Posts tagged ‘Associated Press’

May 19, 2011

Republicans looking to unseat President Barack Obama charged Thursday that he …

Romney: Obama ‘threw Israel under the bus’
May 19, 2011, 9:35 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Republicans looking to unseat President Barack Obama charged Thursday that he undermined the sensitive and delicate negotiations for Middle East peace with his outline for resumed talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Obama, whom he served as U.S. ambassador to China until last month, undercut an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to build trust. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Obama “threw Israel under the bus” and handed the Palestinians a victory even before negotiations between the parties could resume. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called it “the most dangerous speech ever made by an American president for the survival of Israel.”

Foreign policy has hardly been the center of the debate among the still-forming GOP presidential field. Instead, the candidates and potential candidates have kept their focus — like the country’s — on domestic issues that are weighing on voters and their pocketbooks. Obama’s speech provided one of the first opportunities for Republicans to assert their foreign policy differences with Obama and his Democratic administration.

Obama endorsed Palestinians’ demands for the borders of its future state based on 1967 borders — before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. That was a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy.

Campaigning here in the state that hosts the first presidential nominating primary, Huntsman also said the United States should respect Israel and work to foster trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

“If we respect and recognize Israel as the ally that it is, we probably ought to listen to what they think is best,” said Huntsman, who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush before surprising his party and serving Obama, a Democrat.

He acknowledged he didn’t watch Obama’s speech and was reacting to news coverage — or, as he called it, “the aftermath.”

“It is disrespectful of Israel for America to dictate negotiating terms to our ally,” Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It is not appropriate for the president to dictate the terms.”

Instead, the United States should work with Israel to push for peace without acceding to the Palestinians, he said.

Gingrich said Israel simply cannot go back to the 1967 borders and expect to remain secure, given technological advancements that would allow its enemies to fire rockets deeper into the state.

“Get a map of the region and look at what Hamas does in firing missiles into Israel,” Gingrich told The Associated Press. “The president should have said that Hamas has to abandon its determination to destroy Israel.”

Obama urged Israel to accept that it can never have a truly peaceful nation based on “permanent occupation.” That follows what other Republicans have painted as hostility from this administration toward a stalwart ally in the Middle East.

“The current administration needs to come to terms with its confused and dangerous foreign policy soon, as clarity and security are the necessary conditions of any serious and coherent American set of policies,” Santorum said in a statement.

Obama’s speech at the State Department addressed the uprisings sweeping the Arab world. Speaking to audiences abroad and at home, he sought to leave no doubt that the U.S. stands behind the protesters who have swelled from nation to nation across the Middle East and North Africa.

“We know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith,” the president said.

But the remarks only muddied things, especially on the dicey issue of Jerusalem, said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided,” Pawlenty said. “At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a tea party favorite who is leaning toward a run, called the border suggestions “a shocking display of betrayal” to Israel.

“Today President Barack Obama has again indicated that his policy towards Israel is to blame Israel first,” she said in a statement.

On Twitter, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t directly address the speech but urged Obama to publicly welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead of ushering him into private meetings away from reporters, as has occurred on Netanyahu’s previous visits. The two leaders will talk Friday at the White House.

“Dear Mr. President, please allow our ally, PM Netanyahu, to respectfully arrive through the front door this time. Thanks, Concerned Americans,” she tweeted.

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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.,

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

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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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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 5, 2011

No longer the fresh voice of change, President Barack Obama embarked on a bid for re-election Monday

Obama opens bid for new term, no longer outsider
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Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.

WASHINGTON (AP) — No longer the fresh voice of change, President Barack Obama embarked on a bid for re-election Monday by asking a divided, anxious electorate to let him finish the job he won in 2008. He’s getting an early start against a Republican field that’s still undefined, but he’s saddled with an ailing economy that still isn’t working for millions of voters.

Obama began with an effort to recapture his outsider’s touch of 2008, bypassing a public statement from the White House in favor of an email sent to millions of supporters.

He offered a kickoff video in which official Washington is ignored and even Obama himself only makes a fleeting appearance. What the campaign wanted voters to see instead were people like them speaking of real-life concerns and their faith in Obama, against wholesome backdrops in every clip: a church, a farm, a family in a kitchen, an American flag.

