- - Sunday, April 17, 2011

HOUSE

Speaker Boehner visits troops in surprise Iraq trip

House of Representatives Speaker John A. Boehner visited Iraq over the weekend to express U.S. commitment to the country’s postwar success, despite a rancorous Washington budget debate over spending cuts.

The Ohio Republican’s office said Sunday that Mr. Boehner led a delegation including four other House Republicans and a House Democrat. The group met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey and senior military officials. It provided few other details.

“Our first priority must be ensuring that the remaining 46,000 U.S. forces and their civilian counterparts that are working with the government of Iraq and advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces have the resources and support they need to complete their mission,” he said in a statement.

Accompanying Mr. Boehner were Republicans Mac Thornberry and R. Michael Conaway of Texas, Thomas J. Rooney of Florida and Joseph J. Heck of Nevada and Democrat Dan Boren of Oklahoma.

2012

Ron Paul moves closer to presidential run

GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is taking a step toward a presidential bid in 2012 by setting up a committee to help him test the waters for a possible run.

His spokesman, Jesse Benton, said Friday that the congressman is “beginning to lean more strongly toward running” and this new step puts the machinery in place to move quickly if Paul gets into the race.

Mr. Paul sought the GOP nomination in 2008.

“He remains undecided and won’t be making a final decision until, probably, mid-May,” Mr. Benton said. “But we want to have things in place so that he can hit the ground running if he decides to run.”

Mr. Paul was a wild card in the 2008 race. He raised millions of dollars through innovative, online fundraising techniques and played a foil to other candidates in debates, but he failed to make a decisive impact on the nomination fight.

Since then, his profile has grown. His brand of libertarian-leaning conservatism has attracted a vocal and devout following, which could be a factor in the still forming 2012 field.

ARKANSAS

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