Archive for ‘Presidential candidate’

May 26, 2011

A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty’s budget approach …

Pawlenty: An economic pro or crafty budget setter?
May 25, 2011, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A no-new-taxes philosophy guided Tim Pawlenty‘s budget approach as Minnesota governor.

Accounting tricks, a well-timed infusion of stimulus money from Washington and word games kept the Republican mostly on that course.

The newly minted presidential candidate hopes Republican primary voters will see him as an economic pro accustomed to dealing with red ink and capable of confronting the nation’s colossal fiscal problems.

“We balanced the budget every two years in my state without question,” Pawlenty said Wednesday at a conservative think tank in Washington. “We have a constitutional requirement, as almost every other state does.

It must be balanced, it has to be balanced, it always will be balanced. In fact, the last budget that I finished ends this summer, here in about two months. And it’s going to end in the black.”

On the campaign trail, the Republican eagerly highlights his many tax-increase vetoes. And he boasts of enduring a partial government shutdown as well as a workers’ strike to contain costs.

But his record also carries vulnerabilities for foes to exploit.

There’s the carefully crafted “health impact fee” on cigarettes. It’s a euphemism for a tax increase in the eyes of some allies and most opponents.

Minnesota lurched from one deficit to another under his eight-year tenure. The state’s books technically balanced when he left office in January, but by then a mammoth deficit was forecast for the first budget his successor would need to craft.

When asked about that legacy, Pawlenty said the analysis is off-base: “It’s based on a big increase in projected spending — 20-some percent increase — that I never would’ve allowed.”

Pawlenty distances himself from that projected $5 billion shortfall, but it’s partly attributable to temporary fixes he either proposed or consented to. Schools are owed more than $1.4 billion in state IOUs, one-time stimulus dollars used to prop up ongoing state expenses are drying up and short-lived spending curbs Pawlenty first enacted using his executive powers are expiring.

His defenders, including former Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum, say Pawlenty had to work within the confines of a politically split state government and wanted to be more aggressive than Democrats in the Legislature would permit.

“It took some patchwork, no doubt,” Sviggum said. “But the fact is, we were able to meet the constitutional charge of balancing the budget without raising taxes.”

Taxes did rise in the Pawlenty era, although his fingerprints aren’t on them.

His veto of a gas tax increase was overridden and voters raised the sales tax through a ballot measure. Property taxes shot up in the Pawlenty years, mostly those enacted by city, county or school governments as they coped with stagnant or falling state aid. The year he entered the governor’s office, Minnesota land owners paid about $5.1 billion in property taxes; the total take topped $8 billion when he departed.

“Tim Pawlenty consistently passed the buck — onto local governments, onto the Legislature, onto anyone he could,” said state Rep. Paul Thissen, the top House Democrat. “His budgets were filled with shifts, tricks and gimmicks that created perpetual state deficits and set Minnesota behind the rest of the nation.”

Then there are fees.

The state slapped higher surcharges on everything from speeding tickets to marriage licenses. None was more controversial than the 75 cent-per-pack levy on cigarettes, which helped break the stalemate that pushed Minnesota to a government shutdown in 2005.

Pawlenty insists the cigarette “fee” is directly linked to health costs attributable to smoking, and the state Supreme Court vouched for that terminology when tobacco companies sued to block it.

Anti-tax groups, including the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, regard it as clear blemish on Pawlenty’s record.

“I still call it a tax increase even though the Supreme Court blessed it as a fee, not a tax,” said Phil Krinkie, the league’s president and a former Republican legislative colleague of Pawlenty.

GOP primary voters looking for a Pawlenty scorecard will find a mixed appraisal from conservative groups.

The conservative Club for Growth gave Pawlenty a less-than-flattering review Tuesday, saying his ideological moorings may not be as strong as he’s projecting.

“A President Pawlenty, we suspect, would fight for pro-growth policies, but would be susceptible to adopting ‘pragmatic’ policies that grow government,” the group concludes in a report it prepared on him.

But the Cato Institute, which advocates for smaller government and hosted him, gave Pawlenty one of four “A” grades for governors in its latest rankings.

He wasn’t always in the group’s good graces.

Chris Edwards, Cato’s director of tax policy studies, said Pawlenty’s frequent vetoes, ready use of executive budget-cutting powers and advocacy of corporate tax cuts account for his high marks now.

“In the last four or five years, he has followed very much of a small-government approach on fiscal policy,” Edwards said. “Perhaps he knew he was going to run for president.”

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May 22, 2011

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said early Sunday that he won’t run in 2013 U.S. presidental race because …

Ind. Gov. Daniels not running for president
May 22, 2011, 7:06 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said early Sunday that he won’t run for president because of family concerns, a development that narrowed the Republican nomination field though made the wide-open race even more uncertain.

“In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one,” the Republican said, disclosing his decision in a middle-of-the-night e-mail to supporters. “The interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all. If I have disappointed you, I will always be sorry.”

A two-term Midwestern governor, Daniels had been considering a bid for months and was pressured by many in the establishment wing of the party hungering for a conservative with a strong fiscal record to run. He expressed interest in getting in the race partly because it would give him a national platform to ensure the country’s fiscal health would remain part of the 2012 debate.

But he always said his family — his wife and four daughters — was a sticking point.

Had he run, Daniels would have shaken up the still evolving race that lacks a front-runner and has been unpredictable in its early stages.

If the governor would have decided to run, a crop of GOP donors and grass-roots supporters had been ready to pull the trigger on a national fundraising and political organization that some aides privately said would rival those of others already in the race. And outside Republican observers had long said that he would be a serious contender for the party nod as a candidate.

Instead, Daniels becomes the latest Republican to opt against a bid as the GOP searches for a Republican to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

The Indiana governor‘s close friend, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, surprised much of the GOP when he pulled the plug on a candidacy in April; he privately had encouraged Daniels to run instead. A week ago, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa caucus winner, bowed out, followed quickly by celebrity real estate developer Donald Trump.

They came after others who decided to sit this one out as well, even as polls show Republican primary voters wanting more options in a race that includes former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a handful of others.

In the wake of the decisions by Barbour and Huckabee to skip the race, the clamoring among establishment Republicans for Daniels to run — including from the Bush family circle — had become ear-shattering.

“The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate,” Daniels said in the e-mail message.

“If you feel that this was a non-courageous or unpatriotic decision, I understand and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise,” he added. “I only hope that you will accept my sincerity in the judgment I reached.”

Daniels, himself, had sounded more optimistic about a run in the past week than he had in months, though he never had sounded particularly enthused. And his advisers had been quietly reaching out to Republicans in Iowa and other early nominating states for private conversations.

But, as he talked about a candidacy, he always pointed back to his family as the primary issue that would hold him back.

And as he weighed a bid, the spotlight shown on his unusual marital history as well as his record as governor.

His wife, Cheri, filed for divorce in 1993 and moved to California to remarry, leaving him to raise their four daughters in Indiana. She later divorced, and she and Daniels reconciled and remarried in 1997.

Mrs. Daniels had never taken much of a public role in her husband’s political career.

So it raised eyebrows when she was chosen as the keynote speaker at a major Indiana fundraiser earlier in May.

Both husband and wife were said to be pleased with the reception they got, and advisers privately suggested that the outcome could encourage Daniels to run for president. Even so, Republicans in Washington and Indiana with ties to Daniels put the odds at 50/50.

A former budget director under George W. Bush, Daniels used his time considering a run to also shine a spotlight on rising budget deficits and national debt — even though his former boss grew the scope of government and federal spending during his tenure.

Daniels, a one-time senior executive at Eli Lilly & Co., caused a stir among cultural conservatives by saying the next president facing economic crisis “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues.”

He is looked with admiration in GOP circles for being the rare Republican who won office in a Democratic year — 2008 — in a state that Obama had won. And, since being re-elected, he has leveraged Republican majorities in the state Legislature to push through a conservative agenda.

Daniels made his intentions clear in a characteristically understated e-mail.

It was sent by the governor through Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Republican Party chairman and one of Daniels’ closest advisers, and confirmed by others close to the governor on the condition of anonymity to avoid publicly pre-empting his announcement.

It ended: “Many thanks for your help and input during this period of reflection. Please stay in touch if you see ways in which an obscure Midwestern governor might make a constructive contribution to the rebuilding of our economy and our Republic.”

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May 19, 2011

Newt Gingrich: says in Iowa, stop his campaign is fine …

Gingrich says in Iowa stop his campaign is fine
May 19, 2011, 5:28 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday he’ll use “cheerful persistence” to overcome the bumps that marked the first formal week of his campaign.

Gingrich said he isn’t surprised by the rough start to his campaign, ranging from Republican outrage at his description of a proposed House overhaul of Medicare as “right-wing social engineering” to being showered with glitter by a gay-rights activist in Minneapolis.

“My reaction is if you’re the candidate of very dramatic change, it you’re the candidate of really new ideas, you have to assume there’s a certain amount of clutter and confusion and it takes a while to sort it all out, because you are doing something different,” Gingrich told reporters after he opened an intense three-day campaign swing in Iowa.

Despite speculation that Gingrich might not be able to overcome his first week stumbles, especially the Medicare comment that ended in him apologizing to Rep. Paul Ryan — the force behind the plan — Gingrich told about 150 people in Waterloo that his campaign was fine.

“This campaign is very alive and very well with lots of grass-roots support,” Gingrich told the crowd. “It’s been a little bit of a challenging week.”

Few in the crowd seemed worried about the controversy, and they gave him a warm response with many lingering to have their photographs taken with him.

“We’ve had larger crowds everywhere,” said Gingrich, noting that Thursday’s event had to be moved to a bigger room because of the number of people who turned up. He said his brash talks and bold approach are the hallmarks of his appeal.

Part of his problem, Gingrich said, is the media is accustomed to politicians sticking to talking points and aren’t prepared for his wide-ranging views.

“If you give them the standard three points, they know how to write down the standard three points,” said Gingrich. “If you’re careful and really cautious and repeat robotically everything that you’ve memorized, then fine, but how do you get to real solutions?”

He said reporters covering his campaign must adjust their thinking.

“It’s going to take a while for the news media to realize that you’re covering something that happens once or twice in a century, a genuine grass-roots campaign of very big ideas,” said Gingrich. “I expect it to take a while for it to sink in.”

He said there’s some precedent for other candidates surviving early campaign problems.

Ronald Reagan’s opening week in the 1980 campaign was filled with bumps,” said Gingrich. “It happens if you’re the candidate of ideas.”

Many in the audience seemed willing to give Gingrich the benefit of the doubt and dismiss the Medicare controversy.

On Sunday, Gingrich told NBC’sMeet the Press” that Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system was a radical change that he opposed. On Tuesday, Gingrich called Ryan to apologize for his comments.

“I listen to the commentators, and a lot of what he says and how they interpret it was really wrong,” said Shari Folken, of Cedar Falls. “I’m comfortable with where he is on Medicare.”

Craig Gingrich of Cedar Falls, who isn’t related to the former House speaker, said people have mischaracterized the candidate’s comments.

“He is misinterpreted and spun continuously,” Craig Gingrich said. “Half the things are untrue that you see written about him.”

Jerry Hammer said every word that Gingrich utters is scrutinized.

“We all say things we shouldn’t at one time or another,” said Hammer.

Asked how he would handle the issue, Gingrich chuckled.

“Cheerful persistence. We learned that in the 1980s,” he said.

He said the reaction to his campaign speaks for itself

“This is going to be a campaign that constantly changes, that constantly evolves,” said Gingrich.

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May 17, 2011

Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to …

Trump says no to presidential run
May 16, 2011, 3:26 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com

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NEW YORK (AP) — After months of flirting with politics, Donald Trump said Monday he won’t run for president, choosing to stick with hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice” over a bid for the Republican nomination.

The reality TV star and real estate mogul made his announcement at a Manhattan hotel as NBC, which airs his show, rolled out its fall lineup.

“I will not be running for president as much as I’d like to,” Trump said.

Trump’s office released a formal statement just as he was taking the stage. In it, a confident Trump said he felt he could win the Republican primary and beat President Barack Obama in the general election but had come to realize a presidential campaign could not be run half-heartedly.

“Ultimately, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector,” Trump said.

Several Republicans are seeking the nomination in a race that lacks a clear front-runner. Among the top hopefuls are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The GOP is still waiting to hear whether Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will get in the race.

Trump has floated the idea of a presidential candidacy in both 1988 and 2000 but claimed he was more serious than ever this time, citing the weak economy and the sense that the United States was in decline. Some public opinion polls showed him leading the slow-to-coalesce Republican field.

In the past few months, he delivered speeches to national GOP groups and traveled to early primary states like New Hampshire and Nevada. During that time, he reignited the so-called “birther” controversy by perpetuating falsehoods about Obama’s birth place, insisting that questions were unanswered about whether the president was born in Hawaii. He amassed admiration from many on the far right who have insisted Obama was born overseas and, thus, wasn’t eligible to serve as president.

Obama finally distributed his long-form birth certificate earlier this month, indirectly casting Trump as a carnival barker and the controversy as a sideshow. Trump took credit for the release even though it robbed his candidacy of its signature issue.

Obama retaliated days later in his monologue at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, where he poked fun at the birth certificate controversy and mocked Trump and his television show. A stone-faced Trump heard the barbs from both Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. A day later, NBC interrupted the airing of Trump’s show with word of an Obama announcement — within 45 minutes the president informed the nation and the world that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been killed.

Whatever buzz over a Trump candidacy was left fully faded.

Trump would have brought to the race both celebrity and the no-holds-barred criticism of Obama that many Republicans are hungry for in a GOP nominee. But, as it has for months, Trump’s participation also could have made the GOP nomination fight a less serious affair, seeming small by comparison to Obama and his presidency.

Trump is the second Republican in a matter of days to say no to a bid for the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday that he wouldn’t seek the presidency.

At the Hilton hotel in New York, NBC said that “The Celebrity Apprentice” would be coming back in midseason. But Bob Greenblatt, the head of NBC entertainment, said the only mystery would be whether Trump was host.

Trump said the show has made a lot of money for charity and that he wanted to continue as host.

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May 16, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann, now a three-term congresswoman and tea party favorite who may run for president in 2012

Rep. Bachmann: Always rising, never compromising
May 15, 2011, 5:10 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Michele Bachmann was a self-styled “education researcher” making a run for a Minnesota school board seat in 1999 when the question came up at a candidate forum: If elected, would she serve all four years?

Maybe not, she said.

Bachmann, now a three-term congresswoman and tea party favorite who may run for president in 2012, opened up about a confrontation she’d had with a state senator over Minnesota’s new school standards.

“I told him that if he’s not willing to be more responsive to the citizens, that I may have to run for his seat or find someone else who would do so,” she said, according to a newspaper account of the meeting.

Bachmann lost the school board race, but then knocked off the senator, a fellow Republican, just months later using the standards as her primary issue.

It was an early indicator of a recurring theme: Bachmann often wins by losing.

She stands ready to shake up the GOP race either by running herself, with a decision expected by June, or influencing those who do get in.

The race would test her resilience because she would start far back. But as a little-known House member only a few years ago, Bachmann became hero of the conservative tea party movement in part by fighting losing battles with the GOP establishment. Her path to Congress was paved by failed efforts to pass a ban on gay marriage in the Minnesota Legislature.

“She is very good at turning lemons into lemonade all the time,” said Sal Russo, a California political consultant who came to know Bachmann through the tea party.

Some Republicans fret about her propensity to freelance and question whether she’d appeal to a broad voter base. Democrats who have opposed her warn that she’s politically adept and not to be taken lightly.

“If you go attend a town meeting, she’s normal, she’s articulate, she’s a mother, she’s thoughtful. She can play the part,” said Ted Thompson, a Democrat defeated by Bachmann in a state legislative race.

From her first involvement in politics, the 55-year-old Bachmann has shown a determination to keep pressing forward and find opportunities, even when the way seemed blocked.

In the late 1990s, Bachmann was a stay-at-home mother of five in Stillwater, a scenic St. Croix River town east of St. Paul. Then she was drawn into a revolt over education standards.

Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, were members of a theologically conservative Lutheran denomination, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. She was trained as a lawyer at the faith-driven Oral Roberts University. She had strong views about traditional education, and the state standards emphasized student projects over lectures and book work.

She became an organizer of the opposition. She invited concerned parents to a banquet hall where she described the standards as a government plan to teach students attitudes, values and beliefs.

Bachmann and four others eventually formed a slate to make a run at control of the board. The race roiled the community, with some alleging a “coup attempt” and others cheering on the “Boston Tea Party“-style uprising.

