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President Obama Says Hillary Clinton Would Be an ‘Excellent President’

President Obama Says Hillary Clinton Would Be an ‘Excellent President’ Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One day before Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her presidential bid, President Obama said Saturday she would make an "excellent president.""She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding secretary of state. She is my friend. I think she would be an excellent president," Obama said at a news conference in Panama."When she makes a decision to announce, I'm confident she will be very clear about her vision for the country moving forward if she announces," he added.The president said he believes that Clinton's role as secretary of state has amply prepared her to "handle herself very well in any conversations and debates around foreign policy."If she decides to run, she's going to have some strong messages to deliver," he said.Asked whether he thinks the Democratic field is wide open, Obama declined to weigh in."Not only have I run my last election, but I am not in the business of prognosticating future elections," he said. "That's your job and there is no shortage of people who are happy to opine on that. I will not be one."Clinton is expected to announce her presidential campaign on social media on Sunday.During the 2008 election, Obama and Clinton faced off in a brutal primary to decide the Democratic presidential nominee. Obama ultimately secured the nomination and won the presidency, but when he arrived at the White House, he brought Clinton along with him, selecting her as secretary of state and forming a close working relationship.Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has maintained close ties with the president, visiting him at the White House and staying in contact via e-mail. But Obama has yet to formally say whether he will endorse Clinton. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro Officially Meet for Substantive Talks in Panama

President Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro Officially Meet for Substantive Talks in Panama ABC News(PANAMA CITY) -- President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met face-to-face Saturday, holding their first substantive conversation in person since the U.S. and Cuba committed to normalize relations in December. The two men sat down for in-depth talks on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, a historic moment between two countries trying to repair relations after nearly six decades of mistrust and tension. In a plenary session earlier in the day, they both shared their commitment to restoring the relations between the U.S. and Cuba after their countries were at odds dating back to the Cuban Revolution. "The Cold War's been over for a long time and I'm not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born," Obama said. Castro, who was the first Cuban president ever invited to the Summit of the Americas, expressed his admiration for President Obama, adding that his predecessors are to blame for isolating Cuba. "There were 10 presidents before him -- who all of them have some sort of debt to us except President Obama," Castro said. "I admire him and his life and I think his behavior has a lot to do with his humble background." The highly anticipated meeting between Obama and Castro is the latest development in normalizing relations between their countries. The two men were expected to discuss the possibility of reopening embassies in each of their countries, lifting the embargo, and removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. The State Department has recommended that Cuba be taken off the list. President Obama is reviewing their recommendation and is expected to announce his own recommendation soon. Obama and Castro encountered each other at the summit's inauguration events Friday evening, briefly greeting each other and engaging in an historic handshake. Before President Obama departed on his trip to Jamaica on Wednesday, he called Castro to "review the status" and discuss the steps being taken to achieve normalization between the U.S. and Cuba. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez held an historic meeting of their own Thursday evening -- the first time the nation's top diplomats spoke in person since the Cuban revolution. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Raul Castro: ‘President Obama Is An Honest Man’

Raul Castro: ‘President Obama Is An Honest Man’ MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(PANAMA CITY) -- Ahead of their expected meeting Saturday afternoon, Cuban President Raul Castro praised President Obama, calling him an “honest man.”During a session at the Summit of the Americas, the Cuban president delivered a lengthy address outlining the history between the United States and Cuba. At times, Castro grew animated and visibly angry as he discussed the United States’ treatment of his country over the last century.After delivering one particularly heated criticism of the old U.S. policy, Castro paused and issued an apology to Obama for speaking that way about the United States, adding that the previous presidents, not him, are the ones to blame.“I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility with this. He has no responsibility with this,” Castro said in Spanish, though an English speaker translated the entire speech live. “There were 10 presidents before him – who all of them have some kind of debt to us but President Obama.” “In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man,” Castro said.  The Cuban leader noted that he has read some parts of the Obama’s autobiographies, which has given him a clearer picture of the president as a person.“I admire him and his life, and I think that his behavior has a lot to do with his humble background,” Castro said to applause from the entire room.  President Obama addressed the plenary session just before President Castro, saying the U.S. and Cuba are at a “turning point” in their relationship.  “The Cold War has been over for a long time, and I’m not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born,” he said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama, Cuban Leader Raul Castro Shake Hands In Panama

