Review Category : Poltics

National Security Takes Center Stage at Iowa GOP Dinner

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) — There was food, drink and plenty of glad-handing, but national security tough-talk stole the show in Iowa.

After a week of questions about Jeb Bush and how to view the Iraq war in hindsight, most of the notable Republican candidates and potential candidates took the stage at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Saturday night, for the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner — the latest early-voting-state event to draw a herd of White House hopefuls.

Many of them offered up stern warnings to terrorists and to President Obama for how he’s confronted the threat.

“What did we learn tonight?” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham asked. “If you’re a radical Islamist, you’ve come to the wrong meeting.”

National security is becoming a staple of GOP candidates’ stump speeches at events like this one. Seemingly at every turn on the campaign trail, GOP candidates take swings at Obama for his withdrawal of troops from Iraq and his reluctance to use the word “Islam” when he talks about jihadist terrorism.

“He needs to say that Islam has a problem, and that problem is radical Islam,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, citing Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast comment that during the Crusades and Inquisition, Christians committed “terrible deeds” in the name of their religion.

“I was governor on 9/11, and I saw the consequences of believing that because [radical] Islam is thousands of miles away, we don’t have to worry about it,” former New York Gov. George Pataki said.

The GOP’s national security outlier is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has feuded with Republican colleagues in the Senate over drone, detention and surveillance policy. Paul and Graham differed on the question Bush spent the week answering: Whether the Iraq war was a good idea, in hindsight.

“Is Iraq more stable or less stable since [Saddam] Hussein is gone?” Paul asked. “Is ISIS more of a threat now because of the instability?”

It’s nothing new for Republican candidates to point toward ISIS and criticize Obama in the same breath. Saturday night’s speeches showed that it’s not receding as a political topic for Republicans, and as more terrorist plots are hatched and thwarted, the topic will stay prominent in candidates’ stump speeches.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry noted, in a speech that otherwise focused on possibilities for the future, that “you see ISIS showing up in Garland, Texas, and you realize that this is a challenging world that we live in.”

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On International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Obama Vows to ‘Keep Fighting’ for LGBT Rights

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In honor of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, President Obama this weekend vowed to “keep fighting, for however long it takes, until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The president, who just last month called for an end to “conversion” therapy for gay youth, proclaimed in a statement that “LGBT rights are human rights.”

Since taking office, Obama has consistently advocated equal rights for LGBT people worldwide. In 2010, he signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. military’s policy forbidding openly gay men and women from serving. In 2011, he signed an official memorandum directing agencies to combat criminalization of gays abroad.

In a watershed moment, Obama formally endorsed gay marriage in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts in 2012, just a few days after Vice President Joe Biden preempted him. Then, in 2014, he signed an executive order to protect transgendered federal employees from workplace discrimination, and earlier this year, he became the first president to call for protections for “transgender” individuals in the State of the Union address.

Still, Obama acknowledged, “there is so much more to do” throughout the country – and worldwide.

Even as the White House commemorates the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, other world leaders are threatening gays and lesbians.

In a statement released in conjunction with the holiday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice condemned Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s “unconscionable” threat to slit the throats of gay men who tried to marry in his country.

Jammeh’s comments “underscore why we must continue to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love,” Rice said in a statement, noting that in addition to ending trade preferences with the country, the U.S. is “reviewing what additional actions are appropriate to respond to this worsening situation.”

“All people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom the love,” Obama said in a statement.

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Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield Fight it Out for Charity

ABC News(SALT LAKE CITY) — Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and boxing legend Evander Holyfield faced off Friday night in a charity boxing match in Salt Lake City.

As for the victor of the bout … Romney, 68, was a good sport but Holyfield, 52, “keeps his world heavyweight title,” the charity said on Twitter.

“Great action and some good swings,” they said later.

The match was created to benefit CharityVision, a nonprofit that works with physicians in developing countries to eradicate curable blindness, and managed to raise more than $1 million.

According to the Associated Press, Romney gave up to the five-time heavyweight champion after just two rounds.

Before the political and athletic heavyweights entered the ring, there was plenty of hype and trash talk. On Thursday night, in classic boxing fashion, the two had a weigh-in. Romney came in at 179 pounds to Holyfield’s 236.

Before the match both parties also sent each other some not-so-subtle messages.

“Mitt, you can’t run, you can’t hide. Come and get your whuppin,’” Holyfield said in a hilarious video.

“It’s true, I don’t have much of a right hook, but when I get somebody’s ear, I can be pretty formidable,” Romney warned the boxing champ, who had part of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson in in 1997.

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McCain Calls for Passage of Trade Legislation, Says Americans ‘Build Bridges to Opportunities’

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for the passage of bipartisan trade legislation currently in front of the Senate in this week’s GOP Address.

“When Republicans won majorities in last November’s elections, we pledged to get to work for the American people,” McCain said. “We don’t often agree with President Obama, on issues where we do share common ground, we’ll work for bipartisan solutions that make sense for the country.” One such example, the former presidential candidate says, is opening up foreign markets for American goods and services.

“Americans can’t afford to wall itself off from the vast opportunities that lie outside our borders where 95 percent of the world’s consumers live,” McCain continued. “But that’s what many Senate Democrats are suggesting we do in their transparent effort to curry favor with labor bosses.”

McCain, who lost the 2008 election to Obama, quoted the current president in his address, arguing that Democrats who voted against Obama’s trade legislation were simply “making stuff up.”

“We’re Americans. We don’t build walls to competition,” McCain concluded. “We build bridges to opportunities.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Hi, I’m John McCain.

“When Republicans won majorities in last November’s elections, we pledged to get to work for the American people.

“We don’t often agree with President Obama, on issues where we do share common ground, we’ll work for bipartisan solutions that make sense for the country. That’s particularly true when it comes to opening foreign markets to American goods and services.

“The legislation before Congress, called Trade Promotion Authority – or TPA – will help advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, they are two major trade agreements that offer a truly historic opportunity to open markets and level playing fields in some of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing economies.

“Expanding trade is a goal that typically has bipartisan support. There’s good reason for that. 40 million American jobs are supported by international trade – that’s one in every five jobs. Those jobs pay 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage.

“Americans can’t afford to wall itself off from the vast opportunities that lie outside our borders where 95 percent of the world’s consumers live.

“But that’s what many Senate Democrats are suggesting we do in their transparent effort to curry favor with labor bosses. They’re choosing to pretend the global economy doesn’t exist, and to forfeit the opportunity to remain the world’s leading economy far into the future.

“The global economy isn’t a theory. It’s a fact. We can’t refuse to compete in it. That’s like refusing the weather. We either compete or we lose. We lose jobs and opportunities for American workers today and for our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

“Americans have never been afraid of competition. We’ve welcomed it. If we compete, we win. American innovation, imagination and initiative prevail. These trade agreements open markets that have long been protected from American competition. Why squander a historic opportunity to sell more American products and know-how and create more high-paying American jobs? That’s crazy.

“And it’s dangerous, too. Protectionism doesn’t just threaten our ability to grow the economy and create jobs. Failure to move forward on these trade agreements would be a serious blow to American influence in the world.

“Under this administration, America’s friends and foes alike question whether we have the national will to remain a global leader.

“I hear from worried Arizonans every day as they look around and see a world on fire. As Henry Kissinger recently observed, ‘The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.’

“Passing TPA would be powerful proof of our enduring commitment to American leadership in defense of rules and principles that extend security, liberty, and prosperity across the globe.

“The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership would cover an area that accounts for about 40 percent of world GDP and one-third of global trade.

“More importantly, the agreement will strengthen vitally important security relationships with countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia and provide a strategic counterweight to China.

“If America fails to lead, China will. If we don’t advance the open trading system we’ve long advocated in Asia, China’s protectionist policies will dominate. That’s an unacceptable outcome for our economy, our security and for the values that we hold dear.

“Seventeen former Secretaries of Defense and top military leaders – including Secretary Bob Gates and General David Petraeus – wrote last week, ‘There would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements. In both Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners.’

“I don’t often quote President Obama. But it was hard to argue with him when he said the other day that Democratic protectionists were just ‘making stuff up,’ and their arguments didn’t ‘stand the test of fact and scrutiny.’

“‘You don’t make change through slogans. You don’t make change through ignoring realities,’ the President said. Republicans agree.

“Democrats opposing these agreements are telling us to be afraid. Be afraid to keep our word. Be afraid of our challenges and opportunities. Be afraid to compete fairly. Be afraid to lead.

“But we’re Americans. We don’t build walls to competition. We build bridges to opportunities. We don’t hide from history. We make history. We don’t fear the world. We lead it.

“So, let’s get on with it. Let’s stop trying to recreate the past, and build a better future. That’s what Americans have always done. That’s who we are.

“Thank you for listening.”

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Missouri House Speaker Resigns Amid Text Message Scandal

Missouri State Capitol. Photo: gnagel/iStock/Thinkstock(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Missouri state House Speaker John Diehl resigned his post on Thursday as well as his seat in the state house amidst accusations that he sent and received sexually suggestive text messages with a teenage intern.

Diehl, 49, traded messages with the 19-year-old, the Kansas City Star reported earlier this week. He took responsibility for his actions in a statement reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, saying that he was “truly sorry to those I let down.” He also expressed regret that “the woman has been dragged into this situation.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called his resignation “an appropriate and necessary step.”

Diehl was elected to the Missouri House in 2008, and was selected as House Speaker this year.

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White House Releases Financial Disclosure Forms for Obama, Biden Families

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House released President Obama and Vice President Biden’s financial disclosure forms for 2014 on Friday, revealing the assets of the first family.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, held assets worth between $1.9 million and $6.9 million, the forms indicated. That figure is similar to what was on the Obamas’ financial disclosure form last year.

Because the form allows public officials to report their assets within a range of valuation, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much they may be worth.

The Obamas claimed $1 million to $5 million in U.S. Treasury notes, in addition to various other assets.

The Bidens reported assets worth upwards of $275,000 — including a rental property in Wilmington, Delaware, worth over $100,000.

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What the White House Is Saying About Obama’s Infighting With Rank-and-File Democrats

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) — “The president is the leader of the Democratic Party,” Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz affirmed to ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl during Friday’s press briefing.

Schultz confirmation of what is an obvious fact in Washington came at the end of a week that’s been characterized by in-fighting between the president and members of his own party up the street from the White House on Capitol Hill.

Things got off to a bad start on Tuesday, when Democrats dealt a blow to President Obama by rejecting legislation to grant him “fast-track” authority to approve trade deals.

Senate Democrats ultimately got in line on the legislation and passed it through the Senate in a delayed fashion on Thursday, but only after a group of Democrats were called to the White House for a meeting with the president following Tuesday’s vote against the measure.

“If you look at the legislative priorities, the public policy priorities over the past six-and-a-half years now, they enjoy broad support within the Democratic Party, even those who disagree with him on this specific issue of trade,” Schultz said Friday in an effort to gloss over the president’s recent troubles with congressional Democrats.

But the president was again bucked by his party’s rank-and-file Friday, when 41 House Democrats voted to approve a $612 billion defense package that the president has signaled he would veto if it reaches his desk.

The White House opposes the so-called National Defense Authorization Act due to sequestration levels and “onerous” restrictions regarding detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

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President Obama Shares How a President Stays Healthy and Active

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — First Lady Michelle Obama’s #GimmeFive challenge calls for individuals to come up with five healthy habits that they can work into their everyday lives. On Friday, President Obama called for his wife to complete the challenge herself.

“Give me five, FLOTUS style,” Obama says.

The commander in chief even shared his own five habits that he says shows “even a president can stay active and healthy.”

Obama says he gets a workout in at the start of each day, drinks plenty of water, takes the stairs — “when Secret Service lets me take the stairs” — eats plenty of fruits and vegetables, and even takes part in walk-and-talk meetings instead of sitting down.

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Obama Honors Police Officers Killed in Line of Duty

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama honored police officers who died in the line of duty last year at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service in Washington, D.C, Friday.

“We are here to honor heros who lost their lives in the line of duty. Men and women who put themselves in the way of danger so that the rest of us could live in safety,” the president said, speaking on the West Front of the Capitol.

“Today we honor 131 who made that ultimate sacrifice,” he added.

Obama thanked officers for risking their lives and talked about ways to help reduce that risk.

“We can do everything we have to do to combat the poverty that plagues too many communities in which you have to serve. We can work harder as a nation to heal the rifts that still exist in some places between law enforcement and the people you risk your lives to protect,” he said.

“We cannot erase every darkness and danger from the duty that you’ve chosen,” the president noted. “We can offer you the support you need to be safe. We can make the communities you care about and protect safer as well.”

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Romney to Face Evander Holyfield in the Boxing Ring Friday Night

(SALT LAKE CITY) — A former Republican presidential candidate and a former heavyweight champion are getting ready to face-off in the boxing ring. Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield will fight Friday night in Salt Lake City at the Rail Event Center.

Romney and Holyfield met face-to-face for a Thursday night weigh-in. Romney and Holyfield weighed-in at 236 pounds and 179 pounds, respectively.

The event will be hosted by CharityVision, a charitable organization dedicated to restoring sight to people in poor countries.

In an interview, Romney told the New York Times ahead of Friday’s boxing match, “I’m staying far away from his ears,” a reference to the incident when Mike Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear during a match.

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