Chris Keane/Getty Images(ASPEN, Colo.) — Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Chris Christie of New Jersey had harsh words for the White House’s handling of the border crisis during a Republican governors’ panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday night.

Haley worried about the potential costs of temporarily sheltering migrant children in states across the country, despite assurances that the federal government would foot the bill.

“We do care about these children…but we also have our own children to take care of,” Haley said.

Christie questioned the system in place that allows children to be released into the custody of “possibly illegal” relatives ahead of their court dates. “It’s completely illogical and it’s why folks get so frustrated with the government,” he said.

Of the panel’s participants, Haley, Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Rick Scott of Florida all face re-election in November.

Yet the evening’s two only electoral comments came from Christie. The first, regarding social welfare and the economy, bashed Mitt Romney’s infamous 47-percent comment.

“One of the biggest mistakes of the 47-percent comment was…the vast majority of people don’t want to be on public assistance,” Christie said. “That wasn’t the American dream, at least when I grew up.”

Christie later refuted an audience member’s assertion that the GOP needs to reevaluate its social platform to attract female and minority voters in the future.

“We’re getting pounded because of the way we present ourselves,” said Christie, who pointed to his success in New Jersey despite being pro-life. “People want folks who are authentic…but are also tolerant and willing to listen.”

Democratic governors will take part in their own Aspen Institute panel on Aug. 2.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Some people have a fear of clowns, particularly creepy ones. Polls show millions of people still feel the same way about Obamacare. A cheeky “Creepy Care-nival” held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this week was intended to combine the two to show some of the aspects of the health care law that its critics find frightening.

The Creepy Care-nival featured knife-throwing jugglers, a house call from Dr. Grim Reaper, and a virtual death panel.

The ghoulish displays were created by Generation Opportunity, the Koch brothers-affiliated group that also produced the controversial “Creepy Uncle Sam” ads.

Tightrope walkers, acrobats, and clowns mingled with elected officials like Republican Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Activities and refreshments had an Obamacare spin, and were “rigged against young people,” said Generation Opportunity president Evan Feinberg. The youngish crowd of tourists, Washington types, and curious joggers enjoyed ominous palm readings, an impossible coin toss, and basketball with a ball too big for the hoop. There were even Obamacare palm readings.

The event’s main attraction, a “creepy hospital,” took participants through a hospital run by “Dr. Grim Reaper.”

The tour ended in a room filled with signs listing infamous episodes in American public health history, including the forced lobotomization of World War II veterans recently detailed in the Wall Street Journal, and a mass sterilization program whose victims were awarded compensation in 2012.

Generation Opportunity spokesperson Corie Whalen Stephens denied that the exhibit implied a connection between Obamacare and the episodes.

Like Generation Opportunity’s campus tailgate tour last fall, the carnival will head across the country. It’s expected to stop in states like Colorado and Louisiana, where Democratic senators who voted for Obamacare are up for re-election.

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White House(LOS ANGELES) — At a campaign-style event in Los Angeles, President Obama delivered an unusually blistering indictment Thursday of American businesses that have reincorporated overseas to avoid some U.S. taxes — calling them “corporate deserters” who are “cherry picking the rules.”

While not singling out any by name, Obama said they had tapped into the, “holy grail of tax avoidance schemes” by exploiting a legal “loophole” in the tax code.

“My attitude is, I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong,” he said.

The president said it’s a “small but growing group” of companies taking advantage of the provision – keeping a headquarters and most operations here in the U.S. but establishing corporate citizenship elsewhere.

“Technically they’re renouncing their U.S. citizenship,” he claimed.

Obama explained that the issue is easily fixable through corporate tax reform. He called on Congress to close the loophole, part of a new line of populist messaging that comes as the president returns to active campaign mode ahead of the November elections.

