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Supreme Court Lets Texas Use New Voter ID Law in Nov. Election

Supreme Court Lets Texas Use New Voter ID Law in Nov. Election

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Supreme Court will now allow Texas to use its controversial new voter ID law for the November election.

The high court rejected a request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce photo IDs in order to cast ballots.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement, "It is a major step backward to let stand a law that a federal court, after a lengthy trial, has determined was designed to discriminate. It is true we are close to an election, but the outcome here that would be least confusing to voters is the one that allowed the most people to vote lawfully."

Early voting in Texas begins Monday.

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Answers to Five Simple Questions About the Midterm Elections

Answers to Five Simple Questions About the Midterm Elections

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the midterm elections less than three weeks away, Shushannah Walshe, deputy political director for ABC News, answers five simple questions.

1. So, let's start with the basics. For those who don't know or have been too busy watching the new season of Homeland or reading Gone Girl think pieces: what are the midterm elections and when are they? Sometime next month, right?SW: Yes, on Tuesday, November 4. But, are you too busy? Aren't we all? In many states there is no need to wait to vote. You can vote early–in many states you can even go today. We are less than three weeks away and according to early voting expert Michael McDonald with the United States Election Project over 1.6 million Americans have already voted. In every district, wherever you live, you can find that information easily accessible online. So, what are you waiting for? Ah maybe you like the excitement of waiting until Election Day.Now to the big question: what are the midterm elections? Midterm elections happen halfway through the presiden's four-year term and if you are wondering if you can vote or should, well that answer is yes, if you are registered. That’s because every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election, yes yours! That's not all. There are important Senate and gubernatorial races as well. What's the most important? Well, it’s all important, but we are closely watching whether the Democrats hold on to the Senate or not (more on that below). Republicans need to gain six states in order to do that and there are several tight races–some that may not even be decided until after Election Day--making it impossible to know right now what will happen.2. Ok, so – as much as everyone is talking about Hillary Clinton – the White House is not actually in play this year. How many seats in the Senate and House of Representatives are up for grabs? A number of governors' races are happening as well right?SW: Correct, the president has two more years and the next POTUS will be elected in 2016. When will that race start? Oh about a day after the midterms are over. But, let's concentrate on this election. All 435 members in the House of Representatives are up because they are up for re-election every two years (what a grind!) and there are 36 gubernatorial and 36 Senate races. Sixteen of those Senate races are deemed competitive by ABC News ratings and of those 16, five are toss-ups. Of the governor's races our ratings show 21 are competitive with seven toss-ups. Go to ABCNews.com's 14 for 14 coverage to see if any of these hot races are in your state.3. So the House is currently controlled by the Republicans AKA the GOP. The Senate is controlled by the Democrats. Any clue if either body will change hands?SW: We don't believe the House will change hands, meaning Republicans will stay in control of the lower chamber. Republicans are actually hoping to gain even more seats next month, while Democrats are aggressively trying to prevent that from happening. There aren't really that many toss-ups despite every seat being up and just a relatively small number that the campaign committees pour money into and watch closely because they tend to flip back and forth between the parties.But, the real fight to watch on November 4 is whether the Senate changes hands from the Democrats to the Republicans. You may be seeing all those nasty ads at home on your TV and this is likely why, because we are in the last weeks of a death match and Democrats are trying to hold control and the GOP wants to wrest it from them, knowing it's only six seats that could make a difference. It all depends on just a handful of critical races; see below for more on that.If you are interested in paying attention these final weeks those are the exciting races to watch, with all of them it could be that one race that determines control. What happens if there is a tie? A tie means that the Democrats win because Vice President Joe Biden is actually the tie breaker. Currently Nate Silver and his team at FiveThirtyEight give Republicans a 60.8 percent chance of taking control of the Senate and give Democrats a 39.2 percent chance of keeping the majority.4. OK, so let's say the Republicans win the Senate. What does that actually **mean** in real terms? What will change in Washington?SW: There's so much gridlock now, how could there be more? But, yes expect more gridlock because the president, a Democrat, will still be in the White House while Republicans will hold Congress. It’s quite likely even less could get done. It would shift, though. Instead of Congress not getting anything done, the president will likely veto more of what Congress passes.Of course, Republicans could worry again about more primary challenges so any lawmaking may come to a grinding halt. Many Republicans and Democrats running now are promising to work across the aisle, trying to sell themselves to a public that is sick of congressional fighting. If those promises are true then maybe all these predictions will be wrong, but don’t bet on it. It’s not just voters that are sick of the inaction; there are plenty of senior legislators who are sick of it too. Maybe they will get their way and come to a truce of sorts. Again, unlikely. One other possibility is that President Obama moves toward the Republicans to try and get something–anything–done. We'll be watching.5. So, we established there are a lot of races happening. Can you name three races you find most compelling and why?SW: There are a lot of races and narrowing it down to three is difficult, but let’s give it a try. The Georgia Senate race has just recently become a toss-up and it’s all because of an outsourcing controversy that has hit the Republican in the race, businessman David Perdue, pretty hard. He’s running against Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, and for months it looked impossible for a Democrat in red Georgia to win, but now it’s likely to stay tight until Election Day.Another exciting, and also somewhat unexpected battle, is the Kansas Senate race. In that fight, three-term incumbent Pat Roberts is battling it out against independent Greg Orman. Kansas is also a bright red state, a place not really accustomed to competitive elections never mind this brawl. Orman says he’s an independent choice, while Roberts and his allies are trying to label with him with the L word, liberal. Kansas also has an exciting gubernatorial race, but I won’t count that as my number three.For my final one, let’s go with a governor’s race. The Florida governor’s race is a fascinating one pitting the Republican incumbent against the former GOP governor of the Sunshine State, Charlie Crist. Crist is back, but this time he’s a Democrat, and everywhere he goes he’s accompanied by a fan. Yes, a fan. As a Floridian, I can attest that it gets hot at home, but this fan has even impacted the race with Scott refusing to come out to their debate Wednesday because of the fan. Yes, fangate.

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Obama Reassures Americans About the Fight Against Ebola in His Weekly Address

Obama Reassures Americans About the Fight Against Ebola in His Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama attempted to explain more clearly the Ebola situation in America, and what his administration has done and is continuing to do to prevent it from spreading.

"What we're seeing now is not an 'outbreak' or an 'epidemic' of Ebola in America," Obama pointed out. He highlighted that only three Americans have been diagnosed with the disease on American soil, urging Americans to "keep this in perspective."

The president also noted, as he has previously, that Ebola is a difficult disease to catch, and that we know how to fight it. "So far," Obama points out, "five Americans who got infected with Ebola in West Africa have been brought back to the United States -- and all five have been treated safely, without infecting healthcare workers"

Fighting Ebola will take time, Obama says. But he reiterates that he will not implement a travel ban for impacted countries, as doing say could make the situation worse.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:Today, I want to take a few minutes to speak with you-directly and clearly-about Ebola: what we're doing about it, and what you need to know.  Because meeting a public health challenge like this isn't just a job for government.  All of us-citizens, leaders, the media-have a responsibility and a role to play.  This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.  We have to be guided by the science.  We have to remember the basic facts.  First, what we're seeing now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America.  We're a nation of more than 300 million people.  To date, we've seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care possible.  Now, even one infection is too many.  At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective.  As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch.  It's not transmitted through the air like the flu.  You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.  The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms.  I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've treated Ebola patients.  I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office.  And I'm fine.Third, we know how to fight this disease.  We know the protocols.  And we know that when they're followed, they work.  So far, five Americans who got infected with Ebola in West Africa have been brought back to the United States-and all five have been treated safely, without infecting healthcare workers. And this week, at my direction, we're stepping up our efforts.  Additional CDC personnel are on the scene in Dallas and Cleveland.  We're working quickly to track and monitor anyone who may have been in close contact with someone showing symptoms.  We're sharing lessons learned so other hospitals don't repeat the mistakes that happened in Dallas.  The CDC's new Ebola rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the right protocols.  New screening measures are now in place at airports that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  And we'll continue to constantly review our measures, and update them as needed, to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep Americans safe.  Finally, we can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging.  Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain.  Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse.  It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth.  Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.  So the United States will continue to help lead the global response in West Africa.  Because if we want to protect Americans from Ebola here at home, we have to end it over there.  And as our civilian and military personnel serve in the region, their safety and health will remain a top priority.  As I've said before, fighting this disease will take time.  Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America.  But we know how to wage this fight.  And if we take the steps that are necessary, if we're guided by the science-the facts, not fear-then I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort.

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GOP Weekly Address: ‘We Can Do Better’

GOP Weekly Address: ‘We Can Do Better’

US Senate(WASHINGTON) --A Congressional candidate from Long Island, New York, Lee Zeldin, delivered the Republican address this week, in which he spoke of the future, and the importance of fixing Washington for the next generation.

Zeldin called his two daughters "the most important reason [he is] running for Congress." His goal, he says, is to provide his daughters and their generation with "more opportunities than we had."

Criticizing the gridlock in Washington, Zeldin says that the capitol is full of "caution and inaction," and that Americans should be "tired" of the way D.C. operates.

A former Army paratrooper and a current major in the Army Reserves, Zeldin calls for an end to dysfunction, an improved education system, the repeal of Obamacare, support of veterans and job creation.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello, I’m Lee Zeldin, and I’m the Republican candidate for New York’s First Congressional District here on Long Island, a special place where I was born and raised.Let me start by saying that our hearts go out to all those affected by the Ebola outbreak.  Right now, the president and his administration need to be taking every necessary step to protect the American people.Today, I just want to share with you the most important reason I’m running for Congress.  There are two of them actually, and they’re our beautiful twin daughters, Arianna and Mikayla.  They inspire my wife, Diana, and I every day to do all we can to provide them and their generation with more opportunities than we had.That’s just the American way, but that is not the path we find ourselves on right now.  Our government spends more than it takes in, fails to keep basic promises to our veterans, and squanders opportunity after opportunity to create good-paying jobs.  Instead of courage, we see caution and inaction.Aren’t we tired of the way Washington fails to listen to us?This November 4th is our chance to send a message that the challenges we face can’t wait.  That it’s time to turn things back in the right direction.We can start by focusing on creating good-paying, private sector jobs.  Too often in today’s economy, people find themselves taking second, third jobs, and that’s still not enough to make ends meet.  We can do better, and help families get ahead, not just get by.We need to fight for our veterans who fought for us.  We can’t rest until we know the VA will be able to provide the first-rate, 21st-century care our men and women in uniform deserve.We need to repeal and replace ObamaCare with solutions that cost less and guarantee more freedom, certainty and security.  And we have to improve our education system, to put parents in charge of their kids’ education, and give every child an opportunity to succeed.  I know we can do this.  It’s going to take hard work, tough decisions, and embracing the duty we all share to protect and pass on the blessings on which our country was built.  That’s why I proudly served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, why I still serve as a major in the Army Reserves, and why I’m running for Congress now.Together, we can end the dysfunction, and restore the American Dream for our kids and grandkids. They’re what this is all about.  Thank you for listening, and have a great weekend.

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Gov. Perry Calls for Air Travel Ban to Stop Spread of Ebola

Gov. Perry Calls for Air Travel Ban to Stop Spread of Ebola

ABC/Matthew Putney(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Gov. Rick Perry on Friday outlined new recommendations on preparedness and response to the Ebola situation made by the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.Perry cited the need to stop Ebola before it spreads, he urged President Obama to put an air travel ban in place from nations impacted by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He conveyed that message to Obama in a Thursday night phone call.Perry has also been on record as calling for enhanced medical screening at all ports of entry and quarantine facilities to ensure public safety."Air travel is how this disease crosses borders," Perry said in a statement, "and it's certainly how it got here to Texas." The governor referenced the two Dallas nurses who were infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to test positive for the disease in America at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.The task force also recommended the establishment of two Ebola treatment centers in Texas and specialized patient transport teams, expansion of training in infectious disease protocols for all health care workers, more testing labs for infectious disease, and increased authority for the Texas Department of State Health Service to issue "Enforceable Control Orders."

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Arizona AG Won’t Appeal Ruling That Struck Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

Arizona AG Won’t Appeal Ruling That Struck Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- After a district court judge ruled against Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage, the state's attorney general has decided not to further defend the law.According to a press release posted to Attorney General Tom Horne's website, the decision not to defend the state's law is "based on legal considerations rather than policy considerations." "A number of Attorneys General have refused to defend laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman," he said. "I have not been among that group. I have fought to defend the laws as passed by the voters of Arizona." However, Horne said, "the first duty of the Attorney General is to be a good lawyer." Further, he highlights a rule that governs lawyers, by which "it is unethical for a lawyer to file a pleading for purposes of delay rather than to achieve a result."Because both a federal district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled against the state's law, and the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the case of three other circuits in "essentially identical circumstances," Horne admitted that "the probability of persuading the 9th circuit to reverse today's decision is zero...the probability of the United States Supreme Court accepting review of the 9th circuit decision is also zero."Horne decided, therefore, that "the only purpose to be served by filing another appeal would be to waste the taxpayer's money," prompting his decision not to appeal."I am issuing a letter today to the 15 county clerks of court with the directive that based on today's decision by the Federal District Court, they can issue licenses for same sex marriages immediately," he added.

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Ann Romney on 2016: ‘We’re Not Doing That Again’

Ann Romney on 2016: ‘We’re Not Doing That Again’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- There has been some renewed speculation recently that Mitt Romney might make a third go of it and run for president again in 2016. He has even left the door open, although just a tiny bit. But his wife of 45 years keeps slamming it shut.“No,” Ann Romney told ABC News, saying she has “moved on.”“We’re not doing that again,” she said. “It’s a no,” adding that when friends, family and former aides urge them to give it one more go, she says it’s “kind of cute.”Romney said her “least political son,” Ben, called her recently and even he wasn’t sure.“He [says], ‘Mom are you guys thinking about running again. I’m starting to read things,” she said, laughing. “I [said], ‘Ben, no. You have to ask me that question; no because even our own children are reading all of this and they’re thinking, ‘Are you thinking about it? And it’s just, it is a lot of talk.”The former Massachusetts governor, 67, has been vague on the topic, telling the New York Times in September, “We’ll see what happens.”Ann Romney, 65, may have been through two bruising presidential campaigns, but her toughest battle has been the one she has fought with multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998. She has been in remission for more than a decade, but has acknowledged some tough days on the campaign trail.This week, she launched the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.She joined ABC News, along with her physician and co-director of the center, Dr. Howard Weiner, to discuss the breakthroughs, treatments and even cures possible for not only MS, but ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and brain tumors.Romney says they can “unlock a lot more mysteries in the brain” through their work and be able to “collaborate across the country and across the world.”Dr. Weiner didn’t hesitate when asked whether it’s possible to cure these diseases with research, saying, definitively, “one day we’ll get to a cure,” adding he is confident their research will also develop vaccines for such diseases.“First we have to get our treatments, understand the disease better, get treatments that slow the disease or stop the progression, and then one day we go for a cure,” Weiner said, adding they aren’t sure about a timeline for cures, but said he expects treatment for Alzheimer’s, ALS, and certain kinds of brain tumors.And once they get those treatments, he said, “we’re on our way.”At the launch of the center this week, the Romneys were joined by family friends, and also at least one possible 2016 candidate, Chris Christie. Ann Romney called the New Jersey governor a friend and said there would be plenty of choices when it comes time for presidential picking. But she did name some female Republicans she has her eye on, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez.Mitt Romney wrote an open love letter to his wife earlier this week marking the opening of the center. In the letter, he praised his wife saying, “From one of the wounded, you have become one of the warriors.”Ann Romney said her response was to “burst into tears” because it “really touched my heart.”“I mean he was with me when I was the wounded,” Romney recalled. “Now I’m in a different place and I now can be the warrior for those that are suffering and going through what I went through because I know what it feels like when you are so depressed and you feel hopeless is to know that it’s OK. I want to be able to be that voice of hope for people.”

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Economic Inequality Worries Fed Chair Janet Yellen

Economic Inequality Worries Fed Chair Janet Yellen

The US Federal Reserve(WASHINGTON) -- Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, said in a speech at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality on Friday that she was worried about the increasing income and wealth inequality in the United States."The extent and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me," Yellen said. "The past several decades have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century after more than 40 years of narrowing inequality following the Great Depression." "It is no secret," she noted, "that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority."

In her speech, she highlighted the "four building blocks of opportunity," that she believes can aid in providing mobility and reverse the trends of inequality. Those building blocks include increased resources available for children, affordable higher education and opportunities to build wealth through business ownership. She also noted the impact of inheritances on economic opportunity.Yellen also cited research that indicates that economic mobility has remained unchanged for "several decades" in the U.S., and that the U.S. ranks lower in mobility "than in most other advanced countries."

