- - Sunday, November 20, 2011

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Romney urges Obama to stop military cuts

NASHUA — Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is calling on President Obama to block looming military cuts.

The former Massachusetts governor tells supporters in New Hampshire that the deficit-cutting supercommittee in Congress probably won’t come up with a deal before its Wednesday deadline. That would trigger billions of dollars in automatic cuts to the military and to domestic programs.

Mr. Romney says the president hasn’t done enough to push Congress to compromise, and Mr. Romney wants Mr. Obama to introduce legislation to stop the threatened military cuts.

IOWA

Republicans seek state social conservatives’ nod

DES MOINES — Most of the Republican presidential candidates, with the notable exception of Mitt Romney, set their sights on early-voting Iowa for a discussion on the role of religious faith in public life, along with hot-button social issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

The setting was a forum Saturday night hosted by a new evangelical group trying to leave its mark on the campaign in a state where influential social conservatives have struggled to rally behind an alternative to Mr. Romney. While the former Massachusetts governor has stayed near the top of national polls, some Republican activists have misgivings about his record on cultural issues.

Mr. Romney’s six more socially conservative challengers are actively competing in Iowa to emerge as the preferred candidate among Christian conservatives with just six weeks to go until the Jan. 3 caucuses.

“People are getting close to decision time,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told the Associated Press at a campaign stop in Des Moines. “I think you’re going to see some coalescing in the next couple of weeks.”

STATE DEPARTMENT

Rice: Assad taking Syria to brink of war

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Syrian President Bashar Assad is taking his country to the brink of civil war.

Ms. Rice tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that Mr. Assad’s crackdown is creating a very dangerous situation.

She says Mr. Assad “is no friend of the United States” and that his overthrow would be a “great thing” for the Syrian people, U.S. interests and anyone seeking a more peaceful Middle East.

Ms. Rice is calling for the “toughest” possible penalties against Mr. Assad’s government.

She says that if Russia and China block U.N. sanctions, the U.S. should apply pressure with its allies or act alone. Ms. Rice also is urging more assistance to Syria’s opposition.

WHITE HOUSE

NBA stars to play in basketball fundraiser

President Obama’s re-election campaign is bringing together more than two dozen NBA stars for a fundraising basketball game next month.

Mr. Obama’s campaign says Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and many others will headline the “Obama Classic Basketball Game” on Dec. 12 in Washington.

With the NBA season in jeopardy because of the lockout, the game will serve as a fundraising All-star game. Others confirmed to play include Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

Tickets range from $100 to $5,000 for courtside seats. The money will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account of the Democratic Party and Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign.

IOWA

Anything-can-happen feel in state’s ‘12 vote

ANAMOSA — With six weeks to go before the first vote of the 2012 presidential campaign, the GOP race is really unsettled.

There’s an anything-can-happen feel before Iowans start the state-by-state process of choosing a GOP challenger to President Obama.

Most of the contenders visited Iowa in the past week, and the pace of campaigning is certain to accelerate after Thanksgiving, when the monthlong sprint to the Jan. 3 caucuses begins.

A crush of new TV ads is certain. Expect mailboxes filled with brochures and repeated visits by candidates to diners, town squares and other must-stop venues.

Iowa’s outcome matters because it will shape the contest in New Hampshire, which holds its primary Jan. 10, and in states beyond.

NEW YORK

Cain, on Letterman, again denies claims

NEW YORK — Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says the women who have accused him of making unwanted sexual advances are all lying.

In an appearance Friday on David Letterman’s “The Late Show,” the former pizza executive again denied any impropriety during his time running the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Several women have come forward with allegations against Mr. Cain. He has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have dogged his campaign.

During the interview, Mr. Letterman says to Mr. Cain: “These statements are all false? All of these women are lying? They’re all lying?”

“Yes,” replies Mr. Cain. “They are.”

WHITE HOUSE

The Muppets to greet military families

The Muppets are heading to the White House.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, the White House will host a special screening for military families of “The Muppets” movie.

Guests at Tuesday’s screening will also include Kermit the Frog and Jason Segel, one of the stars of the movie.

The screening is the latest in a series of special invitations the White House has given to military families. President Obama hosted military fathers and their children for a movie screening ahead of Father’s Day, and military families were invited to the White House for the annual Halloween celebration.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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