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Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved. Saturday, February 13, 2016
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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.

This story is developing…

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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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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

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.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders had little money and name recognition when he entered the 2016 race for the White House, but the son of a Polish immigrant made history in New Hampshire earlier this week, becoming the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary election.

Even though the self-described Democratic socialist has said in the past that he is culturally Jewish, but “not particularly religious,” members of the Jewish community -- both Democrats and Republicans -- have been taking notice.

“We congratulate Senator Sanders on his victory,” Greg Rosenbaum, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, a political lobbying group, said.

Even the Republican Jewish Coalition, also a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, had positive things to say about Sanders’ decisive win in the Granite State.

“We’re happy when anybody who is Jewish is successful politically and this is just another step in the right direction for diversity on the national stage whether it’s religiously, racially or gender wise,” Mark McNulty, a spokesman for the organization, said.

But McNulty cautioned that even if Sanders prevails in the Democratic race and becomes the first Jewish presidential nominee, the Republican Jewish Coalition will support the GOP candidate, not the independent Vermont senator.

And Rosenbaum, of the National Jewish Democratic Council, argued that there is a stark contrast between how the two parties support Jewish values.

“The Democratic nominating process is shaping up as a discussion of how best to implement policy that is very much in line with Jewish values,” he said, “while the Republicans remind us time and time again of how out of touch their party is with issues that matter to most American Jews.”

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization that supports Israel and promotes cooperation between Jews and Christians, said the Democratic contest “is a sign our democracy is flourishing when a Jew and women from both parties can be considered serious candidates for president of the United States and we've had an African-American president.”

Eckstein added, "The Jewish community is, of course, not monolithic and there are Jewish supporters of every candidate in the race, who will base that support on those candidates' positions on important issues, rather than on their religions or backgrounds.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Following a disappointing fifth place finish in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio is going on the offensive.

Hoping for a better performance in Saturday's South Carolina primary, Rubio has spent the last few days repeatedly blasting Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz at various campaign stops in the Palmetto State.

"Donald Trump has zero foreign policy experience,” Rubio said in Okatie, South Carolina. “Negotiating a hotel deal in another country is not foreign policy experience.”

He also slammed Trump for recently using a vulgar word to refer to Cruz.

“You turn on your TV and you have the leading presidential candidate saying profanity from the stage. Profanity, from the stage. All these things undermine the things we teach our children,” Rubio said.

Turning to Bush, he accused his former mentor of having “no foreign policy experience, period.”

He assailed Cruz for voting for a federal budget that “bragged about cutting defense spending.”

When reporters later asked Rubio to respond to new attack ads aimed at him from the Cruz campaign, Rubio said Cruz was willing to “say or do anything to get elected. That’s why he ordered his campaign or his campaign ordered people to tell people that Ben Carson was dropping out in Iowa in order to hopefully steal away some votes.”

Rubio’s bare-knuckle approach represents a shift for the Florida senator. Up until recently, he has largely avoided going after other Republicans. But he now says the reason he had a bad debate last week was because he had made the decision not to hit back when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attacked his record (Rubio instead repeated the same Obama line four times, which had many mocking his performance as robotic).

“In hindsight, maybe that was a mistake,” he told ABC’s Jon Karl.

"I shouldn’t have done it that way because what it did was it moved me to a message that pivoted away from the question and gave this perception that I tried to evade it,” he said. “The truth is, I just didn’t want to get into a Republican-on-Republican fight, but in hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best way to approach it.”

Rubio will get the chance to make things right for his campaign at the next debate, which takes place tomorrow in Greenville, South Carolina. He maintains that he won’t attack other Republicans “gratuitously” but that he does think it’s time they start discussing their policy differences.

"I’m not going to go in with the goal of attacking other Republicans," he told reporters on Thursday. "But if there’s a policy difference, voters deserve to know that, because they’re trying to make a choice."

He added: "I think now the race is even narrower, the differences are gonna be a little sharper.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off Thursday night in the final Democratic debate before the Nevada caucuses, and on Friday, they will come face to face yet again.

