John McCain Admonishes Jon Huntsman on War Stance

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain offered some blunt advice Tuesday to Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and other critics of continued U.S. military involvement in Libya and Afghanistan.

"I hope that all of these candidates as the campaign goes on understands what our national security requirements are, that we are the world's leader, America has to lead, as we are not leading in Libya, which is one reason why that conflict, third rate military, has not been concluded," McCain told ABC News.

"I hope that they will learn and listen to people like Gen. David Petraeus and others, who has the highest not only respect and admiration but a record of success," he said.

Huntsman has said "we just can't afford" participation in the NATO operation in Libya, and he's raised concerns about prolonged involvement in Afghanistan, where he says, "we're wasting our money and we're wasting our strategic resources."

McCain wouldn't directly say whether Huntsman's views should disqualify him from getting the party's presidential nomination.

With President Obama poised to announce a reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beginning next month, McCain said he agrees with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a "modest withdrawal" is "important."

But he added that he would be "very reluctant to reduce the surge troops capability," referring to the more than 30,000 troops President Obama ordered sent to Afghanistan in 2009 to help stem the violence there.

"I believe that one more fighting season and we can get this thing pretty much wrapped up,"” McCain said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Reassures Jewish Donors US Bond with Israel 'Isn’t Breakable'

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking to Jewish donors Monday night, President Obama promised that his administration will employ “all of its creative powers to try to bring about peace” in the Middle East.

"The most important message I have for all of you here tonight is that even as we try to manage what is going to be a very difficult and challenging situation over the next 12 months, the next 24 months, the next decade, that one inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends.  That bond isn’t breakable,” Obama said to applause.

The president’s comments at a dinner with “Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship” come just weeks after he sparked controversy for saying that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Obama noted that while “there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems,” his “broader vision” is one in which a “secure Jewish state is able to live in peace with its neighbors.”

“That will remain our North Star.  That will remain our goal,” he said at the high-dollar fundraiser at the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The event was the first of two Democratic National Committee fundraisers for the Obama Victory Fund that the president addressed Monday night.  Tickets for the sold-out dinner ranged between $25,000 to $35,800.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Twitterer in Chief: Obama Starts Tweeting

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With just 122 characters, President Obama has officially become the first president to tweet while in office.

Although his 2008 victory proved his skill at using social media for political gain, it wasn't until this weekend that Obama finally sent his first tweet -- well, the first one that he's personally written, at least.

"Being a father is sometimes my hardest but always my most rewarding job. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. -BO," the president tweeted Sunday.

From now on, the president's initials attached to the end of any message on the @BarackObama account will signify that the president wrote it himself, not a staffer, his campaign announced last week.

There is even a new caveat posted at the top of the account, which is specifically devoted to the president's reelection and decorated with the Obama 2012 campaign logo.  "This account is run by #Obama2012 campaign staff. Tweets from the President are signed -BO," it reads.

The @whitehouse account continues to be for official White House tweets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mayors Urge Obama to Resolve Debt Crisis Quickly and Focus on Jobs

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- City mayors came to the White House Monday to urge President Obama to create jobs and boost the economy by resolving the debt crisis quickly and focusing instead on the needs of municipal economies, including spending on job training and infrastructure.

“The clock is ticking. The fact is that we have a Congress that is dithering,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, told reporters Monday. His message to the president? It's all about "jobs, jobs, jobs!"

“We absolutely have to get people back to work. We cannot in these times allow some to debate on the head of the pin everything that makes us different and not find the common ground, the shared responsibility for resolving this deficit and debt in a way that’s smart,” he said.

The bipartisan group of 14 mayors met with the president and vice president for roughly an hour Monday, the second such meeting this year.

"When I go back home, no one is going to walk up to me on the streets of Philadelphia and start having a conversation about the debt limit or deficit reduction. What they want to know every day is, Mayor, I need a job," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. “Americans deserve a good answer to that question.”

With the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt limit looming, Congress continues to debate how to pay down the government’s $14 trillion budget deficit.

On Tuesday, Vice President Biden will resume his meetings with lawmakers to reach an agreement on the budget deficit and debt limit, with additional meetings to come on Wednesday and Thursday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Utah Dem. Party Chair Slams Jon Huntsman on Day Before Campaign Launch

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Just one day before announcing his run for presidency, former Ambassador Jon Huntsman released his third campaign countdown video featuring personal trivia juxtaposed over a motocross-riding body double.

But he was not the only one.

The Utah Democratic Party released a video of their own in conjunction with a conference call led by chair Wayne Holland, in an attempt to illustrate their belief that “the Jon Huntsman that is announcing his candidacy Tuesday isn’t the Jon Huntsman most Utahans have known.”

The video, dubbed “In 1 Day," features the same motocross driver cruising down a canyon road to country music. Just like the original, subtitles dissolve onto the screen. That is where the similarities end.

“Has reversed positions he took as governor,” the first line of text reads.  “Riding away from his record,” reads the second.

The video ends with a personal jab at his father, billionaire businessman Jon Huntsman Sr: “Not paid for by Jon Huntsman. Either one of them.”

In the conference call, Holland expressed disdain for the man he once worked with closely as governor of Utah.

Holland repeatedly compared the former governor to another Utah-adopted politician, saying that Huntsman “has stolen a playbook from the Romney campaign."

“When he announces his candidacy tomorrow he'll launch a political reinvention tour, the likes we have not seen in our state, at least since Mitt Romney used the Salt Lake Olympics to reinvent himself for a campaign 4 years later. Huntsman’s changed positions so quickly over the past few days it’s enough to give Utah voters whiplash,” Holland said.

Holland says that until recently, most Utah Democrats supported Huntsman’s moderate stances on cap and trade, civil unions, and state-sponsored healthcare.

“Many democrats supported his role as the Ambassador to China,” Holland said. “We were excited about many of the very and pragmatic positions he took supporting the President to help the United States strengthen world issues. It's disappointing to see two jobs in a row he just can’t complete.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Announce Decision on Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Plan

Official White House photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News confirmed that on Wednesday, President Obama will announce the pace and scope of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Thursday, the president plans to travel to Fort Drum, N.Y., to visit with soldiers.

Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would say only that the announcement will come “soon.”

“The president has not yet even made a decision to announce,” Carney said. “He's finalizing his decision.  He's reviewing the options and the assessments and will have an announcement to make soon.”

“He's had a number of consultations with his national security team, all members from, obviously, his uniform command, his civilian command -- the civilian leadership, rather, all the principals on the national security team.  He is continuing those consultations,” he added.

There are more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, 30,000 of whom were part of the surge designed to stabilize the war-torn country while it boosts its own forces. On Monday, Carney said the administration has “made significant progress” toward achieving the goals the president outlined in December 2009: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, break the momentum of the Taliban, and stabilize the situation so that Afghan security forces can begin the process of taking over security.

The number of troops in the drawdown will depend on how far the president believes the U.S. has come in achieving his goals, but Carney noted that Obama “is very mindful...of the cost of military engagement, and I mean cost in lives, in injuries and in treasure.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anthony Weiner Submits Letter of Resignation

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following his announcement Thursday about his plans to resign, Anthony Weiner officially submitted his letter of resignation on Monday.

Weiner, who decided to step down after admitting to engaging in inappropriate electronic relationships with several women over a three-year period, stated in the letter that he would be resigning as a member of the House of Representatives from New York’s Ninth Congressional District, effective midnight on June 21.

Weiner concluded the brief letter by saying, “It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McCain's Office Attempts to Clarify Comments on Wildfires

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In comments made over the weekend, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, blamed illegal immigrants for the wildfires that have raged across his state of Arizona.

"There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," McCain said Saturday at a press conference. "The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border."

The Senator from Arizona’s comments set off a wildfire of their own, as the Wallow fire blazes across his state across 500,000 miles.

A forest service spokesman on the Wallow fire in Arizona says there's no evidence that this specific fire was caused by immigrants.

"There's no evidence that I'm aware, no evidence that's been public, indicating such a thing," said Tom Berglund, spokesman for the federal group managing the Wallow fire.

Latino groups are angered at McCain for "fanning the flames of intolerance."

McCain’s office pushed back on Monday, emphasizing that the Senator said “some” wildfires are started this way – not all, and that he was speaking about other fires, not the Wallow fire.

“The facts are clear. For years, federal, state and local officials have stated that smugglers and illegal immigrants have caused fires on our southern border,” Brooke Buchanan, communications director for McCain said in a statement. “During the press conference on Saturday, Senator McCain was referring to fires on the Arizona/Mexico border, not the Wallow Fire.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Touts Growing Foreign Direct Investment In The US

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Despite recent signs that economic growth is slowing, the White House is touting foreign direct investment in the U.S. in an effort to convince the public, and voters, that the president’s policies will help create long-term growth.

Foreign direct investment in the U.S. rebounded from 2009 levels and grew by 49 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, but still not enough to reach the 2008 level. The U.S. continues to be the number one destination for foreign investment worldwide.

“At a time where we need to use every tool in our toolbox to continue to put Americans back to work and grow the economy here at home, promoting foreign direct investment is an important opportunity to accelerate our economic recovery,” President Obama said in a written statement.

According to the White House, foreign-based companies create well-paid jobs for American workers and boost job creation. In the U.S. there are 5.7 million workers employed at these foreign direct investor plants, including 13 percent of the entire American manufacturing workforce. These are jobs that pay well. The average pay is over $70,000 per worker, over 30 percent higher than the average pay.

President Obama is encouraging foreign investors to keep it coming. “My administration is committed to ensuring that the United States continues to be the most attractive place for businesses to locate, invest, grow, and create jobs.  We encourage and support business investment from sources both at home and abroad,” the president said in a statement underscoring his administration’s commitment to an open investment policy.

“In a global economy, the United States faces increasing competition for the jobs and industries of the future.  Taking steps to ensure that we remain the destination of choice for investors around the world will help us win that competition and bring prosperity to our people. Consistent with our national security and while ensuring a level playing field for American investors, we will do just that,” he said.

The report finds that the U.S. is attractive because of its open economy and very low barriers to foreign direct investment. Last year close to 90 percent of foreign direct investment came from Canada, Europe and Japan, according to the report.

“This remains the most competitive and most desirable place for investment in the world and that investment has had a great impact on the economy,” CEA Chairman Austan Goolsbee told reporters Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah and Bristol Palin Score Trademark Status

Randy Snyder/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Don’t try slapping Sarah Palin’s name on anything. She’ll soon be Sarah Palin®.

Last year, an attorney for Sarah and Bristol Palin filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark their names. Palin’s application cited two instances in which her name would be a registered trademark: The first for "information about political elections" and "providing a website featuring information about political issues,” the second "educational and entertainment services including “motivational speaking.”

The application for Bristol, Palin’s 20-year-old daughter, covers "educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices."

The deadline to challenge Bristol Palin’s application passed June 10 and the deadline to challenge Sarah Palin’s passed on Friday. That means both Palins should receive their trademark within three months, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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