President and First Lady Welcome Trick-or-Treaters to White House

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted trick-or-treaters from 39 schools in Washington, Virginia and Maryland on Friday night, handing out candy, healthy snacks and other goodies.

The president, who was not in costume, saluted one boy dressed as a Navy sailor, while Halloween-themed music played in the background, including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “The Monster Mash” and the theme song from The Addams Family, among others. The trick-or-treaters walked across the South Drive to the South Portico of the White House.

Volunteers carved 200 pumpkins for the event.

The first family handed out an assortment of treats, including a box of White House Hershey kisses, a bag of black licorice and orange tangerine jelly beans, a White House sweet dough butter cookie, an apple, kettle corn, baseball cards featuring first dogs Bo and Sunny, and an assortment of other candies.

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The Seven Most Controversial Ads of Election 2014

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Attack ads are among the oldest tools in the political playbook — and 2014 has seen its share.

Here are seven of the most controversial ads of 2014:

1. “Justice”

Candidate: Wendy Davis, Democrat

Race: Texas gubernatorial race

In “Justice,” Democrat Wendy Davis uses a photo of an empty wheelchair to make a political point. Her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Despite a backlash, Davis defended the ad, which is the most-viewed YouTube video on this list. Abbott brushed off the ad, saying, “if [Davis] wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair, that’s her prerogative. As for me, I’m running a different type of campaign.”

2. “Nikko”

Sponsoring Organization: National Republican Congressional Committee

Race: Nebraska 2nd Congressional District race

“Nikko” attempts to tie Democratic candidate Brad Ashford to a prison inmate’s quadruple murder while out on early release under Nebraska’s “good time” law. The Ashford campaign called the ad a desperate move from Republicans and the accusations in the ad “baseless.” Critics have slammed the ad for supposedly playing up racial stereotypes, and have compared it to the “Willie Horton” ad used against 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. The NRCC fired back by saying the ad sheds light on Ashford’s record, and expressed confidence in GOP candidate Lee Terry’s campaign.

3. “Largest Ever”

Candidate: Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democrat

Race: Kentucky Senate race

In “Largest Ever,” Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes attempts to set the record straight on her stance on immigration and attacks Sen. Mitch McConnell for voting for “amnesty” for immigrants. The ad is getting flak from liberal groups like Latino Victory Project and MoveOn.org because Grimes uses the term “illegal aliens” to refer to undocumented immigrants. Grimes has not directly responded to their criticism.

4. “Crime Scene”

Candidate: Mark Begich, Democrat

Race: Alaska Senate race

Critics pounced when Sen. Mark Begich used one of the most horrific crimes in Anchorage’s history to attack his Republican opponent, Dan Sullivan. The ad cites a case in which an elderly couple was murdered and their 2-year-old granddaughter was sexually assaulted, and blames Sullivan for letting sex offenders get off with what it suggests are short sentences. Begich’s campaign also faced backlash for not taking down the commercial immediately after the family asked it to stop showing it. A spokesman for the Begich campaign said that they had notified the family before running the ad and the family did not seem opposed. After receiving a letter from the family’s lawyer, the ad was pulled from air, Begich’s campaign site and Begich’s YouTube page.

5. “Stalker Gap”

Sponsoring Organization: Americans for Responsible Solutions

Race: Arizona 2nd Congressional District race

Sponsored by Gabby Gifford’s PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, this ad tells the story of Vicki, a mother whose husband and daughter were shot by the daughter’s ex-boyfriend, then ends by saying GOP congressional candidate Martha McSally “opposes making it harder for stalkers to buy a gun.” The Arizona Republic called the ad “vile” and a “murder indictment” of McSally. The ad drew further criticism when McSally revealed that she was a victim of stalking. ARS stood by their ad but then then pulled the ad after McSally said she always supported changing the “stalker gap.”

6. “Restore Leadership”

Candidate: Allen Weh, Republican

Race: New Mexico Senate race

Weh’s ad seeks to tie his Democratic opponent, Sen. Tom Udall, to Obama’s policies to combat ISIS. Critics deemed the spot offensive because it features a still image, albeit brief, of American journalist James Foley’s executioner. Weh defended the ad, telling ABC News, “That video is rough, but that’s the unvarnished truth.”

7. “When the Moment is Right”

Candidate: J.D. Winteregg, Tea Party Republican

Race: Ohio’s 8th Congressional District

In this Cialis spoof, John Boehner’s primary challenger, J.D. Winteregg, attacks the speaker’s many years in Congress, mocks his last name and alleges “electile dysfunction.” The ad got Winteregg noticed but also cost him his job as an adjunct professor at Cedarville University, a Christian college. Although he lost a job and the primary election, Winteregg said he has no regrets about airing the ad.

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DHS Report Finds Medicare Paid for HIV Drugs for Dead Patients

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Andregric/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Department of Health and Human Services released a report on Friday that showed Medicare paid for HIV medication for more than 100 patients who were already dead.

The study was undertaken, the Office of the Inspector General said, because of “ongoing concerns about Medicare paying for drugs and services after a beneficiary has died.” Using their enrollment database, the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File and alternate death records, the OIG determined that at least 150 dead patients received HIV medication.

The study only looked at HIV drugs, which accounted for one quarter of one percent of all Medicare Part D drugs in 2012. The department says that the findings have implications for all such drugs, however.

“We recommend that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] change its practice of paying for drugs that have a date of service within 32 days after the beneficiary’s death,” the report read. That change aims to “prevent inappropriate payments for drugs for deceased beneficiaries and lead to cost savings for the program and for taxpayers.”

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Obama Commits ‘Sin,’ Orders ‘Death by Chocolate’ from the Devil

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  When President Obama walked into Gregg’s Restaurant and Pub in Providence, R.I., for a surprise lunch on Friday with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo, the devil was waiting.

And so were a few Flintstones and a pirate.

After meeting the restaurant’s owner, the aptly named Bob Bacon, the president headed straight to the sweets — it is Halloween after all — and ordered a sinister “Death by Chocolate” cake from the devil, a server in disguise.

“The word is that the chocolate-layer cake here is deadly and it’s devilish, and so for Halloween, this is the kind of sin that we want to commit,” Obama said, noting he would share the 20-pound cake with the crew on Air Force One.

The president then ordered a less-devilish, but perhaps more deadly entree: a burger, medium well, with the works and fries.

When one of the servers noted “Michelle’s not going to be happy about that,” the president told her. “You know what, you don’t have to tell.”

The Halloween fun will continue Friday evening, when the president and first lady host pint-sized goblins, superheroes and princesses at the White House. The tiny trick-or-treaters, local school kids and children of military families will be rewarded with candy and, of course, some first lady-approved healthy snacks.

