Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican address, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois spoke of the ongoing need to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Kirk, the co-author of sanctions legislation in the Senate, said the United States and its negotiating partners in the nuclear talks must continue to use strong economic pressure on Iran to prevent the country from getting nuclear weapons.

“‘Lately, Iran has tried to backtrack on the promises they made to President Obama,” said Kirk. “Iran now wants sanctions immediately lifted which would fund Iran’s terror subsidiaries with billions. Secretary Kerry testified before the Senate and said it would only take two more months to build a bomb.”

Kirk argues that the current economic sanctions are what forced Iran back to the negotiating table.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello I’m Senator Mark Kirk, I’m honored to represent the people of Illinois in the Senate.

I’m here today to talk about my work to ensure that the next generation of Americans never has to hear about a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf.

Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror.

Iran’s Aytatollah’s are now trying to build their own nuclear weapons.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to annihilate Jewish families across the state of Israel.

Four years ago I authored a bipartisan Iran sanctions Legislation that passed the Senate by a vote of 100-0.

These sanctions forced Iran back to the negotiating table.

They were so effective that they dropped the value of Iran’s currency by ¾.

This was probably the entire reason why the Iranians even showed up at the negotiations.

Lately, Iran has tried to backtrack on the promises they made to President Obama.

Iran now wants sanctions immediately lifted which would fund Iran’s terror subsidiaries with billions.

Secretary Kerry recently testified before the Senate and said it would only take two more months for Iran to build a bomb.

We must use strong economic pressure on Iran to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons.

Stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons is the greatest challenge to peace in our time.

After the Holocaust we promised ‘never again.’

We must keep terrorists from hurting our allies and our nation.

Thank you for listening and God Bless the United States of America.

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marcnorman/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to presidential politics, there’s more than one kind of primary. There are the ones that happen in the states (such as the New Hampshire primary), the one that happens behind-the-scenes (the money primary) and the one that happens in the media (the perception primary).

Introducing the Chipotle primary.

Yes, the early weeks of the 2016 presidential race may be remembered as a moment when the candidates and potential candidates faced a barrage of questions about burritos.

It all started with Hillary Clinton’s pit stop at an Ohio branch of the Mexican fast food chain on her recent road trip to Iowa. She ordered a chicken burrito bowl with guacamole, a chicken salad and a drink. Her aide forked over $21 for meal and reportedly kept the change, leaving nothing for the tip jar.

Now, it’s officially become something candidates and potential candidates for the White House — repeat, the White House — have to talk about.

In Manchester, New Hampshire, where Marco Rubio was campaigning for president on Friday, the Florida senator was asked whether he tipped during his own recent visit to a Chipotle restaurant in Washington, D.C.

“I’m sure we did. We always tip,” Rubio explained to reporters. “My dad was a service sector worker.”

(The Rubio campaign later clarified that an aide paid for the senator and was in a rush without cash and didn’t tip. But Rubio wasn’t aware no tip was left until the aide ‘fessed up to it).

So it goes.

On Thursday night, at an event in Concord, New Hampshire, reporters pressed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the all-but-declared presidential hopeful, whether he had ever eaten there.

“Do I go there? Yeah, I go there. The one on US 1. Drive my own car, park my own car, get out of my own car,” he said. “Get Chipotle, take it home.”

Pressed even further about his tipping practices, Bush shrugged, and gave a quick nod.

But he suggested it was all a moot point: “We normally cook our own food, my own Mexican food at home. It’s pretty good.” (No tipping required).

So, presidential candidates, who’s up next in the burrito line?

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former first lady Laura Bush provided new details about former President George W. Bush’s much-discussed painting hobby during an interview with ABC News, saying that the couple has had an artist’s studio constructed at their ranch in Texas and that her husband’s latest project is a “big series of prickly pear cactus.”

“It’s been a lot of fun for him, very engaging, I think, painting is,” she said during an interview conducted last week. “And now that we have the new studio at the ranch, we can — he can paint there more.”

The topic came up as Laura Bush and ABC News’ Jonathan Karl took a brief tour of the newly renovated White House Visitor’s Center on Pennsylvania Avenue, just down the street from the White House. The two had just viewed a photo on display of her preparing for the first White House State Dinner in September 2001 with then-Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Bush said her husband, who “has teachers,” might give one of his cactus paintings to Karen Hughes, who served in the Bush administration, for her house in Santa Fe.

A self-portrait done by the former president leaked online following the hacking of a relative’s email account in 2013. Later that year, Bush told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he loved to paint and that it changed his life in an “unbelievably positive way.”

