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Jul 212013

Bill Clark/Roll Call(DES MOINES, Iowa) — In an interview for This Week with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz dismissed talk of a potential 2016 White House bid, along with the question of whether he is ready to run for the highest office in the land after having been a senator less than a year.

“We are having a national debate about which direction the country should go…and what I am doing now is trying to participate in that national debate,” Cruz said Friday while in Iowa, a state frequented by those with White House ambitions. “I’m not focused on the politics…the last office I was elected to was student council. So this has been a bit of a whirlwind.”

Karl asked Cruz about his eligibility for the White House, which has been questioned given that he was born in Canada.

“My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen,” Cruz said.
“I’m not going to engage in a legal debate. The facts are clear,” he added. “I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were. And then as a legal matter, others can worry about that. I’m not going to engage.”

Cruz has established himself as a staunch opponent of immigration reform that includes a so-called “pathway to citizenship,” for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, which is a key component of the immigration bill fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — a potential 2016 presidential primary opponent for Cruz — helped push through the Senate.

Cruz, who said that Rubio ”proceeded in good faith” in his efforts to advance immigration reform, nonetheless said he thought including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is unfair to those had have immigrated to the United States legally.

“I think a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally is profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who followed the rules,” Cruz said, adding that he does not think a bill with such a path can pass the House of Representatives.

During the interview with Karl, Cruz criticized President Obama for trying to advance gun control measures following the December massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut that left 20 children dead.

“I think he had a political agenda, which was to restrict the second amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens… They took advantage of that horrible, tragic shooting to push that agenda. And they didn’t focus actually on solving the problem,” Cruz said.

“I think the policies he was advancing were wrong and were dangerous,” he added. “And the point that I was finishing is I admire and respect him in that he fights for his principles, but I think his principles are profoundly dangerous.”

Karl also asked Cruz about arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court at age 32.

“Scalia, Ginsberg, the chief — it was 30 minutes of getting pounded. It was like a head of tuna being thrown to a school of sharks.” Cruz said.

“I will tell you, I have always liked the fact that I sit in my office and I look at a giant painting of me getting my tail whipped 9-0. And it is very good for instilling humility to look and see, ‘ok, that’s what it looks like to lose.’”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jul 202013

United States Congress(NEW YORK) — If you’re a 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, watch out for Rep. Peter King’s right hook.

While discussing his boxing skills with ABC News’ Rick Klein, King, R-N.Y., who has been talking up his potential presidential ambitions, took jabs at other possible 2016 contenders.

“I’m going to be feeling out the opponents the first few rounds, throwing jabs and jabs and, when they’re not looking, right cross and it’s all over,” King said.

He even offered some praise for the Democrat who would be the odds-on frontrunner, provided she decided to run.

King believes the Republicans don’t stand a chance if they put up the wrong candidate against Hillary Clinton.

“I think she’s very strong on foreign policy, and I think that if we nominate someone from our isolationist wing of the party, she’ll destroy them,” King said, putting Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz squarely in the isolationist category.

King also had criticism for another potential Republican 2016 hopeful, Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Fla., who King believed failed to deliver on providing aid to the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“I have a lot of regard for Sen. Rubio, but I have some hard feelings after what he did, voting against aid to New York,” King told ABC News. “[It] shows some narrowness which I’m not over yet.”

That said, King’s issues with the GOP are not only limited to the domestic front. The congressman also thinks Republicans need to participate in a “coherent” foreign policy dialogue and should focus on avoiding “name calling” and “pandering to people’s fears.”

“I like Paul [Ryan],” King said. “But as far as defense, Paul hasn’t really spoken out on defense.”

“So far … no one is out there talking about national defense,” he continued. “The economy’s important, immigration’s important but the fact is if we don’t survive as a nation, none of that matters.”

Without this kind of discussion, King believes Republicans will face an uphill battle, especially if the Democrats nominate Clinton. And he is not alone in thinking that.

On Friday, White House strategist David Axelrod said Clinton would be the most likely Democratic nominee in 2016.

“I think that Hillary Clinton probably will be the candidate,” Axelrod said Friday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 162013

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — During an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio criticized President Obama for not intervening sooner in Syria’s civil war, saying the inaction has led to the “worst possible scenario” in the war-torn country.

“It behooved us to kind of identify whether there was elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn’t carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. This president failed to do that,” Rubio told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“The fact that it’s taken this White House and this president so long to get a clear and concise policy on Syria has left us with the worst possible scenario right now,” Rubio added.

