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Friday
Oct012010

Liberal Groups Come Together for Washington March

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A coalition of labor unions, civil rights and progressive groups is banding together for a rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend, aiming to put job creation on the top of the congressional agenda.

Organizers of "One Nation Working Together," organized by some 400 groups, say the goal is to tell lawmakers they need to find common ground on the issue of jobs and get people to vote come November.

"We're not a response to the Tea Party. If anything, we're the antidote. We are a different response to the same moment," NAACP president Benjamin Jealous told ABC News. "They have sought to attack diversity. They have attacked the 14th amendment. They made racial profiling the law of the land in Arizona and have ambitions to do it elsewhere. We say, 'Don't push down on diversity, push up on prosperity.'"

The rally, expected to draw thousands of people, is a chance for Democratic groups to reenergize the base. The surge of the Tea Party movement and conservative groups has rallied Republicans in much the same fashion as Democrats in 2008.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct012010

President Obama Meets with American Hiker Sarah Shourd

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Late Thursday evening, the White House announced  President Obama met privately with American hiker Sarah Shourd, who was recently released after being imprisoned for more than a year in Iran.  The president also met with the families of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two American men who are still being held overseas.

“We remain hopeful that Iran will demonstrate renewed compassion and do the right thing,” the White House said in a statement, ”by ensuring the safe return of Shane, Josh and all the other missing or detained Americans in Iran."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

President Likely To Name Pete Rouse As Interim Chief Of Staff

Photo Courtesy -- The White House | Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Although the White House has not yet confirmed it, it is expected that upon Friday's likely announcement that current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will leave his role, Pete Rouse will be named Emanuel's replacement on an interim basis. 

However, there is speculation that President Obama might choose another candidate to replace Emanuel.  It is still possible that Ron Klain, Vice President Biden's chief of staff, may have a chance at the role.  A White House source said that Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, another possible replacement, will likely stay with the National Security Staff. 

Despite the possibilities for replacement alternatives, however, the White House press secretary did say Thursday, "Pete has been with Senator-elect, Senator, President-elect, and now President Obama." 

Gibbs added, "There is complete loyalty and trust with somebody like Pete.  Pete's strategic sense has played a big part in the direction of virtually every big decision that's made inside of this White House.   So I think the type of trust that the president and others throughout this administration have in Pete is enormous.”

As reported earlier, ABC News has learned Emanuel's announcement will be made in the East Room of the White House, where President Obama will name Emanuel's successor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Thursday
Sep302010

NYC Mayor Bloomberg & Media Mogul Murdoch Argue For Immigration Reform

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch headlined a Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday on the role of immigration in strengthening America’s economy. 

Murdoch, the head of News Corp, which owns Fox News, told a House panel today that illegal immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform.  Bloomberg said immigration is a problem driven largely by supply and demand, and criticized both Republicans and Democrats for failing to act while the parties have rotated control of the Congress and White House.  Murdoch's pro-immigration reform stance was challenged by one Democrat because it runs counter to the opinions most often expression by commentators on Fox News.  Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., went after Murdoch for not utilizing his vast power over his media outlets like Fox News Channel to encourage immigration reform.  “We are home to all views on Fox.  If you wish to come and state these views, we'd love to have you on Fox News,” Murdoch answered. “We don't censor that or take any particular line at all.  We are not anti-immigrant on Fox News.”  Murdoch is himself an immigrant from Australia. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985 to satisfy law that mandates only citizens may own American television stations.

Bloomberg and Murdoch are both members of the Partnership for a New American Economy, which aims to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to legal status for undocumented workers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Thursday
Sep302010

NY GOP Hopeful Paladino Angrily Threatens to 'Take Out' Reporter 

(NEW YORKPhoto Courtesy -- Paladino for the People ) -- New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino  threatened to "take out" a reporter following a heated exchange.  The dustup occurred Wednesday when New York Post State Editor Fred Dicker asked Paladino to prove his accusation that Democratic challenger Andrew Cuomo cheated on his ex-wife while the couple were still married.  "What evidence do you have for something most people would consider a smear?" Dicker asked.  Rather than respond to the question, Paladino accused Dicker of sending a "goon" to photograph his young daughter, who was born to a mistress and kept secret from his wife for a decade. "You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy!" Paladino told Dicker.  Pushed again for proof of the accusation against Cuomo, Paladino told the Post, "At the appropriate time you will hear it."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Thursday
Sep302010

Leadership Challenge? GOP Rep.: 'Premature' to Commit to Boehner

Photo Courtesy - Office of the Republican Leader(WASHINGTON) -- As Democrats ramp up their attacks on House Minority Leader John Boehner – who’s presumed to be in line to become House speaker if Republicans take over the majority – not all rank-and-file Republicans are ready to commit to supporting Boehner as speaker.

On ABC’s “Top Line” Thursday, Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas said it would be “premature” for members of his caucus to line up behind Boehner, particularly when there’s likely to be so many new Republicans coming to Congress.

“There's going to be an election here in just a little over a month’s time. Who knows what is going to happen, but there may be an enormous number of new members on my side, in my conference,” Burgess said. “Let's see what happens. Right now I'll commit for voting for a conservative speaker of the house. I'm going to try to pick the most conservative candidate that's out there, and we'll see what happens.”

Asked if that means he won’t guarantee his vote will be for Boehner next year, Burgess responded:

“There's no vacancy right now. We have an election to get through. Let's see what happens. I think it's premature for people to lock themselves down to one direction or another,” Burgess said.

A serious leadership challenge against Boehner remains unlikely. One potential challenger, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, has ruled out a run against Boehner, and Burgess declined to speculate on possible challengers to Boehner’s leadership.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Senate Moves to Turn Down Volume on TV Ads

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This fall, the Senate couldn’t get anything done on tax cuts, energy, immigration, gays in the military, campaign finance reform, or outsourcing jobs, but it did take a step to turn down the volume on noisy television commercials. The Senate on Wednesday passed by unanimous consent a bill that would require the FCC to regulate the volume of TV commercials that can be many times louder than the TV program itself.

“Every American has likely experienced the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials,” the bill’s sponsor Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said in a statement. “While this may be an effective way for ads to grab attention, it also adds unnecessary stress to the daily lives of many Americans.

The bill, called the CALM Act, will now move on to the House, which passed similar legislation last December. If minor differences between the two measures can be ironed out, a final bill could be sent to President Obama during Congress lame-duck session in November.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Emanuel to Leave White House, Explore Run for Chicago Mayor

Photo Courtesy - The White House

UPDATE:  Emanuel To Begin Campaigning For Mayor Of Chicago Immediately 

(WASHINGTON) -- As White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel leaves his position Friday, “he will be returning home to Chicago sometime over the weekend,” according to Emanuel’s longtime friend and campaign official Rick Jasculca. “On Monday he will be -- as he has done in all his previous campaigns in Chicago -- eagerly hitting the bricks, directly going out and meeting with citizens and voters.  He will be doing this in a variety of neighborhoods throughout the city,” Jasculca said, “starting Monday and beyond.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is expected to announce Friday that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is stepping down to explore a run for mayor of Chicago. ABC News has learned the announcement will be made in the East Room of the White House, where President Obama will also name Emanuel's successor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Feds May Allow Campaign Donations By Text Message

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A proposal to allow people to use their cell phones to donate money to their favorite political candidates has rekindled a long-running debate about the risks of abuse associated with the technology that is rapidly changing the way American political campaigns are financed.

"I think candidates could raise a ton of money that way, and I'm naturally inclined to believe people should be able to give," said Sean Cairncross, an attorney who represents the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "But the flip side is that you lose some accountability."

Cairncross's reservations about cell phone donations center on the potential for people to donate anonymously, opening the door for unauthorized contributors and limiting the chance for disclosure. It's something he's grappled with in the past. During the 2008 presidential campaign Cairncross led an effort to challenge what he alleged were fraudulent contributions to then-candidate Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which he said slipped through because the donations flowed as part of a tidal wave of money Obama raised over the internet.

"The money they raised over the internet was off the charts," Cairncross said. "There were reports of people donating through anonymous cash cards. There were one or two who were giving well over the legal limits. Some were using names like 'Mickey Mouse' or 'Do Dad Pro.' And there was really no way to police it."

