TIME 2014 Election

Republican Candidate Allegedly Fat Shames Opponent’s Staffer

California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, poses for a picture on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2014.
California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, poses for a picture on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

The ugly accusation comes in one of the closest and most controversial House races in the country

Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio allegedly ridiculed a female aide to Democratic opponent by comparing her in an email to a photo of an overweight woman wearing only a bra and eating a snack.
DeMaio, a candidate for California’s 52nd Congressional District, sent the picture without text on January 22 to two members of his campaign, spokesperson Dave McCulloch and former policy director Todd Bosnich, according to a copy of the document. The email in question has the subject line “Kate Lyon,” the name of California Democratic Rep. Scott Peters’ deputy campaign manager. The photo of a woman partially undressed is not of Lyon.
The DeMaio campaign declined to comment on the authenticity of the email when contacted by TIME. “We are done responding to Mr. Bosnich’s politically motivated smears,” said Dave McCulloch, a spokesman for DeMaio, in an emailed statement. “Carl is focused on his plan to reform Congress and create jobs.”
Bosinch has also accused DeMaio of sexual harassment, saying DeMaio repeatedly groped him and made unwanted sexual advances on the job. The San Diego County District Attorney declined to bring charges this week after an investigation of those claims. DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, is openly gay and has been touted as a “new kind of Republican.”
According to a recent poll by U-T San Diego and 10News, the race is too close to call, with DeMaio favored by 48% of voters and Peters favored by 45%. The margin of error in the poll was 4.3%.
The Peters campaign released a statement after the email was made public.

“Kate Lyon is one of the most experienced and respected members of our staff,” said Alex Roth, the Peters communications director. “She previously worked as an attorney, for NARAL Pro-Choice America and for Planned Parenthood. It is disgusting and despicable that this champion for women’s rights, or any woman, would be demeaned this way. I wish I could say it is shocking, but coming from Carl DeMaio, nothing is shocking.”

TIME 2014 Election

Watch Obama Encounter a Jealous Boyfriend: ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Politicans cast early vote ballots
President Barack Obama casts his early votes at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Antonio Perez—Chicago Tribune / Getty Images

'I really wasn't planning on it'

President Barack Obama held his own against a jealous boyfriend in Chicago on Monday.

“Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend,” said a man identified by CNN as Mike Jones, as Obama cast his early ballot in the Illinois state elections next to a woman named Aia Cooper.

“I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama said, without looking up from his ballot, as Cooper laughs. A visibly embarrassed Cooper then offered an apology on behalf of her fiancé. Obama was sympathetic, though, joking “there’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason.”

After a brief conversation as the two finished voting, the video shows, Obama gave Cooper a quick kiss on the cheek, to give Jones “something to talk about.”

[CNN]

TIME 2014 Election

Super PAC Backed by Nancy Pelosi Concedes Likely Democratic Defeat In 2014

Weeks before election day, Democrats have turned their sights to the next election cycle, hoping for better results.

The Nancy Pelosi-backed super PAC campaigning for House Democrats has thrown in the towel on the party’s chances to retake the House majority this year, telling donors in a email fundraising note that it needs their help for 2016.

“I don’t think I will shock anyone by saying that it is an uphill climb to win a majority in the House this year,” the email, titled “Long-term planning,” from House Majority PAC states. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t lay the groundwork for 2016 now.”

Acknowledging that retaking the majority was always a long shot at best for House Democrats is one thing, but saying it publicly just two weeks before polls close is another. Pelosi is barred by law from dictating messages to the super PAC, though it has a history of following her public comments. She has appeared at events for the group, which is run by former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aides and focused on her goal of retaking House control.

At a press conference earlier this month, Pelosi said, “I think we’ll do okay,” when asked about the upcoming election, before shifting focus to 2016. “You know what, their days are numbered,” she said of Republicans. “I know that in two years there will be a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president.”

At an event Monday in San Francisco with Hillary Clinton, Pelosi again focused on 2016, without predicting the outcome of the current election cycle. “I am frequently introduced as the highest-ranking woman in political office in our country,” Pelosi said. “I’d like to give up that title and elect a Democratic woman for President of the United States. And soon.”

Last week DCCC Chair Steve Israel said the party is up for a “tough and unpredictable” election night, saying there are 32 races within six points—enough to tip the balance. But in recent weeks the party has had to refocus on shoring up its incumbents, not targeting potentially vulnerable Republicans.

