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Iowa Senate Race Getting Closer, Poll Shows

Iowa Senate Race Getting Closer, Poll Shows

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Iowa Senate race is still as tight as can be, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning, with 47 percent for Republican Joni Ernst and 45 percent for Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.Quinnipiac says the margin has tightened since its last poll because independent voters have likely shifted to the Democratic column. The university's poll from Sept. 17 had Ernst up six points.Independent voters are now supporting Braley 48 to 43 percent, "a shift from Ernst's 50-43 percent lead among these key voters last month," the poll says.  An important and positive sign for Braley: he leads 51 to 37 percent among those who have already voted. As for that all important "mind is made up" question, 89 percent of likely voters say their mind is made up, while 10 percent may change their mind. With favorability, 47 to 41 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Ernst, while Braley is underwater with a 42 to 44 percent favorable opinion.

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Dem Campaign Chief Bracing for Electoral Wave: ‘Is It a Concern? Yes’

Dem Campaign Chief Bracing for Electoral Wave: ‘Is It a Concern? Yes’

US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- Less than three weeks from Election Day, the top House Democratic campaign official, Rep. Steve Israel, says there’s “concern” that a Republican electoral wave could be coming this fall.With a new ABC News/Washington Post poll showing President Obama’s approval rating at a career low of 40 percent and House Republicans holding a seven-point edge over Democrats on the generic ballot, Israel characterized the electoral landscape as “tough and unpredictable.”“Am I fearful? No. Is it a concern? Yes,” Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said of the prospects of a GOP wave during a briefing for reporters on Capitol Hill. “We assumed going into this midterm election that the generics would be very tight and planned accordingly. Whether a wave erupts remains to be seen.” Nevertheless, Israel pointed to internal polling showing 32 competitive House races, with Democrats playing offense on 18 seats but also scrambling to defend 14 vulnerable incumbents.“We anticipated the worst from Day One,” Israel, D-N.Y., said. “The first thing I see every morning when my eyes flutter open is 29, which is the average loss [of House seats] to the president’s party in a second midterm, so we knew that the exposure could be 29.”Still, Israel refused to predict how many seats his party could lose and emphasized he expects Democrats, who have outraised Republicans, to keep the matchups competitive up until Election Day on Nov. 4.“We never assumed the best. We prepared for the worst,” Israel acknowledged. “Irrespective of what is happening in the world and irrespective of where the president’s numbers may be, every single one of our incumbents is either ahead, or up by the margin of error, or tied. That’s because we have three words: prepare, prepare, prepare.”

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Sen. Mary Landrieu Gives Obama a Passing Grade

Sen. Mary Landrieu Gives Obama a Passing Grade

US Senate(SHREVEPORT, La.) -- It's not exactly an A+ rating, but when asked to rate President Obama on a scale of one to 10 in the Louisiana Senate debate Tuesday night, vulnerable incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu said she'd give Obama "a six to a seven."

Both of Landrieu's Republican challengers, Rep. Bill Cassidy and Col. Rob Maness, gave Obama a rating of zero.

Another notable moment came in the debate's lightning round when Cassidy said "yes," he would support legalizing marijuana for medicinal uses.

Landrieu said "no," as did Maness.

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Obama Hits the Stump for Democratic Governor Hopefuls

Obama Hits the Stump for Democratic Governor Hopefuls

Pete Souza - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama holds his first public campaign rally of the cycle Wednesday for Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy in Bridgeport.ABC News has learned that Obama will do six more rallies before Election Day -- and all are for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in blue states.  The president will stump for only one U.S. Senate candidate, Gary Peters of Michigan, at a joint rally with former Rep. Mark Schauer, who's hoping to become the next governor of Michigan.

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Iowa Senate Candidate Killed in Plane Crash

Iowa Senate Candidate Killed in Plane Crash

DrDougForIowa.com(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- The Libertarian candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Iowa was killed in a plane crash Monday night in Dubuque.The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the cause of the crash, said that Doug Butzier was piloting a Piper PA-46 that went down about a mile short of the runway as it approached the airport.  He was the only person on board.Butzier, 59, was running against Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley, who both issued statements of condolences to Butzier's family.Dr. Lee Hieb, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, said "Iowa and the cause of individual liberty are significantly diminished by his passing."Butzier was an emergency room doctor and medical staff president at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque.He was seeking the seat being vacated by Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin. According to polling, Butzier had about two percent of support among registered Iowa voters.

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POLL: Trouble Looms for Obama, Democrats with Election Day 2014 Approaching

POLL: Trouble Looms for Obama, Democrats with Election Day 2014 Approaching

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Barack Obama and his political party are heading into the midterm elections in trouble. The president’s 40 percent job approval rating in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll is the lowest of his career -- and the Democratic Party’s popularity is its weakest in polling back 30 years, with more than half of Americans seeing the party unfavorably for the first time.The Republican Party is even more unpopular. But benefitting from their supporters’ greater likelihood of voting, GOP candidates nonetheless hold a 50-43 percent lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election.

[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

These and other results are informed by an array of public concerns on issues from the economy to international terrorism to the Ebola virus, crashing into a long-running crisis of confidence in the nation’s political leadership. Almost two-thirds say the country is headed seriously off on the wrong track. Even more, three-quarters, are dissatisfied with the way the political system is working.Scorn is widely cast: Among those who are dissatisfied with the political system, two-thirds say both sides are equally to blame, with the rest dividing evenly between Obama and his party, vs. the Republicans in Congress, as the chief culprits. But as a nearly six-year incumbent president, Obama -- and by extension his party -- are most at risk.Beyond his overall rating, Obama is at career lows in approval for his handling of immigration, international affairs and terrorism (long his best issue) in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Approval of his handling of the conflict with Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria has plummeted by percentage 15 points in the last two weeks, amid questions about the progress of the air campaign now under way.Further, while Obama’s negative rating on handling the economy has eased, more Americans say they’ve gotten worse off rather than better off under his presidency; the plurality is “about the same” financially, for most not a happy outcome. Even with the recovery to date, 77 percent are worried about the economy’s future, and 57 percent say the country has been experiencing a long-term decline in living standards -- all grim assessments as Election Day looms.Such views can carry a punch. An analysis conducted for this report shows that presidential approval ratings (in data since 1946) and views that the country’s on the right track (since 1974) highly correlate with midterm gains or losses for the party in power. (The correlations are .68 and .65, respectively; 0 means no relationship and 1 is a perfect, positive fit.)Moreover, an index of dissatisfaction, also produced for this study, finds that the public’s unease on a range of issues strongly predicts vote preferences; these wide-ranging concerns emerge as a key factor in the 2014 contest. In addition to persistent doubts about the economy, for instance, 71 percent express worry about a terrorist attack and 65 percent say they’re concerned about an Ebola epidemic -- disquieting sentiments when confidence in the political system is so weak. (Details of the dissatisfaction index will be covered in a separate report tomorrow.)History, for its part, offers the Democrats cold comfort. Obama’s approval rating matches George W. Bush’s heading into the 2006 midterms, when the Republicans lost 30 seats. The only postwar president numerically lower heading into a second midterm was Harry Truman, at 39 percent approval, in 1950; his Democrats lost 28 seats. While race-by-race assessments don’t suggest those kinds of losses this year, the comparison adds context to the GOP’s upper hand.Such results also help explain why Obama is attending his first public campaign rally of 2014 only today, for Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut.THE HEAT – As noted, Obama’s party is feeling the heat. Just 39 percent of Americans see it favorably, while 51 percent rate it unfavorably -- the most in polls since 1984. The Republican Party has a weaker 33-56 percent favorable-unfavorable rating. But while the Democrats have lost 10 points in favorability just since August, the GOP has held steady -- and its negative score has eased by 7 points in the past year.A key factor, moreover, is propensity to vote. The national House race stands at 46-44 percent among registered voters in this poll, a non-significant +2 for Democratic candidates. As noted, that flips to +7 in favor of the Republicans, 50-43 percent, when winnowed to likely voters.That shift -- a 9-point swing in support for Republican candidates when moving from registered voters to likely voters -- is not unusual. It was almost identical ABC/Post pre-election polls before the 2010 midterms.The differences show up in demographic data. Nonwhites, one of the most solidly Democratic voting groups, make up 28 percent of registered voters, but just 22 percent of likely voters. Republicans account for 25 percent of registered voters, but that rises to 31 percent of likely voters. The share of conservatives gains a scant 4 points. Less-educated and lower-income adults lose 9 and 8 points, respectively, going from registered to likely voters.Vote-preference results, moreover, are consistent across a range of likely voter models. In seven scenarios, with turnout ranging from 42 to 53 percent of the general population, support for Democratic candidates is 42 or 43 percent; for Republicans, it’s 50 to 52 percent.With turnout key, there’s one measure that suggests the Republicans may be running a more efficient get-out-the vote campaign -- an area in which the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 were particularly effective. Among likely voters who say they’ve been contacted on behalf of a Republican candidate, 55 percent also say they plan to vote Republican. Among people who’ve been contacted on behalf of a Democrat, a bit fewer plan to vote Democratic, 48 percent -- not a large gap, but a potentially important one in motivating turnout.VOTE BY GROUPS – Differences in vote preferences among groups also are informative. Among likely voters, women divide evenly between Democratic and Republican House candidates, while men favor the Republicans by 16 points. Political independents support Republican House candidates by 19 points. Whites favor GOP candidates by 25 points. Each of these is almost identical to results of the 2010 national exit poll.ISSUES – Views on issues show how turnout matters. All Americans, for example, split evenly, 39-39 percent, on which party they trust more to handle the main problems facing the country. Among registered voters it’s similar, 41 percent for the Republican Party, 38 percent for the Democrats. But among likely voters this becomes an 8-point Republican advantage, 46-38 percent.Indeed the Republicans lead among likely voters on five out of eight issues tested in this survey -- including, notably, a 13-point lead over the Democrats in trust to handle the economy, which leads easily as the top-cited issue in the election. The GOP also has an 11-point lead among likely voters on handling immigration, 17 points on handling the federal deficit and 22 points on handling the U.S.-campaign against ISIS.The two parties run evenly in trust to handle health care; the Democrats lead only in two others -- trust to better help the middle class, by 8 points, and trust to handle issues of particular importance to women, by 22 points.ACE? – That advantage on women’s issues could be an ace in the hole for the Democrats -- but the disadvantage on ISIS could be a hole in that ace. The question is whether preferences among women who are focused on security issues water down the Democratic advantage on women’s issues overall. Such women have been heard from before; they were a critical element of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.Something like that may be happening again. Among likely voter women who say they’re worried about a terrorist attack in the United States, GOP candidates lead by 55-39 percent. Among the relatively few who are not worried about terrorism, Democratic candidates have an overwhelming lead.TWO MORE – In two more issues, likely voters are 11 points more apt to say the Democrats, rather than the Republicans, come closer to their views on abortion, and it’s a 13-point gap on gay marriage. But the results also show that these issues are not exclusive concerns.Specifically, among likely voters who say the Democratic Party is closer to them on abortion, 22 percent support the Republican in their congressional district nonetheless. Among those who say the Democrats are closer to them on gay marriage, 25 percent support the Republican candidate regardless. There’s less crossover among Republicans -- 12 and 11 percent, respectively.ATTRIBUTES – In terms of attributes, the parties are fairly closely rated on items including being “more concerned with the needs of people like you” (a non-significant +3 for the Democrats), better understanding people’s economic problems (+2 Democratic) and better representing “your own personal values,” +4 to the Republican Party.In contrast to these close results, the fourth item tested is a breakout one for the GOP: likely voters by a 13-point margin, 48-35 percent, say it has “better ideas about the right size and role of the federal government.”There’s a dead heat, meanwhile, in views of whether Obama -- and the Republicans -- have a clear plan to deal with the nation’s problems in the years ahead. About two-thirds, in each case, say they don’t -- another example of the public’s political disaffection. Among likely voters, 64 percent say Obama lacks a clear plan. Sixty-eight percent say the same of the GOP.OBAMA – Lastly there’s Obama himself. Likely voters by a 12-point margin are more apt to say one reason for their vote is to show opposition to Obama than to show him support, 26 vs. 14 percent. (Most, by far, say he’s not a factor.)  That’s similar to what it was for Bush in 2006 -- a 15-point net negative among likely voters.Regardless, whatever the outcome of the election, Obama has two more years to govern -- and a hole to dig himself out of. He’s got some opportunity -- among other factors, 8 percent of all adults in this survey are undecided about his overall job performance, which is more than usual. Another is that the gradually improving economy may yet help him, if the recovery gains steam.But his challenges are serious, and broadly based. His approval rating among independents matches his career low (33 percent); among Republicans it’s 9 percent, a point from his low; among Democrats, 76 percent, 3 points from his low. He’s at a career low among moderates and a point away from it among conservatives. He matches his career low among whites (30 percent) and nonwhites (61 percent) alike. He’s at a career low in approval among women, 39 percent. And the number of Americans who “strongly” approve of the president’s job performance, 20 percent, is 2 points from his career low. Nearly twice as many, 39 percent, strongly disapprove.Obama’s predecessor, embroiled in an unpopular war, tanked in the second half of his second term, going from 40 percent approval at the time of the 2006 midterms to 23 percent two years later; in all it was the most unpopular second term on record in polls dating to the late-1930s. It’s a pattern this president -- midterms aside -- surely would like to avoid.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. Partisan divisions are 31-24-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.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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Appeals Court Reinstates Texas Voter Photo ID Law

Appeals Court Reinstates Texas Voter Photo ID Law

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Texas' strict voter ID laws Tuesday, meaning that hundreds of thousands of registered voters might be ineligible for the Nov. 4 midterm election.Last week, a federal judge ruled that the law requiring people to present photo IDS to get regular ballots was unconstitutional by discriminating against minorities who might not be able to easily attain this form of identification.However, the 5th Circuit Court, considered one of the most conservative in the nation, overturned the injunction, explaining that it was important to maintain "the status quo on the eve of an election."As a result, voters who can't produce a valid driver's license will need to obtain a photo ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, early voting in Texas begins next Monday.Photo IDS are typically supported by GOP lawmakers who argue they prevent fraud, multiple voting and voting by non-citizens. However, there has been little evidence over the years of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the U.S.Opponents, generally Democrats, say it’s a thinly veiled attempt to suppress voting by minorities and the young, who mostly vote for Democratic candidates.

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Michelle Obama Dances With Turnip

Michelle Obama Dances With Turnip

ABC/Jeff Neira(WASHINGTON) -- Fresh off the fall harvest in her White House garden, first lady Michelle Obama got down with a turnip.Her moves appeared in a Vine video posted to the @FLOTUS Twitter account in response to a question from Iman Crosson, a self-described actor/director who has impersonated her husband in humorous digital short films.

 

Hey, @Alphacat. The First Lady wants to know… #TurnipForWhat? https://t.co/WL7jCellbC #AskTheFirstLady #TD4W

— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) October 15, 2014

The exchange was part of a Twitter Q&A hosted by the first lady’s office Tuesday afternoon in conjunction with the annual fall harvest in the White House kitchen garden. Questions were collected en masse; later, she answered 7 of them in Vine or SnappyTV videos posted to her account.The use of the video technology in conjunction with Twitter appeared to break new ground for a first lady on social media. It comes as she seeks to invigorate her “Let’s Move!” healthy eating and physical fitness initiative with two years left in office.The full exchange can be found on Michelle Obama's Twitter account. The questions and her answers can be read below:1. “Hi Mrs. Obama, my name is Jordan. How do you get kids to exercise when they don’t want to?” “I remind kids that working out is just like playing” 2. “What’s your favorite food memory?”  “One of my favorite food memories is that every time by brother and I got good report cards, we got take out pizza. It was really fun.” 3. Hi, I’m Ali. What yummy tips do you have for a healthy halloween?  “Trick or treating can be a lot of fun. But just remember don’t try to eat all your candy at once. Just have one or two pieces every night for a little while.” 4. “Mrs. Obama, what’s your favorite fall vegetable?” “My favorite fall vegetable is a sweet potato.” 5. Mrs. Obama, what is your favorite way to stay healthy? “Eating healthy can be really simple. Just eat lots of fruits and vegetables and try to get some kind of exercise everyday if you can.” 6. Bees? “Our bees are amazing they’re producing about 200 pounds of honey every year. We give them as gifts to some of our most special visitors.”7. “How many calories do you burn every time you ‘turn up’?!”  “Turn up for what?!!”

 

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State Department Offering $45 Million in Rewards for Information on Terrorist Leaders

State Department Offering $45 Million in Rewards for Information on Terrorist Leaders

Hisham Ibrahim/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department announced rewards totaling up to $45 million for information leading to the capture of eight key leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a known terrorist organization.The Department of State authorized a $10 million reward for information that helps them capture Nasir al-Wahishi, the "top leader" of AQAP. According to a State Department press release, al-Wahishi is responsible for "approving AQAP targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources and directing AQAP operatives to conduct attacks." An additional $5 million each in rewards were authorized for information that aids in the capture of seven other AQAP leaders.The State Department named Qasim al-Rimi, Othman al-Ghamdi, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, Shawki Ali Ahmed Al-Badani, Jalal Bala'idi, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh and Ibrahim al-Banna as the seven other leaders for whom rewards were offered.AQAP was formed in January 2009, according to the State Department, by al-Wahishi, who had previously led the organization's predecessor group -- al-Qaeda in Yemen. The organization has since been involved in numerous terrorist attacks against the Yemeni government, the U.S. and other foreign interests, and was named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in January 2010. Most recently, AQAP threats closed over 20 U.S. embassies in 2013.

