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Wednesday
Jun082011

Sarah Palin's Camp Hits Back at Team Michele Bachmann

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin's camp is bringing out the big guns.

After Michele Bachmann strategist Ed Rollins told a radio host that Palin is "not serious," Palin's recently-minted chief of staff, Michael Glassner, hit back.

"Beltway political strategist Ed Rollins has a long, long track record of taking high profile jobs and promptly sticking his foot in his mouth," Glassner said Wednesday in an emailed statement to Politico.com. "To no one's surprise he has done it again, while also fueling a contrived narrative about the presidential race by the mainstream media. One would expect that his woodshed moment is coming and that a retraction will be issued soon."

Rollins did issue an apology, of sorts, shortly after Politico published Glassner's statement.

"This was my one comment, which I shouldn't have made, at the end of the day this has nothing to do with Michele, Michele's campaign, or any of the rest of it," he said. "This was my transition from being an analyst to a political strategist, and I missed a step."

Rollins added that he's not trying to fuel "an ongoing fight" between the Palin and Bachmann camps. If Glassner wants a retraction, though, he may be waiting a while.

"What's the retraction?" Rollins asked. "I say she's serious?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Rep. Weiner Standing His Ground Amidst Calls to Resign

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Pressure is mounting on Rep. Anthony Weiner to step down after his confession that he had been sending lewd photos of himself and texts to women via Twitter -- and that he has lied about it.

The New York Democrat is finding few who are willing to publicly come to his defense, even in his own party.

"Lying is unforgivable.  Lying publicly about something like this is unforgivable and he should resign," former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, D-Va., told CBS on Tuesday.

"I know Congressman Weiner.  And I wish there was some way I could defend him -- but I can't," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.  Reid added that if Weiner called him for advice, he'd tell him to "call someone else."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's call for an ethics committee investigation is not satisfying some Republicans who are calling for an immediate resignation.

Weiner, however, maintains that he will hang onto his job as U.S. Representative for New York's 9th congressional district.

"I am not resigning," a defiant Weiner said told reporters in Queens, New York Tuesday evening.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus became the first official to call on Weiner to resign after Weiner's mea culpa press conference on Monday.

"Congressman Weiner's actions and deception are unacceptable and he should resign.  We do not need an investigation to know he lied and acted inappropriately, we need a resignation," Priebus said in a written statement.

"Either Leader Pelosi and DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz believe members of Congress are held to a different set of standards or they believe these actions demand his resignation," he added.

Although Weiner's actions would be considered by many to be lewd and inappropriate, the major question for the ethics committee is whether he broke the rules of the House of Representatives.

Blake Chisam, former staff director of the ethics committee, says that if Weiner used his government computer to send the messages, he could be in trouble, even though some incidental personal use is permitted.

"You know the rules in the House can often be a labyrinth," Chisam told ABC News, adding that the questions of whether sending pornography or lewd photographs will be difficult to argue as "incidental."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Sideshow Candidates Get Hype, But Share Few Policy Proposals

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin undoubtedly sucked up much of the political oxygen with her bus tour last week that sent the news media into a frenzy.

But despite the publicity -- which directed some attention away from Mitt Romney's big announcement last Thursday -- some say there are few signs of actual concrete policy proposals coming from sideshow candidates like Palin who may be flirting with a presidential bid but haven't stated their plans.

Republican stars like Palin and businessman Donald Trump can rev up a crowd -- as evident by the media scrum surrounding their recent events -- but whether they can attract Republican voters is another question.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Tuesday, 41 percent of Republicans rule out voting for Palin and 39 percent see her as unqualified.  Among the broader population, that figure gets even larger.  Sixty-four percent of Americans say they definitely would not vote for Palin for president, a new high, while 63 percent describe her as unqualified for the job.

Despite the figures, the attention Palin gets from the media and the focus on Trump's flirtations earlier this year has many Republican strategists worried that voters are being distracted from serious candidates.

"In the short-term, they both burned a lot of oxygen in the room so to speak, and it makes it harder for others to get the press attention they would like to get and need," said Ron Kaufman, a Republican strategist who worked on George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan's campaigns.

Palin has taken heat from within her own party for not discussing actual policy proposals, and instead getting caught up in debates like that one involving Paul Revere.

Her supporters blame the press for focusing on trivial matters like the Paul Revere debate at the expense of Palin's statements on policy, citing her recent comments on energy subsidies, aid to Egypt and Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan as examples of her willingness to address important issues, if asked.

But if Palin is indeed contemplating a presidential run, her policy discussions are much lighter in comparison to those of candidates like Mitt Romney, who have laid out visions -- albeit not very specific -- of their own budget and health care plans.

Republicans say it's still too early in the game for candidates and those who may be mulling a presidential bid to come out strongly on policy proposals and that the serious discussions likely won't begin until the debates.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Jon Huntsman on Presidential Run: Not 'If' but 'When'

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman confirmed that he will deliver “a formal announcement” on his decision to run for president at the end of the month, according to National Review reporter Ramesh Ponnuru.

“We have basically decided as a family that we are very comfortable moving forward,” he told Ponnuru.

When Ponnuru responded that his remarks sounded like a “when,” not an “if”, Huntsman replied “when.”

Ponnuru notes that after his conversation with Huntsman, a spokesman called “to clarify that while all signs point to a run, no final decision has been made.”

While Huntsman still hasn’t declared his presidential candidacy, it isn’t stopping his political action committee, H PAC, from gearing up for a potential run.

A spokesperson for Huntsman confirmed that H PAC will hold a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on June 15.  The event, which is being hosted by over three dozen Republican strategists and lobbyists, will take place on a rooftop patio in Penn Quarter at 6 p.m.

According to an invitation obtained by Roll Call, the event is aimed towards “young professionals,” with donations ranging from a $50 general contribution to $1,000 to serve as a “co-chair.”

Huntsman will return to New Hampshire this weekend for the third time in one month.  He is expected to attend eight events, including a stop at a motorcycle festival at Weirs Beach in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Poll: Majority of New York Voters Think Weiner Shouldn't Resign

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Yorkers' first impression is that embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner should not resign his post.

According to a survey of 500 New York City registered voters conducted by New York 1 and Marist College, only 30 percent say Weiner should resign. Fifty-one percent of respondents said he should stay in his position and 18 percent said they were not sure.

"It’s worth keeping in mind that New York is overwhelmingly Democratic. Partisanship can run high in this town. Moral outrage, maybe less so,” said ABC News pollster Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates.

While the slim majority of New York voters said Weiner should not resign, he has enjoyed less support among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both called on Weiner to resign, while Republican real estate magnate Donald Trump took to YouTube and called Weiner a "psycho" and a "bad guy."

There wasn’t much more support for Weiner among Democrats either. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters, "I wish there was some way I can defend him but I can't."

And while it does not appear that Weiner violated any laws, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi officially asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate whether Weiner violated ethics rules by carrying on his online relationships.

Weiner has been a rising star among Democrats and until the sexting imbroglio was considered a viable candidate for New York mayor. While a bare majority of the city's voters in the NY1/Marist poll said he shouldn’t resign from Congress, fewer supported a potential Weiner mayoral run. Twenty-five percent said he should run for mayor in the 2013 election, while 56 percent said he should not and 19 percent were unsure.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Romney: 'If You Want to Learn More About My Church, Talk to My Church'

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, the second part of which aired Tuesday night on the network, presidential candidate Mitt Romney pushed back against the host's questions about how his Mormon faith may influence his policy should he win the White House in 2012.

Asked whether it's actually possible to separate his faith from his job as president should he be elected, Romney responded, "Absolutely. You don't begin to apply doctrines of a religion to the responsibility of guiding a nation or guiding a state."

Romney explained that he is pro-life and that he is in favor of gay rights but believes that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman, Morgan pressed him on what the Mormon church says about gay rights, asking, "What is the Mormon position on homosexuality being a sin?"

"I'm not a spokesman for my church," Romney responded.

"But don't you know?" interrupted Morgan.

"I'm not a spokesman for my church. And one thing I'm not going to do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church or apply a religious test that is simply forbidden by the Constitution, I'm not going there," said Romney. "If you want to learn about my church, talk to my church."

Unrelenting, Morgan went on asking Romney, "Well, do you personally think homosexuality is a sin?"

"Nice try, but I'm not going to get into that," said Romney. "I'm not here in a religious context, I'm here as a candidate for president, and as a candidate for president or as a president I have to represent the interests of all the people," said Romney.

Romney's wife Ann joined the him for the later part of the interview, during which Morgan joked that at least the couple's Mormon faith eliminates the risk of scandal during their quest for the White House. Romney says he has only tried alcohol once and has never used drugs. He also has never had an extramarital affair, he told Morgan.

"This is one of your trump cards, the one thing we don't have to worry about is something tumbling out of the cupboard," said Morgan, alluding to the most recent political scandal involving Congressman Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.

"Better not," replied Ann Romney, laughing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

GOP Calls Obama’s Trade Policy 'Schizophrenic'

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans continued to press the White House Tuesday to send to Congress the trade deals for South Korea, Columbia and Panama, criticizing President Obama’s trade policy as “schizophrenic.”

“This schizophrenic trade policy is doing nothing but hurting American workers and undermining our recovery,” U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Under no circumstance should these trade agreements be held up.”

The Obama administration has indicated that they will not submit legislation on these trade agreements until a deal is reached on the TAA -- the Trade Adjustment Assistance, a now-retired jobs program for laid-off workers.

“At a time when 14 million Americans are looking for work, they actually want to hold off on these known job-creating agreements in exchange for a green light to spend more money," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. “It's astonishing.”

Republicans are calling for these two issues -- the trade deals and the TAA -- to be dealt with “separately and independently,” in order to move ahead with the long-stalled trade deals.

Republicans warned that time is of the essence, suggesting that as the 2012 campaign season picks up the desire and ability to tackle these trade agreements will decrease even more.

