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ABC News(LAS VEGAS) — It's finally here -- the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates are just hours away from their first debate, and the pressure is on.

Five candidates are meeting Tuesday night under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, but it’s up to them to make sure the event isn’t lackluster. Democrats need to show they can bring as much excitement, energy and passion to the race as Republicans.

For that to happen, the three candidates on stage not named Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders desperately need to boost their name recognition and generate some headlines. For Clinton and Sanders, "no news” might be "good news" come Wednesday morning.

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Here’s what each candidate needs to prove at Tuesday night's debate:

Hillary Clinton: Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off

Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner, and tonight she needs to remind people why. After a summer bogged down with her ongoing email controversy and dropping poll numbers, Clinton now has a fresh opportunity to reintroduce her vision for the presidency to voters, and to step up to the plate and prove party skeptics wrong. While Clinton is known for being a strong debater, the dynamic on stage will be particularly tricky.

For the first time, she will come face to face with her closest challenger, and the progressive favorite, Bernie Sanders. Clinton has made it clear that she has no desire to attack him, but she will have to find ways to draw differences with him (and in ways that don’t upset his supporters).

Meanwhile, Clinton will almost certainly also have to answer questions from her opponents about flip-flopping on policy issues. Even so, Clinton will be coming prepared. She’s been hunkering down and doing her homework -- including holding mock debate sessions with top aides who have been playing the parts of Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

Bernie Sanders: Look Presidential

In many ways, Sanders has the most to lose. So far his campaign has successfully (even surprisingly) stolen the spotlight on the left, drawing huge crowds, jumping up in the polls, and rattling Clinton. As the leading alternative to her, he comes into the night with the most momentum and excitement behind him. The question now – can he handle it? Many democratic voters remain undecided and those on the fence worry the 74-year-old Democratic Socialist might not hold up in a general election. Sanders needs to prove to them that he can look presidential and “electable.” Plus, he needs good answers to questions outside his wheelhouse, as his opponents will try to portray him as a one-trick-pony, focused only on issues of class and income inequality.

Martin O’Malley: Get On The Map

If you complain about needing more debates, you better bring it to the first. As the loudest critic of the party’s limited debate schedule, O’Malley has set expectations high for himself, and his campaign has been busy tweeting pictures showing the young, studly governor getting ready, working hard, and working out! But O’Malley needs to do more than look good, he needs to make something happen. Stuck in single digits in the polls, O’Malley needs a big night. The trick will be managing that pressure. On the trail lately he has been quick to criticize Clinton and viewers can expect sparks Tuesday. But for the tough talk to payoff, O’Malley needs to make sure he doesn’t come across too hot or too aggressive.

Kudos to O’Malley for the best pre-debate line this week:


Martin O'Malley, in Rochester, NH, on his hope for the first Democratic debate: "Let us hope what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas."

— John Wagner (@WPJohnWagner) October 4, 2015


Lincoln Chafee: Nice To Meet You

Chafee’s primary concern on the debate stage will be to introduce himself and his record to the majority of voters who do not know him. In the weeks leading up the debate, there was a question as to whether Chafee, the former governor of Rhode Island, would even be invited onstage as he was consistently coming up short of the polling threshold (1 percent in national polls). But Chafee says he isn’t rattled. "I have the best resume of anyone running,” he told ABC News. "I am very proud of my record and deserve to be a part of this debate and discussion.” On the stump, he is quick to pivot back to that record of his as a senator and governor, but Tuesday night, as millions of Americans see him for the first time, he needs to show he has ideas for the future, not just an accomplished past.

Jim Webb: Be Different

Like Chafee, Webb’s first task is to introduce himself and his ideas to the American people. Most folks are not closely acquainted with the former Marine and Republican, turned-Democrat Senator. An author, who also served as the Secretary of the Navy, Webb brings a diverse resume to this field, and the advantage of that is he actually has something different to say. He is much more conservative than the others when it comes to social issues like guns and he has vocalized support for the Keystone Pipeline and opposition to the Iran deal unlike his primary opponents. But the often soft-spoken man will need to speak up so those ideas can be heard.

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ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- Voters across the country are waiting to see what the Democrats have in store for the first Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas freshman Isabella Malfavon who will be voting for the first time, said she would be thinking about two important issues ahead of the debate and the election.

"Immigration and absolutely college tuition, because millenials have very high tuition - and then we don't have the same job opportunities - it's very hard to get a job," she told ABC News.

The freshman voter also said she so far felt excluded by Republicans.

"It really hurts me and other Latinos, the hurtful things Republicans say about immigration and I feel like they alienate us," she said. "Like we don't belong here even though we are just as American as they are."

One Republican candidate in particular has been very outspoken about immigration; frontrunner Donald Trump. He told the press on Monday he would tune-in to the debate, but he had low expectations.

"I think its not gonna be very well rated, cause Trump isn't in the debate," he said. "I think it's not gonna be highly rated - I think it's going to be - you're going to watch it for 10 of 15 minutes and people are gonna get bored and turn it off."

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- On the eve of the first Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton showed up unannounced to a union protest in the shadow of Donald Trump's Las Vegas building.

She gave brief remarks to roughly 500 workers who were calling on Trump to allow them to unionize at his Las Vegas hotel.

With the Trump hotel in the backdrop behind her, Clinton lauded their efforts and said they were there to send a message to Trump.

"If you are going to run for president, then represent all of the people of the United States," she said. "I wanted to come by to lend my voice to all yours and I wish you well in these efforts."

On Trump she also said: "Some people think Trump is entertaining but it is not entertaining to insult immigrants and women..."

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Bill Clinton may be staying in Las Vegas, but he will not be in the audience watching his wife debate on Tuesday, a rep for the former president confirmed to ABC News.

According to the rep, “There are currently no plans for him to be at the debate.”

The political power couple made their trip to "Sin City" just one day after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.

Chelsea Clinton, will also be absent. She is currently on a book tour for her first book, It’s Your World, a New York Times bestseller with an evening stop in New Orleans on the night of the debate.

As for Bill Clinton, he will headline a Hartford, Conn. fundraiser for his wife’s presidential campaign just one day following the democratic debate. The state's governor Dannel Malloy, a long time Hillary Clinton supporter, will serve as the host.

The following evening, the former president will be at the University of Connecticut to accept the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over the weekend, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler sent Donald Trump a cease and desist letter telling him he needed to stop playing the band's 1973 hit "Dream On" during campaign events.

Trump apparently used the song at an event in New Hampshire on Monday, and allegedly told the media beforehand that the matter was "all worked out."

According to Steven Tyler's attorney Dina LaPolt, that wasn't necessarily true.

"It has not been resolved if the Donald Trump campaign continues to play Dream On," she said in a statement. "The issue here is the consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI.  These consent decrees were enacted by the Dept of Justice pre WWII and have not been updated since before the iPod was developed. "

Tyler is a registered Republican and doesn't want Trump to stop using the song because of political beliefs, but because of permission and copyright.

Other artists who have blasted Trump for using their music at campaign stops are R.E.M., who called the Republican frontrunner an "orange clown," and Neil Young.

Twisted Sister agreed to let Trump use their hit "We're Not Gonna Take It."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in seven years, Hillary Clinton will appear on a presidential primary debate stage to duke it out with her fellow Democratic hopefuls on Tuesday.

Ahead of the showdown, which will take place in Las Vegas and feature Clinton squaring off against Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb, ABC News took a trip down memory lane.

Here’s a look back at Clinton’s most memorable debate moments of the 2008 presidential campaign:

The One Where She Wasn’t Likable

In the ABC News New Hampshire debate on Jan. 5, 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama famously dismissed Hillary Clinton as being “likable enough.” Clinton won the New Hampshire primary just a few days later.

