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House Armed Services Committee to Propose Measure to Train, Equip Syrian Rebels

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Members of the House Armed Services Committee appear ready to propose a mission that would train and equip Syrian rebels.

On Monday, a senior Republican aide at the committee told ABC News that the deal would not only allow for the training and equipment of rebels, but would also avoid the explicit prohibition of ground forces. The proposal will likely be constructed as an amendment to the current continuing resolution, though that has not been decided.

While the legislation will not specifically ban ground forces, it will only lay out a proposal for training and equipment. The House plan is also expected to mandate that the Department of Defense provides a plan to Congress 15 days prior to training and further updates every 90 days afterward.

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Minnesota Congressman Targeted by Bill Maher Goes on the Attack

Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 109th.(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., isn’t about to let TV host Bill Maher push him around.

After recently being named the “winning loser” of Maher’s “Flip the District” campaign, Kline struck back with statements criticizing both Maher and his Democratic opponent, Mike Obermueller.

“Minnesotans are tired of sleazy and slimy politics, but DFL candidate Mike Obermueller certainly isn’t,” Kline’s campaign spokesman Troy Young said in a statement. “Maher saluted 9/11 terrorists and called our troops ‘cowardly,’ he repeatedly has degraded Christians and calls them ‘schizophrenic,’ and he repugnantly compared special-needs children to ‘dogs,’ yet Mike Obermueller promotes this behavior essentially naming Maher as his campaign manager.”

Maher announced the 67-year-old representative as the “Flip the District” winner Friday during his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher said he will devote time to studying the congressman and his constituents and campaign against him in hopes that Kline will “feel the heat.”

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Kline hopes to raise $100,000 for ads to thwart Maher’s efforts to oust him from office. In a fundraising e-mail Kline told his supporters, “Maher is turning his liberal guns on our districts and using his TV megaphone and million-dollar war chest to defeat me in November.”

And while Kline is using Maher’s effort to try to boost contributions, Obermueller, a former state legislator, used the news to fuel his campaign too, releasing a statement.

“This news confirms what we’ve been hearing more and more of each day: folks in the second district are tired of John Kline, and they’re ready to kick him out office,” Obermueller said in a statement. “People are fired up and are organizing across the district to remove him from a seat he’s become too comfortable in.”

Obermueller went on to say he is glad the “low-profile Kline” is finally getting the attention he deserves.

“The issue Mr. Kline may be the worst on is the one that inspired the most votes in our contest,” Maher said. "And that is student debt.”

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Attorney General Eric Holder Records Message for Anti-Bullying Campaign

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder recorded a message for Cartoon Network's "I Speak Up" anti-bullying campaign, the Justice Department confirmed on Monday.

The campaign aims to record one million user-generated videos joining the voices of people young and old, including students, parents, teachers, celebrities and politicians, saying "I speak up."

In his video, Holder spoke about the "devastating effect" that bullying can have on children. "Help me defend childhood," Holder asks, "by speaking up for those who -- too often -- cannot speak for themselves."

Holder was joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, among others, in recording messages for the campaign.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders Attracts Some Democratic Voters in Iowa

US Senate(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only person to draw a large and boisterous crowd in Iowa over the weekend.

In a cramped church basement a few miles from downtown, a crowd of more than 400 sweltered through a 90-minute discussion Sunday night with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist” independent senator from Vermont who’s considering a run for president as a Democrat.

They followed a handwritten sign – “BERNIE SANDERS, DOWNSTAIRS” – to an overflow gathering near a folded-up ping pong table that was emotional, loud, passionate, sweaty, and angry.

“There is a lot of anger out there,” Sanders said, his signature Brooklyn accent drawing hoots and cheers. “Our job is get [people] angry at the right people for the right reasons.”

Sanders and those who came out to see him touched on a dizzying array of concerns. Social Security, trade, corporate welfare, campaign-finance reform, climate change, college costs, single-payer health care, Wall Street greed, immigration reform, the Iraq War – they mixed to tell a story for Sanders and his followers where Republicans are definitely among the bad guys, but Democrats aren’t necessarily the good guys.

“The average person doesn’t perceive that the Democratic Party is standing up for the working people effectively,” Sanders said.

