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Foley Family to White House: You Saved Bergdahl. Why Not Our Son?


Foley Family to White House: You Saved Bergdahl. Why Not Our Son?


After the Obama administration bargained for Bowe Bergdahl’s life, the family of ISIS hostage James Foley begged the White House for the same treatment—only to be denied.

The parents of James Foley, the journalist ISIS beheaded in August, learned about the U.S. government’s attempt to rescue him about an hour before the rest of us did.

The grieving parents got word from President Obama himself.

“I told Obama that Jim worked hard to get him elected,” John Foley, James’s father, told The Daily Beast. “He believed till the end his country would come and get them.”

The president, according to John, responded, “Well I should tell you, we did try to save him.” Then Obama stunned John and his wife Diane, informing them of the failed special operations rescue mission from early July.

In the call, Obama explained that this information about the rescue mission was classified. But not for long, it would seem. Foley added, “An hour later he went and told the world.”

White House spokesmen have said that there was never any intention to share with the public details of the failed rescue mission in Syria. Word of the mission began to leak out on August 20, a day after James Foley was beheaded in a gruesome and slickly produced internet video narrated by a man with a thick British accent. White House officials briefed reporters that afternoon on the failed mission.

For the Foleys, it was a tragic ending to an awful ordeal. Since their son first went missing right before Thanksgiving in 2012, Diane Foley, in particular, began a mission to find any way she could to try to get her son back alive. She pressed the White House, the FBI and the State Department for any information she could find on James. Often, she and John would tell the FBI about what they learned from other European hostages who were released this year by ISIS. The response the Foleys received was, for the most part, beyond disappointing—little more than a “pat on the head,” John said.

Two months after the murder of James Foley, his parents are still frustrated with how they were treated by the White House—even as the Foley family works to establish a legacy fund for their son.

Elizabeth Warren-for-prez hype fails to drum up cash

Elizabeth Warren-for-prez hype fails to drum up cash

Matt Stout, Kimberly Atkins

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is dabbling again with the idea of running for president but that has yet to help funnel cash to the grass-roots group trying to draft the Bay State senator for the 2016 national race.

The Ready for Warren PAC, an early backer of the star of the liberal wing, raised less than $58,000 as of Sept. 30, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

By contrast, the Ready for Hillary PAC for presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton pulled in $2 million in the third quarter of this year, bringing the total receipts to more than 
$10 million, records show.

Despite the apparent lag in financial support for the movement to nudge Warren into the race, the senator spurred speculation that she may consider a presidential run in a People magazine article.

According to the article, Warren “wrinkled her nose” when asked if she was on board with a run at the White House — but then followed with an answer that didn’t shoot it down.

“I don’t think so,” she said in an interview at her Cambridge home that will appear in this week’s issue. “If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open.”

Warren’s answer represented a marked shift from past interviews, when she has flatly said she had no designs to run. Last December, for example, she told reporters she planned to finish her six-year term, which would wrap in 2019.

“I am not running for president,” she said then — and has repeated since.

But yesterday, a spokeswoman said Warren has not changed her mind. “Nothing has changed,” spokeswoman Lacey Rose told the Herald.

The magazine’s story — which included a headline “Elizabeth Warren for Treasury Secretary?” — noted it’s possible she could seek other posts beyond president in the future.

“Right now,” Warren said in the interview posted yesterday, “I’m focused on figuring out what else I can do from this spot” in the Senate.

Christie: Obama is a 'class warrior'

Photo - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center left, and Tom MacArthur, center right, Republican candidate for New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, greet patrons at Mastoris Diner Thursday, in Bordentown, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Christie: Obama is a 'class warrior'

By Kelly Cohen

Chris Christie criticized Obama for focusing too much on minimum wage and not "creating better paying jobs."

Speaking from a New Jersey diner Thursday, the Republican explained that his widely reported Tuesday comment — how he was “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” — was taken out of context and misunderstood, according to the New York Daily News.

Christie then criticized the president for focusing too much on the minimum wage and not “creating better paying jobs.”

“The president wants to focus (on minimum wage) because he’s a class warrior,” Christie said. “What he wants to focus on is the minimum wage. I don’t believe that that’s what our focus should be.

GOP builds big lead in early return of Colorado election ballots

GOP builds big lead in early return of Colorado election ballots

By John Aguilar / The Denver Post

Election offices across the state have received 40,000 more ballots from Republican voters than Democrats in the 10 days since ballots were mailed to voters, a spread that far outpaces the advantage the GOP had in voter turnout at this time four years ago.

As of Wednesday, the most recent day the Colorado secretary of state's office released ballot return data, 145,824 Republican voters had mailed back their ballots while 105,401 Democrats had done the same. More than 77,000 unaffiliated voters had also returned their completed ballots.

In 2010, during the country's last midterm election, Republicans held a 10,000-count edge over Democrats — 81,000 to 71,000 returned ballots — as of Oct. 20 of that year.

There are more than 2.9 million active registered voters in Colorado, and 2014 represents the first even-numbered year every voter in the state will receive a mail-in ballot by default. Republicans hold a slight edge over Democrats in terms of registered voters, but the biggest group of voters in the state is unaffiliated.

Could the 'Perfect' Campaign Lose?

Could the 'Perfect' Campaign Lose?

By Alex Roarty

Kay Hagan is trying to prove months of good work can withstand a national climate that's threatening other Dems. Republicans are confident she can't.

RALEIGH, N.C.—It took Kay Hagan 10 minutes to cover everything she wanted to say about public education. The 61-year-old senator had picked the student union here at North Carolina State University to deliver a seminar of her own about all the ways she was building up education and all the ways her opponent Thom Tillis was tearing it down. She left no criticism unmentioned: Tillis, who is speaker of the state House, was even accused of making it more expensive for college students to buy food.

Until a few weeks ago, this was Hagan's secret sauce, the reason her campaign retained a slight lead while Senate Democratic candidates elsewhere wilted during the summer and early fall. The one-term senator had relentlessly focused on education funding in August and September, beating up on her GOP foe's budget-cutting tenure like a boxer determined to methodically wear down her opponent with body blows. For Hagan, keeping the focus of her federal race on a local issue had the benefit of insulating herself from the toxic national atmosphere. As one Hagan adviser joked, "We turned this into a school-board race."

But a smattering of a few dozen students and journalists gathered to listen to Hagan had apparently heard enough. When the senator asked if the students seated in front of her—or the journalists milling behind them—had additional questions about her education agenda, nobody spoke. When an aide then asked the media if they had any questions on other topics, we nearly surrounded her.

Hagan tried to steer the discussion back toward education, but the questions focused elsewhere: Was she hypocritical to complain about outside-group money when some of them were backing her candidacy? Why was she not attending the debate later that night? And had she reversed herself last week when she said she supported a limited travel ban to Ebola-stricken countries?

"From the very, very beginning," Hagan said, "I said a travel ban could be part …"

A reporter cut her off. "Could or should be?"

"You know, I said it could be part of a broader strategy," she continued. "And that's exactly where we are."

Journalists rarely ask the questions politicians want, no matter the situation. But the exchange neatly captured a shifting dynamic in North Carolina: Since the start of October, the issues at the contest's forefront have moved from the local matters preferred by Team Hagan to the national topics, Ebola and ISIS, that have benefitted Republican candidates nationwide. And it's created a sense that Tillis, whose own campaign has become a punching bag for Republicans critical of its efforts, could sneak through to a last-minute victory.

Is liberal favorite Elizabeth Warren open to 2016 presidential run?

Elizabeth Warren

Is liberal favorite Elizabeth Warren open to 2016 presidential run?

Much to the disappointment of her ardent fans, Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly, emphatically and in no uncertain terms said she is not running for president in 2016.

Or is she?

People magazine drew out the following response from the Democratic senator and liberal favorite during a recent interview at her home in Cambridge, Mass.

"I don't think so," Warren said. "If there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open."

Well, that was a different way to answer the same old question.

The senator's office in Washington had no immediate response, but Warren enthusiasts most certainly did, seeing it as just the opening needed to propel her possible candidacy.

"Her economist populist message resonates with voters of all stripes, and her agenda offers a pathway to success for Democrats," said Adam Green, co-founder Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which supports like-minded candidates.

Hispanics, US citizens and otherwise, join campaigns for close midterm fights.

Arizona immigration rally

Hispanics, US citizens and otherwise, join campaigns for close midterm fights.

Paul Lewis

This year’s midterms are taking place against a backdrop of Latino frustration at dithering candidates over immigration issues.

An estimated 11 million people in America are barred from voting in the midterm elections because of their immigration status. Abel Perez is one of them.

The 24-year-old was recently knocking on doors in the Colorado town of Longmont with a list of 150 Latino residents who, unlike him, are eligible to cast a ballot.

If no one answered the door, Perez left a leaflet warning the resident about the anti-immigrant policies of the Republican Senate candidate, Cory Gardner.

“If I can get them to vote, it is like they are voting for me,” he said.

Perez is not alone. He is among a rapidly growing army of young Latino activists who are canvassing or registering voters before the midterms, even though they themselves do not have a vote.

For the first time, many of these activists can be paid for their efforts because of their enrolment in a program created by the Obama administration that suspends deportations of young people who were brought to the US illegally as children, and gives them a permit to work.

Mi Familia Vota, the largest Latino voter-registration organisation in the country, revealed that about 100 paid staff – roughly one in five of its employees – are enrolled in the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The administration began receiving applications under the DACA program in August 2012, meaning very few activists were enrolled in time for the last election cycle. They are a political force that didn’t exist in 2012.

“This is my first job,” said Perez, who received his DACA status earlier this year. “Making sure that Cory Gardner doesn’t make it to the Senate.”

Shaheen: No sense in Obama visiting

Shaheen: No sense in Obama visiting

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is pictured. | AP Photo

Pushed Thursday night on whether she would want President Barack Obama to campaign with her as she seeks a second term, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said it doesn’t make sense and Obama is “exactly where he needs to be” — in Washington.

“We have a lot going on,” Shaheen said during an hourlong debate with Republican Scott Brown at NH1’s studio in Concord, which was broadcast live on WBIN-TV and was co-sponsored by CNN. “I don’t think it makes sense for the president to come to New Hampshire right now.”

“The fact is he’s busy in Washington. He’s dealing with the Ebola threat; he’s dealing with the threat from ISIS,” said Shaheen, using an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “I think he’s exactly where he needs to be.”

Shaheen doesn’t have a shortage of star power coming to New Hampshire for her: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who beat Brown two years ago in Massachusetts, will come up Saturday. Bill Clinton was there for her last week; Hillary Clinton is coming soon.

And whether Obama comes to the Granite State or not — he has no plans to — didn’t change Brown’s strategy at the debate: to tie Shaheen to Obama at every opportunity. A CNN/ORC International poll released earlier in the day showed Obama’s approval rating at just 39 percent among likely voters, with 57 percent disapproving.

That same survey put Shaheen up 2 points, 49 percent to 47 percent, which is well within the margin of error.

The Allure of Radical Islam in Canada

The Allure of Radical Islam in Canada

What's behind the latest surge in political violence, and what Canadians can do about it

By David Frum

“Five years ago we weren’t as worried about domestic terrorism as we are now,” said Richard Fadden. He explained why: In the 1990s and early 2000s, Islamic terrorism was perpetrated by structured organizations with lines of command—groups like al-Qaeda and Somalia’s al-Shabab. But the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition had smashed the leadership of these groups, and left behind a motley bunch of autonomous freelancers whose plots were much “harder to get your hands on.” Western intelligence agencies were seeing far fewer large-scale plots like those that did so much damage in New York City, in Washington, in Bali, in Madrid, and in London in the early 2000s, Fadden continued, but they were collecting much more chatter about smaller-scale threats against less predictable targets.

