Bush, Clinton and the mixed appeal of political dynasties – Washington Post

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Considering that the country got its start by shaking off a monarch, America has had a peculiarly strong attraction to political dynasties.

But it has never seen anything like the possibility that came into sharp focus Tuesday when Jeb Bush announced on Twitter that he is about to “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.”

That instantly put the former Florida governor at the head of the pack chasing the 2016 Republican nomination.

It also raised the prospect that, for the second time in 24 years, a Bush may be battling a Clinton for the White House. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, is considered the odds-on favorite to get the Democratic nomination should she decide to run, as most expect she will.

A spokesman for Clinton declined comment on Bush’s move with a pointed “No thank you.”

So entrenched are these two families in presidential politics that Americans under the age of 38 have experienced only one national election — 2012 — in which there has been no Bush or Clinton running for president or vice president.

The relationship between the two clans has also been a complicated one — resentful and rivalrous at some points, warm and mutually beneficial at others.

While their famous last names are no doubt an enormous advantage, they carry some downsides, particularly at a time when both the Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a struggle that pits their ideological bases against their more centrist establishment wings.

The Bushes and Clintons “are like enduring franchises in American politics,” said David Axelrod, President Obama’s former chief strategist. “There are also burdens that come from these franchises. You’re not a brand-new car. Even if someone else put the dings in it, you’re still driving it.”

Or as then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush used to joke when he was running for president in 2000: “I inherited half my father’s friends and all his enemies.”

But being a Bush or a Clinton also brings with it instant name recognition, a national network of supporters and access to big money — all of which are more important in politics than ever, at least when it comes to getting a head start.

“I think we tend to become comfortable with what is familiar to us,” said former Ohio congressman and governor Ted Strickland, a Clinton supporter. He keeps a picture in his office of her taken in 1992, when she came to his congressional district to stump for her husband, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, in his first campaign for the White House.

But as Hillary Clinton learned when she made her own bid in 2008, a seemingly invincible front-runner can crumple quickly.

Her campaign was poorly managed. She often came off as wooden. And she found herself at odds with the Democratic base on the prevailing question of the day, having voted in favor of the war in Iraq.

For all of her early advantages, Clinton proved no match for an Illinois senator with a fresh face and an odd, foreign-sounding name who had spoken out early against the invasion of Iraq.

Ahead of 2016, Jeb Bush is likewise at odds with his party’s grass roots on two emotional issues: comprehensive immigration reform and the Common Core academic standards, both of which he favors.

His positions are expected to make it more difficult to win the GOP primary. “I’d be a lot more worried about him if I thought he could survive to April,” said one Clinton friend, who requested anonymity because Clinton has not said she will run.

But if he does get the nomination and “sticks to his guns . . . . he’ll be very formidable” in a November election, Axelrod said. “He’s a pretty authentic guy, and authenticity is a big advantage.”

Bush’s Facebook statement announcing he was “actively exploring” a candidacy seemed like an attempt to simultaneously embrace his legacy and point to the future. He said he would be devoted to “restoring the promise of America,” a phrase that sounded like a campaign slogan in the making.

Dynastic privilege — and the sense of entitlement it evokes — has elicited mixed feelings among Americans all the way back to the founding of the republic. George Washington was so leery of seeming to be like a king that he wore a plain brown broadcloth suit to his first inauguration. He also quashed an early proposal that his official title be “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and the Protector of Their Liberties.”

Nonetheless, the country elected a father and son — John Adams and John Quincy Adams — as its second and sixth president. Since then, there have been periods where family names such as Roosevelt and Kennedy have carried a special weight in U.S. politics.

The relationship between the Bush and Clinton families was a bitter one in the years after Bill Clinton denied George H.W. Bush a second term in the White House in 1992.

Former aides to Clinton said he sometimes fumed privately that the blue-blooded Bushes looked down on him and his modest background. When George W. Bush moved into the White House in 2001, his team accused Clinton’s of vandalizing the place, right down to removing the letter “W” from some computer keyboards.

But George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton developed a personal affection after George W. Bush asked them to team up to raise relief money in the wake of a 2004 tsunami that left more than 165,000 dead in Asia.

“The arrangement also had obvious advantages for both men — and their deeply political families,” Time magazine journalists Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy wrote in “The President’s Club,” a 2012 book about the bonds among former presidents.

“A friendship with the older, steadier Bush conferred a legitimacy on Clinton that he had partly squandered in his final years in office,” Gibbs and Duffy wrote. “For Bush, the political math was just as obvious — and even closer to home: his son, the president, was a divisive figure across the nation and having the spiritual leader of the Democratic Party as a partner made it more likely that the forty-second president would deliver his criticisms of the forty-third in a kinder, gentler fashion.”

Now, once again, the families’ interests have fallen out of sync, because only one of them — or perhaps neither — will be able to claim the title of forty-fifth.

Anne Gearan contributed to this report.

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Death 'All Around Me': Victims Relive Pakistan School Massacre – NBCNews.com

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistan was plunged into mourning Tuesday after Taliban militants in suicide vests laid siege to a school, massacring more than 130 children during eight hours of sheer terror. In total, 145 people were killed, officials said.

Those who survived emerged with stories of horror — of gunmen shooting indiscriminately into crowds or killing youngsters one by one.

“One of my teachers was crying, she was shot in the hand and she was crying in pain,” Shahrukh Khan, 15, who was shot in both legs but survived, told Reuters. “One terrorist then walked up to her and started shooting her until she stopped making any sound.

“All around me my friends were lying injured and dead.”

A military source told NBC News that the attackers were wearing police uniforms and suicide vests.

“They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” he said. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”

The government of Pakistan declared three days of mourning for the lives lost.

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Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a military spokesman, told NBC News that at least 132 children were killed in the attack, along with 10 staff from the school — including the principal. Seven militants were killed and seven special forces soldiers were injured.

“They didn’t take any hostages initially and started firing in the hall,” Bajwa also told a press conference. He told NBC News that they had enough ammunition and rations to have kept up the siege for days.

At a hospital near the school, blood stained the floors. Crying relatives roamed the wards and searched operating rooms, desperately searching for their sons and daughters.

One room at at the Central Military hospital was filled with teenagers who had bullet wounds, shrapnel embedded in their flesh and burns.

A doctor, Brig. Muhammad Waqar, said his son attends the school and he watched with dread as victim after victim was brought in

“I was waiting for him to turn up dead in an ambulance,” he said. “I wanted to grab a gun and go to the school.”

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, which Pakistani officials said appeared to be aimed at the children of senior military personnel.

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Uniformed militants struck shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) when about 1,000 students — in grades one through 10 — and teachers were believed to be inside.

“We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers,” said Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver.

“The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one,” one student who was in the Army Public School in Peshawar at the time told local media.

As the siege continued and Pakistani security forces battled to stop the assault, five “heavy” explosions were heard from the school at around 5 a.m. ET. Bombs planted by the attackers slowed rescue efforts, a military official said, and the massacre was not declared over until after 9 a.m. ET.

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Wounded student Abdullah Jamal told The Associated Press he was getting first-aid instructions and training with a team of Pakistani army medics when the violence began for real. When the shooting started, Jamal said nobody knew what was going on in the first few seconds.

“Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet,” he said, speaking from his hospital bed. He had been shot in the leg.

Hours after all the children had been removed from the school, soldiers angrily roamed the campus.

“It’s interesting that they came through this graveyard,” said one officer, pointing to a cemetery adjacent to the school. “It’s sad. They stepped over the graves of the dead to create more death.”

President Barack Obama slammed the attack and said America stands with the people of Pakistan and its government’s efforts to fight terrorism.

“By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity,” he said in a statement.

As the carnage played out in Peshawar, Pakistan’s military carried out 10 airstrikes in the Khyber region, between Peshawar and the Afghanistan border, based on “actionable intelligence” according to a spokesman.

The Pakistani Taliban has vowed to attack government targets as it fights off a huge army operation in the country’s tribal region.

Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani told Reuters his group was responsible for the attack. “Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel,” he said.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

First published December 15 2014, 11:57 PM

Mushtaq Yusufzai

Mushtaq Yusufzai is a journalist based in Peshawar, Pakistan. Originally from Mardan in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, he began his journalism career in 1999 as a health reporter on the News, a leading English-language daily.

But his professional life was transformed by the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent U.S.-led ousting of the hardline Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

He was always interested in reporting on Pakistan’s tribal areas because he found them to be the most challenging.

He has roved Pakistan’s dangerous tribal belt in the course of his reporting for NBC News since 2004, including mountainous Waziristan. He has risked life and limb – and endured several kidnappings – to get the story from the Taliban and warlords in Pakistan’s dangerous tribal region.

He was the winner of the inaugural Kate Webb award, set up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) to honor the life and career of the legendary foreign correspondent, in 2008.

In 2009, Yusufzai was among the four journalists, out of 400 worldwide, selected for the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship and invited to New York to attend U.N. General Assembly.

The World Health Organization in 2010 and 2011 awarded him with gold medals for investigative journalism in health related to polio. And in 2012, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department gave him a gold medal for best health reporting related to polio in the region.

… Expand Bio

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Can Jeb Bush win Iowa – Politico

The Bush family has had its share of disappointment and elation in Iowa and New Hampshire. George H.W. Bush finished a dismal third in the 1988 Iowa caucuses, before rebounding in New Hampshire.

George W. Bush, however, won the 2000 caucuses, only to get thumped by John McCain in New Hampshire.

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Now, with Jeb Bush’s announcement on Tuesday, a third Bush seems to be preparing to face the demanding voters of the first two states in the presidential selection process, with uncertain expectations. But a chorus of top Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire said that the former Florida governor may be a more formidable contender in the critical early voting states than is widely assumed.

Operatives and politicians from the states that kick off the nominating process agreed that Bush’s moderate stands on immigration and education will pose a challenge with restive conservative activists. But his family’s political network and the sizable bloc of moderates in these states are overlooked factors in Bush’s favor, they said.

“I think Iowans are very open-minded and welcoming people,” GOP Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said in an interview. “He’ll have to answer tough questions, but I wouldn’t rule anything out” in terms of Bush’s chances.

The broad consensus from more than a dozen interviews was that no one should be considered a frontrunner in this field. Several candidates start out with a distinct advantage — Ted Cruz’s popularity with the activist right in Iowa, Rand Paul’s libertarian streak in New Hampshire, Bush’s extensive family network – but none are significant enough to vault a single contender to the front of the pack, they said.

“This is probably the most wide open New Hampshire primary I’ve seen in my 44 years of involvement,” said Steve Duprey, the state’s envoy to the Republican National Committee. “One benefit of a large field with no heir apparent is it gives a number of people a path to winning.”

Duprey, who will stay neutral, said Bush has a path to victory in New Hampshire if independents show up for him. But he also predicted that the state’s primary won’t necessarily have the same winnowing effect it has historically.

“I can come up with a plausible scenario where any one of a dozen candidates can win this primary,” he said. “It may very well be that we have three or four people emerge from New Hampshire: someone does well with social conservatives, someone does well with libertarians [and] someone does well with moderate, more mainstream conservatives.”

Bush emissaries have privately reassured party leaders in the Hawkeye and Granite states that the governor would almost certainly compete for votes in both places if he decides to get in, sources who have spoken with them told POLITICO.

Rudy Giuliani in 2008 and Jon Huntsman in 2012 both tried to ignore Iowa, and their gambits failed. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, someone who Iowans have worried for years might try to bypass them, has also conveyed that he will work to win the state’s caucuses. He took political heat at home last month when he vetoed a bill opposed by Iowa’s powerful agribusiness community and plans another trip to the state next month.

Bush’s announcement on Facebook that he is actively exploring a run for president complicates the early-state calculus for other possible candidates from the establishment wing of the party. In 2012, Mitt Romney benefited immensely from being the clear establishment favorite in both Iowa, which he lost by only a handful of votes, and New Hampshire, where he easily prevailed but with just 39 percent of the vote.

Branstad, the Iowa governor, said he plans to stay neutral to help reassure all the candidates they will get a fair shake from the voters if they invest time and resources in his state. But he acknowledged that he is partial to fellow governors because they need to balance a budget and manage large staffs.

Branstad heaped praise on Bush for improving early childhood reading and economic development in the quintessential swing state of Florida.

“I would certainly welcome him to come early and often,” said Branstad, who easily won a 2010 primary over a hardline conservative opponent without tacking to the right. “He’s got an admirable record for what he did in Florida.”

Branstad went on to offer praise for Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Texas’ Rick Perry, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Indiana’s Mike Pence, Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee and Christie.

Another key factor for Bush is Hillary Clinton’s presumed dominance in the Democratic field. New Hampshire has an open primary, so more moderate independents may choose to vote in the GOP contest instead of a noncompetitive Democratic one. These voters are more likely to favor a Bush candidacy.

“What people miss about New Hampshire right now is that neither race occurs here in a vacuum,” said Republican power broker Tom Rath, a former state attorney general. “If the contest appears to be on the ‘R’ side, independents tend to take Republican ballots. That tends to moderate the Republican electorate…That’s Bush’s territory.”

Bush has told major donors that knows how tough Iowa will be, even reportedly joking that he might get more votes by not traveling there. He’s made clear in public and private comments that he does not want to break to the right in order to win the primary but cost himself the general election in the process.

This is hard but possible, veteran Iowans say.

“There’s a lane for Jeb here,” said a top Iowa Republican operative with presidential campaign experience, granted anonymity to speak freely. “The evangelicals get all the attention … but most Republicans who caucus are mainstream. They want to shake up government, not blow up government.”

Long before his announcement Tuesday, Bush had been doing fundraisers and outreach in the early states. Branstad noted that Bush hosted a fundraiser for him in Florida during this campaign. He also headlined a fundraiser for New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown in Boston this year.

During the federal government shutdown last year, Bush called New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte to praise her for being one of the outspoken “responsible” Republicans trying to bring it to an end.

More recently, sources said, longtime Bush adviser Sally Bradshaw has phoned some key players and met with potential early-state operatives.

Though a lot has changed in the decade since a Bush last appeared on the ballot, the family’s relationships forged during previous campaigns will help in both states. John H. Sununu, a former New Hampshire governor who remains politically active, was White House chief of staff under George H.W. Bush, for example.

Steve Deace, a conservative talk radio host in Des Moines, said he does not think Bush can win the caucuses. But he takes satisfaction in the idea that there will be three or four men competing for the “establishment” mantle, including Christie and perhaps Romney.

“It’ll be fun watching the establishment try to work this out and ruin all their relationships the way we conservatives have for the last 10 years,” he quipped.

Deace believes that Bush has a 25 percent ceiling in the caucuses, assuming he consolidates establishment backing.

“He’s on the wrong side of every issue we’re the angriest about right now,” said Deace.

Likewise, one New Hampshire Republican with presidential campaign experience said that he doesn’t think Bush has any idea what he’s in for. He’s convinced that the former first family doesn’t understand how demeaning the process of seeking the presidency has become since 2000 or 1988, when news cycles are lost to trivialities and Twitter drives the conversation.

“He could totally collapse,” said the operative, who is unaligned with a 2016 campaign. “Everyone’s going to gush about Jeb, but he hasn’t run a competitive race since 2002…He’s smart and credible, but he doesn’t appreciate how conservative the activists are.”

Two war stories illustrate the joys and feats of campaigning in the early-voting states.

Branstad, the Iowa governor, vividly recalls a 20-something Jeb Bush barnstorming the state for his father ahead of the 1980 caucuses, when a comparatively unknown George H.W. Bush was challenging the favored Ronald Reagan.

“I’m painfully aware of it because I was a Reagan supporter,” said Branstad.

Even 34 years later, Branstad is angry at Reagan campaign manager John Sears not just for taking the state for granted – they only did a handful of big rallies – but also for ignoring his messages warning that Bush had momentum.

Bush wound up edging out Reagan 32 percent to 30 percent, which prompted Reagan to fire Sears. The 40th president turned things around in New Hampshire but won the nomination only after a prolonged battle with Bush, who he later picked as his running mate.

“I was not very happy, but the Bushes did prove their ability to do the grassroots,” said Branstad. “That’s a long time ago. Some things change and some things don’t.”

The other lesson that locals advised Jeb Bush to heed is from is the 2000 New Hampshire primary. George W. Bush won Iowa but then lost in New Hampshire to McCain.

Duprey, who was New Hampshire GOP chairman at the time, said Bush ran a campaign focused more on the national media than winning over the grassroots.

“Not every voter in New Hampshire will actually meet you, but they need to get to know you,” said Duprey. “They need to know how you deal with a heckler and with someone who comes up to you in tears because she has a problem no one else has been able to solve. The way you get trust is by hundreds of small interactions.”

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Federal officials say they're close in finding Sony hackers – USA TODAY

Federal officials say they are close to making a determination on the source of the hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

A federal law enforcement officer, who was not authorized to discuss the case on the record, could not say when the determination might come.

The statement Tuesday night came as Sony and the movie industry as a whole considered the possible consequences of an Internet message threatening thousands of movie theaters that will being showing The Interview on Christmas Day.

A message from the Guardians of Peace group posted online on Tuesday warned of a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen the comedy about an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The federal officer also said officials did not believe there was a capacity to pull off such a threat.

Merely the fact that the hackers–whoever they turn out to be–made the threat totally changes the nature of the event, said security expert Philip Lieberman, president of Lieberman Software Corporation.

“Up to now it was about money, revenge, etc. With this posting, the U.S. government can now get involved in a major way,” he said.

The threat of physical violence against theaters also triggers mutual cooperation with other governments. “Frankly, I am surprised that the attackers pulled the trigger on what is a well-known draconian response scenario that pits them now against government assets,” Lieberman said.

Long-time film critic and historian Leonard Maltin was at a loss for words over the latest turn of events in the saga, now entering its fourth week.

“There have been protests over films,” he said. “But I cannot think of threats from an anonymous group like this.”

The hackers’ message warned potential viewers, “We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

“The world will be full of fear,” the message said, adding, “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

It’s unclear whether there is any actual danger, given the lack of information about who originally hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment or who is behind the threats.

In a statement Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said there is currently no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.

The FBI is actively involved in the case, is aware of the threats and “continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate this matter,” spokeswoman Jennifer Shearer said.

Sony has not responded to the new threat.

It was at first suspected that North Korea was responsible for the hacking in retaliation for The Interview’s depiction of an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un. The country has denied involvement, but praised the attacks.

Peter Bart, former editor of Variety and a longtime executive at Paramount Pictures, says it’s unclear how Sony should proceed.

“There are so many levels to this, it’s hard to deal with any kind of intelligent answer on what to do next,” he said. “I have had actors and stars die in the middle of productions. I have had the federal government threaten to do nasty things to me if I released a picture. I have seen a number of phenomena. But I have never anything coming even close to this sort of thing on any level.”

Should Sony pull the movie from distribution, there’s no insurance that would cover withdrawing a film so close to its release date, said Brian Kingman, managing director of Gallagher Entertainment Services in Glendale, California.

“This is uncharted waters.” Kingman said.

Kingman handles insurance for movie productions, but stressed that he is not working with Sony Pictures nor is he fully aware of their insurance situation.

The exact number of theaters a movie will be shown in is not released until several days before it opens, said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Rentrak, which does box office tracking and analysis.

However The Interview is scheduled for a wide release, which would put it in somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 theaters. Given that it’s an R-rated comedy, it will probably open in the neighborhood of between 2,000 to 3,000 theaters, Dergarabedian said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners, is “not commenting at this time,” said spokesman Jackie Brenneman.

Actor Seth Rogen, one of the movie’s co-stars, suspended media appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday in the wake of the threats, said Matt Labov, his representative.

Before he suspended his appearances, he spoke with USA TODAY’s Donna Freydkin on Tuesday. “It’s a little crazy,” he said about the association of his film, The Interview, with a cyber-attack on Sony. .

USA TODAY

Federal officials say they’re close in finding Sony hackers

Calls to Franco’s representative were not immediately returned.

USA TODAY

Sony fights hack damage as new threats emerge

On Monday, Sony CEO Michael Lynton apologized to employees in two town hall meetings for the “criminal attack” they were enduring, saying, “I am incredibly sorry that you had to go through this.”

At the same time, lawyers representing two former Sony Pictures employees filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles. The complaint charged that the studio was negligent by ignoring early warnings that its computer system was prone to attack.

Tuesday’s threatening message was posted to Pastebin, a popular file-sharing site.

Below it were five links leading to caches of Sony files stolen in the original hack attack, which became public Nov. 24. They were titled “The 1st day of Christmas gift: This is the beginning.”

Previous file caches the group has released included lists of Sony employees, passport information for stars, highly embarrassing emails between Sony executives, medical information, an outline of the company’s entire computer network and a wide variety of data

The sheer scope of the hacking is difficult to grasp, say computer experts.

When the hackers made their first postings in late November, they released two text files which they said listed all the files they had stolen.

“Total, it was just shy of 38 million files,” said Michael Sutton, a security researcher with Zscaler, a San Jose, Calif.-based company. The hackers claim to have close to 12 terabytes of data. “That’s about 12,000 DVD’s worth of data,” Sutton said.

Since Nov. 24, they have been slowly doling out caches of stolen files, posting them on peer-to-peer sharing sites.

This makes them impossible to delete or destroy. Peer-to-peer systems are similar to the old Napster in that the files don’t live on any one, central file hosting site. Instead, they are hosted on the desktop and laptop computers of users all over the world..

The links that allow users to find the stored files are called “torrents,” after BitTorrent, a popular sharing site. On Tuesday the hackers posted five new torrents.

Once a file or files are put out into the network of torrent sites, it’s impossible for Sony or anyone to delete all of them. “There’s no way to take it down,” said Sutton. “If you take one down, it’s no big deal because there’s a million more.”

Here’s the full text of Tuesday’s message from the Guardians of Peace:

Warning

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.

Contributing: Bryan Alexander in Los Angeles, Claudia Puig in McLean, Va.

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Funerals Begin for 141 Slain in Taliban Attack on Pakistan School – Voice of America

The first funerals are being held for the victims of a Taliban school massacre in Pakistan on Tuesday that left at least 141 people dead, most of them young students.

Wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives, seven assailants attacked the military-run facility in the northwestern city of Peshawar, shooting children and adults.

Pakistani officials said 132 of the dead were students about 12 to 16 years old. Nine school staff members also died in the siege, which lasted more than eight hours.

A provincial official said more than 120 others were wounded in the assault. VOA Deewa Radio reporter Hameedullah Khan said more than 100 of the wounded were children.

Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, a Pakistan army spokesman, said security forces killed the attackers and saved hundreds of lives in a swift operation after the bloodshed began.

Heavily armed Taliban gunmen entered from the rear of the school “by cutting and crossing the fence,” Bajwa said. “… They entered the auditorium, where all the children were going through an exam, and they started shooting them indiscriminately and they caused the maximum damage in the first 10 minutes of their attack.”

Army commandos responded, killing all seven terrorists, Bajwa said.

The attack on the school, in a highly secured part of Peshawar city, began about 10 a.m. local time and ended around 6.30 p.m. (1330 GMT), police said, according to the French news agency AFP.

Watch related video by VOA’s Jeff Custer:

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Pakistan’s offensive targeting militants in the country’s northwestern tribal region, near the Afghan border.

The area has served as a major sanctuary and training ground for Pakistani and Afghan militants responsible for terrorist attacks on both sides.

Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks.

Sharif, who arrived in Peshawar on Tuesday, said the “government will not be deterred by this barbaric act” and vowed to continue military operations against the militants. He also declared a three-day national mourning period.

Peshawar, Pakistan, site of school shooting, Dec. 16, 2014Peshawar, Pakistan, site of school shooting, Dec. 16, 2014

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Peshawar, Pakistan, site of school shooting, Dec. 16, 2014

Peshawar, Pakistan, site of school shooting, Dec. 16, 2014

Bajwa, the Pakistani military spokesman, said the Taliban gunmen made no demands and started killing children as soon as they entered the building.

“They didn’t take any hostages initially and started firing in the hall,” Bajwa said. But the militants had brought rations for several days, he said in a Reuters report, implying that they may have intended to take students hostage.

Bajwa said on Twitter that explosive devices had been planted by the militants and were hampering clearance efforts.

Doctors said dozens of students were hospitalized, some in critical condition. Authorities in Peshawar appealed for blood donors.

VOA reporter Khan, who was at a Peshawar hospital, said, “A lot of people are donating blood.”

He said parents, rushing to the hospital where the bodies of many of the children were brought, were “weeping. They were beating themselves, there was sorrow.”

Some students rescued

Ahsan Mukhtar, a student rescued by security forces, said, “As soon as the gunfire erupted, our teacher instructed everyone to move to a corner of the room for safety.”

Mukhtar added, “An hour later, when the intensity of the fire reduced, army soldiers arrived to rescue us, and on the way out, we saw bullet-ridden bodies of our schoolmates everywhere.”

Provincial Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said the gunmen were dressed in the uniform of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force.

Although the school enrolls some civilian students, many of its pupils are children of army officials, the Taliban’s intended target, Reuters and The New York Times reported.

Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani told Reuters, “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females.

“We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed.”

World reaction

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack, calling it “an act of horror and rank cowardice to attack defenseless children while they learn.”

Pakistani children’s education advocate and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in a 2012 assassination attempt for her activism, responded to the attacks with resolve.

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar. … Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this. … I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters — but we will never be defeated,” Malala said.

U.S. President Barack Obama said that “by targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity.” Obama added that the U.S. would continue to support Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.

Speaking from London, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the killings an act of terror that “shakes all people of conscience.” 