CLINTON: "He is very likable, I agree with that… I don't think I'm that bad."
OBAMA: “You’re likable enough.”

The One with the Greatest Weakness

In the MSNBC Nevada Debate on Jan. 15, 2008, Clinton and Sen. John Edwards gave very heartfelt responses when asked to name their greatest weakness.

CLINTON: “I get impatient. I get, you know, really frustrated when people don’t seem to understand that we can do so much more to help each other, and sometimes I come across that way. I admit that.

EDWARDS: “I think weakness -- I sometimes have a very powerful emotional response to pain that I see around me.”

OBAMA: “And as I indicated before, my greatest weakness, I think, is when it comes to -- I'll give you a very good example. I ask my staff never to hand me paper until two seconds before I need it, because I will lose it.”

The One Where She was Booed

In the CNN/Univision Texas Debate on Feb. 21, 2008, Clinton accused Obama of political plagiarism, resulting in boos from the crowd.

CLINTON: “Lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox.”

The One Where She Said "Nevermind"

Clinton claimed she was forced to flee from sniper fire in a 1996 trip to Bosnia. This was later found to be an exaggeration, and she apologized to voters during the ABC News Pennsylvania debate on April 16, 2008.

CLINTON: "On a couple of occasions in the last weeks, I just said some things that weren't in keeping with what I knew to be the case and what I had written about in my book. And, you know, I'm embarrassed by it. I have apologized for it. I've said it was a mistake."

The One Where She Couldn’t Decide

Clinton was forced to backtrack in the MSNBC Pennsylvania debate on Oct. 30, 2007 after Democratic candidate Sen. Chris Dodd called her out on flip-flopping on the issue of allowing undocumented immigrants to hold driver’s licenses.

CLINTON: "I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed."

DODD: "Wait a minute. No, no, no. You said, 'yes,' you thought it made sense to do it."

CLINTON: "No, I didn’t, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are driving?"

The One with the "Slum Landlord"

In the South Carolina Debate on Jan. 21, 2008, Clinton denounced Obama for having ties with Chicago businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was indicted for business fraud. A few days later, a picture of Rezko, who was later convicted, with Bill and Hillary surfaced.

CLINTON: “...I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago."

Then-senator Obama said "nobody had any indications" that Rezko was engaged in wrongdoing. He was not mentioned in the indictment.

The One Where She Lost Her Temper

In a surprise move during the New Hampshire Debate on Jan. 5, 2008, Presidential hopeful John Edwards labeled himself and Obama as “agents of change” and cast Clinton as one who would maintain the status quo. Clinton’s response was fiery.

CLINTON: "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I will continue to make change. I'm not just running on a promise of change, I'm running on 35 years of change… so you know, I think it is clear what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can and can't be delivered."

The One Where She Wasn’t Bill

In a botched “gotcha” moment in the New Hampshire Debate on Sept. 26, 2007, Tim Russert, of NBC's "Meet the Press" challenged Clinton’s stance on hypothetically torturing a terrorist who knew the location of a ticking bomb.

RUSSERT: "The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year. So he disagrees with you."

CLINTON: "Well, he’s not standing here right now."

RUSSERT: "So there is a disagreement?"

CLINTON: "Well, I’ll talk to him later."

The One Where Republicans Were Just Jealous

In the Pennsylvania Debate on Oct. 30, 2007, Clinton responded to GOP candidate Rudolph Giuliani’s allegations that she did not have enough experience to be electable.

"In a perverse way, I think that the Republicans and their constant obsession with me demonstrate clearly that they obviously think that I am communicating effectively about what I will do as president," she said.

The One When She Was Honored To Be There

In a rare show of emotion during the CNN Texas Debate on Feb. 21, 2008, Clinton said that her personal struggles did not measure up to those of the American people.

“You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country...That’s what gets me up in the morning. That’s what motivates me in this campaign. And, you know, no matter what happens in this contest — and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.”