Republicans have expressed some openness to addressing the so-called “inversion” issue Obama raised Thursday, but only as part of broader corporate tax reform.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said: “until the White House endorses our tax reform plan or convinces Senate Democrats to act, every pink slip from companies moving overseas may as well be signed, ‘President Barack H. Obama.’”

“I’m not interested in punishing these companies, but I am interested in economic patriotism,” Obama said, invoking a line that has become something of a slogan for the Democrats’ 2014 campaign.

“We rise and fall together as one nation and one people,” he said.

The president’s appearance was interrupted however, by a man screaming about “God almighty, Jesus Christ” and how Obama “will be destroyed.”

“You will be destroyed. You will be destroyed. You will be destroyed,” the man kept yelling. He was eventually drowned out by the crowd.

“I actually met that guy before. He used the same line,” Obama quipped. “He needs to update his material.”

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan is pirouetting into the Rhode Island gubernatorial race. Kwan is featured in a new ad supporting her husband, Clay Pell, in the state’s Democratic primary.

The 30-second ad titled “Equality” is Kwan’s attempt to appeal to the state’s female voters.

“One of the reasons I’m so excited about my husband, Clay Pell’s candidacy is because Clay is committed to a women’s-equality agenda that strengthens protection for women in areas like pay equity, sexual harassment and domestic violence,” Kwan says in the ad. “Clay knows Rhode Island can be ready for tomorrow by making it one of the best places for women to live and work. Clay believes what I believe: We need equality for all women.”

In a May WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll, Pell placed third among the four Democrats vying for the nomination. Pell trailed behind Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimond with only 12 percent of respondents supporting his candidacy — though 22 percent had yet to make up their minds.

“Throughout her career as an Olympic figure skater, and her time as a public policy envoy with the U.S. Department of State (where she’s served since 2006), Michelle has been a strong advocate for the empowerment of girls through sports, and for women’s rights,” the Pell campaign wrote in a press release Thursday.

The primary election will be held on Sept. 9.

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Official White House photo by Pete Souza(LOS ANGELES) — President Obama’s basketball game isn’t what it used to be, he revealed during a surprise stop for lunch at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles Thursday.

After shaking hands with the people behind the counter at this family-owned landmark, the president talked a little basketball with two older gentleman sitting in a booth.

Asked about his game, Obama told them, “My shot’s broken… My elbow keeps going out.”

Rubbing his shoulder, he told them he probably makes about 80 percent of his shots (free throws, not in a game).

“I get that chicken wing,” Obama said, motioning with his elbow. “I’m just getting old.”

The president then made his way to a booth in the back where he sat with four Americans who wrote him letters, part of his ongoing effort to “meet with folks from across the country to listen to their stories, struggles, and successes, as well as the issues in their lives that matter most,” according to the White House.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is making the rounds — everywhere from the plains of Kansas to the marbled halls of Capitol Hill.

Dole, who celebrated his 91st birthday this week, returned to Capitol Hill for what could be his final legislative push — ratifying an international treaty for people with disabilities.

“This is not a Republican or Democrat treaty. It’s not liberal or conservative,” Dole said at a news conference Wednesday. “As a Republican, I don’t want to see a headline saying ‘Republicans vote against disabled Americans and disabled veterans.’”

In 2012, Dole sat on the Senate floor as he watched a vote to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities fail by just five votes. Dole recounted that moment in an interview with ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny.

“We knew we had an uphill battle, and when my Kansas senators voted against it I knew we were in trouble because one had been a co-sponsor and the other had been for it,” Dole explained. “But again the home-schoolers flooded their phones for days and I can understand why it might have altered their judgment. I don’t agree but that’s their right.”

The home-schooling movement, which helped derail the treaty two years ago, is pushing back against the measure again this year, saying it would impede their ability to home school their children.

In recent months, Dole has embarked on a thank you tour of his home state of Kansas, trying to stop in all 105 counties one last time.

