Seven GOP Contenders to Debate in New Hampshire

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Seven GOP presidential hopefuls will take the stage at New Hampshire's Saint Anselm College Monday night to face off in the first major debate of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The debate comes as Republicans are getting feisty, and it could be a chance for the contenders to gang up on the apparent front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Just on Sunday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took shots at his rival Romney, elbowing him on health care.

"President Obama said that he designed ObamaCare after RomneyCare, and basically made it ObamneyCare," Pawlenty said on Fox News Sunday.

Romney is strong in New Hampshire, but if his rivals can weaken him there, analysts say they might overcome his fundraising and experience in other important states.

Romney and Pawlenty will be joined on stage Monday night by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Bob Corker Says War in Afghanistan 'Not Sustainable'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In another sign of growing bipartisan concern about American involvement in Afghanistan, one Republican Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee says the war is "unsustainable."

"I think all of us who have been in Afghanistan on the ground multiple times know that what we're doing there on the ground is just not sustainable," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC News.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested the troop withdrawals scheduled to begin this summer should be "modest," but Corker joins others in Congress who are looking for a significant draw down of American involvement in Afghanistan by the end of the year -- including scaling back what he called the U.S. "nation-building effort" in Afghanistan.

"We've got this huge nation-building effort under way [and] I think if our citizens saw our footprint in Afghanistan, saw what was happening there from the stand point of all the things we're investing in in this country, the distortions in its culture -- we've got to change our footprint," Corker said.  "This is not a model that we can replicate in other Middle Eastern countries."

In his interview with ABC News, Corker also weighed in on the debate over raising the debt ceiling.  While it has been raised almost 100 times since it was established in 1917, this time some Republicans are saying it should not be raised again.  But as the nation's debt inches closer to the current limit of $14.3 trillion, Corker says raising it is not a matter of if, but of when.

"The debt ceiling at some point has to be raised," Corker said.  "I don't think there's anybody that questions the fact that if we ended up getting in a situation where the U.S. government was sending out IOUs like the state of California did at one point, that ends up creating quite a brand problem for our country."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling was exceeded in April, but accounting maneuvers (like halting contributions to pension funds) will finance U.S. financial obligations through Aug. 2.  Like many of his Republican colleagues, Corker questioned Geithner's timing on a debt ceiling breach.

"We don't know what the date is," Corker said. "I mean any smart treasury secretary would not say three months out Aug. 2 is the deadline. I don't know what the date is. It might be Aug. 2, it might be Aug. 15, it might be Sept. 20. Who knows?"

Corker and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recently introduced the Commitment to Prosperity (CAP) Act, legislation that gradually enacts a cap on federal spending.  The proposal would limit federal spending at 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product -- the typical level for the past 40 years.  The current level is 24.7 percent.  According to Corker, that would result in spending reductions of $7.6 trillion over the next decade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


John Boehner Pokes Fun at Anthony Weiner's Name

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Republican House Speaker John Boehner has been notably quiet about the scandal that has engulfed Rep. Anthony Weiner and raised the ire of Democratic Party leaders.

But Boehner broke his silence over the weekend during his commencement address at Ohio State University, poking fun at the New York congressman's name and the hot water he's in.

"When you begin to go out there to ask people to vote for you, they're probably not going to vote for you if they don't know your name," Boehner said. "My name looks like 'beener,' 'bonner,' 'boner.'"

"Thank God it's not Weiner," he added, triggering laughter and applause from the crowd.

"People make fun of my name all the time," Weiner said in an interview with ABC News earlier this month when he claiming his lewd tweets were the work of a hacker. "With the name 'Weiner' you get that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Restarts 2012 Campaign with Speech, Dodges Media

ABC News Radio(LOS ANGELES) -- Newt Gingrich spent much of Sunday evening seemingly trying to get away from an army of cameras and reporters who were attempting to get him to say a word as he re-started his presidential campaign in Los Angeles, just days after 16 senior aides resigned from his campaign.

Gingrich had no media handlers to keep reporters back as he was mobbed walking through the Beverly Hilton before and after his 40 minute speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition.  He repeatedly told members of the media to “cover the speech.”

At one point the media had Gingrich cornered in a hotel elevator.  He stood staring at them silently despite them asking him questions.  His assistant ordered reporters to not board the elevator and shut the elevator doors.

After the speech, Gingrich got into a black SUV and sped away (very fast through the valet area of the Beverly Hilton).  While getting into the SUV, he was asked by a fan for an autograph but said “no” and shut the door.  He was then off to the airport for a red-eye flight to New Hampshire.

During his speech, Gingrich spent most of his time on the topic of relations with Israel.  It had been billed by his new team as a “major foreign policy speech.”

The former House speaker outlined nine points he will make in respect to relations with Israel if he becomes president.  The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he proclaimed that on his first day as president he will move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Gingrich also spent about 30 seconds talking about his campaign and giving insight into the recent shake up.

He said, “As someone who has been in public life for nearly 40 years, I know full well the rigors of campaigning for public office.  In fact, I’ve had some recent reminders.  If I could paraphrase Faulker’s Nobel Prize speech:  I will endure the challenges.  I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land, no matter what it takes.  And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Highlight Need for Job Creation

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- President Obama will travel to North Carolina on Monday to spotlight the need for new job creation.

During his trip, the president will visit Cree, Inc., a manufacturer of energy efficient LED lighting, and tour the company's facilities.  Obama will then meet with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council, which include the CEOs of such high profile companies as Intel, GE, Comcast and Dupont, and executives from Facebook and the Small Business Administration.

With job creation stalled and unemployment creeping up again, the leaders of these private companies will discuss with Obama their ideas for increasing economic growth and revving up employment.  It is within the private sector where the White House believes most new jobs will be created.

Some of the actions that are being recommended to the president will cost nothing, such as cutting government regulations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Photos of Weiner Pop Up

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The scandal involving Rep. Anthony Weiner continues to grab headlines, with new photos of the congressman surfacing on the internet on Sunday.

The latest set of photos was posted on the website and shows Weiner in a series of snapshots that were reportedly taken while he was at a gym. In the photos, taken by Weiner using a Blackberry device and a mirror, the congressman appears partially-nude in some shots and dressed in more clothing in others.

On Saturday a spokesperson said Weiner will seek professional treatment to “to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person” and would be requesting a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives as part of the process.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi along with other party leaders are calling for Weiner to resign.

Weiner has admitted to engaging in inappropriate electronic relationships with several women over a three-year period.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Richard Shelby: 'We Grew Government, But Did Not Grow Economy'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, rejected the idea that any new federal stimulus would help improve the dire unemployment picture, calling instead for tax reform and investment incentives to spur private sector jobs growth.

"I don't believe any new stimulus is going to pass in Congress. I don't think it has any credibility," Shelby said on ABC's This Week. "What we need to do is create some certainty, some conditions for people to invest, to grow, to have some confidence. There's not a lot of confidence in the economy right now all over America."

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich disagreed, saying that when consumers and private sector investors are not spending, "then government has got to fill the gap."

He called for federal initiatives such as exempting the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes to put more money in individuals' pockets to spur demand, as well as calling for a WPA-style direct employment program, as done by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

"Under these circumstances, consumers are pulling in. They are not spending. And if they are not spending, then jobs are not going to be created," Reich said.

But Shelby dismissed the notion that previous stimulus efforts had succeeded during the Obama administration.

"I believe that stimulus basically doesn't work for the most part. We've tried that," Shelby said. "The market grows the economy. We've grown the government, but we haven't grown the economy."

Shelby said that greater stability and reform on tax policy will create confidence for small and large businesses that currently have "a lot of money on the sidelines."

"We're talking about real income tax reform to give people incentives to create jobs," Shelby said. "The government stimulus will never turn the economy around."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shots Fired: Tim Pawlenty Blasts 'ObamneyCare'

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of Monday's GOP debate in New Hampshire, Tim Pawlenty has launched his strongest attack yet at rival Mitt Romney in unveiling a new term: "ObamneyCare."

Appearing on FOX News Sunday, Pawlenty said, "President Obama said that he designed ObamaCare after RomneyCare, and basically made it ObamneyCare. We now have essentially the same features. The President's own words is that he patterned in large measure ObamaCare after what happened in Massachusetts. What I don't understand is they both continue to defend it."

"I took a different approach in Minnesota," Pawlenty continued. "We did market based health care reforms trying to encourage consumers with good information to make good decisions and financial incentives in a market place. But I strongly oppose the individual mandate at any level. I am one of the parties in the lawsuit in Florida trying to get it declared unconstitutional. I think it is a dramatic overreach by government forcing a consumer to buy a good or service because of a government edict or mandate. I think it is a dramatic overreach. I don't like that approach under Obamacare and I have been a strong critic of it. I think we should repeal ObamaCare in its entirety."

Asked by Chris Wallace about the economic plan he outlined last Tuesday in Chicago, Pawlenty acknowledged that his proposal -- which assumes five percent GDP growth for the next decade -- is "a stretch" and "aspirational."

"This is aspirational. It's a big goal. It's a stretch goal," he said.

"Is this aggressive and bold? Absolutely," he added. "But I don't buy into the declinist view and attitude of President Obama that we're going to settle for anemic growth or average growth."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Voting Factors: Look Out for Marital Infidelity

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney's religion is far less of a concern to potential Republican voters than it once was, and a candidate's race or sex are non-issues for vast majorities. But if a GOP contender supports gay civil unions -- or has committed marital infidelity -- all bets are off.

Twenty percent of Republicans and Republican leaning-independents in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they'd be less likely to support a candidate who's a Mormon; that compares to 36 percent when Romney entered the national political stage in December 2006.

Far more, 54 percent, say they'd be less apt to support a candidate for president who's been unfaithful to his or her spouse. And 50 percent would be less apt to support a candidate who favors civil unions for gay couples.

Two other items are positives overall, if somewhat divisive. Forty-five percent of leaned Republicans say they'd be more likely to support someone who favors major changes in Medicare, but 21 percent would be less apt to support such a candidate. Thirty-one percent say they'd be more likely to back a candidate who's supported by the Tea Party political movement; 14 percent, less so.

Among others tested in this survey, 91 percent say it wouldn't matter to them if a candidate were black, and 78 percent say it wouldn't matter in their decision if a candidate were a woman. (Thirteen percent say they'd be more apt to support a woman; 9 percent, less so.)

The attributes or positions tested describe several of the current GOP candidates or possible candidates. Newt Gingrich has conceded marital infidelity; he also has described GOP-backed changes to Medicare as "right-wing social engineering." Jon Huntsman has expressed support for gay civil unions, and both he and Romney are Mormons. Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann are favorites of some supporters of the Tea Party political movement. And there's an African-American in the GOP race, Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza.

Another question was asked specifically about Huntsman, the former Utah governor who served as ambassador to China from August 2009 to February 2011. His service in the Obama administration is a negative in terms of Republican vote preference, but not a powerful one: Seventy percent of leaned Republicans say it makes no difference in their choice, while 23 percent say it leaves them less likely to support Huntsman, should he run, vs. 5 percent more likely.

In another question, 39 percent of leaned Republicans say Gingrich lacks the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president, a big group to lose on this basic hurdle. An additional 11 percent were undecided.

Methodology -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone June 2-5, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results reported in this analysis are among 435 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and have a margin of sampling error of 5.5 points. This survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pelosi Calls on Weiner to Step Down

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner continues to be caught in a political downpour following his admission that he engaged in inappropriate electronic relationships with several women over a three year period.

On Saturday Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement calling on Congressman Weiner to step down from office.

“Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help,” Pelosi said in a statement. “I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.”

Weiner has asked for a leave of absence from the House of Representatives to seek professional treatment.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz also joined in urging Weiner to resign, saying that the congressman’s behavior was indefensible and his continued service in Congress is untenable.

“This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House – and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important – his and his family’s well-being,” Schultz said in a statement.

Steve Israel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), on Saturday said Weiner’s behavior was an "insurmountable distraction to the House," and a distraction from the work for the American people.

"With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign," Israel said in a statement.

"I pray for his family and hope that Anthony will take time to get the help he needs without the distractions and added pressures of Washington, DC," said the DCCC chairman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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