Fence Jumper Caught Outside White House

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A fence jumper was apprehended Wednesday night outside the White House after he scaled the north fence, a Secret Service spokesman told ABC News.

A K-9 unit caught the jumper about 7:16 p.m. on the North Lawn, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. The suspect kicked at one of the dogs, then another dog subdued him.

The jumper was then taken to a nearby hospital, said Donovan. The White House was put on lockdown during the incident.

The Secret Service came under scrutiny last month after Omar Gonzalez, a knife-wielding Iraq War veteran, allegedly managed to slip over the fence, past several layers of security, and into the White House’s East Room, where he was subdued by an off-duty agent.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after the incident.

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Ebola Czar Ron Klain Starts His Job — Quietly

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY obama klain jef 141022 16x9 608 Ebola Czar Ron Klain Starts His Job    Quietly

(Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Newly-installed Ebola Czar Ron Klain appeared for the first time today with his new boss President Obama in the Oval Office — and said not a word.

In fact, the president didn’t even introduce Klain or acknowledge him during a brief press avail after their hour-long meeting.

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Klain nodded his head a few times as Obama recapped the U.S. response to Ebola and new federal policies now in place.

Obama said he is “cautiously more optimistic” about the situation in the U.S., noting that dozens of people who had interacted with Thomas Eric Duncan have now been cleared.

The president said Amber Vinson and Nina Pham “seem to be doing better” and that today he called their co-workers at Texas Presbyterian to give a pep talk.

“Spirits were good,” Obama said. “People were very proud of the work that they’ve done and understandably so.”

Obama said the American people should have confidence that the government is in a much better position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola.

He also noted a “silver lining” in the Ebola scare: “It’s a reminder of how important our public health systems are, and in many ways, what this has done is elevated that importance.”

“There may come a time sometime in the future where we are dealing with an airborne disease that is much easier to catch and is deadly,” he said, “and in some ways, this has created a trial run for federal, state and local public health officials and health care providers.”

Swedish Massages for Rabbits? Taxpayer Expenses You Won’t Believe

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In Washington, pork is often in the eye of the beholder. And retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sees a lot of it.

Coburn’s fifth annual and final “Wastebook” lists 100 “silly, unnecessary and low priority projects” that he says cost taxpayers a combined $25 billion.

“Is each of these a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need, or not spent at all?” Coburn writes in the 110-page report.

Here are five eyebrow-raising entries on Coburn’s list:

1. Swedish Massages for Rabbits: $387,000

Eighteen New Zealand white rabbits received 30-minute massages, four times a day in a taxpayer-funded study by the National Institutes of Health. The rub downs were performed by a specially-designed mechanical Swedish massage machine that “simulates the long flowing strokes.” Researchers say humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, which studied the benefits of massage on recovery from exercise. But Coburn calls it a case of waste, citing existing studies of treatments for aches and pains, and suggesting that humans would be better subjects than rabbits. (As for those massaged rabbits, they were ultimately euthanized, the report says.)

2. Army Video Game Training Terrorists?: $414,000

The U.S. Army spent $414,000 this year maintaining a free online video game that it first developed and launched as a recruitment tool back in 2009, the report says citing the Congressional Research Service. America’s Army is a first-person shooter game that simulates special forces operations. Coburn, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the realistic nature of the program makes it as much a training device as a recruitment tool. “Some intelligence officials worry it could also be aiding jihadists and mass murderers,” the report claims.

3. Hungry Spouses & Voodoo Dolls: $331,000

What happens between couples when one is particularly hungry? A National Science Foundation study set out to evaluate a connection between low blood sugar and anger by arming couples with voodoo dolls representing their spouse. The hungrier the spouse, the more pins were poked into the doll when they got agitated. A lead researcher concluded, “Hungry people are cranky and aggressive.” Coburn’s report claims the findings are “already obvious to many couples.”

4. Mountain Lions on Treadmill: $856,000

Three mountain lions spent eight months learning to walk on a treadmill as part of study funded by taxpayers through National Science Foundation. Researchers were studying the big cats’ energy consumption and hunting techniques to “inform public knowledge and opinion of large mammal behavior and conservation.” It follows similar government treadmill studies on monkeys, rats, cows and even shrimp. “While support for basic science is not itself wasteful,” Coburn’s report reads, “federal research agencies should better prioritize how tax dollars are directed to ensure adequate support for more pressing scientific endeavors.”

5. Unneeded “Sheep Station”: $1.98 million

A 28,000-acre facility in Idaho to graze 3,000 sheep — dubbed the “U.S. Sheep Experiment Station” — has been deemed unsustainable and unnecessary by the Obama administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said outright earlier this year that it should be closed to prioritize research on more important projects. But members of congress and other state officials have succeeded in keeping the $2 million a year facility open for the benefit of Idaho businesses, the report says.

Asked about several National Science Foundation projects included in the report, NSF spokeswoman Dana Topousis told ABC News that each was funded after a “rigorous merit review process” through which only 20 percent of proposals each year are approved.

“All proposals submitted to NSF are reviewed according to two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts,” Topousis said in a statement. “Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers.”

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Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He’s swooped in to lend a helping hand to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

“Chuck Norris doesn’t campaign with Greg Abbott,” Abbott’s campaign spokesman Avdiel Huerta said. “Greg Abbott campaigns with Chuck Norris.”

“Together,” Huerta added, “they plan to give Texas voters a good roundhouse kick in the direction of their local polling places.”

With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both Abbott and his challenger, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities, and Abbott is counting on a little star power. Norris will join Abbott at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

Chuck Norris endorses @GregAbbott_TX for governor on Riverwalk http://t.co/82jAnp8a3F by @johnwgonzalez pic.twitter.com/41NFTazE7V

— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) October 22, 2014

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This isn’t Norris’ first time in the political arena.

In 2012, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president,  saying he was the “best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.”

Norris, 74, also got involved in the National Rifle Association’s “Trigger the Vote,” campaign this summer.

“Anyone can throw a punch. It takes a real man or woman to punch a voter registration card,” Norris said in a video.

History Repeating Itself in Connecticut Governor’s Race

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Four years ago, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley had the tightest election in Connecticut’s history, with Malloy winning the governor’s race by about 6,000 votes.

Now, the two look headed for a similarly tight brawl.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday, Gov. Malloy has 43 percent of likely voters while GOP challenger Foley has 42 percent. Independent candidate Joe Visconti has 9 percent.

The results are similar to Quinnipiac’s poll from earlier this month.

There is a wide gender gap so Malloy will know who to thank if he does win. He leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men.

With just two weeks to go, 81 percent of Connecticut voters say their mind is made up.

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First Day on the Job for Ebola Czar Ron Klain Begins at the White House

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s day one for Ron Klain and already the newly-minted Ebola Czar has a full plate and a packed schedule.

