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Ben Carson or Ben Ghazi? Candidate compares vetting to disparaged Congressional hearings

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ben Carson, under attack for embellishing key elements of his biography, lashed out at critics during a debate on Tuesday and said he did not like being “lied about.”

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has faced a series of reports in the past week casting doubt on his stories about his violent outbursts as a youth and a scholarship he said he was offered to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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“I have no problem with being vetted,” Carson said. “What I do have a problem with is being lied about and having that put out there as true.”

Carson, 64, was in the spotlight in the fourth Republican presidential debate, having risen to the top of opinion polls. He questioned why Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton had not been subjected to a similar level of media scrutiny.

“We have to start treating people the same and finding out what they really think,” he said. “People who know me know I’m an honest person.”

He spoke during a debate among leading Republican presidential candidates about economic policy. Several agreed they would oppose raising the federal minimum wage, saying it would hurt small businesses and reduce jobs.

With income inequality looming as an election issue, thousands of protesters took to the streets across the United States earlier in the day to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast food workers.

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“Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases,” Carson said. “I’m interested in making sure that people can enter the job market.”

All of the Democratic presidential candidates including Clinton, 68, have called for an increase in the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25.

But Republican real estate magnate Donald Trump, 69, said a rise in the minimum wage would put businesses in the United States at a disadvantage with foreign competitors.

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“We are a country that is being beaten on every economic front,” Trump said. “We cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world.”

Tuesday’s debate comes at a critical time in the race for the Republican nomination in the November 2016 election, with Carson and Trump fighting to hold their spot atop the polls and Florida Senator Marco Rubio trying to build on the momentum of his last strong debate performance.

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Carson has faced a rough week of scrutiny about whether he embellished key aspects of his biography, while Rubio, 44, is under pressure to show he can fight off recent criticism of his inexperience as he tries to unseat fellow Floridian Jeb Bush as a favorite of the party’s mainstream.

Rubio also said he would oppose an increase in the minimum wage.

“If you raise the minimum wage, you are going to make people more expensive than machines,” said Rubio, who has not led opinion polls in any early voting state, and lags Bush, a 62-year-old former governor, and others in fund-raising.

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In an earlier debate on Tuesday involving four lower-polling Republican candidates, several accused the Federal Reserve of keeping U.S. interest rates low for political reasons and one called for replacing Fed chair Janet Yellen.

“The Fed should be audited and the Fed should stop playing politics with our money supply,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal tried to distinguish himself by repeatedly attacking Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for failing to cut government spending during their tenures as governors.

Christie declined to take the bait, turning the debate back again and again to the need for Republicans to rally around a nominee who can defeat Clinton.

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For more on the 2016 U.S. presidential race and to learn about the undecided voters who determine elections, visit the Reuters website. (http://www.reuters.com/election2016/the-undecided/)

(Additional reporting by Megan Cassella and Alana Wise in Washington; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Howard Goller)

Watch video of the the segment below:

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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After Trump: No free pass for Republicans — they own this nightmare

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With the impeachment inquiry leveling up this month as public hearings begin, and with an election that might actually be the end of Donald Trump now less than a year away, the campaign to let Trump's Republican allies — even the most villainous offenders — move on and pretend this never happened is already underway.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Sadly, the clearest articulation of the let-bygones-be-bygones mentality has come from a Democrat — unsurprisingly, former Vice President Joe Biden.Biden, who is still, somehow, the frontrunner in Democratic primary polling, spoke at a chi-chi fundraiser on Wednesday, and dropped this pearl of wisdom: "With Donald Trump out of the way, you’re going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany."

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As climate crisis-fueled fires rage, fears grow of an ‘uninhabitable’ California

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As activist Bill McKibben put it, "We've simply got to slow down the climate crisis."

With wildfires raging across California on Wednesday—and with portions of the state living under an unprecedented "Extreme Red Flag Warning" issued by the National Weather Service due to the severe conditions—some climate experts are openly wondering if this kind of harrowing "new normal" brought on by the climate crisis could make vast regions of the country entirely uninhabitable.

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