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Republicans Positioning Themselves Ahead of 2016

Republicans Positioning Themselves Ahead of 2016

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — 2016 maneuvering is now the story of the day, every day. Rand Paul was in New Hampshire Wednesday, calling Libya “Hillary’s War,” according to ABC affiliate WMUR-TV. He’s also making stops in Nevada, the “first in the West” state. Other Republicans like Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and yes, even Mitt Romney are gathering at the RNC Winter Meeting this week where donors, delegates and reporters will be in San Diego to hear the contenders and Romney discuss why he wants to make a third go of it. And there’s one name we haven’t heard that much from recently, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading across the pond and will give what is being billed as a “major foreign policy address” next week in London. In excerpts given to the Weekly Standard, Jindal will accuse Clinton of “empathizing” with our enemies in order to “find some common ground…I have no interest in that kind of mindless naiveté.” If Republicans blow their shot at 2016, it’s going to be hard to blame the Republican National Committee. Chairman Reince Priebus has been quietly completing his checklist. This week’s meeting in San Diego will have the GOP finalizing an early convention date and looking to lock in a sharply limited debate schedule. Already, Priebus has brought order to the calendar process in addition to cleaning up the messy Michael Steele-era balance sheet. Priebus’ “autopsy” report after 2012 has been derided for its lack of impact, but it did put the party on record on some touchy areas where there’s limited authority for the party to chart a course. This may be the most wide-open GOP primary in modern history, with ample opportunities for Republicans to tear each other apart. Financially and structurally, at least, it’s difficult to see how the party could be in a better place.

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Seven Gaffes that Might Haunt Mitt Romney in 2016

Seven Gaffes that Might Haunt Mitt Romney in 2016

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney is back. The two-time presidential candidate is making calls and meeting with advisors to create a rationale for a third bid.But if he does hit the road to the White House again in 2016, which he says will be different, will Romney be haunted by ghosts of campaigns past?Here’s a look at some of the former Republican presidential nominee's most cringe-worthy moments:1. ‘47 PERCENT’Less than two months before the November 2012 election, Romney committed a gaffe that he even admitted “did real damage” to his campaign. The left-leaning magazine, Mother Jones, released secretly-recorded videos of the candidate at a private fundraisers telling donors: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ...These are people who pay no income tax.”2. ‘BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN’At the second presidential debate between Romney and President Obama at Hofstra University, social media poked fun at Romney’s response to a question about pay equity for women. What Romney was trying to get at was this: While filling cabinet positions as governor of Massachusetts, he was given suggestions by women’s groups for candidates, and they just happened to be in binders.The comment went viral and led to more than a few Internet memes.

3. ‘I LIKE BEING ABLE TO FIRE PEOPLE’Romney handed the Obama campaign firing power when he said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Romney admitted that the comment in January 2012 haunts him.“I’ve had a couple of those during the campaign, which have haunted me a little bit, but I’m sure before this is over will haunt me a lot,” Romney said.

4. MITT IN THE MIDDLE?In a Good Morning America interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Romney defined middle class income as $200,000-$250,000. He previously made a comment at a town hall meeting where he said "the 80 to 90 percent of us" in the middle class had been hurt most by the Obama economy. Median household income for 2013 was about $53,000, according to census data. Romney had $13.7 million in income in 2011.5. ‘WHAT ABOUT YOUR GAFFES?’Romney almost made it out of his Europe and Israel tour without it being a disaster. However, he definitely did not escape the tour unscathed. During his first trip abroad, he called preparations for the Olympics "disconcerting" which miffed British Prime Minister David Cameron, and then he was criticized for being “racist and out of touch” by Palestinian leaders when he claimed that “Israel was doing better than Palestine economically because of its culture.” While Romney was in Poland, reporters were clamoring for Romney to respond to the criticisms. One reporter shouted out, “What about your gaffes?” which elicited a “kiss my a**” response from a Romney campaign spokesperson.

