Mike Huckabee for Vice President? 'Still Open' to Opportunity, He Says

Rick Gershon/Getty Images(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who bowed out of the presidential race less than a month ago, saying “all the factors say go, but my heart says no,” changed his tune somewhat Wednesday, telling an audience at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Ark. that he hasn’t closed any doors just yet.

Huckabee was responding to questions about whether he would be open to being the 2012 vice-presidential nominee.

"Everything is still open," Huckabee said. "I haven't closed doors because I found out long ago that that's not a smart thing to do. Then you try to figure out how to open them when they come knocking. I'm not looking for anything, I'm content with what I'm doing. That's what I plan to do."

When it comes to running at the top of the ticket, however, Huckabee said he’s "not even thinking about changing" his mind about that.

He also said he wasn’t rushing to endorse any of the current 2012 candidates: "I don't feel any pressure or hurry to do it," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Frosty' and 'Frank' Meeting Between President Obama, House GOP

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the dozens of members of the House Republican Conference left the White House where they'd spoken with President Obama about the deficit and job creation, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., had a one-word review of the mood in the meeting. "Frosty is the word," Gingrey said.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., had a different take -- though he brings some perspective from his previous profession. "I'm a psychologist," Murphy said. "Let me just say it was good for them to talk. Good group therapy."

Murphy said the idea that Democrats and Republicans are talking is good. "We don’t get anywhere by being on opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. Any conversation that keeps going is good."

The meeting, in the East Room of the White House, lasted for one hour and 15 minutes.

"Obviously there are long term disagreements," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "But there is common ground and more common ground to be found to significantly reduce our deficits."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, described it as a "frank conversation" that he thought was "productive."

One House Republican told ABC News that he didn't find the meeting confrontational. "It was people making their points," he said. "A little honesty is not a bad thing."

At the meeting, according to attendees, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, noted that the House GOP has a budget plan, offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that could be "scored" -- analyzed in detail -- by the Congressional Budget Office. The president does not, Cantor noted.

Pointing to lower-than-expected private sector job numbers in May, Cantor said more needs to be done to encourage job growth and motivate the private sector to create jobs, rather than increasing the size of government with money that we don’t have.

The president agreed that job growth needs to be a priority, saying that he is all for tax reform and happy to work together to achieve it. He noted that cutting taxes is smart to do politically, but the question is whether it is sustainable.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, asked when they can expect to see a White House budget plan in a form that can be scored by CBO. President Obama said he wanted a joint agreement that is score-able.

Healthcare is the driver of our debt right now, Ryan said.  He also described his plan for Medicare reform for the president, saying Democrats were mischaracterizing it. Our program is not a voucher plan, Ryan said, it is premium support -- which he then explained.

Ryan told the president that he is making a sincere attempt to address a problem, and he challenged the president: "Mr. President, the demagoguery only stops if the Leaders stop it."

His fellow House Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

President Obama told Ryan that he read the proposal and has never questioned its sincerity. 

The Ryan proposal obtains its savings not by reducing health costs but by replacing Medicare with a subsidy that doesn't keep up with health care costs as they increase, the president said.  That is a legitimate approach to solving the government's problem, but that does nothing for people who need health care as costs continue to rise.  

The public wants no changes in benefits but they don't want to pay for it, so we all have a challenge with our bases, the president said. The only way we solve it is if we sit in a room and come to some compromises.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney to Hold First Town Hall Meeting Friday

James Devaney/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney, who is scheduled to announce his official campaign for presidency Thursday in Stratham, New Hampshire, will also hold a town hall meeting on Friday in the Granite State, ABC News has learned.

The town hall -- the first of Romney's 2012 campaign -- will take place in the morning at the University of New Hampshire's Manchester campus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michele Bachmann Takes Another Step Toward a Presidential Run

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Michele Bachmann campaign is starting to take shape.

ABC News has learned that Bachmann's chief of staff and long-time aide, Andy Parrish, is leaving her Congressional office to take a position on the soon-to-be-launched Bachmann for President campaign.

Parrish informed Bachmann's Congressional staff of the move Wednesday in an email with the subject line "Exciting News!"

"I wanted to let you know that after an enormous amount of prayer I have decided to take an exciting new position with Congresswoman Bachmann," Parrish wrote.  "I will be able to tell you more about what I am doing in the near future."

Parrish doesn't say directly, but the message is clear:  He's going to work on the Bachmann campaign.

Bachmann has not yet declared her candidacy, but Republican sources familiar with Bachmann's plans say she intends to participate in a debate of potential presidential candidates in New Hampshire on June 13.

She'll make an announcement of her presidential intentions in the town of Waterloo, Iowa not long after that debate.

This latest move follows a report Tuesday by National Journal that Bachmann has hired a prominent Republican consultant: pollster Ed Goeas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Edwards Indictment: Feds Likely to Focus on Campaign Violations

Jim Spellman / WireImage(NEW YORK) -- The federal government has been investigating for two years the circumstances of how hundreds of thousands of dollars from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and lawyer Frederick Baron went to third parties to allegedly cover up the affair between former Sen. John Edwards and Rielle Hunter.

The U.S. Department of Justice, as first reported last week by ABC News, has green-lighted the prosecution of the former presidential candidate for alleged violations of campaign laws while seeking to cover up the extra-marital affair.

Edwards, 57, is aware that he faces an indictment and is now considering his limited options, a source close to the case says. He could make a plea bargain or face a potentially costly trial.

If the case goes forward, government lawyers are likely to focus their prosecution on a couple of key legal definitions: whether the money was an expenditure meant to influence a federal election and whether Edwards or his campaign coordinated it.

Edwards' lawyer Gregory Craig released a statement last week that might have previewed his defense. "Not one penny from the Edwards campaign" was involved in the transactions and that the government's theory is "wrong on the facts and wrong on the law," Craig said.

If Edwards decides to fight the case in court, his lawyers will most likely argue that the government is taking too broad a definition of political expenditures. They could argue that the money was personal, meant not to influence a campaign but to hide an affair from his wife.

But Edwards' critics will say that he was a presidential candidate and he wouldn't have gotten the money but for that fact.

Furthermore, some believe this case could ultimately serve to highlight problems with campaign finance law.

"The problem is that campaign finance law is overly complicated," Allison Hayward of the Center for Competitive Politics said. "Here we have an individual who has engaged in what most people would say is egregious behavior but the statute provides no ready answer for either the prosecutors or the defense attorney."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Confirms Tour Will Go National

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin's northeast tour took to the water Wednesday as she hit Liberty Island with her parents and youngest daughter, Piper. They were accompanied by park rangers and police escorts as they made their way to the Statue of Liberty.

It's a scene we'll likely be seeing for some time to come. Palin confirmed that she's going to Boston after New York and that after the northeast, she'll go back to Alaska before re-launching the tour -- called the "One Nation Tour" -- on the West Coast.

She told ABC News about her plans after she leaves the northeast:

"Go back to Alaska -- in fact today, Willow [the middle Palin daughter] already had to get back to work so she had to leave -- go back to Alaska, come back on the trail again, and take the tour west as the summer progresses."

Asked if she'll go all over the country, Palin said, "that is our plan, our tentative plan, anyway."

Has the tour made her want to run for president in 2012?

"Oh man," she said, "It makes me want to travel across the U.S. to see the great people who've contributed so wonderfully to this country."

Still, she maintained that she does not know if she'll jump into the pool of Republican contenders and doesn't see her trip as a campaign tour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NJ Gov. Christie Takes State Helicopter to Son's Baseball Game

ABC News(MONTVALE, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has made ethics and government reform a centerpiece of his administration, raised some eyebrows with his decision to take a state helicopter to his son's baseball game Tuesday afternoon.

Moreover, he left in the middle of the game, presumably to make it back to Princeton for his meeting with a group of Iowa activists who had flown to New Jersey to try to convince the governor to run for president.

According to the Newark Star Ledger, the governor landed in the $12.5 million helicopter right before the game began, and then "got into a black car with tinted windows that drove him about a 100 yards to the baseball field."  His son Andrew is the starting catcher on his high school team.

Christie and first lady Mary Pat Christie took in a few innings of play but left during the fifth inning.  "During a pitching change," reported the Star Ledger, "play was stopped for a couple of minutes while the helicopter took off."

In an email to the Star Ledger, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak defended the governor's choice of transportation.

"It is a means of transportation that is occasionally used as the schedule demands.  This has historically been the case in prior administrations as well, and we continue to be judicious in limiting its use," Drewniak wrote.

Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday morning that while the Iowa activists were not successful at getting Christie to commit to a presidential run, he did tell the "Iowans he has accepted an invitation from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to give the keynote address at an education summit here this summer." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Rahm Emanuel Says Jon Huntsman Ploy Didn't Follow Plan

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- When Rahm Emanuel helped make Jon Huntsman the U.S. ambassador to China, part of the plan was to keep him out of the 2012 presidential race.

When asked if he expected Huntsman to run for president, Emanuel told ABC News in an exclusive interview, "No."

But the former White House chief of staff and newly minted Chicago mayor wouldn't bite when asked if he agrees with what other Democrats have said -- that Obama's former employee could become his strongest challenger.

"There will be an assessment of the president versus whoever.  And I think if they'll look at the country he inherited, worst economic conditions since the Depression, an auto industry that was on its back, and actually, a lot of people -- even some of the national leaders of the Republican Party were advocating of let it go," Emanuel said.

It was the president going against those "naysayers" that saved 1.2 million jobs, he said.  If Obama wants to win in the Midwest, the mayor's advice is to keep his focus on the kitchen table.

"People are economically distressed.  They're trying to make ends meet.  They're trying to get a paycheck from the beginning of the month to the end of the month and pay the bills and still have stuff left over," Emanuel said.

"He knows what he has to do, which is the same thing I'm trying to do on [a] much, much, much smaller playing field.  Hear their concerns and make sure that we're addressing them and we're focused on the stuff that matters most,” he told ABC News.

Three weeks ago, Emanuel was sworn into a tough economic situation of his own -- a $700 million shortfall.

"I put a 10 percent cut in the mayor's office.  Day two, the City Council for the first time, fewest committees since World War II and a 10 percent cut in the City Council budget," he said.  "Everybody will have skin in the game when it comes to belt-tightening."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anthony Weiner Can't Say 'with Certitude’ Lewd Twitter Photo Is Not Him

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York says he "cannot say with certitude" that the photo of a man in gray boxer briefs that was posted to his Twitter account Friday night is not him.

But Weiner, 46, reiterated in an interview with MSNBC's Luke Russert that he did not deliberately send the image over the public social media network, and that his account was "hacked."

“This wasn’t my government account. We don’t know what happened here. It was a prank. It wasn’t a national security thing,” he said.

Weiner said he has hired a private security firm to investigate the incident. When asked why he didn't notify authorities, he said, "I'm not sure it rises -- no pun intended -- to that level."

The lewd image in question, directed at a 21-year-old female college student who followed Weiner on Twitter, was first reported by the conservative blog Over the weekend, Weiner dismissed the incident as a political stunt.

During the interview Wednesday, Weiner pushed back against suggestions that a handful of young women he followed on Twitter indicated impropriety.  

"The people I follow -– it’s fairly random," he said. "The way I did it recently, I said to people, 'If you’d like me to follow you, [tweet me] #WeinerYes.' Sometimes people say, 'Anthony follow me.'"

"Just because we’re a network of 45,000 people I don’t think people should draw suppositions that I know any of these people in any sense," he said. "People simply don’t understand that you form networks with people to get more followers."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Talks Bus Tour, Says She Hasn't Moved to Arizona

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Many members of the media haven’t been able to get a question in to Sarah Palin during her “One Nation” tour, but Fox News host Greta Van Susteren managed to score more than 20 minutes with her.

Susteren climbed aboard Palin’s Constitution-decorated tour bus over Memorial Day weekend for a sit-down with the former Alaska governor that aired Tuesday.  Their interview covered a broad range of topics, from her tour to buying a house in Arizona.

When asked why she was going on a jaunt around the Northeast -- hitting key states like New Hampshire and Iowa -- if she doesn't know if she'll run for president in 2012, Palin offered this answer:

"It is about our charters of liberty and it’s reminding, especially the schoolchildren across America -- that’s why I have my dad on the bus too, as a school teacher -- I want the kids across America to realize what it is that built America, how important it is that we restore what is good and free and patriotic about America so we can prepare ourselves about the heady days ahead."

Palin said she has at least two good reasons to not divulge her tour’s itinerary in advance.

“We know where we’re going,” she said.  “There’s a couple of different reasons why we’re not going to broadcast it to the whole world.  One is security issues, but another is if the price of gas climbs much higher, right Todd [referring to her husband, Todd Palin, who’s traveling with her], we’re not going to be able to go too far.”

Palin then revealed that the gas tank of the charter bus is decorated with a “Drill, baby, drill” decal.

The former Alaska governor also confirmed the reports that she’s bought a house in Arizona but said she has not officially moved there.

“No, I haven’t moved from Alaska but Safari Investments has invested in property in Arizona,” she said, adding that “we are a part of” Safari Investments.  The reason for the purchase?  As Alaskans, Palin said she and the rest of her family “like to thaw out once in a while.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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