Rick Perry Defends Immigration Record in Iowa

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SIOUX CITY, Iowa) -- In his first trip to Western Iowa, an area he described as “Republican country,” Texas Governor Rick Perry defended his immigration and border security experience, further explaining his support of legislation that provides in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Perry stressed the legislation does not subsidize illegal immigrants’ education and was intended to create “taxpayers not tax wasters.”

“We wanted to make taxpayers not tax wasters,” Perry told a crowd at McCarthy and Bailey’s Irish Pub in Sioux City, Iowa when explaining the decision to provide in-state tuition to illegal immigrants is a state issue. “At the federal level I would never suggest that the federal government needs to be making that kind of policy across this country. If the people of Iowa do not want that, that’s their call. I respect that.”

Perry highlighted his experience as a border state governor, arguing it gives him a better outlook on how to deal with border security than the other candidates.

“As the president of the United States, not only do I have the only experience on that stage, but I’m committed to securing the border by building that strategic fencing, by putting the boots on the ground by having the aviation assets and at that particular point in time you can secure that border and those issues that states have been forced to have to deal with start alleviating themselves,” Perry said.

Perry’s wife Anita chimed in towards the end of the question and answer session, reminding her husband to explain that illegal immigrants paying in-state tuition rates are on a path to obtaining citizenship.

The crowd laughed when Anita prompted him to discuss the topic, and Perry that’s something “she’s very good about doing,” when talking about her penchant for reminding him about things.

Perry’s appearance in Sioux City marked the beginning of his first tour through the Western area of the Hawkeye state.

Perry has been to Iowa three times previously and remarked that he’s realized his values fall directly in line with those espoused by Iowans.

“I think my conservative values are pretty much in line with the Midwestern values. You measure a leader by how they walk, not how they talk,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul: Wars Are Biggest Threat to Families

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- War is the greatest threat to the modern family, Rep. Ron Paul told an audience filled with social conservative activists today.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C., Paul said that wars in the last decade cost  thousands of soldiers’ lives.

Paul added that many more were left jobless as trillions poured out of the economy.
ap Ron Paul jt 111008 wblog Ron Paul: Wars Are Biggest Threat to Families

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

“When you lose a job, it’s hard to keep the family together,” said Paul.

Throughout the 20-minute speech punctuated with applause and several standing ovations, Paul managed to weave in several biblical themes molding it with his libertarian philosophy.

Drawing inspiration from the Book of Samuel, Paul said that America was relying too much on its sprawling federal government.

“We have too long relied upon our king in Washington and we have to change that,” said Paul.

One of the biggest lines that generated applause came when Paul asked the audience, “Why is it that we don’t fight to keep the fruits of our labor?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Chooses Not to Address Pastor's Mormon Attack

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate Mitt Romney chose not to take on Pastor Robert Jeffress, a supporter of Rick Perry, who called Romney’s religion, Mormonism, a “cult” on Friday.

Instead, on Saturday Romney took a pre-emptive strike at the speaker who followed him at the Values Voter Summit in Washington -- Bryan Fischer of the conservative American Family Association, who has openly criticized Mormonism.

“We should remember that decency and civility are values too,” Romney said. “One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line. Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind.”

In his speech, Fischer said the next president must be a person of “sincere, genuine Christian faith,” though he did not specify whether Romney fit that criteria. (In the past Fischer has referred to Mormonism as a non-Christian religion.)

“We need a president who believes in the same creator in whom the founders believed,” he said.

Before Romney spoke, Bill Bennett, a former U.S. Secretary of Education who now hosts his own syndicated radio talk show, condemned Pastor Jeffress comments, warning: “Do not give voice to bigotry.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Feds Say John Edwards' Lawyer Has Potential Conflicts of Interest

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Federal prosecutors pursuing the criminal case against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards Friday asked a judge in North Carolina to examine potential conflicts of interest involving Abbe Lowell, the high-powered attorney who heads Edwards’ legal team.

In particular, the government contends that Lowell’s prior representation of two likely prosecution witnesses could impact Edwards’ constitutional rights to conflict-free legal representation.

Edwards was charged in June in a six-count criminal indictment alleging that he participated in an illegal scheme to seclude and support his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, while Edwards was seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination. The case centers on more than $900,000 from two wealthy donors: 101-year-old heiress Rachel Mellon and former Edwards’ campaign finance chairman Fred Baron, who died in late 2008. The government contends those payments were made in violation of federal election finance laws.

During the criminal investigation of Edwards’ campaign, Lowell represented Baron’s widow, Lisa Blue, and longtime Edwards’ pollster Harrison Hickman, who the government contends was among a small clutch of confidants that made decisions about how to respond to allegations about the affair.

Lowell joined Edwards’ defense team in July after another prominent attorney, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, withdrew. The government’s motion notes that the potential conflicts were discussed with Lowell prior to his official entry into the case.

According to the motion, Lowell contends there is no conflict because he no longer represents Hickman or Blue, and he is not in possession of any confidential information as a result of his prior relationships with them.

In a statement ABC News today, Lowell said, “We have discussed this issue with the government to its satisfaction; its inquiry to make a record is appropriate; and we will respond in a court filing.”

The government also notes that Lowell has denied ever having an attorney-client relationship with Fred Baron concerning the issues in this case, and that he told prosecutors he did not provide any advice to Baron or Blue about the filing of gift taxes.

But the government says in its motion that it has emails between Lowell and Rielle Hunter that appear to relate to “Mr. Lowell’s attempts to gather information from Ms. Hunter about monies Mr. Baron had given her and/or expenses of hers that Mr. Baron had paid in connection with the filing of gift tax returns for Mr. Baron.”

And though the government goes out of its way in the motion to make clear it is not accusing Lowell of improper conduct, the prosecutors raise the possibility that Lowell himself could become the subject of testimony because of his “potential conflicts.”

The government’s motion also details a previously undisclosed meeting at a hotel in late 2007, at which Elizabeth Edwards, in the presence of her husband, John Edwards, as well as Lisa Blue and Fred Baron, allegedly complained angrily that Baron and Blue had befriended Hunter and had been spending time with her. By that time, Hunter was pregnant, the National Enquirer was hot on the trail of the affair, and Edwards was still in a three-way race with Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and last month Lowell submitted a weighty barrage of motions seeking to dismiss the charges. Those motions will be addresses in a court hearing on Oct. 26.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: Pass the Jobs Bill, Give Economy 'Jolt' It Needs

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama in his weekly address urges Senators to pass the American Jobs Act next week or risk facing an even weaker economy, saying his $447 billion bill will “provide our economy with the jolt that it really needs right now.”

“This jobs bill can help guard against another downturn here in America,” Obama says. “This isn’t just my belief.  This is what independent economists have said.  Not just politicians.  Not just people in my administration.  Independent experts who do this for a living have said that this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and middle-class families all across America.  But if we don’t act, the opposite will be true – there will be fewer jobs and weaker growth.”

The president challenges Republicans in Congress who say they have a better plan to “prove it.” Citing economists who claim Republicans’ proposals would not result in near-term economic growth, the president says “if their plan doesn’t measure up, the American people deserve to know what it is that Republicans in Congress don’t like about this jobs plan.”

As for his plan to lower the deficit by asking “millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share,” Obama explains “some see this as class warfare.  I see it as a simple choice.”

“We can either keep taxes exactly as they are for millionaires and billionaires, or we can ask them to pay at least the same rate as a plumber or a bus driver.  And in the process, we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.  We can either fight to protect their tax cuts, or we can cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America.  But we can’t afford to do both.  It’s that simple,” the president concludes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. John Thune: Obama 'Has Got to Change Course' on Economy

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the weekly Republican address to the nation, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota calls the president’s economic policies “damaging,” and says that “his proposed solutions are not serious.”

“His latest stimulus bill is so flawed that Senate Democrats have rejected it and are rewriting it, not to grow jobs, but to improve their political standing,” Thune says.

“It’s nothing but a rehash of the same failed ideas he’s already tried, combined with a huge tax increase. This is a cynical political ploy that’s designed not to create jobs for struggling Americans,” the South Dakota senator says, “but to save the president’s own job.”

In his own weekly address, President Obama urges Senators to pass the American Jobs Act next week or face an even weaker economy, saying that his $447 billion bill will “provide our economy with the jolt that it really needs right now.”

The president challenges congressional Republicans who say they have a better plan to “prove it.”

In the GOP address released Saturday, Thune says there are “common sense things that we can do to give America the freedom and the certainty to create good jobs.”

“For starters," Thune says, "we can finally implement the free trade agreements we’ve negotiated with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea."

Thune then takes a shot at the president, noting he waited "almost 1,000 days" before submitting those trade deals -- negotiated under the Bush administration -- to Congress.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that we had to wait so long for the president to do something so simple, to help promote American exports, and create American jobs,” he says.

“In my state of South Dakota we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. That’s because our state has low taxes, fewer government regulations, and is a right-to-work state.

“The Republican plan to get our country moving again builds on these kinds of ideas.  We’re calling for a regulatory time-out, an affordable energy plan, broad-based tax reform including lower rates, and policies that provide the certainty and stability our economy desperately needs.”

Thune concludes his address by saying that Washington has grown “too powerful” under President Obama, and urges the president to change his economic policies – which he says have “hurt job creation.”

“Too often Washington is the problem, not the solution, and we’ve seen the results since President Obama was sworn in and started moving our country in the wrong direction.”

“President Obama," Thune says, “has got to change course.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Clarifies Stance on Mormonism, Says It's Not a 'Cult'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(TIFFIN, Iowa) -- Hours after a Rick Perry supporter categorized the Mormon religion as a “cult,” the Texas governor said he does not hold the same view.

Asked if he thought Mormonism was a cult as he walked out of the Jefferson County BBQ in Tiffin, Iowa, Perry said, “No, I already answered that.”

Earlier in the day, a Perry supporter, Robert Jeffress, pastor of a Baptist megachurch in Dallas, told reporters at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., that Mormonism was a “cult,” though he did not mention Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, a Mormon, by name.

Jeffress expressed similar sentiments in 2007 when he said about Romney, “Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.”

The Perry press team told ABC News the organizers of the Values Voters Summit selected Jeffress to introduce the Texas governor. But Politico reported that the Perry campaign did approve him as a speaker.

Perry’s speech to the Jefferson County GOP touched on his normal themes of the economic success of Texas, but he also shared his views on “class warfare” being thrown around in politics.

“The idea of class warfare is, on its face, very resentful to America,” Perry said before a crowd of around 250 Iowa voters. “Americans want, they don’t want a handout. They want to be able to work and take care of their family. There’s nothing more important than having the dignity of a job, and I happen to think that anyone who tries to draw or create a wedge between Americans using class warfare really doesn’t understand how Americans think and feel.”

Perry discussed the need to institute stronger economic standards in the country in order to ensure other nations, such as China, know the United States is capable of and willing to engage in competition.

Perry attempted to make his case on immigration and border security, never mentioning controversial legislation he approved that provides in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in Texas. He touted Texas’ efforts in securing the border and passing a voter ID law during the last legislative session.

Perry, who is on his fourth trip to Iowa since announcing his candidacy, reminded the crowd of the importance Iowans hold in electing the next president.

“I’m kind of reminded that pundits don’t choose presidents,” he said. “People of Iowa do.”

The Texas governor will continue to campaign in Iowa this weekend, making stops in Sioux City, Orange City and Spencer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Holder Issues Fiery Response to Critics on ATF Gun Operation

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder accused congressional Republicans of “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric” over claims that he misled Congress when he was questioned earlier this year about a botched Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms operation that resulted in guns flowing into Mexico.

“I have not spoken at length on this subject out of deference to the review being conducted, at my request, by our Department’s Inspector General,” Holder wrote in a fiery letter to the chairmen of three congressional committees Friday.  “However, in the past few days, the public discourse concerning these issues has become so base and so harmful to interests that I hope we all share that I must now address these issues notwithstanding the Inspector General’s ongoing review.”

On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a series of Justice Department memos sent to Holder about the gun trafficking investigation known as Fast and Furious.

The operation took a tragic toll in December 2010, when two weapons found on the scene where border patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered were linked to the ATF program. Other weapons from the program have been linked to a slew of crimes in Arizona and Mexico.

The controversy that boiled to a head this week centers on testimony Holder provided to the House Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2011. During that hearing, Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., who is spearheading the Congressional investigation, asked Holder, “When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious — to the best of your knowledge, what date?”

Holder answered: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

When the briefing memos were released Thursday showing that Holder had been sent memos going back to July 2010 on the program, Republican members of Congress tore into Holder.

“Attorney General Holder has failed to give Congress and the American people an honest account of what he and other senior Justice Department officials knew about gunwalking and Operation Fast and Furious,” Rep. Issa said. ” The lack of candor and honesty from our nation’s chief law enforcement officials in this matter is deeply disturbing.”

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, called on Holder to resign.

On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., told the publication the Daily Caller, “When you facilitate that and a murder or a felony occurs, you’re called an accessory. That means that there’s criminal activity.”

The comment raised Holder’s ire. He wrote to the members of the oversight committees, “I simply cannot sit idly by as a Majority Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered ‘accessories to murder.’  Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms. Those who serve in the ranks of law enforcement are our Nation’s heroes and deserve our Nation’s thanks, not the disrespect that is being heaped on them by those who seek political advantage.  I trust you feel similarly and I call on you to denounce these statements.

“Much has been made in the past few days about my congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious,” he added. “My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout.  I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it.  Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona and the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves, were unaware of the tactics employed.  I understand that they have also told Congress that they never briefed me or other Department leadership on the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious.”

“In the past few days,” he said, “some have pointed to documents that we provided to Congress as evidence that I was familiar with Fast and Furious earlier than I have testified.  That simply is not the case and those suggestions mischaracterize the process by which I receive information concerning the activities of the Department’s many components.  On a weekly basis, my office typically receives over a hundred pages of so-called ‘weekly reports’ that, while addressed to me, actually are provided to and reviewed by members of my staff and the staff of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

“The weekly reports contain short summaries of matters that the agencies deem of interest that week,” he wrote. “Sometimes, the summaries are simply a sentence-long and other times they consist of a paragraph.  In some cases, the summaries are of policy-related issues or upcoming events.  In other cases, the summaries are brief, high-level reviews of pending matters or investigations.

“As I have said, the fact that even a single gun was not interdicted in this operation and found its way to Mexico is unacceptable,” he said. “Equally unacceptable, however, is the fact that too many in Congress are opposed to any discussion of fixing loopholes in our laws that facilitate the staggering flow of guns each year across our border to the south.  I cannot help but note that at the same time that some members of Congress understandably criticize the Fast and Furious operation, they vehemently refuse to consider whether ATF has the resources and legal tools it needs to do its job – tools that would be entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

“Until we move beyond the current political climate – where real solutions take a back seat to both political posturing and making headlines on cable news programs, and is deemed more important than actually solving our country’s difficult challenges — nothing is going to change,” Holder concluded in the 5-page letter. “I hope we can engage in a more responsible dialogue on this subject in the future.  There is much we all need to do together to stop gun violence on both sides of the border and make our Nation safer.”

After reviewing the letter, Frederick Hill a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, “If Attorney General Holder had said these things five months ago when Congress asked him about Operation Fast and Furious, it might have been more believable.  At this point, however, it’s hard to take at face value a defense that is factually questionable, entirely self-serving, and a still incomplete account of what senior Justice Department officials knew about gun walking.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney: ‘America Must Lead or Someone Else Will’

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) – Beneath a massive banner overhead that reads “Believe in America,” former Gov. Mitt Romney delivered his foreign policy plan in Charleston on Friday, declaring, “America must lead the world, or someone else will.”

Speaking at the Citadel, Romney delivered his address to an audience filled with hundreds of cadets, whom he called “heroes,” declaring, “This is America’s moment.”

“God did not create this country to be a nation of followers,” said Romney, whose plan includes eight actions he says he will take within his first 100 days in office to place “America – and the world – on safer footing.”

On the very campus that President George W. Bush delivered his speech on the war on terror in December 2001, three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Romney slammed the strength of the U.S. military under President Obama.

“I will not surrender America’s role in the world,” said Romney. “This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president.”

“American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this president, all three of those elements have been weakened,” he said.

Titled “An American Century: a Strategy to secure American’s Enduring Interests and Ideals,” this policy speech was the second of Romney’s campaign. He delivered his economic plan in Nevada last month.

If elected, Romney says he will increase the naval shipbuilding rate from nine per year to 15 and sustain the carrier fleet at 11. He would also establish a unified regional director for the Middle East to “direct our soft power toward ensuring the Arab Spring does not fade into a long winter.”

In Afghanistan, Romney said he would order a “full review of our transition to the Afghan military to secure that nation’s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban.

“I will speak with our generals in the field, and receive the best recommendation of our military commanders,” he said. “The force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully is a decision I will make free from politics.”

On the campaign trail Romney has offered even more specifics about his plan for troop withdrawal.  At a town hall meeting last week in New Hampshire, Romney said he would like to bring virtually all the troops home by December 2014, and the surge troops home by December 2012.  He called Obama’s plan to bring the surge troops home in September 2012 a “political decision.”

Romney’s plan will also include a campaign to “advance economic opportunity in Latin America,” a policy that advisers say makes this plan stand apart from those of  Obama and  Bush. Romney also vows to “bolster and repair our alliances” with the United Kingdom, and says he will launch communication with Mexico to tackle issues such as drugs and security.

Interrupted by applause several times during the speech, Romney seemed buoyed by the crowd. “The 21st century can and must be an American century. It began with terror, war and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace and prosperity.”

“Let future generations look back on us and say they rose to the occasion, they embraced their duty and they led our nation to safety and to greatness.”

The Obama campaign had a swift response to Romney’s speech and strategy:  “Gov. Romney raised real questions about his capacity to lead this country and wage the fight against terrorism. He didn’t outline a strategy to strengthen America’s security and promote our interests and didn’t even identify defeating al Qaeda as a goal. President Obama has degraded al Qaeda and dealt huge blows to its leadership, including eliminating Osama bin Laden, ended the war in Iraq, promoted our security in Afghanistan while winding down our commitment in a responsible way and strengthened American leadership around the world. Gov. Romney proves once again that he is willing to say anything, regardless of the facts, to get elected.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Wants Sarah Palin's Endorsement

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While Rick Santorum’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination – such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and now businessman Herman Cain – enjoy bursts of popularity, the former Pennsylvania senator can’t seem to get his campaign out of the gate.

Endorsements from leading Republicans – say, Sarah Palin - might certainly help. “Her being out of the race and potentially getting involved in a campaign with somebody else could be a big lift,” Santorum told ABC News on Friday.

“We’d like your endorsement by the way,” he joked, staring straight to the camera.

Palin labeled Santorum a “knuckle-dragging Neanderthal” in February. Santorum called it a misunderstanding and said there is no problem between himself and the former Alaskan governor.

His national poll numbers remain low, although the candidate says he does not pay any attention to the dismal numbers.

“I don’t want to be depressed by watching national polls,” Santorum said. “I just tend to focus on what we’re doing on the ground and know, just like in the Ames Straw Poll where no one gave us any chance, every poll said we were way, way back in the back and we finished a pretty strong fourth.”

Santorum’s campaign has held more than twice as many events in the Hawkeye state as any other 2012 candidate. But the senator denies Iowa is a must-win for his campaign.

“Iowa has to get us in the race,” Santorum said, adding that if he can finish third or fourth in Iowa, he will solidify his position as “the conservative alternative” to moderate candidates such Mitt Romney, Huntsman and even Cain.

A few months ago, Santorum, 53, was near tied with Cain in several polls. Cain’s campaign is now taking off; the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO came in second in the ABC News-Washington Post poll Tuesday, and won the Florida GOP P5 straw poll last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio