Bachmann: 'My Joy Would Be to Debate President Obama'

ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Michele Bachmann will make repealing President Obama's healthcare legislation the principle platform of her presidential campaign if she decides to run, she told supporters Tuesday evening.

"If I choose to run for president it will be my signature issue to repeal Obamacare," Bachmann, R- Minn., said in a conference call organized by GOPAC, a political organization that supports Republican candidates.

Bachmann called the Obama plan, which seeks universal coverage by requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance, the first step towards "socialism."

"I believe Obamacare is a down payment on socialized medicine," she said, "and socialized medicine is the crown jewel of socialism."

Still coy about whether she will ultimately decide to run for president, Bachmann hinted at the direction in which she was leaning: "My joy would be take him on in a debate," she told the conservative activists.

"My commitment is to undo Obamacare; my commitment is to undo the damage this president has done in one way or another," she said.

Bachmann has yet to announce whether she will race for the White House, but plans to make her intentions known next month in her birthplace, Waterloo, Iowa.

"Stay tuned, you'll hear something soon," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Who Will Board 'The Herman Cain Train'?

Steve Pope/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Herman Cain’s campaign released a new music video Tuesday called “The Herman Cain Train,” touting the GOP presidential candidate’s business experience as well as his Tea Party support.

The video begins with a country singer calling Cain a “true son of the South” and the singer encourages people to “get onboard the Herman Cain Train.”

“Seems like things are kinda upside-down, sure could use someone to turn ‘em around, Herman Cain.  He’s done it before, he can do it again, his train’s coming to town like a hurricane, Herman Cain,” the singer belts out, referring to Cain’s experience as the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Present throughout the video is Cain’s clear support of the Tea Party.  He’s shown speaking at rallies and makes a point to defend Tea Party followers against allegations of racism.

“I was speaking at tea parties before it was cool,” Cain said early on in the video.  “To all of those people who say the Tea Party is a racist organization, eat your words,” Cain later said while standing with his arms around a group of presumed Tea Party supporters.

Cain is a Tea Party favorite. In February he won a straw poll in Arizona held by the Tea Party Patriots, but could the Georgian win the Republican nomination?  The most recent Gallup Poll shows Cain with 8 percent support, not too far behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 17 percent support and Sarah Palin with 15 percent.

Cain traveled throughout New Hampshire over the holiday weekend to bolster support for his bid for the nomination. He ran into another potential GOP candidate and Tea Party favorite, Michele Bachmann, between a radio show taping she was doing in Concord, New Hampshire.

"Some people have the idea just because you're both running for the nomination that you don't like each other. I love this woman," Cain told reporters after giving Bachmann a hug.

Cain is expected to participate in the GOP presidential primary debate scheduled for June 13 in New Hampshire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Price: Medicare Push Not 'Smart Thing Politically,' But 'Right Thing to Do'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican House leaders are continuing to stand by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, even as Democrats vow to make it an issue in races nationwide next year.

Asked if voting for the plan was a mistake, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., said on ABC’s Top Line webcast Tuesday that he doesn’t think it was a mistake to support major changes to a program that’s on a track toward bankruptcy.

“What the American people want and understand is that we've got to have something different than business as usual,” said Price, who serves on the House Ways and Means and the Budget committees.

Asked about Democratic attacks, he said: “I think they'll try....But we didn't do this because it was the smart thing politically to do -- we did it because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s the right thing because the American people understand that you just can't keep doing this craziness up here in Washington.”

Price defended Tuesday’s vote on raising the debt limit -- even though all involved realize the vote will fall far short -- to “demonstrate to the president” that Congress does not support a higher debt ceiling without corresponding budget cuts.

And Price had kind words for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose odd bus tour of the East Coast is drawing widespread media attention.

“I don't think she’s the one that dictates how much political oxygen is sucked up because of her activities.  I'll tell ya, anybody that’s out there energizing the American people is positive.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Weiner Gets Combative with Reporters About Lewd Twitter Photo

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner’s response to the flap around a lewd photo posted from his Twitter account went from dismissive and joking over the weekend to frustrated and combative Tuesday in Washington, when the congressman became agitated with reporters and called a TV producer a “jackass.”

Weiner, D-N.Y., repeatedly refused to answer questions from reporters on Capitol Hill, calling the focus on the photo, which was sent from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old college student who followed him on the social networking site, a diversion. Weiner tweeted over the weekend that his account had been “hacked” and that led to the photo of a man’s lower half in boxer briefs being transmitted to the student. But Tuesday, the congressman and his staff would not say any more or deny that the man shown in the photo was Weiner or explain why he was following a 21-year-old college student from Washington state on the site.

And while he said he was hacked, the congressman has not asked the United States Capitol Police to conduct an investigation into the posting of the photo and whether it was his groin depicted in the photo posted on his Twitter page, @RepWeiner.

In addition to no longer taking questions about the matter, Weiner has hired a lawyer to represent him.

Gennette Cordova, the woman who received the photo from his Twitter account, meanwhile, told her story via Twitter.

When Weiner, who is known for his temper, spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday, things turned heated when he wanted to talk solely about an impending vote on raising the nation’s debt limit and would not answer their questions about the lewd photo.

“This was a prank that I’ve now been talking about for a couple of days. I’m not going to allow it to decide what I talk about for the next week or the next two weeks, and so I’m not going to be giving any more about that today, I think I’ve been pretty responsive to you in the past,” Weiner told a scrum of reporters outside his Capitol Hill office Tuesday evening. “If I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult. I would return the things that I want to talk about to the audience that I want to talk to, and that is what I intend to do this week.”

Reporters continued to press Weiner on why he is not asking for a formal investigation, and he was adamant that “I am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer.”

“I’m going to have to ask that we follow some rules here. One of them is going to be you ask questions and I’ll do the answers, that seem reasonable? That be reasonable, you do the questions, I do the answers, and this jackass interrupts me?” Weiner said of CNN’s Capitol Hill producer, Ted Barrett. “How about that as the rule of the game? Let me just give the answer.”

Weiner emphasized that he prefers to “talk about the debt limit vote,” which is happening later Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin, Donald Trump To Meet In New York City Tuesday Night

Randy Snyder/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin plans to meet Tuesday night with Donald Trump in New York City, sources close to Trump told ABC News.

Palin's office reached out to meet with Trump, not the other way around, Michael Cohen, special counsel at the Trump organization, told ABC News.

The two plan to meet in his 30,000-square-foot apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and later will eat dinner together. At Palin's request, they will dine at Famous Famiglia Pizzeria near Times Square.

"She wanted pizza," a source familiar with the dining decision said.

Earlier, sources told ABC News the restaurant would be low-key, not one of New York's more upscale establishments. "One step above McDonald's," Cohen, Trump's top political aide, said.

Palin has been on a multi-stop tour of the East Coast for the last two days visiting historical sites, sometimes dodging the press, sometimes speaking to them.

She began the day in Gettysburg, Penn., before traveling to Philadelphia to visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

"Each site we're at is just so inspiring and confirming in me and me and in my family how important it is that we all learn about our foundation so that we can move forward very clearly," she said in an interview with ABC News in Philadelphia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Set to Reject Debt Ceiling Hike Dems Dismiss as 'Political Charade'

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives is set to reject a vote to increase the statutory debt limit in a move being chastised by Democrats as “a political charade,” “political cover” and “political theatre.”

Later Tuesday evening, the House will bring a measure to the floor stating that “the Congress finds that the President’s budget proposal, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2012, necessitates an increase in the statutory debt limit of $2,406,000,000,000,” raising the debt limit to $16.7 trillion.

Republicans have explained the reason for Tuesday’s vote by repeatedly highlighting Democratic calls for a clean vote to increase the debt limit, including more than 100 House Democrats who signed onto a letter penned by Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., demanding a clean vote.

But Tuesday the House’s No. 2 Democrat, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, told reporters that he will encourage his Democratic colleagues to either vote against the increase or vote “present” to avoid gifting Republicans with political ammunition in upcoming campaign advertisements leading into the 2012 election.

“I don’t intend to advise that my members subject themselves to a political 30-second ad and attack. This matter is a tough issue because the American public does not want to see the debt limit raised because they believe that it will simply provide for further borrowing as opposed to paying off the debts that we have already incurred,” Hoyer, D-Md., said. “If the Republicans were prepared to work on a bipartisan basis on this issue, which is the only way we really do very tough things that are controversial, then I would be prepared to urge at least half of my members to support the extension of the debt limit -- including myself. But my advice to them [today] will be not to play this political charade.”