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Obama Discusses Campaign Against ISIS with Foreign Military Leaders

Obama Discusses Campaign Against ISIS with Foreign Military Leaders

Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama met with military leaders from 22 nations, as well as U.S. military leaders, at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday for the latest meeting of the coalition fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.Obama noted that the campaign against ISIS is "still at the early stages" and will be a "long-term campaign." The president spoke with military leaders from nations including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and Turkey, among others, and with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco present.Acknowledging "days of progress and periods of setback," Obama urged the leaders to understand that the campaign against ISIS "cannot simply be a military program." Instead, coalition nations must improve their communication of "an alternate vision for those who are currently attracted to the fighting."

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Chris Christie Says He ‘Would Rather Die’ Than Be US Senator

Chris Christie Says He ‘Would Rather Die’ Than Be US Senator

ABC/ LOU ROCCO(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told an NAACP conference on Saturday that he "would rather die" than become a U.S. senator."The only job left for me to run for is United States Senate, and let me just say this: I would rather die than be in the United States Senate," Christie told the conference attendees. "I would be bored to death."Christie continued, painting a picture of what Chris Christie, U.S. senator would look like. "Could you imagine me banging around that chamber with 99 other people? Asking for a motion on the amendment in the subcommittee? Forget it. It would be over, everybody," the New Jersey governor said in his first address to the state's NAACP conference in that position. "You'd watch me just walk out and walk right into the Potomac River and drown."

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Supreme Court Blocks Parts of Texas Abortion Law

Supreme Court Blocks Parts of Texas Abortion Law

zimmytws/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court blocked key aspects of a Texas law that would have closed all but a number of the state's abortion clinics.The court overturned a circuit court ruling that allowed the state to require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and also vacated an order that required doctors performing abortions at clinics in McAllen and El Paso to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The original law was heavily criticized, in part because it would have forced most of the state's abortion clinics to close their doors.In August, a district court rejected parts of the original law, a ruling that was overturned by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court's decision allows abortion clinics to remain open during the appeals process, the New York Times says.Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said that they would have allowed the law to be enforced.

"Our entire Whole Woman’s Health team is bruised and battered from this year of battle, but tonight we all know in our hearts and minds that it has been worth it," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman's Health, the company that brought the appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Kerry Says ‘No Discrepancy’ Between US and Turkey on Fighting ISIS

Kerry Says ‘No Discrepancy’ Between US and Turkey on Fighting ISIS

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the U.S. and Turkey are on the same page about how the U.S. can use its bases within Turkish borders.On Monday, Turkey denied U.S. claims that it had allowed the U.S. to use its base in Incirlik to strike targets related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. "As far as I know," Kerry said, "there is no discrepancy with respect to what is going on." "[Turkey] has allowed the use of certain facilities and we don't need to get into specifics except to say that I don't believe there is a discrepancy," the secretary of state said.

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Republicans Find Another Way to Mock Hillary Clinton Online

Republicans Find Another Way to Mock Hillary Clinton Online

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If you’ve taken a wrong turn on the GOP’s website lately, you may have come across an unusual error message.First pointed out by TIME’s Zeke Miller, the 404 error page reads: “What do Hillary Clinton and this link have in common? They’re both ‘dead broke.’”The former secretary of state told Diane Sawyer earlier this year that she and President Bill Clinton “came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt” following his presidency. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton reportedly makes an average of $200,000 per individual speaking appearance.The Republican National Committee decided to take advantage of Clinton’s choice of words on its website’s error page.“Just like Hillary Clinton never misses a chance to charge quarter-million dollar speaking fees, we never miss a chance to hold her accountable for being out-of-touch,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

“When we revamped GOP.com, this ’404 error’ page for broken links just seemed right on many levels: First, there’s the infamous ‘dead broke’ comment -- self-explanatory. Second, if you try to go to a page that’s devoid of content, you see a picture of [Clinton's book] Hard Choices. Third, what better symbol for a page that’s disconnected than Hillary Clinton?” Kukowski explained.

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Mitt Romney Writes Public Love Letter to Wife Ann

Mitt Romney Writes Public Love Letter to Wife Ann

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amid renewed 2016 speculation, Mitt Romney seems to have eyes for only one supporter: his wife, Ann Romney.In an open letter to Ann posted on his blog Tuesday, the former Republican presidential nominee praised his wife for her strength following her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago.“It’s been over fifteen years since we sat in the first neurologist’s waiting room…We could handle anything, I said, as long as it wasn’t terminal,” Romney recalled. “From one of the wounded, you have become one of the warriors.”Atop the post is a photo of a suave young Romney sprawled on a French beach next to the message, “I love Ann” written in the sand.

Dear Ann: You’ve come a long way… https://t.co/V2ffmM8i7s #AnnRomneyCenter

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 14, 2014

Romney reportedly staged the photo to woo Ann, his high school sweetheart, during his two-year stint as a Mormon missionary in the late 1960s.

