John Kasich seized an opportunity to blast rival Donald Trump Thursday as unprepared for the presidency after comments about abortion ignited a fresh round of controversy this week about the Republican front-runner.
“Donald Trump is clearly not prepared to be president,” Kasich said at a news conference in New York. He argued that Trump “becomes unmoored” when pressed about his positions and then corrects himself, as Trump’s campaign did Wednesday after he suggested punishing women for having abortions if they were to become illegal.
Presidents, Kasich added, “don’t get do-overs.”
The Ohio governor, who is far behind Trump and rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the GOP contest, largely avoided sparring with Trump through much of the campaign. But he began aiming heavy criticism at the New York real estate magnate after violence outside a planned Trump rally in Chicago earlier this month.
After seeming to relish reaction to his provocative positions during much of the campaign, Trump faced condemnation from both sides of a divisive social issue after saying Wednesday that women who have abortions should receive “some form of punishment” if the procedure is ever outlawed, as Trump would like. His campaign quickly backtracked, saying only people who perform abortions would be held legally responsible.
Those remarks “put women in a very difficult position,” said Kasich, who describes himself as pro-life and said Thursday that “you can be a defender of life while respecting women.”
He also ticked off other Trump ideas he portrayed as objectionable, alarming, unrealistic or all three: banning foreign Muslims temporarily from entering the U.S., scaling back the nation’s role in NATO, making Mexico pay for a fortress-like border wall, and not “taking any cards off the table” when asked if he would use nuclear weapons in the Middle East or Europe, among other comments.
Leading the world in fighting terrorism “takes cooperation. It takes restraint. It takes judgment. It takes experience – not wild-eyed suggestions,” Kasich said.
Kasich argues his 18 years in Congress and two terms as governor show he has a record of making change – and that he’s the only Republican hopeful who can win the general election. He said Thursday that having Cruz or Trump as nominee would endanger not only the GOP’s presidential hopes but its majority in the U.S. Senate, where some Republicans are in tight races.
Trying to recruit Trump voters to his side, Kasich touches on his own blue-collar upbringing as a postal worker’s son to make the case that he understands Trump supporters’ economic frustrations and can help them.
“I am with the Trump people,” he said Thursday. “They just don’t know me.”
Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
Interesting that flashy billionaire Donald Trump, the thrice-married womanizer whose swinging lifestyle has been documented for all of his career, is the leader of virtually all polls of the current crop of Republican candidates for President.
Yep, the party of family values, claimed straight-laced behavior and purity is lining up behind the candidate who likes screwing women as much as he likes screwing his business partners.
Trump is married to wife number three, Melania, since 2005. His second spouse, Marla Maples (1993-99) showed up cavorting naked in paparazzi photos earlier this year. Ivana (1977-1992) is the current record holder in length of marriage to “The Donald” and is, like the other two spouses, a looker,
Marla, snapped in photos in March of this year, is still looking good at 46. Trump, who was singled from 1999 until 2005, managed to add a new notches to his bedpost before settling down, he claims, with Malania.
One has to wonder how a tail chaser who also owns Casinos fits into the family values bunch at the GOP. Maybe they consider his one-liners about immigration or Obama’s birthright more important than vaunted claims of morality.
I worked as a political operative for the national Republican Party in the 1970s and learned the party of the elephant should have used an oversexed jackrabbit for its symbol. Morality ranting Republican Congressmen like Henry Hyde of Illinois and Dan Burton of Indiana ended up in disgrace after they were caught fathering children out of wedlock. Right-wing darling Larry Craig got caught by police in an homosexual fling in an airport restroom.
Tea Party poster girl Sarah Palin had flings with basketball players while working as a TV sportscaster, bedded her husband’s business partner and snorted cocaine at parties in Alaska.
So maybe a bed swapping womanizer like Donald Trump is a good fit for Republicans. His sexist attitudes towards women are
Quotes from The Donald about women:
Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art is not just superficial or something pretty to see.