“So now your options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements. That doesn’t mean that they all are, but it certainly — this group has become the most organized, the best armed, the best equipped. Our options are now really narrower than they were a few months ago,” he said.

The United States will provide arms to Syrian rebels after determining this week that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. President Obama has said the use of such weapons would cross a “red line.

More than 90,000 people have died in Syria since March of 2011 according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while the Obama administration estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from chemical weapons attacks in the country.

Rubio was also asked by Karl if he supported his own immigration bill, which he helped author with the “Gang of Eight” members in the Senate.

“Obviously I think it’s an excellent starting point and I think 95 — 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go,” Rubio said. “But there are elements that need to be improved,” citing the border security portion of the current bill.

The immigration bill currently in the Senate will need some Republican support in order to overcome a potential filibuster. Many in the GOP want to see the border security measures in the bill strengthened before they would consider supporting it.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 162013

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — In a special Father’s Day edition of the Sunday Spotlight on ABC’s This Week, former Florida governor Jeb Bush reflected on lessons learned from his father and hinted about his own political future.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jon Karl, Bush spoke about Father’s Days spent in the Bush household and called the 41st president “the best dad and the best man I’ve ever met.”

“He’s a humble guy,” Bush said. “Every day was Father’s Day as I’m concerned.”

Bush said his father’s lessons on humility have stayed with him. As Bush reflected on his loss in a 1994 Florida gubernatorial run, he recalled the resiliency his father taught him.

“I ended up learning that losing actually turns out to be pretty good,” Bush said. “It makes you better. You learn and grow.”

Bush said his father’s reaction to losing his 1992 presidential bid also inspired him.

“I think my dad’s post-presidency, he didn’t miss a beat,” Bush said. “He didn’t get into any kind of ‘woe is me.’ He dusted himself off and led an incredible life since 1993.”

Bush opened up about his father’s health challenges. President Bush celebrated his 89th birthday on June 12th and donned a signature pair of colorful Superman socks for the occasion.

“I think it was hard at first for my dad to transition to being immobile,” Bush said.

“I think he’s in a good place. He’s mentally alert,” he added. “He’s spiritually in a place that we should all envy.”

The former Florida governor is frequently mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate -including by family members.

His father and brother, George W. Bush, have encouraged Jeb to enter the race in 2016, while his mother, Barbara, concluded that there have been “enough Bushes” in the White House.

“I think we’ve got a split ballot amongst the Bush senior family. Pretty sure that’s the case,” Bush said smiling.

For now, the Bush family is focused on their Father’s Day letter writing contest, recently launched to honor fathers and promote former First Lady Barbara Bush’s Foundation for Family Literacy.

Bush says the project honors his father’s love of writing letters and encourages families to get involved in the “process of teaching kids how to read and giving them the joy of reading.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 082013

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s GOP address, Indiana Rep. Luke Messer spoke of the importance of preventing a rate hike for federal student loans.

Messer began by telling a bit of his own story, saying that in order to go to college he had to pay for it through scholarships, grants, odd jobs and loans. “It wasn’t easy,” he said, but Messer was able to get a good education for himself.

“What makes this country great is that my story is not exceptional,” he continued. “Every year, millions of American students see their career dreams begin with the help of federal student financial aid.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “in just three weeks, on July 1st, interest rates on many federal student loans are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.”

Messer said that the House of Representatives acted to stop the immediate rate hike and to protect students over the long term, reducing rates for borrowers and keeping Washington politicians out of the business of setting interest rates.

“Taking the politics out of student loans is a common-sense fix,” he said. “It’s a plan that mirrors a proposal in President Obama’s budget.  As a matter of fact, one nonpartisan education expert said, and I quote, ‘the two proposals are really on the same page.”

Messer accused the president of playing politics instead of helping students. Instead, he said, Obama attacked the proposal even though it was similar to his own, “rather than seize this common ground and move the ball forward.”

“Making matters worse, this week Democratic leaders in the United States Senate tried to take the easy way out and maintain the status quo, which will only hurt students in the long-run,” he continued. “After the usual noise and bluster, they failed to pass any legislation that would help student borrowers.”

“Our young people deserve better,” he said. “Student loan relief is just one example of the solutions Republicans have put forward to get our economy back on track.”

Messer concluded by stressing the importance of giving the “next generation their opportunity to live the American dream.”

“Working together, we can,” he said. “I hope the president and the Senate will join us to fix this problem and make life a little easier for millions of students and their families.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio