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White House Summit on Fighting Extremism Continues

White House Summit on Fighting Extremism Continues

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism continues with day two Wednesday.The summit this year is about promoting a softer approach often overlooked in the fight against extremism.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed out Wednesday morning, President Obama, who will deliver Wednesday's keynote address, says combating radicalization is a “battle for hearts and minds,” not just military force -- a message Vice President Joe Biden previewed Tuesday at a roundtable discussion.  Officials say the summit highlights domestic efforts to address the propaganda machine of extremists and engage young, minority (predominantly Muslim) immigrant communities with alternative opportunities and a sense of inclusion. On Thursday, the focus of the conference will expand to global strategies, with 60 foreign ministers attending. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Abe, George and FDR Ranked the Best US Presidents

Abe, George and FDR Ranked the Best US Presidents

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- You had all of Presidents Day weekend to ponder this: who was the nation's best commander in chief?If you're stuck for an answer, more than 160 scholars from the American Political Science Association’s Presidents & Executive Politics section listed their choices, with Abe Lincoln topping the list of the 44 chief executives.The top 10:

1. Abraham Lincoln2. George Washington3. Franklin D. Roosevelt4. Teddy Roosevelt5. Thomas Jefferson6. Harry S. Truman7. Dwight D. Eisenhower8. Bill Clinton9. Andrew Jackson10. Woodrow WilsonAs expected, Ronald Reagan's fans are miffed that he only placed 12th while Bill Clinton, only one of two presidents to be impeached, ranked four places higher.President Obama finished at 18th, a little better than the middle of the pack, while John F. Kennedy is a not terribly impressive 15th.The worst president in the scholars' view? Poor James Buchanan wins that dubious distinction.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama Announces 11.4 Million Americans Enrolled in Obamacare

Obama Announces 11.4 Million Americans Enrolled in Obamacare

Ellenmck/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a Facebook video released Tuesday night, President Obama announced 11.4 million Americans signed up for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act this year.“We just got great news today which is that during this open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, 11.4 million people that either re-enrolled or enrolled for the first time,” Obama said in a video filmed in the Oval Office.“It gives you some sense of how hungry people were out there for affordable, accessible health insurance,” he said. “The Affordable Care Act is working. It’s working a little better than we anticipated. Certainly I think working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on.”Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell was also featured in the video briefing the president on the enrollment figures.  Burwell noted more people signed up in the final day of enrollment than on any other day. On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the deadline for enrollment through the federal website until Feb. 22 after consumers cited technical delays and long wait periods on the phone.

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Obama Administration Unlikely to Seek Emergency Stay on Immigration Ruling

