McConnell takes aim at Bannon as he looks ahead to challenges facing Republicans in 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took aim Friday at President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, as he looked ahead to some of the political and policy challenges the Republican Party will face in 2018. At a year-end news conference in the Capitol, McConnell offered only a few concrete details on the legislative agenda for the year ahead, which will begin with difficult decisions for the majority party on immigration, health care and spending priorities. He said he would meet with Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) during the first week of January to discuss their to-do list. Party leaders will also confront a demanding midterm campaign landscape that has been complicated by Bannon’s feud with McConnell and his attempt to use next year’s primaries to oust many GOP senators loyal to the leader. Looming over all of it is the rocky relationship between McConnell and Trump, who ended the year on a note of solidarity but have also clashed publicly in recent months. One major variable in that relationship is Bannon and the extent to which Trump sides with him over McConnell. “Well, let me just say this: The political genius on display of throwing away a seat in the reddest state in America is hard to ignore,” McConnell said when asked whether he blamed Bannon for Democrat Doug Jones’s win in the special election for Senate in Alabama this month. Bannon had backed Roy Moore, the controversial former state chief justice who defeated McConnell’s choice in the GOP primary, Sen. Luther Strange.Before the general election, Moore was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s. He denied the allegations and continued his campaign, even as McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders called on him to drop out. Bannon, however, stood by Moore, even campaigning with him on the eve of the Dec. 12 election. Trump, who endorsed Strange in the Continue Reading

No. 8 Ohio State routs Illinois, looks ahead to Michigan

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — No. 8 Ohio State can look ahead to Michigan and trying to find the narrow path back into the playoff hunt.Coach Urban Meyer this week had refused to talk about the future beyond Saturday's game against Illinois, which ended in a 52-14 blowout by the Buckeyes in sheets of driving rain at Ohio Stadium.The win, coupled with Wisconsin's victory over Michigan, made Ohio State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 9) the Big Ten East champion. If the Buckeyes can beat No. 19 Michigan in the annual rivalry game, and then upset No. 5 Wisconsin, scenarios exist that could see them chosen for the final four, even with two losses.Unlikely but not impossible.Illinois presented few problems Saturday. The Buckeyes scored on their first six possessions — including J.T. Barrett's 100th career touchdown pass — on the way to handing the Illini their ninth straight loss.Barrett, playing in his last game at Ohio Stadium, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Buckeyes dominated from the opening kick."Winning in the Big Ten is difficult," said fifth-year senior center Billy Price, who started his school record 52nd straight game. "It's rugged, it's physical. So to come out with everybody healthy, getting the victory, playing pretty well, executing at a high level for an offense, it feels good. We're moving on."Ohio State's defense limited the Illini (2-9, 0-9) to a season-low 105 yards. They didn't make a first down until near the end of the first half and finished with just five.Barrett was 11 for 19 for 141 yards, with backups Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow playing most of the second half. Running back Mike Weber picked up 108 yards on 11 carries and scored twice, including on a 43-yard breakaway romp in the first quarter.The Buckeyes led 28-0 after the first quarter and 38-0 at halftime when heavy rain rolled through Columbus, slowing the pace in a messy second half. They had 543 total yards of offense."If you stay in coaching long enough, you Continue Reading

No. 23 USF focused on Tulsa, not looking ahead

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Charlie Strong's message to No. 23 South Florida is short and sweet: Don't get caught looking past Tulsa.The Bulls (8-1, 5-1) have never won a conference title and need to beat the Golden Hurricane in a nationally televised matchup Thursday night to remain on course for a showdown against unbeaten UCF for the American's Eastern Division championship.USF visits the 14th-ranked Golden Knights next week, when a berth in the league title game could be on the line."We know Tulsa is going to be a really good opponent for us. The thing we can't do is look ahead. We've just got to take it one game at a time," Strong said."I told them it's a single-game elimination now," the coach added. "Each game is a championship game and we've just got to be ready and be prepared to go play."The Bulls rebounded from the only loss with a rout of Connecticut two weeks ago. They used the team's third open date of the season to focus on fundamentals and get ready for Tulsa (2-8, 1-5), which has lost three straight.Strong shouldn't have had much difficulty keeping his team's attention.Tulsa's lone conference victory came against Houston, the team that upset USF and temporarily knocked the Bulls out of the Top 25 three weeks ago."We went into the season knowing we had to play well week-in and week-out," Strong said. "Now we're sitting here at 8-1, and we know this is a big game for us. It's at home, it's senior night and it's a good way for us to send our seniors out the right way."Tulsa is coming off a 27-point loss to AAC West Division leader Memphis. The Golden Hurricane is a mostly young team hoping to use remaining games against USF and Temple to finish on a high note."The great thing about our guys in they've been resilient," Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said.The objective the rest of the way is "just to continue to progress at a good rate," he added. "You don't want to take any steps back."Montgomery called USF perhaps the most talented team in the Continue Reading