At the time, the Obama campaign said it worked aggressively to weed out and return improper donations. The questions largely subsided after the campaign was over.

But earlier this month, a group representing wireless telephone companies submitted a new request to the Federal Election Commission, proposing that candidates be allowed to use an even newer form of technology to facilitate giving donations via text messages.

In its proposal, the cell phone industry group has pointed out the massive amounts of charitable money raised through cell phone contributions after the Haiti earthquake. That's evidence, they argue, that this new method of giving has come into its own.

"The effectiveness of [cell phone messaging] to initiate small dollar contributions in short order was clearly demonstrated in the Haiti relief context earlier this year," the Sept. 10 petition to the FEC says. "Accordingly, [cell phones] are potentially significant tools in grassroots campaign organizing and fundraising and a means to promote small dollar support for federal candidate, party, and political committees."

The proposal would permit candidates to collect $10 contributions through texts sent by supporters. Each donor would have to agree to respond to questions certifying the donation is legal. The donor would have to agree, for instance, they have not given a cumulative amount more than $50 by text, that the donation is not coming from a corporation or union, and that they are not a foreign national.

Jan Baran, the campaign finance lawyer who submitted the request, said he thinks the practice will quickly become trusted and accepted. The real benefit, he said, is how easy it makes it for people to get involved in a political campaign.

"Someone could be watching the news and seeing a report about some candidate and decide right then, 'I'll send them five bucks,'" Baran told ABC News.

The proposal is consistent with existing law, he said, which already says that candidates can collect contributions of $50 or less without reporting them. "That's been the rule since 1974," he said. Moreover, he added, the wireless provider can insure the donor does not exceed a proscribed amount, and that the donation is made on a domestic cell phone, not one from overseas.

Brett Kappel, another campaign finance lawyer, said he believes it will be extremely difficult for the FEC to square this request current disclosure provisions.

"Campaign committees have a duty to collect information from all contributors and aggregate it so that if one donor gives three contributions that total more than $200 they can be itemized," Kappel said. "The way this technology works campaigns wouldn't know if multiple anonymous contributions came from one person or twenty different people."

Scott Thomas, a former FEC chairman, said he believes those concerns can be alleviated. For instance, he said, phone companies could be required to decline transactions for any cell phone where the $50 limit on anonymous contributions has been reached.

"Conceivably, the FEC could require the phone companies also to provide to benefitting campaigns electronic records showing which phone numbers and corresponding account names are associated with any batch of funds forwarded," he said.

Both parties see the potential for text messaging to provide a lucrative new avenue for candidates to raise money.

Cairncross said he believes there is "an enormous upside to it," because it makes it easier for people to get engaged. "This is a medium people communicate in now," he said.

The FEC has 60 days to make a decision.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Former GOP Senator Bucks the Trend in Rhode Island Gov. Race

Photo Courtesy - Chafee for Governor(WARWICK, R.I.) -- As Tea Party fervor spreads across the country, one former Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee, is looking to revitalize centrism and make history in his home state of Rhode Island by becoming the first independent governor in the state's history. Even though the state is overwhelmingly blue, only one of the last four governors has been a Democrat. Most polls show a neck-and-neck race between Democrat Frank Caprio and Chafee, considered to be the most liberal candidate on the ballot.

What Chafee has going for him is a strong base of support and the backing of a family that has a long history in Rhode Island politics. Chafee's father, John, a Republican, served both as governor and U.S. senator.

Chafee may be somewhat of a Republican refugee but he served more than seven years in the Senate and left with an approval rating of 63 percent, especially high for a losing incumbent. He's also separated himself from the pack with an unusual stance -- raise taxes. In a state with a staggering budget deficit and an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, above the national average, Chafee's opponents have seized on his proposals. The former senator argues that an increase in sales tax wouldn't adversely impact economic growth.

Chafee quietly split from the Republican Party in 2007 after a loss to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In a brutal primary and election, Chafee was painted as a Bush supporter, though he often diverged from his party, supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Chafee was the only GOP senator to vote against the Iraq war. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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