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Inside Politics: Former tea party leader blames GOP for setbacks

- - Monday, December 10, 2012

The former leader of a tea party group says the Republican Party and stupid statements by some candidates are to blame for GOP losses in last month's congressional elections.

Dick Armey, who until recently led the conservative group FreedomWorks, said some GOP candidates said "stupid things" that party leaders should have taught them to avoid saying. He said Republicans had a lot of candidates who did "dumb things" during their campaigns.

Mr. Armey, a former Republican House majority leader from Texas, did not specifically mention controversial comments about rape by GOP Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri that contributed to their defeats in November.

Mr. Armey said it is the party's job to support and train candidates.

Mr. Armey left FreedomWorks after an internal dispute about the group's direction.

SUPREME COURT

Sotomayor discusses health, fears in upcoming memoir

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor says in her upcoming memoir that her lifelong battle against diabetes and the fear that she might die early played a big part in her decision not to have children.

The 58-year-old Justice Sotomayor says in an unusually personal book for a Supreme Court justice that she feels an occasional tug of regret at not having borne or adopted children. The memoir, "My Beloved World," is being published by Knopf in January. An early copy was sent by the publisher to The Associated Press.

Justice Sotomayor also defends affirmative action — under which she was admitted to Princeton University and Yale Law School — as needed to get disadvantaged students to the starting line of a race to success. She grew up poor in the South Bronx.

SENATE

Governor says no to picking placeholder

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday she won't appoint a "placeholder" for the resigning Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, saying she wants her pick to be someone who would consider seeking re-election to the seat in 2014.

The move amps up speculation the GOP governor will appoint Rep. Tim Scott to fill the remaining two years of Mr. DeMint's term.

"I do not want to tie the next U.S. senator from South Carolina's hands regarding future office," the governor said in a prepared statement. "I do not want to deprive our state's citizens of the chance to render their judgment on the appointee's performance by way of their vote."

SENATE

Majority leader's first topic: Colleague's hair

A foggy Monday in Washington left Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an introspective mood Monday, as he opened the chamber's week by praising retiring Sen. Ben Nelson's hair.

Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat whose hairline has retreated slightly but is still well ahead of many of his similarly aged colleagues in the Senate, said he cannot hide his envy of the thick gray locks of the Democrat from Nebraska.

"That is a mop of real hair," he assured the chamber and the wider C-SPAN audience, adding that Mr. Nelson has constituents call his office to verify things. "They believe he has a toupee. It's his hair."

Mr. Reid was commemorating Mr. Nelson's service. The two-term senator is retiring at the end of this Congress.

STATE

Stomach virus forces delay in Clinton trip

A stomach virus is forcing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to delay an overseas trip that will focus on providing more support for the Syrian opposition.

The State Department said Sunday that Mrs. Clinton's illness has forced her to move her flight to Morocco from Monday to Tuesday.

The Obama administration is expected to recognize the opposition's new leadership council as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Mrs. Clinton is likely to announce that step at a meeting Wednesday of the Friends of Syria group.

Mrs. Clinton also plans to meet with Moroccan King Mohammed VI for talks expected to focus on the rise of al Qaeda-linked extremists in northern Mali.

Her schedule also includes stops in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

CAMPAIGN

RNC looking into what went wrong in 2012

The Republican National Committee is launching an independent inquiry into what worked in 2012's elections — and, perhaps more importantly, what did not.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on Monday rolled out his effort, called the Growth and Opportunity Project, to look at how GOP nominee Mitt Romney came up short against President Obama and what steps the party can take going forward. Mr. Priebus is asking five party leaders to talk with RNC members, activists and donors about how to solve the GOP's problems.

Republicans had the biggest midterm gain in 2010's elections since 1938 but two years later fell short in claiming the White House.

In addition to fundraising, the outside effort will look at demographic shifts and campaign tactics with an eye on upcoming elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports