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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney's loss at the Utah state party convention on Saturday is the latest example of an even bigger problem for Republicans – the conservative influence in key Senate primaries and the nasty fights that could hamper GOP attempts to have a strong majority in the upper chamber next year.The enthusiasm on the right has, in some past contests, led to a more conservative general election candidate who failed to win in November.Republicans cite those examples off the top of their heads: Christine O’Donnell in Delaware who will forever be identified with a 2010 ad in which she declared “I’m not a witch”; Todd Atkin in Missouri who in 2012 said victims of "legitimate rape" very rarely become pregnant; and Roy Moore in Alabama’s December special election, who vehemently denied multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.“Getting the right candidate out of the primary often makes the difference between winning and losing the general election. It’s absolutely critical,” said GOP strategist Whit Ayres.The most dedicated voters on both sides – the more conservative and the more liberal – tend to vote in primary elections, especially in the midterms, which can skew the results in competitive contests.“The machine is empowered” in midterms, said associate professor Thomas Whalen, an expert on political parties at Boston University.“Republican voters now are older and whiter – that’s what they’re skewing. Increasingly kind of more rural and country – non-urban,” he added. “They are reliable. They will go to the polls.”And those voters, who helped put Donald Trump into office, tend to veer right when it comes to picking their nominee.It’s a problem on the mind of Republicans as they look to bolster their razor-thin majority in the Senate amid growing concerns Democrats could retake the House.With a two-seat majority and Sen. John McCain battling cancer in Arizona, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs all the votes he can get.And, if the Senate is expected to serve as a counterbalance to a potential Democratically-controlled House next year, the pressure is on the party to perform in November.The GOP leader has overseen some close Senate votes in the past few weeks: Jim Bridenstine was narrowly confirmed to be the next National Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake held back his consent before finally voting yes.And when Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declared he was a “no” on secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo, McConnell needed a Democrat to help him get Pompeo over the line. He lucked out and got two and then Paul decided to support Pompeo, but the next vote may not turn out as well for the GOP.Fortunately for McConnell and the party, the math for 2018 favors the GOP. Republicans are only defending eight seats this cycle to the Democrats’ 24 and 10 of those Democratic contests are in states Donald Trump won in 2016.But the key for the GOP will be getting the right candidate, especially in red states like West Virginia and Arizona, which have competitive GOP primaries in the coming months.
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  • Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than two centuries after his death, Alexander Hamilton is finally getting a law degree.Douglas Hamilton, the fifth-great-grandson of the nation's first treasury secretary, will be accepting the honorary degree from Albany Law School at the school's May 18 graduation ceremony."We use degrees to recognize achievements, and he was an outstanding lawyer," Douglas Hamilton, 67, told ABC News. "He never graduated from college, and he taught himself the law."Hamilton practiced and studied law in the Albany area, said Douglas Hamilton, who lives outside of Columbus, Ohio."Alexander Hamilton's ties to the Albany area are significant," Alicia Ouellette, president and dean of Albany Law School, said in a statement. "He wrote Federalist #1 while traveling between Albany and New York City.""By conferring this degree," she added, "we are acknowledging his impact on the Capital Region and New York's legal community."Hamilton wrote the majority of the Federalist Papers and served as colonel to George Washington during the Revolutionary War."You can understand how proud we are that we have an ancestor that played such a significant role in a lot of things," Douglas Hamilton said.Hamilton also married Elizabeth Schuyler in Albany, where his in-laws lived. Hamilton would stay with the Schuyler family when his legal work brought him to New York's high courts in the state capital. He was admitted to the bar by 1783."Laws have changed so much since Hamilton was around," added Douglas Hamilton, who said he's excited to talk with members of Albany Law School's graduating class about their legal pursuits. "Having an ancestor that was instrumental in creating the law, making sure that it survives is the most important thing. The young people are the future and they are going to set the direction for our country."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved
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  • Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized just a week after his wife, Barbara Bush, died."President Bush was admitted to the Houston Methodist Hospital [Sunday] morning after contracting an infection that spread to his blood," the former president's office said in a statement Monday night. "He is responding to treatment and appears to be recovering."Barbara Bush died last Tuesday at the age of 92, passing away shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.George H.W. Bush was by her side as she died. He was "broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years," according to a statement from Jean Becker, chief of staff at the former president's office. "He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth."In January 2017, George H.W. Bush and his wife were hospitalized at the same time. She was being treated for bronchitis and the nation's 41st president was being treated for pneumonia.
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  • Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte arrived at the White House Monday evening to the pomp and circumstance typical of a state visit, the choreography of which he is expected to balance against a delicate diplomatic effort to persuade President Donald Trump to remain in the Iran nuclear deal.Macron, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel are making back-to-back visits with the president this week in a last-minute lobbying push to prevent the president from potentially sabotaging the agreement.While Trump turned on a major charm offensive with lavish pageantry as soon as the Macrons touched down in Washington for Trump's first state visit, it's unclear if that will result in any movement in his commitment not to sign an upcoming May 12 waiver of sanctions against Iran without significant changes implemented by Congress.In an interview over the weekend on CBS' "Face the Nation," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that if the sanctions are implemented against Iran's economy, then the country would be forced to consider a number of "not pleasant" options."We have put a number of options for ourselves," Zarif said. "And those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at much greater speed our nuclear activities."Macron separately appeared on Fox News over the weekend where he said the president runs the risk of Iran rebooting its nuclear program in a manner comparable to North Korea's own activity which over the past year has thrown the region to the brink of crisis."I don't have any plan B for nuclear against Iran," Macron said. "That's why I just want to say, on nuclear, let's preserve a framework because it's better than a North Korean type of situation."The intricacies of the Iran deal seemed far from the agenda Monday evening, with the Macrons pulling up a White House north driveway lined with military members and flags of every state. The Trumps greeted them at the entrance to the West Wing, Macron trying to give the president the standard French double air-kiss while Trump appeared to try to make conversation.The foursome then made their way to the South Lawn, where the two leaders ceremoniously planted a sapling, a gift from the Macrons, that according to the first lady's office was grown in Belleau Wood, the site of a landmark battle during World War I in which more than 9,000 American Marines perished.As they posed with the tree, shovels in hand, President Trump could be heard responding to a pool reporter's repeated shouts of "Pompeo?" by thanking Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who hours earlier had announced that he would drop his opposition and vote in favor of CIA director Mike Pompeo to become secretary of state, despite his concerns about Pompeo's positions on U.S. involvement in foreign wars."He never let me down," Trump said of Paul over the drone of the Marine One presidential helicopter, which then whisked the leaders and their spouses to George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation in nearby Virginia for a private dinner.Before they departed the White House, the president gave the Macrons a tour of the Oval Office, which Macron then posted on his Facebook page. Trump can be heard on the video expressing disbelief that the French president had not previously visited the Oval Office. He also showed off the office's Resolute Desk, noting that it was the same desk John F. Kennedy, Jr., peered out of in an iconic photo with his father, President John F. Kennedy.The president also noted the secure phone which he pointed out he uses to call Macron."It’s supposed to be the latest and greatest but who knows nowadays?" Trump said.After his two days of meetings with President Trump, Macron will have the opportunity to make a similar pitch on the Iran deal to lawmakers as he makes an address to a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday.Even as both U.S. and French officials say there's no expectation that a final decision will be re
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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In her first press briefing since President Donald Trump returned from a week in Palm Beach, Fla., press secretary Sarah Sanders Monday addressed a head-scratching tweet about immigration policy from the president last week, as several reporters tried to figure out what he meant.Several reporters asked what Trump meant by “breeding concept” in relation to sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement efforts.“The president has recognized that this is a major problem, and a lot of people, even in California, want to see the issue of sanctuary cities addressed and the president is doing what he can to do that,” Sanders explained.But a reporter noted that the term “breeding” evokes animals procreating – a notion that Sanders appeared to reject.“I'm not going to begin to think what you think,” she said, adding that while the word “breeding” can mean “a lot of things,” the president was talking about what she called a growing problem in California and other states with so-called sanctuary cities.“I don't have anything else to add,” Sanders said.“HARD TO CLOSE THE DOOR” ON POTENTIAL PARDON FOR MICHAEL COHENSanders gave a less-than-categorical response when asked whether or not President Trump would pardon his longtime adviser Michael Cohen as a way potentially to block him from cooperating with federal officials investigating him.“It’s hard to close a door on something that hasn't taken place,” she said during the briefing.Earlier Monday, Sanders was asked about the president’s weekend tweet dismissing the notion that Cohen might “flip” on him.Sanders denied the president was suggesting that there might be wrongdoing on the president’s part that Cohen could actually reveal if he were to cooperate with federal investigators.“No, I don't think the president has anything to hide,” Sanders said. “I think he’s been quite clear on that.”NO SANCTIONS RELIEF FOR NORTH KOREA WITHOUT 'ACTIONS' TO DENUCLEARIZEABC’s Jonathan Karl pressed Sanders over whether the president, ahead of his potential sit-down with Kim Jong Un, would accept anything short of “complete denuclearization” before the lifting of any sanctions against North Korea.“Certainly no sanctions lifted until we see concrete actions taken by North Korea to denuclearize,” Sanders said.Sanders also sought to explain the president’s tweet over the weekend claiming North Korea “agreed to denuclearization” while the U.S. has given up nothing. She referred to a recent statement from South Korean President Moon who spoke of North Korea recently expressing “a will for complete denuclearization.”
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