BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — He’s one of President Obama’s longest serving members in the cabinet and now he’s stepping down.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Friday he will step down from his position in December, after serving for over seven years.

President Obama will formally announce the decision on Friday afternoon.

Duncan told staff in an email his position as education secretary was “the greatest honor of his life,” but he wanted to return to Chicago to spend more time with his family.

The former secretary will be replaced by Dr. John King Jr., one of his deputies.

Duncan was noted for his Race to the Top program, which had states compete for federal grant money as a way to promote creativity and innovation in the classroom.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK)— Attitudes on gun control are equivocal, even conflicted.

Past heinous gun crimes haven’t shown much, if any impact, on these attitudes. After the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, leaving 15 dead, a Pew poll showed an 8 percent increase in people who favored controlling gun ownership. That swing was erased within a year.

Thirteen years later, the influence was even less noticeable after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children died. Only 2 percent more people favored gun control, with that difference being reversed about 13 months later.

Most U.S. adults support some kind of stricter gun control, but most also are skeptical that such laws will reduce gun deaths, and most see gun ownership as a basic right. These are reasons the issue hasn’t gained higher priority in public attitudes.

In polling this past summer:

  • 88 percent of U.S. adults favored background checks “on all potential gun buyers.” (CBS)
  • 85 percent favored making private sales and gun show sales subject to background checks. (Pew)
  • 70 percent favored a government database to track all gun sales. (Pew)
  • But fewer — 52 percent — favored making gun laws more strict overall. (CBS)
  • 52 percent also thought stricter gun laws would do “a lot” or “some” to help prevent gun violence, but 47 percent thought they’d help “not much” or “not at all.” (CBS)
  • In other words, Americans, by 60-40 percent, said they thought stricter gun control laws would not reduce gun-related deaths, according to a CNN poll.
  • Americans, by 54-40 percent, said gun ownership does more to prevent crime victimization than to put people’s safety at risk. (Pew)
  • And the public is divided about evenly on whether it’s more important to protect gun owners’ rights or to control gun ownership, 47-50 percent. (Pew)

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Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden is still deciding whether to jump into the 2016 presidential race — but how much longer can he go before he’s forced to make the leap?

The “maybe” candidate is benefiting from the speculation in the media for now, but filing deadlines to get on early primary ballots that could force the vice president’s hand are already right around the corner.

The first deadline for Democratic candidates — and perhaps the absolute moment of truth for Joe Biden — is just five weeks away: a Nov. 6 deadline to get on the Alabama ballot. The problem snowballs from there, as Biden stands to miss out on competing for hundreds of delegates if he waits into December, not to mention falling behind on fundraising and missing the first debates.

Pundits are split on how long Biden should — or could — wait to enter the race. People close to Biden say they don’t view the first debate in mid-October as a deadline. Pundits are also split on whether he should jump in soon to begin fundraising and building campaign infrastructure or continue to wait and see whether Clinton’s campaign continues to falter.

So how long is too long to avoid declaring his candidacy? The longer Biden waits, the more he’ll be in danger of missing three things: deadlines, debates and dollars.

Missing the Deadlines

The longer Biden waits to declare his candidacy, the more he’ll struggle to get on the ballot in early primary states.

Just five weeks remain until the first primary deadline on Nov. 6, when candidates need to pay a $2,500 fee and gather 500 signatures to get on the ballot in Alabama. Biden himself will need to sign a statement of candidacy form with the state party. Roughly 60 delegates — a small fraction of the total number of people who will elect the Democratic nominee at the convention next summer — are at stake there, although these delegate counts are yet to be finalized and could change.

So what if Biden opts to sacrifice the Alabama primary in favor of letting the clock tick?

Biden has only 72 hours until the next state deadline comes around: Arkansas. Biden stands to lose his portion of the state’s 37 delegates if he decides not to file by Nov. 9, digging himself further into a hole in the race for accumulating the most delegates. His next deadline comes less than two weeks later on Nov. 20, when candidates must pay a $1,000 filing fee to get on the New Hampshire ballot and vie for its 32 delegates.

Biden would stand to lose the most delegates yet if he hasn’t declared by the Nov. 30 deadline for the Florida primary, which has a whopping 245 delegates up for grabs. And if he waits one more day until after Dec. 1 to declare, he’d miss the deadlines for the primaries in Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee, totaling another 229 delegates.

