Jon Huntsman Cancels Appearance at GOP Leadership Conference

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although he was slated to speak at a major gathering of Republicans taking place in New Orleans this weekend -- just days before the official roll-out of his presidential campaign -- former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has bowed out.

The reason, according to sources close to the former Utah Governor and soon-to-be presidential contender, is a "bad cold."

Huntsman was scheduled to speak at the Republican Leadership Conference on Friday.

"He is unable to make the flight to New Orleans," according to Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller. "We are sending the A-Team -- Mrs. Huntsman and two of his daughters -- in his stead to meet with supporters and attendees."

His daughters Mary Ann and Liddy will both accompany their mother, Mary Kaye Huntsman to the event. Mary Kaye is not expected to deliver remarks to the gathering on behalf of her husband.

Huntsman held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night and plans to formally launch his bid for the Republican presidential nomination next Tuesday in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

Miller told ABC News that Huntsman's illness was not expected to affect the campaign launch, which includes a series of events in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, and on the West Coast.

Two other top candidates for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, will also not be attending the Republican Leadership Conference.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tim Pawlenty Latest GOP Candidate to Get 'Glittered'

ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Another Republican presidential candidate just got glittered.

A few weeks ago it was Newt Gingrich who was doused in glitter by Nick Espinosa. Now it's Tim Pawlenty. The former Minnesota governor was reportedly showered in glitter at an event Thursday in San Francisco. Politico is reporting that two protesters outside the AHIP conference managed to get some pink glitter -- plus some confetti -- on Pawlenty as the Republican candidate was signing books.

"Tim Pawlenty, where is your courage to stand?" the protesters said, according to Politico's Kate Nocera. "Stand for reproductive rights! Stand for gay rights!"

When Gingrich was "glittered" last month, the incident occurred in Minneapolis, in Pawlenty's home state - and where he is set to speak on Saturday.  Espinosa, a resident of Minneapolis who glittered Gingrich, told ABC News he disagreed with the former House Speaker's position on gay rights.

It is unknown at this time if Espinosa was involved in any way with Pawlenty's glittering in San Francisco.

Pawlenty is in San Francisco for a paid speech to health insurers, something the Democratic National Committee is taking issue with.

“Perhaps pocketing thousands of dollars in cash to give a speech outlining his plan to repeal health reform is a plus for Tim Pawlenty, but it won’t help seniors afford their prescription drugs or preventive care, it won’t help young people access health insurance and it won’t help people being denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition," Brad Woodhouse, DNC communications director, said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney Says He's Unemployed, DNC Slams Him as 'Out of Touch'

James Devaney/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was criticized Thursday by the Democratic National Committee for being "out of touch" after remarking during a campaign stop in Florida that he too is unemployed.

The DNC's "Rapid Response" team circulated a New York Times article Thursday afternoon along with the message "Out of touch much…" to subscribers.

Romney was in Tampa as part of a three-day trip to the Sunshine State for multiple fundraisers, and made a campaign stop along the way at Buddy Brew Coffee to talk to small business owners and Floridians looking for jobs.

After listening to stories about how hard it is to find work, Romney said, "I should tell my story, I'm also unemployed," The Times reported.

"I have my sight on a particular job," Romney added, according to the report, before saying that he might be without a job for "longer than [he'd] like."

But aides who were with Romney at the event told ABC News that his remarks garnered laughter from the crowd and that the remark was meant to be self-deprecating, an attempt by the candidate to make fun of himself.

Romney has so far focused much of his campaign on pegging President Obama as the one who is out of touch when it comes to creating jobs to spur the struggling economy.

Following the May jobs report that showed an increase in the unemployment rate -- it went up from 9 percent to 9.1 percent -- Romney remarked at a town hall in Manchester, N.H., that President Obama has "failed the American people."

"The borrowing and the spending and the 1.6 trillion dollar deficit these numbers are his, they are on his back, and that is why he it's why he is going to lose," Romney said.

And earlier this week the Romney campaign released a new web video "Bump in the Road," a jab at President Obama's remarks that there are "always bumps in the road to recovery."

The video featured individuals declaring, "I am an American, not a bump in the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Campaign Offering 'Dinner With Barack'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Ever dreamed of having an intimate sit-down dinner with the president? Well for a mere $5 the chance could be yours. President Obama's 2012 campaign is offering a sit down dinner with the president for four supporters who make a donation.

"I'm not asking you to donate today just so you'll be entered for a chance to meet me. I'm asking you to say you believe in the kind of politics that gives people like you a seat at the table -- whether it's the dinner table with me or the table where decisions are made about what kind of country we want to be," Obama wrote in a letter to supporters, signed "Barack."

The president's 2012 campaign will pay for your flight and the dinner, "all you need to bring is your story and your ideas about how we can continue to make this a better country for all Americans."

"This won't be a formal affair. It's the kind of casual meal among friends that I don't get to have as often as I'd like anymore, so I hope you'll consider joining me," he wrote.

The president is also using the "Dinner with Barack" fundraising push as a chance to remind voters that he'd rather have dinner with regular folks than rub elbows with special interest groups.

"Most campaigns fill their dinner guest lists primarily with Washington lobbyists and special interests. We didn't get here doing that, and we're not going to start now. We're running a different kind of campaign. We don't take money from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs -- we never have, and we never will," he wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pelosi Refuses to Answer Questions About Weiner's Resignation

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to comment Thursday morning on reports that Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., will resign from office this afternoon in New York.

"We are here to talk about jobs, about protecting Medicare and to protect the middle class," Pelosi, D-Calif., said as she opened her remarks at her morning news conference. "If you are here to ask a question about Congressman Weiner I won't be answering any. I've made the statements I'm going to make. It's my understanding that later in the day he will be having a press conference and after that I will have a statement."

Nevertheless, reporters peppered Pelosi with question after question about Weiner’s highly-anticipated announcement.

"Perhaps I was unclear -- I am not going to be responding to questions about Anthony Weiner," Pelosi said. "Let's see what he decides to do today and we will go from there, but I am not going to be making any announcement for him or about him at this time."

Asked whether she would withdraw her request for the House Ethics committee to conduct an investigation into the Weiner matter, Pelosi said it was premature to discuss the situation ahead of Weiner's announcement.

"We'll have a chance to talk about this, but we're not doing it before we have a decision from Mr. Weiner, Congressman Weiner. We respectfully gave him time when his wife came home for them to talk, he’s going to make an announcement, I am not going to predicate any remarks on a decision that we haven't hear yet," Pelosi said.

As she left the press conference, Pelosi refused to address questions into the content of her phone conversation Wednesday evening while she was at the White House for a congressional picnic. Despite heavy pressure from President Obama, and the House Democratic Leadership, she also declined to answer whether she was relieved Weiner is resigning.

On Monday Pelosi amped up the volume of her call for Weiner to step down, although she admitted that she did not have the power, nor does anyone else, to force him out of office.

"None of us -- not anybody here -- has the power to force somebody out of office. That person has to decide himself as to whether he will stay or he will go," Pelosi said Monday. "I hope that with the president having spoken and some leaders in Congress speaking out that Congressman Weiner will hear this and know that it's in his best interest to leave Congress."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney Hits Obama for Lack of Daily Economic Briefing

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It used to be a daily occurrence, but, despite a spate of lagging economic indicators, the president's economic briefings have been absent from his daily schedule in recent months.

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney pounced on the scheduling change earlier this week. "If I'm President of the United States there will not be a day that I'm not being briefed on and thinking about bringing American jobs back to America and make America the number one job creator in the world. For me it's everything you can do. Every lever you can pull, which is taxes, trade policies, energy policies, rule of law, good schools, and a government that doesn't spend more money than it takes in," Romney said in Derry, N.H.

The in-person economic briefing made a return to the president's schedule Wednesday, as a late morning addition. It was the first such meeting in more than a month. However, on Thursday it was nowhere to be seen on the agenda.

Asked about the disappearing act, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week that the in-person economic briefing "happens occasionally, it doesn't happen all the time.  And I think that was always the case."

Then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that the president would receive a daily economic briefing shortly after Obama took office.

"The President asked that this be added each day to his schedule, as the country is in the midst of an economic crisis and an economic emergency. And he felt it was important that each day he receive the most up-to-date information as it relates to the economy, as we put together an economic reinvestment and recovery plan, as well as future financial stability packages, to ensure that our economy gets moving again," Gibbs said in January 2009.

President Obama continues to meet regularly with his senior advisors, which often includes members of his economic team and the adminstration insists he receives a daily economic briefing on paper.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Abortion Fight Heats Up in Defense Budget Debate

Jupiterimages/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- Abortion rights supporters are hoping to capitalize on the ongoing defense budget debate to build momentum for a provision that would allow servicemembers who are victims of rape and incest to get an abortion at military hospitals.

Under current law, only servicemembers whose lives are endangered can get an abortion at military hospitals.  Victims of rape and incest aren't entitled to federal funds for abortion services, even though other beneficiaries of government health care, like prisoners and Medicaid recipients, are.

A number of Senate Democrats, led by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, will officially introduce the MARCH (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health) Act on Thursday, following on the heels of a similar House bill that was announced last week.

The bills are likely to trigger another political fight on an issue that has become the battleground for conservatives in the current Congress.  Last month, an effort by Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., to interject a similar amendment into the 2012 Defense Authorization Act did not even make it past the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee.

The new standalone bills being introduced this month would allow rape and incest victims to receive an abortion under the military health system, and let women get abortions on military bases with private funds.

"This is really a question of fairness," said Vania Leveille, senior legislative council at the American Civil Liberties Union, which is leading the efforts along with a number of other abortion rights groups.

Citing the recent passage in the House of Representatives of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" -- which bans all federal funding for abortions at federal facilities except in cases of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the victim -- proponents of the MARCH Act argue that military women are being unfairly marginalized.

"If other populations who rely on the government for their health care -- like federal employees, like women on Medicaid, like women in prison... [have] the option of terminating the pregnancy" in cases of rape and incest, then "why not military women, and why are military women treated as second class citizens? Why are they treated differently than the civilian women?" Leveille said. "I don't see how that's excusable."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mug Shots of John Edwards Released

U.S. Justice Department(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Marshals Service has released mug shots taken of John Edwards after he was booked in North Carolina earlier this month on charges of conspiracy, illegal campaign contributions and providing false statements.

ABC News secured the release of the mug shots after filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The 57-year-old former U.S. Democratic Senator and one-time vice presidential candidate was indicted earlier this month on six federal counts that he used political donations to hide an extramarital affair he was having with a woman filming his campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

According to the Justice Department, what Edwards did was illegal because he used the contributions to prevent a possible sex scandal from derailing his chances of winning the Democratic nod.

Edwards insists he did not break federal election campaign laws.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Pounces on Media, 'Backstabbing' Staff

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Newt Gingrich accused ABC News on Wednesday of doing a “hit piece” and ignoring the facts when it reported on Gingrich using money from his charity to pay one of his for-profit companies.

Appearing on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta van Susteren, Gringrich said, “That report is so inaccurate.  Reverend Jim Garlow of San Diego, who’s the head of Renewing American Leadership, sent me a very despairing email yesterday and said he told the facts to the ABC reporter and he was told by the ABC reporter frankly they didn’t care what the facts were and they were going to do a hit piece and they actually literally didn’t care what the facts were.”

“A network who wants to do a hit piece will take what I said, twist it and decide to do with it what they want to because they get to edit it.  I didn’t get an offer from ABC to have an unedited sit down.  I didn’t get an offer to show exactly what I said,” Gingrich said.  “I had no reason to believe that a network that was out to do a hit piece would be in any way fair with anything I said to them.”

Gingrich also criticized NBC for reports from anonymous sources that his wife, Callista, was the catalyst for the massive departure of his campaign staff last week.

“NBC this morning in a program that had nobody on camera, nobody quoted by name that quoted a reporter talking anonymously about cowardly people who frankly lied about my wife, and I think NBC owes Callista an apology because the fact is my campaign is my campaign," the former House speaker said.  "Yes we make decisions as a couple but in the end I take full responsibility, and I think the program this morning was totally irresponsible and personally reprehensible and the kind of thing that makes it hard to get decent people to run for public office.”

In his harshest comments yet towards the staff that bolted from his campaign last week, Gingrich called the criticism of his wife “backstabbing” and accused the former staffers of not doing their jobs.

“These are supposed to be professionals who we were paying, who supposedly had some sense of confidentiality who promptly, frankly, did some backstabbing in a way that I just found amazing," he said.  "After all my years of public life, I don’t mind people attacking me; I’m a big guy I can take it.  But to go after anyone’s wife, I think is pretty despicable.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Sarah's Inbox' Simplifies Search of Palin's Emails

Randy Snyder/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- You can now search through Sarah Palin’s emails as easily as you’d search through your own.

On Wednesday, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group, debuted “Sarah’s Inbox,” a searchable database of Palin’s recently released emails that looks and functions like Gmail.  Users can search the more than 14,000 emails from Palin’s tenure as Alaska governor by keyword and “star” messages for later viewing.

There’s also handy “Inbox” and “Sent Mail” links as well as a handful of “Sample Searches” including “flippinbelieveit” and “who’s going to trim my hair?”

In a blog post, the Sunlight Foundation said they started the project after they were approached by Twitter users to “take this ugly data and add the Sunlight secret sauce to make it user friendly.”

“Sarah’s Inbox” builds on technology the group developed for “Elena’s Inbox,” which it launched after Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan's emails were released during her confirmation hearings last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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