6. 'LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT'This is a perennial favorite for Democrats: In 2008 op-ed for the New York Times headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Romney publicly announced that he was against the auto bailout, which hurt him in Ohio, a critical swing state at the time. With a managed bankruptcy, Romney claimed that it would avoid giving the shareholders and bondholders a free pass -- they are the ones who bet on management and they lost.7. ‘CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE TOO’With yet another memorable one-liner, Romney said, “Corporations are people, my friend” during a question-and-answer session at the Iowa State Fair in 2011. It was an unscripted moment after people urged him to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help fund social welfare programs followed by days’ worth of headlines. His controversial response was immediately ambushed by Democrats, who criticized the event as another example of how Romney is nothing more than an out of touch businessman.

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Orrin Hatch, Senator and Love Song Writer

Orrin Hatch, Senator and Love Song Writer

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is now third in line to the presidency in his new role of as Senate president pro tempore, but he also has a side gig as a prolific songwriter, who has even penned a few love songs.Hatch, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has written everything from religious hymns to patriotic music and country songs. The longest-serving Republican senator said he writes some of his songs on airplanes and even once in a committee hearing.

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Meet the Senate’s Candy Man

Meet the Senate’s Candy Man

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — There’s one man on Capitol Hill with the responsibility of satisfying the Senate’s sweet tooth -- Sen. Pat Toomey.The Republican Pennsylvania senator has assumed the role of the Senate candy man, maintaining a special candy desk in the Senate chamber for senators from both sides of the aisle to enjoy a sweet treat from time to time.“Pennsylvania, as everyone knows, is the candy capital of America. It was totally appropriate that I be the candy man,” Toomey told ABC News.The Senate candy man bears the responsibility of keeping the desk, which is located next to the most trafficked entrance to the Senate chamber, stocked with sweet treats throughout the year. The candies come from the senator’s home state and are donated by candy companies. Toomey, whose state is home to more than 200 confectionary companies, will fill the desk with Pennsylvania-made candies, such as Mars products Three Musketeers and Milk Way, and Hershey's product Twizzlers.The candy desk tradition dates back to 1965 when Sen. George Murphy, R-California, stashed a candy supply in his desk for fellow senators to snag, and for the past 50 years, each Republican senator to occupy that seat has done the same.“It started with a guy who had a sweet tooth and he wanted to make sure that he always had a supply and then he discovered very quickly that his desk became a popular place to stop and mingle,” Toomey said.Aside from Toomey, 16 other senators have taken on the task of candy man, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Slade Gorton, R-Wash., who held the duty twice. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was the last occupant of the desk beginning in 2011.Toomey admitted to having a sweet tooth himself, but there’s one particular candy he likes to keep well stocked in his office.“I will tell you the 3 Musketeers bar has long been my favorite candy,” Toomey said. “But I seldom turn down a candy of any kind.”

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No Woman President? No Big Deal, According to Poll

No Woman President? No Big Deal, According to Poll

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Most Americans don't care if they see a woman in the Oval Office during their lifetimes, according to a Pew Research Center survey.In a poll of 1,800 adults conducted last November, 57 percent said it doesn’t matter if a woman becomes president while 38 percent said they hope they'll be around to see it happen.Democrats, by far, are more eager to elect a woman to the White House with 46 percent of men and 69 percent of women agreeing on its importance.On the other hand, just 16 percent of Republican men and 20 percent of women identifying with the GOP feel the same way about a woman president.Perception may have a lot to do with the struggle for women to be taken seriously as a candidate for the White House.  Fifty-eight percent of men and 73 percent of women responding to the Pew survey said it's easier for men to get elected than women.

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CIA Board Determines Staffers Shouldn’t Be Punished for Accessing Senate Data

CIA Board Determines Staffers Shouldn’t Be Punished for Accessing Senate Data

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Senator Evan Bayh announced the findings of a CIA Accountability Board on Wednesday in regards to the CIA staffers accused of improperly accessing Senate data confined on a classified CIA computer network.The board determined that the five staffers shouldn't be punished for their action. The staffers, Bayh explained, "acted reasonably under the complex and unprecedented circumstances involved in investigating a potential security breach in the highly classified shared computer network, while also striving to maintain the sanctity of [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] work product." Bayh noted that there was no formal agreement or common understanding regarding the procedures to be followed in investigating a security incident in those circumstances."Although five non-deliberative SSCI emails were accessed in the course of the investigation into a possible security breach," Bayh said, the board found those actions "clearly inappropriate," but "a mistake that did not reflect malfeasance, bad faith, or the intention to gain improper access to SSCI confidential, deliberative material."The incident in which the CIA staffers accessed the stand-alone computer network set up for staffers to review documents occurred about a year ago.The CIA released a statement on Wednesday saying that the agency's leadership "in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, has accepted the recommendations on accountability." The board also made a series of recommendations regarding systemic issues.

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Dates Announced for 2016 Republican National Convention

Dates Announced for 2016 Republican National Convention

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican National Committee announced on Wednesday the official dates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio."I'm pleased to announce the 2016 Republican National Convention will kick off on July 18," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. The convention will carry on through July 21, 2016."A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee," Priebus said. "The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day."Priebus had previously pledged to move the national convention earlier in order to give his party's candidate an edge in the election.

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Obama Expected to Expand Paid Maternity Leave for Federal Employees

Obama Expected to Expand Paid Maternity Leave for Federal Employees

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, President Obama is expected to announce a presidential directive ordering federal agencies to give at least six weeks of paid maternity leave to all federal employees.The administration, seeking to strengthen working families, will also call on Congress to pass a law requiring private sector employers to give at least seven days of paid sick/maternity to workers and modest grant programs aimed at helping states enact their own laws. The current Family and Medical Leave Act mandates private employers with 50 or more workers give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.The proposed policies were previewed by Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on LinkedIn on Wednesday. "The last thing we should do is add guilt, fear, and financial hardship on working parents as they try to do what's right -- while keeping their job," Jarrett wrote. The White House says that Obama has the authority to take this action because federal agencies have the discretion to advance sick leave, and the president has the power to direct them to advance that sick leave.

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‘Leadership Changes’ at Secret Service

‘Leadership Changes’ at Secret Service

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Acting Director of the U.S. Secret Service Joseph Clancy will implement "leadership changes in the Secret Service management team," in order to "gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business."The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that four senior Secret Service officials would be removed from their positions, with a fifth deciding to retire. The newspaper called the changes the Secret Service's "biggest management shake-up...since its director resigned in October after a string of security lapses."An independent report released in December found the agency was "an organization starved for leadership," and leaders "who can drive change within the organization."Clancy said in a statement on Wednesday that "based on the Independent Panel review, and my own assessments, I will be implementing leadership changes in the Secret Service management team." He added that he is "certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department."The Secret Service has been in the spotlight in recent months over a number of lapses, including the fence-jumping incident in which a man was able to make it into the White House.

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Obama Aims to Cut Methane Emissions

Obama Aims to Cut Methane Emissions

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration on Wednesday set a new goal to cut methane emissions by up to 45 percent of 2012 levels within the next 10 years.The administration says it is "committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change and help ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations." As such, the White House notes that American oil production is at the highest level in 30 years, and that methane -- the primary component of natural gas -- is a greenhouse gas that can trap carbon dioxide inside the Earth's environment.Methane, the White House says, accounted for nearly 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. The White House listed an array of actions they hope to take to play a role in diminishing methane emissions. First, the administration says it will seek "common sense standards" for methane and ozone-forming emissions, set guidelines to reduce the production of such pollutants, and consider enhancing leak detection and emissions reporting. The administration also hopes to lead by example, updating the decades-old standards for venting, flaring and leaks on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.Obama also hopes to improve pipeline safety and to release the first installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review -- which will focus on policy actions "needed to help modernize energy transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure."

This spring, the EPA will issue a proposed rule to set standards for methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas production. A final rule will follow in 2016.

