- - Thursday, October 21, 2010

ARKANSAS

Poll: Boozman’s lead widening

LITTLE ROCK | A new poll shows that Republican Rep. John Boozman has widened his lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln in his bid to unseat her.

A Mason-Dixon Polling and Research telephone poll conducted for the Stephens Media Group and released Thursday found that 55 percent of likely voters interviewed said they planned to back Mr. Boozman, while 34 percent said they’d back Mrs. Lincoln.

Five percent of respondents were undecided, and the rest picked the independent or Green Party candidates.

Mr. Boozman’s 21-percentage-point lead over Mrs. Lincoln is larger than the 17-point lead he had in a similar poll in September.

The poll of 625 likely voters was conducted between Friday and Tuesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to lead Chicago rally

A White House official says President Obama will headline a Democratic rally in Chicago on the final weekend before Election Day.

The Oct. 30 rally, hosted by the Democratic National Committee, will benefit candidates nationwide. Mr. Obama has headlined several similar rallies, including one in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend that drew 35,000.

Mr. Obama’s hometown, Chicago, has been a frequent campaign destination for the president. The race for his former Senate seat is a close contest between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk.

The White House official says Mr. Obama will make other stops that weekend. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president’s schedule has not been formally announced.

OHIO

GOP has edge in small cash

COLUMBUS | The Republican running for Ohio governor is racking up small cash donations as he fights his opponent’s efforts to portray him as a Wall Street insider.

John Kasich - a former Lehman Brothers managing director - has gathered almost twice as much as Democratic incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland from donors giving $250 or less. That’s according to an Associated Press analysis of the contributions so far in the race.

Campaign finance reports show the former congressman has raised slightly more than $2 million from small donations, compared with the more than $1 million Mr. Strickland has gathered.

The gubernatorial contenders were to report Thursday how much money they had on hand in the final days before the Nov. 2 election.

FDA

Heart risk exists with HIV drugs

The Food and Drug Administration is warning HIV patients not to combine two widely used antiviral drugs because they can cause dangerous heart rhythms.

The agency says the combination of Roche’s Invirase and Abbott Laboratories’ Norvir can trigger irregular heartbeats, leading to fainting, lightheadedness and even death. The FDA is requiring the companies to add information about the risk to their drugs’ warning labels and to distribute pamphlets to patients.

Patients with HIV generally cycle through combinations of medicines to control the virus, which attacks the immune system.

The FDA approved Invirase in 1995 to lower HIV levels in the blood. It is often combined with Norvir to improve its effectiveness.

DEFENSE

Radical cleric Pentagon guest

A Pentagon official says radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki lunched there as part of a program to reach out to moderate Muslims in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Mr. al-Awlaki is on the U.S. capture-or-kill list and on the government’s list of wanted terror suspects.

Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan said al-Awlaki was invited to the luncheon in the months after the attacks. He said the invitation was part of an informal program to gain a better understanding of Islam.

The 9/11 Commission reported that the U.S.-born cleric was interviewed four times by the FBI within weeks of the attacks because of his links to three of the hijackers aboard the plane that hit the Pentagon.

The account of al-Awlaki’s Pentagon lunch was first reported by Fox News.

DELAWARE

Candidate airs church, state ad

WILMINGTON | A Democratic congressional candidate’s ad in Delaware is reminding voters that Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell isn’t the state’s only Republican who has raised questions about the separation of church and state.

Democrat John Carney, who is running for Delaware’s lone House seat, began airing an ad last week showing video of Republican nominee Glen Urquhart likening the concept to Nazism at a campaign event earlier this year.

Mr. Urquhart has said he regrets the remarks, saying he was trying to make a point that tyrants tend to abuse the separation of church and state.

At a Senate debate this week, Miss O’Donnell challenged Democratic opponent Chris Coons to show where the Constitution requires separation of church state.

WHITE HOUSE

Stress relief: 2 dozen pastries

SEATTLE | President Obama squeezed in some time to stop for doughnuts Thursday on the second day of a West Coast campaign blitz.

Mr. Obama and Sen. Patty Murray dropped by Top Pot Doughnuts in downtown Seattle, where Mr. Obama ordered a sampler of two dozen doughnuts to go. The president is in Seattle to campaign with Mrs. Murray, who is in a tight race against Republican Dino Rossi.

Mr. Obama shared a doughnut with Mrs. Murray, declaring it “outstanding.” He urged the other customers at the shop to vote in the upcoming midterm election before carrying the two boxes of doughnuts back to his motorcade.

SEC

Office Depot settles charges

Office Depot Inc. has agreed to pay $1 million to settle federal charges that it overstated earnings and shared information with a select group that it failed to include in public filings.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announced the settlement with Office Depot, which neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

The company was accused of overstating earnings in mid-2006 through mid-2007. It also was accused of letting a select group of investors and analysts know that it wouldn’t meet earnings estimates for the second quarter of 2007.

In addition to the company fine, chief executive Stephen Odland and former chief financial officer Patricia McKay agreed to pay civil penalties of $50,000 in connection with the charges for sharing information.