Obama Administration Unlikely to Seek Emergency Stay on Immigration Ruling

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While President Obama has made it clear his administration will appeal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling blocking his executive action on immigration, the president’s immigration plan will likely be on hold for months or longer. Though no final decision has been made, Obama administration sources told ABC News Tuesday that the Department of Justice is unlikely to seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order. The reason is simple: While the DOJ thinks it will ultimately prevail on the overall appeal, department officials believe they would not succeed in seeking an emergency stay of Judge Hanen’s ruling. The judge’s ruling is likely to remain in place while the case is appealed before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and, quite possibly, to the Supreme Court. That process is likely to take six months -- or longer. That means the 5 million undocumented immigrants who had been hoping to apply for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to obtain work permits, drivers licenses, and relief from fear of deportation will have to wait. President Obama expressed confidence on Tuesday that his executive actions on immigration will ultimately be upheld after a Texas district court injunction blocked the plans from being implemented. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side,” President Obama told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. The ruling came just a day before applications for DACA, which expand upon the president's previous 2012 DACA program to remove age restrictions and allow parents of American citizens legal status, were set to begin. The judge’s order also put a pause on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) applications, which weren’t set to begin until later this year. “I disagree with the Texas judge’s ruling and the Justice Department will appeal. This is not the first time where a lower court judge has blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful,” the president said. “I’m confident that it is well within my authority and the tradition of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion to execute this policy.” The president said the Department of Homeland Security will adhere to the ruling and not move forward with applications for DACA and DAPA, but he noted the department will continue to prepare to administer the plans once the legal issues are resolved. “We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling. The law is the law in this country, and we take things a step at a time,” Obama said. Judge Hanen’s ruling does acknowledge the administration’s right to exercise prosecutorial discretion about who is targeted for deportation, but said the DACA and DAPA programs went a step further and changed legal status of the population. While the undocumented immigrants covered by the president’s executive actions will not be able to apply for work permits, the department can decide which people and cases to prioritize for deportation. The department has previously said it will not go after “moms with kids,” but without DACA and DAPA there is no way for the population to register with the government and legally be reprieved from deportation. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Tuesday that the DOJ is still reviewing the decision and determining how the administration will proceed with the appeals process. But he said the judge's ruling is just one ruling, and it is an "interim step" on an issue that will ultimately be decided by a higher court. The ruling comes at a time when Congress is embroiled in a fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security that expires Feb. 27. Democrats have repeatedly filibustered a Republican-backed measure to fund the department that includes provisions that would halt the president’s recent executive actions from going into effect. Congressional Republicans are using the ruling as another tool to insist Democrats back their funding plan for the Department of Homeland Security. “This ruling underscores what the president has already acknowledged publicly 22 times: He doesn’t have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as 'ignoring the law' and 'unwise and unfair,'" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said in a statement on Tuesday. "Senate Democrats -- especially those who've voiced opposition to the president’s executive overreach -- should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding." "The Senate Democrats who are filibustering Department of Homeland Security funding should look hard at this ruling,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement Tuesday. “At a time when we face grave national security threats, at home and abroad, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Democrats to block this funding in an extreme attempt to save Obama's amnesty, which a federal judge has just declared illegal." President Obama urged lawmakers to pass funding for the Department of Homeland Security “so they can go forward with all the functions that Republicans say they want carried out, including strong border security functions.” But he also pressed Republicans to work with Democrats on immigration reform. “With a new Congress, my hope has been that they now get serious in solving the problem. Instead what we’ve had is a series of votes to kick out young people who have grown up here and who everybody recognizes are part of our community, and threats to defund the Department of Homeland Security, which would make it even harder for us to protect our borders and keep our people safe,” the president said. "My strong advice right now to Congress is, if they are seriously concerned about immigration, about our borders, about being able to keep criminals out of this country, then what they should be doing is working together and working with the administration for a comprehensive immigration policy that allows us to be both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he added.

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Vice President Joe Biden Calls for Steps ‘Beyond Force’ to Fight Islamic Extremism

Vice President Joe Biden Calls for Steps ‘Beyond Force’ to Fight Islamic Extremism

David Lienemann/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden kicked off a three-day White House summit on combating violent extremism on Tuesday with a call for "answers that go beyond force." "We need answers that go beyond a military answer," Biden told a group of 40 participants in a roundtable meeting at the White House. The meeting's agenda was to identify effective local strategies to counter extremist messages targeting vulnerable minority youth in American cities, officials said. U.S. intelligence and Homeland Security officials have said that social media campaigns by extremist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda have fueled recruitment to their ranks and inspired lone wolves in cities including Paris, Copenhagen, Ottawa and Boston. "Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative to extremist groups," Biden said, "and one that discredits the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation and resentment." The vice president upheld as examples the work of Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, where the Justice Department has launched a series of pilot programs involving local religious leaders, law enforcement and advocacy groups. Administration officials said one goal of the conference was for leaders from those cities to share best practices with others. The White House declined to provide a full list of the participants at the meeting. "The most important lesson we’ve learned, and we don’t always practice it, but it’s that inclusion counts," Biden said of the need to effectively integrate minority immigrant groups into American society, particularly Muslims. "Let me say it again: Inclusion counts. Inclusion counts."

