Review Category : Poltics

Hillary Clinton Moving Toward 2016 Presidential Campaign Announcement

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton is moving toward announcing her candidacy for president of the United States as soon as this weekend, according to Democrats familiar with her plans.

The exact timing of any announcement is not clear, but this time frame is in keeping with widely reported expectations regarding her timeline.

Clinton’s all-but-certain 2016 presidential bid marks the second time she has tried to become the first female to win the White House.

After her defeat at the hands of Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton firmly said “no” when asked if she would ever run for president again. But, since then, her position has evolved.

In recent months, Clinton has been gearing up for her campaign. Behind the scenes, she has hired a robust team, including many of President Obama’s former advisers and strategists.

Her team also recently signed a lease for a new office space in Brooklyn, New York, which will serve as her campaign headquarters.

She will enter the race as the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and is leading all of her possible Republican opponents in early polls.

A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Clinton ahead of potential Republican candidate Jeb Bush by a 54- to 40-percent margin in a prospective matchup, with even bigger leads against Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio.

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President Obama Feels the ‘Love’ on Jamaica Trip

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(KINGSTON, Jamaica) — President Obama managed to squeeze in some fun in between meetings with Jamaican and Caribbean leaders on his trip to Jamaica this week — from paying homage to reggae star Bob Marley to practicing his own Jamaican accent.

It all kicked off Wednesday when the president touched down in Kingston, Jamaica, greeting lawmakers as he stepped off Air Force One.

One of his first stops was the Bob Marley Museum. As the Jamaican legend’s hit song “One Love” played on speakers outside, President Obama toured the museum, eyeing the gold and platinum records lining the walls of the museum that was once Marley’s house. The president even revealed he’s a bit of a record collector, telling his tour guide, “I still have all the albums.”

On Thursday, the president said the visit to the Bob Marley Museum was one of his favorite pit stops of his entire presidency.

“The quick trip that I made last night to Bob Marley’s House was one of the more fun meetings that I’ve had since I’ve been president, as a big fan since I was in high school, and is indicative of the incredible spirit of the Jamaican people,” he said.

Obama kicked off Thursday morning by meeting with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller — but things got off to a rocky start when the president accidentally referred to her as “Madam President,” which is not her title. But apparently, Simpson Miller had no hard feelings towards the president for his mistake. Hours later, she declared her “love” for the president.

“I just want to say to you, you might not know, but you’re very loved in this country, Jamaica,” the prime minister told the president. “I can say to you publicly, I love you, and ask for you to pass on my best wishes to your beautiful wife.”

He ran into another snafu while signing a guestbook at the Jamaica House, writing down the wrong date as he left a message for the Jamaican people.

The president wrote, “10th April 2015.” Sorry, Mr. President, it’s April 9.

Obama then met with leaders from the Caribbean Community, also known as CARICOM — even posing for a class photo with them beforehand.

And he hosted a town hall with students at the University of the West Indies — greeting them with a Jamaican accent.

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Former Rhode Island Governor ‘Considering’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee announced on Thursday that he would explore a potential campaign for president in 2016.

On his website, Chafee posted a video announcement in which he says directly, “I am a Democrat considering a run for president of the United States.” He calls the 2016 election an important one for the country.

His website contains four main points, which could be pillars of a potential campaign — the middle class, environmental stewardship, protection of personal liberties and an aversion to foreign entanglements.

Chafee cites his record as having voted against the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq War in particular. “Only 23 of 100 U.S. Senators saw the folly of allowing Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq,” the website says. “I am very proud to be one of the 23.”

Chafee has been elected to office nine times since 1985 — serving as mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island and Senator for Rhode Island.

A former Republican, Chafee won his seat as Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent and now considers himself a Democrat.

In his video announcement, Chafee discusses the current state of the country, saying that “I don’t like where this is going,” in regards to the “international instability — especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”

“Americans want safety, stability and sustainability,” Chafee notes.

“During the next weeks and months, I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts about the future of our great country,” he concludes.

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Former Rhode Island Governor ‘Considering’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee announced on Thursday that he would explore a potential campaign for president in 2016.

