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McALLEN, Texas — This isn’t 2008 when it comes to Ron Paul and the current Republican presidential race.
This time around, the Texas congressman is having such a big impact on the campaign that some Republican operatives are convinced that he will play spoiler in some important states. They say he can grab attention from his rivals for months to come and help determine the nominee.
His libertarian leanings are energizing a small but growing group of passionate conservatives.
Mr. Paul is relying on unconventional but successful fundraising techniques and a more sophisticated campaign than his two previous attempts at the presidency. There’s also the fiery message he’s been preaching for decades — one that’s finally resonating with Americans concerned about the nation’s debt.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Sunday that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East, and said Israeli leaders must restart negotiations with the Palestinians and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey.
In a blunt assessment made as he was traveling to Israel, Mr. Panetta said the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East makes it critical for the Israelis to find ways to communicate with other nations in the region. The Pentagon chief said Israel risks eroding its own security if it does not reach out to its neighbors.
“It’s pretty clear that at this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that’s what’s happening,” he said.
Mr. Panetta is scheduled to meet this week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and then travel to a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. His visit comes as Mideast negotiators push for a peace deal by the end of next year, increasing pressure for the resumption of long-stalled talks.
Obama’s energy chief defends solar-power loans
The Obama administration’s energy chief, facing increased pressure over the failure of solar-panel maker Solyndra, defended on Saturday a loan-guarantee program that has provided billions of dollars for solar energy and other renewable energy projects.
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