Bachmann Promises 'No Teleprompters' in White House if Elected

Win McNamee/Getty Images(ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa) -- At a campaign stop in Iowa, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., mocked President Obama's reliance on teleprompters.

"I forgot something, I just feel sick about it," she told supporters. "I forgot my teleprompters."

Bachmann promised the crowd there would be "no teleprompters in the Bachmann White House." She also pointed out that there are no "czars" on her campaign bus. The president appointed four "czars" to the White House, handling health care, climate change, the auto industry and urban affairs.

The Minnesota congresswoman also riffed on Obama's 2008 campaign, telling the crowd people are ready for "real hope and real change."

Bachmann is campaigning heavily in Iowa ahead of the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Visit Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois on Bus Tour

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s economy-themed bus tour next week will start in southern Minnesota, cut across northeast Iowa, and end in western Illinois, the administration announced Tuesday.

“The president will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans, including local families and small business owners,” the White House said in a statement.

When Obama arrives in the Midwest battlegrounds he will encounter unemployment levels that are at or below the national average.

In Minnesota and Iowa, the unemployment rate stands at 6.7 percent and 6.0 percent, respectively, according to the latest Labor Department statistics. In Illinois, unemployment is at 9.2 percent, roughly the national average.

White House aides have said Obama’s trip is official business, allowing the president an opportunity to engage directly with average Americans and explain his plans for encouraging job growth nationwide. But some Republicans have criticized the tour, which comes just days after a GOP presidential debate and straw poll in Iowa, as political campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime.

Either way, presidential visits to three states, which Obama won in 2008 and have 36 electoral votes up for grabs in 2012, can’t hurt.

Obama’s approval ratings in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois are currently above the national average, according to the latest Gallup survey, and he undoubtedly wants to keep it that way.

In Minnesota, 52 percent of voters approve of Obama’s job handling, while 49 percent approved in Iowa and 54 percent in Illinois, Gallup found.  The national average for the first half of 2011 was 47 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Wisconsin Republicans Fend Off Recall Efforts; Four Others Too Close to Call

Comstock/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wisc.) -- Two Republican Wisconsin state senators have reportedly fended off recall votes and held on to their seats, while four other races in the state Tuesday were too close to call.

Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls defeated their Democratic challengers based on unofficial results, according to ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

Cowles captured 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Nancy Nusbaum, with 81 percent of precincts reporting, according to WISN-TV.

Harsdorf had 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Shelly Moore, WISN-TV reported.

Outside groups poured millions of dollars into the state for television advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts. Democrats' goal was to take three of the seats to gain control of the state Senate from the Republicans, and also set the stage for similar collective bargaining and budget fights in other states.

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature left the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capital to protest or support Walker's move. After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific senators who were eligible.

Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty. Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.

There are two more recall elections next week. Two Democratic senators are facing recall Aug. 16.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Super Committee Takes Shape: Reid Taps Sens. Murray, Baucus & Kerry

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has made his choice of three people to serve on the 12-member “super committee” charged with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23.

Reid has chosen Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the Senate Finance Committee; Senator John Kerry, D-Mass.; and DSCC Chair Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. A Senate Democratic aide confirmed the picks after they were first reported by Politico. All three voted in favor of the debt ceiling bill last week that created the super committee.

The selections of Senate Democrats are the first of the picks for the 12-person committee to drip out.

Senator Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each will also get three, but none of them have made a formal announcement of their choices. At a town hall in Kentucky Tuesday, McConnell said he is “very close” to picking his choices, but is not ready to make an announcement yet.

“The Joint Select Committee has been charged with forging the balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that the American people, the markets and rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s are demanding," said Reid in a paper statement.

“As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee," he said, referring to the turbulence in the stock market and the economy. "I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship, and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Congress: 'Vacation, You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me' 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As members of Congress take a five-week summer recess this August, some constituents are starting to question given the state of the economy, whether a vacation is really what Congress needs (or for that matter, deserves) and if the nation would be better served with members of Congress working on the economy in Washington, D.C. instead of working on their tans.

Last week, during the height of the debt ceiling debate, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) choked up as he wistfully lamented on the Senate floor that he hasn't seen the pomegranates growing on his farm's fruit trees.

For most Americans, there would be a three-word response to Reid's story, only two of which are printable: "Boo" and "Hoo."

“Vacation?  You’ve got to be kidding me,” Diane from Boynton Beach, Fla. wrote in a letter to her senator, “Why are you going on a five week vacation when you have not even done anything regarding jobs and the economy? When are you going to address these issues?”

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., responded today via a weekly video blog responding to mail from constituents. Rubio said that this is a comment that his office is hearing often between phone calls and mail to his office.

“I don’t decide the schedule for Congress,” Rubio first opens up with, adding that the schedule for the annual August recess is set by the Congressional leadership. He adds though that it does provide opportunities for senators to get home to the states they represent and be more plugged into their constituents.

“What I’m going to do in the month of August is travel the state of Florida, and I do think there’s some wisdom in that,” he says, “we’re hearing from you directly and that’s what I intend to do for the month of August.”

He says Congress will be back to work addressing the long-term issues in September.

The takeaway for millions of frustrated Americans, however, could be that a steady job with a guaranteed five weeks of vacation are just some of the perks Congress members enjoy that millions of their constituents do not.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Newsweek' Under Fire For Michele Bachmann Cover Photo

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In one short week Michele Bachmann went from being called “photogenic” by fellow GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to earning the less-than-complementary descriptions thanks to a deliberately arresting Newsweek cover that led to accusations of sexism against the publication from both sides of the political aisle.

The cover shot, which was taken specifically for Newsweek, shows Bachmann staring wide-eyed, straight into the camera with a caught-off-guard kind of smile against a bland blue background. The bold white headline reads, “The Queen of Rage.”

When a voter asked Bachmann about the cover at a campaign stop in Atlantic, Iowa Monday Bachmann said she had not seen it, Slate's David Weigel reported.

"It's a big close-up of you," the voter said, "a wild-eyed photo with the headline, 'Queen of Rage.'"

"Ah-hah," Bachmann said. "Well, we'll have to take a look at that, won't we?"

Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said the cover represents Newsweek’s “special kind of loathing for women conservatives.” Even Terry O’Neil, the president of the left-leaning National Organization for Women -- which has stayed mostly silent while Bachmann and Sarah Palin endured blistering attacks in the press -- called it a “misogynistic attack.”

While the Bachmann campaign has been tight-lipped about the cover, which hit newsstands Monday, the Internet most certainly has not. The comedy website Funny or Die put up a slideshow of “more appropriate headlines” to go with the “horrifying” photo. Some of the more print-appropriate ones were “Michele Bachmann Takes A Stand Against Blinking” and “Zombies: Michele Bachmann Eats Americas Young.”

But this is not the first controversial cover shot for Newsweek. Last month the magazine featured a photo of the late Princess Diana, photo shopped to look older, walking alongside Kate Middleton, in what one tweeter called “the creepiest magazine cover ever!”

The Atlantic Wire
ran a story about the cover titled “How Creepy Is Princess Diana's Ghost on the Cover of Newsweek?” and the Los Angeles Times headline asked “Newsweek’s ‘Diana t 50’ cover: Shocking, brilliant or just plain cheap?”

The magazine also ignited a backlash in 2009 when they ran a cover photo of Sarah Palin in short runner shorts with the headline “Do you know how to solve a problem like Sarah?” In a post on her Facebook wall, Palin said the cover was “sexist” “unfortunate” and “out-of-context.”

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said the Palin cover was “worse than sexist.”

“I think it is demeaning and degrading and Newsweek knew exactly what it was doing. They made sexuality a part of her performance,” Perino told Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney Camp Calls Obama Re-Election Strategy 'Disgraceful'

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Romney campaign issued a fiery response to a Politico article published Tuesday morning that reported President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign will work to “destroy” Romney in “a ferocious personal assault” on Romney’s “character and business background.”

“It is disgraceful that President Obama’s campaign has launched his re-election with the stated goal to ‘kill’ his opponent with an onslaught of negative and personal attacks,” said Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades in a written statement.

“President Obama will say and do desperate things to hold onto power because he knows he has failed. Neither despicable threats, nor President Obama’s billion dollar negative campaign, will put Americans back to work, save their homes, or restore their hopes. On November 6, 2012, this will change,” Rhoades said.

The Politico article quotes “aides and advisors” to President Obama who say their strategy is “grounded in the early state expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.”

“The onslaught would have two aspects,” reports Politico. “The first is personal: Obama’s re-elect will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, ‘weird.’”

And one source described by Politico as a “prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House,” says in the article, “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”

In addition to Rhoades' statement, Romney’s senior campaign advisor Eric Ferhnstrom tweeted a link to the Politico article with the comment, “Obama sees Romney as biggest threat, goes from 'hope and change’ to ‘kill and destroy.’”

Romney has refrained from engaging his GOP counterparts in negative campaigning so far, instead focusing all of his web videos and slams at President Obama.  In the past few days alone, Romney has remarked that Obama is “out of his depth when it comes to understanding how the private economy works” and, in commenting on the S&P downgrade said, “The president’s failure to put the nation’s fiscal and economic house in order has caused a massive loss of coincidence that resulted in an embarrassing downgrade.”

“In the Carter era, it was called ‘malaise,’” said Romney in the statement. “Under President Obama, it’s called meltdown.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Announcing New Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks, Buses

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following Wall Street’s nosedive on Monday, President Obama will shift his focus Tuesday morning to new fuel efficiency standards, a measure he believes will help boost economic growth.

The president will hold a closed-off meeting at the White House with industry officials to discuss the first of their kind fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and heavy-duty vehicles.  The announcement builds on the new fuel efficiency standards for automakers that the president unveiled last month.

Obama will outline new fuel consumption standards for three vehicle categories, which the administration claims will save a projected 530 million barrels of oil and $50 billion in fuel costs for consumers as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2018, big rigs and semi trucks will be required to achieve up to 23 percent in fuel reduction and green house gas emissions; heavy duty pick-up trucks and vans a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption; delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks will need to show a 9 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

Later in the day, the president will meet privately with embattled Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at the White House.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Recall Vote Could Embolden Dems, Limit GOP Cost-Cutting

ABC News Radio(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin voters head to the polls Tuesday in six recall elections that both political parties stress have implications not just for the Badger State but the entire country.

Outside groups on both sides have poured in millions of dollars for television advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Democrats hope to take three of the seats to flip the state Senate from Republican to Democratic control, and also set the stage for similar collective bargaining and budget fights in other states.

Six Republican state Senators are facing recall votes Tuesday in mostly tight races that will depend on voter turnout in an unusual summer election, when much of the electorate are thinking more about vacations than going to the polls.

Joe Heim, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, said Democrats appear to have more enthusiasm but it's a tossup at this point.

"It looks right now like two seats are leaning Democratic and two are in the tossup category," he said.  "Two of the races were leaning Republican up until this week, which seems to be picking up a trend that the Democrats may do better than expected."

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker assumed office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature fled the state and went into hiding to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capitol to protest or support Walker's move.  After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific Senators who were eligible.  Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty.

Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.  If the Senate does change hands, Democrats could overturn Walker's legislation.

The level of campaign spending has been unprecedented, especially considering it is a recall effort, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  Spending through Monday was estimated at about $28 million from outside groups on both sides of the aisle and about $5 million spent by the candidates themselves.

That number was expected to increase by Tuesday.  Wisconsin Democracy Campaign officials "estimate at this point it's about even," research director Mike Buelow said of spending on both sides.

The group will do a full accounting of spending after the election and will have a clearer picture of whether the spending totals are even.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Economic Advisor: S&P's Downgrade Was 'Reckless'

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The public blame game over Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating continued to rage Monday.

It was an expensive day on Wall Street, as $2.3 trillion was lost in stock market wealth by the sound of the closing bell.  As President Obama addressed the nation for the first time since the downgrade was announced on Aug. 5, the Dow Jones industrial average dipped below the 11,000 mark.

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Nightline, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling ripped apart the S&P’s report, calling it “irresponsible” and “reckless,” and claimed the rating agency rushed through its assessment.

“[S&P] simply changed their press release,” Sperling said.  “They simply decided on the spot that they had a different lead rationale for why they were going to downgrade the United States.  That was very irresponsible thing to do and a bit reckless to do at a moment of such fragility in the markets.”

That “fragility” certainly proved true on Monday, when S&P also announced it was downgrading the government-backed mortgage debt.  As a result, the stock market faced its biggest plunge since 2008.  The Dow closed down 634 points, the S&P 500 lost 79 points and the Nasdaq ended 174 points lower, dropping almost 7 percent.

Sperling said Obama’s economic team’s biggest worry was that the downgrade would have caused “very negative consequences” had the U.S. faced default.  Echoing the president’s remarks earlier Monday, Sperling urged the need for bipartisanship in the debt reduction deal later this year.

“We don’t agree that [S&P's] political analysis and certainly their flawed economic and budget analysis justify the downgrade in any way,” Sperling said.  “But we don’t disagree with what is a very obvious point too … that we need to be able to overcome the degree of line drawing, the degree of  my-way-or-the-highway that is keeping us as a country, as a government, from coming together on the type of bipartisan agreement we need right now to get our deficit down and on the right path.”

S&P continued to stand by its decision to downgrade the nation from an AAA credit rating to AA+, saying it based its decision on the nasty political fight between the Obama administration and Congress over raising the debt ceiling.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio