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Donald Trump Defends Himself After ‘Muslim’ Incident

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump today defended himself from appearing to let an audience member slide with his claims about President Obama’s religion and nationality earlier this week.

Trump has been criticized by fellow candidates and the White House regarding the incident, which happened during a town hall in New Hampshire Thursday. A man told Trump that Muslims were a “problem in this country” and that the president was not an American.

Trump tweeted Saturday he wasn’t “morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him.”

“If someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me to the president, do you really think he would come to my rescue? No chance!” he continued.

The man went on to ask Trump: “But anyway, we have training camps brewing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of it?”

Trump, who is leading in Republican polls, did not address the comment about the president and said simply, “We’re going to be looking into a lot of different things.”

Trump’s campaign said after the event he had difficulty understanding the question and was referring to the mention of training camps.

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DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Heckled

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Democratic National Commission (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was heckled during her remarks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party annual convention, from people calling for more debates.

The heckling began as Wasserman-Schultz said that the Democrats have a debate planned in Manchester in December.

Protestors chanted, “We want debates! Debates! More debates!”

Many people simultaneously held up bright orange signs that read “More debates = More votes for DEMOCRATS.”

In response to the heckling, Wasserman-Schultz said, “Come on folks. We are all on the same side. So let’s make sure we are focused on the Republicans. We should not be arguing amongst ourselves. We have a job to do. We have a president to elect.”

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Trump Reacts to Obama/Muslim Comment, Huckabee Chimes In

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump is coming under fire for not correcting a questioner from the audience at town hall event who said President Obama is a muslim.

Trump’s campaign now says he struggled to hear the question. But more than half his supporters think Obama is Muslim and Trump hasn’t exactly discouraged that view as he continues to express doubts that the President was born in America.

Republican Presidential contender and Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AK) said he doesn’t blame Donald Trump for the way he handled the comment and said it’s often hard for him to hear what people in the audience are saying at rallies.

Huckabee said, “If I’d have understood what the person said, I would have said look, there is no evidence whatsoever that Barack Obama is anything other than what he professes to be, which is a Christian, I take him at his word for that, so lets not ah, let’s not attribute a religion to someonw who has not embraced it as their own.”

Trump tweeted Saturday morning about the controversy.

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Senator Shelley Moore Capito Says Iran Deal Bad for the US

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito gave the Republican’s weekly address this week, discussing the controversial Iran nuclear deal.

According to Capito, the deal “fails to meet even the administration’s own objectives” and because it was approved, “the president operated from a position of concession and not of strength [and] the American people are left with a bad deal.”

“The bipartisan majority of Congress and the American public have concluded it will not improve our safety, our security, or our stability,” she said. “The partisan minority in Congress who support the deal acknowledge its shortcomings, and the litany of flaws raised throughout this debate should invoke serious concerns about our entering into this agreement with Iran.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican’s weekly address:

I’m Senator Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia.

For months, Congress carefully and thoughtfully examined the details of the President’s agreement with Iran and its profound implications for our national security.

We have evaluated this deal through simple and straightforward standards:

Will this agreement eliminate Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon?

Will it improve the security situation in the Middle East?

And, most importantly, will it make America safer?

The bipartisan majority of Congress and the American public have concluded it will not improve our safety, our security, or our stability.

The partisan minority in Congress who support the deal acknowledge its shortcomings, and the litany of flaws raised throughout this debate should invoke serious concerns about our entering into this agreement with Iran.

The tens of billions of dollars that Iran will receive once the sanctions are lifted will only increase its ability to sponsor the Syrian regime, support Hezbollah and threaten our allies.

The President has said that sanctions will go back into effect if Iran violates this agreement, but let’s be clear, reversing course will be next to impossible.

When I visited the Middle East this spring, I heard firsthand from world leaders and our troops on the ground about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

This is the same regime that is currently holding four Americans prisoner.

Its Supreme Leader said last week that he believes Israel will no longer exist within 25 years.

The regime has already signaled it will defy attempts by the U.S. and other nations who aim to enforce this agreement.

Iran’s Supreme Leader has said that, ‘Even after this deal, our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change.’

Based on its past actions, Iran is not a credible player.

Sanctions adopted by Congress are what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

Stronger sanctions could have forced Iran to accept a better agreement – an agreement that is in the best interests of America and the world.

Unfortunately, a partisan minority in the Senate blocked a bipartisan majority from even taking a true up or down vote on whether the nuclear agreement should be approved.

This is despite the …read more […]

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President Obama Urges Republicans to Work with Democrats on Budget

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama urged Republicans to work with Democrats to approve government funding by the end of the month, warning them not to hold it up over Planned Parenthood or other ideological issues.

“If Republicans want to help, they can choose, right now, to pass a budget that helps us grow our economy even faster, create jobs even faster, lift people’s incomes and prospects even faster. But they’ve only got until the end of the month to do it – or they’ll shut down our government for the second time in two years,” he said.

He also said both sides needed to work together on “legitimate issues” like education and jobs, instead of “ideological issues” like Planned Parenthood.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. It’s hard to believe, but it was seven years ago this week that one of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks went bankrupt, triggering a meltdown on Wall Street and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And in the months that followed, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and the savings they’d worked so hard to build.

Today’s a different story. Over the past five and a half years, our businesses have created more than 13 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years. Manufacturing is growing. Housing is bouncing back. We’ve reduced our deficits by two-thirds. And 16 million more Americans now know the security of health insurance.

This is your progress. It’s because of your hard work and sacrifice that America has come back from crisis faster than almost every other advanced nation on Earth. We remain the safest, strongest bet in the world.

Of course, you might not know all that if you only listened to the bluster of political season, when it’s in the interest of some politicians to paint America as dark and depressing as possible. But I don’t see it that way. I’ve met too many Americans who prove, day in and day out, that this is a place where anything is possible. Yes, we have a lot of work to do to rebuild a middle class that’s had the odds stacked against it now for decades. That’s the thing about America – our work is never finished. We always strive to be better – to perfect ourselves.

We just have to make the right choices. And if Republicans want to help, they can choose, right now, to pass a budget that helps us grow our economy even faster, create jobs even faster, lift people’s incomes and prospects even faster. But they’ve only got until the end of the month to do it – or they’ll shut down our government for the second time in two years.

Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now. But …read more […]

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Trump Reverses Stance on Assault Weapons in New Policy Paper

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump has come out with guns blazing against assault weapon and extended magazine bans, casting them as a “total failure.”

The position on assault weapons represents a departure for Trump from a stance he held about 15 years ago. Friday’s release was not expected from the campaign. Trump has been saying on the trail his next policy paper would focus on taxes and would come out in the next two-three weeks.

“Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried,” the policy paper said. “Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people.

“What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans.”

The presidential frontrunner instead said: “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

In his 2000 book “The America We Deserve” Trump seemed to take a different stance.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” he said. “With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”

A majority of the policy paper includes points Trump has been making on the trail, such as calling for military personnel to be armed while at recruiting centers.

Trump calls the current prohibition on arming soldiers, which he said cost lives in the July shooting at a Chattanooga, TN military facility, “ridiculous.”

“We train our military how to safely and responsibly use firearms, but our current policies leave them defenseless,” the paper said. “To make America great again, we need a strong military. To have a strong military, we need to allow them to defend themselves.”

Trump was scheduled to appear Thursday night in South Carolina as part of the Heritage Foundation’s annual gathering but cancelled last minute citing a business transaction that he needed to attend to first. He will be campaigning in Iowa Saturday.

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Jeb Bush Brings Football and Politics Together

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s fall again, which means that two of America’s great institutions are shifting into high gear — football and politics. And it’s at the intersection of these that many candidates are trying to position themselves.

In key early states like Iowa and South Carolina, football reigns supreme. Games will be broadcast to millions, providing a valuable opportunity for candidates to get out their message.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is taking full advantage. On Saturday, he’ll head to Athens, Georgia, to a tailgate party hosted by the college Republicans during the University of Georgia vs. the University of South Carolina game. It’s the first of many such events for Bush. He’ll go to the Tennessee vs. UGA game on Oct. 10 then see the rivals LSU and Alabama Crimson Tide duke it out on Nov. 7.

College football has long been lucrative for aspirational candidates. In addition to face time with local collegiate organizations, the games themselves can be big boosts, which are broadcast on ABC, CBS, FOX, FS1 and ESPN’s family of networks, where one game and one ad can be viewed by over 34 million people.

The super PAC supporting Bush knows full well the power of a well-placed ad. In a $21 million ad buy, it is prepping advertisements to pepper these stations that broadcast games, with ads set to air on cable networks, including ESPN, ESPN2 and the Big Ten Network for Iowa football games from September through November.

All of this in an effort to reach that huge, crucial voting block that makes up this viewer demographic — white males, largely 35 and over.

Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, has also requested advertising rates in at least a dozen other states, including Ohio, Missouri and Florida, all scheduled to hold primaries on March 15.

Bush is matching these advertising efforts by rolling out a Southeastern Conference Advisory Committee, which will consist of Jeb supporters who attend or are alumnae of the SEC schools. The campaign announced today the UGA committee with 10 initial members, and the University of South Carolina committee, which is 31 members strong. Bush is the former governor of another SEC state, Florida.

He’s not the only one. At the Iowa vs. Iowa state match-up earlier this month, four GOP hopefuls showed up at a tailgate, hoping to court fans, with an attempt to be the everyman, football facts at the ready, beers in hand.

So, if you see a politician at your college or university’s game, don’t be surprised. Politics and the old pigskin are a match made in political strategist heaven.

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Hillary Clinton Willing to Cross Border to Combat Heroin

Guang Niu/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton said that she would take the fight against heroin beyond America’s borders if need be, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News affiliate WMUR-TV.

Substance abuse has become a mainstay during Clinton’s campaign. When confronted by WMUR-TV’s Josh McElveen at an event earlier Friday about soaring heroin usage in the Granite State, Clinton suggested turning the war on drugs to the Southern border.

“I think you have to,” responded Clinton. “This has to be a comprehensive strategy. And we know that this cheap heroin that is killing so many people is coming across our border.”

