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Legislature Candidate Sought to Give Ukrainian People a ‘Voice in Michigan’

Legislature Candidate Sought to Give Ukrainian People a ‘Voice in Michigan’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — Primary election season has presented quite the spread of interesting, and flat-out peculiar, candidates, but none quite like this. Meet Taras Nykoriak, the unsuccessful candidate for the Michigan state Senate 2nd District seat who said he recently returned from the front lines of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.He raised eyebrows after releasing a campaign ad that features him standing in front of what appears to be a digital backdrop of a cathedral wearing priest-like clothing. He begins the ad saying, “Standing firm with the people of Ukraine – the only protection my breast plate of righteousness, my cross – I was at the front lines of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and I’m ready to stand with the same weapons to protect and defend my constituents in Detroit’s 2nd Senate District.”Nykoriak, who in an interview with ABC News said, “I call Putin ‘Osama Bin Putin,’” is one of the irregular, but not uncommon, perennial candidates who run for elected office every cycle. His efforts this time around failed to produce any better results than the previous attempts, as he finished last Tuesday in a Democratic primary against incumbent state Sen. Bert Johnson.In his interview, he went on to detail his travels to Ukraine. “I was there maybe four times since the Ukrainian crisis broke out. I was there during some of the riots, and then I came to the U.S. to prepare for the elections. I went back [to Ukraine] with 28 bulletproof vests for the soldiers and some face masks and that was the last time I was there. I went to the front lines near the Ukrainian-Russian border.”When asked why exactly he was running for the Michigan state senate seat, he said his primary goal would have been to advocate on behalf of Ukraine. “It would help to have a voice for the Ukrainian people in Michigan.”Nykoriak was not completely ignorant of other obligations he might have possibly had as a state senator. He cited another source of motivation as well. “The second reason is to help my constituents.”Although he finished dead last, he apparently persuaded some people to vote for him, receiving 721 votes, or 4 percent of the ballots.
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Are GOP Women Winning the War Against the War Against Women?

Are GOP Women Winning the War Against the War Against Women?

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Democrats say Republicans are fighting a war on women. Republicans say Democrats are fighting a war on the GOP.But in the war against the war against women, it’s conservative women’s voices that resonate. And when liberals attack conservatives for using women as tokens, they may undermine their own message, Republican strategists say.In the latest battle over “war on women” rhetoric, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader under fire for his alleged “anti-women agenda,” drafted his wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, to defend his record on women’s issues.“Have you ever noticed how some liberals feel entitled to speak on behalf of all women, as if every woman agrees with Barack Obama?” Chao says in an ad released Tuesday. “[Democratic challenger] Alison Lundergan Grimes’ gender-based attacks are desperate and false.…Alison, supporting the Obama agenda isn’t pro-woman, it’s anti-Kentucky.”The 30-second spot – a response to a Grimes ad questioning McConnell’s two votes against the Violence Against Women Act and other votes “against enforcing equal pay for women” – also attempts to clarify McConnell’s position.Not to be outdone, the Grimes camp issued a response later the same day:“Simply saying, ‘I’m married to a woman’ doesn’t speak loud enough. [Sen. McConnell's] actions and record over 30 years in Washington indicate where and how you will stand up for women,” they said in a statement.That’s where Grimes went wrong, Republican strategists say.The statement’s emphasis on Chao’s role as a wife could leave the former labor secretary – and, by extension, women in general – feeling “insulted,” Kentucky Federation of Republican Women President Carol Rogers says.Chao “is a very strong, accomplished women in her own right,” Rogers said in an interview with ABC News. “She needs to be insulted” by Grimes’ response.Chao’s political prowess could lend credence to McConnell’s avowed support for women’s issues.“Elaine Chao is not just Mitch McConnell’s wife; she’s a former cabinet secretary,” Katie Packer Gage, a Republican strategist with Burning Glass Consulting, said in an interview with ABC News.“I think that it is always a useful thing for a candidate’s spouse to speak up if they tell you something about the candidate, more than just, ‘He’s a nice guy,’” Gage continued. “In this case, Elaine Chao is someone who’s so accomplished in her own right that [her support] says something about Mitch McConnell. It says that he respects and admires and encourages a women who’s strong, who’s independent, who’s got a career.”Chao isn’t the first Republican woman to dispute the notion that women should vote Democrat by default.In her much-hyped spot, “Really?” Republican Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land mocks Democratic rhetoric.“Congressman Gary Peters and his buddies want you to believe I’m waging a war on women. Really?…As a woman, I might know a little more about women than Gary Peters,” she says.Around the country, Republican candidates – both men and women – are enlisting female supporters to prove that their policy positions appeal to women voters.Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor against abortion-rights superstar Wendy Davis, recently released an ad featuring “Claire,” a young anti-abortion woman who said she survived an attempted late-term abortion.“So often, politicians who do stand for abortion, they mean one choice, and they mean pro-abortion,” she says in the ad. “I’m so thankful for Greg Abbott and his stance on life.”
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Michelle Obama, Laura Bush Stress Need for Girls’ Education

Michelle Obama, Laura Bush Stress Need for Girls’ Education

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — First lady Michelle Obama joined former first lady Laura Bush on stage Wednesday to speak to the spouses of African leaders and other delegates at the U.S.-Africa Summit.Both women stressed the importance of education for girls and women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.”Sixty million girls today not in school, 30 million of those in sub-Saharan Africa. I want our young people across the globe to be talking about how do we fix that,” Obama said.The two also touched on the need to teach boys to not discriminate.”We do need to make sure worldwide, that all humans are valued. That women and men are valued, that girls and boys are valued,” Bush said.Bush’s speech with the current first lady was followed by her husband, George W. Bush, announcing an expansion of his institute’s Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative for cervical and breast cancer screenings in Africa.
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George W. Bush Announces Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Expansion

George W. Bush Announces Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Expansion

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Returning to Washington, D.C. to discuss one of the most widely supported parts of his legacy — health assistance for Africa — George W. Bush addressed a gathering of African first ladies in a small auditorium at the Kennedy Center Wednesday morning to announce an expansion of his institute’s Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative for cervical and breast cancer screenings in Africa.The program, which partners with the State Department and private funders, will begin operating in Namibia and Ethiopia, Bush announced.The program is operated in part under the umbrella of PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which Bush launched to fight AIDS in Africa. Politically, PEPFAR stands apart from Bush’s otherwise divisive presidential legacy, spoken of favorably by even his fiercest critics. Bush noted during his remarks that it spanned “bipartisan divisions and two administrations.” It continues under the Obama administration.”We started the battle against AIDS with a broad emergency response, and there…was no alternative,” Bush said.He called on the African first ladies in attendance to fight stigma surrounding cervical cancer and women’s health care generally, saying more needs to be done here in the U.S. to fight “false rumors” surrounding HPV vaccines domestically.
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Seven Signs 2016 Presidential Race Has Already Started

Seven Signs 2016 Presidential Race Has Already Started

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The year 2016 might seem pretty far off, but as politicians head home for August recess, a slew of possible presidential hopefuls are making a mad dash for everyone’s favorite vacation destination: Iowa.Here are seven signs the presidential race has already begun:
1. Destination IowaNormally, Iowa is only afforded the standard one governor and two senators, but for a window of time in August, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are all making a pilgrimage to the Hawkeye State. Though none of these prominent politicians has formally announced plans to run in 2016, touring around Iowa can never hurt one’s chances.2. Tractor Rides with a CandidateThough you might expect to find Rubio relaxing in Miami and mingling with constituents during his five-week vacation, he has actually kicked it off in the Midwest. Rubio showed up on Twitter Monday riding a tractor with none other than Republican Iowa Senate candidate Jodi Ernst.Ernst attracted national attention earlier this year after calling President Obama a dictator and floating the idea of his impeachment.Ernst also released a fairly controversial ad asserting that her experience castrating hogs gives her the know-how to cut pork in Washington.Cruz recently told the Des Moines Register, “I think Jodi is one of the most exciting Senate candidates in the whole country, and I’m eager to do anything I can to help her get elected.”3. Hoe-Down with a Big DonorCruz and Rubio both made the trek up to Iowa last weekend to attend the annual summer party of Iowa agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter. The two presumptive presidential hopefuls also spent time fundraising for Enrst while in the Hawkeye State.Cruz said the timing of his visits to Iowa have been “separate and incidental,” in relation to the recent immigration crisis at the border and last year’s government shutdown.4. Rand Paul Runs AwayPaul was campaigning with Republican Rep. Steve King in Iowa, and enjoying a summer barbeque, when two “DREAMers” confronted King about statements he made about undocumented children. Within 15 seconds of their arrival, Paul promptly abandoned his burger and fled the scene.Paul apparently had to leave for a media engagement, which he must have been very eager to get to because he was still chewing on his food as he abruptly left the table.Nothing says “I’m running for president” like dodging tough questions.5. Rand Paul AttacksPaul on Friday attacked Hillary Clinton on her wealth and how she handled the Benghazi, Libya, crisis as secretary of state. Paul referenced Clinton’s “dead broke” comments and asserted that she is “not fit to lead the country.”
While it is not uncommon for Republicans to attack Clinton, dragging her into the debate in Iowa certainly sets the stage for 2016.6. Campaigning Like It’s 2016Although the 2016 caucuses are more than a year away, the possible presidential hopefuls are certainly gearing up for the fight. With seven major Republicans making trips to Iowa throughout the month, it’s almost as if campaign season is in full swing.Perry will be participating in 11 events in Iowa, and Paul will attend 10. Joined by Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum and Rubio, the 2016 crew looks to be racking up as many visits to the state as possible, solidifying their support, as well as their funding.Perry, Santorum, Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal will also be speaking at the Family Leadership Summit starting Saturday in Ames, Iowa. The event is an opportunity for the possible candidates to appeal to social conservatives, along with head of the Family Leader and prominent social conservative Bob Vander Plaats.7. Getting on Their SoapboxThe Des Moines Register Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair gives candidates the opportunity to appeal to Iowa voters well before the state’s caucuses. So far, Perry and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have signed up to speak at the state fair.
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Can Sen. Tim Scott Fix GOP’s Diversity Problem?

Can Sen. Tim Scott Fix GOP’s Diversity Problem?

ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — As the lone Republican African-American in Congress, some have looked to Sen. Tim Scott as the GOP’s answer to attract black voters. But the South Carolina senator says his message for voters is colorblind. “I hope what I provide is an opportunity to have a serious conversation with voters everywhere — black voters, white voters, old voters, young voters, conservative voters, liberal voters,” Scott told ABC News during an interview in Charleston, South Carolina. The GOP has struggled to diversify its ranks and expand across demographic blocs. But Scott said there’s “an opportunity for us to continue to make progress.” “For me, it started on the local level and working my way through a system that reinforces the fact that I understand and appreciate my voters and their views,” Scott said of his own path to elected office. When it comes to recruiting a more diverse voting base, Scott said it’s a matter of reaching one voter at a time.
“We have to be intentional about our approach to reaching out to every single potential voter,” he said. Scott, who is up for election this year, was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012 to fill Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat following his early retirement — making Scott the first black Republican senator from the South since Reconstruction. And while Scott’s political philosophy is nearly polar opposite to President Obama’s, Scott said he was initially inspired by Obama’s election as the first black president. He recalled driving his grandfather to the polls in 2008 to vote. “That was a moving experience for me,” he said. “I’ve only seen him [my grandfather] cry two times: the first time was April 29, 2001, my grandmother passed away, and taking him to vote for President Obama. That’s a powerful picture that will always live with me.” But despite sharing in his grandfather’s hope for a time, Scott said, the feeling was short-lived.   “I shared in this hope that the president, President Obama, would just do well,” Scott said. “I didn’t agree with his position. I’m a fairly far-right conservative kind of guy, but I had great hope and optimism for his for his success. And it just has turned out very poorly from a policy standpoint.” As a self-described “far-right conservative,” Scott is opposed to gay marriage. When asked if he shares in the sentiment of some other Republicans, who have signaled that the movement toward legalization of gay marriage is inevitable despite their personal opposition, Scott demurred. “This is an issue I haven’t spent a lot of time studying, to be honest with you,” Scott said. “I think the voters of South Carolina, and I agree with them, spoke very loud and very clear.”Scott defended his opposition to gay marriage, saying it’s possible to disagree with the issue while still being tolerant of gay people.“Being tolerant today really means that you have to agree, or you’re a bigot. I don’t think that’s consistent with the true definition of being tolerant,” he said. “You have the right to do what you want to do, I have the right to do what I want do; and we can disagree on what that looks like, and you have to learn to do it without being disagreeable.”
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Hillary Clinton Name-Drops Like a Champ in Surprise “Colbert Report” Appearance

Hillary Clinton Name-Drops Like a Champ in Surprise “Colbert Report” Appearance

Kendra Helmer/USAID(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton knows lots of people.The former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate made a surprise appearance on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report Tuesday, discussing celebrity connections and her solutions for barnyard squabbles in a segment promoting her book, Hard Choices.Host Stephen Colbert introduced the segment by calling the book “656 pages of shameless name-dropping. How can one woman be in so many places at once?”With that, Clinton appeared on set. A name-drop challenge followed, with Clinton and Colbert playing a game of celebrity connection one-upmanship.”Name-dropper? That’s not what my good friend Tom Hanks calls me…when we’re hanging out at George Clooney’s place,” Colbert said.”Oh, I love George. I wish he could have joined us when I had lunch with Meryl Streep and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa,” Clinton responded.A flurry of names followed. Oprah…or “O,” to her close friends. Paul McCartney. Hamid Karzai. Steve Carell.”I will have you know, madam, I once did an entire show with president Bill Clinton,” Colbert said.”Oh! I hate to break this to you, but I’ve met him too,” Clinton said.Colbert also joked about the book’s title. What about the truly hard choices — such as, would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Clinton answered by relating the question to politics.”First, I’d try to find common ground between ducks and horses. For instance, they both grew up on old McDonald’s farm. Then, I’d establish a timetable to achieve meaningful horse-duck dialogue,” Clinton said. “And, Stephen, I’m convinced — with patience and a strong commitment from our allies, the pigs and the geese, we’d have peace-peace here, peace-peace there, here a peace, there a peace, everywhere a peace-peace.””E-I-E-I-Oh, you’re good,” Colbert said, as the crowd cheered.

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Sen. Pat Roberts Beats Back Primary Challenge from Obama Cousin

Sen. Pat Roberts Beats Back Primary Challenge from Obama Cousin

United States Senate(TOPEKA, Kan.) — Three-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts has defeated his Tea Party challenger, radiologist Dr. Milton Wolf, in the Kansas GOP Senate primary. It was still quite a tight outcome in Tuesday night’s marquee race, with Roberts besting Wolf by less than eight points. Roberts, 78, served in the House from 1981 to 1997 and has served in the Senate since then. Wolf is a second cousin of President Obama on his mother’s side, but is a fierce critic, making his opposition to both the president and the Affordable Care Act a hallmark of his unsuccessful campaign.This was one of the last opportunities for the Tea Party to topple an incumbent senator after several primaries and millions of dollars spent in unsuccessfully trying to take down long-serving senators in Kentucky, South Carolina and, most notably, Mississippi.Wolf, a first-time candidate, consistently hit Roberts for being a creature of Washington who had lost his ties to Kansas, and he got support from national Tea Party groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Express, and the Madison Project. But in the end it wasn’t enough to knock out the incumbent.University of Kansas professor of political science Burdett Loomis says Roberts has “already done a lot of changing,” and moving to the right, and “he’s returned a lot more to Kansas over the last few months.”In February, the New York Times revealed Roberts may own a home in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, but not in his home state. He’s continued to make similar residency gaffes on the stump, but none were enough to topple him.“The Wolf challenge was kind of a wake-up call,” Loomis said. “At the same time he’s 78 year old and he probably won’t seek election again.…I think Roberts has done all right, the conventional wisdom hasn’t been great, he’s made some stumbles. I think a stronger candidate could have done better, there may have been some people in Kansas who regret not running, but he was truly preventative and prevented a stronger candidate from getting in the race earlier on.”In 2012, six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar lost in his primary where residency issues also took center stage, and while Loomis said the races were “very similar,” Lugar had a “far stronger opponent” and he didn’t move to the right as “Roberts has over the last several years.”“I think the residency and age were problems without any question, but Wolf wasn’t nearly as strong and whatever steam he may have had was lost with the Facebook (scandal)…he never passed the test of being a truly credible candidate,” Loomis said.He’s referring to the Wolf controversy that was also revealed in February when it was uncovered that in 2010, the radiologist posted X-rays of grisly images of fatal injuries to Facebook and cracked jokes about them.In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Wolf apologized if he had “offended anyone” with the gruesome images.“We’re talking about something years ago that was actually removed years ago,” Wolf said. “One of the realities of this is that on the campaign trail, I’ve had so many people come up to me — other healthcare providers, first responders, police officers, folks in the military. People get that we have to joke about some of these things or it will drive us crazy.”Roberts immediately jumped on the scandal by running statewide television ads highlighting the issue, as well as a state medical board investigation into Wolf’s behavior, something that may have helped in the end.Loomis said tighter-than-expected results between the two could signal to the Democrat in the race, District Attorney of Shawnee County Chad Taylor, that he could have more of a shot, even though a  Democrat hasn’t held a U.S. Senate seat since 1932 in this bright red state.“A lot of Democrats may be looking at this more closely,” Loomis said. “They may at least think Sen. Roberts has been wounded enough a general election challenger would be in order.”The Tea Party has their last opportunity to get a Senate victory later this week when incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander takes on Tea Partier state Sen. Joe Carr in their primary Thursday.
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Incumbent Congressman and Former Santa Claus Impersonator Loses GOP Primary

Incumbent Congressman and Former Santa Claus Impersonator Loses GOP Primary

United States Congress(DETROIT) — GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio became the third incumbent to fall this cycle, losing his primary for Michigan’s 11th district to foreclosure attorney David Trott. Bentivolio – a former reindeer farmer and Santa Claus impersonator – was somewhat of the “accidental congressman” and far from your traditional incumbent.He was propelled into Congress in 2012 after former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was disqualified for having forged signatures on his campaign petition and ultimately resigned his seat. Bentivolio, who had widely been considered a long shot to win the Republican primary, was the other option.The other two incumbents to fall this cycle were 91-year-old Ralph Hall of Texas, the oldest member of Congress, and the shocker, former majority leader Eric Cantor.Despite Bentivolio’s incumbency, Trott was always a serious opponent. A multimillionaire known as the “foreclosure king” in this suburban Detroit district, he led the conservative Bentivolio both in polling and fundraising and he tried to tack to the political center. He also advertised far more heavily and had establishment backing including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Michigan native Mitt Romney, who came to the district to campaign with him.Michael Traugott, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, called Bentivolio’s initial win just a matter of “stars colliding” and more a “fluke” than anything else, citing Bentivolio’s “unorthodox behavior,” as well as his background.Traugott notes this specific race “does not have any enduring implication about the power of incumbency.”“The party went out with some deliberate action to find someone to run against him in the primary that they think would be a more stable and potential long0term holder of the seat,” Traugott said, adding Republicans are afraid that in a general election a Democrat could pose a serious general election threat “despite the overwhelming advantage with party I.D. in the district.”“They want to control the district in a more reliable fashion,” Traugott said.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein: CIA Torture Report Not Ready for Release

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: CIA Torture Report Not Ready for Release

United States SenateWASHINGTON) — A Senate investigation into CIA interrogation practices after 9/11 will not yet be released to the public due to CIA redactions, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein announced Tuesday. There are so many omitted details in the report that very little makes sense, according to the senator. “The bottom line is that the United States must never again make the mistakes documented in this report,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I believe the best way to accomplish that is to make public our thorough documentary history of the CIA’s program. That is why I believe taking our time and getting it right is so important, and I will not rush this process.”Feinstein added that she is sending a letter to President Obama outlining the changes she believes must be made. Chairman Carl Levin of Senate Armed Services also complained that some of the redactions were information made public in 2009. “The White House needs to take hold of this process and ensure that all information that should be declassified is declassified,” Levin said in a statement.However, on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the redactions, saying that “more than 85 percent of the report was un-redacted, and half of the redactions that occurred were actually just in the footnotes.”
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Obama: US ‘Determined To Be a Partner in Africa’s Success’

Obama: US ‘Determined To Be a Partner in Africa’s Success’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama announced $14 billion in U.S. commitments to invest in Africa on Tuesday, continuing a three-day African Summit in Washington, D.C. to bring together business leaders and politicians. “As president, I’ve made it clear that the United States is determined to be a partner in Africa’s success,” Obama said. “A good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term.” The commitment from U.S. companies is expected to go toward building Africa’s power grid, communications industry, and the banking sector. The president called on Republicans to aid in the initiative. “I would be remiss if I did not add that House Republicans can help by reauthorizing the export-import bank,” Obama added. “That is the right thing to do.” Summit attendees included former President Bill Clinton, who spoke on the health crisis overseas. “Our thoughts are with the leaders of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, who could not be here today because they have to stay home to deal with the Ebola outbreak and we wish them well,” Clinton said.
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White House: Afghan Attack a ‘Painful Reminder’ of Soldiers’ Sacrifices

