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Ted Cruz Brushes Off Poor Senate Armed Services Attendance Record

Igor Bobic   |   March 31, 2015    4:28 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday brushed off concerns about his spotty attendance at hearings held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member.

"When you’re putting together a campaign for president, like I’ve been, that entails a lot of time," Cruz said in an interview with radio host Dana Loesch. “It's not like I've been at the beach sipping a piña colada.”

The 2016 Republican presidential candidate instead accused the press of making a mountain out of a molehill.

"It is revealing when the mainstream media fires every cannon they can at conservatives," he said.

According to Politico, Cruz attended only three of the committee's 16 public hearings so far this year, a track record perhaps best explained by his many trips out of Washington to early primary states ahead of his official declaration of a presidential run last week.

The first-term senator, who is a defense hawk known for frequently sounding off against President Barack Obama's foreign policy, missed opportunities to question the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, as well as other military officials, about the effect of the sequestration's automatic budget cuts to the Pentagon. By comparison, Politico noted, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another possible White House contender, attended 11 of 16 hearings.

Cruz's attendance record may give potential rivals an effective line of attack in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. During the 2014 election cycle, similar critiques were lobbed against former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and then-Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), both of whom lost their campaigns for Senate, as well as then-Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who lost her re-election bid.

Benghazi Panel Wants To Interview Clinton About Emails

Laura Barron-Lopez   |   March 31, 2015   12:27 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The House Select Committee on Benghazi sent a formal interview request to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer on Tuesday regarding emails she exchanged during her time as secretary of state.

In a letter to the Clinton’s lawyer, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the committee chairman, said the committee is not interested in emails relating to personal or private matters, and instead will focus solely on those pertaining to “Libya and Benghazi during the relevant time periods.”

“Toward that end and because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State, this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records,” Gowdy stated in the letter.

Gowdy set a May 1 deadline for the interview.

An interview, Gowdy argued, would provide protection for the likely 2016 presidential candidate’s privacy and security for sensitive information.

The request comes after reports revealed Clinton used a private email address and a server located in her New York home during her time as secretary of state. Last week, Gowdy said Clinton did not respond to any of the subpoenas requesting documents in the case, and her lawyer had informed the committee that the server used for emails during her tenure had been wiped clean.

Gowdy said once Clinton is interviewed and all documents related to the 2012 Benghazi attack are shared, the committee will schedule a time for Clinton to testify publicly in a hearing.

“We share the Secretary’s desire these two conversations take place as quickly and efficiently as possible, and are willing to expedite both working with your office, the Secretary’s schedule and our Democrat colleagues on the Committee,” Gowdy said. “What the Committee cannot do is conclude its work without assurances the Committee has all relevant information necessary for us to discharge the duties required of us.”

Gowdy went on to call Clinton’s email situation “highly unusual, if not unprecedented,” and said it “exacerbates” lawmakers’ needs to “understand what the Secretary did.”

Earlier this month, Clinton said she had a private email account because she “thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.”

She admitted that “looking back,” it would have been better to carry the second phone.

Clinton is not the only government official to use a private email for work. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he used a private email during his time in office, as did Jeb Bush when he served as governor of Florida.

These Events Were Canceled Because Of Indiana's New Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Law

Amanda Terkel   |   March 31, 2015   11:27 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Indiana has been facing a national backlash after Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a "religious freedom" bill into law last week that could open the door to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

The criticism is already hitting the state economically. The governors of Connecticut and Washington have imposed bans on state-funded travel to Indiana. Organizers of Gen Con, which has been called the largest gaming convention in the country, are also considering no longer having their event in Indiana.

Cities like Chicago are capitalizing on the controversy, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) trying to lure Indiana-based businesses into his city.

Here are some of the events that have been canceled in the state since Pence signed RFRA:

Wilco Concert

wilco


Indie rock band Wilco tweeted Monday that it will cancel its May 7 show in Indianapolis because RFRA "feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination." "Hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed. Refunds available at point of purchase," the band added.

Comedy Show

nick offerman mullally


Comedian Nick Offerman, perhaps best known for playing Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," tweeted Tuesday that he is canceling a May 16 show in Indiana. He and his wife, fellow comedian Megan Mullally, are touring the country with their "Summer of 69: No Apostrophe" comedy-variety show. They will go ahead with their appearance at Indiana University Wednesday but will be donating the proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign.

AFSCME Conference

lee saunders


On Monday, Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announced that he was pulling the union's 2015 Women's Conference out of Indianapolis in October. "The 1.6 million members of AFSCME cannot in good conscience make such a sizable financial investment in Indiana knowing that women and men in that state are deliberately being targeted for discrimination," said Saunders. A new location has not yet been chosen.

Angie's List Expansion

angies list


Indianapolis-based business Angie's List has cancelled a planned $40 million headquarters expansion, a move that could cost the city 1,000 jobs over a five-year period. "Angie's List is open to all and discriminates against none, and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents," said CEO Bill Oesterle, who used to be an aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).

Tech Conference Sponsorship

marc benioff


Marc Benioff, CEO of tech giant Salesforce, said he is canceling all company travel to Indiana in the wake of RFRA. This means Salesforce will no longer sponsor or attend the Indy Big Data Conference set to be held May 7 in Indianapolis. EMC, Cloudera, Pivotal and Platfora have pulled their sponsorships as well. Conference organizers issued a statement calling on state politicians to come up with "an immediate correction to this law in order to prohibit discrimination in Indiana on any grounds.”

Debate Competition

gavel


The National Forensic Association announced Tuesday that it's pulling its 2016 national competition from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. “We feel compelled to protect students, so to ask colleagues to bring students into a state where this law would allow businesses to discriminate against them was something the National Council did not feel comfortable doing,” said Mary Moore, Ball State director of individual events and instructor of communication studies. She added that Muncie could lose out on more than $1 million from not hosting the five-day tournament.

HUFFPOST READERS: If you live in Indiana, we want to hear about how this law is affecting you. Email your story or any tips to openreporting@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your name, the city you live in, and a phone number if you're willing to be contacted by a reporter.

Sam Levine   |   March 30, 2015   10:01 PM ET

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) isn't letting the crisis in neighboring Indiana over a controversial religious freedom law go to waste.

Emanuel, who faces re-election next week, has urged about a dozen Indiana businesses to move to Chicago as many have publicly expressed their concern that the law permits discrimination against LGBT employees.

In a letter to the Indiana businesses, Emanuel said that the new law would lead to discrimination against LGBT employees in Indiana and harm the state's ability to attract top talent, Crain's Chicago Business reported.

"But (Chicago's) great strength is the quality of our workforce and the fact that Chicago is a welcoming place," Emanuel wrote in the letter, according to Crain's. "As Gov. Pence changes state law to take Indiana backwards, I urge you to look next door."

Pence has said that the law does not permit discrimination, but Indiana corporate leaders have said that they were "deeply concerned" about the impact the law could have on their employees.

Both Illinois and Chicago have anti-discrimination measures in place that include protections for LGBT individuals. While Indianapolis currently has similar protections in place, Pence has said that he is uninterested in pursuing similar protections at the state level.

Emanuel aides told Crain's that they haven't heard back from any businesses interested in relocating to Chicago.

H/T Crain's Chicago Business

Laura Barron-Lopez   |   March 30, 2015    1:23 PM ET

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is backing New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer for the top Senate Democratic leadership spot, Murray's office confirmed Monday.

“Senator Murray spoke to Senator Schumer several times over the past few days and told him that she planned to support him for leader next Congress and looks forward to continuing to be his partner in Senate Democratic leadership,” the aide said, responding to news first reported by CQ Roll Call.

The Washington Democrat's backing makes it a near certainty that Schumer will replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) when he retires at the end of 2016.

Murray, the Democrats’ conference secretary, has yet to say whether she will challenge Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), however, leaving the No. 2 spot in leadership an open question for the next Congress.

The leadership shuffle comes after Reid announced on Friday he would not seek re-election in 2016, catching the Democratic conference off guard.

Reid immediately endorsed Schumer to succeed him, despite Durbin’s post as the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. Durbin said he will support Schumer's bid.

Jesse Rifkin   |   March 30, 2015   12:59 PM ET

The Georgia House Judiciary Committee canceled a meeting planned for Monday to discuss "religious freedom" legislation amid a national backlash over a similar law in Indiana.

S.B. 129, the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed the state Senate 38-15 this month and was scheduled for a House vote on Tuesday following a Monday debate.

According to USA Today, "Monday's meeting would have been the move to get it back on the table to be voted on Tuesday. It's not clear if the meeting will be rescheduled."

If passed, the bill would allow a legal defense for businesses and private individuals in the state to deny service to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The meeting's cancellation comes just after the passage Indiana's RFRA, which has sparked a national backlash from groups like the the NCAA and the NBA, as well as businesses that are now reconsidering investment in the state.

As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, Georgia's bill was voted on in the Senate earlier this month within minutes of being introduced, with no advance notice. It was introduced by state Sen. Joshua McKoon (R), who also co-sponsored legislation this session which would allow faith-based organizations to receive public aid.

Maxwell Tani   |   March 27, 2015    5:23 PM ET

A politically connected lawyer’s drunk driving conviction is now gone, thanks to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

An investigation by the Associated Press published Friday revealed that high-powered attorney Alan Gocha Jr. was one of the recipients of the governor's rare pardons. Gocha, a member of Michigan's economic board, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in 2008.

Snyder has issued only 11 pardons during his more than four years in office.

Gocha's connections within the Michigan Republican Party run deep. He's a top adviser to 5-Hour Energy founder Manoj Bhargava, who has given millions to political groups supporting Snyder and other Michigan Republicans.

Gocha also received some high-powered help on his pardon application. According to the AP, one of Gocha’s references was Republican strategist Bob LaBrant, whom Snyder appointed to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission in 2012.

Between 2011 and 2013, Gocha contributed over $26,000 to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. The Chamber endorsed Snyder in 2014.

Though Snyder admitted that he had met Gocha on several occasions -- even correcting an AP reporter’s pronunciation of his last name -- the governor defended the pardon, arguing he made the decision only after vetting by the parole board, which interviews applicants.

“He never contributed to my campaign, not had any financial connection at all,” Snyder said, according to the AP. “I didn’t meet with him about this issue.”

On Friday, critics asserted that Gocha's pardons were the direct result of his political connections.

"By pardoning a politically-connected attorney convicted of drunk driving, this governor has reached a new low," Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair said in a press release. "I don't know who is more shameless 00 the drunk driver asking for a pardon, or the governor who granted it."

“Clearly, this Governor is far more interested in protecting the wealthy than promoting real change,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of the left-leaning advocacy group Progress Michigan said in a press release.

Sam Levine   |   March 26, 2015    4:02 PM ET

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is reportedly raising money for a potential challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in 2016.

In a fundraising letter obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times, Duckworth asked for $1,000 donations from supporters and said that she knew she could beat Kirk, a first term senator whose seat is considered vulnerable.

“In an instant I’ll become a lighting rod for the right and all the special interest money they can pour in the race. My gut tells me I can beat these guys,” Duckworth said in the letter, according to the Sun-Times.

Duckworth, the first female Iraq combat veteran to win a Congressional seat, has been considering a bid since January. Kirk has said he is unconcerned about a challenge from Duckworth.

Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.), who Duckworth defeated in 2012, is also considering challenging Kirk for the seat. The Sun-Times also reported that Democratic Reps Bill Foster, Robin Kelly and Cheri Bustos are considering running.

H/T Chicago Sun-Times

Amber Ferguson   |   March 26, 2015   11:19 AM ET

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, came face-to-face with "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon -- literally.

For the skit “Mitt in the Mirror,” Romney had a deep discussion with the person he saw in a mirror, which was Fallon doing a spot-on parody of Romney.

Romney announced in January that he would not be running for president again. During the skit, Romney said in the mirror, “Well, actually I’m a little nervous. Jimmy is probably going to ask me why I didn’t run for president. What should I say?”

“Just tell him you enjoy the freedom. You get to sit back, relax, golf all the time, go on vacation whenever you want,” Fallon-as-Romney replied.

“Aka, be president?” Romney asked.

When Fallon asked about the upcoming fight with Evander Holyfield, Romney said, “It’s all in good fun -- it’s for charity. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Fallon joked in reply: “That’s true, I guess it won't be the first time we lose to a black guy.”

Romney got a few more punches in during the sketch, knocking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and blaming President Barack Obama for Zayn Malik's departure from the band One Direction.

Watch the video above.

Samantha Lachman   |   March 26, 2015   10:38 AM ET

Ohio's Republican-controlled Senate passed a transportation budget Wednesday containing a controversial provision that critics say could dissuade college students from voting.

The amendment to the budget, which was added at the last minute by a Senate committee, would require out-of-state students who register to vote from their campus address to register their cars in Ohio within 30 days and obtain state driver's licenses. Completing both of those steps would cost over $75. If the more than 116,000 out-of-state students who attend Ohio’s public and private colleges and universities fail to do so, their out-of-state licenses would become invalid and they could face misdemeanor charges.

Current law has allowed new Ohioans to claim residency and vote while keeping their out-of-state licenses and registrations because the state hasn't specified a deadline for obtaining documentation. Republicans supporting the measure said that Ohio is among only a handful of states that don't have a deadline for new residents to register cars and obtain driver's licenses in the state. However, tying the requirement to voting appears to be a unique move.

Democrats have call the legislation a "poll tax" that would intimidate and disenfranchise students. Republicans, on the other hand, say it is a nonpartisan issue of residency requirements.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) insisted Tuesday that the provision wouldn't be a burden on would-be student voters.

"By registering to vote, you are declaring you are a resident," Husted said. "We hope they become Ohioans and we hope they want to vote here."

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D), who has been one of the strongest voices against the amendment, said it would deter students from voting.

"There's reports that over 110,000 Ohio students could be impacted by this provision," Clyde said. "We're talking about a lot of people, a lot of people's rights impacted … I hate to see this trip up our young voters, our first-time voters, people that we want to welcome to Ohio, not put burdens up in front of them or punishing them for participating in their democracy in their communities where they're going to school."

The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday, sending it to Gov. John Kasich (R). Voting rights experts say that, if Kasich signs the bill with the voting measure intact, a lawsuit challenging the provision and arguing that it violates federal voting rights laws is likely.

Doug Chapin, the director of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration at the University of Minnesota, detailed how the provision could draw a lawsuit in a blog post Wednesday. He had previously written about a similar New Hampshire law that was struck down in 2012. Chapin wrote:

Key questions in any such lawsuit will be the same ones I asked about the New Hampshire law: how many non-student voters don't have cars registered in the state or an in-state drivers' license, and is the percentage comparable to the student population? And if the law applies to all voters, what will the state do to enforce the law against all voters without in-state licenses? Additionally, what effect could this controversy have on the Secretary's efforts to push online voter registration - which requires the use of DMV data to succeed?

These efforts, and the controversies they generate, are the result of our confusing and imprecise rules for determining residency for various purposes (voting, driving, taxes, tuition etc.) in the United States. Whatever the motivation behind this Ohio push, the fact that it will have an impact on voting -- however large or small -- is going to draw litigation.

Ohio has previously been a site for election litigation: Ahead of November's midterm elections, voting rights advocates and Husted tussled over early voting days and times.

Activist Chris Christie Told To 'Shut Up' Is Running For State Assembly

Maxwell Tani   |   March 25, 2015    2:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The man whom New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told to “sit down and shut up” is doing the exact opposite.

Jim Keady announced Monday that he’s running for state Assembly as a Democrat in New Jersey’s 30th District.

The former Asbury Park City Council member made headlines last year when he interrupted a speech by Christie marking the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The governor told Keady to “sit down and shut up” after Keady accused him of mismanaging Hurricane Sandy relief funds.

“Somebody like you doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here,” Christie said to Keady.

Keady admitted to The Huffington Post Wednesday that the spat with the governor raised his profile, but said that he hopes to establish himself as a viable candidate based on his stances on important state issues. Keady said he will make Sandy recovery relief a pillar of his campaign, but will also focus on issues like pension reform, education, economic development and job creation.

Keady said that he doesn't hold a grudge against the Christie, but he worries that the governor's presidential aspirations are distracting him from pressing problems in his home state.

“If the governor were to run our nation in the same way that he’s run our state, I fear for the future of our republic,” Keady said.

Christie has faced criticism for his brash confrontations at public events with hecklers and people who question his positions. According to a Washington Post article in December 2014, since he took office in 2010, the governor has clashed with at least 14 New Jersey residents at events across the state.

Christie told radio host Laura Ingraham last month that these outbursts reflect his passion for important issues.

“I’m going to speak my mind, and I’m going to be direct,” Christie said. “I don’t have political consultants in my ear saying, ‘Here’s how you say it.’”

“Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up,” Christie said.

Keady's Republican opponent, incumbent Sean Kean, said in an interview with PolitickerNJ on Monday that Keady's campaign was just another publicity stunt. Kean said Keady isn’t serious about the race and is just using the platform to get attention.

“I think [Keady] staged the whole thing,” Kean said, referring to Keady’s interaction with Christie. “He doesn’t care about Belmar as much as his own press and his own notoriety.”

Keady said that isn't true. “The fact that they want to focus on Jim Keady is very telling,” he said. “They’re bankrupt on ideas of how to put our state in the right direction.”

Sam Stein   |   March 24, 2015   11:59 AM ET

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) announced on Tuesday that he will retire from the United States Senate, becoming the fourth senator of the 2016 cycle to not seek re-election.

