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Inside Politics

- - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HOUSE

House won't criticize Nazi remarks by GOP lawmaker

The House has defeated a resolution to criticize a Florida Republican who compared Democrats' political messaging to the work of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

Maryland Democrat Donna F. Edwards introduced the resolution to disapprove the remarks of Rep. Allen B. West. A Republican motion to kill the resolution was approved Tuesday on a nearly party-line vote of 231-188.

Mr. West made the reference earlier this month when asked about Congress' low approval ratings and blame that has been directed toward Republicans.

The freshman Republican was quoted as saying, "If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine."

Ms. Edwards said Mr. West later made similar comments in a letter to Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.

REPUBLICANS

Paul emerges as outsider GOP pick

MANCHESTER — Suddenly, Ron Paul is in contention to win the Iowa caucuses and positioned to do well in the New Hampshire primary two weeks before the first votes are cast.

Mr. Paul's standing reflects the fluidity of the Republican race as well as the failure of the social conservative, tea party and establishment elements of the GOP to coalesce behind a candidate.

While the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman is earning support for tight-fisted fiscal positions, he's so out of step with the GOP mainstream on foreign-policy issues that even his most loyal aides doubt he can use his momentum to win the Republican nomination.

Still, Mr. Paul's outsider persona and refusal to give in to the ways of Washington have earned him a loyal following that he's leveraged to build a strong organization.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Lesser-known candidates share state's spotlight

MANCHESTER — From the earnest to the absurd, 17 unknown presidential hopefuls who have been shut out of the higher-profile debates are gathering in New Hampshire, where anyone with $1,000 can run for president.

One candidate, Timothy Brewer, vows that speaking with Jesus through "afterlife orbs" will solve the world's problems. Another, Vermin Supreme, yanks up his shirt to show off his kidney-transplant scar. Then there's Ed O'Donnell, who calls for a return to good manners and says he'd outlaw all guns.

Most of the 10 Republicans and seven Democrats in Monday's forum are ordinary people motivated by the same issues that have dominated the other debates, including the economy and foreign policy.

An airline pilot from Kentucky, Christopher Hill, says he's a lesser-known candidate who stands for lesser-known Americans.

LABOR

Unemployment fell in 43 states in November

Unemployment rates fell in 43 states in November, the most to report such declines in eight years.

The falling state rates reflect the brightening jobs picture nationally. The U.S. unemployment rate fell sharply in November to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row - the first time that's happened since 2006, before the Great Recession.

Only three states reported higher unemployment rates in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Four states showed no change.

Nevada for the 18th straight month had the highest state unemployment rate: 13 percent. It was followed by California at 11.3 percent. North Dakota again enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate: 3.4 percent. It was followed by Nebraska at 4.1 percent and South Dakota at 4.3 percent.

The biggest decline in the unemployment rate in November compared with October was in Michigan. Its rate dropped by 0.8 percentage points to 9.8 percent, from 10.6 percent in October.

Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah all reported declines of 0.6 percentage points in November from October.

Employers added jobs in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Employment decreased in 19 states and was unchanged in two. The largest month-over-month increases were in New York, up 29,500 jobs, and Texas, with a gain of 20,800.

NEW YORK

Romney to America: 'Newt Gingrich? Really?'

NEW YORK — What would Mitt Romney like to say to the American people? How about this: "Newt Gingrich? Really?"

That's one of the playful messages Mr. Romney announced to laughter Monday night on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman." The Republican presidential hopeful delivered the nightly "Top Ten" list in khakis, a shirt and a blue blazer without a tie. Mr. Letterman asked the casually dressed candidate, "How'd you do on the back nine?"

While Mr. Romney took a gentle dig at Mr. Gingrich, his main rival for the GOP nomination, he poked fun at himself too. "Isn't it time," he asked, "for a president who looks like a 1970s game-show host?"

And: "I can do a lot, but even I can't fix the Indianapolis Colts."

Mr. Romney's No. 1 thing to tell Americans? "It's a hairpiece."

POLITICAL PARTIES

Gary Johnson trading GOP for Libertarian?

GOP presidential hopeful Gary E. Johnson is planning to drop out of the Republican field and run next year as the Libertarian Party candidate, Politico reported Tuesday.

Politico, citing a campaign source, said the former New Mexico governor, whose GOP bid never caught fire, will make the announcement official on Dec. 28.

CONGRESS

Smithsonian to see $52M increase from lawmakers

The Smithsonian Institution is receiving a $52 million increase in funding from Congress for 2012, with the increase primarily devoted to building a museum on the Mall devoted to black history.

Figures released Tuesday show the Smithsonian stands to receive $811.5 million in federal funding for the 2012 fiscal year. President Obama is expected to sign the appropriations bill this week.

The budget includes $75 million to begin building the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

There is also $100 million for facilities improvements. That includes $11 million to renovate a wing of the National Museum of American History, $17 million for the National Zoo, $8 million to revitalize the National Museum of Natural History, and $17.4 million for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.

IOWA

Gingrich courts conservatives by attacking judges

DAVENPORT — As he works to rev up his conservative base in Iowa, Newt Gingrich is launching an assault on a reliable GOP target: judges.

The former House speaker's ridicule of the judicial branch has been the sharpest in the Republican field. And it's taken a central role as his campaign struggles to stay atop polls in Iowa, a state where irate social conservatives ousted three state Supreme Court judges for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Mr. Gingrich has suggested that judges who issue what he termed "radical" rulings should be subpoenaed before Congress to explain themselves before facing possible impeachment. As president, he said he'd consider dispatching U.S. marshals to round up judges who refuse to show voluntarily.

From wire dispatches and staff reports