Obama to Introduce 'Specific Plan' in September to Boost Economy

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(DECORAH, Iowa) -- In response to a question at a town hall in Decorah, Iowa, Monday evening, President Obama said that when Congress returns in September, "I'll be putting forward...a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control our deficit.  And my attitude is get it done."

"And if they don't get it done," he continued, "then we'll be running against a Congress that isn't doing anything for the American people and the choice will be very stark and very clear."

Later in the town hall, the president offered more information about the economic plan when pressed for more details by an attendee.

"What I can do is to present my best ideas about how we move the country forward," the president said.  "Many, many of these ideas traditionally have had Republican support.  It’s amusing to watch one of the major Republican candidates now trying to wriggle out of the fact that my health care bill is very similar to the health care bill he passed at a time when he, he needed to compromise because he was living in a Democratic-majority state."

The president was making a clear reference to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a GOP frontrunner.  It was unclear if he wasn't naming him because he was trying to stay above the fray, or because this was an official White House trip, not a campaign trip, however difficult it may be to tell the difference.

The president continued, "Some of these folks know better, all I can do is to say I’m going to take the best ideas we have from everyone, Republicans, independents and Democrats, present to them, 'This is what you should do.'  I can’t force them to do it, you can force them to do it.  I will take my case to the American people that this vision is how we move the country forward and if they have an alternative vision and they don’t want to sit there and do nothing for the next 16 months while unemployment is still high and small businesses are still suffering, then ultimately they are going to be held to account by you, just like I’m going to be held to account by you."

Said the president, "We’ve got to reward folks that are more serious about solving problems than scoring political points."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Media Coverage of Ron Paul 'Disappointing,' His Team Says

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite coming in a very close second in Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll, Rep. Ron Paul has been conspicuously absent from much of the media coverage over the weekend.

Paul’s campaign spokesperson, Gary Howard, tells ABC News that he finds the coverage of the congressman “disappointing, but not that surprising.”

“I think the media coverage has definitely been lacking after a pretty significant showing in the straw poll,” said Howard in an emailed statement.  “Dr. Paul came within nine-tenths of a percent of winning, yet the winner -- rightfully -- gets lauded for organizational strength, is declared to have top-tier status, etc., while some stories don't even mention [Paul’s] name.”

When asked by ABC News how they plan to change the narrative that Paul is an unelectable candidate, Howard said “we can only keep doing what we've been doing.  Until Sunday, the narrative on Pawlenty was that he was a top-tier candidate -- How did that turn out?  Compared to 2007, we have quadrupled our support, and doubled our poll numbers, so we feel like what we're doing is right.  We will just redouble our efforts.”

Ron Paul finished just 152 votes behind Michele Bachmann in the Ames Straw Poll, but the next day, the congresswoman -- along with newcomer Rick Perry and Mitt Romney -- ended up getting most of the media attention.  Together, many stories portrayed them as being the new "top tier" candidates while Paul's name was left out.

Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, tells Politico that the congressman had a “loose arrangement” with many of the Sunday morning shows to go on if Paul did well in the straw poll, but when he did, “their answer was, ‘Sorry our show is set.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jon Huntsman Gains Pawlenty’s Top New Hampshire Staffer

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Tim Pawlenty announced Sunday on ABC’s This Week that he would end his campaign for president. On Monday, his New Hampshire campaign director, Sarah Crawford Stewart,  re-emerged as a senior consultant for candidate Jon Huntsman.

Stewart tells New Hampshire’s Union Leader, "Gov. Huntsman is committed to winning the New Hampshire primary, and I look forward to helping him and his team do just that.”   

Stewart, who was the deputy campaign manager for John McCain’s successful 2008 primary campaign, joins chief strategist John Weaver, campaign director Matt David and spokesperson Tim Miller as yet another former McCain staffer to join Team Huntsman. While she plans to serve as a consultant for the long haul, she is not technically a member of Huntsman’s staff.