White House: Afghan Attack a ‘Painful Reminder’ of Soldiers’ Sacrifices

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has been briefed on the attack in Afghanistan that left an American general dead and 15 other soldiers wounded, press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House Tuesday.The attack at Camp Qargha, a military academy 11 miles west of Kabul, involved a gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opening fire on Americans and other Afghans. The Taliban has since claimed responsibility for the attack.“While we have made tremendous progress in disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda operations and leadership in Afghanistan and progress in winding down U.S. involvement in that conflict, this shooting is of course a painful reminder of the service and sacrifice that our men and women in uniform make every day for this country,” Earnest said.“The thoughts and prayers of those of us here at the White House are with the family of the general, are with the soldiers and the family of those who were injured in this attack,” he added.A U.S. official described the shooting victim as a two star major general, the highest ranking official to be killed in the Afghanistan war. Eight of the 15 wounded are also said to be Americans.Earnest noted there has been a recent decline in the casualty rate of American personnel in Afghanistan, but stressed that Tuesday’s incident serves as a reminder that U.S. servicemen and women are “facing significant risks to protect our country and to protect American citizens all around the globe.”
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The Clintons’ Summer Vacation Does Not Sound Relaxing at All

The Clintons’ Summer Vacation Does Not Sound Relaxing at All

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — For many Americans, summer is the season of backyard barbecues, bonfires at the beach and unforgettable family vacations. But for the Clintons, never ones to be ordinary, this summer has been anything but.Since the release of her memoir, Hard Choices, in early June, Hillary Clinton has been on an epic nationwide book tour and press blitz. Over the past 58 days, she has made more than 77 appearances, including book signings, speaking engagements and media interviews, across roughly 15 states and four foreign countries.Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has also kept his own rigorously packed schedule, which has included trips on behalf of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation to Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia.This past weekend, the Clintons took off to vacation in Amagansett, New York, a beach town on Long Island — meaning perhaps that the soon-to-be grandparents, and possibly the next couple to call the White House their home, would finally be carving out time to relax, unplug, put an end to the book tour and retreat back into life as private citizens.But not even 48 hours into their vacation, Bill Clinton trotted off to Washington, D.C., to moderate the opening session Tuesday of a business forum at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Obama.On Wednesday, the former president will head to Kentucky for not one, but two, campaign events for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.Meanwhile, back on Long Island, Hillary Clinton has scheduled her own public appearance for the same day: a book signing for her memoir in Huntington, New York.In addition, both the Clintons are expected to attend a fundraiser Saturday evening for the Clinton Foundation at the sprawling home of New York philanthropists Joan and George Hornig. Tickets for the event, according to the New York Times, cost tens of thousands of dollars each.Next weekend, Hillary Clinton has scheduled two more book signing events: one in East Hampton and the other at a bookstore in Martha’s Vineyard. While there, the former secretary of state will overlap with the Obamas, who will be vacationing in the Vineyard at the same time. It is unclear however, whether they have any plans to meet up.Later in the month, Hillary Clinton has a keynote speech scheduled for a tech company in San Francisco, the annual Clinton Foundation meeting in New York in September, and through the fall, both Clintons will likely campaign for midterm candidates before their daughter gives birth to their first grandchild.
After that, Hillary Clinton may decide to run for president.
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Could Obama’s Conservative Cousin Actually Win in Kansas?

Could Obama’s Conservative Cousin Actually Win in Kansas?

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Dr. Milton Wolf wants to be the tea party’s next success story.Wolf, who is President Obama’s second cousin, is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in the Kansas GOP Senate primary — the latest intraparty Republican skirmish of the election cycle.To take down Roberts, Wolf hopes to capitalize on the same vein of anti-incumbent sentiment that led to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss. Both candidates have faced controversy.For Roberts, the three-term senator who has worked in Washington for more than 40 years, it was the revelation first reported by the New York Times that he doesn’t keep a house in his home state, and instead stays with donors and lists their home as his voting address.Wolf is currently under investigation by a state medical board after the Topeka Capital-Journal reported he had posted a number of gruesome X-ray images of traumatic injuries to Facebook, and joked about them with friends. (The Capital-Journal also broke the story of the investigation.)ABC News recently spoke to Wolf ahead of his primary about the race, his family and why there should be more doctors in Congress. The following is a Q&A, edited for brevity:Q: You’re related to the president.I didn’t know that Barack Obama and I were related until 2008. Then-Senator Obama had described in some news account his great uncle Charlie Payne, who had served in World War II. My mother was reading the article in shock, because he was describing her Uncle Charlie!She and Stanley Ann [Dunham, Obama’s mother] grew up together in Wichita as young girls, but they had lost touch. My mom knew that she had a son, and she kind of put two-and-two together. So they met on a few occasions.He invited me and my family to meet in 2010 [In Kansas City, Missouri]. There was both family and political talk, but I’ll keep that in confidence. By this point he’s already the president and I’m already his fiercest critic. They call me the arch nemesis of Obamacare!Q: You needed training and experience to serve as a doctor. Why is experience a problem when it comes to politics?I’ve heard the argument that Pat Roberts’s seniority is desired, but in reality he’s been in Washington for 47 years. He’s had seniority for a quarter of a century! What do we have to show for it? When will this investment in Roberts start paying off?I agree with what Dr. Ben Carson said: We need more doctors and engineers in Congress than lawyers and politicians. Doctors and engineers are problem solvers by trade, and politicians and lawyers win arguments for a living.Look at the difference between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Pat Roberts. Ted Cruz understands something that Pat Roberts never quite figured out: A senator should have something far more powerful than a vote. He should have a voice, and he should use it fearlessly.Q: Isn’t Sen. Cruz is a lawyer?He is, but he understands communication. And he’s reaching out to people, and he’s enlisting them in a movement. Politicians tend to be scared of voters just as soon as they see the whites of their eyes, especially when they see the pitchforks in their hands. But we need to reach out to people and communicate conservatism and explain why it’s not just effective but compassionate.Q: Sen. Roberts has attacked you for uploading grisly X-ray images to Facebook of injuries and joking about them with friends. Should voters judge you over the episode?The reality is that Pat Roberts is not being honest in his allegations. He accuses me of releasing private patient information, but quite frankly he’s lying. We’re talking about anonymous X-rays. If there was an X-ray of you, you would not be able to recognize that it’s you, and there’s a good chance you probably wouldn’t know what body part it is.Q: Does that make them acceptable?If any of the commentary I had offended anyone, then I apologize. We’re talking about something years ago that was actually removed years ago, I apologize to anyone I’ve offended. If you have never said anything that you wish you could take back, you may not understand how I feel.One of the realities of this is that on the campaign trail, I’ve had so many people come up to me–other healthcare providers, first responders, police officers, folks in the military. People get that we have to joke about some of these things or it will drive us crazyQ: Is that an appropriate way to relieve stress?Those of us who deal with tragedy have to find ways to cope with it, and I’ve seen people cope with it in destructive ways, I’ve seen people led to vice, I’ve seen it tear apart marriages, I’ve seen people get burned out and walk away from the profession. If the humor I used to try and cope with it offended anyone, I apologize. My mistakes are my own, I’ll own my mistakes. If I said anything that offended anyone, I beg them for their forgiveness.But people who don’t have those roles in society are coming up to us from the very first time the story broke. We could count at every event we’d have somebody come up, there’d always be at least these two: a younger person that would come up and say, ‘I’ve never heard of you before until the advertisements, and I want to see you for myself.’ The other is typically an older person that would say, ‘I cannot believe he is running those advertisements against you.’Q: So this has helped you?I think it has. It’s hard to show how it has hurt me, other than people from afar who think it has been a bigger issue from Kansas voters than it has.Q: You recently ambushed Sen. Roberts on the campaign trail and challenged him to a debate. How did you know where he was?We were on our bus tour, and he’d show up in a few towns where we had stopped. He kept claiming he didn’t have time to debate because he was so busy, yet there he was. He had put out an invitation to meet at a local business.He particularly wanted to talk with business owners about healthcare and tax policy, and guess what? I’m a small business owner, and I wanted to talk with him about health care and tax policy, and why he put Kathleen Sebelius in charge of Obamacare. But most importantly, I wanted him to be a man of his word, because he promised he would debate me. But if he can’t stand up to me, how can he stand up to Barack Obama and Harry Reid?Q: Should Mississippi Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, a fellow tea partier, concede defeat to Sen. Thad Cochran? [McDaniel recently filed a legal challenge to the results of the primary, claiming that many votes for Cochran were invalid.]Let’s be clear on what happened in Mississippi. It was an outright betrayal by the Republican establishment. If there’s fraud in an election, it ought to be uncovered and remedied. And if we have an elected that invalid based on illegal voters, I believe they ought to hold that election again, and throw out the results of the fraudulent election.Q: We know where you’ll be if you win your race. But what if you lose? Will you consider running for office again?I believe I’m going to run for office one more time, and that is for reelection in six years. I’d rather practice medicine than politics. I’m not running this race for any other reason than to win it. My mission is to save the Republican Party and save the republic. And I believe I’m going to win. We need to reclaim our Congress for the citizens.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Could Obama’s Conservative Cousin Actually Win in Kansas?

