- - Thursday, October 14, 2010

WEST VIRGINIA

Republicans fire “hicky” ad producer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | A Republican production firm was behind a casting call that sought actors who looked like hicks to portray West Virginians in a U.S. Senate race ad, an e-mail released Thursday shows.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it has fired Jamestown Associates and apologized for earlier blaming an outside casting firm for the flap.

The ad, filmed in Philadelphia, showed men in flannel shirts and baseball caps worrying that if Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin III was elected to the Senate he would side with President Obama.

“We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look,” the casting call said.

Mr. Manchin’s campaign and Democrats quickly seized on that language, and the filming location, to make the ad an issue. The NRSC pulled the ad earlier than scheduled last week while originally blaming the outside firm, Kathy Wickline Casting, for the casting call.

YOUTH VOTE

Obama courts young in TV town hall

President Obama on Thursday defended his agenda under stern questioning from young adults at a town hall, including one man who bluntly asked him: “Why should we still support you?”

The president, seeking to recapture the energy of his 2008 campaign, is campaigning to keep his Democratic allies in Congress in power, but he found himself challenged repeatedly on his record.

One man questioned the effectiveness of Mr. Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus plan and worried about taxes going up. Mr. Obama responded that the stimulus is working — “3 million folks are working now that would not otherwise be working” — and said most people have gotten a tax cut on his watch.

A woman who identified herself as a Republican questioned why the president hadn’t ushered in the bipartisanship that he had promised. Mr. Obama said he hoped he would get more cooperation from Republicans after the Nov. 2 elections, but that many in the GOP have shown no such interest so far.

RHODE ISLAND

Chafee’s campaign manager resigns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | The campaign manager for independent Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee has resigned after he acknowledged he received unemployment benefits while listed on the campaign payroll.

J.R. Pagliarini resigned Thursday and maintains he did no intentional wrongdoing. Mr. Chafee’s acting campaign manager said the revelation was a political attack orchestrated by Democratic rival Frank Caprio’s campaign.

The Chafee campaign said Mr. Pagliarini was laid off last year from a job with the state’s higher education board, which Mr. Caprio’s father chairs.

Mr. Pagliarini received his last unemployment check two days before he started with the campaign on Jan. 4, and got his first paycheck Jan. 15. But because the payroll system delays payments for new employees, the campaign says he was listed on the payroll Dec. 19.

CONNECTICUT

Democrat extends Senate race lead

HARTFORD, Conn. | A new poll shows Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s lead over Republican Linda McMahon has grown to double-digits in the state’s Senate race.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Mr. Blumenthal with an 11 percentage point lead among likely voters over Mrs. McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. A September 28 poll from Quinnipiac gave the Democrat a three percentage point lead.

Poll director Douglas Schwartz said Mr. Blumenthal has stopped Mrs. McMahon’s momentum in the race to fill the seat now held by retiring Democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.

MINNESOTA

Pawlenty reveals $3 million haul

ST. PAUL, Minn. | Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s national fundraising committee took in more than $565,000 between July and September, bringing the potential 2012 GOP presidential contender’s total haul above $3.1 million since forming the fund a year ago.

Mr. Pawlenty’s political advisers supplied third-quarter fundraising figures for the Freedom First political action committee Thursday. Mr. Pawlenty also has separate committees in Iowa and New Hampshire, which have generated an additional $250,000. Between the three funds, he had $667,000 in the bank on Sept. 30.

Mr. Pawlenty has sent money to more than 160 candidates on the ballot. If he runs for president, he’ll have to raise separate campaign money.

FIRST LADY

Michelle Obama votes early in hometown

CHICAGO | First lady Michelle Obama has cast her ballot at a polling place on Chicago’s South Side.

Mrs. Obama voted in Illinois’ election at the Martin Luther King Community Center on Thursday. As she left, she told the election judges to make sure that everyone is voting early.

The first lady came to Chicago on Wednesday to raise money for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Democrats running for Congress. Mr. Giannoulias is locked in a tight race with Republican Mark Steven Kirk for President Obama’s former Senate seat.

DALAI LAMA

Tibetan spiritual leader nixes White House bid

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. | What if the Dalai Lama was president of the United States?

The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner laughed at the notion and told Northern California middle and high school students that things would be even more grim if he was America’s leader.

“Within a few weeks, the economy would face bankruptcy,” he joked.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the spiritual leader of Tibet is making several Bay Area appearances this week.

Sitting in an overstuffed green chair in the Costano School auditorium, the Dalai Lama confided to more than 400 students that he was a lazy teenager who hated to study and considered his unsmiling teacher a bore. He also challenged them to choose between a more peaceful, compassionate future or one of more destruction, saying, “It’s entirely up to you.”

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