Governor's, Senate races remain close
SACRAMENTO | A new poll shows Californians are split between the Democratic and Republican candidates in the contests for governor and U.S. Senate.
And a large number of voters are still undecided in both races.
The Public Policy Institute of California poll, released Wednesday, shows 37 percent of likely voters support Democrat Jerry Brown for governor while 34 percent support Republican Meg Whitman. Nearly one in four voters are undecided.
The poll also shows 39 percent of likely voters support Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer while 34 percent support Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, with 22 percent undecided.
The poll surveyed 2,502 California residents from July 6 to 20 and has a margin of error of two percentage points.
Wealthy newcomers lead in primary races
TALLAHASSEE | Two newcomers to Florida politics who are self-financing their campaigns have taken double-digit leads in the state's Republican gubernatorial and Democratic Senate primary races, according to a poll released Thursday.
Former hospital operator Rick Scott was favored by 43 percent to 32 percent over Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican gubernatorial race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 760 likely GOP voters taken July 22 through 27. Mr. Scott maintained a double-digit advantage he had compiled in an early June survey.
Meanwhile, billionaire businessman Jeff Greene shot ahead of U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek in the Democratic Senate race. Greene was favored by 33 percent of 782 likely Democratic voters to Meek's 23 percent and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre's 4 percent. In a June poll by Quinnipiac, Mr. Meek held a two-point edge.
The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points among Republicans and 3.5 percentage points among Democrats. The primaries are Aug. 24.
Mr. Greene and Mr. Scott have plowed millions from their personal fortunes into their campaigns, running statewide television commercials for weeks while establishment candidates Mr. McCollum and Mr. Meek have largely been off the airwaves.
Ballot measure tests federal health care law
JEFFERSON CITY | The new federal health care law is about to face its first major popularity test.
A Missouri ballot measure Tuesday will challenge President Obama's top policy accomplishment by attempting to reject its mandate that most Americans have health insurance.
The legal effect of Missouri's measure is questionable because federal laws generally supersede those in states. However, its passage could send an ominous political message to Democrats seeking to hang onto their congressional majority in this year's elections.
The proposed Missouri law would prohibit governments from requiring people to have health insurance. It would clash with a new federal requirement that includes penalties for those who don't comply starting in 2014.
Biden says no plans to nation-build
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Thursday the United States was not in Afghanistan to "nation-build" but for the sole purpose of defeating al Qaeda in the border areas with Pakistan.
Under growing pressure over the unpopular and costly nine-year war, the Obama administration is grappling with how to measure success in Afghanistan for a review due in December of how President Obama's new strategy is working.
Laying out the reasoning behind its Afghanistan policy, Mr. Biden said it was not to create a U.S.-style democracy but to eliminate al Qaeda, which is blamed for the 2001 attacks against the United States.
"We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose ... the al Qaeda that exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.
"We are not there to nation-build. We are not out there deciding we are going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country. We made it clear, we are not there for 10 years," he said.
Mr. Obama announced in December that he was sending an additional 30,000 troops to fight the war and said he also intended to start pulling out U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 as long as the right conditions existed.
Obama: We'll get back auto money
President Obama says the government will recover all the taxpayer money used to bail out the auto industry last year.
In an interview on the ABC daytime talk show "The View," Mr. Obama said the auto industry "tells a good story" of his administration's efforts to rescue the economy. He plans to highlight that story with stops at three auto plants over the next several days, including two stops in Michigan on Friday.
The White House released a report Thursday that says the failure to rescue GM and Chrysler would have led to the loss of nearly 1.1 million jobs. The auto industry has added 55,000 jobs in the year since the automotive bankruptcies, making it the strongest year of job growth in the industry since 1999.
Obama not on wedding guest list
President Obama says he didn't make the guest list for Chelsea Clinton's wedding.
In an interview on ABC's daytime talk show "The View," Mr. Obama said he wasn't invited because former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted the event to be about their daughter and her future husband.
Mr. Obama says that's probably for the best, joking that it will be tough enough having one president at the wedding.
Miss Clinton will wed investment banker Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday evening in Rhinebeck, N.Y., about 90 miles north of New York City.
From wire dispatches and staff reports
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