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Monday
Mar022015

2016 Campaign Playlist: Potential Presidential Candidates Pick Their Theme Songs

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Though none of the potential 2016 candidates has yet to formally announce a presidential campaign, each contender has likely spent plenty of time thinking about what their campaign platforms will look like.

But what will their campaigns sound like?

ABC News recently asked prospective Republican candidates what they might choose as their campaign theme song.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he’d probably go with one of his favorite tunes, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

“It’s about an underdog taking on big challenges,” Jindal said in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I think we need a candidate who’s going to fight for us, fight for our principles, and have fun doing it.”

Former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, on the other hand, chose an American classic: “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Former 2012 candidate Rick Santorum said it would be hard to beat his previous campaign song from 2012, “Game On.” The tune was written and performed by two teenage girls who were inspired by a speech Santorum gave at the Iowa caucuses.

“I’m still partial to that,” the former senator from Pennsylvania said. “That’s a pretty cool little song.”

Business mogul Donald Trump said he’d probably go with the song “Dream,” but clarified that it wouldn’t be the theme of his campaign. “My campaign theme would be ‘Make America great again,’ because that’s what we have to do,” Trump said.

And Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina said she has yet to think about what her campaign song would be. “I don’t have anything in mind yet,” she said.


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Monday
Mar022015

Obama Unlikely to Watch Netanyahu Speech Tuesday

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Amid frustration with a speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to give to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, President Obama is unlikely to watch, the White House says.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said as much during Monday's press briefing. "I haven't looked at the president's schedule for tomorrow," Earnest admitted, while saying that he "[doubts] he will want to spend his whole time watching the speech."

Netanyahu was invited to give the speech by House Speaker John Boehner, without consulting with the administration. That fact bothered some Democrats, who also have voiced concern about the speech coming so near Netanyahu's bid for reelection.

Netanyahu has voiced concerns over ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, a topic on which Earnest warned against releasing information. "Releasing that information would betray the trust that exists between two allies," he said Monday.

Earnest noted that the White House has kept Israel apprised of the Iran negotiations, and that the administration was not particularly happy with the instances in which Israeli officials have chosen to "cherry pick" tidbits of information to criticize the U.S. stance.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar022015

Obama: Now Is the Time to Change Policing

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Receiving a report Monday from his post-Ferguson, Missouri task force on policing, President Obama said now is the time to make changes in law enforcement practices.

“A lot of our work is going to involve local police chiefs, local elected officials, states recognizing that the moment is now for us to make these changes,” Obama said, appearing briefly with his Task Force on 21st Century Policing earlier Monday.

“We have a greater opportunity, coming out of some great conflict and tragedy, to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer,” he said.

The president noted a need for more data -- specifically on how often police shootings occur.

“We do not have a good sense…of how frequently there may be interactions with police and community members that result in death, result in a shooting,” Obama said.

The task force’s report will be made available online.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar022015

Bill Clinton’s Portrait Artist Secretly Includes Monica Lewinsky

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Here's one issue the Clintons may -- or may not -- want to brush off.

In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, the artist who painted the official portrait of President Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., revealed a surprise -- the portrait “subtly” incorporated Monica Lewinsky.

Artist Nelson Shanks told the newspaper that the shadow on the left side of the portrait was cast by a mannequin in a blue dress -- a nod to the president’s affair with his 22-year-old intern.

Shanks, who described Clinton as “the most famous liar of all time,” told the Philadelphia Daily News that the shadow represents a metaphorical “shadow on the office he held.”

Shanks painted the portrait while standing in the Oval Office.

He says he placed a mannequin in a blue dress to cast a shadow on the mantle while he was painting. However, the mannequin and the president were never in the room at the same time, he noted.

According to Shanks, the Clintons are pressuring the National Portrait Gallery to remove the painting. However, a museum spokesperson told ABC News that they have not received any requests from the Clintons to remove the portrait.

The portrait is currently not on display, but it is in the museum’s gallery of collection.

The portrait originally stirred controversy when it was released in 2006 for the notable absence of a wedding ring on the president’s hand.

Shanks did not immediately respond to request for comment from ABC News.


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Monday
Mar022015

Sen. Barbara Mikulski to Retire

United States Senate(BALTIMORE) -- Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in Congressional history, announced on Monday that she will retire.

Mikulski, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, said she made the decision to fight for the people of Maryland instead of campaigning for herself another time around.

"I'm gonna be around. I'm Senator Barb,” Mikulski, 78, said at a news conference in Baltimore Monday. “I don’t want to spend my time campaigning for me. I want to campaign for the people.”

Here’s a look at some of the things you might not know about the storied career of the senator known to many as “Senator Barb”:

DEAN OF THE WOMEN SENATORS

As the longest serving female senator, Mikulski is known as the dean of the women senators. She often organizes bipartisan gatherings for the female senators and acts as a mentor for them.