Fadden’s prophecy has been all too tragically vindicated this week. On Monday, a French-Canadian convert to Islam drove his car at two Canadian soldiers in the small city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal. One soldier was killed. The assailant was shot and killed by police after a high-speed car chase. Wednesday brought a spectacular attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament in Ottawa. Again, a soldier was killed, before the assailant himself was reportedly felled by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons. This attacker too was a Canadian-born Muslim convert, the son of a French-Canadian woman and (according to recent press reports) a Libyan man who had emigrated to Canada.

he Saint-Jean hit-and-run driver, Martin Couture-Rouleau, appeared on a list of 90 persons monitored by Canadian police and had been identified as a “high-risk traveler”; He was arrested last summer when he tried to leave the country for the Middle East. Official sources have not said anything about whether Couture-Rouleau and the Ottawa shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, were acquainted or connected in any way. Former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, however, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that the two men may have visited the same Internet chat rooms. ISIS has promoted using cars as weapons against Westerners, though it remains unclear whether Couture-Rouleau drew inspiration from the extremist group.

Since 2006, Canadian security has thwarted many localized plots—two in 2013 alone. At a July 1 Canada Day celebration in front of the British Columbia legislature, two Canadian-born converts to Islam intended to detonate homemade pressure-cooker bombs, police charge. Two non-citizens—one Palestinian, one Tunisian—were arrested in April 2013 for allegedly plotting to derail a passenger train.

A lot of energy is wasted debating whether do-it-yourself jihadists should be called “terrorists.” The Obama administration notoriously insisted on describing the Ford Hood shooting of 2009 as an incident of “workplace violence,” not terrorism. The killer at Fort Hood, Major Nidal Malik Hassan, was perceived by colleagues as mentally troubled long before he opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 32 more. Judging by media reports, Zehaf-Bibeau likewise could be described, if one wished to eschew the T-word, as a troubled misfit with a long record of petty criminality. On the other hand, what kind of person would one expect jihadists to recruit from inside a Western society? In countries like Canada, Australia, Britain, and the United States, the call to Islamic holy war often appeals to more marginal people: the thwarted, the troubled, the angry. And yet even so, the Saint-Jean killer—Couture-Rouleau—reportedly had a clean police record and a reasonably stable personal life until his conversion to Islam. He owned a pressure-washing business and lived in a single family home with his father.

If you are alienated, angry, and attracted to violence, radical Islam provides a powerful ideology of justification. If you are lonely and purposeless, it offers redemptive self-sacrifice (one report claims that Couture-Rouleau persuaded “four or five” friends to convert to Islam with him). Until roughly 1960, French-speaking Quebec ranked as one of the most Catholic societies on earth. In the late 1950s, more than 80 percent of French Quebeckers could be found at Mass on Sundays, according to one famous estimate. Then, abruptly, in the short span of years from 1960 to 1980, religion seemed almost to vanish from the province. It’s been aptly said that from the point of view of religious observance, “centuries, not decades” separated the Quebec of the 1980s from the Quebec of the 1950s. Yet the hunger for meaning is always a part of the human spirit. In a different time, Couture-Rouleau might have vanished into a monastery. In the 21st century, he found a different and deadlier path. The alleged would-be British Columbian bombers might likewise have gravitated to Maoism in the 1960s or Nazism in the 1930s. But those ideologies too have lost their hold on the modern mind, leaving radical Islam as the strongest competitor for the credence of those who seek self-fulfillment through mass destruction.

Like other advanced democracies, Canada is a lightly policed society. It is also a society that has imposed on itself extraordinary legal difficulties before dangerous non-citizens can be removed from its territory. One of the two men who allegedly plotted the 2013 train derailment arrived in Canada with his family in 1993 using a fake passport. First, the family sought refugee status on the grounds that they had been victimized by anti-immigrant gangs in Germany, their previous place of residence. When that plea was rejected, most of the family sought and gained residency as stateless Palestinians. The suspected train plotter, Raed Jaser, was denied residency because by the time the courts got around to hearing his case, he’d accumulated a lengthy criminal record. But since neither the United Arab Emirates (where he was born), nor Saudi Arabia (where his mother was born), nor the Palestinian Authority (where his father came from) accepted responsibility for him—in Canada he stayed. He’ll now be staying somewhat longer, and perhaps ultimately as long as Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a Palestinian terrorist who entered Canada in 1987 with false papers and was ultimately deported only after a 26-year legal battle.

Despite its self-image as a peaceable land, Canada has not escaped political violence. In the mid-1960s, Quebec separatists launched an escalating campaign of bombings and attempted kidnappings: 160 violent attacks that killed eight people and wounded dozens more before the terrorists were finally suppressed in 1970-71. In 1985, Sikh terrorists blew up an Air India flight from Montreal to London mid-flight, killing 329 people, 268 of them Canadian citizens, in the worst terrorist atrocity in Canadian history. Canadian soil has been troubled—and Canadian lives lost—as a result of Palestinian terrorism, Tamil terrorism, and domestically inspired violence of the far-left and far-right.

Since 2001, political violence (both plotted and executed) in Canada and against Canadians has overwhelmingly been inspired by the teachings of radical Islam. Our era’s foremost ideology of murder has found a home inside Canada too. Canadian law, Canadian institutions, and the Canadian government must adapt to the threat accordingly. After the shock and sorrow of October 2014, they surely will—as they have so successfully adapted and surmounted much greater threats in generations past.

Krauthammer: Barack Obama, bewildered bystander

Barack Obama, bewildered bystander

The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government’s handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in the New York Times last Saturday.

There’s only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It’s his government. He’s president. Has been for six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration.

The IRS? “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he thundered in May 2013 when the story broke of the agency targeting conservative groups. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS.”

Except that within nine months, Obama had grown far more tolerant, retroactively declaring this to be a phony scandal without “a smidgen of corruption.”

