Department of Transportation to Review NHTSA Following Handling of Automobile Recall

Posted on: October 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

csakisti/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Transportation will conduct a review of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the heels of a number of automobile recalls this year, a senior administration official confirmed to ABC News.

The New York Times reports that the administration is concerned about the NHTSA’s handling of recent recalls. Earlier this week, the agency urged drivers to “act immediately” to have repairs done regarding faulty airbags, however, several automakers were unprepared to make those repairs.

Additionally, a tool on the NHTSA website that helps drivers identify whether their car is affected by outstanding recalls was non-responsive for more than a day.

The most recent recall, of Takata Company airbags, involved nearly eight million vehicles.

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Holder Announces Federal Government to Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples in Six More States

Posted on: October 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government will recognize same-sex married couples in six more states, Attorney General Eric Holder said Saturday.

The move is yet another development after the Supreme Court decided earlier in October not to hear any pending cases regarding same-sex marriage. The federal government will now recognize same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Holder made a similar announcement last week with respect to seven other states. Saturday’s action brings the total number of states where the federal government recognizes same-sex married couples to 32, plus the District of Columbia.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized,” Holder said in a statement, “our nation moves closer to achieving…full equality for all Americans.” The government will work with those states “to ensure that same-sex married couples…receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under the law.”

Holder also announced Saturday that the Department of Justice determined that it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin in June. A number of marriages were performed after federal district courts ruled those states’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but later legal developments created confusion about the status of those marriages.’

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Obama Talks About Ebola in America in Weekly Address

Posted on: October 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s address, President Obama talks about Ebola in America, from the death of Thomas Eric Duncan to the most recent case in New York City.

Obama addresses what he says are some “basic facts.” “First, you cannot get Ebola easily,” he says. “You can’t get it through casual contact with someone.  Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola.  The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms.  That’s the science.  Those are the facts.”

Obama also highlights the newest CDC guidelines and travel measures going forward.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

“Hi everybody, this week, we remained focused on our fight against Ebola.  In Dallas, dozens of family, friends and others who had been in close contact with the first patient, Mr. Duncan, were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease is actually very hard to catch.  Across Dallas, others being monitored—including health care workers who were most at risk—were also declared Ebola-free.


Two Americans—patients in Georgia and Nebraska who contracted the disease in West Africa—recovered and were released from the hospital.  The first of the two Dallas nurses who were diagnosed—Nina Pham—was declared Ebola free, and yesterday I was proud to welcome her to the Oval Office and give her a big hug.  The other nurse—Amber Vinson—continues to improve as well.  And in Africa, the countries of Senegal and Nigeria were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated.

In New York City, medical personnel moved quickly to isolate and care for the patient there—a doctor who recently returned from West Africa.  The city and state of New York have strong public health systems, and they’ve been preparing for this possibility.  Because of the steps we’ve taken in recent weeks, our CDC experts were already at the hospital, helping staff prepare for this kind of situation.  Before the patient was even diagnosed, we deployed one of our new CDC rapid response teams. And I’ve assured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they’ll have all the federal support they need as they go forward. 

More broadly, this week we continued to step up our efforts across the country.  New CDC guidelines and outreach is helping hospitals improve training and protect their health care workers.  The Defense Department’s new team of doctors, nurses and trainers will respond quickly if called upon to help. 

New travel measures are now directing all travelers from the three affected countries in West Africa into five U.S. airports where we’re conducting additional screening.  Starting this week, these travelers will be required to report their temperatures and any symptoms on a daily basis—for 21 days until we’re confident they don’t have Ebola.  Here at the White House, my new Ebola response coordinator is working to ensure a seamless response across the federal government.  And we have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we’ll continue to work with state and local officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of the American people.

In closing, I want to leave you with some basic facts.  First, you cannot get Ebola easily.  You can’t get it through casual contact with someone.  Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola.  The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms.  That’s the science.  Those are the facts.

Sadly, Mr. Duncan did not survive, and we continue to keep his family in our prayers.  At the same time, it’s important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola—the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas—all seven have survived.  Let me say that again—seven Americans treated; all seven survived.  I’ve had two of them in the Oval Office.  And now we’re focused on making sure the patient in New York receives the best care as well. 

Here’s the bottom line.  Patients can beat this disease.  And we can beat this disease.  But we have to stay vigilant.  We have to work together at every level—federal, state and local.  And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source—in West Africa.

And we have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear.  Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. They did what they do every day—jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks.  That spirit—that determination to carry on—is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world.  And that’s the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together.”

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GOP Weekly Address: US Needs ‘New Energy to Keep Our Country Strong’

Posted on: October 25th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s GOP Address, Will Hurd, who is running for representative of Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, critiques the Obama administration and says he wants “to get this mess in Washington cleaned up once and for all.”

Looking forward, Hurd says the country needs new energy to stay strong.

Hurd says the government should “clean up the mess of debt and waste by balancing our budget and simplifying our tax code” and “reduce the burdens on middle class families and small business owners who are trying to achieve the American Dream.”

Read the full transcript of the GOP address:

“Good morning.

My name is Will Hurd.

My hope is to be elected representative of Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.

Because, like you, I want to get this mess in Washington cleaned up once and for all.

For too long, we’ve had an administration in DC that spends too much and listens too little, that thinks the answer to every question is more government.  But when we can’t trust that government to protect our economy … secure our borders … to provide basic services to our veterans, we know something has to change.

Now, the president expects you to go to the polls and stick with the people who have stuck with him.   To stick with the politicians who helped him push through ObamaCare…who helped him block solutions that would create jobs.

“These are all folks who vote with me,” he said.

But don’t we want representatives who vote with us?  Don’t we want to send to Washington leaders who will take on the tough issues and focus on getting things done?  

I’ve been in real fights – as an overseas officer in the CIA, I witnessed folks struggling for freedom and stared down those trying to end our way of life.

And working in the private sector trying to help companies compete, I see how our government is threatening our economic security.

We need to clean up the mess of debt and waste by balancing our budget and simplifying our tax code.

We need to reduce the burdens on middle class families and small business owners who are trying to achieve the American Dream.

We need to ensure our ability to be energy independent.

And we need to make border security, countering drug traffickers and fighting cyber criminals all national priorities.

It is time we come together to do these things.

America doesn’t need more politicians who vote in lock step with the president.  We need new energy to keep our country strong, at home and abroad.

Fellow Texans and Americans, this is the opportunity we face in ten days time.  This is our moment.

Let’s stand together and take our government back from the bureaucrats in Washington and put the power where it belongs: in the hands of the people.   

Thank you for listening.”

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Lawmakers Pushing for Expanded Recall on Defective Airbags

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Some lawmakers in Congress are saying that every defective airbag — which could mean millions more than the 20 million devices already suggested — should be recalled, not just in the South where most of the airbag recalls have been focused.

“I want [the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration] to recall all airbags regardless of where they are, not just in warm states,” said Sen. Edward Mackey, D-Massachusetts. “And I want them to offer every driver a loaner car.”

