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Sean Gardner/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who lost the GOP nomination to Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012, says he’s “ready” to run for president in 2016.

“I’m ready to do this again,” he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

“It's an exciting opportunity,” he told Stephanopoulos. “To come back home, to be at a manufacturing facility, to really reconnect to what I grew up with and understood to be an America that worked, that worked for middle-income families, that created stable neighborhoods and strong families -- when you see all these reports coming out, one after another, from the far left and the far right talking about how the middle of America is hollowing out and the jobs just aren't there for the 74 percent of Americans who don't have a college degree, families are breaking down."

Santorum, 57, will formally announce his intentions at an event Wednesday in Cabot, Pennsylvania, near his childhood home.

He joins a quickly widening Republican field that already includes six declared candidates and could grow to encompass around a dozen more. Several contenders are expected to give him tougher competition this time around for the Christian conservative votes he relied on in 2012.

His experience in the last election could prove helpful, as several Republican nominees -- including Romney and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- did not clinch the ticket until their second try.

“Obviously, we learned something from the last campaign,” the Pennsylvania senator told Stephanopoulos. "Number one, we’re gonna have more money.”

“You gotta do well in Iowa,” said Santorum, who was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2012 after a 16-day delay. “You gotta win on election night as opposed to two weeks later.”

However, the competitive nature of this cycle has already thrown a hurdle in Santorum’s path, with recently released debate rules opening the possibility he will not poll high enough to participate in the first debate in August.

“It’s early,” Santorum said, when asked about the debate. “I don’t worry too much about where things are now.”

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baumsaway/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to life a block on the Obama administration's executive action on immigration, a ruling that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security expressed disappointment towards, while saying that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was not in the cards just yet.

"The Department of Justice is committed to taking steps that will resolve the immigration litigation as quickly as possible in order to bring greater accountability to our immigration system by prioritizing deporting the worst offenders, not people who have long ties to the United States and who are raising American children," a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement. "Although the Department continues to disagree with the Fifth Circuit's refusal to stay the district court's preliminary injunction, the Department has determined that it will not seek a stay from the Supreme Court."

A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security called the decision disappointing, while noting that the pre-existing DACA policy from 2012 -- which provide deferred action to ceertain children -- remains in place.

The progress made under the current administration, DHS says, "is significant," as the department vowed to "continue to implement these important reforms to help reform our broken immigration system that, in the end, only Congress can fully address."

Obama's executive action, which would have legalized up to five million undocumented immigrants was blocked by a judge after 26 Republican governors and attorneys general filed a lawsuit hoping for an injunction.

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ABC/Matthew Putney(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum is ready for Hillary, but not in the way her supporters are.

The former Pennsylvania Republican senator turned two-time presidential candidate is in a “great place” to begin “countering a big, top-down, statist approach that Hillary Clinton has advocated,” he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos Wednesday.

“We’ve taken her on; on everything from moral and cultural issues on the floor of the United States Senate,” said Santorum, who spent several years in the upper chamber alongside then-Sen. Clinton.

Santorum – who wrote It Takes a Family, a treatise on the ills of big government, in response to Clinton’s 1996 book, It Takes a Village – also touted his book’s success as an indicator of his ability to defeat Clinton.

Critics are saying, “‘you know what, this breakdown of the family that Rick Santorum talked about 12 years ago is really one of the central issues in rebuilding America again,’” he told Stephanopoulos.

And according to Santorum, 57, his record on national security also sets him apart from his 2016 rivals.

“National security is key,” he said. “The ability to go up there and debate Hillary Clinton with a track record, not going into a debate with your experience as a briefing book, but real experiencing.”

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Self-dubbed hair icon and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton assured voters Wednesday that if she gets elected president, her hair -- unlike that of her would-be predecessors -- will not turn gray over the course of her term.

“All of our presidents come into office looking so vigorous,” Clinton said during a campaign event at the Marriott hotel in downtown Columbia, South Carolina Wednesday, her first visit to the Palmetto State as a presidential candidate.

“Think about what they look like on inauguration day. And then we watch them. They grow grayer and grayer, and by the time they leave, they’re as white as the building they live in.”

“Now, let me tell you,” Clinton, 67, added with a smile, “I’m aware I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I have one big advantage. I’ve been coloring my hair for years. So you’re not going to see me turn white in the White House.

The crowd erupted with laughter and applause.

“And,” Clinton added, as the clapping simmered. “You're also not going to see me shrink from a fight. I think by now, people know I don’t quit.”

Clinton, who will be 69 on Election Day, made the dig during a keynote address to the South Carolina House Democratic Women’s Caucus and the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council at their Third Annual Day in Blue event.

Clinton’s visit to South Carolina -- a state that harbors bad memories for Clinton from 2008 -- marks the first time she’s returned to the state since her bruising loss in the presidential primary against then-Senator Barack Obama.

During her events Wednesday -- which included a roundtable with female minority business owners at a chicken and waffles joint, followed by the keynote -- Clinton tried to move beyond the past and look to the future. In her remarks, she laid out the initial part of her women’s agenda -- specifically doubling down on affordable child care and equal pay for women and calling out Republicans for being on the wrong side of the issue.

“One Republican candidate for president dismissed equal pay as a ‘bogus issue," Clinton said. "Another said that congress was ‘wasting time worrying about it,’ and one even said that efforts to guarantee fair pay reminded him of the Soviet Union."

“And to that, I say what century are they living in?” Clinton quipped, with a subtle southern twang that slipped in and out periodically throughout the speech.

Earlier in the day, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina showed up outside Clinton’s event and set up her own competing media availability outside of the same Marriott where Clinton delivered the keynote.

When asked about Clinton's focus on equal pay, Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and only other female candidate in the 2016 race, threw the issue back on Clinton.

“We know as well that the federal government is a seniority system which means they don’t pay for performance they pay for time and grades," Fiorina said. "Why hasn’t Mrs. Clinton or President Obama been willing or able to answer questions about pay in their own offices?”

Fiorina added that she does not agree with the statistic Clinton often cites that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

When asked why she decided to hold an event outside the same hotel where Clinton would momentarily be speaking, Fiorina said it was merely a coincidence.

“I planned this trip many many weeks ago, so perhaps she is following me. I have never been following Mrs. Clinton," she said.

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a clarification to existing water standards, President Obama issued a new rule aimed at protecting drinking water Wednesday.

The president says the “Clean Water Rule” will make existing permits clearer. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers will regulate federally-protected sources, and be able to issue swifter penalties when water sources are polluted or siphoned.

“One in three Americans now gets drinking water from streams lacking clear protection,” President Obama said in a statement.

House Speaker John Boehner took to his Twitter feed to voice his concerns about the new rule and how it might impact farmers and small businesses.  

"The administration's decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs," Boehner said.

These leaders know firsthand that the rule is being shoved down the throats of hardworking people with no input,” Boehner expanded in a statement, saying the new rules will lead to “regulatory and economic hell.”

The new rules mainly protect tributaries and small streams at higher elevations that lead downhill to bigger water sources, and also control pollution in small streams next to larger bodies of water.  

“For the water in the rivers and lakes in our communities that flow to our drinking water to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them need to be clean too,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

The new rules will not protect any waters not already covered under the Clean Water Act. The rules still exempt farming and ranching practices like seeding, flooding and moving livestock.

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ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Santorum Wednesday slammed fellow 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, who said he blames Republican hawks for the rise of terrorist group ISIS.

“I think that is just fundamentally a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy we face,” Santorum said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

“ISIS didn't come about because of ... the arms that America left behind. ISIS came about because they hate everything that we believe in and we stand for,” Santorum added.

“I would expect to hear that from maybe Bernie Sanders. I don't expect to hear that from someone running for the Republican nomination,” Santorum told Stephanopoulos.

The former Pennsylvania senator isn’t the only 2016er taking issue with Paul’s comments. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has not yet announced a presidential bid, called Paul’s statement “a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be commander-in-chief.”

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President Barack Obama welcomes Vivian Bailey, escorted by Vice President Joe Biden just outside the Oval Office, May 26, 2015. David Lienemann/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Vivian Bailey, 97, never had the chance to go on a field trip as a child, but on Tuesday, she took the “field trip” of her dreams to the White House and was even surprised by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“It was quite a surprise! I had no idea we were going to meet the president and the vice president, and it was awesome,” Bailey told ABC News. “It was a dream come true.”

Bailey was invited to tour the White House after the vice president's office saw a story about her work fundraising for an elementary school in Columbia, Maryland.

For the past 16 years, Bailey has led a fundraising effort to help Running Brook Elementary School fulfill its “wish list” for students. Part of that wish list includes funding field trips for the school children, something Bailey finds particularly important.

“I’ve been very insistent on trying to make sure our kids get field trips,” Bailey said. “I want our children whose parents are certainly not wealthy to have those opportunities.”

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1918, Bailey moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a child where she attended segregated schools and said her classes were not taken on field trips.

Bailey served in the Women’s Army Corps in Alabama and Georgia from 1942 to 1946, eventually becoming a first lieutenant in charge of 144 women at Fort Benning. After leaving the Army, Bailey moved to Chicago, where she met her husband and worked for the Veterans Administration and the Social Security office. She was then transferred to a Social Security office in Baltimore and retired in Columbia, Maryland, in 1975.

The 97-year-old has raised thousands of dollars for Running Brook Elementary school over the past 16 years, and this year, the school’s principal invited her to attend a field trip to Washington, D.C., with one of the classes -- her first "field trip" ever.

“The part I liked the most was seeing the children enjoy it and knowing that they were seeing some history, too,” Bailey said.

A local ABC affiliate in Washington profiled Bailey’s “field trip” with the students, which caught the attention of the White House. Staff and teachers and Running Brook Elementary School pitched in money to hire a town car to take Bailey, the school’s principal Troy Todd and fourth-grade teacher Melissa Peyton to the White House on Tuesday.

Bailey was told she would receive a tour of the White House, but after waiting in a side room, she was surprised by the vice president.

“Someone told us, ‘We have somebody who wants to meet you,’ so then they were escorting us, and as we stepped in this room, the vice president came to the door and greeted us,” Bailey said. “He was very gracious, very easy to meet and then he said, ‘Somebody else wants to meet you,’ so we walked across over to the president’s office.”

“I was almost speechless. I was so surprised and so honored and so happy,” Bailey said about meeting the president. “I think first thing he said was ‘Welcome.’ I was so surprised that I probably can’t remember exactly what he said. He just was so gracious and the vice president said, ‘I’m gonna get a hug.’ And so he gave me a hug and so did the president.”

First Lady Michelle Obama was unable to meet Bailey, but wrote her a letter telling her to “enjoy your special field trip” at the White House.

“I am so impressed with your lifetime of service to our country and I deeply appreciate your commitment to the next generation,” the first lady wrote.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences that when I was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that I never expected to experience so I feel very blessed that I was able to do so many things I couldn’t have imagined,” Bailey said.

Bailey, who does not have any biological children, said she considers the children at Running Brook Elementary as her own.

"When people ask how many children I have, I try to keep my face straight. I have over 300!" she said.

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Ann Johansson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton will have some company when she visits South Carolina on Wednesday: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, and only other female candidate in the race, is planning to rain on Clinton’s parade by hosting her own event outside of the hotel where Clinton will be delivering a keynote address.

In an invite sent Tuesday night addressed to the “Traveling Press Corps,” Fiorina’s campaign took a jab at Clinton: “Our events tomorrow are all open to the press. And by open press, we mean we'll actually take questions. That's right. We've answered hundreds of questions from reporters because we believe the American people will not and should not elect a president that can't answer for her record, won't explain her positions or for whom the truth is whatever she can get away with.”

Fiorina is scheduled to attend a luncheon with the South Carolina GOP's legislative caucus in Columbia at 12:30 p.m. ET. Later, she'll hold a meet and greet and roundtable at Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg at 4 p.m. ET.

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Theo Wargo/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton returns to South Carolina Wednesday for the first time in nearly eight years for a one-day swing through the state’s capital, Columbia.

During her short visit, Clinton’s focus will be on women and minorities. She will participate in a roundtable discussion with “minority women small business owners” in the morning and then deliver the keynote address to the South Carolina House Democratic Women’s Caucus and the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council at their Third Annual Day in Blue event.

The former secretary of state will also visit the State House to meet with House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

For Clinton, South Carolina harbors bad memories and bruising moments.

Just before the state’s primary in 2008, when Clinton and then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama were seemingly neck in neck in the race, Bill Clinton called Obama’s positioning on the Iraq war a “fairy tale” -- a polarizing remark that many perceived to be racist. The comment fired up South Carolina’s large swath of black primary voters, who then rallied behind Obama.

Ultimately, Clinton lost the state’s primary by nearly 30 points to the future president.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The federal judge presiding over the case involving Hillary Clinton’s 55,000 pages of emails from her tenure as secretary of state has ordered the State Department to begin releasing them in a rolling fashion beginning on June 30 and to post all of the documents eligible for release on the department’s website by Jan. 29.

Judge Rudolph Contreras of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., amended a court filing from the State Department that proposed posting the emails in batches every 60 days, cutting that time period to every 30 days. In his order, the judge said the State Department should “aspire” to release seven percent of the documents on June 30, with an increasing percentage of documents released each time.

Earlier this month, Judge Rudolph Contreras quickly ruled against a State Department request to hold onto all the emails until 2016, demanding instead a “rolling production.”

Although Clinton has said she wants the State Department to make all of her emails public, the matter was brought to court after a news organization sued the State Department, demanding the emails be released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

State Department officials have argued that the process of clearing the emails for release is an arduous and time consuming task that often involves the participation of multiple government agencies. 

“Keep in mind that we are reviewing a huge amount of material from Secretary Clinton’s tenure at State on a wide range of issues,” one senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

Last Friday, the State Department release 300 of Clinton’s emails that related to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya. Those emails had previously been released to the House Select Committee on Benghazi that’s been investigating the attack for over a year.

The chairman of that committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has said he won’t be satisfied until Clinton hands over her private email server, which she used exclusively throughout her tenure at State to conduct official business. Clinton has said she won’t make that available.

Gowdy and Clinton's Republican rivals argue that because her emails were kept private she was the ultimate arbiter in determining which emails to release and which to delete -- and therefore the process is flawed.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama scolded the Senate on Tuesday for leaving town for a week-long recess without reaching an agreement to renew certain provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire at midnight on May 31 if Congress fails to reach a compromise.

“The House of Representatives did its work which strikes the appropriate balance,” Obama said of the House’s USA Freedom Act Tuesday. “The Senate did not act...I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done.”

“This needs to get done,” he continued.

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ABC News(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- The longest-serving Independent senator in U.S. history, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, kicked-off his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination Tuesday with a colorful and lively event in Burlington.

With blue-grass music, tie-dye and free ice cream, the afternoon event felt half like a summer festival and half like a political rally.

A self-identified "Democratic Socialist," Sanders is known on Capitol Hill for speaking about income inequality and higher tax rates for corporations and the nation’s top earners. Sanders wasted little time getting to his favorite issues.

“Today, we say clearly enough is enough,” he said. “This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not just a handful of billionaires.”

“There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much as wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it," Sanders said.

In addition to campaign finance reform, Sanders made sure to hit on other hot-button progressive issues too, including equal pay for women and climate change.

When asked why they like him, many of the more than 5,000 Sanders fans gathered were quick to point to trustworthiness. Some said they feel like they know him. One of the senator’s first -- and most fun -- endorsements came from Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s, the popular Vermont-based ice cream company.

Speaking at the event, Cohen reiterated this idea of authenticity.

“Unlike some other Johnny-come-latelys, Bernie is the real thing. He has been saying the same thing and doing the same thing for 30 years,” Cohen said.

Kathy Granai, who works in Burlington, where Sanders was mayor for four terms, agreed. “He is speaking the truth,” she said. “He is the only one willing to say what’s what and what matters.”

Another Burlington local, Jacob Albee, said the question of trustworthiness was the reason he preferred Sanders to Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state.

