Patrick Smith/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got into a testy exchange Thursday with “Fresh Air” radio host Terry Gross, accusing her of “playing with my words” when pressing Clinton about when, and why, she decided to support same-sex marriage.

Gross asked Clinton multiple times whether the reason she now publicly supports the issue was because her own position changed from the 1990s or because the U.S. public’s had shifted. Clinton did not answer to the satisfaction of Gross, so the host asked her repeatedly to clarify. The exchange incited a heated back and forth between the two women, and showed a rarely seen, defensive side of the potential presidential candidate.

“You know I really, I have to say, I think you’re being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue,” Clinton said, after Gross suggested Clinton’s opinion had changed since the ’90s.

“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand,” Gross responded.

“No,” Clinton snapped. “I don’t think you are trying to clarify. I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like I think you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress were making.”

Gross, whose Philadelphia-based show is distributed nationally by NPR, told Clinton that’s not what she meant either. “I was saying that you maybe really, believed in gay marriage all along, but felt for political reasons America wasn’t ready yet and you couldn’t say it. That’s what I was thinking,” she said.

“No. That is not true,” Clinton said, audibly annoyed. “I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either. This was an incredible new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others about the rightness of that position. When I was ready to say what I said, I said it.”

“OK,” Gross responded. “Thank you for clarifying that.”

Earlier in the exchange, Clinton told Gross that after leaving public office she was able to announce that she was “fully in support” of gay marriage, and that she is hopeful for more progress and acceptance.

But, Clinton said, one of her “biggest problems right now” is that too many people “believe they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything.”

In addition, Clinton offered a slight defense of her husband’s decision to sign the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996, claiming that, at the least, the law allowed states to make their own decision on gay marriage.

People are “never open about new information and they like to operate in an evidence-free zone. I think it’s good if people continue to change,” Clinton added.

“In 1993,” Clinton said when asked about the law that was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, “there was a very concerted effort in the Congress to make it even more difficult and greater discrimination. And what DOMA did is, at least, allow the states to act. It wasn’t going to yet be recognized by the federal government but at the state level there was the opportunity.”

Clinton added, “My husband was the first to say that, you know, the political circumstances, the threats that were trying to be alleviated by the passage of DOMA, thankfully, were no longer so preeminent and we could keep moving forward and that’s what we’re doing.”

Clinton is traveling the country on her book tour. After three events in New York City on Thursday, she was scheduled to head to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C,. to promote the new memoir, Hard Choices.

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Jay Paul/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — David Brat, the little-known college professor who trounced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a shocking upset Tuesday, certainly has news to shout about.

But instead, he’ll be singing.

Brat’s campaign, along with the music-loving conservative group #LibertyKaraoke, will host a karaoke night for supporters in Washington, D.C., next Thursday.

For as little as $20, Brat fans can croon the night away with the potential congressman, according to the event’s Facebook page.

“Dave Brat stunned the Washington Establishment by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican Primary last Tuesday. Now it’s up to grassroots activists to help him make it across the finish line in November,” the page says. (It notes that the event is “private” and a contribution is required for entry.)

Brat isn’t the first politician to try to boost his chances on Election Day by warbling a tune or two.

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky., reportedly raked in nearly $4,000 at a #LibertyKaraoke fundraiser in March (though he refused to sing). And Igor Birman, an ultimately unsuccessful Republican candidate for California’s 7th Congressional District, raised funds at a #LibertyKaraoke event in April.

Though the group has caught some flak for its raucous parties, it claims it has raised more than $20,000 for “pro-liberty” congressional candidates.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As al Qaeda-linked terrorists wreak havoc across Iraq, House Speaker John Boehner unloaded on President Obama for ignoring the escalating crisis there, contending that the president has been “taking a nap” while the situation rapidly deteriorates.

“It’s not like we haven’t seen over the last five or six months these terrorists moving in, taking control of Western Iraq. Now they’ve taken control of Mosul. They’re 100 miles from Baghdad,” Boehner, R-Ohio, fumed. “And what’s the president doing? Taking a nap!”

Earlier this year, on Jan. 9, Boehner publicly urged Obama to “maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome” in Iraq, and called on the president to “get engaged.”

On Thursday, Boehner said the administration’s failure to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq “continues to have serious consequences for Iraq and American interests in the region.”

“The president has celebrated our exit from Iraq as a hallmark of his foreign policy agenda but our focus should be instead on completing our mission successfully,” Boehner said. “I would urge the president once again to get engaged before it’s too late.”

Boehner said he believes the United States should provide equipment and the technical assistance to the Iraqi government, but he declined to opine whether the U.S. should launch airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, also known as ISIL, to help shift the momentum there.

Criticizing President Obama for negotiating an unprecedented prisoner exchange of five ranking Taliban for POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Boehner said the trade “has encouraged” U.S. enemies and increased risk to military and civilian personnel serving around the globe.

“Those who would argue the opposite I think are incredibly naïve,” Boehner charged.

“One of our citizens’ greatest protections was knowing that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists, and that issue now — that principle has been compromised,” he added. “America is willing to make deals with terrorists. That’s the new Obama doctrine.”

Boehner cited “failed policies” in Syria, Libya, and Egypt and pointed to Obama’s “failure to implement a broader strategy for the Middle East” as the impetus for the evolving predicament in Iraq.

“He continues to endanger our troops and citizens with his failed foreign policies,” Boehner said. “We need to elect a Congress that not only has the will to stop the president, but the power to do so as well.”

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Nancy Pelosi paused, smiled and chuckled a bit before saying “sure,” she feels at least some sympathy toward outgoing Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“It’s hard to lose an election,” said Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the House.

But she quickly added: “We all know you keep your home fires burning. The people are the boss, they speak.”

Pelosi and Cantor have sparred for years, particularly ever since Republicans won control of the House in 2010 and Pelosi lost her position as speaker.

“I had as much sympathy for Mr. Cantor as he would want me to have for him,” the California congresswoman said, flashing a smile once again that seemed to stop just short of being gleeful at the turn of fate for Cantor, who became the first House majority leader to lose a primary race since the position was created more than a century ago.

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Stewart F. House/Getty Images)(SAN FRANCISCO) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism at an event in San Francisco Wednesday night, saying people can choose whether they engage in either lifestyle.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said when asked whether homosexuality is a disorder at an event at the Commonwealth Club of California. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that.”

The statement drew a “smattering of groans and hisses” from the crowd, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Perry’s comments come one week after the Texas Republican Party ratified a platform that endorsed “reparative therapy” for gay people. Asked in a written question whether he believed homosexuals could be cured through prayer or counseling, Perry said, “I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not a doctor.”

Perry, who is considering a run for president in 2016, was notably vocal on issues regarding homosexuality during his 2012 bid for the White House. During his presidential campaign, the governor ran a controversial television ad that criticized the policy allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military.

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U.S. Army/Texas A&M University via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former president George H. W. Bush may be wheelchair bound, but he’s not letting that stop him from jumping out of a plane.

The 41st president announced Thursday on Twitter that he’ll celebrate his 90th birthday with a tandem skydive near his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

It’s a wonderful day in Maine — in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.

— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) June 12, 2014

Bush will be joined by Mike Elliott, a former member of the U.S. Army Parachute Team and the president of All Veterans Group, according to a statement from Bush’s office.

This isn’t Bush’s first skydive: He celebrated his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays the same way.

But according to the statement, “President Bush’s first parachute jump took place when he was shot down over the Pacific island of Chi Chi Jima on September 2, 1944.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama’s frustration with lawmakers about ways to trim crushing student loan debt was exacerbated Wednesday when the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to advance a bill for debate that would allow borrowers to refinance loans at current low rates.

The tally was 56-38, four votes shy.

Earlier this week, Obama signed an executive order so that those who qualify could have payments on student debt capped at ten percent of their monthly salary. Furthermore, the government will forgive any outstanding balance if debtors have made 20 years of repayments.

However, the president said it was up to Congress to make real reforms to chip away at the student loan debt, which now exceeds $1.2 trillion.

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bill, which would have been paid for by a tax on Americans making more than $1 million annually, was derided by Republicans as a political stunt.

GOP lawmakers said Democrats refused to work on real solutions to cut student loan debt such as creating more jobs for graduates and lowering college tuition costs.
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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — As congressional probes into excessive wait times and inappropriate scheduling practices at Veteran Affairs hospitals widens, the FBI has gotten into the act as well.

FBI Director James Comey told members of the House Judiciary Committee that the bureau has opened its own criminal investigation to determine if laws were broken when VA employees allegedly fudged records to make it appear that tens of thousands of veterans were receiving timely medical attention.

According to Comey, his agents in Phoenix were heading the FBI probe. It was at the clinic in Phoenix that accusations first arose about interminably long wait times for care that reportedly led to the deaths of as many as 40 patients.

Since then, the VA’s inspector general released a scathing report on alleged wrongdoing at dozens of hospitals around the country. The fallout from the scandal resulted in the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who admitted problems with his agency were systemic.

Although the Justice Department has launched its own investigation, Comey’s testimony before Congress was the first indication that VA officials could face criminal charges if agents turn up concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

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Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — CIA Director John Brennan gave the keynote speech on Wednesday at a National Security Conference co-hosted by the intelligence agency and Georgetown University.

The conference was set up to serve as a platform to discuss “a variety of topics important to 21st-century national security,” the CIA said. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller gave the conference’s opening remarks.

Brennan called the CIA a “learning organization” that is working hard to adapt to the times. Pointing to the most recent of challenges, including territorial disputes in parts of Ukraine, attacks and kidnappings by extremist groups like Boko Haram, and cyber-attacks, Brennan called the CIA indispensable.

While technology plays a key role in the agency, Brennan called it a “double-edged sword,” saying that it will likely never replace the core strategies and methods agents have used successfully for years.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Wednesday rejected the idea that Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary loss on Tuesday meant the death of immigration reform in 2014.

“It is interesting to listen to the pundits and the analysts and some of the conventional wisdom talks about how the politics of immigration reform seem impossible now,” the president said. Obama did not mention Cantor by name, but at a fundraiser for Democratic donors in Boston, he insisted that he “fundamentally rejects” the idea that immigration reform can’t be achieved this year.

“If you think because of politics, you want to maintain a status quo that is broken,” Obama told donors, “you don’t belong in Washington.” He also asked the donors to help rouse greater Democratic participation in the midterms.

“Democrats have one congenital disease,” the president said, “and that is that we don’t vote in midterms.”

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Cantor’s loss provided “some evidence to indicate that the strategy of opposing nearly everything and supporting hardly anything is not just a bad governing strategy, it is not a very good political strategy either.”

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