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The second Democratic debate was a subdued affair, where even the slights felt polite. Sanders and O'Malley attacked Clinton's — and by extension the Obama administration's — record on foreign policy but when it came time to talk about how to fight the Islamic State, the separation felt a matter of semantics. "This cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential," said Clinton. O'Malley said he disagreed: "This is America's fight, but not America's alone." Sanders pivoted quickly from foreign policy to the economy.

For the first 30 minutes of the Democratic debate, the attacks in Paris loomed large, starting with a moment of silence and continuing with the opening statements.

The candidates were asked to address the attacks and what they would do in their opening statements, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent her entire opening statement talking about them.

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

There was one moment in Tuesday's Republican presidential debate that reminded us of all those other unwieldy, freewheeling and circus-like debates that came before: Rand Paul getting cut off by Carly Fiorina, and then Donald Trump drawing boos for being Trump. For the most part, though, last night’s debate was much more orderly. It was so orderly that rarely did the candidates, who had complained so loudly about previous moderators, get challenged on any of their statements.

The fourth debate among the leading Republican candidates for president filled the historic Milwaukee Theatre with cheers, laughter and occasional boos, but it probably did not alter the dynamics among the eight featured contestants.

No one seemed to stumble or scintillate so notably as to change the pecking order with the first voting, now fewer than a dozen weeks away in the Iowa precinct caucuses.

The pundit world is still trying to decide which of the 10 Republican candidates for president won the third Republican debate of the 2016 race.

But it didn't take long for there to be consensus on one thing: CNBC was the night's "biggest loser."

The Republican presidential race entered a new phase Wednesday night as the outsider candidates, who dominated the first two debates, were upstaged by several of their office-holding rivals — and by a budding controversy over the conduct of the third debate itself.

In a feisty debate in Colorado on Wednesday night, Republican presidential candidates spent almost as much time sniping at the CNBC moderators as they did at each other.

The faceoff was messy and chaotic from the beginning, with candidates trying to jump on others and make their voices heard.

One person who succeeded at that was Marco Rubio. The Florida senator had several standout moments and earned many plaudits from pundits after the debate.

Updated at 12:10 pm ET.

Republicans are set to take the stage Wednesday night for their third presidential debate. This one is focused on the economy, but you can bet there will be plenty more topics explored.

For many candidates, who have been touting their business background and job creation experience, it gives them an opportunity to try to flex their muscles. Others will need to seize the chance to show they can handle economic concerns, which remain atop voters' minds.

Ben Carson has surged into a lead in Iowa and is climbing nationally thanks to his appeal to evangelicals. But could his own beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist make him anathema to many of those same voters?

Donald Trump seemed to question the Republican neurosurgeon's faith over the weekend.

"I'm Presbyterian," Trump said at a Saturday rally in Florida. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the U.S. will begin to increase the tempo of an air campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

"We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Former governor Lincoln Chafee announced his departure from the presidential race Friday morning, six months after he launched what proved to be a quixotic bid for the nation's top office.

"As you know I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace," Chafee said, in prepared remarks for an address to a group of Democratic women in Washington. "But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today.  I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace."

Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he will not be a candidate for president in 2016, sparing Democrats from a shake-up in the race for the White House and removing a potential stumbling block for Hillary Clinton.

The vice president's decision comes after a long, and very public, struggle with whether or not to make a third run for the White House. Overcome with grief after the death of his eldest son, Beau, in May from brain cancer, at many times Biden seemed far from ready for the rigors of the campaign trail.

Updated at 1:30 p.m.

Jim Webb ended his Democratic campaign for president on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility he could still run as an independent.

Decrying how far both parties had moved from the center, the former Virginia senator acknowledged that there was no path forward for him in the current 2016 field.

Lance Mercier knows his job gets harder when a co-worker goes out on leave. But he recently also learned that raising a newborn involves, as he puts it, an "insurmountable" amount of work.

The 39-year-old bank manager from Silver Spring, Md., is currently on leave from work taking care of his newborn son with his wife, Luz.

"As a manager who has had a lot of people go out on leave of absence, it absolutely sucks when they go out on leave," he said. "This puts everything back into perspective for me."

In this presidential campaign, political outsiders are outshining experienced politicians.

To succeed with the conservative Republican base in the early-voting state of Iowa, Ted Cruz will need to win over supporters of both outsiders and insiders vying for the nomination.

At a restaurant in the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, Iowa, this week, the Texas senator addressed a full room over a loudspeaker.

"God bless the great state of Iowa," Cruz said. "I spent most of last week in Washington, D.C., so it is great to be back in America."

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

Pete Souza / White House

Senior administration officials say President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017.

Iran's Guardian Council on Wednesday approved the deal intended to control Iran's nuclear program. The approval is a final step before implementation, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The 12-member group of senior clerics' OK followed passage by Iran's Parliament on Tuesday.

DonkeyHotey / Flickr Creative Commons

The 2016 presidential cycle has been mostly dominated by a crowded Republican field but now it's the Democrats' turn as the candidates square off in their first debate. Also this week, former President Bill Clinton is in Connecticut to accept an award at UConn. But a trip to the Nutmeg State isn’t complete without a fundraiser, so he’s swinging by Attorney General George Jepsen’s house to fundraise for his wife’s presidential campaign as well. But out of all these events, only the debate will be broadcast in virtual reality.

This post was updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

The first Democratic debate brought out some passionate and, at times, awkward moments from the five candidates on stage. A highlight of the night was when Bernie Sanders decided he'd had enough of Hillary Clinton's email scandal, exclaiming "the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails."

But Sanders later stumbled on foreign policy, and Clinton struggled to defend her changing positions.

Here's each candidate's best and worst moment from Tuesday night:

ConnectMeetings flickr.com/photos/connectyourmeetings/20900617180 / Creative Commons

Former President Bill Clinton will speak at the University of Connecticut Thursday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and will receive a human rights award.

A bruised Hillary Clinton will have much to prove as she takes the debate stage Tuesday evening alongside four of her Democratic presidential challengers. The former secretary of state has been damaged by lingering questions about her private email server and doubts about her trustworthiness.

That has partly enabled Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders to ride a wave of progressive support to a lead over her in New Hampshire and an impressive $25 million fundraising haul last quarter.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is calling on the Obama administration to release the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, now that Pacific nations have reached an agreement in principle on the pact.

"We, the trade ministers ... are pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced Monday morning, to a loud round of applause.

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The sudden announcement that the top education official in the country is resigning has been met with a mix of reactions in Connecticut.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Arne Duncan will step down as President Obama's education secretary in December, a White House official confirms to NPR.

Obama has selected Deputy Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to replace Duncan. King is a former New York State education commissioner. (President Obama is making a personnel announcement at 3:30 p.m. ET.)

President Obama is set to have a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It's not clear exactly when the two leaders would meet, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the encounter would happen Monday when Putin is scheduled to deliver remarks at the U.N.

The White House confirmed the meeting would take place, but did not specify when.

According to a senior administration official:

The White House

Pope Francis is visiting Washington, D.C. this week. His first visit to the U.S. began formally on Wednesday with an arrival ceremony at the White House and a personal meeting with President Barack Obama. 

Just over a week ago, the Obama administration was considering sanctioning China in response to suspected hacking attacks, especially one on the Office of Personnel Management that compromised the data of millions of federal employees.

Updated at 6:40 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ended his campaign for president Monday, capping off a rapid rise and equally rapid fall in the GOP race.

At a brief 6 p.m. ET press conference in Madison, Wis., Walker said he was suspending his White House bid, in part, to stop the current GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

"Today I feel I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field," Walker said.

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