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  There are lots of reasons Rep. Paul Ryan doesn’t want to run for House Speaker, including the fact that he already has his dream job.

He presides over the House Ways and Means Committee, the top tax-writing committee in the U.S. House – a perfect fit for the policy wonk who is just at home talking about repatriated tax breaks as he is his beloved Green Bay Packers.

Plus, as he acknowledged at a July breakfast discussion in Washington D.C., the chairmanship dovetails with both his political and personal lives right now.

“I feel like, at 45-years old, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee with a 10, 12 and 13-year-old at home, I can make a huge difference for the country. These issues, trade, tax, poverty fighting, health care reform, entitlement reform, all go to the Ways and Means Committee… And I can be home on weekends and be the kind of husband and dad I want to be. And so, it's just that simple,” he said.

Ryan is said to be discussing the possibility of running for speaker with his family, but it’s easy to see why he’d rather stay at the helm of one of the most powerful House committees in terms of making policy and fundraising, with massive budget and debt ceiling fights on the horizon in which the 2012 vice presidential candidate could play a big role.

For now, Ryan is caught in the middle of a stalemate for the House GOP conference as its conservative and moderate wings try to find one person who they can all see leading them into 2016 and beyond – a person who could wind up being Ryan.

Many stripes of Republicans, from Jim Jordan, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, to Tom Cole, one of John Boehner’s top allies, have at least said Paul could be an acceptable choice, although Jordan says his group still wants to meet with Ryan.

Even if Ryan does meet with them, he’s probably not going to give them a pitch based on his desire for the job – he simply prefers the one he has – something he was far from coy about during an interview with Charlie Rose last year before he got the Ways and Means chairmanship.

“It is said that you want desperately to be -,” Rose started, before Ryan interrupted him.

“I don't want anything desperately,” he said.

“Yes, you do,” Rose countered. “Do you want to be chairman of Ways and Means?”

“Yeah,” Ryan relented. “It is the path I'm on.”

And it’s a path from which it might be hard for Ryan to deviate to accept the thankless job of House Speaker.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Bernie Sanders may be the outsider in the Democratic nomination race, but that doesn't mean he's a stranger to the debate stage.

Sanders (I-Vermont) has run for elected office more than a dozen times and is a veteran debater. As all eyes turn to Tuesday's first Democratic debate of the 2016 campaign, the big question is now: How will Sanders' fiery rhetoric and pointed platform play on the national stage?

"I think he's going to do very well," said Greg Guma, a Vermont-based journalist. “He is a strong debater. He will be speaking from the heart, from the basis of principles…he has fundamental positions that he does not equivocate on."

Guma said that another one of Sanders’ strengths is the ability to put opponents on the defensive by putting the issues in stark terms. “He has talked this year about how we are heading towards an oligarchy, and so, in a sense, he has said it is a choice between me and building a political movement to save the country or we’re heading toward oligarchy,” Guma explained. “Even the Democrat is in a sense put on the other side.”

While Sanders is seeking the Democratic Party nomination, he is technically an independent in Congress, which means he'll have more room to criticize Democrats and the party if it suits him.

Republican Richard Tarrant ran against Sanders and debated against him for the Vermont Senate seat in 2006, losing by more than 30 percent.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a bad debater at all,” Tarrant told ABC News. “Any time he gets stuck or you think you might have him in a corner, he slips out and he goes into his campaign stump.”

Tarrant also thinks that Sanders will do very well against front-runner Hillary Clinton. "I just don’t think she’s very quick on her feet,” he said. “But I don’t know if he’ll pull the punches because it’s a primary.”

It is unclear how much Sanders will go on the offensive. On the trail he often says he has never run a negative attack ad in his career. He shies away from -- and sometimes outright refuses -- to answer questions that he feels are too pointed at Clinton. On the other hand, he is willing to talk about differences between the two of them when it comes to their stance on policy.

