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2016 Presidential Debate Schedule Announced

US-VOTE-2012-DEBATEPresidential candidates looking to emerge as the nominee after their party’s primary can mark a few more dates on the calendar next fall for the White House general election debates.

Three presidential and one vice presidential debate will be held for the 2016 general election next fall, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday .

Four universities were chosen to stage the 2016 presidential and vice presidential debates, including veteran host Washington University in St. Louis and, marking the first such debate in Nevada, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

The sites which also include first-time hosts Wright State University in Ohio and Virginia’s Longwood University, were among 16 schools and cities that submitted bids in April to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates. The organization has sponsored official presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.

“We look forward to working with these fine universities and their students and communities to bring these important civic events to the nation,” commission co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Mike McCurry said in a statement.

Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, will be the backup site. Dominican University of California will lead an initiative using technology and social media to engage young voters in a discussion of major issues in the 2016 debates, the commission said.

Next year’s first presidential debate will be held Sept. 26 at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. Washington University will host the second debate on Oct. 9, while the University of Nevada will hold the Oct. 19 debate in Las Vegas.

Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, will host the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4.

Formats for each debate have not yet been set.

Wright State President David Hopkins called the selection “very gratifying and humbling,” saying: “This is a huge win for all of us.”

Joan Neff, Longwood’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, added: “For Longwood students, the chance to experience a debate on campus will be a part of their college experience they will never forget.”

Political scientist Ken Warren noted that all four sites are in potential swing states, and that Ohio is recognized as the best bellwether state.

“I don’t think it’s coincidental,” said Warren, a professor at St. Louis University.

But the commission’s executive director, Janet Brown, insisted that wasn’t the case. She told The Associated Press that vetting focused on logistics, such as the sites’ “ability to integrate something this big and complicated into their ongoing responsibilities.” Other factors included available hotels and support services, including access to the debate sites.

Other sites that applied to host were in Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, California, Kentucky, Georgia, New York, Florida and West Virginia. Brown said each site was reviewed on its own merits, but acknowledged “it’s always tempting to go to repeat sites because you know how capable they are.”

Washington University has hosted more commission-sponsored debates than any other institution. The school staged presidential debates in 1992, 2000 and 2004, and a vice presidential one in 2008. It was picked for a 1996 debate, but that event was canceled when the number of debates that year was pared to two from three.

Mark Wrighton, Washington University’s chancellor, said he believed several factors played in that school’s favor, including its central U.S. location and its debate track record. The 2016 debate will be in the field house, where seating can accommodate roughly 2,000 people.

“They quite obviously have confidence in us,” he said. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host again.”

The debate at UNLV will mark the first time one of the commission’s presidential debates has taken place in Nevada.

UNLV’s presidential adviser for strategic initiatives, Don Snyder, said it signals an incredible turnaround for Las Vegas. He said business and political meeting organizers were unfairly urged to avoid the city during the recession.

“And I think for the presidential debates to be here, totally allows that message to be turned not just (into) a positive but an incredible positive, in terms of being able to market the destination and really market the university,” he said. “It’s the university on center stage.”



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Pataki Optimistic and Encouraged By Presidential Campaign So Far

PatakiIf you ask George Pataki how his presidential campaign has been going these last 11 days, he’s pretty optimistic.

“I’m very encouraged,” the former New York governor told Bloomberg following his speech at the annual gathering of the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure, a group that advocates for private investments in public infrastructure project. “You know we went from nowhere and, without any advertising nationally, just with the announcement and the energy and enthusiasm generated from that, the next CNN poll showed I was in the top 10 and would make the August debate.”

In the latest CNN/ORC poll, conducted from May 29-31—the former governor announced on May 28—3 percent of voters said they would support Pataki for president, up from less than one percent in CNN’s April poll. The new numbers put him in 10th place, tied with Donald Trump. The poll’s margin of error was ±4.5 percentage points.

“Now, whether that’s the case come August 6 who knows, but it just showed that there is this opportunity and we got off to, I believe, a very strong start,” Pataki said.

The speech at the AIAI meeting, held in Midtown Manhattan at the same building as the Women’s National Republican Club, was one of Pataki’s first policy talks since announcing his presidential campaign late last month. In the 20 minute address he praised the vision behind projects like the Eerie Canal, the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system.

“All three major infrastructure projects, all three inspired and supported by government, all three transformational beyond their simple infrastructure,” Pataki said.

Pataki outlined some policy proposals, including incentivizing states to partner with the private sector, developing a national infrastructure priorities list, and funding the Highway Tax Fund, a federal fund that pays for infrastructure projects, by raising the corporate tax rate.

Pataki also threw some jabs at the Obama administration, including a critique of the 2009 stimulus package. “Eight hundred and forty-seven billion dollars allocated by the federal government for shovel-ready infrastructure. Do you know how much actually went to the Department of Transportation projects? $48 billion.” he said. “Eight hundred and forty-seven billion dollars that was supposed to go to infrastructure, about five percent actually went to infrastructure programs.”

The stimulus criticism fit into a larger theme: ambitious infrastructure projects are good, but only if they’re based on good ideas, and not politics.

“So many of the projects funded by the federal government make no economic sense at all and are being done for political reasons,” Pataki said. “How many bridges to nowhere do we have to have Washington finance before we understand that there’s a way to check that?”

Among the business leaders pushing for private investment in infrastructure, Pataki was a hit.

“Clearly he knew his audience, but I think the feelings he expressed were pretty heartfelt,” Richard A. Fierce, the senior vice president of infrastructure at Fluor Enterprises and the president of the AIAI board, said. “I think we all were pretty impressed with his comments.”

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Christie Slams Hillary Over Divisive Voting Rhetoric

AP GOP 2016 RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES A ELN USA DCNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday was among the Republicans who struck back Friday against Hillary Rodham Clinton’s suggestions that they have attempted to disenfranchise voters systematically.

They accused the Democratic presidential front-runner of running a divisive campaign and favoring lax controls on voting.

Christie, a potential GOP presidential candidate, said in Concord, New Hampshire, that Clinton didn’t know “the first thing about voting rights in New Jersey,” and simply wanted to have an opportunity to “commit greater acts of voter fraud” around the nation.

Another potential Republican rival, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, told Fox News that Clinton was “dividing America” and overlooking the fact that Ohio has 28 days of early voting while her home state of New York doesn’t have any. Ohio had 35 days of early voting until he signed a law last year lopping off a week.

“What is she talking about?” Kasich asked. “Don’t be running around the country dividing America.”

Clinton said Thursday in Houston that a group of current and former Republican governors pursuing the White House has “systematically and deliberately” tried to prevent millions of Americans from voting. Clinton said the changes were aimed at making it more difficult for minority and low-income voters to cast a ballot and outlined steps to expand access to early voting and allow universal, automatic voter registration for young people.

It was the first time as a presidential candidate that Clinton singled out her potential Republican rivals by name, criticizing voting policies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Christie.

Clinton cited Christie for vetoing a bill in New Jersey to extend early voting. She said Bush had conducted a “deeply flawed” purge of eligible voters in Florida by having the names of people who were mistakenly thought to be felons removed from voting rolls.

And she accused Walker of cutting early voting, making it harder for college students to vote, while she said Perry approved laws in Texas that discriminated against minority voters.

Democratic attorneys recently filed legal challenges to voting changes in the presidential battleground states of Ohio and Wisconsin. One of the attorneys involved in the lawsuits is Marc Elias, who is also serving as the Clinton campaign’s general counsel. Clinton’s campaign is not officially involved in the lawsuits.

Walker, whose state has passed voter ID laws, said in a statement late Thursday that Clinton’s “rejection of efforts to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat not only defies logic, but the will of the majority of Americans.”

Christie vetoed legislation in 2013 that would have allowed in-person early voting at polling places and he’s criticized same-day registration. New Jersey does have a mail-in early-voting system.

Democrats contend that Republicans overstate the incidence of fraudulent voting to justify steps that depress turnout from minority and other hard-to-reach voters, many of whom would support Democratic candidates. Republicans say Democrats overlook fraud because they want those votes.

Clinton will deliver what her team considers her first major speech next week, in New York, opening a new stage of her campaign. Clinton intends to paint the large Republican field as monolithic on policy in coming months.

Her team bills the New York speech as a campaign kickoff, although she launched her candidacy in April.


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Cassidy Wins in Louisiana – Republicans Gain 9 Senate Seats in This Election Cycle

GOP midtermDemocratic Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her Senate runoff race Saturday night, felled by the red tide that’s swept the South and ties to an unpopular President that she couldn’t shake. Landrieu’s Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy won easily meaning Republicans have picked up nine Senate seats this election cycle and will have control of 54 seats in the chamber next year.

Once seen as Democrats’ strongest incumbent, Landrieu ended up such a long-shot in her runoff with Cassidy that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut its investment in the state, a move that Landrieu decried as leaving “a soldier on the field.”

In her concession speech, Landrieu touted her own “record of courage, honesty and integrity and delivering for the state when it mattered the most.”

The senator also said she didn’t regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.

“This is something to be proud of, and I’m glad we fought for it,” she said, touting some of the benefits of the law.

“Shake it Off,” Taylor Swift’s pop anthem to moving past defeat and ignoring critics, played as Landrieu hugged the staff and family members gathered on the stage.

And tears could be seen throughout the crowd as the event wound down on Saturday night.

An energetic Cassidy, meanwhile, opened his victory speech with a surprised, “whoa!” He told his supporters his win was the “exclamation point” on the declaration that “we want our country to go in a conservative direction,” which was made with the GOP’s resounding wins on Nov. 4.

He was introduced at his victory party by GOP Sen. David Vitter, who endorsed the congressman and has been active in the race for him. And Cassidy was joined on stage by his onetime GOP foe in the race, retired Air Force colonel Rob Maness, who ran as a conservative alternative to him during the first round of voting but endorsed him in the runoff.

Landrieu ran hard through the very end, insisting even Saturday morning, outside the school where she cast her ballot, that there was still a shot.

Landrieu’s campaign pitch centered around her clout in the Senate, and what she can do for the state in Washington. But that argument lost much of its potency on Nov. 4, when Democrats lost the Senate and Landrieu could no longer tout a committee chairmanship.

And Landrieu was never able to effectively localize the race and distance herself from the president, while Republicans tied her to him at every opportunity.

Indeed, even Landrieu’s supporters seemed to know it was over before Election Night.

Cassidy ran a largely error-free, if exceptionally safe, campaign. He held infrequent campaign stops during the runoff and stayed entirely out of the state for the final week of the runoff, returning only for a Monday debate and two rallies Friday.

The Republican National Committee had around 300 staffers in the state and used the runoff period as a testing ground for field and data methods. Republicans wanted, they said, to put an “exclamation mark” on their wins on Nov. 4.

Republicans matched their party’s post-World War II record for most House seats held Saturday night by retaining two Louisiana constituencies also  in runoff votes.

The GOP holds 246 seats, compared to 188 for Democrats, with one race, in Arizona’s 2nd District, still outstanding. The 246 seats match the total the GOP had in 1947-49 when Harry S. Truman occupied the White House.

In the midterm election rout, House Republicans prevailed on Democratic turf, netting 12 seats and winning in New York, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. Republican challengers knocked out long-term Democratic incumbents in Georgia and West Virginia, seats that the GOP now could hold for generations as the party maintains its stranglehold on the South.

The GOP had entered the Nov. 4 midterm elections with a 234-201 edge. Democrats had held out hope of minimizing their losses despite Obama’s low popularity and historic losses for the party occupying the White House. Democrats did manage to win three Republican-held seats in California, Florida and Nebraska, but Republicans had far greater success around the country.

Obama suffered an ignominious distinction. His party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 12 more this year, and he is now the two-term president with the most midterm defeats, edging past Truman’s 74.

There’s still an automatic recount in a Democratic-held district in the Tucson, Arizona-area. Rep. Ron Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by fewer than 200 voters.

If McSally wins, Republicans would have 247 seats, the largest majority since 1929-31 when the GOP controlled 270 seats in President Herbert Hoover’s administration.



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Obama Finally Cancels Fundraising Events in Response to Growing Public Anxiety Over Ebola

ObamaIncreasing public anxiety about the Ebola virus has forced the White House to shift into crisis mode and cancel two days of planned political events as President Barack Obama strives to show he has control over stopping the spread of the deadly disease.

Just three weeks ahead of critical midterm elections, Obama is facing increased pressure from Republican critics and the public at large. They say he has been too slow to protect Americans, drawing parallels to what they have described as foot-dragging on dealing with the threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Democrats who are at risk of losing control of the Senate in the November elections are worried that public concerns over Obama’s management of Ebola could hurt them, too.

Obama’s job approval ratings are at 39 percent, according to Reuters-Ipsos polls in the first week of October.

“At a time in which his job approval rating is quite low and his party is suffering because of it, I think that this is just one more cut in what’s turned out to be the death by a thousand cuts for President Obama,” one political strategist said.

Republican lawmakers, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, turned up the pressure on Wednesday with calls for travel bans for the three African nations afflicted by the Ebola outbreak.

Polls show that move would be popular with Americans. The White House has ruled out a ban, saying it would hamper the movement of supplies and aid workers needed to help stop the epidemic in the region.

Other lawmakers, including some Democrats, have urged the White House to name a point person to coordinate the response, lead briefings, and command public confidence. “It’s getting away from them, and this is becoming a real concern for us,” said a Democratic Senate aide.

Proponents of the approach are seeking a figure like former Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen who took charge of the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Until now, Tom Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, has been the face of the administration on Ebola. But the new domestic cases have forced him to backtrack from some early overconfident statements about the ability of the U.S. medical system to contain the threat.

The White House has resisted calls for a “czar” to pull together the international and domestic response to the disease, arguing that Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security aide, has been adeptly filling that role. A White House spokesman declined to comment late on Wednesday on whether that thinking has changed.

But lawmakers worry Monaco, who also plays a lead role coordinating U.S. efforts to combat Islamic State militants, has too much on her plate.

