- - Monday, May 2, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama honors fallen soldiers

President Obama has bestowed the nation’s highest military honor on two Army privates killed during the Korean War.

Mr. Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano of Hawaii and Henry Svehla of New Jersey during a somber ceremony Monday at the White House.

Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of a machine-gun squad on Sept. 1, 1951, when enemy forces overwhelmed them. He gathered up grenades and fought the enemy alone until his ammunition ran out, then by hand until he was killed.

Svehla, a rifleman, charged enemy positions when his platoon came under heavy fire on June 12, 1952. He was mortally wounded after throwing himself on a grenade.

GOP

Romney to skip presidential debate

Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is skipping the first debate with potential rivals in South Carolina this week, an aide said Monday.

Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, had been coy about whether he would attend Thursday’s debate in Greenville, S.C., which is being sponsored jointly by the South Carolina Republican Party and Fox News.

An aide said the Republican race was still getting started and that Mr. Romney is still not an announced candidate. The Republican race has been slow to start in the battle to pick a nominee to face President Obama in 2012.

Mr. Romney, arguably the front-runner in the Republican field, attended an event in New Hampshire last Friday with four other potential candidates.

At that event, Mr. Romney defended a health care policy he helped develop for Massachusetts that conservatives oppose and Democrats like to say Mr. Obama used as a model for his overhaul.

CALIFORNIA

Court hears birth lawsuit

PASADENA | A federal appeals court in California has heard arguments about a lawsuit challenging the U.S. citizenship of President Obama, despite the release of his detailed birth certificate last week.

Attorneys Gary Kreep and Orly Taitz appeared Monday before a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena. They argued that the lawsuit, which was dismissed two years ago, be remanded back to U.S. District Judge David Carter.

Judge Carter determined the federal court system is not the proper venue to challenge a president’s election.

Mr. Obama produced his long-form Hawaii birth certificate last week and said he hoped the nation could focus on more serious issues. Donald Trump, who has considered a presidential bid in 2012, claimed credit for getting Mr. Obama to release the document.

It’s unclear when the panel will issue a ruling.

SENATE

Ensign bids farewell, offers apologies

In his final speech from the U.S. Senate, Nevada Republican John Ensign says he was blind to how self-centered he had become, and he apologized to colleagues for putting them in a difficult position because of his affair with a former aide.

Mr. Ensign announced his resignation last month, saying he wanted to save his family and others from the ongoing fallout of the affair, which had led to a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.

The announcement of his resignation was an abrupt change of heart. Mr. Ensign had spent much of the past two years saying he would not resign because he hadn’t done anything that violated the law or Senate ethics rules.

Mr. Ensign said he hoped that his legislative record would speak for him long after he had left the chamber.

NEVADA

Special election set for House seat

LAS VEGAS | A U.S. House seat from Nevada left vacant by the resignation of Republican Sen. John Ensign will be filled with a free-for-all special election in September.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said there will be no limit on the number of candidates who can enter Nevada’s first such special election.

The contest will fill a vacancy created by Republican U.S. Rep. Dean Heller of northern Nevada, who replaced Mr. Ensign.

Voters will pick from a free-for-all ballot that is expected to easily swell under the relaxed election rules.

There will be no fee to enter the race and most mainstream candidates will simply have to file a form to get on the ballot. Minor party candidates have through May to collect signatures from 100 registered voters to make the cut.

WHITE HOUSE

Limbaugh praises efforts by Obama

One of President Obama’s most consistent critics took time out Monday to congratulate the commander-in-chief on a job well done.

Radio talk icon Rush Limbaugh began his show with a big thank you for the president and for the American military for their handling of the weekend Pakistan raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

“President Obama has continued the Bush policies of keeping a military presence in the Middle East. He did not scrub the mission to get bin Laden. In fact, it may be that President Obama single-handedly came up with the technique in order to pull this off,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “The military wanted to go in there and bomb as they always do … But President Obama, perhaps the only qualified member in the room to deal with this, insisted on the special forces. No one else thought of that.”

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