- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

POLITICS

McCain to visit Canada, talk trade

OTTAWA | Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain will take his free-trade message to Canada next week, reinforcing his stance on a divisive election issue.

Mr. McCain, an avowed free-trader, is to speak to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on June 20, the club announced Wednesday. Mr. McCain has criticized his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, for saying he would renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which is credited for record exports by Republicans but blamed for job losses by many Democrats.

“You know what message that sends? That no agreement is sacred to him,” Mr. McCain told reporters Thursday in Boston.

Neither Mr. McCain nor his staff would confirm his travel plans, though he is said to be considering other trips abroad as well. “We’re looking at a lot of different places that maybe I should go, so we have no definite plans,” he said.

POLITICS

Obama rejects tax-spend label

KAUKAUNA, Wis. | Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday accused Republican rival Sen. John McCain of mischaracterizing his tax plan and said most Americans would not see taxes go up.

Mr. Obama of Illinois has drawn heavy fire from Mr. McCain of Arizona this week on the issue of taxes, with the Republican repeatedly accusing Mr. Obama of seeking the largest increase since World War II.

“It’s just not true,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall meeting in rainy Wisconsin, telling a crowd inside a high school gymnasium that Republicans have wrongly subjected him to charges of being a “tax-and-spend liberal.”

POLITICS

Paul quits race for White House

AUSTIN, Texas | Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul was to end his campaign Thursday night and announce a new effort to help elect libertarian-leaning Republicans to public office around the country.

Campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said the announcement, expected during a rally coinciding with the Texas Republican Party State Convention in Houston, was “not a disappointment at all. I think this is really exciting.”

Mr. Paul’s announcement will be a formality.

The 72-year-old Texas congressman won few delegates during the Republican primaries. But he raised millions of dollars online and developed a large, grass-roots following among those who backed his call for ending the war in Iraq and smaller government at home.

Supporters have pushed for a speaking role for him at the Republican National Convention in September in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Paul has said he won’t endorse Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Benton said that was unlikely to change.

POLITICS

Reid slams N.H., Iowa primaries

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a group of Michigan Democrats that the current primary system is “fundamentally flawed” and he supports changing the 2012 primary calendar to reduce the influence of early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, made the remarks Sunday at a private fundraiser in Oakland County, Michigan, for Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, according to three people who attended. Mr. Reid credited Mr. Levin and other Michigan Democrats for challenging the primary calendar and said he would work with them to seek improvements while maintaining Nevada’s role in the process.

Mr. Reid told the group of about 50 Democrats in Farmington Hills, Mich., that Iowa and New Hampshire were unrepresentative of the rest of the nation. “The process as it is now is fundamentally flawed,” Mr. Reid told the donors, according to those present.

HOUSE

Food-testing firms to get subpoenas

Lawmakers voted Thursday to subpoena nine companies responsible for analyzing the most-dangerous food entering the country as part of an investigation that gained more urgency with an outbreak of salmonella from tomatoes.

For months, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee has investigated the possible circumvention of government import alerts. Foods posing a potential danger can enter the marketplace only after a laboratory has determined they are safe, according to Food and Drug Administration rules. But investigators have been told it is a routine practice for private labs to test food until a clean result is obtained.

“This repeated testing is done without FDA knowledge that potentially dangerous food has been imported into this country and has entered commerce,” said Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, and chairman of the House subcommittee that authorized the subpoenas.

Mr. Stupak said nine of 10 companies declined to submit information voluntarily out of concern that the food import companies that hire them would then sue them for breaching confidentiality agreements. The records sought related to testing of food found not to meet FDA standards for import into the U.S.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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