Blog Posts by Joel Roberts, Yahoo! News

  • Monday in politics: The return of gun control, ‘fiscal cliff’ progress, and more

    Washington returns to work Monday for the first time since Friday's school shooting in Connecticut and a major new issue — or, more accurately,  an old one long deemed too politically hot to touch — may be on the agenda.

    While President Obama didn't directly address gun control in his emotional speech Sunday night at a vigil in Newtown, Conn., he did vow to wield "whatever power this office holds" to prevent similar tragedies, a suggestion that his administration might be ready to tackle the politically treacherous topic.

    Democratic lawmakers, as well as independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, went farther, calling for a ban on military-style assault weapons and the establishment of a national commission on mass shootings.

    "I think we could be at a tipping point ... a tipping point where we might actually get something done," said New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

    Expect the gun-control rhetoric to heat up in the days and weeks to come; whether

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  • Weekend in politics: ‘Cliff’ talks, Rice, Russia, and more

    The good news on Friday morning is that President Obama and House Speaker Boehner met for 50 minutes at the White House last night in an effort to jump-start their stalled negotiations on the fast-approaching "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.

    The bad news is their discussions, though characterized by both sides as "frank," reportedly failed to yield any signs of progress. As Yahoo! News White House correspondent Olivier Knox points out, a "frank" discussion is diplomatic-speak for "an argument."

    Boehner plans to return to his home state of Ohio for the weekend and no further talks with the president are scheduled at this point.

    In non-fiscal cliff news, President Obama will sign into law a Russian trade and human rights bill Friday morning that opens new export opportunities for U.S. firms. A section of the bill that would punish Russian officials who commit alleged human rights violations has angered Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Later, President Obama meets privately

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  • Weekend in politics: ‘Fiscal cliff,’ football, shaving, and more

    There's some reason Friday for optimism in the ongoing "fiscal cliff" negotiations — at least, optimism that the two sides will actually sit down and negotiate about the potentially devastating tax increases and spending cuts that will automatically take effect in January if no deal is reached.

    While no formal discussions have been scheduled, both the White House and congressional Republicans hinted Thursday that they have resumed low-level private talks aimed at breaking the impasse. Spokesmen for President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner both suggested, in nearly identical words, that the "lines of communication were open."

    A day after President Obama visited with a middle-class family in northern Virginia to highlight the impact of "going over the cliff," Vice President Joe Biden plans a similar meeting Friday with an as yet undisclosed group of middle-class Americans.

    In non-fiscal cliff news, President Obama will sign the Child Protection Act, aimed at protecting victims of

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  • Thursday in politics: Approaching the ‘cliff’ and lighting the tree

    Washington moves another day closer to the "fiscal cliff" with no resolution in sight.

    No face-to-face meetings between the White House and Republican leaders are scheduled for today to work on a deal to avert the potentially devastating spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect in January if Congress fails to act.

    President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner did speak by telephone on Wednesday, raising hopes that negotiations could begin again soon.

    On Thursday, the president will meet with a middle-class family in a northern Virginia suburb to highlight the importance of resolving the fiscal cliff dispute.

    [Want to get a daily update of what's happening in politics delivered right to your inbox? Sign up for our Daily Ticket newsletter]

    The president's chief negotiator, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, indicated Wednesday that the administration was sticking to its guns and was "absolutely" prepared to go "over the cliff" if Republicans won't accept tax hikes on

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  • Final polls: Too close to call

    Romney and Obama spar at the second presidential debate. (AP/Shannon Stapleton)Four major national polls out Sunday show that just two days before the election, the presidential race is a virtual tie.

    The final CNN/ORC International survey has the race dead even, with 49 percent backing President Barack Obama and 49 percent supporting Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

    A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground tracking poll also shows the contest deadlocked at 48 percent.

    Two other surveys show Obama with a narrow 1-point edge: The final NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama leading Romney, 48-47 percent; while the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll has the president ahead, 49-48 percent.

