Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Supporters of Hillary Clinton for president may not have to wait much longer for the former secretary of state to declare her intentions.

The Wall Street Journal
reported Sunday evening that Clinton, 67, and her close advisers are dropping strong hints to potential donors that she may announce her candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination as soon as April.

In this way, Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner, can get a jump on raising an estimated $1 billion her campaign feels will be necessary to win the nomination and presidency.

An April launch will put her supporters’ minds at ease as there have been rumors that Clinton might opt out of a second run White House due to physical concerns and other family considerations.

According to the WSJ, Clinton insider John Podesta, who was part of the Obama White House, is expected to have a major role in the campaign to elect the former first lady.

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday he stands by his statement that Americans are facing fewer daily threats, even though he’s received heavy criticism for his remarks.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on This Week, Kerry explained the rationale behind his claims to Congress earlier this week, which came at the same time Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said this has been the most lethal year for global terrorism.

“Well, I understand,” he said. “Of course I understand it, Martha, because people are thinking about the day-to-day vision of what is happening on the ground in Syria, in Libya, where 21 Coptic Christians had their heads cut off, where a soldier is burned and a pilot in a cage, where American journalists have been beheaded publicly. We understand that.”

“But I still stand by what I said, which is in long terms, compared to the last century, there are, in fact, fewer people dying of the means — that you look at, by state war, violence, health, etc.,” Kerry said.

“But that’s not what’s important,” he continued. “What’s important right now is what James Clapper said. There is an uptick in the level of terrorism and specific incidents of people being killed. And that threat is very, very real. Nobody is trying to minimize it.”

Kerry told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that “despite ISIL, despite the visible killings that you see and how horrific they are, we are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally — less deaths, less violent deaths.”

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Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly(WASHINGTON) — House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Peter King called some members of his Republican caucus “self-righteous and delusional” for opposing a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security on ABC’s This Week Sunday.

“I said the other night, when I was at the Republican meeting, that they are self-righteous and delusional,” King said on This Week of the Republican contingent holding up the bill because of their opposition to President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

“We’re talking about maybe 40 or 50 people at most, out of a caucus of 247, out of a Congress of 435. We cannot allow such a small group to be dominating and controlling what happens in the United States Congress, especially at a time when we’re confronting terrorism,” the New York Republican told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.

House Republicans have tied funding for DHS to legislation that would roll back Obama’s executive orders on immigration, a move King calls “irresponsible.”

“Listen, I am as opposed to this immigration action as they are. But the fact is, it’s essential that we fund the Department of Homeland Security,” King said. “We saw what happened in Denmark, in Paris, what ISIS is doing with the beheadings. We had the people being arrested in New York just the other night. And for these people to be threatening to defund the Department of Homeland Security at a time when our threat streams have never been greater at any time since 9/11, it’s absolutely irresponsible.”

Despite a looming shutdown, the bill to fund the Homeland Security Department has been stalled in Congress for weeks. On Friday night, the House approved a one-week funding extension in order to avoid a partial shutdown, after voting down a longer extension, in a major failure for House Speaker John Boehner.

But King said he maintains his confidence in Boehner’s ability to wrangle his party’s votes, and he called for a “up or down” vote on a clean funding bill this week.

“We have to stand behind John Boehner and John Boehner has to find a way this week, as soon as possible in the week, once Prime Minister Netanyahu finishes his speech, to bring the clean bill to the floor of the House for a vote, an up or down vote. That’s all we’re asking for is democracy. Let that come to a vote,” King said. “There’s no doubt it will pass.”

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak to a joint session of Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry said the prime minister is welcome to speak in the U.S. but worries it injects far too much politics into the relationship.

“The prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously,” Kerry said Sunday in an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week. “I talk to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday.”

But, Kerry added, “we don’t want to see this turned into some great political football.”

Kerry echoed frustrations expressed by the White House that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was inappropriate.

“It was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process,” he said. “But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

But Kerry’s remarks were far more measured than those of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said last week that the speech would be “destructive to the fabric of the relationship.”

The White House has expressed anger with both the Republican-led House of Representatives and with Netanyahu’s office, not only for excluding them from the invitation process, but also for making the invitation so close to Israel’s elections on March 17 and the final stages of a potential American nuclear weapons deal with Iran.

Yet, while departing Israel for Washington, D.C., on Sunday morning, the prime minister seemed to be brimming with confidence. Speaking in Hebrew to reporters at the airport, Netanyahu called it a “crucial and even historical mission.”

“I feel I am representing all the citizens of Israel, even those who do not agree with me,” Netanyahu said. “I feel a deep and sincere concern for the safety of all the citizens of Israel and the fate of the state and the fate of our people. I will do everything in my power to secure our future.”

The prime minister’s critics say he’s too hawkish on Iran and that he’s been warning for decades they are on the cusp of building a bomb. His supporters say a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran won’t work and that the only way to stop them is to punish them with further economic sanctions. Even many House Democrats say that they will vote for further sanctions if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the month.

Kerry told This Week that the negotiations with Iran have benefited Israel.

“Israel is safer today because of the interim agreement that we created,” he said. “The 20 percent enriched uranium has been reduced to zero. We have stopped the centrifuge production. We are inspecting inside of their facilities.”

Kerry also said the defense relationship with Israel has never been stronger.

“We have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history,” he said. “I was reviewing the record the other day – we have intervened on Israel’s behalf, in the last two years, more than several hundred – a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora in order to protect Israel.”

After the interview, Kerry left Washington for Geneva, Switzerland, where he’ll be attempting this week to finalize and nuclear deal with Iran.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — The White House says President Obama would veto a bill requiring congressional approval of any nuclear deal with Iran, as the two sides appear to be making progress toward an agreement.

“The president has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told ABC News. “If this bill is sent to the president, he will veto it.”

Along with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced a bill this week that would allow Congress 60 days to review, and potentially reject, any deal to roll back U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran.

In a statement issued by his office, Corker called the White House’s veto threat “disappointing.”

The framework for the current negotiations calls for an ultimate deal to “lift” nuclear sanctions on Iran, and some observers have concluded that would necessitate an eventual vote from Congress anyway, even if sanctions are only gradually eased in the nearer term.

Negotiations between Iran and world powers including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China have entered their final phase ahead of a March 31 deadline.

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — While House of Cards may have returned for season three on Netflix on Friday morning, the potential Republican candidates at the Conservative Public Action Conference would be loathe to call Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood character their favorite fictional president.

Instead, ABC’s Rick Klein and David Wright asked some of the possible candidates whether they had a preferred fictional commander-in-chief.

“I know he was a Democrat…I know the show was somewhat liberal,” Bobby Jindal said, “but look, I thought the writing on The West Wing was really good.” Former Sen. Rick Santorum agreed, choosing Martin Sheen’s Josiah Bartlet character as his favorite fictional president. “Not an easy choice for someone like me,” Santorum said, adding that “Kevin Spacey’s no conservative as far as I know.”

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, went a different route, choosing Harrison Ford’s butt-kicking character in Air Force One.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Donald Trump both went with a different actor — telling ABC’s David Wright that their favorite president was Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the most obscure choice was the former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s selection of Bill Mitchell, the president played by Kevin Kline in the movie Dave.

Rep. Mia Love from Utah put it simply — “Certainly not Frank Underwood…I’m actually even embarrassed to mention that I’ve seen a couple of episodes of House of Cards, but you know, I think if I could do anything, I would resurrect Ronald Reagan.”

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — While House of Cards may have returned for season three on Netflix on Friday morning, the potential Republican candidates at the Conservative Public Action Conference would be loathe to call Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood character their favorite fictional president.

Instead, ABC’s Rick Klein and David Wright asked some of the possible candidates whether they had a preferred fictional commander-in-chief.

“I know he was a Democrat…I know the show was somewhat liberal,” Bobby Jindal said, “but look, I thought the writing on The West Wing was really good.” Former Sen. Rick Santorum agreed, choosing Martin Sheen’s Josiah Bartlet character as his favorite fictional president. “Not an easy choice for someone like me,” Santorum said, adding that “Kevin Spacey’s no conservative as far as I know.”

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, went a different route, choosing Harrison Ford’s butt-kicking character in Air Force One.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Donald Trump both went with a different actor — telling ABC’s David Wright that their favorite president was Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the most obscure choice was the former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s selection of Bill Mitchell, the president played by Kevin Kline in the movie Dave.

Rep. Mia Love from Utah put it simply — “Certainly not Frank Underwood…I’m actually even embarrassed to mention that I’ve seen a couple of episodes of House of Cards, but you know, I think if I could do anything, I would resurrect Ronald Reagan.”

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Rick Perry (L): ABC/Matthew Putney Rick Santorum (R): ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) — It isn’t something you see every day: Two potential 2016 contenders bro-ing out.

But it happened Friday when former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum unexpectedly hugged it out in the halls at CPAC.

“Ricky! Don’t run off!” Perry shouted at Santorum in between interviews. “How are you brother? The only other guy I can call Ricky.”

The two men campaigned against each other for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but on Friday, there was no tension between Perry and Santorum despite the fact they may face off again in the next election.

“This is one of the good things that happened from the last campaign,” Santorum said of his friendship with the Texas governor.

Perry asked Santorum to pray for his new granddaughter who was born Friday morning, and Santorum’s children waded through the crowd to tell the former governor hello.

When they parted ways, Perry said to Santorum, “Love you brother.”

While the interaction was surprisingly friendly, there’s no telling if that same spirit will find its way to the debate stage if the two run against each other again in 2016.

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Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby said at Friday’s press briefing that the U.S. was not putting pressure on Iraqi forces to be ready for an offensive against ISIS militants in Mosul.

Asked whether a timeline that would lead to a spring offensive in Mosul was realistic, Kirby said that he feels it would be unfair to describe the situation as “the Pentagon or the military…pushing the Iraqis on any specific timeline.”

“I think the most general that I’ve been willing to go,” Kirby said, “is that we were looking at roughly the spring timeframe. I never pinned it down to a month,” he noted.

“Number two,” Kirby added, “we’re not pushing or aggressively trying to nudge them towards a faster timeline than they’re going to be ready.” He also said that the U.S. would “work with them and make sure that they’re ready on their timeline.”

“With the exception of the Iraqis, nobody has a greater stake in the ultimate success of operations inside Iraq, particularly in a place like Mosul, than the Pentagon,” Kirby explained.

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DHS(WASHINGTON) — Lawmakers narrowly avoided a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security and furloughing thousands of employees Friday when they reached a last-minute deal to approve a one-week funding measure for the department.

Just two hours before the midnight deadline, the House voted 357 to 60 to fund the department for one week. The Senate passed the measure earlier in the evening by a voice vote.

Less than one hour before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent her Democratic colleagues a letter urging them to advance the seven-day measure.

Though the department will be funded, the one-week measure will set up a new round of fighting for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The dysfunction that has become all too familiar on Capitol Hill was on full display today as the House earlier failed to secure enough votes to pass a short-term funding bill that would have kept the department open for three weeks.

That last-minute strategy proposed by House Republicans failed with a vote of 203 to 224. Fifty-two Republicans opposed the measure while 12 Democrats supported it.

President Obama held a meeting in the Oval Office late Friday with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and OMB Director Shaun Donovan to discuss the potential shutdown, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. The president personally phoned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to receive an update on the situation.

The evening’s drama rounds out months of fighting between Democrats and Republicans over the funding. Republicans have wanted to link any funding for the department to immigration. Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year while also blocking President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

But Democrats opposed that plan, instead pushing for a clean funding bill. Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a clean funding measure with a vote of 68 to 31 to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30.

“We passed a full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said. “It means we did our job so that those men and women working in every agency can do their job to protect America. The Senate has done its job. Now, the House has to do its job.”

Lawmakers will now have one week to hammer out their differences on the funding and immigration. If not, the Department of Homeland Security will have to furlough approximately 40,000 workers. But 80 percent of its 240,000-person workforce would be required to work without pay.

That figure includes 40,000 Customs and Border Protection officers, 5,000 Transportation Security Administration security screeners, and 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

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