that found U.S. Homeland Security officials had lost track of some 6,000 foreign nationals who had overstayed the terms of their student visas in the past year and a half — exploiting a security gap that was supposed to be fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Despite repeated concerns raised by Congress, federal immigration officials have also continued to grant schools certification to accept overseas applicants even if the schools lack accreditation, state licensure, or any obvious measure of academic rigor.

There are now more than 9,000 schools on the government-approved list. The list includes such top flight American colleges as Harvard and Yale, but it also includes 86 beauty schools, 36 massage schools and nine schools that teach horseshoeing. Foreign students can enter the U.S. on a visa to study acupuncture, hair braiding, or join academies that focus on tennis and golf.

In one case, a tiny, state licensed career college in New York City continued to have four campuses on the Department of Homeland Security-certified schools list, even though five of the school’s top officials — including its president — were indicted on charges of visa fraud in May.

According to the indictment, 80 percent of the foreign students enrolled at MicroPower Career Institute had delinquent attendance, putting them out of compliance with their visas. But the school did not report them, the indictment says.

The school declined comment and all five school officials have pleaded not guilty in the case. DHS officials said they had no ability to de-list the school, even after the fraud indictments, because the school was entitled to administrative due process.

Grassley said his legislation would require schools to be accredited by an appropriate accrediting body in order to accept foreign students. He said it would also give Homeland Security officials the ability to immediately suspend school participation if they were failing to comply reporting requirements or fell under suspicion of fraud.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said the agency does not comment on pending legislation. But she added that the department would “fully support improving and enhancing programs that protect our country’s national security.”

She noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is already hard at work trying to improve what officials there have acknowledged are shortcomings of the student visa monitoring program. ICE officials told ABC News, for instance, that it has undertaken a new program to deploy field representatives around the country to personally inspect schools that had been approved to accept foreign students. So far, 15 field representatives have been hired, with a plan to ultimately employ 60 around the country, according to spokesperson Carissa Cutrell.

The agency has also launched a program — so far installed at one airport, but planned for others — that will immediately alert a customs inspector if a student is attempting to re-enter the country after their status has been flagged by a school official.

“The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has made significant improvements to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, increased school and student oversight, and unveiled new policy guidance to close vulnerabilities and better protect our nation from individuals who try to exploit the U.S. visa system,” Cutrell said.

An advocacy group for international students and educators, called NAFSA, has expressed concern that security questions surrounding student visas have created unwarranted fears about the risks those students pose. Rebecca Morgan, a NAFSA spokeswoman, noted that only 3 percent of the 61 million people who entered the United States on nonimmigrant visas in 2013 held student visas.

“It is important to understand that the other 97 percent are entirely unmonitored,” she said. “Students are the only ones that are monitored.

Morgan also said that efforts to attract foreign students should be encouraged, not impeded.

“Generations of American foreign-policy leaders have pointed to educational exchanges as one of our most successful foreign policy tools, the most proven and effective way for the United States to build a foundation for dialogue and partnership with the rest of the world,” she said.

Jill Welch, who oversees NAFSA public policy, said in a statement that the group would oppose the measure, calling it “unfortunate that Senator Grassley’s recent statements imply a false connection between foreign students and terrorism.”

She said the legislation is “redundant because DHS already has the authority to shut down fraudulent programs after an investigation and due process.”

The Grassley legislation is similar to a proposal introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2012 that failed to pass. Grassley said that as the number of foreign students being issued visas has grown, the amount of risk posed by the program is expanding. He cited a recently released Brookings Institution report showing the number of visas in U.S. colleges and universities grew from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012.

“Despite this overwhelming increase, the technology and oversight of the student visa program has insufficiently improved,” he said. “Now, 13 years after 9/11, we have sham schools setting up in strip malls without real classrooms. We have foreign nationals entering the U.S. with the intent to study, but then disappear and never attend a real class.”

Thomas Kean 9/11 Commission Co-Chair told ABC News that he is stunned the federal government continues to lose track of so many foreign nationals who had entered the country with student visas. He noted that both the hijacker who flew the airplane into the Pentagon and the man who drove the van containing explosives into the World Trade Center garage in 1993 were student visa holders who were no-shows at school.

“It’s been pointed out over and over and over again and the fact that nothing has been done about it yet…it’s a very dangerous thing for all of us,” Kean said. “The fact that there’s been no action on this is very bothersome.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hillary Clinton’s Tribute to Writer Maya Angelou

Hillary Clinton’s Tribute to Writer Maya Angelou

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — “She urged, demanded, inspired millions of Americans to live kinder, braver, more honorable lives.”

That’s how Hillary Clinton paid tribute to poetic luminary Maya Angelou Friday at a memorial ceremony in New York’s Riverside Church.

Angelou, 86, died this past May.

“When I ran for president, which I did a few years ago, her encouragement meant so much to me,” the former secretary of state said to a ripple of laughter.

“She didn’t hesitate to tell you when she thought you were wrong, or being thoughtless or arrogant, and she did not suffer fools. So when she said that she believed in you, you actually believed her and began believing in yourself,” she added.

Clinton, who is mulling another stab at the presidency in 2016, recalled a few lines of the poem Angelou penned in support of Clinton during her 2008 campaign:

“There is a world of difference between being a woman and a being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter.”

In Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, a coming-of-age story recounting her struggles with early-life trauma and prejudice, Clinton said she saw traces of her own mother’s difficult past.

Angelou “was often slotted into subcategories as writers wrote about her: an African American writer, a civil rights activist, a woman’s leader…But in truth, she transcended all labels. There is, however, one label that does stick,” Clinton said. “She could have been born anywhere in the world, but I believe only in America could she have become who she did.”

“Our country’s struggles and triumphs and progress over the past century are written all over her life,” she added. “Indeed, she helped to write them.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hillary Clinton Returns to Iowa for Steak Fry Sunday

Hillary Clinton Returns to Iowa for Steak Fry Sunday

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When Hillary Clinton touches down in Iowa this weekend, it will be the first time she has stepped foot on the state’s soil since she lost the Iowa caucuses during her presidential primary campaign on Jan. 3, 2008.

Clinton has notably stayed clear of Iowa since her defeat to then-Sen. Barack Obama that night, a moment she describes as “excruciating” in her new memoir, Hard Choices.

But, now, nearly 2,500 days later, Clinton is making her grand return to the Hawkeye state to headline, along with husband Bill Clinton, Sen. Tom Harkin’s 37th annual and final Steak Fry.

Inevitably, the timing of Hillary Clinton’s visit to the key presidential primary state will stroke speculation about her potential and, increasingly apparent, 2016 presidential bid. But if you were to ask her about the Iowa trip, she’d likely say it’s purely about the Steak Fry.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Iowa Steak Fry:

What is a “steak fry”?

A Steak Fry is essentially a barbeque party that features steak on the menu.

What’s the deal with Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry?

The retiring Sen. Harkin’s annual Steak Fry is a longstanding Iowa tradition that started in 1972 on a local family farm to raise money for his first congressional campaign. Over the years, the Steak Fry, which originally cost $2 a ticket and had just 40 attendees, has grown and evolved into a signature political event that attracts thousands of Iowans, politicos and Democratic hopefuls seeking state and nationwide exposure. In recent years, headliners have included President Obama, Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. After 37 years, however, this upcoming Steak Fry will be the last. Harkin is stepping down after serving 30 years in the Senate.

Where is it?

The Steak Fry has been held at various locations in Iowa through the years, but one of the most common, and the chosen spot for its final year, is the National Balloon Classic Balloon Field in Indianola, Iowa, about 20 miles outside Des Moines.

When is it?

This Sunday, Sept. 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. CT.

Who’s going to be there?

In addition to Harkin, his wife, Ruth Harkin, and headline speakers, Bill and Hillary Clinton, a number of local Democratic Iowa politicians and midterm candidates will be speaking at the Steak Fry this year, including agriculture secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Harkin’s open Senate seat, Jack Hatch, the Democratic nominee for Governor, and four congressional candidates. As for the viewers, the organizers say for this final sendoff of the Steak Fry, they are expecting a larger-than-normal crowd, roughly 5,000 people. This would make it the biggest Steak Fry since 2007, when all presidential primary candidates, including Obama and Hillary Clinton, were in attendance. (More than 10,000 people showed up that year, for perspective.)

Why is Hillary Clinton going?

Despite speculation of her 2016 ambitions and the possibility she’s beginning to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton will tell you her appearance at the Steak Fry is just about the friendship. The Clintons are longtime friends of Harkin and his wife, dating to 1992 when both Bill Clinton and Tom Harkin were running for president. Earlier this summer, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she is merely attending the Steak Fry to “see her old friend and colleague” and to “help raise money for important races in Iowa.”

Have the Clintons been before?

