Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman Stir GOP Presidential Race

Governor [dot] State [dot] Tx [dot] us/LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the battle for the Republican presidential nomination heats up, the GOP may again look to a Texas governor to win back the White House, while an unlikely contender who worked for President Obama will enter the fray this week.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry stole the show this weekend at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, firing up conservatives with an anti-government, Tea Party message.

"November 2012 is not very far away, but we've got to be ready to elect Republicans up and down that ballot who will make government smaller so that opportunity can get bigger," Perry said, adding, "our loudest opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let's quit trying to curry favor with them."

Perry would instantly be a formidable candidate for the Republican ticket, as he is the longest-serving governor in the country.  And unlike the rest of the U.S., the Texas economy has been booming.

Drawing chants of "Perry 2012" and "run, Rick, run," Perry spoke on conservative values and slammed Obama's employment record on Saturday.

"That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country," Perry told the crowd.

"They clearly think that they know best.  And let me tell you I vehemently disagree.  They don't know best," he said.

Perry boasted about his record as Texas' governor, reminding the audience that Texas has seen nearly half of all new job growth in the country, and that the state's budget has been balanced over the past two years.

Whether Perry decides to run or not, the Republican field is about to get more crowded, as Jon Huntsman -- who most recently served as Obama's ambassador to China -- is launching his campaign for the presidency on Tuesday.

Huntsman has already launched an unconventional television commercial campaign that features an unidentified man riding a motocross bike across a desert, and little else.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


On Father’s Day, Obama Takes Daughters Out for Ice Cream

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama took his daughters Malia and Sasha, along with his niece and nephew, out for ice cream Sunday night.

The Father's Day outing to Thomas Sweet, an ice cream spot in Georgetown, comes the day before his daughters travel with their mother to Africa.

The symbolic outing capped off several days of the president trying to emphasize fatherhood.

In an e-mail message on Sunday, Obama announced an initiative to support fathers.  He said his administration will help men who want to be good fathers facing challenges spending time with their kids.  The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Major League Baseball, Groupon, LivingSocial and the WNBA are among the organizations and businesses that will offer discounts and special offers for fathers and kids.

Drawing from his own experience of growing up barely knowing his father, Obama has tried for several years now to use his influence to encourage fathers to do their jobs.  In 2008, then a candidate for president, Obama told a black church in Chicago, “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.”

He added, “Too many fathers are MIA, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ann Romney Makes Rare Personal Message on 'Husband Day'

Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a rare personal message from Ann Romney, wife of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the mother of five wrote about why Sunday was not just Father's Day in their household, but "Husband Day."

"With five boys and sixteen grandchildren, we have a total of six fathers in the Romney household with whom to celebrate Father’s Day," wrote Ann Romney on her husband's presidential website Sunday.  "That’s a lot of fathers.  For me, though, today is not so much Father’s Day as Husband Day.  My husband has been a great father to our boys, and they certainly know that and show that every day of their lives.  But Mitt has been a remarkable husband to me."

Ann Romney went on to describe her own health struggles over the years -- in 1998 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and then, in 2008, she was diagnosed and treated successfully for early stage breast cancer.

Of Romney's support during her battle with MS, Ann Romney wrote, "It was Mitt’s love and support that truly healed me.  My husband put everything aside for me.  Devotion is a word that I now understand in a new way.  Our five boys saw this side of their father, too.  So did the one grandchild who was old enough to understand."

"If Father’s Day is a truly special occasion in our home, I hope you understand why," wrote Ann Romney.

The presidential candidate drew attention to his wife's post by tweeting, "Thanks Ann for your touching Father's Day post," just hours after posting a photo of him and his own father, the late George Romney.

Mitt and Ann Romney have been married for more than 42 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


John McCain Chastises 2012 Republican Field for Isolationism

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took aim at his party for what he called its growing movement towards isolationism, chastising the current GOP presidential field for not supporting U.S. military intervention in Libya and calling for speedy troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

"This is isolationism. There's always been an isolation strain in the Republican party, that Pat Buchanan wing of our party," McCain told Christiane Amanpour, anchor of ABC’s This Week. "But now it seems to have moved more center stage."

At the first major Republican presidential primary debate held recently in New Hampshire, several candidates criticized U.S. military involvement in Libya, while on Afghanistan former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney said, "It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can" based on the advice of military commanders.

"I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today?" questioned McCain, saying the isolationism is a stark departure from traditional Republican foreign policy positions. "That is not the Republican party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world."

McCain says he’s confident though, that the party will find the right candidate for th 2012 election.

While McCain is best known as President Obama's rival during the 2008 presidential election, he has been a strong proponent of Obama's intervention against the regime of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, who McCain described as "crumbling."

"If we do not continue this effort in Libya, if Gadhafi remains in power, it could have profound consequences," McCain warned.