Diagnosed with MS in 1998 -- a diagnosis that she says “crushed me to dust”-- Ann Romney on Tuesday launched the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases, pledging to raise $50 million for medical research.“You are attacking not only MS, but also Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and brain tumors,” Mitt Romney wrote in the letter. “I could not be more proud of the 15 year old girl I fell in love with almost 50 years ago.”Even as Romney lavishes attention on his wife, he’s facing some clamoring fans of his own. From top-tier aides to former rivals, scores of Republicans are hoping he’ll run for president for the third time in 2016.Romney has responded to the speculation with vague answers.“Circumstances can change, but I’m just not going to let my head go there,” he said on a radio program in August.“We’ll see what happens,” he told the New York Times in September.Ann Romney, however, insists she and her husband are “done, done, done” with presidential campaigning.“Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,” she told the Los Angeles Times in an article published Monday.

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Immigration Judge Says Court System Has Been Ignored, Underfunded

Immigration Judge Says Court System Has Been Ignored, Underfunded

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While party lines run deep on immigration reform, perhaps one point not up for debate is that America’s current system is broken. Just ask Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who works in immigration courts on the front lines.“The result of ignoring the immigration courts for so long and not giving us sufficient resources has resulted in massive dysfunction,” Marks, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told ABC News.“We call ourselves 'the legal Cinderellas’ in the Department of Justice, because we feel that we have been ignored resource-wise,” Marks said.“Last year $18 billion was spent on immigration law enforcement and only 1.7 perfect of that went to the courts,” she later added, noting that a majority of that funding goes to border patrol and the technology used to police fences.Marks cited non-functioning equipment and understaffed offices as key culprits in the “massive dysfunction” that immigration judges are currently facing. “It’s those kinds of everyday problems that make the system far less efficient, effective and accurate,” she said.But the shortage of judges and resources doesn’t translate into cost-savings for taxpayers. Instead, Marks said it only makes things more expensive.“The big picture for the American public is that it does cost more money,” she said. “People remain in detention longer waiting for court hearings, cases become stale in the process. …It means that circumstances change during the course of the litigation and people will ask to have their decisions reconsidered.”Another key issue at play is the staggering backlog of individuals waiting for immigration judges to adjudicate them."Nationwide there's more than 375,000 pending cases before 227 immigration judges who are sitting in the field,” Marks said. This works out to more than 1,500 cases per judge, but individual caseloads vary across the country. For example, Marks’ docket in San Francisco has more than 2,400 pending cases.Marks estimated that any undocumented woman or child caught crossing the border since May 1 of this year has been brought to court within roughly a month of their arrest. "Because of the concern that one of the magnets or attractors bringing people here might be the delays in the court, the administration has chosen to flip the docket and bring recent border crossers to the court within 21 to 28 days,” she said.While the docket flip has meant that recent immigrants get their cases heard sooner and more quickly, those who arrived before May 1 wait much longer -- an average of 14 months before their first arraignment-like hearing. “Even if they were ready to go for their final day hearing that would take us another three and a half or four years to schedule,” Marks explained.Another negative side effect of rushing recent immigrants through the court system, Marks said, is that it’s harder for immigrants to find available attorneys, both paid and volunteer, who aren’t already swamped with other cases.On whether she and her colleagues are under added pressure to turn cases over more quickly, Marks said the pressure is indirect.“There is not direct pressure applied to us, but we read the newspaper. When we shift our docket and have juveniles before us sooner than the case that I put off in order to hear that juvenile's case, that person may suffer, “she said. “They're in legal limbo, they may lose contact with witnesses that they need, the laws may change. ...There's a lot of personal price that people pay for the docket being so unwieldy at this time.”

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Hillary Clinton Cracks Herself Up over Pot Joke

Hillary Clinton Cracks Herself Up over Pot Joke

Feng Li/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Hillary Clinton got laughs when she took a “pot” shot at Colorado’s marijuana laws during a campaign stop at a coffee shop.During the former secretary of state’s visit to Denver Monday, a barista at the Pigtrain Coffee shop made Clinton a latte with artwork drawn into the foam, and boy did she get excited.“Oh my god. Oh my god,” Clinton said, summoning over Sen. Mark Udall, who she was campaigning for in the state. “Look at this. Look at this.”

Atop Clinton’s latte was an image of a smiling pig, named after the local coffee shop the two politicians stopped by, that Clinton said she liked too much to actually drink. But, it was Udall’s latte, topped with one simple leaf, that really sent Clinton cracking.“Look at you,” she said to him in wonder as the barista handed the second beverage over. And then it clicked.“Is that a marijuana plant?” she quipped with a wink, the room erupting in laughter.

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POLL: With Broad Worries of Ebola Outbreak, Should Government Do More?

POLL: With Broad Worries of Ebola Outbreak, Should Government Do More?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned about a widespread epidemic of the Ebola virus in the United States, and about as many in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say the federal government is not doing enough to prevent it.Indeed, more than four in 10 – 43 percent – are worried that they or an immediate family member might catch the disease. That’s similar to the level of concern about other viral outbreaks in some previous ABC/Post polls – but more consequential, given Ebola’s high mortality rate.See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.Despite these concerns, more than six in 10 are at least somewhat confident in the ability of both the federal government, and their local hospitals and health agencies, to respond effectively to an outbreak. Future views remain to be seen; most interviews in this poll were done before the news Sunday morning that a nurse who treated an Ebola patient in Dallas had herself become infected. (Results of interviews conducted Sunday were essentially the same as on previous nights.)In terms of preventive actions, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds near-unanimous support (91 percent) for stricter screening of incoming passengers from Ebola-affected countries in Africa. Two-thirds support restricting entry of such individuals into the United States.The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people, mainly in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, raising broad concerns about its rapid spread there and the risk globally. Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization, on Monday called it “the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.” In five U.S. airports, the federal government is beginning to screen arriving passengers whose travel originated from the three most-affected countries.Barack Obama, for his part, gets essentially an even split in his handling of the federal response to the Ebola outbreak: Forty-one percent of Americans approve and 43 percent disapprove, with typical partisan and ideological divisions.WHO’S WORRIED – Worries about catching Ebola are 13 percentage points more prevalent among women than men (49 vs. 36 percent), but the biggest differences are by education, income and race. Among people who have a postgraduate degree, just 20 percent are worried that they or an immediate family member might catch the Ebola virus. That rises to 32 percent of those with an undergraduate degree and to 50 percent among all those who lack a college degree – peaking at 62 percent of those who don’t have a high school diploma.By income, worry ranges from 19 percent of those in the $100,000-plus bracket to 51 percent in less-than-$50,000 households, including 58 percent of those with incomes less than $20,000 a year. And by race, worry about catching Ebola is 21 points higher among nonwhites than whites, 57 vs. 36 percent. Indeed, a third of nonwhites, 32 percent, are “very” worried about becoming infected, compared with fewer than half as many whites, 14 percent.These gaps may reflect differences in information about Ebola, different levels of confidence in the quality of health care available to each group, or some of both.VIEWS of GOVERNMENT – There’s also a sharp difference by a combination of partisanship and ideology: While 27 percent of liberal Democrats worry about catching the virus, that rises to 44 percent of conservative Republicans. (Each group accounts for about one in seven adults.)The reason seems clear: Conservative Republicans are vastly less likely than liberal Democrats to express confidence in the federal government’s ability to respond effectively to an outbreak, 48 vs. 84 percent.Conservative Republicans also are far more apt than liberal Democrats to express concern about the possibility of a widespread outbreak, 73 vs. 45 percent, and to say the United States should be doing more to try to prevent further cases, 77 vs. 40 percent. (Differences also are reflected by partisanship alone and ideology alone. The divisions simply peak among the two most disparate political/ideological groups.)The difference between these groups is much wider in terms of their confidence in the federal government to respond compared with their confidence in their local hospitals and health agencies. There’s a 36-point gap between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans on the former, compared with 15 points on the latter.There are group differences on specific actions, as well. Restricting entry by people from affected countries wins less support from young adults vs. those age 30 and older (57 vs. 70 percent), and is less popular with liberals and Democrats compared with others.COMPARISONS – At 43 percent, worries about catching the Ebola virus are lower than worries about catching the swine flu at their peak in October 2009, but higher than worries about catching the SARS virus in late April 2003. Those concerns fluctuated, and at other times were more similar to worry about Ebola now. In one other comparison, concern about catching the bird flu virus was similar in March 2006 to today’s level on Ebola.Confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle an outbreak is similar to what it was for bird flu, but lower than it was for swine flu; the same pattern holds for confidence in local hospitals and health agencies.The difference between those episodes and this one, as noted, is Ebola’s very high mortality rate – but also its lower risk of contagion.Finally, the public’s sense that the federal government is “doing all it reasonably can do” to try to prevent an outbreak stands in stark contrast to views on a very different sort of public health crisis in a very different time, the anthrax attacks of fall 2001. At that time, in the midst of a post-9/11 rally in support of the federal government, 61 percent said it was doing all it could. As noted, just 33 percent say so now.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. Partisan divisions are 31-24-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.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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Hagel Speaks with Turkish Defense Minister About ISIS Threat

Hagel Speaks with Turkish Defense Minister About ISIS Threat

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke on Monday with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz about the regional threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the security situation in both Iraq and Syria.According to a readout of the phone call provided by Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, Hagel thanked Yilmaz for Turkey's willingness to contribute to coalition efforts to fight back against ISIS. Hagel noted Turkey's expertise in training members of the moderate Syrian opposition.The two leaders agreed that a "comprehensive, strategic approach to the threat posed by [ISIS]" is necessary, and that they would continue "close sustained consultations."

