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President Obama Talks Religion, Race in India Farewell


PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW DELHI) -- On his final day in India, President Obama declared U.S. relations with the world’s largest democracy "one of the defining partnerships of this century," while nudging his Indian counterpart, Narenda Modi, to pursue greater economic equality, women’s rights and religious tolerance.

In a speech to New Delhi youth, Obama sought to leverage three days of back-slapping and bonhomie into a subtle challenge to the right-wing, Hindu nationalist government of his host. One Indian media outlet went so far as to describe Obama’s words as a "snub."

"India will succeed as long as it’s not splintered along religious lines," Obama declared, a message some viewed as a direct reference to the anti-Muslim policies of Modi’s ruling party and their efforts to constrain Muslim and Christian groups that do evangelization and religious conversion.

"In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. Still, as you may know, my faith has at times been questioned -- by people who don’t know me -- or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing," he said. "Every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear."

Obama called for celebration of racial diversity, invoking Michelle Obama’s ancestral ties to "slaves and slave owners" and occasions when he was "treated differently because the color of my skin."

He also upheld Mrs. Obama as a model of women's rights, calling her a "very strong and talented" wife who "frequently" tells him he’s wrong.

"I'm surrounded by smart women," the president said. "Every woman should be able to go about her day -- to walk the street, or ride the bus -- and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity."

The president, who was greeted by the crowd of 1,500 at Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium with chants of "Obama! Obama!," leaves India after three days on an upbeat note. He was the first American president to visit twice and the first to be honored as chief guest on Republic Day.

"I am the first American president to come to your country twice. But I predict I will not be the last. Because, as Americans, we believe in the promise of India," he said.

Ahead of the speech, the Obamas met with three Indian youth who were rescued from child slavery and Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner who shared the award with Malala Yousafzai.

Satyarthi is a leading anti-child slavery advocate. He was overheard telling President Obama that there are still five million child slaves around the world.

"Thanks to your administration in America the number of child slaves has gone down," he said.

Mrs. Obama kept her arms around 12-year-old Payal Jangid the entire time.

President Obama now turns to a much different alliance, making a rare and impromptu visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on his way home.

The president will pay his respects to the Saudi royal family after Friday's death of Kind Abdullah, mark the transition to King Salman, and discuss the fight against ISIS and the situation in Yemen, White House officials said.

Obama brings with him more than two dozen top dignitaries, including Republican Sen. John McCain, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and former George W. Bush Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Obama is due back on U.S. soil on Wednesday.

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Christie Launches PAC Ahead of Presumed White House Bid


ABC News(NEW YORK) — Even as he deals with a major snowstorm that has walloped the region, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie is clearly setting his sights on national office.

Last week, Christie filed paperwork to launch the political action committee "Leadership Matters for America," a major step in running for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Although no Republican of note has officially declared his candidacy, the field is expected to get crowded very quickly. Despite this, Christie feels he has a legitimate shot at becoming the party's standard bearer next year.

The PAC will afford Christie the opportunity to travel around the country as he gauges interest in his presumed run while attempting to draw deep-pocketed donors who might fund a possible campaign in 2016.

On his website, Christie declares, "America has been a nation that has always controlled events and yet today events control us Why? Because leadership matters. It matters if we want to restore America's role in the world, find the political will to take on the entrenched special interests that continually stand in the way of fundamental change, reform entitlement spending at every level of government, and ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to a quality education."

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Senate Votes Against Ending Debate on Keystone XL Pipeline


Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The weather and some angry Democrats were responsible Monday for keeping debate on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline alive, quashing the GOP's hopes of bring the issue up for a quick vote.

Republicans needed 60 votes to end debate on the pipeline, which would bring oil down from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico while purportedly creating tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. The House has already voted to approve construction of the project.

However, the final tally of 53-39 was seven votes shy, partly because some Republicans' travel plans were waylaid by the oncoming blizzard in the Northeast.

Although the GOP has enough Democratic support required to pass approval of the pipeline, some of those same lawmakers were still mad at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for tabling a number of their amendments last week. Thus, debate on the bill will continue at least through next week.

Even if the Senate passes a measure, the White House has threatened a veto, contending that it's still awaiting a final review from the State Department about the environmental feasibility of the pipeline.

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House Cancels Monday Votes Due to Inclement Weather


Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives canceled the votes scheduled for Monday night due to the impending blizzard.