 

"Inclusion counts." -VP Biden on the need to include all communities across the country in countering violent extremism

— Vice President Biden (@VP) February 17, 2015

"I’m not talking about surveillance. I’m not talking about cameras," he said. "At the end of the day, it’s about treating each other with respect....Although we need technology, technology cannot replace contact." "National security flows from a sense of community,” Biden added. “It’s not easy, but we have some significant experience, and I hope we can expand on it." On Wednesday, the White House will host a series of panel discussions on violent extremism, including a session on strategies to amplify counter-messages on social media. President Obama is expected to address the gathering.

 

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Vice President Joe Biden Swears in Defense Secretary, Gets Close With His Wife

Vice President Joe Biden Swears in Defense Secretary, Gets Close With His Wife

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ashton Carter was formally sworn in on Wednesday as the fourth secretary of defense to serve in the Obama administration -- but it was Vice President Joe Biden who briefly stole the spotlight by whispering in the ear of Carter’s wife, Stephanie, during the middle of the ceremony. What Biden said as he placed his hands on her shoulders was not clear, but the blogosphere didn’t waste any time getting into speculative innuendo, with some noting "creepy" Biden's "hands-on approach."

 

Biden hanging onto Ashton Carter's wife (and whispering things) at Carter's swearing-in pic.twitter.com/qc911pu1GT

— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) February 17, 2015

 

 

Joe Biden takes ‘being Biden’ to new heights (or depths). http://t.co/B9fRCU4VwD pic.twitter.com/SVlDi7BMnE

— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) February 17, 2015

 

 

New SecDef Can’t Even Defend His Wife From Joe Biden http://t.co/r1IeOgThzS

— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 17, 2015

 

Carter appeared in the moment undistracted, talking about his solemn duty to tend to the troops “with the greatest reflection and care.” The vice president’s office declined to comment about the vice president's whisper. Perhaps Biden, who moments earlier administered the oath, was checking to see if his wife was OK after her spill in the snow and ice earlier Tuesday.

She apparently slipped when getting out of her car at the Pentagon.

 

Ash Carter arrives at Pentagon for first day as Defense Secretary. His wife slips on the ice behind the SUV. she appears to be ok. Audible gasp from crews.

A video posted by Luis Martinez (@lmartinezabc) on Feb 17, 2015 at 5:43am PST

When Biden and Stephanie Carter first greeted each other in the Roosevelt Room before the swearing-in, the VP was overheard telling her, “We get a whole team. We get two for one.”

 

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Ash Carter Gets Sworn In; Wife Takes a Spill on the Ice

Ash Carter Gets Sworn In; Wife Takes a Spill on the Ice

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ashton Carter was sworn in as the nation's next secretary of Defense by Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday.Following the ceremony, Carter said he was honored."For me this is the highest honor to be the 25th secretary of Defense. I'm grateful to the president and the vice president for your trust and confidence and to the U.S. Senate as well," he said.Earlier, as Carter arrived at the Pentagon for his first day on the job amid snowy conditions, his wife Stephanie grabbed some headlines when she took a spill on the ice as she was getting out of an SUV.Carter walked over to help her get up as she laughed it off. "I fall," she said, chuckling."She just went right straight down," Carter added.

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Nancy Pelosi Leads House Delegation Trip to Cuba

Nancy Pelosi Leads House Delegation Trip to Cuba

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is leading a group of House democrats on a trip to Cuba Tuesday.The delegation's arrival comes two months after President Obama announced that the U.S. would move to normalize diplomatic relations with the island nation. Tuesday's visit will mark the first official House of Representatives delegation trip to Cuba since the shift in policy was announced.“This delegation travels to Cuba in friendship and to build upon the announcement of U.S. normalization of relations and other initiatives announced by President Obama,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “This delegation will work to advance the U.S.-Cuba relationship and build on the work done by many in the Congress over the years, especially with respect to agriculture and trade.”The delegation includes Reps. Eliot Engel and Steve Israel of New York, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Jim McGovern of Massachussetts and David Cicilline of Rhode Island, among others.The lawmakers are expected to meet with Cuban government officials, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino and local representatives.

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Michelle Obama Slow Dances with Big Bird on “Funny or Die”

Michelle Obama Slow Dances with Big Bird on “Funny or Die”

Funny Or Die(WASHINGTON) -- She's done push-ups with Ellen Degeneres, jumped rope with Dr. Oz and held a tug-of-war with Jimmy Fallon. Now, Michelle Obama is dancing with Big Bird.To mark the fifth anniversary of her "Let's Move!" healthy living initiative for kids, the first lady appears with the yellow-feathered friend from Sesame Street in an online video produced by the comedy site Funny or Die.The White House said the appearance is meant to promote greater consumption of fruits and vegetables by kids. 

Watch the First Lady and @BigBird play "Ariana Grande or Eating a Carrot" with @BillyEichner: http://t.co/YuTbrYDuVB pic.twitter.com/3uhO9ZtRIN

— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) February 17, 2015

The Funny or Die episode of "Billy on the Street," hosted by comedian Billy Eichner, is shot in a Safeway grocery store produce section among displays of piled oranges, apples and pears. The first lady, Big Bird and show-regular Elena face off in a trivia game dubbed "Ariana Grande or Eating a Carrot."

Billy On The Street with First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird, And Elena!!! from Funny Or Die

 

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White House Anti-Extremism Summit to Kick Off Tuesday Despite Weather Closures

White House Anti-Extremism Summit to Kick Off Tuesday Despite Weather Closures

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- The harsh winter weather may have shut down government offices Tuesday, but that won't stop national security officials from discussing strategies for combating violent extremism in the U.S. The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism aimed at building and amplifying a counter-message to extremist groups kicks off Tuesday and will proceed despite the federal office closures due to weather.The summit's first focus is on domestic strategies to reach out to young, disenfranchised Americans who could be susceptible to recruitment. The three-day event will highlight the model cities of Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles, which have what authorities see as effective pilot programs launched last year by the Justice Department and Homeland Security. Participants in the summit will also discuss how communities can better use social media to push an alternative message online. The summit, which was scheduled last fall, is drawing criticism for having too broad a focus, with no specific mention of “Islamic” extremism or ISIS, and for what some see as an approach that is too academic to an urgent problem.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Health and Human Services Extends Healthcare.gov Sign Up Deadline

Health and Human Services Extends Healthcare.gov Sign Up Deadline

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline for people trying to enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through the federal website until Sunday, Feb. 22.

The original deadline was Sunday, Feb. 15, but consumers cited technical delays and long wait periods on the phone.

The federal extension is in addition to the states who announced extensions via their own exchanges over the weekend.

“For those consumers who were unable to complete their enrollment because of longer than normal wait times at the call center in the last three days or because of a technical issue such as being unable to submit an application because their income could not be verified, we will provide them with a time-limited special enrollment period for March 1 coverage,” a spokesperson for HHS said in a statement.

The spokesperson said only people who started trying to enroll before the original deadline can take advantage of this extension. It's not clear, however, how HHS will verify whether users started signing up before or after Feb. 15.

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Meet the Man Behind Sen. Rand Paul’s Rise to ‘Troller-in-Chief’

Meet the Man Behind Sen. Rand Paul’s Rise to ‘Troller-in-Chief’