“We’ve been in 63 counties. We have 42 left and I’ve had a lot of cookies and brownies and a lot of lemon bars and a lot of fun,” Dole told Zeleny.

“What are you campaigning for?” Zeleny asked.

“Nothing. That’s what I tell them, I’m just here to thank you,” Dole said.

Dole reflected on the state of the Republican Party, saying there’s a need for greater compromise between Republicans and Democrats.

“You need to compromise sometimes. You need to work across the aisle. We don’t have all the wisdom in our party and they don’t have it all in the Democratic party,” Dole said. “We just need a nominee in 2016 that has an agenda that attracts and resonates with people and that will be a big help.”

“I don’t think we’ve seen the Republican candidate yet. A lot of people want to be president. So did I, think of it!” he added.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Paul Ryan thinks the federal government should stop its habit of treating poverty as a series of isolated problems and start listening to the “boots on the ground,” local community leaders fighting for different results.

On Thursday, Ryan, R-Wis., released an anti-poverty proposal he coined an “Opportunity Grant” that concentrates 11 safety-net programs — food stamps, housing assistance, child care and cash welfare, among them — into a single stream of funding offered to states that agree to the program.

The proposal is budget neutral, meaning states would receive the exact same amount of money for safety-net expenditures as they currently do under law, he told those gathered at the American Enterprise Institute. He believes the grant addresses poverty in a more holistic, “collaborative” way.

“This isn’t your garden variety block grant,” he said.

The speech and a short panel that followed were pitched as a call for economic solidarity.

Arthur Brooks, AEI’s president, told the crowd, “Patriots fight for America, no matter how they vote.”

Here are five ways Ryan believes he can help end poverty:

1. Establish a new spirit of togetherness.

Ryan framed the problem in a language normally unfamiliar to Republicans, incorporating individual enterprise into a group-oriented, populist vocabulary: “The secret of our country’s success is collaboration: people working together, learning together, building together. …The fact is, each person’s needs fit into a coherent whole: a career. And each person fits into a coherent whole: a community.” He told the audience after his speech, “We have a lot of silos that are isolating the poor from our communities,” adding that most people expect their tax money and the federal government to take care of the problem. Ryan’s support for local service providers is supposed to encourage the poor to develop short-, medium-, and long-term plans with help from the providers, using contracts, timelines and rewards for meeting different “benchmarks of success.”

2. Turn anti-poverty measures into a grassroots, bottom-up operation.

Ryan believes his proposal is “reconceiving the federal government’s role” in anti-poverty programs: “No longer will it try to supplant our communities but to support them…the people on the ground. They’re the vanguard. They fight poverty on the front lines. They have to lead this effort and Washington should follow their lead.” He called for an end to the red tape he thinks is holding back low-income families, suggesting that if federal agencies propose any kind of regulation that would negatively affect the poor, they have to see it approved by Congress. A more localized anti-poverty strategy can present a more “personalized, customized form of aid.”

3. Don’t just counsel low-income people and families. Counsel convicts, too.

Instead of punishing non-violent, low-risk criminals with harsh sentences, offer them counseling, job training, and the opportunity to trade prison time for pre-release custody, “as long as they complete a program with a proven track record.” Ryan pointed to the recent Public Safety Enhancement Act, which looks to get ex-cons at risk of re-incarceration out of a life of crime. Those who aren’t crowding the criminal justice system are more likely to contribute to the work force in ways that help combat poverty, he argued.

4. Start accrediting more colleges.

Ryan cited legislation supported by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., which seeks fewer constraints on accrediting universities, vocational schools, and even curricula and individual courses, as a major influence on the Opportunity Grant plan. Ryan’s plan looks to let more schools in on federal oversight normally reserved for four-year institutions. On a panel after his speech, he praised the vocational schools near him in Wisconsin, indicating their stature as in keeping with many four-year institutions that don’t offer formal job-training programs.

5. Use the Earned Income Tax Credit to the advantage of childless workers.

The Earned Income Tax Credit has become a hot issue for reform-minded conservatives looking to appeal to a wider swath of working-class Americans. Ryan suggested doubling the maximum credit for childless workers to $1,005 and lowering the minimum eligibility age from 25 to 21. “This is one of the few programs that have shown results,” he noted. Ryan believes President Obama has wrongly proposed raising taxes to pay for the credit, and Ryan wants to pay for it by “eliminating ineffective programs and corporate welfare, like subsidies to energy companies.” For Ryan, the tax credit is a way to ensure that “it always pays to work.”

On a panel after the speech, Ryan was praised by Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, who co-directs the Brookings Center on Children and Families, and who was a longtime congressional adviser on welfare reform. Haskins believes that almost everything in Ryan’s proposal could garner bipartisan agreement.

“This is a sweeping proposal. It’s worthy of a think tank,” he said. “It’s a spectacular document. I have not seen anything like this from an individual member in Congress for many years.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The House cleared a procedural hurdle on Thursday to set up a showdown between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama next week.

The House Rules Committee voted 7-4 to approve a markup of H. Res. 676, which provides authority to initiate litigation for actions by the president or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States.

Next week, the measure will require a rule before floor consideration by the full House. A vote on the bill is likely to be among the final acts the House takes before lawmakers enjoy a five-week break for the August recess.

Even after the House approves the resolution, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, known as BLAG, would have to meet to vote on the matter. Republicans enjoy a three to two edge on the panel.

BLAG is comprised of the speaker, minority and majority leader, and minority and majority whip. If it happens after July 31, Majority Leader Eric Cantor will not be among the Republicans voting. Instead, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., would slide into the mix after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ascends to majority leader.

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Once upon a time, the Republican governors in the country were unified behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Not anymore.

The unity was fractured this week over Christie’s decision to withhold Republican Governors Association support from New York gubernatorial contender Rob Astorino.

Instead of backing Christie’s decision on the basis that Astorino is lagging in the polls behind incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo, three high-profile GOP governors are breaking with Christie to promote the New Yorker.

News of the split came Thursday morning after Astorino, the county executive in suburban Westchester County, confronted Christie at the RGA summer meeting in Aspen, Colorado. An Astorino aide confirmed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — all possible Christie rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 — have decided to help Astorino by either campaigning or fundraising or both.

Another possible Christie opponent in 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, already held a fundraiser for Astorino last month in New York City. And South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has also pledged to help the man looking to make Cuomo a one-term governor in the Empire State.

“Glad to be with my buddy @RobAstorino in Aspen,” Perry, former head of the RGA, even tweeted, showing off a photo of him with Astorino.

Astorino was confident on Wednesday that once he met with Christie out West he would be able to convince the RGA chairman to support his candidacy. On Thursday, an Astorino aide confirmed the two met last night “very briefly,” revealing the session did not go very well.

“The Aspen trip made it clear that governors from around the nation will be helping County Executive Astorino become Governor Astorino,” spokeswoman Jessica Proud said. “It also made it clear that RGA Chairman Chris Christie will not be among them. We can live with that and we will move on.”

Earlier in the week while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.”

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”

It set off both Astorino and the New York GOP, with Astorino holding a press conference Tuesday saying if Christie is “unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News.

In the same press conference, Astorino even speculated that Cuomo and Christie were scheming over the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration in New Jersey.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Astorino stressed he did not believe he burned any bridges with Christie and instead was confident he could “change his mind.”

New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox is also in Aspen and did not shy away from his anger earlier this week when in a statement he said Christie’s comments indicated he “seems to have forgotten from whence he came,” noting Christie’s successful “underdog challenge” against Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.

The situation is different. A Wall Street Journal/Marist/NBC Four New York poll from earlier this month put Cuomo up 35 points against Astorino. A Quinnipiac University poll from the July before Christie’s election in November 2009 had Christie up 12.

An aide to Cox says he has not yet met with Christie in Aspen, but he did meet with executive director Phil Cox (no relation) and described the meeting as “positive and productive.”

Christie’s office declined to comment.

Word of the internecine turmoil comes the same day as Christie’s hometown newspaper called out the New Jersey governor for being hypocritical in making campaign decisions based on polls. The Star-Ledger of Newark pointed out that Christie has no problem campaigning with New Hampshire’s Walt Havenstein despite his own steep deficit in the polls, considering that the Granite State hosts the first presidential primary in the nation.

“Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York because the cause is hopeless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ahead by more than 30 points. But he will campaign in New Hampshire, over and over, where the Republican is also trailing by more than 30 points. What’s the reason? It may be that New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary. It may be that he doesn’t want to mess with Cuomo, who knows where the skeletons are buried,” the editorial reads.

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Once upon a time, the Republican governors in the country were unified behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Not anymore.

The unity was fractured this week over Christie’s decision to withhold Republican Governors Association support from New York gubernatorial contender Rob Astorino.

Instead of backing Christie’s decision on the basis that Astorino is lagging in the polls behind incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo, three high-profile GOP governors are breaking with Christie to promote the New Yorker.

News of the split came Thursday morning after Astorino, the county executive in suburban Westchester County, confronted Christie at the RGA summer meeting in Aspen, Colorado. An Astorino aide confirmed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — all possible Christie rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 — have decided to help Astorino by either campaigning or fundraising or both.

Another possible Christie opponent in 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, already held a fundraiser for Astorino last month in New York City. And South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has also pledged to help the man looking to make Cuomo a one-term governor in the Empire State.

“Glad to be with my buddy @RobAstorino in Aspen,” Perry, former head of the RGA, even tweeted, showing off a photo of him with Astorino.

Astorino was confident on Wednesday that once he met with Christie out West he would be able to convince the RGA chairman to support his candidacy. On Thursday, an Astorino aide confirmed the two met last night “very briefly,” revealing the session did not go very well.

“The Aspen trip made it clear that governors from around the nation will be helping County Executive Astorino become Governor Astorino,” spokeswoman Jessica Proud said. “It also made it clear that RGA Chairman Chris Christie will not be among them. We can live with that and we will move on.”

Earlier in the week while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.”

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”

It set off both Astorino and the New York GOP, with Astorino holding a press conference Tuesday saying if Christie is “unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News.

In the same press conference, Astorino even speculated that Cuomo and Christie were scheming over the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration in New Jersey.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Astorino stressed he did not believe he burned any bridges with Christie and instead was confident he could “change his mind.”

New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox is also in Aspen and did not shy away from his anger earlier this week when in a statement he said Christie’s comments indicated he “seems to have forgotten from whence he came,” noting Christie’s successful “underdog challenge” against Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.

The situation is different. A Wall Street Journal/Marist/NBC Four New York poll from earlier this month put Cuomo up 35 points against Astorino. A Quinnipiac University poll from the July before Christie’s election in November 2009 had Christie up 12.

An aide to Cox says he has not yet met with Christie in Aspen, but he did meet with executive director Phil Cox (no relation) and described the meeting as “positive and productive.”

Christie’s office declined to comment.

Word of the internecine turmoil comes the same day as Christie’s hometown newspaper called out the New Jersey governor for being hypocritical in making campaign decisions based on polls. The Star-Ledger of Newark pointed out that Christie has no problem campaigning with New Hampshire’s Walt Havenstein despite his own steep deficit in the polls, considering that the Granite State hosts the first presidential primary in the nation.

“Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York because the cause is hopeless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ahead by more than 30 points. But he will campaign in New Hampshire, over and over, where the Republican is also trailing by more than 30 points. What’s the reason? It may be that New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary. It may be that he doesn’t want to mess with Cuomo, who knows where the skeletons are buried,” the editorial reads.

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