Republicans have also vowed to hold up any confirmation for the president’s nominee for commerce secretary, John Bryson, until the president submits the trade agreements.

“Until the President submits both agreements to Congress for approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law, we will use all the tools at our disposal to force action, including withholding support for any nominee for Commerce Secretary and any trade-related nominees,” the letter submitted in March wrote to the Senate majority leader, signed by 44 Republicans.

Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Republicans are more focused on next year’s election -- and not actually creating jobs in the United States.

“My friends on the other side of the aisle are more interested in jobs in Colombia, Korea and Panama than they are here in the United States. That's obvious,” Reid said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Five GOP Contenders Sign on to Iowa Tea Party Bus Tour

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Five Republican contenders -- Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum -- have signed on to participate in a Tea Party bus tour through Iowa, according to organizers of the tour.

The Iowa Tea Party, in conjunction with American Principles in Action and the Leadership Institute, will launch a three-week bus tour through the Hawkeye State, starting in Council Bluffs on June 13 and ending in Des Moines on July 2. The bus will travel to 20 cities in Iowa to train grassroots activists and offer candidates a platform to speak with Tea Party supporters.

“The purpose of the tour is to train grassroots activists in the state of Iowa to get them as prepared as they’re going on and best advocate for the candidate of their choice,” Ryan Rhodes, the tour's organizer, told ABC News.

The main focus of the tour will involve training on precinct organization, distributing a mock caucus video explaining the process, and educating people on the Tea Party principles and the gold standard.  Organizers hope to train 500 to 1,000 individuals over the course of three weeks.

Candidates have been invited to attend the training sessions to talk with Tea Party activists.

“We’d like to see these candidates have to answer the questions from the grassroots tea parties across the state,” Rhodes said.  “I think it’d be imperative that they come if they want to show that they want the Tea Party support.”

Rhodes said one candidate will participate at a time, with some riding on the bus for a period of time and others joining the tour along the way.  Rhodes said they are not releasing the exact dates candidates will be on the tour at this time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Congressman Launches Inquiry into Cost of Sarah Palin's Tour

Ray Tamarra/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin is set to continue to tour national monuments around the country this summer, and one congressman wants to know how that will affect everyone else.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., sent a letter to the National Park Service Tuesday asking how federal resources were used for the Northeast leg of Palin’s “One Nation Tour,” which traveled from Washington, D.C., to New Hampshire last week. His concern: press accounts of the tour “which provided personal and political benefits to former Gov. Palin, suggest that National Park Service resources were made available to an extent beyond that which an average American family would receive.”

Palin was surrounded by park rangers and, at times, police officers during her tour stops. Last Wednesday, she and her family were accompanied by approximately 10 authorities as they toured the Statue of Liberty.

David Barna, a Park Service spokesman, told ABC News that with the exception of the Statue of Liberty visit, it was business as usual at all the sites Palin saw (with the exception, of course, of dozens of spectators and press following the former Alaska governor).

“We recognize she is not a government official, she is not a candidate for public office, so we treated her as any other celebrity that might come in,” he said. He compared the Park Service’s treatment of Palin last week -- organizing private tours, opening specific monuments early -- to what they might do “for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie."

“If there was any cost, it might have been for the park police at the Statue of Liberty,” he said. “Right now, I don’t know the answer to that."

Barna is seeking answers to Rep. Blumenauer’s question about how much money went into hosting Palin. As far as planning for Palin’s potential visits to other national monuments -- she said she plans to visit the West Coast, Iowa and South Carolina this summer -- he said, “We haven’t done anything, we’re not involved in anything. We’re just like everyone else, waiting to see what happens.”

Aides for Palin declined ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Tim Pawlenty in Chicago: Obama's 'Made the Economy Worse'

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty brought his "hard truths" tour to President Obama's old stomping grounds of the University of Chicago on Tuesday to unveil his proposal to jumpstart the economy.

"It's going to be the Jack Nicholson election," Pawlenty told the crowd full of college students. "Some of you are probably too young to remember the movie A Few Good Men, but there's that famous line when he's on the witness stand and says, 'You can't handle the truth.' The American people, I think, can handle the truth."

According to Pawlenty, Obama is "a champion practitioner of class warfare" whose policies have left the economy in worse shape than it was in three years ago."We've tried President Obama's way and it has only made the economy worse," Pawlenty said.

"The truth is markets work and Barack Obama's central planning doesn't," he said.

The president used to teach at the University of Chicago and his top economic adviser Austan Goolsbee announced Monday night that he is leaving the administration to return to his professor post there.

"You can't be pro-job and anti-business," Pawlenty said. "That's like being pro-egg and anti-chicken."

Some of the key elements of his economic plan didn't go over too well with some reporters. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein took a dim view of Pawlenty's claims that his plan could grow the economy by five percent over the next decade by lowering tax rates and closing tax loopholes.

"This plan isn't optimistic. It isn't a bit vague. It's a joke. And I don't know which is worse: The thought that Pawlenty knows that and went forward with this pandering, fantasy-based proposal anyway, or the thought that he doesn't know it, and he really thinks this could work," Klein wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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