Yes. Bill Clinton has headlined three times (in 1992, 1996 and 2003), and Hillary Clinton once (in 2007 during her presidential primary campaign).

What’s the deal with the fried steak?

The steaks at the Steak Fry are not actually fried. Despite the event’s name, we’re told the steaks are always grilled. This year, the local grocery store chain, Hy-Vee, is catering the event, and also plans to offer grilled chicken and veggie burgers.

Are we going to see Hillary Clinton grill a steak?

Yes, you will get to see both Bill and Hillary Clinton hover over a grill and cook up a large, hunky piece of Iowa meat. (That said, the now waist-watching former president could choose the veggie burger option instead, but who knows?)

Will Ready for Hillary be there?

The pro-Hillary Clinton super-PAC urging her to run for president has major plans for Clinton’s big return to the Iowa stage Sunday. They’re stationing the Ready for Hillary bus there to hand out free T-shirts, signs and rally supporters. They’re organizing buses to transport students from colleges around the state to the Steak Fry. And they’re hoping to post huge billboards near the event so everyone (“including Hillary,” they say) can see she already has huge support.

How do Iowans feel about Hillary Clinton?

Ever since Clinton, 66, came in third in the Iowa caucuses, where she was largely expected to win, her relationship with the state has been rocky. A Des Moines Register poll earlier this year, however, would suggest Iowans are receptive to her 2016 run (the poll showed that 88 percent of Iowa Democrats think Clinton should run again.) And even Harkin is confident she has Iowa support.

“I think you will find at the Steak Fry that Iowans love Hillary — and Bill,” he told the Washington Post.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ISIS Makes Cameos in Campaign Ads Across the Country

ISIS Makes Cameos in Campaign Ads Across the Country

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In a montage that includes militant jihadists wielding automatic weapons, exploding buildings, and even an apparent firing squad, the most arresting image lasts only a moment, but it is unmistakable: a masked terrorist brandishing a knife.

New Mexico Senate candidate Allen Weh made headlines last month when his campaign included the image — a still from the ISIS video of James Foley’s beheading — in a 60-second campaign spot.

Including an image from one of the year’s most high-profile murders in a campaign ad is a risky move politically — especially when that image comes from a particularly gory piece of extremist propaganda. But addressing the threat of ISIS is becoming almost unavoidable as national security issues continue to dominate the news cycle.

“That video is rough, but that’s the unvarnished truth,” Weh told ABC News. “The whole message was very simple: failed leadership in Washington.”

ISIS is “absolutely going to be on the front of people’s minds” this election cycle, he added.

And slowly but surely, other candidates have been following Weh’s lead.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who’s fighting to hold on to his seat against Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes, also invoked the ISIS threat. In an ad released last week, the McConnell campaign ties Grimes to Obama’s no-strategy-yet gaffe.

“These are serious times,” a narrator intones, as footage of an ISIS militant wielding an automatic weapon flashes on the screen. Later, a three-second clip shows Obama saying, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

“When so many in Washington can’t do the job, shouldn’t Kentucky have a senator who can? Obama needs Alison Grimes. Kentucky needs Mitch McConnell,” the ad says.

The National Republican Congressional Committee also unveiled an ISIS-themed ad portraying incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., as soft on terror.

“America is under a new threat of terrorism, yet Nolan voted to cut funds from the fight against al Qaeda,” the narrator says, as the screen shows men in Middle Eastern garb.

“Rick Nolan. Dangerously Liberal. Wrong for Minnesota,” the ad concludes.

In Michigan, an ad released by the U.S. Senate campaign of Democratic Rep. Gary Peters doesn’t specifically reference terrorism but it does mention an upcoming “vote” — presumably a vote to authorize military action against extremists in the Middle East.

“When it comes time to cast a vote, the decision to put men and women in harm’s way is one of the toughest ones you can make, and I will always think of the people I served with, their sacrifices,” Peters, a former Navy Reservist lieutenant colonel, says in the ad.

And in perhaps the most hard-hitting spot of all, one candidate seeks to tie his opponent not to ineffective policy — but to the terrorists themselves.

David Perdue, a Republican battling Democrat Michelle Nunn for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, recently dusted off an old ad linking Nunn to militants.

“In her campaign plan, Michelle Nunn admits she’s too liberal, and her foundation gave money to organizations linked to terrorists,” the ad says.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Advertise With Us

Would you like to advertise on East Idaho News? Fill out this form to contact a representative.
  • Full and Last
  • The name of your company, business or brand.