The debt limit was maxed out May 16, leading the Treasury Department to borrow from federal retirement funds while a deal is worked out between the White House and Congress. That move, however, only buys negotiators until Aug. 2 before those funds dry up.

Republicans have scheduled the vote for Tuesday night even though Boehner has long maintained that any increase to the debt limit must be accompanied by an equal or greater value in spending cuts. So Tuesday evening’s vote on a “clean” or “straight up or down” vote with no amendments and no framework to reduce spending has no chance of passing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Visits Liberty Bell, Plans Bus Tour Stop in New York

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- More than a hundred tourists, fans, and members of the media crowded around Sarah Palin as she visited the Liberty Bell Museum in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

She told ABC News that she's relishing her whirlwind road trip.

"Each site we're at is just so inspiring," she said.

Palin confirmed she's heading to the Empire State next, saying, "We're going to spend a little bit of time here before we go to New York."

Todd Palin and other members of the Palin family accompanied the former Alaska governor on a tour of the museum as fans, press, and school tour groups jockeyed for her attention. Palin shook hands and took photos -- one with a crying child who stopped wailing when she bent down to pose next to his stroller.

As far as her plan for the 2012 election, Palin maintained she's still figuring out her plan, but confirmed to reporters that she will visit Iowa, a key state in the race to the Republican nomination.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republicans Vow to Block Obama’s Pick for Commerce Secretary

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama formally nominated John Bryson for Commerce Secretary on Tuesday, saying that he is confident that Bryson will deliver the "growth, prosperity and job creation here in America that we all want."

But Bryson has to go though Senate confirmation -- and Republicans have vowed to hold up any confirmation for the new commerce secretary until the president submits the trade agreements for Panama, Colombia, and South Korea to Congress for approval and commits to signing them.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid in March, 44 Republicans said that further delay on the three trade agreements would be unnecessary and inexcusable.

"The administration has delayed sending up legislation for free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. These agreements were negotiated and finalized more than three years ago," the letter stated. "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 White House has stated it will not send up the free trade agreement treaties until Congress approves more retraining money for a jobs program for laid-off workers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Nominate Mike McFaul as Ambassador to Russia

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will nominate Mike McFaul to be his next Ambassador to Russia, a senior administration official tells ABC News.

McFaul, director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Staff and a special assistant to President Obama, has been one of the key players in the president's attempt to "reset" the at-times rocky US-Russian relationship while also pushing Russia to embrace human rights and to respect the territory of neighboring countries such as Georgia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Weiner Hires Lawyer After Twitter ‘Prank’

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., has hired a lawyer after a lewd photo of an unidentified man was posted to his Twitter account and sent to a 21-year-old female college student from Seattle the politican was following on the microblogging service.

A spokesman for Weiner said the congressman is exploring "civil or criminal actions" in response to the incident, which he called a "prank." It's unclear whether the office has also requested an independent investigation.

The Twitter post, which appeared Friday night and was quickly deleted, was first reported on by conservative website 

"I was hacked. It happens to people," Weiner told CNN Monday night. "This is a prank, not a terribly creative one, and it's a distraction."

Gennette Cordova, the alleged target of Weiner's tweet, said in a statement Sunday to the New York Daily News that even though she was a "fan" of Weiner, she has never met the congressman. For his part, Weiner has yet to explain why he was following the young woman who had been following him on Twitter.

Weiner, 46, is married to Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Internet security experts said the controversial post could have easily been done by someone with access to the congressman’s accounts.  But they also say it's plausible that an unauthorized person infiltrated the system.

"Those things get hacked the simplest ways," Alan Paller, director of the SANS Institute for Computer Security Training, said of Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

"It's either shoulder surfing, where someone stands behind you when you sign in, or they just guess," he said. "They figure out what your user name is, which is usually your name, and then they just try your wife's name, your kid's name, your wife's birthday for the password or just keep trying until they find one."

What happened in Weiner's case remains to be seen. Twitter users have pointed out since the story broke how easy it is to accidentally send public a so-called DM, or a private, user-to-user direct message.

If a hacker was responsible for the post, it wouldn't be the first time. A 25-year-old Frenchman hacked into President Obama's Twitter account last year and was later arrested. And hackers broke into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's personal email account in 2008, exposing cell phone numbers and other private information.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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