“The images are absolutely gut-wrenching: Young children carried away in ambulances. A teacher burned alive in front of the students. A house of learning turned into a house of unspeakable horror,” Kerry said.

“Prime Minister Sharif said, ‘These are my children, it is my loss.’ Well, this morning, wherever you live, wherever you are, those are our children. And this is the world’s loss,” the secretary added.

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson expressed solidarity with the country, saying “few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted Tuesday: “The news from Pakistan is deeply shocking. It’s horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.” 

VOA’s Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad. VOA Deewa Radio reporter Hameedullah Khan contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

  • Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who was killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • Pakistani soldiers transport rescued school children from the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • People gather at a hospital, where victims of a Taliban attack are being treated in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • A man comforts his son, who was injured during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • Pakistani parents leave with their children near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • A plainclothes security officer escorts students rescued from nearby school during a Taliban attack in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • A hospital security guard helps a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan,Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • A student cries on a man’s shoulder, after he was rescued from the school that was attacked by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • Pakistani army troops cordon off a road leading to a school under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2014.

  • Relatives of a student, who was injured during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, comfort each other outside Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Dec. 16, 2014.

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Fox News Poll: Romney, Clinton lead potential 2016 presidential pack – Fox News

romneyclinton.jpg

This composite image shows Mitt Romney, left, and Hillary Clinton, right. (Reuters/AP)

Former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney leads the growing pack for the GOP presidential nomination, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains far ahead among Democrats.

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Tuesday.

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Click here for the poll results.

Romney dominates the field for the 2016 Republican nomination. He comes in at 19 percent among self-identified Republicans, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent. No other candidates garner double-digit backing. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul each receive eight percent. Next, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker captures seven percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan each at six percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at five percent. 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (four percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (two percent), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (two percent), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (one percent) and former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum (one percent) each receive the backing of less than five percent of Republicans. 

This is the first time that Fox News has included Romney, Huckabee and Carson in its 2016 national GOP primary ballot test.

“Rumors about Romney running again are likely to get a further boost with these numbers,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson.

Shaw adds, “With Romney and Bush running one and two among GOPers, you wonder if John McCain or Bob Dole want to get in on the action.”

Voters who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement are most likely to back Paul (13 percent), Cruz (12 percent), Romney (11 percent) and Carson (10 percent).

The top choices among white evangelical Christians include Romney (14 percent), Paul (10 percent), Bush (9 percent) and Carson (9 percent).

On the Democratic side, Clinton is still 50 points ahead of her nearest rival — even though support for her is down somewhat from previous polls. Clinton receives the backing of 62 percent of self-identified Democrats. That’s down from 64 percent in July and a high of 69 percent in April. 

The support Clinton has lost since April appears to be going to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who captures 12 percent. That’s up from 9 percent in July — and double the 6 percent she received in April. Vice President Joe Biden comes in close behind at 10 percent. All other possible Democratic candidates tested garner three percent or less. 

“With the field of candidates still growing, the GOP primary holds potential for an extended freewheeling contest,” says Anderson, “while the Democrats continue to track toward an efficient yet boring primary season.”

“At the same time,” Anderson adds, “I remember Clinton looking somewhat inevitable eight years ago too.”

Clinton led the Democratic primary pack with 33 percent to Barack Obama’s 12 percent and Al Gore’s 11 percent in a December 2006 Fox News poll. 

Reminder to readers: the Iowa precinct caucuses are (some say “still,” while others say “only”) about a year away. 

The new poll finds that if the 2016 general election “were held today,” Clinton would top Paul by 11 points, Christie by 12 and Kasich by 16. 

Bush is the only GOP candidate tested in the hypothetical matchups to keep Clinton under 50 percent — and to keep her advantage under double digits. She leads him by just 7 points in a head-to-head matchup (49-42 percent), which makes this the best Bush has performed against Clinton so far. Clinton was up by 13 points in March (51-38 percent).

Independents split their support, 41 percent for Clinton and 38 percent for Bush. 

“One thing about Clinton that stands out is that despite a book, a world tour, numerous controversies and several distinctly different possible opponents, her support hasn’t changed much over the past two years — and doesn’t depend much on who the Republican is,” adds Shaw. “Right now, Clinton is the defining feature of the 2016 race.” 

People think — if they were to run — that Clinton and Bush are more likely to be helped (41 percent) than hurt (30 percent) by being related to previous presidents. Another 16 percent say it’s a mixed bag and 2 percent volunteer that it depends on if they run against each other. 

Bush announced Tuesday that he “will actively explore the possibility of running” for president.

While there’s no gender gap, Democrats (50 percent) are more likely than Republicans (37 percent) and independents (32 percent) to say the Clinton-Bush candidacies would be helped by their family connections. 

What about Clinton’s role in Benghazi? Most people — 63 percent — say if she runs it won’t make a difference to their vote that Clinton was the head of the State Department when the U.S. consulate there was attacked and four Americans died. Among those saying it matters, by a 29-6 percent margin they say Benghazi would make them less likely to vote for her. 

Almost all Democrats, fully 86 percent, say the Benghazi attacks won’t matter to their vote if Clinton runs. For independents, 55 percent say it won’t make a difference, while 36 percent say it would make them less likely to support her. 

Among veterans and those currently serving in the military, 56 percent say Benghazi won’t matter, while for 40 percent it would hurt Clinton’s chances of getting their vote. 

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,043 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from December 7-9, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The results among Democrats and Republicans have an error of plus or minus five points.

Mike Huckabee is the host of “Huckabee” on Fox News Channel.”

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Biden Marks Start of Hanukkah at National Menorah – ABC News

Associated Press

The smell of latkes ? fresh potato pancakes ? wafted over the National Mall on Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden marked the first night of Hanukkah.

On the Ellipse outside the White House, Biden passed a torch to a rabbi who was then lifted high into the air as he lit the national menorah, as a trio of cantors sang traditional Hanukkah songs. Biden told the crowd gathered that Hanukkah is about the miracle of courageous warriors overcoming great odds to protect their people’s culture and dignity.

“Jewish heritage is American heritage,” Biden said.

President Barack Obama, in a statement, said the holiday “brims with possibility and hope,” reminding people that even the most daunting challenges can be overcome.

“May this Hanukkah embolden us to do what is right, shine a light on the miracles we enjoy, and kindle in all of us the desire to share those miracles with others,” Obama said.

Jews mark each of the eight days of Hanukkah by lighting candles on a menorah, or candleholder. The national menorah has been lit in front of the White House every year since 1979, when President Jimmy Carter attended the first lighting.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians. The holiday starts Tuesday evening.

