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tupungato/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- The terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 130 dead, have reignited a Congressional debate over how much information the government should be able to access from citizens -- and how to balance national security concerns with individual freedoms.

Some members of Congress are calling for the government to continue a program that collects vast amount of phone data that is set to expire shortly, and others are saying the problem is the existence of smartphone applications and other consumer technology that allows people to carry out conversations that can go completely undetected.

Unless Congress acts, the National Security Agency program that allows the government to collect Americans' phone records in bulk is set to expire on Dec. 1.

Sen. Tom Cotton and a growing number of co-sponsors are now calling for the delay of that program's expiration until at least the end of January 2017.

Powerful Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain have all signed on as co-sponsors, a Cotton spokeswoman said.

"Now is not the time to sacrifice our national security for political talking points. We should allow the Intelligence Community to do their job and provide them with the tools they need to keep us safe," Cotton said in a statement last week.

But given the program's looming expiration date, the Senate is not likely to have a chance to vote on his bill. The Senate returns to work on the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 30 -- just hours before the program expires.

"The timeline isn't ideal but it seems likely the NSA would be able to turn the bulk collection system back on if it was permitted to after a period of dormancy," Cotton spokeswoman Caroline Rabbitt told ABC.
So far the list of co-sponsors does not include any Democrats.

There is bipartisan support, however, for changes to the burgeoning industry of encryption applications that are marketed to users looking for ways to avoid government surveillance. These readily available apps are believed to be increasingly co-opted by terrorists who use them to shield their communications from government eyes.

"It is likely that end-to-end encryption was used to communication between those individuals in Belgium, in France, and in Syria,” Burr, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said last week after a classified briefing on the Paris attacks.

"It's a black Web and there's no way of piercing it," added the committee's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, over the weekend.

She said technology companies, many of which are located in her home state of California, must be open to changing their products so that the government can access communications from suspicious users -- what FBI chief James Comey has referred to as a "back door."

"I am hopeful that the companies, most of whom are my constituents -- not most, but many -- will understand what we're facing," she said, adding that she envisions such surveillance requiring a court order - a nod to the difficult balance lawmakers face between ensuring civil liberties and protecting national security.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama trotted out his best jokes at the 2015 White House turkey pardon Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Garden, even getting some laughs from his daughters -– who appeared at times disinterested in last year’s proceedings.

“It is hard to believe that this is my seventh year of pardoning turkeys,” Obama said. “Time flies, even if turkeys don’t.”

“That was good, that was good,” Sasha, his youngest daughter, said with a giggle.

“I thought it was good,” the president replied.

This year’s lucky turkey was “Abe,” an 18-week-old, 40-pound turkey raised in California’s Central Valley under the supervision of the National Turkey Federation.

“Abe is now a free bird. He’s TOTUS -– the Turkey of the United States,” Obama said.

“If for some reason Abe can't fulfill his duties to walk around and gobble all day, Honest is in an undisclosed location ready to serve in the TOTUS line of succession,” he continued.

The Obama daughters were criticized after last year's pardoning for looking bored at times. (One former Republican Capitol Hill staffer criticized them for their expressions, and later resigned over the remarks.)
This year, the First Daughters seemed to enjoy this year’s event, joking with each other and their father throughout the ceremony.

In his second-to-last turkey pardon -– potentially his last with both daughters, as Malia will start college next year -– the president thanked Sasha and Malia for their participation.

“They do this solely because it makes me feel good. Not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing,” he said.

“As you get older you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this, so I'm very grateful,” he continued.

Abe was picked to participate in the Rose Garden ceremony over his alternate, “Honest,” in an online poll. Both turkeys –- who were named by California school children -– will live out their days at a historic Virginia turkey farm after receiving their presidential pardons.

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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Americans should not be concerned that a similar attack to the one in Paris would happen on U.S. soil.

"As we go into Thanksgiving weekend, I want the American people to know is that we are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe," he said.

The president made those remarks after getting an update from his national security team on the homeland security posture in the wake of the Paris attacks and as the nation enters the holiday season.

"Today’s meeting will provide an opportunity for members of the president's national security team to review efforts to monitor threats, continually evaluate our security posture, and protect the American people. Per his instructions, the president will continue to be regularly apprised of these efforts," a White House official said before the meeting.

The official also noted that the administration is not aware of any credible, specific intelligence that indicates a Paris-like plot on the U.S. homeland.

The president spoke from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, after the approximately hour-long national security meeting in the Situation Room, which included updates from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The security update came just a day after Obama met with French President Francois Hollande, during which the two called for all western nations to step up their commitments in the fight against ISIS.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The famed Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, South Carolina was packed; Jeb Bush stood amidst an aging crowd, making his pitch on Common Core when he diverged.

“I was all-in on the education subject. I was like the pig in the breakfast experience not the chicken. If you know what I mean...I was the bacon,” he said. Silence filled the air.

“Get it?” he asked.

A few pity-laced chuckles ensued.

“I thought that was funny,” Bush joked, unfazed.

This is just one of Bush’s more bewildering aphorisms. The former Florida governor has a vast catalog brimming with obscure colloquiums (most are animal-focused), some of which he attributes to his Florida residence and all of which may bolster his self-characterization as a “nerd.”

Some amuse, others confuse, but Jeb-isms run in no short supply. These moments may come off as awkward on a great debate stage, but for the voters and reporters who cover him, his phrases can be endearing -- a streak of humanity for a candidate who Donald Trump famously derided as “low-energy.”

Let’s take a look at three of the more common phrases:

“Let The Big Dog Eat”

This phrase is Bush’s most-used on the campaign trail. It commonly makes its way into his lexicon when referring to regulatory and economic reform.

At a recent town hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bush said, “People just need to lighten the load up and let people rise up as we say in North Florida, we just need to let the big dog eat. A big dog is inside of each of us.”

As oft-used as this phrase is, when Bush campaigns in New Hampshire as he often does, this particular saying can be met with a mix of bemusement and bewilderment.

“Unleash the Animal Spirits”

Bush uses this phrase when he’s speaking broadly about his plan to bolster the economy and hit 4 percent growth.

During his energy rollout in Pennsylvania in late September, he said, "This is what makes America so extraordinary and so special. We just have to unleash the animal spirits as Americans and we will be America renewed again."

And in North Carolina, “The animal spirits still exist inside America.”

In Iowa, Bush’s usage of the phrase served to complicate a reference to our previous expression.

A voter asked him what “let the big dog eat” means. “It means releasing the animal spirits of this country, how about that?” Bush answered.

He continued by saying, “This country is extraordinary and it’s because we have this unique ability to take risks, to innovate, to try different things, to dust ourselves off, two-steps-forward one-step-back. We’re a dynamic country and we’re losing our dynamism. That’s what I meant.”

"Frogs…Or Crabs In a Barrel"

In Conway, South Carolina, Bush was asked about Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan to make college free. He called such tactics “insidious," slamming the notion that the government “can just take care of us.”

And then the metaphor came.

“It’s like the crabs in the, you know, whatever -- the crabs in the boiling water,” Bush began.

A voter tried to help. “Frogs!” she shouted.

“The frogs,” Mr. Bush continued. “You think it’s warm, and it feels pretty good and then it feels like you’re in a whirlpool -- you know, a Jacuzzi or something.”

“And then you’re dead,” he concluded. “That’s how this works.”

The Bush campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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Liz Kreutz/ABC News(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- After a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton slipped backstage at the Nashua Radisson, where 18 of her biggest fans were waiting.

“I’m so happy you all could come,” Clinton said after posing for a photo with the group who had traveled from Arkansas to be there. “Thank you, thank you.”

For the next five minutes or so, Clinton chatted with them about life: the Razorbacks, her granddaughter, husband Bill, general happenings on the campaign trail. They updated her on their plans. She then hugged each of them and said goodbye. It was back to work -- for everyone.

But this was no ordinary group of supporters. These were the “Arkansas Travelers,” a cadre of loyal Democrats -- some of whom are longtime friends and colleagues of the Clintons -- who got together in 1992 to travel the country to campaign for the future president’s first White House bid.

In 1992, the group’s efforts turned out to be a real boon for Bill Clinton, who was still relatively unknown to many across the country (“Travelers” recall knocking on doors in Iowa and meeting person after person who had never even heard of him).

Ever since, the group has become a staple part of a Clinton presidential campaign -- reuniting for Bill Clinton in 1996, for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and now in 2016. And in an election year that’s never seen more of an emphasis on digital campaign strategies, these “Travelers” are doing things the old-fashioned way. After all, it’s worked for them before.

When Hillary Clinton greeted them in Nashua, members of the group had already been out campaigning for five straight days -- door knocking, canvassing, attending house parties and dinners all across the Granite State on behalf of the former secretary of state. And this visit was just the beginning; the “Travelers” plan to campaign for Clinton in additional states over the next year.

The job of getting the band back together fell to Sheila Bronfman, the founder and organizer of the “Arkansas Travelers,” who got to work rallying the troops in April after Clinton officially announced her candidacy. By November, she had recruited more than 400 volunteers -- many of them first-timers.

But some of the old-timers are on the move this year too, including Bronfman, who wears a whistle around her neck, which she uses to gather up her fellow “Travelers.” Ann Henry, 76, and her husband, Morriss, 83, -- the couple who hosted the Clintons' wedding reception in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1975 -- are also back on the campaign trail.

“We're people that have met her, we know her personally, and the other people around here perhaps have only seen her on TV,” Morriss Henry, a physician who served in the Arkansas state legislature, told ABC News in an interview. “They're interested in finding out who she really is in person, and to talk to somebody that has had that experience, like we have, of knowing both Bill and Hillary. And I've known them for a long time.”

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Photo by Kris Connor/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Barbra Streisand said Tuesday that she’d have a hard time imagining Donald Trump as President of the United States, but thinks a general election matchup between the real estate mogul and Hillary Clinton would be "one of the greatest moments in television history."

The actress and singer, who received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday evening, said the thought of receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor from Trump was “terrifyingly scary.”

“What if that was Donald Trump up there, I couldn't help but think, ‘what would he say?’” she said. “The president [Obama] is so eloquent, so dignified.”

“I probably would've choked,” she added. “It's terrifyingly scary, but it's funny. But scary.”

Streisand, a vocal supporter of President Obama, is also one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest boosters in Hollywood.

“I want Hillary Clinton to be president,” she said. “We need a woman president, we need compassion, we need to have a person who comes from the heart.”

She said a Clinton/Trump general election matchup would be “one of the greatest moments in television history.”

“Everybody would watch,” she said. “I can’t even imagine. I mean, I’m not worried about her.”

Streisand was one of 17 people awarded the Medal of Freedom by the president, a group that also included director Steven Spielberg, Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays and musician James Taylor.

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ABC News(ROCK HILL, S.C.) -- As GOP candidate Donald Trump doubles down on claims that he saw Americans in New Jersey cheering on 9/11, his rival, Jeb Bush, strongly denounced those comments Tuesday while campaigning in South Carolina.

"I don’t recall that. There was no cheering on any -- it would have been on television, it would have been recorded,” Bush said.

A memory, he said, he instead recalls is that of peaceful Muslim-Americans.

“What I remember were a lot of peaceful Muslims that were disheartened and grieved and sad and angry just as every other American was as well,” the former governor of Florida said.

Trump defended comments he made on Saturday -- that he saw thousands of people in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering when the World Trade Center was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week. "They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down, and that tells you something. It was well covered at the time.”

These claims have been widely debunked. ABC News, among many other news organizations, has investigated and no evidence of such cheering in Jersey City has been found.

While there were images of people cheering the towers’ collapse in parts of the Middle East, there is no record of such celebrations in New Jersey. There were some Internet rumors of Muslims celebrating the towers’ fall in Paterson, New Jersey, but those were discounted by local police at the time.

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Ty Wright/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Donald Trump stands by comments he made about 9/11, other Republican presidential hopefuls deny the claims.

Trump is not backing down after he said he saw people cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001. On the campaign trail in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Tuesday, Trump said he's received "hundreds of phone calls" from people agreeing with him since he made the comments in the past few days.

These claims have been widely debunked. ABC News, among many other news organizations has investigated and no evidence of such cheering in Jersey City has been found.

Earlier Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he strongly condemned Trump's claims and he remembered "a lot of peaceful Muslims that were disheartened and grieved and sad and angry just as every other American was as well."

In an interview Tuesday with Bret Baier on Fox News, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he didn't recall Muslims celebrating in Jersey City.

“As I said before if that had happened, I'd recall it and I don’t," he told Baier.

Dr. Ben Carson on Monday told reporters he saw "newsreels" of American Muslims cheering in New Jersey during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, then a few hours later his campaign apologized and said he "doesn't stand behind" what he said and his remarks were "a mistake."

Trump responded to Carson backpedaling from his comments.

"For Ben Carson to make this statement and then deny it, could be the pathological disease that he wrote about acting up again,” he said in a statement.

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Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday awarded seventeen individuals the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an “extraordinary” group of artists, athletes, and politicians that included Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand and Willie Mays.

“Even by the standards of Medal of Freedom recipients, this is a class act,” President Obama said.

The president listed the accomplishments of the seventeen recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor, comments that revealed his personal connections and relationships with many of the honorees.

“I’m proud to call the next honoree a friend, as well.  The truth is, a lot of people say that about James Taylor.  That’s what happens when you spend four decades telling people, ‘Just call out my name, and I’ll come running,’” he joked in his comments about James Taylor.

Of Willie Mays, he said:  “It’s because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for President.” 

He also had high praise for former Rep. Lee Hamilton and outgoing Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski – the longest-serving female member of Congress in history. Mikulski, he said, stood next to him when he signed his first bill into law --The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The ceremony was jovial and celebratory – a marked contrast from the mood in the East Room Tuesday morning for President Obama’s news conference with French President Francois Hollande.

The president appeared to be enjoying himself too, cracking jokes (“I didn’t know you were Jewish, Barbra.”) and mingling with the audience on the way out of the room, as the theme song to Spielberg’s E.T. played over the sound system.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was joined for the first time by his wife and some of his children on the campaign trail Tuesday night.

Speaking to thousands in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Trump’s wife, Melania, daughters Ivanka and Tiffany and youngest son Barron joined the candidate on stage.

“Isn’t he the best?" Melania Trump asked the crowd to loud cheers. “He will be the best President ever. We love you.”

It was just last week, that the Trumps sat down with ABC News' Barbara Walters. “I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America,” Melania told Walters. “He loves the American people and he wants to help them.”

Trump said his family was joining him ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The family will fly to Trump’s Mar-a-Largo Estate in Florida to celebrate together as Trump takes a few days off the trail.

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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama told French President Francois Hollande Tuesday that the United States stands united in "total solidarity" with France.

But beyond some changes on the margins of the United States' participation in the fight against ISIS extremists, the president did not announce any major shifts in strategy in light of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris.

Rather, he said the United States would "step up" its coordination with France by providing additional airlift and intelligence to its European partner, and he called for the European Union to implement an agreement that would require airlines to share passenger information.

His statements, at the beginning of a news conference with Hollande in the East Room of the White House, happened after the two leaders met privately in the Oval Office for the first time since the Nov. 13 terrorist attack in Paris that left 130 dead, where they were expected to discuss cooperation in the war against ISIS.

But before the meeting even began, the White House had signaled that its outcome might be more symbolic than substantive.

“I don't want to get ahead of the meeting, but I also wouldn't downplay the significance of additional expressions of solidarity and support," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.

Some observers had suggested that the United States and France could do more to streamline the intelligence-sharing that goes on between their two countries. But Earnest indicated that the White House believes that burden is on Europe.

"We certainly believe that there is more that France and their European partners can do in terms of sharing information among themselves and with the United States," he said.

And while Hollande has previously expressed hope that the Nov. 13 Paris attack would prompt the United States and Russia to "join forces" with other nations in the fight against ISIS, Obama has already indicated he doesn't plan on dramatically shifting course.

"The strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work," Obama told reporters in Turkey Nov. 16, three days after Paris sustained the terrorist attack that killed 130 people.

The United States has concerns about coordinating counterattacks against ISIS with Russia, as President Vladimir Putin has been focused on striking enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not ISIS itself.

The discussions were overshadowed by news Tuesday that Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that it claimed was violating its airspace. Turkey had also voiced voiced concerns that Moscow had been targeting ethnic minorities who are fighting alongside Syrian rebel groups against Assad.

Obama noted his skepticism about Russia's commitment to the anti-ISIS fight during a trip to East Asia last week.

"The question at this point is whether [Russia] can make the strategic adjustment that allows them to be effective partners with us," Obama said during a news conference in Malaysia Sunday. "And we don't know that yet."

Another aspect of the anti-ISIS fight that Obama will likely underscore with Hollande is the influx of Syrian refugees who are seeking resettlement in both leaders' nations.

U.S. politicians have been urging the United States to pause its Syrian refugee program until the administration can confirm that it's airtight against possible terrorist infiltration. Obama wants to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country over the next year.

Meanwhile, France has said it will accept 30,000 more refugees over two years.

Obama slammed the notion of suspending the program, calling it "un-American."

"There’s a difference between smart applications of law enforcement and military and intelligence, and succumbing to the kind of fear that leads us to abandon our values, to abandon how we live, to abandon -- or change how we treat each other," he said in Malaysia.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Most presidential candidates are looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday as a welcome break from the campaign trail. For Mike Huckabee, it's a chance to get knee surgery without missing any campaign events.

"About two weeks ago, I was walking through an airport in South Carolina, heard this loud pop, and everybody around me said what was that? I said that was my knee," Huckabee told employees at C&C Machining in Centerville, Iowa, during a campaign stop last week.

Huckabee joked with workers that he was at their factory to have a new cane made, acknowledging the injury that has forced him to hobble on the campaign trail.

"I’ve got bone chips floating around in there that are stabbing me all over the place so that’s got to get fixed," Huckabee said. The outpatient surgery will be performed Wednesday, and Huckabee said the surgery won't affect his campaign schedule.


On the campaign trail with @GovMikeHuckabee , who's hobbled with chipped bones in knee. https://t.co/8ZrGDfpyDl pic.twitter.com/gJZahYT7cX

— Kathy Bolten (@kbolten) November 20, 2015

 "I’m not going to miss a single campaign event so to all my opponents out there, you’re not going to get an advantage just because I’m laid low," Huckabee told ABC News.

The former Arkansas governor has been struggling in the polls. He was relegated to the undercard debate on Fox Business earlier this month in Milwaukee, the first time that Huckabee hadn't appeared on the main stage. In the Quinnipiac University poll of likely Republican Caucus-goers released Tuesday, Mike Huckabee is tied in 8th place with Chris Christie and Rick Santorum at 2 percent.

Huckabee told ABC that he won't be frying the Thanksgiving turkey this year -- his son will handle that. But, he hopes to be back on the campaign trail early next week.

"No reason to feel sorry for me. I shall live through this, I’m pretty sure," Huckabee joked.

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ABC News (NEW YORK) — Where will the 2016 presidential candidates be Tuesday? Read below to find out their schedules:

Donald Trump is will travel to South Carolina Tuesday night for a rally in Myrtle Beach at 7 p.m. EST.

Jeb Bush is also taking his campaign to South Carolina. On Tuesday afternoon, Bush will attend an event with the Salvation Army in Greenville, followed by an afternoon stop at the famous Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg. The drive-in is a popular stop for candidates and a true South Carolina experience. In the evening, he will hold a town hall in Rock Hill.  

Marco Rubio is in Iowa Tuesday, holding an afternoon town hall in Grinnell.

Hillary Clinton is stumping in Colorado Tuesday. She’ll hold two "organizing events" Tuesday afternoon — first in Boulder and then later in Denver.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie will give a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C, Tuesday.

Rand Paul will stay home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he will a book signing.