When he was on The Apprentice “reality” show, Trump said he looked for three things in a woman: “Young, hot and open for business.”
Answering a question on whether or not his daugher, Ivanka, might pose nude for Playboy: “I don’t think Ivanka would do that, although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
His snide comment about his daughter makes one wonder: Is he advocating incest or just pursuit of younger women?
Trump is 69. Current wife Melania is 45. Ex-wife Marla Maples is 46. First wife Ivana is 66, closer to his age.
Although Forbes reports Trump’s financial worth is about $2 billion he also gone bankrupt four times: 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009. Each of the financial failures were corporate bankruptcies from over-leveraged casinos and hotel properties in Atlantic City. He claims his wealth is far greater than what Forbes reports.
His questionable business deals often involve even more questionable business partners. For example, his Trump Hotel and Tower in Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan is Anar Mammadov, the 34-year-old billionaire playboy. Father is a powerful and influential official int the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev and is involved in inside deals that loot the national treasury and were documented in an article, “The Corleones of the Caspian,” in Foreign Policy magazine.
Donald Trump is not your typical billionaire. He is the Paris Hilton of the business world: famous for being rich and famous. And he has proved again and again that he will go to extraordinary lengths to buff the public perception that he is a billionaire many times over and, despite what you may or may not think, one of the savviest businessmen around.
And Trump is, at the time of this writing, far and away the leading candidate in polls for the GOP nomination for President of the United States.
Former President Jimmy Carter plans to discuss his recent cancer diagnosis Thursday for the first time since revealing last week that he was ill.
Carter, 90, is scheduled to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. at the Carter Center in Atlanta. The event will be closed to the public.
Carter announced Aug. 12 that liver surgery found cancer that has spread to other parts of his body. The three-sentence statement did not identify the cancer or say where it originated.
Doctors not involved in treating Carter have said those characteristics could determine Carter’s options for treating the cancer. His father, brother and two sisters died of pancreatic cancer. His mother also had the disease.
Carter’s health has been closely watched this year. He cut short an election monitoring trip to Guyana in May. A spokeswoman said he did not feel well and Carter later said he had a bad cold.
The center announced Carter had a small mass removed from his liver Aug. 3. Nine days later, Carter said that surgery revealed the cancer.
Carter was the nation’s 39th president, advancing as a virtual unknown on the national stage to defeat President Gerald Ford in 1976. But several foreign policy crises, in particular the Iran hostage crisis, crushed his bid for re-election and Ronald Reagan swept into the White House.
The native of tiny Plains, Georgia, rebuilt his career as a humanitarian guiding the center focused on global issues, including health care and democracy. Carter earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, helped defuse nuclear tensions in the Koreas and helped avert a U.S. invasion of Haiti.
He and his wife, Rosalynn, still make regular appearances at events in Atlanta and travel overseas. When the couple is in Plains, Carter frequently teaches a Sunday School class before services at Maranatha Baptist Church. He plans to teach this weekend as scheduled, according to the church.
AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
Republican presidential hopefuls eventually will have to start running against each other. But, for now, many are content to run against President Barack Obama, Iran and Middle East extremists.
At the South Carolina Republican convention on Saturday, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, called the president’s international stewardship “an unmitigated disaster. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum called Obama “weak.” Rick Perry, Texas’ former governor, blasted “vacillation” by the administration. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the president “feckless” on the world stage. And Graham and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas echoed each other as they accused Obama of “leading from behind.”
All five pledged loyalty to Israel and expressed varying levels of disdain for Iran.
The rhetoric — similar to what other potential GOP nominees are saying in early voting states — plays well at GOP venues where Obama is a reviled figure: the audience whooped, hollers and occasionally shouted “Amen” in response to the candidates. The approach also allows potential Republican nominees an easy transition into attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the favorite for the Democratic nomination.