Waiting this long would bring the grand total that Biden doesn’t pursue to more than 600 of the 4,800 expected total Democratic delegates, digging himself a significant hole from which to come back and be competitive for the nomination.

Missing the Debate

If Biden wants to be onstage for the first Democratic presidential primary debate, CNN is leaving the door wide open. The Vice President has until the day of the debate, Oct. 13, to say he’ll run, CNN says, allowing him to declare his candidacy mere hours before air. Biden wouldn’t even have to fill out paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) beforehand.

And we know that debates matter: On the Republican side, 23 million people watched the second debate as Carly Fiorina rocketed herself into the top tier and Scott Walker fell into the basement.

The first Democratic debate will be one of only six chances that challengers to Clinton have to topple her frontrunner status, and giving one up could prove pivotal down the road. If Biden doesn’t declare before Oct. 13, he’d have to wait more than a month to participate in the next Democratic debate.

Missing the Dollars

Biden is also beginning to fall behind on fundraising, and the longer he waits, the larger the gap between him and the competition grows.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Super PACs raised a whopping $59 million before June, and Bernie Sanders raised almost $14 million in the same time period. Both campaigns announced Wednesday a combined $54 million in campaign fundraising since then.

Biden, meanwhile, isn’t allowed to raise any money for a campaign until he declares his candidacy. Draft Biden had raised only $86,000 by June, largely before speculation that he would run started swirling.

He’ll likely struggle to raise more money until donors are certain he’ll be in the race. And meanwhile, the remaining big donors who haven’t committed to Clinton are getting anxious to settle in with a candidate.

And the campaign cash isn’t the only thing he’s falling behind on. Clinton has built a massive campaign infrastructure with offices and staff, and Sanders is beginning to bulk up his operation. Waiting will require Biden to scramble to build his operation with limited time before the first caucuses and primaries.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate John Kasich will call for the U.S. and its allies to designate no-fly zones in parts of Syria.

According to Kasich campaign spokesman Scott Milburn, Kasich will tie his announcement to Russia’s recent military action within Syria, noting concern over further escalation.

Kasich was scheduled to speak at a press conference in Concord, N.H., at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of a mass shooting Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, a number of presidential candidates took to social media to offer their thoughts and prayers to the victims and their loved ones.

According to ABC News affiliate KATU-TV, there were at least 7 people killed and 20 wounded in the shooting in Roseburg, the station said, citing Oregon State Police Lt. Bill Fugate.

The shooter’s identity has not been released, but police confirmed the shooter was male and is dead.

Jeb Bush was the first to take to Twitter to respond.

“Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy,” he tweeted.

Following her event in Boston, Massachusetts on Thursday, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton expressed disbelief.

“It is just beyond my comprehension that we are seeing these mass murders happen again and again and again,” Clinton told the press. “And as I have said, we have got to get the political will to do everything we can to keep people safe. You know, I know there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence, prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives. And I am committed to doing everything I can to achieve that.”

She also tweeted, “Another devastating shooting. We need sensible gun control measures to save lives, and I will do everything I can to achieve that. -H”

Donald Trump told the Washington Post, the shooting was “absolutely a terrible tragedy.”

“It sounds like another mental health problem. So many of these people, they’re coming out of the woodwork,” Trump said, the Washington Post reported. “We have to really get to the bottom of it. It’s so hard to even talk about these things, because you see them and it’s such a tragedy.”

The former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, the first Democratic candidate to respond, also offered his thoughts.

He tweeted, “My heart is with those who lost so much today in Oregon. -O’M”

During a radio interview on Thursday with Hugh Hewitt, Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that the aftermath of the shootings would lead to more calls for gun control.

“Obviously there are going to be those calling for gun control but that happens every time we have one of these incidents. Obviously that’s not the issue,” Carson said. “The issue is the mentality of these people. And we need to be looking at the mentality of these individuals and seeing if there are any early warning clues that we can gather that will help us as a society be able to identify these people ahead of time.

“What I worry about is when we get to the point and we say we have to have every gun registered, we have to know where the people are, and where their guns are,” he added. “That is very dangerous that I wouldn’t agree with at all.”

