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NEW YORK

Group launches $20M campaign against Obama

NEW YORK — A Republican-leaning independent fundraising group announced Friday it would launch a $20 million television campaign criticizing President Obama’s handling of the economy.

The ads, produced and financed by Crossroads GPS, will begin running Monday in 10 states, many of which are presidential battlegrounds.

Spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the group would spend $5 million initially on cable television nationwide and on broadcast TV in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia. Crossroads will spend a total of $20 million on the campaign over two months, Mr. Collegio said.

The 30-second ad illustrates how unemployment, the national debt and gas prices have all gone up since Mr. Obama took office in January 2009. It also suggests the $850 billion federal stimulus plan failed, with Mr. Obama acknowledging there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects to fund with stimulus dollars as the administration had originally hoped.

“It’s time to take away Obama’s blank check,” the announcer says.

The campaign represents Crossroads’ first major national effort to shape the political debate in Washington. Crossroads GPS is an affiliate of American Crossroads, a Republican-leaning group with ties to Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s former top political adviser. Together, the groups spent more than $38 million to defeat Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.

WHITE HOUSE

Officials confirm mistake during ‘Honor’ speech

The White House is confirming that President Obama misspoke about a Medal of Honor winner coming home alive during comments at Fort Drum in upstate New York.

Addressing soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division on Thursday, Mr. Obama said one of their comrades was the first person he had awarded the Medal of Honor who wasn’t receiving it posthumously. In fact, the soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, was killed in action.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said the president misspoke. He noted that Mr. Obama paid tribute to Monti in remarks to troops in Afghanistan in March 2010. But Salvatore Giunta was the first living recipient of the medal among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Mr. Earnest wouldn’t confirm an ABC report that Mr. Obama had called Monti’s family and apologized.

NEW YORK

Public-sector-pay bill a victory for Christie

NEW YORK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s success in forcing state public sector workers to pay more for their benefits will burnish his image nationally among Republicans already wooing him for national office, analysts said Friday.

Although the first-term governor has repeatedly ruled out a run in the 2012 presidential election, many Republicans see him as a more promising contender than the current crop of declared candidates.

Even some states where Republicans are dominant have not been able to achieve Mr. Christie’s feat of overcoming fierce public sector union resistance to get legislation raising the retirement age and increasing public sector employee pension contributions.

The victory is all the more remarkable because the labor movement is stronger in New Jersey than in Midwest states that have passed similar legislation, and opposition Democrats control both houses of the New Jersey Legislature.

In Ohio and Wisconsin, Republicans control governorships and legislatures so they were able to push through measures to strip public sector unions of some bargaining rights over wages as well as higher benefit contributions.

New Jersey has more public sector workers than either of those states, and a higher percentage of its public workers are unionized than the Midwest states, according to an analysis by RBC Capital Markets.

“If he were to run nationally, he has a heck of a platform to run on,” said Mickey Blum, director of Baruch College Survey Research.

ALASKA

Judge: Miller must pay legal fees for challenge

JUNEAU — An Alaska judge says failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller must pay more than $17,000 in legal costs to the state for his challenge to last year’s election but won’t have to pay legal bills for rival Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

In state court, when no money is at issue in the litigation, winning parties can seek up to 20 percent of their attorney fees. For the state, that came to $17,374.

Mr. Miller sued over the state’s handling of the election and counting of votes for Ms. Murkowski, who mounted an unprecedented write-in campaign after losing the GOP primary to tea party favorite Mr. Miller last August.

Ms. Murkowski will also have to pay the state $400 because she lost her effort to have the state count certain ballots toward her tally.

OKLAHOMA

Cherokee Nation elects new leader in close race

OKLAHOMA CITY | After a bitter campaign in which the candidates attacked each other on everything from job creation to use of a private plane, one of the nation’s largest American Indian tribes chose a new leader in an election decided by 11 votes.

Longtime council member Bill John Baker unseated three-term incumbent Chad Smith and will be sworn in as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation on Aug. 14.

The tribe has nearly 300,000 members, making it one of the biggest in the nation and the largest in Oklahoma, where it has a 14-county jurisdiction. Many of its members live elsewhere, and the biggest different between the tribal election and a typical U.S. congressional campaign is the percentage of people who vote by absentee ballot. In 2007, it was nearly 20 percent.

More than 15,000 votes were cast this year, and the margin between Mr. Baker and Mr. Smith had been fewer than 30 since late Saturday. Tribal election officials spent the night behind closed doors, scrutinizing “challenge” ballots, which are similar to provisional ballots, before determining the winner early Sunday.

MASSACHUSETTS

Romney seeks U.S. wealth in London

BOSTON — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney takes his fundraising machine to London next month, holding a reception aimed at wealthy American expatriates working at banks and hedge funds.

A handful of London fundraisers were held during the 2008 presidential election cycle, but Mr. Romney’s event, scheduled for July 6, will be the earliest ever of its kind.

The reception will be held at Dartmouth House, an opulent mansion in the heart of Mayfair that is often used for weddings and conferences.

The suggested contribution to the “Romney for President” campaign is $2,500, according to an invitation seen by Reuters. Under U.S. law, only American citizens and green-card holders can contribute.

Mr. Romney is the front-runner for the Republican nomination to take on President Obama in 2012, in part because of his campaign’s huge war chest. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

The former Massachusetts governor has held dozens of fundraisers across the United States this year, including at least three in New York that were hosted by backers from the financial industry.

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