04 20 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Holiday travel got off to a soggy start in parts of the country Wednesday as millions of Americans undeterred by costlier gas and airfare set out for Thanksgiving celebrations, but few major problems were reported.

About 42.5 million people are expected to drive, fly or ride trains to their Thanksgiving destinations, according to travel tracker AAA. That's the highest number since the start of the recession.

"Sacrifice to see the ones you love, that's what we do," said John Mahoney, who was driving with his girlfriend 20 hours from New Hampshire to visit his mother and sister in St. Louis. "Americans will still do what Americans do. We travel the roads."

Mahoney, 44, acknowledged the economy has changed the way he travels, which is why the couple slept in the car instead of getting a motel room when a heavy, wet snowstorm flared up along the New York State Thruway.

The 90 percent of holiday travelers who plan to drive will pay 16 percent more than last year for gas, which reached an average of $3.33 a gallon as of Wednesday, according to AAA.

Air travelers have been hit, too. The average round-trip airfare for the top 40 U.S. routes is $212, up 20 percent from last year. Rail tickets on most one-way Amtrak trips have climbed 2 to 5 percent. Hotel and motel rates also are up slightly.

Jake Pagel, 32, a restaurant server from Denver, said he worked longer hours to save money and get bills in order before the holidays.

"We've just been working pretty much nonstop for the past few days to make sure rent's paid before we go," said Pagel, 32, who was flying from the Denver airport with his girlfriend to see her family in San Jose, Calif.

Pagel said the trip meant he had to give up working during one of the service industry's most busy and profitable times.

"I think it's something you can't quantify in terms of monetary cost," he said. "I mean, being able to spend quality time with your family is fairly significant."

Shun Tucker, 33, of suburban Chicago, decided just this week that she'd spend the holiday with family in Memphis and booked a $49 bus ticket for a nine-hour trip south. She didn't bother to look at airfare.

"It's about time and money and how it works out," she said. "And yeah, I could go to the airport, but it's going to cost me $300."

Some motorists who tried to get an early start along the Pennsylvania Turnpike found themselves stopped by - or stuck in - a gooey mess after a leaking valve on a tanker truck spread driveway sealant along nearly 40 miles of highway. Officials said at least 150 vehicles were disabled and an unknown number of others were damaged Tuesday night.

"Now we have to turn around and go back home," Laura Frick, who was traveling from Cleveland to New Jersey for the holiday, told WTAE-TV. "It's horrible."

Turnpike workers who peeled up the sticky puddles, then covered them with sand to hasten drying, had traffic moving normally again by Wednesday morning.

Travelers also were at the mercy of the weather.

Heavy rains prompted flood warnings and road closures across swaths of the East early Wednesday. Emergency workers in eastern Pennsylvania had to rescue one man from the roof of his car when he was trapped by rising waters.

Snow, meanwhile, mixed with sleet and freezing rain to make for treacherous driving and thousands of power outages across parts of New England and upstate New York. The National Weather Service predicted up to a foot would fall in some areas.

Airports along the East Coast saw minor delays for some arrivals and departures, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported few other early disruptions.

NWS said most of the East Coast rain was expected to clear by Wednesday night, while parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern California also were expecting rain through Wednesday and snow in the Rocky Mountains and other ranges.

The rest of the country was expected to stay dry weather through Thanksgiving.

Damian Buchwald of Buffalo, N.Y., picked up a second job earlier this year and said his new work schedule leaves him without time to travel to Connecticut to spend the holiday with his wife's family.

This year, the couple and their teenage son, Raven, will celebrate Thanksgiving with his mother, neighbors and friends in town.

"When you can't travel and people can't travel to you, you gather your closest friends. And that way nobody has to pay an arm and a leg, and everyone can eat well," Buchwald said.

But Tammy Pettus, 39, of Lexington, Ala., just couldn't scuttle this year's 11-hour drive to visit her grandmother in Oklahoma. Pettus said she loaded her two daughters into her SUV early Wednesday and hit the road, where said she expected to spend about $275 on gas.

"Oh yeah, to go see grandma? It's worth it," she said.

Besides, having folks over for dinner is getting more expensive, too.

A 16-pound turkey and all the trimmings will cost an average of $49.20, a 13 percent jump from last year, or about $5.73 more, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which says grocers have raised prices to keep pace with higher-priced commodities.

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Associated Press writers Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y.; Ivan Moreno in Denver; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City; Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y.; Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

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