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Jeb Bush tells Chuck Todd he’s ‘conflicted’ about the death penalty and that it needs reform

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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he is conflicted about the death penalty and wants to see reforms in how it is implemented.

Bush, in an interview taped for broadcast on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said executions can provide closure for families of murder victims but that other issues are involved.

“It’s hard for me, as a human being, to sign the death warrant, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’m informed by my faith in many things, and this is one of them. So I have to admit that I’m conflicted about this.”

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“But we should reform it. If it’s to be used as a deterrent, it has to be reformed. It can’t take 25 years (of legal appeals before an execution). That does no one any good. Neither the victims nor the state is solving this problem with that kind of tangled judicial process.”

Florida executed 20 murderers while Bush was the state’s governor from 1999 to January 2007, according to the database of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Republican candidates generally have supported the death penalty while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said it should be re-examined and her main challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has called for its abolition.

Bush’s campaign has been troubled by lackluster debate performances, sagging poll numbers and recent cutbacks in staff and salaries of his campaign organization. He also has faced criticism from Republican rival candidate Donald Trump for being “low energy” and critics have questioned if he has the personality and resolve to carry a campaign through to the November 2016 election.

Bush said on “Meet the Press” he did not know why pundits questioned his drive to be president but said he needed to improve his performance.

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“Look, I know that I’ve got to get better at doing the debate,” he said. “I’m a grinder. I mean, when I see that I’m not doing something well then I reset and I get better. And I’m going to be better.”

(Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Watch the full 30-minute inteview below:

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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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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