On his website, Chafee posted a video announcement in which he says directly, “I am a Democrat considering a run for president of the United States.” He calls the 2016 election an important one for the country.

His website contains four main points, which could be pillars of a potential campaign — the middle class, environmental stewardship, protection of personal liberties and an aversion to foreign entanglements.

Chafee cites his record as having voted against the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq War in particular. “Only 23 of 100 U.S. Senators saw the folly of allowing Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq,” the website says. “I am very proud to be one of the 23.”

Chafee has been elected to office nine times since 1985 — serving as mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island and Senator for Rhode Island.

A former Republican, Chafee won his seat as Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent and now considers himself a Democrat.

In his video announcement, Chafee discusses the current state of the country, saying that “I don’t like where this is going,” in regards to the “international instability — especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”

“Americans want safety, stability and sustainability,” Chafee notes.

“During the next weeks and months, I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts about the future of our great country,” he concludes.

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Former Rhode Island Governor ‘Considering’ 2016 Presidential Campaign

Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee announced on Thursday that he would explore a potential campaign for president in 2016.

On his website, Chafee posted a video announcement in which he says directly, “I am a Democrat considering a run for president of the United States.” He calls the 2016 election an important one for the country.

His website contains four main points, which could be pillars of a potential campaign — the middle class, environmental stewardship, protection of personal liberties and an aversion to foreign entanglements.

Chafee cites his record as having voted against the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq War in particular. “Only 23 of 100 U.S. Senators saw the folly of allowing Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq,” the website says. “I am very proud to be one of the 23.”

Chafee has been elected to office nine times since 1985 — serving as mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island and Senator for Rhode Island.

A former Republican, Chafee won his seat as Governor of Rhode Island as an Independent and now considers himself a Democrat.

In his video announcement, Chafee discusses the current state of the country, saying that “I don’t like where this is going,” in regards to the “international instability — especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”

“Americans want safety, stability and sustainability,” Chafee notes.

“During the next weeks and months, I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts about the future of our great country,” he concludes.

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Why Cuba’s Removal from US Terrorism List Is Going to Be a Big Deal

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The State Department has completed its review of Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of international terrorism, President Obama announced Thursday from Jamaica, bringing the U.S. one step closer to a potentially momentous policy shift towards the Communist stronghold.

Obama said he would not announce any decision Thursday about removing Cuba from the list and that the White House was still reviewing the report.

Cuban negotiators have made clear during talks with Washington aimed at reestablishing diplomatic and economic ties that the relationship could never be considered normal as long as Cuba was designated a sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department.

It’s possible Obama will announce a final decision on his upcoming trip to Panama, where he’ll attend the Summit of the Americas and meet with all 35 heads of state from across the region.

Here’s what you need to know about Cuba’s place on the list and what’s likely to happen next:

Why Was Cuba on the list in the first place?

Cuba was added to the terror list in 1982. To be on the list it must be determined the country “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to the State Department’s website. Cuba stands accused by the U.S. of providing support to terrorist organizations in Latin America, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. But the State Department admits those ties have “become more distant,” and last December, Obama announced the State Department would be reviewing Cuba’s designation to that list.

What other countries are on the list?

Cuba is one of only four countries sharing that designation, including Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Could Congress get involved?

Obama has the option to give Congress a 45-day notice before lifting the designation, but Congress would have to pass a veto-proof measure if they wanted to overturn the president’s decision. That means Congress would need over a two-thirds majority of both houses. That’s extremely unlikely to happen and aside from the members of the so-called Cuba caucus (anti-Castro, Floridian lawmakers) a decision is not expected to make too many waves. “We saw this as a foregone conclusion the day the president announced the review,” one Congressional staff member told ABC News.

What do the Cubans think?

Cuba’s leading diplomat told ABC News in February that the decision to put them on the list has always been political. “People are in disbelief every time they realize that Cuba has been included in the list of so called state-sponsors of terrorism,” Josefina Vidal told ABC’s Jim Avila in an exclusive interview. “It has always been a political decision, not a decision based on real facts. Because it’s a fact of life, that from the territory of Cuba, terrorism has never been organized, financed, or executed or implemented toward any country in the world including the United States.”