In January, she hosted a meet and greet for the two new female senators -- Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

GIRL SCOUT

Mikulski is a proud Girl Scout and often celebrates the group’s anniversary with speeches on the Senate floor.

"If you noticed I'm dressed in green today, and I also have on a Girl Scout pin. Don't I look like a little Girl Scout standing here?” Mikulski said last year as she celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the group. “I feel like a Girl Scout because I was a Girl Scout, and once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!”

"I believe the values I learned as a Girl Scout were the lessons of a lifetime. And quite frankly, if I can live up to the Girl Scout law today, I think I'll be a pretty good Senator,” she said. “So hats off to Girl Scouts everywhere, a big thanks to the leaders who do it, and let's eat those cookies -- even if you're on a different kind of program than they're often called for!"

SOCIAL WORKER

Mikulski started her career as a social worker, helping at risk children and seniors in Baltimore. Her foray into activism came when she campaigned against plans to build a highway through two Baltimore communities.

She started in politics with a seat on the Baltimore City Council. She then served in the House of Representatives for 10 years before becoming a senator in 1986.

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS

Mikulski was the first woman to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, the powerful committee responsible for funding government agencies and departments. She chaired the committee from 2012 until this January when Republicans won control of the Senate.

EQUAL PAY

Mikulski has long been a champion for equal rights, specifically when it comes for equal pay for women. She has introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to try to put an end to disparity between women and men.

CRAB CAKE AFICIONADO

Mikulski cites crab cakes as her ideal meal and has a killer recipe handed down from her mother. But don’t worry -- it’s not a family secret. Mikulski spreads the crab cake love and has posted the recipe on her website.

"When I’m not eating delicious crab cakes, I follow what I call a heart healthy diet, which isn’t always easy,” she wrote on her website. “I like parsley, but I like pizza better.”

THE 4'11" SENATOR

Mikulski is quite small compared to some of her Senate colleagues at 4 feet and 11 inches tall. She reportedly once described herself as a “little stealth rocket, a heat-seeking missile, under everybody's radar."

Though small in stature, she is well known as one of the most feisty lawmakers on Capitol Hill.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar022015

Obama Praises Sen. Mikulski's Career

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama praised Sen. Barbara Mikulski's career on Monday, after she announced she was retiring to fight for the people of Maryland.

"Senator Mikulski is more than just a legendary senator for the people of Maryland, she’s an institution in the United States Senate. Barbara’s service to the people of Maryland spans decades, but her legacy will span generations," Obama said in a statement.

"Barbara is the longest serving woman in Congress, and her leadership serves as an inspiration to millions of women and girls across the globe to stand up and lead," the president continued.

At a news conference Monday, Mikulski, D-Md., said she doesn't want to spend her time "campaigning for me. I want to campaign for the people."

Mikulski, 78, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, added, "I'm gonna be around. I'm Senator Barb."

Read President Obama's full statement on Sen. Barbara Mikulski below:

Senator Mikulski is more than just a legendary senator for the people of Maryland, she’s an institution in the United States Senate. Barbara’s service to the people of Maryland spans decades, but her legacy will span generations. Barbara is the longest serving woman in Congress, and her leadership serves as an inspiration to millions of women and girls across the globe to stand up and lead.
 
As the Chairwoman and now Vice Chairwoman of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, Barbara has always known that our budgets should reflect our deepest held values. In that spirit, Barbara has wielded her gavel and used her booming voice to advocate on behalf of paycheck fairness, childcare, health care, education, women’s rights and countless issues that have contributed to the strength of America’s families.

Thanks to her leadership, more women excel in their careers, more children have access to quality education, more families have health insurance and more people are treated fairly under the law.

I look forward to working with Senator Mikulski over the course of the next two years, and Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Barbara in her next endeavors.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar022015

Report: Hillary Clinton to Announce Candidacy for President in April

Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Supporters of Hillary Clinton for president may not have to wait much longer for the former secretary of state to declare her intentions.

The Wall Street Journal
reported Sunday evening that Clinton, 67, and her close advisers are dropping strong hints to potential donors that she may announce her candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination as soon as April.

In this way, Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner, can get a jump on raising an estimated $1 billion her campaign feels will be necessary to win the nomination and presidency.

An April launch will put her supporters’ minds at ease as there have been rumors that Clinton might opt out of a second run White House due to physical concerns and other family considerations.

According to the WSJ, Clinton insider John Podesta, who was part of the Obama White House, is expected to have a major role in the campaign to elect the former first lady.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Mar012015

John Kerry Stands by Claim Americans Face 'Less' Daily Threat

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday he stands by his statement that Americans are facing fewer daily threats, even though he's received heavy criticism for his remarks.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz on This Week, Kerry explained the rationale behind his claims to Congress earlier this week, which came at the same time Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said this has been the most lethal year for global terrorism.

"Well, I understand," he said. "Of course I understand it, Martha, because people are thinking about the day-to-day vision of what is happening on the ground in Syria, in Libya, where 21 Coptic Christians had their heads cut off, where a soldier is burned and a pilot in a cage, where American journalists have been beheaded publicly. We understand that."

"But I still stand by what I said, which is in long terms, compared to the last century, there are, in fact, fewer people dying of the means -- that you look at, by state war, violence, health, etc.," Kerry said.

"But that's not what's important," he continued. "What's important right now is what James Clapper said. There is an uptick in the level of terrorism and specific incidents of people being killed. And that threat is very, very real. Nobody is trying to minimize it."

Kerry told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that "despite ISIL, despite the visible killings that you see and how horrific they are, we are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally -- less deaths, less violent deaths."


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Sunday
Mar012015

Republicans Blocking DHS Funding Are 'Delusional,' Rep. Peter King Says

Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly(WASHINGTON) -- House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Peter King called some members of his Republican caucus "self-righteous and delusional" for opposing a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security on ABC's This Week Sunday.

"I said the other night, when I was at the Republican meeting, that they are self-righteous and delusional," King said on This Week of the Republican contingent holding up the bill because of their opposition to President Obama's executive action on immigration.

"We're talking about maybe 40 or 50 people at most, out of a caucus of 247, out of a Congress of 435. We cannot allow such a small group to be dominating and controlling what happens in the United States Congress, especially at a time when we're confronting terrorism," the New York Republican told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

House Republicans have tied funding for DHS to legislation that would roll back Obama's executive orders on immigration, a move King calls "irresponsible."

"Listen, I am as opposed to this immigration action as they are. But the fact is, it's essential that we fund the Department of Homeland Security," King said. "We saw what happened in Denmark, in Paris, what ISIS is doing with the beheadings. We had the people being arrested in New York just the other night. And for these people to be threatening to defund the Department of Homeland Security at a time when our threat streams have never been greater at any time since 9/11, it's absolutely irresponsible."

Despite a looming shutdown, the bill to fund the Homeland Security Department has been stalled in Congress for weeks. On Friday night, the House approved a one-week funding extension in order to avoid a partial shutdown, after voting down a longer extension, in a major failure for House Speaker John Boehner.

But King said he maintains his confidence in Boehner's ability to wrangle his party's votes, and he called for a "up or down" vote on a clean funding bill this week.

"We have to stand behind John Boehner and John Boehner has to find a way this week, as soon as possible in the week, once Prime Minister Netanyahu finishes his speech, to bring the clean bill to the floor of the House for a vote, an up or down vote. That's all we're asking for is democracy. Let that come to a vote," King said. "There's no doubt it will pass."


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Mar012015

John Kerry Doesn't Want Benjamin Netanyahu Visit to Become 'Some Great Political Football'

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak to a joint session of Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry said the prime minister is welcome to speak in the U.S. but worries it injects far too much politics into the relationship.

“The prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously,” Kerry said Sunday in an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week. “I talk to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday."

But, Kerry added, "we don't want to see this turned into some great political football.”

Kerry echoed frustrations expressed by the White House that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was inappropriate.

“It was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process," he said. "But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

But Kerry’s remarks were far more measured than those of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said last week that the speech would be “destructive to the fabric of the relationship.”

The White House has expressed anger with both the Republican-led House of Representatives and with Netanyahu’s office, not only for excluding them from the invitation process, but also for making the invitation so close to Israel’s elections on March 17 and the final stages of a potential American nuclear weapons deal with Iran.

Yet, while departing Israel for Washington, D.C., on Sunday morning, the prime minister seemed to be brimming with confidence. Speaking in Hebrew to reporters at the airport, Netanyahu called it a “crucial and even historical mission.”

“I feel I am representing all the citizens of Israel, even those who do not agree with me,” Netanyahu said. “I feel a deep and sincere concern for the safety of all the citizens of Israel and the fate of the state and the fate of our people. I will do everything in my power to secure our future."

The prime minister’s critics say he’s too hawkish on Iran and that he’s been warning for decades they are on the cusp of building a bomb. His supporters say a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran won’t work and that the only way to stop them is to punish them with further economic sanctions. Even many House Democrats say that they will vote for further sanctions if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the month.

Kerry told This Week that the negotiations with Iran have benefited Israel.

“Israel is safer today because of the interim agreement that we created,” he said. “The 20 percent enriched uranium has been reduced to zero. We have stopped the centrifuge production. We are inspecting inside of their facilities.”

Kerry also said the defense relationship with Israel has never been stronger.

“We have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history," he said. "I was reviewing the record the other day - we have intervened on Israel's behalf, in the last two years, more than several hundred - a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora in order to protect Israel.”

After the interview, Kerry left Washington for Geneva, Switzerland, where he’ll be attempting this week to finalize and nuclear deal with Iran.


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