On Wednesday he sits down with President Obama at the White House and gets up to speed with the administration’s Ebola response team.

As the new point-person, Klain is tasked with coordinating the various agencies, and all of the bureaucracies involved, and making sure the government’s response runs more smoothly.

One item not on Klain’s schedule: testifying before the House on Friday. Other administration representatives will speak at that hearing, since it will only be day three of Klain’s tenure.

Meanwhile, Klain hasn’t even started his new job and already speculation is swirling about his next position. Politico reported on Wednesday that he is in line to replace John Podesta as counselor to the president, or possibly even to succeed Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Not surprisingly, the White House insists Klain is focused on the task front of him.

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What the Supreme Court Did (and Did Not) Reveal About 3 Hot Button Issues

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Without uttering a word from the bench, the Supreme Court acted on major hot button issues in the last month concerning voting rights, abortion and gay marriage.

The cases weren’t on the Court’s argument calendar. Parties were either asking the Court to act on an emergency basis to freeze a lower court decision, or requesting that the Court step in and take a case for later in the term. The Court responded by issuing orders (one came at 5 a.m. on Saturday!) that were usually only a few sentences long. We never got the majority’s reasoning, but in some cases a few of the Justices released a public dissent.

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Here’s some of what we know, and what we don’t about the hot button issues:

Voting Rights:

The court sent a strong signal that it didn’t like voting changes made too close to an election. It allowed voting restrictions to remain in effect in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. It stopped Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from going into effect.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior member of the liberal wing of the Court, had a couple of things she wanted to make clear: the country, she believes, is now feeling the impact of the Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County that invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. In two separate dissents she pointed out that voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina would most likely not have been able to stand in pre-Shelby days. She said the Texas Voter ID law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

In an interview last Sunday with NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Ginsburg explained why she pulled an all-nighter to write her dissent in the Texas case. She thought the Court might create more confusion at the polls by allowing the new Texas Voter Id law to remain in effect, rather than reverting to the state’s previous voter id law. She said the new law hadn’t been tested in a federal election and that poll workers hadn’t received enough training. “Poll watchers,” Ginsburg said, “were more familiar with the old procedure than they were with this new procedure.”

Abortion:

The Court blocked part of Texas’ abortion law from going into effect pending appeal. Pro choice groups praised the court’s order saying that several abortion clinics-forced to close because of a lower court ruling — would be able to reopen while the merits of the case were argued.

What’s interesting in this case is that while Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas publicly dissented, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy were publicly silent.

The court’s action was not a ruling on the merits, it simply granted an emergency application from pro-choice groups fearful that the state would be left with just 7 clinics. But the silence on the part of Roberts and Kennedy gave the groups some hope that they might be able to get 5 votes down the road to permanently strike down provisions of the law.

Gay Marriage:

The justices cleared the way for gay marriage in several states when the Court declined to step in and review seven cases from three appeals courts. President Obama went as far as telling the New Yorker that the Court’s action was as “consequential” as anything the Court has done.

We may never know what went on behind closed doors when the Justices made their decision. It would have taken 4 votes to grant any one of the cases. Every Justice knew that if the Court chose not to take up the cases, in short order 35 states would allow gay marriage. Were the liberals hoping to get more states on the book allowing gay marriage before stepping in?

Did the Chief want to decide the issue once and for all? The only guidance we had occurred away from the Court. Ginsburg, speaking presumably for herself, pointed out in her interview that so far all the appeals courts have struck down state bans, and there is no split in the circuit courts. “When there’s no disagreement among the Courts of Appeals, we don’t step in,” Ginsburg said.

Chuck Norris Joins Texas’ Greg Abbott on Campaign Trail

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both gubernatorial candidates are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities. And on Wednesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott will rely on a little star power to help him.

Abbott will be joined by Chuck Norris, who has campaigned for Republican presidential candidates in the past at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

In 2012, Norris released a video warning that the country would face “1,000 years of darkness” if President Obama was reelected.

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White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

AP Braley hug emd 20141022 16x9 608 White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

(Justin Hayworth / AP Photo)

The White House is doing its best to boost Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, but keeps getting tripped up.

After repeatedly flubbing his name and referring to him as “Bruce Bailey” at a rally last week, First Lady Michelle Obama got a do-over Tuesday while stumping for the Democrat in Iowa City.

This time, she made sure to get it right, joking that she has so much trouble with names she sometimes can’t keep her daughters straight.

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“It’s like, who are you? I call Barack Bo,” she said, explaining how she sometimes calls her husband by the dog’s name. “It never works out really well.”

Despite the first lady’s attempt to smooth things over, the White House goofed again, sending out the transcript of Mrs. Obama’s remarks in a an email entitled “Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Bruce Braley.”

They got the name right, but not the title. Braley is a candidate for Senate, not governor.

The White House later issued a correction.

They will get another chance to get it right when Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for Braley next Monday. Third time’s the charm?

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Congressional Candidate Wants You to Know She Does Not Hate Puppies

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Republican Martha McSally asked voters in Arizona’s second district to consider the age-old question: Does this candidate hate puppies? Of course not, according to her campaign.

In a new ad released Tuesday called “Puppies,” the former Air Force colonel fired back against the “scare-tactics” her campaign says have been used in the ads of her opponent, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber, and his political allies.

The argument has been used several times over the last few weeks in specific reference to one of Barber’s “political allies” in particular: Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The outside group put out an ad last month that garnered sharp criticism from the McSally campaign and others for accusing the GOP candidate of supporting the “stalker gap” that allows individuals convicted of a misdemeanor for stalking to buy guns after a background check.

Giffords is not only Barber’s predecessor, but also his former boss. Turning focus back to her outrage over the Americans for Responsible Solutions ad “Stalker,” McSally’s new ad attempts to mock the outlandish claims being made by her opponent’s side.

In the ad, an “over-the-top” narrator, or “Ron Barber’s ad guy,” proclaims over “ominous music” that “McSally dislikes puppies.” “Watch it,” McSally says standing over him in a sound studio.

To be clear, Barber’s campaign has never actually accused McSally of hating puppies. The ad speaks to what her campaign believes are the outlandish nature the attacks against her have taken on.

There are other silly statements in the ad, like “McSally opposes apple pie.” The narrator also suggests she’s launched her own “War on Women.”

“Are you kidding me? This is why people are fed up with politics. The lies keep growing but the jobs don’t. I’m Martha McSally and I approve this message because it’s time for a change,” she fires back to the faux narrator.

Other issues referenced in the commercial include McSally’s position on student loans, social security and Medicare.

“The ad also corrects for the record once and for all: Martha McSally loves puppies,” according to a statement from her campaign.

In response to the ad, the Barber campaign noted: “This campaign is not about puppies, but about people.”

“The fact is, Martha McSally’s stated positions hurt the people of southern Arizona and she needs to take responsibility for her positions,” said Ashley Nash-Hahn, spokeswoman for Ron Barber for Congress. “She also needs to take responsibility for the fact that her own attack ads have been called ‘not true’ by non-partisan news outlets.”

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This Congressional Candidate Wants Everyone to Know She Does Not Hate Puppies

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Republican Martha McSally asked voters in Arizona’s second district to consider the age-old question: Does this candidate hate puppies? Of course not, according to her campaign.

In a new ad released Tuesday called “Puppies,” the former Air Force colonel fired back against the “scare-tactics” her campaign says have been used in the ads of her opponent, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber, and his political allies.

 

The argument has been used several times over the last few weeks in specific reference to one of Barber’s “political allies” in particular: Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The outside group put out an ad last month that garnered sharp criticism from the McSally campaign and others for accusing the GOP candidate of supporting the “stalker gap” that allows individuals convicted of a misdemeanor for stalking to buy guns after a background check.

Giffords is not only Barber’s predecessor, but also his former boss. Turning focus back to her outrage over the Americans for Responsible Solutions ad “Stalker,” McSally’s new ad attempts to mock the outlandish claims being made by her opponent’s side.

In the ad, an “over-the-top” narrator, or “Ron Barber’s ad guy,” proclaims over “ominous music” that “McSally dislikes puppies.” “Watch it,” McSally says standing over him in a sound studio.

To be clear, Barber’s campaign has never actually accused McSally of hating puppies. The ad speaks to what her campaign believes are the outlandish nature the attacks against her have taken on.

There are other silly statements in the ad, like “McSally opposes apple pie.” The narrator also suggests she’s launched her own “War on Women.”

“Are you kidding me? This is why people are fed up with politics. The lies keep growing but the jobs don’t. I’m Martha McSally and I approve this message because it’s time for a change,” she fires back to the faux narrator.

Other issues referenced in the commercial include McSally’s position on student loans, social security and Medicare.

“The ad also corrects for the record once and for all: Martha McSally loves puppies,” according to a statement from her campaign.

In response to the ad, the Barber campaign noted: “This campaign is not about puppies, but about people.”

“The fact is, Martha McSally’s stated positions hurt the people of southern Arizona and she needs to take responsibility for her positions,” said Ashley Nash-Hahn, spokeswoman for Ron Barber for Congress. “She also needs to take responsibility for the fact that her own attack ads have been called ‘not true’ by non-partisan news outlets.”

 

Enter The Czar

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • IT’S DAY ONE for Ron Klain, and already the newly-minted Ebola Czar has a full plate and a packed schedule, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. Today he sits down with President Obama at the White House and gets up to speed with the administration’s Ebola response team. As the new point-person, Klain is tasked with coordinating the various agencies, and all of the bureaucracies involved, and making sure the government’s response runs more smoothly. One item not on his schedule: Testifying before the House on Friday. Other administration representatives will speak at that hearing, since it will only be day three of Klain’s tenure.
  • THE SCUTTLEBUTT: Klain hasn’t even started his new job and already speculation is swirling about his next position. Politico reported yesterday that he is in line to replace John Podesta as counselor to the president or possibly even to succeed Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Not surprisingly, the White House insists Klain is focused on the task front of him.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Republicans can thank the reliable old federal bureaucracy for their latest little gift-wrapped present. The AP reports that the Department of Homeland Security is soliciting millions of new green cards – yes, the physical paperwork needed for legal status – “to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements.” That’s right: The federal government is already ordering as many as 34 million new cards over five years to accommodate legal changes that haven’t been announced, much less approved by Congress. If and when this factoid makes its way into a campaign ad or a stump speech, it will be another reminder of the questionable political strategy of the White House deciding to delay immigration action until after the election. You don’t get full credit for not acting if everyone knows you’re about to. And the idea that tax dollars are set to be expended to support a sweeping new policy, before that policy is even announced or enacted? How better to confirm voters’ mistrust in government?

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

–FLORIDA: ALL TIED UP. In Florida, incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican turned Democrat, are literally as tight as can be with both at 42 percent, with 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. A Quinnipiac poll last month showed Scott with 44 percent to Crist’s 42 percent. Without Wyllie in the race, Scott and Crist still are locked at 44 percent each. As for the gender gap in this race, Crist leads Scott with women, 45 to 39 percent, and Scott leads Crist among men, 46 to 38 percent. Ninety percent of voters say their mind is made up — not much wiggle room — while 10 percent say they might change their mind before Election Day. http://bit.ly/1wir7FT -Shushannah Walshe

–NORTH CAROLINA: TILLIS’ ONE-MAN SHOW. It was a campaign decision–and not quibbling over a fan–that kept Sen. Kay Hagan away from the Time Warner Cable News Senate debate Tuesday night. Democrats’ determination to keep to 2008′s three debate precedent gave Republican candidate Thom Tillis the rare opportunity to articulate his argument for office on stage without worrying about an opponent or time limits. Despite the unusual aside, Tillis kept to his script, chastising the Obama administration’s handling of Ebola, defending his standing on women’s issues and offering few specifics for a strategy against ISIS. –Ben Siegel

–TEXAS: CELEB ON THE TRAIL. With the first week of early voting underway in the Lone Star State, both gubernatorial candidates are increasing their get out the vote activities, and Attorney General Greg Abbott is relying on a little star power to help him. Today Abbott will be joined by Chuck Norris, who has campaigned for Republican presidential candidates in the past, at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. In 2012, Norris released a video warning that the country would face “1,000 years of darkness” if President Obama was reelected. –Arlette Saenz

–NEW HAMPSHIRE: BROWN AND SHAHEEN FACE OFF. In their first live televised debate, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her opponent Scott Brown both put up a fight in a match-up dominated by Ebola and national security concerns. Two of the moments that tripped up both of the candidates we might be seeing in ads in the next two weeks. First, when asked if Obamacare was a “proud accomplishment” for Shaheen, she responded “absolutely.” It might be the truth, but Republicans immediately pounced on the remark and began pushing the clip out. Later, when Brown was asked why he decided to run in the Granite State instead of again in Massachusetts or another state, he said “because I live here!” prompting audible laughter from the crowd. Shaheen listed the other races Brown had mulled over even thinking about a presidential run after a visit to Iowa saying, “Well I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize.” Brown noted his “long and strong” family ties to the state. The two will meet again Thursday –Shushannah Walshe

–IOWA: FLOTUS GETS A SECOND TRY ON THE STUMP. While stumping for Bruce Braley in Iowa on Tuesday, Michelle Obama joked about mispronouncing the Democratic candidate’s name seven times at a previous voting rally. “Although I may have slipped up on Bruce’s name a couple of times, what I know I got right are Bruce’s values,” the First Lady said. However, the confusion continued when the White House incorrectly identified Braley’s candidacy in an official transcript later that day. The White House shortly corrected the error with an updated transcript. – Alisa Wiersema

–CONNECTICUT: HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. Four years ago, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley had the tightest election in Connecticut’s history with Malloy winning by about 6,000 votes. The two look headed for a similarly tight brawl with a new Quinnipiac poll out today showing the race is still as tight as possible. Gov. Malloy has 43 percent of likely voters while GOP challenger Foley has 42 percent, with 9 percent for independent candidate Joe Visconti. These are similar results to their poll earlier this month. There is a wide gender gap so Malloy will know who to thank if he does win. He leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men. With just two weeks to go 81 percent of Connecticut voters say their mind is made up. http://bit.ly/1pxHLg3Shushannah Walshe

 

THE BUZZ
with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

BRISTOL PALIN DESCRIBES MOMENTS THAT LED TO DRUNKEN BRAWL. Bristol Palin said the drunken brawl involving her family at a house party last month was started when she was defending her younger sister, newly released audio reveals, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. The eldest daughter of Sarah Palin is heard on the audio obtained by ABC News from the Anchorage Police Department sounding extremely upset as she describes the fight, and telling police that her “5-year-old [is] in the car!” She can be heard telling an officer that her sister Willow, 20, came up to her while she was waiting in the family’s rented limo and told her an “old lady” came up to her and “pushed” her. Bristol Palin told the police she responded, “Oh f****** hell no, no one is going to touch my sister.” Palin, who was described in the previously released police report as “heavily intoxicated and upset,” tells the officer that when she confronted the woman, a man “gets in my face, pushes me down on the grass, drags me across the grass” and swore at her, calling her a “slut,” among another names. http://abcn.ws/1zjRr7h

OBAMA’S ‘UNPAID BILLS’ QUIP DISAPPEARS FROM TRANSCRIPT. President Obama’s unpaid bills have gone missing. During a rare trip home to Chicago, Obama on Monday lamented the life he left behind. “One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule,” he told supporters at a fundraiser. “Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills,” he joked. “I think eventually they got paid-but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.” However, ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports that the White House left the president’s quip about his unpaid bills out of the official transcript. http://abcn.ws/1x5DGDK

AFGHAN OPIUM TRADE THRIVING DESPITE – OR WITH HELP OF – US $7 BILLION EFFORT. Despite more than $7 billion of American counter-narcotics spending, Afghanistan’s opium trade has never been bigger, according to a U.S. government watchdog. A new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction issued on Tuesday highlights the continued growth of Afghanistan’s poppy fields despite more than a decade of U.S. and international counter-narcotics efforts. Various federal agencies have spent $7.6 billion in Afghanistan over 12 years to curb the world’s largest opium industry. According to ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ and BEN SIEGEL, the farming of opium poppies by Afghanistan’s farmers has rebounded in recent years despite some initial progress. United Nations figures show that farmers in Afghanistan cultivated 806 square miles of opium poppy last year, a field roughly 2.5 times the size of New York City. http://abcn.ws/1FyiVGX

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

THE HILARIOUS MOMENT WHEN A GUY TOLD OBAMA ‘DON’T TOUCH MY GIRLFRIEND.’ President Obama found himself in an unusual situation Monday. ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports that as he was casting his ballot early in Chicago, minding his own business behind the voting booth, a young man walked by and warned him “don’t touch my girlfriend.” The girlfriend, Aia Cooper, who was voting in the booth next to Obama, was humiliated, to say the least. “I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama joked with the woman. “There’s an example of a brother just embarrassing you, just for no reason whatsoever.” “And now you’ll be going back home and talking to you friends; what’s his name?” the president asked. “Mike,” Cooper said. “‘I can’t believe Mike. He’s such a fool,’” Obama said, impersonating the woman. “He really is,” she agreed. Obama continued: “‘I was just mortified. But, fortunately, the president was nice about it. So it’s all right.’” “I am freaking out right now,” she said, laughing.The president got the last laugh, though. “Give me a kiss and give him something to talk about,” the president said, as he gave Cooper a hug and a peck on the cheek. “Now he’s really jealous.” http://abcn.ws/1wi3ihz

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@washingtonpost: Ben Bradlee embodied “a much more confident time in American journalism” http://wapo.st/128o0qb  by @MarkLeibovich

@markknoller: “He lived a wonderful life,” says Bernstein of Ben Bradlee. “He was always our friend,” says Woodward.

@camanpour: Ben Bradlee is gone – who can carry his torch? Read my friend Marilyn Berger’s obituary in the @nytimes: http://nyti.ms/1osJY1d 

@johndickerson: My latest: My favorite Ben Bradlee quote and why I like it so much. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/10/ben_bradlee_dead_his_relationship_with_john_f_kennedy_shows_what_s_missing.html …

@carolynryan: A “kid.” A job interview. And a “total lie.” My favorite Ben Bradlee memory comes from @bumillernyt http://nyti.ms/1yXZQMI 

Christie Fed Up with Talk About Raising Minimum Wage

Posted on: October 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/ LOU ROCCO(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no fan of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour as urged by President Obama.

Christie, who many expect will run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am.”

The governor went on to say that parents in U.S. want more for their children than aspiring to make the minimum wage.

He then went on to mock Obama and his constituency, saying, “The president [is] playing to the lowest common denominator on a higher minimum wage.”

Christie also went on to attack the Affordable Care Act, calling the health care law “fiction. It doesn’t work, and it should be repealed.”

And while he was on a roll, the Republican governor picked on one of his favorite enemies, teachers unions, saying “It’s time to start offending them.”

In response to Christie’s remarks on minimum wage, Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said, “Raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 could help lift nearly 5 million Americans out of poverty. A raise could also add billions to the GDP and add 85,000 jobs to the economy.”

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Bristol Palin Describes Moments That Led to Drunken Brawl

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Bristol Palin said the drunken brawl involving her family at a house party last month was started when she was defending her younger sister, newly released audio reveals.

The eldest daughter of Sarah Palin is heard on the audio obtained by ABC News from the Anchorage Police Department sounding extremely upset as she describes the fight, and telling police that her “5-year-old [is] in the car!”

She can be heard telling an officer that her sister Willow, 20, came up to her while she was waiting in the family’s rented limo and told her an “old lady” came up to her and “pushed” her.

Bristol Palin told the police she responded, “Oh f****** hell no, no one is going to touch my sister.”

Palin, who was described in the previously released police report as “heavily intoxicated and upset,” tells the officer that when she confronted the woman, a man “gets in my face, pushes me down on the grass, drags me across the grass” and swore at her, calling her a “slut,” among another names.

Sarah Palin’s Family Allegedly in Alaska House Party Brawl

Palin Family Brawl Detailed in Police Reports

She then says she was pushed down again and pulled by her feet by the man who “comes out of nowhere,” identified in the earlier police report as Korey Klingenmeyer, who owned the home where the party was held.

Palin says she doesn’t know the man and has “never seen this guy in my life.”