Both Democratic presidential candidates will attend the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in St. Paul, Minnesota Friday evening.

Beforehand, Clinton will hold a town hall in Denmark, South Carolina in the afternoon, and Sanders will attend a forum on race and economic opportunity in the other twin city of Minneapolis earlier in the evening.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, all of the Republican candidates -- except Donald Trump -- will be in South Carolina on Friday. Most have a light schedule -- likely because they are preparing for Saturday night's GOP debate.

Jeb Bush will stop in Anderson Friday morning before attending a “cattle call” with several of his rivals.

Bush, along with Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, will all attend the Faith and Family Presidential Forum at the evangelical Bob Jones University. Carson speaks at 12:30 p.m., Bush speaks at 1:15 p.m., Rubio is at 2:15 p.m., and Cruz is at 4:45 p.m.The event is an important one as the evangelical voting bloc is an important one in the Palmetto State.

Carson and Cruz have no other events, but Rubio will hold a rally at 5 p.m. in Greenville.

John Kasich has three events in South Carolina Friday. In the morning, he will address the Chamber of Commerce in Columbia, before stopping for BBQ in Orangeburg later in the afternoon. He then holds a town hall in Hilton Head.

Trump, meanwhile, will hold an 8 p.m. rally in Tampa, Florida.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush fired back on attacks leveled by rival Marco Rubio that the former Florida governor has little or no foreign policy experience.

“To suggest that he has foreign policy experience and I don’t is kind of ludicrous,” Bush told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” Friday.

“I’m pretty fluent on foreign policy issues,” Bush added. “I look forward to debating Marco on these issues.”

Rubio said on the campaign trail in South Carolina earlier this week that Bush has “no foreign policy experience.”

"I thank God every day that George W. Bush was president, but Jeb has no foreign policy experience,” he added.

Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, will make his first public appearance on the campaign trail this year in South Carolina on Monday.

“He’s been supportive for a long while,” Jeb Bush said of his big brother. “This was the appropriate place for him to start his campaigning.”

Bush added, “For my brother to speak on my behalf about the skills I have to lead this country will be quite helpful.”

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Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Jazz at Lincoln Center(NEW YORK) -- If Michael Bloomberg becomes the second billionaire in the 2016 presidential race, his money won’t necessarily mean he could easily side-step the hurdles facing other candidates.

Indeed, he would face more obstacles by not running in one of the established political parties.

If the former New York City mayor -- who was elected twice as a Republican after leaving the Democratic Party -- decides to run for president, as he has been not-so-subtly hinting in recent interviews, he would join a list of previous candidates who have vied for the White House as an independent.

The Logistics of Breaking Out on Your Own

One of the most immediate challenges for a serious independent candidate would be to make sure his or her name showed up on the ballots in all 50 states, Georgetown University associate professor Hans Noel told ABC News.

The states differ dramatically on the requirements to qualify to have a candidate’s name added to a ballot. Generally, states require a certain percentage of the electorate to sign a petition to have the individual added to the ballot, ranging from more than 178,000 people in California to as few as 275 people in Tennessee, according to Ballotpedia, a website run by a nonprofit focused on government accountability.

The individual filing deadlines range mostly through the summer months, with Texas having the earliest deadline of May 9, according to the site.

A candidate would likely want to hire someone in each state with local expertise, but, Noel points out, most of those individuals have that experience because they’ve been working for one of the main parties "for decades," making them less likely to break away for an independent.

Beyond that, the candidate in question would need to solicit thousands of signatures, indicating widespread appeal.

"If the barrier to an independent candidate were that they couldn’t mobilize enough people to get on the ballot in the 50 states, then that's somebody that’s not going to win," Noel said.

When it comes to campaign finances, the deadline is less of a factor. Christian Hilland, a spokesman for the Federal Election Commission, said candidates need to register with the agency within 15 days of spending at least $5,000 on campaign activity.

The FEC allows for preliminary work and an exploratory committee to be formed, both of which could easily cost more than $5,000, without having the candidate formally register. That grace period ends when the individual begins explicitly referring to him or herself as a candidate, Hilland said.

Past Cases

Ross Perot and Ralph Nader may have been the most recent men to run as independent candidates, with the Reform and Green parties, respectively, but they weren’t the most successful in terms of results, Noel says.

"The most successful independent candidate was Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 and he had already been president … and he still didn’t win," Noel said.

Democratic candidate then-Gov. Woodrow Wilson ended up winning with 41.8 percent of the vote, while Roosevelt got 27.4 percent as a member of the Progressive Party. William Howard Taft won 23.2 percent and socialist Eugene Debs got 6 percent of the vote.

Noel explained that, essentially, Wilson held on to the majority of the Democrats, Roosevelt and Taft effectively split the Republicans, costing themselves the election.

"It’s reasonable to suggest that either had Roosevelt not run or Taft not run, either one of them might have beat Wilson, but because they were both in the race, neither won," Noel said.

Noel said that it remains unclear with which party Bloomberg would align more closely, which makes sense given the media mogul’s political history. He was a registered Democrat until 2001 when he decided to run for New York City mayor as a Republican. Bloomberg, 73, stayed with the GOP until 2007 when he became a registered independent before winning a third term.

"Whichever party he is closest to, his running helps the other candidate," Noel said.

Looking at the Electoral Map

Beyond ballot access and political posturing, the biggest factor that will prove difficult is that Bloomberg would have to win -- not come in second, but win -- a sizeable number of states to seriously compete with the Democratic and Republican nominees.

"You could end up coming in second behind the Democrat in a lot Democratic states and end up coming in second behind the Republican in a lot Republican states and win no electoral college states at all," Noel said.

In the case of Perot in 1992, he earned 18.9 percent of the vote but those votes were from "all over the place," so he didn’t collect any electoral college votes.

"Swing states might be the place [Bloomberg] would be more likely to win because these are places that both of the other two parties are evenly matched, so he might be able to squeeze in there," Noel said. "Those places are larger and more diverse."

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image(LOS ANGELES) --   Leaving his dancing shoes at home this time around, President Obama returned to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Thursday for a wide-ranging interview for Friday's episode on everything from a “depressing” Washington, D.C., to tears he plans to shed at his daughter's coming graduation.

Obama's last appearance on the show was in 2007, when then-Sen. Obama broke down some dance moves to Beyonce's “Crazy in Love.”

This time around, Obama, becoming the first president to join DeGeneres for an in-studio interview, was more restrained.

DeGeneres surprised Obama with a Valentine's Day video message from his wife, Michelle Obama, who appeared on the show last year.

Obama responded with his own message from the Los Angeles studio, where he promised he would be gifting the first lady some zucchini bread and a massage.

DeGeneres, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, then thanked the president for her staying married to her own "strong, beautiful" wife.

Obama, who spent the day in California keynoting several Democratic fundraisers, admitted to DeGeneres his joy with being outside the Washington bubble.

"It’s always good to get out of Washington, which can sometimes be a little depressing," Obama said, though admitting his sadness over having to give up Air Force One as the end of his presidency approaches.

Obama insisted, as he has multiple times during the 2016 presidential campaign, that despite early turbulence, "the ship will be righted" and cooler heads will prevail.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- After criticizing Hillary Clinton’s Iraq War vote at Thursday's presidential Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bernie Sanders turned to attacking Clinton’s relationship with Henry Kissinger, whom Sanders called “one of the most destructive secretaries of state.”

“In her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger,” Sanders said. “Now I find it rather amazing because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country."

Sanders continued: "I'm proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.”

“Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy and we have yet to know who that is,” Clinton responded.

“Well, it ain't Henry Kissinger, that's for sure,” Sanders shot back.

Kissinger, now 92, served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

He also received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver still wouldn’t say who advises the candidate on foreign policy but said, "we'll get you a list soon."

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