Pawlenty says he is tough enough for 2012
GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty is scoffing at claims that he's too "nice" and too "bland" to take the political fight to President Obama.
Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly said last week that Mr. Pawlenty was "invisible" and that ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs could put his picture on vanilla ice cream.
Mr. Pawlenty asked "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace whether Mr. O'Reilly was "playing the race card on me." Mr. Wallace said he thought Mr. O'Reilly was discussing "the taste, not the color."
Then the former Minnesota governor said that he had a strong record in running a state, but that "being strong is not the same as being loud."
And Mr. Pawlenty said that "if you want the clown in chief, vote for somebody else. That's not me."
Perdue is first governor to veto budget plan
RALEIGH — Democrat Beverly Perdue is the first North Carolina governor to veto a budget bill since the chief executive was given the power in 1997.
Mrs. Perdue's said in her announcement Sunday that the Republican-led Legislature's $20 billion proposal would do "generational damage" to public education. She says the Legislature has turned its "back on our schools, our children, our longstanding investments in education and our future economic prospects."
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said the veto was irresponsible and political. He says the budget plan she rejected does more to create jobs and help public schools than her own.
North Carolina governors have vetoed 15 bills over the past 14 years, but never a budget.
The GOP could still win the battle with an expected override vote this week.
Giffords' friend says progress being made
One of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' closest friends in Congress is impressed by Mrs. Giffords' "remarkable progress" since she was shot in January.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that she had a "wonderful conversation" on the telephone with Mrs. Giffords on Wednesday.
Mrs. Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat, says Mrs. Giffords spoke in full sentences and initiated some of conversation instead of just responding, as she had done in the recent past.
Mrs. Giffords was shot in the head during the attack at a constituent event in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 were injured.
The Arizona Democrat has been in a Houston rehabilitation facility since two weeks after shooting.
Gingrich looks to restart 2012 presidential bid
LOS ANGELES — Newt Gingrich is trying to reboot his troubled presidential bid.
The former House speaker was scheduled to give a foreign policy address Sunday night in Los Angeles in which he charges the Obama administration with placing "political correctness above common sense" when it comes to global affairs.
The speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition is Mr. Gingrich's first since his campaign was rocked by the departures Thursday of 16 top strategists and advisers.
According to remarks provided to the Associated Press before the speech, Mr. Gingrich favors moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
He makes a fleeting reference to the campaign upheaval and says he'll carry his message of renewal all around the country "no matter what it takes."
Librarian, bartender among Blago jurors
CHICAGO — Jurors weighing corruption charges against impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich include a former church choir director, a bartender and dietitian.
The 11 women and one man begin their first full day of deliberations Monday.
Jurors at Blagojevich's first trial deadlocked after a lone holdout prevented conviction on allegations that he sought to sell or trade President Obama's old Senate seat.
One thing this jury has that jurors last year didn't is Blagojevich's testimony. He didn't take the stand last year but testified for seven days this time.
Trying to guess how retrial jurors will vote based on their backgrounds is an inexact science.
The defense may believe a mostly female jury helps them. But jury consultant Beth Foley says verdicts rarely break down along gender lines.
Man sues lawmaker over party prank
An Illinois man is suing Rep. Bobby Schilling, his wife, son and three others after he was severely burned in a prank gone wrong during a party at the congressman's house four years ago.
Thomas W. Reese, 18, filed the lawsuit this week in Illinois' Henry County Circuit Court.
The negligence lawsuit alleges Mr. Schilling's son and three others poured gasoline into a toy dump truck, lit it on fire and pushed it at Reese, then 14. The truck struck Thomas, who suffered burns on one-third of his body.
Mr. Schilling, a freshman Republican, says in a statement that Thomas' parents are friends and campaign donors. He says he's being sued because he was unable to settle with an insurance company and is hopeful of a quick resolution.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports