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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Not everyone is excited about the Treasury Department’s decision to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

A group 64 lawmakers, including Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, and Rep. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands, have asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill, and instead replace President Andrew Jackson with a woman on the $20.

"We find it disappointing that Alexander Hamilton, one of the most influential interpreters of the U.S. Constitution...and the founder of the nation’s financial system, will be removed from our currency," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Lew last week.

The members are backing a grassroots effort to put a woman on the $20 bill. Supporters say Jackson’s treatment of Native Americans, his opposition to paper money and his ownership of slaves are all reasons why he should be replaced with a famous female.

"America’s currency sends a message both at home and abroad about our shared values,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, we have to get that message right.”

Other Hamilton advocates -- including former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, and Doug Hamilton, a descendant of the first Treasury secretary -- have also called on Lew to instead revisit the $20 bill.

The Treasury Department announced in June that a woman would replace Hamilton at the center of the $10 bill in 2020, but has yet to select a replacement. Hamilton will still be featured on the remodeled currency.

Older $10 bills will remain in circulation.

Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt are some of the leading candidates for the new $10 bill, according to several polls. Members of Congress have been pushing their own candidates.

"I would add Francis Perkins, who is the first woman Cabinet officer and the author of Social Security. She certainly has affected many lives," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, shortly after the change was announced.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Ten candidates. Two hours. One goal: survive the first Republican presidential debate.

A slate of governors, senators and other presidential contenders is set to gather in Cleveland, Ohio to debate each other for the first time this election cycle.

Fox News will host the debate this Thursday at 9 p.m. for the newly-unveiled candidates who are polling in the top 10 in an average of five recent national polls.

Here’s who's in and who's out:


Donald Trump

Jeb Bush

Scott Walker

Ben Carson

Ted Cruz

Mike Huckabee

Rand Paul

Marco Rubio

Chris Christie

John Kasich


Rick Perry

Rick Santorum

Bobby Jindal

Carly Fiorina

Lindsey Graham

George Pataki

Jim Gilmore

These seven candidates will participate in a separate, one-hour forum at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Current frontrunner and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who will be center stage for the debate, is leading the GOP field with 23 percent support. Trump is followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Others on the stage include neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The last two podiums belong to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Some major names won’t be on stage, including the 2012 winner of the Iowa caucuses former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will miss out. And Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry missed the stage by 1.4 percent.

Fox News had told the candidates that they would choose the top ten candidates based on an average of the five most recent national polls by major news organizations. But it wasn’t clear exactly which polls Fox was going to use, leaving political pundits to play a guessing game over the last week, calculating who would be in the debate and who would be left off based on every new poll. An influx of four polls in the 36 hours before the deadline left these final two groups.

Fox News used the following polls in their analysis: CBS News on 8/4; Bloomberg on 8/4; Fox News on 8/3; Monmouth University on 8/3; Quinnipiac on 7/30.

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(WASHINGTON) -- If Vice President Joe Biden runs for president, as people close to him have suggested he’s thinking of doing, he might not pick up much support from members of the Senate, some of whom he worked with there -- at least not right away.

Many Senate Democrats are already declared supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and some just skirted the question altogether when asked, simply responding that they are fans of Biden personally.

“I love Vice President Biden, he is so good at so many things,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, a Clinton supporter, said, adding that he threw his hat in the ring even before he knew his former Virginia colleague, Jim Webb, was running for the Democratic nomination too.

“Joe Biden’s a great vice president. I have the utmost confidence in him whatever he decides to do,” Sen. Ben Cardin said, before adding that he’s also a Clinton supporter.

“Joe’s a wonderful human being,” Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, said.

Asked whether Biden should run, he responded, “That’s up to Joe Biden.”

“I love Joe Biden! I’m not going to go there,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of Clinton’s earliest major Democratic supporters this time around who endorsed President Obama in 2008, avoided answering at all, letting elevator doors close quickly in front of her.

“You know, I’m not going to talk politics today. Thanks,” she said.

“He’d be a great president,” said Sen. Tom Carper, of Delaware, who replaced Biden as the senior Delaware senator after Biden became vice president.

“I think Hillary Clinton would be a great candidate as well. I think the two of them stand head and shoulders above the announced opposition for the Republican Party,” he said. Carper said he has not endorsed and wasn’t clear whether he will or not.

One vote Biden certainly can’t count on is that of Sen. John McCain, Obama’s 2008 Republican opponent, although McCain heaped praise on his former Senate colleague.

“He wouldn’t be a president in keeping with my philosophy but he’s an honest man and a friend of mine. We’re different parties. I’ll leave that up to the Democrats,” he said.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama quietly celebrated his 54th birthday at the White House on Tuesday, but he may have already had a low-key gathering with family and friends at Camp David last weekend.

The Presidential retreat in Maryland seems to be a favorite place for him to ruminate about getting older. He marked his 48th birthday there, playing basketball and bowling with friends.

He skipped Camp David the next year, spending his birthday in Chicago, surrounded by friends without his wife and daughters.

As any summer baby knows, coordinating a birthday bash in August is hard between vacations and camps.

Obama blew out his birthday candles while Michelle and Sasha traveled in Spain, and older daughter Malia was at sleep-away summer camp. But Obama did notice a lot more gray hairs that year.

"I will be 49 this week," Obama said in 2010. "I have a lot more gray hair than I did last year."

With an August birthday, the president has spent many of them campaigning.

In 2012, during his quest for re-election, Obama joked that he wanted Florida for his birthday. He got his wish.

The next year, back comfortably in the White House, his favorite destination Camp David popped up again. That 2013 weekend included golf with friends at the weekend retreat. Even though the President seems to prefer quiet birthdays for himself, he knows how to throw an amazing party. Back in June, the president managed to host a secret celebration to usher in the First Lady’s 50th. In the days following the First House party, reporters drilled White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest for any leaks about the celebrity-attended event.

“The president and the first lady did hold a private party,” Earnest acknowledged, but then he became tight-lipped. Pictures of the “secret” event circulated on the internet.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson posted a picture to Instagram with his girlfriend Ciara.

“Dancing at The @WhiteHouse to Prince and Stevie Wonder with my lady Ciara. Thanks Mr. President and First Lady!” 500 guests attended the performances of Prince and Stevie Wonder, and once the football star tackled the confidentiality clause, other loose-lipped party-goers followed suit.

The guest list leaked out and the star-studded group included Paul McCartney, Gladys Knight, James Taylor, and Herbie Hancock. Smokey Robinson even let it slip that Beyonce sang to the birthday girl. The First Daughters got in on the act. Many of the dancing guests were their friends.

Sasha and Malia have had some practice with parties.

In 2009, one of their sleepovers included a scavenger hunt that ended with opening a door, and the Jonas Brothers waiting for them on the other side.

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Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Secret Service has appointed George D. Mulligan, a former director of the White House Military Office, as its first chief operating officer, ABC News has exclusively learned.

“George is a proven leader who will bring broad management experience, knowledge and initiative to the Secret Service as our first COO,” Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy said.

It’s the latest reform the department has implemented since a series of embarrassing security breaches last fall. Clancy and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the creation of the COO position in March at the recommendation of an independent review panel examining the Secret Service.

As COO, Mulligan will be the principal administrator for planning and directing all business and programming activities for the Secret Service.

He is tasked with overseeing all program areas, focusing on improving performance as well as directing coordination and liaison activities and working on budget and strategic planning efforts.

Mulligan comes from the Department of Defense, where he spent 29 years as both a senior civilian executive and a former naval officer. He most recently served as chief of staff to the under secretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and deputy director for the Washington Headquarters Services and director of Enterprise management.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Mulligan as the director of the White House Military Office, where he worked closely with the Secret Service.

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Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump has turned the tables on Gawker. After the online site released one of Donald Trump’s cellphone numbers, the GOP presidential candidate changed his voicemail Tuesday morning.

“Hi, this is Donald Trump and I’m running for the presidency of the United States of America,” he says on the recording. “With your help and support, together we can make America truly great again! Visit me at twitter @realDonaldTrump and check out my campaign website at Hope to see you on the campaign trail, we’re going to do it!”

Gawker wrote that it released Trump’s number because he released the phone number of opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“We think it’s only fair and right that Republican primary voters be able to reach out to Trump himself,” Gawker writes.

In response, the Graham campaign decided to show all the ways you can destroy your cellphone via baseball bat, fire or throwing it off a building.