The problem with the airbags is that the defective inflator can explode with too much force, shattering the metal into shards that, car safety advocates say, are believed to have killed four people and caused dozens of injuries. The airbag problem is linked to cars in states where there’s persistent humid weather.

Corey Burdick, 26, of Eustis, Florida, lost sight in his right eye when his car collided with another vehicle in May and the airbag inflated. A piece of metal shot out from the airbag and hit him in the face.

“It was a like a ‘Boom!’ and I remember closing my eyes,” he told ABC News. “I put my hand up to my face … and there was blood everywhere.”

Takata, the manufacturer of the airbag inflators, has said it is “cooperating” with the recall.

The NHTSA has said that there are not enough replacement inflators for the cars currently being recalled.  If the recall is expanded, as lawmakers have urged, it could take years to replace the airbags.

The NHTSA said it has been in contact with Takata to try to expand production of replacement units and has asked the company to look at outside sources to help boost production.

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Hillary Clinton Showers Elizabeth Warren With ‘Love’

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Department(BOSTON) — Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both stumped for Massachusetts governor candidate Martha Coakley on Friday, and one thing was clear: Hillary hearts Elizabeth.

“I love watching Elizabeth,” Clinton gushed about the populist Massachusetts senator. “You know, give it to those who deserve to get it. Standing up not only for you, but people with the same needs and same wants across our country. It’s a great pleasure to be here in a state that has such tremendous tradition of leadership.”

Clinton called Warren a “passionate champion for working people and middle class families.”

However, the two did not appear on stage together at the rally, and there’s been speculation both might consider a run in 2016, even though Warren has denied it. Clinton has not announced whether she will run.

Warren was also kind to Clinton, but not nearly as effusive.

“I’m happy to welcome Secretary Clinton back to the commonwealth,” Warren said. “We love it.”

Warren seemed to downplay their relationship in a recent interview with People.

“We have talked. It’s not much more than that,” Warren told the magazine. “Not much more.”

They did, however, exchange stories about their grandchildren backstage.

“Backstage before we came on, Governor (Patrick Deval) and Senator Warren were trading grandchild stories. I don’t even have a month’s worth of stories,” Clinton said. “Looking at the smile on Elizabeth’s face and the excitement on Deval’s face, I thought when all is said and done that’s what this is supposed to be about.”

Clinton used the anecdote to introduce a line that has become a staple of her 2014 campaign speeches: “How do we give the best future we can to every single child? You should not have to be a grandchild of a governor, a senator, a secretary of state to have the same opportunity that we were given in previous years.”

Both Clinton and Warren have been busy this fall campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates. On Sunday, Warren will be on the campaign trail in New Hampshire and on Wednesday, Clinton heads to Iowa.

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James Foley Honored with Award at US Institute of Peace

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — James Foley, the first journalist beheaded by ISIS, was honored with an award for extraordinary courage.

Former President Clinton nominated Foley for the award, which was presented at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

Foley’s father, John, said, “This is recognition of Jim’s courage. His sacrifice and his love of his fellow man his fellow captives, and we couldn’t be more proud to be his parents.”

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Ebola-Free Nurse Nina Pham Visits President Obama

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) — Before returning to her “normal life” in Texas, newly Ebola-free Dallas nurse Nina Pham got a hug from President Obama in the Oval Office.

Hours earlier, Pham had walked out of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, where she has been in isolation since Oct. 16, to a round of applause. She thanked everyone who cared for her since her Oct. 11 Ebola diagnosis, and said she would finally go home to her dog, Bentley.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” she told reporters, adding that she hopes to return to her “normal life.”

Pham, 26, contracted Ebola from Liberian national Thomas Duncan, who flew to the United States in September and was diagnosed with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Pham, a nurse there, cared for Duncan when he was especially contagious. He died on Oct. 8, and she tested positive for the deadly virus three days later.

It was the first Ebola transmission on U.S. soil.

“I am on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on others who have not been so fortunate,” Pham said, reading from her prepared statement at the press conference.

Pham’s colleague, nurse Amber Vinson, 29, also tested positive for the virus on Oct. 15, and was flown from Dallas to Emory University Hospital later that night. The following day, Pham was flown to the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Dallas hospital’s request.

At the news conference announcing Pham’s discharge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said she tested negative for Ebola five times, and that it wasn’t clear which treatment saved her because they were all experimental.

“I want to first tell you what a great pleasure and in many respects, a privilege …to have the opportunity to treat and care for and get to know such an extremely courageous and lovely person,” Fauci said, adding that she represents the health care workers who “put themselves on the line”

He said he wore Pham’s nursing school colors for the press conference in her honor.

“I’m going to miss Nina a lot,” Fauci quipped at the end of the conference, adding that he gave her his cellphone number.

Pham also thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary who had been treating Ebola patients in Liberia when he contracted the deadly virus in late July. Brantly was declared virus-free in September and has donated plasma to Pham and other American Ebola patients in the hopes of boosting their ability to fight the virus with his antibodies.

Pham’s dog, Bentley, was taken to an animal shelter following her diagnosis. He has tested negative for Ebola, but his 21-day incubation period isn’t over until Nov. 1. They will likely reunite a few days later.

Vinson’s family announced on Oct. 22 that she, too, tested negative for the virus at Emory.

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Elton John Announces AIDS Partnership with US Government

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US State Dept (WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry hosted superstar Elton John in Washington, D.C. Friday, where the two announced a $7 million partnership between John’s AIDS foundation and the United States HIV/AIDS eradication effort, PEPFAR.

But perhaps caught up in the excitement of the announcement, Sir Elton gave Kerry a demotion, calling him “Senator.”

It’s not the first time Kerry had an unscripted moment with a famous philanthropist. There was also a bromantic moment caught on camera between him and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

And that time Ben Affleck shook his hand/squeezed his bicep:

In the end, all those awkward photo ops are for a good cause. In addition to Sir Elton raising money for AIDS initiatives, DiCaprio was part of a campaign to help the world’s oceans, and Affleck was in Washington to bring attention to the humanitarian situation in the Congo.

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First Lady Flubs Again on Campaign Trail

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Samantha Appleton / The White House(DENVER) — First lady Michelle Obama has been touring the country for Democratic candidates — and making headlines along the way for notable gaffes.

Earlier this month in Iowa, she referred to Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley as Bruce “Bailey,” before correcting herself in a follow-up appearance in Iowa City.

In Colorado Thursday, she called Democratic Sen. Mark Udall a “fifth-generation Coloradan,” though he was born in Arizona.

It’s Udall’s opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who is a fifth-generation Coloradan.

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Sarah Palin Backs Independent in Alaska’s Governor’s Race

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

(WASHINGTON) — Sarah Palin has backed Alaska’s Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker over Republican Sean Parnell, her former lieutenant governor.

Palin held an event earlier this week at her Wasilla home for Walker and his Democratic running mate.

Parnell was not only Palin’s number two, but took over when she stepped down in 2009. The two had a high profile disagreement earlier this year, taking opposite sides on a referendum over Alaska’s oil and gas taxes, Palin’s signature legislation while she was the state’s governor.

According to a release Wednesday from the Walker campaign, both Walker and his running mate Byron Mallot, along with their families, attended the reception hosted by Palin and her husband Todd.

The campaign says Sarah Palin addressed the crowd of about 100 guests, saying she is backing the candidates, known as the “unity ticket,” because she “trust[s] them to develop our God-given resources responsibly and to the maximum benefit of Alaskans.”

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Poll: Sen. Mark Udall Still Leads Colorado Senate Race

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Cory Gardner is still ahead of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, with the Republican leading Udall 46 to 41 percent among likely voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll out Friday.

The results are similar to the five-point lead Gardner had in Quinnipiac’s poll last week.

The poll also shows 6 percent are for Independent candidate Steve Shogan, while another 6 percent are undecided.

Among women, 45 to 41 percent are backing Udall, while 51 to 38 percent of men are for Gardner.

Gardner is leading with independent voters, getting 41 percent to Udall’s 40 percent.

And with just 11 days to go, much of Colorado’s likely voters have made up their mind with 92 percent decided.

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Jeanne Shaheen, Scott Brown Square Off in NH Senate Debate

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(CONCORD, N.H.) — New Hampshire Senate candidates Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown faced off again Thursday night in their second live televised debate.

The match up was dominated by questions on Ebola, and Shaheen accused Brown of “fear mongering” on the issue, as she did on the dangers of ISIS.

Brown tried to wiggle out of earlier comments he made that the country would not be worrying about Ebola if Mitt Romney was president, but the moderator read the entire quote pressing him.

Later in the debate, the issue of President Obama’s campaign schedule came up when Shaheen was asked why she doesn’t want him to stump with her in the Granite State.

She answered she never said she doesn’t want the president to campaign with her, but “the fact is he’s busy.”

When asked directly if she does want Obama to campaign with her, she said no: “We have a lot going on, I don’t think it makes sense for the president to come to New Hampshire right now.”

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The Note: Ebola Digs In

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • THE LATEST FROM NEW YORK: A New York doctor who recently returned from West Africa has tested positive for Ebola and is being isolated at a Manhattan hospital, city and state officials said last night. ABC News report that the doctor, who has been identified as Dr. Craig Allen Spencer by New York government sources, was placed in an isolation unit today at Bellevue Hospital after reporting Ebola-like symptoms. He had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms when he was transferred to Bellevue, said NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will confirm the preliminary positive test. CDC test results are expected by the end of the day. “We’ve been preparing for just this circumstance. We were hoping that didn’t happen but we were also realistic,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference. http://abcn.ws/1thcdkM
  • GRILL ON THE HILL: The House Oversight and government reform committee holds a hearing on Ebola with Nicole Lurie, M.D. assistant secretary of HHS, Michael Lumpkin, assistant secretary of defense, John Roth, DHS I.G., Deborah Burger, RN, Co-president of National Nurses United and others.
  • MEANWHILE: Sir Elton John graces the State Department today, meeting with Secretary Kerry to talk about PEPFAR, the United States’ AIDS initiative, ABC’s ALI WEINBERG notes. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck have also been recent visitors, where they talked about climate change and the Congo, respectively.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Sad news out of Boston: Former Mayor Tom Menino is stopping his cancer treatments, with hospice care looming next. And underrated pol from an obscure outpost of his home city, Menino led one of the nation’s most politically engaged – and historically divided – cities for an amazing 20-plus years, even though he was surely among the worst public speakers ever to hold elected office. (“Mumbles” was clear enough in a conversation with a young Boston Globe reporter who was sure he’d nailed a story about low-level city corruption to make obvious he didn’t care what I wrote, “so long as you don’t say I don’t clear the snow in time.”) He was an old-school political poker player in an era of chess, a controlling and obsessive manager who remembered slights and just plain loved his city.  Menino, 71, is being denied the chance to enjoy a well-earned retirement that could have been used sharing lessons out of the tradition of urban ethnic politics – including his insistence on attending every ribbon-cutting and Bar Mitzvah and Irish wake he could wrangle his way into. His successor, Mayor Marty Walsh, told The Boston Globe he spoke with Menino Thursday night:  “He was worried about how bad was the flooding and if we were able to clear the trees.”  http://bit.ly/10qSbrT

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

THE ‘SOUL’ OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: HOW JAMES BROWN BROUGHT THE POWER OF MUSIC TO POLITICS. Music legend James Brown is remembered in history as the “Godfather of Soul” for his many contributions to music during his six-decades-long career. But the musician’s influence didn’t end there. It extended to civil rights and black empowerment. “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown” is a new HBO documentary premiering Oct. 27th by Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney — and producer Mick Jagger — that is dedicated to telling the lesser-known aspects of the music legend’s life story, from his rise to fame from poverty to his role in the Civil Rights Movement. “He helped to change the culture,” Gibney told “The Fine Print’s” JEFF ZELENY in an interview at Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, D.C. “Both in terms of civil rights but also in terms of music — everything we now know about funk and hip-hop, it really comes from this dynamic character, James Brown.” http://yhoo.it/1wvUUfA

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

–NEW HAMPSHIRE. FIGHT NIGHT. New Hampshire Senate candidates Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown faced off again last night in their second live televised debate. The match up, sponsored by CNN and NH1, was dominated by questions on Ebola and Shaheen accused Brown of “fear mongering” on the issue, as she did on the dangers of ISIS. He tried to wiggle out of earlier comments he made that the country would not be worrying about Ebola if Mitt Romney was president, but moderator Wolf Blitzer read the entire quote pressing him. Later in the debate the issue of the president’s campaign schedule came up when Shaheen was asked why she doesn’t want the president to stump with her in the Granite State. She answered she never said she doesn’t want the president to campaign with her, but “the fact is he’s busy.” When asked directly if she does want Obama to campaign with her she said no: “We have a lot going on, I don’t think it makes sense for the president to come to New Hampshire right now.”–Shushannah Walshe 

–COLORADO. GARDNER STILL LEADS. A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows Rep. Cory Gardner leading Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall 46 to 41 percent among likely voters, with six percent for independent candidate Steve Shogan and another 6 percent are undecided. It’s similar to the five point lead Gardner had in their poll last week. There is also a gender gap in this race with women backing Udall 45 to 41 percent and men backing Gardner 51 to 38 percent.  Gardner is leading with independent voters getting 41 percent to Udall’s 40 percent. And with just 11 days to go much of Colorado’s likely voters have made up their mind with 92 percent decided and 8 percent could still change their mind. – Shushannah Walshe http://bit.ly/1tQFtje

–COLORADO: FLOTUS FLUBS AGAIN: First Lady Michelle Obama has been touring the country for Democratic candidates, and making headlines along the way for notable gaffes. Earlier this month in Iowa, she referred to Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley as Bruce “Bailey,” before correcting herself in a follow-up appearance in Iowa City. In Colorado Thursday, she called Democratic Sen. Mark Udall a “fifth-generation Coloradan,” though he was born in Arizona. It’s Udall’s opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who is a fifth-generation Coloradan. -Ben Siegel

GEORGIA. GOOD MORNING FOR DEMOCRATS. Two new polls in Georgia mean good news for Democrats in the state, although both the gubernatorial and senate face offs remain tight in a statistical ties. In the high profile Senate race, a new CNN/ORC poll shows Michelle Nunn with a slight edge to David Perdue leading 47 to 44 percent, still within the poll’s margin of error. Libertarian Amanda Swafford has 5 percent in the survey. In the gubernatorial race, Jason Carter is leading incumbent Republican governor Nathan Deal 48 percent to 46 percent, also within the margin of error while libertarian candidate Andrew Hunt gets six percent support.  If neither candidate in either race gets to 50 precent of the vote, the race or races will head to a runoff. And that’s not until January.  http://cnn.it/1sXuFw5 –Shushannah Walshe

ALASKA. PALIN BACKS UNITY TICKET. Sarah Palin backed Alaska’s independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker over her former Lieutenant Governor and Republican Sean Parnell holding an event at her Wasilla home for Walker and his Democratic running mate. Parnell was not only her number two, but took over when she stepped down in 2009. The two had a high profile disagreement earlier this year taking opposite sides on a referendum over the state’s oil and gas taxes, her signature legislation while she was Alaska’s governor. According to a release from the Walker campaign, both Walker and his running mate Byron Mallot, along with their families, were in attendance. The campaign says Palin addressed the crowd of about 100 guests saying she is backing the candidates, known as the “unity ticket,” because she “trust[s] them to develop our God-given resources responsibly and to the maximum benefit of Alaskans.” Sounds like the disagreement led directly to her decision. –Shushannah Walshe

 

THE BUZZ
with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

BRISTOL PALIN EXPLAINS BRAWL, BLAMES MEDIA, ATTACKS BIDENS, CLINTONS (ALL IN ONE NOTE!) Two days after audio from a brawl involving the Palin family was released, Bristol Palin has defended herself and her family in writing, explaining her side of what happened on the evening of Sept. 6. “Instead of listening to all the people who weren’t there … let me tell you what actually happened,” she writes in a post on Patheos. In her defense, Sarah Palin’s eldest daughter blamed a liberal media bias for unfair and incorrect reporting on the incident. SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports that Palin aimed to the set the record straight while also pointing out embarrassing incidents in other political families such as the Clintons and Bidens. She alleged coverage of those moments was downplayed because they involved Democratic families. Some details of the Palins’ run-in already emerged on that audio earlier this week and in other accounts. http://abcn.ws/1sUPOXR

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CRAZIEST CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR. If anyone in Hollywood writes a movie script based on one congressional campaign of the 2014 midterm election season, Tinseltown should look no farther than California’s 52nd Congressional District. A film about this political drama, which pits freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters against former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, might not garner any Oscar nominations, but it has all the scandalous allegations and sexual intrigue of a silver-screen blockbuster. ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports that last two weeks of the campaign have been dominated by lewd allegations, some too vulgar to print. But DeMaio, who is seeking to become the first openly-gay Republican candidate to win a seat to Congress, is still locked in a toss-up race against Peters. http://abcn.ws/1uLwQkr

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

 ‏@amyewalter: The biggest challenge for a GOP controlled Congress isn’t w/ Obama, it’s with the GOP http://cookpolitical.com/story/7960 

@ChadPergram: Issa says doctor returning from West Africa to NYC who contracted #Ebola means there are still problems with protocal.

@politico: Americans are right to expect more when we go to war. – @SenRandPaul lays out foreign policy fundamentals http://politi.co/1uNpixE 

@CHueyBurnsRCP: Second Udall campaign ad this week that does not mention abortion/personhood. This one on energy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8BCgJyOxkQ&feature=youtu.be 

@TulsiPress: #FollowFriday My good friends and colleagues: @RepBetoORourke @RepSinema @RepJoeKennedy @RepGraceMeng! Thank you for your amazing work! -TG

Former Secretary of State Albright Burns Conan O’Brien on Twitter

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Fortune Magazine(NEW YORK) — Madeleine Albright proved to be a good sport when Conan O’Brien cracked a joke on Twitter that name-checked the former U.S. secretary of state.

On Thursday afternoon, the TBS late-night host quipped, “I picked out my Halloween costume. I’m going as ‘Slutty Madeleine Albright.’”

Albright, 77, rose up to the challenge and tweeted a joke of her own, at O’Brien’s expense: “I’m considering going as hunky Conan O’Brien — but that might be too far fetched.”

O’Brien got a kick out of Albright’s response. He responded, “YES — My first twitter war with a former Secretary of State! You’re next, George P. Shultz!”

Perhaps trying to get the last word in the exchange, Albright wrote back, “Never get into a word war with a diplomat. We talk even more than comedians.”

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Will First Lady Run for the Senate in ’18?

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Senator Michelle Obama?

The New York Post’s Page Six said Thursday that close friends of President Obama are egging on the first lady to run for the U.S. Senate seat from California in 2018.

In a report Thursday in Orbmagazine.com, California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been dropping hints that this will her last term. Feinstein is 81.

Neither the president nor his wife have indicated what their post-White House plans are after 2016.

However, the Post says that a friend familiar with the first couple mused that California would be the perfect environment since, “Barack could golf year-round, and Michelle could emerge from his shadow after 20 years and retake control of her own life.”

The first lady has been previously quoted as saying she has no interest in a political life after her husband’s second term is up.

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New Questions About White House Fence After String of Intrusions

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The latest fence-jumping incident at the White House has brought not only the Secret Service into scrutiny again but the fence itself. The bottom line: Is the fence enough?

Since President Thomas Jefferson had the first fence erected around the White House in 1801, there has been a constant tension between creating a safe house for the president, his staff and his family, and allowing the White House to be accessible to the public.

“Trying to balance protecting a location that is a museum, an office building, a residence to the first family and a symbol of freedom is very difficult,” a person familiar with Secret Service policies and procedures told ABC News. “You want to give the vast majority of visitors who are there for the right reasons an opportunity to enjoy it, [but] also want to make sure security is as aggressive and visible as possible in keeping people out.”

In fact, according to the White House Historical Association, the fence itself hasn’t been changed since 1976, when the wrought iron was reinforced with steel. Since then, security measures have been boosted around the fence, including closing Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicle traffic in 1995.

In the past there have been discussions about making the fence taller, but that idea was met with resistance based on “historical and other bureaucratic issues,” said the person, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of security measures. Still, making the fence taller will only do so much because – as the cliché goes – someone will just get a longer ladder.

Others have suggested electrifying the fence or placing barbed wire on top of it.

“But is that really how we want the White House to look?” the person asked. “No matter how tall the fence, whether it is barbed wired or electrified, there will always be the potential that people will attempt to defeat it. That’s why it’s so important people do their job and know the plan.”

Moves like electrifying the fence, placing barbed wire on it or making it taller have consistently been shut down by politicians such as Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. In a recent letter to then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, Norton stated, “These are First Amendment protected areas used by the public on a daily basis to both see the residence of the president and engage in their Constitutional right to petition the government, and must be kept open for their continued daily use.”

Even during times of turmoil, presidents have maintained that the White House must be available to the public, relying on the Secret Service to quickly stop any security breach, according to the White House Historical Association.

Of course, security at the White House involves much more than a fence.

“There is a system of foot patrols, vehicle patrols, bike patrols, surveillance systems, both technical and human-resource driven,” plus the use of intelligence and other countermeasures, the person said. “They all have to be working as one.”

Wednesday night’s incident — in which Secret Service agents and dogs tackled 23-year-old Dominic Adesanya of suburban Washington after he allegedly jumped the White House fence — is “a perfect example,” the person added. “Everyone knew their responsibility and executed a pre-existing plan.”

On Thursday White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed that sentiment, saying, “Yesterday’s incident underscores the professionalism of the men and women of the Secret Service.”

“There is obviously no margin for error. It is a task that they approach with seriousness and professionalism,” he said, acknowledging that “last night’s efforts were better than” last month, when 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and ran into the White House with a knife in his pocket before he was subdued.

According to the White House Historical Association, President Thomas Jefferson built the first fence around the White House in 1801, and since then the fence has evolved into the wrought iron gate enclosing the entire property.

Earnest said he would not “prejudge” an active review of Secret Service procedures by the Department of Homeland Security, but he said “it’s possible” changes could be made to the fence.

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A Timeline of the Dramatic Congressional Campaign in California’s 52nd District

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — If anyone in Hollywood writes a movie script based on one congressional campaign of the 2014 midterm election season, Tinseltown should look no farther than California’s 52nd Congressional District.

The drama, which pits freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters against former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is seeking to become the first openly-gay Republican candidate to win a seat to Congress, has all the scandalous allegations of a blockbuster:

May 19: DeMaio fired former aide Todd Bosnich for allegedly plagiarizing a campaign report on congressional pensions.

May 27: DeMaio blamed Bosnich, who is also openly gay, for a May 27 burglary at campaign headquarters where computers were destroyed, phone lines were cut and a “campaign strategy book” was stolen and quickly leaked to Peters.

Oct. 10: Bosnich responded by claiming in an interview with CNN that DeMaio had made unwanted sexual advances towards him, even calling him into his office only to discover DeMaio supposedly masturbating there. Bosnich also passed an independent polygraph exam, which showed he had no deception when he repeated the allegations against DeMaio.

Oct. 19: As the two candidates took their positions at a televised forum last Sunday, DeMaio coolly refused to shake hands with Peters, who DeMaio then confronted about the campaign playbook. While Peters acknowledged that his campaign received “information” last June, he denied any culpability and said he immediately turned it over to police.

Oct. 20: San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced DeMaio won’t be criminally charged with sexual harassment. Neither will Bosnich face charges of burglary.

Oct. 22: DeMaio and Peters appear together at another event, and DeMaio again refuses to shake Peters’ hand, gesturing that he was sick.

DeMaio is one of the GOP’s most-prized recruits, with House Speaker John Boehner even shunning some conservatives to campaign alongside the Republican challenger. Now, DeMaio is attempting to rebound from two weeks of mudslinging in time for Election Day on Nov. 4.

With the sexual harassment allegations all but put to bed, DeMaio has publicly complained that Peters’ campaign promoted Bosnich’s story behind the scenes, unfairly exploiting his homosexuality to feed the media’s infatuation with erotic allegations about a perverted candidate.

“I guess you can say anything about the gay guy and some people will believe it,” DeMaio told The Hill last weekend. “I think that when we learned this week that Scott Peters’ campaign was actively promoting this smear to reporters and making other claims that were outrageous, despicable, disgraceful, unethical — it simply confirmed for me the lengths that this man would go and the lack of judgment that [Peters] possesses to simply hang on to a political seat in Congress.”

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Despite Diplomatic Friction, US and Cuba Working Together Against Ebola

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The United States and Cuba are working ever closer together to stamp out the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, inviting each other’s top diplomats to meetings about the virus even though the countries don’t have formal diplomatic ties, U.S. officials said.

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chief of the United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, the de facto American diplomatic mission in Cuba, participated in a foreign ministers’ briefing on Ebola on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

And last week, the Chief of Mission at the Cuban Interests Section in the United States, José Ramón Cabañas, sat in the audience during a similar Ebola briefing in the State Department’s lavish Benjamin Franklin room and heard Secretary of State John Kerry pay Cuba a rare compliment.

“Already we are seeing nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the front lines,” he said. “Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has sent 165 health professionals, and it plans to send nearly 300 more.”

But a State Department spokesperson said coordination with Cuba as part of the international effort against Ebola should not signal a breakthrough in other areas of the relationship, like a 52-year trade embargo between the two nations.

“We will continue to pursue more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba, consistent with our national interests, though significant issues remain between our two countries,” the spokesperson said, citing Cuba’s “poor” human rights record and its infringement on freedoms of expression and assembly.

The spokesperson also noted that Cuba has kept Alan Gross, a contractor who was jailed after distributing communications materials throughout the country for USAID, detained since 2009.

But the official reiterated that the U.S. and Cuba would continue working together on Ebola as two of the many nations concerned about the spread of the disease.

“The Ebola virus outbreak is a global problem that knows no borders. The United States is working with all members of the international community involved in this shared effort,” the official said.

A total of 4,877 deaths and 9,936 cases of Ebola have been reported in seven countries, according to the latest World Health Organization situation report.

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Bristol Palin Explains Brawl, Blames Media in Blog Post

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Michael Buckner/WireImage(WASHINGTON) — Two days after audio from a brawl involving the Palin family was released, Bristol Palin has defended herself and her family in writing, explaining her side of what happened on the evening of Sept. 6.

“Instead of listening to all the people who weren’t there … let me tell you what actually happened,” she writes in a post on Patheos.

In her defense, Sarah Palin’s eldest daughter blamed a liberal media bias for unfair and incorrect reporting on the incident. She aimed to the set the record straight while also pointing out embarrassing incidents in other political families such as the Clintons and Bidens. She alleged coverage of those moments was downplayed because they involved Democratic families.

Some details of the Palins’ run-in already emerged on that audio earlier this week and in other accounts. But here are the five best parts of Bristol Palin’s new post:

1. She Says the Brawl Started Because Someone Wanted to ‘Get Famous’

Bristol Palin wrote that it all started when her group’s “friend got knocked out from a cheap shot from behind” from a man who tweeted “about to get famous.” It was then, according to Palin, that her 20-year-old sister [Willow Palin] said to the man’s mother, “Get ahold of your son.”

“But apparently the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, because his mom pushed Willow. A grown woman pushed my little sister,” Bristol Palin wrote.

2. She Claims She Got Involved to Defend Her Sister, but Things Escalated Quickly

Bristol Palin said she had already gotten in a car, which was previously reported to be a stretch white Hummer. But, she wrote, when her sister “ran to me crying, telling me that some lady had pushed her down, I got out of the car to go talk to her. Any big sister would do this. Next to God, family is the most important thing to me.”

“After I got out of the car, I didn’t get far,” she wrote. “I never even got to talk to his mom, because a guy in his late thirties or early forties got in my face. He was towering over me – probably at 6 foot something and over 200 pounds. He puffed his chest out and started yelling.”

She then wrote about what she previously described in a police statement, saying a man she did not identify, but who a police report suggested was the homeowner, Korey Klingenmeyer, “looked right” in her “eyes” and said: “Get the f*** out of here, you slut.”

3. Palin Says She Didn’t Punch a Man Several Times with a ‘Strong Right Hook’

A witness at the party that night said Bristol Palin punched Klingenmeyer “six times,” but she denied that, saying she was “alarmed that things had gotten so bad so fast. But it got even worse when this guy started pushing me. He had his hands on me, pushing me down. That’s when I swung and hit his face.”

“Some would say I should’ve never retaliated in defense against him, but certainly he should never have pushed a girl. It didn’t phase him. He pushed me down to the ground and kept me there,” Palin wrote. “It was scary and awful. He held me down until someone got me out of the situation. That’s it – that’s the story. I didn’t ‘swing and hit him seven times with a strong right hook’ as so many so-called news stories have reported. After this incident, I still had a perfect manicure on all ten of my nails. Plus – I’m left handed. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to begin ‘swinging’ at someone. The incident was scary and infuriating. I had bruises all over me from being pushed down.”

4. Claims Liberal Bias Led to Reporting on the Brawl, Says She Has a Job and Normal Life, Attacks Media

Bristol Palin wrote that she has an everyday life, and has “stayed out of the public eye for the past few years” and she has a job where she “clock(s) in and out of work … like most middle class Americans and chip away at making my son’s life just a little bit easier,” but she says the “media still choose to put the Palins into an entirely different category of people.”

“This ‘story’ is still running over a month and a half later. Rumors still run wild, unsubstantiated claims are printed as true, and random people who weren’t even there are considered ‘eye witnesses,’” she wrote.

5. Palin Attacks Bidens and Clintons, Says They Don’t Get Same Negative Coverage as Conservative Women

Bristol Palin asserted media bias leads to coverage of her family, but claimed there is not the same kind of coverage of Democratic family scandals:

“In the meantime, did you even hear about Vice President Joe Biden’s adult son who kicked out of the Navy for cocaine? (That’s the real Vice President’s kid…) So pause for a moment and consider the hysteria over our stupid ‘incident’, compared to our actual Vice President’s son not even being able to hold on to a position in the Navy Reserve,” she wrote.

“I’m sure you heard the happy news that Chelsea Clinton had a baby. But did you know her father-in-law and Clinton family pal Edward Mezvinsky is a convicted felon because of committing bank, wire, and mail fraud? Of course, you didn’t. Because the friends and family of the revered liberal elite are treated like delicate China. Don’t handle too roughly. They are precious. They are off limits. Don’t push on them too hard. In the meantime, I was pushed and held down by some guy … and the media salivates like a dog that’s just been given a bone,” she continued.

Palin said the tough coverage stems from her being a conservative woman:

“Violence against women is never okay,” Palin wrote. “Even if that violence occurs against conservative women. Imagine for a second the outrage that would happen if Chelsea Clinton had gotten pushed by some guy. Had she tried to defend herself, the liberal media would’ve held her up as some feminist hero. But it wasn’t Chelsea. It wasn’t Hillary. It wasn’t someone they liked or someone they agreed with. It was a conservative. And once again, the hypocrisy of the media is laid bare.”

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Poll: Hickenlooper Pulls Ahead with Women, Independent Voters in Colo. Race for Governor

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is at 45 percent among likely voters, while his GOP challenger Rep. Bob Beauprez comes in with 44 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

This is a significant tightening compared with their survey last month that showed Hickenlooper behind Beauprez 50 to 40 percent. Last week’s poll showed 46 percent for Beauprez and 42 percent for Hickenlooper.

Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess only has 1 percent, with Green Party candidate Harry Hempy only gathering 2 percent, according to Thursday’s survey. Another 7 percent are undecided.

Notably, the poll shows women are key in the race, backing the incumbent 49 to 39 percent, while men back Beauprez 49 to 41 percent.

According to the poll results, Hickenlooper is in the lead with independent voters, taking 45 percent to Beauprez’s 40 percent.

It isn’t likely many voters will be swayed between now and Election Day in Colorado. Ninety-one percent of Colorado likely voters say their mind is already made up, while only 8 percent say they could change their mind.

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Poll: Tight Race to the Finish for Iowa Senate Candidates

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

David Greedy/Getty Images(HAMDEN, Conn.) — With less than two weeks to go, it’s still incredibly tight in the Iowa Senate brawl.

A new Quinnipiac poll out Thursday morning shows Joni Ernst at 48 percent support amongst likely voters to Rep. Bruce Braley’s 46 percent, with just 4 percent still undecided.

A Quinnipiac poll released the previous week showed Ernst at 47 percent and Braley at 45 percent.

Thursday’s poll results show independent voters backing Ernst 47 percent to Braley’s 41 percent.

In the “reverse gender gap” for this race, women back Braley 53 to 40 percent while men back Ernst 55 to 38 percent.

A bright spot for Democrats — among those who have already cast their ballot in early voting, Braley leads 58 to 37 percent.

Twelve days from Election Day, a staggering 93 percent say their mind is already made up, while 7 percent could still change it before decision day.

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Secret Service Dogs OK After Battling White House Fence Jumper

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Secret Service dogs that tussled with a White House fence jumper, including one dog that was violently kicked by the suspect, are recovering on Thursday, officials said.

The canines, named Hurricane and Jordan, were taken to a veterinarian after the attack and treated for minor bruising. Both were cleared to return to duty.

Meanwhile, Dominic Adesanya, the man who police say climbed over the White House fence Wednesday evening, was released from a hospital and remained in police custody.

Hurricane and Jordan attacked Adesanya, 23, after he allegedly jumped the north fence. Video showed the suspect kicking one patrol dog before the second one took him down. Adesanya wrestled with the dog before he was taken into custody.

Adesanya was charged with two counts of felony assault on a police officer [the dogs], four counts of resisting/unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, and one count of making threats, also a felony.

Adesanya was confronted by the dogs almost immediately after landing on the White House grounds. That was in contrast to the last incident on Sept. 19 when alleged fence jumper Omar Gonzalez was able to sprint all the way to the White House and get inside before being tackled by an off-duty Secret Service agent.

The Secret Service launched its canine program in 1975 and uses dogs from Holland called the Belgian Malanois, because they’re fast, sociable and their short hair allows them to work in the heat, according to the Secret Service’s website. Each dog completes 20 weeks of training before it takes on a job with the Secret Service.

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Committee of Dems Change Course on Kentucky Campaign Funding for Ads

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State of Kentucky(WASHINGTON) — Alison Lundergan Grimes has a reason to smile today.  Her campaign in Kentucky just cleared a hurdle that could have hurt her chances with voters.

After the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced its decision last week to stop spending money on television ads in the high-profile race, the committee changed direction to go back on the air in the Bluegrass State, a DSCC official confirmed to ABC News.

The committee’s initial decision to halt funding had been a signal they didn’t see a pathway anymore for Grimes’ uphill battle against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Instead, committee members decided to pour money into races they hoped to win, like that of Georgia.

The committee changed course, however, since the race in Kentucky has tightened, with undecided voters breaking toward Grimes.

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Two Senators Forced to Work Together to Survive on Deserted Island

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — What if, instead of duking it out on the floors of the House and Senate in contentious debates and late-night filibusters, the historically divided United States Congress was forced to work together to fulfill certain basic, primal needs — say, gathering food and resources to share on a deserted island?

On a new show, two senators from opposite sides of the aisle are forced to do just that for one week.

The new reality show Rival Survivor takes Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., from C-SPAN to The Discovery Channel to prove it’s possible for the two divided parties to work together, albeit in the confines of a deserted tropical island.

In a recent interview with ABC News, Flake said he and Heinrich first came up with the idea during a late-night budget vote, each swapping their own stories of survival and spearfishing.

“We started talking jokingly at first about going away and proving that a Democrat and Republican could work together on an island, and it just got a little more serious after that,” Flake said.

Heinrich added, “The more I just thought about how challenging it’s gotten to work together and cut through the partisanship on Capitol Hill, the more I thought it would be a nice contrast to see a Republican and a Democrat struggling, but working together at the same time.”

The venture ultimately required much more than simply spearfishing.

The two were dropped off the side of a boat about a quarter mile from the small island, where they then had to swim through shark-infested waters, fighting against stiff currents and waves, to get ashore.

“There wasn’t a lot of time to second-guess things at that point,” Heinrich said. “When you’re in deep blue water and you can’t see the bottom, you better keep swimming.”

While Flake called it “the most picturesque island in the world,” he said life on the small strip of land was not without its obstacles. “The weather was tough, [we] had to build a shelter,” Flake said, explaining that the two decided to venture for more resources on a larger island about two-thirds of a mile away.

“You realize that these incredibly picturesque places are picturesque because we’re used to experiencing them with a bottle of water in our hand and sunscreen and sunglasses,” Heinrich added. “And you quickly realize when you don’t have those things, they don’t feel quite as picturesque.”

The biggest challenge for the pair was securing the most basic human need: water.

“We wanted this to be an authentic survivor experience, and it was,” Flake said.

With water scarce, the senators relied heavily on coconuts as a source of liquid sustenance while filming the series.

“Needless to say, I think we’re probably both over the coconut water fad at this point,” said Heinrich jokingly. “You start to really have a craving [for] water, just fresh water.”

Over the course of the trip, the two fished for food, coexisted with large coconut crabs, and even swam with sharks. But perhaps their most meaningful collaboration, aside from building their own bipartisan bond, was the time spent discussing ways to ease congressional gridlock.

“We talked a lot about both substance and individual policy issues — but also about process, and why it is that things are as polarized as they’ve become. Frankly, there’s not a lot of trust in Washington,” Heinrich said. “I don’t think you have to agree with people to be able to work together. But you have to trust them.”

When it comes to changing that trust paradigm, both senators suggested that Democrats and Republicans need to spend more time together to help build more productive relationships.

Flake said Congress must “have everybody get together” to work past the deep partisan divides. ”I think people will see through the differences and see that at least we can work together in process and bring things to the floor even if we vote differently in the end,” he said.

“I’d love to see us be there five days a week irrespective — through the weekend sometimes — for three weeks on, and then you go home and you tour your state for week,” said Heinrich. “Some of the most productive times I’ve seen are when everybody was together in the same room. We need more of that.”

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Close To Home

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • IT’S PRECISELY THE KIND OF ATTACK THAT U.S. OFFICIALS FEAR: While there is no indication that the events in Canada pose a direct threat to the U.S., President Obama told reporters the shootings in Canada underscore that the U.S. must “remain vigilant” against violence and terrorism, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. As officials get a better sense of exactly what happened in Ottawa, U.S. law enforcement remain on high alert, increasing security in some areas, including at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington out of an abundance of caution. U.S. officials are closely coordinating with their Canadian counterparts. As the president said, it’s important “when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity that Canada and the U.S. has to be entirely in sync.”
  • ABOUT LAST NIGHT: An alleged fence jumper was apprehended last night outside the White House after he scaled the north fence, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER and JACK DATE report. A K-9 unit caught a man, identified as Dominic Adesanya, at about 7:16 p.m. on the North Lawn, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. He kicked at one of the dogs, then another dog subdued him. Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Maryland, was then taken to a nearby hospital, said Donovan. Adesanya was later charged with two counts of felony assault on a police officer (K-9), four counts of resisting/unlawful entry, a misdemeanor, and one count of making threats, also a felony. He was unarmed at the time of his arrest. http://abcn.ws/ZHxtTz
  • HAPPENING TODAY: The president meets at the White House with members of his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to talk about new ways to combat Ebola. As the CDC announced new restrictions on travelers, President Obama yesterday said he is “cautiously more optimistic” about the situation in the U.S.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The battle for control of the Senate has reached the “gut-it-out” phase, one top GOP strategist told us yesterday. It’s far from the confident perch that many Republicans thought they would be in at this point of the home stretch. But despite narrowing margins in Iowa and possibly Colorado, Republicans are still far better positioned than their Democratic rivals. We won’t know until Election Day whether the abrupt return to Kentucky by the DSCC is based on political reality or simply hopeful optimism, but it’s an important reminder to us all that anything can happen in these final days. Those forecasts are simply that, forecasts. As the wise Paul Tewes said in the closing days of Barack Obama’s Iowa caucus win in 2007: “Polls don’t mean s—!”

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Let us stipulate that Alison Lundergan Grimes will neither lose nor win her Senate race in Kentucky based on a decision by national Democrats to suspend and then reinstate financial support for her campaign. But let us pause to digest the reasons for the left’s frustration with Grimes – even beyond her seeming inability to make a campaign against Sen. Mitch McConnell about the minority leader himself. Her distracting refusal to say whom she voted for, in 2008 and 2012, got things started. Grimes, though, has also alienated national Democrats with a confusing ad accusing McConnell of supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. Now she’s up with a quickly debunked ad claiming “Mitch and his wife pocketed $600,000 from enemies of coal, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.” Campaigns are campaigns… but is this the candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton thought they were getting when they campaigned for Grimes? That senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray, and Tammy Baldwin were comfortable with when they appeared in a campaign ad for her? Running as a conservative Democrat is one thing. But running as someone who’s more conservative than McConnell? http://wapo.st/1tNKbht

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX

FACEBOOK UNVEILS MIDTERM DASHBOARD: Facebook has unveiled its midterm “Elections Dashboard.” This interactive dashboard shows the candidates running for office and which ones voters are interacting with most. Over the last three months, 22 million people on Facebook in the U.S. made 150 million interactions (likes, comments, shares) regarding the midterm elections. SEE THE DASHBOARD: Facebook.com/midtermelections

 

THE MIDTERM MINUTE

by ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

–KENTUCKY: THEY ARE OUT, THEY ARE IN. Some whiplash, but good news for Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign in Kentucky. Last week the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said they had decided to stop spending money on television ads in the high profile race, a signal they didn’t see a pathway anymore for Grimes’ uphill battle against Senate Minority Leader and they were instead pouring into races they hoped to win like the Georgia Senate race. But, yesterday they changed direction deciding to go back on the air in the Bluegrass State, a DSCC official confirmed to ABC News. Why? They say they see the race tightening with undecided voters breaking towards Grimes.