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Democratic Challenger in Kentucky Senate Race Refuses to Answer Whether She Voted for Obama

Democratic Challenger in Kentucky Senate Race Refuses to Answer Whether She Voted for Obama

Photo by Pablo Alcala-Pool/Getty Images(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- In the first and likely only debate in the Kentucky Senate race, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes traded jabs Monday over health care exchanges and voting histories.McConnell acknowledged the website that administers the state health insurance exchange “can continue” and Grimes again refused to say whether she voted for President Obama, citing her role as the state’s chief elections officer.When asked why she is “reluctant” to answer whether she cast a ballot for Obama in 2008 and 2012, the Kentucky secretary of state said she has “no reluctance” and instead it is a “matter of principle.”“Our constitution grants us here in Kentucky the constitutional right for privacy at the ballot box, for a secret ballot,” Grimes said during the debate on Kentucky Educational Television.“You have that right, Sen. McConnell has that right, every Kentuckian has that right and as secretary of state, the chief elections officer, I’m tasked with overseeing and making sure we are enforcing all of our election laws and I’ve worked very closely especially with the members of our military to ensure that  privacy at the ballot box,” Grimes said.When pressed, she still did not answer, instead saying she would not “compromise a constitutional right” in order to “curry favor on one or other side or for members of the media. I will protect that right for every Kentuckian. … If I as the chief elections officer don’t stand up for that right who in Kentucky will stand up?”Grimes has grabbed headlines over the past few days for refusing to answer whether she voted for the president, being asked first in an editorial board meeting for the Louisville Courier-Journal and then over the weekend by ABC affiliate WKBO. Grimes did tell the newspaper she was a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008 – the Clintons are close family friends -- and the moderator on Monday night asked her what separates a Clinton Democrat from an Obama Democrat.“Growing the middle class the right way and that’s by making sure that we are building from the foundation up,” she answered, to which McConnell said: “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between a Clinton Democrat and an Obama Democrat.”“There’s also no sacred right to not answer how we vote,” he said. “I voted for Mitt Romney, proudly. I voted for John McCain and by the way in 2012, 116 out of 120 Kentucky counties agreed with my judgment that we might be in better shape now had Mitt Romney been elected.”Grimes expressed moments of passion and the two did spar on issues including minimum wage, climate change and Obamacare, which McConnell again said needed to be pulled out “root and branch.” But he did express support for the website for Kentucky Kynect, the health insurance exchange Kentucky implemented under the Affordable Care Act and said the program “can continue if they like to.”“A lot of catastrophic impact on the nation’s health care system, which could have been avoided by not passing this 2,700-page bill that essentially put the government in charge of America’s health care. I think that was a big mistake,” McConnell said. “Now with regard to Kynect it is a state exchange they can continue it if they like to, they will have to pay for it because the grant will be over.”When asked directly by the moderator Bill Goodman, host of Kentucky Tonight, if he supports Kynect, McConnell answered, “Well it’s fine. I think it’s fine to have a website.”The debate became heated when the two got into a back and forth over McConnell’s wealth.“I don’t fault Sen. McConnell for becoming a multi-millionaire on the backs of hard-working Kentuckians, that’s what America is about,” Grimes said. “But he has gotten rich while consistently voting to keep Kentucky poor and we can’t have a senator like that any longer.”That claim has been proven false by independent fact checkers and McConnell said he couldn’t “let that stand,” to which Grimes asked: “So you are not a multi-millionaire? Is he not a multi-millionaire?”McConnell called the claim an “outrageous suggestion” and said the money was the result of an inheritance his wife received from her mother.“She’s consistently gone around all over the state and suggested I have somehow enriched myself at the public’s expense. Let me tell you, her family has made more money off the government over the last 10 years than I’ve been paid in a salary in all my time in the Senate,” McConnell fired back.While most of the current election cycle’s Senate races have several debates before Election Day, this is likely the only time the two will meet. It’s the only debate the two campaigns would agree to.

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