Obamacare rollout? “Nobody is more frustrated by that than I am,” said an aggrieved Obama about the botching of the central element of his signature legislative achievement. “Nobody is madder than me.”

Veterans Affairs scandal? Presidential chief of staff Denis McDonough explained: “Secretary [Eric] Shinseki said yesterday . . . that he’s mad as hell and the president is madder than hell.” A nice touch — taking anger to the next level.

The president himself declared: “I will not stand for it.” But since the administration itself said the problem was long-standing, indeed predating Obama, this means he had stood for it for 5½ years.

The one scandal where you could credit the president with genuine anger and obliviousness involves the recent breaches of White House Secret Service protection. The Washington Post described the first lady and president as “angry and upset,” and no doubt they were. But the first Secret Service scandal — the hookers of Cartagena — evinced this from the president: “If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.” An innovation in ostentatious distancing: future conditional indignation.


These shows of calculated outrage — and thus distance — are becoming not just unconvincing but unamusing. In our system, the president is both head of state and head of government. Obama seems to enjoy the monarchial parts, but when it comes to the actual business of running government, he shows little interest and even less aptitude.

His principal job, after all, is to administer the government and to get the right people to do it. (That’s why we typically send governors rather than senators to the White House.) That’s called management. Obama had never managed anything before running for the biggest management job on earth. It shows.

What makes the problem even more acute is that Obama represents not just the party of government but a grandiose conception of government as the prime mover of social and economic life. The very theme of his presidency is that government can and should be trusted to do great things. And therefore society should be prepared to hand over large chunks of its operations — from health care (one-sixth of the economy) to carbon regulation down to free contraception — to the central administrative state.

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Jonathan Alter: The Democrats’ Closing Argument Needs to Be J-O-B-S

The Democrats’ Closing Argument Needs to Be J-O-B-S

There’s still time for the Democrats to put GOP opponents on the defensive by saying “I want to rebuild America, and my opponent doesn’t.”

As Democrats mutter privately that their Senate majority is sinking beneath the waves, their leadership has sent out an SOS. It’s all hands on deck, unless those hands belong to the President of the United States. Because only Michigan Rep. Gary Peters among Democratic candidates for the Senate wants Obama in his state campaigning, the challenge of saving the Senate has fallen to another president.

I heard from a Democratic senator this week that influential Democrats are pressuring Bill Clinton to frame a closing argument for the Democrats that focuses on the economy. In his 2012 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton became Obama’s “Secretary for Explaining Stuff” (although the word wasn’t stuff). This is more explicit and humiliating for the incumbent. The president and former president, who once despised each other, are cordial but far from friendly. Now Obama needs his predecessor to help prevent a solid Republican Congress from hassling him all the way to January 20, 2017.

As important as the messenger is here, the message—jobs—is even more so. The Democrats’ inability to stress what voters keep telling them is their biggest concern is perplexing. I understand why the White House has trouble getting credit for improving the economy when wages are stagnant and life is still so hard for so many in the shrinking middle class.  And I get why Democratic candidates don’t want to lash themselves to the economic policies of an unpopular president.

What I can’t fathom is why Democrats don’t pick low-hanging fruit—the jobs issues that poll after poll shows are much more critical to voters than ISIS, Ebola, and the Keystone pipeline, not to mention vaginal probes and whether some candidate voted for Obama. Yes, many Democratic candidates are pushing for a much-needed increase in the minimum wage. But that is of most interest either to hardcore Democrats or to non-voters clinging to the bottom of the economy.

The voters Democrats are in trouble with are white non-college educated blue-collar workers who are often unemployed, and whose friends have crappy jobs in the service sector or mid-level positions in office parks. These mostly male voters—the ones poised to turn the Senate Republican by rejecting anyone with a “D” after their name—don’t care much about the minimum wage, but many of them sure would like a new job.

There’s a particular jobs issue that they respond to and it has a big, boring name: infrastructure. As long as they don’t call it that, Democrats have a chance to win a greater share of these white male voters. At worst, Republicans will hear the argument that their leaders couldn’t care less about rebuilding the country. That might convince even more of them that neither party represents their interests. If these white voters stay home (as millions did in 2012) and blacks vote in high enough numbers (especially in North Carolina and Georgia), the Democrats might yet squeak through.

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Obama moves key Senate races toward GOP

Barack Obama gestures. | AP Photo

Obama moves key Senate races toward GOP


Their bitter 55-minute debate had just ended. Greg Orman walked across the stage, looked Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in the eye, shook his hand and smiled.

“You said, ‘Harry Reid’ 38 freaking times,” Orman, running as an independent, told Roberts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

It probably didn’t come as much of a surprise. Since falling back in the polls last month, Roberts has taken every chance to portray Orman as a foot soldier for President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A similar dynamic is underway in South Dakota: After former Gov. Mike Rounds found himself in a surprisingly tight three-way race earlier this month, Republicans have spent the past 10 days tying his two opponents to national Democrats.

The GOP efforts appear to be working in both races, which have moved back in the party’s direction in recent days after a flurry of speculation that they might be prime pickup opportunities for Democrats.

While Orman could still win in Kansas and South Dakota is still unpredictable, the shifting dynamics underscore how Obama’s deep unpopularity remains the biggest advantage for Senate Republicans — not just in conservative battlegrounds but in swing states as well. Even though Republicans lack an agenda this year or a defining issue to bring voters to the polls, 2014 is at risk of becoming all about Obama — and that could be devastating for Senate Democrats.

“I think Obama being so unpopular is the biggest factor in this election,” said Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster with the firm Public Policy Polling. “And I think at the end of the day, it may be too much for a lot of the Democratic Senate candidates to overcome.”

Despite his own unpopularity in Kansas, polls show Roberts back in a dead heat with Orman, after trailing the independent in some surveys earlier this month. The senator and his GOP allies have blanketed the airwaves with nearly $3 million in the past two weeks alone, roughly $1 million more than the amount the independent and his allies have shelled out in that time frame.