President Obama, Cuban Leader Raul Castro Shake Hands In Panama The White House(PANAMA CITY) -- President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands in Panama Friday night - the first time the two men have seen each other since restoring diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba in December. The White House confirmed the brief encounter between Obama and Castro at the Summit of the Americas. "At the Summit of the Americas this evening, President Obama and President Castro greeted each other and shook hands," Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council Spokesperson, said. A White House official said the interaction was informal, and there were no substantive conversations between the two men. The historic handshake came one day before Obama and Castro are expected to meet on the sidelines of the summit. This is the first time Cuba has ever been invited to attend the gathering. The summit began Friday night, when President Obama and President Castro attended the Inauguration ceremonies. The U.S. and Cuban presidents sat close to each other with only two leaders sitting between them. A historic meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez in Panama Thursday night brought the highest level talks between the two estranged countries since the Cuban revolution. But it may be soon surpassed by the highly anticipated, face-to-face, bilateral meeting between U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro expected to take place Saturday. Castro and Obama arrived within minutes of each other at the same military air field in Panama Thursday night for the Summit of the Americas. Shortly after arrival, the two presidents spoke by phone, according to a Facebook post by Jorge Leganoa, the deputy director of Cuba's state-run National Information Agency. According to the post, the call came “minutes before” the meeting between Kerry and Rodriguez. A White House Official confirmed to ABC News that a call occurred, but said it actually happened earlier. "I can confirm that President Obama spoke with President Castro on Wednesday, before President Obama departed Washington," the official said. The call marks the second time the two leaders spoke by phone. The first lasted approximately 45 minutes and occurred shortly before a Dec. 17 announcement that began the restoration of diplomatic ties between and the U.S. and Cuba. The summit is the seventh chief-of-state-level gathering among North, Central and South American countries, but the first to include Cuba, which had been previously blocked from attendance by the United States. The talks come as the U.S. State Department delivered its review of Cuba's status on the states-who-support-terrorism list to the White House. The review was delivered to the White House Wednesday, according to sources, and is in the president's hands. It recommends Cuba be removed from the list, as President Obama hinted in Jamaica Thursday. "Throughout this process, our emphasis has been on the facts," Obama said in Jamaica. "We want to make sure that, given this is a powerful tool to isolate those countries that genuinely do support terrorism, that when we make those designations we've got strong evidence that's the case, and as circumstances change that list will change, as well." President Obama could announce his decision while at the summit and is only awaiting sign-off from cabinet members who oversee national security, according to White House sources. The terror list has been a major hurdle for the Cuban government, which wanted it lifted before full diplomatic ties are restored. Both countries are expected to announce the opening of embassies and an easing of travel restrictions for their diplomats soon. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama Meets Usain Bolt: ‘Nobody’s Ever Been Faster’

President Obama Meets Usain Bolt: ‘Nobody’s Ever Been Faster’ Photo by Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images(PANAMA CITY) --  Even the most powerful man on Earth geeks out from time to time when meeting a celebrity. Sports-fanatic President Obama met the man regarded as the fastest on the planet – Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt - while in the sprinter's home country on Thursday. Bolt posted a video on Instagram, of him and the president standing before cameras for a picture.   What can I say.. It was truly a great honour meeting the President of United States of America @barackobama A video posted by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Apr 10, 2015 at 11:56am PDT “Nobody’s ever been faster than this guy! Ever! Of all the billions of people,” Obama said excitedly before smiling for a photo with Bolt. The two men then struck the sprinter’s signature pose after the president suggested they do so. At his town hall with students in Jamaica on Thursday, the president hinted a meeting might occur between him, Bolt, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, another Jamaican sprinter. "After we have a chance for our town hall, I get a chance to say hi to Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce," the president said to applause. "When you have the fastest people on the planet, you’ve got to say hi to them, right? Because that’s fast. There are a lot of people out there, and they’re the fastest." Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Obama’s Quiet Case for Hillary Clinton in 2016

