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Tuesday
Oct022012

Paul Ryan Gets Asked for More Specifics, But This Time by a Voter

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images(CLINTON, Iowa) -- It was a homecoming of sorts for Paul Ryan’s family here, but it didn’t stop some tough questions from Iowa voters who are used to grilling their candidates before casting their ballots. At his town hall here, the GOP vice presidential candidate was called out for more specifics from a voter.

“My question is, you know we keep talking about China and jobs and then we talk about the unemployment,” the woman wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt said. “But, where are the answers? I mean, why aren’t you more specific? I heard you, was it Sunday when you were on Fox, and you didn’t answer his question about how we’re going to … you know, what are your plans?”

Ryan launched into Mitt Romney’s five-point plan focusing on energy, education, trade, and their tax plan. The tax plan, which Chris Wallace asked Ryan about on Fox News Sunday that the voter referred to, was mentioned last, but he again did not get into what loopholes the plan would close or what deductions they would eliminate in order to get to the 20-percent tax cut his ticket has promised.

“The problem is, it just took me about five minutes to go into all of this with you and when you are on a 30-second TV show, you can’t do it as much,” Ryan said.

He argued that his plan does have specifics, but did not get into those details of how they are able to get to that 20-percent figure.

“Now our plan says this,” Ryan said. “Lower tax rates across the board by 20 percent. How do you do that without losing revenues? By closing loopholes. We have about a trillion dollars a year of foregone revenues through all the various different loopholes and deductions, and what we’re saying is, the wealthier people who use a lot of these deductions, close their loopholes. So when a wealthier person can shelter money from being taxed, that means everybody pays higher tax rates. But if you subject more of their income to taxation, more of their income is taxed, and that allows us to lower revenues for everybody across the board. That means middle-class taxpayers have lower tax rates and there’s plenty of fiscal room to keep these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers like you know charitable donations, or buying a home, or healthcare.”

Ryan had been grilled over the same issue on Bloomberg television Tuesday morning and he said he would bring a “framework” to congressional Democrats instead of telling them “take it or leave it, it’s all my way or the highway” and that’s why he is not getting into the math, a similar reason both he and his running mate have given before.

At the end of his answer at the town hall, it didn’t seem to matter to the voter that Ryan again decided not to describe what loopholes his ticket would close, because she was smiling and nodding her head.

The Obama campaign responded to the questioner, saying Ryan “can’t attend his own campaign rallies without being called out for failing to provide specifics about what Mitt Romney would do if elected.”

“That’s because just one day before the first debate, Mitt Romney has refused to say which deductions he’d cut for the middle class in order to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multi-millionaires,” Obama spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement. “They won’t share those details with the country because they know that the details are bad for middle-class Americans. But tomorrow night, Mitt Romney will need more than ‘zingers’ and attacks on the President -- he’ll need specifics -- and his own supporters clearly agree.”

Despite the negative fallout from the hidden camera video from a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., in which Romney said 47 percent of Americans that don’t pay taxes are “dependent” and “victims,” a questioner at the town hall seemed to embrace the comments, asking if the “47 percent of the people in the United States” who pay no taxes should “pay a nominal fee or something so they feel that they have small ownership in the government, maybe they won’t take all the handouts so readily?”

Ryan, who unveiled his national debt Powerpoint for the first time at an outside event, acknowledged it is a “point that Mitt and I have been trying to make, and sometimes the point doesn’t get made the right way,” but their ticket wanted to get everyone back to work to make them “good taxpayers.”

The trip to this eastern Iowa city marked the second day of his bus tour here and his sixth day campaigning in the battleground state since being selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate, but it was also a sentimental spot for his wife Janna. Her grandparents, Adelaide and Dr. Vernon Peterson, lived here and raised Janna Ryan’s mother Prudence Little here. After the town hall, the extended Ryan clan stopped by their home now owned by Todd and Sarah Gravert.

It was an emotional visit, with Janna and her two sisters Molly and Dana getting teary-eyed at the site of the red house with a screened-in porch on Pershing Boulevard. Janna told the Graverts, who were joined by their two children Ty and Ben, “This is such a special house.”

The Ryan’s extended family is along for the Iowa bus tour. Janna’s sisters and also her father, Dan Little, is on hand and her uncle, Paul Petersen, who grew up in the house. Ryan’s nephew Mac, son of Paul Ryan’s brother Tobin, and his wife Oakleigh is also part of the kid contingent that includes the Ryans’ three children, Liza, Charlie and Sam.