Huntsman’s campaign tells ABC News, "Sarah is a true asset and we are happy that she has embraced Gov. Huntsman's campaign."

"I viewed Gov. Huntsman as somebody with exceptional governing experience,” Stewart said. "I viewed him as someone who would be the strongest competitor against President Obama in a general election."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cantor Endorses Allen in 2012 Senate Race

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Senate hopeful George Allen picked up a major endorsement Monday in his quest for the Republican nomination.   House Majority Leader Eric Cantor threw his support behind Allen’s bid during a conference call Monday morning, calling Allen "a proven, common sense conservative."

Allen, who held the office of U.S. senator from 2001-2007, is running in a crowded Republican primary against the likes of former chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, Jamie Radtke.  If he wins the nomination, Allen will most likely face another former governor, Tim Kaine.

Other declared GOP candidates in the 2012 race include businessman Tim Donner, Earl W. Jackson Sr. of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach attorney David McCormick.

Allen’s most recent  run for office was ended when he narrowly lost his senate seat to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006. Allen’s campaign suffered after the infamous "Macaca Moment” when he was caught on camera hurling a racial epithet at Webb’s staffer.

Cantor issued a statement on his endorsement Monday afternoon, highlighting some of Allen's accomplishments: "George Allen has a long track record of success implementing small government reforms that grow the economy and create jobs.  He has been a longtime supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment, introducing it in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. As Governor, he reduced the tax burden on Virginia families and businesses, fostered a pro-growth environment that helped create jobs, and left Virginia with a smaller, leaner government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Buddy Roemer Blasts GOP Candidates for PACs, Financial Secrecy

BuddyRoemer dot com(WASHINGTON) -- While his big-name competitors jockeyed for the spotlight in Iowa last week, Republican presidential candidate Charles Elson “Buddy” Roemer, III laid claim to New Hampshire, ribbing his peers at events across the state and banking his political future on voters who “live free or die.”
“It's the first vote. Iowa is a caucus, kind of manipulated,” Roemer, the 67-year-old former Louisiana governor told ABC News' Top Line. “You could vote in the poll there Saturday, [but] it costs you $35 to vote. You know, we made that against the law in America.”
“You don't have to pay a poll tax to vote. New Hampshire still lives free or dies,” he said. “It's where this race will be decided.”
Roemer, who has eschewed the role of big money in campaigns and accepts only donations of $100 or less, says his message resonates with voters in the Granite State, where he has spent the past 36 days blasting his Republican peers for running for office awash in cash.
“I challenge them: No PACs, no ‘super’ PACs. Set your limit at whatever you want to, but everything fully disclosed,” he said in a criticism that echoes that leveled by top Democrats and the Obama campaign. “No hidden deals. Come on, guys. Come on, ladies. We can turn this country around.”
Roemer appeared to be directing his criticism at front-runner Mitt Romney, who has raised more money than any other candidate while accepting donations from registered lobbyists, and is backed by the super PAC “Restore Our Future,” run by Romney’s friends.  Romney and all the Republican presidential candidates have refused to voluntarily disclose the names of their top fundraisers, or bundlers.
“I'm the only person running who has fought toe-to-toe with corruption in his great state of Louisiana, and I know the power of special interest money, and I think the reason that Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul have done so well is because they get their funds generally from average people,” Roemer said. “However, they both have formed special PACs, deliberately hidden from view without knowing who the donors are. They both take PAC money, so they're better than the other candidates, but they're not where they need to be.”
“This nation faces great challenges,” he said, “and a president needs to be free to lead.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Shrugs Off ‘Obamacare’ Label, Critics

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(CANNON FALLS, Minn.) -- At a town hall meeting on the first stop of his Midwest bus tour, President Obama brushed off criticism of his health care overhaul, which many Republicans commonly deride as “Obamacare.”

The president on Monday was referring to The Affordable Care Act, which he pointed out is "also known as Obamacare."