None of the newcomers prevailed. But Bill Dierberger, who ran alongside Bachmann, didn’t find her “overly discouraged” by the defeat.

“She got right back up in the saddle and said, ‘I’m going to fight'” the education standards, he recalled.

Early on, Bachmann showed potential as an articulate and magnetic speaker, said Bill Pulkrabek, a Republican leader who helped assemble the school board slate.

“People had been predicting her demise since Day One: ‘Oh, she’s a radical, she’s too far right, she’s too outspoken, she’s too inflammatory,'” Pulkrabek said. “The fact of the matter is, with the exception of the first race, she wins.”

Parlaying her school board defeat into a victorious legislative campaign, she moved to the state Senate and seized on a new issue.

Around Thanksgiving 2003, justices in Massachusetts ruled the commonwealth couldn’t prevent same-sex marriage. Bachmann hit the phones, reaching out to fellow conservatives about making sure gay marriage would stay illegal in Minnesota.

Tom Prichard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, was among those summoned by Bachmann to the Capitol just days later to begin pushing for a state constitutional amendment clearly stating that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

“She threw herself into the issue,” Prichard said. “The activist in her came out.”

Jeff Davis heard her public appeal through his car radio. Not politically involved at the time, Davis came to the Capitol and pledged to help Bachmann. The technology company worker formed what would become a well-financed group running ads aimed at getting Bachmann’s measure on the ballot.

“She’s an energizer. She influences people around her,” Davis said. The drive instantly elevated Bachmann’s political profile, he said. “It was a launch point.”

Bachmann didn’t waver even when her lesbian stepsister went public with her feelings that Bachmann’s effort was “hurtful to me and so many others.” Although the measure foundered, Bachmann could draw on her enhanced standing with social conservatives to shoot past more seasoned Republicans when a seat in Congress opened ahead of the 2006 election.

Bachmann’s victory in that race brought her to the national stage and prompted a new focus on fiscal issues. She harnessed the outrage of the tea party, a fledgling political force inflamed by debates over government bailouts and a far-reaching health law pursued by President Barack Obama.

Her outspoken opposition did not stop the health law, but it got her much more television exposure and helped make her a face of the new resistance. In one Fox News interview, Bachmann urged viewers to flood Washington and “go up and down through the halls, find members of Congress, look at the whites of their eyes and say, ‘Don’t take away my health care.'”

Amy Kremer remembers seeing Bachmann’s television plea while on a Tea Party Express bus heading between rallies in Washington state. The next week, Kremer joined Bachmann in the nation’s capital for a big tea party protest.

“You can tell the ones who have the passion, the fire in the belly and are truly speaking from the heart. She’s one of those,” Kremer said. “That comes through.”

In January, Bachmann delivered a tea party response to Obama’s State of the Union address. In some quarters, the speech was seen as an affront to the official GOP response given by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman. Bachmann unsuccessfully campaigned for a spot in leadership in the weeks after the GOP won back control of the House.

Bachmann shrugged off the defeat in a recent Associated Press interview. “That’s life isn’t it? Sometime life takes interesting turns,” she said, while adding, “I think from a governing point of view, I think for my political party it would be very good to have that view represented at the table.”

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May 11, 2011

He mocked Republican lawmakers for blocking immigration over border security

Obama mocks Republican position on immigration
May 10, 2011, 9:35 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

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EL PASO, Texas (AP) — In search of Hispanic votes and a long-shot immigration overhaul, President Barack Obama on Tuesday stood at the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time since winning the White House and declared it more secure than ever.

He mocked Republican lawmakers for blocking immigration over border security alone, saying they won’t be happy until they get a moat with alligators along the border.

“They’ll never be satisfied,” he said.

Stymied by both chambers of Congress, the president ditched lawmakers in favor of voters who might pressure them, making an appeal to the public on a hot and dusty day far outside Washington. He told a friendly El Paso crowd that it’s up to them to tell Congress to pass legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

The approach also allowed the president to make clear that it’s Republicans — not him — standing in the way of immigration legislation. As his re-election campaign approaches it’s a message he wants broadcast loud and clear to Latino voters who don’t like his administration’s heavy deportations and feel he never made good on his promise to prioritize immigration legislation during his first year in office.

“I am asking you to add your voices to this,” Obama said. “We need Washington to know that there is a movement for reform gathering strength from coast to coast. That’s how we’ll get this done.”

Countering Republican calls to focus on border security before moving to a comprehensive overhaul, Obama boasted of increasing Border Patrol agents, nearing completion of a border fence and screening more cargo, among other steps.

“We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement,” Obama said. “But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.”

“Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said derisively to laughter from the crowd. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.”

“The question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work we’ve started,” he said.

Obama also tailored his argument to the times, making his case for immigration reform in newly sharpened economic terms. He said the middle class would benefit from bringing illegal immigrants out of an underground economy and drawing on the abilities of immigrants educated at American universities. Obama also noted that it’s not just Latinos who want an immigration remake, but also police chiefs, business owners, educators and others.

His speech broke no new policy ground, though, and he declined to offer a bill or call on Congress to send him one by a particular deadline — a bow to political realities on Capitol Hill. Republicans who control the House are hostile to overhaul legislation.

And as if to underscore how faintly his call for immigration reform would resonate in Congress, two key border state Republicans immediately responded with a statement demanding to know: “President Obama speaks about our broken immigration system; but what about our broken borders?” The statement was from Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona, the latter Obama’s 2008 presidential opponent and a one-time supporter of comprehensive overhaul legislation.

Obama’s personal pitch was the latest step in a visible campaign to build support and pressure on Republicans to act. He went so far as to encourage people to sign up to help him at the White House website. He said it was up to the American people to drive the debate and isolate areas where both parties can agree.

Politically, Obama sought to have it both ways.

He said he would lead a “constructive and civil debate” on the issue but publicly questioned the motives of Republicans and their ability to keep their word.

And it remained unclear how mocking Republican calls for border security would get Obama any closer to his goal of bipartisan legislation.

Just across the Rio Grande from the Chamizal National Park, where Obama spoke, the Ciudad Juarez park has been used by criminals to dump the bodies of rivals. A nearby entertainment district, within sight of a major bridge into the United States, has been the scene of numerous shootouts among rival cartels and authorities.

The president made his pitch in a state he lost by more than 10 percentage points in 2008 and is unlikely to pick up in 2012. But Hispanic voters are critical to the president’s re-election. Latinos accounted for more than 7 percent of voters in the 2008 presidential election, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and their numbers are greater in certain swing states like Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

The trip had a more overtly political component too. From El Paso, the president headed to the relatively liberal bastion of Austin to raise money for the Democratic National Committee at two events. A total of about 800 people paid $44 to $35,800 to attend.

The president wasn’t able to get immigration legislation through Congress last year that would have provided a route to legal status for college students and others who were brought to the country as children. The so-called DREAM Act passed the House, then controlled by Democrats, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

The Senate is now even more heavily Republican, and Republicans control the House. That means immigration reform can’t happen unless they cooperate. Nonetheless, Senate Democrats plan to reintroduce the DREAM Act on Wednesday, with their counterparts in the House following suit. Given Republican opposition the bills likely won’t get far, but Obama will try to make certain voters know who to blame.

___

Erica Werner reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Suzanne Gamboa, Jim Kuhnhenn and Alicia Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

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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

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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 15, 2011

Obama visits his hometown to restart money chase
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com
April 15,2011
Hello, Who Do You Want As The Next USA President? Poll Below!

CHICAGO (AP)President Barack Obama restarted his formidable fundraising operation Thursday with a challenge to supporters that the 2012 presidential campaign will be about how to fix the country’s money problems without doing harm to “the America we believe in.”

“We are going to be able to present a very clear option to the American people,” the president told Chicago hometown supporters in his first fundraisers since formally announcing his re-election last week. “We can get our fiscal house in order, but we can do it in a way that is consistent with our values and who we are as a people. Or we can decide to shrink our vision of what America is. And I don’t believe in shrinking America.”

Bracing for a fight against re-energized Republicans determined to deny him a second term, the president sought Thursday to reanimate supporters who swept him into the White House in 2008 on promises of change — including liberals disappointed at his compromises with the GOP.

He did so by offering a stinging critique of GOP budget proposals that would cut deeply into social programs, education and elsewhere, accusing Republicans of a slash-and-burn approach that says “we can’t afford to be compassionate.”

“Under their vision we can’t invest in roads and bridges … we would be a nation of potholes,” the president told a high-dollar group at MK restaurant, the second of three fundraisers he held Thursday night in the city that launched his political career and where he’s headquartering his re-election.

The president made his remarks a day after delivering a speech on deficit reduction in Washington in which he made similar charges about Republicans as the author of the GOP budget plan, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, watched from the front row.

Ryan and other Republicans later accused Obama of lobbing overly partisan political broadsides without delivering many specifics about his own plans. The president’s attacks marked a change in tone from the more subdued approach he’d taken since Democrats were routed in the November midterm elections.

Obama defended himself Thursday.

“The speech I gave yesterday was not a partisan shot at the other side. It was an attempt to clarify the choice that we have as a country right now,” he told donors at Nine restaurant.

Obama said he agreed with the need to rein in spending and trim crushing deficits, but argued that Republicans would do so while slashing areas like education, energy and transportation that he said must be preserved to ensure American competitiveness.

Republicans pounced on Obama for pivoting from deficit reduction to raising money even as a critical spending debates loom. “Campaigner-in-chief kicks of fundraising circuit,” read a release from the Republican National Committee.

The president indicated he was well aware of the big fights yet to come. He described the budget negotiations that nearly resulted in a government shutdown last week as “the appetizer that was just the trial run.” In coming months the parties will square off over the budget for the 2012 fiscal year, competing plans for bringing down deficits, raising the debt limit to avoid an unprecedented default on U.S. debt obligations, and other issues.

Among numerous other disagreements, Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich while Republicans oppose that vehemently, and the Republican plan would completely remake Medicare for future beneficiaries, offering them a set sum of money to buy their own care from private insurers. Obama says that would end Medicare as we know it and leave seniors on their own.

The president seemed likely to sustain his argument of Democratic investment versus ruinous Republican cuts as he participated in a series fundraisers that will take him to San Francisco and Los Angeles next week, New York the week after, and elsewhere.

Obama raised $750 million in 2008 and could top $1 billion this time around, though he himself acknowledges a need to re-energize the grass-roots supporters and small donors who helped sweep him into the White House.

“This campaign is not my campaign, this is your campaign. And the question is do we finish the job. I’m prepared to finish the job. I hope you are too,” he said at MK restaurant.

The last event of the night Thursday, at Chicago’s Navy Pier, priced tickets starting at $100 and was aimed at younger supporters. It drew a loud and enthusiastic crowd of 2,300 that was warmed up by Chicago sports stars, including Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Obama’s former chief of staff and Chicago’s mayor-elect, Rahm Emanuel, accompanied the president throughout the evening.

Earlier Obama spoke to about 225 people in all at events at the restaurants Nine and MK, with tickets as high as $35,800. All told the events should raise $2 million or more for Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Obama’s fundraising push comes as the Republican field begins to take shape, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announcing exploratory committees this week.

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April 13, 2011

Tim Pawlenty says “I’m running for President” and comments on Trump as possible opponent

Tim Pawlenty says “I’m running for President” and comments on Trump as possible opponent
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com


Potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is a guest tonight on “Piers Morgan Tonight” and he responds to today’s poll that puts him at just 2% (compared to Donald Trump at 19%). “Our trajectory is kind of a tortoise and hare strategy,” he tells Piers Morgan. As for Trump: “I think he’s funny, I think he’s exciting, he’s obviously very successful. I think he’d bring a lot to the debate.” (Then, he comments on Trump’s recent “birther” rhetoric and makes a hair joke.)

Would he accept an offer to be Trump’s VP?

“I’m running for President,” said Pawlenty, who has formed an exploratory committee but has yet to formally declare. “I’m not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for Vice President. I’m focused on running for President.” (Pawlenty said he would make a formal announcement in the coming weeks.)

Watch the full interview tonight at 9pmET/PT. Also on the show is Pres. Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who talks Trump as well.

Pawlenty later clarified: “I just hope that the country will take the full measure of all the candidates and make an informed decision, I think they will…I’ve got an exploratory committee up and running and we’ll have a final or full announcement on that in the coming weeks. It won’t be too much longer. But everything is headed in that direction.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

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