Review Category : Poltics

Jeb Bush and Scott Walker Face Off in New Hampshire

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) — Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are two possible presidential candidates who were in New Hampshire this weekend for the same reason: to introduce themselves to voters.

Though there were some similarities in the schedules of the two would-be front-runners, the men received starkly different reactions.

The former Florida governor faced the challenge of not only using his family name to his advantage, but adapting his issues on hot-button topics like the Common Core and immigration to appeal to the Granite State’s conservative voters.

The Wisconsin governor simply had to tell his personal story to motivate his audience.

The enthusiasm that Walker earned at his address to the 2016 Kickoff Grassroots Training Session hosted by the New Hampshire GOP Saturday was missing at the house party held for Bush Friday night.

At the house party, the crowd of roughly 100 invited guests and upward of 60 media attendees packed the home of Fergus Cullen, the state’s former GOP chairman, forcing everyone to stand throughout because there was simply no room to sit down.

On Saturday, the high school auditorium filled with volunteer activists for Walker’s speech all had a seat but chose to get on their feet multiple times throughout his nearly 45-minute speech.

Another show of support at Walker’s event that was lacking at Bush’s was a smattering of “hallelujah” affirmations throughout his talk.

“I think he’s a man of great courage,” Denis Cronin told ABC News after Walker’s speech. “I thought he was great. Very articulate.”

Walker generated more passion – on both sides – because of his fight against unions in Wisconsin. There were several dozen union workers protesting outside the high school where Walker held his event Saturday, though they dispersed when it started lightly snowing an hour before the governor arrived.

There were no such protests at either public Bush function, only interest in seeing the next member of the political family try to win over Granite State voters.

“He’s somebody you have to see and listen to him, but I don’t agree with a lot of his immigration stuff,” said Ken Hawkins, a former state representative who spoke to ABC News before Walker’s speech at the New Hampshire GOP event.

“I think that people are tired of Bushes just like they’re tired of Clinton’s just like they were tired of Kennedy’s,” Hawkins said.

The son and brother of former presidents is going to have a tougher time portraying himself as an “everyman” than the son of a preacher who flipped burgers growing up and whose sons went to public school. Walker talked about his love of Kohl’s cash, boasting that he bought the sweater he was wearing for $1 Friday, while Bush talked about a conversation he had with the founder of Uber and how new self-serve soda machines at his movie theater in South Coral Gables, Florida, will lead to fewer low-income jobs.

When it comes to policy, Bush has the hurdle of reaffirming himself as a conservative in spite of his support for immigration overhaul and Common Core education standards. In tackling those particular issues, he won the support of moderate Republicans or self-proclaimed independents — like Brian Lenzi, who attended the party at Cullen’s house and thought Bush “presented himself very well” – but will lose conservatives at the same time.

“I think based on what I am hearing, he’s trying to appeal to the center and that’s not what I’m looking for,” fellow Cullen party attendee Fenton Groen told ABC News.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was in New Hampshire at the end of last week as well, making stops at VFW Halls upstate, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is scheduled to address a technology company as one of his stops today.

On top of these individual visits, a growing list that now appears to be the entire possible Republican field will be back next month for the First in the Nation summit hosted by the New Hampshire GOP. But the New Hampshire residents who have been through the primary circus for decades know that it is early yet.

One indication – besides the calendar – comes from the manager of the Puritan’s Backroom restaurant, a restaurant and ice cream parlor that turns into a regular grip-and-grin stop at the heat of the campaign season.

“No one’s come yet but it’s very early,” she said Saturday afternoon. “They’re mostly doing planned events now and they come by here later.”

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Republican Sen. Roy Blunt Stands by Iran Letter

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri does not regret signing the open letter to Iran’s leaders warning of the limits of a nuclear deal with the Obama administration, unlike some of his Republican Senate colleagues.

“I really don’t,” Blunt told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week Sunday when asked whether he had any second thoughts on the letter.

The letter, an effort led by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, was signed by 47 Republican senators including several potential GOP presidential candidates. It said that an agreement between the U.S. and Iran not ratified by Congress should be considered an executive action any future president could revoke.

Several GOP signees, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have walked back their support for the tactic after the negative response in Washington and across the country.

But Blunt said the letter was “essentially an op-ed,” expressing the Senate’s role in treaty negotiations.

“There is a constitutional role here for the Senate if you want this agreement to be permanent, binding and long-term,” he said on This Week.

When asked whether the letter hurts the administration’s ability to broker further international sanctions against Iran, Blunt said, “No deal is better than a bad deal.

“I think these negotiations have gone in a dramatically bad direction,” Blunt added. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to arrive in Switzerland for the latest round of nuclear negotiations with Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif.

On Saturday, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough sent a letter to Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warning against congressional action that would interfere with negotiations.

Corker, who did not sign Cotton’s letter, has introduced bipartisan legislation to increase congressional oversight of nuclear negotiations and require the president to submit any nuclear deal to Congress for review and approval.

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Bristol Palin Engaged to Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Bristol Palin and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer are engaged, a Palin family friend confirmed.

The daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted a photo with her new fiance on Instagram, writing “Truly the luckiest girl in the world, cannot wait to marry this man!!!!”

Truly the luckiest girl in the world, cannot wait to marry this man!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

A photo posted by Bristol Palin (@bsmp2) on Mar 13, 2015 at 11:50pm PDT

Bristol, who was previously engaged to Levi Johnston–the father of her 6-year-old son Tripp–also posted a close-up shot of her new ring:

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

A photo posted by Bristol Palin (@bsmp2) on Mar 14, 2015 at 12:50am PDT

Meyer served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the third living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War.

Meyer wrote on Facebook Saturday, “Coming back from Afghanistan there were days I thought I may never be happy again, and I know there’s a lot of you out there who know that feeling. We only have one life to live and we have to do our best to live it the right way, and Bristol makes me a better man. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her and Tripp.”

Delighted mom Sarah Palin posted this on Facebook:

“Our families couldn’t be happier for Bristol and Dakota! We’re honored to welcome Dakota into our family. He’s an American hero and patriot whose service to our country – like all his fellow Medal of Honor recipients – has been above and beyond the call of duty; but even more important is he’s a good and kind man who loves Bristol and Tripp, and is loved by them. They met last year when he was in Alaska to film an episode of “Amazing America,” and even then it was noticed that just as we like to describe Bristol as “an old soul” wise beyond her years, the same also applies to Dakota. (A clear demonstration is the fact that he flew up North last week to ask both Todd and Bristol’s grandfather, Chuck, Sr., for her hand in marriage!)”

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Kerry Warns Clock is Ticking on Nuclear Deal with Iran

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt) — Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Saturday that the clock is ticking to get a nuclear deal with Iran before the end of the month.

Kerry, speaking to reporters Saturday at an economic development conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, said the U.S. is committed to the talks but there are still gaps.

Secretary Kerry also emphasized that the Obama administration is seeking the “right deal,” not just any deal.

“We will return to these talks recognizing that time is of the essence, the clock is ticking and important decisions need to be made,” he said.

Kerry also said the letter sent by 47 Republican Senators to the government of Iran is “completely without precedent.”

“The letter was in fact incorrect in its statements about what power they do have,” he said on Saturday. “It was incorrect in its assessments of what type of agreement this is. And as far as we are concerned, the Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement.”

Kerry also stressed the Obama administration’s commitment to a nuclear weapon-free Iran.

“Nothing in our deliberations is decided until everything is decided. And the purposes of these negotiations is not just to get any deal, it is to get the right deal,” he said.

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Obama Met with Family of ISIS Hostage Kayla Mueller While in AZ

Courtesy Mueller Family(PHOENIX) — While on a trip Friday to the Phoenix VA Hospital, President Obama met with the family of American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller.

Obama met with Carl and Marsha Mueller, the parents of Kayla Mueller, and Kayla’s brother Eric, according to White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz. The family lives in Arizona.

The President expressed his and the First Lady’s condolences for Kayla’s death, which was confirmed last month.

He also “appreciated” the chance to hear more from the Muellers about Kayla’s dedication to assisting those in need around the world, and recognized the family’s efforts to set up the foundation “Kayla’s Hands” to improve the lives of others, according to Schultz .

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Obama Visits VA Hospital At Center of Scandal

Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(PHOENIX) — President Obama visited a Veterans Affairs system hospital on Friday, and spoke out against some of the scandals that have rocked the VA in recent years.

The president said the Veterans Affairs medical system is far from perfect, but is moving past a recent history of scandal.

“The fact that there have been a few bad apples, mistakes made, I don’t want that to detract from the outstanding work of a lot of people inside this organization,” he said.

Obama was speaking at the VA hospital which was at the center of a scandal where doctors concealed long patient wait times, which may have led to some deaths.

The president announced an advisory committee meant to improve patient experience, but said much more work needs to be done.

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Jeb Bush Warms Up Crowd at NH House Party

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(DOVER, N.H.) — Unlike a business roundtable Friday afternoon, the citizens outnumbered the media at a house party held for Jeb Bush at a New Hampshire Republican activist’s home Friday evening.

The crowd packed inside the home of Fergus Cullen, the former New Hampshire GOP head, was mixed from those who vaguely knew that Bush was associated with issues like immigration and the Common Core, to those who had been waiting for more than a decade for a handshake.

“The last two people I shook the hands of became president,” Brad Ludington said of Jeb’s father and brother.

Ludington said he was excited to hear the former Florida governor speak, and though he liked the precious Bush politicians, they were, “totally different people, totally different time.”

Bush worked his way through the jammed dining room and kitchen, stopping at one point to ask answer a question from a high school journalist in attendance and pepper her about her college prospects.

Cullen introduced Bush by taking a swipe at some of the previous GOP nominees, saying that in 2012 they didn’t have enough “serious, credible candidates” in 2012. “Governor Bush would be a one-person antidote to that problem,” he said.

Bush gave a brief introduction to his life story before answering questions about how he would like to repeal and replace Obamacare, wants to change the perception of America as a force for good in the world, and sees the Common Core as an issue of raising standards without the federal government weighing in on curriculum.

Overall, most people in the crowd appeared to have favorable impressions of Bush after the talk, though one man was miffed that his question was only partially answered.

“I think he presented himself well,” said Brian Lenzi, an independent. “I think he’s a viable candidate. I don’t think people can dismiss him.”

As for Ludington, it was more an action than any words that he could give to show his support.

“I gave him my lucky handshake,” Ludington said.

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Obama Lays Out Vision for Student Aid Bill of Rights in Weekly Address

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to lay out his vision for quality, affordable higher education for all Americans.

The president announced a Student Bill of Rights earlier in the week, which would be a set of guiding principles behind his vision for affordable education.

“It says that every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education,” the president said. “Every student should be able to access the resources to pay for college.”

Obama points to steps his administration has taken to improve college education, including expanding tax credits and Pell Grants, as the average undergrad who borrows to pay for college ends up graduating with around $28,000 in student loan debt.

“That’s why my Administration has worked hard to make college more affordable,” he said.

The president is encouraging everyone to visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity to sign the declaration in support of a Student Aid Bill of Rights to ensure students who work hard for a college degree do not graduate saddled with debt.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. Earlier this week, I visited with students at Georgia Tech to talk about the importance of higher education in the new economy, and how we can make it more affordable.

In an economy increasingly built on innovation, the most important skill you can sell is your knowledge. That’s why higher education is, more than ever, the surest ticket to the middle class.

But just when it’s never been more important, it’s also never been more expensive. The average undergrad who borrows to pay for college ends up graduating with about $28,000 in student loan debt.

That’s why my Administration has worked hard to make college more affordable. We expanded tax credits and Pell Grants, enacted the largest reform to student loan programs in history, and fought to keep interest rates on student loans low. We’ve acted to let millions of graduates cap loan payments at 10 percent of their income, so they don’t have to choose between paying the rent and paying back their debt. I’ve sent Congress my plan to bring the cost of community college down to zero – because two years of higher education should be as free and universal as high school is today.

But all of us – elected officials, universities, business leaders – everybody – needs to do more to bring down college costs. Which is why this week, I unveiled another way that we can help more Americans afford college. It doesn’t involve any new spending or bureaucracy. It’s a simple declaration of values – what I call a Student Aid Bill of Rights. It says that every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education. Every student should be able to access the resources to pay for college. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans.

That’s it. Just a few simple principles. But if we all rally around these principles, there’s a lot that colleges, lenders, and the people you sent to Washington and to your state legislatures can do to realize them across the country.

So if you believe in a Student Aid Bill of Rights that will help more Americans pay for a quality education, I’m asking you to visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity. Sign your name to this declaration. Tell your families, and your friends, and fellow students. I’m going to ask Members of Congress, and lenders, and as many business leaders as I can find. Because making sure that students aren’t saddled with debt before they even get started in life is in all our interests.

In America, a higher education cannot be a privilege reserved for only the few. It has to be available to everybody who’s willing to work for it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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Rep. Susan Books Gives Next Steps of Benghazi Investigation in GOP Weekly Address

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Susan Brooks, R-IN, delivered this week’s Republican address, giving an update on the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

It was the committee’s oversight investigating the attack which killed four Americans, according to Brooks, that led to the discovery that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used personal e-mail for official State Department business.

In the weekly address, Brooks calls on Secretary Clinton to turn over her personal email server to an independent arbiter who can determine which of her e-mails should be made public.

“By handing her server over to a neutral, third-party arbiter,” Brooks said, “Secretary Clinton can help us move forward with figuring out what happened to our people.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello, I’m Congresswoman Susan Brooks from the great state of Indiana.

Every morning, as we enjoy our first cup of coffee and get ready for the day ahead, there are tens of thousands of Americans already on the job representing the United States at diplomatic posts around the world. They are deeply committed to this work, and their protection is one of our government’s most solemn responsibilities.

That is why I agreed to serve on a select committee to investigate the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that took the lives of four Americans on September 11, 2012. I’ve brought to this assignment the same commitment to fairness and truth that guided my service as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

When we began our work, Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the select committee, told us: facts are not Republican or Democrat. When four Americans serving their country die on foreign soil, we have a duty to uncover the whole truth – wherever it may lead and whoever it may involve.

As part of this pursuit, we requested documents from the State Department, which oversees our diplomatic posts and personnel. As Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State at the time said herself, she was “in charge” of their security. It was through our investigation that we became aware that Secretary Clinton was using personal e-mail for official State Department business. And only when we pressed for more information did we find out that she relied exclusively on personal e-mail hosted by her own personal server as Secretary of State.

Not only that, she also kept those emails from the State Department when she left. Once this was discovered, it was she and her attorneys alone who decided what e-mails should be returned to the government and then just a fraction of those were released to our committee.

That’s right: it was not out of a sense of transparency that she acted. It was our select committee’s oversight that compelled Secretary Clinton to hand over some of her e-mails.

The key word there, of course, is ‘some.’ You see, right now there is no way for us to know whether we have all of the State Department communications that rightfully belong to the American people. The only way to truly know is by having access to Secretary Clinton’s personal server.

Why is this so important? Because these communications may help us answer vital questions. We need to know why the security at our embassy was left inadequate. Why were requests for additional security denied? Why was our response not sufficient? Why were some members of the administration slow to acknowledge a terrorist attack had actually occurred? It is simply unacceptable for so many questions to remain unanswered. And it is unjust and simply wrong for anyone to withhold evidence that may lead to the answers.

That is why we are asking Secretary Clinton to turn her server over to a neutral, third-party arbiter. After a complete inventory, this arbiter can make a determination as to which emails should be public and which should remain private. These decisions would be completely impartial and independent.

President Obama promised you ‘the most transparent administration in history’ – but his first Secretary of State has fallen painfully short. By handing her server over to a neutral, third-party arbiter, Secretary Clinton can help us move forward with figuring out what happened to our people.

Because this isn’t about Hillary Clinton, or Trey Gowdy, or me. It’s about the four brave Americans we lost. These men were public servants. They were also fathers, sons, friends, colleagues and neighbors.

The people who knew them – who loved them – deserve the truth. The government they served has a duty to provide that truth and do whatever is necessary to make sure it never happens again.

Thank you for listening. And to all our Foreign Service and Diplomatic Security officers, thank you for what you do for us every day.

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Jeb Bush Faces Massive Press Turn Out, Tech Workers in NH

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Jeb Bush hit plenty of hot topics Friday in his first public appearance in New Hampshire — from the similarities between his email set up and Hillary Clintons, to ISIS, and nostalgia from his last time campaigning for his brother in the Granite State — but was noticeably cagey about making any indication that he’s running for president.

Bush insisted on speaking in the third person when criticizing President Obama’s leadership on ISIS, saying that he was simply “considering the possibility of running.”

He took questions from the press at the end, saying that in spite of the fact that he had a personal server for his emails, he was in a very different situation than Clinton, since he’s been transparent and released his emails to the public.

“I had a Blackberry in my official portrait for crying out loud,” he said.

The former Florida governor appeared most interested when talking about the intricacies of education and immigration programs that he promoted in previous books. Specifically, he defended the need for higher standards in education.

“Yea it’s controversial,” he said of Common Core. “I’ve learned though because something’s controversial you don’t ban your core beliefs, you go try and persuade people which is what I’m doing now. I think you need to be genuine I think you need to have a backbone I think you need to be able to persuade people this is a national crisis.”

Friday marked the first time that the former Florida governor returned to the Granite State in 15 years.

The last time that he campaigned in the state came when he was here as part of his brother’s campaign, when George W. Bush came in second place to Sen. John McCain.

Bush is scheduled to attend a number of private events during his brief stay in New Hampshire, including a fundraiser for Rep. Frank Guinta on Friday before attending a house party hosted by the state’s former GOP chair, Fergus Cullen.

Prior to sitting down with members of the chamber of commerce, Bush toured the site of Friday’s roundtable, Integra Biosciences, which makes equipment for medical research. At points, he spoke to workers, including two who he easily conversed with in Spanish.

This is a popular weekend in New Hampshire, with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry meeting voters at a series of smaller events in VFW halls up state. The highlight of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda comes Saturday morning when he headlines a grassroots training session for volunteers.

While Perry found support in New Hampshire during the 2012 primaries, all eyes are on Bush and Walker this go round. Walker threw the first punch, albeit a light one, during an interview with the Tampa Bay Times Friday morning when he took a jab at the family name, saying that Republicans “need a name from the future.”

“Jeb’s a good man. You’re not going to hear me speak ill of him,” Walker said during the Tampa Bay Times interview. “He’s a friend of mine, He called me two days before (announcing) his PAC, I think highly of him. I just think voters are going to look at this and say, ‘If we’re running against Hillary Clinton, we’ll need a name from the future – not a name from the past – to win.’”

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