The announcement, broken by the website Indy Politics, provides another nugget of good news for Democrats who are hopeful that a presidential election year with an already advantageous map can help them regain control of the Senate chamber.

Indiana is a Republican-leaning state. And there is a bench of viable alternatives for the GOP, including Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Rokita, as well as state House Speaker Brian Bosma.

But Democrats have played in and won Senate seats in the state before. And one name that is likely to be on the tongue of most strategists is former Sen. Evan Bayh, who is sitting on nearly $10 million in campaign cash from the last time he served in office. He has hinted that another run is in his future.

"I'm in my 50s. Most of the other people [holding on to cash] are in their early 70s," he told The Huffington Post this past fall. "So I don't know what the future might hold. I don't think it makes a lot of sense closing doors." Asked if he was planning a future run for office, he added, "I think the chances of that are not high. But you just never know."

Bayh actually has succeeded Coats before. Coats first served in the Senate from 1988 through 1999, before retiring. Bayh won the subsequent election and then left office in 2010, succeeded by Coats.

Sam Levine   |   March 23, 2015    4:34 PM ET

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Monday admitted that Republicans need to do some "soul searching" on climate change and blamed former Vice President Al Gore for making it difficult to make progress on the issue.

Graham, who is weighing a bid for the White House in 2016, said that he believed that climate change was real and that human activity was contributing to it. But he added that he wasn't quite sure what the GOP's environmental platform was and said that he would like to see some debate on the issue within the party.

"Before we can be bipartisan we gotta figure out where we are as a party. What is the environmental platform of the Republican party?," Graham asked a silent crowd at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations. "I don't know either.

"I'd like to come up with one, I'd like to have a debate within the party. Can you say that climate change is a scientifically sound phenomenon, but can you reject the idea you have to destroy the economy to solve the problem is sort of where I'll be taking this debate."

Graham blamed Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 for his efforts to combat climate change, for blocking progress on the issue.

"The problem is Al Gore has turned this thing into a religion," he said. "You know, climate change is not a religious problem for me, it is an economic, it is an environmental problem."

Graham's comments came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a letter to to all 50 governors urging them to ignore the Obama administration's plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

During an interview with Vice earlier this month, President Barack Obama had a different explanation for why it was so difficult for Congress to make progress on climate legislation.

"In some cases, though, you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry and there's a lot of money involved," Obama said. "Typically in Congress the committees of jurisdiction, like the energy committees, are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil and pump a lot of gas."

Samantha Lachman   |   March 23, 2015    1:47 PM ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he regrets issuing a warning to his supporters ahead of the country's elections last week that Arab voters were heading to the polls "in droves."

At an event hosted at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he recognized the comment hurt Israeli Arabs, and that it was not his intention to do so, as Haaretz first reported.

"I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, of all Israeli citizens without differentiating between religions, races and sex," he added. "I see in all Israeli citizens partners in building the state of Israel, one that is thriving and safe for all Israeli citizens."

Last Tuesday, after the polls had opened, the prime minister had urged backers of the party he leads, Likud, to turn out in order to counteract the votes of Arabs who were energized by the merging of various Arab-Israeli parties.

“The right-wing government is in danger," Netanyahu said in a video posted on Facebook. "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out. Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and ‘Labor.’”

The "left-wing organizations" Netanyahu was referring to may have included progressive advocacy groups like Ameinu, an American-based nonprofit that funded get-out-the-vote efforts in Israeli-Arab communities ahead of the election.

The comment further inflamed tensions with President Barack Obama's administration, which was already upset by Netanyahu's promise in an interview with a right-wing Hebrew-language website that a state for the Palestinians wouldn't be established were he to form the next government.

Obama told The Huffington Post in a sit-down interview Friday that the remark "was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions."

"Although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly," the president said. "And I think that that is what's best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don't believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country."

Netanyahu avoided issuing any sort of mea culpa, even after the Obama administration called Netanyahu's comments "cynical" and "divisive." Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it "was a pretty transparent effort to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens and their right to participate in their democracy."

“I wasn't trying to block anyone from voting. I was trying to mobilize my own forces,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NPR Friday. “And that mobilization was based on Arab money -- sorry, on foreign money, a lot of foreign money that was coming in.”

Netanyahu's party gained enough seats in the next Israeli parliament to form a government with other right-wing parties. The Joint Arab List, however, will be the third-largest party in the Knesset and the second-biggest faction in the opposition.