<![CDATA[NBC New York - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 01 Nov 2014 00:02:43 -0400 Sat, 01 Nov 2014 00:02:43 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Most NYers Approve of Cuomo's Ebola Response: Poll]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:20:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino1.jpg

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers approve of the way Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the state's first case of Ebola, and even more are in favor of quarantining people who have come in contact with Ebola patients, according to a new poll that shows him with a solid lead over his gubernatorial challenger.

Sixty-three percent backed Cuomo on his reaction to the hospitalization of a New York City doctor with Ebola versus 22 percent who did not, the NBC 4 New York/The Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll released Thursday found.

The poll comes less than a week before Cuomo faces Republican challenger Rob Astorino at the polls in a bid for a second term. Cuomo is ahead of Astorino, the Westchester County executive, by almost two to one, with 56 percent of likely voters supporting the incumbent and 30 percent supporting Astorino. The Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, gets 6 percent of the vote.

Seven percent of respondents are undecided.

“This remains a lopsided contest between Cuomo and Astorino,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The poll surveyed 1,042 adults from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. It included 880 registered voters, 503 of whom were expected to vote. The margin of error for all adults was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll comes after Craig Spencer, a New York City doctor who had recently volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was hospitalized and diagnosed with Ebola last week, and after Cuomo announced strict new quarantine requirements for Ebola workers returning from West Africa. The day before Spencer developed symptoms and was isolated at Bellevue Hospital Center, he had gone running, visited a park, eaten at a restaurant, taken the subway and gone bowling in Brooklyn.

On Oct. 24, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and others arriving from West Africa who had had contact with Ebola patients. The policy immediately drew criticism from public health and medical experts who called it unnecessary and likely to discourage much-needed volunteers in West Africa.

New York’s new protocols allow travelers to be quarantined in their own homes. If a traveler were planning to stay at a hotel, the New York City Health Department must first assess its suitability. Out-of-city and out-of-state quarantines can also be approved.

New Yorkers, according to the poll, are in favor of a ban on travel to the United States from the West African countries in the midst of an Ebola epidemic, with 57 percent approving a ban compared with 38 percent who do not. Only black likely voters disapproved of such a ban, with 42 percent backing one and 53 percent opposing one.

Cuomo has said that the federal government should consider a travel ban during the Ebola crisis.

An even greater percentage of New Yorkers, 82 percent, said they supported the 21-day quarantine of anyone arriving from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients, regardless of whether the person were showing symptoms. Only 15 percent disapproved of that quarantine.

Joy Dunkley, a 53-year-old librarian from New York City, said there was no need for quarantines for medical personal who could monitor themselves, nor for a travel ban.

Dunkley, who has a master's degree in public health, said she was a Democrat but would not vote for Cuomo.

“I think he was just an opportunist,” said Dunkley. “This is an election year and we all know his intention is to run for president so he just thought he could jump on the band wagon. But it’s a poor way to treat our health professionals.”

In the race for governor, Cuomo is winning among three-quarters of Democrats and almost a third of Republicans, Miringoff said. The race is closest upstate, where the governor is ahead of Astorino by 9 percentage points. In New York City, Cuomo leads 72 percent to 13 percent. In the suburbs, Cuomo leads 57 percent to 37 percent.

Those numbers are little changed from September, when Cuomo led Astorino 54 percent to 29 percent among likely voters.

The majority of voters who favor Astorino are voting against Cuomo, he said. Forty-one percent of likely voters do not have a favorable opinion of Astorino compared with 32 percent who do. Twenty-seven percent said they were unsure or had never heard of Astorino.

Favorability numbers were flipped for Cuomo as compared with Astorino. Fifty-six percent had a favorable opinion of the governor, 37 percent had an unfavorable one and only 7 percent were unsure.

But if New York’s registered voters seem inclined to re-elect Cuomo, they have little interest in sending him to the White House. Only 20 percent said they wanted him to run for president in 2016. Sixty-seven percent said they did not.

“Not a big send-off at this point if Cuomo has wider ambitions,” Miringoff said.

<![CDATA[NASA Rocket Explodes With NJ Students' Experiment]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:07:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Wallops+Island+rocket+launch+explosion+1028-rocket.jpg

A group of South Jersey students watched in person as their award-winning science experiment blasted off toward the International Space Station Tuesday night, only to see the rocket carrying it explode seconds later.

The group of Ocean City High School students made the trip down to Wallops Island, Virginia to witness the launch of NASA’s Antares ORB-3 since their experiment was on board when the rocket blasted off Tuesday around 6:22 p.m.

Moments later, the rocket — along with the students’ experiment — fell back to the ground in a fireball.

Nobody was injured in the accident, and all personnel were accounted for, the launch director said soon after the blast.

Ocean City Principal Matthew Jamison said the students were a safe distance from the blast and that no one was hurt.

Dan Bowersock — whose daughter Lauren Bowersock helped design the test tube-sized experiment — said that shortly after the blast the students boarded a bus to return home.

Bowersock and five classmates designed an experiment that was intended to examine the effect of microgravity on E. coli attachment to lettuce leaves, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

There was significant damage to the equipment on board the rocket. The Cygnus capsule was carrying "classified cryptoequipment," and the area around the debris field needed to be secured for accident investigation and security reasons, the launch director said.

An official said on NASA's livestream of the explosion's aftermath that the countdown had been "flawless" and the launch team had not been tracking any known issues.

The rocket launch was initially scheduled for Monday evening, but got scrubbed when a sailboat entered the hazard zone about 40 miles off the coast.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were expected to perform the first investigation.

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<![CDATA[Astorino Attacks Cuomo for Allegedly Using Federal Funds for Sandy Ads]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:51:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sandy+politics+cuomo.jpg On the eve of the second anniversary of Sandy, Gov. Cuomo met with hurricane victims as Rob Astorino criticized the governor's alleged use of funds for Sandy ads. Greg Cergol reports]]> <![CDATA[Cuomo's Controversial Ebola Quarantine Policy]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:52:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005182512_1200x675_348575299637.jpg Since Gov. Cuomo announced a new mandatory quarantine policy along with Gov. Christie Friday, he's been experiencing blowback. Melissa Russo reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Differences Show in Gov. Debate]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:01:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Baker+Coakley+Debate.jpg

On Monday, Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley showcased their differences in the Massachusetts gubernatorial debate moderated by NECN's Latoyia Edwards at Worcester's Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Coakley addressed reports that she is behind in some polls in a state that has favored Democrats historically; however, earlier Monday, the New York Times placed Coakley with 45 percent in favor of the Democrat and 41 percent in favor of the Republican.

"I believe this race is pretty close right now," Coakley said. "I'm confident we're going to win on Nov. 4."

It didn't take long for the candidates to begin disputing the hot topic of the Massachusetts economy. Baker said that the difference between him and Coakley is he will not raise taxes for the citizens of the Bay State.

"He has a typical Republican playbook of cut taxes for big businesses," Coakley said, adding that she will invest in the people, rather than give breaks to corporations.

Another topic that has the state divided is the question of Boston hosting the 2024 Olympics. Baker said he believes it's a great planning exercise, while Coakley supported the plan fully.

"I say go for the gold," Coakley said.

Health care and the problems that Harvard Pilgrim have faced was another point of disagreement. Coakley told Baker that the turnaround resulted in layoffs and lost care, as he made choices Coakley said she would not have made.

"You look at the bottom line and don't see people," Coakley explained.

"So, you don't have any suggestions about how you would have dealt with the problems at Harvard Pilgrim?" Baker asked Coakley, prompting an applause from his supporters.

"That's not the point," Coakley said. "You are always looking at the bottom line, and so that's one example of it."

The candidates soon segued into Baker's quest to seek 100 percent support of Massachusetts voters, specifically the support of women.

"I don't have a group called 'Men for Martha," Coakley shot back. "I look at the people who haven't had a seat at the table."