"By the way, I have no problem with folks saying Obama cares. I do care," Obama said.  "If the other side wants to be the folks that don't care, that's fine with me.”

Obama also told the crowd that he believes the Supreme Court will uphold the 2009 law’s controversial mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance, despite a federal appeals court ruling last week which found the provision unconstitutional.

Two federal appeals court panels have reached differing conclusions on the constitutionality of the provision, all but guaranteeing the law will go before the high court.

Obama also used the town hall moment on health care to single out potential 2012 challenger and former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, who supported an individual health insurance mandate as governor of Massachusetts and has since attacked Democrats for it.

"This used to be a Republican idea," Obama said.

The town hall was scheduled not far from Rochester, Minn., home to the legendary Mayo Clinic.  Health care jobs are a big part of the local economy.

Sitting in the crowd, Lenore McDonald of Cannon Falls said she would like to ask the president how he can guarantee affordable health insurance policies will be among the options when the individual mandate kicks in in 2014.

“How are we going to support the system that has been passed?” McDonald wondered aloud.  “There has to be some affordable plan.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Chastises Obama's Lack of Military Service

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Presidential candidate Rick Perry took a veiled swipe at President Obama suggesting that his own military experience would make him a better commander-in-chief than the current one. He also addressed what he called “inevitable” comparisons between himself and George W. Bush.

“Experience matters. Having walked in a person’s shoes, having done what these men and women in the military are doing matters to them,” Perry said. “I don’t want somebody sitting in the front-left seat of the airliner who just got their pilot's license." Perry served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force from 1972-1977, retiring with the rank of captain.

As he made his way through the Iowa State Fair on Monday, Perry said he would not retreat “an inch” from comments he made at a Iowa GOP dinner Sunday night at which he said that one of the main reasons he was running for president was to “make sure that every young man and woman who puts on the uniform of this nation respects highly the President of the United States."

“I think the military men and women respect the commander-in-chief regardless of who it is. I think they really like to see a person who’s worn the uniform in that office and, you know, I think that’s just a true statement and I wouldn’t back up off of it an inch,” Perry told a group of reporters trailing him on Monday. “Go ask your veterans if they’d rather see somebody who’s never served as the commander in chief.”

The Texas governor said that lack of military experience does “absolutely not” disqualify someone from being president, but having some is an attribute.

“Statement of fact. People are comfortable with folks who have been through what they’ve been through in life.”

He acknowledged that comparisons between himself and former President George W. Bush were “inevitable:" Perry succeeded the former president -- also a former military pilot -- as Texas Governor, when President Bush was elected president.

He added, “George Bush is not my opponent. He’s a former president and we give him all the respect for that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jon Huntsman: Bus Tours Are for Rock Bands, Not Presidents

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Jon Huntsman called into the Don Wade and Roma show on ABC News Radio Chicago affiliate WLS 890-AM on Monday, condemning President Obama for leaving Washington, D.C., to embark on a three-state bus tour.

“Come on, let’s face the facts,” Huntsman said. “Bus tours are great and I particularly like it when a good rock band is on tour, but to have the president or anybody else, when the most important thing they can be doing is standing up and say, okay, the regulations of this country are what are strangling business, that’s why capital isn’t making its way to the marketplace, that’s why people aren’t hiring, that’s why there’s zero confidence in our future, because we’re stuck in bureaucratic red tape.”

Wade then played a clip from ABC’s This Week, where Laura Ingraham noted that the President no longer participates in a daily economy briefing.

“Unbelievable,” Huntsman replied.

“What else matters? What else matters in this country? You know I hate to be so crass because families give their all to the military. I know that you all have, and our family has, too. Our future isn’t going to be in Afghanistan, our future isn’t going to be in Iraq. Our future is based on whether or not this nation is ready for the 21st-century competitive challenges, and that’s across the Pacific Ocean, and that’s an economic challenge.”