“Hillary Clinton is not going to be the person to lead us to a more stable future,” Bush said. “She has her fingerprints on all these foreign policy disasters.”
The question, eight months before voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina start the nomination process, is whether any candidate can use promises of an aggressive foreign policy to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.
They certainly tried, as they spoke over two days to hundreds of activists who will help shape the primary outcome here. Several couched their pitches in religion, particularly in their condemnation of the Islamic State group.
“The great issue of our time is a battle between western values of freedom and this totalitarian world view of Islamic fanatics,” Perry said.
Graham, at a breakfast he hosted for delegates, said, “They want to purify their religion and they want to destroy ours.”
Santorum went further, noting the public killings broadcast by Islamic State militants. “This is not a modern Islam,” he said. “It’s a 7th century Islam. So I have a suggestion: Let’s bomb them back to the 7th century.”
Bush didn’t explicitly mention religion but played up his support for Israel, which many conservative American Christians view as the modern inheritors of the Old Testament covenant between the Judeo-Christian God and the ancient Israelites.
“The basic policy should be our friends know we have their back over the long haul, and our enemies need to fear us again,” Bush said.
Graham, the home-state senator who has surprised many local supporters by considering a presidential bid, argued that the distinguishing component of the GOP’s foreign policy discussions will be experience and past leadership.
He noted that he was an outspoken proponent of the troop surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush and that he criticized troop reductions in the region under Obama, saying the president was “fulfilling a political promise that never made sense.”
“I’ve been to Afghanistan 23 times since 9/11,” Graham said, adding that he would “listen to the commanders on the ground” rather than “pollsters.”
Already having clashed with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who takes a more skeptical view of American involvement abroad, Graham said he will continue pushing an aggressive, specific foreign and military policy debate within the party. He stopped short, however, of saying that the governors and former governors in the race are too inexperienced in world affairs.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has already launched his formal campaign, had created a stir in recent days when he told the Des Moines (Iowa) Register that governors can “read about foreign policy” but aren’t as actively engaged in it as senators.
Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .
Keeping her imprint on the 2016 Democratic primary, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is heralding a commitment from thousands of party officials to push Hillary Rodham Clinton to adopt her populist economic policies.
“Anyone who runs for president should talk about big economic ideas that will help rebuild the middle class in this country and improve the lives of working-class families,” Warren said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “These issues matter powerfully in determining what kind of a country we are and what kind of future we’re building, and I applaud those who are working hard to make big ideas central to the conversation in 2016.”
Warren’s comments come a day after the Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced that 5,000 Democratic leaders had signed on to its “Ready for Boldness” campaign. The effort urges Clinton, who is on the brink of announcing her campaign, and other potential Democratic presidential candidates to run on “big, bold, economic-populist ideas.”
The policies the group is pushing include Wall Street and campaign finance reforms, increasing government aid to public universities, and expanding Social Security benefits — all ideas championed by Warren.
The Massachusetts senator has repeatedly shot down speculation that she will challenge Clinton in the Democratic primary. The boldness campaign is essentially an acknowledgment of that reality, as the progressive group focuses instead of getting Clinton to campaign on Warren’s platform.
Among the leaders who signed the boldness pledge this week was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
The progressive group is also seeking to make the issues pledge a factor in potentially competitive Democratic Senate primaries. Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, who is running for the Senate in 2016, signed the pledge while rival Rep. Chris Van Hollen did not. Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, who liberals hope runs for the Senate, signed the pledge, while Rep. Patrick Murphy did not.
Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s unsuccessful presidential nominee in 2012, leads the field for the 2016 election among Republican voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
The former Massachusetts governor would have a slight edge over potential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by 45 percent to 44 percent in a general election, the poll found.
Among possible Republican candidates, Romney’s 19 percent put him ahead of former Florida governor Jeb Bush with 11 percent, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ben Carson each with 8 percent each, and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky with 6 percent.
Carson, a former neurosurgeon with no political experience, is a conservative commentator and author of “One Nation,” which topped the New York Times best-seller list in June.
U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee all had 5 percent, while 16 percent of those questioned were undecided.
With Romney out of the picture, Bush polled 14 percent with Christie at 11 percent and Carson at 9 percent.
Clinton, the former secretary of state, dominated the field for Democratic voters in the poll with 57 percent, followed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 13 percent and Vice President Joe Biden with 9 percent.
The telephone poll, taken Nov. 18-23, questioned 707 Republicans and 610 Democrats with a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.
When an armed intruder jumped the fence and penetrated deep into the White House, it provided a field day for cartoonists and some members of the House of Representatives — who turned Julia Pierson, the hapless Secret Service director, into a piñata at a hearing Tuesday.
President Barack Obama and his family, fortunately, had left for the weekend before the intrusion. Omar J. Gonzalez, an Iraq Army veteran, said he wanted to warn the president, ”the atmosphere was collapsing.” But the incident raised serious questions about the chief executive’s safety in his own home.
The White House is usually described as the most heavily guarded residence in the nation. Uniformed Secret Service patrol the perimeter, backed by a SWAT team with automatic weapons. An attack dog, a Belgian Malinois, is trained to take down any intruder. The dog was not released on Sept. 19, however, when Gonzalez got in the unlocked front door. He made it all the way through the ceremonial East Room, possibly overpowering a female guard, before he was tackled and finally stopped by an off-duty Secret Service agent.
The executive mansion is supposedly protected day and night, surrounded by a no-fly zone. Its windows are bulletproof. Its air may be screened to foil biological or chemical attacks.
Could more be done to make the building safer? Exotic technology might be introduced. Theoretically, at least at night, laser beams, so enamored by Hollywood movies about museum heists and jewel thefts, could be positioned on the ground floor to set off alarms. But that would be impractical in the living quarters on the second floor. And what if Bo and Sunny the first family’s frisky Portuguese water dogs triggered the laser beam alarms?
Other James Bond-type security could be established. Motion detectors, for example, could be planted in the lawn and trigger a concealed second security fence with sharp spikes that would pop up out of the ground and stop intruders long enough for guards to disable them.
Sealed thick glass doors could be installed on the stairways leading up to the family quarters. Even if an intruder or assault team got in the White House, these doors would at least buy time for agents to close in on the threat.
But other security measures, such as those used by government intelligence agencies, would be of little use in the White House. In the CIA, for example, many offices cannot be entered except through locks with push-button combinations known only to authorized users. These are designed to keep some employees or visitors out of high-security areas where they might see and identify covert officers. But the CIA has thousands of employees, the White House has a far smaller staff, without the same need to cordon off high-security areas or protect covert identities.
Nor can the White House distance itself from Washington. The CIA is out in the woods in Langley, Virginia, the National Security Agency, the government’s eavesdropping and code-breaking arm, is far from the capital in Fort Meade, Maryland. That isolation would not work for the White House, a symbol of America that has to be highly visible and sits in the middle of the capital, where millions of visitors pass through its public rooms every year.
In the end, low-tech solutions may prove more effective than sophisticated technology. More security cameras, better lighting, more guards, silent alarms and random checks to insure that uniformed agents are alert and at their stations may provide more safety to the president than electronic gadgetry.
The government could also build higher fences. Or push the pedestrian barriers further away, as it did after the fence-jumper incident on Sept. 19.
But there are limits to technological and physical security. The White House, after all, is the people’s house and a residence for the president and his family. The Secret Service has to balance the president’s protection against the perception that the executive mansion has become an inaccessible medieval castle, with battlements and moat.
The executive mansion is already less accessible to the public than in past years. In 1995, after the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed, Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to traffic to prevent an attacker with a car bomb from getting near the White House.
The White House should definitely lock the front door — as most home owners in urban areas like Washington do. But the unpalatable but sadly true fact is that there is no way to provide complete protection to the president.
The point was driven home late Tuesday, after a House committee had bombarded Pierson with hostile questions. The Washington Post reported that on Sept. 16, three days before the White House intruder, an armed security contractor shared an elevator with Obama during the president’s trip to Atlanta to review the Ebola crisis with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC contractor was fired and turned over his gun to Secret Service agents.
A study commissioned for the Secret Service in the 1990s, the Washington Post has reported, found that a half-dozen fence jumpers, acting in unison, would overwhelm the uniformed officers and some would make it into the White House. Or if a small plane or helicopter crashed onto the grounds, the study concluded, at least one or two attackers who get inside the building. A mortar fired from one of the park areas south of the White House could hit the building and do extensive damage.
On Nov. 11, 2011 a man, who was later arrested, fired at least seven bullets that hit the White House. He believed the government was trying to control the country by implanting GPS chips in children and that Obama was “the anti-Christ.” The president and his wife were in California, but his younger daughter, Sasha, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother were in the residence. It took the Secret Service several days even to realize that the shots had hit the White House.
In 1974, an Army private stole a helicopter and landed on the south lawn of the White House. Again in 1994, a man crashed a Cessna on the south lawn and skidded into the corner of the first floor. He died in the crash, which was ruled a probable suicide. President Bill Clinton and his family were not home.
Clinton was reportedly not close to James Woolsey, his CIA director. At the time, of the airplane crash, a joke circulated in Washington that the plane on the lawn was Woolsey, trying to get an appointment with the president.
In theory, a no-fly zone over Washington, known as ADIZ, protects the White House and the Capitol and other targets. It did not stop the Sept. 11 terrorists on from crashing an airliner into the Pentagon, however. And the al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 were believed to be planning to crash into the White House or the Capitol. The plane went down instead in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers fought with the terrorists.
The 9/11 attacks, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, and the 1990s study demonstrated the obvious — that political leaders and even the White House itself cannot be fully insulated from determined attackers.
The latest fence-jumping episode showed that the Secret Service needs to greatly improve its operations. The budget cuts that reduced the number of officers who protect the White House, should be restored.
The incident also demonstrated the difficult task faced by Secret Service agents every day. Gonzalez, the fence-jumper, had been stopped by police in rural Virginia during the summer with an arsenal of weapons in his car, and a map with a line pointing to the White House. In August, the Secret Service saw him walking along the south fence with a hatchet. He was interviewed by the Secret Service in both cases, but they did not have enough reason to hold him as a threat to the president.
In a democratic society, citizens cannot be arrested for merely acting suspiciously or seeming eccentric. The Secret Service has sometimes hassled people at political gatherings where the president appears, but for the most part its agents do not abuse their power.
They are well aware that no amount of weaponry, floodlights, alarm systems and attack dogs can really protect the White House in a world of terrorists and suicide bombers.
David Wise writes frequently about intelligence and espionage. His most recent book is “Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China.” His other books include “Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America.”
When racial tensions erupted midway through his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama came to Philadelphia to decry the “racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.” Over time, he said, such wounds, rooted in America’s painful history on race, can be healed.
Six years later, the stalemate suddenly seems more entrenched than ever. As Obama pleads for calm and understanding in Ferguson, Missouri, he’s struggling to determine what role — if any — the nation’s first black president can play in defusing a crisis that has laid bare the profound sense of injustice felt by African-Americans across the country.
As Obama sought to strike the appropriate tone Monday, he appeared to be trapped between the need, as president and commander in chief, to stand up for the government’s right to ensure law and order, and the inclination, as an African-American, to empathize with those whose say the killing of an unarmed black man just goes to show how blacks are treated differently by police.
“In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement. In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear,” Obama said at the White House, in his most expansive comments to date about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown just outside St. Louis.
But while Obama lamented the disproportional apprehension of young black men, he pointedly argued that’s not solely the fault of overzealous cops. Police officers must be honored and respected for the difficult job they perform, Obama said.
“There are young black men that commit crime,” the president said. “We can argue about why that happens — because of the poverty they were born into and the lack of opportunity or school systems that fail them or what have you — but if they commit a crime, then they need to be prosecuted, because every community has an interest in public safety.”
It’s a delicate balance that’s likely to leave no one fully satisfied.
Aiming to reassure edgy Americans that the federal government is fully engaged, Obama announced that Attorney General Eric Holder would travel Wednesday to Ferguson to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown’s death. Obama said he also spoke to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has deployed National Guard units, and urged him to ensure the use of those units is limited and constructive. “I’ll be watching over the next several days,” the president said.
Obama also called for the U.S. to reassess the militarization of local police departments that have purchased military gear from the Pentagon. Federal grants for such equipment have come under intense scrutiny amid the alarming images of armored vehicles and tear gas canisters filling the streets of an American suburb.
“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement,” Obama said. “We don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions.”
Yet for all the talk of procurement and sentencing disparities and police tactics, Obama has steadfastly avoided personalizing this latest bout of racial friction.
Unlike in 2013, when Obama declared that slain teen Trayvon Martin “could have been me,” Obama has been careful not to describe Brown’s death through the lens of his own experience as an African-American.
And unlike in 2009, when Obama exacerbated tensions by saying police acted “stupidly” by arresting a black Harvard University professor at his own home, this time Obama is leaving the fault-finding to investigators. Obama said Monday he has to be careful about appearing to put his thumb on the scale by weighing in while a federal probe is underway.
Witnesses have said Brown’s hands were above his head when an officer shot him repeatedly on Aug. 9 in Ferguson. But police have said the officer was physically assaulted during a struggle over his weapon. Meanwhile, the aggressive police response to the subsequent protests has drawn criticism from across the U.S.
Obama’s impassive response to the unrest in Ferguson contrasts with a second-term approach in which he generally has been more willing to engage on issues of race. In his remarks Monday, which came during a brief break from Obama’s two-week vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, the president pointed to his signature initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, which aims to bring government, business and nonprofit groups together to empower young minorities to pursue a better future.
“We’re making some significant progress as people of good will of all races are ready to chip in,” Obama said. “But that requires that we build and not tear down, and that requires we listen and not just shout.”
Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
Afghanistan’s feuding presidential candidates agreed Friday to resolve their election dispute and said they would set an inauguration date before the end of August.
The breakthrough came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry opened a second day of talks in Afghanistan aimed at preventing the fragile country from collapsing into political chaos after disputed elections.
Kerry paid a courtesy call on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and met later with the two men, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. They’ve been locked in a bitter dispute over who will succeed Karzai.
Abdullah called the agreement “another step forward in the interests of strengthening national unity in the country, strengthening rule of law in the country and bringing hope to the people for the future of Afghanistan.”
Ahmadzai said he and Abdullah, whom he called a “brother and colleague,” were determined to turn what he termed a “vicious circle” of turmoil in many parts of the Muslim world into a “virtuous circle” for the people of Afghanistan.
Kerry is on a previously unannounced visit to Kabul to urge the candidates to accept the results of an ongoing audit of all ballots from the June election and form a national unity government by early September when NATO leaders will meet in Wales to consider their options in Afghanistan.
The U.S. believes the Sept. 4 NATO summit would be an opportunity for the eventual election winner to present himself to the alliance and introduce his new Cabinet, which, under a formula brokered by Kerry on his last visit to Kabul in June, would include the election loser appointing a new “chief executive officer,” who would serve under the president. Once created, the Afghan government would convene a “loya jirga,” or nationwide assembly, to formalize the chief executive post as a prime minister, the plan envisions.
Kerry’s trip comes as results from the June 14 runoff are being audited in a process that he brokered last month but that had halted to mark the end the of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in late July. The audit resumed earlier this week with representatives of both candidates participating but still at odds over charges of widespread malfeasance in the vote. Preliminary results showed Ahmadzai well ahead of Abdullah, but both sides claimed irregularities and fraud.
With the clock ticking until the NATO summit, U.S. officials traveling with Kerry said he would stress the importance of the candidates looking at the “big picture” as the audit continues and not getting bogged down in endless debates over minor discrepancies that are unlikely to affect the final results.
Kerry arrived in Kabul just two days after U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed by an Afghan soldier at the national defense university. Greene is the most senior American soldier to be killed in the Afghan conflict and his slaying underscored the tensions that persist as the U.S. combat role winds down. The political uncertainty that Kerry is trying to address is another complicating factor in the transition.
A look at preparations by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “It’s something I’ll consider at the end of this year.” — May, on ABC. Dies he feel ready to be president? “I do, but I think we have other people as well.”
Book: Yes, now has a new book tentatively scheduled for release in late 2014, from same publisher of his 2012 memoir, “An American Son.”
Iowa visits: Yes, campaigned in GOP U.S. Senate primary race for Joni Ernst, who won, as he opened a belated wave of trips to important presidential nomination states.
New Hampshire: Splashy debut in May, first visit of the 2016 season, headlining several fundraisers, meeting local officials and giving interviews. Multiple appearances before 2012 election.
South Carolina: Yes. In ahead of the 2016 pack, headlining state’s Silver Elephant dinner in 2012. Stay tuned for more.
Foreign travel: Yes. Delivered foreign policy speech in London in early December, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Colombia in 2012. Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Meet the money: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach. Raised more money last year than potential rivals Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Met potential donors in New York and California. One of only a few possible candidates to attend September 2013 event at home of Woody Johnson, New York Jets’ owner and Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman. Also attended a fundraising strategy meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington with well-connected lobbyists and Romney bundlers from 2012 election.
Networking: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused in part on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Speech to National Rifle Association in April; also foreign policy speech at University of Texas. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March, though he lagged in the symbolic straw poll. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor’s race last fall. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s running for the U.S Senate in Arkansas. In October won standing ovations at Values Voter conference when affirming his Christian faith and denouncing “rising tide of intolerance” toward social conservatives.
Hog the TV: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances, did one from New Hampshire in May. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration. Frequent guest on news networks. Was granted coveted chance to present televised Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013, which he did in two languages and with jarring reach for drink of water.
Do something: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he’s gone quiet on the issue. Worked with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Early leader in so-far futile effort to starve federal health care law of money.
Take a stand: A 2014 initiative on poverty that calls for replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Advocates tea party fiscal conservatism and repeal of the health care law. Has become a leading GOP voice in foreign policy, pressing for stronger U.S. action in geopolitical hot spots. On climate change: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” Proposed legislative remedies would “destroy our economy.”
Baggage: A rift with his tea party constituency on immigration, “a real trial for me.”
Deflection: Go aggressive on a matter of common ground, which he did in pledging to take apart Obama’s health law. Dry-mouthed Rubio suffered embarrassing moment when he clumsily reached for water while delivering GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Deflection: Self-deprecating jokes about it. Thin resume for presidency, but others — Obama included — have powered through that problem. Bush shadow: unclear if he would run should his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get in the race.
Shadow campaign: Beginning more aggressive travel to early voting states; has lagged potential rivals on that front. Ramping up in other ways, too: Shuffled his staff and directed political resources of his Reclaim America PAC to three big Senate midterm races this year, one of them the GOP primary in Iowa.
Social media: Aggressive, with large followings, appears to make personal use of Twitter more than staff-generated Facebook. Takes lots of shots at the health law. On Facebook, lists “Pulp Fiction” movie and “The Tudors” historical fiction TV series among favorites.