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What Obama’s Proposal for Faster, Cheaper Internet Means for You

What Obama’s Proposal for Faster, Cheaper Internet Means for You

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama wants everyone in the United States to have access to high speed, affordable Internet -- even in rural areas of the country.Speaking Wednesday afternoon in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the president is expected to discuss initiatives that will introduce more competition and incentives to build out the infrastructure in rural areas.Obama is expected to highlight the achievements of several rural areas that have taken on community broadband projects that have leveraged public- and private-sector investments to bring high-speed connectivity to places that otherwise may not be served.Spurring investment in other rural areas, the White House said new grant and loan opportunities from the Department of Agriculture would be made available for community broadband projects.An estimated one in five American households don't have access to high-speed Internet, according to a White House report. The Federal Communications Commission defines high-speed Internet as connections able to transmit 25 MB per second or faster.For the hundreds of millions of Americans who have high-speed Internet but may be limited in choice, the announcement also has implications.The White House said Wednesday that the Obama administration will file a letter with the FCC calling for competition-stifling laws in 19 states to be overturned.Obama has been pushing cyber security and Internet policies this week ahead of his State of the Union address, which is expected to focus on the topics.

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Virginia Lawmaker Gets Re-Elected While Behind Bars

Virginia Lawmaker Gets Re-Elected While Behind Bars

iStock/Thinkstock(BARHAMSVILLE, Va.) -- A Virginia state lawmaker is serving time behind bars following an alleged tryst with his former receptionist when she was 17, but voters didn’t let that stop him from getting re-elected to the state legislature in a special election Tuesday.Joseph Morrissey, 57, a former Democrat who renounced his party and ran as an independent following the scandal, celebrated his victory from the unlikeliest of locations: Virginia's Henrico County Regional Jail East.When asked whether he would have ever imagined hearing the news from jail, Morrissey told a reporter for a videotaped interview, "No, no I wouldn't."Convicted in December on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Morrissey entered an “Alford plea” maintaining his innocence but acknowledging that the courts had enough evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. The move helped him avoid a possible felony conviction at trial.The victim, now 18, has publicly defended Morrissey, rejected prosecutors’ claims that the two had sex, and accused her family of manufacturing the scandal. Her nude photo was found on Morrissey’s cellphone.Morrissey previously announced he would resign from office effective Tuesday, the date of the special election that he just won.Now that he's been voted back into office, he plans to complete his duties on work release. He currently wears an ankle bracelet during the day and spends his nights behind bars.But unlike the voters, his colleagues aren’t exactly rallying around the disgraced lawmaker.Morrissey’s conviction “disqualifies him from serving,” Minority Leader David Toscano said in a statement. “For the good of the General Assembly and the Commonwealth, he should immediately resign, and we are actively exploring all available options, including removal, if he does not.”Asked about his colleagues’ intention to oust him, Morrissey told a reporter, “It’s like a wrestling match -- you wrestle one match at a time.”

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House Approves DHS Funding Bill, Acts to Block Obama’s Immigration Moves

House Approves DHS Funding Bill, Acts to Block Obama’s Immigration Moves

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the first major showdown of the new GOP congressional majority against the White House, the House voted 236-190 Wednesday to approve an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year, simultaneously acting to block President Obama’s executive actions regarding immigration reform. Moments earlier, lawmakers approved two controversial amendments to attach to the spending bill, including narrowly approving the Blackburn amendment to block funding for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that delays deportations of undocumented children. The House also approved another amendment, known as the Aderholt amendment, to block the president’s executive actions outlined in a memo last November.A Democratic alternative, touted by Democrats as a clean DHS spending bill, failed to achieve sufficient support  -- 184-244 -- to replace the GOP’s amended underlying legislation.The Senate could still strip out the amendments or add alternative provisions before sending the legislation back to the House. Funding runs out at the end of the day on Feb. 27.Democrats contended that by including the controversial amendments, House Republicans undermined DHS’ ability to protect Americans, even in the aftermath of several high-profile terrorist attacks around the globe.“The majority is playing politics with the safety of the American people,” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said during debate on the bill. “In the wake of Paris, we need to remain vigilant with policies that protect Americans.”Republicans argued, however, that any delay in signing the bill could jeopardize the country’s national security.“We do not take this action lightly, but simply there is no alternative,” House Speaker John Boehner said during a floor speech as he closed debate on the bill. “This is not a dispute between the parties, or even between the branches of our government. This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself.”DHS was the odd agency out when Congress approved the so-called “Cromnibus” last December, funding every other agency and teeing up a 2015 battle with the White House over the president’s executive actions regarding immigration reform.

