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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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Kerry Pledges $212 Million in Assistance to Gaza, Calls for Leadership in Middle East

Kerry Pledges $212 Million in Assistance to Gaza, Calls for Leadership in Middle East

State Department photo/ Public Domain(CAIRO) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on Sunday at an international conference to aid reconstruction in Gaza following the airstrikes and missiles launched between Israeli forces and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip in recent months.Kerry pledged $212 million in assistance to the Palestinian people, promising that with it would come "immediate relief and reconstruction." The hope, the U.S. secretary of state said, is that the funding will be used to "help promote security and stability, and economic development, and it will provide for immediate distribution of food, medicine, and shelter materials for hundreds of thousands for the coming winter."Calling the tensions from this past summer "a difficult few months on a difficult issue in a difficult neighborhood," Kerry spoke of the thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed and the millions of Gaza residents forced to flee for safety. Kerry said the key to reconstructing Gaza is to ensure the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis remains in place. "The United States," he said, "remains fully, totally committed to returning to the negotiations not for the sake of it, but because the goal of this conference and the future of this region demand it."Kerry said a two-state solution "is even more compelling today" than it was a year ago. "It's a time for leaders to lead," Kerry said Sunday. "And at a time when extremism, which offers no constructive vision for the future, is capitalizing on the vacuum, it is imperative for all of us to fill that vacuum with a prospect of peace."

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Alaska Governor Vows to Appeal Ruling Striking Down State’s Definition of Marriage

Alaska Governor Vows to Appeal Ruling Striking Down State’s Definition of Marriage

Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Thinkstock(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced on Sunday that the state would appeal a U.S. District Court ruling that struck down the state's constitutional definition of marriage."As Alaska's governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution," Parnell said Sunday. "Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution," he added, noting the recent ruling that struck down similar laws in Nevada and Idaho. Alaska's constitution had defined marriage as being "only between one man and one woman."In a brief to the district court, the state of Alaska had called the right to same-sex marriage "a decision for the citizenry to make through the democratic process, not the judiciary."

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Wendy Davis Defends Controversial Campaign Ad

Wendy Davis Defends Controversial Campaign Ad

Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis defended the ad her campaign released on Friday featuring an empty wheelchair -- a criticism of her opponent, Greg Abbott, who is partially paralyzed.Davis has received criticism for the ad, which highlights Abbott's "hypocrisy." Abbott, Davis says, was the beneficiary of the judicial system that awarded him a large settlement following the accident that caused his paralysis. Later, as Texas' attorney general, Davis says Abbott sided against victims in similar situations. "Victims of a surgeon were paralyzed," Davis said Monday, "and he sided with the hospital against them. He has shown time and time again his hypocrisy."In a post to her Twitter account, Davis said that Abbott "deserved justice for his terrible tragedy," but criticized his later decision to build a career on "denying the same justice to fellow Texans."

 

Greg Abbott deserved justice for his terrible tragedy, but he turned around and built his career denying the same justice to fellow Texans.

— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) October 13, 2014

Davis, who gained notoriety when she filibustered for 11 hours against a bill that would have placed strong restrictions on abortions in the state of Texas in June 2013, faces a tough campaign against Abbott in advance of the November election for governor of Texas.

 

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Obama Pressed to Name an Ebola Czar

Obama Pressed to Name an Ebola Czar

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With news of a second confirmed case of Ebola on U.S. soil, questions are mounting over the government’s ability to respond to the crisis.Several Republican lawmakers have called for the Obama administration to name a single point person to make sure the deadly virus doesn’t spread.“I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge. There has to be some kind of czar,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said over the weekend.While the White House isn’t ruling out naming an “Ebola Czar,” they have not done so because their response needs to be “as nimble and as bureaucratically lean as possible in order to bring the overseas epidemic under control and respond efficiently and effectively here at home,” according to a National Security Council spokesman.For now, the White House point person is Lisa Monaco, the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.“Lisa does have a lot on her plate, but she’s a very talented individual,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week.The White House stresses that operationally, USAID is in the lead overseas, while, here at home, Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in charge of the preparedness effort. Monaco is tasked with coordinating the interagency response.In addition to calls for a czar, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, wants the CDC to determine whether Ebola patients should be treated at hospitals or moved to biocontainment  facilities.“The CDC attributes the new infection (in Texas) to a breach in protocol, which raises the question whether ordinary hospitals that may not have had specialized training on caring for seriously ill patients safely should be responsible for the long-term care of an Ebola patient when there are beds available in one of our nation’s biocontainment units,” he said.The House Energy and Commerce Committee will break its recess to hold a hearing on Ebola on Thursday.

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Meet the Candidate Whose Name Is Trouble on the Stump

Meet the Candidate Whose Name Is Trouble on the Stump

David Greedy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Iowa is not going to vote for Bill Braley and vote for him a third time, that’s for sure,” Mitt Romney proclaimed at a campaign event Sunday.He’s right: Iowa won’t vote for Bill Braley this November. They might vote for Bruce Braley, Iowa’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. Trouble is, nobody can seem to get his name right.Romney, who was stumping for Braley’s Republican opponent, Joni Ernst, isn’t the first surrogate to flub Braley’s name.Surrounded by signs touting “Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate,” first lady Michelle Obama mistakenly referred to the candidate as “Bruce Bailey” at least seven times last Friday.“I am beyond thrilled to be here today to support your next senator from Iowa, our friend, Bruce Bailey,” she told a crowd of more than 1,200.“You can go to Vote.BruceBailey.com. That’s Vote.BruceBailey.com,” Mrs. Obama said, before the crowd finally corrected her.“Braley! What did I say?” she said with a laugh. “I’m losing it. I’m getting old. I’ve been traveling too much.”The first lady also mistakenly referred to Braley as a Marine Corps veteran.The Ernst campaign pounced, snapping up a variant of the website Mrs. Obama mentioned: www.votebrucebailey.com now redirects to Ernst’s website.Last month, Bill Clinton also misstated Braley’s last name, calling him “Bruce Bailey” at a steak fry thrown by retiring Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.“You know what you ought to do to honor the Harkin legacy, and that is to elect Bruce Bailey,” the former president said.Both the Braley campaign and the Iowa Democratic Party declined to comment.

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How Gabby Giffords Is Shaking Up a Competitive Congressional Race

How Gabby Giffords Is Shaking Up a Competitive Congressional Race

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gabby Giffords isn’t running for office, but when it comes to the race for the Congressional seat she once held, you’d almost think she’s the one on the ballot.The contest for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional district is pitting Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, Giffords’ former district director, against Republican Martha McSally, a former Air Force colonel. But lately, Giffords has stepped squarely into the spotlight, appearing in campaign ads, becoming a talking point in debates and, at times, overshadowing the candidates themselves.Temperatures are now at an all-time high. The latest sparks flew last week when the two candidates met for their first debate on the heels of the release of a new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s independent expenditure committee that featured images of Giffords.“Gabby Giffords fought for border security and voted against Nancy Pelosi,” the narrator in “Follower” says. “Ron Barber voted for Pelosi and followed Pelosi’s lead, voting against strengthening our border.”Giffords was evidently not pleased with the portrayal.“No organization or person -- no matter which party they say they represent -- should think they can come to Southern Arizona and pretend to speak for me,” the former congresswoman said in a statement. “I work hard to speak, but it’s my voice. So take it from me: Ron is an independent leader in Congress, and no one will fight harder for our community.”And Giffords didn’t stop there. Her group Americans for Responsible Solutions released a counter-ad the following day featuring the former congresswoman, who was shot by a gunman in 2011 and resigned from the House of Representatives a year later.

In “Fight For Us” Giffords says looking directly into the camera, “We expect our leaders to fight for us, not the special interests. Ron Barber is independent, he’s courageous, and most of all he’s Arizona through and through.”The ad will air on broadcast, cable and online for at least two weeks and is backed by what a spokesperson for Giffords’ group called a “strong six-figure buy.”But the recent skirmish didn’t come out of nowhere.Last month Americans for Responsible Solutions released two television ads taking McSally to task for her views on background checks for firearm purchases. In one of the ads titled, “Stalker Gap,” a Tucson resident named Vicki tearfully discusses her husband and daughter’s murder at the hands of her daughter’s former boyfriend. A narrator chimes in, “Martha McSally opposes making it harder for stalkers to get a gun.”“I don’t think she really understands how important that is to a lot of women,” Vicki says in closing.The specific attack from Giffords’ gun control group focused on McSally’s objection to closing a loophole that allows individuals convicted of misdemeanors for stalking to buy guns. McSally aides immediately expressed outrage, saying they found the accusation particularly shocking because McSally, herself, had been a victim of stalking.“For an outside group to tie me to the tragic occurrence of a stalker killing his victim is not only personally offensive, it’s degrading to all women and victims who have experienced this pain,” McSally said in a written statement. “These false and malicious ads are being run by Congressman Barber’s political allies, and for him to remain silent in their wake is damning…He needs to denounce these degrading ads and demand they be pulled down.”According to her campaign, a stalker broke into McSally’s car and repeatedly trespassed in her apartment building. The McSally campaign did not elaborate on the incident.The controversy about the ad spilled over into last week’s debate between the two candidates.“You have an opportunity now tonight to denounce that ad and apologize,” McSallly said during a particularly heated exchange. “Do you believe that that ad was wrong, Ron?”Barber refused: “That ad was not run by me, and I’m not going to talk about an ad that I didn’t sponsor.”Giffords and Americans for Responsible Solutions have received criticism from other quarters, too.An editorial late last month in the Arizona Republic, titled “Vile ad bounces off McSally, sticks to Gabby Giffords,” referred to the ad as a “nasty piece of work” and “demagoguery in heart-rending tones.”“The ad waves the bloody shirt. Takes the tragic killing of two innocents and drops it at McSally’s feet, as if she were responsible. A murder indictment implied,” the editorial board wrote, adding: “Perhaps the Tucson shooting changed Gabby Giffords.”Mark Prentice, a spokesman for Americans for Responsible Solutions, told ABC News that Giffords had no plans to campaign alongside Barber between now and Election Day, but wouldn’t rule out additional ads.

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In Run-Up to Midterms, Obama Scarce from the Campaign Trail

In Run-Up to Midterms, Obama Scarce from the Campaign Trail

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With just three weeks to go until the midterm elections and control of the Senate hanging in the balance, candidates are scrambling toward the finish line, but one key figure has been largely absent: the Campaigner-in-Chief.The president has appeared at zero public campaign events this cycle, opting instead to tap into his fundraising prowess to boost democratic candidates behind closed-doors. Obama’s absence on the trail underscores how the president has become a political liability for many candidates. With his approval rating down in the dumps, a personal visit from Obama would likely hurt rather than help his party’s cause in the hotly contested states.President Obama is expected to step-up his public presence on the campaign trail in these final weeks, but likely only in deep blue states. He will attend his first public campaign rally for a candidate this Wednesday when he stumps for Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy.It’s not unheard of for the president to be scare in the run-up to the midterms. President George W. Bush headlined 15 rallies in 2006, but they were all in the final weeks, according to Brendan Doherty, professor of political science at the US Naval Academy and author of The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign.Democratic Candidates Eager to Distance Themselves from the PresidentNot only is the president a persona non grata on the trail, Democratic candidates are going to great lengths to avoid being even remotely associated with him.Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat challenging Senate Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell, has repeatedly declined to say whether she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, including spending an astonishing 40 seconds refusing to answer the question during an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal last week.“I don’t think that the president is on the ballot. As much as Mitch McConnell might want him to be, it’s my name, and it’s going to be me who’s holding him accountable for the failed decisions and votes that he has made against the people of Kentucky,” she said in response.Colorado Sen. Mark Udall became tongue tied when asked earlier in the year if he wanted the president to campaign for him, telling CNN “we’ll see what the president’s schedule is, we’ll see what my schedule is.” “But Coloradoans are going to reelect me based on my record, not the president’s record, not what the president’s done, but what I’ve done and how I’ve stood up for Colorado,” he added.Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor similarly stumbled when asked recently if he backed Obama’s handling of the Ebola crisis. “Umm, I would say that it’s a – it’s hard to know, uh, because, um, I haven’t heard the latest briefing on that, you know,” he told MSNBC.  What Is the President Doing?In lieu of public campaign appearances, the president has kept up a frenetic fundraising schedule away from cameras.Last week alone, he raised money on both coasts, rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars at Gwyneth Paltrow’s home and traveling to Greenwich, Connecticut, for a $32,000 a plate fundraiser at the home of a real-estate billionaire named Rich Richman.                                                                                                                                                        In all, Obama has attended 59 fundraisers this year to fill his party’s coffers. Top Obama Surrogates Hit the Trail While President Obama has stayed silent, his top surrogates are another story. The first lady and vice president have been crisscrossing the country to campaign publicly for Democrats.Last week, the vice president missed a National Security Council meeting in D.C., a rare occurrence, to campaign for Sen. Jeff Merkley in Oregon and grab ice cream with the candidate. The first lady, whose approval rating is far higher than her husband’s, has also been appearing with candidates and has taken things a step further, taping a campaign ad for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren Says Administration Is Too Chummy with Wall Street

