Posts tagged ‘United States’

May 27, 2011

Sarah Palin will embark this weekend on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast, sending a jolt through …

Palin to embark on East Coast bus tour
May 27, 2011, 2:03 a.m. EDT
Associated PressJournal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP)Sarah Palin will embark this weekend on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast, sending a jolt through the now-sleepy Republican presidential contest and thrusting a telegenic but divisive politician back into the nation’s spotlight.

Palin’s tour announcement is the strongest signal yet that she is considering a presidential bid, despite her failure to take traditional steps such as organizing a campaign team in early primary states.

The former Alaska governor’s approval ratings have fallen across the board — including among Republicans — in recent months. But many conservatives adore her, and she has enough name recognition and charisma to shake up a GOP contest that at this point seems to be focusing on three male former governors.

Beginning Sunday, Palin plans to meet with veterans and visit historic sites that her political action committee calls key to the country’s formation, survival and growth. The tour follows reports that Palin has bought a house in Arizona and the disclosure that she’s authorized a feature-length film about her career, which could serve as a campaign centerpiece. She recently said she has “that fire in the belly” for a presidential bid.

Palin said on the website for SarahPAC that the nation is at a “critical turning point,” and that her bus tour will serve as a reminder of “who we are and what Americans stand for.”

Many Republican Party insiders say that Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, has engaged in too many political spats and soap-opera dramas to win the nomination and challenge President Barack Obama 18 months from now.

“I think that pathway is closed,” said GOP pollster Wes Anderson, who is not working for any presidential candidate. Still, Anderson said, it’s not surprising that Palin would look at the current field “and say, ‘Why not me?'”

A Gallup poll of Republicans, taken before Palin announced the bus tour, showed former Massachusetts Mitt Romney favored by 17 percent. Palin followed closely at 15 percent. Ron Paul had 10 percent, Newt Gingrich 9 percent, Herman Cain 8 percent, Tim Pawlenty 6 percent, and Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman 5 percent each.

Party insiders argue that Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, and Huntsman, a former Utah governor, have the best chances to compete with Romney over the long haul. But a Palin candidacy could affect the contest in unpredictable ways.

In Iowa, Palin could appeal to thousands of religious conservatives who participate heavily in the nation’s first presidential caucus. But she lacks, for now at least, the ground organization considered essential to getting supporters to the caucus meetings, held every four years on a winter night. Palin fans are laying the groundwork for such an organization on their own in hopes that she will run.

If she does, she might challenge orthodoxy by using her star power and fame, not ground troops, to compete in Iowa.

Palin appears regularly on Fox News. She has hosted a reality TV show, and her oldest daughter has a TV show of her own. Palin has written a best-selling book, and draws large crowds when she appears at book stores, rallies and other events.

Limited details of Palin’s “One Nation” tour were released on the website of SarahPAC. The tour is to start in Washington and move up the East Coast into New England, perhaps even to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.

SarahPAC’s treasurer didn’t immediately return messages Thursday seeking details.

“It’s imperative that we connect with our founders, our patriots, our challenges and victories to clearly see our way forward,” Palin said on the website. “A good way to do this is to appreciate the significance of our nation’s historic sites, patriotic events and diverse cultures, which we’ll do in the coming weeks on our ‘One Nation’ tour.”

Palin said the country doesn’t need fundamental transformation but a “restoration of all that is good and strong and free in America.”

As Sen. John McCain‘s running mate in 2008, Palin electrified the Republican nominating convention audience, and brought energy and vigor to a struggling campaign. But she stumbled in news interviews and sometimes seemed out of her depth on national and international issues.

Since then, Palin has often depicted herself as the victim of mean-spirited enemies, including some news organizations. Critics said she showed a lack of compassion and political savvy when she delivered a sharp-tongued commentary days after an Arizona congressman was gravely injured in a shooting.

Fox News said Thursday it was not changing Palin’s status as a paid commentator, a sign that network officials do not consider a presidential run imminent.