Could Obama’s Conservative Cousin Actually Win in Kansas?

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Dr. Milton Wolf wants to be the tea party’s next success story.Wolf, who is President Obama’s second cousin, is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in the Kansas GOP Senate primary — the latest intraparty Republican skirmish of the election cycle.To take down Roberts, Wolf hopes to capitalize on the same vein of anti-incumbent sentiment that led to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss. Both candidates have faced controversy.For Roberts, the three-term senator who has worked in Washington for more than 40 years, it was the revelation first reported by the New York Times that he doesn’t keep a house in his home state, and instead stays with donors and lists their home as his voting address.Wolf is currently under investigation by a state medical board after the Topeka Capital-Journal reported he had posted a number of gruesome X-ray images of traumatic injuries to Facebook, and joked about them with friends. (The Capital-Journal also broke the story of the investigation.)ABC News recently spoke to Wolf ahead of his primary about the race, his family and why there should be more doctors in Congress. The following is a Q&A, edited for brevity:Q: You’re related to the president.I didn’t know that Barack Obama and I were related until 2008. Then-Senator Obama had described in some news account his great uncle Charlie Payne, who had served in World War II. My mother was reading the article in shock, because he was describing her Uncle Charlie!She and Stanley Ann [Dunham, Obama’s mother] grew up together in Wichita as young girls, but they had lost touch. My mom knew that she had a son, and she kind of put two-and-two together. So they met on a few occasions.He invited me and my family to meet in 2010 [In Kansas City, Missouri]. There was both family and political talk, but I’ll keep that in confidence. By this point he’s already the president and I’m already his fiercest critic. They call me the arch nemesis of Obamacare!Q: You needed training and experience to serve as a doctor. Why is experience a problem when it comes to politics?I’ve heard the argument that Pat Roberts’s seniority is desired, but in reality he’s been in Washington for 47 years. He’s had seniority for a quarter of a century! What do we have to show for it? When will this investment in Roberts start paying off?I agree with what Dr. Ben Carson said: We need more doctors and engineers in Congress than lawyers and politicians. Doctors and engineers are problem solvers by trade, and politicians and lawyers win arguments for a living.Look at the difference between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Pat Roberts. Ted Cruz understands something that Pat Roberts never quite figured out: A senator should have something far more powerful than a vote. He should have a voice, and he should use it fearlessly.Q: Isn’t Sen. Cruz is a lawyer?He is, but he understands communication. And he’s reaching out to people, and he’s enlisting them in a movement. Politicians tend to be scared of voters just as soon as they see the whites of their eyes, especially when they see the pitchforks in their hands. But we need to reach out to people and communicate conservatism and explain why it’s not just effective but compassionate.Q: Sen. Roberts has attacked you for uploading grisly X-ray images to Facebook of injuries and joking about them with friends. Should voters judge you over the episode?The reality is that Pat Roberts is not being honest in his allegations. He accuses me of releasing private patient information, but quite frankly he’s lying. We’re talking about anonymous X-rays. If there was an X-ray of you, you would not be able to recognize that it’s you, and there’s a good chance you probably wouldn’t know what body part it is.Q: Does that make them acceptable?If any of the commentary I had offended anyone, then I apologize. We’re talking about something years ago that was actually removed years ago, I apologize to anyone I’ve offended. If you have never said anything that you wish you could take back, you may not understand how I feel.One of the realities of this is that on the campaign trail, I’ve had so many people come up to me–other healthcare providers, first responders, police officers, folks in the military. People get that we have to joke about some of these things or it will drive us crazyQ: Is that an appropriate way to relieve stress?Those of us who deal with tragedy have to find ways to cope with it, and I’ve seen people cope with it in destructive ways, I’ve seen people led to vice, I’ve seen it tear apart marriages, I’ve seen people get burned out and walk away from the profession. If the humor I used to try and cope with it offended anyone, I apologize. My mistakes are my own, I’ll own my mistakes. If I said anything that offended anyone, I beg them for their forgiveness.But people who don’t have those roles in society are coming up to us from the very first time the story broke. We could count at every event we’d have somebody come up, there’d always be at least these two: a younger person that would come up and say, ‘I’ve never heard of you before until the advertisements, and I want to see you for myself.’ The other is typically an older person that would say, ‘I cannot believe he is running those advertisements against you.’Q: So this has helped you?I think it has. It’s hard to show how it has hurt me, other than people from afar who think it has been a bigger issue from Kansas voters than it has.Q: You recently ambushed Sen. Roberts on the campaign trail and challenged him to a debate. How did you know where he was?We were on our bus tour, and he’d show up in a few towns where we had stopped. He kept claiming he didn’t have time to debate because he was so busy, yet there he was. He had put out an invitation to meet at a local business.He particularly wanted to talk with business owners about healthcare and tax policy, and guess what? I’m a small business owner, and I wanted to talk with him about health care and tax policy, and why he put Kathleen Sebelius in charge of Obamacare. But most importantly, I wanted him to be a man of his word, because he promised he would debate me. But if he can’t stand up to me, how can he stand up to Barack Obama and Harry Reid?Q: Should Mississippi Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, a fellow tea partier, concede defeat to Sen. Thad Cochran? [McDaniel recently filed a legal challenge to the results of the primary, claiming that many votes for Cochran were invalid.]Let’s be clear on what happened in Mississippi. It was an outright betrayal by the Republican establishment. If there’s fraud in an election, it ought to be uncovered and remedied. And if we have an elected that invalid based on illegal voters, I believe they ought to hold that election again, and throw out the results of the fraudulent election.Q: We know where you’ll be if you win your race. But what if you lose? Will you consider running for office again?I believe I’m going to run for office one more time, and that is for reelection in six years. I’d rather practice medicine than politics. I’m not running this race for any other reason than to win it. My mission is to save the Republican Party and save the republic. And I believe I’m going to win. We need to reclaim our Congress for the citizens.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