ABC News/Yahoo! News(WASHINGTON) -- The GOP may have a crowded field of likely 2016 candidates all vying to become the next commander-in-chief, but Sen. Rand Paul has already secured the unofficial title as “troller-in-chief.”That’s because the Kentucky Republican, who is openly exploring the possibility of a White House run, has taken to social media in recent months to make jabs and poke fun of other likely candidates -- even posting a “secret tape” of a fake phone call between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.The man behind the provocative tweets, memes and hashtags is Vincent Harris, 26, the chief digital strategist for Paul. Harris sat down for an interview with ABC News/Yahoo! News. “Sen. Paul from the beginning has been very digitally savvy,” Harris said during an interview in Washington. “Even in my first interview with him, he mentioned that he wanted to run a cutting-edge digital campaign -- something new, something that was very different than what President Obama had run.”But Harris said Paul’s digital strategy isn’t just about picking fights with possible 2016 rivals -- it’s also about differentiating Paul from the pack.“The strategy and the number one problem that people have in politics is just getting their information across to somebody -- how do you reach somebody at all,” Harris said. “News and information has to be entertaining, it's got to be interesting and it's got to be different than how everyone else is communicating.”Harris -- who previously worked for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is another prospective 2016 presidential candidate -- picked up his cellphone to explain his point further.“People expect their politicians now to take serious messages, to take serious policy and to deliver it to them in a way they can read through this device -- through memes, through Web videos, through personal Facebook posts, through short, pithy tweets,” he said.On the Internet, he said, creativity is key. Gone are the days of simply posting press releases on Facebook or linking to a speech on the floor of the Senate.“I was reading a study about millennial moms and how they use their mobile device more than watch TV, more than go on their laptop,” Harris said. “How do you reach a millennial mom? You have to communicate on her mobile device. She's on Facebook, she's on Pinterest, she's on Instagram.”Communicating through those mediums, Harris said, means that the media itself needs to more entertaining than straight news.And though Harris declares that he “love[s] the Republican Party,” he takes on a less than amorous tone when discussing the GOP’s lagging digital strategy.“This is about furthering our ideals, and running the same type of campaigns that Ronald Reagan ran is not going to do that,” he said. “And it's TV consultants largely, and this establishment class here in the Washington bubble beltway, who are running campaigns the same way, and you can't do that anymore.”Harris’ resume extends well beyond his current role working for Paul and Cruz before him. He has also worked on the campaigns of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He is also currently consulting on the social media strategy for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection campaign.Though Harris declined to discuss specifics of his ongoing work for Netanyahu, the essence of Harris’ digital strategy comes down to making politics digestible and relatable to an increasingly mobile society.“The beauty of social media is that it's social, it's interactive,” Harris explained. “And if you look at a lot of other politicians...they take their message and just shove it at people, but that's not what Sen. Paul wants to do. Sen. Paul wants to have a social discussion.”

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Judge Blocks Obama’s Immigration Action from Moving Forward

Judge Blocks Obama’s Immigration Action from Moving Forward

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s executive action to legalize up to five million undocumented immigrants was suspended indefinitely Monday when a federal judge in Texas ruled that the White House failed to comply with a law governing the issuance of government regulations.Judge Andre Hanen’s temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by 26 GOP governors and attorneys general will remain in effect until a trial can be held to decide whether Obama’s actions overstepped his office’s authority and violated the Constitution.Hanen’s order blocking implementation of the president’s attempt to reform immigration will undoubtedly be appealed by the White House.It’s a victory for critics of the plan announced by Obama last November, who said he acted unilaterally because the GOP-controlled House refused to vote on a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration reform from June 2013.Although Hanen did not comment on the legality of the executive actions, some opponents contend temporarily legalizing millions is tantamount to amnesty.Without the injunction, immigration officials could have begun accepting applications from undocumented immigrants as soon as Wednesday.Meanwhile, the Dream Action Coalition issued a statement that said in part, "This decision by Republican judge comes at no surprise: the injunction is clearly based more on politics than law, and is now part of an aggressive effort by the rightward fringe of the GOP to scare Dreamers and parents from applying. Nevertheless, we will not let this temporary obstacle stop us from holding forums, encouraging people to collect their paperwork and eventually apply; this injunction is only temporary after all."