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Obama Calls Ohio State Coach to Congratulate Team on Win

Obama Calls Ohio State Coach to Congratulate Team on WinTom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama called Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer Tuesday night to congratulate him and the Buckeyes on their big win this week.On Monday, Ohio State defeated Oregon 42-20 in the first-ever College Foot...

Capitol Hill Republicans Can’t Decide on a Romney Rerun

Capitol Hill Republicans Can’t Decide on a Romney Rerun

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There’s a lot of division on Capitol Hill, and Mitt Romney’s latest presidential tease is no exception.Some lawmakers are clamoring for a third Romney run while others are taking more of a wait-and-see approach. And there’s an additional twist with a few sitting senators considering 2016 bids of their own.Here’s a look at the emerging factions:THE DIE-HARD CAUCUSSure, Romney lost twice, but that little fact hasn’t stopped some from eagerly calling for another Romney presidential bid.Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told the Washington Post, he spoke with Romney over the past few days and said he would support the former Massachusetts governor if he officially declares his candidacy.“The country has buyer’s remorse and Mitt Romney has been proven right, particularly on foreign policy,” Chaffetz said.Chaffetz is so eager for a third Romney bid he’s already willing to take shots at one of Romney’s biggest would-be rivals -- former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.“Regardless of what Mitt Romney does, I don’t know how excited anybody could be with Jeb Bush’s candidacy,” Chaffetz told the Washington Post. “I want to win the White House and I don’t like the idea of another Bush-Clinton race. Been there, done that.”Another lawmaker who wouldn’t mind seeing Romney in the race -- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. In an interview just hours before the Romney's interest hit the news, Hatch pined for another run from the two-time Republican presidential candidate.“I'd like to see him run again, I'd like to see him very badly run again,” Hatch told ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny. “You won't find a better human being or more intelligent human being or more religious human being or more family-oriented human being or brighter person for the presidency than Mitt Romney. You just won't.”“I think if he did decide to run, this third time, he'd win,” he added.ONCE SUPPORTERS, NOW KEEPING THEIR OPTIONS OPEN CAUCUSBut some Romney supporters from years past aren’t so ready to jump on the Romney bandwagon just yet. Many key supporters welcomed another Romney campaign but said they’ll wait to see how the presidential field shakes out and whether Romney will actually run before backing a candidate.“Well, I’ll let him make that decision but there’ll be a lot of candidates who will be making announcements in the coming months,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday. “And it’s a very open process. May the best person win.”“I certainly have a lot of respect. I think he hasn't decided yet, so I look forward to talking to each of the candidates,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said. “Most importantly, I want them to talk to my constituents and have to answer the tough questions that they will ask them.”“We've got a lot of good candidates in the mix. He'd be another one. I think he'd be a great candidate and he's got a lot of support around the country,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said. “I think it'll be a spirited primary and I think we'll end up with a good candidate.”Over the past week, Romney has called many of his former supporters on Capitol Hill, including Portman, who said he thinks voters would consider another Romney candidacy despite his previous failed bids.“I think Ronald Reagan got a third look and won the presidency,” Portman noted. “People are going to want to know what his message is and that's what's really important.”Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who ran for president twice and successfully obtained the Republican Party’s nomination in 2008, praised Romney as a potential candidate, but also plugged a fellow lawmaker he’s prodding to run in 2016 -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.“I think that Mitt Romney is a person who's dedicated to serving the country. I think he is a fine and decent American. I think he has a reservoir of support, and I certainly respect any decision that he might make,” McCain said.“My illegitimate son Lindsey Graham is exploring that option,” McCain added. “I am strongly encouraging Senator Lindsey Graham particularly with the world the way it is today.”THE 2016 WANNABES CAUCUSThen there are those lawmakers who are eying 2016 runs of their own. When asked about a Romney campaign while on his book tour this week, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., politely called Romney a “formidable” candidate but noted there are plenty of options in the GOP field.“If he ran, he’d also be a very formidable candidate. He’s run twice before. Obviously he has another national network of donors that he can tap into, has experience running in these races,” Rubio said in an interview with Yahoo! News' Katie Couric. "The good news about the Republican Party is that we have so many people who could be very credible candidates and formidable candidates. The democrats apparently only have one.”Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the other hand, was a little more blunt in his response, saying a Romney candidacy is “mushy” and a recipe for a loss.“There are a lot of folks in Washington who argue that the way Republicans should win is that we should nominate a candidate from the mushy middle,” Cruz said in a FOX News interview. “But we keep trying the theory and it keeps not working. Every single time we do that -- whether it’s Gerald Ford, whether it’s Bob Dole, whether it’s John McCain or whether it’s Mitt Romney, the result over and over again is we lose.”

