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Donald Trump Looms Over Lower-Tier Republican Presidential Debate Without Even Being There

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump may not have been on stage for the first debate — but he certainly was in the spotlight.

The real estate mogul dominated early discussion in the bottom-tier debate on Wednesday night, even though he was slated to appear in the mainstage debate two hours later.

The four bottom-tier candidates — Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham — went on to discuss foreign policy, religious freedom, foreign policy and a host of other issues later in the debate after they decried the focus on the current GOP frontrunner.

“Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican,” said Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who has been particularly vocal in his criticism of the real estate mogul on the campaign trail.

“This is an important election with an enormous number of challenges facing the American people and the first four questions are about Donald Trump,” Pataki, the former governor of New York, complained.

The candidates even argued over whether or not to criticize Trump, who currently leads the polls.
“I think personal attacks, just please one person, Hillary Clinton,” Santorum said. “Donald Trump has every right to run for president as a Republican.”

He added, “The focus of this debate should be on how we’re going to win this election and help improve the quality of life for American workers.”

Santorum, Jindal, Pataki and Graham combine to average about 2 percent in national polls since early August.

The debate stage was much less crowded for the “happy hour” debate than it was just a month ago. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was promoted to the big leagues debate, and former Gov. Rick Perry recently ended his presidential bid last week. And former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore was not polling high enough to get an invite from CNN.

The four bottom-tier candidates faced off against each other before the more-anticipated top-tier Republican debate slated for 8 p.m. featuring Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and the rest of the crowded field.
Santorum is averaging 0.80 percent in national polls since the first debate, according to CNN. Jindal is averaging 0.56 percent, Pataki at 0.44 percent and Graham at 0.28 percent.

Graham came prepared with his own laugh track, throwing out jokes and quips throughout the second tier fight. As for how he will work across the aisle, “We’re going to drink more.”

“Ronald Reagan did a couple of really big things we should all remember,” Graham said to laughter from the crowd. “He sat down with Tip O’Neil, the most liberal guy in the entire house. They started drinking together. That’s the first thing I’m going to do as president. We’re going to drink more.”

As for what kind of student he was? Graham joked he “wasn’t the best law student,” adding his time at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California for the debate is “the most time that I’ve spent in any library.”

Immigration was a big part of the debate, but for Graham it was another moment to break the tension with some …read more […]

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Jon Stewart Lobbies, Chases Down Lawmakers for 9/11 First Responders

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart joined 100 9/11 first responders Wednesday to lobby lawmakers for the extension of 9/11 health programs, honoring a pledge made to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand during one of his final shows in July.

Gillibrand and other New York-area members of Congress enlisted Stewart’s help twisting arms in support of the permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides healthcare and compensation to survivors of the September 11th attacks and first responders.
Stewart signed on to help lobby for the programs, which will begin expiring at the end of the month, after hosting Gillibrand on “The Daily Show” in July.

The comedian said Wednesday all Americans are indebted to the firefighters, police officers and EMS workers who rushed to the World Trade Center and later worked at Ground Zero.

Stewart has long advocated for sick first responders, and is credited with helping pass the initial legislation in 2010, after bringing four sick first responders on his show to publicly pressure Republican lawmakers filibustering the passage of the bill.

More than 30 Republicans have endorsed the extension proposal, but supporters are looking for more cosponsors, given resistance to funding the programs permanently.

Stewart spent the morning lobbying Senate offices — even chasing down Nebraska Sen. Deb Fisher, a Republican who has not signed on to the bill, in a Senate hallway.

He pressed a copy of the bill into her hands, before introducing her to a wheelchair-bound first responder with cancer.

“You could be a hero in this,” he said.

Fischer was not a member of the Senate when the law first passed in 2010, but is “currently taking time to learn more about the issue” a spokesperson wrote in a statement.

Stewart also met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and had a “positive” meeting with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, according to a spokesperson.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon after several meetings, he said, “The real test appears to be whether we can carry the momentum from these meetings to actual legislation.”

Stewart may not have his old bully pulpit, but he said he knows plenty of people on television.

“If you don’t sign on to this type of thing, it has to be known,” he said.

McConnell said Wednesday that the Senate will take up re-authorization of 9/11 programs, but did not say whether he supports a permanent extension, as Stewart and the bill’s supporters have called for.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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White House Lockdown Lifted After Unattended Package Declared Safe

Joe Ravi/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) — A lockdown on the White House was lifted after after the Secret Service discovered an unattended package in nearby Lafayette Park.

Secret Service spokesperson Brian Leary said, “Package delcared safe. All clear – streets are in process of reopening.”

The Secret Service swept the park, and closed off the greenspace and Pennsylvania Avenue, a Secret Service spokesperson said.

President Obama was not at the White House at the time of the incident.

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Vice President Biden Goes West for Energy and Climate Events

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden travels to California Wednesday where he’ll deliver remarks at Solar Power International, a solar power trade show in Anaheim, and address the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles.

The vice president’s visit to Southern California comes on the same day that Republican presidential candidates debate up the road in Simi Valley.

While Republicans may train their sights on attacking Donald Trump on stage, the Vice President got in on the action Tuesday night, describing the real estate mogul’s comments on immigration as a “sick message,” one that aims at “denigrating an entire group of people.”

Biden may be undecided about his own presidential ambitions, but his remarks show he’s willing to wade into the 2016 fight.

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Why Some Democrats Aren’t Giving Up on More Debates

Johnny Louis/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) — As Republican presidential hopefuls gather for their second nationally televised debate in California, across the country Wednesday evening, a group of Democrats are planning a protest in front of the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., over the number of debates allowed for their candidates.

“There is a reason debates have been a central feature of democracy since ancient Greece,” Ben Doernberg, founder of a group called “Allow Debate,” which is organizing the protest, said in an interview with ABC News. “Democrats are excited about their candidates this year. It is a huge mistake to give the stage over to Republicans.”

Doernberg said his group plans to present the Democratic National Committee with a petition signed by over 20,000 people. They are also bringing their guitars for a special rendition of a song written by one of the volunteers, encouraging people to call the DNC and ask for more debates.

The DNC has sanctioned six debates this election cycle. While it is the same number the committee has sanctioned in the past, unlike previous years, the DNC this time is promising to disinvite candidates who participate in non-sanctioned debates. This so-called “exclusivity clause” has frustrated those who believe more debates are needed.

So far, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has been the public face of the issue. Struggling in the polls, O’Malley used his time at the DNC’s summer meeting to rail against the party’s debate schedule, calling it “unprecedented” and evident of a “rigged process.”

Doernberg said the issue is resonating with grassroots voters, too. He first heard about the limited number of debates on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ Reddit page and started making calls to the DNC.

Months later, he has become as frustrated with the power structure in the party as the debates themselves.

“It was really a shock to realize that on this issue the DNC is a dictatorship,” Doernberg said.

Despite calls from two vice chairs of the party and several local leaders, party Chairwoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz so far has stood firm in her decision, saying the rules are necessary to keep the schedule under control and protect the candidates.

Lou D’Allesandro is a Democratic state senator from Manchester, New Hampshire, supporting Hillary Clinton. He co-authored an op-ed in the Union Leader newspaper calling for more debates.

“I disagree with Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” D’Allesandro told ABC News. “She may be the head of the party, and I’m just one man. But I’ve been around, perhaps longer than her … and we need this.”

Allow Debate promises to keep fighting through the primary season.

“She thinks this issue is going to go away,” Doernberg said, referring to Wassermann Schultz. “She thinks if she can make it to the first debate in October, people will give up and acquiesce. That’s not going to happen.”

“Six debates is maybe two questions on climate change, maybe three,” he continued. “It is just not enough if you care deeply about an issue and want to understand where the candidates differ.”

The DNC is encouraging candidates to participate in issue-based forums and …read more […]

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Five Things to Watch in the Second Republican Presidential Debate

ABC News(SIMI VALLEY, Calif.) — The second Republican debate is just around the corner.

Eleven candidates are slated to be on stage for the main debate at 8 p.m. tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Donald Trump remains the frontrunner nationally and in the early states, but his rivals are starting to take the gloves off. The four bottom-tier candidates will be in an undercard debate at 6 p.m.

It seems likely that Ronald Reagan’s rule — never speak badly of a fellow Republican — will be violated several times in his own presidential library.

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Each candidate has their work cut out for them. Here are the five things to watch for when the top Republican contenders face off.

1. TRUMP WAGES A WAR ON 10 FRONTS

It’s not a question of “if” or “when” — it’s a matter of “who” will attack Trump first at the debate. He’s attacked just about everyone on that stage. From Carly Fiorina’s looks to Jeb Bush’s energy, Trump has even warned Ben Carson not to pick a fight with the Donald. Still, Trump has said he doesn’t start fights, saying he’s a “counter puncher.” But with neurosurgeon Carson rising quickly behind Trump, the pressure is on. As for debate night, Trump told press Saturday in Boone, Iowa, he wants “to talk about a lot of different things. There’s so many things you can talk about. They can talk Obama Care, they can talk — but what we’re really talking about, in my opinion, security, the military, of which I really know a lot about. I think one of the biggest surprises if I win will be how good I am at national security.”

2. FIORINA STEPS INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

After a hard fought battle off the “kids’ table” for a chance to play in the big leagues, Fiorina has officially earned a spot on the GOP primetime debate stage. Fiorina, who shined at Fox’s “Happy Hour” debate last month, comes ready to make some noise, especially towards Trump. Even though Fiorina is an outsider, she’s yet to seize on the support that Trump and Carson have seen, remaining stalled in the single digits in the polls. Expect the only woman in the packed GOP field to go after the mogul for his statements about women. Trump recently attacked Fiorina’s appearance in a Rolling Stone magazine interview saying, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” These comments are sure to become central to her attacks on The Donald.

3. CARSON REACHES THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Trump vs. Carson: That’s what the polls are saying. The two GOP frontrunners will be standing together center stage — and Carson is sure to get more talking time than last go-around. Just a day before the debate, the retired neurosurgeon is surging in the polls, trailing only slightly behind the real estate mogul. Carson has repeatedly said he refuses to attack The …read more […]

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Five Things to Watch in the Second Republican Presidential Debate

ABC News(SIMI VALLEY, Calif.) — The second Republican debate is just around the corner.

Eleven candidates are slated to be on stage for the main debate at 8 p.m. tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Donald Trump remains the frontrunner nationally and in the early states, but his rivals are starting to take the gloves off. The four bottom-tier candidates will be in an undercard debate at 6 p.m.

It seems likely that Ronald Reagan’s rule — never speak badly of a fellow Republican — will be violated several times in his own presidential library.

Each candidate has their work cut out for them. Here are the five things to watch for when the top Republican contenders face off.

1. TRUMP WAGES A WAR ON 10 FRONTS

It’s not a question of “if” or “when” — it’s a matter of “who” will attack Trump first at the debate. He’s attacked just about everyone on that stage. From Carly Fiorina’s looks to Jeb Bush’s energy, Trump has even warned Ben Carson not to pick a fight with the Donald. Still, Trump has said he doesn’t start fights, saying he’s a “counter puncher.” But with neurosurgeon Carson rising quickly behind Trump, the pressure is on. As for debate night, Trump told press Saturday in Boone, Iowa, he wants “to talk about a lot of different things. There’s so many things you can talk about. They can talk Obama Care, they can talk — but what we’re really talking about, in my opinion, security, the military, of which I really know a lot about. I think one of the biggest surprises if I win will be how good I am at national security.”

2. FIORINA STEPS INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

After a hard fought battle off the “kids’ table” for a chance to play in the big leagues, Fiorina has officially earned a spot on the GOP primetime debate stage. Fiorina, who shined at Fox’s “Happy Hour” debate last month, comes ready to make some noise, especially towards Trump. Even though Fiorina is an outsider, she’s yet to seize on the support that Trump and Carson have seen, remaining stalled in the single digits in the polls. Expect the only woman in the packed GOP field to go after the mogul for his statements about women. Trump recently attacked Fiorina’s appearance in a Rolling Stone magazine interview saying, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” These comments are sure to become central to her attacks on The Donald.

3. CARSON REACHES THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Trump vs. Carson: That’s what the polls are saying. The two GOP frontrunners will be standing together center stage — and Carson is sure to get more talking time than last go-around. Just a day before the debate, the retired neurosurgeon is surging in the polls, trailing only slightly behind the real estate mogul. Carson has repeatedly said he refuses to attack The Donald, but last week he gave in by attacking his faith. Despite …read more […]

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POLL: Americans Divide on Iran Deal

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Americans divide evenly on the nuclear deal with Iran in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, with somewhat more support when information about the monitoring process is provided.

