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Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll for Third Consecutive Year

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.) -- The Conservative Public Action Conference ended on Saturday, and the results of the event's straw poll revealed that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may have an edge as the 2016 election season nears.

After three days of speeches and jockeying, CPAC announced that Paul received support from 25.7 percent of voters -- tops out of the 17 options voters were presented with. Paul had won CPAC's straw poll the last two years as well.

More than 3,000 people participated in the straw poll, a more than 20 percent increase over last year's figure.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (21.4 percent) was a close second place in the straw poll, with Texas Gov. Ted Cruz (11.5 percent), Dr. Ben Carson (11.4 percent) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (8.3 percent) rounding out the top five.

The poll aims to get in participants' heads to determine the prospective candidate that they most favor to win the GOP nomination in the next presidential election.

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Jeb Bush 'Will Not Sign Any Pledges' In 2016

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Anti-taxman Grover Norquist recently told ABC News he believes Jeb Bush will likely sign his no-new-taxes pledge if and when he officially becomes a candidate for president.

But, as Dana Carvey might say, "Not gonna happen."

Norquist may have had good reason to believe Bush would sign the Taxpayers Protection Pledge, where candidates vow to oppose "any and all efforts to increase taxes." After all, the vast majority of Republican candidates for national office and many for local and statewide office have been signing it ever since Norquist started Americans for Tax Reform in 1985.

But Jeb Bush didn't sign Norquist's pledge (or any other pledge) in any of his three campaigns for governor of Florida and Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell says he is not going to start now.

"If Governor Bush decides to move forward, he will not sign any pledges circulated by lobbying groups," Campbell told ABC News.

Norquist was quick to reply to that via Twitter.

@jonkarl @kristymcampbell Really? Jeb Bush thinks all American taxpayers (to whom the pledge is written) are a "lobbying group?"

— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) February 28, 2015


Campbell says what is more important than a pledge is Bush's record on taxes.

"He didn't raise taxes," Campbell said. "He cut them every year as Governor for a total of more than $19 billion in tax relief. He does not support raising taxes and believes cutting taxes and reforming the tax code will lead to greater economic growth and more prosperity for Americans."

Norquist isn't buying it.

"Most pledge takers keep the pledge," Norquist said via Twitter. "Those who refuse to sign all raise taxes when pushed hard enough by spenders."

Watch ABC's full interview with Norquist:


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CPAC: Possible Presidential Candidates Choose Favorite Fictional Presidents

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While House of Cards may have returned for season three on Netflix on Friday morning, the potential Republican candidates at the Conservative Public Action Conference would be loathe to call Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character their favorite fictional president.

Instead, ABC's Rick Klein and David Wright asked some of the possible candidates whether they had a preferred fictional commander-in-chief.

"I know he was a Democrat...I know the show was somewhat liberal," Bobby Jindal said, "but look, I thought the writing on The West Wing was really good." Former Sen. Rick Santorum agreed, choosing Martin Sheen's Josiah Bartlet character as his favorite fictional president. "Not an easy choice for someone like me," Santorum said, adding that "Kevin Spacey's no conservative as far as I know."

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, went a different route, choosing Harrison Ford's butt-kicking character in Air Force One.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Donald Trump both went with a different actor -- telling ABC's David Wright that their favorite president was Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the most obscure choice was the former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's selection of Bill Mitchell, the president played by Kevin Kline in the movie Dave.

Rep. Mia Love from Utah put it simply -- "Certainly not Frank Underwood...I'm actually even embarrassed to mention that I've seen a couple of episodes of House of Cards, but you know, I think if I could do anything, I would resurrect Ronald Reagan."


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Rick Perry and Rick Santorum Bro-Out at CPAC

Rick Perry (L): ABC/Matthew Putney Rick Santorum (R): ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- It isn’t something you see every day: Two potential 2016 contenders bro-ing out.

But it happened Friday when former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum unexpectedly hugged it out in the halls at CPAC.

“Ricky! Don’t run off!” Perry shouted at Santorum in between interviews. “How are you brother? The only other guy I can call Ricky.”

The two men campaigned against each other for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, but on Friday, there was no tension between Perry and Santorum despite the fact they may face off again in the next election.

“This is one of the good things that happened from the last campaign,” Santorum said of his friendship with the Texas governor.

Perry asked Santorum to pray for his new granddaughter who was born Friday morning, and Santorum’s children waded through the crowd to tell the former governor hello.

When they parted ways, Perry said to Santorum, “Love you brother.”



While the interaction was surprisingly friendly, there's no telling if that same spirit will find its way to the debate stage if the two run against each other again in 2016.

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Pentagon Not Pushing Timeline for Mosul Offensive

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby said at Friday's press briefing that the U.S. was not putting pressure on Iraqi forces to be ready for an offensive against ISIS militants in Mosul.

Asked whether a timeline that would lead to a spring offensive in Mosul was realistic, Kirby said that he feels it would be unfair to describe the situation as "the Pentagon or the military...pushing the Iraqis on any specific timeline."

"I think the most general that I've been willing to go," Kirby said, "is that we were looking at roughly the spring timeframe. I never pinned it down to a month," he noted.

"Number two," Kirby added, "we're not pushing or aggressively trying to nudge them towards a faster timeline than they're going to be ready." He also said that the U.S. would "work with them and make sure that they're ready on their timeline."

"With the exception of the Iraqis, nobody has a greater stake in the ultimate success of operations inside Iraq, particularly in a place like Mosul, than the Pentagon," Kirby explained.

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President Obama Stumps for Retirement Rule in Weekly Address

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to stump for the IRA/401k rule he ordered the Labor Department to craft, which will require retirement-plan brokers and advisors to act in clients' best interests, with some exceptions.

“Middle-class families cannot afford to lose their hard earned savings after a lifetime of work.  They deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.  And that’s what this rule would do,” Obama said.

The president also said he that he also anticipates some industry criticism and pledges not to bend in principle.

“While we welcome different perspectives and ideas on how to move forward, what I won’t accept is the notion that there’s nothing we can do to make sure that hard-working, responsible Americans who scrimp and save can retire with security and dignity,” he said.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:

Hi everybody.  In America, we believe that a lifetime of hard work and responsibility should be rewarded with a shot at a secure, dignified retirement.  It’s one of the critical components of middle-class life – and this week, I took new steps to protect it.  
 
Six years after the crisis that shook a lot of people’s faith in a secure retirement, our economy is steadily growing.  Last year was the best year for job growth since the 1990s.  All told, over the past five years, the private sector has added nearly 12 million new jobs.  And since I took office, the stock market has more than doubled, replenishing the 401(k)s of millions of families.
 
But while we’ve come a long way, we’ve got more work to do to make sure that our recovery reaches more Americans, not just those at the top.  That’s what middle-class economics is all about—the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  
 
That last part—making sure everyone plays by the same set of rules—is why we passed historic Wall Street Reform and a Credit Card Bill of Rights.   It’s why we created a new consumer watchdog agency.  And it’s why we’re taking new action to protect hardworking families’ retirement security. If you’re working hard and putting away money, you should have the peace of mind that the financial advice you’re getting is sound and that your investments are protected.
 
But right now, there are no rules of the road.  Many financial advisers put their clients’ interest first – but some financial advisers get backdoor payments and hidden fees in exchange for steering people into bad investments.  All told, bad advice that results from these conflicts of interest costs middle-class and working families about $17 billion every year.  
 
This week, I called on the Department of Labor to change that – to update the rules and require that retirement advisers put the best interests of their clients above their own financial interests.  Middle-class families cannot afford to lose their hard earned savings after a lifetime of work.  They deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.  And that’s what this rule would do.
 
While many financial advisers support these basic safeguards to prevent abuse, I know some special interests will fight this with everything they’ve got.  But while we welcome different perspectives and ideas on how to move forward, what I won’t accept is the notion that there’s nothing we can do to make sure that hard-working, responsible Americans who scrimp and save can retire with security and dignity.
 
We’re going to keep pushing for this rule, because it’s the right thing to do for our workers and for our country.  The strength of our economy rests on whether hard-working families can not only share in America’s success, but can also contribute to America’s success.  And that’s what I will never stop fighting for – an economy where everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead.
 
Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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GOP Weekly Address: Obama Should Back College Savings Plan

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican Address, Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio called on President Obama to back a bipartisan savings plan passed by the House this week.

Renacci says that to adapt to the times, 529 college saving plans should be clarified to include computers as qualified expenses and remove unnecessary paperwork burdens for the administrators of these plans.

“We talk all the time about rewarding people who work hard and play by the rules – well, that’s what 529 plans are,” Renacci said. “They empower families to set up accounts for their children – right from when they’re born – and then down the line they can use that money – tax-free – on books, fees, tuition, and room-and-board.”

Renacci argues the president should follow actions taken by the House this week that would modify 529 plans.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Good morning, I’m Jim Renacci, and I have the honor of representing the good people of Ohio’s 16th Congressional District.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a good, bipartisan bill that could help many middle-class families.  I’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.

First, a story.  Like many of you, I was the first in my family to go to college.  Ours was a working class union family so I had to pay my own way through school.  To do that, I worked any number of jobs: truck driver, mechanic, a road crew, you name it.

As an accountant, I’ve seen countless parents struggle with putting away money for their kids’ tuition.  You know how it is: you want to make sure they have it better than you do. But at a time when the cost of just about everything is going up and incomes are barely moving, that job’s only gotten harder.

So last month, when President Obama proposed taxing 529 plans, people were understandably outraged.

Why would we make saving for college even harder?  We talk all the time about rewarding people who work hard and play by the rules – well, that’s what 529 plans are.   They empower families to set up accounts for their children – right from when they’re born – and then down the line they can use that money – tax-free – on books, fees, tuition, and room-and-board.

All told, there are nearly 12 million of these accounts open in all 50 states.  That’s up from 1 million accounts in 2001.  Why would we stop that growth?  So the government can take even more of the money we’ve worked so hard to put away?

Thankfully, after a public outcry, the president was forced to drop the idea.

But we can do more. With all the challenges middle-class families are facing right now, we need to make it easier – not harder – to save.

That’s why the House acted this week to expand and modernize 529 plans.

Our plan will do a few simple things.

First, to adapt to the times, we clarify that computers are qualified expenses under 529 accounts.

Second, we remove unnecessary paperwork burdens for the administrators of these plans.

And third, we allow families to re-deposit refunds from colleges without taxes or penalties.  This might be useful if something happens and a student has to withdraw early for an illness.  It’s just good peace of mind to have.

I’m pleased to report that the bill passed with more than 400 votes.  Now we just need President Obama to help us get this done.

Together, let’s make sure that 529 plans will be there for middle-class families for years to come.

Because we all know that a good education leads to greater opportunity and a stronger economy.  So let’s take this step to make college more affordable and easier to plan.

Thank you for giving me a few minutes of your time.

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Homeland Security Dodges Partial Shutdown After President Obama Signs One-Week Extension

DHS(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers narrowly avoided a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security and furloughing thousands of employees Friday when they reached a last-minute deal to approve a one-week funding measure for the department.

Just two hours before the midnight deadline, the House voted 357 to 60 to fund the department for one week. The Senate passed the measure earlier in the evening by a voice vote.

Less than one hour before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent her Democratic colleagues a letter urging them to advance the seven-day measure.

Though the department will be funded, the one-week measure will set up a new round of fighting for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The dysfunction that has become all too familiar on Capitol Hill was on full display today as the House earlier failed to secure enough votes to pass a short-term funding bill that would have kept the department open for three weeks.

That last-minute strategy proposed by House Republicans failed with a vote of 203 to 224. Fifty-two Republicans opposed the measure while 12 Democrats supported it.

President Obama held a meeting in the Oval Office late Friday with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and OMB Director Shaun Donovan to discuss the potential shutdown, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. The president personally phoned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to receive an update on the situation.

The evening’s drama rounds out months of fighting between Democrats and Republicans over the funding. Republicans have wanted to link any funding for the department to immigration. Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that would fund the department through the end of the fiscal year while also blocking President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.

But Democrats opposed that plan, instead pushing for a clean funding bill. Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a clean funding measure with a vote of 68 to 31 to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30.

“We passed a full-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said. “It means we did our job so that those men and women working in every agency can do their job to protect America. The Senate has done its job. Now, the House has to do its job.”

Lawmakers will now have one week to hammer out their differences on the funding and immigration. If not, the Department of Homeland Security will have to furlough approximately 40,000 workers. But 80 percent of its 240,000-person workforce would be required to work without pay.

That figure includes 40,000 Customs and Border Protection officers, 5,000 Transportation Security Administration security screeners, and 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.


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CPAC: Jeb Bush Answers Boos With Defense of Immigration and Common Core Positions

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, despite a smattering of boos, stuck to his views on immigration and education, controversial with some conservatives, in his question-and-answer session Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying any immigration overhaul needs to include a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants.

“The simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people,” Bush told the audience and moderator, Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We should give them a path to legal status where they work, where they don’t receive government benefits, where they don’t break the law, where they learn English, and where they make a contribution to our society. That’s what we need to be focused on.”

He stressed “first and foremost” the nation’s borders need to be “enforce(d)” for “national security purposes, public health purposes, and the rule of law.”

He noted some in the audience were “angry” over his stance, but he said the country needs “economic driven immigrants.”

“Those that want to come here to work to invest in their dreams in this country to create opportunities for all of us,” he said at the CPAC gathering in National Harbor, Maryland. “And that’s what we need to get to and so … the plan also includes a path to legal status.”

The likely 2016 presidential candidate did say he disagrees with the president’s executive action on immigration, adding he used “authority he doesn’t have” and has “gone way beyond his constitutional powers to do this.”

Bush, 62, was greeted at times with boos, but they were drowned out by applause from his supporters in the hall. A few dozen CPAC attendees quietly walked out of the room during the session and once outside the small group chanted “USA, USA.”

Bush also stood by his stance on Common Core education standards. When asked by Hannity whether it is a federal takeover of education, Bush answered, “No, and it shouldn't be," stressing the education standards created “more school choice.”

"My belief is that our standards have to be high enough where a student going through our system is college- or career-ready, and that's not what's happening right now," Bush said.

He stressed the federal government should have “no role” in creation of “standards" or "curriculum,” nor have “access” to student information, adding the federal government should have “no role in the creation of standards, either directly or indirectly.”

Bush has been criticized by some Republicans for not being conservative enough or too moderate on immigration and education, specifically his support for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. But when asked by Hannity whether he is a moderate, Bush replied: “I would describe myself as a practicing, reform-minded, conservative.”

He directly addressed those who booed him, saying he was “marking them down as neutral” and “I want to be your second choice if I decide to go beyond this.”

He did seem all in, though, noting he has to use “legal terminology” that he is still considering the “possibility of running.” He told supporters gathered in a ballroom after his session, “I hope that I’ll see you on the trail.”

In a lighter moment, Hannity asked Bush whether he was “mad” at his mother because of her previous comments that there had been “enough Bushes” in the White House. Bush said at the time it was “a little difficult, but since that time she’s had a change of heart and that’s all right by me.” As he has recently, Bush again stressed his “love” for his family, including his father and brother, both former presidents, but he said if he runs, he needs to show voters “what’s in my heart.”

“I have to show that I care about people about their future,” he said. “It can’t be about the past, it can’t be about my mom and dad and brother who I love. I love them all. It has to be about the ideas that I believe in to move our country forward.”

 

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President Obama Mourns Leonard Nimoy: 'I Loved Spock'

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has joined thousands of Americans in mourning the loss of iconic actor Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at the age of 83.

"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock."

Mr. Obama said Nimoy's signature role as first officer to William Shatner's Captain Kirk on the hit series Star Trek defined his career. It also inspired viewers to adopt the character's "cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed" outlook on the world, he said.

Nimoy was "the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future," Obama said. "I loved Spock."

The president said he met Nimoy in 2007 and greeted him with "the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'live long and prosper.'"

Nimoy was among a crowd of Hollywood celebrities that backed two Obama presidential campaigns. He donated $2,500 to Obama in 2007 and $2,500 in 2012, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also spotted a several high-profile fundraisers for the president during both election cycles.

"I do believe that President Obama means it when he says that he is 100 percent interested in space," Nimoy told reporters at the National Space Symposium in 2010, according to Space.com. "I know for sure he's a Star Trek fan."

Nimoy died in Bel-Air, Calif., his granddaughter Madeleine Nimoy confirmed to ABC News on Friday.

"After 83 years on this planet -- and on his visits to many others -- it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that," Obama said, invoking the Vulcan phrase "live long and prosper."

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New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ‘Very Concerned’ About Potential DHS Shutdown

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton journeyed to the nation’s capital Friday to attend a handful of meetings regarding the funding of the Department of Homeland Security.

Some of the people Commissioner Bratton met with Friday were Homeland Security Advisor to the President Lisa Monaco, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and the Director of the FBI, James Comey.

“Universally, they are very concerned about this,” Bratton said.

Commissioner Bratton is urging law makers to fully fund the DHS, vehemently disagreeing with the House Republicans’ three-week bill proposal.

“We cannot fund the Nation’s Counterterrorism Program and the Department of Homeland Security on the ‘installment plan,’” Bratton said. “This idea of kicking the can down the road for three weeks; the idea of passing this continuing resolution bill is just not practical or feasible,” and that efforts should be focused elsewhere.    

Commissioner Bratton says he needs the DHS to be fully funded, as he believes his city is arguably the, “number one target in the room.”  

If the Department of Homeland Security does shut down, the impact could be significant, especially on New York, as the city is very dependent on federal funding.

DHS funds for New York are used for the development and expansion of the NYPD’s Domain Awareness System, the purchase and deployment of a wide range of explosive detection equipment, training and maintenance, as well as the NYPD’s intelligence analyst program.

Failing to fund the DHS would cause a furlough of up to 30,000 employees, most of which are involved in many of New York’s important operations. Protective Security Advisors would be unable to share critical intelligence with the NYPD, and any other local and state partners.

“Given the current threats facing this country, holding an agency responsible for protecting Americans from terrorism, hostage to politics is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst,” Bratton said in statement.

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Rand Paul Wows CPAC Crowd, Talks Privacy, Tax Cuts, Hillary Clinton

Kris Connor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Rand Paul got a rousing reception Friday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, lighting up a crowd that tends to have a libertarian streak to it, saying, “In the coming weeks, I will propose the largest tax cut in American history.”

Speaking with rolled-up sleeves, he promised to pitch “a tax cut that will leave more money in the paychecks of every worker in America. My tax plan will keep the IRS out of your life and out the way of every job creator in America. My plan will also cut spending and balance the budget in just five years.”

Paul, R-Ky., blasted Congress, now controlled by Republicans, calling it “dysfunctional.”

“Often, bills are plopped on our desk with only a few hours to review,” he said. “No one, and I mean no one, is able to read what is in the bill. I propose something truly outrageous: Congress should read every bill.”

The crowd was packed with supporters, and Paul was interrupted by chants of “President Paul, President Paul.” He perhaps received the loudest applause when talking about personal privacy and going after the woman he may face if he they both choose to run in 2016: Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary’s war in Libya is a perfect example,” he told the CPAC crowd in National Harbor, Maryland. “Hillary’s war made us less safe," adding, "Libya's less stable."

He said to cheers: “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire.”

Calling the crowd “lovers of liberty,” he asked them to “rise to the occasion.”

“You do have a right to privacy," he said. "Your rights are who you are, your rights are what you are, your rights are in your DNA -- and the government can, quite frankly, get over it.

"I say that the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business," he added. "From within, our freedom is threatened by debt and by a government that regulates everything that moves.”

He differed in some ways with other Republican presidential contenders who have taken the stage at the conference since Thursday, specifically on the issue of foreign policy -- an issue that may make him an outlier in the GOP field, but was well-received by the libertarian-leaning activists gathered.

“At home, conservatives understand that the government is the problem, not the solution. But as conservatives, we should not succumb to the notion that government inept at home will somehow become successful abroad,” he said, "that a government that can’t even deliver the mail will somehow be able to create nations abroad. Without question, we must be strong. Without question, we must defend ourselves. I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable and unencumbered by nation building.”

He ended the speech by asking the crowd to “stand” with him: “Will you fight for freedom? Will you vote for freedom?”

Paul is popular with the CPAC crowd. He has won the CPAC straw poll the last two years, and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, a three-time Republican presidential candidate, won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011. This year's winner will be revealed Saturday.

