- - Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Santorum establishes exploratory committee

Former Sen. Rick Santorum is taking the next step toward a presidential bid.

Mr. Santorum on Tuesday said he had established a presidential exploratory committee and would participate in Thursday’s debate in South Carolina, an early presidential-nominating state. The Pennsylvania Republican previously had filed a preliminary committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Establishing the presidential exploratory committee allows Mr. Santorum to raise and spend money, but requires him to disclose his donors.

Mr. Santorum, who lost a bruising re-election bid in 2006, has been busy visiting the traditional early primary and caucus states and hiring staff. He has established the groundwork for a presidential bid, but says he isn’t yet declaring a White House run.


Romney praises Obama on bin Laden operation

NASHUA | Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says President Obama deserves credit for authorizing the military operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death.

Before starting a round-table discussion with New Hampshire business owners Tuesday, Mr. Romney thanked Mr. Obama, U.S. military forces and the intelligence community for finding and killing the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The former Massachusetts governor related that victory to the business owners, saying helping small businesses succeed boosts the economy and means more money to pay for the nation’s defense.

Mr. Romney ran for president in 2008 but eventually lost the GOP nomination to Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Bin Laden was fatally shot by a team of Navy SEALs early Monday in Pakistan.


Gerald Ford honored with statue at Capitol

House and Senate leaders dedicated a bronze statue of the late President Gerald R. Ford on Tuesday, remembering the former Michigan lawmaker as a man of integrity who helped the nation heal from the Watergate crisis.

Ford, the nation’s 38th president, was feted by lawmakers, friends and family members in a ceremony under the soaring dome of the U.S. Capitol. He was credited with providing steady leadership after the resignation of President Nixon, capping a lifetime of public service in the Navy, Congress and ultimately, the White House.

“When things went terribly wrong, Gerald Ford stepped into the role he had been preparing for his entire life without even knowing it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “And today few would disagree that he was just the man we needed for the job.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, called Ford “the most uncommon of common men.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the statue would stand as a “testament of his leadership, values and integrity.”

Ford is the only president in American history who was not elected either president or vice president. He represented western Michigan in Congress for more than two decades before Nixon chose him to serve as vice president to succeed Spiro Agnew. Ford became president when Nixon resigned in 1974 during the Watergate scandal.

Ford died in 2006 at the age of 93.


Ex-Olympian plans appeal of electoral eligibility

TRENTON | Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis is trying to get back into the race for a New Jersey state Senate seat.

Republican Secretary of State Kim Guadagno last week ruled the Democratic former track star isn’t eligible to run in the 8th Legislative District because he hasn’t lived in New Jersey the last four years.

Mr. Lewis grew up in Willingboro and testified he now lives in Medford. But he attended college in Texas and owns a home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a business in Los Angeles.

State and federal courts have agreed with Mrs. Guadagno’s ruling. Mr. Lewis appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to take oral arguments on the case in Philadelphia on Wednesday.


Huntsman sets up political action committee

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., seen as a potential presidential candidate, is taking the first steps toward building a national political profile by setting up a committee that will let him raise money, hire staff and travel around the country.

Spokesman Tim Miller said Tuesday that Mr. Huntsman has filed paperwork to form a political action committee. Mr. Miller says this is an “organizational step” and is not a sign that Mr. Huntsman would - or would not - launch a presidential campaign.

Mr. Huntsman, a Republican, left his post as ambassador to China in the Obama administration last week and returned home amid speculation he would run for the White House.

Mr. Huntsman has scheduled a weekend visit to South Carolina, which has an early spot on the presidential nominating calendar.


VA to expand caregivers program

The Veterans Affairs Department reversed course Tuesday and said it will make sure more caregivers of severely disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans can receive the support they need to help their wounded relatives.

President Obama signed a law in May of last year that provided a monthly stipend, mental health help and health insurance to family members who provide around-the-clock care to these veterans.

But when the VA announced earlier this year how the caregivers program would work, advocates and congressional members said it helped fewer families than they had expected. Among those who likely were not eligible were Sarah and Ted Wade, who stood with Mr. Obama at the bill signing. Ted Wade lost his right arm and sustained a traumatic brain injury in a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2004 while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division.

The VA now says about 3,500 families will be eligible, which is how many Sen. Patty Murray, the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has said Congress wanted. Under the earlier plan, the VA said about 10 percent of the critically wounded from the recent conflicts would be eligible, which was about 850 veterans. The plan will cost about $770 million over five years.


Some staffers’ messages not preserved

The nation’s archivist says he is not comfortable with allowing White House staff members to determine whether their electronic messages from personal accounts are work-related and must be saved.

The archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, told a House hearing Tuesday that official communications to or from a presidential employee’s personal device clearly must be preserved under the law. However, a staff member gets to determine what is official.

The Obama administration’s chief information officer, Brook Colangelo, says there’s no way to automatically capture communications from personal accounts unless they are accessed from a government-issued computer or personal device. Mr. Colangelo says the administration relies on voluntary compliance, bolstered by periodic training on which records are considered official.

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