The House Majority PPAC email was sent in the name of former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. It says the party must keep fighting this year to maintain any hope of retaking the majority for the next Democratic president—a thinly-veiled hint to potential White House hopeful Hillary Clinton.

“Important legislative actions like raising the minimum wage and immigration reform are virtually dead,” the email continued. “Instead House Republicans would prefer to waste their time trying to dismantle Obamacare. That is exactly the fate our next Democratic president’s agenda will suffer in 2016 if we don’t regain the majority.”

“If we want to have a chance at 2016, we have to hold the line in the House now,” the email concludes.

In a follow-up email to donors Tuesday morning, House Majority PAC Executive Director doubled-down. “Did you see Governor Dean’s message, friend? He’s right. 2014 isn’t about winning the majority — it’s about laying the groundwork for electing a Democratic majority in 2016 to get our next Democratic president’s back.”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the people who founded the House Majority PAC. They were former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aides.

TIME 2014 Election

South Carolina Congressional Candidate Calls Gay Couples ‘Gremlins’

“They’re these creatures that are so destructive," Anthony Culler said

A South Carolina Congressional candidate called same-sex couples “gremlins” out to “destroy our way of life” in a seven-minute Facebook video released Monday.

The video followed a lengthy statement the candidate posted to Facebook on Oct. 14 urging South Carolina voters to stand with him if they were for traditional marriage. “I made a comment that same-sex couples that want to destroy traditional marriage and our way of life, they’re gremlins,” said Republican Anthony Culler, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. James Clyburn. “They’re these creatures that are so destructive.”

Culler went on say that while the 6th District where he’s challenging Clyburn is often referred to as “the black district” he believes it’s also a “Christian district” where many people share views like his.

“The people here—black, white, Democrat, Republican—we believe in family,” Culler said. “We believe in traditional family. We believe in the way that is has always been: one man, one woman. Government can make up any laws it wants to, it doesn’t make it right. Evil is evil. Wrong is wrong. “

The Republican has almost no chance of beating the 11-term congressman in the strongly Democratic district. The state Republican Party denounced Culler’s statements, saying “most people learned in kindergarten not to call other people names.”

“Our party believes in the conservative definition of marriage, but we also believe in loving our neighbors and treating them with respect,” South Carolina GOP chairman Matt Moore said. “Mr. Culler’s desperate, attention-seeking antics in no way represent the good, decent South Carolinians I’ve met across our state.”

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: October 21

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Behind the Fear Outbreak

The almost-zero probability of acquiring Ebola in the U.S. often doesn’t register at a time of mass fear, and the country is in the midst of a national panic attack that has seen schools emptied, businesses temporarily shuttered and travelers from West Africa shunned

Oscar Pistorius Gets 5 Years

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for the February 2013 killing of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Apple Bears Fruit in Fourth Quarter

The tech giant reported a 12.7% bump in fourth-quarter profit, beating analyst expectations, with strong sales of iPhones and Mac computers

Fashion Designer Oscar de la Renta Dies at Age 82

The world-renowned fashion designer passed away on Monday at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 2006. De la Renta shot to fame in the 1960s after he dressed First Lady Jackie Kennedy

Turkey Says It Helps Kurdish Fighters Enter Syria

Turkey claimed to help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross into Syria to support others battling ISIS in the border town of Kobani, but activists said no forces had arrived by Monday evening, raising questions about whether the mission was really underway

2014 Could Be the Hottest Year on Record

The earth could be heading for its warmest year since measurements began, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Monday. Last month was the warmest September in 135 years of record keeping

Toyota Announces U.S. Recall Over Faulty Passenger-Side Airbags

Toyota is warning hundreds of thousands of Americans who own its cars not to use the passenger seat until faulty airbags are repaired. On Monday, the automaker announced a fresh recall of 247,000 vehicles produced from 2001 to 2004

Banksy Parodies Girl With a Pearl Earring in New Mural

The famous and elusive street artist has parodied Johannes Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring in a new mural in the English city of Bristol. Banksy posted a picture of the work, reportedly titled Girl With a Pierced Eardrum, to his website

Amazon and Simon & Schuster Reach Deal Over E-Books

Amazon and Simon & Schuster have reached a multiyear agreement over the sale of print and digital books following the online retail giant’s falling out with the Hachette Book Group. The publisher will set its own prices for e-books, while Amazon will promote titles

Toys “R” Us ‘Breaks Bad’ With New Crystal Meth Toys

Parents aren’t happy that the toy retailer is selling drug dealer dolls, complete with bags of crystal meth and sacks of cash, a la Walter White in Breaking Bad. A petition for the chain to pull the dolls had attracted nearly 6,000 signatures by early Tuesday

