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WASHINGTON

First lady’s initiative to assist U.S. troops

Michelle Obama says a new campaign she’s launching on behalf of U.S. troops and their families will encourage the public to step up to help make military families’ lives a little easier.

She says it is America’s obligation to look out for the 1 percent of the population serving in the military.

Mrs. Obama’s effort will center on employment, education, wellness and public awareness. An example of the outcomes she would like to see is better career opportunities for veterans and their spouses. She and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, will formally unveil the campaign next month.

The first lady previewed the campaign Monday for the nation’s governors, who were at the White House to meet with President Obama.

IDAHO

Former U.S. senator James McClure dies

BOISE, Idaho | Former U.S. Sen. James McClure, who spent six years as chairman of the Energy Committee and fought to keep Idaho’s wilderness areas controlled by the state, has died. He was 86.

The McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho says the Republican died Saturday. His family says he died of complications from a series of strokes.

Mr. McClure earned a reputation as a nuts-and-bolts legislative craftsman during his 24 years in Congress, and was genial but reserved among most colleagues.

He began his political career in the Idaho Senate in 1961, and was elected to the U.S. House in 1966, staying there until his election to the Senate in 1972. Mr. McClure retired from Congress in 1991 at the age of 72, becoming a lobbyist and mining consultant.

ELECTIONS

Gov. Branstad: Iowa caucuses come first

DES MOINES, Iowa | Iowa officials pledged Monday to move up the state’s 2012 presidential caucuses as early as needed to ensure the event remains the nation’s first contest of White House hopefuls if Florida stands by plans for an early primary date.

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