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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Christie: GOP should ‘show up’ for minority votes

In Political News, Republicans on November 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

PHILIP ELLIOTT, AP

 

Sun Nov 10, 3:45 PM UTC

 

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday offered his Republican Party a prescription to win: show up.

 

Christie, fresh off a 22-percentage point win for re-election, said the GOP must go into Hispanic and black communities, talk with seniors and campaign in traditionally Democratic-leaning areas. It’s what helped him become the first New Jersey Republican in a quarter century to capture more than 50 percent of the vote.

 

It also has done nothing to tamp down chatter about a 2016 presidential bid, something many have encouraged.

 

“I know everybody is going to be speculating about what may come in my future and lots of other people’s future in our party. But the fact is, I am focused on being the governor of New Jersey and being the chairman of the Republican Governors Association,” Christie said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of the four television news shows he appeared on Sunday. “And I think those two jobs will keep me pretty busy over the next year.”

 

It’s the year after that dominates conversations among Republican operatives, donors and rivals.

 

Asked directly whether he would serve all four years of his second term, which starts in 2014, Christie hedged: “Listen, who knows? I don’t know.”

 

Republicans are searching for a candidate who is true to the party’s beliefs, can appeal to voters in swing-voting states and can help the part win the presidency for the first time since 2004.

 

Christie’s win on Tuesday made him an appealing option.

 

“I got 61 percent of the vote in the state of New Jersey in a blue state that had just re-elected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points,” Christie said. “That was nearly a 40-point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican.”

 

Christie attributed his win to reaching out to traditionally Democratic demographic groups.

 

“Getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, I’m very proud of that,” he said. “Because I’ve worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families. I’ve worked hard with the African American community. I’ve worked hard with seniors and students.”

 

Christie said the reason for his win was simple: better-than-average showing at the polls from minorities and Democrats.

 

“If you want to win a vote by that kind of margin, if you want to attract the majority of the Hispanic vote, if you want to nearly triple your African American vote, you need to show up, you need to go into those neighborhoods, you need to campaign in places,” Christie said.

 

Exit polls say Christie also carried one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of those who called themselves independents.

 

That’s not to say Christie is a natural fit for the GOP. He has favored an overhaul to the nation’s immigration laws that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. He is not opposed to some gun control measures. And he’s been critical of some of the tea party’s most popular figures in Washington.

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 presidential contender who is weighing another White House campaign, said voters would have to judge Christie’s record as he visits early nominating states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 

“Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?” Perry said in an interview taped during a visit to Des Moines, Iowa. “We’ll have that discussion at the appropriate time.”

 

Christie spoke to “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Christie and Perry appeared separately on ABC’s “This Week.”

 

Source: Associated Press

 

 

 

 

Ill. set to be 15th state to allow gay marriage

In Homosexual marriage, Homosexual rights on November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

KERRY LESTER, AP

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — With Illinois set to become the 15th state nationwide to legalize same-sex marriage, Chicago couple Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos finally began planning the wedding they’d started thinking about more than two decades ago.

“From the moment we met and fell in love, the language was, ‘If I could marry you I would,'” said Volpe, who is expecting the couple’s third child. “We waited a long time for that to happen, to hear … that we can have that. I think it’s really the final stamp on our relationship.”

After months of arduous lobbying in President Barack Obama’s home state, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure Tuesday that would legalize same-sex marriage. Under the legislation, which Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign, couples could start tying the knot in June.

Fourteen other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

The road to the Illinois vote was long and included a stalled attempt earlier this year, frustrating activists in a state where Democrats lead the House, Senate and governor’s office. Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, who is the main sponsor, decided not to bring the bill for a vote in May, saying he didn’t have the support.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Harris said resonated with lawmakers. Backers also launched a furious campaign, hiring a union lobbyist, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and field organizers statewide.

“To treat all our citizens equally in the eyes of the law we must change this,” Harris said on the floor. “Families have been kept apart.”

Debate lasted more than two hours, and the final roll call was met with cheers. Supporters’ speeches echoed themes of equality and civil rights, with mentions of Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

The measure had backing from both of Illinois’ U.S. senators and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It also got a last-minute boost from longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, who serves as chair of the state’s Democratic Party. The Chicago Democrat said he used the “art of persuasion” to bring on more than five votes in the last week.

Opponents, including some of the most powerful religious leaders in Illinois, have said marriage should remain between a man and a woman. A group of Chicago-area pastors vowed to line up primary challengers against some lawmakers who voted yes.

The bill first cleared the Senate on Valentine’s Day. Backers expressed confidence that the bill would be approved by the House in mid-March. But it took the supporters months to secure votes.

Although Illinois once appeared poised to become the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage in the Legislature, Minnesota did it sooner and started holding its first same-sex weddings over the summer. Iowa allows gay marriages too, because of a court ruling, not a legislative vote.

