Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has improved his position” since a deal aimed at dismantling his country’s chemical-weapons program started, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
“It’s fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes,” Kerry said, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Now, I would describe the situation simply that Assad is not winning, but he’s also not losing. It’s sort of a stalemate at this moment.”
Kerry was asked about Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s comments at a congressional hearing last week. Clapper said the deal “adds legitimacy” to Assad’s government.
Kerry also pushed back against the notion that he has differed from President Obama on how the United States should be involved in Syria’s conflict.
The Syrian government has come under increasing criticism for missing deadlines to turn over its chemical weapons. It failed to meet Wednesday’s deadline to give up chemical materials, and has, so far, allowed just two shipments to be taken out of the country.
But United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Reuters on Thursday that he believes the Syrian government can still meet the June 30 deadline to destroy its chemical weapons program.
The interview also hit a lighter note, with Kerry saying that 2016 handicappers can take at least one secretary of State off their lists.
“I’m out of politics. I have no plans whatsoever,” he said, asked if he would consider running for president. “This is my last stop. I’m going to serve the country in the extraordinarily privileged position the president’s given me, the great challenges that I have, and move on.”
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."