According to the White House, Mexico is the “primary supplier of heroin to the United States” and “cultivation in Mexico remains high.”

Cultivation in Colombia has been dropping steadily since 2001, according to the White House – 1,100 hectares in 2009.

By contrast Mexico was producing from 10,500 hectares in 2012, the White House said.

Production of heroin in Southeast Asia has declined and Latin America has emerged as the “primary supplier” of heroin to the U.S. — Mexico west of the Mississippi and Colombia east of the river, the White House said.

Mexican Armed forces have had difficulty dealing with poppy production because they have had to deal with violence among the cartels, according to the White House.

New Hampshire governor, Maggie Hassan, endorsed Clinton at an event at the University of New Hampshire where she was to focus on the rising cost of college tuition, but she took aim at addiction during her speech.

“I hear a lot of different questions and ideas but there is some common theme. One of them I just said, addiction,” said Clinton. “Only before I walked into this room a woman thanked me for making it a presidential election issue because she lost her son to heroin.”

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Donald Trump’s History of Raising Birther Questions About President Obama

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The re-emergence of a discussion over President Obama’s religion and birthplace as part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign might give some people a sense of deja vu.

The reality TV star and businessman has spoken extensively about his questions over whether Barak Obama was actually born in Hawaii like he (and the state of Hawaii) says he was.

In 2011, when he was vocally mulling over a possible presidential run, Trump launched a public pursuit of Obama’s birth certificate, announcing that he has sent private investigators to Hawaii to see what they could find.

The president then released the long-form version of his birth certificate in response to the uproar that Trump had caused. After its release, Trump said that he was “proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something nobody has been able to accomplish.”

Here is ABC News’ report from that day:

Even though Trump didn’t end up running for president in 2012, the birther question did become a talking point in the campaign because of Trump’s support for candidates such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Here is more of ABC News’ coverage of the issue at the time:

He continued to defend his decision to bring up the issue, and told ABC News’ John Karl in 2013 that he knew what he was doing.

“I don’t think I went overboard. Actually, I think it made me very popular… I do think I know what I’m doing,” Trump said in 2013.

Trump has not spoken at any events since the Thursday night town hall in New Hampshire, and he was scheduled to appear at a Republican forum this afternoon in South Carolina but his campaign announced that he will not be attending because he “has a significant business transactions that has to close” today.

So far, his campaign has issued a statement that is not a direct condemnation of the man and the points raised.

“The media wants to make this issue about Obama. The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians in this country. Christians need support in this country. Their religious liberty is at stake,” a campaign spokesman told ABC News.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper this June, Trump appeared to try to avoid the topic, but ended up being unable to stop himself from commenting when asked about his 2011 birther push.

When Cooper asked directly if Trump believed Obama was born in the United States, Trump responded “I don’t know.”

“I really don’t know. I mean, I don’t know why he wouldn’t release his records. But you know, honestly, I don’t want to get in it,” Trump said.

For his part, Obama has reacted to Trump’s continued interest in the topic with a mix of frustration (at the press conference when he released the long-form birth certificate) and humor (on late night shows and at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner).

During a 2011 appearance on the Tonight Show, Obama continued to laugh it off.

“This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya,” Obama joked.

“We had …read more […]

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Rand Paul Strategist Says Top Marco Rubio Aide ‘Punched’ Him ‘In The Face’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It turns out the debate stage wasn’t the only place where campaigns were on the attack this week.

A Rand Paul strategist is accusing a top Marco Rubio campaign aide, saying he allegedly “punched me in the face” on Thursday night following a Republican leadership conference in Michigan.

Michigan Republican operative John Yob, who chairs Paul’s campaign in Michigan, is also calling on Rubio’s campaign to fire Rich Beeson, the Florida senator’s deputy campaign manager. Yob posted to Facebook at 3 a.m. Friday that he “ran into a guy named Rich Beeson, who frankly I didn’t even know who it was at first because he isn’t relevant in our political world.” Yob claims he has video of the incident “from multiple angles.”

The alleged punch happened at Horn’s Gaslight Bar and Restaurant on Mackinac Island.

ABC News has reached out to Rand Paul’s campaign and John Yob and is awaiting comment.

But according to the Horn’s Bar owner, Patti Ann Moskwa, the incident “was nothing.”

“It was like they were playing tag and they know each other and they’ve worked together, this was all blown out of proportion. It’s all on video, we have cameras,” Moskwa told ABC News. “There is no story. In fact, we all sat around, we were laughing about it. We were playing tag in the restaurant going, ‘You’re it.’ We’re having a ball.”

Moskwa went on to say: “It’s two guys just arguing about something, you know– something about politics… And then they’re laughing later!”

“A complaint has been filed for an alleged assault and is being reviewed by the Mackinac County prosecutor,” the Mackinac Island Police Chief Brett Riccinto confirmed to ABC News in a statement.

The Mackinac Island police added they spoke to witnesses and people involved, and the prosecutor will determine whether to press charges.

Sen. Rubio’s campaign told ABC News they have not spoken to Beeson yet, but “were aware of the initial reports but are seeking further information about what happened.”

The Rubio campaign confirmed that the two knew each other from before.

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