Over the past few weeks, the White House has sought to reassure the public by trying to strike a balance between demonstrating the administration is on top of the situation while not trying to feed a sense of public panic.

On Wednesday, that balance shifted. A second Texas nurse contracted Ebola from a patient who died from the disease.

The nurse had recently traveled by plane and officials began tracing a large network of people who may have had contact with her. The nurse had told the CDC she had a fever before she boarded the plane, but was not stopped from boarding, a federal source said late on Wednesday. Frieden earlier in the day told reporters she should not have been aboard.

The new infection contributed to a slide in the stock market.

Obama, who seldom changes his schedule, no matter what crisis is before him, canceled fundraisers in Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York. He met with his cabinet for about two hours, and then told Americans that the risk of a widespread outbreak was very low.


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Hillary Clinton to Help Out With Democratic Party Mid-Term Push

Hillary Clinton MidtermsHillary Clinton has been able to exist slightly above politics for the last six years. That will soon be coming to an end.

Clinton, the former secretary of state and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has committed to play a sizable role in fundraising for the party ahead of the 2014 elections, according to sources and aides for different campaign groups.

In addition to campaigning for specific candidates, aides to Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association confirmed that Clinton will headline fundraisers for each respective group in 2014.

Clinton is also slated to headline one of the most anticipated events of the year in Democratic politics in Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s Iowa Steak Fry on September 14.

Sen. Harkin’s team announced Monday that Clinton along with her husband former President Bill Clinton will headline the fundraiser in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The steak fry regularly draws big-name, national politicians and is seen as a required stop for any Democrat seeking the presidency.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill also said that the former secretary of state will do more in Iowa than just attend the steak fry.

“She’s looking forward to campaigning for her Democratic friends and colleagues and to helping the effort to move America forward, including a stop to see her old friend and colleague Senator Harkin to help raise money for important races in Iowa,” Merrill said in a statement.

In addition, a DCCC source also said Clinton will fundraiser for the congressional campaign committee, including a women’s event in San Francisco with Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“We’re thrilled and grateful that she is lending her support to our shared goal of electing a Democratic House of Representatives that will put a stop to the endless cycle of dysfunction and shutdowns from this Republican Congress,” Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.

Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has largely tried to stay out of politics. Other than campaigning for candidates with whom she has a personal relationship including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and her daughters mother-in-law Clinton hasn’t done any political fundraising.

But as likelihood of Clinton running for president in 2016 rises, political committees and groups have stepped started to ask Clinton for help in the 2014 midterms.

In April, while at an American Jewish Committee forum, Israel spoke with Clinton about what she is willing to do around the midterms.

According to Israel, Clinton said, ” I want to help,” to which Steve Israel said, “Not the minute, but the second you are ready to help, you let me know.”

Democrats have an uphill climb to taking back the House, and recent polling show the fight to keep Democratic control of the Senate will be close.

In an interview Israel said he saw Clinton as able to go into a number of different states, but especially Illinois, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.

“Her appeal is so broad. She excites our base. There are few people stronger than she is with swing voters,” Israel said, listing Clinton attributes as a fundraiser and endorser.

It was widely assumed that Clinton would campaign for Democrats in 2014. The cadre of groups organizing around her possible 2016 bid particularly Ready for Hillary have tried to help midterm Democrats, and Priorities USA a super PAC supporting her 2016 run  has told donors to focus on the midterms for now.

In July, Clinton told a Southern California public radio station that she is “committed” to helping midterms Democrats.

“I strongly am committed to doing what I can to keep the Senate in Democratic hands,” she said.

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Cleveland To Host 2016 Republican Party National Convention

GOPThe U.S. Republican Party’s national convention to nominate a presidential candidate in 2016 will likely be held in Cleveland, the Republican National Committee said on Tuesday.

The site selection panel chose Cleveland over finalist Dallas, and the full committee is expected to approve the choice in August. Democrats have yet to choose a site for their own convention.

Cleveland is in the influential swing state of Ohio. No candidate has won the presidency without winning Ohio since 1960, and Republicans will likely depend on the state once again as they seek to reclaim the White House in 2016.

“As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said when he announced the selection on Fox News.

Republicans held their 2012 event in Tampa, Florida, just before the Democrats’ confab in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost Florida that November, while President Barack Obama, a Democrat, failed to secure North Carolina’s electoral votes.

Priebus said Republicans were very interested in improving the party’s standing in Ohio.

“It’s something we’ve invested a lot of money in,” he said.

Cities bidding to host the convention promoted their financing plans, as well as hotel and transportation options. Political conventions draw tens of thousands of visitors who pour millions of dollars into the local economy.

Before they were eliminated, other contenders to host the Republican event included Ohio’s Cincinnati and Columbus, as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Kansas City, Missouri, and Denver.

Democrats have yet to choose a site for their own convention, but they have narrowed their options to Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Birmingham, Alabama.


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