Posts tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

May 27, 2011

Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa to begin what his aides promise will be a leaner …

Romney returns to Iowa with a leaner organization
May 27, 2011, 6:08 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa to begin what his aides promise will be a leaner campaign for the state’s leadoff nominating caucuses than the expensive juggernaut he assembled here in his 2008 race.

The former Massachusetts governor plans to officially announce his second bid for the presidency next week in New Hampshire, the state around which he’s built his 2012 strategy.

That formality comes as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum prepares to enter the race in the coming days, and as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann signaled she likely would do the same next month in Waterloo, where she was born. At the same time, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is launching an East Coast bus tour starting Sunday, a move that’s fueling speculation that she, too, is preparing for a run.

Romney, for his part, is making his first trip to Iowa this year on Friday, with plans to visit a suburban Des Moines technology firm and address a business group in the capital city.

The topic is in keeping with what aides say will be a campaign more focused on a national economic message, and less focused on appealing specifically to Republican activists in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Romney has rethought his Iowa plans after his second-place finish in the caucuses during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination. He spent millions in the state only to be beaten late in the campaign by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a stricter social conservative who appealed to the Christians who form the backbone of the Iowa GOP caucus base.

Romney has said he plans to campaign in Iowa and field a staff ahead of the 2012 caucuses.

He unveiled a team of key Iowa backers Thursday led by a former state party chairman and planned to meet in eastern Iowa Friday with supporters from counties where he won in 2008. Romney also spoke briefly with Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, Monday, another sign he is not forsaking the leadoff state, as some observers suggested he would.

But aides would not say whether Romney planned to compete in the Iowa Republican Party’s presidential straw poll, a traditionally big pre-caucus event planned for mid-August. Romney spent heavily to organize en route to winning the straw poll in August 2007.

Some influential GOP activists have said Romney should reconsider his less aggressive Iowa approach since several Republicans with stronger social conservative profiles than Romney are expected to run, leaving him an opening with pro-business conservatives.

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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.,

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

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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 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 16, 2011

Mike Huckabee’s exit widens an already GOP open field …

Huckabee’s exit widens an already open field
May 15, 2011, 12:46 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal
By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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WASHINGTON(AP) — Mike Huckabee‘s decision to forgo a shot at the U.S. presidency
further muddies the field for a worthy Republican challenger to
President Barack Obama, and leaves America‘s social conservatives
without a clear candidate to throw their support behind.

Huckabee on Saturday night became the latest Republican to opt out of
running, declaring that he would stick with his lucrative career as a
television and radio personality over a race that promises to be both
costly and caustic.

By joining Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, South Dakota Sen. John Thune
and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence on the sidelines, the former Arkansas
governor underlined that for all of Obama’s vulnerabilities on the
economy, taking on his re-election machine and potential $1 billion
treasure chest remains a daunting task.

The 55-year-old Baptist minister, who won several state Republican
primaries and caucuses in an unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid,
insisted that he could have captured the Republican nomination, citing
polls that showed he could score strong even in the Northeast and among
the less conservative rank-and-file party members.

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” Huckabee, the winner of
the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said on his Fox News Channel show.
“All the factors say go, but my heart says no,” Huckabee said Saturday
night on his Fox News Channel show.

He described the decision as a
spiritual one.
“Only when I was alone, in quiet and reflective moments, did I have not
only clarity but an inexplicable inner peace,” he said. “Being
president is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human
capacity. For me, to do it apart from the inner confidence that I was
undertaking it without God’s full blessing is simply unthinkable.”

The announcement makes an already wide-open Republican field even more
unpredictable.

Huckabee is a prominent conservative who would have been a serious
contender for the party nod with instant support among Christian
evangelicals who dominate the Iowa caucuses and the early South
Carolina primary.

And with him out of the race, there is no clear
candidate out there to for them to rally around.

Onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been making a concerted effort
to reach out to the right. Although he’s been noting his recent
conversion to Catholicism, he’s hampered by two divorces and an
adulterous history.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney must explain
his change of heart over the years on positions on guns, gay rights and
abortion; health care also is a problem for him.

