iStock/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) — GOP frontrunner Donald Trump says he wasn’t mocking a New York Times reporter’s muscular disorder when he made jerking motions seeming to imitate the man’s condition during a speech last week, saying Saturday at a rally in Sarasota, Florida, that he was just showing a reporter who was “groveling.”

“I was very expressive in saying it, and they said that I was mocking him,” Trump said. “I would never mock a person that has difficulty. I would never do that. I’m telling you, I would never do it.”

Trump has insisted that he does not know the reporter, Serge Kovaleski, and was unaware of his condition. Kovaleski has disputed Trump’s claim and said he was on a first-name basis with the real estate mogul when he covered him for the New York Daily News in the 1980s.

“I didn’t know him, it’s possible, probable that I met him somewhere along the line, but I deal with reporters every day,” Trump told the crowd. “Now he’s going, ‘Well he knew me and we were on a first name basis.’ Give me a break.”

Trump went on say that he doesn’t take his imitation back, since he says he was not imitating a disability but a groveling reporter.

“I don’t take that back because the person was groveling in terms of creating statements,” Trump said, referring to a story that Kovaleski wrote for the Washington Post a week after the September 11 terror attacks that referred to allegations of “tailgate-style parties on rooftops” in New Jersey after the World Trade Center towers fell.

Trump has pointed to Kovaleski’s story as evidence that his claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the World Trade Center’s collapse. But Kovaleski has since said he never heard about “thousands or even hundreds” of people celebrating and that he doesn’t recall the allegations of isolated celebrations ever being confirmed.

Trump accused Kovaleski of trying to retract his story and continued to defend his original claim that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated.

“I didn’t like the fact that he wrote a story and he took it back, because he talked about tailgate parties and other things you all saw, and many people knew what took place and everybody knows it took place worldwide, so why wouldn’t it take place in very strong Muslim communities, where they have a lot of Muslim communities?” Trump said.

Trump went on to bemoan standards of political correctness when talking about handicaps, saying that “it’s complicated out there,” and that he doesn’t have time to be politically correct.

“Never say a disable person or the disabled, say a person with disabilities. In other words you say the other, you’re in trouble,” Trump said. “OK, Never use the term handicapped parking, use only accessible parking, even though people have handicapped permits. So it’s so complicated out there, it’s tough. And we want to be politically correct, but a lot of us don’t have time to be politically correct.”

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) — Ben Carson said Saturday the United States must do more to help solve the Syrian crisis, but that bringing 25,000 refugees from the conflict to the U.S. will “do nothing.”

The Republican presidential candidate was in Jordan Saturday, where he visited a refugee camp and met with medical professionals, humanitarian workers and government officials. Campaign officials told ABC News that Carson was traveling to Jordan on a “fact finding and information gathering mission.”

“These brave people want nothing more than an end the war in Syria. They want to go back to their lives. We must find a political end to this conflict. Millions of refugees have now been waiting for years for the end of the war to come in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey,” Carson said in a statement released Saturday to ABC News. “Some are giving up hope that they will ever be able to return to the country. We must keep their hope alive.”

He continued: “Until it is safe for them to return home, Jordan is a safe place for them to wait. The kingdom has welcomed them with open arms. But Jordan is a small country. They need the worlds help to feed, educate, and care for these refugees until the war ends.”

The visit marks the first time one of the 2016 candidates has visited such a camp since the refugee crisis began this year.

The campaign official told ABC News that the goal of the trip for Carson — who has made controversial comments about refugees — is to listen and meet with people in the region to get a better understanding of the refugee crisis and foreign policy dynamics in the region.

Carson called on the United States to do more to help Syrian refugees resettle in Middle Eastern countries, and said that the Obama administration is not doing enough to solve the crisis, and that bringing the 25,000 refugees into our country is not the answer.

“The United States must do more. Bringing 25,000 refugees to the United States does nothing to solve this crisis. Jordan already houses 1.4 million refugees. Jordan needs and deserves our help,” the statement read. “In the coming days I will offer what I believe are real solutions to the problems created in part by the Obama Clinton administration’s failed policies.”

The trip comes after a recent spate of criticisms for Carson’s alleged lack of foreign policy experience, with his own advisers saying he still has a lot to learn.

“He is not perfect,” Carson adviser Armstrong Williams told Bloomberg News recently. “We’ll never be perfect. But he continues to surround himself with people and engage people that can enhance his foreign policy.”

In The New York Times, Duane R. Clarridge, who has advised Carson, also offered a candid critique.
“Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” Clarridge told the Times, adding that Carson needs weekly conference calls on foreign policy so “we can make him smart.”

He also came under fire after comparing the need to screen refugees to protecting a child from a rabid dog.

“For instance if there’s a rabid dog running around the neighborhood, probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re going to want to put your children away,” Carson said in response to an ABC News question regarding whether Christian organizations should be helping refugees.

But Williams insisted that Carson is learning, telling ABC News “he is learning, gaining confidence and making tremendous progress.”

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Ben Gittleson / ABC News(NEW YORK) — In the match-up of Philadelphia’s professional basketball team and the Republican presidential candidate from Ohio, the politician seems to have come out on top.

The Philadelphia 76ers and John Kasich, the Buckeye State’s governor, got in a bit of a Twitter tiff last month when Kasich jokingly insulted the team’s skills at a town hall meeting. The Sixers fired back with a quickly deleted tweet that hit at Kasich’s low poll numbers: “At least we win more than 2% of the time.”

But guess what: So far this season, they don’t. So at least for now, Kasich was right.

The 76ers on Friday night set the record for the most consecutive losses by a major professional sports team –- 27. They are 0-17 this season.

As long as at least one voter supports Kasich, the candidate is performing better than the NBA franchise.
Kasich has since embraced the brief Twitter imbroglio. He has hit the basketball court a couple times on the campaign trail since then, playfully taunting the team but also praising its players and coach.

“Regardless of what they say, I do have a lot of respect for the Philadelphia 76ers,” he told reporters after shooting around with the Milwaukee Bucks this month.

Kasich may be struggling to drum up momentum in the early-voting states and across the country, but this match-up is one in which he comes out on top.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — How is the president of the United States supposed to pardon a turkey?

Three Republican presidential hopefuls tried out their own turkey-pardoning skills with the Independent Journal.

Dr. Ben Carson said he was pardoning the turkey “for being ugly” while Carly Fiorina spent a lot of her time petting the turkey and offering it compliments.

Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio offered the turkey some cooking advice and said never to fry a frozen turkey.

Watch the full video from the Independent Journal below:

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YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — First Lady Michelle Obama and dogs Sunny and Bo received the White House Christmas tree Friday morning, continuing a tradition that serves as the centerpiece of holiday decorations at the White House.

“This is the tree that we use to honor our military, our main tree,” the first lady said as she examined the 19-feet tree. “It’s beautiful, it’s gonna work. We’ll get it in the house.”

The Fraser fir came from Bustard’s Christmas Trees in Lansdale, Pennsylvania and arrived on a horse-drawn cart while a quintet of the president’s Marine band played “O Christmas Tree.”

The Bustard family won a national contest last summer – their first time entering – that garnered the festive honor.

The tree is traditionally presented to the First Lady. Security appeared relatively normal for a White House event, and she did not mention the White House fence jumper yesterday.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was making a surprise trip to Jordan to visit a camp with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, a campaign official said.

The visit, which was announced on Thanksgiving, marks the first time one of the 2016 candidates has visited such a camp since the refugee crisis began this year.

Carson, who left Thursday night for the trip, posted a Thanksgiving message on his official Twitter account Thursday and made no mention of his trip to Jordan.

The trip comes after a recent spate of criticisms for Carson’s alleged lack of foreign policy experience.

He also came under fire after comparing the need for screenings of refugees to protecting a child from a rabid dog.

“For instance if there’s a rabid dog running around the neighborhood, probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re going to want to put your children away,” Carson said in response to an ABC News question regarding whether Christian organizations should be helping refugees.

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Robin Marchant/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump responded to critics who accused him of imitating the mannerisms of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski in a lengthy statement he tweeted on Thanksgiving day.

“I have no idea who this reporter, Serge [Kovaleski] is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence,” the statement began.

Trump said in the statement that he was merely mocking Kovaleski’s journalism credentials for attempting to shy away from the Washington Post piece he wrote on Sept. 18, 2001 that alleges Muslims were celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center with “tailgate-style parties on rooftops” across the Hudson River in Jersey City, N.J.

“I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago,” Trump wrote in the statement.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2015

Kovaelski reportedly suffers from a condition that affects joint movement.

“I would definitely not say anything about his appearance,” Trump wrote. “ I have tremendous respect for people who are physically challenged and have spent tens of millions of dollars throughout buildings all over the world on making them handicapped accessible and ADA (Americans Disability Act) compliant.”

A statement also read that Trump demands an apology from the New York Times and accused Kovaleski of using his disability as a “grandstand,” adding that he should “get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After serving turkey to homeless veterans and pardoning a turkey on Wednesday, President Obama will privately enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with his family at the White House on Thursday.

So what will the first family be eating this Turkey Day? Check out the menu below:


Thyme Roasted Turkey
Garlic Jus and Cranberry-Orange Relish
Honey-Baked Ham with Apricot-Mustard Glaze
Prime Rib and Creamed Horseradish
Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo and Roasted Peppers Oyster Stuffing
Braised Winter Greens (Collards, Kale and Turnip Greens)
Macaroni and Cheese
Sweet Potato Gratin
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Fresh Greens
Kale Caesar Salad


Banana Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie
Cherry Pie

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Obama administration said Wednesday that states can’t legally block the resettlement of refugees, according to a letter from the Department of Health
and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement sent to state officials.

