George W. Bush unleashes on Ted Cruz – By ELI STOKOLS 10/19/15 07:50 PM EDT Updated 10/19/15 11:24 PM EDT

While Jeb Bush’s campaign is spending far more time of late pushing out information that contrasts favorably with Marco Rubio, his oldest brother seemed to see Ted Cruz as the biggest threat in the end. | Getty

While Jeb Bush’s campaign is spending far more time of late pushing out information that contrasts favorably with Marco Rubio, his oldest brother seemed to see Ted Cruz as the biggest threat in the end. | Getty

‘I just don’t like that guy,” the former president tells donors.

Inside a sleek Denver condominium, George W. Bush let a hundred donors to his brother’s campaign in on a secret. Of all the rival Republican candidates, there is one who gets under the former president’s skin, whom he views as perhaps Jeb Bush’s most serious rival for the party’s nomination.

It isn’t Donald Trump, whose withering insults have sought to make Jeb pay a political price for his brother’s presidency. It isn’t Marco Rubio, Jeb’s former understudy who now poses a serious threat to his establishment support.

It’s George W. Bush’s former employee — Ted Cruz.

“I just don’t like the guy,” Bush said Sunday night, according to conversations with more than half a dozen donors who attended the event.

One donor in the room said the former president had been offering mostly anodyne accounts of how the Bush family network views the current campaign and charming off-the-cuff jokes, until he launched into Cruz.

“I was like, ‘Holy sh-t, did he just say that?’” the donor said. “I remember looking around and seeing that other people were also looking around surprised.”

“The tenor of what he said about the other candidates was really pretty pleasant,” another donor said. “Until he got to Cruz.”

Bush took a harsh view of Cruz’s apparent alliance with Trump, who stood with the senator at a Capitol Hill rally last month in opposition to the Iran deal. While Trump, the current GOP poll leaders, has attacked most of his competitors in the 2016 field, he has avoided criticizing Cruz.

One donor, paraphrasing the former president’s comment in response to a broad question about how he viewed the primary race and the other Republican candidates, said: “He said he found it ‘opportunistic’ that Cruz was sucking up to Trump and just expecting all of his support to come to him in the end,” that donor added.

George W. Bush is well acquainted with his home-state senator, who served as a domestic policy adviser on his 2000 campaign before rising to national prominence by distancing himself from — and often going out of his way to antagonize — the GOP establishment. In his book published earlier this year, Cruz ripped Bush’s record, criticizing elements of his foreign policy and faulting the administration for enabling “bigger government and excessive spending and new entitlements.”

While Jeb Bush’s campaign is spending far more time of late pushing out information that contrasts favorably with Rubio, his oldest brother seemed to see Cruz as the biggest threat in the end. According to several donors, the former president said not to doubt Cruz’s strength.


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Despite Climate Progress, U.S., China Face a World of Differences – By CAROL E. LEE And COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON Updated Sept. 25, 2015 11:34 a.m. ET

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At a press conference in the White House, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China discussed their willingness to work together to tackle the problem of climate change. Photo:AP

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to the White House Friday, pledging to “candidly” address growing differences between the two countries.

Mr. Xi, who was treated to a formal arrival ceremony that included military honor guards and a 21-gun salute, said the U.S. and China are building a new model for major country relations and called for the pursuit of “win-win cooperation.”

Mr. Obama, under pressure to narrow differences between Washington and Beijing over economic, human rights and security issues, cited an enhanced understanding between the two countries but underscored specific areas where they are at odds.

“Even though our nations cooperate, I believe—and I know you agree—that we must address our differences candidly,” Mr. Obama told his Chinese counterpart.

“The United States will always speak out on behalf of fundamental truths,” Mr. Obama said. “We believe that nations are more successful and the world makes more progress when our companies compete on a level playing field, when disputes are resolved peacefully, and when the universal human rights of all people are upheld.”

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The emergency meeting that led Walker to quit – By SHANE GOLDMACHER and ALEX ISENSTADT 09/22/15, 01:13 AM EDT

The governor left his closest supporters in the dark, even his biggest financial backers.



It’s almost always bad news when a candidate’s spouse calls an emergency meeting.

But that’s what happened late last week when Scott Walker’s wife, Tonette, and his campaign chairman, Mike Grebe, reached out to a small number of longtime Walker aides and summoned them to the governor’s mansion on Monday morning.

The topic was obvious: the future of Walker’s struggling presidential campaign.

Walker had just limped out of a disappointing second presidential debate. The governor had spent weeks preparing for the showdown, knowing his political life depended on it. He’d practiced giving punchier answers and making sure to use up all his allotted time.

But the reviews had been brutal. Donors were grousing, and money was drying up. It was a painful turn for Walker, who had quickly vaulted to the top of the Iowa polls, powered by a fiery January speech in Des Moines, only to drop precipitously in the summer amid Donald Trump’s rise. He had gone from frontrunner to also-ran in a matter of months.

So on Monday morning, the group of advisers – including veteran Walker hands John Hiller, Bill Eisner, Ed Goeas, and Jim Villa – huddled with Scott and Tonette Walker. The top of the agenda, according to campaign sources: polling and fundraising. And the numbers were bad.

Shortly after the meeting wrapped, Walker arrived at his decision: He was out. It was a shocking and sudden move that blindsided many of Walker’s closest allies, threw the power of super PACs into doubt, and opened opportunities for rivals to pick up patrons, staff, and supporters.

The seeds of Walker’s withdrawal had been planted five nights earlier in Simi Valley, when Walker spoke for fewer minutes than any other candidate on the debate stage. Instead of a breakout performance, the closet thing he had to a signature moment came as Carly Fiorina finished her impassioned answer on Planned Parenthood. Walker lifted his finger, as if to interject. He wasn’t called upon. He would speak only once in the next 30 minutes.


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Carson doubles down on no Muslims in the White House – By Jonathan Easley September 20, 2015, 07:25 pm

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Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson is standing by his view that a Muslim should not be president of the United States, telling The Hill in an interview on Sunday that whoever takes the White House should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Koran.”

Carson ignited a media firestorm in a Sunday morning interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” in which he said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

“I absolutely would not agree with that,” Carson said.

In an interview with The Hill, Carson opened up about why he believes a Muslim would be unfit to serve as commander in chief.

“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson said. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Carson said that the only exception he’d make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”

“Then I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said.

However, on several occasions Carson mentioned “Taqiya,” a practice in Shia Islam in which a Muslim can mislead nonbelievers about the nature of their faith to avoid persecution.

“Taqiya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said.

Pushing back at the media firestorm over his remarks, Carson sought to frame himself as one of the few candidates running for president willing to tell hard truths.

“We are a different kind of nation,” Carson said. “Part of why we rose so quickly is because we wouldn’t allow our values or principles to be supplanted because we were going to be politically correct… part of the problem today is that we’re so busy trying to be politically correct, that we lose all perspective.”

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CIA relents in secrecy fight on presidential intelligence briefings – By JOSH GERSTEIN 09/15/15, 09:58 PM EDT

The briefings detail reaction to some of the biggest crises of the 1960s.

CIA Director John Brennan

After decades of stiff resistance, the CIA is preparing to pull back the curtain—to an extent—on one of the most vaunted rituals in the intelligence world: the daily briefing delivered to American presidents on world events and global threats.

At a conference in Austin, Texas Wednesday, the spy agency is set to release about 2,500 President’s Daily Briefs and similar reports delivered to President John F. Kennedy and then to President Lyndon Johnson during a nearly-eight-year span in the 1960s. The briefings detail the evolution of the war in Vietnam and responses to events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six-Day War in the Middle East.

The move to release documents that are over 40 years old may seem far from radical, but it represents a reversal of longstanding CIA claims that disclosing PDBs—even years after the fact—would endanger national security by exposing the manner in which presidents receive and digest intelligence.

If victory has 1000 fathers, so, too, does transparency, it seems. CIA Director John Brennan is flying out to the Johnson Presidential Library for the unveiling, which will also be attended by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Brennan’s prominence as the event’s keynote speaker and the CIA’s promotion of it as “the biggest release of President’s Daily Briefs ever” has many CIA watchers puzzling about how the spy agency went from insisting that the PDB be sacrosanct to trumpeting their publication.

At a rare news conference at CIA headquarters last year prompted by release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on brutal interrogations of prisoners in the war on terror, Brennan did not sound like a man eager to bring more sunshine to the CIA’s work.

“I think there’s more than enough transparency that has happened over the last couple days. I think it’s over the top,” Brennan quipped then.

For its part, the White House says the first-ever release of a trove of presidential intelligence briefings stems from pro-transparency policies put in place by President Barack Obama.


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Black voters aren’t feeling the Bern: Sanders’ problem is bigger than #BlackLivesMatter – TERRELL JERMAINE STARR SUNDAY, SEP 13, 2015 05:00 AM PDT

The Vermont senator is closing the gap on Hillary, but a segment of his party’s base remains unswayed. Here’s why

Black voters aren't feeling the Bern: Sanders' problem is bigger than #BlackLivesMatter
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetSenator Bernie Sanders continues to pack arenas and often draws standing-room-only crowds as he vies for the Democratic nomination. Though Sanders trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in most national polls, he is closing the gap. One poll shows Sanders leading Clinton in Iowa.

Part of the magnetism drawing supporters to the senator is his populist message that includes eliminating economic inequality, challenging oligarchs on Wall Street and advocating for blue-collar workers. Without question, the insurgent nature of his candidacy is igniting excitement in the Democratic base and among many progressive voters who believe a true liberal can win the nomination, and quite possibly, the White House.

There remains one inconvenient dilemma for the Sanders camp: Most black voters have yet to “feel the Bern.”

According to the latest findings from Public Policy Polling, 65 percent of black voters support Clinton while only 14 percent back Sanders. For a man who is heralded as a civil rights veteran by his legion of supporters, that number is not impressive.

In more than a dozen interviews with political strategists, leading black journalists and activists, there is a common acknowledgement that most African-American voters don’t know who the senator is, and that his messaging to this critical voting base has been poorly executed. For many months, the Sanders campaign did little to make inroads with black voters, in person or online. Another problem observers point out is that there is an arrogant and insulting expectation among Sanders’ white liberal supporters that black people should vote for him simply because he is not Hillary Clinton. Others point to him “marching with Dr. King.” Then too, the senator has also bumbled primetime moments from which he has yet to fully recover.

That said, observers believe Sanders can gain the trust of more black voters (but likely not more than Clinton), though many question his personal resolve to do so.

Sanders Media Stumbles and Challenges Connecting With Black Voters

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ONE YEAR AGO…My how things change….The Politico 50 Survey 09/03/14, 11:48 PM EDT