Minnesota’s
ex-governor, Tim Pawlenty, has had to apologize for backing climate
change legislation.

Donald Trump? Highly unlikely.

With so many social conservatives looking for a home, the void could
prompt 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep.
Michele Bachmann to get in the race.

Palin has yet to say if she will
run, while Bachmann is inching toward a bid.

Several other possible
candidates, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, are in waiting mode.

The lack of a clear Republican frontrunner reflects Obama’s perceived
strength as a candidate less than a year-and-a-half before the
election.

Despite uneven economic growth and continued sluggishness in
the employment market, Obama will have the advantage of being an
incumbent president with a seemingly unmatchable capacity to generate
cash for his campaign.

And while events could change dramatically
between now and the presidential vote, polls show Obama in a stronger
position now than he was before the mission that killed al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden.

Republican candidates were quick to praise Huckabee after his
announcement, making obvious plays for his backers.
“His voters are very independent and they’re going to go where they
believe that America needs to go both in conservative and spiritual
values,” Gingrich said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

”Gov.
Huckabee’s is going to remain a very important figure in the
conservative movement and I suspect that he’s going to have a role to
play for years to come.”

Pawlenty said he’d work hard to gain the support of millions of
Americans who have backed Huckabee, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick
Santorum praised the TV host for praying before deciding not to run.

Santorum added that he wanted to talk with Huckabee about fighting for
traditional values even as some Republicans “seek to form a ‘truce’ on
social issues.”

That was a slap at Daniels, who is considering a run and has suggested
that Republicans downplay their focus on cultural issues like abortion
while the nation’s economy is so fragile.

Huckabee praised several potential Republican nominees who, he said,
hold points of view similar to his own.

A notable omission from the
list: Romney.
“There has been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney and me. And we don’t
socialize together. We’re not close, you know, in personal ways,”
Huckabee said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”But I want to make it very clear
today, if Mitt Romney is the nominee for our party, I will support him
because I believe that Mitt Romney would be a better president of the
United States than Barack Obama on any day.”

Had he chosen to run, Huckabee would have been forced to give up the
lucrative media career he’s enjoyed since his unsuccessful presidential
bid four years ago.

In addition to his TV show, he hosts a nationally
syndicated radio program, gives paid speeches around the country and
has even launched a series of animated videos for children on American
history.

“I just somehow believe deep within me that it wasn’t the right time
and it wasn’t to be,” he told “Fox News Sunday” while revisiting the
decision.

The former governor said that raising the necessary cash to run for
president wasn’t an issue in his decision, though it may play a major
part for others.

One candidate who wouldn’t have that problem is Trump,
the billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV star who’s been
toying with the idea of a Republican run.
“Mike, enjoy the show,” Trump said in an on-air message on Fox,
directly after Huckabee’s announcement. “Your ratings are terrific.
You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in
Florida. Good luck.”

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,
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of: 
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visiting, do come back for more news…
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The US Government 2013? Make Your Selection Below!

May 5, 2011

A foreign policy void in GOP 2012 field

A foreign policy void in GOP 2012 field
May 5, 2011, 4:58 a.m. EDT

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The daring nighttime raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan draws a sharp contrast between President Barack Obama and a field of potential Republican challengers who have comparatively scant foreign policy experience.

That field includes at least six current or former governors, and three current or former House members. The Senate, an incubator for international affairs expertise, doesn’t have a single member running for president, although one former senator has taken steps toward a run.

The stunning news of bin Laden’s death has temporarily focused attention on foreign policy over domestic issues, and highlighted the lack of international experience in the prospective GOP field compared with the president, a Democrat who has spent more than two years overseeing two wars and, more recently, military action in Libya.

None of the Republicans weighing candidacies is a foreign policy heavyweight, and all are working to boost their credentials by traveling to distant lands and weighing in on overseas matters.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, seen within the GOP as a credible voice on fiscal issues, bluntly acknowledged earlier this week to reporters that he was “probably not” ready to debate Obama on foreign policy. He was saying publically about himself what other Republicans say privately about the entire field.

A handful of likely contenders planning to attend a GOP debate Thursday in South Carolina are likely to get at least one question dealing with national security, diplomatic affairs or bin Laden’s death. Continued criticism of Obama’s Libya policies is expected. And the dramatic killing of the al-Qaida leader may force the White House hopefuls to sharpen their international talking points and proposals sooner rather than later.

Bin Laden’s death is likely to “increase calls for us to leave Afghanistan and cut off aid to Pakistan,” Republican consultant John Feehery said.

Foreign policy plays a big role in every presidential election, even if domestic issues usually dominate.

Americans typically say they want a president with a solid international resume, but they don’t always vote that way.

With few exceptions, governors have little or no meaningful foreign policy experience. Yet since 1976, three governors (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) have defeated incumbent presidents. And Texas Gov. George W. Bush defeated a vice president. Obama himself had thin foreign policy credentials when he defeated Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam war hero who was heavily involved in national security matters for years.

Among this crop of Republicans weighing candidacies, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman may have the most immediate and concentrated foreign experience, having just finished his stint as U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman was a young Mormon missionary to Taiwan, and he speaks Mandarin Chinese. He also has served as U.S. ambassador to Singapore and U.S. trade ambassador.

Conversely, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is in her third term, may have the most modest international experience of those weighing bids. She has traveled to Iraq and has been a member of the House Intelligence Committee since January.

A look at how others stack up:

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and venture capitalist, traveled to more than 30 countries as a businessman, Olympics official and politician.

Recently, he has said that Obama “has been unable to construct a foreign policy” because of his “fundamental disbelief in American exceptionalism.” America is seen as weak, Romney said, because “we’re following the French into Libya” to support those rebelling against Moammar Gadhafi.

—Tim Pawlenty made trade missions and troop visits as Minnesota governor to Iraq, India, China, Brazil, Chile, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Germany, Israel, Kosovo, Kuwait, Poland, Spain and other places.

He was among the first to call for a no-fly zone to protect Libya’s rebels from Gadhafi’s forces. And he criticized Obama for taking almost two more weeks to take that step.

—Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker best known for his interest in domestic issues such as tax policy and health care, sits on the Council on Foreign Relations’ terrorism task force, and teaches at the National Defense University.

He calls for a muscular approach to combating terrorism. But he was widely mocked recently for an about-face on Libyan policy. First he said he would “exercise a no-fly zone” and get rid of Gadhafi. Two weeks later, he said: “I would not have intervened. … I would not have used American and European forces.”

—Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Iowa caucus winner, has traveled extensively, including numerous trips to Israel.

He was criticized in 2007 for saying that, as president, he would strike at terrorists inside Pakistan with or without permission from that country’s leaders. It looks rather prescient in light of this week’s events; Obama didn’t notify Pakistan before authorizing the raid that killed bin Laden.

—Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, spent much of his Capitol Hill career serving on committees covering agriculture, banking, housing and urban affairs, and other domestic matters.

Lately, he has accused Obama of “dithering” in Libya and creating a “morass” because he let the international community take the lead in aiding Gadhafi’s opponents.

—Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor, was widely ridiculed for suggesting she had foreign policy credentials because “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”

She has worked to expand her foreign experience, including trips to Iraq, India and Israel.

___

Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., Andrew Miga in Washington, Jay Root in Austin, Texas, and Shannon McCaffrey in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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April 19, 2011

GOP insiders embrace Trump’s presidential bid

GOP insiders embrace Trump’s presidential bid

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Out with Sarah. In with The Donald.

President Barack Obama has launched his re-election bid in a low-key manner, but the Republican Party’s search for a challenger seems stranger by the day.

GOP celebrities like Sarah Palin aren’t getting much buzz. Mainstream candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty aren’t getting much traction. It’s people once considered highly unlikely to compete seriously for the party’s nomination who are creating big stirs in early voting states, a reflection of an unformed and uncertain GOP presidential field.

GOP activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina appear deeply intrigued by, and open to, a run by Donald Trump, the publicity-loving business tycoon and host of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” even as he perpetuates falsehoods about Obama’s citizenship and questions the legitimacy of his presidency.

“I hear more and more people talking about Donald Trump,” said Glenn McCall, Republican Party chairman in South Carolina’s York County. “He’s got people fired up.”

These Republican officials and activists stopped short of saying they see Trump as the eventual nominee. But they said their party is hungry for forceful, colorful figures to attack Obama and other Democrats on health care, spending and other issues.

In Iowa at least, there’s also widespread talk about two social conservatives: Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who would be the first president elected directly from the House since James Garfield, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his 2006 re-election bid by a landslide. Even Herman Cain, the little-known, wealthy former pizza chain executive, gets mentioned by Republican voters who will have the first crack at winnowing the GOP field.

While these people certainly have talents, the party’s establishment does not see them as the likeliest contenders to defeat Obama. Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential wins, calls Trump “a joke candidate.”

Republicans traditionally pick party veterans who wait their turn and earn their nominations after years spent as governors, senators or vice presidents. But this field lacks a front-runner like Bob Dole in 1996 or George W. Bush in 2000. There’s a political vacuum in the GOP, insiders say, and it’s being filled by an unusually large and diverse number of White House hopefuls.

“It’s probably the most wide open field in 50 years,” said Stephen Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member and head of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. “I’m not sure anyone has caught fire yet.”

South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd said, “It’s any candidate’s ballgame right now.” Kim Lehman, another RNC member from Iowa, said voters haven’t locked in on any one person. “Everyone is taking their time and seeing who’s who, and what’s what,” she said.

Palin’s apparent fade and Trump’s rise are arguably the most surprising events in recent weeks, as more establishment-oriented contenders, including former governors Romney of Massachusetts and Pawlenty of Minnesota, took formal steps toward full-fledged candidacies.

A CNN nationwide poll of adult Republicans showed Trump tied for the presidential lead with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at 19 percent each. Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, was third at 12 percent.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, conducted before Trump’s latest TV blitz, showed Huckabee and Trump tied for second, at 17 percent each. Romney led with 22 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 11 percent, and Palin 10 percent.

This early in the race, polls measure name recognition more than anything else. That may help explain strong showings by Trump and Huckabee.

Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucus and hosts a TV show, but has done little to signal he will run again. Trump, meanwhile, is turning heads in early voting states.

“He is causing conversations,” said Trudy Caviness, the GOP chairwoman in Iowa’s Wapello County.

McCall said Trump “is saying on the national stage what other people won’t talk about.”

That includes holding forth on trade, China and oil dependency. But Trump’s biggest buzz stems from his embrace of the claim that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and therefore is constitutionally barred from being president.

Documents, including Obama’s birth certificate, show he was born in Hawaii in 1961.

Several Republican activists said they don’t care much about Obama’s birthplace, but they’re tired of waiting for the more establishment-backed challengers to challenge the president often and fiercely. For some, Trump fills that void.

In New Hampshire, Republican activist Phyllis Woods of Dover said she was surprised by the commotion Trump is causing. “Whether Donald Trump is going to be taken as a serious candidate here is an open question,” she said. What is certain, she said, is that “we’re going to have a huge field.”

Woods said she detects “a growing undercurrent of support” for Bachmann, a comment echoed by several Iowa and South Carolina activists. “She is a fresh face and a fresh voice,” Woods said.

Bachmann seems to have eclipsed Palin as the most discussed, if sometimes gaffe-prone, provocateur among tea party conservatives.

Democratic strategists and Obama supporters watch these developments with bewilderment, and a vague sense that they won’t last. They say they can’t predict who will be the nominee, but more traditional candidates such as Romney, Pawlenty or Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour seem more plausible than, say, Trump. Political insiders would not be stunned if Bachmann won the caucus in her native Iowa, and Gingrich could do well in places, including South Carolina.

Not all GOP insiders embrace Trump.

“You’ve got Donald Trump on TV making a fool of himself,” said Leigh Macneil, the Republican chairman in New Hampshire’s Merrimack County. Macneil said Trump is filling a regretful vacuum because more mainstream candidates are holding back. “We’re looking for people who will step up,” he said. He wishes more outspoken, forceful candidates would jump in, especially New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.

“My dream ticket would be Christie-Pence,” Macneil said.

Others seem happy with their choices.

“It’s a wide open field,” and that’s fine, said Kathy Pearson, a longtime party activist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She said Trump is “a TV celebrity and obviously a successful businessman” who is “saying what he thinks.”

“What’s going on right now is very good, very healthy for the process,” said Cindy Costa, South Carolina’s Republican National Committeewoman. Voters want “someone who is a good leader and understands business.” She has long admired Romney, she said, and “I’ve been pleasantly surprised” by Trump. “He’s actually more conservative than I had thought.”

Trump’s three marriages don’t seem to be a major issue among conservatives, for now at least.

“All his ex-wives are happy,” said Joni Scotter, a Republican activist from Marion, Iowa. Ordinarily, she said, GOP caucus voters “are hard on people who are divorced.”

She said she hopes the thrice-married Gingrich receives the same generosity.

President Barack Obama has launched his re-election bid in a low-key manner, but the Republican Party’s search for a challenger seems stranger by the day.

GOP celebrities like Sarah Palin aren’t getting much buzz. Mainstream candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty aren’t getting much traction. It’s people once considered highly unlikely to compete seriously for the party’s nomination who are creating big stirs in early voting states, a reflection of an unformed and uncertain GOP presidential field.

GOP activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina appear deeply intrigued by, and open to, a run by Donald Trump, the publicity-loving business tycoon and host of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” even as he perpetuates falsehoods about Obama’s citizenship and questions the legitimacy of his presidency.

“I hear more and more people talking about Donald Trump,” said Glenn McCall, Republican Party chairman in South Carolina’s York County. “He’s got people fired up.”

These Republican officials and activists stopped short of saying they see Trump as the eventual nominee. But they said their party is hungry for forceful, colorful figures to attack Obama and other Democrats on health care, spending and other issues.

In Iowa at least, there’s also widespread talk about two social conservatives: Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who would be the first president elected directly from the House since James Garfield, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his 2006 re-election bid by a landslide. Even Herman Cain, the little-known, wealthy former pizza chain executive, gets mentioned by Republican voters who will have the first crack at winnowing the GOP field.

While these people certainly have talents, the party’s establishment does not see them as the likeliest contenders to defeat Obama. Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential wins, calls Trump “a joke candidate.”

Republicans traditionally pick party veterans who wait their turn and earn their nominations after years spent as governors, senators or vice presidents. But this field lacks a front-runner like Bob Dole in 1996 or George W. Bush in 2000. There’s a political vacuum in the GOP, insiders say, and it’s being filled by an unusually large and diverse number of White House hopefuls.

“It’s probably the most wide open field in 50 years,” said Stephen Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member and head of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. “I’m not sure anyone has caught fire yet.”

South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd said, “It’s any candidate’s ballgame right now.” Kim Lehman, another RNC member from Iowa, said voters haven’t locked in on any one person. “Everyone is taking their time and seeing who’s who, and what’s what,” she said.

Palin’s apparent fade and Trump’s rise are arguably the most surprising events in recent weeks, as more establishment-oriented contenders, including former governors Romney of Massachusetts and Pawlenty of Minnesota, took formal steps toward full-fledged candidacies.

A CNN nationwide poll of adult Republicans showed Trump tied for the presidential lead with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at 19 percent each. Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, was third at 12 percent.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, conducted before Trump’s latest TV blitz, showed Huckabee and Trump tied for second, at 17 percent each. Romney led with 22 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 11 percent, and Palin 10 percent.

This early in the race, polls measure name recognition more than anything else. That may help explain strong showings by Trump and Huckabee.

Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucus and hosts a TV show, but has done little to signal he will run again. Trump, meanwhile, is turning heads in early voting states.

“He is causing conversations,” said Trudy Caviness, the GOP chairwoman in Iowa’s Wapello County.

McCall said Trump “is saying on the national stage what other people won’t talk about.”

That includes holding forth on trade, China and oil dependency. But Trump’s biggest buzz stems from his embrace of the claim that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and therefore is constitutionally barred from being president.

Documents, including Obama’s birth certificate, show he was born in Hawaii in 1961.

Several Republican activists said they don’t care much about Obama’s birthplace, but they’re tired of waiting for the more establishment-backed challengers to challenge the president often and fiercely. For some, Trump fills that void.

In New Hampshire, Republican activist Phyllis Woods of Dover said she was surprised by the commotion Trump is causing. “Whether Donald Trump is going to be taken as a serious candidate here is an open question,” she said. What is certain, she said, is that “we’re going to have a huge field.”

Woods said she detects “a growing undercurrent of support” for Bachmann, a comment echoed by several Iowa and South Carolina activists. “She is a fresh face and a fresh voice,” Woods said.

Bachmann seems to have eclipsed Palin as the most discussed, if sometimes gaffe-prone, provocateur among tea party conservatives.

Democratic strategists and Obama supporters watch these developments with bewilderment, and a vague sense that they won’t last. They say they can’t predict who will be the nominee, but more traditional candidates such as Romney, Pawlenty or Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour seem more plausible than, say, Trump. Political insiders would not be stunned if Bachmann won the caucus in her native Iowa, and Gingrich could do well in places, including South Carolina.

Not all GOP insiders embrace Trump.

“You’ve got Donald Trump on TV making a fool of himself,” said Leigh Macneil, the Republican chairman in New Hampshire’s Merrimack County. Macneil said Trump is filling a regretful vacuum because more mainstream candidates are holding back. “We’re looking for people who will step up,” he said. He wishes more outspoken, forceful candidates would jump in, especially New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.

“My dream ticket would be Christie-Pence,” Macneil said.

Others seem happy with their choices.

“It’s a wide open field,” and that’s fine, said Kathy Pearson, a longtime party activist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She said Trump is “a TV celebrity and obviously a successful businessman” who is “saying what he thinks.”

“What’s going on right now is very good, very healthy for the process,” said Cindy Costa, South Carolina’s Republican National Committeewoman. Voters want “someone who is a good leader and understands business.” She has long admired Romney, she said, and “I’ve been pleasantly surprised” by Trump. “He’s actually more conservative than I had thought.”

Trump’s three marriages don’t seem to be a major issue among conservatives, for now at least.

“All his ex-wives are happy,” said Joni Scotter, a Republican activist from Marion, Iowa. Ordinarily, she said, GOP caucus voters “are hard on people who are divorced.”

She said she hopes the thrice-married Gingrich receives the same generosity.

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April 18, 2011

Welcome to The Social Network, presidential campaign edition!

2012 presidential candidates ‘friend’ social media
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: https://usapolitics2012.wordpress.com

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NEW YORK (AP) — Republican Tim Pawlenty disclosed his 2012 presidential aspirations on Facebook.

Rival Mitt Romney did it with a tweet.

President Barack Obama kicked off his re-election bid with a digital video emailed to the 13 million online backers who helped power his historic campaign in 2008.

Welcome to The Social Network, presidential campaign edition.

The candidates and contenders have embraced the Internet to far greater degrees than previous White House campaigns, communicating directly with voters on platforms where they work and play.

If Obama’s online army helped define the last campaign and Howard Dean’s Internet fundraising revolutionized the Democratic primary in 2004, next year’s race will be the first to reflect the broad cultural migration to the digital world.

“You have to take your message to the places where people are consuming content and spending their time,” said Romney’s online director, Zac Moffatt. “We have to recognize that people have choices and you have to reach them where they are, and on their terms.”

The most influential of those destinations include the video sharing website YouTube; Facebook, the giant social network with 500 million active users; and Twitter, the cacophonous conversational site where news is made and shared in tweets of 140 characters or less.

All the campaigns have a robust Facebook presence, using the site to post videos and messages and to host online discussions. In the latest indication of the site’s reach and influence, Obama plans to visit Facebook headquarters in California this coming Wednesday for a live chat with company founder Mark Zuckerberg and to take questions from users who submit questions on the site.

Candidates have embraced Twitter with an intensity that rivals pop star Justin Bieber’s. Twitter was the Republican hopefuls’ platform of choice last Wednesday, moments after Obama gave a budget speech calling for some tax increases and decrying GOP proposals to cut Medicare.

“President Obama doesn’t get it. The fear of higher taxes tomorrow hurts job creation today,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour tweeted.

“The president’s plan will kill jobs and increase the deficit,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned in a tweet, attaching a link to a more detailed statement posted on Facebook.

In the past, candidates would have pointed supporters to their websites for such a response. Now, as Moffatt puts it, “the campaign site may be headquarters, but it needs digital embassies across the web.”

Republicans once seemed slow to harness the power of the web. The party’s 2008 nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, told reporters he didn’t even use email. The 2012 hopefuls have worked hard to prove their Internet savvy, particularly with social media.

Pawlenty “understands the power of new technology and he wants it to be at the forefront. We are going to compete aggressively with President Obama in this space,” spokesman Alex Conant said. Conant pointed to efforts to live stream videos to Facebook and award points and badges to supporters in a way that mirrors Foursquare, the emerging location-based mobile site.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s 2008 running mate and a potential presidential candidate this time, has made Facebook a centerpiece of her communication efforts to supporters.

Palin has been criticized for treating it as a one-way form of communication that allows her to bypass direct questions from reporters and voters. Other Republicans insist they’re willing to wade into the messy digital fray and cede some control of their message.

“We trust our supporters and want to err on the side of giving them more control, not less,” Conant said.

Just as social networking liberates candidates to take their message directly to voters, it offers plenty of pitfalls as well.

It’s prone to mischief, with dozens of fake Twitter accounts and Facebook pages popping up daily that are intended to embarrass the candidates. Also, a candidate’s gaffe or an inconsistency on issues can be counted on to go viral immediately.

Gingrich has gotten ensnared in some online traps. His apparent back-and-forth on whether the U.S. should intervene in the conflict in Libya was discussed widely and amplified online. He first advocated military engagement, then came out against it after Obama ordered airstrikes.

Twitter lit up with the news that a photo on Gingrich’s exploratory website showing people waving flags was a stock photo once used by the late liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Spokesman Rick Tyler rejected such criticism and said Gingrich has pioneered the use of digital technology.

“Over 1.4 million people follow him on Twitter. He has a very active Facebook. There are eight websites connected to organizations started by Newt (that) use social media platforms to communicate to their coalitions,” Tyler said.

But Josh Dorner, who tracks GOP candidates online for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said the Republican presidential hopefuls appear to be unprepared for the unforgiving pace of the digital age.

Obama, who in 2008 had to recover from plenty of web-amplified flubs such as his comment that bitter small town voters “cling” to guns and religion, will probably be more nimble, Dorner said.

“We are moving in a warp speed environment, and none of the Republican candidates understand the media environment in which they’re operating. It puts them at a huge disadvantage to the president,” Dorner said.

Strategists also say the greatest digital innovation in 2012 may not even have surfaced yet, even as campaigns figure out how to do effective microtargeting ads for Facebook and work to develop “apps” for smart phones rather than laptops and traditional TV.

“As with anything, there’s going to be a shiny new cell phone every six months,” said Matt Ortega, a former online organizer for the Democratic National Committee. “You’re going to see both new tools and more sophistication in existing tools.”

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April 15, 2011

Likely GOP White House hopefuls to try to figure out how to tap the Tea party movement’s energy without alienating voters elsewhere

Likely GOP contenders plot tea party strategies
April 15, 2011, 4:21 a.m. EDT
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner and Founder of: http://www.LedSomeBioMetrics.com
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BOSTON (AP) — It’s a tricky time of courtship.

As the tea party turns 2, the still-gelling field of Republican presidential contenders is the first class of White House hopefuls to try to figure out how to tap the movement’s energy without alienating voters elsewhere on the political spectrum.

Look no further than this weekend’s events marking the tea party’s second anniversary to see how the candidates are employing different strategies. Some will be out front as the tea party stages tax day rallies across the country. Others, not so much.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an establishment Republican making a play for tea party support and clamoring to be heard over bigger names, is among those jumping in with both feet. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is being more coy.

Pawlenty, for his part, planned to hold court at a gathering on Boston Common — in the city where colonists staged the 1773 Tea Party revolt against the British government — and in neighboring New Hampshire. And he’s headed for Iowa a day later for similar appearances that are likely to include “Don’t Tread on Me” banners and tirades against Washington spending.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, perhaps the Republican most closely identified with the tea party, is slated to attend a weekend tea party rally at the Wisconsin Capitol, the site of recent protests over legislation that would strip union rights for most public workers.

Tea party darling Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman, all but drafted into the race by tea partyers, plans to share the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse with another of the movement’s favorite daughters, Gov. Nikki Haley.

And little-known businessman Herman Cain, who is hoping tea party backing can make him more than a longshot, plans to hit rallies in New Hampshire, Iowa, Michigan and Texas.

Real estate magnet Donald Trump, who claims he’s serious about running, picked a tea party rally in Boca Raton, Fla., to make his stand.

Other contenders are proceeding with more caution.

Barbour plans weekend stops at county GOP conventions in Charleston, Columbia and Lexington, S.C. But he had no big tax day rallies on his schedule in a state where tea party activists have gained influence. As he weighs a presidential bid, Barbour has been more subtle than others in courting the movement. He talks about issues the tea party cares about, first and foremost the economy.

It’s the same approach that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been taking. He talks about lower taxes and reduced government and was set to appear at a central Florida anti-tax event. He decries the Internal Revenue Service, a top target of tea partyers. And in his defense of the Massachusetts health care overhaul that he pushed through, he invokes the 10th Amendment that guarantees states’ rights.

In an opinion piece published Friday in the Orlando Sentinel, Romney praised the tea party-style activists: “The growth of government is not some inexorable force. In a democracy, we the people decide. Thanks to the tea party, there’s real hope that we can rein in our profligate federal government.”

But he spends the bulk of the column decrying President Barack Obama on policy, not invoking the Founding Fathers.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has followed a similar model. He had no public events scheduled for anti-tax rallies but has proved eager to criticize Washington spending.

The tentativeness toward becoming a tea party candidate is understandable.

No candidate can afford to ignore these anti-establishment, anti-tax, conservative-libertarian rabble-rousers whose enthusiasm fired up the GOP base and helped Republicans win control of the House in November. But wrapping themselves in the tea party mantle carries risks for candidates.

They could get pushed too far to the right during the primaries if they embrace the tea party’s conservative platform. There’s also the potential stain of being linked to a group that Democratic critics have labeled extremist, if not racist.

Even so, the Republicans must compete in early primary states where tea party activists have made inroads in the GOP establishment and made clear that they intend to have a say in the presidential race.

“We want to find the best candidate and the best vehicle for us to reclaim our republic,” says Jerry DeLemus, a tea party leader from Rochester, N.H. “The Republican Party is a vehicle that we can use to effect positive change.”

Iowa’s tea party leaders, meanwhile, have mapped out a strategy to engage supporters and road-test presidential candidates with hopes of influencing the leadoff nominating caucuses. They are planning a bus tour through the state this summer, featuring at least four GOP presidential prospects, as well as a series of caucus training sessions.

New Hampshire’s tea party activists made gains within the state’s central GOP committee, and elected Jack Kimball as the state GOP chairman over the establishment’s pick in January. And the tea party footprint in South Carolina also has expanded, with activists becoming more influential inside GOP county organizations.

The tea party’s birth can be traced to spring 2009, when libertarians and conservatives rose up in small towns and big cities alike to oppose Obama’s policies, including the $787 billion economic stimulus measure, Wall Street bailouts and Obama’s health care plan.

Some activists point to a CNBC anchor’s televised tirade about taxes as the launching point. Others dispute that.

Whatever its origin, there’s no doubt about the tea party’s power.

“We’ve changed the political landscape in Washington and in statehouses across the country,” says Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. “We have to keep going and keep beating the drum.”

___

Associated Press deputy polling director Jennifer Agiesta and writers Jim Davenport in Columbia, S.C., and Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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April 15, 2011

Obama visits his hometown to restart money chase
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
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April 15,2011
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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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