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Sen. Hatch: Obama’s ‘Pitiful Presidency’ Will Help GOP Win in 2016

Sen. Hatch: Obama’s ‘Pitiful Presidency’ Will Help GOP Win in 2016

ABC News/Yahoo! News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Orrin Hatch says he’s confident Republicans will win the White House in 2016. And for that, he says, the GOP has President Obama to thank.“I think President Obama will be one of the reasons,” Hatch said, when asked why he thinks the GOP will win the presidency. “I think the American people have come to the conclusion that all this liberal legislation and stuff really doesn't work.”Though Hatch, a Utah Republican, calls Obama a friend, he described his administration in less than friendly terms during an interview with ABC News/Yahoo! News.“I think it's been a pitiful presidency,” Hatch said. “And a lot of it's because he doesn't seem to recognize that there are three branches of government…and that the legislative branch is the most powerful branch, that if he works with it, they have to work with him. If he really leads, we have to work with him. But he hasn't.”Looking ahead to the next race for the presidency, Hatch said he’d like to see Mitt Romney make a third bid for the White House.“I'd like to see him very badly run again,” Hatch said. “I think if he did decide to run, this third time, he'd win.”While Romney has been telling Republican friends and donors that he is seriously weighing another presidential bid in 2016, Hatch also described another likely contender, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as an “outstanding man” with a “conservative record.”Still, Hatch said he believes Bush has another liability: his last name.“If he was Jeb Smith or Jeb Brown or whatever, that wouldn't even be a problem,” Hatch said. “I don't think he should be deprived of that opportunity because his name is Bush, nor do I think Hilary should be deprived because her husband was president and her name is Clinton.”In the new Congress, Hatch is the longest-serving Republican, which means he also now holds the Constitutional position of Senate president pro tempore. It makes Hatch third in line to the presidency behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.Hatch has also gained some new influence as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He said he would like to make some “long overdue” changes to the tax code, which he described as “the most miserable, wretched piece of crap I've ever seen in my life.”Though Hatch doesn’t expect to accomplish an overhaul of the tax code anytime soon, he does expect that the 114th Congress will be more effective than the last.It starts with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for a “responsible governing Republican majority.”“What he wants to do is call up a bill and then allow for a reasonable amount of amendments,” Hatch said. “We shouldn't be afraid of amendments, and we shouldn't be afraid of debating. And, over the last few years, we really haven't had a chance to debate. So, the real guts of the Senate were really torn down and displayed for all to see as a dysfunctional Senate."Though Hatch anticipates that there will still be tough debates and heated legislative battles ahead, he is hopeful that, “in the end, the adults will bring about…a compromise.”

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Romney Leads All Challengers in Iowa Poll

Romney Leads All Challengers in Iowa Poll

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — As rumors persist that Mitt Romney is moving closer to running for the White House again, a new poll of registered Republicans in Iowa puts the 2012 GOP presidential nominee comfortably ahead of other potential candidates.Iowa, of course, is where the primary season gets away with the first-in-the nation caucuses. Winning in the Hawkeye State obviously sets the campaign off on the right foot but is no guarantee of finishing on top once the national conventions roll around.The poll released by Gravis Marketing has Romney winning 21 percent of the vote, compared to 14 percent for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and ten percent supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.Other potential challengers finished under ten percent. In order, they are former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Texas Senator Ted Cruz; Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.Ryan, who was Romney’s running mate in 2012, announced just this week that he was not a candidate for the 2016 nomination.

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House GOP Ramping Up Efforts to Stop Obama’s Immigration Action

House GOP Ramping Up Efforts to Stop Obama’s Immigration Action

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans are taking another crack Wednesday at trying to overturn President Obama's executive action on immigration. The bill is poised to easily pass, but will almost certainly go nowhere in the Senate. While Republicans on both sides of the Capitol are eager to strike back at the administration's immigration move, there's a growing realization the fight is being played out on the wrong battlefield. Only weeks ago, Republicans insisted the best way to demonstrate their anger over the immigration action was through a debate on the $40 billion Homeland Security spending bill.

But that's increasingly fraught with peril, particularly in light of the new video released overnight from the al Qaeda branch in Yemen, which took credit for the Paris attack and made clear the terror threat to the West remains very real. Republican leaders concede there's no question the Department of Homeland Security will be fully funded, taking the steam out of the immigration fight.

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Obama Calls on Congress to Approve Funding for DHS

Obama Calls on Congress to Approve Funding for DHS

Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama urged Congress to approve funding for the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, citing last week's attacks in Paris as a cautionary tale."Last week's attack in Paris was a painful reminder that we have no greater duty than the security of the American people," the president said. "And our national security should never be subject to partisan political games."Funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to run out at the end of next month, an expiration date selected during December's funding debate to avoid a government shutdown. "Congress needs to fully fund out Department of Homeland Security without delay," Obama said, "so that the dedicated public servants working here can operate with the certainty and confidence they need to keep the American people safe."House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday morning that the issue was not funding the Department of Homeland Security, as that concept is one that members of Congress support. Instead, Boehner said, "we cannot continue to allow the president to go around Congress and go around the law and take unilateral action like he has."

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State Department: Capture of Ugandan Rebel Commander Is ‘Major Step Forward’

State Department: Capture of Ugandan Rebel Commander Is ‘Major Step Forward’

Pawel Gaul/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The surrender last week of a senior leader in the Lord's Resistance Army was "a major step forward toward securing the future of the LRA-affected areas of Central and Eastern Africa," U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Tuesday. Harf said that the individual, identified as Dominic Ongwen, will be transferred to the custody of the African Union's Regional Counter-LRA Task Force. Specifically, he'll be in the custody of the Ugandan People's Defense Force contingent of the AURTF, and then to the International Criminal Court. Harf said the transfer would occur "soon," but said she did not have more specific information regarding when the transfer would take place.Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Tuesday that work was still being done to confirm the identity of Ongwen, but that the U.S. has "high confidence" that the individual is Ongwen. "He is a senior leader in the Lord's Resistance Army in the custody of U.S. forces who are deployed to the Central African Republic, in support of the African Union's Counter-LRA Task Force," Warren explained.The State Department had previously issued a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer or conviction of Ongwen. Harf said that the State Department was "aware of reports that several individuals who've identified themselves as part of a Seleka [rebel] group may have been involved in this sequence of events." She deferred to the Department of Defense, however, on their involvement."For reasons of security and of confidentiality, we do not publicly disclose whether war crimes rewards program payments have or have not been made," Harf explained. Warren on Tuesday referred questions regarding the reward to the Department of State.

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