A CNN-ORC poll out Thursday found Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire up 2 percent against her GOP challenger, Scott Brown, with just 39 percent of voters approving of the president in a state he carried twice. In Colorado, another must-win for Democrats, Sen. Mark Udall has trailed in a series of recent polls, including a USA Today-Suffolk University survey this week that showed him down 7 points against GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, with Obama’s disapproval rating at 57 percent.

And in Iowa, a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday showed state GOP Sen. Joni Ernst maintaining a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, up 2 points in a state where a clear majority voters continue to hold an unfavorable view of the president. Though Ernst’s lead was within the margin of error, that has been the case in a series of recent polls.

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Democratic senators dismiss Obama as 'not relevant'

Weak: Senators in the Democratic Party are shunning President Obama (left) as he dashes from crisis to crisis – including a widely panned Ebola response now being helmed by party operative Ron Klain (on couch)

Democratic senators dismiss Obama as 'not relevant'

By David Martosko, Us Political Editor for MailOnline

Is Obama a 'strong leader?' North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan responded: 'Certainly there are issues that I certainly think ... um, no'

Bill Clinton told a Kentucky crowd not to give a Republican 'a six-year job for a two-year protest' against the sitting president.

The White House is struggling to assert President Barack Obama's relevance as drowning Democrats have had to decide between defending him and throwing him under their campaign buses.

Several liberals in tough re-election fights have opted, Peter-like, to deny him three times before Election Day's cock can crow. 

Mark Begich, Alaska's embattled Senate Democrat, put his finger on what his party's bigger names are grappling with, saying that while he voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012,'that's irrelevant. The president's not relevant. He's gone in two years.'

First choice, Bubba: Former President Bill Clinton (center) became part of Kentucky Senate hopeful Alison Grimes' selfie on Tuesday, before telling Kentuckians not to give Republican Mitch McConnell 6 more years in the Senate because of anger toward a president with 2-years left in office

Asked on the MNSBC 'Morning Joe' program if voters who support Democratic congressional candidates on Nov. 4 will be symbolically backing the president, Wasserman Schultz insisted he's is not an Election Day issue.

'Barack Obama was on the ballot in 2012 and 2008,' she said. 

True enough, but his policies are on the ballot. Just ask Obama himself.

The president ensured his relevance, at least in the cutthroat Senate campaigns that will determine who runs Congress in 2015 and 2016, by insisting during an Oct. 2 speech that his 'policies are on the ballot' in November, 'every single one of them.'

David Axelrod, Obama's longtime political savant, told NBC's program 'Meet the Press' days later that inserting that language 'was a mistake.'

'I wouldn't put that line there,' Axelrod said.

With that one rhetorical flourish near the end of an otherwise uninspiring economic speech at Northwestern University, the president made the elections, in part, about himself.

And with Obama's approval numbers hovering just below 40 per cent – and dipping to a disastrous 33 per cent in Begich's Alaska – that turn doesn't bode well for his party.

Donald Trump Blames Obama for NYC Ebola Case, Calls for His Resignation

Donald Trump Blames Obama for NYC Ebola Case, Calls for His Resignation

By Margaret Hartmann

After New York City doctor Craig Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday evening, many amateur epidemiologists took to Twitter to condemn the Doctors Without Borders physician who volunteered to care for Ebola patients in Guinea. Meanwhile, Nick Muzin, deputy chief of staff to Senator Ted Cruz, suggested the White House was to blame, tweeting, "Before Obamacare, there had never been a confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S." After much mockery, he called the deleted tweet a "bad joke," but in a Twitter rant Donald Trump suggested Muzin didn't go far enough. "If this doctor, who so recklessly flew into New York from West Africa,has Ebola,then Obama should apologize to the American people & resign!" he declared.

Monica's Bombshell

In her own words: Monica Lewinsky, 41, delivered a speech about bullying in the digital age at Forbes' Under 30 Summit in which she also relived the interrogation

Monica's Bombshell

FBI interrogators threatened to throw Monica Lewinsky and her mother in jail if she didn't wear a wire against Clinton

Monica Lewinsky's claims that she was mistreated by FBI agents and lawyers as they tried to make her testify against then-President Bill Clinton have been backed by a never-before-seen government report.

Lewinsky, who attained global notoriety for her affair with Clinton while working as a White House intern in 1998, had long claimed agents tried to bully her into wearing a wire against Clinton after news of her romance with the world's most powerful man blew up.

Her voice cracked as she relived the encounter before a large crowd of millennials at Forbes' Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia on Monday morning during her first public speaking engagement in more than 12 years. 

Claim to fame: Lewinsky, pictured left next to Bill Clinton during her time as a White House intern, became a household name after her affair with the president  was leaked to the press in 1998

She told how the 12-hour interrogation began in the food court of Pentagon City shopping mall, in Washington DC, before moving on to the adjoining Ritz-Carlton Hotel after she was tricked into going there by Linda Tripp - the colleague who had been secretly recording conversations with the young intern. 

Lewinsky, now 41, maintained that the agents and lawyers, working for Kenneth W. Starr's Office of Independent Counsel, mistreated her, even threatening her and her mother with criminal prosecution if she did not bend to their will.

'It was just like you see in the movies,' she said. 'Imagine, one minute I was waiting to meet a friend in the food court and the next I realized she had set me up, as two FBI agents flashed their badges at me.'

'Immediately following, in a nearby hotel room, I was threatened with up to 27 years in jail for denying the affair in an affidavit and other alleged crimes. Twenty-seven years. When you're only 24 yourself, that's a long time. Chillingly, told that my mother, too, might face prosecution if I didn't cooperate and wear a wire. And, in case you didn't know, I did not wear the wire.' 

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The jihadist war at our doorstep

The jihadist war at our doorstep

The Dallas Morning News Editorial

The 9/11 attacks forced a retrenchment in the West when traditional methods of waging war proved inadequate against ill-defined, nonstate terrorist groups abroad who don’t fight by the normal rules. Well, it’s time to retrench again.

The new enemy isn’t plotting big missions from training camps in distant countries like Afghanistan or Syria. He or she may be right here among us, perhaps having attended high school with our children or working down the road. The Islamic State is calling on them to attack anywhere, anytime, by whatever means.

Two attacks this week in Ottawa underscore the changing threat. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, shot and killed a Canadian soldier at a war memorial Wednesday, then opened fire inside the nearby Parliament building as legislators met. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed in a hail of gunfire. He was a recent, radicalized convert to Islam.

On Monday, Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, plowed his car into two soldiers walking outside a government building, killing one of them. He also had grown radicalized after converting to Islam last year.

Both are known to have followed Islamic State messages online, possibly including one in September urging attacks on Canadian and other Western "disbelievers." "Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him," it said.

Then there’s the bizarre story of three Denver-area girls — Americans of Somali and Sudanese descent — who skipped high school and flew to Europe last weekend with plans to join the Islamic State.

These are the types who would bring the war front to the West’s doorstep. Tighter borders and police-state tactics won’t keep them out; they’re already here.

Local police and federal intelligence agencies can, however, escalate efforts to divert homegrown jihadists before they strike. Years ago, the federal government established a network of “fusion centers” designed to help law enforcers develop networks of citizen informers. If anyone is better equipped to recognize and report radicals in their midst, it’s the Muslims who socialize and attend mosque with them.

“Most of this intelligence comes from the Muslim community,” Mubin Shaikh, a former jihadist and counterintelligence operative, told CNN. He said a jihadist plot last year to attack passenger trains in Canada was foiled by intelligence supplied by a watchful imam.

The idea isn’t for Muslims to spy on one another or choose between their religion and their country. The vast majority are horrified by Islamic State violence and, we suspect, would gladly work to prevent its spread in North America.

If they recognize radicals in their midst who are distorting Islamic ideals, now’s the time to alert authorities — before they go off the deep end.

The World's Wealthiest Terrorists

The World's Wealthiest Terrorists

ISIS has made at least $20 million in ransom this year and millions more in oil revenues.

By Russell Berman

The Islamic State makes about $1 million a day from sales of oil it has seized at war. It has generated $20 million this year alone in ransom. And it has taken untold sums of additional cash at gunpoint in the Syrian and Iraqi towns it controls, and through donations it solicits from sympathizers through social media.

Those are all assessments of the Treasury Department, which is highlighting its expanded efforts to cut off ISIS's funding as part of the broader war against the terrorist group. As explained by David Cohen, the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, the targeting of ISIS's money stream is both harder and easier than similar efforts against al-Qaeda.

Cohen's detailed account of the department's findings come as the U.S.-led military campaign against ISIS continues, and he said there were indications that ongoing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have begun to "hamper its ability" to generate revenue from oil smuggling.

As administration officials have previously acknowledged, the Islamic State is the wealthiest terrorist group it has confronted. That is principally because unlike the syndicate run for years by Osama Bin Laden, it has not operated in the shadows but has seized wide swaths of land, taking control of oil fields, plundered local towns and villages.

"Unlike, for instance, core al-Qaeda, ISIL derives a relatively small share of its funds from deep-pocket donors and thus does not depend principally on moving money across international borders," Cohen said in prepared remarks to the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace in Washington. "Instead, ISIL obtains the vast majority of its revenues through local criminal and terrorist activities."


While the millions ISIS is amassing is impressive, it is a paltry amount compared to the $2 billion that the Iraqi was spending annually in the provinces where the terrorists are now operating. He noted reports of shortages in ISIS-controlled areas of Mosul, and he said the U.S. would try to exploit the vulnerabilities.

Essentially, the U.S. is betting that ISIS won't be able to keep its fiscal house in order any better than many other nations, and it presumably won't have foreign governments at the ready to bail it out of debt.

"We should not confuse funding with financial strength," Cohen said. "While ISIL today is well-funded, a terrorist group’s overall financial strength turns not just on its income, but also on its expenses and, importantly, the degree to which it can dedicate its resources to violent purposes."

Donald Trump Says Romney “Blew it” and Shouldn’t Run Again


Donald Trump Says Romney “Blew it” and Shouldn’t Run Again

The “King of Bankruptcy” Donald Trump has come down off of his throne to tell Breitbart News that Mitt Romney “blew it” and shouldn’t run for president again.…

“He had his chance,” Trump said, that was the election he should have won, the easier one. Running against the probable Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will be even tougher than Obama. “People ask me about Gov. Romney,” Trump said, “and at the press conference too. I said this is a race that should have been won and somehow he lost in the final four weeks.” Yeah, like people kept asking him to represent them in asking for President Obama’s birth certificate because they were positive he was born in Kenya and was part of a long-term evil plan to destroy the nation? 

“We don’t need leaders who are going to destroy the country and we don’t need leaders who are going to say people from West Africa who are seriously infected with Ebola have the right to come into our country—stop the flights.” A couple months ago, Trump pontificated that two American doctors who had contracted Ebola shouldn’t be permitted back into the U.S. for treatment because “they have to suffer the consequences.” Suffer the consequences of what? Being caring human beings

American dynasties of the midterms

Bill and Hillary Clinton

American dynasties of the midterms

Gary Younge

The 2014 midterms are rife with political families seeking to sway the races

Contrary to the American ideal of equality and a classless system, the 2014 midterms are rife with political families seeking to use parental clout to sway the races, with the Clintons and Bushes looming above it all.

When asked last year about the prospect of having yet another son run for the White House, former first lady Barbara Bush said she thought it was a bad idea. “There are a lot of great families,” she said. “It’s not just four families, or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified. We’ve had enough Bushes.” If Jeb Bush, Barbara’s second son, does run, he might well be up against former first lady Hillary Clinton, making Barack Obama’s tenure an eight-year interlude in an otherwise unbroken 36-year stretch in which either a Bush or a Clinton was on the presidential ticket.

“I think this is a great American country,” Barbara said in a more recent interview. “And if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly.”

In that case, these midterm elections are not just silly but quite ridiculous. The US seems to be drawing its political leadership from an increasingly shallow puddle of genes. For the sake of brevity this can be illustrated solely by the Senate races that are considered “in play” this year. The race in Georgia is between Michelle Nunn, whose father used to be a Georgia senator, and David Purdue, whose cousin Sonny Purdue was once Georgia’s governor; Alaska Democratic senator Mark Begich’s father, Nick, was the state’s congressman; Arkansas Democratic senator Mark Pryor’s father David was himself once senator.

It goes on: Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu is the daughter of former New Orleans mayor Moon, and sister of current New Orleans mayor Mitch; Kentucky Democratic senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic party; Colorado Democratic senator Mark Udall is the son of late Arizona congressman Morris, and cousin of current New Mexico senator Tom, who is himself the son of late interior secretary Stewart; Kansas Republican senator Pat Roberts is the son of Charles, who was briefly the chairman of the Republican national committee; North Carolina Democratic senator Kay Hagan is the niece of former Florida senator Lawton Chiles.

George Bush and Laura Bush in 2005.

 It is not unheard of for children to go into the profession of their parents. They know what’s involved; they may well have even been involved; they have literally sat at the feet of the master. Mary Landrieu was out canvassing with her father from the age of five. And though none are walking in maternal footsteps, to the extent that these are political families, one might say they imbibed it with their mother’s milk. But there are only so many isolated incidences one can refer to before it is necessary to start understanding things in terms of a pattern.

Former US President Bill Clinton and US Senator Mary Landrieu in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

And that pattern that runs counter to the dominant American mythology of meritocracy, class fluidity and personal reinvention embedded in the sweet spot of the American dream: the notion that anyone can make it if they try hard and fly right, regardless of their upbringing. This view still holds some currency. A recent Pew poll of 10 advanced economies that asked what people is thought the key to getting ahead in life, Americans were by far the most likely to cite hard work and the second most likely to say having a good education.

The electoral reality, however, suggests a narrow plutocracy in which the privilege of birth outranks ideology, charisma or achievement. And if the trend contradicts the nation’s founding credo it nonetheless confirms its current trajectory in which stagnant wages, increasing college tuition fees and growing inequality is leading many Americans to doubt the nation’s meritocratic credentials.

“In spite of the enduring belief that Americans enjoy greater social mobility than their European counterparts,” argues Joseph Stiglitz in The Price of Inequality, “America is no longer the land of opportunity.” Americans clearly sense this. The same Pew poll illustrates how people’s lived experience has begun to erode the myth, with Americans being the most likely to say that “belonging to a wealthy family” and “knowing the right people” were the most important attributes to getting ahead in life. In another poll 69% of Americans said they agreed with Barbara Bush’s comments.

When the cost of running an election keeps going up, having well connected parents who have wealthy funders and lobbyists on their speed dial becomes crucial. ‘Twas ever thus.

While running for Congress in West Texas in 1978, a young George W Bush attended a training school for Republican candidates. In a class on fundraising he was struck by inspiration. “I’ve got the greatest idea of how to raise money for the campaign,” he told David Dreier, now a California congressman. “Have your mother send a letter to your family’s Christmas card list! I just did, and I got $350,000.”

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If Democrats lose, blame these guys

If Democrats lose, blame these guys


How five key retirements changed the 2014 midterms.

Republicans capture control of the U.S. Senate, there will be many explanations for their victory: President Obama’s poor numbers, a great Senate map filled with attractive opportunities, a generally strong slate of candidates, the success of establishment-backed Republicans in primaries and others.

But one of the biggest factors will have hardly anything to do with the national political climate or, really, the campaign as a whole. Five Democrats, all of whom are old enough to be eligible for Medicare, decided not to run for another term in the Senate. Their decisions, all announced before May 2013, are a huge but largely forgotten boon to GOP hopes.

The five retirements were: Max Baucus of Montana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Carl Levin of Michigan and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. (A sixth, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, had announced his retirement, but he later died: Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, now holds the seat after a special election last year.)

Retirements present a challenge for the incumbent party because it’s easier for a party to hold a Senate seat when an incumbent runs for reelection. Significantly easier.

Over the past half-century, about 85 percent of incumbent senators running in the general election were reelected. In open seats, during the same time period, the incumbent party held the seat just about 60 percent of the time. So not having an incumbent in a Senate race substantially reduces the odds of victory.

The importance of open seats to GOP Senate hopes is particularly pronounced because of the party’s recent inability to defeat Democratic incumbents.

In 1980, Republicans beat an eye-popping nine Democratic incumbents on Election Day to capture control of the Senate for the first time in a quarter-century. Since then, the GOP has not defeated more than two Democratic Senate incumbents in any general election. The party’s best recent Senate years, 1994 and 2010, were built largely on winning open seats (six in 1994, and four in 2010). Democrats, meanwhile, have had more success: They beat seven and six incumbent Republicans, respectively, in recapturing the upper chamber in 1986 and 2006. The latter year, 2006, was notable in that Democrats did not capture a single open seat in netting the six seats they needed to eke out a narrow 51-49 Senate edge.

Republicans seem likely to beat more than two Democratic Senate incumbents this November for the first time in almost 35 years: Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas all have less than 50-50 odds of winning, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball ratings, which I help formulate. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is right at 50-50, and Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are both in tough races too.


  • As the 2014 midterm election cycle reaches the last stretch, Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib explains why voter enthusiasm is making Democrats nervous.

Ernst snubs Des Moines Register

Ernst snubs Des Moines Register

Joni Ernst is pictured. | AP Photo

Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst skipped out on a scheduled meeting with The Des Moines Register on Thursday, prompting criticism from one of the paper's leading political columnists.

"Is Joni Ernst afraid of newspaper editorial boards?" Rekha Basu, a Register columnist, wrote on Facebook. "After much negotiating, she was scheduled to meet this morning with writers and editors at The Des Moines Register, but last night her people called to unilaterally cancel."

Basu noted that Ernst, an Iowa state senator, had also "begged off meetings with The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald."

Ernst's decision to skip out on the Register meeting, which a campaign spokesperson confirmed Thursday, may pertain to an onslaught of critical columns.

In the past week, the Register has published several editorials faulting Ernst's policies. Last Friday, it criticized her for remarks she had made about poverty; on Monday, Basu wrote a wide-ranging critique titled, "This isn't the Iowa woman we should elect"; and on Tuesday, the paper slammed Ernst for supporting a measure that would add a "personhood" amendment to the Iowa Constitution.

In a statement to POLITICO, Ernst campaign spokesperson Gretchen Hamel cited the Register's critical editorials, though she did not say why the candidate had stood up the editorial board.

"Joni is barnstorming the state, visiting all 99 counties and  talking face to face with voters about the issues they care about most," Hamel said. "Recent editorials in the Des Moines Register make their position in this race perfectly clear, and it's one that many voters across our state seem to disagree with. With less than 12 days to go, time is precious and Joni wants to spend every minute talking to undecided voters, hearing their concerns, and demonstrating why we need a change in Washington."

At $4 Billion, 2014 Is Most Expensive Midterm Ever

Nearly $4 billion will have been spent on this year’s midterm election, including $2.7 billion spent by candidates and parties and almost $900 million spent by outside groups, according to a projection by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

That’s a stunning figure, making this election by far the most expensive midterm in history—outpacing 2010 by almost $400 million and 2006 by nearly $1.2 billion. It would also outrank the amount of money spent on congressional races in 2012, by about $330 million.

What’s even more startling is that the $4 billion figure—which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs—doesn’t include the full picture of outside spending in this year’s races. The projection only includes spending disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. The CRP estimates that another $100 million will likely be spent on the election by next month, though the exact number is impossible to know because of disclosure rules.

Furthermore, due to the complex set of campaign-finance rules, some groups can spend hundreds of millions influencing elections without having their spending count strictly as election spending. How? By running “issue ads,” which highlight a candidate’s stance on a certain topic, but don’t explicitly advocate for or against the candidate and therefore don’t need to be disclosed to the FEC.
Obama's plans to order 34 MILLION green cards for illegal immigration 'amnesty'

Obama's plans to order 34 MILLION green cards for illegal immigration 'amnesty'

Along with its solicitation for blank green cards and work permits, USCIS published images showing what the finished cards will look like

Congress reacts to orders for millions of new blank work permits and 'green cards' - which authorize illegal immigrants to live and work in the United States.

Members of Congress on the political right are seething over the Obama administration's apparent plan to turn as many as 34 million illegal immigrants into legal U.S. residents, with one lawmaker claiming the president is engaged in 'covert actions to prepare for tens of millions of amnesty cases.'

Rep. Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican,said Thursday that recent reports of a government program to mass-purchase blank 'green cards' and work permits are 'proof that the groundwork is already being laid to grant amnesty post-election to millions upon millions of people who have broken our laws to enter this country.'

'The administration already has exceeded its authority to manipulate our immigration laws, and it is jarring to see the sheer scale of his future plans to do more,' he said.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a draft proposal this month, seeking a vendor to produce the paperwork that authorizes illegal immigrants to live and work in the United States. The White House is preparing to issue an immigration-related executive order after the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

'#Not1More': An immigration activist heckled President Barack Obama on Sunday as he spoke during a campaign event for Democratic Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown

'This revelation provides startling confirmation of the crisis facing our Republic,' Senate Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions said in a statement. 

The Alabama Republican accused Obama of 'preparing to issue work authorization and "legal" status to millions of individuals illegally present in the country, in violation of plain statute,' in a bid to 'nullify the immigration laws of the United States and its sovereign people.'

Barletta, the Pennsylvanian, added that U.S. immigration law serves two purposes: 'to protect the safety of Americans, and to protect American jobs. The president’s covert actions to prepare for tens of millions of amnesty cases undermine both of those principles.' 

USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley told the Associated Press that the proposal was a routine contract offer.

'Solicitations of this nature are frequent practice,' he said, claiming the number of immigration applications can rise 'for any number of any reasons.' 

Economic anxiety dominates 2014

Economic anxiety dominates 2014


Alhambra residents vote on Election Day at the Alhambra Fire Station #71 in Alhambra, Los Angeles County. | Getty

If Democrat Michelle Nunn is going to defy the odds and win a Senate race in the deep South it’s going to be because of people like Elizabeth Grubbs, a 30-year-old Waffle House waitress and student who feels stuck and anxious in the troubled American economy.

Grubbs says she is inclined to vote for Republican nominee David Perdue. But Nunn’s relentless attacks on Perdue’s record of outsourcing as a corporate executive clearly hit home. “Republicans are supposed to be the party of American business and the economy and all that, but he’s moving jobs overseas. It isn’t right,” Grubbs said this week while nursing a coffee at a sidewalk cafe in this faded Southern city.

So will she vote for Nunn? “I don’t know. Won’t she just be an Obama clone?” Grubbs said, mimicking the barrage of Perdue ads making just that claim. “And I don’t want to hear anything about how the economy is getting oh so much better under this president because it isn’t. It’s still crap.”

That sentiment — a raw anxiety about the state of the economy and President Barack Obama’s leadership — courses beneath the entirety of the 2014 midterm elections in ways that clearly tilt the landscape in favor of the GOP picking up the six seats they need to retake the Senate while adding a handful of House seats. But the fault lines run much deeper than one relatively desultory midterm election campaign and present risks and opportunities to both parties that will shape politics in 2016 and beyond.

In over a dozen interviews in Georgia and neighboring North Carolina, where incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is struggling to hang onto her seat, undecided voters spoke of their disgust with Washington gridlock and their frustration over stagnant wages, limited job prospects and general dismay over the direction of the country.

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