Prosecutors said earlier this month they would not proceed with charges in the fight. The police were called to a birthday party for twin brothers Matthew and Marc McKenna at Klingenmeyer’s home in South Anchorage on Sept. 6. It was also Todd Palin’s birthday, who also attended with his wife and children.

Klingenmeyer told officers in the police report that Bristol Palin punched him five to six times in the face and that she was “hitting pretty hard.”

An officer wrote in that report that both Sarah and Todd Palin “appeared upset and in a verbal argument with other individuals at the scene.” There is no interview with the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee included in the report.

Klingenmeyer, who is described as “moderately intoxicated” in the report, told police he was considering filing charges and was “angry that the Palins had showed up and were causing problems,” according to the same report.

He told police he had asked Bristol Palin to leave and she responded, “Who the f*** are you?” Klingenmeyer told her he owned the home and Palin said she didn’t believe him and “she will kick his a**,” the police report says.

The report also includes accounts of a fight that Track Palin, Sarah and Todd Palin’s eldest son, allegedly got into at the same party.

Palin’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Georgia Democratic Party Urges Residents to Vote, ‘Prevent Another Ferguson’

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

hermosawave/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The Georgia Democratic Party says it has been sending out political fliers featuring black children holding up signs that read “Don’t Shoot,” referencing the racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo., asking residents to “VOTE…if you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future.”

The fliers are a reference to the police-involved shooting in Ferguson that left 18-year-old Michael Brown dead in August. The party issued a statement on Tuesday calling the “fight for the right to vote and for every vote to be counted” a “part of our state’s history.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted photos of the fliers.

“We have seen what happens in places like Ferguson, Missouri, when voices are silenced,” the Georgia Democratic Party continued.

In most counties in Georgia, early voting is under way and will continue through Oct. 31, with the election on Nov. 4.

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Rick Perry Announces Creation of New Ebola Containment Facility in North Texas

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Matthew Putney(DALLAS) — Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, announced the creation of a state-of-the-art Ebola treatment and infectious disease bio containment facility in North Texas on Tuesday.

The facility will be set up and operated through a partnership between the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Methodist Hospital System and Parkland Hospital System. Those hospitals will contribute physicians experienced in treating infectious disease; space; and equipment to the new facility.

“In the event of another diagnosis this facility will allow us to act quickly to limit the virus’ reach and give patients the care they need in an environment where health care workers are specially trained and equipped to deal with the unique requirements of this disease,” Perry said.

The facility was among the recommendations made by Perry’s Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.

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Political TV Ad Claims Obama Is Bad for African Americans

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

While President Obama has returned to the campaign trail to court the black vote ahead of the midterm elections, race has arisen as an issue in two key Senate races, albeit for very different reasons.

A new television ad airing in Louisiana makes the case that the nation’s first black president has been bad for the black community.

The ad comes from a group called “Progressives for Immigration Reform” and uses images of Hurricane Katrina devastation and blacks standing in unemployment lines to argue that “our own president” wants to allow in millions of illegal immigrant workers to “take jobs when many of us still can’t find jobs.”

“African-Americans were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, devastated by joblessness and the Great Recession. Now, we face another challenger: Our own president,” the ad’s announcer says.

Obama Hits the Trail

Nixon Creating Group to Address Ferguson Issues

In Run-Up to Midterms, Obama Scarce From Campaign Trail

Progressives for Immigration Reform did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Though the group’s stance on immigration reform falls on the conservative side of the political spectrum, the group’s website says it was founded on the principles of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, a Texas Democrat and the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives from the South. It describes its mission as protecting “low-skill, low wage American workers.”

The ad is not targeted at one specific candidate, but implores voters to “ask Louisiana’s leaders where they stand on millions more immigrant workers” at its conclusion.

Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue in the Louisiana Senate race, in which three-term incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu is facing a tough reelection bid against leading Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy. Both Landrieu and Cassidy have aired television ads portraying their opponent as weak on border security.

In Georgia, where Democrats hope a large African-American electorate could boost Senate candidate Michelle Nunn in her competitive race against Republican David Perdue, the state Democratic Party has sent out mailers that show images from Ferguson.

Democratic Party of GA early voting mailer pic.twitter.com/onsjCNL5Bt

— Noel Kirkpatrick (@noelrk) October 16, 2014

 

The mailers read, “It’s up to you to make change happen” and urge Democratic votes to prevent “another Ferguson.”

“The fight for the right to vote and for every vote to be counted is part of our state’s history, a part of the fabric that makes Georgia what it is today,” party spokesman Michael Smith told ABC. “And we have seen what happens in places like Ferguson, Missouri, when voices are silenced.”

White House Fence Jumper Deemed Not Competent for Trial

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

m-kojot/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A preliminary mental health assessment has determined that the White House fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, is not competent for trial.

Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a weapon, assaulting an officer and numerous local offenses after he hopped the fence at the White House and evaded Secret Service agents on his way into the building in September.

Last week, Gonzalez underwent a one-hour forensic screening. Based on the results of that screening, a judge presiding over the pretrial hearing determined that Gonzalez “was presently not competent.”

A defense attorney objected to the findings of that screening.

The judge ordered a more complete health exam within the next month.

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GAO: Thousands of Federal Workers on Extended Paid Leave

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than 57,000 government workers were placed on paid administrative leave for over one month between 2011 and 2013, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released on Tuesday, with 263 employees being paid while on leave for over a year.

The GAO review looked at data from the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The GAO noted “inaccuracies in Office of Personnel Management data” caused by differences in agencies’ leave-recording practices and what the OPM considers paid administrative leave and differences in what payroll providers report as paid administrative leave.

While 97 percent of employees placed on paid administrative leave spent 20 days or less on leave, 57,336 were on leave for between one month and three years.

The GAO called upon the OPM to “develop agency and payroll provider guidance regarding the recording and reporting of paid administrative leave” to minimize the cost of paying workers on leave. The Washington Post reports that between 2011 and 2013, the tab for workers on leave was more than $775 million.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said on Tuesday that she took the GAO’s recommendations seriously and will aim to ensure all leave policies are used and reported properly. She noted that “use of administrative leave is under the authority of each individual agency, and that each agency has the ultimate responsibility to use their discretion to determine its proper use.”

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Obama’s ‘Unpaid Bills’ Quip Disappears from Transcript

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Pete Souza – The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama’s unpaid bills have gone missing.

During a rare trip home to Chicago, Obama on Monday lamented the life he left behind.

“One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule,” he told supporters at a fundraiser.

“Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills,” Obama joked. “I think eventually they got paid — but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”

The White House, however, left the president’s quip about his unpaid bills out of the official transcript.

According to the transcript, Obama said “we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some — newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”

Tuesday morning, the White House issued an updated transcript, but it still didn’t mention the “unpaid bills.” Instead, it included an “inaudible” in that portion.

According to the White House, the omission was unintentional and the result of problem with the audio recording.

No word on what bills were left unpaid.

“I did not have a chance to rummage through the desk of the president while he was home this week,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest jokingly told reporters.

The president has been talking a lot about his finances recently. Just last week, he explained how his credit card was rejected during a recent dinner out with the first lady.

“I was trying to explain to the waitress, ‘No, I really think that I’ve been paying my bills,’” he joked last Friday.

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Hillary Clinton to Stump for Sen. Udall in Colorado Again

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(DENVER) — Hillary Clinton on Tuesday will make her second stop in Colorado for embattled Sen. Mark Udall in just over a week, anchoring a get-out-the-vote rally in Denver.

The former secretary of state’s appearance — sandwiched between Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Friday visit, and first lady Michelle Obama’s stop this Thursday — is part of a highly choreographed effort to stimulate the Democratic base as early voting begins.

While Democrats believe their storied ground game will find voters, and universal mail-in ballots will make voting more convenient than ever, Udall can’t win without energized Democrats. They’re hoping some of the party’s biggest stars can deliver that much-needed enthusiasm.

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RNC Targets Sen. Mark Pryor in New Video

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Two weeks before the election, the Republican National Committee is targeting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in its latest “Road to Six” video, arguing that he “does not represent Arkansas values.”

The video paints Pryor as a candidate who has voted and sided with President Obama. It also features footage of Pryor saying Rep. Tom Cotton has a “sense of entitlement” because he served in the military.

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NC GOP Sends Duck Across State Questioning Sen. Hagan

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

NCRNC(WASHINGTON) — Remember the Republican National Committee squirrel that hounded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the start of her book tour? Turns out he has a Southern friend.

The North Carolina Republican Party has sent someone around the state in a yellow duck costume with a series of signs, questioning Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s decision to “duck” a proposed fourth Senate debate Tuesday evening, as well as the classified Senate ISIS briefing she missed for a New York City fundraiser.

 

The NCGOP Duck visited the USS North Carolina in Wilmington today to ask, “Why is Hagan ducking the Oct. 21?” #ncsen pic.twitter.com/o1ZIGRYr4M

— NCGOP (@NCGOP) October 13, 2014

 

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The Hilarious Moment When a Man Told Obama, ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(CHICAGO) — President Obama found himself in an unusual situation Monday.

As he was casting his ballot early in Chicago, minding his own business behind the voting booth, a young man walked by and warned him “don’t touch my girlfriend.”

The girlfriend, who was voting in the booth next to Obama, was humiliated, to say the least. “I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama joked with the woman. “There’s an example of a brother just embarrassing you, just for no reason whatsoever.”

“And now you’ll be going back home and talking to your friends — what’s his name?” the president asked.

“Mike,” the woman said.

“‘I can’t believe Mike. He’s such a fool,’” Obama said, impersonating the woman.

“He really is,” she agreed.

Obama continued: “‘I was just mortified. But, fortunately, the president was nice about it. So it’s all right.’”

“I am freaking out right now,” the woman said, laughing.

The president got the last laugh, though.

“Give me a kiss and give him something to talk about,” the president said, as he gave Cooper a hug and a peck on the cheek. “Now he’s really jealous.”

But Cooper downplayed the moment.

“He gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Just the cheek,” she told ABC’s Chicago station WLS. “Please, Michelle, don’t come after me!”

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The Bigger the Government, the Happier the People?

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) — For decades, conservatives have decried the concept of big government, claiming it hurts personal civil liberties and stifles economic growth.

However, Baylor University political scientists Patrick Flavin argues that conservatives may want to rethink their long-standing belief based on a study he did of 50,000 people in 21 countries.

The general consensus is that people are happier with big governments with leftist leanings that provide numerous entitlement programs, including welfare.

What’s more, their personal satisfaction grows when the government actually intervenes in the economy as opposed to the concept of a free market.

Flavin and his team insist that they’re not trying to start an ideological debate and yet they say that a social democracy is one that makes most of a country’s citizens happy.

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The Hilarious Moment When a Guy Told Obama ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

President Obama found himself in an unusual situation Monday.

As he was casting his ballot early in Chicago, minding his own business behind the voting booth, a young man walked by and warned him “don’t touch my girlfriend.”

The girlfriend, Aia Cooper, who was voting in the booth next to Obama, was humiliated, to say the least. “I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama joked with the woman. “There’s an example of a brother just embarrassing you, just for no reason whatsoever.”

“And now you’ll be going back home and talking to you friends; what’s his name?” the president asked.

“Mike,”  Cooper said.

“‘I can’t believe Mike. He’s such a fool,’” Obama said, impersonating the woman.

“He really is,” she agreed.

Obama continued: “‘I was just mortified. But, fortunately, the president was nice about it. So it’s all right.’”

“I am freaking out right now,” she said, laughing.

The president got the last laugh, though.

“Give me a kiss and give him something to talk about,” the president said, as he gave Cooper a hug and a peck on the cheek. “Now he’s really jealous.”

But Cooper downplayed the moment.

“He gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Just the cheek,” she told ABC’s Chicago station WLS. “Please, Michelle, don’t come after me!”

 

Monica Lewinsky Gets Trolled After Calling for End to Cyberbullying

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY monica lewinsky ml 140506 16x9 608 Monica Lewinsky Gets Trolled After Calling for End to Cyberbullying

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky leaves the 2000 New York Magazine Awards, Dec. 4, 2000, at Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Monica Lewinsky joined Twitter  as part of an effort to raise awareness about cyberbullying. And in turn, got massively cyberbullied.

After sending out her first tweet Monday morning, Lewinsky, who now describes herself as the first person to be “destroyed by the Internet,” quickly became a top trending topic on the social media site. Many of the reactions were snide or simply unkind.

For instance…

@MonicaLewinsky hashtags are dead, ICYMI

— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) October 20, 2014

You’ll get some abuse on here, but you’ll just have to suck it up I’m afraid @MonicaLewinsky

— Jon-T (@AchtungJono) October 20, 2014

Serious inquiry. What are your thoughts on the T.V. series, “Scandal”? @MonicaLewinsky

— K. (@Krislisisms) October 20, 2014

@MonicaLewinsky your mouth ruined a country.

— The Mauve Avenger (@NeenoPerry) October 20, 2014

@MonicaLewinsky I have a cigar with your name on it……

— Rumplestiltskin (@Jasonschear) October 20, 2014

@MonicaLewinsky Are you available for bachelor parties?

— Theophilos Hoopskirt (@Sharpinsky) October 20, 2014

Lewinsky said she anticipated it. 

“There are those who say, Monica, why don’t you just shut up? Why don’t you just go away?” Lewinsky said at the Forbes 30 Under 30 summit just a few hours after joining Twitter. “They will say it today after this one, my first major public talk ever, and they will say it tomorrow, and the day after that.”

Lewinsky appeared unfazed by the venom, judging by her  tweet Monday night.

#gratitude #overwhelmed #thankyou

— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 21, 2014

 

 

Not What Democrats Needed To Hear

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • MIDTERM MESSAGING: “The bottom line is, though, these are … all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress.”  Those words from President Obama on Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show yesterday are going to make life more difficult for Democrats in tight races who are campaigning on their independence from the unpopular president, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER reports. “So this isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me,” Obama continued. “I tell them — I said, you do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out.”
  • ‘THERE’S NOTHING…THAT HE CAN DO’: ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, publicly said the president is of no help in red states to vulnerable Democrats in this election, telling the Washington Post, “there’s nothing in these states that he can do” to help moderate, at-risk Democrats. “He has to do his job and that’s the most important thing that he can do. People already have perceptions, so him coming to these states is not going to be productive for candidates. And it’s a shame that we’ve gotten to that.” http://wapo.st/1t8s0Ru
  • MEET 2014′s TOP MEGA-DONORS: The overwhelming number of Americans who will vote in the mid-term elections on Nov. 5 won’t have contributed a penny to their candidates’ campaigns. But a handful of people will have given more. A lot more. More than a quarter of the $6 billion contributed to campaigns in 2012 came from about 31,500 individual donors, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which found that not a single candidate won two years ago without the help of the group dubbed the “one percent of the one percent.” As politics becomes more expensive with every election cycle, these super donors have never been more important. ABC’s BEN SIEGEL takes a look at the  top 10 individual donors of the 2014 election cycle, compiled for ABC News by the Center for Responsive Politics. http://abcn.ws/1zi6K0p

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: His feelings will be the least of his worries, if the Senate winds up tipping. President Obama’s latest comments linking endangered Democrats with his agenda – “these are all folks who vote with me” — was hardly a necessary link for 2014. His previous comments -not to mention the Democrats’ own voting records – made that connection quite effectively. But the president’s moves to hammer that point home, and taking personal responsibility for “making sure that our voters turn out,” ensure that the comments will be remembered in 2015 and 2016, too. The quotes are teed up for post-election analyses. The president is putting himself, and his agenda, more explicitly on the line. If voters reject the candidates, it follows that they’re rejecting his “agenda in Congress.” Those judgments, of course, last two years – Obama’s last in office.

ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON: Wal-Mart Moms, identified as women who shop at the super chain at least once a month with a child under 18-years-old, believe Washington is out of touch. In two focus groups in battlegrounds in Charlotte, N.C. and New Orleans, La., none of the women, who largely considered themselves independents and undecided voters, knew much about the candidates – despite millions of dollars in advertising. They think it’s a choice between the lesser of two evils. These swing voters make up between 14 to 17 percent of the electorate, according to Public Opinion Strategies.  All expressed negative views of the direction the country is heading, particularly on foreign affairs and border security.  The women had a lot of questions about Ebola. They think the government doesn’t have it under control but don’t believe Ebola will likely infect them. They aren’t flying. They want the president to ban travel from the region. The CDC is behind the ball, and the government is playing catch up. While the women who participated in the focus groups have an overwhelmingly negative perception of Congress, none held such deep opinions about the candidates on the ballot in two weeks. Instead, they plan to cram for Election Day like a test, googling the information they need to make a decision the night before they head to the polls.

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The National Republican Senatorial Committee believes it has found another way to tie Democrats to President Obama: Ebola. Their press releases today come with these screaming headlines: Grimes Defers to Obama on Ebola. Nunn Defers to Obama on Ebola. Hagan Defers to Obama on Ebola. And on and on, throughout the roster of top Senate races across the country. But is the GOP overplaying its hand? While Ebola may be the October surprise of the fall campaign — largely because it’s October and there has yet to be another surprise — it’s hard to imagine that the outbreak moves any voters. To fire up the base, sure, it’s another way to hammer the president. But undecided voters, if there are truly any who remain, could surely be turned off by the crass political treatment of a deadly outbreak. If it’s too soon to crack jokes about Ebola, is it too soon to blatantly politicize it?

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

–NORTH CAROLINA: DUCK TRAILS. Remember the RNC squirrel that hounded Hillary Clinton at the start of her book tour? Turns out he has a Southern friend. The North Carolina Republican Party has sent someone around the state in a yellow duck costume with a series of signs, questioning Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s decision to “duck” a proposed fourth Senate debate Tuesday evening, as well as the classified Senate ISIS briefing she missed for a New York City fundraiser: http://bit.ly/1r4NZo6 –Ben Siegel

–KANSAS: MITT ROMNEY SLATED TO CAMPAIGN FOR ROBERTS. The 2012 GOP nominee for President already recorded a robocall for endangered Sen. Pat Roberts in September, but now Mitt Romney is set to make an appearance in the Sunflower State. According to the Associated Press, Romney will headline a rally with Roberts next Monday in Overland Park, just a week and a half after Romney’s running mate Rep. Paul Ryan visited the state to stump for the three-term incumbent. Romney joins Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Bob Dole in the ranks of failed presidential contenders to come to Roberts rescue, though his popularity with Republicans is notable. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Romney atop all others in the GOP 2016 field were he to make a third run at the presidency. -Alexander Mallin

–MASSACHUSETTS: NEWS THAT ACTUALLY SURPRISES. What does it say about politics that the story that has shocked us the most with two weeks to go is a positive one? The Boston Globe’s reporting that Seth Moulton in Massachusetts’ fifth district race actually downplayed his military service, choosing not to embellish his career as so many politicians have done, but to keep the fact he was twice decorated for heroism a secret is a jaw dropper. A secret he even kept from his own parents. Yes, Massachusetts is a blue state, but remember Moulton was in a fierce primary with an incumbent, one he very well could have lost, and he’s in a competitive race now with Republican Richard Tisei. In both instances these awards may have helped if they appeared in an ad or something similar. In the interview with the Globe, Moulton said bragging about his military career was unseemly. He asked the newspaper not to describe him as a hero, shocking for someone running for congress. “Look,” he said, “we served our country, and we served the guys next to us. And it’s not something to brag about.” http://bit.ly/1y1vnKpShushannah Walshe

–COLORADO: CLINTON’S (BACK) FOR UDALL. Hillary Clinton will make her second stop in Colorado Tuesday for embattled Sen. Mark Udall in just over a week, anchoring a get-out-the-vote rally in Denver. Clinton’s appearance–sandwiched between Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Friday visit, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s stop this Thursday–is part of a highly choreographed effort to stimulate the Democratic base as early voting begins. While Democrats believe their storied ground game will find voters, and universal mail-in ballots will make voting more convenient than ever, Udall can’t win without energized Democrats. Who better to deliver that jolt than the party’s biggest stars? –Ben Siegel

–ARIZONA: EVER-SHIFTING HOT BUTTON ISSUES DOMINATE HOUSE RACE. Arizona’s second district lends itself easily to political hot topics – it’s a border state with a swing-like voting population, it houses a large military community, and was once the scene of a tragic and highly politicized shooting. With two weeks to go until Election Day, there’s been a serious spike in shifting between hot-button issues. Yesterday morning Republican Martha McSally slammed Rep. Ron Barber for the mishandling of Ebola in America. By late afternoon, Barber’s campaign fired back at McSally on a wholly unrelated issue – gay marriage – which Arizona ruled to allow last week. Without skipping a beat, the McSally campaign launched a new attack against the congressman this morning for failing Arizonans on jobs & the economy. -Ali Dukakis

–ARKANSAS: NEW RNC “ROAD TO SIX” VIDEO. Two weeks before the election, the Republican National Committee is targeting Democratic Senator Mark Pryor in its latest “Road To Six” video, arguing that he “does not represent Arkansas values.” The video paints Pryor as a candidate who has voted and sided with President Obama and also features footage of Pryor saying Rep. Tom Cotton has a “sense of entitlement” because he served in the military.  WATCH: http://bit.ly/1rpxylv

 

THE BUZZ
with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

‘CITIZEN’ OBAMA VOTES EARLY IN CHICAGO. A day after hitting the campaign trail to get out the vote, President Obama did just that, casting his ballot early in Chicago, ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports.  “The most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen,” the president told reporters at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, as he took advantage of the first day of early voting in Illinois. “I’m so glad I can early vote. It’s so exciting. I love voting,” the president said, in a not-so-subtle sales pitch. “Everybody in Illinois, early vote. It’s a wonderful opportunity.” http://abcn.ws/10f6MH4

NOTED: WHAT THE PRESIDENT AND 2 MILLION EARLY VOTERS CAN TELL US ABOUT ELECTION DAY. President Barack Obama joined almost 2 million voters who have voted before Election Day as he cast his ballot early this morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago. “I’m so glad I can early vote. It’s so exciting. I love voting,” Obama said. Both parties are hoping voters in the 35 states who have early voting heed Obama’s words and either mail in a ballot or go to a polling station before November 4. Nineteen million voters did so in 2010, the last strictly midterm election, and University of Florida associate professor and elections guru Michael McDonald expects 2014′s early vote total to surpass that. He spoke with ABC’s ALI WEINBERG about some of the trends he’s seen so far, and what they could mean for Election Day. http://abcn.ws/1sHQvU4

MONICA LEWINSKY TEARS UP DURING SPEECH ABOUT LIFE AFTER BILL CLINTON. Monica Lewinsky nearly broke down in tears yesterday as she recounted her experience as “patient zero, the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.” ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY and LIZ KREUTZ report that in her “first public talk,” Lewinsky vowed to “give purpose to my past” by speaking publicly about life after her affair with then-President Bill Clinton. As her life unraveled in public, Lewinsky says, she heard “a relentless mantra in my head: I want to die.” Paying tribute to Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University student “humiliated to death” after classmates posted video of him kissing another man online, Lewinsky vowed to share her story despite the backlash. “Today, I think of myself as someone who – who the hell knows how – survived. … Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too.” http://abcn.ws/1wr9ogs

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Embraces ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ Tees. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rap name is the Notorious R.B.G. At least, that’s what her fans on Tumblr call her. According to ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON, Ginsburg recently praised the Tumblr page and admitted she owns a few Notorious R.B.G. t-shirts. “I think a law clerk told me about this Tumblr and also explained to me what Notorious R.B.G. was a parody on,” Ginsburg said at a speaking engagement in New York over the weekend. “And now my grandchildren love it and I try to keep abreast of the latest that’s on the Tumblr… I have quite a large supply [of t-shirts].”  http://abcn.ws/1wkep8J

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@bterris: Being a democrat in 2014 ain’t great. Unless you’re Hillary Clinton http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-is-a-bright-spot-on-a-gloomy-democratic-election-landscape/2014/10/20/f86cb1b6-5862-11e4-bd61-346aee66ba29_story.html …

@RollCallAbby: “If anybody is going to tell you what’s going to happen in Staten Island, you should slap them in the mouth.” http://atr.rollcall.com/house-races-2014-nrcc-dccc-wave/ …

@emilyrs: .@BloombergNews notes that the foreign policy/nat’l security ads have been focused on women candidates in particular http://goo.gl/jkVI6M 

@SaraMurray: Three people with Ebola could board overseas flights every month, a new study shows http://on.wsj.com/1w2cSaB 

@CoryBooker: 6 cups of joe, 3 Diet Mountain Dews & chocolate covered coffee beans MT @OhMissEvans U seem so perky & awake in the morn, what’s ur secret?

POLL: More Prefer Public Transit to Road Building

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Americans in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor expanded public transportation options over road building in government efforts to reduce traffic congestion. But where they live makes a difference.

Overall, 54 percent prefer focusing on public transit, such as trains and buses, while four in 10 say the government should focus on expanding and building roads instead. Preference for public transit, though, ranges from 61 percent of urban residents to 52 percent of suburbanites and 49 percent of people in rural areas.

[See PDF with full results here.]

The results come as Vice President Joe Biden and six mayors from major U.S. cities are scheduled to attend a Washington Post forum Tuesday on relieving traffic congestion.

There are other differences among groups. Preference for a focus on public transit peaks at two in three liberals and six in 10 college graduates, as well as among nonwhites, people under age 40, those in the top income category, $100,000-plus, and political independents.

Other groups have a slight preference for road building: strong conservatives, evangelical white Protestants and white men without a college degree.

METHODOLOGY –
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 4-7, 2014, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell phone-only respondents. Results have a 3.5 point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York.st

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More Prefer Public Transit to Road Building

Posted on: October 21st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY mta subway jef 141020 16x9 608 More Prefer Public Transit to Road Building

Getty Images

Americans in an ABC News/Washington Post poll favor expanded public transportation options over road building in government efforts to reduce traffic congestion. But where they live makes a difference.

Overall, 54 percent prefer focusing on public transit, such as trains and buses, while four in ten say the government should focus on expanding and building roads instead. Preference for public transit, though, ranges from 61 percent of urban residents to 52 percent of suburbanites and 49 percent of people in rural areas.

See PDF with full results here.

The results come as Vice President Joe Biden and six mayors from major U.S. cities are scheduled to attend a Washington Post forum today on relieving traffic congestion.

There are other differences among groups. Preference for a focus on public transit peaks at two in three liberals and six in ten college graduates, as well as among nonwhites, people under age 40, those in the top income category, $100,000-plus, and political independents.

Other groups have a slight preference for road building: strong conservatives, evangelical white Protestants and white men without a college degree.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 4-7, 2014, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell phone-only respondents. Results have a 3.5 point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York.