Hannah Levintova

Hannah Levintova

Reporter/Associate Editor

Hannah Levintova reports and edits in Mother Jones' DC bureau. Previously she worked at NPR and the Washington Monthly. A proud New Englander, she enjoys tea, good books, and cold weather.

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After GOP Implosion, Paul Ryan Says He's Willing to Be Speaker of the House

| Tue Oct. 20, 2015 7:32 PM EDT

After a week of speculation in Washington, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said for the first time on Tuesday that he would be willing to officially throw his hat in the ring for the position of House speaker, provided that all House Republicans support his candidacy.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House majority leader, withdrew his name from consideration for the post. McCarthy's exit came after a widely publicized gaffe, in which he admitted that the Benghazi committee was in part a smokescreen intended to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president. Since then, Ryan has been the GOP favorite for the position. However, up until Tuesday he's insisted that he had no interest in the job.

To win the post, Ryan needs the approval of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of conservative House Republicans that helped force the resignation of John Boehner. Ryan met with the group on Tuesday. According to Politico reporter Jake Sherman, Ryan told the group that he wanted to know by the end of the week whether he would have the full caucus' support of his candidacy. He also suggested restructuring the position to be more about managing the party's message and less about fundraising.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) have also announced their candidacy for the speaker post, but Chaffetz said in a tweet on Tuesday that, should Ryan run, he'll drop out of the race and throw his support behind Ryan.

Boehner had planned to leave his post at the end of this month but has said he'll stay on in the job until his successor is named. Adding to the pressure to quickly name a new speaker: Congress must raise the debt ceiling by November 3 or risk a federal government default on the nation's debt.

Fiorina Super-PAC Makes Its Own Abortion Video

| Thu Sep. 24, 2015 5:00 AM EDT
Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina at the GOP primary debate on September 16

During the latest GOP primary debate on September 16, Carly Fiorina described a video that shows "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." Many news reports have pointed out that no such video seems to exist—it's not among the heavily edited Center for Medical Progress videos released this summer, nor is it anywhere else.

On September 19, the super-PAC backing Fiorina's candidacy, Carly for America, posted a video to its YouTube page that appears to be a home-brewed version of the previously nonexistent video. The clip is called "Character of Our Nation," a quote from Fiorina's statements during the debate, when she said defunding Planned Parenthood "is about the character of our nation."*

In an email sent out yesterday, Planned Parenthood pointed out that the video appears to be a heavily edited selection of five separate audio and video clips, spliced together "to try to concoct the video that she claimed existed" during the debate. Several of the clips, Planned Parenthood said, come from the doctored Center for Medical Progress sting videos released this summer that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false.

One of the clips comes from the Grantham Collection, an anti-abortion archive that has been discredited by pro-choice advocates, in part for making false allegations about the content of benign photos. For instance, the group claimed that a photo of basic medical tongs is an image of the tool used to pull apart the limbs of an aborted fetus.

Planned Parenthood wrote a letter to the Fiorina campaign yesterday, asking it to take down the composite video.

In response to a request for comment on the veracity of the video, Fiorina campaign spokeswomen Sarah Isgur Flores wrote in an email, "Carly is a cancer survivor and doesn't need to be lectured on women's health by anyone. Over their long and factually incorrect letter, Planned Parenthood doesn't and can't deny they butchering babies and selling their organs [sic]. This is about the character of our nation."

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the group that posted the video.

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