CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — As Democrats intensify their probe in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has found little support — and sharp criticism in some cases — from the slate of potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. At the same time, would-be allies from key states have been slow to rally behind the Republican governor, whose administration appears to have created a massive traffic jam to punish a political adversary.
President Barack Obama on Monday rejected criticism from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates who questioned whether the president supported his own policy toward Afghanistan. Answering questions during an Oval Office appearance, Obama said Gates was an outstanding defense secretary and that because of the strategy that the Obama administration formulated, the United States will have concluded combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of this year. "I think what's important is that we got the policy right but that this is hard and it always has been," Obama said. Gates, who was defense secretary from 2006 to 2010, wrote a memoir out this week entitled "Duty" that complains that Obama did not believe in his own strategy and "doesn't consider the war to be his." "Secretary Gates did an outstanding job," said Obama.
By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new private health plans available under Obamacare drew in fewer young and healthy Americans than needed for the administration to make healthcare reform a market success in the first wave of enrollment, an official report showed on Monday. Twenty-four percent of the 2.2 million people who signed up for private coverage between October 1 and December 28 belonged to a target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds, according to an administration report, the first to provide a demographic breakdown on enrollment in the new plans offered under President Barack Obama's healthcare law. That compares with a target closer to 38 percent set before the program's botched October 1 rollout, when administration officials believed that about 2.7 million of a forecast 7 million potential enrollees for 2014 would be between 18 and 35 to help offset the cost of covering sicker consumers. Health policy experts say the administration may still get closer to that ratio by the time 2014 enrollment closes at the end of March, when more young Americans sign up to avoid the law's penalty for not being insured.
By Mark Hosenball and Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives have called on the panel to investigate the hacking of credit and debit card data belonging to millions of customers of retailer Target Corp. The request piggybacks on a similar move by Senate Democrats on Friday as lawmakers respond to the massive breach at Target, the No. 3 U.S. retailer, during the holiday shopping season, which resulted in the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million other records containing customer information. In a letter to Jeb Hensarling, the committee's Republican chairman, 17 committee Democrats, led by ranking member Maxine Waters, asked for a "full Financial Services Committee hearing." It was unclear whether the committee's Republican majority would respond to the request. After the request from Senate Democrats last week, Senate Banking Committee leaders have confirmed they plan to hold a hearing on data security issues in late January.