McCain said he disagreed with Republican candidates like Michele Bachmann who said at the GOP debate that the U.S. had "no vital national interest" there.

"I strongly disagree with her and others," McCain said. "The fact is our interest are our values. And our values are that we don't want people needlessly slaughtered by the thousands if we can prevent such activity."

With President Barack Obama's July deadline to begin troop withdrawal in Afghanistan approaching, McCain said the U.S. cannot give up recent gains through a swift withdrawal, saying he would support a "modest withdrawal" of five to ten thousand support troops in the coming months.

"We abandoned Afghanistan once and we paid a very heavy price for it in the attacks of 9/11," McCain said. "We do need to move into the eastern Afghanistan and finish this fight with one more season."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Perry Addresses Republican Conference, Still No Hint of 2012 Run

Governor[dot]State [dot]Tx[dot]us(NEW ORLEANS) -- Amid chants of “Run, Rick, Run,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry sounded like a candidate at a speech in New Orleans Saturday, as he revved up a crowd with talk about social conservative values and criticism of President Obama.

“That mix of arrogance and audacity that guides the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country,” Perry told the crowd at the Republican Leadership Conference. “They clearly think that they know best.  And let me tell you I vehemently disagree.”

Perry introduced himself as a leader grappling with how to solve the problems afflicting the country. 

“It doesn’t matter what your zip code is or where you’re from. We’re all facing the same challenges in America. I stand before you today a disciplined conservative Texan, a committed Republican and a proud American, united with you in the desire to restore our nation and revive the American dream.”

Perry bragged about the economic success in Texas -- from creating nearly half of all new jobs in the country in the past two years to balancing its budget -- along with reinforcing social conservative values such as strengthening right-to-life legislation.

During his speech, Perry asked attendees to text a phone number with the word “Forward,” which resulted in a reply text routing users to Perry’s website featuring a video entitled “Moving America Forward.” 

The Texas Tribune reported that Perry 2012 buttons were a hot ticket item at the booths at the convention this weekend.  An adviser for Perry told the Texas Tribune Saturday that a decision about a presidential run is still weeks away. Perry did not give any hints about a 2012 run during his speech but stressed the importance of electing Republican officials across the board.

Perry received multiple standing ovations during his speech and left the room to chants of “Run, Rick, Run” and “Perry 2012.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama and Speaker Boehner Tee Off

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner may be at odds over taxes, the debt ceiling and the conflict in Libya, but on Saturday, they both appeared to have put aside their differences for a round of golf.

The game, at Joint Base Andrews' golf course in Maryland, gave the two men four hours to socialize -- with or without discussion of the last week's tense negotiations. Both men play regularly, but Boehner is known as one of Capital Hill's best golfers. Boehner was ranked 43rd among 150 prominent Washington golfers, while Obama is 108th.

But golf isn't just a competition, it's also an opportunity to socialize.

"Four hours is plenty to know a lot about somebody. It builds camaraderie, you build a relationship," golf pro Ed Collins said.

The two men certainly have a lot to talk about. In the last week, the White House and Boehner have disputed budget cuts and the conflict in Libya, which the U.S. military is involved in without congressional permission.

They also have a difference of views about the game itself.

"The president sees golf as a way to escape Washington, and Speaker Boehner sees golf as part of the politics of Washington. It's how you raise money, it's how you get business done. And the president doesn't see golf that way," ABC News political director Amy Walter said.

"At best, it's a great photo op," Walter said. "I doubt anything really substantive comes out of it. ... It can be an opportunity for two people from Washington to prove that Washington can actually get along."

Boehner invited a fellow Ohio Republican, Gov. John Kasich, to play, and Obama brought Vice President Biden. Obama and Boehner rode in a cart together, and Biden and Kasich in another.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Herman Cain Declines to Sign Pro-Life Pledge

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain declined to sign Susan B Anthony List’s Pro-Life Presidential Pledge, while the organization says five other GOP 2012 candidates have signed the pledge.

SBL List called on each GOP presidential candidate to agree to four specific anti-abortion pledges including only nominating pro-life judges and selecting pro-life appointees to key positions in their administrations if they were elected president.

Cain issued a statement to explain why he chose not to sign the pledge.  He said he agrees with the first three parts of the pledge because he “adamantly” supports the appointing pro-life judges and selecting pro-life appointees to his Cabinet and the Executive Branch as well ending taxpayer funding for abortions, but he had a problem with the last part of the pledge.

“The fourth requirement demands that I 'advance' the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. As president, I would sign it, but Congress must advance the legislation,” he said.  “I have been a consistent and unwavering champion of pro life issues.  In no way does this singular instance of clarification denote an abandonment of the pro-life movement, but instead, is a testament to my respect for the balance of power and the role of the presidency.”

SBL List announced at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans that Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum signed the pledge.  According to the organization, Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson declined to sign it.

“We applaud those candidates who did sign the pledge for vowing to support and advance the protection of life at all stages if elected to the White House,” said Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman and Project Director for SBL List. “Their signatures demonstrate that mere lip-service to protecting women and the unborn is not enough—it must be backed up by concrete action.”

When asked about his position on abortion, Herman Cain has repeatedly said that he is “pro-life from conception.”

Cain is expected to speak at the National Right to Life Convention along with other GOP presidential candidates in Jacksonville, Florida on June 24.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Worse Than Weiner? Some Delinquent Lawmakers Kept Their Jobs

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following his admission to engaging in inappropriate electronic relationships with several women, Anthony Weiner announced Thursday that he would be resigning from office.

While Weiner’s actions cost him his job, there were some politicians in the past who found themselves in hot water and managed to keep their jobs while not having to deal with calls to resign.

When Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was indicted on 16 federal counts in 2007, neither then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi nor Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ever explicitly called on him to step down.

Jefferson, who denied wrongdoing, served out his term despite the swirling allegations and intensive ethics investigations, and was only later tried, found guilty and sentenced to prison.

Pelosi and other party leaders also avoided public calls for the resignation of Rep. Jim Traficant of Ohio before he was expelled from Congress in 2002 after a felony conviction, or of Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who was found guilty of 11 violations of House ethics rules and formally censured late last year.

Few political historians could recall when a sitting U.S. president so directly suggested that a member of Congress step down, as President Obama did regarding Weiner.

"Usually, presidents stay out of this stuff because it's just tradition for Congress to decide its own matters," said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer.

"The irony of the Weiner situation is that there have been scandals when the leadership has been much more quiet in both parties," he added.

Prominent Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who had also called on Weiner to resign, have declined to make similar pronouncements following alleged transgressions of their conservative peers.

Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who admitted ties to the so-called D.C. Madam prostitution ring and later apologized, may have actually committed a crime of soliciting a prostitute. But he remains in office.

During the months-long investigation into Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and his alleged cover up of a sex scandal with the wife of his former top aide, there were similarly no prominent public calls for him to resign.

The Senate Ethics Committee eventually concluded that Ensign made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and violated campaign finance laws and referred the case to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges. Ensign abruptly resigned just before the findings were released

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ABC News Exclusive: President Obama Talks Fatherhood

Official White House Photo by Annie Leibovitz(WASHINGTON) -- With Father's Day drawing near, President Obama sat down with ABC's Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview and shared some thoughts about fatherhood.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, 47, have two daughters, Sasha, 10, and Malia, 12.

The president, 49, opened up about what it was like to become a father for the first time, describing a scene that he says unfolded like the "the classic comical father situation."

When his wife told him she believed it was time to go to the hospital, he said his reaction was "like out of a sitcom.

"You know, I jump up and I'm looking for the bag. And fumbling for the car keys … ."

But, when he saw his daughter for the first time "it was love at first sight," he said.

As a father, the president said his chief worry was for his two daughters' health.

"One of my worst days was when Sasha, when she was 3 months old, got meningitis. And we rushed her to the emergency room. And … there was a stretch of time where we didn't know whether it might do permanent damage," he said.

Sasha had to have a spinal tap.

"You know … your world narrows to a very small point. That's all you care about," he said.

Asked whether he and the first lady were ready for what could happen when the girls became teenagers, he was very much the proud father.

"Number one. Malia and Sasha, for whatever reasons – and I think Michelle gets the lion's share of the credit – are right now just wonderful kids. They're smart, they're funny. But most importantly, they're kind, they're respectful, they're responsible, they're well-behaved. I could not ask for better kids. And so, I'm not anticipating complete mayhem for the next four, five years," he said.

He jokingly added: "I should also point out that I have men with guns that surround them often … ," adding that that security was "a great incentive" for running for re-election.

Any potential future boyfriends might want to take note.

"I might invite him over to the Oval Office," Obama said of any boys who could be in the girls' future, "ask him for his GPA. Find out what his intentions are, in terms of career.

He added: "Malia, Sasha, if you're watching this, I'm just joking."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michele Bachmann Latest GOP Candidate to Suffer Glitter Attack

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann got a warm reception from her home state on Saturday at a conference of conservative bloggers in Minneapolis, but a few gay rights protesters still managed to make her the latest victim of the glitter attacks that have already been waged on fellow GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.

Following her speech at the RightOnline conference Saturday morning, Bachmann had some glitter thrown on her as she made her way off stage to greet the audience.

After the brief glitter shower, the protester was swiftly removed by security.

"You can run, but you can't hide," the protester yelled as she was hauled off.

Meanwhile, Bachmann proceeded to work the ropeline, seemingly unfazed by the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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