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Obama Admits His Credit Card Got Rejected

Obama Admits His Credit Card Got Rejected

Pete Souza The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C. on Friday, President Obama admitted that his credit card was recently rejected.“I went to a restaurant up in New York during the U.N. General Assembly and my credit card was rejected. It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough, so they thought there was some fraud going on,” he explained, as he signed an executive order to tighten security on debit and credit cards that transmit federal benefits. "Fortunately, Michelle had hers."“I was trying to explain to the waitress, ‘No, I really think that I’ve been paying my bills,’” he joked.“See, even I’m affected by this,” the president added.

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Four Things Some DC Lawmakers Want Obama to Do About Ebola

Four Things Some DC Lawmakers Want Obama to Do About Ebola

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- There is a growing political drumbeat for the Obama administration to take bold new steps on Ebola, as two Dallas health care workers are being treated for Ebola this week.Facing pressure from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, President Obama on Friday appointed Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, to lead the administration’s Ebola response.But there are other proposals that lawmakers are pushing the president to consider, including travel bans and firing the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Here’s a look at some of the latest steps some lawmakers in Congress want Obama to take:1. MANDATORY QUARANTINEIn a letter sent to Obama Thursday, Rep. Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania Republican who chaired Thursday’s Ebola hearing in the House, called on the administration to implement a mandatory 21-day quarantine order for any American who has treated an Ebola patient or anyone who has traveled to and returned from an Ebola-stricken country. This would include “a prohibition of domestic public travel regardless of assumptions that the treating professionals wore or removed all personal protective equipment properly.”2. TRAVEL BAN & VISA RESTRICTIONSThe most popular idea being floated around by Republican lawmakers is restricting entry for passengers coming from West African countries dealing with Ebola. According to a rough and unofficial whip count, at least 55 members of the House (six Democrats, 49 GOP) and at least 11 senators (one Democrat, 10 Republicans) want some kind of travel restrictions. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is the highest ranking Republican asking Obama to consider a travel ban. In a phone call Thursday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pressed Obama to implement a travel ban, exempting medical workers.Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., says he will introduce legislation next month that would “restrict all commercial flights from traveling to and from Ebola affected countries until the virus is declared to be contained and no longer a threat.”But many lawmakers, primarily Democrats, have come out in opposition to a travel ban. The White House says a ban is off the table.Several lawmakers, all Republicans, are suggesting the State Department halt the issuance of visas for non-nationals coming from Ebola-stricken countries. But some have said there should be exceptions. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who supports implementing visa restrictions, said health workers coming to the United States to seek medical training should still be eligible for visas.3. FIRE FRIEDENThere is pressure from a small group of lawmakers for CDC Director Thomas Frieden to resign amid criticism of the administration’s handling of Ebola in this country. Such lawmakers include Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Pete Sessions, R-Texas.4. EMERGENCY SESSION OF CONGRESSCongress is out of session until after the November midterm election, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, thinks congressional leaders should call Congress back to Washington for an emergency session to examine a temporary Ebola travel ban.

“The top priority should be to protect health and safety of American citizens,” Cruz said on Fox News Thursday night. “We need to do more, we’re not doing enough. If the president won’t act, then Congress should reconvene and Congress should act to protect the American people.”

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Ebola Is Officially the October Surprise of the 2014 Election

Ebola Is Officially the October Surprise of the 2014 Election

(WASHINGTON) -- In the 2012 campaign, the October surprise was Hurricane Sandy. This year, it’s Ebola.With less than three weeks before the midterm election, Ebola has emerged front and center in stump speeches, on the debate stage and even some campaign ads as it’s turning into one of this election’s most unexpected, yet hottest campaign issues.An ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week found that 65 percent of Americans are concerned about an Ebola epidemic, and four in 10 Americans are worried they or an immediate family member might catch the disease. Figures like these could give campaigns an indication that the Ebola issue might resonate with voters this November.Republican Senate candidates have seen an opening to criticize the administration for what they perceive is a poor response to Ebola. GOP Candidates in some of this year’s most important Senate races are calling on President Obama to place restrictions on travelers coming from the West African countries experiencing an Ebola outbreak, a step 67 percent of Americans support.Some Republican candidates, like Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Scott Brown in New Hampshire, have tied Ebola to border issues, arguing that a porous border allows for people with Ebola to come into the country.For the most part, Democrats have refrained from calling for travel restrictions, instead focusing their attention on blaming Republicans for budget cuts to programs that could deal with Ebola. Earlier this week, The Agenda Project, a pro-Democrat non-profit group, released an ad titled “Republican Cuts Kill,” blaming GOP lawmakers for funding cuts for programs and agencies that would help in the Ebola response.Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was the first candidate to make Ebola a political issue in a campaign ad, running a TV spot in August tying one of his opponent’s votes to pandemic outbreaks like Ebola.The Ebola cases in the U.S. have prompted changes in lawmakers' schedules. President Obama cancelled two days of out-of-town events to hold meetings at the White House on Ebola, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is mulling a run for the White House in 2016, even shortened an economic development trip to Europe in order to return to Texas. Two Senate candidates -- Reps. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., -- took a break from campaign activities on Thursday to attend a House hearing on Ebola, where they had an opportunity to grill CDC Director Thomas Frieden on the administration’s Ebola response.Ebola is also becoming an issue in debates. With news of a second Ebola diagnoses in Texas dominating headlines Wednesday, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and his Republican challenger Gardner, were asked about Ebola for the first time in a debate setting on Wednesday night."We ought to listen to the doctors and the health-care professionals…If they believe we ought to close our borders, we ought to restrict flights to and from West Africa. Let's listen to them,” Udall said, according to the Denver Post. “But senators and congressmen shouldn't be making those decisions. We should be supporting the resources that are necessary to meet the Ebola challenge.""If the president's not willing to put into a place a travel ban, then we should have 100 percent screening of the people who are coming from those affected areas," Gardner said, according to the Denver Post.Candidates are also facing questions about Ebola from reporters, as seen in this MSNBC interview with Pryor, where he struggled to answer whether the Obama administration had properly handled the response to Ebola.But is Ebola a legitimate campaign issue or are campaigns engaging in fear mongering? Steven Greene, a professor of political science at NC State University, says it’s a little bit of both.“I think there are very important issues of public policies related to Ebola that we should have a mature discussion about, but the truth is we don’t have mature discussion about anything in the campaign season so whatever political discussion about this is most likely going to be fear mongering,” Greene said.

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President Obama Names Ron Klain ‘Ebola Czar’

President Obama Names Ron Klain ‘Ebola Czar’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Amid mounting pressure to name someone to spearhead the administration's response to the Ebola crisis, President Obama announced on Friday that he plans to appoint Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden's former chief-of staff, as his Ebola czar, ABC News has confirmed.Klain, who also served as chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore, now works as general counsel at Revolution LLC.The White House had previously already assigned Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, a lawyer with a background in federal law enforcement, criminal prosecution and crisis response, to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies responsible for addressing an outbreak on American soil.But by Thursday evening, Obama signaled his openness to naming a czar."The truth is, is that up until this point the individuals here have been running point and doing an outstanding job in dealing with what is a very complicated and fluid situation," Obama said.However, "It may make sense for us to have one person, in part just so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s going forward," he added.Klain will report directly to Monaco and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, according to a White House official.Here are five things you should know about Klain:1. General Counsel: As general counsel for the Gore Recount Committee, Klain was at the forefront of the 2000 “hanging chad” controversy, aiding in the Gore campaign’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to clinch Florida’s 25 electoral votes.2. Chief of Staff: As Biden’s chief of staff, he helped oversee implementation of the Recovery Act, the stimulus package enacted in 2009.3. Debate Prep Advisor: Klain also served as a top debate prep adviser for Presidents Obama and Clinton as well as Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry.4. Private Sector: He left the White House in 2011 to become president of Case Holdings and general counsel at Revolution LLC, a technology-oriented venture capital firm founded by AOL co-founder Steve Case.5. Education: He’s a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White.

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POLL: Most Back SCOTUS on Gay Marriage — Including in the Affected States