Lindsey Graham will tour Horizons Food Pantry in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) — Turmoil abroad isn’t helping President Obama at home: After a brief rally the last few months, his job approval rating slipped back under 50 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Forty-six percent of Americans now approve of Obama’s job performance, while 50 percent disapprove. That’s a 5-point decline in the president’s approval rating from a month ago, when it exceeded the halfway mark for the first time since May 2013.

See PDF with full results here.

The president has lost 5 percentage points or more poll-to-poll just six times in 67 ABC/Post surveys measuring his job approval rating since he took office.

The economy, often the prime factor in evaluations of Obama’s performance, seems less significant at the moment: Forty-eight percent approve of his handling of the economy, but that’s held essentially steady all year, so seems not to explain his 5-point dip in approval overall.

Instead, concerns about terrorism seem to be damaging Obama’s overall ratings. As reported in an ABC/Post poll Friday, disapproval of his handling of terrorism has increased from 45 percent in January to 54 percent now, a career worst on what had been his best issue in his first term. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of his handling of ISIS in particular. On both items, strong disapproval is high.

Obama’s overall approval rating has taken a hit in some key groups in this poll, conducted for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. He’s lost 9 points since October among Democrats and nonwhites alike, to 77 percent approval within his party and 69 percent among nonwhites, a core Democratic constituency. He gets just 34 percent approval from whites.

The president’s rating among all adults is 6 points better than his career low, 40 percent just more than a year ago. He’s in far better shape that was George W. Bush at this point in his presidency, 33 percent approval, but worse than Bill Clinton’s 59 percent.

Among other groups, about six in 10 young adults and urban residents approve of Obama’s job performance, compared with 42 percent of all those age 30-plus and 29 percent of those living in rural areas. Liberal Democrats approve by a broad 86-12 percent. Among conservative Republicans, the president’s approval rating plummets to 9 percent.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Nov. 16-19, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — With less than 70 days to the Iowa Caucus, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is seeing larger numbers at his events, increased fundraising, and a momentum that has propelled him to second place in Tuesday's Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa Republican Caucus-goers. Cruz's support has doubled since the last Quinnipiac poll four weeks ago and he finds himself in a dead heat with Donald Trump for the top spot.

"The difference over the last two or three months each time he comes to the state, it just seems like there’s more excitement and people seem to be starting to understand that they have their champion in this election cycle," Cruz's Iowa State Director Bryan English told ABC News.

There's a growing consensus among Iowa's conservatives that they must elect someone this time around who can get past the early states as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum struggled to do.

“There is a great deal of frustration that the last two times, those candidates weren’t able to take that caucus win and turn it into a nomination," said English.

Loras Schulte is so excited about Cruz that he resigned last week from the state's central committee with the Iowa Republican Party, a position that requires its members to remain neutral.

“Here’s a man that’s willing to stand-up on the floor of the Senate and call out the leadership, the Republican leadership in the Senate," Schulte told ABC. "It’s not someone I would look at as a quintessential insider. It can’t just be about making it to South Carolina. It’s about going the distance."

Cruz has been in third place in Iowa polls since roughly July down double digits to Ben Carson and Trump. In the CNN/ORC poll from November 6th, Trump and Carson led Cruz by double digits.

Cruz’s fundraising prowess has enabled his campaign to add more field staff in Iowa and the senator himself has hit the ground harder, making five trips to the Hawkeye State in the past five months. Cruz's campaign and a super PAC supporting him have also begun running television ads in Iowa and Cruz's campaign was given a boost when Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, endorsed him eight days ago.

"We are in great shape here in Iowa, but unlike many other campaigns, we don’t have to win Iowa in order to keep working to the nomination," English told ABC. “We already have the infrastructure in the early states, up to and including the SEC primary states, to continue earning delegates long after Feb. 1."

Cruz's Iowa team said one of the reasons why Cruz is starting to catch on is that he doesn't just appeal to evangelicals, but also to libertarians, moderate Republicans, and even some Democrats.

Last month at an old-fashioned soda counter in Sidney, Iowa, the senator was greeted by a Vietnam veteran who told him, "I voted for Obama for change. Now all I got is change. That's why I am voting for you."

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