Hong Kong’s Minorities Join Democracy Protests

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have flooded the streets since the end of September, demanding free elections in the Special Administrative Region of China. Among the crowds are many ethnic minorities, who insist that they, too, belong to the Umbrella Revolution

Guardians of the Galaxy Tunes to Get Cassette Release

The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is getting a rerelease on cassette on Nov. 17, giving film fans their own version of the 1970s mixtape that the film’s star, played by Chris Pratt, is never without. The Marvel film’s soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 over the summer

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TIME 2014 Election

Ebola Travel Ban Wins Support From Another Embattled Democratic Candidate

Jeanne Shaheen,Scott Brown
United States Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), right, listens as her Republican rival, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown speaks during their debate , Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 in Conway, N.H. Jim Cole—AP

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is the latest Democrat to open up to an Ebola travel ban

Over the past several days, New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has not let up hammering his Democratic opponent about Ebola.

On Thursday, he called on President Barack Obama to institute a travel ban from West Africa. On Friday, he said Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is “rubber-stamping the President’s policy,” by opposing his position. He also told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade that if 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had won, Ebola wouldn’t be a problem. The next day he wrote a letter urging Shaheen to accept a travel ban, saying that the position goes “beyond partisan politics.”

By Monday, Shaheen could take no more. “Senator Shaheen has contacted New Hampshire officials about local preparedness,” her spokesman Harrell Kirstein said Monday afternoon, just days after Shaheen said a travel ban did not make sense. “She strongly supports any and all effective measures to keep Americans safe including travel bans if they would work.”

Brown and other Republicans in tightly contested Senate races have put Democrats on their heels by following public polls that show a majority of the country wants to combat Ebola with a travel ban, even though health experts warn that such a move would make the crises in West Africa worse and ultimately increase the likelihood that the virus travels again to the United States.

Shaheen joins an ever-growing cohort of vulnerable Democrats running for Senate that have moved on the issue. Over the past week, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, and Georgia candidate Michelle Nunn, have announced they are in favor of some type of travel ban. On Friday, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan even flip-flopped in favor of a ban, saying she supported it just days after saying it would not help.

Other Senate Democratic candidates may still shift under Republican and public pressure. On Tuesday, a Washington Post-ABC poll found that two-thirds of respondents support restricting entry to the United States for people who’ve been in the West African affected countries. The next Senate Democratic candidate to support a travel ban could very well be Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has advocated to expand airport screenings, but has faced pressure to commit to a ban from her opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Dr. Pearson Cross, an associate political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, says that Landrieu could face a “high,” short-term political cost otherwise. “If Landrieu doesn’t support a travel ban it may be spun that she is insufficiently concerned with protecting America and Louisiana’s health and interests in the name of political correctness,” says Cross. “That could be used in a campaign ad and on the trail where people are quite concerned about this fast-moving and often misunderstood issue.”

On Friday, Cook Political Report, the nonpartisan election handicapper, threw the race from leaning Shaheen to a “toss-up,” citing the unfavorable Democratic environment, voters finally tuning in with two weeks left in the race and Brown’s campaign abilities. “There’s been a lot of public attention to the threat of Ebola, so it’s definitely playing here,” says Dr. Dante Scala, an associate political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. “I’m sure there’s a lot more concern about that among voters than there is about the Senate race itself. I think it transcends politics in that way.”

With the political winds growing so strongly, even the White House has, at times, encouraged Democratic candidates to criticize the administration over Ebola. Last week, Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Senate against Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst and said he would consider the travel ban, admonished the Administration for not acting fast enough. Asked about the comments, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Braley was “somebody that has a reputation for being willing to speak truth to power, whether they’re in the same party as him or not.”

“I think this is another indication that he’s willing to do that,” Earnest added.

TIME 2014 Election

Pelosi and Hillary Join Forces to Rally Democratic Women

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Doris Matsui, Nancy Pelosi
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gathers with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left, and other Bay area congresswomen after speaking at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates hosted by Pelosi at the Fairmont Hotel Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in San Francisco. Eric Risberg—AP

The event brought together Clinton and Obama supporters from 2008

Three generations of Birmingham family women turned out on Monday to see House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rally for female Democratic candidates.

“It was fabulous, a wonderful event,” gushes Alanna Birmingham, 17, clutching one of the lunch’s floral centerpieces, a keepsake for her to take home. “You could just feel the energy in the room, all this beautiful female energy.” Birmingham was there with her mother and grandmother in a show of political unity the family hasn’t always enjoyed, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton—and they weren’t the only ones.

Billed as “The Ultimate Women’s Power Luncheon,” the event raised $1.4 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from the 820 mostly women in attendance bringing the DCCC’s money lead of its GOP counterpart to a whopping $38 million with just two weeks to go before the election. The event also featured a set by singer Carole King (including a rendition of “Sweet Seasons” where she changed the lyrics to “Some times you win; sometimes you win” instead of lose).

But the 2014 midterms, where Dems are expected to lose seats in both chambers and possibly control of the Senate, were not the elections on most women’s lips at the lunch. Cynthia Birmingham, Alanna’s mother, was there to show early support for Clinton’s anticipated 2016 presidential bid, in part to make up for not supporting her primary candidacy in 2008. “I’m so excited to support Hillary in 2016,” she says.

Birmingham wasn’t the only one. California Reps. Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, George Miller and Barbara Lee—all close allies of Pelosi—were all in enthusiastic attendance on Monday and all endorsed Obama during the primaries in 2008. Indeed, many saw then Speaker Pelosi’s call in 2008 on super delegates to respect the will of the voters in their home states, rather than endorsing the candidate of their choice, as one of the nails in the coffin of Clinton’s candidacy. Though Pelosi very carefully never endorsed either candidate in 2008.

The event was a healing one for the Birminghams as well. Ann Birmingham, Alanna’s grandmother and Cynthia’s mother-in-law, was also in approving attendance, happy to see her women kin supporting the candidate she’s long adored. “I loved and supported Hillary back in 2008 and I will love and support her in 2016,” Ann says. “I was terribly disappointed when she lost.”

But all that was forgotten on Monday with Clinton and Pelosi hugging and kissing onstage and united in their common cause to not only elect more women to Congress, where women make up less than 20%, but to start a women’s empowerment movement in politics. “When women succeed, America succeeds,” both women—and the crowd—chanted over and over throughout the program.

“For too many women, for too many families they don’t just face ceilings for their dreams,” Clinton said, referring to the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, or the 18 million Americans who voted to make her the first female Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, she famously referenced in her concession speech, “they feel floor has collapsed beneath their feet.”

Clinton lavished praise on Pelosi’s ground-breaking leadership as the first female speaker, a post she held from 2006 until Democrats lost the House in 2010. And Pelosi started her speech saying she hoped she would soon be surpassed. “I’m frequently introduced as the highest ranking woman in U.S. office; I’d like to give up that title. And soon,” she told a roaring crowd. “If Hillary Clinton, mother and grandmother, decides to run for president she will win… and she will be one of the best prepared leaders, one of the top presidents in the Oval Office. That she happens to be a woman is a bonus and a wonderful, wonderful thing. But she happens to also be a leader of visions and values.”

Indeed, Cynthia Birmingham says she’s supporting Clinton this time around because she’s an experienced, proven leader at a time when the country most needs that experience. “No one else in the field even comes close,” she says, “Hillary just blows them all away. It’s not so much that she’s a woman, but that she’s the best person for the job.”

TIME 2014 Election

GOP Wields Romney Fundraising List in Senate Battle

A potent tool for raising cash

If Republicans retake the Senate next month, they’ll have done it with a lot of help from Mitt Romney.

The former GOP presidential nominee’s digital operation may have been a generation behind President Barack Obama’s effort, but his email list has proven to be a potent fundraising too for the party as it looks for victory this fall. “It’s easily our most successful digital fundraising source,” said Matt Lira. executive director of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “As far as our fundraising is concerned, there’s the Romney list and there’s everything else.”

In the past week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has emailed the list no fewer than 16 times, many times with emails addressed from Romney himself, while the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Republican’s campaign arm, has used it at least once.

Maintained in a nondescript office overlooking the Potomac River in Alexandria by his former digital consulting firm Targeted Victory, the list is one of the Republican Party’s most valuable assets, containing millions of email addresses and records of more than 1.5 million digital donors to that campaign. “This is the largest donor base in the history of politics on the right,” said Zac Moffatt, a co-founder of the firm and the former Romney campaign’s digital director.

Moffatt’s firm maintains day-to-day control of the list and takes a cut of the fundraising proceeds and list maintenance fees, according to people familiar with the arrangement. The firm, which has been paid millions by the NRSC for its digital fundraising work, transferred more than $100,000 into Romney’s campaign account in June for the rights to use the list.

