Gingrich Hopes to Use Debate to Focus On Job Growth

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- At Monday night’s debate in Manchester, N.H., look for Newt Gingrich to draw attention away from his vanishing campaign structure and direct it to the need to fix the economy and spur job growth by posing a challenge to President Obama.

“Action is needed on the economy now, not in January 2013,” R.C. Hammond, press secretary for Newt Gingrich, said.  “Newt will put forth and call for action on a jobs plan and challenge the President to act.”

Gingrich was the first candidate to release a jobs plan.  At his first campaign event, he unveiled the “Jobs and Prosperity” plan, which outlines eight steps to bolster job growth in the U.S. They include halting the 2013 tax increase; fostering business investment; implementing an optional flat tax of 15 percent; strengthening the dollar; eliminating destructive and ineffective regulations, programs and bureaucracies; implementing an American energy policy; balancing the budget; and reforming entitlement programs.

As Gingrich relaunched his campaign Sunday in Beverly Hills, he issued a nine-point strategy for the Middle East and Israel.  Gingrich voiced his determination to carry on his campaign, paraphrasing from a William Faulkner 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,” Gingrich said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Newt Hopes To Use Debate to Focus On Job Growth


Gary Johnson: Republican Rivals the ‘Status Quo’

Matthew Simmons/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- You won’t see Gary Johnson on Monday night’s Republican debate stage in New Hampshire since his polling numbers weren’t high enough to meet CNN’s qualifications for participation.

But speaking to ABC News on Monday, Johnson said that Republican voters will be under-served by the fact that his voice will be excluded.

“You're not going to hear any candidate propose a balanced budget for the year 2013, which is what I would be proposing,” said Johnson, a former New Mexico governor. “We've got to cut $1.65 trillion worth of debt, so that's the difference between me and the rest of the candidates -- talking about Medicaid, Medicare, talking about the reform to Social Security, talking about cutting defense spending.”

“I don't think you are going to really hear that from Republicans tonight. I think you are going to hear the status quo,” Johnson continued. “I never thought that I would be left off-stage when I started this whole run for the presidency....What I say differs from everybody else up there on that stage.”

Johnson acknowledged that some of his libertarian positions are similar to those of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who has run for president before and has sufficient polling support to appear Monday night.

“I think that it's a good thing, perhaps, to have stereo speakers up there as opposed to just one person talking about this. I do think that this is the excitement that is spreading across the country, and this is where it's at. It’s balancing the federal budget. It’s bringing about a strong dollar as opposed to the collapse of our monetary system, which is what we're looking at.”

And Johnson filled ABC News in on his debate plans, while his rivals are debating in New Hampshire.

“I don't want to call it lame, but I think I have an obligation to answer all the questions that are being asked,” Johnson said.

“So we're going to do a webcast where I'm going to do just that. I guarantee you that my answers will be shorter, and I guarantee that my answers will be a lot different.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Leaves Nothing to Chance in Prepping for Debate

James Devaney/WireImage(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Mitt Romney might be the Republican front-runner and the man most in the spotlight in Monday night's Republican debate, but his advisers say the other candidates have just as much to lose. 

"There are a lot of people who have been in this race a long time and have shown no movement," said one Romney aide, perhaps referring to Tim Pawlenty who has been campaigning nationally for some time, but whose polling numbers have been relatively low.

Then there is the matter of the candidate not even at the debate, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.  A Romney aide made sure to point out that Huntsman, who has said he will not compete in the Iowa caucuses, isn't showing up Monday night.  "What does it mean for Jon Huntsman that he is not participating given his New Hampshire-or-bust strategy?"

Romney is leaving nothing to chance; he has been participating in debate meetings, teleconferences, and actual mock debates at his campaign's Boston headquarters.  Junior Romney staffers have been playing some -- though not all -- of the other candidates in the mock debates.  (Aides would not say which candidates did not earn stand-ins.)

Romney is fully aware that as the front-runner he might become something of a target for the others on stage, especially on health care, "but," aides contend, "there is nothing we can do to control that."

The Romney staff says the former Massachusetts governor will try to remain focused on the issues, "most important in this election, and that means jobs and the economy."  Perhaps anticipating that Romney's record on jobs as a sometimes cost-cutting CEO and governor might come under attack, an aide said that Romney "has had both successes and failures and has learned from all of them."

