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Amanda Terkel   |   August 27, 2015    9:08 AM ET

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said Tuesday he may run for Senate in 2018, which would pit him against Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). 

"I'm thinking about it very strongly," LePage told conservative radio host Howie Carr. 

In January, LePage also told Carr that he was looking at a Senate run, although the following day, he said he was joking

LePage has been a controversial governor known for making outlandish statements -- like joking that he wanted to shoot a newspaper cartoonist and comparing the IRS to the Gestapo. He won re-election in 2014, despite abysmal approval ratings. 

Carr tweeted out a photo with LePage Tuesday, showing the governor wearing a hat with Donald Trump's presidential slogan on it.  LePage, however, has endorsed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for president, and Carr had to tweet a clarification that LePage hadn't switched allegiances. 

LePage, who has never shied away from making eyebrow-raising comments about his critics, said Trump needs to knock off his feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

"You’ve got to let this stuff go and move on," LePage said. "Move on to the issues."

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Michael McAuliff   |   July 21, 2015    1:49 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- If you had any doubt that Donald Trump’s candidacy for president was being treated by the media -- besides The Huffington Post -- as an entertainment story, all you had to do was listen in to Senate Democrats’ news conference on Tuesday.

The topic at hand was the highway bill, a massive measure that the Senate hopes to move by the end of the month to prevent bridge and road construction projects from grinding to a halt when current funding expires at the end of the month.

There were plenty of questions about that, but then there was one reporter who decided to ask about Trump. She could have asked about what his surge in the polls represented -- a topic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) himself had addressed on the Senate floor earlier in the day. Or perhaps what Reid thought Trump’s impact might be on the Latino vote. 

Instead, she asked about Trump’s grade school-level stunt of revealing the cell phone number of a rival, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and managed to win some of the best looks of disgusted amusement that you’ll see from Reid’s fellow leaders.

“I’m wondering what you think of behavior like that, whether it’s befitting of a presidential candidate, whether he should be in the race still,” the reporter asked.

“Who, Lindsey?” Reid asked back, with a perfect deadpan. 

Reid declined to weigh in on the vital importance of Trump going all third grade on Graham, but he was happy to reprise his floor speech from the morning. Watch Reid above, especially the expressions of Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as they realize what question is being asked.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.


Paige Lavender   |   July 20, 2015   11:14 AM ET

July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush vowed on Monday to shake up Washington's culture if he reaches the White House, calling for stricter controls on government spending and a longer ban on lobbying by former members of Congress.

Bush proposed a federal balanced budget amendment and presidential line-item veto power, as well as a freeze on government hiring.

"It will not be my intention to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it accountable to the people," Bush, the former Florida governor, said in a speech in state capital Tallahassee.

Bush, whose father and brother both served as U.S. president, has been eager to distance himself from Washington or any appearance of continuing a political dynasty.

He has pointed to his record in Florida to cast himself as a reformer and to separate himself from the large pack of Republicans seeking the party's nomination for president in the November 2016 election.

On Monday, Bush said Floridians called their capital "Mount Tallahassee" before he took over as governor, because its leaders held themselves apart from their constituents. He said the problems in Washington were similar.

He said he supported a federal balanced budget amendment to limit spending and would institute a rule to hire just one new federal worker for every three who leave.

He also said the president should have "constitutionally sound" line-item veto power to eliminate spending measures from legislation approved by Congress.

Many state governors have some form of line-item veto authority, which lets them strike provisions of bills without rejecting the entire legislation. Congress authorized presidential line-item vetoes in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.

Bush also said he cracked down on lobbying in Florida and would do the same if elected president.

"We need to help politicians to rediscover life outside of Washington, which - who knows? - might even be a pleasant surprise for them," Bush said.

He said lawmakers should have to disclose on their websites when they meet with lobbyists, and members of the House of Representatives and Senate should have to wait six years before they can lobby their former colleagues.