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Jeb Bush's long campaign begins – CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • With early announcement, Bush sets his mark on money and activists
  • Setting his mark, Bush sets up steep climb for Christie
  • Mitt Romney’s shadow still lingers over Bush

(CNN) — The 2016 presidential race isn’t an abstract parlor game anymore.

With a seven-paragraph Facebook post on Tuesday, Jeb Bush instantly transformed the nascent campaign. His decision to “actively explore” a presidential bid accelerates the scramble for donors. It also gives the former Florida governor time to figure out how to overcome suspicion in the Republican base while positioning himself as the establishment candidate in a fragmented field.

The announcement was a big surprise to many beyond Bush’s tight inner circle. Most of the political spotlight has been on Hillary Clinton this year, leaving GOP donors to sit back, hedge their bets and watch the field develop.

Biggest news yet in the race for 2016?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things -- his family and whether he can lift America's spirit. His father and brother formerly served as President.Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things — his family and whether he can lift America’s spirit. His father and brother formerly served as President.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, recently re-elected to a second term, is considered a possible Republican candidate.Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, recently re-elected to a second term, is considered a possible Republican candidate.
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced in 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election, leading to speculation he might mount a second White House bid. Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced in 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election, leading to speculation he might mount a second White House bid.
Mitt Romney probably won't be running for president again in 2016. He has suggested the chances of a third run are close to a million to one. But that hasn't kept some Republicans from encouraging him to enter the race if another legitimate candidate doesn't step up. Ann Romney, for her part, is not excited at the prospect. She told the LA Times Oct. 14th that she and her husband are Mitt Romney probably won’t be running for president again in 2016. He has suggested the chances of a third run are close to a million to one. But that hasn’t kept some Republicans from encouraging him to enter the race if another legitimate candidate doesn’t step up. Ann Romney, for her part, is not excited at the prospect. She told the LA Times Oct. 14th that she and her husband are “done done done” with running for office. Romney is still a draw on the campaign circuit. He is shown here stumping for senate candidate Joni Ernst in Iowa Oct. 11, 2014. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton continues to have an overwhelming lead over other possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidates. Although the former first lady and secretary of state has not said whether she'll run, a group of PACs and advocacy organizations have begun the process of raising money and aiding a hypothetical campaign. Hillary Clinton continues to have an overwhelming lead over other possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidates. Although the former first lady and secretary of state has not said whether she’ll run, a group of PACs and advocacy organizations have begun the process of raising money and aiding a hypothetical campaign.
Vice President Joe Biden has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office -- in 1988 and 2008. A former senator known for his foreign policy and national security expertise, Biden made the rounds on the morning shows recently and said he thinks he'd Vice President Joe Biden has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office — in 1988 and 2008. A former senator known for his foreign policy and national security expertise, Biden made the rounds on the morning shows recently and said he thinks he’d “make a good President.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican rising star from Florida, was swept into office in 2010 on the back of tea party fervor. But his support of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House, has led some in his party to sour on his prospects. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican rising star from Florida, was swept into office in 2010 on the back of tea party fervor. But his support of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House, has led some in his party to sour on his prospects.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has fallen out of the top spot among potential Republican presidential candidates with a political scandal roiling his administration.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has fallen out of the top spot among potential Republican presidential candidates with a political scandal roiling his administration.
Rep. Paul Ryan, a former 2012 vice presidential candidate and fiscally conservative budget hawk, says he's Rep. Paul Ryan, a former 2012 vice presidential candidate and fiscally conservative budget hawk, says he’s “keeping my options open” for a possible presidential run but is not focused on it.
Sen. Rand Paul has said that he was seriously considering a run for president in 2016. If the tea party favorite decides to jump in, he likely will have to address previous controversies that include comments on civil rights, a plagiarism allegation, and his assertion the top NSA official lied to Congress about surveillance.Sen. Rand Paul has said that he was seriously considering a run for president in 2016. If the tea party favorite decides to jump in, he likely will have to address previous controversies that include comments on civil rights, a plagiarism allegation, and his assertion the top NSA official lied to Congress about surveillance.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz plans to travel to states that factor into the early nomination process. The first-term Republican and tea party darling is considered a gifted orator and smart politician. He is best known in the Senate for his marathon filibuster over defunding Obamacare.Texas Sen. Ted Cruz plans to travel to states that factor into the early nomination process. The first-term Republican and tea party darling is considered a gifted orator and smart politician. He is best known in the Senate for his marathon filibuster over defunding Obamacare.
Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley released a Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley released a “buzzy” political video in November 2013 in tandem with visits to New Hampshire. He also headlined a Democratic Party event in South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said recently it's too early to announce whether he'll run. Jindal has said he wants to focus on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said recently it’s too early to announce whether he’ll run. Jindal has said he wants to focus on “winning the war of ideas” before making a decision on his presidential ambitions.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a social conservative, gave Mitt Romney his toughest challenge in the nomination fight last time out and has made trips recently to early voting states, including Iowa and South Carolina. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a social conservative, gave Mitt Romney his toughest challenge in the nomination fight last time out and has made trips recently to early voting states, including Iowa and South Carolina.
Political observers expect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to yield to Hillary Clinton should she run in 2016, fearing there wouldn't be room in the race for two Democrats from the Empire State. Should she not jump in, Cuomo would then be a potential candidate.Political observers expect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to yield to Hillary Clinton should she run in 2016, fearing there wouldn’t be room in the race for two Democrats from the Empire State. Should she not jump in, Cuomo would then be a potential candidate.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
Potential 2016 presidential candidates
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Potential 2016 presidential candidatesPotential 2016 presidential candidates

But Bush’s decision to make a move now — 13 months ahead of the Iowa caucus — speaks to the complicated political decisions facing potential 2016 GOP candidates. They can maintain the coy stance of insisting they haven’t made a decision on running, wait out the calendar and hopefully avoid a long, bruising primary like the one that left Mitt Romney damaged in 2012. Or they can start the work now to capture the staff and donors that can take on the Clinton machine.

Bush chose option B.

After all, many GOP donors and operatives, who have serious doubts about much of the field but remain uneasy about the prospect of a bruising primary, have been waiting for a clear signal from either Bush or Romney, who is being pressured by many of his longtime supporters to make a third presidential run.

Bush, until recently, seemed unsure about confronting the rigors of a race. Charlie Black, who chaired Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential run, said that prompted his potential opponents who were jockeying for establishment-minded donors to raise doubts about his interest in the race — doubts that seemed to motivate Bush to plant a flag.