Ryan is scheduled to stop in two more eastern Iowa cities on the tour: Muscatine and Burlington.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

Time for the ‘Choice Phase,’ Ryan Tells Iowa Voters

Alex Wong/Getty Images(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- The campaign has entered “the debate phase, the choice phase,” GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Monday as he kicked off his two-day Iowa bus tour.

“The choice is clear. And here is what we are doing. We are entering the debate phase, the choice phase of this campaign. And this choice is ever so clear,” Ryan told the crowd of about 1,000 people at Loras College, the same college his grandfather attended.

This is a line Ryan has tried out in fundraisers and interviews, but this is the first time he used it at a public campaign event.

Ryan is traveling around the eastern part of the state with his wife Janna, three kids, and extended family, including his wife’s sisters and father.

Ryan’s own debate against Vice President Joe Biden is Oct. 11 and he will spend most of the week after his bus tour doing debate prep with his staff and sparring partner former Solicitor General Ted Olson in Virginia.

Despite the pending faceoff, Ryan aimed most of his fire Monday evening at President Obama, criticizing his record on job creation and his foreign policy, saying the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, shows there is an “unraveling” of the president’s agenda in the Middle East.

“If you turn on the TV today you can see that the Obama foreign policy is unraveling before our eyes,” Ryan said. “It’s not just an isolated incident where we lost four Americans in Libya -- that’s a tragedy. But it’s part of a bigger story of the unraveling of this agenda all over the world.”

The administration has “distanced our ally Israel” and “we are not advancing our interests in the Middle East,” he said.

Referencing his notes throughout the event and standing in front of the ticking debt clock now at most events, Ryan unveiled a new jab at the president:

“At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?” he asked to cheers.

Ryan argued that the federal mandate that all employers include insurance coverage for birth control proves the president is “willing to trample on our religious freedoms,” despite facing a tough reelection.

“This is religious freedom,” Ryan said at the Catholic college and identifying himself as a Catholic. “When you see something like that come from our government like this in this kind of a year, where President Obama clearly has a difficult reelection. I mean, he’s got to win Iowa to win this thing. If he is willing, if he is willing to trample on our religious freedoms before his reelection, what do you think he will do if he never ever has to stand for election ever again? Think about how chilling that is!”

Ryan ended by asking the audience “humbly … for your help” and urging those in the crowd to talk to voters who may have supported the president four years ago, but are now undecided.

“Help us by helping yourself, by helping save the country, by talking to those people you know that voted for President Obama last time,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s Iowa bus tour is scheduled to continue Tuesday with stops in Clinton, Muscatine and Burlington.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug142012

At Close of Battleground Bus Tour, Romney Slams 'Angry and Desperate' Obama 

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages(CHILLICOTHE, Ohio) -- Closing out his four-day bus tour, Mitt Romney stood on the steps of the courthouse in Chillicothe, Ohio and ripped apart President Obama's campaign strategy as one of the "diversions" that have taken the nation's highest office to a "new low" that appears "angry and desperate."

"You don't hear any answers coming from President Obama's re-election campaign," said Romney, speaking at his third and final event in Ohio, the last stop on his bus tour that weaved in and out of four battleground states, dramatically opening with the announcement of his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.

"That's because he's intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy," said Romney of Obama in what was one of his most strongly worded speeches to date. "And so his campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others. It’s an old game in politics; what’s different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low."

The Obama campaign shot back at Romney's speech, saying that the presumptive GOP nominee seemed "unhinged."

"Governor Romney's comments tonight seemed unhinged, and particularly strange coming at a time when he’s pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

There have been several attacks lodged against Romney in recent weeks by the Obama campaign and groups that support it. Romney has been accused of being a felon and dodging taxes; it’s been implied that he had a role in a woman’s death in a pro-Obama SuperPAC ad. Just Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Republicans were trying to put Americans "back in chains" with their budget proposals.

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The same day Romney released a new television ad that accused Obama of stripping funds from Medicare, which followed one earlier this week that accused Obama of removing the work requirements from welfare reform. The welfare ad has been criticized for being over the top, as Obama’s proposal does not call for dropping all work requirements and instead allows for states to ask for a waiver for more flexibility in how citizens can earn welfare checks.

Romney drew on quotes from the president's 2008 election, recalling that Obama said that those who don’t have fresh ideas "use stale tactics," and that when you have no record to run on, you “paint your opponent as someone people should run from."

"That was candidate Obama describing the strategy that is now the heart of his campaign," said Romney Tuesday night, as the crowd of thousands erupted into applause. "His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency."

"This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like," said Romney.

Romney continued his criticism of Obama, who he says has divided America while in office, accusing the president of demonizing some and pandering to others.

"His campaign strategy is to smash America apart," said Romney. "If an American president wins that way, we all lose. But he won't win that way."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug142012

Obama Visits Iowa State Fair: Four More Beers!

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(OSKALOOSA, Iowa) -- Hours after Rep. Paul Ryan received a rowdy reception at the State Fair, President Obama stopped by for pork on a stick, beer and the chance to reclaim some of the Iowa support that propelled him to the presidency in 2008.
 
An enthusiastic Obama emerged from his bus, nicknamed Ground Force One, and declared, “Let’s go to the fair,” according to pool reports.
 
The president quickly donned an “Iowa State Fair, Nothing Compares” baseball hat, which he was given by the fair organizers, and got to work, shaking hands, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
 
Obama spent roughly an hour at the fair, making his way past various stands, including Ginnie Smith’s Gourmet Mini Cinnamon Rolls, where he declined to try the baked goods. “I’m saving my space for pork chop on a stick,” the president was heard saying.
 
Later, he also passed on a smoothie, reportedly saying the healthy drink “sounds OK, but a beer sounds better.”
 
When he made it to the beer stand, Obama pronounced “Bud Lights all around on me,” to cheers and laughter from the crowd.
 
After checking his wallet, he offered to buy 10 beers for 10 people and chants of “Four More Years” quickly morphed into a chorus of “Four More Beers.”
 
The president later enjoyed his beer and pork chops on a stick with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, who was along for the outing.
 
Monday night’s visit was also nostalgic for the president. Five years ago, then-candidate Obama took his wife and two daughters to the fair, where they drove the bumper cars, rode the Big Ben roller coaster and ate caramel corn. The president also won the endorsement in 2007 of Norma Lyon, the Butter-Cow Lady.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Mitt Romney Gets Back On the Bus

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAnalysis By ABC News' Michael Falcone and Amy Walter

(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney embarks on a four-state, four-day bus tour Saturday morning that marks his most intense streak of retail campaigning since his previous bus trip in June.

This journey will take him to Virginia on Saturday, North Carolina on Sunday, Florida on Monday and Ohio on Tuesday, making multiple stops in each state along the way.

The presumptive Republican nominee is once again hitting those crucial battlegrounds just as a flurry of new polls suggest President Obama is opening up a lead, nationally.

A CNN-ORC poll shows Obama up by seven percentage points, 52 percent to 45 percent and a Fox News poll gives the president a slightly larger edge. Among independent voters, President Obama leads Romney 53 percent to 42 percent, according to the CNN numbers.

But, cautions one Romney insider, there's not a lot that's really happened across the country that could actually account for the widening gap between the president and his GOP challenger. What's more, the latest Gallup Poll still shows race a dead heat at 47 percent for Obama to 45 percent for Romney. Even so, these numbers are sure to spook many Republicans who want to see a more aggressive campaign and a "bold" choice of running mate from the former Massachusetts governor.

And they just might get it. As ABC's Jonathan Karl reported on Good Morning America Friday, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan remains on the "shortest of the short list" in Romney world during the same week that he has been at the center of a movement by forces on the right to get the 42-year-old budget guru on the presidential ticket.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Obama Bus Rolls Across Ohio with Presidential Seal

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It’s been dubbed “Ground Force One” and now, it has the official insignia to match its partner in the air.

The jet-black armored motor coach ferrying President Obama from Air Force One in Toledo, across northern Ohio and into Pennsylvania, got an upgrade for its first trip of the 2012 campaign: a large colorful presidential seal emblazoned on its side.

The cosmetic addition since debuting on an official presidential trip through the Midwest in August is a prominent reminder of the bus’s owner (the federal government) and the authority of its top passenger (the president).

So who pays for the bus when it’s used for entirely political purposes?

The Obama campaign will reimburse taxpayers for fuel and operation costs of the bus according to an established formula, an administration official told ABC News.

Obama will travel roughly 270 miles from Toledo, Ohio, to Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday, averaging six to nine miles per gallon on the drive, according to estimates online from several motor coach manufacturers.  The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel in Sandusky, Ohio, on Thursday was $3.49.

Bottom line: Driving is a lot cheaper than flying for the presidential entourage.  (Air Force One costs $180,000 per hour to operate.)

The U.S. Secret Service acquired two of the $1.1 million custom-built coaches last year as an upgrade to their vehicle fleet ahead of the 2012 campaign.  Officials say they are the most efficient way for the president to engage in retail politicking, particularly across rural areas.

One bus (presumably without a seal) will ferry Mitt Romney around the country once he becomes the nominee, officials said.  After the campaign, the buses will be used by the Secret Service to transport other federal protectees as needed.

While the inside of the bus has remained off limits to members of the press and cameras, two of Obama’s grassroots supporters got front row seats on a ride with the president on Thursday.

Jeff and Cheri Armes of New Bedford, Mass., won a campaign fundraising sweepstakes and the chance to accompany Obama from Toledo Express Airport to the Wolcott House Museum in Maumee, where he held his first rally.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Obama Kicks Off Bus Tour, Defends Economic Policies

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(MAUMEE, Ohio) -- With just four months to go until Election Day, President Obama told supporters at the first stop of his two-day campaign bus tour he’s “betting” they won’t lose heart or interest in the run-up to November.

“Unless you have been hiding out in the woods somewhere, you are aware of the fact that it's campaign season,” he told an enthusiastic crowd at the historic Wolcott House Museum in Maumee, Ohio.

Speaking in the sweltering heat in front of a large American flag and bales of hay, the president said he understands the campaign is “not always pretty to watch.”

“There has been more money flooding into the system then we've ever seen before, more negative ads, more cynicism,” he said. “I know sometimes it may be tempting to kind of turn away from all of it and just turn off the TV.”

The president, who has admitted he will be outspent by Republicans in the election, said some groups are hoping voters will just tune out the campaign.

“I'm betting you're not going to lose interest,” Obama said. “I’m betting you’re not going to lose heart… I still believe in you. I’m betting on you.”

As he kicks his campaign into high gear, the president is arguing the election will determine the nation’s economic fate and that rival Mitt Romney would pursue policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

“I want to work with anybody who believes that we're in this together,” Obama said. “I'm not a Democrat first, I'm an American first. I believe we rise or fall as one nation as one people.”

The president largely stayed on message today as he touted his economic agenda and American manufacturing, casting himself as the defender of the middle class and Romney as out-of-touch.

Obama, who is using his “Betting on America”-themed bus tour to highlight his bailout of the auto industry, said that, while his opponent wanted to “let Detroit go bankrupt,” he was “betting on the American worker.”

“And three years later the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

While his campaign co-chair blasted Romney’s off-shore bank accounts in his opening remarks, the president opted to repeat his accusation that Romney helped send jobs overseas.

“Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing,” he said. “My experience has been in saving the American auto industry. And as long as I'm president, that's what I'm going to be doing: waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities.”

The president also touted his administration’s decision to challenges China in the World Trade Organization for putting tariffs on U.S. auto exports.

While the administration has denied the timing of the announcement was political, Obama noted “just this morning my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American auto makers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Obama's Bus Tour Hits Friendly Turf in Pennsylvania, Ohio

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Unlike Mitt Romney’s recent bus tour, President Obama’s upcoming roadtrip might feel more like a homestand.

On Tuesday, his campaign announced a two-day bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio, which will take him across some friendly turf.  Not only did Obama win those two states in 2008, he’ll stop in counties that supported him -- the president has four scheduled public appearances, each one in a county he carried in 2008.

On Thursday, Obama will traverse northern Ohio, a Democratic stronghold.  On Friday, he’ll visit Pittsburgh, a Democratic outpost in traditionally Republican western Pennsylvania.

Obama will stop at the Wolcott House Museum in Toledo, Ohio, in a county where he defeated John McCain by 31 percentage points; at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio, where he won by 4 percentage points; at James W. Day Park and Dobbins Elementary School in Cleveland, where he won by 39 percentage points; and at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he won by 15 percentage points in 2008.

In all, Obama carried the total vote in these four counties by 27 percentage points.  If they made up a state, Obama would have won it 63 percent to 36 percent.

Contrast that to Romney’s recent bus tour, on which the former governor ventured into hostile territory.  While Obama will play some defense, Romney played mostly offense.

As ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield reported at the time, Romney’s schedule included stops in many counties Obama won in 2008.  By the end of the trip, Romney had appeared in 15 counties, 10 of which Obama won in 2008 and five of which were won by McCain.

In mid-June, Romney’s five-day bus tour swung through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan -- all Obama states in 2008.  In the 15 counties Romney visited, including major Obama strongholds in Madison, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa, Obama carried the total vote by 5 percentage points.  Counting all votes cast, Obama defeated McCain 50 percent to 45 percent in Romney’s bus-tour counties.