White House Chef Gives Sneak Peak at Menu for Tuesday Night’s State Dinner

White House Chef Gives Sneak Peak at Menu for Tuesday Night’s State Dinner

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party for an astounding 400 people. Now, imagine they all have vastly different tastes, dietary restrictions and cultural traditions. Preparing a meal that will wow them all is the daunting task facing White House Chef Cris Comerford.“When we got the word from the State Department that we were hosting 50 different nations, we did quite intensive research about what the African nations would like in terms of their flavors,” Comerford told ABC News, “because you still want to please your customers even though we’re hosting and this is the United States and we want to do traditional American foods, we also want to incorporate nuances of different flavors and spices from Africa.”The honored guests at Tuesday night’s White House gala for African leaders will be treated to a scrumptious meal three months in the making.Comerford set out to find “different things that we know would give that menu a little twist,” and decided on American dishes seasoned with African flavors like Madagascar vanilla and saffron.The mouthwatering menu includes:

Chilled tomato soup flavored with toasted cumin, sumac and a touch of cinnamon, garnished with a chickpea fritter
Chopped salad with “that little feel of African flavor”
Wagyu beef from a Texas cattle ranch marinated in chermoula, with paprika, olive oil and garlic

“We’re just adding hints, but not overpowering it,” Comerford said of her African touches. “We want to give them that feel that this is what American cooking is all about.”That quintessential American feel will be created with the help of vegetables picked from the White House kitchen garden, including 30 pounds of green beans.Now Comerford and her team of dozens of chefs are busy chopping, marinating and braising as they head into the final stretch.“With the 400 guests, it does not take a day to prepare. Imagine at home you’re preparing for 20 people, it would probably take you a whole week to get it done,” she pointed out.“Three days before the event, we start doing little things that will hold better, things that we can freeze, like some wonderful corn bread that we are incorporating into the menu. And then on the day before the event and the day of, the vegetables and the meat will be seared,” she explains. “We want to hold off as much as we can toward the day of the event itself…everything will be cooked on the day of the dinner.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

The Primary Primer: A Marquee Match-Up Featuring an Obama Cousin

The Primary Primer: A Marquee Match-Up Featuring an Obama Cousin

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — We have three days of primaries this week with six states voting, but today we’ll be watching Kansas, Missouri, Washington, and Michigan. There’s a marquee match-up in Kansas that’s another GOP establishment vs. tea party brawl, and this week marks the last two possibilities the tea party could knock off an incumbent senator. They’ve had some victories including knocking off Eric Cantor, but they’ve poured loads of money into trying to topple an incumbent senator and have completely struck out in places like Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina. This week will mark their last two opportunities, the first being this evening in Kansas and it even feature’s a relative of the president’s.WHO’S ON THE BALLOT?Three-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts is facing off against tea partier Dr. Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Obama in Kansas. As mentioned above this is the race to watch today, but it’s not the only one with a famous Democratic family trying to continue their legacy, a former reindeer farmer who may get toppled, and even some party switchers.Here are seven races to watch Tuesday night: KANSAS’ MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  Sen. Pat Roberts is another incumbent fighting the tea party insurgency as his opponent, radiologist Milton Wolf, comes in swinging from the right in Kansas’ Senate GOP primary. Wolf–who has never before run for public office and is related to the president on his mother’s side–has been playing into the anti-Washington sentiment across the country and attacking Roberts for being in Washington for far too long.  WHY IT MATTERS? Roberts, 78, served in the House from 1981 to 1997 and has served in the U.S. Senate since then. Both candidates have made serious mistakes and in Wolf’s case this may have prevented him from gaining the steam other challengers have. In February it was uncovered that in 2010, the radiologist posted X-rays of grisly imagesof fatal injuries to Facebook and cracked jokes about them. Even with that mishap, Wolf has still been able to receive support from groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Express, and the Madison Project. Roberts immediately jumped on the scandal by running statewide television ads highlighting the issue, as well as a state medical board investigation into Wolf’s behavior.  Also in February, Roberts was faced with his own controversy, when the New York Times reported he owned a home in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, but not in Kansas. Wolf has become a larger threat than Roberts and his campaign initially believed, but polls show it’s still likely the incumbent comes out victorious tonight, despite making other flubs about his residency throughout the campaign. If there is a surprise, polls show the Democrat in the race, District Attorney of Shawnee County Chad Taylor, could have a chance against Wolf in this red state.A COMEBACK EFFORT IN KOCH TERRITORY: Incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo faces former Congressman Todd Tiahrt, who represented the district from 1995 to 2011, in the face off for the GOP primary for Kansas’ fourth district. Tiahrt retired from his seat in 2010 in an unsuccessful bid for Senate, when he lost to current Sen. Jerry Moran, and now he’s trying to make a comeback. WHY IT MATTERS? This district includes Wichita where Koch Industries is based and the billionaire conservative brothers have run radio and television ads through their group Americans for Prosperity backing Pompeo over Tiahrt. They’ve hit Tiahrt over earmarks and wasteful spending.  In an effort to carve out a lane of his own, Tiahrt has accused Pompeo of rewarding campaign donors like agricultural businesses with legislation that would prevent states from requiring labels for genetically modified foods.  Pompeo’s campaign  has said that he introduced the legislation to help Kansas farmers, who use bio-engineered ingredients in certain foods to ward off pests and insects.IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR: After 80 years and two Dingells serving, Michigan’s twelfth district has the opportunity to send one more to Congress. Dingell Sr. served in the House of Representatives from 1933 until his death in 1955. John Dingell Jr., the longest-serving member of Congress in history has served since 1955, and now Debbie Dingell, his wife, hopes to carry on the legacy and is widely favored to win. WHY IT MATTERS? Dingell who is in his 59th year representing Michigan announced his retirement in February, saying he was fed up over partisan gridlock. Debbie Dingell, former president of the GM Foundation, will face Raymond Mullins in the Democratic primary, former president of the Ypsilanti-Willow Run NAACP. Dingell not only carries the upper hand in name recognition, but also in fundraising, swamping her rival. Mullins has criticized his opponent, saying she is just running on her famous last name, but she has said she is her own person, telling the Ann Arbor News, “I could never fill John Dingell’s shoes…I’m not going to try to fill John Dingell’s shoes. And I’m not John Dingell. I’m Debbie Dingell.” It’s likely the victor will be the winner in November.
TRYING TO TOPPLE A TEA PARTY DARLING: Incumbent GOP Rep. Justin Amash is facing a fellow Republican challenger with equal fundraising prowess and an endorsement from the U.S. and Michigan Chambers of Commerce, as well as other GOP establishment support, but it still looks like Amash will come out victorious in the GOP primary for Michigan’s third district. Grand Rapids businessman Brian Ellis is looking to unseat Amash and has attacked his voting record in the House as not being in line with the citizens he represents. WHY IT MATTERS? Establishment Republicans are looking to Ellis to unseat a congressman who they feel does not always align with the party, but taking down Amash is no easy feat. He has the backing of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity as well as the Club for Growth, and the tea party group FreedomWorks. The most eye-popping moment of the campaign was an ad Ellis ran characterizing Amash as “Al Qaeda’s best friend,” quoting Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, who made the comment in an interview with Politico in May.  Polls show Amash with a wide lead so it’s likely despite the establishment effort, Amash will hang on to irritate them.  Voters in this Western Michigan district consistently vote Republican, so the winner of this race is likely be the November victor as well.THE ACCIDENTAL CONGRESSMAN: Incumbent GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio was propelled into the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 after former Rep.  Thaddeus McCotter was disqualified for having forged signatures on his campaign petition and ultimately resigned his seat. Bentivolio, who had widely been considered a longshot to win the Republican primary, was the only other option on the ticket until a short time before the election when a state senator waged an unsuccessful write-in campaign. Bentivolio, a former reindeer farmer and Santa Claus impersonator, ultimately won the primary which, in the conservative district led to victory in the general election as well, landing him a seat in Congress. But, now Bentivolio has a serious opponent in foreclosure attorney David Trott in the GOP primary for Michigan’s eleventh district. WHY IT MATTERS?  Trott, a multimillionaire known as the “foreclosure king,” has been leading Bentivolio in polling and has both outspent and  advertised far more heavily. Trott has establishment backing, earning the support of  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Michigan native Mitt Romney.THE OTHERS:DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR MISSOURI’S FIFTH DISTRICT: Five of Missouri’s eight members of Congress have primary challengers, but their opponents all have less campaign cash and name identification. This race is the most notable, not because Democratic incumbent Rep. Emanuel Cleaver necessarily faces any huge threat today in this Kansas City district, but because he has four challengers, including two who previously ran as Republicans in 2012, Mark Memoly and Bob Gough. Memoly ran in the 2012 GOP primary for U.S. Senate, losing against the much-talked-about Todd Akin. Gough ran for the GOP nomination for the sixth district, also losing. Gough is running against the Affordable Care Act, as is Eric Holmes, a first time politician. Charles Lindsey has the lowest visibility in the race, but ran for the same seat in 2000.WASHINGTON STATE’S FOURTH DISTRICT: Twelve candidates are gunning to replace Republican Rep. Doc Hastings, who is retiring after nearly 20 years in Congress. The crowded 12-candidate field of contenders includes eight Republicans, two Democrats, and two independents. Washington State, like California, uses a “jungle” primary system which means the top two candidates receiving the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, will make it on to the general election ballot in November. Four of the Republicans running, former NFL tight-end Clint Didier, state Sen. Janéa Holmquist, former state Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse, and healthcare attorney George Cicotte seem to be the most serious contenders. Democratic candidate and former congressional staffer Estakio Beltran, who landed a spot on our 2014 Campaign Ad Hall of Fame, is hoping to make it to the top of the heap, but he’s also handy with a shotgun.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