Staffers added that jobs and the economy are "his specialty" and that Romney, clad in "relaxed attire" upon arriving in Manchester, has seemed laid-back in the hours leading up to the debate.

Asked what viewers can expect from Romney, spokesman Ryan Williams told ABC News, "Governor Romney will discuss why he is the best candidate to create jobs, fix our economy and defeat President Obama."

"Voters are looking for a candidate who will provide economic leadership and return fiscal sanity to Washington. Governor Romney will explain why he is the candidate to do that," said Williams.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Administration Targets Government Waste

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration announced Monday a new campaign to cut government waste that will be headed up by Vice President Joe Biden.

President Obama issued an executive order establishing an oversight and accountability board to help government agencies reduce waste, fraud and abuse.  The administration said the board will consist of 11 government officials who will be on the lookout for misused tax dollars across the federal government. Cabinet officials will be expected to report their progress cutting waste to Biden, who will, as he did with the Recovery Act, serve as the person in charge of oversight.

At an event Monday morning in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Biden told deputy secretaries, cabinet and agency COOs and CFOs that it will be their job to make sure taxpayer money is being saved.  Biden said everyone in government is responsible for protecting taxpayers.

"There's nothing like accountability, man. It sure focuses your attention," said Biden.  "My father used to say accountability works really well especially when you're in the bullseye. Let me tell you, we're all in the bullseye."

Biden said there's billions of dollars that can be saved by government officials doing their part.  He pointed to the oversight work that was done on the Economic Recovery Act as a model of efficiency that can be adopted across the federal government.

"This is not the answer to our long-term economic problems worldwide and solving the multitrillion dollar cumulative debt, but it is really, really important. It's about changing the attitude about how we do business."

The vice president spoke at length about his belief that the process used in issuing out Recovery Act dollars was largely free of waste and abuse.  "Folks, it worked," he said.  "We did it responsibly. We did it economically."  Biden said the administration only found fraud involving $3 million out of the $480 billion in contracts, grants and loans that were given out as part of the Recovery Act.

Both the administration's political foes and the Government Accounting Office (GAO) are seeing the stimulus' effects -- and Biden's policing of it -- differently, however. Recently, the GAO revealed that tens of billions of dollars in stimulus money went to companies that owe the government more that $750 million in back taxes. And despite claims from President Obama and his economic team that the Recovery Act's passage would keep the national unemployment below 8%, it's currently at 9.1 percent and inching upwards, according to recent data.

Further countering Biden's claims will be a report released Tuesday by Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, who will highlight stimulus waste such as a $3.4 million turtle crossing in Florida, and millions of dollars in Social Security checks sent to dead people. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pawlenty Dials Back 'Obamneycare' in New Hampshire

ABC News(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty coined a word Sunday -- Obamneycare -- and he has spent the past day trying not to repeat it.

Reporters following Pawlenty around New Hampshire have asked him if this new word, tying frontrunning Republican Tim Pawlenty to President Obama on health care reform, signals a newly-combative Republican contest and if Pawlenty will stir the pot at Monday's debate.

ABC's Aaron Katersky asked Pawlenty about the "Obamneycare" statement outside Caesario's pizza parlor in Manchester. Pawlenty did not repeat the term.

"I was just asked a question that related to similarities between what Obamacare was and what they did in Massachusetts and reiterating the president's own words that he looked to Massachusetts to merge or blend those proposals. That the president said he looked to Massachusetts as the blueprint for his plan."

Asked if he would use the term during Monday's debate, Pawlenty said "probably not."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House: Anthony Weiner a 'Distraction' to Obama's Agenda

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The scandal involving New York Democrat Anthony Weiner is a "distraction" from the president's agenda, the White House said Monday, but spokesman Jay Carney did not indicate whether the administration would like to see the congressman step down.

"We think this is a distraction obviously from the important business the president needs to -- the Congress needs to do," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to North Carolina, where President Obama was to deliver a speech on job creation. "Beyond that I don’t have any comment."

Weiner has requested a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives and his office says he is seeking treatment for a condition that has not been specified.

Weiner, who is married and whose wife is pregnant with the couple's first child, has admitted to having inappropriate electronic relationships with several women over a three-year period.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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

ABC News Radio