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Before the convention, the top three Republican candidates will square off in two candidate debates, scheduled for Wednesday in Draper and April 16 in St. George. About a dozen Republicans have filed to run for the nomination in a conservative state where the party’s nominee is virtually assured of winning the general election.

CAMPAIGN

Democratic group targets Romney’s ties to oil

A Democratic outside group backing President Obama’s re-election bid is trying to tie Republican Mitt Romney to the oil industry, responding to an ad assailing Mr. Obama’s energy record.

The TV ad released Monday by Priorities USA Action argues that the oil industry is trying to help Mr. Romney win the White House to protect its own profits and tax breaks.

It aims to counter a $3.6 million ad campaign launched last week by the American Energy Alliance that blames Mr. Obama for rising gas prices and criticizes his decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The ad is running in the same states where the American Energy Alliance placed its ad: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. All eight are expected to be election battlegrounds.

GASOLINE

EPA closer to approving 15 percent ethanol gas

DES MOINES, Iowa — The federal government has taken another step toward wide distribution of gasoline mixed with 15 percent ethanol by allowing manufacturers to register as suppliers.

While the Environmental Protection Agency is moving the process forward by allowing the registration, E15 still has to clear another set of federal tests and become a registered fuel in individual states. Ethanol makers then must persuade petroleum marketers to sell the formula at gas stations.

Most ethanol fuel sold for passenger cars and pickups today is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gas. The new blend boosts ethanol to 15 percent. It would be used only in 2001 and newer vehicles.

Twenty ethanol makers that have registered to sell E15 are based in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

CAMPAIGN

Bill Clinton: Obama can argue he steadied economy

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