The announcement from the House Majority's office is likely due to the number of lawmakers who were set to travel back to Washington on Monday following a three-day weekend in their districts. The inclement weather which was expected to hit the Northeast from D.C. up through Maine caused weather problems for many.

Instead, the House Majority's office said, the first votes of the week would occur no earlier than 1 p.m. Tuesday. The House is slated to discuss human trafficking suspensions and the export of liquefied natural gas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

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Chris Christie Spends 'Blizzard of 2015' Tweeting with Constituents


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent his Monday night inside, tweeting back and forth with his constituents and followers as a blizzard rocked the Northeast.

At about 8:30 p.m. Monday, Christie announced a travel ban would go into effect at 11 p.m., preventing any vehicles from being on New Jersey roads -- excluding emergency vehicles, public safety personnel and utility companies -- in an effort to keep New Jersians safe. Shortly thereafter, the governor tweeted, asking his nearly 500,000 followers how they were spending the "Blizzard of 2015."

 

Alright, its 9pm New Jersey. What's everyone doing at home tonight? #blizzardof2015

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

It seems most of Christie's followers were abiding by the travel ban, with many followers saying they were spending time with the families or friends.

 

awesome. send us a pic when you're done RT @AmericasMazz: @GovChristie building a Lego batmobile. 3500 pieces. Incredible fun with my boys

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

 

pokemon is still a thing? RT @Americapaldi: @GovChristie playing some pokemon and enjoying your awesome tweets

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

 

looks awesome RT @warren_kruse: @GovChristie pic.twitter.com/IuBrPCS3j6

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

 

me too. Summer cant come soon enough RT @dnj1999: @GovChristie thinking about this summer down the shore ??????????

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

 

The office is great. Knitting hats? A skill I don't have RT @courtneywrightt: @GovChristie watching the Office and knitting some warm hats!

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

Christie even answered one follower's question as to his wardrobe plans for Tuesday.

 

too cold for the fleece RT @the_real_kuzi: Wonder if @GovChristie is going to be wearing his fleece tomorrow

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) January 27, 2015

 

In advance of the storm, Christie declared a state of emergency, telling New Jersey residents to plan for "really hazardous conditions."

"This is gonna be a lotta snow no matter how you add it up," the governor said Monday. Still, he said he felt as though the state was "prepared, and we're ready, and if you all stay home and help that will make things significantly safer for you and your family and significantly easier for the men and women who are going to be working hard to try to restore New Jersey to normalcy after the storm is over."

 

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Three GOP Senators Fight Against Koch Brothers Critics on Election Spending


David Koch (L) Photo Credit: Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images / Charles Koch (R) Photo Credit: Paul Zimmerman/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- They have been called "radical," "toxic," and even "un-American," but over the weekend, three likely Republican presidential contenders defended the billionaire Koch brothers, who are reportedly planning to spend nearly $900 million to support conservative candidates and causes during the 2016 election cycle.

"Let me be very clear, I admire Charles and David Koch," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told ABC's Jonathan Karl at a forum sponsored by Freedom Partners, a non-profit backed by the brothers. "They are businessmen who've created hundreds of thousands of jobs and they have stood up for free market principles and endured vilification with equanimity and grace."

The Texas senator was joined on stage by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, at this year's first 2016 presidential forum held in Palm Springs.

"There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking point that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world," Cruz continued. "I think that is grotesque and offensive."

Cruz, who noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vilifies the Kochs "every week," added, "There is a reason Harry Reid and the Democrats do that. They cannot defend the record. They can't defend the Obama economy, it's a disaster. They can't defend Obamacare, which is a trainwreck. And they certainly can't defend the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. So they want to scare people by painting a picture of nefarious billionaires."

Rubio asserted that some on the left criticize the Kochs for their political spending, but welcome campaign cash from friendlier sources.

“The people who seem to have a problem with it are the ones that only want unions to be able to do it, their friends in Hollywood to be able to do it and their friends in the press to be able to do it,” Rubio said.

Rubio used the example of billionaire Tom Steyer, who donated heavily to Democratic candidates in 2014, arguing that while he doesn't agree with Steyer's views, he stands by his right to spend money to promote them.

"There is a gentleman out there who has radical environmental ideas who has spent tens of millions of dollars, lost most of his races," Rubio said. "But spent tens of millions of dollars attacking Republicans that don't want to impose his radical environmental agenda. He has a right to do that."

Rubio added, "I believe in freedom of speech. And I believe that spending on political campaigns is a form of political speech that is protected under the Constitution."

Paul acknowledged that special interests can have a negative influence on government, but said the only special interests he's concerned about "are those who do business with government, get government contracts, take the government money and then try to get more contracts."

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Harry Reid Undergoes Successful Surgery on Right Eye


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was released from the hospital on Monday after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his right eye.

The surgery was previously scheduled as part of his recovery from an exercise-related injury earlier this month. A statement from Reid's office said the surgery took about three and a half hours and successfully removed a blood clot and additional blood from the front of his right eye. Doctors also repaired the orbital bones that were fractured in the accident.

Sen. Reid was under full anesthesia during the surgery, his office said. The statement noted that "doctors...are optimistic about his prospects for regaining vision in his right eye but there is no definitive verdict yet."

Reid is expected to spend this week recovering and monitoring the Senate floor through meetings and phone calls with fellow senators.

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Rubio vs. Walker: Why a Senator Thinks Governors Might Not Be Good Presidents


ABC News / US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of a midterm cycle where public ire surged, anti-Washington sentiment is high nationwide – and some pundits have suggested that in 2016, a governor, rather than a legislator, might be more palatable to voters fed up with bickering in Washington.

But at a conservative forum moderated by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, one senator with possible presidential ambitions made a strong case for senatorial leadership:

“I think the No. 1 obligation of the federal government is the national security of the United States in conducting its foreign policy,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who appears to be preparing to mount his own bid for the White House.

“I do think having experience but also a seriousness about the breadth and scope of the challenges we face which are much more difficult than they were 25 years ago” is important for a potential president, he said.

This isn’t the first time Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has touted his foreign policy experience – but as ABC's Karl pointed out, his potential 2016 rivals remain unconvinced.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also thought to be contemplating a bid for the presidency in 2016, told Karl in November that the Republican nominee has “got to be an outsider.”

“I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor, people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward,” Walker told Karl.

“Well, if I was a governor I'd say the same thing,” Rubio said Sunday night, as laughter rippled through the audience.

“It is important for the next president of the United States to understand the diversity of the challenges, to have a global strategic vision and an understanding of what the U.S.' role in it,” said Rubio. “Now does that mean that, you, a governor, can't acquire that? Of course they could. But I would also say that, you know, taking a trip to some foreign city for two days does not make you Henry Kissinger either.”

And Rubio couldn’t resist a jab at the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton:

“I think it would be a mistake to elect as president the architect of the Obama foreign policy,” he said. “That would be a terrible mistake.”

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Five Ways Chris Christie Has Dealt With Weather Crises


President Obama and Gov. Christie at a shelter for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, in Brigantine, N.J. Pete Souza / The White House(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has dealt with his fair share of natural disasters. With a nasty blizzard heading towards the Garden State Monday, he declared the 15th weather-related state of emergency since he took office in January 2010.

“We’re tough in this state; we’ve been through plenty of things before. So have I,” Christie said during a press conference urging residents to prepare before the storm hits.

Each hurricane, flood or related crisis has the side effect, however unintended, of providing the possible 2016 contender an opportunity to demonstrate his leadership style.

Here, in chronological order, are five key weather-related moments during Christie’s tenure:

1. The Disney World Blizzard – 2010

Christie came under fire when he stayed on vacation at Florida’s Disney World during a brutal December snowstorm, rather than coming home to lead his state’s response. To make matters worse, his lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno was also vacationing at the time, leaving Steve Sweeney, the Democratic state Senate president, in charge. Christie defended himself by saying the state would have responded the same way regardless of where he was, and that he didn’t want to break a promise to his children to visit the most magical place on Earth.

2. “Get the hell off the beach” – 2011


Christie flaunted his signature tough-talking style when he called for a mandatory evacuation of points on the Jersey Shore in the run-up to Hurricane Irene. “Do not waste any more time working on your tan. Get off the beach, get out of your beach houses and get to safer lands,” he said, expressing frustration over news coverage of people catching rays despite severe weather warnings. His performance impressed conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, who at the time said Christie’s stewardship of this storm reflected a “kinder, gentler and more paternal Chris Christie.”

3. Sandy bipartisanship – 2012

The devastating late-October hurricane, which killed 117 people per a CDC analysis and destroyed thousands of homes, will likely remain one of the most defining periods in Christie’s administration. Politically, it was memorable in part because Christie warmly welcomed President Obama to tour storm damage on the Jersey Shore, praising him for his rapid mobilization of federal assets and coordination with the state. “He has worked incredibly closely with me since before the storm hit...It's been a great working relationship," Christie said during the October 31 visit. While Christie’s overture earned him bipartisan praise for seeming to put politics aside in the interest of his state (and some state polls had his approval rating soaring) he upset many national Republicans, some of whom later suggested his harmony with the president might have contributed to Romney’s ballot box loss just four days later. Longtime Iowa political operative Doug Gross was quoted by the New York Times as saying it might hurt Christie with Iowa caucus voters, who, Gross said, “don’t forget things like this.”

4. Swiping at other leaders – 2010, 2012

Christie has never shied from defending himself against criticism, especially coming from fellow tri-state leaders over his response to a storm. After former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tweaked Christie for staying in Florida during a 2010 blizzard (see #1), the New Jersey governor shot back on Fox News. “It’s easy when you are out of office to be shooting from the peanut gallery when you no longer have any responsibility, but I have a responsibility to my family…I’m just going to chalk it off to a bad morning for the mayor. Maybe he didn’t have a good breakfast or something like that,” Christie said. He also blasted Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford during Hurricane Sandy for allowing residents to shelter locally rather than evacuate the area. Christie and Giuliani seem to have made up since their 2010 spat, as Giuliani campaigned with Christie last year and called him “one of the best governors in the United States.”

5. Canceling the party – 2014, 2015

Whether as a result of the backlash over his Disney trip in 2010 or not, Christie has recently bowed out of several political events due to winter storms. The governor canceled his own re-election celebration in January 2014 over concerns that bad weather could lead to road hazards, and skipped ceremonies in Ohio and Illinois this month as part of his tour congratulating Republican governors which has also taken him through, coincidentally or not, key presidential primary and battleground states including Florida and Iowa.

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Federal Appeals Court Grants Bond for Former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal appeals court granted bond to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell pending an appeal of his conviction on corruption charges.

McDonnell was convicted in September 2014 on 11 of 13 charges. Prosecutors said that McDonnell, while governor, traded favors in exchange for $177,000 in gifts and loans from a wealthy friend who was trying to promote a business.

A statement from a spokesman for McDonnell's legal team said that the appeal "will be a strong one, and many such cases have been overturned on the grounds that the nature of the 'official acts' weren't indeed illegal." The spokesman also said that the appeal will likely take longer than McDonnell's two-year sentence.

The court found that McDonnell "is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or community fi released." Further, the court documents say, "the appeal is not for the purpose of delay."

McDonnell released a statement Monday saying that he was "grateful" for the ruling and that he plans to "spending time with my new granddaughter who was born this month, attend my sons' graduation ceremonies, and embrace family time with my daughters."

Opening briefs in the appeal trial are scheduled for March 2, with oral arguments slated for May 12.

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Iowa Governor Falls Ill, Transported by Ambulance to Hospital


Steve Pope/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad "fell ill" at an event Monday, according to his office, requiring an ambulance to take him to a Des Moines hospital.

In a statement Monday evening, Dr. Mark Purtle, chief medical officer of UnityPoint Health-Des Moines, who treated Branstad said, “After personally reviewing the governor’s medical records, with his permission, and visiting with him and his attending physicians, we believe the governor has a viral illness with dehydration.”

“We also conducted a series of tests in which we ruled out other contributing factors, including cardiac issues,” Purtle said. “The governor is still receiving fluids and is resting comfortably.”

An earlier statement from the governor's office Monday afternoon said he was "currently alert and resting comfortably" at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in downtown Des Moines.

"He is being observed and hydrated after having flu-like symptoms," Branstad's spokesman Jimmy Centers said in the statement. "The governor did have a flu shot this season. The governor has been admitted and will be kept overnight out of an abundance of caution.”

Branstad, the longest-serving governor in United States history, was transported to the hospital at about 12 p.m. central time. His office said while in the ambulance he was “alert, conscious, and accurately answering questions during transport” and he is being kept overnight for “observation, rest and hydration.”

"During the transport, paramedics took the governor’s vitals and initial tests indicate that the spell was caused by a seasonal illness," the statement said. "The governor had been suffering from the effects of a cold.”

Des Moines Register reporter Jason Noble reported in a tweet that Branstad was at one point lying on the ground "in distress."

An aide to the governor told ABC News that Branstad, 68, had been battling the cold and flu in recent days. But during an appearance at his weekly press conference on Monday morning in Des Moines, Branstad's voice was hoarse, but he otherwise seemed fine.

Branstad has a history of heart illness. He had a heart attack in 2000 and 10 years later had a procedure to open a blocked artery. But aides said they did not believe Monday's incident was anything more than the cold or flu, but would know more after Branstad was admitted to the hospital.

He was holding an event at DuPont Pioneer, an agriculture company.

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Joe Biden, John Boehner Share State of the Union Survival Tips


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a rare instance of bipartisanship, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner both agree that sitting through the State of the Union can be a bit of a bore.

Biden got little sympathy from his wife when he complained about having to sit attentively behind the president at last week’s address.

"I sit back there and I listen and I helped write the ideas in the speech and I know it all and I've got to pay attention," Biden griped in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, didn't want to hear it.

"She said, 'Welcome to the Good Wives Club," Joe Biden explained.

"She said, 'How many time have I sat and listened to you make a speech and pretend to be interested,'" he added. "So I'm a member of the Good Wives Club."

Feigning interest in the speech is a task that Biden shares with Boehner as the two sit on-camera behind the president throughout the entire address.

"I stare at the back of the president's head and my goal is to make no news," Boehner told CBS' 60 Minutes.

"This is the president's night. ...Although inside I've got a lot of things rolling through my mind," he said.

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Hillary Clinton Has Been M.I.A. Lately -- and Here’s Why


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At a time when many potential 2016 presidential contenders appear to be starting the ignition of their campaigns, Hillary Clinton has pressed the brake pedal.

Or so it seems.

Clinton’s calendar, which was jam-packed throughout most of last year with paid speeches, award ceremonies, fundraisers, book tour stops, campaign appearances and official Clinton Foundation business, is now virtually empty.

Over the past six weeks, the likely Democratic presidential candidate has made just two public appearances -- both on the same day, and both in Canada. She doesn’t have another event scheduled until late next month.

Although Clinton still insists she hasn’t decided whether she’ll run, it is widely believed that she will, and an announcement is expected this spring.

Until then, Clinton appears to be lying low and staying out of the public eye. Meanwhile, much of the focus has turned toward potential Republican candidates like Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. A dozen others tested out their possible stump speeches at a summit in Iowa last weekend.

A Clinton spokesman declined to comment on reasons for her light public schedule. But, according to Democratic strategists and Clinton insiders, this is exactly how it should be.

Here’s why:

Playing It Safe

After a rocky book rollout last summer and a few flubs on the midterm campaign trail, some see Clinton as politically rusty. Keeping out of the spotlight now lowers the chances of making mistakes that could come back to haunt her later.

“Why take the risk?” said one prominent Democrat with ties to Clinton, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about Clinton’s vulnerabilities. “The more you’re out there -- I don’t care how prepared you are or how experienced you are -- she’s going to slip up.”

But, the source added, it’s about the optics, too. And her high-dollar speaking fees aren’t a good look for a potential presidential candidate.

The closer Clinton gets to an announcement, “the more she really needs to pay attention to the arguments that she’s going to make about the economy, and other issues. And doing speeches for $250,000 a pop will detract from that,” the source said.

Above the Fray

By lowering her profile, Clinton has avoided what Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile described as “day-to-day, flash and burn politics.”

"There’s no reason Hillary Clinton should be involved in what I call partisan, insular, inside-the-beltway politics,” Brazile explained. “She doesn’t need to be a part of what happens in Obama’s White House and the Republican Congress. Her campaign is not predicated on what budget decision they make now, or what compromise they forge.”

This also gives Clinton the ability to cherry pick when she wants to weigh in. Recently, for instance, Clinton sent out unsolicited tweets criticizing Republicans attempts to roll back financial reform laws in Congress and supporting President Obama following the State of the Union.

Clinton can swing this because she is technically still a private citizen.

Party Timing

At this point in 2007, Clinton had already announced her candidacy, but the playing field was different: There was a Republican president and Democrats were the opposition.

There is no upside, some strategists say, to coming out early when your own party occupies the White House.

“If Clinton were out there right now, they’d say, ‘What is she doing?’” Brazile said. “What advantage does she have in this battle?”

This time around, Republicans have more of a reason to be out there early.

Gearing Up, Getting Ready

Another likely reason Clinton is limiting her public events: To focus on her behind-the-scenes operation.

In recent weeks, Clinton has begun staffing up, hiring longtime strategists and former Obama advisers to be part of her senior leadership team. She’s been digging into her 2007 polling numbers. And, as the Washington Post reported, she has been holding daily strategy meetings in her Chappaqua, New York, home.

“She’s hunkered down, preparing, and making a decision," said one Clinton insider with knowledge of the situation. “The idea that she’s off the radar, laying low, precludes the fact that she’s working really hard and being very much the Hillary Clinton that everyone knows."

Because She Can

A break from the public, strategists say, is a luxury Clinton can afford at the moment.

Unlike lesser known candidates, Clinton doesn’t have to make a name for herself. Plus, Clinton has outside groups -- like Ready for Hillary and Correct the Record -- doing some of the early organizing work for her. This allows her to focus on other things like spending time with her family and preparing for what’s to come.

Because, as one top Clinton donor noted, “The day she announces, she’ll be ready to go” -- and squarely in the spotlight.

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Rand Paul on Possible Mitt Romney Run: 'No, No, No, No'


ABC/ DONNA SVENNEVIK(PALM SPRINGS, Calif.) — As recently as October, Ann Romney was waving off the notion of a third Mitt Romney candidacy. After two failed presidential bids, in 2008 and 2012, she and her husband had “moved on,” she told ABC News.

Though sources close to Mitt Romney recently announced he’s once again “thinking about” another bid for the White House, at least one of Romney's GOP colleagues thinks Ann Romney had the right idea.

“I’m with Ann Romney on this one: No, no, no, no, never,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told ABC News' Jonathan Karl at a forum of three likely 2016 presidential candidates in Palm Springs, California, Sunday night.

Romney “would have made a great president,” added Paul, rumored to be considering his own White House bid. “But to win the presidency you have the reach out and appeal to new constituencies. And I just don't think it's possible.”

“And if he thinks, ‘Well, I'm just going to change a few themes and next time I'll reach out to more people,’ I think it's a little more visceral than that,” the libertarian lawmaker said of Romney.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another Republican rumored to be harboring presidential ambitions, said Romney's infamous on-camera gaffe cost Republicans the White House.

“I think in 2012, the reason Republicans lost can be sum up it in two words: 47 percent,” Cruz said at the forum.

Just months before the 2012 election, Romney was caught on tape at a private fundraiser telling guests that they shouldn’t “worry about” the 47 percent of people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

“I don't just mean that comment,” Cruz said. “The central narrative of the last election, what the voters heard, was, ‘We don't have to worry about the 47 percent.’ And I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent.

“We should be fighting for the little guy who has dreams and hopes and desires,” he said.

The forum’s third guest, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., refused to “Monday morning quarterback” Romney’s performance in 2012.

“I think he put it all into the race,” Rubio said. “He's someone who's earned the right to decide whatever it is he wants to do.”

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Small Drone Found on White House Grounds: Law Enforcement Sources


Photo Credit: U.S. Secret Service(WASHINGTON) — A small drone was found on the White House grounds overnight, the United States Secret Service confirmed on Monday, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the situation “does not pose any sort of ongoing threat.”

Two law enforcement sources told ABC News that the drone belonged to a government employee who said he lost control of it. The employee contacted the Secret Service claiming it was for recreational use only. According to officials, his story seems to check out but further investigation is underway and a determination will be made about whether to file charges.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary issued the following statement Monday:

"An individual called the Secret Service this morning at approximately 9:30am to self-report that they had been in control of the quad copter device that crashed on the White House grounds early this morning. The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device. This investigation continues as the Secret Service conducts corroborative interviews, forensic examinations and reviews all other investigative leads."

"An investigation is underway to determine the origin of this commercially available device, motive, and to identify suspects. As additional information becomes available we will update our statement."

President and Michelle Obama are currently in India, with a stop planned in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. It was unclear whether or not the president's daughters were at home at the time of the incident.


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