“Governor Romney is excited that Republican candidates and committees are making use of the Romney for President email list for fundraising and [get-out-the-vote purposes this cycle,” said Romney aide Kelli Harrison. “Hopefully access to this tool will make a difference in races all across the country.”

The value is clear, Lira said. “It’s the largest list of people who are predisposed to donate, predisposed to volunteer, predisposed to vote Republican,” he said. “The Romney donor base is broader, compared to some more ideological lists.” When donors give through the Romney list, it both freshens the underlying list and provides the NRSC with a new contact for its internal lists.

Renters have the option of reaching out to the entire universe of donors, or just segments, like those who purchased merchandise or participated in contests on the Romney campaign, in hopes of generating greater return on investment.

In 2012, the Romney campaign, flush with cash, rented almost every GOP email list available so it could build its own list of contacts and donors, making it the most comprehensive collection of GOP emails, outstripping even the Republican National Committee according to industry sources.

“Email is king to online fundraising,” said Vincent Harris, whose firm Harris Media works for clients like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell. He added the Targeted Victory arrangement “brings about a big point that candidates don’t think of: who owns their data?”

Lira declined to say how much the NRSC has raised off the Romney list; the committee has been massively outraised by its Democratic counterpart.

The Romney approach differs from that used by Obama, whose campaign also maintains control of the his small-dollar donor and volunteer lists for the use of Organizing for Action, the nonprofit issue advocacy group he has thrown his name behind. Obama transferred his data and other lists to the Democratic National Committee.

While the Romney list remains fresh, don’t look to it as evidence that the two-time White House hopeful will make a third bid. The list has also been used by potential 2016 candidates like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Rick Perry.

TIME 2014 Election

Obama White House Finds Ebola and ISIS Crises Silver Lining

US-VOTE-OBAMA
President Barack Obama casts a ballot in early voting for the 2014 midterm elections at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center October 20, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

An excuse for why he's not campaigning for more Democrats.

President Barack Obama has found a silver lining in months of global crises: an excuse for why he’s not out on the campaign trail for Democrats this fall.

Asked Monday if it was odd two weeks before the midterm elections that Obama was not spending more time on the road for Democrats, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz pointed to all the president’s other commitments, including the twin crises of Ebola and ISIS, which have upended Senate campaigns around the country.

“I don’t think it’s weird given everything that we are trying to manage,” he told reporters in Chicago, where Obama cast an early ballot this morning and held one of just seven pre-Election Day rallies last night. “As I think we’ve said now for some time there’s a lot of significant, complex situations going on both around the world and here at home and I think a lot of those issues have dominated the president’s time. Given that the elections are a few weeks away, obviously that is a priority as well. So I think you’ll see the president as he did yesterday campaign when he can.”

Few Democrats around the country have invited Obama out on the campaign trail, given his toxic appeal in swing states this cycle. Nationwide, Obama’s approval rating, as measured by Gallup, stands at 40%, just above his historic low of 38%. In the second week of October, 41% of the country disapproved of Obama’s performance, compared with the 37% approval rate George W. Bush had at the same point in his presidency.

Last week the White House announced that Obama would appear at only seven rallies in Democratic-leaning states, and would only appear with a single Democratic Senate candidate before Election Day. The Senate appearance will be with Gary Peters, a Democratic candidate in Michigan, who has been leading by double digits in some recent polls. One of the seven rallies, for Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, was postponed last week so Obama could attend meetings at the White House on Ebola. The White House said it would be rescheduled before the election.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to win control of the U.S. Senate next year. Current polling averages suggest the party is slightly favored to win at least that many, with fifteen days to go before polls close.

TIME 2014 Election

Obama Votes Early in Chicago

"I love voting"

President Barack Obama cast his ballot for November’s midterm elections on Monday during Illinois’ early-voting period, during a trip to the state to campaign with Democratic candidates.

Obama’s motorcade arrived at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center in his hometown of Chicago shortly after 11 a.m. to cast a ballot two weeks before Election Day. “I love voting,” Obama said. “Everybody in Illinois, early vote. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

When a poll worker if he was Barack Obama before handing the President his ballot, Obama replied, “That’s me.”

Obama declined reporters’ requests to say who he voted for, but he was in Illinois to campaign for Gov. Pat Quinn Sunday evening and appear at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee on Monday afternoon.

Immediately after voting, Obama stopped by a Quinn campaign office bearing donuts and pastries to inspect the get-out-the-vote effort for the Democratic governor. “Nothing like campaign fever,” he said.

“Michelle sent these,” Obama said of the treats, joking, “We got broccoli, carrots.”

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