New GOP Governors Introduced to RGA; Focused on Budgets

Photo Courtesy - Governor [dot] State [dot] MN [dot] US(SAN DIEGO) --  Like a proud parent, Republican Governors Association Vice Chairman and outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was happy to show off a crop of newly-elected governors to a crowded room of RGA donors, members and the media.  As he introduced each of the five “new faces of the GOP” Wednesday afternoon, Pawlenty mentioned the amount of money the RGA contributed to the efforts of many of those campaigns.

Of course, it helps Pawlenty, a likely 2012 nominee, to get close with many of these newbies.  Governor-elect Nikki Haley hails from South Carolina which hosts one of the first primaries in 2012.

The four other panelists on the “New Faces” panel, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Corbett, Nevada Governor-elect Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Governor.-elect Susana Martinez, represent swing states that will be key to the chances of any Republican nominee in 2012.

Aware of the bleak fiscal situation facing them when they take office in January, the newly-elected executives said they were focused on being honest with voters about the difficult cuts and choices that await them.

Ohio’s Kasich, whose state is looking at an $8 billion budget hole, told his colleagues that “you weren’t elected to be re-elected.”  When it comes to shrinking the size of government, he said, you can’t “play favorites.  If [government programs] don’t work, get rid of them.”

Haley, who survived a rough-and-tumble primary and general election campaign, told the audience, “We have to be honest with the people of our state.  We need to say this is going to hurt.  We’re going to struggle.  But we have to make sure we don’t make political decisions the first year.  We make the right decision.”  And, she noted, “if we do that, we will come out of this challenge in year two and three stronger and more competitive than when we started.”

What was as notable was what the governors-elect didn't say. There was no talk of social issues, and even health care reform barely was addressed, though it’s clearly unpopular among this crowd.  Instead, the focus was almost 100 percent on economic and budgetary issues.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Continue to Press Case for START Treaty

Photo Courtesy - Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will pop by the Roosevelt Room of the White House Thursday morning where he will meet with a bipartisan group of current and former administration officials who support his push for the Senate to ratify the START treaty with Russia.

They include not just natural supporters of the president’s push, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry of Massachussetts and ranking Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, but also former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright, James Baker, and Henry Kissinger; former secretaries of defense William Cohen and William Perry; former national security advisor General Brent Scowcroft; the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright; and former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

Many Republican Senators have expressed misgivings about the treaty’s language on missile defense and a desire for more funding for missile modernization.  Senior administration officials have added more than $4 billion for the latter priority and deny that the treaty impacts missile defense in any way.

Many administration officials suspect Republican opposition is rooted in a desire to embarrass the president.

The treaty -- which was signed in April -- requires both countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals from 2,200 deployed warheads for each country to 1,550 over seven years, a 30 percent reduction from the last treaty.  It also requires the U.S. and Russia reduce their long-range missiles and launchers to 700 for each country as well.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


House Ethics Committee to Vote on Charles Rangel's Punishment

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The legendary, once-powerful New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel will learn his fate Thursday when he is sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee for multiple violations of House rules.

On Tuesday, the committee found Rangel guilty of 11 of 13 ethics charges, ranging from improper fundraising to failing to disclose assets on financial disclosure forms.

The sanction, whatever it might be, will be a stain on the record of a man who has served in the House for 40 years.  The scandal forced him to relinquish his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in March.

Rangel has blasted the ethics proceeding because the committee was unwilling to delay the trial so that he could explore the creation of a legal defense fund to pay his bills.  He stormed out of the proceeding on the first day, saying he couldn't afford an attorney to represent him, even though the committee chairwoman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, said he had had ample time to explore representation.

Later, Rangel released a statement calling the committee's verdict "unprecedented in view of the fact that they arrived at without rebuttal or counter evidence on my behalf."

At a noon hearing on Thursday, members of the committee will hear from R. Blake Chisam, the chief counsel for the ethics committee, who will lay out the sanction recommendations.

Based on the recommendations, the committee will then consider and vote on a sanction motion and its recommendations of disciplinary action before sending the matter to the full House of Representatives.  The possible sanctions range from expulsion from Congress -- which is highly unlikely -- to censure, reprimand or a formal letter of reproval.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Donald Trump to Run for Presidency? Will Decide by June

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Real estate tycoon, reality show star and now a presidential candidate?  Donald Trump told ABC News he is seriously considering a run for the White House and will make a final decision by June.

