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Inside Politics

- - Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WHITE HOUSE

Obama team calls out Romney for pandering

President Obama's campaign manager accused Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on Wednesday of pandering to tea party members who harbor a "very personal dislike" of the president.

"There's lots of money to be raised from far-right tea party types appealing to a very personal dislike of Barack Obama," campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in an email to Mr. Obama's supporters. "When Romney tells a reporter that we need a president 'who believes in American principles' or that President Obama will be just a 'footnote in history,' that's who he's talking to."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Romney said the Obama campaign is just trying to distract people from the real issues in the race.

"The last thing President Obama and his political machine want is to have to face Mitt Romney in the general election," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. "Since last year, the Obama campaign has spent all of their time thinking of ways to attack Romney and distract from their own record of failure."

Marking his Florida primary win Tuesday night, Mr. Romney made a pitch for supporters to contribute to a $1 million "one-term fund" to end Mr. Obama's presidency. In response, Mr. Messina said Wednesday that the Obama campaign is starting a $2 million fundraising drive to create a "two-term fund."

NEW JERSEY

Kyrillos makes bid for Senate official

LINCROFT, N.J. — A New Jersey Republican lawmaker Gov. Chris Christie considers a friend and legislative ally has launched his campaign for the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination.

New Jersey Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. held kickoff events Wednesday in Monmouth County - which he represents - and also in Burlington County.

The 51-year-old legislator told Republican faithful that he would seek a balanced budget amendment and vote to repeal President Obama's health care law if elected to the Senate.

Mr. Kyrillos would face an uphill battle against Democrat Robert Menendez, the better-known and well-financed incumbent, in a year with President Obama at the top of the ticket.

Mr. Kyrillos also must survive a GOP primary, as conservative Ian Linker also plans to seek the Republican nomination.

Recent polling data shows a 12 percentage point gap between Mr. Menendez and his closest challenger.

GOP

Snyder questions plan of fellow governors

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is questioning the approach of his fellow Republican governors in the upper Midwest.

He said in an interview with the Associated Press that their efforts to push through divisive legislation may make governing more difficult in the long run.

Mr. Snyder says he sees large protests in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana about anti-union laws as unfortunate. He says pushing the contentious legislation means those states will have to overcome divisiveness and hard feelings in the future.

Mr. Snyder spoke to the AP on Wednesday, while in Washington to speak to a congressional committee about job creation.

Mr. Snyder says he prefers a consensus approach to governing. He says government should do what it can, find areas of agreement and get that done rather than focus on potentially divisive legislation.

JUSTICE

Officials reject claims of department cover-up

The Justice Department is rejecting an assertion by a House committee chairman that top Justice officials are covering up events surrounding a flawed gun-smuggling probe, Operation Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, made the accusation in a letter threatening to pursue contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for failing to turn over congressionally subpoenaed documents created after problems with Fast and Furious came to light.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole responded Wednesday that the department will provide material created after Feb. 4, 2011, the day the department gave incorrect information to Congress about Fast and Furious. At the time, the department said federal agents made every effort to intercept weapons illegally purchased from Phoenix-area gun shops. Instead, the agents tried to track the weapons after purchase.

COLORADO

Santorum picks up Tancredo endorsement

LAKEWOOD — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has picked up an endorsement from former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo.

The failed gubernatorial and presidential candidate is a tea party favorite.

Mr. Santorum was campaigning in Colorado on Wednesday ahead of next week's GOP caucuses there, in hopes of building some momentum for his White House bid. Mr. Santorum also was endorsed Wednesday by former congressman Bob Schaffer and former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.

NEVADA

Paul: Immigration not solved with weapons

LAS VEGAS — Rep. Ron Paul says he favors a compassionate immigration policy that doesn't rely on "barbed-wire fences and guns on the border."

Mr. Paul discussed immigration Wednesday at a Hispanic event in Las Vegas. The Texas congressman plans several days of campaigning in Nevada before the state's GOP caucuses Saturday.

Mr. Paul said immigrants have been unfairly blamed for the bad economy. He said even during a recession the U.S. needs immigrant labor.

Mr. Paul said he doesn't favor illegal immigration but opposes any effort to round people up and ship them away.

He's also against laws that require immigrants to carry proof of legal status. He says he doesn't want to live in a country where people are required to carry identity papers.

NEW YORK

Rapper upset Romney used song as theme

NEW YORK — Rapper K'Naan is upset that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used his song "Wavin' Flag" during his Florida primary victory speech.

In a statement Wednesday, K'naan says Mr. Romney's campaign didn't seek approval to use the song and that he would not have granted permission if it had.

The Somali-born, Canadian-based rapper says he would happily grant President Obama's campaign the use of the song.

K'Naan says he wants to make sure Mr. Romney does not use his song again and is seeking legal action.

Romney spokesman Rick Gorka says the song was used through the campaign's regular blanket license but, out of respect for K'Naan's statement, won't be used again.

"Wavin' Flag" was an international hit for K'Naan in 2010, co-written and co-produced by Bruno Mars' production team, the Smeezingtons.

From wire dispatches and staff reports