POLL: Record Number of Americans Disapprove Their Congressional Member

POLL: Record Number of Americans Disapprove Their Congressional Member

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three months before the midterm elections a record number of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of their own representative in Congress — a potentially chilling signal for incumbents that marks the depths of the public’s political discontent.Insult, moreover, follows injury: Both political parties, for their part, are near their all-time lows in popularity.
[See PDF with full results and charts here.]
Just 41 percent in this national survey approve of the way their own representative in the U.S. House is handling his or her job, the lowest in ABC/Post polls dating back a quarter century, to May 1989. Fifty-one percent disapprove — more than half for the first time.The result, extending a drop from last October, turns on its head the old chestnut that Americans hate Congress but love their Congress member. It also recalls an ABC/Post poll result in April, in which just 22 percent said they were inclined to re-elect their representative, a low also dating back to 1989. Were it not for gerrymandering, these are the kind of results that could portend a serious shakeup come Nov. 4.The actual impact remains to be seen, given both the few competitive House districts and the low esteem in which both parties are held.PARTY TIME – The grimmest score is the GOP’s: A mere 35 percent express a favorable impression of the Republican Party, a number that’s been lower just twice in polls since 1984 — 32 percent last October, just after the partial government shutdown in a Washington budget dispute; and 31 percent in December 1998, immediately after the impeachment of Bill Clinton.The Democratic Party is seen favorably by more Americans, 49 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. But that, similarly, is one of the party’s lowest popularity ratings on record in 30 years.The Democrats’ 14-point advantage in favorability may look like an edge in the midterms, and indeed it may make them less vulnerable than they’d be otherwise. But other elements factor into election math, including turnout, which customarily favors the Republicans; the number of open Senate seats each party has to defend, higher this year for the Democrats; competitive House seats, which as noted are few; the quality of individual candidates; and the presence or absence of an overarching theme that can galvanize voters in one party’s favor, which has yet to emerge.What it does mean, undoubtedly, is that the public is in an extended political snit.A confluence of factors likely is at play. One is the still-slow growth in jobs and wages that’s marked the nation’s tortuous emergence from the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression; another is the public’s evident frustration with the political process (or lack thereof) in Washington.Yet the partisanship that divides Washington is evident in public sentiment itself: Each side overwhelmingly likes its party and dislikes the other.Specifically, 85 percent of Democrats see the Democratic Party favorably; exactly as many see the Republican Party unfavorably. An identical 85 percent of Republicans view the Democratic Party unfavorably, while 79 percent of Republicans express a favorable opinion of their own party.The Democrats get a little boost out of their better in-party rating, and also benefit from the fact that there’s more of them — 32 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats, vs. 22 percent who say they’re Republicans, basically where it’s been, on average, since 2009. The Democratic Party also gets a lift from independents; they frown on both parties, but more on the GOP (31-61 percent, favorable-unfavorable) than on the Democrats (a 41-50 percent split).Independents, who tend to be less favorably inclined toward politics in general, are notably annoyed with their own representative: just 35 percent approve, while 56 percent disapprove. Approval rises to slightly fewer than half of Democrats and Republicans alike.MORE GROUPS – Disapproval of “your own representative” peaks, at 58 percent, among Hispanics, perhaps expressing dissatisfaction with the stalled overhaul of immigration policy. Hispanics are particularly negative toward the Republican Party — 65 percent see it unfavorably, while 61 percent of Hispanics express a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party.Blacks tilt even more heavily pro-Democratic (82 percent) and anti-Republican (81 percent). Indeed, whatever occurs in this year’s midterms, the results among nonwhites overall underscore the GOP’s challenges as whites’ share of the nation’s population shrinks. Seventy percent of nonwhites see the Republican Party unfavorably overall, while about as many, 68 percent, have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party. Whites, for their part, are equally negative about both parties.Among other groups, as long has been the case, the Democrats are more popular with women than with men. The gap between favorable ratings of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party among men is just 6 percentage points (44 vs. 38 percent). Among women it’s 21 points (54 vs. 33 percent).Combining race, sex and education shows a longstanding difference in one particular group: college-educated white women, who are much more favorably inclined toward the Democratic than the Republican Party. White women who lack a college degree see both parties equally, and white men are more favorable toward the GOP, regardless of education.Single women also are a markedly more Democratic-inclined group. But married men tilt heavily in the opposite direction — toward the GOP — and there’s twice as many of them. Of such threads are election strategies woven.In addition to differences in party favorability, there’s also a striking gap between single women and married men in their disapproval of their representative in Congress (a 21-point gap) and a similar gap between college-educated white women vs. non-college-educated white men, 22 points. In both cases, men are more critical of their representative than are women.Age is another partisan factor, with a wide 26-point gap in favorability for the Democrats vs. the Republicans among young adults, age 18 to 29. That said, they’re a weak turnout group, especially in midterms. And conservatives — more apt to vote when they’re fired up — are more likely to favor the GOP than the Democratic Party by a 31-point margin.METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone July 30-Aug. 3, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,029 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. Partisan divisions are 32-22-41 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Chris McDaniel Opens Legal Challenge in Mississippi GOP Primary Race