World News Videos | ABC World News

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Poll Shows Huckabee Leading in Iowa

Poll Shows Huckabee Leading in Iowa

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- Eleven and a half months and counting until the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 1, 2016 that kicks off the presidential primary season.The leader on the Republican side at this early date, according to an NBC News/Marist survey, is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who has made no formal declaration that he's running like all the rest of his potential rivals.Huckabee leads the pack at 17 percent, with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 16 percent and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the sort of hometown favorite, at 15 percent.The survey of 320 potential Republican caucus-goers gave single-digit support to the rest of the field, with New Governor Chris Christie polling at nine percent and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul in fifth place with seven percent. Six other possible candidates split the difference.Huckabee was the 2008 Iowa Caucus winner on the GOP side but did not run in 2012.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Expected Snowstorm Cuts President Obama’s West Coast Trip Short

Expected Snowstorm Cuts President Obama’s West Coast Trip Short

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHIGNTON) -- President Obama had planned on spending a little more time on the West Coast, but Mother Nature had other things in mind.The president has been enjoying the weather in Palm Springs, California, where he's had a few days of golf and warm sunshine. He will now head back to the nation's capital early, as a snowstorm is forecast to roll into the region late Monday.The president has been staying at a private home after a cyber-security conference and a Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco on Friday. It’s now back to the cold weather in Washington, where later this week President Obama will host a summit on violent extremism.

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Presidents Day: One Family’s Tradition You Have to See to Believe

Presidents Day: One Family’s Tradition You Have to See to Believe

Courtesy of the Jensen family(WASHINGTON) -- Friends of the Jensen family of Washington, D.C., know they shouldn't expect Christmas cards.

Instead, each year Marisa Jensen, her husband, Jeff, and their daughters, Matilda, 15, and Franny, 12, take part in a much more unusual tradition: Presidents Day cards. But these are no ordinary greetings. Marisa and Jeff, a historic preservation specialist at the General Services Administration, dress their children as U.S. presidents in honor of the national holiday. It all started in 2007 when the family was too busy for the traditional holiday family photo. So, instead for Presidents Day they mailed out a card with Matilda dressed as George Washington and Franny as a bearded Abraham Lincoln. "People have really embraced it and look forward to it," Marisa Jensen said in an interview with ABC News. This year Franny and Matilda applied their own makeup and facial hair to become America’s 21st president, Chester Arthur and eighth president, Martin Van Buren, sideburns and all. "It gets harder to guess them," said Marisa Jensen, who acknowledged that friends and family had difficulty identifying President Arthur. One of Jensen’s favorite years was when they recreated the famous 1960 televised presidential debate, dressing their daughters as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. In 2010, breaking from tradition, the Jensen family sent out their card around Halloween, with a re-enactment of President James Garfield’s 1881 assassination by Charles Guiteau.Although each photo shoot may only take a day, preparations are much more time-consuming. In a collaborative effort, the family decides together which presidents the girls will impersonate. They keep an eye open for supplies, shopping at thrift stores for some of the costumes and props. Other years the girls have transformed themselves into Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Teddy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft and Grover Cleveland. So does all this presidential posing mean the girls are developing White House ambitions of their own? "Neither of them are particularly politically bent or driven, they appreciate the general tone of D.C.," Marisa Jensen said. Jensen wouldn't offer any hints about whom the girls plan on dressing up as next year, but Jensen does have an idea for a future card. "It would really – fingers crossed – be great if Hillary won, even if that's our last card, that we go out that way," she said.

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Rand Paul Pushes Kentucky Rule Change to Pursue Presidency and Senate

Rand Paul Pushes Kentucky Rule Change to Pursue Presidency and Senate

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rand Paul is actively looking for ways to run for both president and re-election to the U.S. Senate, something standard in many states, but not legal in his home state of Kentucky. However, the state GOP has some serious concerns about his desired scenario. Paul wrote a letter last week to the state party hoping to convince its members to create a presidential caucus, over a primary in 2016, the Lexington Herald-Leader first reported and the Kentucky GOP state party chairman confirmed to ABC News. Paul’s letter argued it would make Kentucky more relevant in the primary process, but it also deals with the prohibition on candidates appearing on the same ballot twice. Paul and his supporters have been strategizing a work-around since he announced his intention to seek re-election and is also considering a 2016 run for the White House. Another potential 2016 candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, has said he will not run for both. In the letter, he cites Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, who lost the vice-presidency in 2012, but was re-elected to his House seat. There are other examples of victories and losses in states where it’s legal including then-Senator Joe Biden in 2008, amongst others, something Paul notes in the letter writing "My request to you is simply to be treated equally compared to other potential candidates for the presidency.” Steve Robertson, the Kentucky State GOP chairman and executive chairman told ABC News it’s an option Paul wants the “party to explore,” but he said his members have “a lot of questions” about a caucus and the process. Most pressing, Robertson said, is their concern that it’s unclear what would happen if they move to a caucus and Paul were to become the GOP presidential nominee.

