Politics Now
Political, campaign and national news
Sarah Palin vs. President Obama: Are Republicans the losers?

For a few political cycles now, Republican leaders have strained to distance themselves from some in their midst and focus on the basics to secure and extend their power in Washington: The less-than-sweeping economic recovery and President Obama’s foundering, as they see it, at home and abroad.

And those in their midst have continued to define the party in ways that drew an injurious response from key voter groups. There was the dust-up in 2012 when Todd Akin, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, defended his opposition to abortion by positing that women’s bodies blocked conception resulting from rape. There were the myriad laws aimed at immigrants in the country illegally that insulted many Latino voters. There was the fight against gay marriage, which distanced the party from younger voters.

And now, with a takeover of the Senate achingly close to Republicans’ grasp this year and a presidential campaign on the horizon, those in their midst are threatening to define the...

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Florida redistricting illegally favors Republicans, judge rules

A Florida judge ruled the state's congressional district map invalid Thursday night, saying it violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts and instead favors Republicans.

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.

Gerrymandering "has been criticized as allowing, in effect, the representatives to choose their voters instead of vice versa," he wrote.

Specifically, Lewis found that congressional districts 5 and 10 had been drawn to favor the GOP, and that neighboring districts had been affected as well. Those...

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Battle lines harden in Congress over immigration crisis

Battle lines hardened Thursday in Congress over how best to address the crisis of children on the border, as Democrats pushed back against efforts by Republicans — and the administration — to more quickly turn the youngsters back to their home countries.

Congressional leaders from both parties vowed to swiftly bring a proposal to a vote, but the White House's $3.7-billion request for emergency resources has unleashed several counter-proposals — and plenty of blame.

Common ground, though, was emerging between the administration and the GOP over the idea of changing a 2008 law to give Border Patrol offices more authority to turn back the children and more quickly send them home.

The proposal quickly gained traction among Republicans, and even though most Democrats remain largely opposed, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader, said the idea, while not her preference, was also "not a deal-breaker."

Arizona Republicans Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake introduced a bill that...

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House lawsuit over Obamacare to focus on employer mandate delay

House leaders announced Thursday that their planned lawsuit against President Obama would focus on his failure to enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act, renewing a fight over his landmark health law.

Speaker John A. Boehner had previously announced plans to sue the president over what he said was Obama's failure to fulfill his constitutional duties, but Boehner did not specify what the challenge would be based on.

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FOR THE RECORD

July 11, 8:46 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misattributed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a quote that was delivered by her spokesman, Drew Hammill. Hammill said, "This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction."

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A draft resolution posted Thursday afternoon singles out the Obama administration's decision to delay enforcement of a requirement that employers provide health benefits for their employees or...

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Immigration crisis at the forefront, Rick Perry seeks a revival

Second act, anyone?

Amid the imagery and policy tussling Wednesday over the border immigration crisis, there was this delicious irony: The issue that confounded Rick Perry more than any other when he sought the presidency in 2012 has now given him a center stage role opposite the man who won the race.

As President Obama arrived in Texas on Wednesday, the Texas governor greeted him at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and flew via helicopter with him to Love Field for some one-on-one conversations about the border mess, the latest in a television-heavy assault by Perry on the issue.

Defining moments are often thrust upon political figures—it is far harder to create them than to rise to the occasion when they slap you in the face—and for Perry this moment came at an opportune time, just months before he leaves office and amid a national redemption tour that has brought him both praise and scorn as he considers a second presidential run in 2016.

In his nationally broadcast remarks...

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GOP pans Obama's $3.7-billion border request, wants kids sent home

The White House request for $3.7 billion to handle the crisis at the southern border has found little support in Congress, touching off what could be a lengthy negotiation to find a compromise.

Republicans said Wednesday they would not approve the money unless Democrats agreed to amend current law to ensure that most of the Central American children and teenagers who have arrived at the border in recent months are swiftly returned to their home countries -- as the White House proposed more than a week ago.

"Nobody's going to be keen to appropriate that money unless we get a change in the law," said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), echoing the concerns of many Republican senators, who discussed the issue in a meeting Wednesday.

"We've got to stem the tide," Flake said. "Until the parents and relatives and those who have paid smugglers thousands of dollars see kids coming back, it's just going to continue."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the administration would be engaging in "selective...

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Sen. Mark Udall skips Obama Colorado visit to focus on women's issues

Home state visits by President Obama have been a tricky business for this year’s crop of vulnerable Senate Democrats.

So when Obama made his swing through Colorado on Wednesday to raise money for Mark Udall’s campaign, the senator opted for the safer move— staying in Washington for a vote and to introduce legislation that may be far more helpful to his campaign than an appearance with the unpopular president.

As Obama was on his way to deliver remarks on the economy in Denver’s Cheesman Park on Wednesday morning, Udall held a news conference in Washington with female senators and House members to announce a new bill that would bar employers from denying contraceptive coverage.

In a direct appeal to women voters, who could be the most crucial swing voters in Colorado's Senate race this year, Udall has made contraceptive coverage a central issue in his campaign. In two of his first three ads, he has criticized the past support of his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, for state...

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Congress has heavy workload but limited time before summer recess

Congress started July - its last full working month before the November election - with a full plate. But it may not have the appetite to handle it all.

At the top of lawmakers' to-do list is passing at least temporary funding for the Highway Trust Fund, which helps finance major road projects throughout the country and is projected to run out of money by late August.

Both chambers also need to advance a slate of government funding bills that must be passed by Sept. 30 to avert another government shutdown.

Finally, there's the fight over whether to renew the Export-Import Bank and Obama's latest request for $3.7 billion in funds to address the border crisis.

But it's unclear whether a Congress that is already known as one of the least productive on record will get all of that done.

First, time is running out. After this month, the House has just 12 working days planned before the Nov. 4 election. The Senate is scheduled to be in session for September and October, but with control of...

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Senate confirms Julian Castro as HUD secretary

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm Julian Castro as the new secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, elevating the rising Democratic star to President Obama's Cabinet.

The vote was 71-27, with 18 Republicans supporting the prominent Latino Democrat.

Castro, 39, has served for three terms as mayor of San Antonio, and was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. His twin brother, Joaquin, is a Democratic congressman.

Obama nominated Castro after Kathleen Sebelius' decision to resign as Health and Human Services secretary prompted a reshuffling of his Cabinet. The previous HUD secretary, Shaun Donovan, is in line to replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell as budget director, after Burwell was confirmed as Sebelius' successor.

Castro's nomination moved swiftly through the Senate even as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has raised the specter of further changes to procedural rules that govern the confirmation of presidential nominees. Last fall Reid...

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LeBron James may have gone, but GOP is arriving: Why Cleveland rocks

All the little chicks with the crimson lips go / Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks! / Livin’ in sin with a safety pin goin' / Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!

OK, so that--the theme song from "The Drew Carey Show," the nine-year ABC offering proudly set in Cleveland—is likely not the reason a Republican Party committee chose the Forest City for the party’s 2016 national convention.

Nor did the Tuesday announcement rest on Cleveland’s Dangerfield-esque reputation. To certain generations—that is, the generations that will populate the party’s convention—Cleveland stands for riots and default and the Cuyahoga River—a waterway—catching fire because of the polluted gunk that floated on its surface.

To others, Cleveland is the city that LeBron James left behind, in a wrenchingly public humiliation, to heighten his championship chances (and, having won in Miami, is presently shopping himself elsewhere, including spurned Cleveland).

Google “Cleveland reputation,” and this is what you get:

“...

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Cleveland picked to host 2016 Republican National Convention

Cleveland was picked Tuesday by the Republican National Committee’s site selection panel to host the GOP's national convention in 2016.

Cleveland edged out five other finalist cities: Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas in the hotly contested race that brought in each state's power players and top fundraisers. Dallas was the last city in the running before the site selection committee made its decision Tuesday.

The RNC and Cleveland are now slated to begin negotiations on final details. The recommendation will be submitted for a vote by Republican National Committee members at their August meeting in Chicago.

The choice of the mighty swing state of Ohio has already renewed debate over whether the site of the party’s convention can help generate excitement among the state’s voters and help tilt the election in the GOP's favor. But that political theory has been disproved time and time again.

Though Republicans held their convention in Tampa in 2012, Republican...

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White House invites Texas governor to meet on border crisis

After days of back-and-forth accusations, the White House is inviting Texas Gov. Rick Perry to meet with President Obama to talk about the immigration crisis on the Southwest border. 

In a letter to Perry released Tuesday, senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett asked him to a meeting and also to a session with faith leaders and local elected officials in Dallas on Wednesday.

“The president would welcome a meeting with you while he is in Texas,” Jarrett wrote in a letter dated Monday.

In in his own letter on Monday, Perry said he would agree to a “substantive meeting” at any time during Obama’s trip to Texas, if given enough advance warning.

“With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request,” Perry wrote in a letter to the president, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Perry said he was not interested in a “quick handshake on the tarmac," according to the newspaper.

The exchange comes after days of feuding between the two sides over the...

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