Archive for ‘Barack Obama’

May 31, 2011

Barack Obama president’s re-election campaign might hinge on re-registration of voters that moved …

Obama prospects might hinge on voter registration
May 30, 2011, 8:23 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In 2008, Barack Obama tapped into a record of nearly 15 million voters who cast ballots for the first time, a surge in registration that may be difficult to replicate next year.

Recent voter registration data show that Democrats have lost ground in key states that Obama carried in 2008, an early warning siren for the president’s re-election campaign. While Republican numbers have also dipped in some states, the drop in the Democrats’ ranks highlights the importance of the Obama campaign‘s volunteer base and the challenge they could have of registering new voters.

“When you look back at 2008 there has to be a recognition that it was a historic election, a historic candidate, a historic moment in time and potentially some type of a ceiling — I’m not sure there is ever a hard ceiling — in terms of voter registration,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. He said the political map in 2012 will likely look more like it did going into the close contests of 2000 and 2004, which hinged on swing states like Florida and Ohio, respectively, than in 2008, when Obama won traditionally Republican states like Indiana and North Carolina.

Obama will have to re-ignite the passions of some Democrats who had high hopes going into his presidency and may be ambivalent about him now. Several states with Republican governors have tried to reduce the number of early voting days and required photo IDs, a move that Democrats say will disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Polls have shown some political independents drifting away from Obama since 2008, meaning Democrats need to register and turn out more Hispanic and black voters, college students and women.

While Democratic registrations ballooned prior to the 2008 election, the numbers have declined in several important states, including:

— Florida: Democrats added more than 600,000 registered voters between 2006 and 2008, giving Obama about 4.8 million registered Democrats to help his cause. Registered Democrats now number 4.6 million in the Sunshine State. Republican registrations have slipped from 4.1 million in 2008 to about 4.05 million in mid-March, the most recent data available. Nearly 2.6 million voters in Florida are unaffiliated.

— Pennsylvania: Democrats maintain a 1.5 million voter advantage in registrations over Republicans, but their numbers have dwindled since Obama’s election. There were 4.15 million registered Democrats through mid-May, compared with about 4.48 million in 2008. Democrats added about a half-million voters to their rolls in the two years prior to the 2008 election. Republicans currently have more than 3 million registered voters, compared with 3.2 million in 2008. About 500,000 Pennsylvania voters are unaffiliated.

— Iowa: Republicans have gained ground in the state that launched Obama’s presidential bid. GOP registrations increased from about 625,000 voters in 2008 to nearly 640,000 in early May. Democrats, meanwhile, have fallen from about 736,000 voters in 2008 to about 687,000 in May. Nonpartisan voters remain the largest bloc in the Hawkeye State, representing more than 762,000 voters.

Democrats’ numbers have also fallen in North Carolina, where Obama became the first Democratic nominee to carry the state since 1976, and Nevada, a high-growth state that has been battered by the recession.

Several Democratic-friendly cities have not been immune, either. Philadelphia had 880,000 registered Democrats in 2008; that number has fallen below 800,000. Denver, where Democrats held their 2008 convention, had about 200,000 registered Democrats in November 2008 — that’s now down to about 120,000. In Mecklenburg County, N.C., whose county seat, Charlotte, is the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Democrats’ numbers have fallen after major gains leading up to the 2008 election.

Obama officials said voter registration will be a top priority. Obama adviser David Axelrod said the campaign would “mount a major effort and it’s not just about registering new voters but it’s also re-registering people who have moved because there is a high degree of transiency among young people and often among minority voters. We want to make sure that not only new voters but people who have moved are registered again.”

Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said the president “has demonstrated a consistent ability to reach new voters and voters who don’t identify as Democrats, so party affiliation isn’t the only factor to evaluate. The campaign’s efforts to expand the electorate to new voters and voters with less consistent voting histories was one reason why the president was elected in 2008, and as we continue our organizing efforts it’s certainly something we’ll take into consideration.”

Finding new voters has been a longstanding goal of Obama, who ran a successful voter registration drive in Chicago when Bill Clinton sought the White House in 1992. Sixteen years later, Obama’s campaign was fueled by a massive grassroots campaign and advocacy groups who registered millions of new voters and then turned them out in record numbers.

In a strategy video released in April, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina noted that Democrats registered about two-thirds of the new voters in 2007 and 2008 in states that allow for party registration. Obama, in turn, won nearly 70 percent of the nearly 15 million first-time voters in 2008.

“That made real differences in very close states across this country. We’ve got to do that again in 2012,” Messina said.

Both political parties maintain private voter databases that allow them to closely monitor registration changes, but public data is more difficult to ascertain. Nationally, more than half the states allow registered voters to indicate a party preference when registering while many states in the South and Midwest don’t provide for a party preference.

Voter registration and turnout were critical to the last president running for re-election — George W. Bush in 2004. Bush’s operation registered an estimated 3 million new voters, helping it drive up vote totals in the areas straddling key suburban regions in Florida and Ohio.

Blaise Hazelwood, who ran the Republican National Committee’s voter registration effort in 2004, said campaign officials pored over Excel charts tracking new registrations on a daily basis and used the mail, door knocking and supermarket stands to find voters in places more inclined to support Bush. She said it would be difficult for Obama’s operation to replicate 2008.

“There’s no way they can get all those voters back,” Hazelwood said.

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Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

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Ken Thomas can be reached at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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May 23, 2011

Tim Pawlenty on Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths …

Pawlenty launches bid, delivers tough talk in Iowa
May 23, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDTAssociated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)Tim Pawlentyon Monday cast himself as the Republican candidate willing to tell the country hard truths as he seeks the presidency, bluntly announcing in corn-dependent Iowa that its prized federal subsidies for ethanol should be phased out.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” Pawlenty told about 200 Republican activists and supporters in Des Moines in his first public appearance since officially kicking off his White House bid Sunday. “We simply can’t afford them anymore.”

The former Minnesota governor is using his first week of campaigning as an announced candidate to try to cast himself as a straight-talking Midwesterner, unafraid to consider drastic changes to sensitive spending programs in order to solve the nation’s fiscal problems. He faces several obstacles in pursuing the GOP nomination; he isn’t well-known nationally, ranks low in popularity polling and has been tagged by comedians and the chattering class as boring.

Pawlenty’s announcement came hours after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision against a bid jolted the GOP race and brought the field into clearer focus.

Pawlenty made fiscal overhaul the centerpiece of his announcement speech, and planned to not just challenge politically influential Iowans, but swing-voting seniors in Florida and wealthy bank executives on Wall Street.

“Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people. Someone has to lead.”

Pawlenty plans to outline a Social Security plan that raises the retirement age for seniors and requires means-testing for wealthier retirees.

The proposals are aimed at establishing Pawlenty as a candidate who levels with the American people, which he said President Barack Obama, whom he hopes to challenge next year, has not done.

“President Obama’s policies have failed,” Pawlenty said, delivering a speech and answering questions from the audience but not reporters. “But more than that, he won’t even tell us the truth about what it’s really going to take to get out of the mess that we’re in.”

Pawlenty acknowledged the political sensitivity of changing Social Security and eliminating ethanol subsidies.

“I’m not some out-of-touch politician from some other part of the country,” he said. “But even in Minnesota, when we faced fiscal challenges, we reduced ethanol subsidies. That’s where we are now in Washington, but on a much, much larger scale.”

As governor, Pawlenty played both sides of the ethanol issue. He angered farmers by pushing to trim subsidy payments to ethanol producers early in his first term. But he won their favor later by spearheading a drive to boost the amount of the fuel additive blended into each gallon of gasoline sold in the state. It must be 20 percent by 2013.

While the challenge to ethanol was a risk, Pawlenty made clear what Iowa means to his candidacy.

The setting for Pawlenty’s appearance — a sun-splashed rooftop terrace overlooking the Iowa Capitol — underscored how important the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses are to his bid as he tries to take advantage of Daniels’ absence to position himself as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts governor lost his first bid in 2008 and again is seeking the nomination of a party that historically has nominated a candidate who had run previously.

Given an opportunity to go after Romney in a Monday morning appearance on network television, Pawlenty demurred, saying he’d prefer to talk about his own presidential traits than criticize others. He did acknowledge he probably wouldn’t be able to compete with the former private equity investment firm executive in terms of fundraising.

However, while criticizing Obama’s candidness about the depths of the nation’s fiscal crisis, he also subtly called on his would-be GOP rivals to be honest about the problems.

“It’s time for America’s president — and anyone who wants to be president — to look you in the eye and tell you the truth,” he said.

The appearance was one in a highly scripted, multi-format campaign roll-out that began Sunday evening with an internet video and continued Monday morning with Pawlenty’s appearances on all the network news morning programs. It is part of an 18-month ramp-up that began with Pawlenty’s first Iowa trip as a possible candidate, and is aimed at branding him as the fresh-faced, but tough-minded executive able to take on an incumbent Democratic president.

Pawlenty, who must win the party nomination before getting the chance to take on Obama, virtually ignored his GOP rivals in an announcement video, a column published in USA Today and his speech.

Pawlenty’s Monday visit was his 14th to Iowa since the 2008 election, more than any candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The little-known Midwesterner hopes an Iowa victory will give him a boost into next-up New Hampshire and beyond, a strategy that carries potential benefits and risks.

If he wins Iowa, as he says he must, Pawlenty could emerge as the chief rival to Romney, who lost the GOP nomination in 2008 and ranks higher in polls this year. If Pawlenty falls short, however, he’ll have to reevaluate the viability of his bid for the Republican nomination, despite the two years’ groundwork he’s laid in his neighboring state.

“In Iowa, he is all in. All his cards are right out on the table,” said Bob Haus, a veteran Iowa GOP strategist who managed Fred Thompson’s 2008 caucus campaign and is uncommitted for 2012.

Pawlenty has used his visits to appeal to many of the sometimes fractious segments of Iowa’s GOP base, seeking to compete for all parts of the party.

“He fits with the social conservatives, has the background of a budget cutter, and he’s strong with national security conservatives. Plus, he’s a good guy, and he’s here, working it,” said Richard Schwarm, a confidant of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and a former state GOP chairman who so far hasn’t chosen a candidate to back in the caucuses.

Pawlenty appeared Monday on NBC’s “Today” show and CBS’s “The Early Show.”

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Online link to “Today” show interview: http://on.today.com

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May 20, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: A laid-back Midwestern Republican is running for president and will declare his candidacy on …

APNewsBreak: Aide: Pawlenty running for president
May 20, 2011, 2:49 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a laid-back Midwestern Republican who governed a Democratic-leaning state, is running for president and will declare his candidacy on Monday in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa, an adviser told The Associated Press.

The adviser, who disclosed the plans on the condition of anonymity in advance of next week’s announcement, said Pawlenty will formally enter the race during a town hall-style event in Des Moines, Iowa.

He’s choosing to make his long-expected bid official in a critical state in his path to the GOP nomination. Advisers acknowledge that Pawlenty, 50, must win or turn in a strong showing during next winter’s caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa to have any chance of becoming the Republican who will challenge President Barack Obama, a Democrat, next November.

After Monday’s announcement, he will head to Florida, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C.

The move is no surprise.

Pawlenty been laying the groundwork for a national campaign since John McCain passed him over in 2008 as his vice presidential nominee. He has worked to boost his national profile, assemble a staff, travel the country and build a fundraising network, all while positioning himself as a Republican with a record of resisting increases in taxes and government spending. He left the governor’s post in January and he took the first step toward the presidency two months later by setting up an exploratory committee.

In the early stages of the campaign, he has struggled to raise his standing in polls or attract a niche constituency as Republicans with more star power — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and celebrity businessman Donald Trump — dangled themselves as possible candidates, only to opt out of bids.

Pawlenty has some big obstacles as he seeks the GOP nomination in a wide-open field.

He is not nearly as well known nationally as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and even libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul. And others with even bigger names — Sarah Palin — still may enter the fray. So too may a fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is a darling of the tea party and has indicated she’s likely to launch a campaign soon.

The low-key Pawlenty also is fighting an impression at least within the GOP establishment that he’s too bland to excite voters. He also has no personal wealth and isn’t uniquely aligned with any one Republican faction — like social conservatives or fiscal Republicans — as are other candidates.

But in a GOP field with no clear favorite, Pawlenty hopes that he can cobble together a winning coalition of voters by attracting a wide array of Republicans, from religious conservatives to tea party adherents to establishment figures. As he travels the country, he boasts of reining in state spending and blocking tax hikes during two terms as Minnesota’s governor, as well as stressing his working-class roots and evangelical Christian faith.

“I’m the only candidate in the field who can unite the whole Republican Party, not just one part of it, in a genuine and authentic way, and then go out an appeal to the whole country,” Pawlenty said this week before a fundraiser in Minnesota.

He points to his record in Minnesota as proof that he can have appeal across the ideological spectrum.

Pawlenty, who passed up an opportunity to run for a third term as governor to seek the presidency, won the governors’ office twice without a majority of the vote in races that included third-party candidates. During his tenure, Pawlenty had to contend with a Legislature that was partly or fully controlled by Democrats the eight years he was governor.

Minnesota’s divided government led to repeated legislative battles and a partial government shutdown one year. Pawlenty also frequently vetoed tax and spending bills, earning a reputation in the GOP as a fiscal conservative. He pleased social conservatives as well by signing new abortion restrictions and laws favored by pro-gun groups.

But some of his past actions also have drawn tea party skepticism.

Even some Republicans flinched when he used billions in federal stimulus dollars and once agreed to hike state cigarette charges to balance Minnesota’s budget. And Democrats pound him frequently over the $5 billion deficit his Minnesota successor is coping with for the upcoming state budget, although the state will turn a small surplus this summer when the last fiscal year under Pawlenty’s direct control ends.

Pawlenty’s former embrace of energy policies scorned by conservatives — such as a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases — have also been problematic. Pawlenty has disavowed his former stance and apologized for the “clunker” in his record.

Even so, it’s not his record that’s likely to be his biggest challenge. It’s being heard in a crowded field.

Part of the reason: unlike others, he typically shies from the caustic comments and headline-grabbing issues. It’s part of a strategy to come off as a serious-minded candidate in sober times. But his approach has also played into the characterization of him as dull.

Advisers hope that Pawlenty’s ability to connect with small crowds in diners and living rooms will help him win over skeptics in the places where he needs to shine — Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters demand their candidates engage in that type of retail politics. He’s somewhat of a natural at it. He’s good with small talk, often makes goofy poses in keepsake photos and sticks around to shake all hands, helping explain why he’s notoriously behind schedule.

In those settings, he discusses not just what he’d do for the country but also much about his personal story: his boyhood in a blue-collar household in a meatpacking town, his mother’s death of cancer in his teen years. As an adult, he went on to a white-collar job as a lawyer and set down a political path took him from a suburban city hall to a seat in the state Legislature to, eventually, the governor’s post.

“He is doing the soft sell and the soft sell works in the long run,” said Andy Brehm, a Republican strategist in Minnesota. “This is an entirely self-made guy. I don’t think you could ask for a better spokesman for the free market ideas. He’s worked himself up really from nothing.”

Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, a former judge, have two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara.

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May 9, 2011

Iowa GOP donors court NJ’s Gov. Chris Christie to run

Iowa GOP donors court NJ‘s Christie
May 8, 2011, 12:09 p.m. EDT

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some of Iowa’s top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run.

The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.

Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor’s chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press.

The get-together is set for the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31.

The meeting speaks to what some Republicans nationally say is a lack of enthusiasm about the emerging roster of contenders. It’s also unusual because candidates typically court Iowans, who get the first say in presidential nominating contests, and not the other way around.

Christie, who was elected in 2009 and has drawn national attention for his tough talk and battles with Democrats, has explicitly and repeatedly rejected the idea of running for the White House. Yet that hasn’t deterred these Iowans.

“There isn’t anyone like Chris Christie on the national scene for Republicans,” Rastetter told the AP. “And so we believe that he, or someone like him, running for president is very important at this critical time in our country.”

It’s not the first instance this year of Iowa Republicans seeking to widen the 2012 field. A former state party chairman, Steve Grubbs, approached Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ top aide in Indianapolis last month. Daniels expects to say in a few weeks whether he will enter the race.

Nationally, Republican donors have encouraged ex-Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, to reconsider his decision not to run. There’s also talk of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, as a possible entrant.

The mission by Rastetter is significant because it reflects the lengths to which some in Iowa will go to have more options as they choose a Republican to challenge Obama.

Rastetter represents a core GOP constituency in Iowa, business conservatives who favor nominees more identified with the philosophy of low taxes and limited government than with cultural issues. They’re similar to those activists who urged George W. Bush, then the Texas governor, to run in 2000.

The Iowa delegation to New Jersey includes developers and entrepreneurs essential to pro-business Republican Terry Branstad‘s winning comeback campaign for governor last year.

Rastetter citied Christie’s “blunt, direct leadership style. You always know where he stands, what he means. You don’t need an interpreter.”

Rastetter met the governor at a Branstad fundraiser in Iowa last fall. “He clearly understands smaller government, less government spending, job creation, and how to create a better education system – certainly, all the things I and those accompanying me care about,” Rastetter said.

As in Iowa, some influential Republican donors nationally have said the 2012 field taking shape faces a variety of problems. Some candidates are closely associated with social issues such as gay rights that might not connect with independent voters. Others have been tainted by past campaign disappointments or personal foibles. Some simply lack the firepower to beat a skilled incumbent.

“There is a feeling that more candidates of greater renown should be in the contest,” said veteran GOP consultant Mary Matalin. “We all want Reagan, but need to remember that the source of Reagan’s power and popularity was his ideas and philosophy.”

Al Hoffman, who has been Jeb Bush’s top campaign fundraiser, said the pressure for Bush to run has ebbed in recent months as he has insisted he will not be a candidate.

“I have had enough heart-to-hearts with him to the point where he very politely has said, please don’t raise the issue again,” said Hoffman.

Should Indiana’s Daniels decide not to run, the pressure could increase on Christie.

Christie, a former U.S. attorney elected governor only 15 months ago, has been adamant and at times colorful in insisting that 2012 is off the table.

By agreeing to meet with Rastetter’s group, Christie is not hinting at a change in plans, DuHaime said. But the contacts could help him as he seeks to expand his leadership in the party, whether it’s influencing the 2012 nomination or preserving valuable contacts for the future.

“To the extent he cares about the party and the nominating process, knowing more people, like Bruce, that are influential in that process is a good thing,” DuHaime said. “This is simply part of getting to know other people who are going to be key players in the process.”

Christie wowed an audience of 800 Iowa Republicans last October when he headlined a Branstad fundraiser in a suburb of Des Moines, the Iowa capital. The former prosecutor’s tough-talking “put up or shut up” advice for the party impressed Rastetter, who was Branstad’s top fundraiser.

Branstad, who hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate, has sung Christie’s praises for his get-tough approach to spending, especially public employee pensions and benefits. He said after hearing Christie speak in October, “I don’t think I’ve been that inspired by a speech since Ronald Reagan.”

It’s inspiration that Florida’s Hoffman said is lacking most of all in the 2012 hopefuls, and something their opponent has in plenty.

“Obama is the most masterful campaigner I’ve ever observed,” Hoffman said. “Our problem is we have a number of candidates who would make great presidents, but very few that make great candidates.”

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May 6, 2011

Obama to honor troops, thank raid participants

Obama to honor troops, thank raid participants
May 6, 2011, 7:57 a.m. EDT

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s carefully calibrated response to the killing of Osama bin Laden is shifting from remembrance to appreciation.

One day after laying a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, the president was to go to Fort Campbell, Ky., to thank participants in the daring raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan five days ago.

Obama, however, is seeking to convey a return to the business of governing. He was also to stop in Indianapolis on Friday to promote his energy policies and showcase a transmission plant that produces systems for hybrid vehicles.

White House officials say that at Fort Campbell Obama will express his gratitude to the raid participants privately. But the president, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, also will address soldiers who have returned recently from Afghanistan, a public forum where the military triumph will be hard to mask.

Obama so far has tried to avoid rejoicing publicly over bin Laden’s death. But he has maintained a steady stream of events and activities that have kept the success of the remarkable commando operation at the forefront. On Thursday he visited New York fire and police stations that responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack that was carried out by bin Laden’s al-Qaida operatives, and he met privately with victims’ families. He also has given an interview about the operation to CBS that will air Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

In New York, Obama did not mention bin Laden by name. He didn’t have to.

“When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” Obama told firefighters.

At the same time, the White House is wary of overplaying its hand. Obama has decided not to release photographs of bin Laden’s corpse, saying, “We don’t need to spike the football.”

As a result, the president also has hewed to his regular schedule, participating in policy sessions and routine ceremonial events. The trip to Indianapolis originally had been scheduled for last month, but Obama canceled it as he negotiated an eleventh-hour deal with Congress to avoid a government shutdown.

Without bin Laden’s death to overshadow it, the Indianapolis trip would have policy and political consequences. Obama has been promoting his energy policies as a long-term answer to rising oil prices and U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The skyrocketing cost of gasoline had caused Obama’s public approval numbers to dip until bin Laden’s death shoved them back up. What’s more, Indiana is a battleground state that Obama won narrowly in 2008 by less than 30,000 votes. The state’s governor, Mitch Daniels, is contemplating a presidential run and would be considered a top contender for the Republican nomination.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood previewed the Indianapolis trip Thursday, promoting Obama administration policies that foster the manufacture of hybrid vehicles. Obama will tour the headquarters of Allison Transmission, which develops transmissions for hybrid propulsion systems.

LaHood said the administration this fall will announce long-awaited new mileage standards for the 2017-2025 model year vehicles. Under rules adopted last year, the average mileage of the new vehicle fleet will rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016, an increase of more than 40 percent over current standards.

Still, the centerpiece of the day for the president will be the stop at Fort Campbell.

The fort is home to the 101st Airborne Division and many of its combat teams have returned recently from tours of duty in Afghanistan. But its main draw for Obama is the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the highly specialized Army unit that carried Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The unit, known as Night Stalkers, has fought in nearly every U.S. conflict, from Grenada to Afghanistan, and they were memorialized in the mission that resulted in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.” Many of its missions are classified and among its primary duties are flying special forces commandos behind enemy lines using night-vision technology and low-flying techniques.

They are equipped with Black Hawk, Chinook and MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. Aviation experts said a helicopter used in the bin Laden raid appeared to be a stealthier, top secret and never-before-seen version of a routinely used special ops helicopter. The helicopter made a hard landing and was destroyed by the military team at the site, leaving behind wreckage for experts to analyze.

White House officials would not offer details on the meeting between the president and the participants of the raiding party.

“The successful mission against Osama bin Laden is a monumental achievement,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “But the fact remains that we’re still at war, that we have 100,000 combat personnel in Afghanistan, we have troops in a support-and-assist role in Iraq, and we have U.S. military men and women in other places around the globe and, in some cases, in difficult situations.”

“So it’s important to acknowledge that and for Americans to remember that despite the elimination of bin Laden, we’re still extremely dependent upon and grateful to our military men and women for what they do.”

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Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Kimberly Hefling contributed to this report.

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May 3, 2011

Obama going to NYC to mark Osama bin Laden’s death

Obama going to NYC to mark Osama bin Laden’s death
May 2, 2011, 7:46 p.m. EDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama plans to visit New York City on Thursday to mark the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The White House says Obama will visit ground zero, the site of al-Qaida’s attack on the World Trade Center, and meet with the families of those killed nearly 10 years ago.

U.S. forces killed bin Laden during a raid on a compound in Pakistan where he had been hiding, then buried him at sea.

Flag-waving crowds have been gathering at the lower Manhattan site of the attack since Obama announced bin Laden’s death late Sunday.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer announced Obama’s visit on Twitter.

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April 28, 2011

The National Rifle Association will oppose President Barack Obama’s re-election 2012

NRA will actively oppose Obama re-election

Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The National Rifle Association will oppose President Barack Obama’s re-election next year, because the group expects an assault on Second Amendmentrights if the president serves a second term, the organization’s leader said Wednesday.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, told The Associated Press on Wednesday — the eve of its annual convention in Pittsburgh — that the group’s opposition to President Obama is “no surprise,” but it felt a need to come out early and strongly.

LaPierre believes the president has tried to “fog the issue through the 2012 election” and obscure his long-standing opposition to gun owners’ rights.

“President Obama gives lip service to the Second Amendment, but what I really believe is going on is it’s just not a convenient time for a fight on the Second Amendment” politically for Obama, LaPierre said.

LaPierre said Obama, as an Illinois state senator, voted for or otherwise supported handgun bans, semi-automatic weapons bans, eliminating right-to-carry laws and raising excise taxes on guns, among other things.

“Then he announced for president and leafleted the country saying there’s no difference between Barack Obama and John McCain,” LaPierre said.

Although Congress approved expanded rights for people to bring guns onto Amtrak trains and carry them in national parks during his first term, President Obama’s administration includes “people who’ve spent their lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment,” LaPierre said, naming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Obama’s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“You’ve got two Supreme Court nominations that pretty well throw down the gauntlet about what this election’s about,” LaPierre said. “One more (Obama) Supreme Court nominee breaks the back of the Second Amendment in this country.”

“That’s what’s in store for gun owners in this country” if President Obama is re-elected, LaPierre said.

That’s why the NRA, which typically waits until the election year to throw its weight behind — or against — candidates, is speaking up now, LaPierre said.

The White House declined to comment, but referred to an editorial the president submitted last month to The Arizona Daily Star.

In it, Obama reiterated that he believes “the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms” and notes, as LaPierre did, a change in the law allowing gun owners to carry weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The president called for better enforcement of firearms laws and improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He also called for a discussion about “common-sense” gun regulations.

“Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns,” Obama wrote, without naming names. “And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.”

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April 27, 2011

Obama releases birth form, decries ‘silliness’

Obama releases birth form, decries ‘silliness’

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Obama Long-Form Birth Certificate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Responding to critics’ relentless claims, President Barack Obama on Wednesday produced a detailed Hawaii birth certificate in an extraordinary attempt to bury the issue of where he was born and confirm his legitimacy to hold office. He declared, “We do not have time for this kind of silliness.”

By going on national TV from the White House, Obama portrayed himself as a voice of reason amid a loud, lingering debate on his birth status. Though his personal attention to the issue elevated it as never before, Obama said to Republican detractors and the media, it is time to move on to bigger issues.

Citing huge budget decisions in Washington, Obama said, “I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have. But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted.”

Obama spoke shortly after the White House released a copy of the long form of his birth certificate, which contains more extensive data than a version released earlier.

The certificate says Obama was born to an American mother and Kenyan father, in Hawaii, which makes him eligible to hold the office of president. Obama released a standard short form before he was elected in 2008 but requested copies of his original birth certificate from Hawaii officials this week in hopes of quieting the lingering controversy.

White House officials have said the issue was settled long ago. But so-called “birthers” opposed to Obama have kept it alive. Potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently began questioning why Obama hadn’t ensured the long form was released.

From New Hampshire, Trump took credit for getting Obama to act.

“He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honored to play such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue,” Trump said.

Polls show large numbers of Republicans have continued to doubt Obama is a natural born citizen eligible to be president. Trump, the bombastic real estate mogul, has seized on the issue as he weighs a GOP candidacy.

While Obama and White House officials avoided mentioning Trump by name, officials said they released the birth certificate partially because the issue had moved beyond fringe discussion, and Obama criticized a media culture that had not let the story go.

“This issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign,” Obama said. “I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree at which this thing just kept on going.”

“We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers,” the president said.

He did not take any questions and did not say why the document had not been released earlier.

Many Republican leaders have sought to distance themselves from the “birther” theory as a discredited notion not worthy of national public debate.

In a statement after Obama spoke, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the issue a distraction — and yet blamed Obama for playing campaign politics by addressing it.

“The president ought to spend his time getting serious about repairing our economy,” Priebus said. “Unfortunately his campaign politics and talk about birth certificates is distracting him from our number one priority — our economy.”

The newly released certificate is signed by the delivery doctor, Obama’s mother and the local registrar. His mother, then 18, signed her name (Stanley) Ann Dunham Obama.

The form says Barack Hussein Obama II was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital, within the city limits of Honolulu.

There’s no mention of religion. It says his father, Barack Hussein Obama, age 25, was African and born in Kenya and his mother was Caucasian and born in Wichita, Kan. Obama’s mother and the doctor signed the certificate on Aug. 7 and 8.

Hawaii’s registrar certified the new photocopy of the document provided to the White House on April 25, 2011.

The White House also released a letter from the president on April 22 requesting two certified copies of his original certificate of live birth. Also released was a letter from Loretta Fuddy, Hawaii’s director of health, approving the request.

The president’s personal counsel, Judith Corley, traveled to Hawaii to pick up the documents and carried them back to Washington on a plane. The documents arrived at the White House around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller contributed to this story.

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April 21, 2011

President Barack Obama says new task force will examine gas prices

Obama says new task force will examine gas prices

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RENO, Nev. (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that the Justice Department will try to “root out” cases of fraud or manipulation in oil markets, even as Attorney General Eric Holder suggested a variety of legal reasons may be behind gasoline’s surge to $4 a gallon.

“We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain,” Obama said at a town-hall style meeting at a renewable energy plant in Reno.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.84 on Thursday, about 30 cents higher than a month ago and almost a dollar higher than a year ago.

Obama, decrying such levels as yet another hardship “at a time when things were already pretty tough,” said Holder was forming the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group.

The task force will focus some of its investigation on “the role of traders and speculators” in the oil-price surge Obama said. The group will include several Cabinet department officials, federal regulators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

In Washington, Holder said he would press ahead with the investigation, even though he did not cite any current evidence of intentional manipulation of oil and gas prices or fraud.

“Based upon our work and research to date, it is evident that there are regional differences in gasoline prices, as well as differences in the statutory and other legal tools at the government’s disposal,” Holder said in a memo accompanying a statement announcing the task force. “It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand.”

“Nonetheless, where consumers are harmed by unlawful conduct that has the effect of increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities will take swift action,” Holder said.

He promised to “be vigilant in monitoring the oil and gas markets for any wrongdoing so that consumers can be confident they are not paying higher prices as a result of illegal activity.”

There’s not much Obama can do to affect the price of gasoline in short term, something he acknowledged in his remarks. Gas prices have risen steadily as a result of tensions in the Middle East and northern Africa and rising demand from China and other emerging economies.

Given that no evidence has yet surfaced of actual fraud or price manipulation in oil markets, Obama’s remarks appeared, at least in part, as more of an attempt to assuage public anger over rising gas prices.

Other presidents have also launched similar inquiries at times of rising oil prices and widespread public suspicions of market manipulation by the oil industry or by speculators.

In an Associated Press-Gfk poll last month, 51 percent of adults said they thought recent increases in gas prices were due to “oil companies that want to boost profits” rather than changes in the global oil market. Nine percent said higher prices stemmed from a combination of both, 37 percent from changes in the market.

Obama renewed his proposal to end roughly $4 billion annually in various government subsidies to oil and gas companies “at a time when they’re making record profits and you’re paying near record prices at the pump. It has to stop.”

Asked by a member of the audience about prospects for advancements in clean energy, Obama predicted that, with time, prices of now-expensive devices such as electric cars would come down.

“Having a flat-screen TV used to be a big deal,” Obama said. But he said now such TVs are commonplace because prices have dropped so much.

While acknowledging he doesn’t spend much time these days behind the wheel, Obama said, “I’ve been in one of these Chevy Volts. This is a nice car. It drives well.”

He said when such vehicles become more affordable, “those of you out there driving that 8-mile-a-gallon SUV” should consider a purchase. Otherwise, by buying gasoline that likely came from imported oil, Americans “are putting money in the pockets of people who do not like us at all,” he said.

Earlier, he told supporters in San Francisco that he is pressing ahead with his agenda in a difficult political environment and that “change turned out to be a lot tougher than expected.”

Obama addressed about 200 people who paid up to $35,800 apiece for the fundraiser at San Francisco’s St. Regis Hotel, the first of four fundraisers of the day. The other three were scheduled in Los Angeles.

Obama was interrupted by a small group among the paying guests who protested the detention of Bradley Manning, an Army private accused of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.

“We paid our dues, where’s our change?” the protesters sang to the president.

“We’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true. Look at the Republicans — what else can we do?”

Obama paused while security removed some of the protesters, then joked, “That’s a nice song. You guys have much better voices than I do.”

Manning, suspected of illegally passing U.S. government secrets to the WikiLeaks while serving as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, was transferred this week to an Army prison in Kansas from the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where he has spent the last nine months.

Between his California events, Obama went to the Electra Therm Co. in Reno, speaking in front of a machine that produces renewable energy from low-temperature heat waste.

Obama’s West Coast visit — his most extensive travel since announcing his re-election bid two weeks ago — offered a glimpse of how he will seek to re-energize the independents and first-time voters who carried him to victory in 2008. Obama argues that more work must be done to make the vision of America he promised a reality and that he is the only one who can see those hopes through.

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April 11, 2011

Republican Mitt Romney is forming a presidential exploratory committee.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is forming a presidential exploratory committee.
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner of : http://LedSomeBioMetrics.com

The former Massachusetts governor on Monday announced he would take the first step toward a White House run in a message posted online that focused largely on the nation’s economic woes. Romney said it’s time to “put America back on a course of greatness, with a growing economy, good jobs and fiscal discipline in Washington.”

Romney, who came up short when he sought the GOP nomination in 2008, says President Barack Obama’s policies have failed because he and most people on his team have never worked in the private sector. Romney has harshly criticized Obama and has laid the groundwork to run a presidential campaign as a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy.

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