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Monday
Mar212011

Manchin Breaks with Democrats Again, This Time on Debt Ceiling

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two weeks ago, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin broke with his party in the budget debate, voting against the Democrats’ spending proposal and arguing that President Obama “has failed to lead this debate.”

On Monday, he was at it again. In a speech at the University of Charleston, Sen. Manchin said he will vote against raising the debt ceiling -- as the administration has requested -- unless his vote is linked to a plan to fix the nation’s soaring deficits.

“We must get our fiscal house in order. We must be honest about what we value and what we need to spend your taxpayer dollars on – not what just sounds good,” Manchin said. “I have never put together a budget – be it my family's or as governor – that was based on how much we wanted to spend, but on what we had. That is why I will vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess.”

The administration has urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling before the nation hits its red ink limit sometime between April 15 and May 31, warning that a dire situation would result if lawmakers fail to act.

Twenty-three GOP senators have vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the White House agrees to tackle entitlement programs in the ongoing budget talks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Pawlenty to Announce 2012 Presidential Exploratory Committee

ABC News (file)(WASHINGTON) -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to make his presidential intentions official Monday by announcing the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, a source close to Pawlenty told ABC News.

Pawlenty will make the announcement on his Facebook page at 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

The Republican former governor has been traveling the country in recent months, focusing on early nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and fine-tuning his message to potential GOP presidential primary voters.

While not an official declaration of his candidacy, the exploratory commitee allows Pawlenty to begin testing the waters for a Republican presidential bid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Nancy Pelosi Hospitalized, Reports Say

ABC News(ROME) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was hospitalized in Rome on Monday, according to Italian news agencies.

The ANSA news agency referred to her illness as a “fainting spell” and reports that Pelosi returned to her hotel after a two hour check up at the emergency room.

The former House Speaker was in Italy leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to celebrate the country's 150 year anniversary. The California Democrat had to cancel one meeting with the Italian Minister of Defense due to her feeling unwell, but Pelosi still could attend a concert Monday night in honor of the celebration.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome is aware of the reports, but had no further comment.

Over the weekend Pelosi and the bipartisan delegation flew to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet with President Hamid Karzai, U.S. troops and military officials.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Sarah Palin In Israel, Will Dine with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Sarah Palin made her first pilgrimage to the Holy Land on Sunday, joining a long line of presidential hopefuls who have traveled to Israel prior to throwing their hat in the ring.

During a tour of the Western Wall Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly at the Temple Mount asking her Israeli tour guides, “why are you apologizing all the time?” The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Temple Mount, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims, is one of the world’s most contested religious sites.

One of Palin’s tour guides World Likud Chairman Danny Danon said Palin “really connected to the story of the Jewish nation.” According to The Jerusalem Post, Danon said “I can clearly say from the questions she asked in relation to our conflict here with the Muslims in these holy sites that she knows that we are right and that the Muslims are just claiming things for provocation and they’re not right.”

The former Alaska governor prayed at the Wall and left a note with a personal prayer in it.

“I’m so thankful to be able to be here, and I’m thankful to know the Israel-American connection will grow and strengthen as the peace negotiations continue,” Palin reportedly said.

Palin’s trip to Israel comes on the heels of her visit to India over the weekend. On Monday Palin and her husband Todd will have dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at their residence in Jerusalem.

Although the 2008 vice presidential nominee remains mum about her 2012 intentions, several of Palin’s potential rivals for the GOP candidacy have also met with Netanyahu in recent months, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

Palin has said recently it could be several months before she decides whether or not to run in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

National Security Adviser: US Had 'Good First Day' of Operations in Libya

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said in an on the record, off-camera briefing Sunday that the United States “had a very good first day” of operations against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya.

On Gadhafi’s second declaration of a ceasefire, Donilon said, "It either isn't true or has already been violated," adding, we will "monitor his actions not just his words."

The White House expects this first phase of operations, which the U.S. is leading, to end later this week.  The allies will take the lead but the U.S. will continue providing "unique capabilities" after transition.  Those capabilities include electronic jamming, refueling and intelligence, but Donilon would not "pinpoint" how long the secondary role will last.

It was during a noontime briefing in Brasilia Saturday that “the final orders were given” by President Obama.

The president had three briefings on Sunday and talked with Jordan’s King Abdullah on the phone.  The longer-term efforts by the coalition will be aimed at proving Gadhafi “with choices,” and Donilon said they will continue to "squeeze him."

Speaker of the House John Boehner criticized the White House for not fully explaining its efforts in Libya.  Donilon said that is “a fair request and we are doing it."

Donilon also had strong praise for the constitutional referendum in Egypt, calling it “a very significant event."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Newt Gingrich Calls President Obama 'Spectator-in-Chief'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While he says his final decision about running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 is still four to five weeks away, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sounds like his mind is already made up.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, Gingrich delivered a stinging diatribe against President Obama, who he says will be his target during a prospective White House bid.

Calling Obama the "spectator-in-chief," Gingrich contends the president is unaware of who the enemies of the U.S. are, and says he's failed all domestic and foreign crises leadership tests in his two years in office. 

There's no question that Gingrich believe he's the most qualified Republican with the chance to defeat Obama in 2012.

Speaking of himself, Gingrich told the newspaper's editors, "the American people will decide that somebody who tells them the facts even when they're hard and somebody who provides real solutions that are doable, is worth rallying around and building a majority around."

However, Gingrich acknowledges that winning next year will be tough unless he has all his Republican rivals backing his bid to win back the White House.

Before making any official announcement, Gingrich has an exploratory commission at work to gauge the public's interest in his potential run, as well as his ability to raise the funds necessary to do so.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher Dies

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Warren Christopher, the globetrotting statesman who was also an expert in domestic affairs, passed away last Friday in Los Angeles.  He was 85.

It was during the Democrat's time as secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997 that Christopher helped negotiate a peace deal in Bosnia, although he was less successful in trying to settle the long disputes between Israelis and Palestinians that continue today.

From 1977 to 1981, Christopher was undersecretary of state under former President Jimmy Carter and proved instrumental in forging the Panama Canal treaties.

He was also faced with the arduous task of attempting to win to release of 52 U.S. embassy workers taken captive by the Iranians in November 1979.  It wasn't until moments after Carter left office in January 1981 that the Americans were freed in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of Iranian assets.

At home, Christopher served on a commission to investigate allegations of brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department following the beating of Rodney King.  The panel's recommendations in 1991 led to the wide scale overhaul of police practices in Los Angeles.

Christopher was also used by Vice President Al Gore's campaign in 2000 to oversee the disputed vote count in Florida following the presidential election won eventually by then Texas governor and Republican George W. Bush after a Supreme Court vote.

At the time, Christopher was criticized for not standing up to the aggressive strategies used by his counterpart, former Secretary of State James Baker.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

Rare Photo: Sitting in Makeshift Tent, Obama Briefed on Libya

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil) -- The White House has allowed a rare glimpse into the security trappings around the president.

An official photo, taken and issued by the White House, captured President Obama sitting inside a blue security tent -- called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) -- erected inside his Brazilian hotel suite Sunday as he was briefed by phone on the situation unfolding in Libya.

The president, participating in a secure conference call, was joined on the phone by AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

Pictured beside him in the tent are National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

Utah Governor Makes Gun a State Symbol

Utah (dot) Gov(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Utah has become the first state to officially designate a state firearm.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently signed legislation making the Browning M1911 the state’s official gun. The designation honors John Browning, the designer of the semi-automatic pistol. Browning was born in Ogden, Utah in 1855. U.S. armed forces began carrying the gun in 1911.

The M1911 takes its place as a state symbol alongside the Rocky Mountain Elk, the state animal; Indian rice grass, the state grass; and the Spanish sweet onion, the state vegetable.

Arizona is also in pursuit of making a gun its state symbol, as legislation is pending for the Colt single-action to become a designated symbol for that state. However, some people in Arizona are against the move following the recent shooting in which six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Ariz.) was seriously injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

Adm. Mullen: US Pursuing 'Limited Objectives' in Libya

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is focused on "limited objectives" as part of the coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and will take a "supporting role" in the coming days, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday.

"The French were the first ones in yesterday, in terms of starting to establish the no-fly zone. The United States is taking the lead in terms of the coalition," Mullen told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. "And we look to, in the next few days, transition that to a coalition leadership."

Mullen said getting the no-fly zone in place "has been successful so far," taking out Libya's air defenses, and limiting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's ability to fly planes or continue marching forces toward the rebel-held Benghazi.

"We're very focused on the limited objectives that the president has given us and actually the international coalition has given us, in terms of providing the no-fly zone so that he cannot attack his own people, to avoid any kind of humanitarian massacre, if you will, and to provide for the humanitarian corridors, humanitarian support of the Libyan people," Mullen said.

Mullen did not say that removing Gadhafi from power was a direct objective of the no-fly zone, and would not speculate on the length of time needed for coalition forces to operate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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