President Obama’s Quiet Case for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In her final days as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton said goodbye to President Obama over a lunch of fish tacos in the dining room off the Oval Office. As a parting gift, she gave her former rival 20 pages of recommendations for what to do in his second term. “Tearing up, I hugged the president and told him again how much our work and friendship meant to me,” Clinton writes of Obama in the new epilogue of her book Hard Choices. “And that I'd be on call if he ever needed me.” As the 2016 presidential campaign kicks into gear, Obama needs Clinton more than ever before – a message he’s made increasingly clear over the past two years, without having to pick up the phone. Obama has heaped more effusive praise on his former secretary of state than just about any other high-profile Democrat, including his own vice president, Joe Biden, who has also aspired to the nation’s top office. Obama has declared Clinton “a world figure” and an “extraordinary talent.” He said in a joint interview with 60 Minutes that she was “one of the most important advisers” he’s had, and a “strong friend.” “If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she is going to do great” in the campaign, Obama said in an interview this week. The accolades and encouragement are a far cry from the lukewarm “likable enough” description Obama affixed to Clinton during a 2007 primary debate. White House officials told ABC News that the president “thinks very highly” of Clinton as a candidate and that she has a “strong case to make” to become his successor. To be sure, President Obama remains coy about an explicit primary endorsement and, officials say, will likely keep a low profile in the early stages of the campaign. He told CBS News in an April 2014 interview that Biden would also be a strong candidate as “one of the finest vice presidents in history.” “I don’t necessarily want to jam them up,” Obama said of his potential involvement with the candidates in the early Democratic field. Still, as Clinton formally launches her second presidential bid this weekend as the dominant Democratic front-runner, Obama is quietly banking on her to be the defender of his legacy. He’s cited her discipline, stamina, thoughtfulness and “ability to project” their shared values as factors that make her “extraordinary” in his eyes. On Twitter, Clinton has given an unabashed embrace of her former boss’s policies, defending Obamacare and his immigration executive action. She’s also defended the administration’s sweeping reforms of the financial system and the president’s economic blueprint outlined in his State of the Union.   #ACA@5: 16m covered. Young ppl. Preexisting conditions. Women get better coverage. Repeal those things? Embrace them! pic.twitter.com/OI1m2VxD4W — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 23, 2015 Ties to the Obama White House already run deep. The Clinton campaign apparatus is stuffed with former top Obama administration policy makers and strategists, including former White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri, former Obama senior counselor John Podesta, and former Michelle Obama aide Kristina Schake. Administration officials deny any planned direct coordination between the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign on messaging or legislative agenda, but do not rule it out. “I’m confident that there will be a lot of agreement between the priorities that she articulates and the kinds of priorities this president has been fighting for the last six years,” said spokesman Josh Earnest late last month. On a personal level, Obama and Clinton have maintained in close touch, holding occasional in-person meetings and regularly exchanging email messages, officials say. They last met together in the Oval Office in late March when they discussed their families, current events and politics, aides said. “Are there going to be differences? Yeah. Deep differences? Of course,” Clinton told 60 Minutes in the 2013 joint interview. How those play out on the stump will be a difficult balancing act. Obama and his policies remain highly popular among Democratic voters, but much more contentious among independents and Republicans. Forty-seven percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s work in office, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. The same number disapprove. For now, the soon-to-be-candidate Clinton is signaling that her focus will be on the overlap in interests and priorities with Obama – revealing less daylight than many pundits had initially expected. Will we see President Obama and Hillary Clinton exchange another bear hug on stage? Maybe not soon – but don’t rule it out. “As it relates to the president’s intentions to wade into a Democratic primary, that’s not something that he often does,” Earnest said. “But we’ll see. A long way until the Democratic convention.”   Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Vice President Biden Speaks of Community College Proposal in Weekly Address

Vice President Biden Speaks of Community College Proposal in Weekly Address Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  In this week’s address, Vice President Joe Biden laid out his and President Obama’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students.  Biden spoke of the access to higher education, which he argued has a tangible impact on a student’s success. “Consider that by the end of the decade, two out of three of all jobs will require an education beyond high school, from an 18-week certificate to a two-year associate’s degree to a four-year bachelor’s, or a PhD,” Biden said. The Vice President argues that making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for the nation’s economy.  “It’s a simple fact that community colleges are the most flexible educational institutions we have,” Biden said. Read the full transcript of the vice president's address:Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Joe Biden and I’m here filling in for President Obama, who is traveling abroad. And I’m here with a simple message: middle-class economics works.Our economy has gone from crisis to recovery to now to resurgence—with the longest streak of consecutive job growth ever recorded in the history of this country and more than all other advanced countries combined.But to make sure everyone is part of this resurgence, we need to build on what we know widens the path to the middle class—and you all know what it is, access to education.Folks, the source of our economic power and middle class strength in the 20th Century was the fact that we were among the first major nations in the world to provide twelve years of free education for our citizens.But in the 21st Century, other countries have already caught up and twelve years is simply no longer enough—a minimum of fourteen years is necessary for families to have a surer path to the middle class and for the United States to be able to out-compete the rest of the world.Consider that by the end of the decade, two out of three of all jobs will require an education beyond high school, from an 18-week certificate to a two-year associate’s degree to a four-year bachelor’s, or a PhD.And consider that folks with an associate’s degree earn 25% more than someone who graduated just from high school. And folks who graduate with a four-year degree make 70% more. But today, the cost of higher education is too high for too many Americans. Too many folks are priced out of a piece of the middle-class dream. And that’s why the President and I have a straightforward plan to remove that barrier and expand the pathway to the middle class—by bringing the cost of community colleges down—down to zero. Zero—for anyone willing to work for it and for the institutions that meet certain basic requirements.Our plan is no give-away. Students must keep up their grades and stay on track to graduate. States must contribute funding and hold community colleges accountable for the results. And community colleges must maintain high graduation and job placement rates.And here’s a key point—community colleges will have to offer courses that are directly transferrable to a four-year degree.If two years of community college are free—and credits can transfer to a four-year university—that means the cost of a four-year degree will be cut in half for a lot of working families struggling to send their children to college, qualified children.And under our plan, students from low-income families will be able to keep the benefits that flow from other financial aid, like Pell grants, to cover childcare, housing, transportation—costs that often keep them from attending class and completing a degree in the first place.But here’s another key point. Not every good-paying job will require a two-year or four-year degree. Some of these jobs will require just a training certificate that can be earned in just a few months.For example, you can go to an 18-week coding bootcamp—with no previous experience in computers—and become a computer programmer making up to $70,000 a year.  There are other jobs in fields like advanced manufacturing and energy that pay $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year—jobs you can raise a family on.It’s a simple fact that community colleges are the most flexible educational institutions we have. I’ve traveled all over this country, from New York to Iowa to California, to see how community colleges create partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and local businesses to generate jobs; support apprenticeships with organized labor, and prepare hardworking students for good-paying jobs in the areas in which they live.Making community colleges free is good for workers, it’s good for companies, and it’s good for our economy. Here’s what we propose: Close loopholes for the wealthiest investors and levy a .07% fee on the biggest banks to discourage the kind of risky behavior that crashed our economy just a few years ago. Doing just that would pay for free community college—and provide a leg up for working families through tax credits to cover necessities like childcare.That’s what middle-class economics is all about—giving folks a fair chance to get ahead. A fair tax code. No guarantees. Just a fair chance.It’s simple folks, two years of community college should become as free and as universal as high school is today if we’re to make this economic resurgence permanent and well into the 21st Century.So I want to thank you all for listening. I hope you have a great weekend and God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

GOP Weekly Address: Bring Accountability to the IRS

GOP Weekly Address: Bring Accountability to the IRS US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisana discussed the commitment to bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the Internal Revenue Service. Boustany also spoke of the need to provide tax relief for middle-class Americans. “As Tax Day approaches, Americans need no reminder of how expensive and difficult it is just to be compliant with the law," Boustany said. "And no agency elicits more frustration and distrust than the Internal Revenue Service."   Boustany also spoke about the proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which would require the agency to fire employees that use their position for political purposes and prohibit IRS employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business.Read the full transcript of the Republican address: Hello, I’m Charles Boustany, and I have the great honor of representing Louisiana's Third Congressional District.Every day, Republicans are listening to the American people and focusing on your priorities.   Because too often, it seems the administration in charge in Washington doesn’t have your best interests at heart.  It takes more and more money for the government while limiting opportunities for hardworking families.Nowhere is this disconnect more pronounced than in our tax code.   As Tax Day approaches, Americans need no reminder of how expensive and difficult it is just to be compliant with the law.  And no agency elicits more frustration and distrust than the Internal Revenue Service.   Just last week at a town hall meeting in my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, a small business owner told me compliance with the IRS alone costs her nine-person business the equivalent of hiring one new worker.  And just think, the president’s budget calls for raising taxes by more than $2 trillion, further squeezing families and small businesses who are trying to make ends meet.   Republicans are offering a better approach.First, that means fixing our tax code.  Today, it’s a volumes-long jumble of outdated provisions held together with scotch tape and glue.  That doesn’t help create jobs, and it doesn’t serve the best interests of the American people. Second, we must address the people’s misgivings with the IRS itself.  This agency still operates in the shadow of a scandal in which it admitted to targeting organizations based on their political beliefs. The investigation is ongoing – but the IRS still refuses to admit that some of its employees engaged in intentional wrongdoing. To successfully carry out its mission, the IRS must be viewed by the American people as an unbiased arbiter of the law. It cannot do that without coming clean.Next week, the House will act on several initiatives to require more accountability and transparency at the IRS.  This includes enacting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights complete with common-sense sense steps like requiring the IRS to fire employees that use their position for political purposes, prohibiting the IRS employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business, and improving access to the courts for groups that feel they’ve been wronged by the IRS.  We’re also going to act to provide more tax relief for American families.  This is in addition to legislation we’ve already passed to provide permanent tax relief to small businesses, a move that would help create nearly 200,000 jobs. Fixing our tax code and reforming the IRS: this is all part of Republicans’ focus on making government address your priorities and work for the people it is it’s elected to serve.I thank you for listening. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama ‘Pleased’ Cuba At Summit Of The Americas For First Time

Obama ‘Pleased’ Cuba At Summit Of The Americas For First Time Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(PANAMA CITY) -- Just hours before he could have his first interaction with Cuban leader Raul Castro, President Obama said he was “pleased” Cuba is participating in the Summit of the Americas for the first time.“I am proud to be with you at this first-ever official gathering of civil society leaders at the Summit of the Americas,” president Obama said at a Civil Society Forum in Panama City Friday.  “And I’m pleased to have Cuba represented with us at this summit for the very first time.” President Obama’s comments came at the Civil Society Forum, which brought together dissidents and supporters of the Cuban government. Speaking of the United States’ renewed relationship with Cuba, President Obama said the two countries will disagree from time to time, but noted the U.S. will be willing to speak out against Cuba if its actions do not correspond with the United States’ “set of universal values.”“As the United States begins a new chapter in our relationship with Cuba, we hope it will create an environment that improves the lives of the Cuban people – not because it’s imposed by us, the United States, but through the talent and ingenuity and aspirations, and the conversation among Cubans from all walks of life so they can decide what the best course is for their prosperity,” the president said. “As we move toward the process of normalization, we’ll have our differences, government to government, with Cuba on many issues -- just as we differ at times with other nations within the Americas; just as we differ with our closest allies.  There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “When we do speak out, we’re going to do so because the United States of America does believe, and will always stand for, a certain set of universal values.  And when we do partner with civil society, it’s because we believe our relationship should be with governments and with the peoples that they represent.” The president did not comment on the clashes between Cuban dissidents and the supporters of the Cuban government in the days leading up to the summit. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House: Iran Nuclear Deal Will Not Immediately Lift Sanctions

White House: Iran Nuclear Deal Will Not Immediately Lift Sanctions Photo by Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House said on Friday a nuclear deal with Iran would not lead to immediate lifting of sanctions. Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security advisor said the framework agreement that Iran and the six powers reached last week to curb Tehran's nuclear activities, allows for sanctions to be removed over time, not at once.“With respect to sanctions I think it's very clear and understood that sanctions relief will be phased,” he said. The phasing of sanctions runs counter to the stance taken by Iran's supreme leader and its president, who say sanctions would have to be lifted immediately after the deal's implementation.Rhodes said on Friday says he understands the Iranians are emphasizing their interest and desire to achieve sanctions relief in this deal.“The fact of the matter is we have a framework and the president has said if the details don't bear out, the agreement that was reached, we're not going to get a final deal,” Rhodes said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House Releases the President’s Tax Returns

White House Releases the President’s Tax Returns Miljan Mladenovic/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House released the 2014 income tax returns for the president and vice president on Friday.The Obamas' adjusted gross income was $477,383 -- slightly less than in 2013, continuing a downward trend from recent years when they were collecting high book royalties. The president’s government salary is $400,000 annually.  The first couple paid $93,000 in taxes and gave $70,000 in donations to charity. The president’s effective tax rate is 19.6 percent.The Bidens' adjusted gross income in 2014 was $388,844. They paid $90,506 in taxes, and made $7,380 in donations to charity. The vice president’s effective tax rate is 23.3 percent. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton Writes New Epilogue for “Hard Choices”

Hillary Clinton Writes New Epilogue for “Hard Choices” Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president of the United States, she has penned a new epilogue for the paperback version of her memoir Hard Choices.  The epilogue, published in the Huffington Post on Friday, discusses Clinton’s last days as Secretary of State, her granddaughter Charlotte’s birth, her new life as a grandmother – and how her new role has changed her outlook on the future and encouraged her to speed up and get to work. “Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on,” she writes. “Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up.”Clinton adds: “If the United States continues to lead the world in the years ahead, as I believe it can and must, it will be because we have learned how to define the terms of our interdependence to promote more cooperation and shared prosperity and less conflict and inequality….The United States and the other great democracies have to redouble our efforts to empower moderates and marginalize extremists everywhere, and to stand firmly and united in pursuit of a more just, free, and peaceful world. That's the world I want for Charlotte and for all our kids.”She concludes by discussing a “memory quilt” a woman sent her after Charlotte’s birth.“In just a few months, Charlotte had already helped me see the world in new ways. There was so much more to do. So many more panels waiting to be filled in," she writes. "I folded up the quilt and got back to work.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sen. Rand Paul Has Another Testy Interview

Sen. Rand Paul Has Another Testy Interview ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul had another testy interview Friday, engaging on a new live-streaming platform for the first presidential candidate interview with The Guardian’s Paul Lewis on Periscope. Prior to the interview, Lewis told viewers that he believed he had eight minutes to conduct the interview. The full interview lasted 4 minutes, 56 seconds.“I'm going to try to push that a bit,” Lewis said. “Eight minutes seems a little bit stingy to me.” The interview began normally, with Sen. Rand Paul launching on the attack against one of his presumptive Democratic rivals, Hillary Clinton. He then fielded five additional questions related to Paul’s aim to change racial discrimination in the justice system.ON WALTER SCOTT: “One of the reasons that I think federal politicians don't like to weigh into specific cases is that's sort of what grand juries are for, and there's people who look at all the facts,” Paul said. “I have said and said it in multiple interviews yesterday that I was horrified by the video and from the appearance of the video it's, you know, something that just shouldn't, should never happen.” After a couple of follow up questions, Lewis asked Paul for a specific law he would like to see repealed that disproportionately incarcerates African-Americans and Hispanics. But Paul’s answer was in generalities.“The reference is primarily really to non-violent drug laws and when you look at the statistics of the war on drugs in our country, what you find is that there's been a disproportionate impact on African Americans and Hispanics,” Paul answered. “And so when you look at broad surveys of whether or not, who uses illegal drugs among teenagers, it's really about the same percentage of white kids as it is of black kids and Hispanic kids, but when you look at the prison population it turns out our prisons are full of poor people, and a disproportionate amount of African Americans, Hispanics, and so I think that is a real problem and I want to be part of the solution.”THE MOMENT THE INTV FELL APART: The reporter then pressed Paul for a specific law, and that’s when the interview seemed to turn sour.“So that's your answer, but I did ask specifically which law, which piece of legislation you would want repealed,” the reporter pressed. “Not in general terms but in specific bills.” “We have a host of bills,” Paul said. “We'd love for you to learn about them.” Paul then began ticking off various measures to change various laws, when he stopped short when the reporter attempted to intercede.  “Let me answer the question,” Paul said. “You complained I don't answer the question.”“I haven't complained yet, have I senator?” Lewis responded. “I'm giving you the specifics,” Paul said. “So here's the thing is, we also have a civil forfeiture bill, we also have a voting rights restoration.”Paul then told Lewis, “I've got time for one more [question].”Lewis then replied, perhaps a little condescendingly, “Sorry, we sometimes have to be a bit forceful. When you stand for president, you get pressed on questions and you understand that.” Paul answered another question, this one questioning how he’ll sell his message of reform to white Republicans who Lewis said do not think criminal law is applied an unfair way. “I think your premise is incorrect,” Paul said. “Actually I think that I can take that message into a white evangelical church anywhere in Iowa and give exactly the same speech and be received well.”As Lewis attempted to continue the interview, Paul smiled to Lewis, and walked off camera. Lewis then turned to the camera and attempted to wrap the interview when the lights in the room suddenly went out. He later tweeted that a CNN producer in the room had turned them off in preparation for a later interview. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Silly Video Instructs Philadelphia Residents to Wear Bubble Wrap on Streets

Silly Video Instructs Philadelphia Residents to Wear Bubble Wrap on Streets f11photo/iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Heads up, Philly. No, literally, you need to lift your gaze up from your phones. The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities in Philadelphia wants to prevent accidents resulting from distracted drivers and pedestrians absorbed in their mobile devices. The office's latest tactic to raise awareness? A new, silly video that seems more like an SNL skit than a PSA. "It's Road Safety Not Rocket Science" jokingly recommends building bubble-wrap safety suits to protect people from oncoming cars so Philly residents never have to miss a social media update on the go. Because that's the obvious solution for avoiding death, right? Jokes aside, traffic safety is a serious issue in Philadelphia, said Andrew Stober, chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. "On average, every five hours a pedestrian is hit by a car in the city," Stober told ABC News. "It’s really important to us that we’re making Philadelphia a safer place to get around." To combat a rising number of pedestrian deaths and injuries that occurred between 2009 and 2012, Philadelphia was one of three American cities awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year. The $525,000 in funds designated for the City of Brotherly Love is being used for increasing police visibility, ticketing during high-risk hours in 20 high-crash locations, and marketing to reach residents. "We particularly wanted to target young adults, ages 18 to 24 and 24 to 35," said Stober, whose office worked with the LevLane Advertising agency to produce the video. "And we wanted to find a way to engage them in a place where they spend a lot of time, like online." But will the kids think "It's Road Safety Not Rocket Science" is cool? "I think the video is funny and is a good way to get to the point without looking like its trying to preach at people," said Philadelphia resident Christa Poblete, 35, a public relations consultant unaffiliated with the project. "But it's a bit long and people might not get to the end of it." While Stober said his office did not have data supporting the idea that those over 35 put away their phones more often on the road, "you do tend to be less risk-taking when you’re older," he said. To view the complete video and learn more about the campaign, visit itsroadsafety.com. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“Clinton the Musical” Looks Back, Just in Time for 2016

“Clinton the Musical” Looks Back, Just in Time for 2016 ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton is expected to make her plans to run for president in 2016 official at any moment. And this week, she's hitting the stage, with Bill by her side, for her debut in a new starring role -- but not the one you think.These two Washington royals invite you to join them not for Hillary’s long-anticipated announcement, but instead to watch as they sing and dance their way through the drama of the infamously scandal-clad Clinton White House, laughing all the way.But don’t expect the real-life Hillary and Bill Clinton showing off their acting chops. In the new off-Broadway play Clinton the Musical, the professional actors depict the trials and tribulations of the former president and first lady for a live audience. And in its comedic fictional account of the 1990s Clinton White House, Hillary has not one, but two Bills to deal with.“Billy is a kid at heart...[he] is the side of us that we try to keep hidden. Sometimes his choices get him into trouble,” explained Duke Lafoon, who plays “Billy Clinton,” a character meant to represent the lecherous, trouble-making, and perhaps more immature traits of the 42nd president.“W.J., I would say he's more of the politician, more of the public face,” added Tom Galantich, who plays the role of “William Jefferson” or “W.J.,” the serious, more image-conscious side of the musical’s two-sided Bill Clinton character.While the real former president has yet to share his feelings on his wife’s likely bid for the Democratic nomination, Billy and W.J. didn’t shy away from expressing what they think their respective Bill Clinton characters would have to say on the matter.“Billy Clinton's just happy that she's out of the house...[he] can have more fun that way,” Lafoon joked.“I guess there are some faces there I don’t mind seeing again, if you know what I mean,” he added, presumably nodding to President Clinton’s affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.Also in character, Galantich added as W.J., “Aside from myself, Hillary's probably the best person for the job…if you look at all the candidates.” On whether he’s interested in a second stint in the White House, Galantich added with a sarcastic chuckle, “Perhaps, in one way or another -- but we've got so much going on that I probably have to stay up in Chappaqua and take care of business there.”The Monica Lewinsky affair plays a central role in the musical, which features characters involved in the real-life scandal, such as former Vice President Al Gore, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, then-special prosecutor for Clinton’s impeachment trial Ken Starr and, of course, Monica Lewinsky.A spokesman for the Clintons did not immediately respond to a request for comment and it's unclear whether the former president and secretary of state are even aware of the musical.Although the musical pokes fun at a difficult, trying period for the Clintons under the national spotlight, the actors insisted their intentions are to make humor out of that moment in time, not to present a political stand on the pair.“I think most of the play is a loving roast to all the people involved,” Lafoon said. “This is not meant to make any grand political statement we're just having fun up there.”Added Galantich, “Absolutely, [we’re] equal opportunity satirists.”As for Hillary, actress Kerry Butler mirrored the light-hearted sentiment of her two faux-husbands, even divulging that before playing Hillary on stage, she volunteered for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.“I was just manning the phones, calling up people, asking them to donate, and it was fun,” she said. “People are really nice when you're calling other Democrats.”While Butler said it wasn’t a role she ever imagined playing, after months of rehearsing in character for the musical’s grand opening at the New World Stages in Manhattan April 9, she has mastered her impression of the former secretary of state, even down to her laugh. “I started doing her moves...she's in me now,” Butler said.And just like the actors who play the two sides of her fictional husband, Butler shared her take on the expected 2016 Clinton presidential run, declaring “she’s ready.”“She knows what she has to do now, she's had all this time, she's developed all this hard skin to get through this stuff...now I think she knows she has to show her softer side,” she explained.“I think she's going to do well,” Butler later added. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama, Cuban President Expected to Meet on Saturday

Obama, Cuban President Expected to Meet on Saturday Official White House Photo by Pete Souza | FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images(PANAMA CITY) -- A historic meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Panama Thursday night brought the highest level talks between the two estranged countries since the Cuban revolution.But it may be soon surpassed by a highly anticipated, face-to-face, bilateral meeting between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro expected to take place Saturday.Castro and Obama arrived within minutes of each other at the same military air field in Panama Thursday night for the Summit of the Americas. Shortly after arrival, the two presidents spoke by phone, according to a Facebook post by Jorge Leganoa, the deputy director of Cuba's state-run National Information Agency. According to the post, the call came “minutes before” the meeting between Kerry and Rodriguez. A White House official confirmed to ABC News that a call occurred, but said it actually happened earlier."I can confirm that President Obama spoke with President Castro on Wednesday, before President Obama departed Washington," the official said.The call marks the second time the two leaders spoke by phone. The first lasted approximately 45 minutes and occurred shortly before a Dec. 17 announcement that began the restoration of diplomatic ties between and the U.S. and Cuba. The summit is the seventh chief-of-state-level gathering among North, Central and South American countries, but the first to include Cuba, which had been previously blocked from attendance by the United States.The talks come as the U.S. State Department delivered its review of Cuba's status on the states-who-support-terrorism list to the White House.The review was delivered to the White House Wednesday, according to sources, and is in the president's hands. It recommends Cuba be removed from the list, as Obama hinted in Jamaica Thursday."Throughout this process, our emphasis has been on the facts," Obama said in Jamaica. "We want to make sure that, given this is a powerful tool to isolate those countries that genuinely do support terrorism, that when we make those designations we've got strong evidence that's the case, and as circumstances change that list will change, as well."Obama could announce his decision while at the summit and is only awaiting sign-off from cabinet members who oversee national security, according to White House sources.The terror list has been a major hurdle for the Cuban government, which wanted it lifted before full diplomatic ties are restored. Both countries are expected to announce the opening of embassies and an easing of travel restrictions for their diplomats soon. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Polls Show Paul Ahead of Clinton in Colorado, Iowa

Polls Show Paul Ahead of Clinton in Colorado, IowaABC News(HAMDEN, Conn.) — A new Quinnipiac University Poll suggests that Hillary Clinton has some damage control ahead of her if she decides to run for president, an announcement that could come as soon as this weekend.The Democrat has apparently been hurt in some key battleground states by the recent news that she exclusively used her personal email account while serving as secretary of state.Clinton is now running even with just about every potential GOP challenger in Colorado and Iowa with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul actually pulling ahead of her in both states.Virginia, on the other hand, remains solidly behind the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, at least for now.Voters’ views of Clinton's honesty and favorability have dipped in both Colorado and Iowa, likely because of the email controversy.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama Touches on Violence in America, Marijuana Legalization and Island Life at Town Hall in Jamaica

Obama Touches on Violence in America, Marijuana Legalization and Island Life at Town Hall in JamaicaMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(KINGSTON, Jamaica) -- During a Thursday town hall meeting in Jamaica, President Obama answered some tough questions, including one he says he saw coming.Asked during the meeting what must be done to solve the violence issue...

Senators Blast China Over Female Detainees

Senators Blast China Over Female Detainees Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has written a letter to China's ambassador to the United States protesting five female activists’ continued detention in China.In the letter written to Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai on Tuesday, potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., along with Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., questioned China’s “commitment” to the principles of “freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration” elucidated in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.Chinese authorities arrested 10 women’s rights activists on March 6 and 7 on the grounds of public disturbance just before their planned public demonstration against sexual harassment for International Women’s Day on March 8.Though five of the women were released, the other five remain in custody more than a month later. The senators' letter identified them as Wei Tingting, Li Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong.The senators urged the Chinese government to “immediately and unconditionally release these individuals,” and exhorted the ambassador to “guarantee their welfare and security.”“As China prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in September, the Chinese government must clearly demonstrate its commitment to respect the universal human rights of all people including freedom of expression and association,” the senators wrote.Cui Tiankai did not immediately respond to requests for comment via phone and email.Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the detention of the activists on Twitter with the trending hashtag #FreeBeijing20Five.   The detention of women's activists in #China must end. This is inexcusable. #FreeBeijing20Five Read this story: http://t.co/qV3VNOgmyG — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 7, 2015   Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton Moving Toward 2016 Presidential Campaign Announcement

Hillary Clinton Moving Toward 2016 Presidential Campaign Announcement Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton is moving toward announcing her candidacy for president of the United States likely on Sunday, according to Democrats familiar with her plans.Her announcement will come via social media, including a video message. Early state visits could come as soon as next week, with Iowa the most likely first stop.Clinton’s all-but-certain 2016 presidential bid marks the second time she has tried to become the first female to win the White House.After her defeat at the hands of Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton firmly said “no” when asked if she would ever run for president again. But, since then, her position has evolved.In recent months, Clinton has been gearing up for her campaign. Behind the scenes, she has hired a robust team, including many of President Obama’s former advisers and strategists.Her team also recently signed a lease for a new office space in Brooklyn, New York, which will serve has her campaign headquarters.She will enter the race as the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and is leading all her possible Republican opponents in early polls.A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Clinton ahead of potential Republican candidate Jeb Bush by a 54-to-40 percent margin in a prospective match-up, with even bigger leads against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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