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Says Administration Is Too Chummy with Wall Street

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sounding as if she hasn't entirely closed the door on a 2016 White House run, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a battering ram to the Obama administration in an exclusive interview with Salon, charging that the White House failed the American people by siding more with Wall Street during the near-financial collapse six years ago.Warren, who says she's not seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was blunt, claiming the president's economic team "protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over. So I see both of those things and they both matter."She accused the nation's rich of making an all-out effort to concentrate money and power, but Warren, a populist, believes, "We have our voices and we have our votes. If people get engaged on the issues, the votes are on our side."The first step to leveling the playing field just a bit is raising the federal minimum wage.Warren did offer some conciliatory words to the White House and Democrats for "fighting for the right things." She said that had it not been for Obama, "we would not have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Period. I’m completely convinced of that.”Warren was an early advocate of the CFPB, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch O'Connell has threatened to roll back if the GOP gains control of the Senate.

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HUD Secretary Julián Castro Doesn’t See President in the Mirror

HUD Secretary Julián Castro Doesn’t See President in the Mirror

ABC/Rick Rowell(WASHINGTON) -- When Housing and Urban Development Secretary and rising Democratic star Julián Castro looks in the mirror, he says he doesn't see a president or vice president peering back."I have never woken up in the morning and seen in my future, when I look in the mirror, and said, 'Oh, I think I'm going to be president,'" Castro told ABC News.While Castro says he wants to focus on his work at HUD, his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, has not shied away from presidential politics.Joaquin Castro endorsed Hillary Clinton for a 2016 presidential run, as many have suggested that his brother would make a strong vice presidential candidate who could help deliver the Hispanic vote.But that is another claim Julián Castro is quick to deny."I don't believe that I am going to be vice president," Castro said.However, Castro hasn't dismissed a potential Texas gubernatorial campaign after he completes his term at HUD in two and a half years. When asked if he has woken up in the morning and thought about running, Castro didn't exactly say yes, but he didn't say no."There were definitely mornings when I woke up and wished that there were a different governor of Texas," Castro said.In fact, Democratic pundit Donna Brazile said Sunday on This Week that she is eager to show off her Castro support, despite the current campaign of Democrat Wendy Davis."No, no question. I have a button. There's no question. Castro for Governor 2018," Brazile said. "He is a rising star. He is the future face of not just the Democratic party, but American politics."Castro, whom Obama once called an "all-star," grew up in west San Antonio and brings a unique perspective to his office."I'm the first HUD secretary that had a family member, a parent who lived in a housing project," Castro said.Castro said he views housing as the link to greater opportunity and is pushing mortgage banks to loosen credit in an effort to revamp the housing market."It is too hard for hard-working, average Americans who are responsible and who are ready to own a home to get a loan," Castro said. "In fact, we estimate that there are about 13 million folks who ... under normal circumstances would be able to access credit for a home that today are basically shut out."The Department of Housing and Urban Development employs about 8,500 people and is charged with overseeing housing needs and laws, including public housing and mortgage insurance."There's probably no upside politically of being at HUD," Castro said. "However there is tremendous upside in terms of the satisfaction of the work that we do in trying to create more opportunity in people's lives."

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