TUNE IN: Megyn Kelly Looks Ahead to the Duggars’ Next Chapter Friday at 9p ET

Tune in to a Kelly File special Friday at 9p ET to see Megyn Kelly look ahead to the Duggar family's next chapter What's next for the Duggar family? Following TLC's cancelation of "19 Kids and Counting," Megyn Kelly looks at how the Duggars are dealing with their show being terminated, new anger from the left and a possible civil lawsuit that could change everything. Tune in to a "Kelly File" Special: The Duggars’ Next Chapter Friday at 9p ET on Fox News Channel. Below, take a look back at some clips from Megyn's emotional interviews with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their daughters, Jessa and Jill. Do the Duggars Have a Case Against the Police? Duggar Sisters: 'We Didn't Know We Were Victims Until Josh Confessed' WATCH: The Duggars' Exclusive Sit-Down With Megyn Kelly When did you learn about your son's actions?   How did you react when Josh confessed?   The Duggars on one of their daughters being molested when she was under the age of 10:   Given these events, why would you do a reality TV show?   Jessa and Jill Duggar defend their brother against charges that he's a "pedophile." 'Kelly File' Reveals New Info on the Duggar Police Report Release Duggar Sisters, Jessa & Jill, Talk to Megyn Kelly in Emotional Interview WATCH: The Duggars' Exclusive Sit-Down With Megyn Kelly Continue Reading

Rangel looks back while Espaillat looks ahead as the polls open in their hard-fought Democratic primary for Congress

Rep. Charles Rangel couldn’t help but look back while state Sen. Adriano Espaillat looked ahead as the two Democratic combatants voted in Tuesday’s congressional primary in Manhattan and the Bronx. “I told my wife of over 50 years that this would be the last time I will be voting for myself,” Rangel, who is seeking his 23rd and final term in Congress, said after casting his ballot at P.S. 175 on W. 134th St. He then kissed Alma Rangel, who said her husband “deserves another chance.” “His record speaks for itself and he promised me that he's going to take me to Paris when this is all over and he needs to rest." She added, “It's been a great journey for the both of us. When we arrived in Washington in the 70s it was right after the civil rights movement and he was a pioneer in going in there and saying the job has to be done. And I think his record speaks for itself. He's done it. And this is the last one - I think!" Espaillat voted 45 minutes later, walking into P.S. 98 on W. 212th St. in northern Manhattan at 10 a.m. accompanied by several family members, including his mother, his son Adriano Espaillat Jr., and his four-month-old grandson. "This is an important vote: A vote for change; to break from the past; to turn the page; to write a new chapter in the history of this district," the candidate said after leaving the polling place. "I believe this election will re-shape New York City and New York State politics, if not the nation," he said. "Nothing against the congressman, I have great respect for him, but he's part of the past and we're part of the future, and we're moving forward." Rangel, 84, and Espaillat, 59, were the marquee players in Tuesday’s primary in the 13th Congressional District, which spreads across northern Manhattan and parts of the South Bronx. The Rev. Michael Walrond and community activist Yolanda Garcia also were on Continue Reading

Bono reaches back, looks ahead in music, philanthropy

"It's a rainy Dublin day — what's new?" Bono jokes, calling from home. A moment later, though, sharing lyrics from a new U2 song called Invisible, the band's frontman turns reflective."It opens with, 'It's like the room just cleared of smoke/I didn't even want the heart you broke/It's yours to keep/You just might need one,'" he says. "Then it goes, 'I finally found my real name/I won't be me when you see me again/No, I won't be my father's son.'"Bono pauses. "That's a heavy thing, I realize, as a father myself — to not take your family name, you know? I'm known as Bono. And I realize now that all the angst and rage I had at that time," during his youth, "must have really hurt (my father). I thought my family was the problem, but I was the problem. A typical thing."The man born Paul David Hewson, who is now 53, and lost his dad 13 years ago, reached back a lot in working on U2's upcoming album — which, incidentally, still doesn't have a release date."We've been at it for a while now," Bono admits, his tone becoming lighter again, and self-effacing. "In this band, a song isn't finished until it's being sold online, or in the shops. And even then, Edge might try to remix it." STORY: Bono reaches back, looks ahead in music, philanthropyIt has been nearly five years since Bono, The Edge and bandmates Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. released their last studio album, 2009's No Line on the Horizon, and they know fans are getting itchy. A U2 song, Ordinary Love, was featured on the soundtrack to last year's biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; it won a Golden Globe Award for best original song earlier this month, and is up for an Oscar in the same category.Bono says Love was inspired by late South African president Nelson Mandela's love letters to his former wife, Winnie. "They're really worth reading, with this very quaint, almost archaic language that's tender and beautiful." The activist-turned-political leader had Shakespeare's works smuggled to Continue Reading

After wild political year, Pa. looks ahead to 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania found itself in the eye of the political storm in 2016, from contested primaries, through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia and into the fall, when it was anointed with battleground status.In 2017, not so much.The top of the campaign outlook involves two elections that won't even occur next year — Republican jockeying to become the nominee to take on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in his expected re-election bid, and to face Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey as he seeks a third term. Those elections are in 2018.The fact that Wolf and Casey are incumbents may not scare away ambitious Republicans eager to build on Donald Trump's win in Pennsylvania and a string of GOP electoral successes in the Legislature."I think you're going to see a lot of names out there," said John Brabender, a veteran Republican campaign consultant. "I think half of them will be people who just want to get their names out there, they just want to see it in the newspaper, and the other half will be legitimate candidates."A look ahead at the coming year's political landscape:___Wolf, largely unknown and having never held political office, beat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by 10 points in 2014, thanks in part to millions of his own money. Ugly budget fights with the GOP-controlled Legislature have marked his first two years on the job, and the state's darkening financial picture suggest Round 3 will play out over the coming six months.The one Republican who has said he is running for sure is state Sen. Scott Wagner, who owns a trash-hauling company headquartered less than 3 miles from Wolf's home in northern York County. Wagner said he plans to spend millions of his own money on the race, and will make a formal announcement in the near future.Another potential candidate is House Majority Leader Dave Reed of Indiana County, who said recently he is "considering all possibilities" when asked about the governorship or other races. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, who Continue Reading

Looking ahead to food festival season

The calendar may read January, but for a few minutes, let’s look ahead.When spring arrives in March, it will bring with it a bevy of food festivals. The following is a list of several that will be presented by Spark Market Solutions in Red Bank:• Belmar Restaurant Tour: March 12 on Ocean Avenue• BBQ & Craft Beer Festival: April 29 and 30 at Historic Allaire Village in Wall• New Jersey Seafood Festival: May 12 to 14 at Silver Lake Park in Belmar• Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival: May 27 to 29 at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport• Surf & Turf Seafood Festival: July 15 and 16 at Monmouth Park RacetrackFor more information, call 732-747-4449 or visit RELATED: Icarus Brewing brings craft beer to Lakewood RELATED: A tasty fundraiser for annual parade Continue Reading

Hillary expected to glide to victory in West Virginia as Obama looks ahead

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Hillary Rodham Clinton reached out for a largely symbolic victory in the West Virginia primary Tuesday over Barack Obama, front-runner in a historic Democratic presidential race nearing an end. Obama conceded defeat in advance in the state, looking ahead to the Oregon primary later in the month and the fall campaign against John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting. Interviews with West Virginia voters leaving their polling places showed an electorate that was overwhelmingly white. Nearly one in four of all ballots were cast by voters 60 and older, and a similar number by West Virginians with no education beyond high school. More than half the voters were in families with incomes of $50,000 or less. Clinton has done particularly well in primaries to date among older, less well-educated and lower-income families. West Virginia had 28 delegates at stake, to be awarded proportionally according to the popular vote. With the polls still open, Obama had 1,875.5 delegates, to 1,697 for Clinton, out of 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination at the party convention in Denver this summer. The delegate tally aside, the former first lady struggled to overcome an emerging Democratic consensus that Obama effectively wrapped up the nomination last week with a victory in the North Carolina primary and a narrow loss in Indiana. He picked up four superdelegates during the day, including Roy Romer, former Democratic Party chairman. "This race, I believe, is over," Romer told reporters on a conference call. He said only Clinton can decide when to withdraw, but he added: "There is a time we need to end it and direct ourselves to the general election. I think that time is now." Clinton and Obama briefly shook hands on the Senate floor Tuesday after interrupting their campaigns for a few hours to vote on energy-related bills. In the days since, close to 30 superdelegates have swung behind Obama, evidence that party officials are beginning Continue Reading


Until Mark Messier's No. 11 was retired last night, the last few of these opulent Ranger nostalgia parties smacked of a desperate attempt to hold on to a fleeting past. It was just one year, just one Cup, and it will be a dozen years ago this June that the first championship since (say it all together now) 1940 was won by the Rangers. After the seven playoff-free seasons that followed, you could understand the Garden's unseemly obsession with the past. There wasn't anything else to celebrate. Last night, with the man singularly responsible for that miracle season front and (of course) center as his No. 11 was raised to the Garden rafters, there was a distinctly different mood. Rangers fans could celebrate the past, all right, but for the first time since 1994, they are just as eager to look ahead. For that, they can also thank Messier. The change was symbolized by the chants of the sellout crowd. After numerous choruses of "Mess-i-er" interrupted the 73-minute pregame ceremony, Messier's final "thank you" was met with a spontaneous and communal "Let's go, Rangers." Messier finally decided after the lockout year that he would retire, making it official in September, even though his last game at the Garden on March 31, 2004, had all the trappings of a farewell. Messier did what was best for himself, and it has turned out to be what is best for the Rangers. The recent retirements (some forced, others voluntary) of players such as Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Brett Hull and Ron Francis did nothing but reinforce his belief. "I'm feeling good about the decision of not playing," said Messier, who will turn 45 next week. "I don't think the feeling of wanting to play will ever leave, but a lot has changed for me since my last game. It's a young man's game. I was healthy enough to continue playing, but healthy enough after 26 years to get out and enjoy the rest of my life." Messier has been watching the new and improved Rangers with a clinical sort of Continue Reading