Under state law, there is no way to substitute a candidate on the ballot after the filing deadline. After a hard-fought 2014 battle to keep Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, in office, Robertson said their biggest concern is losing that seat in the general election because they couldn’t field another Republican and state law would still prevent Paul’s name from appearing on the ballot twice. Robertson called this question a “major league struggle for members of the committee,” and something they are “very conflicted about,” but they also have questions about a caucus since they’ve never had one in the state before and whether a caucus could “potentially disenfranchise Republican voters from the process.” And, he says, it’s a question of both “cost and convenience.” “How long does someone theoretically have to drive [to caucus]…how is this going to be a process that is open and convenient and accessible to Republicans, including older Republicans?” Robertson asked, adding they also wonder how it affects absentee voting for service members overseas and they are worried it could have a “depressing effect on the number of people who could be able to take part in the process.” “We are very supportive of Sen. Paul,” Robertson said. “This is a very big decision with a lot of ramifications.” Robertson said the 54 members of the executive committee will get a chance to meet with Paul on March 7 and he looks forward to hearing Paul make his “case” then and to “better understand it.” He said it won’t be the “last conversation” on the topic. There are other possibilities Paul has to get around the issue. Last year, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill that would allow Paul to be on the ballot twice, but it went nowhere in the Democratic-led House. Republican state Sen. Joe Bowen, a co-sponsor of last year’s legislation, said they have not “soured on the issue” and they “still support Sen. Paul,” but legislation this year looks unlikely as the state House of Representatives remains in Democratic hands. Another avenue would be the courts. Paul’s political spokesman said they were not commenting beyond the letter, but Paul and his allies have stated publicly before they believe the state law doesn’t apply to federal elections and this is likely the argument they would take to court. Joshua Douglas, an election law expert and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, says as it stands right now the “law is absolutely clear.” “You cannot be a candidate for more than one office in the state of Kentucky,” Douglas said. “He cannot run for two offices at the same time.” Douglas stressed the issue Robertson brought up is a real one and that changing a primary to a caucus just “delays the issue” until “November 2016.” Another possible scenario is that Paul “runs for the president in 49 states,” skipping over Kentucky, though Douglas says that's a “significant imaging problem" and thus unlikely. Douglas believes Paul will go to court to try and get the law declared unconstitutional, after waiting to see what the state party does in March, but predicts “ultimately he loses the lawsuit” and he will be faced with having to choose from one of these other options. If one key state figure has her way, Paul won't bend the rules. The Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes failed to beat Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 midterm election, but she has vowed to stop Paul if he does try to get on the ballot twice, telling ABC News affiliate WHAS-TV she won’t be “bullied” by Paul and the “law is clear.” “Kentucky law has prohibited a candidate's name from appearing on the same ballot for more than one office for more than 50 years,” Grimes said in a statement to ABC News. “As Kentucky's chief election official, I will continue to administer Kentucky's election laws and ensure that all eligible Kentuckians have their voices heard."

