- - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CAMPAIGN

Poll: Bachmann surges to primary lead

Fresh off her well-received performance in last week’s Republican presidential debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann now tops the field of candidates in a new Zogby poll of Republican primary voters.

The poll found Mrs. Bachmann of Minnesota garnering 24 percent of the vote, well ahead of businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who each got 15 percent support.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday, scored just 2 percent support.

Mr. Romney has the air of inevitability about him - 37 percent of the 998 likely primary voters surveyed said they think he will win the nomination. The next closest candidate was Mrs. Bachmann, whom 7 percent of respondents predicted would win the nomination.

CAMPAIGN

Reid picks Huntsman in Mormon primary

He may not have wanted it, but Jon Huntsman Jr. apparently has an unlikely ally in Sen. Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate.

Both Mr. Huntsman and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are Mormon, as is Mr. Reid.

So on Tuesday, as Mr. Huntsman announced his candidacy for the Republican Party’s 2012 nomination, a reporter asked Mr. Reid how he felt about having two co-religionists in the Republican presidential contest and whether the country was ready to elect one of them president.

Mr. Reid ignored the gist of the question and went straight for his evaluation of the two men, head-to-head.

“I feel very comfortable that they’re not ready for - certainly, they’re not ready for the former governor of Massachusetts,” he said, speaking of voters. “Which says in that race, if I had a choice, I would favor Huntsman over Romney.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

No money to fund 2012 GOP primary

COLUMBIA — South Carolina will not fund the state GOP’s first-in-the-South presidential primary in February, leaving officials scrambling to sort out who will pay for it.

The Republican Party insists the primary will go on, even if the GOP must come up with as much as $1.5 million to run it.

“In no way is this primary in jeopardy,” said Matt Moore, the state GOP’s executive director.

The party could go back to running the primary with paper ballots and volunteers, which is how it was done until 2008. That year, Republicans and Democrats pushed for and won state funding for the wide-open White House primaries and the state election commission started running them.

But Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, a conservative who has been making a name for herself nationally, insists that taxpayer funds be used only for what she calls core functions. She told lawmakers earlier this year that those functions don’t include primaries.

ECONOMICS

Bachmann cites Canada as economic role model

Rep. Michele Bachmann apparently is turning north for economic inspiration to that great land of freedom - Canada.

In a Twitter posting Monday, the outspoken Minnesota Republican and presidential hopeful suggested the United States could learn a lot from the economic policies of its neighbor to the north.

“Lesson in economic recovery: Consider Canada. No stimulus & unemployment is 20% lower than US,” the Bachmann camp wrote, taking a swipe at the $830 billion stimulus package that the Democratic-controlled Congress passed and President Obama signed into law in 2009. Canadian officials did try to stimulate the economy, but at a far lower level than that tried by the Obama administration.

The tweet directs viewers to a chart on a June 16 post from John Lott, where the economist and conservative political commentator compared the Canadian and U.S. unemployment rates during the recession and recovery.

Mr. Lott also points out that the president’s stimulus package was three times bigger than Canada’s on a per capita basis and that “Obama raised marginal income tax rates while Canada has cut marginal tax rates.”

In the post, the Bachmann camp doesn’t mention anything about using Canada as a model for some of America’s other problems, including the rising cost of health care.

BOOK DEAL

Giffords has deal for a memoir

NEW YORK — Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut and Navy captain Mark Kelly, are working on a memoir that Scribner will publish at a date to be determined.

The book, currently untitled, will be an intimate chronicle of everything from their careers and courtship to the Jan. 8 tragedy when a gunman shot Mrs. Giffords, 41, in the head during a political event in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed in the attack and 12 others besides the congresswoman were wounded.

“Since Jan. 8, it’s been really touching to us to see how much support there is for Gabby and her recovery, and how much interest there is in how she’s doing and her story,” Mr. Kelly, who on Tuesday announced his retirement from the Navy and NASA, told the Associated Press during a recent interview from Texas.

“After thinking about it, and talking about it, we decided it was the right thing to do to put our words and our voices on paper and tell our story from our point of view.”

Mr. Kelly, 47, most recently was commander of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission, which ended June 1. His retirement is effective Oct. 1.

ETHICS

Complaint filed against GOP senator

The union representing Boeing Co. workers in Washington state has filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Lindsey Graham, alleging the South Carolina Republican is trying to pressure the National Labor Relations Board into dropping a suit targeting the aircraft manufacturer.

Mr. Graham calls the complaint an attempt to intimidate him and others and says he won’t be intimidated.

The complaint was filed May 20 and released by Mr. Graham’s office on Tuesday. It asks the Senate’s ethics committee to investigate comments by Mr. Graham.

The NLRB sued Boeing in April, saying the company built a non-union assembly plant in South Carolina in retaliation against union workers in Washington for labor strikes. The union says Mr. Graham’s comments on the issue constitute “threats.”

Mr. Graham has threatened to push to cut off funding to the NLRB.

GEORGIA

Congressman has early prostate cancer

SAVANNAH — Rep. John Barrow says he’ll undergo treatment for prostate cancer after being diagnosed at an early stage of the disease.

Mr. Barrow, a Democrat, released a statement Tuesday saying his doctors expect him to make a full recovery. He plans to begin radiation therapy next month.

His spokesman, Christopher Cashman, said the congressman was in a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon and doesn’t plan to let the disease slow him down. He said Mr. Barrow, 55, scheduled his treatments so that they would mostly fall in August, when Congress is in recess.

Mr. Barrow is serving his fourth term representing eastern Georgia’s 12th District.

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