Huntsman Stumps in Charleston; Tells Obama to 'Hit the Road Jack'

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- A fiery Jon Huntsman took the stage at Rep. Tim Scott’s first GOP town hall in Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday, practically shouting his stump speech to the crowd of 200 people.

The event culminated with a rather unique rendition of “Hit the Road Jack.”  Scott and former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster sang at the microphone while Huntsman took to the keys.  The song, Scott told the crowd, was dedicated to President Obama.

“Pathetic, given where we are, the greatest nation on earth in that kind of slump,” Huntsman said to the first-in-the-south audience.  “I don’t know about you but the president has had two-and-a-half years to address the most pressing problem we as Americans face, infusing confidence in our overall direction and dealing with job growth and getting our economy going again and he has failed.  He has failed the American people on the most important issue of our time.”

The former Utah governor and GOP presidential hopeful was filled with emotion as he reflected on the weekend’s difficult events.
“Yesterday I turned on the news and I heard about the downgrade to AA+,” Huntsman said.  “And I heard about those men in Afghanistan and my heart cried.  And I thought those moms and dads who raise up those kids to do great things, encourage them to go put on the uniform for the country, they want the very best out of them.  We give this our all, ladies and gentlemen.  Service to country.  We’re patriotic people.  This, where we find ourselves today, is an un-American place to be.”

While Huntsman was met with roaring cheers and applause throughout the hour-long town hall, one woman confronted the former governor for being too liberal.

“How many of you here are tea party people?” she asked.  “And how many want somebody to run for president who is a moderate?  Thank you.”

Huntsman was quick to defend himself.

“Everybody likes to put a label on somebody.  I think that’s unfair," he said.  "All I ask is that you look at my record.  Pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-growth, historic tax cuts ... I encourage you to look at my record.”

With his poll numbers still in single digits, it is clear Huntsman will work on a case-by-case basis to garner support in the crucial primary state.

He concluded the event by telling the crowd, “If we’re going to win in 2012, we need somebody who can get enough votes.  We need votes.  You can’t win with nobody.  You can't with 10 percent here or 15 percent there.  We need votes if we’re going to bring change to Washington in 2012.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Timothy Geithner Staying on as Treasury Secretary

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is staying put.

The secretary informed President Obama that he plans to stay on in his position, ending speculation that the last member of Obama's original economic team would depart.  White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the president asked Geithner to stay.

Rumors swirled that Geithner would leave the administration after Congress raised the debt ceiling.  Sunday's announcement comes days after the major credit rating agency, S&P, downgraded the United States' credit rating.

In a statement, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Public Affairs Jenni LeCompte said Geithner "looks forward to the important work ahead on the challenges facing our great country."

The Obama administration routinely states that its actions helped prevent the economy from becoming even worse, but unemployment has remained high and growth low during the Obama presidency.  Several prominent members of Obama’s economic team have departed, including Larry Summers, Christina Romer, Peter Orszag and Austan Goolsbee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thirteenth Anniversary of Kenyan, Tanzanian Embassy Bombings 

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON ) -- Sunday marks the 13th Anniversary of organized terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The Kenyan attacks left 218 people dead and over 5,000 injured. In Tanzania, 11 people died and at least 85 were injured.

On Sunday, the U.S. and the people of East Africa will come together to remember the tragic attacks and to strengthen the efforts in preventing future terrorist attacks, President Barack Obama announced in a statement released Sunday.

“We join with our friends and allies in advancing peace and security for Americans, Kenyans, Tanzanians, and all people in building a world that is worthy of the legacy of the victims of these bombings,” Obama said.

Harun Fazul—the mastermind behind the attacks—died on June 11, marking an important blow to al-Qaeda and its ability to threaten innocent lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford Talks Hama Crackdown  

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford condemned the Syrian military crackdown against a civilian uprising in the city of Hama, calling the violence there "grotesque" and "abhorrent."

As international condemnation grows, he said the United States would "try to ratchet up the pressure" on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including through new sanctions.

"The violence that the Syrian government is inflicting on Syrian protesters, from our point of view, is grotesque. It's abhorrent," Ford told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour in a U.S. exclusive. "So we are looking at additional unilateral measures, but also measures that we can work with partners to get the Syrian government to stop shooting protesters, to release political prisoners and to stop these arrest campaigns."

More than 200 civilians have reportedly been killed in Hama, a city of 700,000 in central Syria, since the army launched its latest crackdown last week, the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Telecommunications, electricity and water supply have been cut for the past 48 hours and there are reports of shortages in food as well as medical equipment.

As army tanks took over the city's central square last Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the violence and called for restraint.

New reports Sunday said the Syrian military had broadened its crackdown on anti-government descent to the city of Deir al-Zour, deploying tanks to the eastern city that has been another major center of civilian protest in recent months.

"What the government is doing now is, it's literally going house to house and it's rounding up people," Ford said. "There is no due process. There's a lot of violence. There's shooting. It's frightful. It's abominable."

The city of Hama is known as the site of a brutal crackdown in 1982, when Syrian security forces killed at least 20,000 civilians to crush a rebellion there.

Ford traveled to Hama in July to show support for growing demonstrations there against the Syrian regime; he was greeted warmly with some supporters throwing flowers at his vehicle.

"They're certainly angry with my trip to Hama," Ford said of the Syrian government. "I don't particularly care, because we have to show our solidarity with peaceful protesters. I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to… I'm going keep moving around the country. I can't stop."

Ford expressed concern that a similar crackdown to the one in 1982 could happen today, saying that the Syrian government has rounded up individuals who met with him in July.

"I mean literally dozens of people have been killed in the last week," Ford said. "I'm personally very nervous about the fate of some of the people I met. I fear that they're either now under arrest or may be dead."

"That's the kind of repression that we're talking about," he added. "It's important to bear witness, and it's important to relay a message of support."

Ford has relied on unconventional methods for a diplomat, using Facebook to reach Syrian citizens and meeting them in person, while voicing direct criticism at the Syrian regime.

"My whole purpose in being in Syria is to be able to communicate, not only with the Syrian government but with the Syrian people more generally," Ford said. "I will be very frank."

Ford reiterated the U.S. government position that says Assad and "his government will be left in the past."

"We do not view Bashar Assad as indispensible. We do not view his continuation in power as important to American interests," Ford said. "We have said we view him and his government as the source of instability and the source of violence in Syria. I think our views are very clear."

But while Ford says that Assad "has lost his legitimacy," he says it will be up to the Syrian people to change the country's leadership, and that they do not seek U.S. military intervention in Syria to oust Assad.

"It doesn't really matter as much what we say, or what the international community says, as what the Syrian people say. And what the Syrian people do," Ford said.

"They did not want American military intervention," Ford added. "I want to underline that. They did not want American military intervention."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Obama Adviser on Credit Downgrade: 'Pretty Darn Fu**ed' 

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Only hours after Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit worthiness of the U.S. for the first time in history, a former Obama economic adviser summarized the situation in a colorful way.

The U.S. is "pretty darn fu**ed," said Christine Romer, President Obama's first chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Appearing on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher", Ms. Romer was asked about what the downgrade means for the U.S. economy. Romer's profanity followed a clip for a segment on Maher's show called "How Fucked Are We?"

An amused Maher paused to let the audience enjoy what Romer had said. After all, it's not everyday that a professor and former White House staffer swears on live cable.

"I've been hanging around Tim Geithner too long," Romer added, obviously trying to milk the moment.

"Does he swear like a sailor?," Maher asked.

"Like a seventh grade boy."

Romer, a University of California, Berkeley professor, departed the White House a year ago saying the government has the tools to bring down unemployment if policymakers can find the will and wisdom to use them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Response to Downgrading: Debt Deal 'Took Too Long'

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House says Washington "must do better" in tackling the deficit.

In reaction to Friday night's downgrading of the long-term U.S. debt by Standard & Poor's, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the deal to raise the nation's borrowing limit "took too long," and the negotiations were "at times too divisive."

Republican House Speaker John Boehner took the downgrading as proof that the GOP is right in pushing for severe spending cuts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thousands Gather for Gov. Perry-Sponsored Christian Event

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Thousands gathered for an evangelical Christian gathering sponsored by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Houston on Saturday.

The program started around 9 a.m. at Reliant Stadium, and featured Christian performers.

The event, which is billed as "The Response," has been a lightning rod of controversy due to Perry's promotion.

Critics have said the event is a violation of the separation of church and state. The American Family Association, a major organizer of the event, is seen as a hate group by gay rights activists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Weekly Address: President Needs to 'Wake Up to Reality'

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Delivering the GOP weekly address, New York Congressman Michael Grimm highlighted the Republican plan to give job creators more opportunities.

"Republicans are focused on implementing a strong road map for job creation that reduces burdensome regulations, calls for a simpler and fairer tax code and expands American energy production," Grimm says.

"For the sake of our economy, I'm urging the President to wake up to reality, abandon his failed policies and join Republicans in the hard work needed to turn our country around and create jobs," he added.

Grimm also says that both parties need to put politics aside to reach an agreement.

"Calling on both parties to come together and send a balanced budget amendment to the states, would be a good start. We need less politics and more common sense if we are going to save our country from financial ruin and restore a thriving economy for our children and grandchildren."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Weekly Address: 'Our Urgent Mission Has To Be Getting This Economy Growing'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama urges Congress to work together to solve the nation's economic woes.

“Our urgent mission has to be getting this economy growing faster and creating jobs,” the president says. “Our job right now has to be doing whatever we can to help folks find work; to help create the climate where a business can put up that job listing; where incomes are rising again for people. We’ve got to rebuild this economy and the sense of security that middle class has felt slipping away for years.  And while deficit reduction has to be part of our economic strategy, it’s not the only thing we have to do.”

The president once again points to stalled measures in Congress that he says will spur economic growth, including extending the payroll tax credit, investing in infrastructure, passing patent reforms and extending unemployment insurance.

“Those are a few commonsense steps that would help the economy.  And these are ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the past.  So I’m going to keep calling on both parties in Congress to put aside their differences and send these bills to my desk so I can sign them right away,” Obama says.

“After all, both parties share power.  Both parties share responsibility for our progress.  Moving our economy and our country forward is not a Democratic or a Republican responsibility; it is our responsibility as Americans,” the president concludes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wealthy 2012 Contributors Use Outside PACs To Give Big To Obama and Romney -- What do you do if you've already maxed out your donations to President Obama and Mitt Romney? Give to their outside political action committees -- and give big.

According to an analysis by ABC News, about half the money given during the first six months of this year to Restore Our Future, a PAC set up to support Romney, came from donors who also gave the federal maximum of $2,500 to his campaign.

And the vast majority of the money flowing into the coffers of Priorities USA Action, a PAC whose goal is to help Obama get re-elected, was given by contributors who also gave the maximum to the Obama campaign directly.

Restore our Future and Priorities USA Action are technically independent entities, but their founders' make no secret that their mission is to help Romney and Obama win in 2012.

Both groups are so-called super PACs that can accept unlimited donations. They were set up by former Romney and Obama advisers and can spend money in support of both candidates, though they are not allowed to directly coordinate with the campaigns.

But the net effect is that they allow donors who support Romney and Obama -- but are limited to $2,500 in direct campaign donations -- to back the front runner for the Republican nomination and the incumbent president with unlimited resources.

Of the $12.2 million raised in the first six months of the year by Romney's allies in Restore Our Future, more than $6 million was given by Romney campaign donors. Of the 90 donations to the PAC, approximately 57 came from Romney donors (in some cases it is difficult to ascertain from the FEC report if identical names represent the same person.)

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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