US Department of Veterans Affairs(WASHINGTON) — Top Republican senators are tightening the screws on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign after allegations that up to 40 people died due to delayed care at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

“General Shinseki’s time as secretary of the Veterans Affairs has come to an end and he needs to step down,” Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate’s second-highest ranking Republican, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness and back to providing the service that our veterans deserve.”

“I ask the secretary to submit his resignation, and I ask President Obama to accept that resignation,” Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said on the Senate floor.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not explicitly call for Shinseki’s resignation, but did say “a change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction” after a “stunning period of dysfunction” at the VA.

The American Legion, the country’s largest veterans group, called for Shinseki to resign on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended Shinseki Tuesday, calling him a “fine man, a dedicated patriot to our country.”

“The issue that came up in Phoenix, these are allegations and there will be a complete investigation of that, what’s gone on — whether there’s substance to it or not, but it certainly doesn’t call for the general to resign,” Reid said.

Shinseki, a former Army general who earned two Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam, has lead the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2009.

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton has some guilty pleasures, though we may never know all of them.

During a lighthearted moment Tuesday at a health care conference in Washington, D.C., Clinton was asked what her guilty pleasure was.

It took some pondering. Eventually the moderator said, “Are there that many?” To which Hillary replied, “No, I’m just trying to think of some G-rated ones.”

After some audience laughter, she shared one, but conceded it was a little boring.

“Chocolate,” she admitted. ”I hate to be so predictable … but chocolate.”

Later in the Q&A at the National Council for Behavioral Health conference, Clinton also drew laughs when asked what role Congress should play in naming her grandchild.

“Given what’s going on, the poor child would never get a name!” Clinton joked, adding it would probably be called “Baby” until it went to college.

The potential presidential candidate also spoke about her thought process as she contemplates a decision to run in 2016. When asked what she’d be giving up to run for president, Clinton said: “That’s a very good question,” because “obviously I am thinking about that right now.”

“I am somebody who really has to mull things over…because there is a cost to everything,” Clinton said.

“And for me it is exciting to be in the public arena…trying to do what I can to influence the public debate, to speak out for people who may not have voices on their behalf. So I really appreciate doing all of that I just have to decide whether I’m ready to do that.”

“Stay tuned,” she added. “When I know, you’ll know.”

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The primary season is upon us as North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana host primaries Tuesday.

Twenty-five states will hold primaries in the next six weeks and Tuesday’s key one to watch will take us into a fight that will play out all over this country in the coming weeks: the establishment GOP vs. the Tea Party and whether the establishment can finally put down the Tea Party rebellion and re-take the Senate.

Also watch as a possible 2016 proxy fight between Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and even Mike Huckabee erupts in North Carolina.

WHO’S ON THE BALLOT? From a former American Idol runner-up to a candidate who is taking on Speaker John Boehner with an ad that ripped off a Cialis commercial, voters have several colorful candidates on their primary ballots. Here are six things to watch for as primary season revs up:

ESTABLISHMENT VS. TEA PARTY AND A PROXY 2016 FIGHT BREWING: The Republican Senate primary in North Carolina is Tuesday’s key race and pits the establishment against the Tea Party. Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House, is the establishment candidate backed by Jeb Bush and, just Monday, Mitt Romney. Greg Brannon, a physician, is the Tea Party and libertarian favorite and Rand Paul joined him on the campaign trail Monday calling him a “dragon slayer.” Mark Harris, a preacher, is the Evangelical choice who has galvanized social conservatives, and has been backed by Mike Huckabee. Huckabee recorded a robo-call on behalf of Harris that went out to 300,000 registered Republicans between Saturday to Monday. Candidates must get 40 percent of the vote to avoid a July 15th run-off. Polls show Tillis leading with Brannon in second, but with Tillis just barely clearing that 40 percent mark. Paul’s last-minute campaign trail stop could help ensure Brannon makes it to a run-off, but that will extend the intra-party battle instead of focusing their fight against incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan. And as mentioned above, it’s also being seen as a possible 2016 proxy fight between Bush and Paul as well as Huckabee. The battle between the establishment and the Tea Party will play out in the following weeks as similar primaries are held from coast to coast, but Tuesday is our first glimpse.