“I am thinking about things.  And I'm looking at this country and what's happened in terms of respect.  And the respect for this country is just not there,” Trump said.  “I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us.  They feel we're fools.  And almost being led by fools.  And they can't believe what they're getting away with.”

The United States is a “whipping post” right now and China is “getting away with murder” because it’s manipulating its currency, he said.  But he claims all of that would stop under a Trump administration.  He would start by tackling the price of oil and taxing China -- even though they are our bankers, Trump insists we still have control.

“I don't think the bankers have the cards.  I think you have the cards.  And in this case, in the case of China, you literally are taxing China, you'll pay off your debt very quickly.  And don't forget, you're talking about trade war, right,” he said.

Trump would run as a Republican and didn’t rule out a self-funded campaign.  He said he could “very easily” spend more than $200 million on it.

If his poll numbers hold up and if “the country continues to be taken advantage of by the world” then he said he would run.

"I'm going to make a decision probably by June,” Trump said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Says She Could Beat Obama in Presidential Race

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin says she is seriously considering a run for the White House, and she believes she could beat President Obama in 2012, the former Alaska governor told ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and...trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing," Palin said in an interview scheduled to air in its entirety Dec. 9 on ABC as part of Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010.

Although Palin remains undecided about whether to run, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has now made clear in two interviews this week that she is seriously considering it.

In a profile to be published in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, Palin told reporter Robert Draper "I am," when asked if she was weighing a 2012 run. "I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here."

Palin said her decision would involve "evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table," admitting the biggest challenge would be proving her record.

"I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn't have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record," the former Alaska governor told Draper. "That's the most frustrating thing for me -- the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate to Take Another Shot at 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Photo Courtesy - Reid dot Senate dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday night that he will take another stab at passing a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the lame-duck session of Congress.

"Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so,” Reid said Wednesday in a statement.

GOP lawmakers might be willing to support the repeal if Reid were to allow a lengthy floor debate on it that includes amendments, even if that throws a wrench into an already-packed Senate agenda that includes extending the Bush tax cuts and keeping the government funded after Dec. 3. Another group of Republicans has said they would not support a repeal until they have received a Pentagon report on the policy due on Defense Secretary Gates' desk on Dec. 1.

Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, a group of senators led by Joe Lieberman are set to hold a press conference to push the repeal.

Additionally, Reid said that he will set a stand-alone vote on the DREAM Act, a scaled-back immigration bill that would enable undocumented students who arrive in the U.S. before age 16 to become legal residents after five years by completing higher education or military service.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Voice Outrage at New Medicare Head

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans unloaded their pent-up frustrations on Dr. Don Berwick Wednesday in his first appearance before Congress since taking charge of Medicare and Medicaid.

“This is pathetic,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, groused at Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Hatch expressed the recurring complaints of Republicans that President Obama never should have put Berwick in charge of an agency that gets more money than the Pentagon without first sending him to Capitol Hill for even a confirmation hearing before this “doggone important committee.”

Just three months after nominating him, President Obama used a recess appointment this summer to put Berwick in his post while the Senate was on break.

Hatch said his constituents were “outraged” by Berwick’s recess appointment and he complained Wednesday’s hearing was too brief to cover the vastness of Republican health care concerns.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning scolded Berwick. “Your recess appointment was an end-run around Congress,” Bunning said. “I can assure you you won’t receive special treatment next year...I expect you’ll be spending a lot of time before the House of Representatives.”

Republicans take control of the House in January. At a minimum, they promise to run Berwick and other Obama administration officials through a series of tough hearings. There’s also a move afoot to repeal the new health care law.

Berwick said that would be a “terrible” outcome. “I can’t think of a worse plan than repealing this law,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


More Harm than Good: Republican Leaders Voice Fears Over Fed Plan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican leaders in the House and Senate Wednesday voiced concerns about the Federal Reserve’s new $600-billion monetary stimulus plan, known as “QE2”, short for “quantitative easing.”

In a letter to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, top Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl and top House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor said the plan creates “significant uncertainty” about the strength of the dollar, “impairs U.S. trade relations,” and “erodes confidence in the economic outlook.”

“While intended to improve the short-term growth of the U.S. economy and help maintain a stable price level, such a measure introduces significant uncertainty regarding the future strength of the dollar and could result both in hard-to-control, long-term inflation and potentially generate artificial asset bubbles that could cause further economic disruptions,” the GOP lawmakers wrote to Bernanke.

Noting that the plan has already “generated increased criticism and action from other central banks and governments,” the lawmakers warned, “any action taken by our nation or foreign nations that impairs U.S. trade relations at a time when we should be fighting global trade protection measures will only further harm the global economy and could delay recovery in the United States.”

The GOP lawmakers are only the latest in a growing chorus of criticism against the central bank’s program. Countries such as China and Russia initially voiced concerns about the plan, followed swiftly by a wide range of Republicans.

Bernanke recently made the case for the program in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, explaining that the new money -- injected into the economy through a program which will buy up Treasury bonds during the next eight months -- can reduce borrowing costs for American consumers and businesses, while also lowering interest payments for people and businesses with lots of money in savings. The Fed boss deflected fears that the plan would result in higher inflation as “overstated.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


John Boehner Elected Next Speaker, Nancy Pelosi Will Lead Democrats

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite an election that saw a wave of Republicans sweep the GOP into the House majority, when Congress convenes early next January both party's teams will closely resemble the current House leadership of the 111th Congress.

Republicans unanimously picked Minority Leader John Boehner, who ran unopposed, as the next Speaker of the House, while Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., was selected as Majority Leader.

"The job of the next Speaker is to work to restore the institution...restore it to being the People's House," Boehner told the Republican Caucus. "It's not about us; it's about them. And what they want is a smaller, less costly, more accountable government. More jobs, less spending. It's that simple," he said.

The House Democratic Caucus elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as Democratic Leader for the next session of Congress.

Pelosi, D-Calif., was challenged by moderate Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and won by a vote of 150-43.

Pelosi defended the caucus's decision to keep its current leadership team in place despite a landslide election earlier this month that saw more than 60 House Democrats suffer defeat at the hands of the GOP.

"I am proud to be part of this leadership team. Our consensus is that we go out there, listening to the American people," Pelosi said. "It's about jobs, it's about reducing the deficit, and it's about fighting for the middle class. So I look forward to doing that in this great leadership team."

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was elected the Minority Whip, the Democrats' second-ranking post in the House. Hoyer was unopposed, while Rep. James Clyburn, the current House Majority Whip, was nominated by Pelosi to serve as the Democrats' first Assistant Leader. Clyburn had initially expressed his intent to run for minority whip, but seems to have backed off after Pelosi brokered a deal with the South Carolina Democrat to retain his rank in the party and stay on as "assistant leader."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Lisa Murkowski Makes History as Write-In Candidate, Wins Alaska Senate Race

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has become the first incumbent senator and only the second person in U.S. history to wage a successful write-in campaign.

"We made history," Murkowski told supporters gathered in Alaska Wednesday evening. "Alaskans made history. And doesn't it just feel -- wow! -- still a little bit mind-boggling? And that's why it's important to be surrounded by friends, supporters."

In a historic election that pitted Republicans against Republicans, Murkowski emerged victorious by a narrow margin. As of Tuesday evening, Murkowski had won more than 90 percent of the write-in votes and had a lead of more than 10,000 votes over Miller.

Miller defeated Murkowski in a rancorous Republican primary, prompting Murkowski's decision to mount a write-in campaign. Murkowski toned down the rancor Wednesday evening, however, thanking Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams, who finished third.

"Both of these men put their heart and soul...into this campaign," she said. "What a wild, wild two months that has been."

She called upon her opponents to unite with her in the interest of Alaska.

"This is now the unifying time," she said. "This is now when we as Alaskans say, 'OK, the campaign is over. Let's go to work.'"

Despite Murkowski's lead, Miller on Wednesday refused to concede, saying he was "less cautiously optimistic" but would wait until military ballots from overseas were counted to make a final decision.

The only other person to win a U.S. Senate seat in a write-in campaign was Strom Thurmond, who ran in South Carolina in 1954. No write-in candidate had ever been successful in Alaska.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


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