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Tuesday
Sep012015

Ad Wars: Jeb Bush and Donald Trump Duke It Out

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If this was a friendly feud before, Republican candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush have now fully entered the proverbial boxing ring and neither are pulling any punches.

These are the ad wars; Trump released an ad mocking Bush's comments that illegal immigration is an "act of love." And Tuesday, Bush fired back in, what could be the most effective attack against Trump -- Trump, himself.

Released on the @JebBush twitter account, the video, entitled “The Real Donald Trump”, is almost entirely comprised of old interview clips that Trump participated in.

It begins with Trump speaking these words (from 1999),"I lived in New York City, in Manhattan all my life so my views are a little different than if I lived in Iowa.”

You then hear Trump say “I am very pro-choice” and proclaim that he thinks Hillary Clinton would do a good job in Iran negotiations. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asks he if identifies more as a Democrat or a Republican. Trump responds, “you'd be shocked if I said that, in many cases, I probably identify more as a democrat.”

And then the kicker -- an unidentified questioner asks why he’s a Republican. To which Trump responds, “I have no idea."

It is the most pointed attack we’ve heard from the Bush team thus far. In the past, when faced with attack, Bush would respond with a measured line, saying that Trump “doesn’t have a proven conservative record.”

Bush acknowledged Tuesday that the war of words had intensified, during an availability with reporters after a town hall at a Miami high school.

"They attack me every day, every day with barbarities that are not true," Bush said in Spanish, later adding in English that the ad wasn't a mischaracterization. "Using his own words is not a mischaracterization, it came out of his own mouth."

Meanwhile, Trump has gone for the jugular from the very beginning. In his most recent attack, he used Bush’s claim that illegal immigration can be “an act of love” against him. The video, accompanied by macabre music, features Bush saying that line, as photos of people who came into the country illegally are played. One was charged with murder, another convicted of it.

One of the men mentioned in the video, Francisco Sanchez, was charged with murder in California and has pleaded not guilty.

Another man, Santana Gaona, had been convicted of murder in Texas and was sentenced to 50 years, according to court records.

And a third, Brian Hyde Omar, was charged in Florida with three counts of second-degree murder. Police say he was here illegally, though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has yet to confirm that.

Another video, instagrammed by Trump Tuesday, shows Bush introducing Hillary Clinton at an event as "someone who has dedicated her life to public service."

It is yet another series in the long saga between Trump, the current frontrunner, and Bush, the one who everyone thought would be.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Carly Fiorina Likely to Make Republican Debate Under New Rules

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- CNN is amending their GOP debate criteria, likely allowing former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to join the other top-tier candidates on the prime time debate stage.

The news –- announced Tuesday evening –- comes after Fiorina waged a personal and public war against the network and the Republican National Committee over their previous debate rules, which served to bar her from the main event.

“A lack of national public polling following the August 6 debate has so far provided only three new polls to determine the lineup for the Regan Presidential Debate,” according to a CNN statement. “As a result, CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August, the network announced [Tuesday]."

Under the previous rules, CNN would consider polls stretching all the way back to mid-July, meaning that most of the polls included in Fiorina's average place her in the low single digits before her much-heralded performance in the FOX News undercard debate last month.

But now, CNN says that any candidate who was in the top 10 in polls from Aug. 6 to Sept. 6 will be included on the main stage.

A new poll from Monmouth University out Monday shows Fiorina placing third in the essential, first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, behind only Donald Trump and Ben Carson. She has also garnered a solid 5 percent of the vote in each of three national polls since the first debate.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus applauded the amended debate criteria. “I applaud CNN for recognizing its historic nature of this debate and fully support the network’s decision to amend the criteria,” Priebus said in a statement.

But the stage is still not set. The polling cutoff will ultimately decide Carly Fiorina’s fate, however her chances are now much better.

Prior to CNN’s rule change, Fiorina was averaging at 1.9 percent, but with the new debate criteria, Fiorina now averages at 5 percent, according to an ABC News analysis on who’s in and wo’s out for the next debate.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Anthony Weiner Slams Donald Trump's Attacks on Wife as 'Absurd' and 'Outrageous'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In the feud between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, embattled former Rep. Anthony Weiner – Abedin's husband – is stepping into the line of fire.

In a radio show appearance Monday, Weiner called Trump's suggestion that Abedin may have shared state secrets with him both "wrong" and "outrageous."

