Inside Politics: Bishop likens Obama’s path to Hitler, Stalin

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Bishop likens Obama’s path to Hitler, Stalin

PEORIA, Ill. — An Illinois Roman Catholic diocese whose bishop compared President Obama’s treatment of the church to the actions of totalitarian regimes defended the comments Thursday, calling them “historical context” in an ongoing debate over religious liberty.

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said during a Sunday homily at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria that Mr. Obama is following previous governments that “tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care,” Bishop Jenky said.

Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.”

Diocese Chancellor Patricia Gibson told local media that Bishop Jenky “offered historical context and comparisons.”

“We have currently not reached the same level of persecution,” Ms. Gibson said. “But Bishop Jenky would say that history teaches us to be cautious.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, meanwhile, filed a formal complaint asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the diocese, suggesting Bishop Jenky may have crossed a line that put the church’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy.

MASSACHUSETTS

Ann Romney’s profile grows as election looms

BOSTON — The spotlight on Ann Romney is getting brighter.

Two out of three voters still don’t know the wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. But Mrs. Romney’s profile is growing as Mitt Romney moves into the general election against President Obama.

She was a stay-at-home mother of five boys. She bakes cookies. And, at 63, Ann Romney has 16 grandchildren who call her “Mamie.”

But don’t be fooled: Republicans and Democrats alike see Mrs. Romney as an effective political weapon.

The Romney campaign is leveraging her natural ability to connect with voters in a way her husband cannot. She already is becoming a fundraising powerhouse and chief aggressor in her husband’s push to court women.

SENATE

Feinstein: No action on concealed weapons bills

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is trying to block votes on bills that would require a state to honor concealed gun permits from other states.

The California Democrat wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, requesting that no votes be scheduled on two concealed weapons “reciprocity” bills. There was no immediate response from Mr. Reid of Nevada or Mr. Leahy of Vermont to the letter dated April 17.

The National Rifle Association said it would not be deterred in efforts to pass reciprocity legislation.

“We have to work harder to get 60 votes, and we’re prepared to do that,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, referring to the number of senators needed to end a filibuster.

Feinstein wrote, “These dangerous bills … would undermine states’ rights by forcing nearly every state to accept the concealed carry permits issued by other states, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit in the state to which he is traveling.”

FED

Banks get 2 years to comply with rule

The Federal Reserve said banks will have two years to comply with a rule that would ban them from trading for their own profit.

The so-called “Volcker rule” is expected to take effect this summer. But the Fed clarified Thursday that it won’t enforce it until July 2014.

Congress directed regulators to craft the rule as part of an extensive regulatory overhaul passed after the 2008 financial crisis. Regulators hope it will limit the kind of risky trading that hastened the financial crisis and forced taxpayers to bail out the banks. It was named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker.

The Fed said it issued the statement to clear up confusion. Some banks had worried that they might have to start complying with the new restrictions sooner.

CAMPAIGN

Clooney to hold high-end fundraiser for Obama

George Clooney has a starring role in a new Obama campaign sweepstakes.

The actor is holding a high-end fundraiser for President Obama at his Los Angeles home next month, and the president’s re-election campaign is offering supporters a chance to join Mr. Obama and Mr. Clooney at the event.

Deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot wrote in an email that Mr. Clooney is saving seats at the May 10 fundraiser for two supporters and their guests. The campaign is seeking donations of at least $3 for the contest, similar to past sweepstakes offering donors a chance to have dinner with Mr. Obama.

Mr. Clooney recently met with Mr. Obama at the White House to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and South Sudan.

MAINE

Lawyer: Nader wants jury to hear case

PORTLAND — A lawyer for former independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said the consumer advocate wants a Maine jury to hear his lawsuit from the 2004 election now that it’s been reinstated by the state’s high court.

Attorney Oliver Hall said Thursday that Mr. Nader will continue to pursue his claims that Democrats and others conspired to try to keep him off the ballot in Maine and more than a dozen other states.

Mr. Nader sued in Maine after the statute of limitations expired on his federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. His Maine lawsuit was initially tossed but was reinstated Thursday.

Mr. Nader claims the Democratic Party and several allies orchestrated a nationwide effort against him. Many Democrats blame Mr. Nader for siphoning away votes in an election won by Republican George W. Bush.

MINNESOTA

Group wanting bipartisan ticket lands on 25 ballots

ST. PAUL — A group promising to field a bipartisan presidential ticket in November said it’s now on the ballot in 25 states.

Americans Elect announced Thursday it is halfway toward its goal of appearing on the ballot in all 50 states, a tall climb for an entity outside the two major political parties. A handful of states require the candidates themselves to petition for access.

Americans Elect won’t have its ticket set until June, and it’s technically not a third party under federal law.

States from Maine to California have given it the go-ahead. South Dakota was the 25th.

Most states require a petition drive. Americans Elect said it has collected 2.5 million signatures to date.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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