“We’re certainly campaigning on their turf,” Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters the day the tour began.

So why did Obama’s campaign choose such friendly territory?

A campaign official explained the stops as “still-critical towns and markets,” and in Pennsylvania, Obama will reach voters who opposed him last time, as Pittsburgh’s media market covers surrounding counties that all voted for McCain.  Pennsylvania’s Democratic counties surround Philadelphia, the state’s southeastern region.

But in Ohio, Obama will largely seek to energize and solidify his 2008 base.  The tour will take Obama across the northern part of the state, where every county east of Toledo backed him last time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Joe the Plumber: Obama ‘Should Be Embarrassed' to Come to Ohio

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The last time Samuel Wurzelbacher, a plumber from Ohio, attended an Obama campaign rally four years ago, he earned the nickname “Joe the Plumber” and became an icon of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign when he questioned then-candidate Obama about his tax plan.

But as President Obama’s bus tour rolls through Wurzelbacher’s northern Ohio district on Thursday, Wurzelbacher said he’d steer clear of any Obama events and let his fellow Ohioans answer his questions in the 2012 race.

“As of right now, I don’t have any desire to go there,” Wurzelbacher, who is now running for Congress on the Republican ticket, told ABC News.  “His ideology and mine are completely different, and I have no real reason to listen to him speak.”

Wurzelbacher has staked much of his campaign on opposing Obama’s policies, which he claims have made life harder for middle-class residents in his district by placing more regulations on the private sector, raising taxes and kicking the can down the road on America’s big problems, such as the debt and deficit.

“If I was Obama, I would be embarrassed to come here,” Wurzelbacher said.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll in June showed Obama with a nearly 10-point lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio.

With Obama’s hefty lead in Ohio and Wurzelbacher’s district’s already-Democratic leanings, Wurzelbacher faces an uphill battle in his bid for a U.S. House seat.  He is facing 15-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Kaptur in Ohio’s newly redrawn 9th district, which borders Lake Erie, extending from Cleveland to Toledo.

Wurzelbacher gained national notoriety as Joe the Plumber after he asked candidate Obama if his tax plan would raise taxes on his small plumbing business.  Obama’s GOP rival McCain seized on the encounter, often citing Wurzelbacher as an average American who would be adversely affected by Obama’s policies.

“He talks about transparency, and it hasn’t been.  He talks about making the rich stop getting richer and poor stop getting poorer,” Wurzelbacher said.  “He says one thing and does another, just like an average politician.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

Obama to Play Defense on Upcoming Bus Tour

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Obama for America announced Tuesday a two-day bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio, which will take the president across some friendly turf; not only did Obama win those two states in 2008, he'll stop in counties that supported him.

On Thursday, Obama will traverse the northern region of Ohio, a Democratic stronghold. On Friday, he'll visit Pittsburgh, a Democratic outpost in traditionally red Western Pennsylvania.

Obama will stop in Toledo, Ohio, in a county where he defeated John McCain by 31 percentage points; in Sandusky, Ohio, where he won by four percentage points; in Cleveland, where he won by 39 percentage points; and in Pittsburgh, where he won by 15 percentage points in 2008. In all, Obama carried the total vote in these four counties by 27 percentage points.

In mid-June, Romney's five-day bus tour swung through New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan, all Obama states in 2008. In the 15 counties Romney visited--including major Obama strongholds in Madison, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa--Obama carried the total vote by five percentage points. Counting all votes cast, Obama defeated McCain 50 percent to 45 percent in Romney's bus-tour counties.

"We're certainly campaigning on their turf," Romney strategist Russ Schriefer told reporters the day the tour began.

Why did Obama's campaign choose such friendly territory? A campaign official explained the stops as "still-critical towns and markets," and in Pennsylvania, Obama will reach voters who opposed him last time, as Pittsburgh's media market covers surrounding counties that all voted for McCain. Pennsylvania's Democratic counties surround Philadelphia, the state's southeastern region.

But in Ohio, Obama will largely seek to energize and solidify his 2008 base. The tour will take Obama across the northern part of the state, where every county east of Toledo backed him last time.

Ohio is among a handful of swing states Obama won in 2008 and is struggling to hold. In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain 52 percent to 47 percent in Ohio, but he registered only 42 percent approval there in 2011, according to a January state-approval-rating report by Gallup. When Quinnipiac University polled there in May, Ohio rated as a statistical tie, with Obama leading Romney 45 percent to 44 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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