Review Category : Poltics

New Questions About White House Fence After String of Intrusions

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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Poll: Tight Race to the Finish for Iowa Senate Candidates

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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Bristol Palin Explains Brawl, Blames Media in Blog Post

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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Secret Service Dogs OK After Battling White House Fence Jumper

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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Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He 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.

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.

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Congressional Candidate Wants You to Know She Does Not Hate Puppies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

David Greedy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The White House is doing its best to boost Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, but it keeps getting tripped up.

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

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

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

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

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

The White House later issued a correction.

They will get another chance to get it right when Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for Braley next Monday.

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Chuck Norris Joins Texas’ Greg Abbott on Campaign Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Political TV Ad Claims Obama Is Bad for African Americans


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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