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WHITE HOUSE

Obama pops into bookstore to tout small business

President Obama pitched in over the weekend to help small businesses get into the holiday shopping season.

The president took daughters Malia and Sasha along on a shopping run to Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe, an independent bookstore a few blocks from the White House.

He said he made the visit because he wanted to support "Small Business Saturday."

The retail industry encouraged shoppers to patronize mom-and-pop businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a counterpoint to Black Friday and the sales and special deals offered by department stores and other large retailers.

The Obamas walked out with a selection of books including "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever" and "Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia."

CAMPAIGN 2012

Powell: Tea party hard-liner won't win presidency

Colin L. Powell, in an appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week," said the media and the tea party are at fault for the "divisive tone" and the current dysfunctional atmosphere in Washington. The former Bush administration secretary of state said the tea party's lack of ability to compromise would doom a tea party-backed presidential nominee.

"The Founding Fathers compromised on slavery. They had to in order to create a country. They compromised on the composition of the Senate, of the House, of the Supreme Court, of a president. What are the president's powers? Can you imagine more difficult compromises today?" he said.

"Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don't find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don't get a consensus that allows you to move forward," he said.

"But the tea party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win."

REPUBLICANS

Perry nabs endorsement of Arizona's Arpaio

NBC News reported Sunday a source had confirmed that Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., will endorse GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry this week.

The network said Mr. Arpaio is expected to campaign with Mr. Perry in New Hampshire this week.

Mr. Perry's campaign has lost traction with many in the GOP base over what some consider a "soft" position on illegal immigrants, who are eligible for in-state college tuition in Texas under a law signed by the Texas governor.

Sheriff Arpaio has a national reputation as a no-nonsense backer of tough immigration laws and as a supporter of Arizona's tough anti-illegals law, which is being challenged by the Obama administration's Justice Department.

CONGRESS

Schumer: Democrats to push extension of payroll-tax cut

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Senate Democrats will put forward a plan to extend the payroll-tax cut into 2012 this week, paid for by a surtax on those with incomes greater than $1 million.

Mr. Schumer added that Democrats would keep introducing the payroll-tax cut if it fails this week - but indicated his party is willing to negotiate other "pay-fors" with Republicans if necessary.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said on the same program that he is not opposed to extending the tax cut, but he indicated he would be opposed to a new tax on millionaires to pay for it.

IRAN-CONTRA

Prosecutor: Reagan, Bush not guilty of crime

One of the prosecutors who investigated the Iran-Contra affair concluded two decades ago that neither Ronald Reagan nor George H.W. Bush was criminally liable in the scandal that tarnished the presidencies of both men, according to reports made public Friday.

Associate independent counsel Christian Mixter reached that conclusion in 1991 even though he found that President Reagan was briefed in advance about every weapons shipment sold to Iran in the arms-for-hostages deals in 1985-86. In a separate report on Mr. Bush, Mr. Mixter wrote that the then-vice president was chairman of a committee that recommended mining the harbors of Nicaragua in 1983.

Mr. Mixter's reports were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research group, which released them on the 25th anniversary of the Iran-Contra scandal. At a Nov. 25, 1986, White House news conference, Reagan and then-Attorney General Edwin Meese III disclosed that money from the arms sales to Iran had been diverted to the Contra guerrillas fighting the leftist government of Nicaragua after Congress had cut off military aid to the rebels.

Mr. Mixter concluded it would be difficult to prosecute Reagan for violating the Arms Export Control Act mandating congressional notification of arms transfers through a third country - Israel in the case of the Reagan White House's secret arms sales to Iran in 1985. The reason, said Mr. Mixter, was that Mr. Meese had told Reagan the National Security Act could be invoked to supersede the export-control act.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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