Obama did in fact share the massive chocolate cake. He negotiated a deal with the press aboard AF1 — cake in exchange for letting Press Secretary Josh Earnest skip the planned gaggle.

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Career Diplomats Worried About Influx of Political Appointees

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Obama administration is giving an unprecedented number of political appointees top diplomatic positions, a move that has long frustrated career Foreign Service officials but has become a renewed point of contention this week with the departure of Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, the only career foreign service officer in the top echelons of Foggy Bottom leadership.

Burns, who served more than three decades as a diplomat, announced earlier this week that he would be heading to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His replacement has not yet been announced. The most talked-about candidates are Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken or current Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, both of whom would be political appointees.

It’s actually the norm for a political appointee to get the deputy slot. In the 41-year history of that position, Burns is the exception to the rule. But career officials say their wider concern is political appointees’ total takeover of all the top State Department positions, not only at the deputy level but also at the next-highest level, the undersecretary for political affairs slot, or the “P” position.

And even Burns, a seasoned diplomat who had recently helped in secret talks to get Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program, recognized the prevalence of political appointees serving in the White House’s National Security Council and alluded to frustration among the career ranks in a parting letter he wrote for Foreign Policy.

“The revolution in communications technology and the increasing role of both the National Security Council staff and other agencies over successive administrations have tended to bring out the more passive (or sometimes passive-aggressive) side of the State Department,” Burns wrote.

These are the kinds of concerns that Robert Silverman, the president of the American Foreign Service Association, made up of Foreign Service officers, says he’s hearing from his members.

“They care deeply about who their leadership is. They also care deeply about who their direct supervisor is. And here in Washington, that is increasingly people from outside the system with no experience in this position who take a lot of special handling,” Silverman told ABC News.

He noted that the top positions are not only concerned with the issues that the secretary of state works on, such as ISIS, Iran and North Korea, but also more the more mundane tasks that keep the department running, like those of the passport agency or child custody cases.

“We’re not opposed to political appointees — it’s important to bring in outsiders with fresh perspectives,” he added. “It’s just completely out of balance.”

Another reflection of that lack of balance cited by AFSA and others is the ratio of political appointees to career officers that President Obama has chosen to serve as foreign ambassadors. In his second term, 41 percent of his ambassadorial appointees have been political, versus 58 percent career. His record over both terms is 64 percent career, 35 percent political — second only to the record of George W. Bush, for whom political appointees counted as 36 percent of his total ambassadorial nominations.

But State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the notion that the influx of political appointees in the top leadership positions represented a lack of emphasis on the Foreign Service.

“While it would be inappropriate to speculate about pending decisions and nominations about the Department’s senior leadership, everyone should rest assured knowing that the secretary doesn’t just respect but reveres the institution that is the Foreign Service,” she said, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry is the son of a foreign service officer and has appointed more career officers in assistant secretary positions than “at any time in recent memory.”

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Early Voting: More than 12M Votes Cast Ahead of Election Day

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — As of Thursday, early voting had begun in every one of the 33 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that offer it.

More than 12 million voters have so far cast their votes for the 2014 midterm elections, which is almost double the tally from last week. Why the big jump?

A lot of it has to do with more states getting into their in-person early voting periods, which is the preferred early-voting method for the majority of Democrats.

That also means some earlier Republican gains around the country are diminishing.

But with Thursday’s total early vote tally representing about 63 percent of the total 19 million early voters in the 2010 midterm cycle, there are still plenty of early vote returns we’ll see before Tuesday.

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If You Thought the Legal Challenges to the Affordable Care Act Were Over, You’d Be Wrong

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — You thought the battles over Obamacare were over after the nail-biting 2012 decision by the Supreme Court upholding a core provision of the law, right? Wrong.

In fact, the justices are meeting behind closed doors Friday to discuss a different challenge to the law that could, ultimately, be fatal to the future of the Affordable Care Act.

This challenge targets tax subsidies granted to those who seek to obtain insurance from the American Health Benefit Exchanges, often referred to simply as exchanges. The ACA grants the credits to qualifying individuals in order to defray the cost of insurance.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have established exchanges for themselves, while 34 states have opted to allow the Federal government to do so. According to the government, some 7.3 million people have obtained insurance through the exchanges.

But challengers of the law say its text grants subsidies only for those on the state exchanges, not the federal exchanges. They say lawmakers thought that every state would establish exchanges, and in fact only 16 did.

Here’s the relevant paragraph in their brief to the Supreme Court:

King v. Burwell, excerpted:

 

King v. Burwell, excerpted:

In its briefs, the Obama administration scoffs at the challenge, saying there is no way Congress would have intended such an “absurd” result. Supporters of the law acknowledge, however, if this battle is lost it’s unlikely the rest of the law could survive.

There are similar cases percolating in the lower courts, and it’s likely the Supreme Court will hold off for now and only step in after those courts have ruled. But supporters of the health care law are worried that two years after the Supreme Court barely upheld the law, this challenge might be the final blow.

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Election 2014′s Freaky Friday

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • PRESIDENT OBAMA IS ON THE ROAD highlighting an issue that he thinks will benefit Democrats in next week’s elections: The economy, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. As he campaigns for Democratic candidates in these final days, the president is playing up the economic recovery in an effort to shift the public’s focus away from his administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis and back to their wallets. Today he’s in Rhode Island on official business, holding a discussion and delivering remarks in Providence on economic policies to help women succeed and his plan to boost the middle class.
  • THE 10 MOST UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS OF THE MIDTERMS: A look back at the good, the bad and the funny from around the country this election cycle, courtesy of ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS and the ABC News video team. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1G1Qcuc
  • HAPPENING TODAY: Have a question about the midterm elections coming up this Tuesday? Tweet your thoughts using #ABCVote. ABC’s Political Director RICK KLEIN (@RickKlein) and Deputy Political Director SHUSHANNAH WALSHE (@ShushWalshe) will be standing by to answer your questions between 12 and 4 pm EST.
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: With just days until Election Day 2014, the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s midterm politics, with ABC News contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. See the “This Week” page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: What does it say about Democratic prospects next Tuesday that their highest-profile surrogates can barely get through a speech without being heckled – by people who should be part of their own base? The actions of protesting DREAMers won’t cost Democrats the Senate. But they are a lingering embarrassment for President Obama and his allies in the closing days – and hint at the difficulties they’ll have in getting the Obama coalition to turn out one more time. Beyond that, would the White House go back in time and just take the executive actions on immigration he’s promising for after the election? Did the decision to delay buy red-state Democrats any wiggle room? Or did it just enrage activists on the left?

 

ABOUT LAST NIGHT

NEW HAMPSHIRE: SCOTT BROWN’S GEOGRAPHY QUIZ. The final New Hampshire brawl happened last night with both Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown battling it out in their race for Senate. The debate hosted by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and WMUR’s Josh McElveen was heated while both candidates tried to portray themselves as independent voices for New Hampshire on issues as varied as containing Ebola, immigration, even gun control. But, the moment of the night was when Brown was asked specifically about what is going well and poorly in Sullivan County. Brown answered broadly and Democrats jumped on his answer immediately as proof he did not know where it was located feeding into their carpetbagger attacks. WMUR’s James Pindell pressed saying it sounded like he was talking about the North Country saying, “It’s not north of Concord.” Brown noted the challenges the state faces impact “every county in our state.” It’s the moment that dominated the debate, but Pindell later apologized saying he was wrong and Brown was right because Sullivan County is actually both west and north of Concord. Both campaigns are headed to Sullivan County today, putting this part of New Hampshire on the map and making sure the state’s voters know they both are aware exactly where it is. -Shushannah Walshe

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

IT’S OFFICIAL: EVERYONE IS EARLY VOTING — HERE’S WHERE THINGS STAND. As of Thursday morning, early voting is happening in every one of the 35 states (plus Washington DC) that offer it. Twelve million voters have so far cast their votes for the 2014 midterm elections, which is almost double the tally from last week, ABC’s ALI WEINBERG notes. Why the big jump? A lot of it has to do with more states getting into their in-person early voting periods, which is the preferred early voting method for the majority of Democrats. That also means some earlier Republican gains around the country are diminishing. But with Thursday’s total early vote tally representing about 63 percent of the total 19 million early voters in the 2010 midterm cycle, there are still plenty of early vote returns we’ll see before November 4. BY THE NUMBERS GRAPHIC: http://abcn.ws/1tZUkan

CHECK OUT THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSE AND SENATE RACES. Elections are getting more expensive by the year. The 2014 congressional elections, though seemingly less intense and animated than their recent, wave-election predecessors in 2006 and 2010, are on pace to cost more than any midterm elections ever. The 2014 House and Senate races will cost at least $3.67 billion, more than the $2.9 billion spent on House and Senate races in 2006 and slightly edging the $3.6 billion spent in 2010, but ranking just below the $3.7 billion spent on congressional races in the presidential-election year of 2012, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates. ABC’s CHRIS GOOD breaks down where all this money is going. http://abcn.ws/1tkRlIo

HALLOWEEN AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Pint-sized goblins, super-heroes and princesses will take over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue tonight, as the president and first lady host their annual Halloween celebration, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. Local kids and children of military families will show off their spooky costumes as they parade up the south driveway of the decorated White House. The tiny trick-or-treaters will be rewarded with candy and, of course, some first lady-approved healthy snacks.

FEW ARRESTS OF AMERICANS WHO FOUGHT IN SYRIA OR IRAQ, AS FEDS FOCUS ON SMALL GROUP BACK INSIDE U.S. Of the dozens of Americans who traveled to war-torn Syria or Iraq and then returned home, only a “small group” of them fought with a terrorist group and might be inclined to launch an attack back in the U.S., federal counterterrorism officials have determined. Putting potentially dangerous returnees like that behind bars, however, has been a slow and painstaking process. ABC’s MIKE LEVINE reports that in the past 16 months, not a single returnee has been arrested – even secretly – on charges of allegedly supporting terrorists or committing any other direct form of terrorism overseas, though “a couple” have been quietly implicated in lesser offenses such as lying on travel forms, a federal source told ABC News. By contrast, in that time, the FBI and Justice Department have arrested at least nine people in the United States who allegedly tried to join terrorists in Syria or Iraq. http://abcn.ws/1wKXiPB

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

“WEAK WAGES STIR VOTER IRE AT OBAMA AMID GRIDLOCK,” by Bloomberg News’ Mike Dorning and Lorraine Woellert. The U.S. economy has posted its strongest six months of growth since 2003, news that usually would be a boon to the party in power heading into congressional elections. Yet President Barack Obama and Democrats haven’t been able to take credit for the gains. On Election Day, they’re at risk of losing control of the Senate, though it is the Republicans who have blocked measures aimed at strengthening growth. That’s because Americans say they don’t feel the progress in their daily lives and they blame both parties for the political deadlock in Washington. The U.S. government’s failure to address the economy’s main weakness — stagnant middle-class earnings — damages Democrats the most. ‘This wage squeeze on the working and middle class is real, and it is causing an enormous amount of frustration and anger,’ said Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report in Washington. ‘Voters are looking to send signals, and they’re going to blame the party in the White House.’” http://bloom.bg/1paLuW1

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@ThePlumLineGS: In interview with me, @dscc exec dir @guycecil declines to predict outright that Ds will hold Senate: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/10/30/architect-of-democratic-strategy-for-keeping-senate-is-hopeful-but-realistic/ …

@nytpolitics: The five likeliest paths to a Republican Senate http://nyti.ms/1sMomI1  via @UpshotNYT

@FusionIsNews: .@MarilindaGarcia could be the antidote for what ails the GOP. But first she has to win: http://fus.in/1vnRXtl 

@ShaneGoldmacher: The NRCC is telling super PACs what ZIP code to send mailers; the DCCC is telling them what cable networks to buy: http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/they-re-not-allowed-to-talk-but-candidates-and-pacs-are-brazenly-communicating-all-the-time-20141030 …

@CNNPolitics: Think you can correctly predict key Senate races? Play along at http://CNN.com/Pivit  #cnnelection

Rand Paul Has More Harsh Words for His Own Party

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(DETROIT) — Senator Rand Paul said Thursday, “The Republican Party brand sucks.”

The comment is extreme even for the Kentucky Republican who has complained publicly that his party has done a poor job trying to be more inclusive of those who traditionally vote for Democrats.

During his visit to suburban Detroit, Paul, who is likely running for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, compared his party to an admission once made by Domino’s Pizza that said roughly, “Hey, our pizza crust sucks.”

He then went on to say, “The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans.”

Paul believes that when the GOP starts building a presence in communities it has shunned in the past, “We’re going to win votes like we’ve never won before.”

In response, Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said the party is proud of the effort it’s made to reach out to minorities.

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Michael Jordan Says What He Really Thinks About Obama’s Golf Game

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

David Cannon/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President Obama has often been slammed by the GOP for spending more time on the golf course than he does trying to solve the nation’s problems.

However, a new critic has joined the mix but only to add his two cents about the president’s golf game.

Former NBA superstar Michael Jordan, now owner of the woeful Charlotte Hornets, was recently asked what would be his ideal foursome on the links.

Jordan responded, “I’ve never played with Obama, but I would. But, nah, that’s OK. I take him out. He’s a hack. Man, it would be all day playing with him.”

Attempting to backtrack a bit, Jordan actually talked more trash by saying, “I never said he wasn’t a great politician. I’m just saying he’s a s****y golfer.”

As for the ideal foursome, Jordan said it would include current PGA superstar Rory McElroy, golfing legend Arnold Palmer, the late President Teddy Roosevelt and a clone of himself.

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Politicians Remember Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Say City Better Because of Him

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — After former Boston Mayor Tom Menino passed away on Thursday, politicians locally and nationally remembered him fondly.

Describing Menino’s, “sheer determination and unmatched work ethic,” current Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said that Menino, “took a city that is not as big in size as we are in stature and put us on the world stage as a national leader in health care, education, innovation and the nitty gritty of executing basic city services.”

“Because of his leadership,” Walsh said of his predecessor, “Boston is a better place today.”

President Obama remembered the former mayor as a “bold, big-hearted” man who was “Boston strong.” The president noted that Menino’s, “legacy lives on in every neighborhood he helped revitalize, every school he helped turn around, and every community he helped make a safer, better place to live.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, a Senator from Massachusetts for 18 years, put it simply: “Tom Menino was Boston.” Praising his, “big bold beating heart of a street politician” and asserting that Menino still, “is Boston today,” Kerry said that while, “others talked, Tommy worked.”

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Politicians Remember Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino Say City Better Because of Him

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — After former Boston Mayor Tom Menino passed away on Thursday, politicians locally and nationally remembered him fondly.

Describing Menino’s, “sheer determination and unmatched work ethic,” current Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said that Menino, “took a city that is not as big in size as we are in stature and put us on the world stage as a national leader in health care, education, innovation and the nitty gritty of executing basic city services.”

“Because of his leadership,” Walsh said of his predecessor, “Boston is a better place today.”

President Obama remembered the former mayor as a “bold, big-hearted” man who was “Boston strong.” The president noted that Menino’s, “legacy lives on in every neighborhood he helped revitalize, every school he helped turn around, and every community he helped make a safer, better place to live.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, a Senator from Massachusetts for 18 years, put it simply: “Tom Menino was Boston.” Praising his, “big bold beating heart of a street politician” and asserting that Menino still, “is Boston today,” Kerry said that while, “others talked, Tommy worked.”

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Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey Explain Support for 21-Day Quarantine for Troops

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Safety concerns prompted the decision to put in place a 21-day quarantine for American troops serving in the Ebola mission in West Africa, top Pentagon officials said today.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters today that he and the other Joint Chiefs of Staff believe a quarantine makes sense for the 4,000 troops that will be assigned to Liberia for a six-month period.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed off on Wednesday on the recommendation made by the Joint Chiefs that the Defense Department impose a quarantine for returning troops. That order went further than guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that travelers from Liberia should self-monitor for symptoms for 21 days, but not under quarantine conditions.

“We did factor in science,” Dempsey said. “Physics is the science we factored in.”

Talks With Ebola Nurse Kaci Hickox Fail, Governor to Use ‘Full Authority’

Dempsey made a distinction between civilian health care volunteers treating Ebola-infected patients and the large military force headed to Liberia.

“This is not about small groups of people who are transient. There’s protocols for that,” Dempsey said. “It’s also not about health care professionals in direct contact with Ebola. There’s protocols for that.”

While American troops will not be providing any health care, their six-month deployments will keep them there longer than health care volunteers who stay for one to two months because of what he called the “intense environment for them.”

“This is about a major military operation and big things on a global scale. And so we took a conservative approach and we’ll assess it in 45 days,” said Dempsey. “But we’re going to keep them safe.”

AP pentagon briefing mar 141030 16x9 608 Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey Explain Support for 21 Day Quarantine for Troops

(Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

Hagel said that his decision to agree to the Joint Chiefs recommendation “was thoroughly reviewed by health care professionals in each of the services in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.”

Hagel said he was mainly focused on the security of the men and women in uniform, which is why he thought “it was a smart, wise, prudent, disciplined, science-oriented decision based mainly on what the chairman just articulated, but also the reality of what else is going on.”

Hagel acknowledged the public debate about “every decision, every issue, and every part of that by decision-makers.” But he said “You have to analyze it based on what you think is the right thing to do for your people, and that’s the decision we made and why we made it.”

 

Poll: Rep. Gardner’s Lead Widens in Colorado Senate Race

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Inset photos: (t) US Congress / (b) US Senate(WASHINGTON) — A new Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday morning is bad news for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall in one of the most closely watched races this cycle.

The poll shows Udall’s Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, leading the Democrat by seven points — 46 to 39 percent — in Colorado’s Senate race. Seven percent are for Independent candidate Steve Shogan, while another 7 percent are still undecided.

This gap between Udall and Gardner is slightly wider than last week’s poll, which showed Gardner leading by five points.

There is also a significant gender gap in this race, but it benefits Gardner more. He is leading among men 51 to 38 percent, while women back Udall 45 to 39 percent.

Only 10 percent of likely voters in Colorado could still change their mind, according to the poll. That’s enough to make up the difference, but with only five days before Election Day, there’s not much time to convince them.

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Iowa Senate Hopeful’s RV Hits Deer on Campaign Trail

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Inset photo: Joni Ernst for US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Joni Ernst’s campaign may have skyrocketed into infamy thanks to few hogs, but late Wednesday night a deer brought the Republican state senator from Iowa to a halt.

“Reports are true. RV did hit a deer. No one injured. Campaign will continue on,” Ernst’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the collision.

Ernst followed up with a tweet herself, assuring the public that everyone on the bus was safe.

Thank goodness we are all okay RT @JoniForIowa: Reports are true. RV did hit a deer. No one injured. Campaign will continue on. #iasen

— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) October 30, 2014

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was campaigning with the Iowa Senate hopeful on Wednesday and was among those onboard when the RV hit a deer just miles away from the final campaign stop.

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Charlie Crist Inches Ahead in Florida Governor’s Race

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Inset photos: Office of the Florida Governor(WASHINGTON) — Florida’s gubernatorial race is still extremely tight, but former Republican governor now Democratic candidate Charlie Crist has inched ahead slightly, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday morning.

Crist leads incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott 43 percent to 40 percent. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, while 9 percent of voters are still undecided.

Last week, the two were deadlocked at 42 percent.

Crist seems to have made some inroads with independent voters and leads among them by a significant 47 to 29 percent.

Among early voters, it’s still very tight with Crist at 40 percent and Scott at 39. Only 10 percent of Florida voters say they could change their mind at this point.

As for favorability in this race, voters now give Crist a split 45 percent favorability; Scott is underwater at 41 to 46 percent.

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Poll: In Wis. Gubernatorial Race, Walker Pulling Away from Burke

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Darren Hauck/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has gained a little ground over the past two weeks on Democratic challenger Mary Burke, putting the potential 2016 presidential candidate on track to win his third bid for governor in just four years.

While a poll conducted earlier this month showed the race at a dead heat, new data released Wednesday by the Marquette Law School now shows Walker with 50 percent of likely voters compared to only 43 percent for Burke.

Among registered voters, however, the survey still shows a tight race with Walker winning 46 percent of the vote and Burke garnering 45 percent — essentially a statistical tie within the poll’s margin of error.

Walker will continue his bus tour campaign through the Green Bay area Thursday, while Burke plans to make a campaign swing through southeastern Wisconsin.

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Five Days to Elections, Conservative Super PAC Makes Final Push with New Ads

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — There are five more days until Election Day, and as candidates make their last push to gain the support of voters, political groups are running more adds in key districts.

The American Future Fund is out with three new ads in Georgia’s 12th district and Michigan’s 6th district. The conservative super PAC is also running ads for the Oregon Senate race, where Sen. Jeff Merkley is battling it out against his GOP challenger Monica Wehby.

Ads directing voter attention to the contest between Merkley and Wehby are peculiar because the race — rated “likely Democrat by ABC News — is no longer on the radars of most as the top and tight 11 races become more apparent.  AFF, however, is pouring $200,000 into the spot going after Merkley.

The ad, titled “Stopwatch,” attacks him for not doing enough in Washington with a narrator asking the viewer, “Can you think of one thing he’s accomplished?” It doesn’t mention Wehby, but says at the end “Jeff Merkley’s time is up.”

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Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino Dies at 71

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino died Thursday at the age of 71, ABC News has confirmed.

He passed away surrounded by his wife Angela and other family and friends.

Menino, the city’s longest-serving mayor, left office earlier this year to the applause of city hall employees after two decades leading Boston.

He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after leaving office and had recently suspended his treatments.

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Check Out the Most Expensive House and Senate Races

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Elections are getting more expensive by the year.

The 2014 congressional elections, though seemingly less intense and animated than their recent wave-election predecessors in 2006 and 2010, are on pace to cost more than any midterm elections ever.

The 2014 House and Senate races will cost at least $3.67 billion, more than the $2.9 billion spent on House and Senate races in 2006 and slightly edging the $3.6 billion spent in 2010, but ranking just below the $3.7 billion spent on congressional races in the presidential-election year of 2012, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates.

The real number will likely be higher. Because of gaps in disclosure requirements, nonprofit groups like the conservative, Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity were able to spend money on “issue ads,” which didn’t directly tell voters to support or oppose a candidate, for most of the year without reporting them to federal campaign-finance regulators.

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that “well over” $100 million in 2014 will have gone undisclosed, not counting toward that $3.67 billion total.

So where’s all this money going? Here are the most expensive House and Senate races, as compiled by the center. As campaigns and outside groups hurriedly file disclosure reports between now and Election Day, these figures will change, so check this page for a running list.

MOST EXPENSIVE SENATE RACES

  1. North Carolina – Tillis (R) vs. Hagan (D) – $113M
  2. Colorado – Gardner (R) vs. Udall (D) – $94M
  3. Iowa – Ernst (R) vs. Braley (D) – $82M
  4. Kentucky – McConnell (R) vs. Grimes (D) – $78M
  5. Georgia – Perdue (R) vs. Nunn (D) – $65M
  6. Arkansas – Cotton (R) vs. Pryor (D) – $58M
  7. Alaska – Sullivan (R) vs. Begich (D) – $58M
  8. New Hampshire – Brown (R) vs. Shaheen (D) – $47M
  9. Michigan – Land (R) vs. Peters (D) – $47M
  10. Louisiana – Cassidy (R) vs. Landrieu (D) – $42M

Source: OpenSecrets.org/Center for Responsive Politics

MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSE RACES

  1. CA07 – Ose (R) vs. Bera (D) – $21M
  2. OH08 – Boehner (R) vs. Poetter (D) – $17M
  3. CO06 – Coffman (R) vs. Romanoff (D) – $17M
  4. AZ01 – Tobin (R) vs. Kirkpatrick – $17M
  5. AZ02 – McSally (R) vs. Barber (D) – $16M
  6. L10 – Dold (R) vs. Schneider (D) – $16M
  7. MN08 – Mills (R) vs. Nolan (D) – $15M
  8. NY01 – Zeldin (R) vs. Bishop (D) – $15M
  9. FL13 (March special election) – Jolly (R) vs. Sink (D) – $14M
  10. FL02 – MacArthur (R) vs. Belgard (D) – $14M

Source: OpenSecrets.org/Center for Responsive Politics

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Obama’s Former ‘Field General’ Sees Even Odds to Hold Senate

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News/Yahoo! News(WASHINGTON) — With just days to go before midterm elections, President Obama’s former 2012 battleground states director Mitch Stewart says he believes Democrats have a 50-50 shot at holding onto control of the Senate.

“I tend to be an optimist under these circumstances,” Stewart, the co-founder of 270 Strategies consulting group, told ABC News/Yahoo! News. “I know the models that Nate Silver and others have that…lay out a 63 to 64 percent chance that Republicans will get a majority in the Senate. I think the rosiest scenario is you’re looking at a 50-50 proposition.”

While the polls favor Republicans’ odds for victory in Tuesday’s elections, Stewart expressed confidence that the Democrats still have the edge when it comes to field strategy — and are capable of reproducing some of the ground game magic that helped propel Obama to presidential victory in two elections.

For one, Stewart said Democrats have made the necessary investment in field organizers.

“They have this project that they invested I think $40 million to try to get 4,000 field staff, and you’re seeing some of the fruits of that labor right now,” he said.

One of the ways he expects the results of that investment to manifest is an increase in early voting — something the Democrats have made a strategic focus this year.

“In Alaska, for example, you had 82 vote locations in 2012; in 2014 they have over 200,” Stewart said. “It’s small, tactical decisions like that in a close race that can make the difference between winning and losing.”

He said the Iowa Senate race, where Democratic candidate Bruce Braley is facing off against Republican Joni Ernst, is one where the impact of increased early voting may tip the scale of the election.

“If 40 percent of the electorate votes early, and Braley has a 10 point lead, that means that his opponent is going to have to win Election Day probably by 7 points,” he said.

Advanced as the Democrats’ ground game may be, Stewart acknowledged that the party still has a ways to go to overcome the problem of midterm drop-off voters, who tend to vote only in presidential election years.

He pinpointed the non-white electorate as a particularly crucial piece of the puzzle.