Guma thinks that is the key difference. “He is not, not going to ever say anything bad about a person,” Guma added, noting that Sanders makes a distinction between personal attacks and policy distinctions. “His campaign will be, ‘Hillary Clinton is a nice person, I like her, but where is she?’”

And then there’s the question of Sanders’ stump speech. Could it come across stale? Republican Mark Candon faced off against Sanders for the U.S. House race in 1998, when Sanders was running for his fourth term. Candon says Sanders’ fiery demeanor is typical for the campaign trail, but not necessarily the debate stage.

“He calls himself a socialist and no one has really called him on that,” Candon said.

“[Sanders] will certainly say the same things in the debate next week that he said in the debate in 1998,” continued Candon, a Republican rooting for a Rubio-Fiorina ticket. “He’s been in front of the cameras for a long time. He’s going to say the same thing -- that the billionaires are going to get all the money and everyone else is getting stuck and he’s going to do something about it.”

But Tarrant said that Sanders can get heated during debates, recalling a tense moment during his own Senate debate against Sanders in 2006.

“You have got to level with people on that one, Mr. Sanders,” Tarrant said on stage, wrapping up an attack on Social Security and pointing directly at Sanders. Sanders then stood up, pointed back at Tarrant and fired a response over the moderator's objections.

“I will level with people on that, because it’s people like you and...” Sanders started before a chorus of boos interrupted and the moderator regained control.

“The way to get him is to go right at him,” said Tarrant, who said he supports John Kasich for the Republican nomination.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Joe Biden does not plan to participate in the first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night, but the invitation remains open to the vice president should he make a last-minute decision to jump in the race and join his would-be Democratic rivals on the debate stage.

The debate hosts have even gone so far as to set aside an extra podium for the VP.

While all indications are that the reserved podium will go unused Tuesday night, the political world is watching in anticipation as the vice president continues a debate of his own, within the privacy of his Delaware home, in deliberating whether to mount a White House bid.

It had been expected that Biden would convene a family meeting to reach his final decision this weekend, which is why a pack of journalists spent the weekend staking out the vice president's Delaware home, looking for any clue of the anticipated meeting.

But two days, several motorcade chases and a couple of stops at sporting events for Biden’s grandchildren later, the vice president's weekend activities have offered no real insight into the status of his deliberations.

Hallie Biden, the widow of the vice president’s late son, Beau, was spotted by reporters pulling into the VP’s driveway Sunday evening, but there has been no indication of a full-court family meeting, at least not yet.

On Saturday, he went to a cross-country meet for his granddaughter and a flag football game for his grandson. And on Sunday, he went golfing.

And, so far Monday, the vice president has not ventured from his home, with the only activity at the end of Biden's driveway being the occasional Secret Service vehicle leaving or returning to the property.

When one reporter attempted to broach the topic of 2016 with Biden, 72, at his granddaughter's cross-country meet Saturday, the vice president made clear he was in no mood to talk politics.

“Get out of my way, will you?” the vice president replied sarcastically, pushing past the cluster of cameras and returning to join his family and stretching with his granddaughter Natalie as she readied for her race at the starting line.

The closest the VP has come to running all weekend was when he jogged alongside his granddaughter as she pushed across the finish line in Saturday's race.

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

New Hampshire

Eight presidential candidates are attending the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire hosted by Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman Monday. It's one of the only presidential forums where we will see both Republicans and Democratic candidates together.

The speaking schedule for the event is as follows (all times eastern):

Martin O'Malley kicked off the event at 8:30 a.m.
Lindsey Graham was scheduled for 9:45 a.m.
Donald Trump is scheduled for 11 a.m.
Chris Christie will make an appearance at 1:15 p.m.
Bernie Sanders will address the event via livestream at 2 p.m.
George Pataki will speak at 3 p.m.
Jim Webb at 3:30 p.m., also via livestream.
John Kasich rounds out the day at 5:15 p.m.


