“Any president who is going to have more than 8 percent unemployment, with gas prices at $4.50 … right away, that makes him vulnerable. And on terrorism, while I do give him a lot of credit for getting [Osama] bin Laden, the fact is he has very mixed messages,” added Mr. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The longtime congressman, whom some supporters have urged to seek the GOP nomination in 2012, said Thursday he hasn’t entirely ruled out that prospect.
“I’m not having any illusions or delusions right now, and I am focusing on re-election,” he said. “But I feel, you know, let’s see where this goes. … I haven’t got any plane reservations for Iowa or New Hampshire. But I’m not ruling it out.”
The Senate will not consider a budget plan until a bipartisan deficit-reduction group led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden completes its work, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Thursday.
Mr. Conrad’s decision could make it easier for Congress to pass any agreement the Biden group works out by allowing it to bypass the supermajority hurdle that frequently derails legislation in the Senate.
The North Dakota Democrat is tasked with presenting a budget plan that would set broad spending levels for the coming fiscal year, but he has had trouble coming up with a plan that would satisfy both liberal and moderate Democrats on the Budget Committee.
Even if he had come up with a bill that could pass the Senate, it was unlikely to take effect as it would have differed sharply from the budget plan that passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last month.
Iran hit with $600M in terrorism damages
A federal judge has awarded $300 million in punitive damages in each of two suicide bombings blamed on Iran and Iranian-backed Islamic groups.
One of rulings Thursday was made on behalf of the family of Alan Beer, a U.S. citizen who was killed in Jerusalem in 2003 in the bombing of a bus by the Iran-backed organization Hamas.
The other award was made to American citizen Seth Haim, his father and his brother. They were injured in the 1995 bombing of a bus in the Gaza Strip by the Iranian-supported Shaqaqi Faction of the Palestine Islamic Jihad.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he was making the awards - which will be difficult, perhaps impossible, for the families to collect - in the interest of deterring terrorist attacks.
U.S. adds Gaza group to terrorism blacklist
The Army of Islam gained notoriety in 2006 when it worked with Hamas to capture Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and was involved in the 2007 abduction of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. The two groups are now rivals.
The State Department said the Army of Islam, which is closely linked to Gaza’s powerful Doghmush clan, was also responsible for a number of rocket attacks on Israel and attacks on Egyptian civilians in 2009 that resulted in casualties and deaths.
The State Department now has 48 groups on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations including Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Cheney’s book to have strong views, daughter says
NEW YORK — Dick Cheney has finished his memoir, according to his daughter, and the book is scheduled to be released Aug. 30.
Liz Cheney said the former vice president’s manuscript was submitted at the beginning of the month. She said the book, now being edited, will be “very straightforward” with “a lot of in-depth analysis of really critically important issues.”
Mr. Cheney’s memoir, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” is being published by Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster run by Republican strategist and former Cheney aide Mary Matalin.
Tea-party-backed candidate makes House race runoff
LOS ANGELES — Republican businessman Craig Huey on Thursday beat California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to finish second in a special congressional election and will square off against Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn in a July runoff.
“While they were fighting it out, we were talking to the independents, the Democrats and the Republicans who are so upset about this economy,” Mr. Huey said. “The voters are getting it, even in California.”
The closely fought race is for the 36th District, which spans several beach communities in southern Los Angeles County. The seat was vacated when Mrs. Harman resigned in February to head the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington think tank.
From wire dispatches and staff reports
By Elaine Donnelly
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