In a statement, Trump EVP Michael Cohen said, “When Lindsey Graham’s cell number was released to the public, his response was to set the cell phone on fire and destroy it with a bat, an ax and a cinder block … which is actually not good for the environment. Donald Trump turns the number into a campaign announcement that has received within the first few hours tens of thousands of calls. Now do you see the difference between Donald Trump and the rest of the field?”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Keep The Promise I, a super PAC supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, has officially launched Tuesday.

In a press release, the group said that it is planning a seven-figure media effort that will involve radio, digital and television buys nationwide and in early primary and caucus states.

Filings released last week showed hedge fund manager Robert Mercer had contributed $11 million dollars to the super PAC. Kellyanne?Conway, a pollster and senior strategist for Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential run, will serve as president of Keep The Promise I.

The group released two videos Tuesday — one called “Show me” touts Cruz’s stance against Obamacare, President Obama’s immigration executive order and the Iran deal. The second touts Cruz’s stance against Common Core educational standards.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Piper Kerman, the woman who chronicled her year in a women’s prison in the book Orange is the New Black, now a hit TV series, told a Senate panel Tuesday that the entire female incarceration system needs an overhaul.
She detailed some of her own experiences, some of which might have sounded familiar to a viewer of the show, detailing the inadequacy of many prison employees at the Danbury Correctional Facility, the racial bias with which she believed many inmates were treated, and the heartbreak of women trying to raise children from behind bars.
“When I was locked up in Danbury, I knew women who were trying to raise their children during brief reunions in the visiting room while fending off sexual harassment and struggling with addiction and trying to get a high school education so that when they got out they stood some chance of surviving despite their felony conviction,” Kerman said.
Kerman now works as a communications consultant for nonprofits and philanthropies and helps prison reform groups like the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force. She also serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association, which works with women at all stages of criminal justice involvement, from arrest to incarceration to re-entry into their communities.  
She said she quickly realized, upon entering Danbury, that her sentence was much lighter than other disproportionately poor, minority women who had committed similar nonviolent drug offenses -- a disparity that she said state and federal correctional facilities must reform.
“The only conclusion I could draw was that they had been treated much more harshly by the American criminal justice system than I had been treated because of socioeconomic reasons, differences in class, and in some cases because of the color of their skin,” she said.
Kerman also said programs to help prepare women to re-integrate into society were woefully inadequate, with a construction worker telling them about roof maintenance during a class on housing, and a culinary department officer who taught the health class, who once played professional baseball.
“Hence his authority on the health topic,” Kerman said sarcastically.
Kerman’s recommendations for overhauling the system included putting all eligible prisoners in halfway houses or home confinement at the earliest possible date, putting an end to mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and sentencing nonviolent drug offenders to community service, including with addicts and their families, instead of prison time.

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Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Republican presidential field is crowded enough to give us a Sweet 16 -- plus one.

So what if the GOP presidential primary was March Madness? What would the brackets look like?

On the latest ESPN/ABC podcast Capital Games, we seeded the field with some of the best minds in politics and college basketball: Greg Shaheen, the former organizer of the men’s college basketball championship tournament; Jonathan Martin of the New York Times; and Harry Enten, senior political writer for

[You can listen to the full podcast HERE.]

Regions provide a bit of a challenge, and this exercise is actually far less impactful than the work of the college basketball selection committee. Rather than breaking down by ideology or job title, we stuck with geographic regions: Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest.

Greg Shaheen

Our No. 1 seeds in those regions are Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz.

Polls notwithstanding, Enten doesn’t think Trump deserves the top overall seed. But based on polling, he’s the frontrunner, thus earning a first-round matchup against the winner of the play-in contest between George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. (Is Dayton, Ohio, available to host?)

Strong arguments could be made for Marco Rubio grabbing one of those slots –- but he and Bush will fight it out in Florida before the Final Four, in all likelihood. Our guests also feel like Cruz is the weakest of the No. 1 seeds -– Rubio or Kasich could shift regions -– though Martin likened Cruz to a team that could get hot in the conference tournaments (Iowa?) and wind up going deep.

There’s plenty of hoops to be played before the voting starts, and we reserve the right to re-seed the field. But this week’s first Republican debate starts the winnowing process, with 10 tickets available for the first contest.

“Capital Games with Andy Katz and Rick Klein” is part of the ESPN Perspectives podcast series, with original programming on issues across the sports world. The program explores the intersection of sports and politics, through interviews and analysis, and can be downloaded free podcast apps, or on the ESPN Website.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has positioned himself to the left of front-runner Hillary Clinton on several key issues, ranging from climate change to minimum wage, but his recent comments on immigration are giving some activists pause.

In a series of interviews this week, Sanders defended his decision to vote against a comprehensive immigration bill in 2007, arguing he was concerned about increases in temporary worker visas and the potential effect immigration could have on wages and jobs. He did, however, vote for a 2013 immigration bill after he was able to secure funding to fight youth unemployment in this country.

“Absolutely, we need a path to citizenship for undocumented workers,” Sanders told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on This Week Sunday. “We need to take people out of the shadows.

“What my concern then was -- and remains -- is these guest worker programs,” Sanders, 73, continued. “Where you have folks in high-tech jobs getting fired, while the corporations are bringing people from Russia and other countries into the U.S. to replace American workers and drive wages down.”

That idea has been widely disputed by economists from both sides of the aisle, including Jason Furman, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama. Furman wrote in 2012 that “increased immigration to the United States has increased the earnings of Americans with more than a high school degree.”

And it is not just skilled labor that Sanders talks about. He told Univision’s Jorge Ramos this week he has concerns with expanding the immigration of unskilled laborers, too.

“When you have 36 percent of Hispanic high school graduates who are unemployed, 51 percent of African-American kids who are unemployed, do I think it’s a good idea to open the border and bring in unskilled workers? No, I don’t,” Sanders said during an interview that aired Sunday.

Cristina Jiménez, managing director of United We Dream, one of the nation’s largest youth-led immigration advocacy organizations, told ABC News that on the issue of immigration, Sanders seems a bit “disconnected from reality.”

“This idea that immigrants could hurt the economy and depress wages; not only is that hurtful to our community, it is not even true,” she continued.

Sanders was pressed last week on the issue while participating in a Q&A with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“My father was an immigrant [from Poland]; immigrants have built this country,” the Brooklyn, New York-born senator said. “That is one of the virtues of America; that we have people coming from all over the world with their own particular set of skills and ideas. That is what makes America a unique country, and something that we should be very berry proud of.”

“But there is a great difference in saying, ‘We welcome immigrants and that were going to provide a path towards citizenship for those people and those families that are in the country today,’” he continued. “Then saying, ‘Oh, were not going to have any borders at all.’”

The primary focus of Sanders’ campaign remains unemployment and income inequality in this country. On many social issues he is quick to pivot back to statistics about unemployment and low wages.

Since announcing his campaign three months ago, he has successfully mobilized an impressive grassroots campaign, turning out thousands to his rallies across the country and signing up over 100,000 people online to attend local house parties for him this week, according to the campaign. Still, if recent elections are any indication, presidential candidates seeking the Democratic nomination must gain support of minority voters.

After moderating the Q&A, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Javier Palomarez said he did not think Sanders’ positions on a few immigration policies would ultimately costs him votes.

“I don’t think there is a single candidate that the Hispanic community today is going to agree with 100 percent,” Palomarez said. “Is immigration important? Absolutely, is it a unifying issue, absolutely, but it is not the only issue.”

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Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will host entrepreneurs at the White House on Tuesday for the first-ever "Demo Day."

"Unlike a private-sector Demo Day, where entrepreneurs and startups pitch their ideas to funders, these innovators from around the country will 'demo' their individual stories," the White House explains in a statement.

The president says every American deserves the opportunity to pursue their bold, game-changing concepts and turn them into a real product or service.

He also plans to make an announcement about efforts to support entrepreneurship at the event.

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David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The first Republican Presidential debate is just two days away, but the question remains: who will be on stage and who will be watching from home?

Fox News, which is hosting the first debate this Thursday in Cleveland, says that they will include the top 10 candidates from an average of the five most recent national polls that are released before Tuesday at 5 p.m. But Fox News hasn't said which polls they will use to calculate their average, leaving the rest of us to play a guessing game.

With the addition of two new polls on Tuesday morning -- from Bloomberg and CBS News -- an updated ABC News analysis of five recent national polls shows that John Kasich and Chris Christie will likely claim the final two podiums, beating out Rick Perry by eight-tenths of a percentage point.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, has solidified his lead over the GOP pack, leading Jeb Bush by at least 11 percentage points in the last four recent national polls.

Getting onto the debate stage in Cleveland is a major first hurdle in the GOP race that will create a stark division between candidates who are in the running and candidates who have minimal support.

Who's In

According to an ABC News analysis of five recent major national polls on August 4, eight candidates can likely already book their tickets to the debate. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. Our analysis also shows that Chris Christie and John Kasich will likely claim the final two podiums, clocking in at 3.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

Who's Out

Another seven candidates are likely going to miss the mark. Rick Perry is almost a full percentage point below the debate cutoff, and even rounding to the nearest full percentage point would not produce a tie. Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal have fallen farther from the current debate cutoff. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham and newly-announced Jim Gilmore have 1 percent support or less. The seven candidates who don’t make the debate will instead participate in a one-hour forum before the debate.

FULL STANDINGS (as of Aug. 4 at 7 a.m.):

1. Trump – 23.2 percent

2. Bush - 12.8 percent

3. Walker – 10.6 percent

4. Carson – 6.6 percent

4. Huckabee – 6.6 percent

6. Cruz – 6.2 percent

7. Rubio – 5.2 percent

8. Paul - 4.8 percent

9. Christie - 3.4 percent

10. Kasich - 2.8 percent

11. Perry - 2.0 percent

12. Santorum – 1.4 percent

12. Jindal – 1.2 percent

14. Fiorina – 1.0 percent

15. Graham – 0.4 percent

16. Pataki – 0.2 percent

16. Gilmore - 0.2 percent

This analysis includes five recent polls: CBS News on 8/4; Bloomberg on 8/4; Fox News on 8/3; Monmouth University on 8/3; NBC News/Wall Street Journal on 8/2.

What We Don't Know

There’s still a lot we don’t know. Fox News says that it gets to decide which national polls it will recognize, saying only that they “must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”

But there’s more. Will it try to get more precise numbers from polling companies or just use the whole number reported? There’s a big difference between 4.4 percent and 3.5 percent, but both round to 4 percent. Will Fox News round averages to the nearest whole number? To the nearest tenth of a percent? What qualifies as a tie?

What About Ties?

Fox News has also said that, if there is an apparent tie, the news agency will look at more detailed data to determine who is ahead, according to Politico. And if there is an exact tie, they will add an 11th podium to the stage.

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ABC News(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- The most crowded field of Republican candidates in history descended upon New Hampshire Monday to square off in a rapid-fire question and answer session at the Voters First Forum.

Eleven candidates came to St. Anselm College in Manchester, and another three joined via satellite. The result was a one-by-one parade of candidates across the stage, where they answered questions posed by a moderator.

For those hovering near the bottom of the polls, it was a chance to appear alongside the frontrunners. For those at the top, it was a chance to appear on a stage without Donald Trump. He walked away from the forum, organized by the New Hampshire Union Leader, over a lack of endorsement from the paper.

Only ten candidates will get to appear at the first officially sanctioned debate of the 2016 cycle on Thursday in Ohio -- and those looking to crack the top ten came out forcefully.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said China was "cheating" and he promised he would offer China “a clenched fist or an open hand. You choose.”

He was also the first to bring up Hillary Clinton. But he wasn’t the last.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave Clinton a bit of a backhanded compliment saying “at least he’s honest enough to call himself a socialist. Hillary Clinton, President Obama – they are no better. They’re just not honest enough to call themselves socialists.”

The only candidates not to participate in the forum were Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Jim Gilmore, who missed the deadline for inclusion.

Even with Trump out of the state, he still made news Monday. He’s the new leader in ABC News affiliate WMUR-TV’s “Granite State” poll, leaping ahead of favorites like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.

Asked if it was really possible to grow the economy by his promised 4.4 percent per year, Bush said “absolutely. And the fact that Paul Krugman says it’s not warms my heart.”

For as much infighting Trump has caused the past few weeks, the candidates were united on many fronts. Every person who was asked said they would de-fund Planned Parenthood. Every candidate hammered President Obama, on topics ranging from Iran to immigration to the economy. And every candidate spoke quickly – under the unique format, candidates could answer as many questions as they could within the time limit.

George Pataki found out the hard way. As he finished a thought, he tried to tack. “By the way, Jack,” he began – before being cut off by the moderator.

Heath did offer a chance for Rick Perry to redeem himself – albeit it four years later.

“What specific government agencies would you cut or reform?” Heath asked, to the candidate whose 2012 was derailed by his inability to name the Department of Energy.

“I’ve heard this question before,” said Perry, who avoided the urge to list specifics.

ABC US News | World News

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Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House isn’t ready to pick sides in a hypothetical primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. But Press Secretary Josh Earnest made clear Monday that the president believes Biden is up for the job should he decide to run.

“I won’t get into rating the qualifications of any candidates or possible candidates,” Earnest told ABC News, “but I think the president has indicated that one of the reasons he chose Joe Biden to be his running-mate and to be the vice president of the United States is that he thinks he would be a good president, there's no doubt about that.”

“But I would also point out that the president has spoken warmly of others who've served in his administration, including Secretary Clinton,” Earnest continued.

Earnest listed off Biden’s experience as a senator and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in addition to his time as vice president as the basis for his strong qualifications as the second in succession and a possible presidential candidate.

“This is somebody that had a long career as a fighter for the middle class, he is someone that as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee developed important relationships with world leaders and has used those relationships to advance the interests of the United States, and so whether it is working with leaders in Iraq or leaders of Ukraine or other countries in Latin America, the vice president has been a very effective advocate for U.S. interests around the world and that was certainly true when he was in the Senate and that has certainly been true as vice president. That gives him a unique set of skills and experience and it's not surprising to me that there are people who are talking about this possibility."

Earnest batted off the suggestion that Vice President Biden only has an opening to run because of the controversy over Clinton’s emails as secretary of state.

“I disagree with that principally because there are a lot of people speculating about the possibility of a Biden presidency long before anybody knew what Hillary Clinton’s email address was,” Earnest said

Asked if the president has spoken to the vice president about his possible presidential ambitions, Earnest would not say. 

“What I would anticipate is that the president will keep his private discussions with the Vice President of the United States private, and so I don’t have a lot of insight to share with you about either about the vice president’s thinking or his discussions with the president on this issue,” he said.

With Biden’s intentions still undeclared, Earnest reiterated several times in the briefing that the vice president should be allowed to make the decision on his own timeframe.

“Somebody with the extensive experience of the vice president and someone who has made such a significant contribution to the safety and prosperity of his country should be afforded the opportunity to make that decision on the timeframe that he chooses and it sounds like that’s exactly what he’s doing,” Earnest said.

He also offered praise for the Clinton campaign for taking what he called a “wise approach” of staying focused on their own campaign in light of the news that Biden may also enter the race.

“Having worked on one successful campaign for the presidency one of the recipes for success is focusing on the race at hand and on the things that you can actually control and it sounds like that’s the approach the Clinton campaign is taking … and I think it's wise approach,” he said.

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Comedian Amy Schumer is joining forces with her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer, to push for new gun control legislation on Capitol Hill.

The Trainwreck star appeared with the New York senator Monday morning at a news conference with a sign saying "Enough Is Enough" by their side.

"Amy may have started out as a comedian but this subject is really serious," the senator said, adding, "I have a lot of press conferences but I almost never get this many people."

For Amy Schumer, the subject of gun violence and mass shootings became "extremely personal" last month, when John Russell Houser opened fire in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana during a screening of her film Trainwreck, killing two people and injuring nine others.

"Two lives were tragically lost and others injured and I've thought about these victims each day since the tragedy," the comic actress said, while refusing to say the name of the gunman who took his own life during the mass shooting.

But Schumer did go into detail about the two women, Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux, who were killed.

"My heart goes out to Jillian and Mayci, to the survivors, and anyone who was tied to this tragic, senseless, and horrifying actions of this man who shouldn’t have been able to put his hands on a gun in the first place," she said. "I’m not sure why this man chose my movie to end these two beautiful lives and hurt nine others, but it was very personal for me."

She called the three-pronged plan Sen. Schumer is putting forward in Congress "sensible measures."

The senator wants to compel states to share information about felons, spousal abusers and the adjudicated mentally ill with the federal government for the national background check system; to survey all 50 states on their standards for involuntary commitment for the mentally ill and put forward national best practices; and to get Congress to fully fund mental health and substance abuse programs.

"No one wants to live in a country where a felon, the mentally ill or other dangerous people can get their hands on a gun with such ease," his star cousin said.

She added, "These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence, but I can promise you they won’t be my last."

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