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The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama lamented the fact that he was making comments about yet another shooting – this time at a community college in Oregon – saying the process has become “routine” for him and new families who mourn the loss of loved ones.

“There’s been another mass shooting in America,” the president said in the White House briefing room.

“There are more American families – moms, dads, children – whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief – and communities across the country forced to relive their own anguish and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their family or their children.”

“I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again in my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families under these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that,” the president said in the White House briefing room.

The president said that just as his remarks on shootings have become routine, so too have the reactions from politicians and opponents of stricter gun regulations.

“Somebody somewhere will comment and say, ‘Obama politicized this issue.’ Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic,” he said.

Rather than shying away from the political dimension to mass shootings, the president leaned in to it, saying that Thursday’s events were direct products of political decisions – those made by lawmakers and by those who elect them.

“We collectively are answerable to those families, who lose their loved ones because of our inaction,” he said.

In a veiled reference to groups like the National Rifle Association which has opposed most of the president’s efforts to tighten gun purchasing laws, he urged firearms owners to reconsider their affiliation with the group.

“I would particularly ask America’s gun owners, who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, or protecting their families, to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you,” he said.

The shooting, which left at least 20 people dead and injured, according to the governor’s office, took place Thursday morning at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

The identity of the 20-year-old shooter has not been released.

The president has said the failure to pass more stringent gun safety laws is one of the greatest frustrations of his presidency thus far.

“If you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which, we do not have sufficient common-sense gun safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings,” he told the BBC in July.

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Mark Lyons/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ben Carson has been talking about Hitler a lot lately on the campaign trail. Yes, Adolf Hitler.

The retired neurosurgeon and GOP front-runner is attempting to send a clear message to his supporters: Nazi Germany can happen in America.

“I’ve talked in the past about how the people in Nazi Germany did not agree with Hitler. A lot of them didn’t. But did they stand up? Did they say anything? No, they kept their mouths shut and look at the atrocities that occurred,” Carson said, speaking at Berean Baptist Church in North Carolina on Wednesday. “And some people think something like that can’t happen here but think again. Look at the world and all those examples of tyranny, it can happen here.”

He continued: “I mean if people don’t speak up for what they believe, then other people will change things without them having a voice. That’s what I mean. That’s what facilitated [Hitler’s] rise.”

Carson’s campaign acknowledges the political perils associated with speaking of Nazi Germany and Hitler, and concedes that Carson should probably find a better example to make the same point.

“It’s an example [Carson] has been using for years and to be honest with you he needs to find a better example because the problem is as soon as you say Hitler, nobody hears anything else you say,” Campaign Manager Barry Bennett told ABC News. “Its just so evil, so contemptible, that no one can hear anything else.”

Bennett said that Carson is not really talking about Hitler or the Holocaust but rather “talking about how a general population kept their mouth shut.”

“The example is too powerful perhaps,” Bennett said referring to Carson’s rhetoric. “I think that he will find other ways to say the exact same thing.”

Carson himself acknowledged Wednesday that he probably shouldn’t draw the comparison between America and Nazi Germany, but did so nonetheless.

“You know I think back to Nazi Germany — and I know the politically correct police say you are not allowed to say Nazi Germany but I am going to say it anyway because I don’t care what they say,” Carson told a crowd in New Hampshire Wednesday. “And some people say ‘Oh nothing like that could happen in America.’ I beg to differ.”

Carson emphasized that he was not comparing President Obama to Hitler.

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MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — It was May 2012 and Sen. Rand Paul took the stage at a tea party rally in Texas, telling the crowd he wanted to introduce them to a “gentleman” and a “friend” who he joked might be “too smart to be in the U.S. Senate,” but who would take seriously the oath to defend the Constitution. Back then, Paul offered a gushing endorsement of a Texan named Ted Cruz who was in the midst of tough Senate race.

“I want to introduce at this point in time hopefully the next senator from Texas,” Paul told the audience. Cruz shook Paul’s hand, declaring “God Bless Rand Paul.”

It would be one of many times the two men would support each other over the last three and a half years.