There were a few questions that Baker and Coakley agreed on in the lightning round, including support of the casino law and the freezing of coalition rates. In addition, both candidates said they will stop running for public office if they lose the 2014 gubernatorial race.

NECN, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Telegram & Gazette and Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts hosted Monday's debate.

Photo Credit: NECN
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<![CDATA[Jeb Bush Still Hasn't Made Decision on 2016]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:19:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/474646291.jpg

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush still "has not made a decision" about whether he'll run for president in 2016, a spokesperson said after the GOP politician's son seemed to suggest over the weekend that a bid is likely.

"Governor Bush has not yet made a decision on whether or not he will run in 2016. He will thoughtfully consider it following the mid-term elections, and make a decision late this year or in the early part of next year," Bush's spokesperson, Kristy Campbell, told NBC News.

But in an interview with ABC News' John Karl, son George P. Bush said his father is " still assessing it."

"I think it's -- it's more than likely that he's giving this a serious thought and moving -- and moving forward," George P. Bush said.

"More than likely that he'll run?" Karl asked.

"That he'll run. If you had asked me a few years back, I -- I would have said it was less likely," the younger Bush responded.

In an interview with Fox earlier this month, former President George W. Bush said he thinks his brother "wants to be president."

"Yes, I think he wants to be president," he said. "I think he'd be a great president. He understands what it's like to be president -- for not only the person running or serving, plus family," he said.

Jeb Bush, 61, was Florida's governor from 1999 to 2007. He has been popping up in recent ads supporting current Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his re-election bid.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cuomo Ripped Over Moreland in Debate]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:48:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/169*120/AP895082250901.jpg Gov. Cuomo took big hits from his gubernatorial challengers over the Moreland Commission scandal. See some of the highlights from Wednesday's debate.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Anthony Weiner: "My Political Career is Probably Over"]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:56:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/anthony+weiner+august+2.jpg

In an interview with Politico, Anthony Weiner said he is done with politics both in the nation’s capital and in New York City and that he “would have lost (his) marbles” if he had stayed in Congress after his son was born.

The former congressman and mayoral candidate told the political blog he has been keeping busy with business, media appearances and his son, Jordan. He said he has no plans to make another political comeback after the sexting scandals that forced him to resign from Congress in 2011 and derailed his campaign to be the Democratic candidate for New York City mayor in 2013. 

“I mean, realistically, my political career is probably over,” Weiner told Politico. “The only job I ever wanted more than Congress was mayor, and I don’t think that either of those two jobs are going to be available. So, no, it’s not like, ‘OK, how do I get back in?’ I’m not thinking that anymore. I think I kind of took my stab at that.”

Weiner has spent his time away from public service working as a political consultant and pundit. He's also setting up a hybrid restaurant/social service agency for at-risk youth in the Rockaways. He told Politico the time away from the limelight has also allowed him to spend more time with his son.

Weiner said he has already taken the 3-year-old to his first Mets game and has watched “The Lorax” with his son “about 291 times.” He said he thinks that if he hadn’t resigned in 2011, he would have eventually left Congress to be more involved in his son’s upbringing.

“I would have quit Congress to be home with Jordan, plain and simple. I would not be sitting around in Washington waiting for the Senate to come back into session to pass some (continuing resolution),” Weiner said. “I could not imagine it any other way. I would’ve lost my marbles.”

Weiner added that he’s a little nervous about the conversations he might have to have with his son in the future about "the birds and the bees" and his sexting scandals, but said he’s more focused on other fatherly concerns. He wouldn't say if he is messaging women again.

Weiner also refused to comment on whether his wife, Huma Abedin, would be involved in a potential presidential campaign for Hillary Clinton.

Abedin was the former First Lady's traveling chief of staff during her 2008 presidential run and served as a top aide while Clinton was Secretary of State.