–IOWA: DOWN TO THE WIRE. With less than two weeks to go, it’s still incredibly tight in that race we are all watching, the Iowa Senate brawl. A new Quinnipiac poll out this morning shows Joni Ernst at 48 percent support amongst likely voters to Rep. Bruce Braley’s 46 percent, with just four percent still undecided. Their last poll, just last week, showed Ernst at 47 percent and Braley at 45 percent. Today’s survey shows independent voters backing Ernst 47 percent to Braley’s 41 percent. In the “reverse gender gap” in this race women back Braley 53 to 40 percent while men back Ernst 55 to 38 percent. A bright spot for Democrats, amongst those who have already cast their ballot in early voting, Braley leads 58 to 37 percent. And in that all important already made up their mind question, a staggering 93 percent say their mind is already made while 7 percent could still change it within the next 12 days. http://bit.ly/1DDMrsT

–COLORADO: TIGHTENING UP. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is at 45 percent among likely voters while his GOP challenger Rep. Bob Beauprez comes in with 44 percent, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. This is a significant tightening compared with their survey last month that showed Hickenlooper behind Beauprez 50 to 40 percent. Their poll last week showed 46 percent for Beauprez and 42 percent for Hickenlooper. The libertarian candidate only has one percent and the Green Party candidate only 2 percent, according to today’s survey, while another 7 percent are undecided. The poll shows women are key, backing the incumbent 49 to 39 percent while men back Beauprez 49 to 41 percent. Amongst independent voters, Hickenlooper gets 45 percent of independent voters to Beauprez’s 40 percent. 91 percent of Colorado likely voters say their mind is made up, while only 8 percent say they could change their mind. http://bit.ly/1xcV5KS

 

THE BUZZ
with ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON

EBOLA CZAR STARTS HIS JOB – QUIETLY. Newly-installed Ebola Czar Ron Klain appeared for the first time Wednesday with his new boss President Obama in the Oval Office — and said not a word. According to ABC’s DEVIN DWYER, the president didn’t introduce Klain or acknowledge him during a brief press avail after their hour-long meeting. Klain nodded his head a few times as Obama recapped the U.S. response to Ebola and new federal policies now in place. Obama said he is “cautiously more optimistic” about the situation in the U.S., adding that the American people should have confidence that the government is in a much better position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola. http://abcn.ws/1ri1noU

WHAT THE SUPREME COURT DID (AND DID NOT) REVEAL ABOUT 3 HOT BUTTON ISSUES. Without uttering a word from the bench, the Supreme Court acted on major hot button issues in the last month concerning voting rights, abortion and gay marriage. The cases weren’t on the Court’s argument calendar. Parties were either asking the Court to act on an emergency basis to freeze a lower court decision, or requesting that the Court step in and take a case for later in the term. The Court responded by issuing orders that were usually only a few sentences long. We never got the majority’s reasoning, but in some cases a few of the Justices released a public dissent. ABC’s ARIANE DE VOGUE reports on some of what we know, and what we don’t about the hot button issues. http://abcn.ws/1vNkIni

THIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE WANTS EVERYONE TO KNOW SHE DOES NOT HATE PUPPIES. Republican Martha McSally asked voters in Arizona’s second district to consider the age-old question: Does this candidate hate puppies? Of course not, according to her campaign. In a new ad released Tuesday called “Puppies,” the former Air Force colonel fired back against the “scare-tactics” her campaign says have been used in the ads of her opponent, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber, and his political allies. According to ABC’s ALI DUKAKIS, the argument has been used several times over the last few weeks in specific reference to one of Barber’s “political allies” in particular: Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions. http://abcn.ws/1tbN62N

WHITE HOUSE STILL CONFUSED ABOUT BRUCE BRALEY. The White House is doing its best to boost Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, but keeps getting tripped up. After repeatedly flubbing his name and referring to him as “Bruce Bailey” at a rally last week, First Lady Michelle Obama got a do-over Tuesday while stumping for the Democrat in Iowa City. This time, she made sure to get it right. ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports that despite the first lady’s attempt to smooth things over, the White House goofed again, sending out the transcript of Mrs. Obama’s remarks in a an email entitled “Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Bruce Braley.” They got the name right, but not the title. Braley is a candidate for Senate, not governor. http://abcn.ws/ZNRnN0

SWEDISH MASSAGES FOR RABBITS AND OTHER TAXPAYER EXPENSES YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE. In Washington, pork is often in the eye of the beholder. And retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sees a lot of it. Coburn’s fifth annual and final “Wastebook” lists 100 “silly, unnecessary and low priority projects” that he says cost taxpayers a combined $25 billion. “Is each of these a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need, or not spent at all?” Coburn writes in the 110-page report. ABC’s DEVIN DWYER takes a look at five eyebrow-raising entries on Coburn’s list. http://abcn.ws/1tL8koZ

CHUCK NORRIS GIVES TEXAS VOTERS A KICK, BOOSTS GOP CANDIDATE. Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He’s swooped in to lend a helping hand to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. “Chuck Norris doesn’t campaign with Greg Abbott,” Abbott’s campaign spokesman Avdiel Huerta said. “Greg Abbott campaigns with Chuck Norris.” “Together,” Huerta added, “they plan to give Texas voters a good roundhouse kick in the direction of their local polling places.” With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both Abbott and his challenger, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities, and Abbott is counting on a little star power. Norris will join Abbott at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, ABC’s KIRSTEN APPLETON reports. http://abcn.ws/1t5otDJ

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@nytpolitics: Though Bruised, White House Guard Dogs Are Cleared for Duty http://nyti.ms/1D0RIZr 

@PeterNicholas3: Rand Paul Summons Political Operatives for 2016 Strategy Session http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/rand-paul-summons-political-operatives-for-2016-strategy-session-20141022?ref=t.co&mrefid=walkingheader … via @nationaljournal

@adamslily: Sam Nunn sporting some Warby Parker type frames in new ad for Michelle Nunn #gasen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BNzoQWdNS8&feature=youtu.be …

@shiracenter: .@StuPolitics asks the big Q: What Counts As a GOP Wave in 2014? http://roll.cl/1ouZslo 

@briefingroom: Axelrod: Obama sometimes ‘negligent in the symbolism’ of presidency http://bit.ly/1rlVXcm 

Fence Jumper Caught Outside White House

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after the incident.

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Ebola Czar Ron Klain Starts His Job — Quietly

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

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

(Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Swedish Massages for Rabbits: $387,000

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

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

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

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

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

4. Mountain Lions on Treadmill: $856,000

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

5. Unneeded “Sheep Station”: $1.98 million

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

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

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

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Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) October 22, 2014

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

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

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

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