Currently, members of the House have a one-year cooling off period, and senators must wait two years before lobbying. (Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Luciana Lopez; Editing by Bill Rigby)


Paul Ryan Explains What Jeb Bush Meant When He Said Americans Should Work Longer Hours

Michael McAuliff   |   July 10, 2015    3:17 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee in 2012, declined Friday to say whether 2016 contender Jeb Bush's recent declaration that "Americans need to work longer hours" was as damaging as Romney's infamous "47 percent" remarks.

"You're Huffington Post aren't you? What the hell?" the Wisconsin Republican joked at first.

But Ryan, a notorious data geek, did offer his interpretation of what Bush meant to say.

"I think what he’s talking about is the fact that there are too many people in America who have part-time jobs who want full-time jobs. That’s a problem; that's what he’s talking about," Ryan said. "If you get into the labor force participation rates, inside of that, there’s a lot of part-time workers who don’t want to be part-time workers, who want to be full-time workers.”

Bush was hammered over the remark by commentators and the campaign of Hillary Clinton, which noted that Americans are the most productive workers in the world, and that while productivity has kept on rising, it is pay that has lagged. On top of that, Gallup reports that American workers already average nearly 47 hours per week.

Still, part-time workers' share of the workforce has been slowly falling since it peaked at 20 percent after the recession. It still stands at 18.6 percent, a couple of points higher than before the recession.

Asked how many times Bush would now have to say it Ryan’s way, Ryan said, "Welcome to politics."

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

Lawmaker Wants To Make Federal Laws Gender Neutral To Reflect Marriage Equality

Amanda Terkel   |   July 9, 2015   11:15 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) introduced a bill Wednesday to make federal laws that reference marriage gender neutral, now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

"We need to have our values reflected in our laws," she said, adding, "This is a piece of what we have to do to readjust the way everything is framed."

Capps' legislation, which has 23 cosponsors, identifies 31 portions of the federal code that need to be updated. Instead of words like "wife" and "husband," there will be the terms "spouse" or "married couple."

The bill would also fix some areas of gender discrimination written into federal laws. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, for example, refers only to miner's wives as being eligible for survivor benefits. With Capps' change, spouses of miners, regardless of gender, would qualify. It is also currently illegal to kill the president's wife, but not his or her husband.

"We appreciate Rep. Capps introducing legislation to ensure that the words in the U.S. Code appropriately reflect the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, that all marriages are equal," said Human Rights Campaign spokesman Jason Rahlan.

There have also been efforts to make laws gender neutral at the state level. In Washington state, "fisherman" became "fisher" and "journeyman plumber" became "journey-level plumber."

The Justice Department announced on Thursday that the government will extend federal benefits to same-sex couples in light of the Supreme Court ruling.

'Space Guy' Jeb Bush Would Increase Funding To NASA

Igor Bobic   |   July 8, 2015    4:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- If elected president in 2016, Jeb Bush would propose an increase in funding to NASA.

"I'm a space guy," Bush said in a Wednesday sit-down with the New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial board.

The former of governor of Florida, where a large portion of the country's aerospace industry resides, said he would also support increasing federal spending on research and development.

The Obama administration proposed a half-billion dollar increase to NASA's budget earlier this year, totaling $18.5 billion for fiscal year 2016. That request could run aground in the Republican-controlled Congress, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a presidential candidate and the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness, feels that a reordering of the space agency is in order.

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"We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond, and not on political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate," Cruz said in a statement earlier this year.

Cruz, a Tea Party Republican who denies the existence of global warming, objects to NASA's focus on Earth science and climate change and wants to return the agency to its "core priorities.” It's unlikely that he would zero out funding for programs studying the planet entirely, but he made clear his intent to alter NASA's direction in a budget hearing earlier this year.

It's not entirely clear where the rest of the 2016 Republican presidential field stands on space exploration. Like Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio also hails from the state of Florida, the home of the Kennedy Space Center. He has fought to maintain funding to NASA, and is a booster for a manned mission to Mars. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), on the other hand, would drastically cut funding to the space agency -- by as much as 25 percent, according to his 2014 budget.

Reid Slams Entire GOP Over 'Disgusting' Trump Remarks

Michael McAuliff   |   July 8, 2015    4:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed not just Donald Trump but the rest of the Republican Party Wednesday over the wealthy businessman's anti-Mexican slurs.

Trump has repeatedly described undocumented immigrants from Mexico as "rapists" and "drug dealers," adding, "Some, I assume are good people.”

After calling Trump's comments "distasteful, disgusting," Reid went further, hammering his GOP colleagues in the Senate and on the campaign trail for not denouncing the remarks.

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"Frankly, I'm terribly disappointed that my Republican colleagues here in leadership positions in the Senate and those running for president have basically kept their mouths shut," Reid told reporters. "I think that's unfortunate and I think that speaks of where the Republican Party is today."

One Republican senator running for president, Florida's Marco Rubio, has condemned Trump's comments, as has another candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was captured on video avoiding the topic and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has said Trump should not apologize.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

Jacob Kerr   |   July 7, 2015    5:14 PM ET

Already vying with 13 other Republicans for the party's presidential nomination, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may have to face another challenge during his bid for the White House: his state legislature.

Two Democratic state senators are working on a bill that would require the state’s governor to resign in order to run for president, which would force Christie to give up the remaining two and a half years he has left in his term if he wants to keep his presidential bid going.

“He's not doing the state any good by spending the bulk of his time out of state," state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D), who is expected to be one of the bill’s sponsors, told "And even when he's in-state, he's focusing on what he has to do to get elected president — which often runs contrary to what he ought to do for the state."

Christie spent a significant amount of time out of New Jersey this year in preparing his presidential run. Speaking in New Hampshire in April, Christie said his son joked with him that New Hampshire is his "new home state."

After his campaign announcement in Livingston, New Jersey last week, Christie flew to New Hampshire for a town hall on the same day. He then spent the next four days campaigning in the Granite State.

In an interview on NBC's "Today Show" last week, Christie said he would not consider resigning during his bid for the presidency.

If the bill passes through the legislature, it faces the major hurdle of having to be signed by Christie in order to become law. According to, the state legislature has never been able to get enough votes to override a veto since Christie took office in 2010.

Lesniak jokingly suggested the state’s lieutenant governor, Republican Kim Guadango, could sign the bill on a day Christie is out of the state.

Christie's office declined to comment on the bill to

Although Christie was easily reelected to a second term in 2013, his approval rating in New Jersey has dropped to 30 percent since then. Once the Republican frontrunner in early presidential polls, Christie’s numbers have dropped since the Bridgegate scandal. According to HuffPost Pollster, he’s currently polling at 3 percent.

Dhyana Taylor   |   July 6, 2015    4:27 PM ET

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) went after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Monday, accusing him of making the country "weaker" on national security.

“In town hall meetings, people are really worried about ISIS, they're really worried about the threat of terrorism," said Christie during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "And that’s why what Rand Paul has done to make this country weaker and more vulnerable is a terrible thing. And for him to raise money off of it is disgraceful."

He added that if the country is ever attacked, Paul should be hauled in front of Congress and made to testify.

"He should be in front of hearings and in front of Congress if there is another attack, not the director of the FBI or the CIA," said Christie.

Christie has frequently criticized Paul on national security issues. In June, he called Paul's opposition to the Patriot Act "shortsighted." He has also compared the senator's views to those of Edward Snowden, the contractor who leaked classified National Security Agency information.

“He’s [Snowden is] a criminal and he’s hiding in Russia, and he’s lecturing to us about the evils of authoritarian government while he lives under the protective umbrella of Vladimir Putin? That’s who [Sens.] Mike Lee and Rand Paul are siding with? With Edward Snowden? Hey, come on," said Christie in May.

Paul has also gone after Christie, saying his "bully demeanor" -- his tendency to yell at voters -- isn't what the country needs.

"I grew up in the South," said Paul in 2014. "And we're 'yes, ma'am' and 'no, sir' and a little bit more polite."

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Amanda Terkel   |   July 6, 2015   10:35 AM ET

The sons of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) were disappointed with their father's criticism of the Supreme Court's recent ruling on marriage equality, exemplifying the generational divide within the Republican Party on gay rights.

"I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake," Walker said on June 26, when the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage.

That response didn't sit well with his two sons, Matt and Alex, who are taking time off from college to help their father with his upcoming presidential campaign. In an interview with The Washington Post, Walker's wife, Tonette, said she immediately heard from her sons about their displeasure with Walker's comments.

“That was a hard one,” Tonette said. "Our sons were disappointed. ... I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate."

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Last year, Alex served as the witness and best man at the wedding of Shelli Marquardt, Tonette's cousin, and her partner, Cathy Priem.

"It’s hard for me because I have a cousin who I love dearly -- she is like a sister to me -- who is married to a woman, her partner of 18 years," added Tonette.

Walker toned down his criticism of the Supreme Court the day after the ruling, when he went to Colorado with his wife for an event to a friendly crowd of conservatives. There, he instead said, "We should respect the opinions of others in America. But that in return means that they not only respect our opinions, they respect what is written in the Constitution."

The governor told The Washington Post that he doesn't necessarily change his position on an issue when his family disagrees with him, but he does work on "finding a different way of explaining it, so they can appreciate where I am coming from."

In early June, Walker said he supports a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage.

There is growing acceptance of marriage equality in the Republican Party, although there is still a significant generational gap. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that 61 percent of people under 30 who are Republican or lean Republican support same-sex marriage, compared to just 22 percent of those 65 or older.

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Dhyana Taylor   |   June 30, 2015    2:22 PM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton started a Pinterest account Tuesday, promising "Granddaughter gift ideas, hairstyle inspiration, favorite moments, and some other things."

Clinton had more than 800 followers by Tuesday afternoon. The page shows the candidate's softer side, with family photos, "women who inspire" and highlights of being a grandmother.

In February, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) campaign created a fake Pinterest account for Clinton, going after her on Benghazi and Democratic losses in the 2014 elections. Pinterest took it down because it violated their rules forbidding users who "impersonate or misrepresent [their] affiliation with any person or entity."

Clinton has long been on Facebook and Twitter and just recently joined Instagram, where she joked about her love of pantsuits.

Ben Carson: ‘I Don't Really Want' To Run for President

Samantha-Jo Roth   |   June 29, 2015   10:48 AM ET

LAMONI, Iowa -- Ben Carson is running for president, but he said last week that it's a taxing endeavor he doesn't want to do. Rather, he said, he'd been hoping to retire after decades of working long hours as a neurosurgeon.

"I really don’t want to do this, to be honest with you,” Carson, one of a dozen or so conservatives who hopes to capture the GOP presidential nomination, said to a town hall crowd of more than 100 Iowa voters on Friday. “I was looking forward to a relaxing retirement, you know, with a beautiful home in Florida by a golf course.”

When asked about how his Christian faith could influence his decisions as president, Carson explained the role his religion has played in declaring his candidacy.

“I finally said, 'Lord, I don’t want to do this, but if you’re going to open the doors, I will go through with it,'” he said.

Carson went on to describe a laundry list of things he was planning to do during his retirement, including reading books, learning to play the organ and finally watching "The Godfather" and "Rocky."

“People are always shocked. They say ‘You never saw "The Godfather," you never saw "Rocky"?’ I didn't have time to see that,” Carson said as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Carson has been emphasizing his reluctance to run for president for a while now -- actually, since before he even formally jumped into the race. Asked in March how he’d feel if his campaign flopped, Carson told the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “I would say ‘Whew!’ because it’s not something I ever really wanted to do, and the only reason I’d consider it is because there’s so many people across the nation clamoring for me to do it.”

Carson gained national attention in 2013 for a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that was sharply critical of President Barack Obama. After hearing the cries of supporters, he said, he put his retirement plans on hold.

“My wife was looking forward to it more than I was. She thought maybe finally we could have some time,” Carson said. “I think the good Lord had a different plan.”

Carson’s favorability ratings have been climbing in Iowa. The most recent poll of Iowa caucus-goers, conducted by The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg, showed that 56 percent of conservative activists view Carson favorably, while only 15 percent view him negatively.

HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, places Ben Carson fourth in the GOP primary field with 10.7 percent support nationally.

Watch the video above.

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Paul LePage Jokes About Shooting Newspaper Cartoonist

Amanda Terkel   |   June 25, 2015    2:30 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said Wednesday that he'd like to shoot the cartoonist for the Bangor Daily News, a joke that fell flat in light of the January shooting that killed five Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in France.

LePage made his comments about cartoonist George Danby on Wednesday in front of a group of teenagers attending Dirigo Boys State, a youth leadership program held in Waterville, Maine. Danby's son, Nick, was in attendance and asked the governor a question.

According to Danby, LePage was skeptical of the question and asked Nick where he received his information. Nick said he reads newspapers, and the governor responded that he shouldn't trust what newspapers say. Nick eventually asked what LePage thought of the Bangor Daily News' cartoonist, at which point LePage made his joke, Danby said.

Danby added that his son didn't think much of it, and many people in the audience laughed. But Danby himself didn't find it quite as funny.

"The governor shouldn't be making those comments, even though I know he doesn't care for my stuff because I pick on him quite a bit in my cartoon," he told The Huffington Post. "But it's always within the boundaries of fairness and free speech and satire."

On Jan. 7, 2015, two terrorists attacked employees of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people, including five cartoonists. The publication had also been targeted in the past for its cartoons that lampooned the prophet Mohammed.

Danby said that in light of that attack, joking about shooting cartoonists was particularly unfunny, especially since he was at the conference to speak about the positive side of politics.

"My other thought was, what if this was reversed? If I had made a comment. I'd be in big trouble today," he added.

LePage's joke also angered Anthony Ronzio, the paper's news and audience director, who tweeted his disgust Wednesday.

Danby said he had not yet heard from LePage, and the governor's office did not return The Huffington Post's request for comment.

LePage does not like Maine's newspapers, as he has made clear on several occasions. In August 2014, he said the "worst part" of his life was that "newspapers are still alive." In February 2013, he said newspapers were his "greatest fear." He has also said he wants to "blow ... up" the headquarters of the Portland Press Herald.

View some of Danby's cartoons lampooning LePage below:

UPDATE: 6/26/15 -- Seth Jackson, a delegate at Boys State who witnessed the exchange between LePage and Nick Danby, said he found the governor's comments "very rude." He also filmed the end of the interaction, after LePage tells Nick he'd like to shoot the Bangor Daily News' cartoonist. Nick informs LePage that the cartoonist is his father, who he said voted for LePage and admired him. The governor said he still didn't like his cartoons. Jackson's video, which he shared with HuffPost:

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Igor Bobic   |   June 24, 2015    5:53 PM ET

Last week's horrific shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina reminded Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) of violence in the Middle East.

"I don't know how you can sit with somebody for an hour in a church and pray with them and get up and shoot them. That's Mideast hate," Graham said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "That's something I didn't think we had here, but apparently we do."

Asked by a reporter after his speech to clarify his comments, Graham told NBC's Frank Thorpe, "What ISIL is doing, that kind of hate. It's kind of that hard-heart, that, you know, heart that has been hardened after generations of hate."

Graham made a similar comment last week in an interview the morning after the shooting.

"To go into God's space and do this, I don't know," he told ABC News. "You can't explain it. … I go to the Middle East a lot. I've seen hate up close. I've seen communities where everybody has been killed because they're a different religion, and you think that's just over there. Sometimes it's not just over there."

The presidential hopeful, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, is one of the most hawkish voices in the U.S. Senate. Last month, he called for sending an additional 10,000 U.S. troops to Iraq. He also maintains that the war there was not a mistake.

In his speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Graham praised the community of Charleston for welcoming the alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, into their Bible study.

"He went to Charleston with a plan. The people in the church had no idea who he was or what he had in mind, and he came into the church and he was sitting in the pews by himself, and they invited him up for the Bible study," he said. "And spent an hour with him. And he said they were so nice, I could almost have backed out. That says a lot about them. Says a lot about him."

Earlier this week, Graham reversed course and joined South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and a slew of other Palmetto State lawmakers in calling for the removal of a Confederate battle flag located on the grounds of the state capitol. He previously defended the flag as "part of who we are."