“Some of the other candidates out there have been competing for some of those dollars and some of those donors — and some of them have been implying here and there that Jeb wasn’t interested,” he said.

READ: 7 things to know about Jeb Bush

Now Bush has signaled he’s serious and can begin to lock down commitments from those donors — making it a tougher race for many of his opponents.

Bush “froze the donor sector of the hidden primary,” said Florida-based Republican strategist Rick Wilson, noting that by stepping one foot into the race so early Bush has created a far steeper climb for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “All those Wall Street donor types who absolutely loved Chris Christie a year and a half ago, and cooled off to him a year ago, are now not returning his phone calls. He’s undisciplined. They kept seeing it over and over again.”

There are grave concerns within the Republican Party about whether Christie can recover from the George Washington Bridge scandal and whether voters will appreciate his bravado. Centrist Republicans view Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul with skepticism, despite his grassroots base and determined drift toward more palatable positions on foreign policy. While Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears to be making all the right moves — enlisting tutors and meeting with activists—he has yet to convince the party faithful that he can pick up the pieces from his disastrous 2012 run. Other potential candidates like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have intrigued Republican voters, but still have a long way to go before demonstrating they can command the field.

Al Cardenas, a close Bush family ally and GOP lobbyist, said he doesn’t believe Romney will run if Bush becomes the clear frontrunner in the race.

“I’ve spoken with Mitt Romney, who I consider to be a great friend and a great leader, about 2016, and I’ve always been under the assumption if people he trusts like Jeb Bush decide to run that he would not decide to do that,” he said.

WATCH: Bush 45?

But other operatives close to Romney said Tuesday they did not think Bush’s decision would foreclose a Romney run. That could create a situation where donors remain on the sidelines well into the spring to avoid choosing sides. Though the two men have expressed mutual admiration for one another, they are not close.

By announcing the formation of a leadership PAC and signaling his intentions so early, Bush at once acknowledged his considerable advantages and vulnerabilities — including his positions on immigration and education reforms — as he mulls a final decision. He comes to the race with a committed core of donors, who date back to his father and brother’s bids for the White House, and his allies have been building the Bush 2016 finance team now for several months.

Bush’s establishment of a leadership PAC — a step that falls well short of a formal exploratory committee — will also allow him to travel freely to early primary states to test the length of his brother’s shadow on his potential presidential campaign. Fatigue from the Bush years, stemming from the expansion of federal spending and the U.S. military entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a huge drag on Republicans in 2006 and 2008.

But George W. Bush’s favorability ratings have rebounded since they hit their low of 32% in April 2008, according to polling by Gallup. Earlier this year, a Gallup survey showed that 53% of American voters now view George W. Bush favorably. Former President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings in that survey—63%— were just a point shy of the high marks given to former President Bill Clinton.

Still some Republicans did not mince words on Tuesday about the drawbacks of the Bush name.

“I can’t see the country electing another Bush,” Sen Tom Coburn told reporters off the Senate floor. “I love Jeb Bush — I think he’s a nice guy. I just can’t see it.”

“There are still hard feeling about George W.,” Coburn continued. “So you start out with a negative – (because) you’ve got the wrong last name. If he didn’t have that last name he’d be a pretty good candidate.”

Still, there is a large cadre of former Bush donors who backed Romney in 2012, and the former Florida Governor now can test their willingness to come back into the fold — even as a Romney run hangs as a possibility.

Of equal importance, Bush now has a long lead time to confront the most formidable challenge facing his bid: winning over core Republican activists in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina who vehemently disagree with his moderate stance on immigration reform and his support for Common Core educational standards.

He signaled his strategy on that front — and the fact that he will not be cowed by activists hostile to his bid — during a Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting earlier this month when he said that the GOP presidential nominee shouldn’t “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.”

By giving himself a year to begin the courtship of activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early states, former New Hampshire GOP committeeman Tom Rath said, Bush “is taking these issues on and letting them play out — and they typically lose a lot of their punch when they are played out and discussed over time… This gives a lot of time to let the air go out of some of those balloons.”

“If you look at the race basically as geography, he defines a very important part of that geography: the center-right governing conservative spot on the map,” added Rath, who supported Romney in 2008 and 2012, “and that typically is the person that we nominate.”

Longtime Iowa political observer Craig Robinson, said Bush’s announcement caught many Republican activists in Iowa off guard because he has spent so little time there, but it was viewed Tuesday as a wise move.

“He needs a longer period of time to communicate to people where he is on education. He’s going to have to explain what he wants to happen on immigration,” said Robinson, former political director of the Iowa GOP and editor of the Iowa Republican, a website. “There’s really only one spot for an establishment candidate in Iowa…. And it’s as wide open as it’s ever been.”

Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist, noted that Bush’s early decision will allow him to lock down staff with expertise in those key states, who can begin the easing the concerns of activists in earnest — highlighting his conservative record as governor of Florida and tackling questions about his current positioning on education and immigration.

“Every single candidate has an ‘oppo’ book with their name on the front cover,” Madden said. “The difference between those candidates winning and losing is the team you put together and the strategy that you execute to overcome many of those vulnerabilities and put yourself in a position to win.”

New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte hinted at the difficulty of that spade work ahead for Bush and all of the 2016 candidates in an interview Tuesday.

“He hasn’t really been to New Hampshire yet,” she said when asked about Bush’s announcement. “I don’t care who you are, you have to do the hard work in New Hampshire…. Obviously, coming into it with the Bush name, he’ll have name recognition. But I think everyone will get an open vetting in New Hampshire.”

CNN’s Chris Moody, Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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Pakistan Taliban Attack on Peshawar School Leaves 145 Dead – New York Times

Slide Show | Scores Killed in Taliban Attack on Pakistani School The attack in Peshawar killed at least 145 people, more than 100 of them children.
By ISMAIL KHAN and SALMAN MASOOD
December 16, 2014

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani Taliban gunmen stormed into a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing scores of teachers and schoolchildren and fighting an eight-hour gun battle with the security forces, officials said.

At least 145 people were dead by the time the last of nine attackers was killed, government officials and medical workers said.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban confirmed that his group was responsible for the attack and said it was in retaliation for the military’s offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal district.

The militants’ assault started at about 10 a.m., when nine gunmen disguised as paramilitary soldiers climbed the rear wall of the Army Public School and Degree College, a school of about 2,500 pupils, including boys and girls, a senior security official said.

The attackers stormed through the school, lobbing hand grenades and indiscriminately shooting. In a chilling echo of the Beslan school siege in Russia in 2004, some of the worst violence occurred in the school’s main auditorium, where an army instructor had been giving children first aid lessons, officials and students said.