“One of the really interesting things of 2008 was [that] 26 percent of the electorate was non-white,” Stewart said. “So a lot of projections then coming after 2010, which was then an older, whiter electorate, was that in 2012 it would be some sort of mix between 2008 and 2010.”

But those projections proved to be wrong. “What we had in 2012 though was 28 percent of the electorate was non-white,” he explained.

And if that trend of a growing non-white electorate continues, as Stewart expects it will, he said the voting population in 2016 could be as high as 31 percent non-white.

“Eventually the midterms will catch up; but at least for the foreseeable future, you are going to have a bipolar electorate between presidential and midterm elections,” Stewart said.

Another liability for Democrats this midterm cycle: a largely unpopular president at the head of the party. Obama has been largely unwelcome on the campaign trail, sticking to only state-wide races in deeply Democratic states.

Stewart, ever-loyal to his former boss, brushed off the Obama liability problem as one any president midway through their second term faces.

“If you look at any presidential 8 years, two four-year terms, [and] you look at that last go-around — whether it was Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush — there’s a challenge,” he said. “I think this is nothing new to sort of what has happened to two four-year term presidents.”

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Fight Night In New Hampshire

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • TUNE IN TONIGHT: ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS moderates the final New Hampshire U.S. Senate debate between Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her GOP opponent, Scott Brown. With just five days to go, polls are tight and both need to seriously wound the other or at least shine in one moment or more, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. There are still undecided voters out there in the Granite State, not many, but it’s likely they will be tuning to make their final decision and it’s those voters Shaheen and Brown need to convince. The New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College will host the debate sponsored by WMUR-TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader. WMUR Political Director Josh McElveen will co-moderate with Stephanopoulos. Beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern, the debate will air live on WMUR-TV and will stream live here: http://abcnews.go.com/live
  • WHAT THEY WILL SAY: More than 40 percent of New Hampshire voters are independent or undeclared so you’re likely to hear both candidates again stress how they will be independent voices for the state while their opponents try to tie them either to the president for Shaheen or the right wing of the GOP for Brown. But this close out, it’s unclear how much those attacks are still sticking. Voters have likely heard all the mudslinging already and tonight really want answers.
  • WHY THE GOP IS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ELECTION DAY 2014: Republicans enter the final stretch before Election Day with a cautious air of confidence. They believe more than six seats needed to win the Senate are within their grasp. But they still aren’t sure, exactly, just which six they may win. Even at this late stage of the campaign, the GOP believes it has only three races in the bag: Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. A half-dozen others remain stubbornly too-close-to-call. ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports that despite a difficult environment for Democrats, the 2014 campaign does not yet feel like a wave election for Republicans. STATE-BY-STATE WITH ZELENY: http://abcn.ws/1E2a92m
  • 5 CRAZY ELECTION 2014 SCENARIOS THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. You think Nov. 4 is the end of the election season? That you can go to bed election night and wake up knowing who controls the Senate? Think again. There’s virtually no chance that all the close Senate races will be settled on Election Day itself. From runoffs to recounts, wild-card independents to wild-salmon fishermen mailing ballots in Alaska, there are multiple scenarios that will leave us up all night — and then some. ABC’s RICK KLEIN and JEFF ZELENY look at five scenarios that might happen this Tuesday. http://abcn.ws/1001n5L

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: About Obama’s America… A pair of new polls suggest a collapse in the Democratic Party’s support among two key constituencies: young voters and Latinos. A Harvard University Institute of Politics poll finds that a majority of 18-29-year-old likely voters say they would rather see a Republican-controlled Congress than a Democratic one.  http://abcn.ws/1012KkQ And the Pew Research Center found Latino voters’ support for Democrats softening, down eight points from the eve of the 2010 election – hardly a high-water mark for the party.  http://fus.in/1tkyzRs In the short term, this means Democrats are unlikely to be able to rely on the so-called “Obama surge” voters that turned out in 2008 and 2012; the likeliest impact will be Democratic-leaning voters staying home. In the longer term, these numbers scramble demographic assumptions about political ideology in intriguing ways. Make that tantalizing ways for Republicans, who could suddenly find themselves playing for voters who were assumed to be aligning with Democrats for the foreseeable future.

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

–OREGON: FIVE DAYS, MORE ADS. The American Future Fund, the conservative super pac, is out with three new ads this morning in Georgia’s 12th district, Michigan’s 6th district, but also in the Oregon Senate race where Sen. Jeff Merkley is battling it out against his GOP challenger Monica Wehby. This race is no longer on most radars as we are closely watching the top and tight 11 and it is rated “Likely Democrat” by ABC News, but AFF is pouring $200,000 in the spot going after Merkley. The ad attacks him for not doing enough in Washington with a narrator asking the viewer, “Can you think of one think of one thing he’s accomplished?” It doesn’t mention Wehby, but says at the end “Jeff Merkley’s time is up.” Watch: http://bit.ly/1sJV5OcShushannah Walshe

–WISCONSIN: WALKER PULLING AWAY FROM BURKE. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has gained a little ground over the past two weeks on Democratic challenger Mary Burke, putting the potential 2016 presidential candidate on track to win his third bid for governor in just four years. While a poll conducted earlier this month showed the race at a dead heat, new data released Wednesday by the Marquette Law School now shows Walker with 50 percent of likely voters compared to only 43 percent for Burke. Among registered voters, however, the survey still shows a tight race with Walker winning 46 percent of the vote and Burke garnering 45 percent – essentially a statistical tie within the poll’s margin of error. Walker will continue his bus tour campaign through the Green Bay area today, while Burke plans to make a campaign swing through southeastern Wisconsin. https://law.marquette.edu/poll/

–FLORIDA: CRIST INCHES AHEAD. Florida’s gubernatorial race–one of the country’s nastiest–is still extremely tight, but former Republican governor now Democratic candidate Charlie Crist has inched ahead slightly according to a new Quinnipiac poll out this morning. He leads incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott 43 percent to 40 percent and libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has eight percent while nine percent of voters are still undecided. Last week the two were deadlocked at 42 percent. Crist seems to have made some inroads with independent voters and leads with those voters by a significant 47 to 29 percent. Among early voting it’s still very tight with Crist at 40 percent and Scott at 39. Only 10 percent of Florida voters say they could change their mind at this point and as for favorability in this race where the two candidates seem so disliked throughout out the campaign, voters now give Crist a split 45 percent favorability. Scott is underwater at 41 to 46 percent. http://bit.ly/103lDUb –Shushannah Walshe

–NORTH CAROLINA: MAKE THE ADS STOP: One North Carolina resident is fed up with the Senate race’s negative advertising, even if she can’t vote. Eight-year-old Raleigh third grader Carson Park wrote a letter to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis asking why their ads “say mean things about each other.” “You don’t know what they’re really like,” Park told Raleigh’s ABC 11. More than half of the spending in the Senate race has gone to television ads, according to the Center for Public Integrity. On Wednesday, spending in the race hit the $100 million mark, according to the Sunlight Foundation. http://abc11.tv/105BLnMBen Siegel

–COLORADO: A PRO-LIFE CONDOM SHORTAGE? That’s the claim in a new radio ad from pro-choice group NARAL. The spot continues Democrats’ attacks against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner on women’s health by suggesting his support for personhood bills would outlaw contraceptives.  “Now, it’s all on us guys,” says the man in the ad to his girlfriend. “You can’t find a condom anywhere … sweet pea, Cory denies science.” Gardner, who leads Sen. Mark Udall in the Colorado Senate race, said he stopped supporting personhood amendments because they would limit contraceptive access. Democrats claim a federal personhood bill Gardner co-sponsored would do the same.  http://bit.ly/1Dtl3MgBen Siegel

–COLORADO: BAD NEWS FOR UDALL. A new Quinnipiac poll out this morning is spelling some bad news for Sen. Mark Udall in one of the most closely watched races this cycle, battling it out against his GOP challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. The survey shows Gardner leading Udall by seven points 46 to 39 percent, with seven percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan and another seven percent still undecided. This gap is slightly wider than their poll last week that showed Gardner leading by five points. There is also a significant gender gap in this race, but it benefits Gardner more. He is leading with men 51 to 38 percent and women back the Democratic incumbent 45 to 39 percent. Only 10 percent of Colorado likely voters could still change their mind according to the poll, enough to make up the difference, but not much time to convince them. http://bit.ly/1sJYjBr

 

–IOWA: OH DEER, ERNST BUS HITS A BUMP ON THE TRAIL. Joni Ernst’s campaign may have skyrocketed into infamy thanks to few hogs, but late Thursday night a deer brought her to a halt. “Reports are true. RV did hit a deer. No one injured. Campaign will continue on,” Ernst’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the collision, followed by a tweet from Ernst herself assuring the public that everyone on the bus was safe. Senator John McCain was campaigning with the Iowa Senate hopeful on Thursday and was among those onboard when the RV hit a deer just miles away from the final campaign stop of the midterm season. -Alisa Wiersema

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

CHRIS CHRISTIE TELLS HECKLER TO ‘SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP’. This is why some people love him … and some people hate him. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, appearing along the Jersey Shore to mark the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy yesterday, got heckled by a local activist and former councilman. So Christie did what he does — fire back, ABC’s JOSH MARGOLIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. “I’m glad you had your day to show off, but we’re the ones who are here to actually do the work,” Christie said from behind an official podium placed in a Belmar, N.J., intersection. “So turn around, get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and maybe do something for the people of this state.” Christie summed up: “So listen, you want to have the conversation later, I’m happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up.” WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1u8KzHN

 

THE BUZZ

with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS WALK BACK ‘CHICKENS***’ COMMENT ABOUT NETANYAHU. A day after an unnamed Obama administration official was quoted calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens***,” administration spokespeople said that they were just as surprised as Netanyahu was to read the comment. ABC’s ALI WEINBERG and MARY BRUCE report Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the comment, published by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, was “counterproductive” and “inappropriate,” and that he would be surprised if President Obama knew who said it to Goldberg. At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry believed it wasn’t productive for either side to lob insults at the others, alluding to comments from Israelis in recent days criticizing Kerry for seemingly linking the rise of ISIS to Muslim frustration over the lack of progress between Israelis and Palestinians over peace talks. http://abcn.ws/1wFVSE7

OBAMA USES HUGS AND KISSES TO EASE EBOLA FEARS. President Obama is trying to lead by example as he works to calm public fears about Ebola in the U.S. ABC’s DEVIN DWYER and MARY BRUCE note that Obama has come into contact with more American Ebola patients, and the doctors and nurses who treated them, than just about any other American. For weeks, the president has repeatedly assured the American people that the risks of a widespread outbreak are “very, very low.” To hammer home the point, the president has gone beyond words, to hugs, kisses, and hand-shakes. http://abcn.ws/103EPRo

MAJORITY OF MILLENIALS TURN ON OBAMA, FAVOR A GOP-LED CONGRESS. Many Democrats who are fighting to win re-election next week were swept into office with President Obama in 2008, with the help of millennial voters. Now, more than half of likely 18-29 year-old voters want a Republican-led Congress, according to a new poll from the Harvard University Institute of Politics. ABC’s BEN SIEGEL reports it’s a marked shift for the youngest and largest generation of voters, who have supported Democrats reliably since 2004. Millennials who said they will “definitely be voting” favor a Republican-led Congress 51-47 percent, according to the poll. http://abcn.ws/1012KkQ

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

SARAH PALIN PROMISES TO ‘BUG THE CRAP’ OUT OF HER ‘HATERS.’ Sarah Palin isn’t driven away by her haters. ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON reports that she’s actually motivated by them. In an interview on Tuesday with Fox Business Network, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee said that “those haters out there” have not driven her away from politics. “It wants me to get out there and defend the innocent,” Palin said “The more they’re pouring on the more I’m going to bug the crap out of them by being out there with a voice, with the message, hopefully running for office in the future too.” http://abcn.ws/ZZTI7w

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@rickklein: can Dems hold Senate? “rosiest scenario is you’re looking at a 50-50 proposition,” Mitch Stewart says. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/whither-obama-s-army–obama-s-field-general-mitch-stewart-sees-even-odds-to-hold-senate-111313665.html … #TopLine

@donnabrazile: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and others can run for Mr Obama’s job in 2016. But until then, let #POTUS finish.

@CarlCannon: Ben Bradlee funeral captured perfectly in superb column by @Milbank. Here’s Dana’s piece: http://wapo.st/1FYMd1J 

@GeraldFSeib: Very good GDP growth number this morning: 3.5%. Kinda late to affect mid-terms much, though. http://on.wsj.com/13jMKfG 

@mviser: Who’d you rather have a coffee with? Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates and their coffee routines #MyMorningCup http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2014/10/30/massachusetts-gubernatorial-candidates/R1hijRBISV3w32epxN8pmI/story.html …

Obama Calls for ‘Dignity and Respect’ for ‘Heroes’ Returning from Front Lines of Ebola Fight

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of controversy regarding multiple states enacting mandatory quarantines for medical personnel returning from West Africa, President Obama on Wednesday demanded that the “heroes” fighting Ebola on the front lines receive “dignity and respect.”

“We need to call them what they are: American heroes,” Obama said. “They deserve our gratitude. And they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” He stood by his previous statements that the best way to fight the Ebola situation is to do so at the source, in West Africa.

“When I hear people talking about American leadership and then are promoting policies that would avoid leadership and have us running in the opposite direction…hiding under the covers…it makes me a little frustrated,” the commander-in-chief admitted.

“All of them have signed up to leave their homes and their loved ones to head straight into the heart of the Ebola epidemic,” Obama said, adding that “they make huge sacrifices to protect this country that we love and when they come home, they deserve to be treated properly…they deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are.”

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Some Federal Protective Service Guards Lack Proper Training

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Fuse/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Government Accounting Office says that some of the Federal Protective Service guards being called upon to provide extra security at federal buildings around the country after last week’s shooting in Ottawa do not have the “active shooter” training necessary for the job.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday that it would increase FPS guards at federal buildings in Washington, D.C. and in cities around the country. According to a GAO report from May, 38 percent of FPS guards lack even basic X-ray and magnetometer training — important methods of screening. An additional 23 percent of guards didn’t have required training and/or certification on file — including CPR certifications and firearms qualifications.

The report also indicated that FPS “has limited knowledge of the risks facing about 9,600 federal facilities around the country.”

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Hagel Orders 21-Day Quarantine for All Military Personnel Returning from West Africa

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Wednesday agreed to a 21-day quarantine for all military personnel returning from Ebola response efforts in West Africa.

A similar quarantine mandate had been implemented by Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno. Hagel requested an implementation plan for the quarantine for all members of the U.S military fighting Ebola at the source, even those who don’t come in direct contact with Ebola patients, be presented to him within 15 days.

That plan will be reviewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 45 days to determine whether the monitoring should continue.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the Department of Defense has “the largest and youngest population of Americans responding to Ebola in West Africa and, although our mission does not involve direct patient care, our service members are performing duties in an environment where there is an ongoing epidemic.”

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WATCH: NJ Gov. Chris Christie Tells Heckler to ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

File photo. Office of the Governor(TRENTON, N.J.) — This is why some people love him…and some people hate him.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, appearing along the Jersey Shore to mark the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, got heckled by a local activist and former councilman.

So Christie fired back.

“I’m glad you had your day to show off, but we’re the ones who are here to actually do the work,” Christie said from behind an official podium placed in a Belmar, N.J., intersection. “So turn around, get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and maybe do something for the people of this state.”

Christie summed up: “So listen, you want to have the conversation later, I’m happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up.”

The target of the governor’s ire was James Keady, a Democrat and former Asbury Park city councilman who interrupted Christie’s event while holding a sign that read: “GET SANDY FAMILIES BACK IN THEIR HOME – FINISH THE JOB.”

Known for his pugnacious style (he’s publicly argued with a boardwalk passerby while holding an ice cream cone), Christie saw his national profile and local popularity soar because of his in-command leadership in the wake of Sandy.

Though critics have questioned his administration’s performance in dealing with the storm, Christie points to the post-Sandy period as Exhibit A for why he’s been a success.

Not everyone along the Jersey Shore sees it that way.

Keady was not immediately available. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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White House Still Impacted by ‘Inconveniences’ Following Breach of Computer System

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — One day after a senior administration official confirmed to ABC that hackers had breached an unclassified computer system at the White House, the system remains on the fritz.

Administration officials tell ABC News that the defensive measures taken to protect and repair the unclassified network have caused some outages and connectivity issues. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest termed those issues as “inconveniences” which haven’t “affected the ability of White House staffers…to carry out the important work that’s done here.”

Earnest also said Wednesday that the White House’s classified systems were not affected by the breach.

“There are many people around the world who would love to gain greater insight into the activities of the U.S. government by collecting information from the White House network,” Earnest pointed out Wednesday.

Still, he opted not to share any further details, saying that “it would be unwise for me to discuss exactly what we know…by publicly revealing what we know it might affect our ability to know more.”

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State Department Denies Reported Offer to Treat Non-Americans Infected with Ebola in US

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government has not offered to allow non-Americans into the country to receive treatment for Ebola, the State Department said Wednesday.

While the U.S. has discussed allowing other nations to use U.S. MEDEVAC capabilities to evacuate their own citizens to their home countries or other nations, “we are not contemplating bringing them back to the U.S. for treatment,” State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke said Wednesday. “There is no policy of the U.S. Government to allow entry of non-U.S. citizen Ebola-infected to the United States. There is no consideration in the State Department of changing that policy,” he added.

The Washington Times reported that an internal memo was written arguing that any doctors or medical workers infected with Ebola in West Africa should be treated in the U.S., but Rathke said that memo was never cleared by or even brought to senior leaders at the State Department for approval.

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Obama Uses Hugs, Kisses to Ease Ebola Fears

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is trying to lead by example as he works to calm public fears about Ebola in the U.S.

Obama has come into contact with more American Ebola patients, and the doctors and nurses who treated them, than just about any other American.

For weeks, the president has repeatedly assured the American people that the risks of a widespread outbreak are “very, very low.” To hammer home the point, the president has gone beyond words to hugs, kisses, and hand-shakes.

“I want to use myself as an example, just so that people have a sense of the science here. I shook hands with, hugged and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so,” Obama told reporters last month.

From meeting with health care professionals who have come in close contact with the deadly virus to hugging survivors, Obama is using these images to show the public that his administration’s response to the Ebola crisis is working.

Obama greeted the first ever American Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, in the Oval Office less than a month after he was declared virus-free. He then flew to Emory University Hospital to hug and kiss the nurses and doctors who treated Brantly.

In late September, Obama hosted at the White House leaders of Ebola “hot zone” countries and embraced a Liberian who contracted the disease.

Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has toured the Ebola wards in West Africa, gets a prime seat next to Obama for Oval Office briefings.

And the same day she was released from a high-level containment unit for Ebola treatment, nurse Nina Pham gave Obama a bear-hug in the Oval Office.

The public seems to be getting the message. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows an eight-point increase in the president’s approval rating for his handling of the issue.

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Former Secretaries of State Hit Iowa Senate Race

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong / Scott Olsen / Getty(WASHINGTON) — The Iowa Senate race on Wednesday isn’t just a contest between State Sen. Joni Ernst and Rep. Bruce Braley — it’s also turning into an endorsement battle between two former secretaries of state.

As Braley, D-Iowa, prepares to campaign with Hillary Clinton at an early voting rally taking place later in the day, his Republican opponent released news of an endorsement from Condoleeza Rice.

In a statement, Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, touted Ernst’s military service and urged Iowan voters to seize the opportunity to elect the “first female combat veteran to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.”

Both Senate candidates can use the added help with just six days to go before Election Day.

A new Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday morning shows Ernst ahead of Braley 49 to 45 percent, with 5 percent still undecided.

Among likely voters in the state, 91 percent say their mind is up, while 9 percent say they may change their mind.

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