Iowa is also busy Monday. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Bobby Jindal are all in the state.


Rick Santorum is in Ted Cruz country. He’s speaking in Fort Worth, Texas Monday afternoon, he’ll give an address unveiling his economic plan and call for a complete overhaul of the tax code.

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Brendan Hoffman(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama does not think the private email server Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state posed a "national security problem" during or after her tenure, he told CBS' 60 Minutes.

"I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered," Obama said. "We don't get an impression that here there was purposely efforts to hide something or to squirrel away information."

State Department and intelligence agency investigators have discovered classified information in dozens of emails that passed through Clinton’s private server, prompting an FBI investigation of the handling of the material and the computer equipment that stored it.

Some of Clinton’s critics have accused the Obama administration of holding her to a double standard, saying it has for years pursued aggressive prosecution of other government staffers and officials caught with classified materials on their private computers.

"As a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data," Obama said, indirectly chiding Clinton for her unusual arrangement.

"She made a mistake. She has acknowledged it," Obama said. "And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly."

Clinton apologized for the controversy over her email practices in an interview with ABC News last month.

Obama, who has previously acknowledged emailing with his former secretary of state at her private email address, says he first learned of the private, unsecured server arrangement through news reports after she left office.

The issue has become a major distraction for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and a flashpoint with Republicans.

Seven in 10 registered voters, in a new New York Times/CBS News poll, say it was not appropriate for Clinton to use a private server as Secretary of State.

"This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate but the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season," Obama told CBS.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With Capitol Hill in turmoil over who will be the next speaker of the House, one Congressman is standing up to say he is the right person for the job.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Martha Raddatz Sunday on ABC News' This Week he believes he has what it takes to lead a Congress rife with dysfunction and in need of a speaker after Ohio Rep. John Boehner's sudden resignation.

"We need a fresh start. We have a gulf and a divide that needs to be bridged. We need a speaker, I think, who takes the communications realm and drives the discussion in this country about what it is we're standing for and what it is we're trying to do," said the four-term Republican and Chair of the House Oversight Committee.

The race to find a new speaker comes after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California surprised House Republicans by removing his name from the ballot to replace Boehner. McCarthy bowed out when he learned that the conservative House Freedom caucus made clear they would not support his candidacy.

With the front-runner out, only Chaffetz and Rep. John Webster of Florida, backed by the House Freedom caucus, remain in the race.

Chaffetz, once a McCarthy supporter, had stepped into the race earlier after outrage over McCarthy's comments on the Benghazi Committee, saying the investigation helped sink Hillary Clinton's poll numbers. Chaffetz claims he has the communication skills to effectively bring Congress together.

"I think I've earned a reputation of being fair and that I'll hear all sides from the entire political spectrum. And really, the role of the speaker is to be the constitutional officer that makes sure that the process is fair, it's balanced. We protect minority rights and that we allow these good bills and ideas to percolate from the bottom up, rather than a top-down driven process, where the speaker is telling the body what to do," Chaffetz said.

He is not without his own critics though. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the former House Oversight Committee chair and another potential speaker candidate, says Chaffetz is not holding government accountable anymore.

Chaffetz countered, citing his high-profile investigations into Planned Parenthood and the Secret Service.

"We've been very aggressive. People have seen me fighting everything from Fast and Furious [the flawed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program that lost track of hundreds of guns] to the IRS on Planned Parenthood to a host of things, Benghazi and others. I've earned that reputation over six and a half years," he said.

Most Republicans, however, are not supporting Chaffetz, but another influential member -- Rep. Paul Ryan. The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and former vice presidential candidate initially said he would not run for the position, but is now reconsidering.

Chaffetz has said he would not seek the House's top post if Ryan enters the race.

"I think he checks every box," Chaffetz said. "He's got the great experience. He's a visionary. He understands the institution. He's a great spokesperson."

But barring his entry, Chaffetz sees himself as the one who can help bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

"If there's somebody better who can unite us, I will support them. But you're either part of the solution or part of the problem," he said. "Right or wrong, I have thrown myself in there and said, 'I think I can do this.'"

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- The House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack is going on the defensive on Sunday, releasing a statement that attempts to discredit a former staffer who said the committee was pursuing a "partisan investigation" focused too narrowly on Hillary Clinton and not enough on the attack itself.

Maj. Bradley Podliska, an Air Force Reserve officer and self-described Republican voter who will not support Clinton in the 2016 election, said in an interview with CNN that he was fired after 10 months on the committee in part because he resisted instruction to focus squarely on the State Department and Secretary Clinton's role surrounding the attack.

Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy released a statement on Sunday saying he never spoke to Podliska and therefore never instructed him to focus on Clinton. Gowdy said he was confident Podliska didn't get that instruction from other superiors either.

"Nor did he mention Secretary Clinton at any time during his counseling for deficient performance, when he was terminated, or via his first lawyer who withdrew from representing him," the statement reads. "In fact, throughout the pendency of an ongoing legal mediation, which is set to conclude October 13, this staffer has not mentioned Secretary Clinton. But as this process prepares to wrap, he has demanded money from the Committee, the Committee has refused to pay him, and he has now run to the press with his new salacious allegations about Secretary Clinton."

Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

The Benghazi Committee has come under great scrutiny in recent weeks. On Thursday, the presumptive future Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, pulled out of the race for speaker in part because of flubbed remarks he made in a Fox News interview where he suggested Clinton's poll numbers were dropping as a direct result of the committee's efforts.

Meanwhile the Democratic side of the select committee is seizing on Podliska's interview with CNN, calling it an "insider's look at what the Republicans have been doing behind the scenes."

Late last month the Democrats pointed out the House Select Committee on Benghazi has become the longest running congressional investigation in American history, surpassing even the Watergate committee.

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Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Louisiana Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal defended his controversial response to the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon this month in which he blamed the shooter's father for the massacre.

In a blog post on his campaign website, Jindal said the father of Chris Harper-Mercer should be embarrassed to show his face in public. The shooting on October 1 left 10 people dead, including the shooter, and nine others injured.

“The killer's father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns,” Jindal wrote. “Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He is a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here.”

Those comments sparked backlash, but Jindal doubled down Sunday during an interview on ABC's “This Week,” saying the father has no right to lecture the American people on gun control.

“We have a culture that doesn’t value life. We’ve got millions of boys growing up without a father figure, without that guidance at home. Too often these shooters are misguided young men,” said Jindal. “So you’ve got Hillary Clinton, [President] Barack Obama and now this shooter’s father lecturing us on the need for gun control. He doesn’t need to be lecturing us. He, by his own admission, didn’t know how his son got those guns, didn’t know how many guns his son had, by his own admission wasn’t involved in his sons life, hadn’t been communicating with him since he was living with his mother. He doesn’t need to be lecturing us on gun control.”

Jindal, who barely registered in early polling, has seen a recent spike in his popularity in Iowa. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Jindal tied for fifth place.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke pushed back against past criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders over the Fed’s action during the 2008 financial crisis, calling the Vermont senator -- and others -- "mistaken" in their criticisms.

Sanders specifically has taken aim at Bernanke and his job performance on more than one occasion, including in 2009 when he said Bernanke "failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve" during the crisis.

“I understand the anger. I understand the politicians are going to respond to the public's concern about the economy, about their own jobs and so on. I understand that. But I think that substantively that they were mistaken,” Bernanke said on ABC's "This Week."

“I concede that regulators and Congress and many people didn't see the crisis coming and made mistakes. But once the crisis began, I think the Fed acted appropriately and aggressively and did what had to be done to get us back through the other side,” Bernanke continued. "I think that those criticisms substantively are not accurate."

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