“We’ve got to get on the stick and that means, you know, beyond just reading the daily intel reports that come in from the field, getting the daily economic reports on where we’re weak and what needs to be done,” Huntsman continued. “It isn’t government providing more stimulus and creating artificiality, it’s government facilitating the 10th Amendment of the Constitution which allows local governments to basically determine their own destiny, Washington stepping back and saying, how can we help?"

"Simple things that really, I think, are going to leave a lasting impact on this country," he said.  "But that requires a president who's going to read the daily economic reports and respond to them in a way that speaks to making a more competitive marketplace."

When asked about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 entrance, Huntsman replied: “Rick is a friend and he’s a good man and I salute Rick Perry. He has a good jobs record, that will make two of us in the race who have good job records.”

“In order to beat President Obama, let’s face the facts, because 2012 will be about which candidate can speak up with the message that speaks to economic expansion and jobs, period," Huntsman continued. "That’s all that people care about, they want to get out of the hole there. And I believe they’re going to be looking for a governor who has a track record that speaks to exactly that. Not one, you know for example from Massachusetts who was number 47 in terms of job creation, but someone who was number one. And Rick Perry would certainly be right up there in that category, we certainly would be up there in that category.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Launches Bus Tour amid Republican Criticism

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(CANNON FALLS, Minn.) -- President Obama embarked on his three-day, three-state "rural economic bus tour" in Minnesota on Monday, while Republicans unleashed a flurry of attacks on the trip as blatant campaigning at taxpayer expense.

"I am very pleased to be out of Washington," Obama said as he took the stage at a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minn., about 45 miles southeast of Minneapolis.

Obama, tie-less with shirt sleeves rolled up, roamed microphone in hand as he reprised his economic stump speech of recent weeks. He heaped pressure on Congress to pass measures he says would spur job growth, such as a payroll tax cut extension and new infrastructure projects, and rallied supporters to join him in the cause.

"I'm here to enlist you in a fight," Obama said, striking tones reminiscent of his election campaign, "we are here to fight for the future of our country."

The Republican National Committee, which dubs the excursion Obama's "debt end tour" (the tubthumping trip earned the equally stinging "Magical Misery Tour" from the Romney camp) released a series of scathing Web videos and radio ads in three Midwest states, blasting the president for his handling of the economy.

"We're not going to stand idly by while this president perpetrates this fraud of a bus tour while using taxpayer dollars to spin his failure to put America back to work," RNC chairman Reince Priebus told reporters on a conference call from Cannon Falls.

Obama will hold similar events in Decorah, Peosta, and Atkinson, Iowa, and Alpha, Ill., all billed by the administration as opportunities for the president to engage with average citizens in middle America and hear their ideas for spurring job growth.

While Republicans cast the president's trip -- coming on the heels of the Ames Straw poll -- as political, the White House has defended it as an opportunity for Obama to meet with "real folks in real places" off the beaten path.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Takes On Obama, Romney

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on his third day as a presidential candidate, fired shots at both President Obama and a main rival for the GOP nomination -- Mitt Romney.

"Take a look at his record when he was governor, take a look at my record," Perry said. "That's apples to apples."

Perry, who was campaigning at the Iowa State Fair on Monday also drew a distinction between running a business and running a state -- "that's apples to oranges," he said.

As he was being asked about Romney, the front-runner for the nomination who is campaigning in New Hampshire on Monday, Perry smiled, blew an air kiss and said, "Send him my love."

Just minutes earlier, while delivering remarks at the Des Moines Register Soapbox, Perry focused his fire on President Obama, who was scheduled to be in a different part of the state later Monday.

"He says he's on a listening tour," Perry said, "so I'm going to talk to him."

"Mr. President, you need to free up the employers of this country to create jobs." Perry called on Obama to "free up this country" from "stifling regulation."

"I'm a pro-business governor, I don't make any apologies about it and I will be a pro-business president."

Perry warned that a "big black cloud" hangs over the country.

"I think you want a president who is passionate about America -- that's in love with America."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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