“He is willing to speak the truth when others are unwilling,” Albee said. “I don’t think she speaks the truth."

During the rally, Sanders said his campaign was not about him, “Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush,” but “the needs of the American people.”

“As someone who has never ran a never negative political ad in my life. My campaign will not be run by political gossip. These are serious times, we need serious debates," he said.

While Sanders might be the best known politician here, he is relatively unknown in other parts of the country. He is polling in single digits nationwide. The Sanders team said its strategy for breaking through will focus on small, town hall-style events.

For supporters of Sanders, it’s about the rest of the country meeting the Bernie they know and love.

“For those of us that have been sitting on the sidelines, finally a candidate worth voting for,” Cohen said. “Sometimes the underdog wins.”

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marcnorman/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -– More than 100,000 taxpayers may have had some of their private information stolen from IRS computers during this tax season.

The agency said on Tuesday that sophisticated thieves managed to steal some of that information outside the IRS to get in and get illegal refunds.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the thieves got into their system through the front door, using social security and other numbers they found outside the IRS.

The thieves reportedly used an online service provided by the agency to gain access to information from more than one-hundred-thousand taxpayers. The service called “Get Transcript” has been temporarily shut down.

The commissioner told reporters in a teleconference that “of the 200,000 that tried and the 104,000 that got through, it’s likely that it’s gonna turn out that fewer than 15,000 fraudulent returns made it through as a result of this activity.”

The majority of the breaches happened from mid-February to mid-May when it was discovered.

Commissioner Koskinen reassured reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that his agency is getting better at detecting fraud, but it’s not perfect.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is not disputing Defense Secretary Ash Carter's contention that the Iraqi Army lacks the will to fight.

“Well, that certainly has been a problem we’ve seen in the past; that's what allowed ISIL to make such significant gains last summer,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News in Tuesday’s press briefing when pressed on whether the White House agreed with Carter's assessment about why Ramadi, the capital city of Iraq’s largest province, fell to ISIS.

Carter said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not out-numbered but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight.”

It initially appeared Monday that Vice President Joe Biden was patching up Carter's remark by placing a call to Iraq’s prime minister to “reaffirm U.S. support” and recognize “the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces.” But there was no hint of an apology in Tuesday's briefing.

“What the Iraqi government has acknowledged is that the setback that they experienced in Ramadi was at least in part attributable to a breakdown in some military command and planning,” Earnest told reporters on Tuesday.

Earnest did not directly answer the question when asked whether the president agreed with Carter and instead listed a variety of factors that he said contributed to a weak security situation in Ramadi.

“The first is that the Iraqi security forces who were fighting in Ramadi and had been fighting in Ramadi didn’t have benefit of the training of the US and our coalition partners,” Earnest said. “There were clearly, as the Iraqis have indicated, some military command and planning problems that occurred. And we saw a pretty effective tactic used by ISIL, and all of that led to a not unsubstantial setback in Ramadi.”

The White House press secretary went on to praise the offensive launched by Iraq Tuesday morning to reclaim western Anbar province but reiterated the administration’s intention to stay the course with its supporting role.

“This is not something the United States is willing to do for the Iraqi people,” Earnest said. “And the Iraqi central government, Prime Minister Abadi has made crystal clear on a number of occasions, he doesn't want anybody to step in and do this for them.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Capitol Building, including the Capitol Visitor Center, was evacuated Tuesday afternoon because of an audible alarm, a spokeswoman for Capitol Hill Police said.

U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Fire were investigating what caused the audible alarm, Lt. Kimberly Schneider said. Schneider said there were no signs of smoke or fire.

Staffers were permitted to enter the Capitol Building one hour after the evacuation first started. The Capitol Visitor Center was cleared for re-entry soon after.

The following message went out to House staff:

This is an UPDATE message from the U.S. Capitol Police.

The U.S. Capitol Police are continuing to investigate the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and Visitor Center.

The following road closures are in effect: First Street between Independence Avenue, SE and Constitution Avenue, NE; East Capitol Street between First Street and Second Street.

All staff and other personnel are directed to remain in their assembly area until further notice.

The House and Senate are on recess and members were not in session when the rare evacuation occurred.

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