    A fifth poll, from the Pew Research Center, gives Obama a 3-point advantage, 50-47 percent.

    Read More »from Final polls: Too close to call
  • Report: GOP platform to again call for abortion ban

    Amid the controversy over Republican Rep. Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape" and abortion comes word that the Republican Party platform will again call for outlawing abortion without specifying an exception for cases of rape or incest.

    According to draft language of the platform obtained by CNN, the GOP will voice its support for a "human life amendment" to the Constitution.

    "Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the draft platform states. "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

    The source who provided the information to CNN cautioned that the platform is still in draft form and will have to be approved by the full platform committee and by delegates to next week's

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  • Approval of Congress falls to all-time low

    A view of Capitol Hill in Washington. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)A view of Capitol Hill in Washington. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

    Just 10 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, tying the lowest mark in the 38 years the poll has been conducted.

    That number was previously reached this past February, but bounced back a bit in subsequent months.

    Eighty-three percent of Americans disapprove of Congress, the poll shows.

    Gallup says Congress' approval rating is down among all political groups and is nearly the same among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

    Approval of Congress hasn't topped 20 percent since June 2011, according to Gallup.

    Why are Congress' ratings so low? Gallup suggests the struggling economy and divided control of Congress, with a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, may be factors.

    It may also have something to do with the fact that Congress is on pace, according to USA Today, "to make history with the least productive legislative year in the post World War II era."

    Of the 3,914 bills that have

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  • Chris Christie to deliver GOP convention keynote

    Chris Christie (Mel Evans/AP)Chris Christie (Mel Evans/AP)

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been selected to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention later this month in Tampa.

    Christie told USA TODAY in an interview posted on the newspaper's website early Tuesday morning that his speech will focus more on making the case for electing Mitt Romney than on bashing President Obama.

    The tough-talking first-term governor said he's been "grinding away" on the speech in the past few days since Romney contacted him about the highly coveted convention role.

    [Political junkie? Sign up for the Yahoo! News Daily Ticket newsletter today]

    "I'll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we're in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them," Christie said.

    Party leaders will officially announce the decision later Tuesday.

    In a statement obtained by New Jersey's Star Ledger newspaper, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said

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  • Poll: Race for White House remains tight in 3 key states

    Obama and Romney. (Carolyn Kaster, Evan Vucci/AP Photo)Obama and Romney (AP Photo)

    President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain locked in a tight race in the key swing states of Colorado, Wisconsin, and Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released early Wednesday.

    Obama leads by 49-45 percent in Virginia and 51-45 percent in Wisconsin, while Romney has a 50-45 percent advantage in Colorado.

    Obama won all three states in the 2008 election.

    The poll results "highlight the stubborn divisions of this year's presidential race among two of the most important voting groups in the most hotly contested states," namely white working-class voters and women.

    The Times says Romney has been able to withstand Democratic efforts to portray him as an "out-of-touch elitist" and is so far maintaining  "the traditional — and sizable — Republican advantage" with white working-class voters.

    Obama, meanwhile, has fought off Republican attempts to weaken his popularity with women, and "is holding on to their crucial support in most

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  • First GOP convention speakers announced

    Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are among the first speakers named for this month's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

    [Related: Romney raises $101 million in July]

    The list, which was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times and later confirmed by the Associated Press, also includes four current GOP governors: Florida's Rick Scott, South Carolina's Nikki Haley, Ohio's John Kasich and New Mexico's  Susana Martinez.

    The keynote speaker and other headliners will be announced closer to the Aug. 27-30 convention, where Mitt Romney will officially become the party's 2012 presidential nominee.

    "Ours will be a world-class convention, worthy of the next president of the United States, and these speakers — and those that will be announced later — will help make it a truly memorable and momentous event," RNC chairman Reince Priebus said.

    [Related: Obama's coming -- close the beach!]

    Noticeably missing from Sunday's list of

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