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Barbara Bush Tells Son Jeb She’s Changed Her Mind About ‘Enough Bushes’

Barbara Bush Tells Son Jeb She’s Changed Her Mind About ‘Enough Bushes’

Photos by Charles Ommanney for the Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- It seems Barbara Bush has changed her mind about whether there have been "enough Bushes" in the White House.The former first lady and mother of former President George W. Bush announced via Skype to a gala dinner attended by her son Jeb Bush that she's simply changed her mind.It was two years ago that the wife of former President George H.W. Bush said in response to speculation that her son Jeb would make a run for the presidency that she thought two Bush presidents was enough.Jeb Bush was talking about his mother's remarks Friday night in Bonita Springs, Fla., at the Celebration of Reading, a carity event sponsored by the Barbara Bush Foundation, when his mother, listening in via Skype, stopped him."Jeb, it's Mom," she said. "Listen, what do you mean, 'too many Bushes'? ... I changed my mind."

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Top Dem: Climate Change Not a More Immediate Threat Than Terrorism

Top Dem: Climate Change Not a More Immediate Threat Than Terrorism

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee disputed Sunday President Obama's suggestion last week that climate change poses as serious a threat to society as terrorism.Appearing on ABC's This Week, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News' Jonathan Karl he disagreed with the president's assessment on climate change."I wouldn't agree that it's the more immediate threat," Schiff said. "It's certainly a threat to our planet and it's one we have to deal with and we don't know where the tipping point is. But it's such a very different problem, I'm not sure I'd put them in the same sentence."In an interview with Vox posted last week, the president was asked if the media overhypes the dangers of terrorism relative to longer-term issues such as climate change and epidemic diseases."Absolutely," President Obama replied. "And I don't blame the media for that. What's the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories and you show fires, because that's what folks watch, and it's all about ratings. And, you know, the problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos, along with plane crashes and a few other things, that's the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs. … And climate change is one that is happening at such a broad scale and at such a complex system, it's a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis."When Karl asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday to clarify the president's comments to Vox, Earnest said that more people are "directly affected" by issues like climate change than terrorism."The point that the president is making is that when you're talking about the direct daily impact of these kind of challenges on the daily lives of Americans, particularly Americans living in this country, that that direct impact is more -- that more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism," Earnest said.On the new Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Obama sent Congress Wednesday, Schiff said it is "very important" that Congress doesn't "write another black check" to the White House, referring back to the 2001 authorization that governed the war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks."I think it's very important that we find a way to get to yes on an authorization. But I also think it's very important that we not write another blank check," Schiff said. "We did that 14 years ago with the 2001 authorization. And that authorization continues in force on the president's proposal.""That's very worrying to a lot of Democrats, because it means that when the new one expires, the next president can simply rely on this old authorization and say that gives me the authority to go after whoever I want, wherever I want in any way I want," Schiff added.The president's proposal would restrict any campaign against ISIS to three years, but it includes no geographic limits for any U.S. campaign against the terrorist organization, which has reach across the Middle East and Africa.While Schiff and other Democrats say they believe the proposal would cede too much power to the president, Iraq war veteran Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, said the proposed AUMF "ties the president's hands.""What his draft resolution would do is say we need to destroy ISIS to a point unless it takes enduring offensive operations, whatever that means, then in which case we just don't have the authority to do it," Kinzinger said on This Week.

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NSA Says It’s Not Listening to ‘Pillow Talk’ in Valentine’s Day Tweet

NSA Says It’s Not Listening to ‘Pillow Talk’ in Valentine’s Day Tweet

Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Security Agency sent a series of tweets on Saturday promising Americans that the agency was not crossing personal boundaries.The tweets, sent on Valentine's Day, assured people that the NSA "[doesn't] listen to your pillow talk" and "loves privacy rights."

#HappyValentinesDay from the #NSA. No, we don't listen to your pillow talk. #vday2015

— NSA/CSS (@NSA_PAO) February 14, 2015

Roses are red, violets are blue, #NSA loves privacy rights and you. Learn more from NSA's #CLPO Director http://t.co/1RYnIeiMP1 #vday2015

— NSA/CSS (@NSA_PAO) February 14, 2015 Later on, the agency sent a tweet playing off of the song "Every Move You Make" by The Police.

Every move they make, every step they take. We’ll be watching our foreign adversaries. #HappyValentinesDay from the #NSA #vday2015

— NSA/CSS (@NSA_PAO) February 14, 2015

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