Clinton drew perhaps 20 times as many people a few hours earlier on Sunday, at her first Iowa visit in nearly seven years. But Sanders drew out far more passions. It felt like the mirror-image opposite of a tea party gathering, with similar righteous anger – and shots at the mainstream media – just with solutions that tack far left, not far right.

The display made clear that while Hillary Clinton may coast to the Democratic nomination, on a road that would start in Iowa, she won’t be able to do so without minding her left.

Sanders has said he’s visiting Iowa in part to decide whether he should run as a Democrat for president in 2016. But it’s not just about Sanders: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continues to draw wide interest from Iowa voters, despite the fact that she’s said repeatedly that she’s not running for president.

Even in her appearance at Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa's, annual fundraising steak fry, billed as Clinton’s big return to Iowa, Ready for Hillary supporters were met with Ready for Warren supporters.

“We weren't really sure what the reaction would be today, but a lot of people have been coming by, taking shirts and signs and just saying we love Elizabeth Warren, we support her,” said Erica Sagrans, Ready for Warren’s campaign manager, who noted that even people with Ready for Hillary buttons had been stopping by their booth eager to sign up.

While the group’s presence, on the surface, was not nearly as noticeable at the steak fry –- with their roughly 100 volunteers, billboards, and their iconic giant bus, Ready for Hillary commanded all the attention — among Iowans, there was an emerging curiosity about Warren that was hard to ignore.

Donning a Ready for Hillary button prominently on her front jacket, one Iowan, Marcia Fulton, said she would vote for Clinton if she ran, but quickly noted she was also intrigued by other candidates who could relate more to what she called “the Iowa thing.” Specifically, she said, Elizabeth Warren.

“Oh, Elizabeth Warren. Wow. I love Elizabeth Warren,” Fulton gushed. “Warren is someone…I just want to follow her, anywhere.”

And this wasn’t a lone sentiment. Robert Lorr, who came to the steak fry from Ames, Iowa, said he’d be conflicted if both Clinton and Warren ran. Vicki Perry from Spirit Lake said while Clinton’s a “great choice,” she wants to see who else is going to get in the race.

Later that evening, those who came out to the Bernie Sanders event expressed a similar desire to expand the field beyond just Clinton.

“I don't think we need a coronation of anybody,” said Des Moines resident Steve Gude, who admitted Sanders would have a hard time winning the party’s nomination, but likes that at the least he is pushing the conversation left.

While Iowa Democrats are no means against a Clinton run, there’s a subtle, but potentially bubbling air of hesitance in many of their endorsements. And some stronger than others.

“I think Hillary is over the hill,” said Garry Klicker at Sanders’ event on Sunday. “She's a wonderful human being. I think she's good, but she's just been in too long.”

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US 'Communicating' with Adversaries Against ISIS but Not 'Coordinating'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Secretary of State John Kerry made clear during a roundtable with reporters in Paris on Monday that the U.S. is open to communicating with both Iran and Syria on their shared concerns regarding the ISIS extremist group, although he insisted it’s not “coordinating” with either of them.

But the administration does not appear to have a clear answer for when communicating ends and coordinating begins.

Kerry said that the U.S. isn’t planning military action with Iran, but he left the door open to other types of synchronization between the two countries.

“We’re not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we’re open to have a conversation at some point in time if there’s a way to find something constructive,” he said.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf sought to explain the difference during Monday’s briefing: “We’re not going to be telling the Iranians what we’re doing. We’re not going to be coordinating actions with them. We’re not going to be sharing intelligence with them. We’ve made clear how people can be helpful, but again, we’re not going to be coordinating with them.”

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest called it a matter of where the U.S. and Iran’s shared interests are.

“There is a reason for us to have conversations with Iran on this topic, because we do have a shared interest in degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL,” he said, using an alternate name for ISIS. “I think the reasonable question that people have is, given Iran's significant military capability and given their significant interest in the outcome here, is the United States going to coordinate with Iran as we move forward on this military strategy? The answer to that is, no, we are not.”

But as the U.S. ponders its military steps in Iraq and neighboring Syria, Kerry said on Sunday, during an interview with CBS, that the U.S. would “de-conflict” with the Assad regime in Damascus if necessary.

“Well, we’re not going to coordinate with the Syrians. We’ve made that very, very clear. But there are all kinds of ways of communicating to avoid mistakes or disasters and not -- strike the word ‘disasters’ -- there are all kinds of ways of avoiding bad things. And I’m not going to go into them, but we’re not going to coordinate,” he said.

When asked what Kerry could have meant by “de-conflicting,” Harf grew visibly frustrated.

“As [Kerry] said several times in that interview, we will not -- it's like I'm a broken record today -- we will not be coordinating in any way with the Syrian government,” she said.

The reporter persisted, asking again.

“I think I just made clear what he meant. And we have to move on; I'm on a little bit of a tight time schedule today,” Harf said.

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Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam Veterans

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins endured 38 hours of relentless attacks, killed an estimated 175 enemy fighters, sustained 18 different wounds and evaded a tiger on the loose in the jungle of Vietnam in 1966.

On Monday, nearly half a century later, he was awarded the nation’s highest military honor by President Obama.

“This is strictly a humbling experience for me,” Adkins, now 80 years old, told reporters at the White House. “I want to dedicate this to the five soldiers who paid the ultimate price in this battle.”

During the wee hours of the morning on March 9, 1966, Adkins’ camp came under fire from a formidable North Vietnamese outfit. After learning his fellow soldiers were wounded, Adkins ran repeatedly into enemy fire, navigating through exploding mortar rounds to drag his comrades to safety.

Over the next 24 hours, Adkins continued to deflect enemy fire, fending it off as his camp’s perimeter was infiltrated. When they were ordered to evacuate, Adkins and a small group of soldiers dug their way out of a bunker and fought their way out. When they couldn’t reach an evacuation helicopter, Adkins led the group of surviving soldiers into the jungle, where they hid for 48 hours before being rescued.

“And after all they had been through, as if it weren’t enough, there was something more. You can’t make this up,” Obama said at a White House ceremony. “There in the jungle, they heard the growls of a tiger. It turns out, that tiger might have been the best thing that happened to Bennie…He says, the North Vietnamese were more scared of that tiger than they were of us.”

After the enemy fled, Adkins and his squad made their escape and were rescued the next morning.

Adkins went on to serve a third tour of duty and later earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees before founding an accounting service.

On Monday, he was one of two Vietnam veterans recognized at the White House in a ceremony the president admitted came too late.

“Normally this medal must be awarded within a few years of the action,” Obama explained. “But sometimes, even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time. Yet, when new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor. And it is entirely right and proper that we have done so and that is why we are here today.”

The president went on to thank those whose persistence and research resulted in the two men finally getting the recognition they deserve.

U.S. Army Spc. Four Donald P. Sloat was honored for an astonishing act of self-sacrifice at the age of just 20.

On Jan. 17, 1970, when Sloat’s squad was serving as a blocking force for tanks and armored personnel carriers, the lead soldier tripped a wire connected to a hand grenade booby-trap. Sloat picked up the grenade and intended to throw it, but realized it was close to detonating.

“There were Americans in front of him and behind him, inside the kill zone. So Don held on to that grenade, and he pulled it close to his body, and he bent over it. And then, as one of the men said, all of a sudden there was a boom,” Obama said.

Sloat’s actions saved the lives of three of his comrades. On Monday, his brother accepted the Medal of Honor in his place.

“Over the decades our Vietnam veterans didn’t always receive the thanks and respect they deserved. That’s a fact. But as we have been reminded again today, our Vietnam vets were patriots and are patriots. You served with valor. You made us proud. And your service is with us for eternity,” the president said.

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State Department to Reopen US Embassy in Central African Republic

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department announced on Monday that it plans to reopen its embassy in the Central African Republic after two years of closure.

"The Central African Republic and its people are at a crucial juncture," a statement from Secretary of State John Kerry said. Kerry also noted that the U.S. "is determined to help make this moment of opportunity a success."

The embassy in the Central African Republic's capital city of Bangui closed in 2012 due to rebel threats and a government takeover. On Monday, the United Nations began a peacekeeping mission in the country, leading to sufficient peace and stability for the U.S. to reopen its embassy.

"Only a fully inclusive, peaceful and democratic political transition process can stop the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic," Kerry said. "That process must include the voices of all Central Africans, especially refugees and internally displaced persons."

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Holder Unveils New Steps to Prevent Homegrown Terror

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the U.S. must do more to prevent homegrown terror with the rise of ISIS.

In a video message Monday, Holder says the country will begin new pilot programs to confront the threat.

"These programs will bring together community representatives, public safety officials, religious leaders, and United States attorneys to improve local engagement, to counter violent extremism," he says.

Holder says law enforcement is increasing outreach to Muslim communities in the U.S., hoping to detect terrorist threats before they emerge.

"We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad," he notes.

Overseas, Holder says the U.S. is working with partner nations and Interpol, hoping to track Westerners who have made the trip to Syria and Iraq, and flag them before they attempt to come home.  

"Ultimately, the pilot programs will enable us to develop more effective and more inclusive ways to build a more just, secure, and free society that all Americans deserve," he says.

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Bill Clinton Is a Fan of "Ready for Hillary"

Feng Li/Getty Images(INDIANOLA, Iowa) --  At Iowa Steak Fry, you couldn't miss them even if you tried.

Members of the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary were out in droves Sunday: signing up new volunteers, slapping their bumper stickers on attendees’ cars, handing out T-shirts and pins with Clinton’s face — and cheering like fan girls at any and all mentions of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016.

Hillary Clinton rarely, if ever, mentions the group that’s essentially considered her “campaign-in-waiting.” But Sunday, her husband, Bill Clinton, gave them some rare encouragement.

“Amazing. They are amazing,” Clinton said during in impromptu press conference at Tom Harkin’s 37th and final Steak Fry. “You know I saw some of them here. I think with the rules we’re not supposed to have any contact with them. They’re like Energizer Bunnies. They’re just everywhere.”

While he had positive words for his wife’s fans, he gave a clear no-comment when asked whether she would disappoint those supporters by not running.

“I will not be baited. I cannot be baited,” he said while walking away. “I’m waiting to be a grandfather, and I want a happy grandmother.”

Hillary Clinton also dismissed ABC News’ question about whether being in Iowa made her want to run in 2016, instead saying her return to the state is just about the 2014 midterms.

Even so, she said she’s happy to be back in the Hawkeye state: “It’s great to be back,” she told ABC News' Jonathan Karl. “It’s fabulous!”

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'I'm Baa-aack!': Clintons Give Hillary's 2016 Efforts an Unofficial Start in Iowa

John Moore/Getty Images(INDIANOLA, Iowa) -- If and when Hillary Clinton runs for president again, history will record that her campaign began in all but name with a swarm of young and "ready" activists, stage-managed banter about grilled hunks of Iowa meat, and a concession that she's "thinking about" what she referred to only as "that other thing."

"Hello Iowa -- I'm baa-aack!" Clinton told a crowd of more than 6,000 gathered to honor the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, on a field outside Des Moines.

"I've got a few things on my mind these days," Clinton added, drawing rising applause from the group of Democratic activists. "First and most importantly, Bill and I are on constant grandchild watch."

She said she just might have to sprint off the stage if Chelsea goes into labor, and added: "Then of course -- there's that other thing. Well it is true, I am thinking about it. But for today, that is not why I'm here. I'm here for the steak."

Framed by a giant American flag, a few tractors, and bales of Iowa hay, Clinton's speech doubled as a tribute to a retiring liberal stalwart and an initial reintroduction to Iowa's party faithful.

Her calls for populist Democratic policies and elected Democrats who can help in "moving America forward" received polite, though only occasionally enthusiastic, applause.

Harkin, the event's host, offered to build on the "Comeback Kid" nickname Bill Clinton famously earned in 1992, after he exceeded expectations in the New Hampshire primary.

"President Clinton and Hillary Clinton are now the 'Comeback Couple,'" Harkin said.

There was nothing approaching an announcement of candidacy, of course, and no hints about a timeline. Both Clintons parried questions about whether their appearance at an Iowa institution like the Steak Fry means the former secretary of state is running for president again.

"It's great to be back in Iowa," Hillary Clinton told reporters who swarmed near her after her designated time behind the steak grill.

Peppered with questions about 2016, she rolled her eyes for dramatic effect.

"This is about the people running right now -- 2014," she said.

But the former president couldn't help but effuse when asked about the "Ready for Hillary" volunteers who crisscrossed the Steak Fry grounds, about 20 miles outside Des Moines.

"Just like Energizer Bunnies. They're everywhere," Clinton said.

Pressed by ABC News on whether his wife would disappoint those supporters by not running, the former president spoke loudly with his no-comment.

"I will not be baited. I cannot be baited," he said. "I'm waiting to be a grandfather, and I want a happy grandmother."

Clinton's appearance drew more than 6,000 Democratic activists -- and more than 200 journalists -- for the 37th and final Harkin Steak Fry, held on the grounds of the annual National Hot Air Balloon Championships.

As Clinton's first visit of the year to an early-voting state, the event offered a glimpse of what a potential second Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would look like, with all its strengths and weaknesses.

Conversations with a range of attendees revealed more acceptance than eagerness about another Clinton campaign.

Virtually all said they'd likely support Clinton. But several attendees offered up other potential Democrats -- notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts -- as people they'd like to see run as well.

Clinton was the only potential 2016er to attend the Steak Fry, which has historically been a proving ground for Democrats in advance of the Iowa caucuses. Yet the Clintons spent little time mingling with possible caucus-goers; they arrived via motorcade at the back of the sprawling field, and even their few moments of grilling time was fenced off from the press and attendees.

Clinton's challenges in Iowa are a microcosm of the broader obstacles she could face in a second presidential candidacy. She needs to turn around memories of a dysfunctional and ultimately doomed effort to connect one-on-one with voters in the state that kicks off the presidential process.

In 2008, Clinton finished an embarrassing third in the Iowa caucuses, behind Barack Obama and John Edwards -- a result she called "excruciating" in her book. Now, should she run, Clinton needs to find a way to look forward, when at least part of her appeal is based on looking back.

The Democratic Party, too, is in a different place than it was in the pre-Obama era. Harkin, the day's host, spoke of the broader angst inside the party on the eve of the event. He told ABC News that he and fellow liberals are "always nervous about people moving too far to the right."

"So where is Hillary on that?" Harkin was asked in an interview that aired on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

"Well I don't know," Harkin said. "I mean, I think this is something that will be developed and we'll find out when, if she, if she decides to run. You know, what's her vision for America?"

Cathy Jaschke, a 66-year-old Medicare specialist from Ankeny who attended the Steak Fry, said she's concerned that the sense of inevitability surrounding Clinton's candidacy could once again hurt her in Iowa.

"People think it's a given, and that could be a problem," said Jaschke, who said she supported Bill Richardson and then John Edwards in the 2008 caucuses. "It's expected. It's not something you can get on and get excited over."

But the event in Indianola also showed off the considerable advantages her candidacy would enjoy. The Clintons themselves traveled with few staffers and no formal campaign apparatus, but they didn't need an entourage: The quasi-grassroots organization Ready for Hillary took care of the organizing necessary to make her appearance look like a major political event.

Ready for Hillary bused in supporters from six colleges and universities, an implicit response to those who remember her failure to attract the fervor of young voters nearly seven years ago.

The group's bus -- bought and wrapped with pro-Hillary slogans in Iowa -- was parked at the Steak Fry entrance. More than 300 volunteers milled the grounds, slapping bumper stickers on cars whose drivers welcomed the additions, and adding names to the group's growing database.

The baby-blue signs that lined the event site read simply, "Ready," as if the "for Hillary" part is no longer necessary to convey the mission. Organizers said that's intended as a message that Democrats are as interested in 2014 as they are 2016 -- and to remind Clinton herself that she has a campaign army in waiting.

"The message to her, that she's been getting wherever she travels, is, 'We're ready for you,'" said Adam Parkhomenko, Ready for Hillary's executive director and a cofounder of the group. "If you decide to run, there's going to be thousands of people who have your back."

A few other potential candidates, notably Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, have showered money on Iowa candidates this year.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Iowa Wednesday, and liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is mulling a run for president as a Democrat, made a weekend stop in the state that included events both before and after the Clintons were in Iowa on Sunday.

But there's no Obama-like figure anywhere on the Democratic horizon these days, leaving Hillary Clinton as the far-and-away frontrunner.

Harkin called it a "joy and honor" to welcome two people who "have become a part of our Iowa Democratic family," and he closed his final speech at the event with the warmest of tributes to his former colleague.

"There are many more chapters to be written in the amazing life of Hillary Clinton," Harkin said.

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Roger Goodell ‘Should Go If He Lied’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., added his voice to the growing debate surrounding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s fate, saying that if Goodell lied about the NFL not having seen the violent video of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice knocking his then fiancé unconscious until TMZ posted the video Monday, then “he should go.”

“If Roger Goodell lied, as a lot of people believe he did — because the security apparatus of the NFL is so competent and experienced that for them to not have known about this tape seems incredible — he should go,” Blumenthal said Sunday on This Week.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been under fire from critics who believe someone in the NFL must have seen the video of Rice hitting his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer.

An initial video, published on TMZ Sports in February, showed the Ravens star player dragging a seemingly unconscious Palmer out of an elevator at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. A police report confirmed that there was an altercation between the two, during which Rice struck Palmer unconscious. Goodell met with Rice in July, and suspended him for two games, drawing outrage from many who thought Rice deserved harsher punishment.

A second video, posted online on Sept. 8 by TMZ Sports, shows what happened inside the elevator. Rice can be seen hitting Palmer and knocking her into a railing inside the elevator. Rice was cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL shortly after the video was posted.

Blumenthal served five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general, during which time he dealt with domestic violence and abuses cases. The senator said both the NFL and Congress need to step up.

“Regardless who runs the NFL, it ought to be making a serious commitment, stronger penalties. Six-game suspension is way too lenient, and equally important, resources, funding for domestic survivor groups,” Blumenthal said. “Violence ought to be met with better services and the Congress has an obligation there too to do better and do more.”

While the video has upset many, Blumenthal said the attention surrounding the incident could be a “turning point.” The graphic caught-on-camera exchange has thrust not only the incident itself, but the larger issue of domestic violence, to the forefront of national conversation.

“Mostly this crime — it is a crime — occurs behind closed doors surrounded by stigma, shame, secrecy,” the lawmaker added.

Blumenthal said out of this violent incident “could be a real opportunity that we need to seize from Congress and from the NFL to do more.”

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Is Iowa Ready for Hillary? Sen. Tom Harkin Still Has Questions

United States Senate(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be headlining Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry on Sunday, but the longtime progressive senator indicated that shouldn't be taken as an endorsement should she decide to run for president in 2016.

Harkin, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate and was hosting his last annual Steak Fry, said progressives should raise questions about Clinton's foreign policy and economic positions.

"As someone who has carried the liberal, progressive populist banner for many years, we're always nervous about people moving too far to the right," the Democratic lawmaker told ABC News' Jonathan Karl for This Week. "See we, a lot of us believe the center ought to be moved back, that the center has moved too far right."

Clinton is making her first trip to Iowa since 2008 for the signature political event that attracts thousands of Iowans, politicos and Democratic hopefuls seeking state and nationwide exposure. She was to headline the event with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Asked where Clinton's positions fell on the political spectrum, Harkin responded, "Well, I don't know, I mean I think this is something that will be developed and we'll find out when, if she, if she decides to run. You know, what's her vision for America?"

When asked if he had "real questions" about Clinton's stances on issues, Harkin said, "I do about everybody" considering a run for the White House.

He added that President Barack Obama's positions have been less progressive than he had hoped they would be.

"I must be frank with you, I thought Barack Obama was a great progressive and a great populist and quite frankly, I haven't, some things have happened that I don't agree with," Harkin said.

And while most eyes on Clinton this weekend are reading signs for what her return trip to Iowa means for her 2016 presidential prospects, Harkin said Clinton's trip will have more impact on the 2014 midterm elections, as she and former President Clinton begin hitting the campaign trail for Democrats facing tough election battles.

"She wants to focus on 2014 and how we can keep the Senate and elect some key people around the country, so she's going to be out there working hard," Harkin said.

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WH Chief of Staff Expresses Confidence Iraqi Army Can Take on ISIS

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Saying that the United States is at war with ISIS, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough expressed confidence in the Iraqi army to take on the militant Islamic group even though it has failed to do so effectively in the past.

