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White House intruder arrested after entering front doors

An intruder scaled a White House fence and made it all the way into the building Friday evening before he was caught and wrestled to the ground by security officers, the Secret Service said. President Obama and his family had already left for Camp David when the incident occurred.

Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, near Ft. Hood, was arrested and charged with unlawful entry to the White House complex. He was taken to George Washington Medical Center after complaining of chest pain during his arrest, according to a late-night statement from the Secret Service.

Gonzalez climbed the fence on the north side of the White House, where protesters frequently gather, and then sprinted the roughly 100 yards to the front door while officers gave chase, according to an agency official. Officers saw that he was empty-handed and so did not release dogs or fire their guns, the official said.

The breach raises questions about security at one of the world's most heavily protected homes. The...

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Rand Paul says U.S. intervention made Islamic State stronger

Sen. Rand Paul said Friday that the United States’ intervention in the Middle East has made the Islamic State militant group stronger, and that he voted this week against arming Syrian rebels because he fears the weapons would end up in the hands of the terrorists.

“I think for the last year or two, when we’ve been giving weapons to the Syrian rebels, we’ve actually allowed ISIS to grow stronger,” Paul, using an acronym for the group, said in an interview after speaking on a school-choice panel in San Pedro.

The Kentucky Republican, who said that he will decide by spring whether to run for president in 2016, has come under repeated criticism for his foreign policy views from more hawkish members of his own party. While he opposes much U.S. involvement overseas, Paul has tried to distance himself from the isolationist views espoused by his father, the former Rep. Ron Paul, who also ran for president.

But in voting against arming the Syrian rebels, Paul was in the minority. The...

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Potential rivals Biden and Clinton urge women to vote this fall

Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton, two potential 2016 presidential contenders, competed for support from the Democratic Party's key bloc of women voters Friday, even if their stated goal was to urge them to help Democrats hold on to control of the U.S. Senate this fall.

At a Democratic Party event at which President Obama later spoke, Biden and Clinton highlighted their work on women’s issues over the last few decades and argued that while there had been progress, it was not nearly enough.

The vice president noted that his staff had just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act that he championed as a U.S. senator.  When he argued for the act back then, he said, his critics said it was just another “Biden fad.”

“But it wasn’t a fad, it was a social failure,” the vice president told the mostly female audience who greeted him with cheers in a ballroom in downtown Washington.

Biden said his desire was to force the American people “to take a close look at the...

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Four takeaways from the vote in Congress to arm Syrian rebels

What was supposed to be a no-drama final session of Congress before the campaign season turned into anything but as President Obama's new strategy to combat the threat from Islamic State resulted in a wrenching vote that is likely to reverberate through the midterm election and beyond.

The intense foreign policy discussion of the last two weeks forced a pivotal vote -- whether or not the U.S. should arm and train moderate Syrian rebels -- that could define lawmakers for years to come. For most, it was the hardest vote they'd ever taken on a military strategy.

On Friday, Obama signed the resolution, which was included in a broader funding bill to keep the government running into December.

Here's what the September session may have told us about the state of the two parties heading into the midterm debate.

1. Senate candidates from both parties sided with the president

The key fight in the 2014 midterms is the battle for control of the Senate. And all but one of the most endangered...

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Kansas ballots will be mailed without a Democrat in the Senate race

Kansas election officials say ballots will go out to voters without a Democratic nominee listed for U.S. Senate after all.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach has told county election officials to begin sending out ballots to voters overseas and in the military starting Saturday, instead of delaying the process by a week so that Democrats could appoint a nominee, a spokeswoman for his office confirmed.

Along with the ballots, voters will receive a letter cautioning them that they could be receiving new, replacement ballots later on if Democrats decide to appoint a nominee. In-state voters will not receive ballots until after Oct. 15. 

On Thursday, the Kansas Supreme Court struck the name of Democratic challenger Chad Taylor, a district attorney from the Topeka area, from the November ballot. Taylor dropped out of the race earlier this month and asked that his name be removed from the ballot, but Kobach, a Republican, declined to do so on technical grounds, which prompted court action....

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For many in Congress, a first test on issues of war

Lawmakers' votes this week on whether or not to train and equip Syrian opposition forces in the fight against Islamic State were arguably the most consequential after nearly two years in which Congress is likely to set a new low for productivity.

But more than that, the initial decision Congress faced on President Obama's new mission to take out the militant threat represented the first significant opportunity for a big majority of both houses to decide an issue of war, a factor that was evident as the debate unfolded in the last week.



Sept. 19, 9:16 a.m.: An earlier version of this post may have given a wrong impression of Rep. Tim Walz's military service. He served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during the war in Afghanistan but he was deployed in Italy.


Just a third of current members of both the House and Senate were serving in 2002, when Congress voted on a resolution that ultimately sent the U.S. into war with Iraq. Barely more...

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5 Democratic senators join failed effort to block Obama on immigration

Five Democratic senators broke from their party Thursday to side with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in an effort to derail President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

The procedural move failed in a tie vote, 50-50. Although largely symbolic, it was potent enough to attract the Democrats, including four who are in tough re-election battles this fall in conservative-leaning states. Republicans need to gain six seats to take Senate control. 

Democrats who sided with the Texas Republican were Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina,  Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, all in tight races to retain their seats. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who is not up for re-election in November, also voted for the measure.

"We must take steps to prevent the president from taking any more executive amnesty," said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who joined the motion by Cruz and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

The proposal was modeled after legislation approved by...

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Speaker John Boehner says immigration reform would help economy

House Speaker John A. Boehner dipped back into the immigration debate Thursday, saying that an overhaul -- which his Republican majority has refused to vote on -- would boost the economy.

Although Boehner noticeably left immigration out of his "five points" economic speech, he acknowledged during questions afterward that it could have been included as an issue that offers economic benefit.

"I think immigration reform would help our economy," Boehner said

"But you've got to secure the borders first. We've got a mess, and I think everybody knows we've got a mess. Our legal system is broken, our borders aren't secure and then we've got the problem of those that are here without documents," Boehner said. "It needs to be fixed. We are a nation of immigrants. The sooner we do it, the better the country would be."

Boehner flirted all year with the prospect of considering immigration reform, but he backed off after Republican lawmakers complained it might hurt them in the November election.


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Hillary Clinton touts family issues and hints at 2016 domestic agenda

Hillary Rodham Clinton joined some of the most powerful women in Congress on Thursday to push for advances on affordable child care, paid family leave and raising the minimum wage that could create greater economic progress for women.

Clinton, fresh off her campaign-style weekend visit to Iowa and her summer-long book tour, used Thursday's panel at the Center for American Progress to focus on issues that could form part of her domestic agenda should she run for president in 2016.

Clinton noted that women hold two-thirds of the minimum wage jobs across the country and three-quarters of the jobs that depend primarily on tips — meaning that many of them are working full time but hovering at or below the poverty line.

“We talk about a glass ceiling,” said Clinton, who ended her 2008 campaign by proclaiming that she and her supporters had put 18 million cracks in it. “The floor is collapsing.

“These women don’t even have a secure floor under them.” 

The former New York senator and secretary...

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Boehner pivots to jobs, economy in run-up to November election

Jobs and the economy remain tops on voters' minds heading into the midterm election, and House Speaker John A. Boehner wants to re-focus his Republican Party on a "five points" pocketbook agenda before November.

The speaker, known for an unwavering repetition of his trademark slogan -- "Where are the jobs?"-- will expand on that theme in an economic address Thursday as lawmakers prepare to  leave town for a month-plus of campaigning.

"Look at the state of things: flat wages, higher prices, a six-year slog to regain the jobs lost during the recession," Boehner will say at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, according to excerpts of the speech. "We can do this the Washington way:  move some dirt around, see what happens. Or we can lay a solid foundation for growth and mobility."

Boehner is trying not to repeat the mistake of the 2012 presidential election, when Republicans largely agree they erred by making the race a referendum on President Obama's policies -- rather than a...

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In blow to GOP, Kansas Supreme Court affirms Democrat's ballot exit

In a blow to the reelection hopes of Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck the name of a Democratic challenger from the November ballot, pitting the embattled incumbent against a well-funded and surging independent candidate.

Democrat Chad Taylor, a district attorney from the Topeka area, exited the race this month in a move that put independent businessman Greg Orman into a one-on-one race against Roberts. But the state's Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, declined Taylor's request to have his name removed from the ballot on technical grounds, prompting court action. 

Taylor’s attorney argued this week that the Democrat complied with the law when he quit the Senate race, citing language Taylor used in a letter announcing his withdrawal.

In the court's 10-page ruling, it said the "plain meaning" of the language used by Taylor "effectively declares he is incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected."

Democrats accused Kobach of...

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Midterm election ads strike increasingly negative tone

As Democrats and Republicans wrestle for control of the Senate, voters are facing an onslaught of political ads around the country that are striking an increasingly negative tone, even more so than in past election cycles.

From the end of August to Sept. 11, analysts at the Wesleyan Media Project found, Democrats were beginning to catch up in volume with Republicans, who had maintained an edge with ads favoring their candidates over the summer months. Over the short span, there were 34,000 pro-Democratic ads aired during that period compared with 29,000 ads favoring Republicans.

With Republicans trying to pick up six seats to gain control of the Senate, and Democrats battling to defend vulnerable candidates, more than half the ads in the Senate contests were negative during that two-week period. Only 27.5% were positive, while the rest featured a contrast between two candidates. In studying the same time frame in 2010 and 2012, Wesleyan researchers found that the negative and positive...

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