Interactive Feature | Reactions on Twitter

“We were in the education hall when militants barged in, shooting,” said Zeeshan, a student, speaking at a hospital. “Our instructor asked us to duck and lay down and then I saw militants walking past rows of students shooting them in the head.”

Mushtaq Ghani, the information minister for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, confirmed that most of the victims had been killed by gunshots to the head.

As Pakistani security forces responded, some of the attackers blew themselves up while others were killed by members of the army’s Special Service Group commando unit.

Desperate parents, meanwhile, rushed to local hospitals or gathered outside the school gates seeking news of their children. One of them, Muhammad Arshad, described his relief after his son Ehsan was rescued by army commandos.

“I am thankful to God for giving him a second life,” he said.

But at the Combined Military Hospital, the bodies of schoolchildren were lined up on the floor, most of them with single gunshot wounds to the head.

A 7-year-old student, Afaq, said militants had entered his classroom and immediately started shooting. “They killed our teacher,” he said, breaking down in tears.

“These attackers were not in the mood to take hostages,” a security official said. “They were there to kill and this is what they did.”

Some students managed to flee. Television coverage showed panic-stricken pupils in green sweaters and blazers, the school uniform, being evacuated from the compound. Others were wounded and were taken to another hospital in the area, Lady Reading, where parents also gathered looking for news of their children.

Lady Reading Hospital later published a list of students known to have died; many of the dead have not yet been identified.

By late afternoon, the army said it had cleared three sections of the school compound and that troops were pushing through the remaining sections. After the last of the militants was killed, officials said, soldiers were sweeping the compound for explosives.

Map | Area of School Attack

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Peshawar, where the authorities declared three days of mourning. Mr. Sharif announced an emergency meeting of all political parties in the city for Wednesday. In a statement, the foreign ministry said it was “deeply shocked” by the attack but that the government was undeterred in its fight against the Taliban.

“These terrorists are enemies of Pakistan, enemies of Islam and enemies of humanity,” the statement said.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, called the attack “deeply shocking” and said it was “horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Richard G. Olson, said the United States “stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan.”

And Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education campaigner from northwestern Pakistan who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony last week, said she was “heartbroken by this senseless and coldblooded act of terror.”

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” Ms. Yousafzai said in a statement. “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters — but we will never be defeated.”

The Army Public School in Peshawar is part of a network of schools that the military operates in garrison towns and major cities across Pakistan. Students from army families have preferential access, but many of the students and teachers in the schools come from civilian backgrounds.

The assault came at a time of political turbulence in Pakistan. The opposition politician Imran Khan, whose party controls the provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, has been staging protest rallies in major cities in a bid to unseat Mr. Sharif, claiming that Mr. Sharif’s supporters rigged the 2013 elections.

Mr. Khan has criticized army operations in the tribal areas and called on the government to negotiate with the militants instead of fighting them, a stance that has attracted wide criticism.

The Pakistani Taliban, always a loose and chaotic coalition of militant groups, have come under increased pressure this year because of internal frictions and the military’s continuing operation in North Waziristan, which started in June following an audacious attack on the Karachi airport.

The military says that the offensive, officially known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, has resulted in the death of 1,800 militants and cleared much of North Waziristan, the region’s most notorious hub of militant activities.

Still, the school attack on Tuesday demonstrated that the Taliban remain willing and able to strike at vulnerable civilian targets.

Correction: December 16, 2014

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of an offensive by Pakistan’s military. It is Operation Zarb-e-Azb, not Zab-e-Azb.

Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud contributed reporting from Peshawar, and Declan Walsh from London.

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'Oh God, it's Mom': Political brothers hear from mother live on C-SPAN – Today.com

parents

Terri Peters TODAY contributor

45 minutes ago

When political pundits Brad and Dallas Woodhouse appeared on C-SPAN Tuesday morning to discuss bipartisanship and the political divide in the U.S. with host Steven Scully, the brothers say they had no idea that they’d be receiving an on-air phone call from their mother.

“You’re right I’m from down south — and I’m your MOTHER,” Joyce Woodhouse said on the show after Scully announced her as a caller from North Carolina.

“Oh God, it’s Mom,” Dallas responded, putting his head in his hands.

Joyce says she called into the show as an attempt to keep the peace during next week’s Christmas holiday, when her boys and their families will be visiting her for an entire week.

“They’re not usually together that long. I know they’ll have shopping to do and they’ll keep busy, but I called in to tell them that I’d like some peace and quiet,” said Joyce, who recalls her boys’ early interest in politics with great fondness.

“Brad liked watching Walter Cronkite at five years old. We raised them taking trips to political places. They were just brought up to believe in government and to study history. I even took them with me to vote when they were little — until they started running their mouths about who I was voting for,” Joyce told TODAY.

It’s that tendency to “run their mouths” that Joyce says prompted her to call into C-SPAN. While on the air, she told her sons she’d like the gift of a quiet holiday.

IMAGE: Woodhouses

frontrunnervideo.com/woodhouse-d

The Woodhouse brothers are featured in a new documentary, but joke that their mother is the film’s real star.

“I was very glad this Thanksgiving was the year that you both were supposed to go to your in-laws,” she said. “I’m hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas. I would really like a peaceful Christmas, and I love you both.”

Joyce says that in spite of her request, she’s sure there will be arguing and chaos around her table this holiday season, but that she’s learned to take it all in stride.

“They both really believe in it. They’re passionate and they have a good work ethic. I appreciate that about them and I just try to appreciate both of them and not get into the middle of their disagreements — there’s no use trying,” she said.

The Woodhouses are stars of a recently released documentary, titled “Woodhouse Divided,” in which filmmakers follow the two brothers through their work on very differing ends of the political spectrum.

Dallas says they often joke that their mom is the real star of the film, recalling a scene where Joyce talks about rocking her infant sons together in the same chair, and not knowing how they turned out so different as adults.

IMAGE: Woodhouses

frontrunnervideo.com/woodhouse-d

Joyce Woodhouse told her sons she’d like a quiet Christmas, but she’s pretty sure that’s not happening.

“She’s raised passionate people who believe in something. She can’t walk away from us now that we’re in our forties,” Dallas told TODAY.

Joyce says she has no plans of “walking away” from her three children and eight grandchildren, and offers some advice to families facing argumentative relatives this holiday season.

“I try to keep my mouth shut and let them both believe that I agree with them. I do agree with Brad more than I do Dallas, but they don’t know that.” said Joyce.

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