He told supporters later in the day he needs their help again, perhaps more than he did four years ago, because “we may not have the exact same newness that we had in 2008.”

“But that core spirit … is still there and it’s still in you and so I hope that even though we’re a little older and a little wiser now than we were back in 2007 and 2008, I hope everybody is ready to run that race one more time,” Obama said in a conference call with backers.

This time around, Obama carries both the benefits and baggage of being the establishment candidate.

The president now owns an economy that is adding jobs but still leaving millions of people without help or work. As the incumbent, he can blow into town on Air Force One, draw unparalleled free media coverage and command all the other perks of the presidency. But he must also remobilize his coalition and reenergize it, too, including getting back the independent voters who swung Republican in last year’s midterm elections.

Obama ran once on hope. This time he will run on his record as well. That means voters will evaluate him on what he has gotten done, including laws to reshape health insurance and Wall Street behavior, and the promises he has not delivered upon, including immigration reform and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A huge part of his challenge will be to spark the voter inspiration that often got lost in the slog of governing. His new campaign video gave a nod to the challenge. A woman named Alice from Michigan said: “We’re paying him to do a job. So we can’t say, ‘Hey, could you just take some time off and come and get us all energized?’ So we better figure it out.”

Obama filed his candidacy paperwork Monday, about 20 months from Election Day, so he can begin raising money in earnest for a potential campaign fund of $1 billion or more. More than a dozen Republicans are seriously considering trying to unseat him, but none has declared yet.

What comes next is a loud, undefined, unpredictable White House contest. The early party primary voting is not set to begin until next year.

Obama, as both president and candidate, is trying to keep those two roles separate. “Even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today,” he said in the email to backers.

His campaign this time will not have the foil of George W. Bush, an unpopular incumbent who helped define the mood of 2008 without being on the ballot. The White House is eager to portray the election as a choice, but the look and feel of that contrast will not become evident until a competitor emerges from a wide-open Republican field.

Regardless, what the White House expects is that the economy will drive the election. The race could well pivot on whether voters buy into Obama’s arguments about progress on his watch — that an economy on the brink of disaster is steadily adding jobs again, and he has a vision for more. Or whether voters vent their displeasure that change hasn’t happened faster.

Here, as in many cases, incumbency can cut both ways.

The nation’s unemployment rate just dropped to 8.8 percent, its lowest level in two years. The private sector is starting to add sizable numbers of jobs again, and such trend lines always tend to attach themselves to how a president is viewed. The more the economic situation improves, the better Obama can argue he is the right steward of the recovery.

However, perceptions of the economy have not improved over the course of Obama’s presidency, and that lag can amount to a major vulnerability.

Overall, 35 percent of people in an Associated PressGfK poll say the nation is heading in the right direction. That’s the same share that said so in January 2009 before he took office.

“I think it starts with the economy. I don’t think anybody could tell you for sure how it’s going to end, especially with all the tumult around the world right now,” said Stephen Craig, a political science professor at the University of Florida.

Indeed, Obama is contending with an exploding world. The violent upheaval across the Middle East and Africa has consumed attention in 2011 and drawn the United States into a military conflict in Libya on top of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the domestic front, Obama is grappling with a budget fight and the potential for a government shutdown.

The president must be sensitive to how and when he campaigns or risk appearing to put his political gain above the country’s.

How he responds to domestic and foreign challenges, however, will give him chances to shape public thinking in ways no other candidates have.

Obama’s path to the required 270 electoral votes could well be tougher this time. In 2008, he reached it by aggressively turning out new and infrequent voters across the country, and making a play for states that aren’t usually contested by Democrats.

The effort paved the way for victories in GOP-leaning states such as Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. But Obama’s standing has suffered in those states since then, putting into question whether he can engineer repeat victories. He also dominated the Midwest in 2008, the home of electoral-rich states such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. But the region took a beating during the recession, and Obama’s poll numbers did, too, complicating his path to re-election.

On the flip side: Obama may have new support in other states because of the explosive growth of Democratic-leaning Hispanics in the Southwest and the migration of blacks to the South.

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AP National Political Writer Liz Sidoti, Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Holly Ramer in Portsmouth, N.H., contributed to this story.

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

Owner and Founder of:

Thank you for visiting, do come back for more news…
Warmest regards,