Inside Politics

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What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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MASSACHUSETTS

Romney aide: Patrick helping Obama camp

The top aide to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is using his office as “an opposition-research arm” of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades leveled the charge Thursday — the same day the Boston Globe reported that the state has no email records from Mr. Romney’s tenure as governor because departing aides took their computers and erased email servers.

Mr. Rhoades said Mr. Patrick’s attorneys improperly provided the Globe with records showing that former Romney aides bought their computers from the state when they left his administration.

Mr. Rhoades accused Mr. Patrick of trying to embarrass Mr. Romney, who was governor before Mr. Patrick, and said the current governor should make public all communication between his office and Mr. Obama’s senior advisers.

HOUSE

Lawmakers seek hearing on Penn State, Citadel

The top Democrat on the House Education Committee called Wednesday for a hearing on the sex-abuse scandals at Penn State and The Citadel.

Rep. George Miller of California told the committee’s chairman, Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, in a letter that the hearing should look at whether changes are needed in federal laws designed to protect children and students.

At Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, is charged with abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. University officials have been criticized for not alerting police.

The Citadel’s president acknowledged this week that the South Carolina military college lost public trust by not aggressively pursuing a 2007 report of sexual abuse allegedly committed at its former summer camp by an ex-counselor.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Cain meeting with newspaper canceled

CONCORD — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain returned to New Hampshire on Thursday for the first time in about a month, but couldn’t spare time for the state’s largest newspaper, an influential force among the group of voters he needs.

A scheduled meeting with the New Hampshire Union Leader’s editorial board was canceled about an hour before it was to begin. There was disagreement over whether the meeting would be videotaped. The Union Leader typically allows taping of its meetings with presidential candidates; Mr. Cain’s campaign refused to allow it.

The development came several days after Mr. Cain appeared to struggle to respond when questioned about Libya during an interview with a Milwaukee newspaper, which was videotaped and went viral after it was posted on the Internet.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon said the Union Leader canceled.

“We would like to do something with them in the future,” he told the Associated Press.

REDISTRICTING

Court orders Texas’ use of Democrat-friendly maps

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal court on Thursday issued temporary political maps for the 2012 election in Texas that some say will give Democrats a greater chance of winning seats in the Legislature.

The maps, which still must be given final court approval, will remain in place for state House and Senate districts until there is a resolution to lawsuits filed over the Legislature’s proposals — likely through the 2012 elections. The court is expected to also release a proposal for new congressional districts.

Republicans have acknowledged they are not likely to hold on to the 101-49 supermajority they have in the Texas House. Still, Democrats argue that the GOP map drawers went too far in trying to preserve their power.

Lawyers were still analyzing the maps Thursday evening. The court order from a three-judge panel in San Antonio requested that parties file comments and objections by noon Friday. A spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is representing the state, said the office is reviewing the maps.

CAMPAIGN

Cain is first GOP candidate to get Secret Service aid

Herman Cain on Thursday became the first Republican presidential candidate to receive Secret Service protection.

Mr. Cain asked for the security, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano and congressional leaders approved his request Thursday, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed.

Elite agents were expected to begin protecting the former pizza company executive sometime Thursday.

Death threats against Mr. Cain, who had been experiencing a bounce in the polls, triggered the request, according to an official with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

Mr. Cain’s campaign had no immediate comment.

HOUSE

Panel wants to supply new F-16s to Taiwan

A House committee endorsed legislation Thursday requiring the United States to supply new F-16 fighter planes to Taiwan and deepen ties with an island nation that lawmakers said faces a military threat from China.

President Obama in September approved upgrades to Taiwan’s existing fleet of American-built F-16s but did not permit sales of new planes that Taiwan has sought since 2006.

The United States is required under 1979 legislation to supply Taiwan with weapons for its self-defense. The administration has sought to meet that requirement without derailing its efforts to improve relations with China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr. Obama’s decision was “regrettable and shortsighted.” She urged him to approve sales of F-16 C/D fighters and diesel submarines to help Taiwan “meet the growing menace of communist China.”

Even though the two measures won committee approval, it seems likely that they would stall in the Senate. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate in September, but has yet to reach the floor for a vote.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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