For months, the leaders of several black mega-churches lobbied the districts of black House members with an aggressive robocall campaign against gay marriage, placing the Democratic members of the caucus in an uncomfortable spotlight. Many remained undecided until the vote neared.

But for couples such as Volpe and Santos, Tuesday marked the start of a new chapter.

The couple had a civil union ceremony in 2011, when Illinois approved them. But now they hope their wedding will include their new baby.

“Some people didn’t even know what that meant. Some of them didn’t come because they didn’t know — what does that mean?” Volpe said. “When you say ‘We’re going to have a wedding,’ for sure people will come now.”

Source: Associated Press

 

 

For Obama, a sudden struggle with personal appeal

In Barak Obama, General News, Political News on November 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear Pre...

Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear President Barack Obama’s speech and greet him afterward during his visit to FBI headquarters. White House photographer Pete Souza is to Obama’s left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — For years, President Barack Obama’s personal favorability ratings served as a political firewall that sustained him through an economic recession, grueling fights with congressional Republicans, and the grind of a re-election campaign.

But after a rough start to Obama’s second term, Americans increasingly view the president unfavorably. And perhaps most concerning for the White House: an Associated Press analysis of public polling shows it has become more difficult over time for Obama to fully rebound from dents in his favorability ratings.

“It’s a slow cumulative effect,” Republican pollster David Winston said, adding that personal favorability “is a much harder number to move if it starts to go south.”

The public’s increasingly negative view of Obama may be less of a concern for his future given that he is barred from running for re-election. But the president still needs a strong connection with the public in order to rally Americans around his policy proposals and, in turn, to show Congress he remains politically relevant at a time when lame duck status is lurking.

The president’s advisers need only look at Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to see the impact of a crumbling relationship with the public. Positive impressions of the Republican trailed off in the beginning of 2005 amid public frustration with the Iraq war and the government’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s favorability rating never recovered and he struggled to fulfill significant policy goals throughout the rest of his presidency.

A series of recent polls show Obama’s personal favorability now leaning negative, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released last week that found positive views of Obama at the lowest point of his presidency and down 6 points from earlier in October. The drop follows the 16-day government shutdown, the cascade of problems during his health care law’s rollout, and another flood of revelations about U.S. government spying.

White House officials blame the shutdown in particular for Obama’s falling favorability, given that it resulted in shuttering many federal services and furloughs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, while again highlighting the troubled ties between the president and Capitol Hill. But Obama aides note that the impact of the shutdown on congressional Republicans has been even worse, with both their personal and job performance ratings at record lows.

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Logo of the United States White House, especially in conjunction with offices like the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody gets hurt when there’s dysfunction in Washington,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his job approval and personal favorability ratings have generally risen and fallen in tandem. But his favorability numbers, which often reflect the public’s gut-level reaction to a politician, generally remained the more positive of the two measures.

That, the president’s supporters argue, made the public more likely to give him a chance even when they disagreed with his policies or the direction the country was headed. His strong likability was seen as a particular asset during his 2012 re-election campaign when most polls showed that voters saw him in a more favorable light than his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

“For the president, it’s meant that people have cared about what he had to say because they liked him,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.

The question for the White House now is whether that dynamic will hold if the public’s personal opinions of the president continue to sour. An Associated Press-GfK poll from early October found that 52 percent of Americans didn’t think Obama was very honest and were split on whether he was even likable.

The president’s favorability has taken hits during other points in his presidency. Most polling found the public’s impression soured in late summer 2011 around the first round of debt ceiling negotiations and again last summer in the midst of his presidential campaign.

Although Obama’s favorability improved somewhat after each hit, he never fully recovered, with each rating rebound peaking below earlier average favorability ratings.

For example, Obama began 2011 with majority favorable ratings in most polling. When the debt ceiling fight pushed his favorability below 50 percent in late 2011, he came back to an average right around 50 rather than above it. This latest battle has led to average ratings in the mid-40s, worse than he’s seen at any point previously.

Past presidents have also struggled to recover from dips in their favorability ratings.

Bush left office with majorities saying they had both a negative impression of him personally and disapproved of his job performance. And former President Bill Clinton’s favorability numbers never recovered after a fall in 1998 as the Monica Lewinsky story unfolded, though his job approval remained strong through his last days at the White House.

Republican President Ronald Reagan evoked the warmest reaction from the American public, leaving office with high job approval numbers, 63 percent according to Gallup polling in December 1988, and a majority holding a favorable impression of him personally.

Source: Associated Press

 

Gay rights bill heads for first hurdle in Senate

In Homosexual rights on November 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm
English: US Senator Dean Heller

English: US Senator Dean Heller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DONNA CASSATA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate prepared to push major gay rights legislation past a first, big hurdle Monday as Democrats and a handful of Republicans united behind a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

The legislation could win Senate passage by week’s end, but its prospects in the Republican-majority House are dimmer.

Hours before Monday’s vote, President Barack Obama issued a fresh plea for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the first significant gay rights bill since Congress lifted the ban on gays serving openly in the military nearly three years ago.

“Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done,” the president said in a message written for Huffingtonpost.com. “Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay — or the accountant who does your taxes or the mechanic who fixes your car?”

All 55 members of the Democratic majority and at least five Republicans were expected to vote to proceed with the bill, giving Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the 60 votes necessary. Reid’s Republican colleague in Nevada, Dean Heller, announced his support on Monday, saying that the measure “raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.”

Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin. But it doesn’t stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion.

Possible passage of the bill by week’s end would cap a 17-year quest to secure Senate support for the anti-bias measure that failed by one vote in 1996, the same year Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. That law required the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

Today Americans have shown increasing support for same-sex marriage, now legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, in Maine on Monday, six-term Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for governor, said that he is gay.

“That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine,” Michaud wrote in an op-ed article.

The anti-discrimination bill faces strong opposition from conservative groups — Heritage Action and the Faith and Freedom Coalition said the vote will be part of their legislative scorecard on lawmakers. More to its immediate prospects, the legislation is opposed by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and it’s unclear whether the House will even vote on the measure.

Reiterating Boehner’s longstanding opposition, spokesman Michael Steel said Monday that Boehner “believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”

Besides Heller, four other Republican senators are backing the legislation — Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and proponents expect a few others to support it.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, contrasted Heller’s backing with Boehner’s opposition.

“The speaker, of all people, should certainly know what it’s like to go to work every day afraid of being fired,” Griffin said, a reference to the unsuccessful, tea party-backed challenge to Boehner earlier this year.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have approved laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those also prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender identity.

About 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. About 57 percent of those companies include gender identity.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce remains neutral on the bill, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said it was disappointing that Boehner may not bring the measure to a vote. “When the Senate passes this legislation, all options will be on the table in order to advance this critical legislation in the House,” Hammill said.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions about whether Obama would consider issuing an executive order on workplace discrimination if Congress refused to act. Gay rights groups have criticized Obama for refusing to take that step, which would affect employees who work for federal contractors.

“We’re focused on getting ENDA through Congress,” Carney said, using the acronym for the workplace discrimination bill.

Source: Associated Press

 

Conn. police find ‘very good evidence’ on gunman

In Gun Laws, U.S. News on December 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN and JIM FITZGERALD, AP

The massacre of 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, a 20-year-old described as brilliant but remote, was driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims.

Investigators were trying to learn more about Adam Lanza and questioned his older brother, who was not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. Police shed no light on the motive for the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

In tight-knit Newtown on Friday night, hundreds of people packed St. Rose of Lima Church and stood outside in a vigil for the 28 dead — 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman’s mother at home, and the gunman himself, who committed suicide. People held hands, lit candles and sang “Silent Night.”

“These 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children,” Monsignor Robert Weiss said. “These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have. … There are a lot brighter stars up there tonight because of these kids.”

Lanza is believed to have suffered from a personality disorder and lived with his mother, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation. Authorities said he had no criminal history.

Asked at a news conference whether Lanza had left any emails or other writings that might explain the rampage, state police Lt. Paul Vance said investigators had found “very good evidence” and hoped it would answer questions about the gunman’s motives. Vance would not elaborate.

However, another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that investigators have found no note or manifesto of the sort they have come to expect after murderous rampages.

The tragedy plunged the picturesque New England town of 27,000 people into mourning.

“People in my neighborhood are feeling guilty about it being Christmas. They are taking down decorations,” said Jeannie Pasacreta, a psychologist who volunteered her services and was advising parents struggling with how to talk to their children.

Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, drove to the school in her car with at least three of her guns, and opened fire in two classrooms around 9:30 a.m. Friday, authorities said.

A custodian ran through the halls, warning of a gunman, and someone switched on the intercom, perhaps saving many lives by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, according to a teacher. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner, duck under their desks or hide in closets as shots reverberated through the building.

Among those killed was the school’s well-liked principal, Dawn Hochsprung. Town officials said she died while lunging at the gunman in an attempt to overtake him. A woman who worked at the school was wounded.

Maryann Jacob, a clerk in the school library, was in there with 18 fourth-graders when they heard a commotion and gunfire outside the room. She had the youngsters crawl into a storage room, and they locked the door and barricaded it with a file cabinet. There happened to be materials for coloring, “so we set them up with paper and crayons.”

After what she guessed was about an hour, officers came to the door and knocked, but those inside couldn’t be sure it was the police.

“One of them slid his badge under the door, and they called and said, `It’s OK, it’s the police,'” she said.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to it. It was not clear whether he held a job.

