- - Sunday, May 29, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama shares Karzai concern on Afghan civilian casualties

JOPLIN, MO. — The White House shares Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s concerns over civilian casualties and takes them very seriously, President Obama’s spokesman said Sunday.

“President Karzai has expressed on a number of occasions his concerns about civilian casualties. Those are concerns that we share and take very seriously,” spokesman Jay Carney said on a flight taking Mr. Obama to view tornado damage in Missouri that killed at least 139 people here a week ago.

CAMPAIGNS

Pawlenty stands firm against raising nation’s debt ceiling

Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty reaffirmed Sunday he is against raising the federal debt ceiling.

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” the former Minnesota governor said Washington lawmakers and economists are overstating the negative impact a decision to raise the nation’s debt limit, currently at $14.3 trillion, would have on the economy.

“There are some serious voices challenging that very premise … and the answer is nobody really knows because we’ve not been at this point before,” he said.

Mr. Pawlenty officially announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination last week.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama said to tap new U.S. envoy to Russia

President Obama plans to nominate his top Russia adviser as the next U.S. ambassador to that country, a man who helped the administration’s work to “reset” the two countries’ relationship.

A senior administration official on Sunday confirmed the choice of Michael McFaul. That would be a departure from standard practice because Mr. McFaul is not a career diplomat.

The administration official spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak ahead of a formal announcement. The choice was first reported by the New York Times. Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney had no comment.

Mr. McFaul is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on U.S.-Russia relations and has become a trusted policy adviser as the president has sought to ease long-standing tensions with Russia. Among the recent moves to begin the relationship anew is the signing of the New START treaty to reduce strategic warheads.

WHITE HOUSE

President backs IMF’s replacement process

JOPLIN, MO. — The Obama administration supports the process set up by the International Monetary Fund to find a successor to fallen chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Sunday.

Mr. Carney, aboard the plane carrying President Obama to view tornado damage that killed at least 139 people here a week ago, was asked to comment on a French statement that the Group of Eight leaders unanimously backed French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s bid to be the next IMF head.

“I won’t go beyond what we’ve said, which is that we support the process that’s been set up by the IMF to find a successor, and we support a process that produces the best possible candidate,” Mr. Carney said.

SENATE

McCain: Obama should have used greater force in Libya

Sen. John McCain on Sunday said Libyan civilians are dying in large part because the Obama administration has refused to commit the full weight of the nation’s military to the fight to overthrow strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

“This thing could have been over a long time ago,” Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican who was the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said he was happy to see President Obama’s position on Libya “gradually changing,” evidenced by the fact that U.S. forces remain involved in the effort, despite Mr. Obama’s earlier declaration that the nation’s military commitment would be short-lived.

Mr. McCain also said the continued standoff in Libya could allow extremists, such as al Qaeda leaders, to take control of rebel forces. A quicker end to the fighting, which must include the removal of Col. Gadhafi from power, Mr. McCain said, would make it less likely that terrorists would gain a foothold in Libya.

TEXAS

Ex-Gov. Bill Clements, GOP pioneer in state, dead at 94

AUSTIN, Texas — Former Gov. Bill Clements, the first Republican governor in Texas since Reconstruction, has died at 94.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he was contacted by Mr. Clements’ family members, who confirmed the former governor died Sunday in a Dallas-area hospital.

Mr. Clements looked to completely change the face of Texas politics when he first took office in 1979. The Texas oilman believed state government should be operated as a big business.

Mr. Clements was governor from 1979 to 1983. He lost his re-election bid to Democrat Mark White in 1982.

Four years later, he came back to defeat Mr. White and served until 1991.

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