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GOP presidential candidates faced a Tea Party crowd last night. We hear what they said and ask about Tea Party influence in deciding the nominee of a divided Republican Party. Also, the Taliban launches attacks on the US Embassy in Kabul, and on his way to New York for the UN General Assembly, Iran's Ahmadinejad announces the release of two American hikers imprisoned two years ago.

Banner image: Protesters hold signs outside the building where the Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express is being held at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Making News Taliban Launches Attacks on US Embassy, Other Targets in Kabul 7 MIN, 30 SEC

The heart of Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul was the site of a brazing attack today, including rockets fired at the heavily guarded neighborhood of the US embassy and headquarters of NATO. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the attacks by vowing to "take all necessary steps not only to ensure the safety of our people but to secure the area and to ensure those who perpetrated this attack are dealt with." Laura King is in Kabul for the Los Angeles Times.

Laura King, Los Angeles Times

Main Topic The Tea Party and the GOP Presidential Nomination 36 MIN, 37 SEC

During the debt-ceiling debate, one prominent pundit said Tea Party members of Congress of "[held] the nation hostage" by refusing to compromise. A Wall Street Journal poll showed negative views of the Tea Party doubled between January and July.  So how much influence will it have in next year's election? Last night, CNN made Tea Party groups co-sponsors of a two-hour, prime-time debate between Republican presidential candidates. Before the debate, the cable-news outlet worked with Tea Party groups to recruit the audience and ask some of the questions. Who's in the Tea Party? How have they changed Congress? How did they change the shape of a contest that still hasn't settled down?

Websites of Republican presidential candidates:

Newt Gingrich
Michele Bachmann
Mitt Romney
Rick Perry
Ron Paul
Herman Cain
Jon Huntsman, Jr
Rick Santorum



Mike Wilson, Cincinnati Tea Party
Wayne Slater, journalist and author (@WayneSlater)
Alan Abramowitz, Emory University (@AlanIAbramowitz)
Kate Zernike, New York Times (@kzernike)

Boiling Mad

Kate Zernike

Reporter's Notebook Iran Sets Bail for Two American Hikers 6 MIN, 30 SEC

Two American hikers have been held in Iran since 2009, accused of espionage and illegally crossing Iran's border. Now, just before he's expected to be in New York for the UN General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the hikers will be released in two days. The Iranian President predicted the release this morning on NBC News' Today show. Speaking through a translator, he said many Iranians are now in American jails, where they aren't treated as well as the Americans were in Iran's prisons. Farnaz Fassihi, senior Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, speaks to us from Beirut, Lebanon.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Farnaz Fassihi, Wall Street Journal

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