At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher at the school. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.

The law enforcement officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation.

Lanza’s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, of Hoboken, N.J., was questioned, and investigators searched his computers and phone records, but he told law enforcement he had not been in touch with his brother since about 2010.

For about two hours late Friday and early Saturday, clergy members and emergency vehicles moved steadily to and from the school. The state medical examiner’s office said bodies of the victims would be taken there for autopsies.

The gunman forced his way into the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school, authorities said. He took three guns into the school — a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both semiautomatic pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The weapons were registered to his slain mother.

Lanza and his mother lived in a well-to-do part of prosperous Newtown, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, where neighbors are doctors or hold white-collar positions at companies such as General Electric, Pepsi and IBM.

His parents filed for divorce in 2008, according to court records. His father, Peter Lanza, lives in Stamford, Conn., and works as a tax director for GE.

The gunman’s aunt Marsha Lanza, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.

“Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality,” Marsha Lanza said, adding her husband had seen Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary.

Catherine Urso, of Newtown, said her college-age son knew the killer. “He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths,” she said.

Lanza attended Newtown High School, and several news clippings from recent years mention his name among the honor roll students.

Joshua Milas, who graduated from Newtown High in 2009 and belonged to the school technology club with him, said that Lanza was generally a happy person but that he hadn’t seen him in a few years.

“We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart,” Joshua Milas said. “He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius.”

The mass shooting is one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and among school attacks is second in victims only to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 people dead, including the gunman. Reaction was swift and emotional in Newtown and beyond.

“It has to stop, these senseless deaths,” said Frank DeAngelis, principal of Colorado’s Columbine High School, where a massacre in 1999 killed 15 people.

In Washington, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence organized a vigil at the White House, with some protesters chanting, “Today IS the day” to take steps to curb gun violence. In New York’s Times Square, a few dozen people held tea lights in plastic cups, with one woman holding a sign that read: “Take a moment and candle to remember the victims of the Newtown shooting.”

President Barack Obama’s comments on the tragedy amounted to one of the most outwardly emotional moments of his presidency.

“The majority of those who died were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” Obama said at a White House news briefing. He paused for several seconds to keep his composure as he teared up and wiped an eye. Nearby, two aides cried and held hands.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the attack as a “senseless and incomprehensible act of evil.”

“Like President Obama and his fellow Americans, our hearts too are broken,” Gillard said in a statement.

In Japan, where guns are severely restricted and there are extremely few gun-related crimes, the attack led the news two days before parliamentary elections. In China, which has seen several knife rampages at schools in recent years, the attack quickly consumed public discussion.

In Newtown, Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher. “That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he said. “He was very brave. He waited for his friends.”

He said the shooter didn’t utter a word.

Kaitlin Roig, a teacher at the school, said she implored her students to be quiet.

“I told them we had to be absolutely quiet. Because I was just so afraid if he did come in, then he would hear us and just start shooting the door. I said we have to be absolutely quiet. And I said there are bad guys out there now and we need to wait for the good guys to come get us out,” Roig told ABC.

“If they started crying, I would take their face and say, `It’s going to be OK. Show me your smile,'” she said. “They said, `We want to go home for Christmas. Yes, yeah. I just want to hug my mom.’ Things like that, that were just heartbreaking.”

Source:  Associated Press.

Obama says he ‘won’t compromise’ on taxes

In Barak Obama, Democrats, Political News on December 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Tax

By BEN FELLER, 

President Obama  warned Monday that he “won’t compromise” on his demands that the wealthiest Amereicans 

pay more in taxes, digging in on the chief sticking point between the White House and Republicans asthey seek a way to avert the “fiscal cliff.” 

Obama brought his pressure-Congress campaign to the heart of industrial America, ripping lines from his own reelection bid as the nation inched closer to a perilous economic cliff. He said the country couldn’t afford a”manufactured” crisis and pledged to cheering auto workers that he would fight to extend tax cuts for the middle

class before they expire at year’s end. 

“That’s a hit you can’t afford to take,” Obama declared. 

Obama’s campaign-style trip to Michigan came one day after he and House Speaker John Boehner met privately at the White House. While neither side would characterize the meeting, the mere fact that the two leaders talked face-to-face was seen as progress in negotiations to avoid a series of year-end tax hikes and spending cuts. 

Republicans have long opposed Obama’s call for higher tax rates on the wealthy, but some GOP lawmakers are suggesting the party relent on taxes in order to win concessions from the president on changes to benefit programs such as Medicare. Still, Boehner’s office indicatedMonday that the speaker wasn’t ready to take that step. 

“The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer,” said Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman. He was referring to a GOP plan that offered $800 billion in new revenue over the next decade through reducing or eliminating unspecified tax breaks on upper-income earners, but not by raising tax rates. 

Source:  Associated Press.

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