AN AMERICAN IDOL RUNNER AIMS TO BE A RUNNER UP NO MORE: American Idol 2003 runner up Clay Aiken is facing off in the Democratic primary against businessman Keith Crisco, a former state commerce secretary from Asheboro, and Toni Morris, a counselor from Fayetteville. It’s a celeb-tinged race to watch, but there has been no public polling in this Democratic primary so it’s difficult to predict which way this race will go. Aiken has been outspent by Crisco and he has run four television ads to Aiken’s one. Even if Aiken comes out victorious it may be for naught as the winner will take on incumbent Republican Rep. Renee Elmers who is heavily favored to win. She has outraised Aiken by almost six times, but if he does win he may reel in some national Democratic money on his name recognition alone.

A CHALLENGER FROM THE RIGHT POUNCES: Rep. Walter Jones has been representing his district for 20 years, but he is being challenged from the right by GOP consultant and former aide to President George W. Bush and the McCain campaign, Taylor Griffin. Jones is in line to be the second most senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, but this challenge from within his own party is one to watch. Griffin has been able to fundraise as much as Jones and Jones — who is well known for voting for the Iraq war and then becoming one of the most vocal members of the GOP against it — has become one of the most vulnerable Republicans this year. Griffin is seen as more conservative than Jones because of his foreign policy views, while Jones has tried to pit Griffin as a “Washington insider.”

THE SPEAKER GETS A CHALLENGE: House Speaker John Boehner is heading off two challengers and it has been quite a colorful race, despite Boehner being heavily favored to win. He is facing Eric Gurr, a computer consultant, and J.D. Winteregg, a high school French teacher. Boehner will win, but while past elections have been non-events he is facing challengers and some outside money being thrown at him. Boehner even ran two rounds of television ads in the district, the first time in four years. Winteregg has been able to drum up publicity for himself by releasing an online parody video in the same style as the drug Cialis. It was a not-so-subtle spin on the speaker’s first name and it claimed Winteregg offers the remedy for “electile dysfunction” personified by Boehner and it warns the 12-term congressman “shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch.” Winteregg ended up getting tossed from an adjunct teaching position at Cedarville University, a Christian college, after the suggestive video aired. The Tea Party Leadership Fund, based in Virginia, has spent about $325,000 on behalf of Winteregg and against Boehner, according to their group’s treasurer Dan Backer. Backer said they also raised another $66,000 for Winteregg. He said they are “deeply hopeful and somewhat sitting on eggshells,” adding that he doesn’t “know if he will win, but we have done everything we could to help.”

THE OTHERS:

THE SNOOZER: The Hoosier State has been known for some wild primaries. In 2012, longtime GOP Senator Richard Lugar had a shocking loss in a primary against Richard Mourdock, who then lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly. But, this time around there are really no exciting races. As Robert Dion, who heads the political science department at the University of Evansville, told the Palladium-Item: “After all the gnashing of teeth of the last few election cycles, it’s hard to stay awake through this one.” Neither of Indiana’s senators are on the ballot and all nine House incumbents are seeking re-election so there are no open seat battles.

WHAT ELSE ARE WE WATCHING?

Tuesday’s primary election in North Carolina will be the first time voters go to the polls since the state’s new voting law was passed in August by the state’s GOP governor and legislature. Tuesday may not prove to be a true test of the law because turnout is usually low in primary contests and the highest-profile requirement of the new law, having to show government issued ID at the polls, does not go into effect until 2016. But, voting rights advocates will still be keeping an eye on some of the law’s provisions like a ban on same-day registration and restrictions on early voting.

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Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After 10 years of silence — a decade of dodging questions about the infamous stain on her blue dress and the jokes about the president’s cigar — Bill Clinton’s one-time mistress, Monica Lewinsky, spoke out in Vanity Fair.

Here’s what she had to say:

She May Not Stay Quiet if Hillary Runs

Lewinsky says she “remained virtually reclusive” during Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign despite interview requests.

Now that Hillary is reportedly mulling a 2016 bid, Lewinsky finds herself “gun-shy yet again, fearful of ‘becoming an issue’ should she decide to ramp up her campaign.” But she’s not sure she’ll stay quiet this time.

The 40-year-old, who says she’s still recognized everywhere she goes, has had enough of “tiptoeing around my past — and other people’s futures.”

So though she acknowledges speaking out may have severe ramifications, “I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past…It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.”

What She Finds ‘Troubling’ About Hillary

Lewinsky seems to resent Clinton’s reaction and rejects the then-first lady’s characterization of her as a “narcissistic loony toon.”

“Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to [Diane] Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him…I find her impulse to blame the woman — not only me, but herself — troubling,” Lewinsky argues.

Her refusal to cooperate with interrogators may have been “courageous or foolish,” she admits. “But narcissistic and loony?” No way.

The Relationship Was Consensual

Lewinsky maintains that her relationship with Clinton was voluntary.

“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” Lewinsky writes. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”

Nevertheless, she says, she “regrets” the relationship.

“Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” she says.

The Clintons Didn’t Pay Her Off

The Clintons didn’t bribe her to stay quiet, Lewinsky insists.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she writes.

She turned down $10 million-plus “offers” (presumably interview requests) “because they didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”

However, money has been an issue since the incident. Lewinsky pursued a career in marketing, but “because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history, I was never ‘quite right’ for the position.”

She has ”managed to get by (barely, at times) with my own projects… or loans from friends,” she says.

She Contemplated Suicide

Though she never actually attempted suicide, Lewinsky says she was tempted end her own life as “the shame, the scorn, and the fear” washed over her.

She says the tragic suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers student who was filmed kissing another man, brought back those terrible memories and inspired her to come forward.

“Perhaps by sharing my story…I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation,” Lewinksi says.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drew on the scenes of a greased pig contest at a rodeo Tuesday to describe working with Republicans in the Senate.

“Oft times, working with my Republican Senate colleagues reminds me of chasing one of these little pigs in a greased pig contest,” Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Regardless of all of our efforts, any time we get close to making promise, it seems as though we watch it slip out of our hands and the Republicans scamper away.”

Reid even described a greased pig contest, saying kids “try to scoop up this scurrying pig. It’s really quite a spectacle. It’s fun to watch.”

“The organizers get a little pig, a piglet, and they cover this little animal with grease. It’s a greasy little pig, and then they turn the kids loose and they invite these children to chase one of these kids and the pigs are a little slippery to begin with but you cover them with grease, they’re really slippery and these kids run around the arena and try to grab it and fall and have a great time,” he said.

The comparison came ahead of a procedural vote on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. Republicans and some Democrats are pushing for a vote on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and are considering adding it as an amendment to the energy measure.

Reid had agreed to allow Republicans to introduce some germane amendments to the bill, but said Republicans are now calling for more. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Reid was impeding on the rights of the minority by not allowing more votes on amendments.

“This is not the way to run the Senate. The minority represents a lot of Americans, millions and millions of Americans. We’re entitled to have our ideas debated and voted on in the Senate as well. Votes that we want to vote on, not ones that the majority leader picks for us,” McConnell said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — From hotter heat waves and heavier downpours to more frequent flooding and drought, climate change is already having a broad impact on the nation’s weather and economy, according to a new government report.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” according to the third National Climate Assessment. “Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes.”

“Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and extended period of unusual heat last long than any living American has ever experienced…Rain comes in heavier downpours,” the report states.

President Obama is seizing on the report’s alarming predictions for the future to try and bolster support for his efforts to curb climate change.

According to the White House, the findings “underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.”

The report, mandated by Congress and published every four years, comes on the heels of the “Climate Action Plan” that the president launched last June, which laid out concrete steps to cut carbon pollution and counter the impacts of climate change.

So what sweeping changes await? Here are the top 10 frightening highlights:

    1. Bigger, more frequent droughts.
    2. Larger wildfires.
    3. Glaciers and polar ice will melt at a faster rate.
    4. The possible reemergence of currently uncommon diseases, such as dengue fever.
    5. A higher risk of heat and respiratory stress from poor air quality.
    6. Deteriorating infrastructure. For example, extreme heat is already damaging roads, rail lines and airport runways.
    7. Water shortages and diminished water quality are more likely.
    8. Food security could be at risk as climate change threatens crops and livestock.
    9. Poverty will likely be exacerbated.
    10. Species will become increasingly extinct as ecosystems are disrupted.

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      Timothy White/E!(NEW YORK) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was roundly roasted at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday. But the governor’s response seemed almost lifted from a PR professional’s playbook.

      Christie laughed along as headliner Joel McHale relentlessly pounded him.

      “I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid,” the comedian quipped.

      “Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? ‘Cause I’ve got a bunch of both. I could go half and half. I know you like a combo platter,” McHale said, an obvious crack at Christie’s much-discussed weight problem.

      Riffing on the internal bridge-scandal investigation that absolved the governor of all blame, McHale continued: “I am sorry for that joke, Governor Christie. I did not know I was going to tell it, but I take full responsibility for it. Whoever wrote it will be fired. But the buck stops here. So, I am appointing a blue-ribbon commission of me to investigate the joke I just told. And if I find any wrongdoing on my part, I assure you I will be dealt with.”

      “I just looked into it. It turns out I am not responsible for it. Justice has been served,” McHale teased, adding, “He is going to kill me.”

      But Christie, 51, didn’t kill him. As critics, who found the fat jokes singularly inappropriate, sounded off on Twitter, Christie just chuckled.

      He even took a photo with his roaster at an after-party.

      In an interview with Vanity Fair, the governor actually complimented McHale’s comedic timing, then deftly redirected the conversation to his celebrity friends (because a little name-dropping never hurt anyone):

      “Listen, I thought he was great, and that’s exactly what I expected,” Christie told Vanity Fair, then went on to discuss his conversation with Modern Family star Sofia Vergara.

      Roaster McHale admitted that the governor had been “very cool” about the whole thing.

      “I have to give Gov. Christie a huge amount of credit, because I went after him harder than anybody. He could have tried to tackle me, but he was cool about it,” McHale told Variety.

      Like Christie, roasted presidents, Obama included, rarely show frustration, although former White House aides have admitted that the commanders-in-chief suffer in silence. But other guests have not taken the jokes so well.

      Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump lashed out when headliner Seth Meyers made fun of his presidential aspirations at the 2011 Correspondents’ Dinner.

      “Seth Meyers has no talent,” he angrily told The New York Times. “It was like a roast of Donald Trump. He fell totally flat.”

      In contrast, political consultants have called Christie’s response “masterful.”

      “If he would have been offended by it, and acted like a petulant child, everyone would have said, ‘What’s wrong with him?’” Republican advertising consultant Jim Innocenzi told ABC News. “That’s the smartest move he could make. You have to roll with it.”

      Mike Paul, a crisis PR and reputation management specialist, said, ”We’re all human, and we get pissed off. So for him to be able to laugh about [the bridge scandal], especially in the midst of it, takes a very balanced self-esteem.”

      Added Republican strategist Mark Campbell: ”I think most people would agree that politics is a bit of a rough-and-tumble occupation. People think, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the game.’”

      Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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      iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Democrats better prepare for a shellacking in November if the results of a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll come to fruition.

      With two thirds of the 1,500 adults interviewed saying the country is moving in the wrong direction, it appears that Republicans might be poised to take over the Senate and even strengthen their control of the House.

      In fact, the USA TODAY/Pew poll suggests that the GOP could get an even bigger mandate than in 1994 when the so-called Republican revolution helped the party gain control of both chambers of Congress with a Democrat in the White House.

      Mostly, Americans remain skeptical about the improving economy, the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s effectiveness after more than five years in office.

      Their unhappiness with Obama is reflected by the 65 percent of respondents who say they want the new president in 2016 to pick a different agenda than the current administration.

      Meanwhile, registered voters favor Republicans over Democrats in congressional districts by 47 percent to 43 percent, which is particularly bad for Democrats since they normally do better with this group than those who actually vote on Election Day.

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      Kendra Helmer/USAID(NEW YORK) — It’s a family affair for the Clintons.

      Just one month after Bill Clinton hit the trail for Chelsea’s mother-in-law and the grandmother-to-be, Marjorie Margolies, Hillary Clinton is expected to join the campaign for a May 15 event, ABC News has learned.

      This event, first reported by Politico, will mark the first time Hillary Clinton will campaign for a 2014 race. Clinton’s lack of involvement in the Margolies campaign had prompted “awkward speculation in Philadelphia that Mrs. Clinton does not want to be burdened by Ms. Margolies’s baggage in a state that could be pivotal to her chances in the 2016 presidential campaign, should she decide to run,” according to the New York Times.

      Chelsea Clinton, who is married to Margolies’ son Marc Mezvinsky, is prohibited from campaign appearances due to her affiliation with NBC News.

      Margolies is running to re-take her seat in Pennsylvania’s 13th district in a competitive four-way race.

      With just two weeks until the May 20 Democratic primary, the former congresswoman faces a crowded primary field in a race could set the tone for the Democrats in 2016.

      In addition to three strong challengers, the Margolies campaign has struggled with maintaining cash-on-hand, despite relatively strong fundraising numbers. Opponent Daylin Leach filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the Margolies campaign of “illegally [using] general election campaign funds for the majority of the last reporting quarter.” A March report asserted that Margolies “doubled her own salary as head of a small, largely taxpayer-funded charity [Women's Campaign International] into the six figures” as her now-ex-husband Ed Mezvinsky was facing charges of fraud, allegations the Margolies campaign labeled as “slander.”

      Bill Clinton appeared at an April campaign event for Margolies, with tickets starting at $1,000.

      “I want to get one thing out of the way,” Clinton joked at the fundraiser. “I would be here if her son was not my son-in law.”

      “If you send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud, she’ll vote right, she’ll take initiatives, she’ll do things that stand up when she needs to stand up and that cooperate when we need cooperation,” Clinton said.

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      Photo by U.S. Navy via Getty Images(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — The admiral fired from his position last fall as the number-two officer at U.S. Strategic Command has been reprimanded and fined for his use of counterfeit gambling chips at an Iowa casino, the Navy said in a statement Monday.

      By accepting the non-judicial punishment, Rear Admiral Tim Giardina will still be able to serve in the Navy.

      Until last October, Giardina had been the deputy commander of Stratcom, which is the unit responsible for America’s nuclear forces. He was removed from his post following an investigation into his alleged use of gambling chips at a western Iowa casino. U.S. Strategic Command is located in Omaha, Nebraska.

      Last summer, Iowa gaming officials launched a probe into Giardina’s alleged use of counterfeit chips at the casino and then notified Stratcom that he was under investigation. At that point the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service took over the investigation.

      In a statement released Monday, the Navy said Giardina had been found guilty of two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer by Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, after the investigation found violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

      The counts included Giardina’s lying to investigators and for his failure to turn in — and subsequent use of — the counterfeit chips he claimed to have found at the casino. As a non-judicial punishment, Giardina received a punitive letter of reprimand and forfeited $4,000 pay. By accepting the punishment, Giardina avoids going to a court-martial proceeding.

      When Giardina was the deputy commander at Stratcom he held the three-star rank of vice admiral. When he was reassigned to the Navy staff so the investigation could run its course he reverted to his previous two-star rank of Rear Admiral.

      Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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