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.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Suspended with Pay After Pornographic Email Scandal

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Vladek/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended one of its members on Monday after he was accused exchanging sexually explicit emails.

The court chose to relieve Seamus McCaffery of his judicial and administrative responsibilities in light of the email scandal. The court also noted allegations that McCaffery may have attempted to use his position to alter a judicial assignment outside of the scope of his duties, authorized his wife to accept referral fees from plaintiffs’ firms while she served as his administrative assistant, and improperly contacted a traffic-court official in connection with a citation issued to his wife.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille filed a concurring statement in which he said, “in my two decades of experience on this Court, no other Justice…has done as much to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute. No other Justice has failed to live up to the high ethical demands required of a Justice of this Court, or has been the constant focus of ethical lapses to the degree of Justice McCaffery.

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Monica Lewinsky Tears Up During Speech About Life After Bill Clinton

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News’ Erin Dooley and Liz Kreutz report: 

Monica Lewinsky nearly broke down in tears today as she recounted her experience as “patient zero, the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

In what she called 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.

“My name is Monica Lewinsky–though I’ve often been advised to change it,” the president’s former mistress began.

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“Sixteen years ago, fresh out of college, a twenty-two year old intern in the White House — and more than averagely romantic — I fell in love with my boss, in a twenty-two year old sort of a way. It happens,” she said. “By my boss was the president of the United States. That probably happens less often.”

In the wake of the blue dress, the beret, and the salacious Starr report, Lewinsky says, she “came close to disintegrating.”

“I was threatened in various ways. First, with an FBI sting in a shopping mall. …  Immediately following, in a nearby hotel room, I was threatened with up to 27 years in jail for denying the affair in an affidavit,” she recalled. “27 years. When you’re only 24 yourself that’s a long time.”

Choking back tears, she continued, “chillingly told that my mother, too — sorry — that my mother, too, might face prosecution if I didn’t cooperate and wear a wire.”

As her life unraveled in public, Lewinsky says, she heard “a relentless mantra in my head: I want to die.”

“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then. But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites complete with comment sections and emails could be forwarded,” she said. “Of course it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial-up.”

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.”

What President Obama And 2 Million Early Voters Can Tell Us About Election Day

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Barack Obama joined almost 2 million voters who have voted before Election Day as he cast his ballot Monday 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, making a not-so-subtle pitch to voters around the country.

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 News about some of the trends he’s seen so far, and what they could mean for Election Day.

1. Bigger turnout within both parties:

Republicans have been stepping up their early-vote mobilization game, meaning they’ve been catching up to Democrats who have been leading that charge the past few cycles, McDonald said. That’s helped Republicans close wide deficits they had at this time in 2010 in Iowa and North Carolina, and they have a 14-point lead in Florida. But it’s not clear whether these are only temporary gains for Republicans; McDonald said he suspects that Republicans are only reaching registered Republicans, which means they might have propelled more GOPers to the polls early, but those voters may be ones that would have gone to the polls on Election Day anyway, meaning fewer total new Republican votes.

2. More first-time voters:

There is a big chunk of voters who have cast early ballots but who did not vote in 2010, McDonald noted, which right now is a trend that seems to favor Democrats. In North Carolina and Georgia, Republicans are pulling strong early-vote numbers among those who also voted in 2010, but Democrats are doing better with voters who don’t have a history of voting in 2010. (Georgia doesn’t track party affiliation, but in that state’s case, race provides a useful proxy.) That’s a point in favor of Democrats reaching out to new voters, not just likely ones – and if that’s true, those numbers could get even higher once early voting starts in a number of states, a method that traditionally favors Democrats.

3. Unaffiliated push:

McDonald points to Iowa as a potentially illustrative example of how many unaffiliated voters are casting early ballots, and with which party they might be more closely affiliated. “The Democrats and the people who have no party registration tend to be tracking together,” McDonald noted. “The Republicans, on the other hand, are completely uncorrelated from the people with no party registration.”

Regardless of the early-voting-tea-leaf reading, McDonald said the bottom line is that both parties believe their marquee races around the country are going to be close – and no one is taking any race for granted. Even McDonald issued a caveat when he said election turnout would continue in an upward trajectory in future cycles: “Trends can always be broken. You never know.”

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Embraces ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ Tees

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ht ruth bader ginsburg shirt kb 141020 16x9 608 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Embraces Notorious R.B.G. Tees

This t-shirt featuring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is available online. (NotoriousRBG/Tumblr)

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. 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 to NPR’s Nina Totenberg. “And now my grandchildren love it and I try to keep abreast of the latest that’s on the Tumblr. I have — and in fact I think I gave you a Notorious R.B.G. [t-shirt]. … I have quite a large supply.”

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The nickname is a reference to the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls. In an interview earlier this year with Katie Couric, Ginsburg commended the fan page, which pays homage to Ginsburg “in all her glory.”

“She has created a wonderful thing with Notorious R.B.G.,” Ginsburg said of the site’s creator, Shana Knizhnik, a law student at New York University.

Knizhnik started the Tumblr page last year, but saw the site’s popularity skyrocket following Ginsburg’s dissent in the Hobby Lobby ruling this summer.

“I feel absolutely humbled to receive praise from Justice Ginsburg herself,” Knizhnik told ABC News.

“My intention with the Tumblr was always to honor her incredible work as a lawyer, feminist and jurist, and it is so gratifying to know that she appreciates that, as well as the humor behind the title.”

 

Meet 2014′s Top Mega-Donors

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — 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 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.

Here are the top 10 individual donors of the 2014 election cycle, compiled for ABC News by the Center for Responsive Politics from a study of the most recent publicly available campaign financial disclosure reports.

1. Tom and Kathryn Steyer, $42.95 million, Democrat

The San Francisco billionaire made a splash on the political scene when he pledged $100 million to turn climate change into marquee political priority. After spending big in the Massachusetts Senate race and Virginia governor’s race in 2013, Steyer, 57, has been active in seven midterm races across the country, opposing candidates skeptical of climate change in North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado. For now, Steyer is focused on helping others, but he’s rumored to be eying a future bid for governor or U.S. Senate in California.

2. Michael Bloomberg, $12.2 million, Independent

The former mayor of New York City is still working to shape the national political agenda. His anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety has endorsed candidates in 28 states, and is supporting a Washington ballot initiative to expand background checks for firearm purchases. Through his Independence USA PAC, Bloomberg, 72, will also spend $25 million in support of centrists in statewide and national races, including Massachusetts Republican Charlie Baker, who is running for governor, and Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who is running for Senate in Michigan, according to the New York Times.

3. Fred Eychaner, $7.84 million, Democrat

Self-effacing and press-shy, Eychaner is at odds with his outsized footprint in Democratic politics. He’s described himself as a “basic social activist with small-business experience,” but the Chicago media mogul was the top individual liberal donor in the 2012 election cycle, pumping $14 million into liberal Super PACs. In 2013, he bankrolled successful efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. This cycle, he’s cut checks for the Senate Majority PAC in hopes of protecting Democrats’ control of the Senate, and contributed to the Senate campaigns of Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

4. Paul Singer, $5.3 million, Republican

Singer, a New York hedge fund manager pejoratively called a “vulture capitalist” for his firm’s ownership of Argentine debt, is the top individual Republican political donor of the cycle. He was the driving force behind New York’s legalization of gay marriage, and has spent millions on legalization efforts in other states, including Maryland and New Hampshire. This cycle, he’s also supporting Republicans opposed to same-sex marriage, such as Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan and South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham.

5. Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, $5 million, Republican

Since 2010, the Uihleins, owners of the Wisconsin-based packaging supply company Uline, have given millions to local and national tea party organizations and Republican candidates. In 2012, they supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign to fight a recall and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate bid. This year, they’ve given to the Senate campaigns of Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Col. Rob Maness in Louisiana. “I’m a conservative Republican, and I’m trying to help people who believe as I do in limited government and free markets,” Richard Uihlein told Crain’s Chicago Business. “I’m not one to hide from that.”

6. Robert and Diana Mercer, $3.71 million, Republican

Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund manager, spent millions in 2012 contributing to GOP establishment groups like American Crossroads. This cycle, he’s also spent big on tea party Republicans. According to disclosure records, Mercer, 67, and his wife Diana have contributed to the Senate campaigns of Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, Greg Brannon in North Carolina, Joni Ernst in Iowa and Rep. David Vitter in Louisiana.

7. James and Marilyn Simons, $3.41 million, Democrat

At 23, James Simons had earned his PhD in mathematics. Three years later, he was a code breaker for the National Security Agency. In the half century since, Simons, 76, has made billions revolutionizing investment banking — Robert Mercer, who appears on this list, runs the firm Simons founded — and establishing himself as a leading political and philanthropic donor. This cycle, he’s given $3 million to Democrats’ House and Senate Super PACs. His wife, an economist, has contributed to Planned Parenthood’s political arm and Ready for Hillary. The couple has also contributed to the campaigns of New York Reps. Steve Israel and Tim Bishop.

8. John “Joe” and Marlene Ricketts, $3.2 million, Republican

John, the billionaire founder of online brokerage TD Ameritrade and head of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, is best known in political circles for spending millions to defeat and discredit President Obama in 2012, including efforts to design an ad campaign that would have connected Obama to incendiary comments made by former spiritual adviser Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and financing the controversial film 2016: Obama’s America. This cycle, his wife Marlene has contributed millions to the Ricketts’ Ending Spending Action Fund, and supported the campaigns of Republicans like Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lyn Land, Arizona Congressional candidate Martha McSally and Virginia Congressional candidate Barbara Comstock.

9. Robert and Doylene Perry, $3.12 million, Republican

Robert Perry, the late Houston development magnate and longtime Bush supporter who passed away in April 2013, made headlines for bankrolling Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the conservative veterans’ organization that discredited John Kerry’s Vietnam War service record during his presidential bid in 2004. In 2013, Perry’s wife, Doylene, wrote checks to Senate Conservatives Action and the reelection campaign of Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

10. George Soros, $2.5 million, Democrat

Soros, the dean of liberal mega-donors, famously told the Washington Post that defeating President George W. Bush in 2004 was the “central focus of my life,” and backed up his words with $24 million in 2003 and 2004. This cycle, Soros, 84, has given more than $2 million to American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research firm, and Democrats including New York Rep. Tim Bishop, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, and at-risk Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Udall of Colorado and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

This ranking does not take into account unreported donations made to 501(c) 4 nonprofit organizations, which are not required to disclose their donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending by these “dark money” groups in the midterm elections could hit $1 billion.

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‘Citizen’ Obama Votes Early in Chicago

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

A day after hitting the campaign trail to get out the vote, President Obama did just that, casting his ballot early in Chicago.

“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.”

After filling out the necessary paperwork, the president spent several minutes behind the voting booth. He would not say who he voted for, but said Sunday night he planned to cast his vote to re-elect Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn.

Obama often quips that Democrats have a “congenital disease,” that they don’t vote in midterms. Now, with just two weeks until the critical elections, the president is stepping up his effort to encourage Democrats to vote.

Obama hit the campaign trail Sunday  for the first time this cycle, appearing at rallies for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in Maryland and Quinn in Illinois. While the president is ramping up his campaign appearances in the run-up to the elections, he is stumping mostly for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in deep blue states.

Obama Casts His Vote Early in Chicago

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House File Photo by Pete Souza(CHICAGO) — A day after hitting the campaign trail to get out the vote, President Obama cast his ballot early in Chicago.

“The most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen,” the president told reporters at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Monday, 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.”

After filling out the necessary paperwork, the president spent several minutes behind the voting booth. He would not say who he voted for, but said Sunday night he planned to cast his vote to re-elect Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn.

Obama often quips that Democrats have a “congenital disease,” that they don’t vote in midterms. Now, with just two weeks until the critical elections, the president is stepping up his effort to encourage Democrats to vote.

Obama hit the campaign trail Sunday for the first time this cycle, appearing at rallies for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in Maryland and Quinn in Illinois. While the president is ramping up his campaign appearances in the run-up to the elections, he is stumping mostly for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in deep blue states.

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Monica Lewinsky’s on Twitter: ‘#HereWeGo’

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

David M. Benett/Getty Images for Marie Curie(NEW YORK) — In May, Monica Lewinsky vowed to speak out in order “to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.”

Now she seems to be doing just that — on Twitter.

Just months after Lewinsky’s personal revelations were made public in a Vanity Fair interview, she sent her first tweet Monday morning:

#HereWeGo

— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 20, 2014

About an hour later, Lewinsky, who describes herself in her Twitter profile as a “social activist. public speaker. contributor to vanity fair. knitter of things without sleeves,” tweeted again:

excited (and nervous) to speak to #Under30Summit

— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 20, 2014

According to Forbes‘ “Under 30 Summit” event agenda, Lewinsky is slated to speak about the “scourge of harassment in the digital age” later Monday morning.

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan: ‘This Synod Was Not to Make Any Decisions’

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said on Sunday that the new report regarding family life out from the Catholic Church this weekend does not signify a monumental change in doctrine or teaching.

The much-debated document, which included language regarding the church’s stance towards gays and lesbians as well as divorced Catholics, was the final work product of a historic meeting — or synod–— of bishops this month, which Dolan said is intended to set the agenda for further discussions this year and a second synod next fall.

“This synod was not to make any decisions,” Dolan told This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos. “We weren’t supposed to give any propositions. This was to set the table for a year from now.”

The meeting of bishops made headlines this week after a preliminary version of their report included unprecedented, inclusive language towards towards gays and lesbians. The earlier draft read, “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”

However, the later version released Saturday stripped that language, and instead included a watered-down version, which read, “men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.”

Even this more tempered paragraph did not receive a two-thirds majority vote from the bishops required for approval. In a show of transparency, the Vatican released all sections of the final document with corresponding vote counts.

At the start of the meeting, Pope Francis encouraged all bishops to speak openly, and, according to Dolan, “There was pretty good, vivid conversation, especially with the African bishops.”

“There was a good debate. There was a good conversation that went on,” he said.

On these hot-button issues Dolan argued that Francis is walking the “middle of the road” and is inspirational.

“Pope Francis never ceases to surprise us,” he said. “And so just when you think you might have him figured out, he offers another fresh innovative way of looking.”

“Keep in mind that the church’s major goal is not to change teaching…but for us to change, to conform ourselves to what God has told us,” the cardinal said.

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Obama Hits The Trail

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • MIDTERM BLUES: President Obama made his first public campaign appearances of 2014 last night, appearing at rallies with Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, where he made pitches for his economic policies, reprised his 2008 campaign theme of “hope,” and grew animated at times, reports ABC’s CHRIS GOOD. “You know who they’re for, and it ain’t you,” Obama said of Republicans, in his Maryland appearance. “It’s two different visions of America, and it comes down to a simple question: who’s going to fight for your future?” Obama said in Illinois, suggesting GOP politicians “belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” The president touted more Americans with health care, reduced dependence on foreign oil, a rebounded auto industry, higher graduation rates, less crime and a smaller prison population. And in both speeches, he cited same-sex marriage as a sign of progress and blasted GOP opposition to gender-fair-pay legislation.
  • NOTED: The president was briefly heckled in the Maryland appearance by an immigration protestor, who was shouted down by “Obama” chants. And, according to this dispatch from the print pool reporter, it looks like people were heading for the door while Obama was still speaking: “Some in the crowd started leaving as soon as Obama started speaking and by the time he was about 10 minutes in, there was a traffic jam next to the pool’s tables as folks tried to exit the gym.”
  • WHITE HOUSE DISPATCHES EBOLA LIAISON TO DALLAS: The White House has quietly dispatched Adrian Saenz, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs, to be the administration’s eyes and ears on the ground in Dallas, coordinating Ebola efforts with state and local officials. A Texas native, Saenz arrived in Dallas late yesterday, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER and CHRIS GOOD report. He will work closely with the Texas state coordinator Gov. Rick Perry appointed Friday and FEMA coordinator Kevin Hannes, who was dispatched Saturday. Saenz was named to the role on Friday and will report directly to newly-named Ebola “czar” Ron Klain, who doesn’t officially start his new role until later this week. http://abcn.ws/1CImVjO

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Wonder what Cousin Pookie is saying about Ebola these days… President Obama’s return to the campaign trail Sunday brought the return of one of his favorite stock characters. Cousin Pookie – sometimes joined, in previous campaigns, by Uncle Jethro and Ray Ray – is the president’s chuckle-inducing way of getting African-American crowds to bring their disconnected friends and relatives to the polls. Presumably, the Pookies voted in 2008, and possibly again in 2012. But it’s harder this year for a few reasons. First, the key Senate states, with only a few exceptions, don’t feature heavily black or Latino populations. (The president mentioned the ne’er-do-well cousin at rallies in Maryland and Illinois Sunday.) Second, the headlines are pointing voters toward a different campaign, fought over a bigger sense of insecurity, than we’ve seen in previous midterms. Then there’s the broader disappointment among minority voters, summarized by Tavis Smiley Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”: “If you’re black or brown, other than helping to save the Democrats’ hide, give me three good reasons that you turn out the vote this time.”

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: With President Obama casting his early ballot today in Illinois, it’s a good reminder that Election Day is not two weeks away. Voting is already underway in 34 states, including where most of the top-flight Senate battles are being waged. Democrats have long held an advantage in organizing early-voting campaigns, but there are several signs across the country that Republicans are catching up and learning from the mistakes of past campaigns. In Iowa, for example, more than 185,000 ballots had been cast by Friday. In North Carolina, more than 1.5 million people have already voted. Don’t believe any of the spin you’ll read in the coming days about which side is “ahead.” It’s impossible to see the full picture. But we do know that all these votes are being cast at a moment of high anxiety in an already uneasy electorate — always a worrisome sign for the party in power.

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

NEW HAMPSHIRE: MORE ADS TWO WEEKS OUT. We are just over two weeks away from Election Day, campaigns are aggressively working on getting voters to cast their ballots early, as well as their ground game for November 4th, but also expect more ads to flood the airwaves–even negative ads–in these last days.  Today, Scott Brown’s campaign released a new :15 second television ad accusing his Democratic opponent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of supporting a national energy tax. As almost all of Brown’s ads it tries to link the incumbent Senator to the president with the narrator ending the spot saying, “Jeanne Shaheen, standing with Obama not New Hampshire.” The two will face off in two more debates this week. WATCH: http://bit.ly/1sG5lud – Shushannah Walshe 

 

THE BUZZ

ROMNEY LEADS SCATTERED 2016 GOP FIELD, CLINTON STILL DOMINATES THE DEMOCRATIC RACE. Hillary Clinton continues to hold a commanding lead in the potential Democratic field for president in 2016, while the GOP frontrunner in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll is a familiar figure – but one not favored by eight in 10 potential Republican voters. That would be Mitt Romney, supported for the GOP nomination by 21 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, according to ABC’s RYAN STRUYK. That’s double the support of his closest potential rival, but it also leaves 79 percent who prefer one of 13 other possible candidates tested, or none of them. When Romney is excluded from the race, his supporters scatter, adding no clarity to the GOP free-for-all. In that scenario former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have 12 or 13 percent support from leaned Republicans who are registered to vote. All others have support in the single digits. http://abcn.ws/1vPM910

PENTAGON ORDERS 30-MEMBER EBOLA RESPONSE TEAM. The Pentagon has ordered that a 30-person military medical team be prepared to be put on standby to quickly assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with its Ebola response in the United States if needed, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports. The move followed a request to the Defense Department made Saturday by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said the move was “an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command “to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” Kirby said. http://abcn.ws/1tDoyjP

INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT CALLS CRITICISM OF EBOLA CZAR ‘MISPLACED’. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, yesterday defended President Obama’s choice of Ron Klain to be the administration’s Ebola “czar” despite his lack of medical background, calling him an “excellent manager.” “I think that’s a misplaced criticism,” Fauci told ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. “What we’re talking about now is an Ebola response coordinator, somebody who has extraordinary, as he does, managerial experience … leadership experience, which he has plenty of. He’s going to rely on medical experts, like myself and Dr. Frieden and others, to do the medical things,” Fauci said, referring to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Tom Frieden. During the interview on “This Week,” Fauci also defended the administration’s decision to not ban travel from those countries in West Africa that have been hardest hit by Ebola, ABC’s BENJAMIN BELL notes. “When people come in from a country it’s much easier to track them if you know where they’re coming from,” Fauci said. “But what you do if you then completely ban travel, there’s the feasibility of going to other countries where we don’t have a travel ban and have people come in.” http://abcn.ws/ZBccuD

EMILY’S LIST PLANS TO ‘DOUBLE DOWN’ ON MICHELLE NUNN. While national Democrats have scaled back their support for Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, another Southern Democratic candidate for the Senate is attracting renewed help from a major Democratic group. Georgia’s Michelle Nunn will see a boost from EMILY’s List, the group that supports pro-abortion-rights Democratic women, in her bid against Republican opponent David Perdue, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD reports. “We see a race that’s incredibly close,” EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock said today on ABC’s “This Week.” “EMILY’s List is so excited we’re going to double down and put more TV up.” EMILY’s List says its new ad will attack Perdue’s business record, a cornerstone of the former Dollar General CEO’s campaign, highlighting a gender-pay-discrimination suit against that company. After Perdue left the company, it settled for $19 million in a suit brought by female store managers alleging pay discrimination from 2004 to 2007, while Perdue led the company. http://abcn.ws/1sDbLKB

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

IS EBOLA THE 2014 ‘OCTOBER SURPRISE’? ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny and the “This Week” roundtable on Ebola becoming a bipartisan buzzword on the campaign trail. http://abcn.ws/ZL6XJc

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@EllieWallace: New memo from @gop‘s @mshields007: Republican Momentum: http://bit.ly/1tEF5UU  #15days

@nielslesniewski: In USA Today, @SenTedCruz offers his GOP agenda for 2015, including #fullrepeal of Obamacare http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/10/19/ted-cruz-republicans-election-congress-priorities-jobs-obamacare-column/17267261/ …

@JessicaTaylor: DeMaio on sexual harassment claims: “I guess you can say anything about the gay guy and some people will believe it” http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/221222-gay-republican-house-candidate-harassment-allegations-driven-by …

@WSJPolitics: “I want to see Republicans compete in the battle of ideas.” Winemaker launches campaign to help GOP image. http://on.wsj.com/1vzS7Si 

@TheFix: Puppies re-enacting Supreme Court sessions? Yes, please. http://wapo.st/1utiLb7 

Obama on the Trail: Delivers Stump Speeches in Maryland, Illinois

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama made his first public campaign appearances of 2014 Sunday night, appearing at rallies with Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, where he made impassioned pitches for his economic policies, reprised his 2008 campaign theme of “hope,” and grew animated at times.

“You know who they’re for, and it ain’t you,” Obama said of Republicans, at his Maryland appearance.

“It’s two different visions of America, and it comes down to a simple question: who’s going to fight for your future?” Obama said in Illinois, suggesting GOP politicians “belong in a Mad Men episode.”

Counting various references in both speeches, the president touted more Americans with health care, smaller increases in health-care costs, reduced dependence on foreign oil, a rebounded auto industry, improved reading and math scores, higher graduation rates, less crime and a smaller prison population.

In both speeches, he cited same-sex marriage as a sign of progress and blasted GOP opposition to gender-fair-pay legislation.

The White House has not mentioned any more scheduled campaign stops for the president between now and Election Day. These were two relatively easy states for him to visit: The last time Gallup rated Obama’s state-by-state approval, Maryland ranked third at 57 percent approval, behind only D.C. and Hawaii. His home state of Illinois ranked 12th at 53.7 percent.

The president was briefly heckled in the Maryland appearance by an immigration protestor, who was shouted down by “Obama” chants.

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