“There is now a new multi-ethnic government in Baghdad. They will support a unified, capable multi-ethnic Iraqi force so that they can take this fight to ISIL,” McDonough said Sunday on This Week.

ISIL is also known as ISIS, or the Islamic State.

The White House chief of staff was asked by ABC News’s Martha Raddatz if there is a limit on how many U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq.

“I’m not in a position right now to tell you limits one way or the other,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry will have “news” this week when he testifies in Congress regarding countries that may join the United States in military action to eliminate ISIS, McDonough said. The chief of staff did not, however, provide details on when the U.S. might take action in Syria.

During a primetime address to the country last week, President Obama laid out his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the extremist Islamic group that has snatched territory in Iraq and Syria in recent months and is responsible for the grisly executions of two American journalists and most recently David Haines, a British citizen who was kidnapped last year.

Raddatz asked McDonough if the executioner had been identified.

“Obviously we’re doing everything we can to find that out and everything we can to continue to keep the heat on ISIL,” McDonough said.

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Bill Maher Takes Aim at Minnesota Congressman

HBO/Janet Van Ham(WASHINGTON) -- Incumbent GOP Rep. John Kline’s Minnesota congressional seat is a little less safe thanks to comedian and television host Bill Maher.

Maher has decided to target Kline for his “Flip A District” campaign, a midterm election-themed segment on his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

On the show Friday, Maher introduced the 67-year-old congressman, noting that he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times, voted for shutting down the government, and voted against raising the minimum wage, stem cell research, gay marriage and funding climate change studies.

“The issue Mr. Kline may be the worst on is the one that inspired the most votes in our contest,” Maher said.” And that is student debt.”

Kline currently is Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

As part of his “Flip A District” effort, Maher said he will study Minnesota’s second congressional district, get to know Kline and his constituents and do his “best to flip that district.”

But Maher may have his work cut out for him. According to reports, Kline is well ahead of his Democratic opponent, Mike Obermueller, in fundraising. And, as the Washington Post notes, “Kline, quite simply, isn’t a Democratic target.”

Earlier this year, Maher encouraged viewers to nominate an elected official who he should try to unseat. Kline was one of four Republican finalists for the project. The other candidates (a.k.a. the “Flippable Four”) were Mike Coffman of Colorado, Renee L. Ellmers of North Carolina and Blake Farenthold of Texas.

“In my book, you’re all losers,” Maher said during Friday’s episode.

According to Maher’s “Real Time” blog, this is the first year he and his Real Time team are “outright meddling with the political process,” although in 2012, Maher donated $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA.

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Three Democrats Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016

U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading back to Iowa for the first time since 2008 this weekend to speak at the 37th Harkin Steak Fry. And since she says she’ll probably decide on a 2016 run “after the first of the year,” ABC News took a closer look at three other Democrats who could challenge her for the nomination if she decides to run for the White House for the second time.

1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator — speaking to ABC News’ David Muir earlier this year — said she is not running for president, but could she change her mind? It’s happened with other candidates before, including then-Sen. Barack Obama before the 2008 election. Warren, who recently released a book, is a favorite among more progressive Democrats. But an ABC News/Washington Post poll in June showed that among registered voters, 69 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor Clinton for the party’s nomination over seven other hypothetical contenders. Warren received only 7 percent.

2. Vice President Joe Biden
As the current vice president, Biden could not be any closer to the Oval Office than he is in his current position. The former Delaware senator, now in his 70s, has not ruled out another run for the White House.

He’s already run twice for the highest elected office in the land. In fact, just days after his potential 2016 rival Clinton visits Iowa, the vice president will be making his own stop in the Hawkeye State, the Des Moines Register reported. The same poll in June that showed a majority of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor Clinton by a large margin showed Joe Biden garnering 12 percent support.

3. Gov. Martin O’Malley
The governor of Maryland told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos last month that he is “seriously considering running in 2016,” and there are indications he might run regardless of whether Clinton makes a run or not. While he may not be as well-known nationally as Warren, Biden or Clinton, O’Malley has made news recently by publicly distancing himself from the White House over immigration. O’Malley was also just in Iowa, stopping there on Sunday to campaign for Jack Hatch, a state lawmaker challenging incumbent Republican Terry Branstad for governor.

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