The former first lady, sitting down with Karl, discussed her post-White House life, said the “chef” was the thing she missed most about living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and recalled fond memories of walks abound Washington’s tidal basin, a picturesque spot resplendent with cherry blossoms this time of year.

She enjoyed “driving in now and seeing the cherry blossoms,” she said. “And when we lived here, when we lived in the White House, I had a friend and we’d walk real early in the morning around the tidal basin under the cherry blossoms before any other walkers were out.

“I miss that,” she added. “Washington is a beautiful city. It’s like a big national monument. I miss the city of Washington, for sure.”

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama used unusually blunt rhetoric on Friday regarding the fierce opposition from his own party in Congress to the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“Being opposed to this new trade agreement is essentially a ratification of the status quo, where a lot of folks are selling here but we’re not selling there,” Obama said at a bilateral meeting with the Italian Prime Minister.

The president pointed to Japan, a negotiator in the agreement, and the fact that while DC’s streets are flooded with Japanese vehicles you’d be hard pressed to find a Chrysler in Tokyo.

“There’s going to be a set of democratic senators and house members who traditionally have just, on principle, opposed trade because the unions have just on principle, regardless of what the provisions are, have opposed trade. And then there are others like me who believe we cannot stop a global economy at our shores,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re writing the rules so that we have a level playing field.”

The president called the TPP’s financial and environmental protections the “most progressive agreement” in trade history and that the trade promotion authority he seeks in Congress to pass it would afford him the same privilege enjoyed “every president in the post-war era, which the exception of Richard Nixon, has received.”

The president also lashed out against Congress for the lack of progress on Lynch’s confirmation, what he called a “crazy situation” and “embarrassing,” particularly in light recent bipartisan cooperation on other hot button issues, like the TPP.

“There’s no reason for it,” Obama said, after noting she had already twice been confirmed by the same body for previous jobs. “Nobody can describe a reason for it beyond political gamesmanship in the Senate on an issue that’s completely unrelated to her.”

“There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough,” he said.

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vichie81/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Paul Kuntzler said that when he and nine other people picketed the White House 50 years ago on Friday, protesting the government’s treatment of gays and lesbians, he could not imagine how far the gay rights movement would come in five decades.

That protest on April 17, 1965, is believed to the first gay rights demonstration, advocates say.

“It was so revolutionary,” Kuntzler, 73, said. “It had never been done before anywhere in the world. We all wore coat and ties and we all had pseudonyms.”

At the time they felt they had to use made-up names to protect their identities, he said.

“I wasn’t scared,” said Kuntzler, who had moved from Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, to Washington three years before. “I was intrigued by the idea. But I was intimidated by all the photographers. I was only 23. And as they came across the street they started photographing us. Every time I approached the cameras, I hid behind my sign because I was unnerved by the whole thing. But I don’t think I was scared. I was very open and proud of being gay.”

The group was mostly fighting for gays and lesbians to keep their government jobs. Fifty years later, Kuntzler, who spent his life working for gay rights, is astonished by how the country has evolved and the strides the community has made.

“My sign read, ’15 million homosexuals protest federal treatment.’ It reflected what I thought,” said Kuntzler, who was working as a brick and tile trade associate at the time.

“We could not conceive then the astonishing progress we would eventually make as a community,” the Washington resident said. “The idea that gay people, gay men and women, could work openly in the government and serve in the military. It was beyond our imagination.

“The concept of gay marriage — we didn’t even conceive of the idea. Now the Supreme Court is getting ready to rule and it’s legal in 37 states including D.C.”

For others, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like if it weren’t for the pioneers at the White House picket like Kuntzler, Barbara Gittings or Frank Kameny, who all went on to be leaders in the gay rights movement.

“It’s awesome to say, as a 52-year-old lesbian, that I have a daughter — as if it’s such a simple thing,” said Ellen Kahn, head of the Children, Youth and Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign. “When Barbara Gittings protested in front of the White House, LGBT people couldn’t imagine getting married, having children, and being out and protected at work.”

For Kuntzler there is a sense of accomplishment.

“I never thought it would happen way back then,” Kuntzler says. “I was never terribly interested in advancing myself but in advancing the community. I was able to accomplish that.”

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Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama appeared on Friday to have softened his position on a key element of the Iran nuclear deal: When sanctions would be lifted.

The White House has consistently said that under any nuclear agreement, sanctions must be lifted gradually as the Iranians demonstrate they are complying with the agreement.

The topic of sanctions has been described by the White House as a key element of the deal, and an answer to critics who say Iran cannot be trusted.

After the interim agreement was reached on April 2, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei insisted sanctions must be lifted immediately and the timing of sanctions relief emerged as a major sticking point to reaching a final deal.

At his joint press conference on Friday with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, President Obama was asked directly about this and, for the first time, he did not rule out lifting sanctions immediately.

In a long answer, the President said reaching a final agreement will take “some creative negotiations” and suggested that the timing of sanctions relief is less important than having the ability to re-impose sanctions if Iran does not comply with its part of the deal.

“Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” said President Obama.

Previously the White House has been emphatic that there would be no deal unless sanctions are lifted gradually.

“It’s very clear and understood that sanctions relief will be phased,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said just last week. “The fact of the matter is, we have a framework. The president has said if the details don’t bear out, we won’t have a deal.”

The President also seemed to soften the U.S. position on another key Iranian issue: the purchase of the S-300 missile defense system from Russia.

The United States has strenuously objected to this because the system would help Iran defend its nuclear facilities from a military strike.

On Friday, President Obama seemed to suggest the sale of the system, which Russia says is about to go through, is no big deal and that he is “frankly surprised” the sale did not happen earlier.

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Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton’s campaign road trip continues next week. This time, she’s headed East.

After spending several days road tripping across the country this week and campaigning in Iowa, Clinton’s second official trip as a presidential candidate will take her to New Hampshire Monday.

According to her campaign, Clinton will take part in “roundtables of students, educators and employees of a New Hampshire small business,” as well as “private meetings with elected officials, activists, and community leaders from across the state.”

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(NASHUA, N.H.) — New Hampshire Republicans are hosting this weekend’s First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit.

The two-day event begins Friday in Nashua, Hew Hampshire, and will feature speeches by many prospective presidential candidates, including the three senators that have already announced they’re running: Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio.

Other potential candidates who will appear at the event event include Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, and Scott Walker.

The sold-out event has been described by the Washington Post as a “festival of political speechmaking” that was “designed to formally kick off the 2016 presidential campaign in the early primary state.” The newspaper reports that the summit’s name, advertised as the #FITN Republican Leadership Summit, refers to New Hampshire’s standing as the location of the first in the nation presidential primary.

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Charles Sykes/NBC(CONCORD, N.H.) — When it comes to Mexican food, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush doesn’t need a campaign stop to stock up — he cooks it himself.

“I actually cook it at home. I don’t need to go to Chipotle,” Bush said at a Republican gathering at the Snow Shoe Club when asked whether he goes to the burrito restaurant.

Though he didn’t mention Hillary Clinton by name, Bush was clearly aware of her recent pit stop to the Mexican fast food chain on her road trip across the country, taking the opportunity Thursday night to take a not so subtle jab at the former secretary of state.

“Do I go there? Yeah, I go there. The one on US 1. Drive my own car, park my own car, get out of my own car,” he said. “Get Chipotle, take it home.” (Notably when Bush left the event Thursday night, he sat in the passenger’s seat of the black SUV that awaited him).

“But we normally cook our own food, my own Mexican food at home. It’s pretty good,” he said.

Bush has previously talked about his love of cooking Mexican food, saying he makes a “really good guacamole.”

In other food related news, Bush broke his Paleo diet at the “Politics and Pie” themed event, gleefully shoveling fork after fork of blueberry pie into his mouth. Bush was unapologetic about his blatant breach of the Paleo rules.

“This is a total violation,” he said. “To hell with the diet. Where are the French fries?”

And it’s looking more and more like Bush isn’t a strict adherent of the Paleo diet. He acknowledged to ABC News that he does indeed enjoy a non-Paleo friendly glass of wine from time to time.

“Actually, I drink wine in the evenings sometimes, and that’s not Paleo either,” he said.

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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson(WASHINGTON) — President Obama ditched the Oval Office for the Rose Garden on a beautiful Thursday afternoon to sign into law a rare bipartisan achievement: a permanent change to how Medicare pays doctors, ending years of annual fights over looming cuts to reimbursements.

With his signature at the White House picnic table, Obama blocked a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments that was set to take effect this month and had many doctors threatening to leave the program and dump patients.

The law also provides financial incentives for physicians to bill Medicare patients for their overall care, not individual office visits. It also extends for two years the Children’s Health Insurance Program for low-income kids.

“Not only does this legislation permanently fix payments to doctors, but it also improves it,” Obama said. “What it starts doing is encouraging payments based on quality and not the number of tests that are provided or the number of procedures that are applied, but whether or not people actually start feeling better. It encourages us to continue to make the health care system smarter, without denying service.”

Obama said he’d be hosting a reception for lawmakers in the coming days to celebrate the bipartisan achievement.

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