Chris McDaniel Opens Legal Challenge in Mississippi GOP Primary Race

Mississippi State Senate (JACKSON, Miss.) — Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel officially announced the beginning of a legal effort to challenge the results of his primary fight against six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.The campaign formally filed a challenge with the Mississippi Republican Party’s executive committee, the official first step to mounting a legal challenge.On June 24, Cochran beat McDaniel by more than 7,600 votes and those results were certified unanimously by the party’s executive committee. McDaniel never conceded — instead he almost immediately began accusing his opponent of “stealing” the election because Cochran was able to woo Democrats, specifically African American voters in the Magnolia State, to support him in the run-off. This is legal, but not if the Democrats also voted in their primary three weeks earlier.Since then, McDaniel volunteers have been combing through voter rolls, and in a press conference Monday, McDaniel’s attorney Mitch Tyner said they have found 3,500 cross-over voters, 9,500 votes they believe have irregularities, and 2,275 absentee ballots they also believe were “improperly cast.” Tyner said they believe they have 15,000 votes “cast that should not have been.”“We are not asking for a new election, we are simply asking that the Republican Party actually recognize the person who won the run-off election,” Tyner said.Tyner, who called Monday “a day we have all been waiting for,” said their evidence shows McDaniel “clearly won” the run-off by 25,000 votes. He claims the number comes from post-election polling conducted that showed 71 percent of the Democrats who voted in the run-off did not plan to support the Republican in the general election. A Mississippi state law says a voter in the run-off must have the intent to cast the ballot for the same person in the general election.Mississippi election law expert Matthew Steffey said this statute is “unenforceable because you can’t quiz individual voters on what their intentions are in the voting booth because it violates their right to vote anonymously in a polling place,” noting the concept would be “inconceivable in a court of law,” and “unprecedented in American politics.”Steffey, a professor of election law at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, says the McDaniel team is “playing a very weak hand.”“Lawyers have to make the case they can make, not the case they would like to make,” Steffey said in an interview with ABC News. “And the very fact that we are talking about polls which Sen. McDaniel must know, certainly his lawyers know will have no role in court room litigation, can’t possibly be the basis for judicial opinion….that’ s not evidence, that’s at least double hearsay, it may be worse than that.”Steffey notes the “most important number” is the cross-over votes and that has been their argument since the run-off.“If he had a  large number (of cross-over votes) we wouldn’t be talking about polls and throwing out 71 percent of Democratic votes, he’s doing that because it’s all he’s got,” he said.In the press conference, McDaniel expressed the importance of being “dispassionate about the facts.”“The facts they’re on our side, the law is on our side,” he said. “This is an opportunity for our party to take the lead on honest, good, and transparent government. As Republicans, we talk about the need for transparency, as Republicans we want open debate and dialogue, honesty, transparency, and integrity are hallmarks of the conservative movement. We anticipate the Republican executive committee will grant us a hearing, we anticipate they will do it in a public forum.”McDaniel, who called the supporters gathered his “brothers and sisters,” continued to say that the GOP is a “party that doesn’t need decisiveness to win” and is “a party that does not need to play the race card to win.”“The integrity of the elections process in the state of Mississippi matters,” McDaniel said. “But, likewise the integrity of the Republican Party and its primary system…it matters as well.”The senator has come under conservative criticism for continuing the fight. Most notably last month, conservative pundit Ann Coulter called on him to end his effort.The Mississippi Republican Party couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
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‘Architect’ of Obama’s White House Bids Gives Advice to 2016 Hopefuls

‘Architect’ of Obama’s White House Bids Gives Advice to 2016 Hopefuls

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — David Plouffe, the “architect” of Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns, shared insights about the 2016 presidential election in an interview Monday with Politico’s Mike Allen.
But first, he did some political prognosticating.Plouffe said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has the “rawest political skill” in the Republican Party, but may be too thin-skinned.
“You can’t run for president constantly being agitated about what is being said about you,” Plouffe said.He also gave nods to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Cruz is in line with the “hard-core tea party voter,” Plouffe said, but noted that someone more moderate may have wider appeal. Underscoring the divide within the GOP, “A candidate like Christie or Paul would seem like Bernie Sanders compared to the tea party,” Plouffe said, referring to the progressive senator from Vermont.As for the Democratic ticket, Plouffe sees Hillary Clinton as the clear frontrunner. He said she is in “a much stronger position now than in 2012,” but that Vice President Joe Biden would also be “a very strong candidate.”Across the board, Plouffe said the 2016 field could be as “open as anything we’ve seen in modern times.” Here are five pieces of advice the former top White House adviser has for potential 2016 presidential hopefuls — Democrats and Republicans:1. Technology — “The Old Rules Don’t Apply”Politics needs to adapt at the same rapidly changing pace as technology, Plouffe said.“You’ve got to be innovative,” said Plouffe, who is often credited for his strategic use of technology in the Obama campaigns.He discussed the changes in tech platforms between a website and email-based campaign in 2008 to a Facebook-based one in 2012. Now, he believes that Instagram “has completely blown up,” and it will be up to campaigns to use these visual platforms.
Plouffe added that “an organization is only as strong as its talent,” and that Silicon Valley professionals may not want to participate in Republican campaigns because the region is more “progressive” than the GOP.2. Recognize the Importance of Grassroots VolunteersThough cultivating a volunteer base requires a great deal of focus and trust, Plouffe emphasized that the investment pays off. He credited grassroots volunteers as a key component to the success of the Obama campaigns because they were able to connect with swing voters on a personal level.
Candidates should be “running for president as if [they're] running for city council,” he said.Volunteers in 2008 and 2012 were “under-appreciated,” he said, and counsel that future candidates  “better respect what people are doing on [their] behalf.”3. Understand Where to Get Your VotesPlouffe believes that the Democratic Party has a strong foundation to gain the electoral votes they need in 2016 partly because they have won key states in the upper Midwest. If Republicans hope to win the White House, they will need to regain this “traditional battleground” region or build a stronger base within young people or Latino voters.4. Know Why You’re RunningThe number one piece of advice Plouffe gave to candidates looking to run in 2016 is to “spend time with themselves” and discover their motivations for running. It’s important for candidates to “understand [running] is a grueling process that destroys you.”5. Stay TruePlouffe also urged candidates to remain true to their values.
“The only way to win is being faithful to who they are,” Plouffe said. “If they abandon that to secure a nomination, it’s not a nomination worth having.”
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