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Babington reported from Washington. Associated Press Television Writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.

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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 26, 2011

Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on …

Dems rejoice over NY; will Medicare redo 2012?
May 26, 2011, 2:59 a.m. EDT
Associated Press
Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Hello Reader, What Party Do You Want Running The US Government 2013? Selection Poll B.O.Page!WASHINGTON (AP) — Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on Wednesday after casting a House race in upstate New York as a referendum on the popular program and emerging victorious.

“The top three reasons for the election of a Democrat in one of the most conservative Republican districts in America are Medicare, Medicare and Medicare,” declared New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the party’s congressional campaign committee.

House Republicans made little if any attempt to demonstrate widespread support for their controversial proposal during the day. And the National Republican Congressional Committee offered no explanation for having let hundreds of thousands of dollars in Democratic-funded attacks on the proposed Medicare overhaul go unchallenged in its own television advertising.

GOP officials said the presence of a third-party contender and other factors contributed to their unexpected defeat in New York.

They accused Democrats of campaign scare tactics, while the Medicare plan’s author, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a five-minute video defending his work.

Under Ryan’s plan, for anyone younger than 55 the basic Medicare program for medical and hospital care would be replaced by a system in which insurance companies would offer coverage while the government contributed toward the cost of premiums. The program would remain unchanged for anyone 55 or older, including millions who currently receive benefits.

Kathy Hochul’s victory over Republican Jane Corwin in a multi-candidate race was the best political news in months for Democrats, who were voted out of power in the House and lost seats in the Senate last year in what President Barack Obama memorably dubbed a shellacking. She gained 47 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for her rival and 9 percent for Jack Davis, a former Democrat who ran as a tea party contender.

At the same time, Democrats stressed they did not view the race as a reason to walk away from high-profile bipartisan deficit-reduction talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden.

For Republicans, the New York race provided fresh evidence of turbulence for a Medicare remake they tout as a long-term answer to the program’s financing. In the weeks since they unveiled it, the proposal has been less than enthusiastically received by the public, judging from polls.

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich criticized it, and while he later apologized to Ryan he has not recanted his opposition. A second contender, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said during the day he will have an alternative that differs in unspecified areas from the one in the party’s budget in the House.

Israel and other Democrats said Hochul’s victory showed that the Medicare-overhaul proposal would prove a political dead weight for Republicans in dozens of races in the 2012 congressional elections.

It also is likely to embolden liberals who are not generally supportive of deficit cuts now under negotiation on the order of trillions of dollars.

Yet public opinion polls show strong support for reining in deficits, particularly among independent voters. And Obama, readying for his own re-election campaign, has dispatched Biden and other top officials to negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise with Republicans.

“Budget talks are proceeding in good faith and will continue,” said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The party’s second-in-command in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, has said repeatedly that changes to Medicare should be on the table as part of deficit reduction talks, although he and others in his party remain implacably opposed to the Republicans proposal.

In an interview, Israel said Democrats would work with Republicans to strengthen Medicare “but not to do away with it.”

Republicans want “to end Medicare as we know it,” the president told an audience of invited guests last month, Ryan and other GOP lawmakers among them.

Democratic strategists have privately urged the party’s leaders to criticize the overhaul plan, in part to try and regain the allegiance of older and independent voters who helped Republicans in the 2010 elections.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chair of the Senate Democratic campaign organization, said she, too, intended to make use of the issue in the fall.

“I’m confident that Senate Democrats will be able to play offense in races across the country by remaining focused on the Republican effort to end Medicare in order to” cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, she said.

In the race in New York, Hochul injected the GOP Medicare plan into the campaign weeks ago. Running in a conservative district, she aired ads saying she wanted to reduce government spending while accusing Corwin of favoring Medicare cuts to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Corwin quickly counterattacked, accusing Hochul of wanting to cut Social Security as well as Medicare.