Vidal and other Cuban negotiators also point out that the financial sanctions associated with the terrorist designation directly hamper the negotiations themselves. The banking sanctions are so strict that Cuban diplomats can’t even use a credit card while in the U.S. for negotiations in Washington, D.C., or the United Nations in New York. The interest section cannot even accept credit cards for visa applications. They complain it’s not feasible to open an embassy with cash only.

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Rand Paul Edges Away from His Father’s Foreign Policies

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.) — In some respects, an early mission for newly announced presidential candidate Rand Paul has been to escape his father’s long shadow.

Twice in interviews since his announcement, the first-term senator from Kentucky has walked back a previous statement — his 2007 comment that it would be “ridiculous” to consider Iran a threat to U.S. security — by saying he wasn’t a candidate at the time: He was helping someone else.

That “someone else” would be former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the former presidential candidate, grassroots libertarian icon and father to Rand. Ron Paul made waves in his 2008 and 2012 White House bids partly by espousing a minimalist vision of American foreign policy, supporting the closure of military bases overseas and challenging notions of “American exceptionalism.”

As the younger Paul laid out his own foreign policy vision Thursday, backdropped by the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, the 52-year-old tea-party-backed senator offered a middle ground between the stark libertarianism promoted by his father and a more-engaged American military supported by other Republicans.

“We need a national defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests,” Rand Paul said. “But we also need a foreign policy that protects American interests, and encourages stability, not chaos.”

Already under attack from a conservative group airing a TV ad that criticizes him for supporting negotiations with Iran, Paul has hit back in interviews at the “neocon community” that supported war in Iraq.

“These are the same people who wanted to give arms to [former Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi and the next year wanted to topple Gadhafi,” he told Fox News.

In South Carolina, he turned that message on his presidential competitors.

“I think there is no greater responsibility for any legislator or leader than to determine when we go to war,” Paul said. “The consequences are potentially ominous. That responsibility should never be given to any individual who frivolously or cavalierly calls for war.”

Paul could face a few rival GOP candidates who support a more aggressive posture, in one form or another. Most notably, Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of John McCain, has advocated for an active military and projection of American strength abroad.

In his South Carolina speech, Paul advocated both combating jihadist terrorists — “The enemy is a barbarous aberration. The enemy is radical Islam. I will not only name the enemy, I will do everything in my power, everything it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind,” he said — and to exercise restraint in military endeavors: “A government inept at home will not somehow succeed at nation-building abroad,” he said.

Paul sounded some of the same notes hit by both his father and the anti-war left regarding the later Bush years: suggesting that America should rebuild at home before starting wars and propping up governments abroad.

But the message contrasted with the elder Paul’s foreign policy. In his 2008 presidential run, Ron Paul both suggested the 9/11 terrorist attacks were caused by U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and that the U.S. could save money by closing military bases overseas, relying more on diplomacy than a worldwide military presence.

Rand Paul, who called for ending all foreign aid in his early days as a senator, now says ending some aid should be an ultimate goal but not an immediate policy measure.

He also presented his own version of American exceptionalism — the idea, favored by George W. Bush’s neocon supporters, that America is better than other nations and has greater responsibilities as such.

“We’re still exceptional,” Paul said. “We’re still a beacon of the world. We will thrive when we believe in ourselves again.”

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Biden: Momentum Against ISIS ‘Moving in the Right Direction’

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday confidently argued that the momentum against ISIS in Iraq was “moving in the right direction” and that claims from critics did not “reflect the circumstances on the ground.”

“ISIL momentum in Iraq has halted and in many places reversed,” he told students and faculty at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.

“We are pounding ISIL from the sky,” he added.

During his speech, Biden also continued to advocate for strong federalism in the country, a position he has held for years.

“We want what Iraqis want: A united, federal Iraq…Where power is shared by all Iraqis,” he told the decorated members of the U.S. military and foreign diplomats in attendance.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. next week and Biden applauded his work. According the vice president, Abadi has worked hard to create a “functioning federalism,” build an inclusive government, draft a budget and negotiate oil deals.

ISIS intended to tear Iraq apart, Biden said, but “actually united the Iraqis.”

