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Alex Wong/Getty Images(RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.) -- President Obama has announced his intent nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead in Texas on Saturday.

"These are responsibilities that I take seriously as should anyone," Obama said of his constitutional power to nominate in the case of a vacancy. "They are bigger than any one party."

The move sets up a major political battle in the president's final year in office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Saturday that Scalia's seat should not be filled until the American people elect a new president.

In a statement released this evening, McConnell said: "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."

Senate Democrats were just as adamant that Obama should nominate a new justice, and said they will attempt to keep Republicans from dragging out the confirmation process.

"It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential constitutional responsibilities."

Without Scalia, the court is evenly divided between four conservative and four liberal justices, which could make the leaning of Scalia's replacement a key to court decisions.

The president didn’t directly address McConnell’s statement, saying the day should be used to remember Scalia, a "larger than life" figure who "dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy -- the rule of law."

Following his statement, the president issued a proclamation ordering flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Scalia.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top Senate Republicans said the Senate should not confirm President Obama's nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, setting off a charged political battle in Washington amidst the 2016 presidential race.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President," Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in a statement Saturday.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, seconded McConnell's thinly-veiled threat to block President Obama's choice to replace the conservative justice, who died of natural causes Saturday in West Texas.

"Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this President, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice," Grassley said in a statement.

An aide to Grassley did not say whether the Iowa senator would schedule committee hearings for President Obama's eventual nominee.

Democrats bristled at the suggestion that Republicans would keep President Obama from filling the vacancy on the nation's highest court.

"The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The President and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court," said Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

President Obama said Saturday he intends to put forward a replacement for Scalia.

"These are responsibilities that I take seriously as should anyone," President Obama said of his constitutional power to nominate in the case of a vacancy. "They are bigger than any one party."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in South Carolina that the president must "find consensus" in a nominee in order to have Scalia's seat filled before he leaves office, and criticized Democrats for changing Senate rules to prevent filibusters of executive office and federal judicial nominees.

"They’re not going to get ... an appointment to the Supreme Court unless they find consensus. They better find it," Graham said.

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ABC News(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- The death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79 on Saturday prompted a moment of silence and the very first question at the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.

Donald Trump was asked, if he were president, whether it would be an “abdication” of responsibility not to nominate a replacement Supreme Court justice with nearly a year left in his term -- the exact situation President Obama faces now.

“If I were president now, I would certainly want to try and nominate a justice,” Trump said. “And I'm sure that, frankly, I'm absolutely sure that President Obama will try and do it.”

But Trump added that he hoped the GOP-controlled Senate would be able to delay Obama’s attempt to replace Scalia.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich argued that Obama should not move forward and instead let the next president decide who should replace Scalia.

“The country is so divided right now, and now we're going to see another partisan fight taking place,” Kasich said. “I really wish the president would think about not nominating somebody.”

However, if Obama were to nominate someone, Kasich said he should “pick somebody that is going to have unanimous approval and such widespread approval across the country that this could happen without a lot of recrimination.”

Sen. Marco Rubio said President Obama should not appoint a replacement.

“And it’s not unprecedented,” he said. “In fact It's been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice.”

Carson was asked by moderator John Dickerson of CBS News: “What does the constitution say about whose duty it is here to act in this kind of a situation?”

“The constitution actually doesn't address that particular situation,” Carson answered.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was asked whether, if elected, he would have a “litmus test” for whom to nominate to the high court.

“Not on specific issues,” Bush said, adding: “The simple fact is the next president needs to appoint someone with a proven conservative record, similar to Justice Scalia.”

Sen. Ted Cruz called on the U.S. Senate to “stand strong” when President Obama nominates a replacement for Scalia as the president said Saturday he intends to do.

“We're not gonna give up the U.S. Supreme court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee,” Cruz said.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current 9-member Supreme Court, died Saturday at age 79.

Here are five things to know about Justice Scalia.

When Was He Appointed to the Supreme Court?

Scalia was nominated to the court by President Reagan and took his seat on Sept. 26, 1986.

What Was Scalia Known for in His Legal Interpretation of the US Constitution?

As a member of the Supreme Court's conservative wing, Scalia was known for his "textualist" position regarding the U.S. Constitution -- that is, sticking close to the literal wording of the founding fathers in interpreting its meaning.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 1996, noted Saturday the impact Scalia had on the judiciary.

"As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism," Cruz said in a statement on Facebook. "And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights."

What Were His Opinions of Some of the Most Controversial Legal Decisions in Recent History?

When it came to the topic of abortion, Scalia argued that there is no constitutional right to abortion. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion: "The States may, if they wish, permit abortion on demand, but the Constitution does not require them to do so. The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting."

In the landmark Supreme Court decision in June 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Scalia blasted the majority opinion, calling it a "judicial Putsch" and a "threat to American democracy."

What Were Scalia's Appointments Before the Supreme Court?

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Scalia was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. He also served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974 to 1977, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972 to 1974 and General Counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971 to 1972.

Scalia's Family Life

Scalia is survived by his wife, Maureen, whom he married in 1960, five sons and four girls -- Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David, Matthew, Christopher James and Margaret Jane.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has been informed of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and has offered his condolences to the Scalia family, White House officials said Saturday.

President Obama was in the middle of a golf round in La Quinta, California, when news of Scalia's death broke.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz also said to expect an additional reaction from the president on Sunday.

Scalia's passing could have massive political implications in an election year, with any nomination to the Supreme Court by President Obama required to be confirmed by the Senate.

Former President George W. Bush also reacted to the news in a statement Saturday, sending his condolences to Scalia's wife Maureen, their nine children and the rest of Scalia's family.

"He was a towering figure and important judge on our Nation's highest court," Bush said in his statement. "He brought intellect, good judgment, and wit to the bench, and he will be missed by his colleagues and our country."

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SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79 is sure to send shockwaves through the 2016 presidential race, beginning with tonight's Republican debate in South Carolina.

Here’s a look at how the candidates are responding to Scalia’s passing:

Ted Cruz

The Texas senator called Scalia “one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.”

"As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.”

John Kasich

The Ohio governor called Scalia’s death “a serious loss to our nation and the Court.”

“He was an essential, principled force for conservative thought and is a model for others to follow. His dedication to the Constitution and love for and service to our country will be deeply missed."

Donald Trump

Trump offered his "sincerest condolences to the Scalia family."

"Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time. His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms. He was a Justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country."

Marco Rubio

The Florida senator called Scalia "one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written."

"One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear."

Bernie Sanders

The Democratic presidential candidate issued this statement: "While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his colleagues on the court who mourn his passing."

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department Saturday made publicly available online 551 documents comprising 1,012 pages from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email account.

Combined with the department’s previous document releases – which totaled 44,818 pages – the total count of Clinton documents released is now 45,830 pages.

Earlier this week a federal judge ordered the State Department speed up production of Clinton's emails, a process that was supposed to be completed by the end of January. The State Department has said the review is burdensome and time consuming.

So far 22 of her emails had to be upgraded to "Top Secret" and withheld from public release. Clinton's campaign has been dogged by accusations she put national security information at risk, but her campaign says certain elements of the State Department and Intelligence Community are conspiring with Republicans in Congress to smear her. She maintains that none of the information she handled at the time it was sent was marked as classified.

The State Department says it is conducting an investigation to determine if any of those "Top Secret" emails should have been marked classified at the time they were sent.

Of the emails released Saturday, 84 had to be upgraded -- most of them to the low "Confidential" level of classified material. Three of them, however, had to be marked "Secret."

One email featured in today's release shows that in 2012 the Washington Director of Human Rights Watch, a major human rights organization, was recommending to Clinton that the U.S. establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria.

Tom Malinowski, the current assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said in the email at the time that a team on the ground, which was originally skeptical of military intervention, had recommended the move in order to provide assistance to moderate rebels fighting the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

Four years later those rebel forces are now being bombed by Russia and Assad and risk losing their stronghold in the north.

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ABC News(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich has said he does not wear his faith on his sleeve, but as his campaign shifted to South Carolina this week, he has incorporated religion into his pitch in a deeply personal way that was absent in less-religious New Hampshire.

Kasich has honed his message in a state where about two-thirds of Republican voters are evangelicals, bringing the deeply personal story about how he found his faith to the forefront.

"I don't go out and try to win a vote by using God,” Kasich told reporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Feb. 3. "I think that cheapens God. But people know I'm sort of faith—I mean, I don’t think they know that or not. But I think they pick it up."

But in recent days, he has made his faith a central part of his message in South Carolina, which holds its GOP primary on Feb. 20, including taping a television advertisement in which he tells viewers about the deeply personal story of his parents’ death at the hands of a drunken driver in 1987. The tragedy, according to Kasich, reinvigorated his faith.

"My parents were killed by a drunk driver, but my parents did not die in vain," he says in the advertisement, which was slated to start airing Friday in South Carolina. "I was transformed. I discovered my purpose by discovering the Lord. I believe the Lord put us on this earth to use the gifts that we've been given to bring about a healing. And that's the motivation for me."

Kasich, who worships at an Anglican church and regularly attends a Bible study group, has always made his spirituality central to his pitch to voters, telling attendees of his over-100 town hall-style meetings in New Hampshire that it is important for communities to grow stronger and speaking of his faith in a more general sense. He often lauded the United States’ Judeo-Christian background.

In South Carolina, he has told hundreds of voters about his parents’ deaths, which he wrote about in a 2010 book, but never made it a staple of the stump speech he delivered frequently in New Hampshire.

At a campaign stop at a barbecue restaurant in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Kasich asked “those that are prayers” to not pray that he wins but that "I’ll accept whatever’s meant to be."

He laughingly invoked a Biblical story when he heard a man was named Jeremiah, and, in recounting the story of his parents' death, he cited a Bible passage and proclaimed that "the power of the Lord" was "the glue that keeps us together."

"I went through it," he said of his past tragedy. "The Lord gave me the grace to fully recover and put me in a position to be aware of other people’s problems."

In Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, Kasich spoke of a "message" he received calling him to run for governor of Ohio in 2010. He mentioned the same "message" at a sentimental town hall meeting the night before he came in second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- He’s previously said Selective Service should be opened up to women, but on Friday Marco Rubio said he was against drafting women into combat.

“I do not support drafting women and forcing them to be combat soldiers. I don’t support that. I never have and I don’t now,’ Rubio said at the Faith and Family Forum in Greenville, South Carolina.

Rubio’s words had social media abuzz -- many accusing him of flip-flopping -- given the response he gave to a question on Selective Service at the ABC News debate just a week ago.

“I do believe that Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women in case a draft is ever instituted,” he told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The campaign maintained Rubio's words on Friday did not constitute a flip-flop, as Selective Service and a draft are different.

“In the debate, he said Selective Service should be opened to women. Today [Friday], he said women shouldn't be drafted into combat roles,” said Rubio spokesperson Brooke Sammon.

Selective Service identifies people who would be eligible to be drafted in the case of a national emergency (currently, only men are required to register). A draft requires people to serve.

At the debate, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush agreed with Rubio that women should sign up for Selective Service. Ted Cruz later pounced, calling it “immoral” to draft women into combat.

“The idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think, is wrong,” he said.

Cruz continued: “It was striking that three different people on that [debate] stage came out in support of drafting women into combat in the military. And I have to admit as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was 'Are you guys nuts?'"

“Contrary to Cruz's misleading statements, Marco's obviously never said we should draft people into combat roles,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant.

On Thursday, Rubio’s Senate office confirmed he would co-sponsor a Mike Lee bill with Cruz that would ensure that only Congress would have the authority to reconsider whether women should ever be drafted.

Rubio also said at the Faith and Family Forum that he doesn't think "we'll ever have a draft again," as modern warfare makes the draft unnecessary.

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Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(ST. PAUL, Minn) -- Speaking at a campaign event in Minnesota on Friday night, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton continued criticisms of opponent Bernie Sanders that she began earlier this week at the Democratic debate in Milwaukee.

"I am not a single-issue candidate and this is not a single-issue country," Clinton said, echoing a line from the debate. "Who can you count on to break down every barrier, not just some?" she asked rhetorically.

She took those criticisms a step further Friday night, talking down Sanders' plans. Even if, as Sanders wants, Wall Street reform were passed, Clinton says, "tomorrow, we would still have the cruel negligence we saw in Flint...we would still have the kind of anti-Muslim demagoguery that we have seen in this campaign."

In perhaps a subtextual critique of Sanders, Clinton vowed that she was "not making promises I can't keep."

The former secretary of state also added to her characterization of Sanders as being anti-Obama. She said that the president "has shown incredible leadership" and that she believes "millions of Americans are better off because of his presidency."

So, were she elected, Clinton said she would "build on the progress [Obama has] made, "because I am a progressive who actually likes to make progress."

The debate over whether Clinton is sufficiently progressive for Democratic voters who would like to see more accomplished has heated up in recent weeks.

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ABC News(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Six Republican presidential candidates will turn on their Southern charm as they take the debate stage in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday night.

The debate, hosted by CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, will be the first time the candidates have squared off since the New Hampshire primary.
 
Here are the five things to watch for Saturday night – and for the final week before the Palmetto State’s GOP primary:

Which Trump Will Show Up?

Less than a week after a resounding win in New Hampshire, Donald Trump is exuding confidence (the latest polls show him with the lead in South Carolina), and he has been modulating his message – sometimes on the attack, sometimes staying positive.

His campaign, for example, pulled a negative ad attacking main rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wednesday.

“We have a country that we’re proud of and we love and we’re not going to lose,” Trump recites in the positive spot.

On the campaign trail – and on social media – however, it’s a different story.

If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016

So, the first big question for Saturday night is: Which Trump will show up?

Marco Rubio Gets Gritty

On his way to South Carolina after his disappointing finish in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio told ABC News' Jonathan Karl that at last Saturday’s debate, he elected not to attack his fellow Republicans and instead focus on President Barack Obama.


“In hindsight,” Rubio admitted, “maybe that was a mistake.”

To wit, Rubio has spent the last few days in the Palmetto State going on offense, shooting attacks in the direction of Trump, Cruz and Jeb Bush in particular.

He accused Bush of having “no foreign policy experience, period” and called Cruz someone who will “say or do anything to get elected.”


Looks like Rubio won’t be pulling his punches on debate night.

Kasich Courting South Carolina

Riding high from his surprise second place finish in New

Hampshire, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is dealing with the reality that South Carolina voters don’t know him as

well because he spent so much time focused on the Granite State.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Jan 28 shows Kasich with one percent of support from South Carolina voters.

As for his debate strategy Saturday night, Kasich might take the approach of not attacking other candidates as he says he does on the campaign trail.


However, his campaign has been targeting Bush, calling the Florida governor out for negative ads he’s been running.

"I’m not gonna be a pincushion or a marshmallow, but I’m also not gonna spend my time trying to trash over people," Kasich said earlier this week while introducing himself to Charleston, South Carolina, voters.


Keeping Up With the Bushes

Right before the New Hampshire primary, Jeb Bush received a boost when his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, joined him on the campaign trail. In order to win South Carolina, the Bush campaign is pulling out all the stops and that includes unveiling another secret weapon: George W. Bush.


The former president is scheduled to appear alongside his brother at an event in North Charleston on Monday.

Will George W.’s efforts help Jeb?

Matt Moore, chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, argues it "could."


Things Are Looking South for Carson

The former neurosurgeon just barely met the requirements to be on stage at Saturday night’s debate. An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released last month showed Ben Carson polling at eight percent in South Carolina.


Carson placed fourth in the Iowa caucuses but he slipped in New Hampshire, winning only about two percent of the vote.

One final question heading into the debate and the week ahead: Could Saturday night could be Carson’s last debate and could South Carolina be the end of the line for his campaign? Only time will tell.

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Junko Kimura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama taped his weekly address from Springfield, Illinois, where Wednesday he marked the nine-year anniversary of his announcement of candidacy for the presidency.

Like his address there, he reflected on the successes of his time in office, but admitted that "the tone of our politics hasn't gotten better, but worse."

"When good people are pushed away from participating in our public life, more powerful and extreme voices will fill the void," the president said. "They’ll be the ones who gain control over decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic crisis, or roll back the rights that generations of Americans have fought to secure."

Read the full president's address:

Hi, everybody.  I’m speaking to you today from Springfield, Illinois.

I spent eight years in the state senate here.  It was a place where, for all our surface differences in a state as diverse as Illinois, my colleagues and I actually shared a lot in common.  We fought for our principles, and voted against each other, but because we assumed the best in one another, not the worst, we found room for progress.  We bridged differences to get things done.

In my travels through this state, I saw most Americans do the same.  Folks know that issues are complicated, and that people with different ideas might have a point.  It convinced me that if we just approached our politics the same way we approach our daily lives, with common sense, a commitment to fairness, and the belief that we’re all in this together, there’s nothing we can’t do.

That’s why I announced, right here, in Springfield that I was running for President.  And my faith in the generosity and fundamental goodness of the American people is rewarded every day.

But I’ll be the first to admit that the tone of our politics hasn’t gotten better, but worse.  Too many people feel like the system is rigged, and their voices don’t matter.  And when good people are pushed away from participating in our public life, more powerful and extreme voices will fill the void.  They’ll be the ones who gain control over decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic crisis, or roll back the rights that generations of Americans have fought to secure.

The good news is there’s also a lot we can do about this, from reducing the influence of money in our politics, to changing the way we draw congressional districts, to simply changing the way we treat each other.  That’s what I came back here to talk about this week.  And I hope you check out my full speech at WhiteHouse.gov.

One thing I focused on, for example, was how we can make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now.  Here in Illinois, a new law allows citizens to register and vote at the polls on Election Day.  It also expands early voting, which makes it much easier for working folks and busy parents.  We’re also considering automatic voter registration for every citizen when they apply for a driver’s license.  And I’m calling on more states to adopt steps like these.  Because when more of us vote, the less captive our politics will be to narrow interests – and the better our democracy will be for our children.

Nine years after I first announced for this office, I still believe in a politics of hope.  And for all the challenges of a changing world; for all the imperfections of our democracy; choosing a politics of hope is something that’s entirely up to each of us.

Thanks, everybody. 

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) delivered this week's Republican address and discussed his party's position on energy and jobs.

Scalise talked about a $65 billion a year tax on oil in President Obama's proposed budget and said that "the White House admits that this new tax would be passed directly on to hard-working families."

He also mentioned the Supreme Court blocking President Obama's climate change plan on Tuesday.

“The president will try anything he can—even stretch the limits of his power—to keep American-made energy trapped in the ground. But we won’t let that happen,” said Scalise. “We will continue to use every tool we have to fight President Obama’s war on American energy and jobs.”

Read the full Republican's address:

Hi, I’m House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and on this President’s Day weekend, I’m honored to be speaking to you from the Lincoln Room in the United States Capitol. 

Right now, we’re all paying less for gas than we have in years. In some states, they’re talking about prices going down to 99 cents per gallon. For families struggling to get by, that’s much-needed extra money back in their pockets.

But not for long, if President Obama has his way.

This week, tucked in his budget, the president proposed a $65 billion a year tax that would raise the cost of gasoline by, on average, 25 cents for every gallon you buy. You’ll hear them call this a tax on oil, but even the White House admits that this new tax would be passed directly on to hard-working families.

It gets worse. Analysts say this tax would increase the cost of basic household goods. Everything from heating oil to the food you buy at the grocery store. The bottom line is this: you would be taking home less, so that President Obama can spend more.

That’s why we have declared this absurd proposal dead on arrival in Congress. It’s dead on arrival because we stand with the American people who know they're already paying too much in taxes, and we agree.

So that’s one piece of good news. Here’s another:

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court blocked the EPA climate rule at the heart of the president’s war on coal, which has destroyed jobs across our country.

If you look at the proposals coming out of the president’s EPA, in my home state of Louisiana alone, we would suffer more than 16,000 jobs lost, and families would see increases of more than 20 percent in their household electricity costs.

Again, this is President Obama’s vision. He said that under his policies, electricity prices would have to 'necessarily skyrocket.' His first Energy Secretary said 'we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,' where they pay 6 to 7 dollars per gallon. He vetoed the Keystone pipeline. He launched an all-out assault on coal country.

The president will try anything he can—even stretch the limits of his power—to keep American-made energy trapped in the ground. But we won’t let that happen.

We will continue to use every tool we have to fight President Obama’s war on American energy and jobs.

We need to maximize America’s energy potential to help create jobs, keep costs down, and strengthen our national security. That’s why we’ve blocked the president’s attempts to expand the EPA. We’ve lifted the 40-year ban on oil exports, and we passed a plan for an all-of-the-above energy strategy. We’ll keep advancing more bold ideas like these in the coming months.

This is just one of the many ways we are committed to restoring a Confident America at home and abroad. Thank you, and God bless America.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced Friday that he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

"My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party,” Gilmore said in a statement on Friday.

A former U.S. Army intelligence agent, Gilmore was one of two military veterans in the 2016 race. Sen. Lindsey Graham served in the Air Force reserve.

In a statement, Gilmore's campaign said he felt that the “difficulty of the debate structure combined with the national media coverage of the candidates made it impossible for him to continue his campaign for the presidency.”

Gilmore participated in two under-card debates.

Gilmore isn't endorsing any of the remaining candidates yet. He said in his statement that he will support the GOP nominee and that he "intends to continue speaking out about the dangers of electing either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders."

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- GOP front-runner Donald Trump issued a warning on Friday to rival Sen. Ted Cruz: Keep attacking and a lawsuit is coming.

It all started just after Trump's win earlier this week in New Hampshire, where the Cruz campaign began running multiple ads attacking the billionaire businessman for his support of eminent domain -- that is, the government's power to force the sale of private property for public use.

The Cruz ad features a woman that Trump had a legal dispute with decades ago as he sought to build a parking lot on the property occupied by her home -- in order to expand a casino he once owned in Atlantic City. Trump on the campaign trail has consistently called eminent domain a helpful tool in order to expand both public and private businesses.

The Cruz campaign has now done a large ad buy -- with plans to run a one-minute ad Saturday night during SNL. The news sent Trump into attack mode, digging up an old argument on Cruz's citizenship.

In an interview with the Washington Post in January, Trump was asked if Cruz was eligible to run for the presidency, citing the fact he was born in Canada.

In September, Trump had told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that he felt Cruz was in good standing. But Trump recently said he fears a lawsuit over the fact that Cruz was born in Canada will prevent Cruz from running.

ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos told Trump during a recent interview that some legal scholars have suggested Trump himself would have standing to sue Cruz.

“Oh, that’s an interesting case. Wow, that sounds like a very good case. I’d do the public a big favor,” Trump responded, but would not say whether he’d pull the trigger until issuing this threat today via Twitter: "If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen."

If @TedCruz doesn’t clean up his act, stop cheating, & doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2016

Trump has also questioned Cruz's "Christian values" with this latest string of attacks from the Texas senator. Trump is scheduled to campaign later today in Tampa, Florida.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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