With no description, 45 percent support the deal and 44 percent are opposed. When details about monitoring and penalties for violations are included in the question, the divide becomes 51-41 percent, compared with 56-37 percent in mid-July.

See PDF for full results.

The deal, in any case, has grown less popular as it has taken shape. ABC/Post polls found 64 percent support for a negotiated agreement in November 2013 and 59 percent last March.

The poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds views on the issue sharply polarized. With no details provided, support ranges from 59 percent among Democrats to 45 percent of independents and 28 percent of Republicans. It varies similarly by ideology and also sharply by age, backed by 64 percent of young adults vs. 36 percent of those age 50 and up.

The second version of the question, finding somewhat more support, notes that as part of the deal, “international inspectors would monitor Iran’s facilities, and if Iran is caught breaking the agreement economic sanctions would be imposed again.” In this version, opposition among Republicans has increased from 54 percent in July to 68 percent now. It’s little changed among independents or Democrats.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 7-10, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-22-35 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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How Late Is Too Late for Joe Biden?

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Does Joe Biden need to get in before the first Democratic debate to be a viable candidate?

That’s a question being weighed by advisers close to the vice president as he continues to mull a potential White House bid, South Carolina state representative and longtime Biden supporter James Smith tells ABC News.

“There’s been some discussion about October and whether the first debate is critical,” Smith, who has spoken to Biden advisers, said. “And my conclusion in the discussions I’ve had is that it’s not a show stopper.”

Smith said “there’s no sense of urgency” among the Biden’s inner circle as they await his final decision, which hinges on the vice president’s personal healing process following the loss of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of 46 in May.

“There aren’t any other hurdles,” Smith said, other than Biden’s grief. “It’s not a matter of funding or anything else, all these other things are there for him.”

Earlier this month, the vice president openly pondered whether he and his family have the “emotional energy” necessary to dedicate to presidential campaign. “The factor is, can I do it,” Biden said in comments at an Atlanta synagogue. “Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment that we’d be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances? But the honest to god answer is, I just don’t know.”

It’s entirely possible that the first Democratic debate, set for Oct. 13, will come and go with the vice president still on the fence. But how long can he realistically wait before the decision is made for him?

Larry Sabato, a political scientist and the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, offers two very different answers to the same question.

From a practical standpoint, Sabato contends, the vice president is already too late.

“The truth is that the deadline for Joe Biden to get in was probably six months ago in terms of getting a presidential campaign underway,” Sabato said, considering the tens of millions of dollars required to compete in a presidential campaign.

“But technically,” Sabato added, “he doesn’t have to be in until next year.”

That’s because the vice president could technically file the necessary paperwork in the states with early filing deadlines without declaring his candidacy, Sabato said.

The first filing deadline looming for Democratic candidates is Alabama, where candidates are required to submit paperwork by Nov. 6. And while Biden would have to put his signature on the paperwork, there’s nothing legally obligating him to be a declared candidate when he signs off on the paperwork.

“He could sign the paperwork and say he’s doing it in case he decides to become a candidate,” Sabato said. “Who is going to challenge that, given his personal situation?”

Even in a state like Virginia, which has some of the most onerous filing requirements in the country and requires thousands of signatures, Sabato says it’s conceivable that the Draft Biden movement encouraging the vice president to make a run could do all the legwork and collect the …read more […]

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Trump Aboard US Battleship: ‘I Am with the Veterans 100 Percent’

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump said Monday evening, “We have illegal immigrants that are treated better by far than our Veterans.” Speaking on board the World War II-era battleship USS Iowa in Los Angeles, Trump addressed supporters as about 200 protesters were on the shore chanting. One held a sign reading, “No human is illegal.”

“We’re gonna make our military so big and so strong and so great,” said Trump. Trump also said he would make it his mission to reform the VA and provide better medical care to veterans.

The event is the last planned Trump campaign rally ahead of Wednesday’s second Republican debate.

Trump told press Saturday in Boone, Iowa, he wants “to talk about a lot of different things. There’s so many things you can talk about. They can talk Obamacare. They can talk — but what we’re really talking about, in my opinion, security, the military, of which I really know a lot about. I think one of the biggest surprises if I win will be how good I am at national security.”

Trump was invited on board the USS Iowa by Veterans for a Strong America, who announced they’re endorsing the real estate mogul. As he exited, he waved to the protesters, gave them a thumbs up as they booed and he sped away.

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