POLL: Most Back SCOTUS on Gay Marriage — Including in the Affected States

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support the recent U.S. Supreme Court action allowing gay marriages to go forward in several states -- including a bare majority in the 11 states in which such marriages have begun in the past week and a half.Overall, 56 percent of Americans support the court’s action, while 38 percent oppose it -- exactly matching opinions on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, asked in an ABC/Post poll in June. These results reflect the public’s dramatic shift in support of gay marriage the past decade.By declining to hear several appeals, the high court cleared the way for gay marriage in five states -- Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three others in the same jurisdictions followed suit (Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia), and gay marriage bans in three additional states, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska, were rejected by other courts in the past week.In the 19 states (and Washington, D.C.) that had previously legalized gay marriage, the court’s decision is especially popular: Sixty-six percent support the decision, with 30 percent opposed. Support is sharply lower, but still 51 percent, in the 11 states that have allowed gay marriage since the Supreme Court’s action, vs. 42 percent opposed. (The rest are undecided.)Americans divide similarly, by 48-44 percent, support-oppose, on the court’s action in the 20 remaining states in which gay marriage remains illegal.More than half of Americans have supported legalizing gay marriage steadily in ABC/Post polls since March 2011, a sea change from earlier attitudes. Support was as low as 32 percent (in a poll among registered voters) a decade ago.At the same time, the issue remains divisive. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that seven in 10 strong conservatives, nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 72 percent of evangelical white Protestants oppose the court action.Sentiment on both sides, moreover, is intense -- seven in 10 Americans have strong feelings on the subject, including 38 percent who “strongly” support the court action and 32 percent who strongly oppose it. Only 18 and 6 percent “somewhat” support or oppose the action, respectively.GROUPS – Support includes more than seven in 10 college graduates and adults under 40, and more than six in 10 Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants alike, falling sharply among their counterparts.Eight in 10 liberals are in favor, as are six in 10 moderates, vs. just a third of conservatives. And support ranges from 72 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents to 25 percent of Republicans. Indeed, in a separate question, 49 percent of independents say their opinion of gay marriage is closer to the Democratic Party’s; just 23 percent say they’re closer to the GOP on the issue. Largely as a result, Americans overall are 17 points more likely to side with the Democratic Party over the GOP on the issue of gay marriage, 48 vs. 31 percent.Partisan differences explain some of the variability in state groupings. In the 19 states where gay marriage was previously legal, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 15 points, 35 to 20 percent. In the 11 states where such marriages began this week, fewer are Democrats -- 26 percent -- vs. 29 percent Republicans. It’s a 29-25 percent split in the 20 remaining states where gay marriage remains illegal.METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 9-12, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Angry About Ebola Response, Lawmakers Grill CDC Chief

Angry About Ebola Response, Lawmakers Grill CDC Chief

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal health officials faced sharp questioning by the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday over the government's handling of the growing Ebola crisis in the U.S.Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, who chairs the committee, called the response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "unacceptable," contending that "people are scared."The CDC has come under heavy criticism for not ensuring that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was up to speed in treating Ebola patients after a Liberian man was first turned away and then came back with full-blown symptoms of the disease.Now, the hospital is monitoring dozens of health care workers who were in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan after two nurses contracted the virus from the patient who later died. One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, flew on a plane last Monday after apparently getting the okay from the CDC.Asked about this, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the House panel that he was unaware that Vinson was given approval to fly from Cleveland to Dallas, which has since resulted in a wild scramble to retrace Vinson's steps.  Several schools in Ohio and Texas were closed Thursday because of fears people who had flown with Vinson might have been exposed to Ebola.Frieden said it was his "understanding that she reported no symptoms to us" although it has since been revealed Vinson was flying with an elevated temperature of 99.5. It was later reported that Vinson wasn't feeling well before her trip to Cleveland one week ago, prompting the CDC to track down passengers on that flight as a precaution.The CDC chief didn't get riled even as questioning about the government's response became more heated.He told the panel, "There are no shortcuts in the control of Ebola and it is not easy to control it. To protect the United States we need to stop it at its source," which is West Africa where the disease has spread rapidly since March, killing thousands.Some lawmakers repeated their calls for a travel ban to countries most affected by the virus, but Frieden insisted that would be the wrong strategy because travelers would use other means to enter the U.S., making them completely untrackable.In separate testimony, Dr. Daniel Varga, head of the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said that the hospital was at fault for failing to initially diagnose Duncan with Ebola, telling lawmakers, "Despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes."

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White House Fence Jumper Indicted on Three Additional Charges

White House Fence Jumper Indicted on Three Additional Charges

Vacclav/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez was charged with three additional offenses by a federal grand jury Thursday.The grand jury charged Gonzalez with two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees and unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device. The latter charge involves gun magazines recovered from Gonzalez's car that included more than 10 rounds each.Gonzalez is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 21, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Gonzalez jumped a fence on the north side of the White House on the evening of Sept. 19. He eventually ran through the north doors of the White House and into the building before being apprehended by Secret Service agents. He was initially charged on Sept. 30 with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or place of business and unlawful possession of ammunition.

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Kerry Reflects, Talks ISIS at Eid al-Adha Reception

Kerry Reflects, Talks ISIS at Eid al-Adha Reception

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in which nearly two million Muslims take part every year, at a State Department reception on Thursday."We're celebrating the meaning and importance of sacrifice and devotion in our lives," Kerry said. "Eid al-Adha is a special time for charity and compassion, and for prayer and reflection." He took part in that reflection too, saying that "if I went back to college today I would at least minor, if not major in comparative religion."Kerry also took the opportunity to call on other world leaders involved in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, urging them to exhibit "mutual respect, without anybody asserting that they have a better way or a better answer."

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President Obama Says He’s Open to Appointing an Ebola Czar

President Obama Says He’s Open to Appointing an Ebola Czar

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) --  President Obama said he is open to appointing what would essentially be an Ebola czar to deal with the ongoing situation with the deadly disease in the U.S."It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person" to be the point person, the president told reporters at the White House after meeting with his Ebola response team for nearly two hours, as new information continued to develop about how health care workers at a Dallas hospital may not have been given proper training and equipment to deal with an Ebola patient there.However, a travel ban is not the way to go, the president said. He doesn't have a philosophical objection, but he said that a travel ban is less effective than screening. Implementing a travel ban may actually backfire by prompting travelers to hide their travel history, Obama said.The president also said he spoke with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on Thursday about the Ebola situation."When we have tight protocols with respect to the treatment of patients, our health care workers remain safe," Obama said."I understand that people are worried. This is a disease that is new to our shores," Obama said. But he noted that the disease's spread has been limited right now, and that Ebola is a "very difficult disease to catch.""We are taking this very seriously at the highest levels, including me," Obama said.

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Joe Biden’s Son Hunter Biden Discharged from Navy After Positive Cocaine Test

Joe Biden’s Son Hunter Biden Discharged from Navy After Positive Cocaine Test

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in February after testing positive for cocaine, a person familiar with the case confirmed to ABC News.The person said Biden had failed a urinalysis test and was discharged from the Navy.“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge,” Hunter Biden said in a statement distributed through his lawyer. “I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward.”The person familiar with the case said he “was treated no different than any other sailor.”Biden, 44, had needed an age waiver to join the Reserves because of his age as well as a second waiver because of a drug-related incident while a young man.Separately, a Navy spokesman confirmed that Biden had been discharged from the Navy, but because of Privacy Act restrictions could not detail why he had been discharged.“Ensign Hunter Biden was selected for commission through the Direct Commission Officer Program in 2012," Cmd. Ryan Perry said. "In May, 2013 he was assigned to the Navy Public Supports Element East in Norfolk, Virginia. He was discharged from the Navy Reserve in February, 2014. Like other junior officers, the details of Ensign Biden’s discharge are not releasable under the Privacy Act.”News of Hunter Biden’s discharge was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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TSA Administrator to Retire from Public Service

TSA Administrator to Retire from Public Service

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- John Pistole, the longest-serving administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, announced on Thursday that he is retiring from public service at the end of the year.Pistole spent 26 years at the FBI before working at the TSA for the last four and a half years. According to a TSA press release, Pistole is expected to be named to a position in the academic field early next year.Pistole called it "an honor and a privilege to have served as TSA Administrator." In a statement, he said, "No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public." Pistole, who joined the FBI in 1983, was nominated for the administrator position in 2010 and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanked Pistole for his service and highlighted his leadership in launching the TSA's pre-check program that is now used by more than five million passengers each week at 120 U.S. airports."John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA's transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems," Johnson said. "Because of his efforts...our country's transportation systems are more safe and secure."

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James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, to Resign

James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, to Resign

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Deputy Attorney General James Cole is planning to resign from his post, leaving the administration after four years of operating as the Justice Department's COO.Cole is the second-longest-serving deputy attorney general, and the longest serving in over 50 years. A Justice Department official tells ABC News that Cole informed the White House of his decision on Sept. 18 and that he will leave the administration as soon as the end of the year. He had also informed Attorney General Eric Holder prior to informing the White House.The official said that Cole does not have plans for immediately after leaving the department, but that he would like to be involved in issues including sentencing reform and helping prisoners re-enter society.Cole joined the Justice Department in 1979, left to enter private practice in 1992, and returned as deputy attorney general in 2010.Last month, Holder announced his impending resignation from the position of attorney general.

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