However, Paul received some criticism today at CPAC, even if it was veiled.

Right after Paul spoke, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., a 2012 presidential candidate, took the stage. Santorum didn’t mention Paul’s name, but in the past he has said he thinks possible candidates like Paul, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas -- all in their first terms -- do not have enough experience to be president.

He said it was the president’s “profound lack of experience that has created the problems for us here in America,” stressing his own “eight years of service on the armed services committee” while he was in the Senate.

"Commander-in-chief is not an entry-level position,” he said. “[The] Oval Office is no place for on-the-job training, not in times like this.”


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Grover Norquist Predicts Jeb Bush Will Sign His Anti-Tax Pledge

Matt Stroshane/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said he’s been in discussions with former Gov. Jeb Bush’s aides and is convinced he’ll sign his famous “pledge” if he runs for president, even though Bush has made a point of not signing it in previous runs for office.

Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told ABC News he believes Bush will come around on the wisdom of vowing in writing in a pledge to constituents not to raise taxes.

“Right now everyone who is thinking of running has signed it in his present capacity or in a previous race, with the exception of Jeb Bush,” Norquist said.

Norquist added that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t actually signed the pledge, but “everyone thinks” he has because “he has stated publically that he would never raise taxes so many times.”

“The challenge for Jeb is he’s said publically, ‘I might.’ I think he’ll be comfortable. But his father and his brother didn’t do pledges, didn’t do questionnaires, did sign the pledge. Because it’s different -- it’s been endorsed by the Republican Party for crying out loud.”

Norquist said he’s been talking to Bush aides, and “we have to wait for them to realize” that it’s a smart move to sign the pledge.

Jeb Bush has made his refusal to sign the anti-tax pledge a point of principle throughout his political career. He blasted the concept of the pledge as recently as 2012.

“I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people. I respect Grover’s political involvement. He has every right to do it, but I never signed any pledge,” Bush told a congressional panel.

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Carly Fiorina Accuses Hillary Clinton of Playing an 'Imitation' Game

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Positioning herself as the anti-Hillary Clinton candidate in a crowded field of prospective GOP 2016 contenders, Carly Fiorina is unapologetic in attacking the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I think it’s totally fair game to call out the presumptive Democratic nominee on her track record and policies,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO told ABC News on the sidelines of the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Politics is about contrast, and I think as a conservative, we need to offer a very clear contrast to Hillary Clinton.”

Fiorina addressed the conference Thursday, offering many direct jabs at Clinton during her speech. At one point, to the cheers of the audience, Fiorina joked, “Like Mrs. Clinton, I too have traveled the globe. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.”

Asked about Clinton’s recent use of the phrase “unlocking potential,” Fiorina -- whose Super PAC is titled the “Unlocking Potential Project” -- suggested this isn’t the first time Clinton may have copied her.

“Her book cover was remarkably similar to mine, as well,” she said.

“Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I could steal one of her lines and ask, ‘What difference does it make?’” Fiorina said sarcastically, referencing Clinton’s remarks before a congressional committee investigating the 2011 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

If she were to win the nomination, Fiorina said it would put a “hitch in her swing” for Clinton to have to run against another woman.

“I think it just takes of the table a whole set of rhetoric that the Democratic Party has used for the last two elections,” Fiorina said. “Remember Hillary Clinton saying in Iowa, ‘It’s not enough to be a woman,’ you have to be a woman who believes. Really? She’s saying that women only count if they believe certain things.”

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Senate Passes Clean DHS Funding Bill; All Eyes on House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate passed a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Sept. 30 with a vote of 68 to 31.

But over in the House of Representatives, lawmakers are preparing to vote on an entirely different plan -- one that would keep DHS funded for three weeks. There are currently no plans for them to even take up the clean DHS bill the Senate just passed.

House Democrats are actively whipping against the short term bill, and Senate Democrats have not revealed whether they will agree to it. Less than 13 hours remain until the Department of Homeland Security shuts down.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black had a particularly fitting prayer for lawmakers Friday morning.

“Remind them that lawmakers can work miracles with cooperation, but accomplish little with legislative brinksmanship,” Black said.

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