In the letter, the agency said states are bound by the Refugee Act of 1980 to provide “assistance and services” to refugees “without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex or political opinion,” and cannot cut off ORR-funded services to Syrian refugees.

Additionally, the letter says refugees are protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits discrimination on the bases of race and national origin” in all programs that receive federal financial assistance.

More than 30 state governors have indicated they will attempt to block any future refugees from settling in their states.

The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill on Nov. 19 that would require the FBI director to certify a background investigation for each potential refugee from Syria or Iraq, and administration officials including the Department of Homeland Security secretary must attest that each potential refugee is not a security threat to the U.S.

The White House and Senate Democrats oppose the measure, which passed through the lower chamber with a veto-proof majority.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., charged that the majority of U.S. governors have taken positions that reflect the views of their constituents.

“It’s hypocritical for Obama Administration officials to threaten enforcement action against these states when they refuse to enforce the vast majority of our immigration laws, such as cracking down on sanctuary cities that openly defy federal law and endanger the American people,” he wrote. “The Administration’s latest threat shows why we need the American SAFE Act so that the American people have confidence in their government’s ability to fully screen refugees seeking to come here.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Politics and religion: two topics that are best avoided with coworkers and new acquaintances. Same goes with family on Thanksgiving.

But, in an election season like this one, politics is in the air and it’s easy to forget this rule of thumb once the turkey is served.

So, ABC News spoke to two etiquette experts — Jacqueline Whitmore, an author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Fla., and Diane Gottsman, who runs the Protocol School of Texas — to get some tips.

Both said that in a perfect world, Thanksgiving would be a time to catch up and rekindle relationships with loved ones. But they acknowledged that a side dish of politics was inevitable.

Are political topics ever fair game at the dinner table?

WHITMORE: “I think everything is fair game. Whether it’s appropriate or not is the question. It’s appropriate to have a healthy conversation. Etiquette is all about being mindful of others and also being considerate.”

GOTTSMAN: “The protocol at the dinner table is to make pleasant conversation and interact with each other, so normally we would say to stay away from politics, but the reality is, it’s not going to happen. So, if you’re talking politics and chances are you will, you need to be respectful of other people’s opinions. It should be a conversation not a food fight.”

What are your tips for making the discussion tolerable?

WHITMORE: “As long as you keep it light and positive that’s the most important thing. In a political year, different people have a different way of dealing and discussing different topics. Downer topics are not necessarily the best to discuss.”

GOTTSMAN: “It’s all up for debate, because there’s going to be someone that’s offended with anything someone says. If you have to talk politics, make that 10 percent of your conversation and 90 percent should be on reflection around the table. It’s not okay to be combative with your views and express them at the Thanksgiving table.”

Let’s say politics come up and things are getting awkward. What’s the most polite way to put a stop to an uncomfortable conversation and change the subject?

WHITMORE: “If possible, talk about topics that are most pleasant like holiday memories, food and travel. Or if it’s too uncomfortable volunteer in the kitchen, remove yourself from the situation.”

GOTTSMAN: “I always suggest the host take the lead, saying, ‘It’s clear that we all have an opinion — that we can agree on — but I think it’s important to reflect on why we’re sitting here together.’ If you are going to talk politics the bottom line is you should do it respectfully. It’s important to show tolerance and consider each other’s views.”

If you’re the host, what’s the best way to set ground rules without appearing disrespectful?

WHITMORE: “You can always start the conversation on a positive tone by saying, ‘Let’s all talk about what we’re thankful for this year,’ instead of just letting everyone talk about what they want.”

GOTTSMAN: “You already know Uncle Bob is just a staunch Republican, and everyone at the table are Democrats. So, set ground rules with Uncle Bob by saying, ‘We will talk politics for three minutes then we will change the subject.’ Tell everyone it’s going to happen and Uncle Bob has to be accepted for who he is. It’s okay to have family banter — we wouldn’t have family if we didn’t have banter — and who knows, you might just learn something you didn’t know.”

Let’s say your in-laws are in town and you are curious to know their thoughts on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). What’s the best way to ask at the dinner table without steering the conversation in negative direction?

WHITMORE: “I would probably ask them on the side, not in front of everyone, because you’re going to launch a bigger discussion. Pull them aside when you’re preparing the meal.”

GOTTSMAN: “If you want to know their views it would be best to say, ‘I’m not certain that I’m really working with all of the facts. Will you just share your opinion with me? Maybe I’m just not understanding.’ Being informed is different than combat.”

Any final tips for a relaxing Thanksgiving dinner?

WHITMORE: “Keep [the dinner conversation] light and positive, and if someone gets in a heated discussion change the subject or steer it in another direction.”

GOTTSMAN: “Come to the table with your own idea of what you want to get out of the meal. The Thanksgiving table is not an open forum, it’s interaction, it’s conversation, it’s asking people about their lives. We know what’s on television, we know the political parties of the people sitting at the table. Unyielding views will not grow relationships stronger. You want people to remember you fondly, not grateful that you’re walking out of the door.”

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