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Inside Politics

- - Thursday, February 23, 2012

ALASKA

Palin emails show anger over 'absent' complaints

JUNEAU — In the final months before she resigned as Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin displayed growing frustration over deteriorating relationships with state lawmakers and their perceived efforts to "lame duck" her administration.

She also expressed outrage over ethics complaints that she saw as frivolous, prompting her to write: "I can't take it anymore."

The details are included in more than 17,000 records released Thursday by state officials.

By spring 2009, the emails show, Mrs. Palin was regularly butting heads with lawmakers of both parties about her absences from the Capitol and her picks for vacancies in the state Senate as well as her Cabinet. The emails she sent to staff illustrate her growing suspicion that those legislators were seeking to undermine her by harping on how often she was away from Juneau, including her time campaigning as the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

"It's unacceptable, and there must be push back on their attempts to lame duck this administration," Mrs. Palin wrote to her top aides on April 9. "That's only going to get worse as they try to pull more bs and capitalize on me being out of the capitol building for 36 hours."

CAMPAIGN

Karen Santorum sees spouse's surge as 'God's will'

The wife of presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Thursday that his rise in the polls is due to God working in mysterious ways.

"I personally think this is God's will. I think He has us on a path, and I do think there's a lot more happening than what we're seeing," Karen Santorum told social commentator Glenn Beck as she and her husband sat for an interview on his Web-based show, GBTV. "Personally I mean I think Rick's a great guy, and he's really smart and everything. But I think a lot more is happening than what we can actually see."

Mrs. Santorum said she initially was reluctant to have him run for the White House -- so much so that when Mr. Santorum approached her and asked her to pray about it, he said her initial reaction was that she wouldn't even pray because "God couldn't possibly want you to do this."

But she finally gave the go-ahead to her husband to run for the White House once she saw President Obama win passage of his health-care law, which she said "put the fire in my belly."

She said the campaign has been challenging, and said some would "have to be crazy to want" to be president. But she said she and her husband escape that because for them "it's completely a spiritual thing. This is God's will."

"The 'want' is a mission to make the culture a better culture, more pleasing to God," Mrs. Santorum said. "For us it's all about making the world a better place."

Sitting with three of their children, the Santorums said the campaign has been educational for the children, and said they've thrived on the encouragement of the voters they've met along the way.

NEW MEXICO

Mayoral candidate claims rival sent topless dancer

SUNLAND PARK — A mayoral candidate in a New Mexico border town said a video of a topless woman dancing in his office is a setup orchestrated by political rivals who wanted to force him out of the race.

Gerardo Hernandez's claims of dirty politics is only the latest scandal to rock Sunland Park, a city seen as so tainted that a House representative has called for the state to take over.

Mr. Hernandez told KVIA-TV this week that he was in his office with his campaign manager and a job applicant when an unidentified woman began to dance for the three of them, topless.

And all the while, Mr. Hernandez said, he was being taped without his knowledge.

Mr. Hernandez maintains he is the target of a setup by his opponent, Daniel Salinas.

Mr. Salinas denied involvement.

CAMPAIGN

Gingrich criticizes apology by U.S. for Koran burning

SPOKANE, Wash. — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is expressing outrage over a U.S. apology to Afghan authorities for burned Korans on a military base.

Mr. Gingrich lashed out Thursday at the Obama administration for the formal apology. Copies of the Muslim holy book were found burned in a garbage pit on a U.S. air field.

President Obama's apology was announced Thursday morning. A few hours later, news organizations reported that an Afghan soldier had killed two U.S. troops and wounded others in retaliation for the Koran burning.

Campaigning in Washington state, Mr. Gingrich said Afghan President Hamid Karzai owes the U.S. an apology for the shootings and that the Afghans "do not deserve the apology of the United States."

The Obama administration says the apology is appropriate given the religious sensitivities involved.

HOUSE

Aide: GOP leaders may trim highway bill

A Republican congressional aide said GOP leaders are considering significantly reducing the scope of a bill that was supposed to provide a long-term blueprint for federal transportation programs.

The aide said GOP leaders are weighing three key changes: reducing the duration of the bill to something less than its current 4 1/2 years, cutting annual transportation spending and postponing a controversial proposal to change the way mass transit programs are funded.

The aide asked not to be identified because any changes must still be discussed further among GOP committee chairmen and rank-and-file Republicans.

The changes would mark a significant retreat from the $260 billion bill House Republicans were trying to pass late last week. It would also better align the measure with a bipartisan transportation bill in the Senate.

WHITE HOUSE

Adviser: GOP damaging itself with negativism

A political adviser to President Obama said Republicans are damaging their chances of defeating the president by engaging in "nasty, negative, carpet-bombing" debates.

Robert Gibbs said independent and undecided voters have been "turned off" by the Republican face-offs, saying the give-and-take among candidates is entirely too negative.

Mr. Gibbs told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday that the GOP continues to dwell on social conservative subjects when "the emerging issue of this campaign is going to be strengthening this economy and putting people back to work."

The former White House press secretary, now an adviser to Mr. Obama's re-election campaign, said the Republican hopefuls are "offering very little in the way of a positive vision" for the country. He said Wednesday night's Arizona debate was full of "negative distortions" about policy positions and candidates.

From wire dispatches and staff reports