<![CDATA[Rivals Debate in NH Senate Race]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:06:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/vlcsnap-2014-10-21-21h11m54s10.jpg

Scott Brown continued to hammer away at Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's record in Washington as the incumbent repeatedly accused her Republican opponent of fear mongering during a debate in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race Tuesday.

Brown accused Shaheen of "outsourcing independence" by voting for policies backed by President Barack Obama. Shaheen, meanwhile, sought to distance herself from the president, who has low approval ratings in New Hampshire.

"In some ways I approve, in some ways I don't approve," of the president's decisions, Shaheen said when asked to answer "yes or no" if she approves of Obama's job in office.

The latest efforts to contain and prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States also became a hot topic, as Brown pushed for a travel ban from West Africa. Shaheen reiterated a comment from a day earlier that she would consider one if it would make a difference. That position was a reversal from last week, when she said she didn't think the idea "makes sense." 

The Democratic incumbent accused her rival of fear mongering on the Ebola virus, border security and the threat of terrorism posed by ISIS.

The two rivals remain locked in a close race as they headed into Tuesday's televised debate, which was hosted by New England Cable News, the Concord Monitor and the University of New Hampshire. A recent WMUR Granite State poll showed Shaheen leading her GOP challenger 44 percent to 38 percent among likely voters at the start of the month. Seventeen percent remained undecided.

The competitive race has attracted campaign cash and headlines from across the country, as one of several competitive seats Republicans are targeting in their bid to win control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

Chuck Todd, NBC's "Meet the Press" host, moderated the debate from the Capitol Center for the arts in Concord.

Shaheen said she was proud of her vote for the Obama's landmark heath care overhaul, the Affordable Care Act, while Brown insisted Granite Staters wanted to repeal Obamacare.

Sparks also flew on the topics of immigration and border security.

"The border is secure when people don't come across it," Brown said to the applause of supporters after Todd asked him to define a secure border.

Shaheen attacked Brown's record on abortion rights, which he says he supports; Brown, while senator for Massachusetts, supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed any employer with moral objections to opt out of requiring to cover birth control in 2012.

When Brown said Shaheen was anti-nuclear as the subject of rising energy costs came up, she countered, "No, I'm not!"

Brown suggested repeatedly that Shaheen backs a new national energy tax, an assertion PolitiFact has deemed "mostly false."

In a final lightning round, Shaheen said her priority after being re-elected would be to refinance student loans; Brown said he would push the U.S. Senate to come up with a budget. Both declined to say they'd back their respective party heads in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for another term in leadership. 

Barbs were also thrown after Brown defended his decision to run in New Hampshire this year instead of seeking to win back the Massachusetts seat he lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2012 by saying he didn't run "because I live here." 

"I don't think New Hampshire is a consolation prize," Shaheen said.


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<![CDATA[Rival Gets Hands on Campaign Book]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:40:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/carl+demaio+scott+peters.JPG

A new bombshell dropped Friday in the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District when both candidates confirmed a Carl DeMaio campaign strategy book, allegedly stolen during an office break-in, found its way into the hands of incumbent Scott Peters’ staff.

It is the latest revelation in an already ugly race peppered with attack ads and sexual harassment allegations.

The two had a chilly meeting Friday morning at a taping of NBC 7’s Politically Speaking, as DeMaio walked right by Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake.

During the session, DeMaio discussed the burglary and vandalism at his campaign headquarters on May 28. Cords and cables were cut, water was poured over laptops and printers, computer screens were smashed in and one important item was taken: DeMaio’s campaign playbook.

The candidate confronted Peters about the book on “Politically Speaking.”

“And Mr. Peters, I just want to ask a very simple question. Did your campaign come into possession of our strategy book, all of our direct mail pieces in the last five months?” asked DeMaio.

Peters responded with: “In early June, information was forwarded to our campaign which we immediately turned over to the police.”

DeMaio pressed the issue, asking Peters why he did not let his opponent’s campaign know that he had seen DeMaio’s playbook all along.

“I’ve obviously never seen it,” said Peters. “We turned it directly over to the police within 24 hours of getting it because what was contained in it was potentially part of a criminal investigation.”

He added his campaign manager “looked at it enough to know what it was.”

On Friday evening, Peters' Communication Director Alex Roth sent out the following statement about the revelation:

"To clarify, we do not know what a campaign playbook is; nor has our campaign ever received anything that could be characterized as 'a campaign playbook' as Mr. DeMaio called it. To reiterate, our campaign staff received information in early June that we immediately transmitted in its entirety to the police.This is nothing more than an attempt by Mr. DeMaio to divert attention away from the Filner-esque sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him.”

During the show's taping, Peters said he felt as if he had been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, which was portrayed with Watergate-like overtones when it first happened.

DeMaio told his opponent he does not believe Peters had anything to do with the burglary.

Instead, he blames former aide Todd Bosnich.

Bosnich has publicly accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him while he worked for the former San Diego City Councilman, releasing the results of a polygraph test that he says support his claims.

Called the allegations “outrageous lies,” DeMaio said Bosnich is trying to get revenge for being fired as a suspect in the break-in.

However, the candidate said he will not take a polygraph exam to rebut Bosnich’s allegations.

CNN reports Bosnich's lawyers sent the news outlet the results to a second polygraph test Friday in which Bosnich was asked if he broke into the campaign headquarters last May. The test shows Bosnich's "no" answers were "truthful and found "no deception."

Bosnich confirmed the story to NBC 7 via text message.

DeMaio's spokesman David McCulloch defended the candidate, saying in a statement, "Both Carl DeMaio and Tommy Knepper — named in a series of vile smear attacks — have taken lie detector tests that have shown these smears are baseless. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters admitted on NBC7/39 this morning that his campaign received stolen property from our campaign — begging the question: who provided this sensitive campaign material?"  

McCulloch later clarified that statement that the lie detector test taken by DeMaio was one in August 2013 after a former colleague accused DeMaio of lewd acts in San Diego's City Hall.

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<![CDATA[Campaign Ad Featuring James Foley Pulled]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:58:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_james_foley_ejecucion_isis_syria.jpg

A conservative ad campaign that featured James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, moments before his execution, will be pulled, the group responsible for the ad said.

Secure America Now President Allen Roth said in a statement that his group didn't intend to upset Foley's family with the ad attacking Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and that they "apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.“

“It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down," the statement continued. “The purpose of the video was to draw attention to Washington’s failure to secure our borders from real threats by terrorists. That remains our objective and we will continue to engage in this public debate.”

Foley, a Rochester native, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August, nearly two years after he was kidnapped in Syria. His parents say the ad was "deplorable" and told NECN in an emotional interview that they were demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Secure America Now used the image in a 15-second Internet ad attacking Shaheen, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Scott Brown, and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

Shaheen issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon condemning the ad.

"This is a disgraceful ad that dishonors the memory of a respected journalist and New Hampshire native," she said. "It hurts all who loved and knew Jim, and the people behind this ad owe the Foley family and apology."

According to Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Scott Brown, Brown said, "This is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”

Roth says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

Secure America Now emphasized that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NY Gov Candidates Talk Ebola]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:10:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino1.jpg Ebola has become a hot potato in the New York governor’s race. As Gov. Cuomo convened a meeting to show how prepared New York state is, his Republican opponent accused him of putting political correctness ahead of the safety of New Yorkers. Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Some Voters Listed as 164 Years Old in NYC BOE Records]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:05:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005147461_1200x675_346457667932.jpg More than 1,000 registered New York City voters are listed as 164 years old in Board of Elections records. Michael George has more on why some voters are listed this way.]]> <![CDATA[Astorino Challenges Supporters to Question Cuomo for Cash]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/astorino+cuomo+challenge.jpg Short on cash? Willing to ask politicians some tough questions? You may make $1,000. It’s the latest bizarre twist in the race for governor in New York. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo explains]]> <![CDATA[Last Day to Register to Vote in New Jersey]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:23:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Voting-Sign-Generic-Ballot-1.jpg

With Election Day less than a month away, Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in New Jersey.

Information on where to register in person can be found here. Voter registration applications are also available online.

To register voters must be 18 years old by the Nov. 4 election and a resident of New Jersey for 30 days prior to the election. Voters must also be U.S. citizens and cannot be currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction.

New Jersey voters this year will decide on a U.S. Senate race, two proposed constitutional amendments and a dozen congressional races.

<![CDATA[NH Lawmaker Calls Congresswoman "Ugly as Sin"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:22:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Steve+Vaillancourt.jpg

Candidates for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District are speaking out after a state lawmaker described one of them as "ugly as sin."

The story has gained national attention and has both candidates denouncing the remarks. Republican state Representative Steven Vaillancourt wrote a blog post on Friday after he says he saw a poll that claimed more attractive candidates have the upper hand with voters.

In the blog, he wrote, "Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?"

Vaillancourt then compared her to a drag queen.

"Look, it's rude and offensive," Congresswoman Kuster said. "But I have a thick skin."

Kuster's Republican challenger, Marilinda Garcia, said the post was just plain mean.

"She doesn't deserve to be treated that way," Garcia said.

Congresswoman Kuster said Vaillancourt's comments reflect a broader issue with the Republican Party.

"I am more frustrated with the positions they stand for, and frankly, that leads to an environment where people say disrespectful things," Kuster said.

Garcia said she is frustrated that exactly three weeks before the election, the conversation has turned to this.

"Looks and appearance seem to supersede commentary and observation and the other things that are more important," Garcia said.

In Vaillancourt's blog, he called Garcia, "One of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere."

Garcia, who has worked with Vaillancourt during her four terms as a state representative, said the comments are not surprising and she is not at all flattered.

"He certainly is an equal opportunity offender," Garcia said.

NECN tried to reach Vaillancourt for comment, but no one answered when crews knocked at his Manchester home. He later sent an email referring NECN to his latest blog entry, which was posted Monday evening. Vaillancourt answers reporters' questions about whether or not he stands by his statements, writing, "Stand by the fact that Ms. Garcia is better looking than Ms. Kuster? If the reporters themselves don't see that, then they should question their own abilities to function."

In that same blog, Vaillancourt makes it clear, none of this is about supporting his party affiliation. In fact, he went on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"Anyone who has followed what I've written (more than 500 posts this past year) knows that neither looks nor race nor sexual orientation nor sex matters a whit to me," Vaillancourt wrote.

As for the 2nd Congressional District Race, the most recent poll shows Kuster with a two point lead over Garcia.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Gubernatorial Politics at Columbus Day Parade]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 18:40:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/russo+astorino+parade.jpg Italian pride ruled Fifth Avenue on Monday at New York City’s Columbus Day Parade, and when there’s a parade in New York, we know politicians are often right there too -- that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who’s vying to defeat Cuomo next month. Both are Italian-American. Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Clinton Recommends Grandmotherhood]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:39:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_hillaryclinton7.jpg

Thousands waited hours in the sun to see Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday in South Florida.

Clinton was signing copies of her new book "Hard Choices" at Books & Books at 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.

There, she spoke about her book and about becoming a grandmother just a few days ago, saying, "I highly recommend it!"

Earlier on Thursday, Clinton spoke at the Crew Network Convention & Marketplace at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach.

Her message for the 1,200 professional women at the event was one of empowerment.

"You can't get tied into knots by what others say and think, because we all know women sometimes get judged by different criteria -- even powerful women in powerful positions," she said.

Karyl Argamasilla, with the Miami Crew chapter, said she took Clinton's message to heart.

"At the end of the day, she's someone who has broken all the glass ceilings," Argamasilla said.

At one point, a woman in the audience shouted out, "2016!" -- the only mention of a possible presidential run during Clinton's Miami stops. But those in attendance said they don't doubt she'll be joining the race.

"She's already been to Iowa," said Steve Sails. "She's running."

<![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>