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Posts tagged ‘John McCain’

McCain: Immigration Reform Crucial to GOP Success.


Sen. John McCain says he hasn’t yet given up on immigration reform – and he believes failure to pass anything will hurt GOP chances at the ballot box.

“States like mine, over time, the demographics will overtake, not only mine but throughout the whole Southwest and many other parts of the country,” the Arizona Republican said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

A failure to embrace Latino voters could spell doom as Republicans approach this years midterm congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign, McCain said.

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The Senate, where McCain serves, has already passed immigration reform, but the effort is stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

McCain said he will work see a bill passed through Congress for the president’s signature before the midterms.

“I have not given up hope that we will act, and we must act,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Graham: Karzai ‘Empowers’ Taliban By Freeing Afghan Thugs.


Sen. Lindsey Graham has accused Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai of “empowering” Taliban terrorists by releasing 65 dangerous Afghan “thugs” from jail.

The South Carolina Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned Karzai for freeing the prisoners who pose an immediate threat to U.S., Afghan, and allied forces in the war-torn country, McClatchy reports.

“Karzai is doing a lot of damage to his country and to the relationship between us and Afghanistan,” said Graham, who once traded jokes with Karzai over dinners at his presidential palace in Kabul.

“He’s undercutting a relationship (with the U.S.) that most Afghans want and empowering the Taliban…

“The Taliban look at something like this (the release of prisoners), and they’ve got to be encouraged. I’ve been to that prison dozens of times, and it makes my blood boil to see these thugs walk out of there.”

Graham said he’s been unable to confirm reports that Karzai has held secret talks with the Taliban, Muslim fanatics who ruled the country and imposed strict Islamic laws there until the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Although the Taliban have recently launched a new offensive in the region, Graham said, “(Karzai) doesn’t treat the Taliban as an insurgency. He calls them ‘wayward brothers’ rather than thugs that are killing people.”

“I’ve known Karzai for 10 years, but he’s getting completely irrational. He’s totally detached from the reality about what’s going on in his own country.”

Graham, who has made several trips to Afghanistan as a senator and as an Air Force Reserve colonel, even met with Karzai in Kabul last month, along with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and pleaded with him to keep the “thugs” behind bars, McClatchy reported.

But Karzai dismissed them, saying that the national detention center in Parwan that housed the inmates and was built with U.S. funds was “a black hole.” Although the jail is guarded by U.S. troops, the Karzai government has authority over the handling of prisoners and claims the 65 detainees were being held without cause.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S troops in Afghanistan, attacked Karzai’s decision because he believes that some of the freed prisoners will join forces with the Taliban insurgency.

“They have killed Afghan men, women and children,” Dunford said, noting that two dozen inmates were tied to roadside bombs, the number one killer of Afghan citizens. “We believe some of the individuals previously released have already returned to the fight.”

Now a furious Graham is fighting back by demanding that Congress cuts off U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, and he’s enlisted the support of House Speaker John Boehner.

“After years of fighting alongside our Afghan partners — who have sustained serious casualties themselves from common enemies — this decision is especially egregious,” said Boehner.

The tense relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. have sunk to an all-time low, with U.S. officials claiming that Karzai has gone back on a bilateral agreement to keep a small military contingent in the country after the remaining 34,000 U.S. troops pull out by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House may now wait until Karzai leaves office in April before attempting to sign a new pact with the next government to keep peace-keeping troops on the ground there.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

McCain Bashes ‘Ignorant’ Obama Ambassador Nominees.


Sen. John McCain admits it is “kind of entertaining and amusing” to see how “ignorant” some of President Barack Obama’s ambassador nominees are about the countries they will be serving in, but it’s also worrying, he says.

“[I]t’s also really disturbing because it’s a disservice to our country to send that kind of unqualified candidate to represent us and our interest there in these countries,” the Arizona Republican said Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” 

McCain appeared to be having a good time grilling a trio of nominees earlier this year who clearly knew little to nothing about the countries where they are set to serve.

Norway ambassador nominee George Tsunis had positive words for the country’s president even though it doesn’t have one. It is a constitutional monarchy. He also stumbled through an answer in which he said that the Progress Party was denounced by the government. McCain reminded him that the Progress Party is part of Norway’s coalition government.

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Video of that exchange has gone viral in Norway, McCain told Van Susteren, and “Frankly, the Norwegian people are not very happy about getting that kind of ambassador to represent the United States in their country.”

He and other Republicans are objecting to the nominees, he said, but Democrats have the majority. And since Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” last year, nominees now need only 51 votes. Republicans have only 45 members in the Senate.

The appointees to Norway, Argentina, and Iceland all admitted they had never been to the countries to which they were being appointed. Another thing they have in common is big political donations to Obama’s re-election campaign.

On Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart then noted that the future Norway ambassador raised $850,000, while the Argentina nominee raised $500,000 and the Iceland nominee raised $1.6 million.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week was confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to China by a 96-0 vote. Baucus is not an Obama campaign bundler, offering Stewart hope that he knows more about that country because of the business and political sensitivites between them and the United States.

“I am no real expert on China,” Baucus said in a clip.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz’s 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid.


Image: GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz's 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid

After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the “aye” votes came from Obama’s Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally — held open for more than an hour — in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. The Senate’s top two Republicans — both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year — provided crucial momentum after a knot of Republicans in the Senate well were clearly unhappy at having to walk the plank.

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After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, voted “aye” several other Republicans switched their votes in solidarity. Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to help the measure advance but the tally appeared to be in doubt for several anxious minutes.

“A lot of people stepped up and did what they needed to do,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted to advance the bill, as did Mark Kirk of Illinois, who said: “Members didn’t want to” vote for it.

The 12 Republicans who voted against Cruz’s measure were: John Barrasso, Wyo.; Susan Collins, Maine; Bob Corker, Tenn.; John Cornyn, Texas; Jeff Flake, Ariz.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Mike Johanns, Neb.; Mark Kirk, Ill.; John McCain, Ariz.; Mitch McConnell, Ky.; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; John Thune, S.D.

Cruz’s demands irritated Republicans because it forced several of them, particularly McConnell, to cast a difficult vote. McConnell faces a May primary against tea party candidate Matt Bevin, whose supporters adamantly oppose increasing the debt limit.

“In my view, every Republican should stand together against raising the debt ceiling without meaningful structural reforms to rein in our out of control spending,” Cruz said.

After the tally, Cruz said he had no regrets, saying the “Senate has given President Obama a blank check.”

Asked about forcing a difficult vote upon McConnell, Cruz said: “That is ultimately a decision … for the voters of Kentucky.”

The legislation would permit Treasury to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

It passed the House Tuesday after Republicans gave up efforts to use the debt ceiling measure to win concessions from Obama on GOP agenda items like winning approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday’s legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October’s 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party’s tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters’ attention on the implementation and effects of Obama’s health care law.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay all of its bills, including Social Security benefits, federal salaries, payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers and interest on the accumulated debt. Congress has never failed to act to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, which most experts say would spook financial markets and spike interest rates.

Most Republicans say any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by cuts to the spiraling costs of costly benefit programs like Medicare.

“We need some reform before we raise the debt ceiling. We need to demonstrate that we are taking steps that will reduce the accumulation of debt in the future,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Budget Committee. “And the president and the Democratic Senate have just flatly refused. So they’ve just said, `We’ll accept no restraint on spending’.”

Some Republicans seemed irked that Cruz wouldn’t let the bill pass without forcing it to clear a 60-vote threshold that required some Republicans to walk the plank and help it advance..

“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Orrin Hatch when asked if Republicans are annoyed with Cruz.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government’s borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

The debt measure permits Treasury to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, putting the issue off until after the November elections and setting it up for the new Congress to handle next year. If Republicans take over the Senate, they’re likely to insist on linking the debt ceiling to spending cuts and other GOP agenda items, but for now at least, the issue is being handled the old fashioned way, with the party of the incumbent president being responsible for supplying the votes to pass it but with the minority party not standing in the way.

“I think we will go back to the responsible way of making sure that our country does not default,” said Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.

Senate action Wednesday would safely clear the debt issue off of Washington’s plate weeks in advance of the Feb. 27 deadline set last week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The debt limit was reset to $17.2 trillion after a four-month suspension of the prior, $16.7 trillion limit expired last Friday. Lew promptly began employing accounting maneuvers to buy time for Congress to act.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Ex-G.W. Bush Aide Wallace: Boehner Deserves Medal of Freedom.


House Speaker John Boehner pushed through Tuesday’s debt ceiling vote to keep Republicans from being falsely blamed for gumming up the government and enable them to keep their eyes on the prize: the 2014 elections, says Nicolle Wallace, former communications chief for President George W. Bush.

“The truth is the Republicans . . . will be judged by too many voters as responsible for these things,” Wallace told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“We have such important elections on the horizon; these midterm elections are much more important for our party than theirs, we have much more at stake.

“We have seen the wreckage caused by having . . . an extreme progressive liberal in the Oval Office. Our only recourse, now, is to further solidify our majority in the House and to try to take back the Senate, and it matters how our party is viewed when it comes to these big Washington food fights,” she said Tuesday.

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Wallace, who was also senior adviser for the John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign, said Boehner should get an award for his Herculean work in keeping a turbulent party together.

“John Boehner deserves whatever that highest civilian honor is, the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Wallace said.

“He has a very difficult job . . . He is there not just to pass laws, but to keep the government running and to get things done. I admire every step he’s taken; even during the government shutdown last fall, through all of this, he’s been strong and he’s been honest.

“He’s in a really tough position, and I don’t think ‘sympathy’s’ the right word because I don’t pity him at all, I admire him, but I have a lot of empathy with what he’s wrestling with.”

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

GOP Eyes Scott Walker for 2016 as Christie’s Star Fades.


Image: GOP Eyes Scott Walker for 2016 as Christie's Star Fades

By Melanie Batley

Republican Party strategists say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker could be the new hope to lead the GOP presidential ticket in 2016 as the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal takes its toll on the presumed frontrunner, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Walker, according to pundits, carries the necessary appeal among conservatives to win a GOP primary, but his success in a blue state indicates he may be one of the few possible contenders capable of winning over independent voters in a general election, Politico reports.

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“Chris Christie took a big fall after bridge-gate. It makes sense that Scott Walker’s stock would rise,” Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist and Wisconsin native, told Politico. “I think he has as excellent a chance as anyone else in the GOP primary at this point.”

Walker was elected governor in 2010 and went on to survive a bruising recall fight in 2012 that was fueled by the unions who were irate over his proposed budget repair plan and changes to collective bargaining rights for state employees.

“Look at the guy — he got elected in Milwaukee County twice [as Milwaukee County Executive], then governor, then a recall election,” a former top Romney bundler told The Daily Beast. “He’s battle-tested.”

Walker currently faces a re-election battle against Democrat Mary Burke, the daughter of the founder of bicycle manufacturer Trek. He already has a significant financial advantage over Burke, having raised $4.6 million in the second half of 2013. Burke has just $1.3 million, $400,000 of which are her own funds.

“I’ve heard a lot of interest in Walker,” Charlie Black, veteran GOP strategist and adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, told Politico. He added that if Walker wins re-election, he’ll “have a great record not only in Wisconsin but a great electoral record, having won three times in five years in a blue state.”

Commentators say Walker is also unique for his solidly middle class image and status as a Washington outsider. Nevertheless, they say, the GOP field for 2016 remains wide open, and Christie’s national political profile could still recover.

“There are no frontrunners. There are six to 10 really good candidates,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, according to Politico. “I think we’ll have a very broad campaign group.”

Gingrich added, “Assuming that he survives the bridge problem, and I think he will, Christie is going to end up a very formidable candidate.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking Points.


Image: Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking PointsMichael Morell

By Lisa Barron

The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi suggests that the former deputy director of the CIA played a role in shaping the official “talking points” about the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Michael Morell may have altered the government’s explanation for the assault to benefit the Obama administration, reports Fox News.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

The panel’s reports showed that on Sept.15, four days after the attacks and one day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on various Sunday talk shows, Morell received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya stating that they were “not/not an escalation of protests.”

But that same day, according to Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, although Morell cut the word “Islamic” from the talking points, he left the word “demonstration.”

And despite the fact that the CIA and the FBI on Sept. 18 reviewed the closed circuit footage showing there were no protests, President Obama still referred to a demonstration two days later, reported Fox.

Intelligence analysts stayed with the explanation “without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion. The IC (intelligence community) took too long to correct these erroneous reports,” said the Senate report.

In November 2012, as the controversy over the talking points escalated, Morell accompanied Rice to a meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Morell defended Rice’s TV appearances and maintained there was confusion about what happened in Benghazi, Graham told Fox.

“What I found curious is that he did not accept responsibility for changing the talking points. He told me the FBI had done this. I called the FBI — they went ballistic. And I am sure somebody from the FBI called Mike Morell, but within 24 hours, his statement was changed where he admitted the CIA had done it,” Graham said.

Herridge pointed to an interview Morell gave to The Wall Street Journal last August in which he spoke about his interest “in advising future presidential campaigns,” and noted that The Journal, citing unnamed officials, also reported that Morell “is close to Hillary Clinton.”

“He’s put himself out there as a political player,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is reportedly suing in federal court for the talking points documents and recently obtained 70 heavily redacted pages.

“You have to wonder what he was thinking at the time he was deleting these talking points in a way that benefited the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton personally,” Fitton said.

Since leaving government Morell has joined Beacon Global Strategies, a government relations firm founded by Philippe Reines, whom the New York Times magazine recently described as “Clinton’s principal gatekeeper.”

Morell issued a written statement to Fox saying that the Senate report “…strongly supports the CIA’s long-standing position that neither the unclassified talking points nor the classified analysis on which they were based were in any way politicized. While not perfect, neither the talking points nor the analysis were produced with any political agenda in mind. None.”

“I think given what was said by him and others, and where they’re headed, down the political road, would justify revisiting this issue,” Graham told Fox.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

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