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President Obama Surprised by Boehner Resignation: ‘He’s a Good Man’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama remarked Friday on the announcement of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to resign, saying, “John Boehner is a good man.”

“It took me by surprise,” Obama said, saying upon learning the news he called Boehner directly. “We have obviously had a lot of disagreements and politically we are at different ends of the spectrum, but he has always conducted himself with the courtesy and civility with me.”

Obama made his remarks during a news conference in the Rose Garden alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in town for a state visit.

“The one thing I will say is that my hope is there’s a recognition on the part of the next speaker,” Obama said. “We can have significant differences on issues, but that doesn’t mean you shut down the government, that doesn’t mean you risk the full faith and credit of the United States.”

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Meet the Congressman Who Drank from the Pope’s Glass

Courtesy of Rep. Bob Brady(WASHINGTON) — During his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis paused to sip from a glass of water by his side.

Once Pope Francis’ speech was finished, as he stepped down from his podium on the House floor to walk towards the exit, Congress members swarmed, attempting to touch the Holy Father.

But there was one congressman headed in the other direction. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pennsylvania, bee-lined for the podium, picked up the glass Pope Francis drank out of, and brought it back to his office.

“The congressman is a Catholic and has immense respect for the Holy Father,” Rep. Brady’s Chief of Staff Stan White told ABC News.

There, Brady drank from the water, his office confirmed, and shared it with members of his staff, his staff assistant, who is devoutly Catholic, and his wife, Debra Brady.

Courtesy of Rep. Bob BradyRep. Brady “was immensely moved by the speech. He thought the Holy Father spoke to issues he cared deeply about … especially caring about the poor and the Holy Father’s concern about our environment,” White told ABC News.

The congressman kept the remainder of the water and plans to sprinkle some on his grandchildren.

Brady, who represents part of Philadelphia, is looking forward to the pope’s visit to the City of Brotherly Love, according to his press office. The congressman plans on attending the Holy Mass and listening to the pope’s speech during the weekend that the pope is in Philly.

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Five Issues Looming Large over Chinese President’s State Visit

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The visit of Pope Francis to Washington this week brought pomp and circumstance to the White House along with cheers and chants from massive crowds throughout the nation’s capital.

However, it largely overshadowed what will no doubt be a more tense, and arguably more critical meeting between two world powers when Chinese President Xi Jinping joins President Obama at the White House on Friday.

At a time when relations between the two countries is seen by many experts as its most adversarial in decades, here are five of the top issues looming over Xi’s state visit.

CYBER WARFARE

One of the most glaring issues at the forefront of Xi’s first White House visit is allegations of cyber-espionage between the two nations.

It was only Tuesday that White House officials confirmed no sanctions would be brought against China ahead of Xi’s visit, though those same officials said sanctions are certainly still on the table once the Chinese leader leaves Washington.

The White House has still not publicly blamed the Chinese for the hack on the Office of Personnel Management that compromised 21.5 million Americans’ Social Security numbers and other sensitive information. But that isn’t stopping President Obama from publicly calling out the Chinese government for its hacking practices against American businesses and the U.S. government.

“This isn’t a mild irritation. It is an economic and national security concern to the United States,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Monday. “As my critics allege, I am rather direct. I assure you that President Obama will be just as direct when he sees President Xi.”

The issue has even escalated to the point where American officials have made arrests of Chinese citizens charging them with spying or hacking, and just this past week Chinese officials their investigation of an American woman being held in China over suspicion she threatened national security.

Xi sought to apply some bandage to the issue during a visit to Seattle earlier this week, saying hacking against government networks constitutes a crime that “must be punished in accordance with the law.”

THE SOUTH CHINA SEA CONFLICT

The U.S. has also raised issue with what it has classified as China’s “destabilizing activities” in the disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Through satellite images and spy plane missions, the world has watched as China has raised islands, paved runways and stationed ships in the waters, also a key trade route for U.S. ships.

The Pentagon has been one of the harshest critics of China’s island building, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter warning of the “potential for these activities to increase the risk of miscalculation or conflict” and calling for “an immediate and lasting halt.”

In a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies over Xi’s visit, Bonnie Glaser said she believed it would be “the most contentious issue” between the two presidents.

“The Chinese I talked to, both civilian and military, say that they have invested very heavily in these artificial islands and they are going to complete their plans,” Glaser said. “The only thing that is potentially up …read more […]

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Mike Huckabee Takes on Rainbow-Colored Doritos

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has a new enemy: Doritos Rainbows.

After Frito-Lay this month said it would mail rainbow-colored Doritos chips to consumers who donate money to the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit helping the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Huckabee went on the offense against the snack-maker.

In a letter his campaign said he sent Frito-Lay on Tuesday, Huckabee said Dan Savage, the man behind the group benefiting from the bags, has for years made “very hateful and vulgar comments toward Christians” and called “for violence and injury to people he disagrees with.”

The letter follows one four days earlier in which Huckabee first asked Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo that produces Doritos, to stop raising money for Savage’s project, according to Huckabee’s campaign, which said Thursday he had yet to receive a response to either one.

Huckabee and the outspoken gay rights activist and commentator, who created the It Gets Better Project, have had a stormy relationship for years.

Savage has long targeted Huckabee for what he believes are the latter’s homophobic views — often using sexually explicit and graphic language to attack the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister — while Huckabee as recently as Saturday called Savage “one of the most vile, vicious, violent and vulgar individuals in an organization I’ve ever met.”

“It is beyond me to understand how a responsible corporation would think that partnering with someone who spews the vicious vitriol that Savage does would be worthy of your corporate contributions,” Huckabee wrote in his Tuesday letter after the Pride flag-inspired chips became available. In his earlier letter, Huckabee suggested Frito-Lay may not have fully vetted Savage, saying he was “not one to hastily call for a national boycott of a company that may have not adequately researched an affiliation.”

The It Gets Better Project works to “communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them,” according to its website.

All of the Pride flag-inspired, limited-edition Doritos Rainbows bags had been claimed as of this week, after Frito-Lay received an “incredible amount of support,” it said on the chips’ website.

Huckabee, in his letter this week, provided a link to comments in which Savage used vulgar, sexually explicit language to attack Huckabee, advised Frito-Lay management to watch it and “ask if it represents the values and views of Frito-Lay.” He referred to Savage’s project as a “hate group.”

Savage, Frito-Lay and the It Gets Better Project did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

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Jeb Bush Talks Message of Hope, Says ‘Free Stuff’ Won’t Win Over Black Voters

ABC News(MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.) — Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush emphasized his plan of winning over black voters with his message and not “free stuff,” during a speech in South Carolina Thursday night.

Bush, speaking at the annual shrimp dinner of the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club, speculated that increasing their share of the black vote could help the Republican Party win swing states such as Ohio and Virginia.

Bush was asked by a man in the crowd how he would attract black votes, noting the mostly-white crowd that had gathered to hear Bush speak Thursday. “Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” Bush said, according to the Washington Post. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff.”

The Post also said that Bush threw barbs at some of his fellow presidential candidates, calling Donald Trump a “hypocrite” and bluntly responding “no” when asked whether he would join Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s call to defund planned parenthood even if it requires a government shutdown. Bush also called Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders a “crazy guy from Vermont.”

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John Boehner to Resign from Congress By End of October

Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Speaker of the House John Boehner announced in a conference on Friday morning that he will resign from Congress at the end of October.

The announcement was shared with members of the Republican caucus Friday morning, one day after a historic visit of Pope Francis to Capitol Hill, which Boehner helped facilitate.

Boehner has been under pressure from the right wing of his party as the coming battle over government funding heats up. Some lawmakers have mounted a challenge to unseat him from his leadership post.

“Speaker Boehner believes that the first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution and, as we saw yesterday with the Holy Father, it is the one thing that unites and inspires us all,” an aide to Boehner told ABC News.

“The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution,” the aide said.

Boehner, first elected to Congress in 1990, intended to step down last year, but changed that plan when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. lost in his primary.

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Cyber Chief Points to Weakness in Private Email

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The nation’s cyber warfare chief and Director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Mike Rogers, said he would see it as an “opportunity” if he knew a foreign leader was using a private email account to conduct government business.

Testifying in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday, Rogers took questions about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server from Republican Senator Tom Cotton.

“If an NSA employee came to you and said, ‘hey boss we have reason to believe Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lvov or Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is conducting official business of a private server,’ how would you respond?” asked Cotton.

Rogers said that “from a foreign intelligence perspective that represents opportunity.”

On Tuesday night, Clinton suggested to the Des Moines Register that her server may have been more secure than the State Department’s.

“There is no evidence at all that my server was breached and in the State Department we had constant barrages, attacks,” Clinton said.

She even used the example of the failed Obamacare website launch to argue that the government is “woefully behind technically.”

“It’s really hard when you are running a government in 2015 that is not yet in the 21st century,” Clinton said.

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Bernie Sanders Climbs to Double-Digit Lead Over Hillary Clinton in NH

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Bernie Sanders is pulling away in the polls in New Hampshire.

The Vermont senator has opened up a wide, 16-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR/UNH poll released Thursday night.

Sanders garnered 46 percent support from likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, his highest support in the state yet this election cycle. Clinton earned only 30 percent support, her lowest in the state.

Over the last six weeks, Sanders has surged up 10 points, while Clinton has dropped 12 points.

It’s part of a larger downward trend for Clinton over the last several months, as her use of a personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state continues to dominate the headlines. Her leads in both Iowa and New Hampshire have disappeared.

Still, Clinton maintains a strong lead over Sanders nationally. Two national polls released Thursday morning from Fox News and Quinnipiac show Clinton ahead by 14 and 18 points, respectively.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is still considering entering the 2016 presidential race, received 14 points in the new poll. But New Hampshire voters are split 37-32 percent on whether they think he should run or not.

But it’s very early in the race: Only a quarter say they have made up their minds on a candidate and almost half say they are still trying to decide who to support.

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Boy’s Message for Ben Carson: ‘I Will Become First Muslim President’

Shukri Abukar(EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.) — Yusuf Dayur, a 12-year-old boy from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has a message he wants presidential candidate Ben Carson to hear.

“I will become the first Muslim president!” Dayur declares in a video that his mother, Shukri Abukar, uploaded to Facebook and YouTube. “And you will see that when I become president, I will respect people of all faiths, all colors and all religions.”

The middle-schooler’s father, Hassan Mohammed, told ABC News that Dayur felt compelled to make the video after he heard Carson would not support a Muslim as president of the U.S.

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson told NBC’s Meet the Press.” “I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Mohammed said his son “absolutely does not agree” with Carson and that he was “blown away” when he watched his son in the video that was recorded this past Monday.

“He represented himself in such a professional way,” Mohammed said. “I wasn’t expecting a 12-year-old to be able to respond to a presidential candidate this way. He’s brilliant.”

In the video, Dayur starts by asking Carson a series of questions.

“Mr. Carson, what if someone told you that you couldn’t become president because of your color?” he asks. “What if someone told you that you couldn’t become president because of your race? What if someone told you that you couldn’t become president because of your faith? That’s what you did to me.”

He adds that Carson “shattered” his dreams when he said he didn’t believe a Muslim should be president.

“People would say that black people couldn’t become president,” Dayur says. “Guess what? I’m black and I’m Muslim. I will break that Muslim boundary. I will become the first Muslim president.”

Mohammed says his son is serious and plans to begin his political career as president of his high school.

ABC News has reached out to Ben Carson’s campaign for comment.

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What the White House Will Serve at Lavish State Dinner for Chinese President

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Despite the rising tension between the U.S. and China over issues like cyber espionage and intellectual property theft, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a lavish State Dinner at the White House Friday night as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official State Visit.

“The State Dinner I think represents good smart diplomacy,” Daniel Kritenbrink, senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, said . “It allows the President and Mrs. Obama to reciprocate for the tremendous hospitality that President Xi and Madame Peng extended to the president and the first family in China last year. Second, it enables us to continue the important discussion that will have taken place earlier in the day.”

Held in honor of President Xi and First Lady Madam Peng Liyuan, the 200 guest soiree will take place in the East Room of the White House with elaborate decorations prominently featuring roses — a “flower that is precious to the east and west,” which will serve as the emblem for the State Dinner, the White House says. Tables seating ten people will feature large floral centerpieces with pink and orange hued roses. The Sphinx Organization String Quarter from Detroit, Michigan will entertain guests as they arrive for the dinner while Grammy Award-winning singer Ne-Yo will perform for guests following their meal.

Guests will dine on a mouth-watering four-course meal crafted and prepared by Guest Chef Anita Lo, a first generation Chinese American and chef and owner of Annisa in New York City, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison.

“You want to represent the hostess and the host of the dinner but then at the same time you want to give honor to the guests who are coming in,” Comerford said during a preview of the dinner. “We thought having a very wonderful American dish that’s complimented with Chinese flavor would give us a great feel of like marrying both of the flavors and cuisines.”

The Autumn-inspired menu will feature ingredients harvested from the White House Kitchen Garden as well as local farmers. Pumpkin, which Comerford says the president enjoys, will be featured in several of the dishes.

To start, guests will nibble on canapés reminiscent of a dim sum cart — including pork bao, oysters flown in from Washington, and pickeled bitter melon beef. Guests will then dive into their first course — a consommé of wild mushrooms grown at local farms from, finished with slivers of squash from the White House Kitchen Garden, crisped squash seeds and drizzled pumpkinseed oil.

Next up: the fish course, which will include Maine lobster with traditional rice noodles from a local noodle maker in Washington, D.C. rolled with spinach, leeks and mushrooms — all topped off with lobster reduction and tomalley butter. The guests will then turn to the main course — a Grilled Cannon of Colorado Lamb accented with garlic fried milk and sautéed …read more […]