Both the Democratic campaign committee and the House Majority PAC, an outside group aligned with the Democrats, also aired ads critical of the GOP Medicare plan.

But the National Republican Congressional Committee did not mention the issue in running as much as $400,000 worth of television advertising in the district around Buffalo and Rochester. Instead, the group ran a commercial linking Hochul to Pelosi, an echo of the type of ad that proved effective in the 2010 campaigns.

Paul Lindsay, a spokesman, declined to say whether the organization wished it had acted differently. But in the future, he said, “Republicans will take this result as a call to action to challenge Democrats at every turn on their irresponsible plan to bankrupt Medicare.”

American Crossroads, an organization aligned with Republicans, spent more than $600,000 on television ads without seeking to counter the Democratic attacks.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman, said polling showed Medicare was the largest policy issue in the campaign “by a superslim and superlow plurality of 21 percent.”

He said one out of five voters said it was the most important issue, yet five out of ten voted for Hochul. “When you look at it that way, it’s really not the big deal that everyone made it out to be.”

Hochul will be sworn in within days, the first Democrat to represent the district in four decades. She replaces Chris Lee, who resigned after shirtless photos he sent to a woman he’d flirted with on Craigslist surfaced online.

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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 21, 2011

Herman Cain: Now the Tea party favorite wants to be president; grass-roots enthusiasm …

Businessman Cain enters 2012 GOP presidential race
May 21, 2011, 9:24 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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ATLANTA (AP)Herman Cain has run a pizza chain, hosted a talk radio show and sparred with Bill Clinton over health care. He’s never held elected office. Now the tea party favorite wants to be president.

“In case you accidentally listen to a skeptic or doubting Thomas out there, just to be clear … I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m not running for second,” he told a crowd at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday. Chants of “Herman” erupted from the crowd of thousands in downtown Atlanta.

The announcement by the businessman, author and radio talk show host that he was joining the expanding Republican field came after months of traveling around the country to introduce himself to voters.

Now the 65-year-old will see if he can use that grass-roots enthusiasm to turn a long-shot campaign into a credible bid.

Cain supports a strong national defense, opposes abortion, backs replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax and favors a return to the gold standard. He said President Barack Obama “threw Israel under the bus” because he sought to base Mideast border talks partly on the pre-1967 war lines, and criticized the Justice Department for challenging Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigration.

“We shouldn’t be suing Arizona,” he said to cheers. “We ought to send them a prize.”

Cain lost a three-way Republican U.S. Senate primary bid in Georgia in 2004 with one-quarter of the vote. His “Hermanator” political action committee has taken in just over $16,000 this year. He said he’s running “a bottoms-up, outside-the-box campaign.” Supporters say he taps into the tea party-fueled desire for plain-speaking citizen candidates.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., and raised in Atlanta, Cain is the son of a chauffeur and a maid. He attended historically black Morehouse College, earned a master’s degree from Purdue University and worked as a mathematician for the Navy before beginning to scale the corporate ladder.

He worked at Coca-Cola, Pillsbury and Burger King before taking the helm of the failing Godfather’s Pizza franchise, which he rescued by shuttering hundreds of restaurants.

He burst onto the political stage when he argued with President Clinton over the Democrat’s health care plan at a 1994 town hall meeting.

“On behalf of all of those business owners that are in a situation similar to mine,” asked Cain, “my question is, quite simply, if I’m forced to do this, what will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”

The late Jack Kemp, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996, once described Cain as having “the voice of Othello, the looks of a football player, the English of Oxfordian quality and the courage of a lion.”

In 2006, Cain was diagnosed with liver and colon cancer. He says he’s been cancer-free since 2007 and credits the nation’s health care system with keeping him alive. He says it’s one reason he’s so opposed to the health overhaul championed by Obama.

At the speech, Cain tried to build a foundation for his run for the White House. He said the American dream is under attack from runaway debt, a stagnant economy, a muddled foreign policy and an influx of illegal immigrants. He said Americans should be infuriated because the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus program “didn’t stimulate diddly.”

“It’s time to get real, folks. Hope and change ain’t working,” he said. “Hope and change is not a solution. Hope and change is not a job.”

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Online:

Herman Cain: http://www.hermancain.com

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May 19, 2011

President Barack Obama: Pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration system …

Obama puts immigration in Congress’ court
May 19, 2011, 3:22 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) — With a re-election campaign looming, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration system, but lawmakers seems to have little appetite to take on the issue.

In recent speeches at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, and the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama said his administration has followed through on demands to secure the border, and now it’s time for Congress to put revamping immigration back on the agenda and make something happen.

“Comprehensive immigration reform is not only an economic imperative or a security imperative, it is also a moral imperative,” Obama told the prayer breakfast.

But Republicans say any effort to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country or any effort that doesn’t address the inadequacies they see in border security is doomed to fail.

Although legislation has yet to be introduced, many lawmakers agree the most likely first step toward immigration legislation is a requirement that all businesses use E-Verify. The E-Verify program lets businesses know whether employees have the necessary papers to work in the U.S. Such legislation could give Democrats political cover by addressing immigration requirements that preclude tough crackdowns on immigrants, and give Republicans an opportunity to say they provided a new enforcement tool to stop illegal immigration.

The president’s recent push, which started in April with a White House meeting on immigration issues and other events involving Latino celebrities, prompted Senate Democrats this month to reintroduce the DREAM Act. The bill would give a path to legal status for law-abiding young people who were brought into the United States without documents as children and who either plan to attend college or join the military.

“Our immigration laws prevent thousands of young people from fully contributing to our nation’s future,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement announcing the bill he drafted. “These are honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists and valedictorians. These children are tomorrow’s doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, soldiers and senators, and we should give them the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., has introduced a similar bill in the House.

Republicans, who control the House, insist the DREAM Act will never pass.

“It’s amnesty for up to 2 million people,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has some jurisdiction over immigration legislation. “I just don’t see it when you are still talking about amnesty.” Smith said the bill rewards the undocumented parents and is “an open invitation to fraud.”

But GOP House members have pledged to introduce an E-Verify bill for employers.

Some Democrats have suggested a compromise bill incorporating elements of both DREAM and E-Verify, even as they acknowledge the prospects for such a deal are dim.

“We are at a stalemate, but I am willing to sit down and work through issues to accomplish something in the interest of the country,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. “But it takes two to do that.”

Smith said there is no room for compromise with any bill that includes a path to legalization.

The DREAM Act passed the House last year before falling five votes short in the Senate in December. While three Republicans supported it, five Democrats opposed it.

What support it had among Republicans has eroded as some face primary challenges from the right. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, dropped his support of the DREAM Act last year because he said Americans are more concerned with border security. And Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar backed away from the most recent version because the president’s speeches turned immigration into a “divisive election issue,” said his spokesman, Andy Fisher. Lugar is facing a Tea Party primary challenge.

Smith said the reintroduction of failed legislation doesn’t seem like a serious effort and chided Obama for focusing on the issue again in hopes of scoring campaign points with Hispanic voters.

Winning the Hispanic vote is thought to be critical in Obama’s bid for re-election. In 2008, Latinos made up more than 7 percent of voters, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and their numbers are greater in swing states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

The Obama administration has made a point of highlighting enforcement efforts, though they differ dramatically from those of former President George W. Bush’s administration.

The current administration has shied away from the high-profile immigration raids at businesses that routinely yielded large numbers of arrests of illegal workers. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shifted strategies, focusing instead on audits of the documents employers must maintain that show their workers are eligible to work in the United States. The audits, officials have said, put the focus on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.

Speaking in El Paso, Obama said his administration had done what Republicans in Congress have asked by adding Border Patrol agents, intelligence analysts and unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We’ve 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 from a national park not far from the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. “All the stuff they’ve asked for, we’ve done.”

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Alicia A. Caldwell can be reached at http://twitter.com/acaldwellap

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Calvin Ledsome Sr.,

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May 19, 2011

Rep. Peter King: Head of the U.S. House Homeland Security panel open for a possible presidential bid.

NY Rep. King leaves door open for presidential bid
May 18, 2011, 5 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) — Rep. Peter King, whose national profile has climbed as head of the U.S. House Homeland Security panel, is leaving the door open for a possible presidential bid.

The New York congressman, responding to a powerful hometown Republican’s suggestion that he run for president, said he was taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Let’s see what happens,” King told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. “This is something out of the blue. It is a great honor, but right now I am focused on getting re-elected to the House next year.”

Joseph Mondello, the longtime chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee — once considered among the most powerful GOP organizations in the country — drew widespread applause from 1,100 fellow Long Island Republicans at a dinner Tuesday night when he suggested King consider a “favorite son” candidacy.

“If he were to run, I would support him,” Mondello said in a statement. “Voters know that Peter King respects them, doesn’t speak from a pollster’s cue card and understands the twin threats facing this nation: the debt and the ongoing war on terror.”

Mondello, a former state GOP chairman, added: “Pete has been pilloried by the liberal press because he doesn’t play by their rules of political correctness. He sees a threat, he speaks to it and whether you agree with his position or not, he is honest, candid and direct.”

King, 67, held hearings earlier this year on what he termed the radicalization of homegrown Islamic terrorists in America. He is serving his 10th term in Congress and, despite being a favorite of conservative groups, has also worked to build bi-partisan relationships with political foes. He has easily won re-election from his suburban Long Island district.

He has become a leader in advocating for more anti-terrorism funding for New York City and noted he was having dinner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat and Republican who is now an independent, when he learned of the county chairman’s comments Tuesday night. He also has supported Long Island Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy on some of her gun-control initiatives and was one of only two New York Republicans to vote against impeaching President Clinton.

King said his office receives 15 to 20 telephone calls or e-mails each week from constituents and others urging him to run for president.

“People mention it, but I am focused on running for the House,” he said, but added he would consider running as for president if he were convinced it would help Nassau County Republicans.

Lawrence Levy, executive director of the Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University and an expert on Long Island politics, said a King presidential candidacy should be taken seriously.

“Considering all the different conservative and Republican power centers he appeals to? Why not?” Levy said. “I think he could raise the money. Does he have votes in his record that could alienate him to some Republicans? Yes. But he is as much a national figure as any member of Congress, on Long Island or elsewhere, and that has to be taken seriously, at least for a while.”

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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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May 12, 2011

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States Etc.

Editorial Roundup: Excerpts From Recent Editorials
May 12, 2011, 4:01 p.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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

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Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

May 9

Kent-Ravenna (Ohio) Record-Courier on debt limits:

In Washington’s current political climate, optimism is almost certainly misplaced — but still there’s reason to hope that the White House and both houses of Congress can reach a deal on raising the federal debt limit well before the Aug. 2 drop-dead date.

If the Obama administration, House Republicans and Senate Democrats can pull that off, there’s some hope that they may also agree down the road on the fiscal 2012 budget. …

The debt ceiling, now nearly $14.3 trillion, must be raised periodically so the government can keep on borrowing to pay its bills. Treasury says that line of credit will run out Aug. 2, when the department will have to delay paying Social Security, Medicare and interest on government bonds.

There is some urgency in reaching a deal because just the whiff of default could drive up interest rates and stall the recovery. As Samuel Johnson said of the prospect of being hanged, it does focus the mind.

The goal of enforceable spending limits is to get the deficit below 3 percent of the gross domestic product by 2015. It is now close to 10 percent.

An agreement on spending curbs along the lines of the deal being brokered would be more than a symbolic gesture toward making cuts in the budget. It also would be a more responsible way of reining in the budget than opting for default.

Online:

http://www.recordpub.com

___

May 11

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on rolling back agricultural subsidies:

The question of farm subsidies is an important element before Congress on how to trim the federal deficit in the short run and roll back the national debt in the long term.

Subsidies to agribusiness, both corporate farms and individual farmers, are features of American life that have been defended vigorously by farm-state lawmakers for decades. They will amount to $16 billion in 2011. The Republican proposal for budget trimming, introduced by Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, would eliminate $30 billion in subsidies over the next decade, maintaining the gifts to farmers from taxpayers but lowering their annual total to about $13 billion.

The arguments cut both ways. America started out as a country of mostly small farmers. Although the “country” romanticized by the musical genre of the same name has been supplanted largely by company-owned farms with factory-raised chickens and pigs, even a city slicker might get teary-eyed at the down-home culture portrayed in a Willie Nelson song.

There is also the strategic argument. What if an America no longer able to feed itself, because it hadn’t financially supported its farmers, were menaced by China, the Arabs or the latest post-bin Laden boogeyman?

On the other side, however, is the point that agricultural commodity prices and farm income in general have remained high for a long time. Given that, why can’t the farm industry forgo $3 billion a year in aid to boost the cause of a financially sound United States?

That’s the battle to be waged shortly between Republicans and Democrats, subsidy backers and farm-aid opponents. It seems to us that, with the farmers retaining a hefty $13 billion a year under the Ryan plan and with the need to cut America’s deficits and national debt, a $3 billion-a-year cut in agricultural subsidies makes sense. But brace yourself for the screaming and yelling.

Online:

http://www.post-gazette.com

___

May 8

Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal on unemployment:

Normally, an uptick in the unemployment rate would not be considered good news. But it is a peculiarity of the economic recovery that April’s increase in the unemployment rate from 8.8 percent, a two-year low, to 9 percent is actually cause for optimism.

People who are not actively looking for work are not counted in the employment figures, but as the job market improves, people re-enter it. Until they actually get a job, they are counted as unemployed.

The job market is improving — not fast enough, but it’s headed in the right direction. The economy added 244,000 jobs in April, the most since last May, and, more importantly, that number won the all-important game of expectations. Economists had predicted a more modest increase of 186,000.

And in a week that seems to have brought nothing but good news to the Obama White House, the employment figures for March and February were revised upward to 235,000 and 221,000, respectively. …

The White House noted that the improvement came despite “head winds” like high oil and food prices and the economic disruption caused by the earthquake in Japan. …

The percentage of adults in the work force, either working or looking for work, is 64.2 percent, the lowest participation in a quarter-century. As the economy improves, participation could be expected to improve, meaning we could have more good news in the form of slight increases in the unemployment rate.

Online:

http://mdjonline.com

___

May 6

The Florida Times-Union on online government information:

One of the best ways to keep government accountable is to provide public information online about how it spends taxpayer money.

Promising efforts have been made in recent years to give the public more insights into the operations of a federal government that seems too large to fathom.

But groundbreaking federal sites such as USAspending.gov, the IT Dashboard, Data.gov and others designed to enhance transparency are in danger because of a massive budget cut, despite being just a sliver of the federal budget, says the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to make federal data more accessible.

The sites provide a wide range of insights into the federal government, from who is getting various federal contracts and how much to spending levels on technology investments to raw data on federal agency actions and activities.

Sunlight says Congress and President Barack Obama cut the Electronic Government Fund from $34 million in the 2010 fiscal year to $8 million in 2011.

There’s talk of more reductions. …

These times call for frugality, and providing any kind of service to the public should entail doing it as cost efficiently and effectively as possible.

But it has taken many years to make inroads on making just a fraction of federal information more accessible on a broader scale. The public often has good ideas.

Let’s not close an important door that’s just beginning to open.

Online:

http://jacksonville.com

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