The only laugh in an otherwise somber speech came when Biden joked that he and al-Abadi might have spent more time on the phone with each than their wives.

Biden finished by speaking of the thousands of Americans, including his son, who have spent significant time on Iraqi soil.

“Their blood and toil helped give Iraq another chance,” he said, adding that now was the time to support the Iraqi people and Iraqi government to “make the most of it.”

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Obama Makes Two Small Gaffes During Jamaica Trip

Pete Souza/The White House(KINGSTON, Jamaica) — President Obama’s three-day trip to Jamaica and Panama is already off to a rocky start as he’s made two mistakes while in Jamaica Thursday morning.

Obama arrived at Jamaica House in Kingston Thursday morning and was greeted by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who he incorrectly addressed as “Madam President.”

Then came another small gaffe as he signed the guestbook, incorrectly dating his message April 10.

“It is a great pleasure to visit Jamaica, known for its beauty and the extraordinary spirit of its people,” the president wrote in the guestbook. “May the deep and abiding friendships between our nations continue for generations to come.”

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Seven Ways Hillary Clinton Is Getting Ready to Run for President

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — While Hillary Clinton has played coy in public about whether she will run for president, she and her team have been gearing up behind the scenes for a likely presidential campaign. And now, the former secretary of state is expected to be just days, if not moments, away from announcing her bid.

But running for president is no easy feat, and Clinton (who herself once admitted “you have to be a little crazy” to do it) knows so first-hand.

Over the past few months, Clinton has been steadily preparing for her transition into candidate life. From hiring staff, to hosting secret policy meetings, to tweeting strategically, here are the ways Clinton and her team have been gearing up for, and hinting at, her likely campaign for president:

1. Staffing Up

Since late last year, Clinton has been gradually staffing up for her campaign, building out a team of advisers, strategists and staffers to ensure things will be firmly in place for when she announces.

Among Clinton’s many new hires are former Obama advisers — most notably John Podesta, who left his role at the White House earlier this year for a prominent role on her campaign — and some of the Ready for Hillary staffers, too.

Many of Clinton’s new staff has moved to New York City, where the campaign will be headquartered, in just the past few weeks. They have been working as unpaid volunteers until the campaign officially kicks off.

2. Getting Fit

Clinton has been building up her stamina for the rigors of a campaign trail, taking on yoga and hiring a personal trainer, according to The New York Times.

But she isn’t the only prospective candidate who has focused on getting in shape for their campaign. In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took up running and weightlifting. In 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would pull the skin off of his chicken before eating it. And even her potential rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, recently admitted he has been trying out the trendy paleo diet to slim down.

3. Weighing In

Clinton has also started to weigh in more frequently in political discussions. Over recent weeks, Clinton has increasingly used Twitter to voice her opinions on domestic and foreign policy issues.

4. Moving In

In one of the biggest hints yet that the former secretary of state will run for president, Clinton’s team officially signed a lease on a campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

The site of the headquarters is 1 Pierrepont Plaza in the upscale neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. The 19-story building is marketed on its website as “Modern offices. Brooklyn Cool.”

5. Asking Around

Clinton has been seeking advice beyond her inner-circle, too.

In December, Clinton’s spokesman acknowledged she had been holding meetings with a “variety of people on a range of specific topics, from policy ideas to what a successful campaign would look like.” And as first reported by The New York Times, Clinton has sought advice from more than 200 policy experts to help craft her campaign message and to answer central questions about what her economic plan should be.

6. Reading In

In addition, Clinton appears to be studying about the role of the president, and has been reading books about the Founding Fathers and the George Washington administration.

At an event last month, Clinton explained she was doing so to “remind” herself that government and politics “has always been hardball.” But, she lamented, in modern times, “We’ve lost relationship-building and consensus-building.”

7. Starting Anew

Through the years, Clinton has had a complicated relationship with the media. But, in one of her last public appearances last month before her expected announcement, she made an unexpected attempt to make amends.

“I am all about new beginnings. A new granddaughter, another new hairstyle, a new email account. So why not a new relationship with the press?” she asked. “So here goes: no more secrecy. No more zone of privacy. After all, what good did that do me?”

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