Politics Now
Political, campaign and national news
Court blocks parts of N.C. law that ended same-day voter registration

A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked some provisions of a North Carolina law that bars same-day voter registration, saying it would disproportionately affect minority voters. 

In a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that North Carolina's new elections law -- passed last year by the state's Republican-controlled legislature -- violated a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibits discrimination based on race.

"There can be no doubt that certain challenged measures in House Bill 589 disproportionately impact minority voters," wrote the court in a 69-page decision that orders a lower court to halt the enforcement of the law less than five weeks before the November midterm elections.

The ruling also orders a district court to block a provision of the new law that bans out-of-precinct voting.  

Since the law was passed, such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union and National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People have assailed it as...

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In blow to GOP, Kansas judges refuse to force Democrat onto Senate ballot

In a further setback to Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, a Kansas District Court declined Wednesday to force Democrats to place a candidate on the ballot in the state’s too-close-to-call U.S. Senate race.

The decision appeared to cement a two-way contest between the embattled Roberts and businessman Greg Orman, who is running as an independent.

The Democratic candidate, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, abruptly quit the race last month in the absence of support from his party establishment.

Republicans fought Taylor’s decision all the way to the state Supreme Court, which rejected an attempt by Secretary of State Kris Kobach — a Republican who is backing Roberts — to keep Taylor’s name on the ballot even if he refused to campaign.

A registered Democrat, David Orel, filed suit after the Supreme Court ruled, seeking to force Democrats to name a replacement for Taylor. Orel did not, however, show up for a scheduled court hearing on Monday, a fact the court noted in...

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Midterm madness: The politics of snowmobiles and chickens

With the U.S. battling militants in the Middle East and muddling through a less-than-spectacular economic recovery at home, let us pause for a moment to consider the issues of snowmobiling, errant chickens and a disputed 12-year-old paint job.

Voters in Alaska and Iowa have had that privilege as they host two of the country’s hardest-fought U.S. Senate races — contests that could very well determine which party controls the upper house of Congress starting in January.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post said a Republican group had aired a TV ad supporting Iowa candidate Joni Ernst. The group aired a Web ad.

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In Alaska, Democratic incumbent Mark Begich faces Republican Dan Sullivan, who recently took a shot at Begich’s snowmobiling bona fides in a TV spot featuring Cory Davis, a medalist in the gravity- and death-defying X Games. All whiskers and attitude, Davis suggested the heavily bundled senator was merely pretending to ride a snowmobile — or snow...

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Keeping options open, Mitt Romney alters reality on 47% remark

Would-be presidential candidates often keep their options open in defiance of reality, which perhaps explains why Mitt Romney, who has twice lost presidential bids, has been making a few hints that he may not be done seeking the White House.

But in an interview released Tuesday by the New York Times, he also defied reality in his depiction of one of the defining moments of his 2012 campaign, when he won the Republican nomination but lost the election to President Obama.

Romney told writer Mark Leibovich that his controversial statement that 47% of the population was dependent on government aid and thus in Obama’s pocket “was an attempt to placate a rambling supporter who was saying that Obama voters were essentially deadbeats,” as the story put it.

“My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man,” Romney told Leibovich. “If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man.”

But that’s not what...

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Intruder ran farther into White House than previously disclosed

The intruder who broke into the White House this month made it beyond the front door and past an armed guard, then ran about 100 feet inside, much farther than previously disclosed, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

Authorities say Omar Gonzalez, 42, scaled the black wrought-iron fence on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House on Sept. 19 and sprinted across the lawn, then entered through the unlocked front door.

Gonzalez pushed past the guard — who should have been alerted by an alarm, but it never sounded — ran by the carpeted stairway leading to the Obama family living quarters, then into the stately East Room and to the doorway of the neighboring Green Room, where he was finally tackled, the law enforcement official said.

President Obama had left just 10 minutes earlier to go to Camp David with his family for the weekend.

“It’s clear that something needs to be done, and something needs to be done drastically,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the top...

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Valerie Jarrett's appearance on 'Good Wife' in works more than a year

The Sunday night turn of President Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on the CBS hit series "The Good Wife" was more than a year in the making and required a major rewrite to the script before she decided to do it.

When producers first invited her to appear on the show last year, they wanted her to talk to a drug kingpin character in Jarrett's hometown of Chicago, where the show is set.

But Jarrett didn't like the feel of that and took a pass, she said after the show aired Sunday.

If they ever wanted her to promote women and girls, she told them, they should call.

Sunday night's show was the result. In it, Jarrett appears in a couple of scenes, including one in which she encourages the show's protagonist, Chicago lawyer Alicia Florrick, to run for state's attorney.

"That felt like a good fit," Jarrett said. "That's something I try to do a lot -- encourage women to take leadership roles."

At the White House, it's both her official and unofficial role. Her job includes chairing the...

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Key U.S. Senate races close, new round of polls says

The latest rounds of polling in the contested U.S. Senate races in Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina make one thing clear: it’s looking very close.

To take control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans must win six seats. Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina have long been considered among the tossup states, along with Alaska and Arkansas. But it’s always been difficult to get a clear read on midterm races — and polling in many of the swing states was questionable through much of the summer, in part because voters had yet to tune in despite being bombarded by ads.

A new Des Moines Register poll of likely voters released this weekend showed Iowa GOP candidate Joni Ernst grabbing a six-point lead over Democrat Bruce Braley. Ernst, who has described herself as a steely Iowa farm girl in some of her ads, leads the eight-term congressman 44% to 38%.  She was leading among rural voters almost 4 to 1.  About 12% of Iowa voters said they were undecided.

In North Carolina, a new poll from CNN/ORC...

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White House defends Secret Service after report on 2011 shooting

The White House defended the Secret Service on Sunday in the wake of a newspaper investigation that details how the agency fumbled its response to a gunman firing upon the White House in 2011, while President Obama's younger daughter and his mother-in-law were inside.

“The men and women of the Secret Service put their lives on the line for the president of the United States, his family and folks working in the White House every single day, 24 hours a day,” deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Their task is incredible and the burden that they bear is incredible."

Blinken spoke in the wake of the publication of a story in The Washington Post about the Secret Service’s slow and confused response to the 2011 shooting. The gunman, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, was arrested for firing rifle shots at the White House from a nearby street.

The article comes about a week after another man, Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, was arrested and charged...

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Clintons 'blessed, grateful' over birth of grandchild

Hillary and Bill Clinton have had many notable titles: senator and governor, secretary of State and president. Now they have a new one: grandparents.

The former first couple are “over the moon to be grandparents! One of the happiest moments of our life,” Hillary Rodham Clinton tweeted Saturday.

Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, also tweeted a photo of herself cradling her new granddaughter with Bill Clinton at her side.

“We are blessed, grateful, and so happy to be the grandparents of a beautiful girl, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, born on Friday evening, Sept. 26, 2014,” the Clintons said in a statement released Saturday. “We are thrilled to be with our daughter and her husband as they welcome their daughter into the world.”

Bill Clinton had been scheduled to campaign Saturday in Colorado for Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper, but canceled due the birth. (Clinton spoke via conference call.)

The news that Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc...

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Bill, Hillary Clinton are grandparents: Chelsea gives birth to a girl

After much public anticipation, Bill and Hillary Clinton have finally become grandparents as their daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to a daughter Friday.

The former president and the past--and perhaps future--presidential candidate delivered the news via Twitter, copying a post from their daughter referring to the birth.

"Marc and I are full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky," read the post on Chelsea Clinton's Twitter feed.

No other details were made public.

Coming as her mother makes plans for a second presidential campaign, the news that Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, were expecting their first child garnered tremendous attention in the political world — leading some to compare it to the frenzy that surrounded the arrival of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s son, George.

Chelsea Clinton revealed the news of her pregnancy at the end of a Clinton Foundation event with her mother this year at the Lower...

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Indian leader's fast is etiquette question for dinner at White House

White House visits from foreign leaders regularly bring up delicate questions of etiquette and protocol. Just in the past year, a small team of experts at the White House has had to figure out whom to seat next to the newly single French president, for example. And they’ve fielded questions over how to greet a leader’s wife when that leader is a polygamist.

Next week, the team faces one of its more unusual challenges: how to host a dinner for a man who isn’t eating.

The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, is due at the White House on Monday for his first visit with President Obama. The White House is planning a dinner for the leaders and other top officials to honor his arrival. Modi is in the middle of a nine-day religious fast, a practice that reportedly limits his intake to water and lime.

That could make for an awkward evening Monday as the president and others start eating. But officials say they’ve got it covered, though they have not been specific about how.

“We obviously...

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Who will replace Holder, and can Obama get a nominee confirmed?

Confirming a new attorney general to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. is certain to prompt a heated political debate during a robust post-election lame-duck session of Congress – one made especially more divisive if Democrats lose the Senate’s majority.

While President Obama is not expected to name his new choice at a news conference Thursday afternoon, top names from the legal and political world already swirled as possible nominees.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who had been considered by Obama earlier for the job, was headed to Washington on Thursday, but he quickly said that while the position was important, “it's not one for me right now."

Some observers believe the White House will opt for a more subdued choice, one who would have an easier path in the Senate, such as the administration’s Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr., or the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, James Cole.

A historic choice would be Preet Bharara, the high-profile U.S. attorney in New York, as...

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