The Liars in Chief – By Susan Milligan Nov 13, 2015


The unemployment rate is not more than 40 percent. The Chinese are not in Syria. The federal tax code is not 73,000 pages long. And Capitol Hill’s investigation of the Benghazi incident is not the longest-running congressional inquiry ever.

Caucasian politician making speech at podium

All of those wrong assertions were made by people running for president. All of them have been debunked by teams of fact-checkers at newspapers, broadcast outlets and independent, non-partisan fact monitors. And none of them has demonstrably done anything to slow the candidacies of people seeking the job that requires a herculean level of trust from the American people.

[READ: Presidential Candidates Don’t Need the Media]

In the battle for the hearts, minds and votes of the American public, do facts matter? Not really, experts say. With the country so deeply divided along partisan lines, no broad consensus on who or what will serve as an independent arbiter of truth and an overload of information of varying accuracy, facts themselves take a backseat to the narrative. And when facts interfere with an individual’s worldview, it’s the facts that are seen with suspicion, specialists say.

Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, has examined this phenomenon, most recently with a study in which he presented to parents factual evidence from medical authorities that vaccines do not cause autism. While the evidence did successfully lower misconceptions about the connection between vaccines and autism, the research did nothing to convince vaccine-skeptical parents that they should vaccinate their children. In fact, such parents were even less likely to change their minds about the issue, even after being presented with medical evidence, said the study, which Nyhan conducted with Jason Reifler, Sean Richey, and Gary Freed.

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http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2015/11/13/the-presidential-candidates-are-the-liars-in-chief?int=a14709

Do Debates Matter? – by Joseph P. Williams November 13, 2015


Democrat Sen. John Kennedy, left and Republican Richard Nixon, right, as they debated campaign issues at a Chicago television studio on Sept. 26, 1960. Moderator Howard K. Smith is at desk in center.

They’re often described with action words reserved for warfare or contact sports – battles, fights, counterattacks – with winners and losers determined within minutes of completion. Participants come armed with battle plans, self-serving data and talking points intended to create headline-generating heat, not necessarily policy light.

Critics say the televised, speed chess-meets-Mortal Kombat competitions between politicians who want to lead the free world too often turn on stumbles, errors and style over substance. Supporters insist on their value, but want reforms, now more than ever.

[READ: Immigration, Foreign Policy Splits Republicans In Fourth Debate]

Given such high stakes, relatively low expectations and declining overall TV viewership in an era where Twitter is a news source: Why are presidential debates still a thing?

Though they sometimes resemble the reality show “Survivor” more than a serious forum about the nation’s future, presidential debates are one of the top sources of information for voters, according to analyses and TV ratings. They can also determine which candidates can tap the ever-widening pipeline of money in politics – from small donors kicking in a few dollars to wealthy elites deciding which future president, or super PAC, is the best bet for their millions.

Yet the decades-old, gladiators-on-TV format is looking increasingly battle-worn.

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Rubio and Cruz See Spike in Attention – By JANET HOOK Nov. 8, 2015 5:30 a.m. ET


After standout performances in Colorado, candidates see rise in donations and poll standings

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are two of the Republican presidential candidates that have gained the most traction following last month’s debate.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are two of the Republican presidential candidates that have gained the most traction following last month’s debate. PHOTO: CHRIS CARLSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two of the presidential candidates who gained the most traction out of the last Republican debate are a pair of 44-year-old Cuban-Americans who are first-term U.S. senators.

There the similarity ends, and their differences define a fork in the road for the Republican Party.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, after standout performances at the debate in Colorado last month, have both seen a spike in media attention, donations and poll standings. But they are appealing to very different wings of the GOP electorate, with Mr. Cruz rallying anti-Washington conservative forces and Mr. Rubio drawing strength from to the party’s business-friendly establishment wing.

Their differences of both style and substance will surface again Tuesday in the third GOP debate in Milwaukee, where both senators will try to keep the momentum going in a forum focusing on economic issues.

Mr. Cruz rails against illegal immigrants; Mr. Rubio takes a more welcoming approach. Mr. Cruz opposed President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill; Mr. Rubio supported it. Mr. Cruz traffics in the highflying oratory of an evangelical minister’s son; Mr. Rubio’s brand of eloquence is more low key.

Both senators still trail the political novices— Donald Trump and Ben Carson—who lead the GOP field. But the Cruz-Rubio surge raises a surprising prospect: Two Cuban Americans are moving from long-shot to top-tier candidates in a party that has struggled to win support from Hispanic voters.

Mr. Cruz said it was “plausible” that the primary would wind up being a Rubio-Cruz face off, citing the history of GOP contests that pitted a conservative against a more moderate candidate.

“I think Marco is certainly formidable,” Mr. Cruz said. But, he added, ”once it gets down to a head-to-head contest between a conservative and a moderate…I think the conservative wins.”

A super PAC supporting Mr. Cruz took off the gloves last week in an ad in Iowa that attacked Mr. Rubio for his record on immigration.

“We all loved how Marco Rubio took apart Jeb Bush in the debate,” says the narrator of an ad from the pro-Cruz PAC, Courageous Conservatives. “But what’s Rubio ever done?…Marco Rubio looks good on TV, but that’s about it.’’

That is a change in rhetoric from a major Senate debate in 2013—the filibuster to block funding for Obamacare—when Mr. Cruz showered his colleague with praise. “I don’t know if there is anyone more effective, more articulate, or a more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio,” Mr. Cruz said.

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Hillary Clinton calls for marijuana to be reclassified By ALI BRELAND 11/07/15 04:50 PM EST


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Hillary Clinton is now on a similar page as her 2016 Democratic rivals in regard to marijuana laws. | Getty

Hillary Clinton is now on a similar page as her 2016 Democratic rivals in regard to marijuana laws. | Getty

Hillary Clinton calls for marijuana to be reclassified

Hillary Clinton on Saturday called for marijuana to be reclassified from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II, citing medical research.

“I do support the use of medical marijuana,” Clinton said to a predominantly African American audience at a town hall meeting at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. “And I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.

“I want to move from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 so researchers can research what’s the best way to use it, dosage, how does it work with other medications,” she added.

The 2016 Democratic frontrunner declined to offer a position on marijuana during CNN’s Democratic presidential debate in October.

Bernie Sanders, her closest opponent in the polls, said at the debate that he would support state legalization of marijuana. The comments were a prelude to his announcement later in October calling for the federal government to take marijuana off its schedule entirely.

Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley has also called for the drug’s reclassification.

Rescheduling marijuana would allow researchers to investigate the drug’s medicinal properties without seeking clearance from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

 

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http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/hillary-clinton-marijuana-215623

Bush’s Rubio attack plan backfires – By ALEX ISENSTADT and MARC CAPUTO 11/05/15 06:02 PM EST Updated 11/05/15 07:59 PM EST


One of Florida’s top GOP fundraisers officially quits Bush team, signals shift to Rubio.

Jeb Bush speaks as Marco Rubio looks on during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate. | Getty

Jeb Bush speaks as Marco Rubio looks on during the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate. | Getty

2016

One of Florida’s top GOP fundraisers officially quits Bush team, signals shift to Rubio.

Jeb Bush’s decision to attack old friend and new rival Marco Rubio is backfiring, pushing important supporters to criticize the campaign’s tactics and driving one of Florida’s top fundraisers to officially quit and signal a shift in allegiance to the senator.

“I think the world of Jeb Bush. He was a great governor of Florida and is a really good person, but the campaign has hijacked his message,” said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist who contributed more than $25,000 of his own money and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more for Bush’s campaign and the super PAC supporting him.

“The campaign has become negative, one that is about attacking and trying to bring down Marco Rubio. And that doesn’t sit well—not only with me, but with anyone who knows the two,” Ballard said. “Marco’s a friend of mine. I didn’t sign up for a campaign that was going to be negative and attack a bright star of the party’s future. It doesn’t make sense. I’m over it. And I’m done.”

Ballard said he decided to make his departure final and public after the Bush team called Rubio “the GOP Obama” and a “risky” bet due to his past personal financial struggles. Ballard said he stopped raising money for the campaign three months ago amid a dispute with the campaign.

One staffer familiar with Ballard’s conversations with the campaign was more blunt.

“While we appreciate Brian’s support of the governor, in August, we expressed to him serious concerns about his continued lack of discretion regarding campaign strategy — particularly in relation to his interaction with the national media,” said the staffer, noting that Ballard is a Donald Trump lobbyist. “He has not been actively engaged in this campaign or our team’s efforts for months, and his comments today are of little surprise to anyone. We wish him well.”

While Ballard’s decision and comments are the most striking, his sentiment of disappointment in the campaign was expressed to POLITICO in varying degrees by numerous Bush supporters — from members of Congress to those who have worked for the Bush campaign to donors who are unhappy with the direction of the election effort.

 

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Bernie Sanders Takes Gloves Off Against Hillary Clinton in Interview – By PETER NICHOLAS Nov. 4, 2015 7:49 p.m. ET


Democratic presidential candidate draws sharper distinctions with front-runner, casting her policy reversals as a character issue

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks about fossil fuels outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks about fossil fuels outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: jim lo scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing sharper distinctions with front-runner Hillary Clinton, casting her policy reversals over the years as a character issue that voters should take into account when they evaluate the Democratic field.

Sen. Sanders of Vermont, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, also said the federal investigation of the security surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s private email account is appropriate.

In the Democratic debate last month, Mr. Sanders said voters were “sick and tired” of the focus on Mrs. Clinton’s “damn emails.” Afterward, many Democrats and political analysts said that he had appeared to dismiss her use of a private email account and server in her four years as secretary of state.

Mr. Sanders rejected that assessment on Wednesday. If her email practices foiled public-records requests or compromised classified information, those are “valid questions,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Sanders’s pointed comments mark a turning point in what has been a polite Democratic contest. When he entered the race in the spring, Mr. Sanders barely mentioned Mrs. Clinton by name. When he did, it was merely to spell out plain-vanilla differences over policy.

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign launched its first TV commercial on Monday to run in Iowa and New Hampshire in an effort to pull ahead of frontrunner Hillary Clinton in early primary states.

But the dynamics of the Democratic race are changing with the Iowa caucuses only three months away, and Mr. Sanders is now questioning Mrs. Clinton’s convictions and willingness to take on tough policy fights that await the next president.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign declined to comment on Mr. Sanders’s remarks on Wednesday.

The most recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll showed that only a quarter of registered voters gave Mrs. Clinton high marks when it came to being “honest and straightforward.” By contrast, half of those polled gave her low marks in that regard.

Yet polling also shows that Mr. Sanders is losing ground to Mrs. Clinton and relinquishing the edge he had in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that hold the first two contests. The same Journal-NBC News poll showed Mrs. Clinton beating Mr. Sanders by a margin of 62%-31% nationally.

In an interview on Capitol Hill, Mr. Sanders said he wasn’t daunted, given his starting point as a little-known independent senator from Vermont. And he took time in the interview to cite polls in which he fares better than Mrs. Clinton in a general election showdown against various Republican candidates.

Since he joined the race, he has attracted the largest crowds, with tens of thousands of people coming out to hear his fiery speeches about income inequality and the untrammeled power of the “billionaire class.”

“We had to fight very hard in the last six months to get my name out there, to get my ideas out there,” Mr. Sanders said. “We still have a long way to go with the African-American community, with the Latino community.…But we’re working hard, and I think at the end of the day we are going to pull off one of the major political upsets in American history.”

On the issue of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, Mr. Sanders didn’t say he regretted his debate remarks. “You get 12 seconds to say these things,” he said of the debate setting. “There’s an investigation going on right now. I did not say, ‘End the investigation.’ That’s silly.…Let the investigation proceed unimpeded.”

Mr. Sanders said he has long-held positions on issues that weren’t always popular. Asked about Mrs. Clinton’s recent announcement that she opposed a Pacific trade deal she had once backed, among other changes in position, he said that consistency on such issues “does speak to the character of a person.”

He also said that in 2002 he voted against authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a measure that Mrs. Clinton supported as a New York senator.

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Ben Carson Vaults to Lead in Latest Journal/NBC Poll – By PATRICK O’CONNOR Updated Nov. 3, 2015 12:15 a.m. ET


He overtakes Trump for lead in GOP presidential race; Clinton’s advantage widens in Democratic contest

GOP candidate Ben Carson now leads Donald Trump nationally in the new WSJ/NBC News poll. WSJ's Jerry Seib discusses what this means. Photo:AP

GOP candidate Ben Carson now leads Donald Trump nationally in the new WSJ/NBC News poll. WSJ’s Jerry Seib discusses what this means. Photo:AP

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson overtook businessman Donald Trump as the top pick of GOP presidential primary voters, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found, as Republicans continued to turn to nontraditional candidates who they believe can channel their anger with Washington.

The finding marked the first time since June that a Republican other than Mr. Trump led the GOP field. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz,who have cast themselves as a new generation of Republicans eager to challenge party leadership, ranked third and fourth, respectively, as the top pick of 11% and 10% of GOP primary voters.

In the ultimate sign of dissatisfaction with more established Republicans, the poll found former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continuing to struggle among GOP voters. For the first time since the race began, more Republicans said they wouldn’t consider voting for Mr. Bush than those who said they could, 52% to 45%.

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/ben-carson-vaults-to-lead-in-latest-journal-nbc-poll-1446526802