"I think it's absurd and frankly insulting, not only to my wife, who, when she worked at the State Department, had a pretty high security clearance, a higher clearance than even some of the candidates running for president, but it also reflects very poorly on apparently what Mr. Trump thinks about government employees who have high security clearances, that they are talking about things," the New York Democrat said on “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

During a campaign event in Massachusetts Friday, Trump said it was likely that Abedin had divulged classified information to Weiner, who is now an adviser for a New Jersey public relations firm.

"Do you think there's even a 5 percent chance that she's not telling Anthony Weiner — now of a public relations firm — what the hell is coming across?" Trump said, while also slamming Weiner as a "perv" and a "sleazebag."

"Do you think there's even a little bit of a chance? I don't think so."
The Clinton campaign also responded forcefully to what it characterized as Trump's "patently false" and "bizarre" attacks.

Weiner, who stepped down from his congressional position after a sexting scandal four years ago, stood by his wife, saying she has served the country well in her role.

"Not only didn't she do that [leak information], but even further, she worked in government for 20 years. She's got a reputation that is completely stellar, and anyone in Washington and anyone in New York who's ever worked for her knows that," he said on the "The Brian Lehrer Show."


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Tuesday
Sep012015

Why Hillary Clinton Emailed About Gefilte Fish

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The great gefilte fish mystery may have been solved.

Among the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department on Monday night was one that left people totally stumped -- and it had to do with gefilte fish.

“Where are we on this?” Clinton wrote to two of her advisers on March 5, 2010. The subject line was simply, “Gefilte Fish.”

Gefilte fish, for those who don’t know, is a traditional Jewish dish served at Passover that is made up of ground-up fish and various spices, and is often bought ready-to-eat in jars. It’s highly controversial – people either like it or can’t stand it.

Why Clinton was emailing about the Jewish dish was unclear at first. Regardless, the Internet loved it.

But it appears the case has now been cracked. And the explanation is perfectly logical and work-related.

According to the Washington Post, just before the Jewish holiday that year there was a trade dispute that held up a large shipment of Illinois-caught carp (the fish typically used in gefilte fish) that was destined for Israel.

Clinton had pledged to help resolve the issue.

"I will take that mission on," she told Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Illinois.

Tablet magazine’s Yair Rosenberg was the first to make the connection on Twitter, where he shared an excerpt of the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren's, memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, in which he recalled the situation.

Clinton’s campaign has not confirmed if this is indeed what Clinton was emailing about, but the timing of it makes sense.

This is not the first time Clinton’s emails have raised eyebrows.

Two emails released by the State Department earlier this summer revealed that Clinton had meetings with an unidentified person referred to as “Santa.”

People wondered if Santa could be a code name for some high-powered Clinton associate, however it turned out Santa was simply the name of Clinton’s longtime hairdresser, Santa Nikkels.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Why Carly Fiorina's Surge Probably Won’t Earn Her a Debate Podium

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — That’s right. Despite a surge in the polls following the first debate, it’s looking more and more unlikely that former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will earn a spot on the main stage at the next GOP debate, a scenario which makes the candidate and her campaign clearly unhappy.

The second Republican debate, hosted by CNN two weeks from now, will feature the top 10 candidates in an average of polls stretching all the way back to mid-July — which means most of the polls included in the average place Fiorina in low single digits before her winsome performance in the Fox News undercard debate in early August.

So with nine days to go until the polling cutoff — which will ultimately decide Fiorina’s fate — the campaign is sending out fundraising emails surrounding the controversy. “The political class takes care of their own,” the fundraising email from campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores read. “CNN has made it crystal clear that they’ll do anything, even use funny math and nonsensical arguments, to keep a critical outsider voice — our voice — off that stage.”

Her troubles come despite a new poll from Monmouth University out Monday showing Fiorina placing third in the essential, first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, behind only Donald Trump and Ben Carson. She has also garnered a solid 5 percent of the vote in each of three national polls since the first debate.

But an ABC News analysis using the second debate criteria currently shows the businesswoman in 12th place with a 1.9 percent average. She’ll need to climb past Rick Perry to reach Chris Christie, who currently holds the tenth and final podium with an average of 3.3 percent — almost a full point and half ahead of Fiorina in the average of 12 national polls that fit CNN’s criteria. In an average of polls following the first debate, however, Fiorina averages 5 percent — good enough for seventh place.

And now the Carson campaign is racing to her defense. “We think she should be included. We think everyone should be included,” Communications Director Doug Watts told ABC News. “Particularly given the mathematics, we think Carly has owned a spot at the podium.”

Carson and his campaign have been very vocal in expressing their concerns with the debate rules since May writing to RNC Chairman Reince Preibus that limiting participation does the Republican Party a disservice. “Limiting participation of qualified candidates on this reasoning, I believe, does our party a tremendous disservice,” Carson wrote to Preibus. “I am particularly concerned with widespread speculation that my respected and well qualified colleague, Ms. Carly Fiorina, may fall victim to those who want to limit debate participation to the more ‘popular’ candidates, and I am serving notice herein, that I could not support such a decision.”

Fiorina herself has ripped into CNN and the Republican National Committee regarding the debate rules. "The rules are ridiculous. The rules are ridiculous. It's like saying to a football team that performs well and goes to the playoffs: 'You can't play in the playoff game because of a pre-season game.’ It's a stupid rule,” Fiorina told ABC News in Iowa last week.

“So they could change them if they wanted to. The RNC could ask them to change the rules, they could do more polls, they could count state polls. When you have a candidate whose in the top five in every state poll including in Iowa, New Hampshire, and every early state, and whose comfortably in the top ten in national polls, and you say 'oh so sorry, we can't change our rules,' that's ridiculous. That's putting your thumb on the scales.”

But CNN is defending their debate rules, which were originally set in May, long before the race had begun to take shape. “We believe that our approach is a fair and effective way to deal with the highest number of candidates we have ever encountered,” said a CNN spokesperson. “Federal Election Commission guidelines make it clear that these criteria cannot be changed after they have been published.”

But Brad Smith, a former FEC chair turned law professor at Capital University, says that CNN would likely not face legal penalties for changing the rules. “They have no obligation to change their criteria, but I think they can probably do so without much fear,” he told ABC News, adding that FEC action could prompt questions about press freedom.

“I think it was presumed that polling would be more or less equal over a period of time,” said Smith, who stressed that the decision is up to CNN and the legal risk they are willing to take. “I would be very surprised if they would have any problem with the regulators.”

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Donald Trump: I'll Change Denali Back to Mount McKinley

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump, apparently assuming he will secure the White House, tweeted on Monday evening that he would reverse the decision announced by President Obama to change the name of Alaska's Mount McKinley back to the traditional name Denali, saying it is an affront to the Buckeye State.

"President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years. Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!" read the tweet, issued from the account of the real estate mogul.

The decision by the president to change the name of the mountain named for President William McKinley, who was from Ohio, has divided lawmakers, and not necessarily along party lines.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said he was "deeply disappointed" in a statement while GOP Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski offered her praise for the change.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Christie Tries a Lip Sync Battle During “Tonight Show” Appearance

ABC/Randy Sager(NEW YORK) — Chris Christie made his first appearance as a presidential candidate Monday night on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

When the New Jersey governor came out fired up, saying he was ready to lip sync battle, Fallon denied the stunt. But Christie kept going.

"Jimmy, when I say we're going to lip sync, we're going to lip sync," Christie said.

Christie jumped up and started mouthing the opening lines of Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A.," but Fallon cut him short and the interview continued.

Fallon said he's been expecting Christie to be the guy "to go out and yell and say stuff," but instead Trump is doing a better job at that than he is. Christie went on to say that he's not worried about Trump and the other candidates.

"It's a long way away, there's a lot of work to do, that's what campaigns are all about, campaigns are to go out and convince people. I'm not worried about Donald or anybody else. I’ve got to worry about me. I’ve got to be myself, I’ve got to do what I do, and then we'll see what happens."

Fallon finished by talking about Christie's quiet performance in the last debate.

Christie responded, "Stay tuned for September 16th, I may be changing tactics. If I go 15 (questions) in a row, they're going to go, uh oh, he's going to go nuclear now."

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Tuesday
Sep012015

Today on the Trail — 9/1/15

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The race for the White House turns the page into September Tuesday, with frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton missing from the trail for another day.

Clinton is still on vacation in the Hamptons, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a town hall back home in Miami Tuesday morning.

Several Republican contenders are in early states:

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal are all in Iowa Tuesday.

Rand Paul is in New Hampshire, and John Kasich will be joining him there after an event in Michigan.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham is home to file his paperwork for the primary in South Carolina.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

President Obama: Don't Condemn our Children to a Planet Beyond Repair

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- President Obama issued a stark warning on climate change Monday, stating that future generations will face harsh consequences if we don’t fix the issue soon.

“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now,” he warned the representatives of more than 20 countries attending the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience, or GLACIER.

“The time to heed the cynics and critics and the deniers has passed. The time to plead ignorance has surely passed,” Obama said. “Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island.”

“Any so-called leader who doesn’t take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke is not fit to lead,” he said. “On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late, and that moment is almost upon us.”

While discussing the rising sea levels, Obama cited a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that estimates Alaskan glaciers lose 57 gigatons, or 75 billion tons, of ice per year. To describe the size he explained it as a block of ice the of size the National Mall in Washington, D.C., stretching from Congress to the Lincoln Memorial, that is four times as tall as the Washington Monument.

Speaking in Alaska, he emphasized the already disappearing Alaskan villages and native cultures threatened by global warming; while adding that climate change affects every facet of life on the planet.

“Climate change is a trend that affects all trends. Economic trends, security trends, Everything will be impacted and becomes more dramatic with each passing year,” he said. “Desperate refugees seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own, political disruptions that could trigger multiple conflicts around the globe, that’s not a future of strong economic growth. That’s not a future where freedom and human rights is on the move.”

And while he warned of the need to act, he also cited that the technology exists to help solve the problem and it’s not “simply a danger to be avoided, this is an opportunity to be seized.”

Obama highlighted the agreement between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies and emitters, to limit emissions, while touting that the ability to grow economies and protect the environment are no longer at odds with one another. The U.S. economy has grown nearly 60 percent over the past 20 years, while carbon emissions have dropped to levels from two decades ago, he said.

But he was cautious to emphasize that no nation was “moving fast enough.”

“If we were to abandon our course of action -- if we stopped trying to build a clean energy economy and reduce carbon pollution -- if we do nothing to stop glaciers from melting faster and oceans from rising faster and forests from burning faster and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair it,” he said.

Obama added that the political will may finally be upon the world to act on the issue.

“We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute. Everything else is politics,” he said.

President Obama continues his tour of the 49th state Tuesday when he tours a glacier in Seward, Alaska.

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Monday
Aug312015

State Department Publishes More Than 7,000 Pages of Previously Unseen Clinton Emails

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department published more than 7,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private account to its public records website Monday evening.

It's the fourth and largest installment of emails, most of which were sent or received in 2009 and 2010. The State Department has now released just over 25 percent of the total amount of her emails in its possession. The agency hopes to have all her emails released by the end of January 2016.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, maintains she did not handle classified material on that account.

Yet among the emails released Monday night, 125 were deemed classified by the State Department after the fact in order to shield them from public view.

Those emails were not marked classified at the time they were sent or received on Clinton's server, but following a review for public release the State Department determined those emails needed to be upgraded to a "confidential" status, one of the lowest levels of classification.

As a result the 125 emails were heavily redacted before they were published on the State Department's website and marked 'B1', which refers to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption code. That code states that anything determined to contain "classified information for national defense or foreign policy" is exempt from public release.

So far about 188 of Clinton's emails have been determined to be "classified" documents.

Clinton had often said that she never handled anything "marked" classified at the time it was originally sent or received. That statement appears to be true. But it's not possible to send a properly marked and classified email through an unclassified State Department account or a private email account, according to multiple senior government officials familiar with handling sensitive materials in the government email system.

It is possible, however, to quote from a classified email and send that through an unclassified system, which unless reported by the sender or receiver would not be detected until a later review.

One email released Monday night demonstrates that at least one member of the State Department’s “Help Desk” was unaware that Secretary Clinton was using a private email address.

On Saturday, February 27, 2010 a help desk analyst named Christopher Butzgy sent an email to HDR22@clintonemail.com, unaware that he was communicating with the Secretary of State. He informed her that one of his customers had been “receiving permanent fatal errors from this address.”

Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to her aide and advisor Huma Abedin asking, “Do you know what this is about?”

“Ur email must be back up!!,” Huma replied, before explaining that the error messages prompted a staffer to get State Department Help Desk involved. “They had no idea it was YOU, just some random address so they emailed,” Abedin wrote.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly compared Clinton's email scandal to that of retired CIA Director, Gen. David Petraeus, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information. He was originally charged with a felony, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a deal with the prosecution.

One of those prosecutors penned a story for USA Today Sunday evening, claiming that Trump is making a false comparison. Anne Tompkin describes herself as the former US attorney for the Western district of North Carolina and said she oversaw the prosecution. "The key element that distinguishes Secretary Clinton’s email retention practices from Petraeus’ sharing of classified information is that Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct, and that was the basis of his criminal liability," Tompkin wrote. USA Today also noted that Tompkin has donated to Clinton's presidential campaign.


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