But now, in the throes of a presidential campaign that is pitting Cruz and Paul against one another in a crowded field of GOP candidates, their once-supportive relationship appears to be turning into a fierce rivalry. Just this week, the Cruz campaign released a video featuring several libertarian-minded supporters of Paul’s father and former presidential candidate, Ron Paul, who are now backing Cruz. Meanwhile, Paul has publicly criticized Cruz on talk radio.

“They’re in a situation where they’re competing against each other for voters in a way that Jeb isn’t competing against Rand for the same votes,” said Doug Heye, a longtime Republican strategist and former communications director for the Republican National Committee. “When presidential politics enter the equation, a lot of things get thrown out of the window and that’s what we’re seeing now.”

The video released by the Cruz campaign touting the endorsements of one-time Ron Paul supporters, including one Iowa Republican who had been endorsed by Rand Paul, was the opening salvo in the simmering fight between the two men who have the same day job on Capitol Hill.

The video shows interviews with the former Ron Paul supporters as they describe libertarian principles and their love of Ron Paul. They then turn to say why Cruz is the best candidate to carry on Ron Paul’s work. One supporter says that Ron and Rand Paul’s previous endorsement of Cruz in 2012 drew them to Cruz.

“There are a lot of things that impress me about Ted Cruz and the way that he’s really picked up the mantle of Ron Paul in a lot of ways,” says one supporter in the video.

Another says, “I see the same courage of conviction in him that I see in Ron Paul.”

For Ron Paul’s son, who is also fighting to make it to the White House, it’s hard to imagine that those words don’t sting.

The Cruz campaign also formed a coalition called “Liberty Leaders for Cruz,” an effort to appeal to libertarian voters — a clear attempt to poach directly from Rand Paul’s base.

“No one represents the values of liberty better than Senator Rand Paul,” Paul campaign spokesman Sergio Gor said in a statement responding to the moves without mentioning Cruz by name. “While others tout a handful of supporters, the vast majority remain committed to Senator Paul and his fight to restore liberty in 2016.”

The recent sparring between the two senators’ campaigns belies a much more collaborative history in U.S. Senate.

When, in 2013, Paul filibustered for nearly 13 hours against President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Cruz helped the Kentucky senator catch his breath by reading supportive tweets. And six months later in September 2013, when Cruz filibustered against Obamacare for 21 hours, he’d reportedly sought advice from Paul beforehand. Even this year, after both had announced their White House bids, Cruz helped Paul during his more than 10-hour filibuster against the National Security Agency surveillance program. Cruz thanked Paul for his defense of liberty and acknowledged that they didn’t completely agree on the issue.

But this week, after they struck different tones in floor speeches, Paul lashed out at Cruz. During his hour-long speech, he repeatedly bashed Senate leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Cruz accused Speaker of the House John Boehner of cutting side deals with Democrats and said that both McConnell and Boehner had done more to help Democrats than Republicans. Cruz said they “surrender” to President Obama and his priorities. Earlier this summer, Cruz accused McConnell of lying about a vote on the Export-Import Bank.

“Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence he can’t get anything done legislatively. He is pretty much done for and stifled and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem,” Paul told Fox News Radio on Tuesday. “I approach things a little different. I am still just as hardcore in saying what we are doing. I just chose not to call people liars on the Senate floor and it’s just a matter of different perspectives on how best to get to the end result.”

In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio program on Wednesday, Cruz responded to Paul’s comments that he is engaging in personal attacks.

“The attacks he directed at me are not terribly surprising particularly given that Rand campaigned for Mitch McConnell and then Mitch McConnell in turn has endorsed Rand for president,” the Texas senator said. “But I have no intention of responding in kind to Rand’s attacks.”

In the same breath, Cruz referred to Paul as a “friend of mine” and a “good man.”

He went on to say, “None of this is personal. The media loves to characterize it as a battle of personalities, as a soap opera. Look, I think most Americans could care less about a bunch of politicians in Washington bickering like schoolchildren. It doesn’t matter and so if others attack me, I don’t reciprocate. I will not throw rocks.”

And while Cruz may not be throwing the rocks himself, his campaign continues to highlight the Ron Paul supporters who are endorsing him. They issued a second release this week naming more Ron Paul supporters who are standing behind Cruz. Today, Paul’s campaign announced state caucus leaders endorsing the Kentucky senator and on the list was a member of Cruz’s Nevada leadership team.

Though Paul’s comments to Fox New Radio this week were his most blunt to date about his rival, a super PAC supporting the Kentucky senator, America’s Liberty PAC, released a video earlier this year questioning Cruz’s American citizenship and referring to him the “Capitulating Canadian.” (Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother).

The two men continue to fight for traction in this year’s crowded GOP field, but Cruz seems to be faring better in the polls. ABC News’ latest analysis of recent national polls according to the third presidential debate criteria shows Cruz hovering in sixth place with Paul nearly missing the cut in 10th place.

Heye acknowledged that Cruz’s move to appeal to supporters of Paul might pay dividends.

“It’s clear that Paul’s campaign now faces an existential crisis,” Heye said. “Here are a portion of voters that can possibly be picked off and by going after them, you are potentially hastening that fall.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Where will the 2016 presidential candidates be on Thursday? Read below to find out their schedules:

Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal both are in Iowa Thursday. Rubio will hold a town hall in Cedar Falls Thursday evening, while Jindal will hold a town hall in the nearby town of Cedar Rapids.

Mike Huckabee will be in Alabama for four events, including two press conferences in Sylacauga and Selma, a key city during the civil rights movement.

He also has two rallies on his schedule Thursday morning and evening in Florence and Dothan.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore may be cut from the next GOP debate.

Criteria released on Wednesday by CNBC could leave the two Republican presidential candidates off the stage at the next GOP presidential debate on Oct. 28 in Colorado.

In order to gain a spot at the so-called “undercard” debate, Graham and Gilmore need an average of 1 percent in voter support in at least one national poll over the next three weeks. According to an ABC News analysis of recent national polls, neither candidate currently meets the threshold.

Current ABC News projections show that the ten candidates on the main stage two weeks ago would again be on stage for the CNBC’s debate, although more polls over the next three weeks could alter those standings.

Polling averages show that Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Chris Christie will almost certainly make the third debate. But Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul are within one percentage point of missing out on the main stage debate.

The third undercard round would likely only take three candidates: Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Bobby Jindal.

When asked if he was considering dropping out, Graham, who garnered praise for his quips during the second undercard debate, told Whoopi Goldberg on ABC’s The View this week, “No. Hell no, I’m not gonna drop out.”

A Gilmore spokesperson told ABC last week that “the governor is in the race to stay.”

Mainstage debate: (2.5 percent or higher)

1. Trump 23.0%

2. Carson 17.0%

3. Fiorina 11.5%

4. Rubio 9.8%

5. Bush 9.0%

6. Cruz 6.0%

7. Kasich 4.0%

8. Christie 3.8%

9. Huckabee 3.5%

10. Paul 2.8%

Undercard debate: (1 percent in at least one national poll)

11. Santorum 0.8%

12. Pataki <0.6%

13. Jindal <0.6%

Excluded: (did not get 1 percent in at least one national poll)

14. Gilmore <0.5%

15. Graham <0.3%

Polls included: CNN on 9/20, Bloomberg on 9/24, Fox News on 9/24, NBC/WSJ on 9/27.

Some had hoped the third debate criteria would begin to winnow the field of competitors. Earlier this month, RNC Spokesperson Sean Spicer said that it was possible there would be no undercard round during the third debate, telling ABC News that organizers were “seeing how things shake out.” But CNBC opted to keep the lower-tier debate.

“We have the most diverse and experienced field of candidates in history and we applaud CNBC’s efforts to ensure that all of our top candidates will have an opportunity to share their views with the American people,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement.

The previous two Republican debates, hosted by Fox News and CNN, have also had two rounds — an introductory undercard debate for lower-tier candidates and a prime-time debate with 10 or 11 top-tier candidates.

The last two rounds have shown that debates matter: Carly Fiorina’s strong performance in the Fox News undercard debate and her aggressive performance in the CNN debate catapulted her from the low single digits into a top-tier competitor.

Over the last month, two GOP candidates have dropped out of the race. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry struggled to gain any momentum in the polls, marginalizing him to the lower-tier debate. Meanwhile Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fell dramatically from the top of the polls in Iowa to less than 1 percent support nationwide.

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