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Inside Politics

- - Thursday, January 12, 2012

WHITE HOUSE

Obama requests $1.2T hike in borrowing limit

President Obama is asking Congress for another $1.2 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit.

The request is largely a formality. It's the third and final request the president is allowed under a deal the White House and lawmakers reached in August to prevent a government default.

But Republicans are likely to use the election-year request as an opportunity to criticize the president's spending policies.

Congress has 15 days to reject the president's request. The White House says Mr. Obama would veto any objections in order to avoid a default.

Mr. Obama originally planned to make this request in late December. But with Congress on vacation until mid-January, lawmakers asked Mr. Obama to delay his request so they could vote on the matter when they return.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Former congressman Janklow dead at 72

PIERRE — As governor of South Dakota for 16 years, Bill Janklow was always in a hurry pushing lawmakers to approve his proposals and racing to disaster sites to take charge. His need for speed also may have played a role in his one regret: the 2003 fatal traffic accident that landed him in jail and ended his political career.

As South Dakota's attorney general, governor and congressman, the colorful politician dominated the state's political landscape for more than a quarter century, changing the face of the state's economy, education system and tax structure. Even his enemies — and there were many — acknowledged the Republican had a talent for getting things done, even as they complained that he ran roughshod over his opponents.

Mr. Janklow died shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday of brain cancer after being moved to hospice care in Sioux Falls earlier in the week, his son Russ Janklow said. He was 72.

"My dad loved this state," Russ Janklow said. "You know that."

At a final news conference in November, Mr. Janklow announced he had inoperable cancer and said his only regret was running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. The accident happened less than a year after Mr. Janklow was elected to the U.S. House.

"If I had it to do over, I'd do everything I did, but I'd stop at a stop sign," Mr. Janklow said.

MISSOURI

Candidate drops degree from website biography

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri gubernatorial candidate has changed a claim on his campaign website that he earned a college degree in economics.

The changes come after Dave Spence acknowledged earlier this week that it may have been misleading to state in his original online biography that he earned an economics degree — without originally noting that it was in home economics.

On Thursday, the Republican's website first was changed to remove any reference to a degree, stating merely that he attended the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later in the day, the website was changed again to state that he majored in family economics and management and earned a bachelor's of science degree in home economics.

Mr. Spence is seeking to challenge Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, in this year's elections.

NEBRASKA

Kerrey mulling comeback, revives Democratic hopes

OMAHA — More than a decade after he left Nebraska for New York City, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, is considering an improbable comeback run for his old Senate seat.

It's a prospect even he rates as a long shot.

Mr. Kerrey said he'd bet against himself, but he's giving the race consideration during a visit to Nebraska this week. The former senator would provide an instant jolt to the race to replace Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat who is retiring at the end of his term.

How the Nebraska Senate race unfolds is pivotal for both parties: Republicans need to net four seats in the 2012 election to take back the Senate. If Kerrey doesn't make the race, Republicans are extremely confident they'll have one of the four seats they need.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Young voters propel Paul's campaign

MANCHESTER — Young voters in the Republican presidential race are flocking to a 76-year-old great-grandfather who gives eye-glazing speeches on monetary policy and disappears from the campaign trail for days at a time to rest.

Rep. Ron Paul's libertarian message of less government and personal liberty is clicking with young people. And it's young people who are supplying oomph for the Texas congressman's stronger-than-expected presidential campaign. Nearly half of all voters younger than 30 went for Mr. Paul in New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two states to vote.

Mr. Paul's campaign events are charged with an energy that any politician would love, attracting youthful activists ranging from preppy college students to blue collar workers and artists. Their lopsided support has made Paul a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 campaign.

SOUTH CAROLINA

TV already awash in GOP attack ads

COLUMBIA — GOP presidential candidates and their deep-pocketed allies are teeing up millions of dollars in ads, many in attack fashion, ahead of the pivotal South Carolina primary.

Newt Gingrich is hitting Mitt Romney over abortion. A group backing Mr. Romney is ridiculing Mr. Gingrich's judgment by showing footage of him with Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi. And Ron Paul is tagging Rick Santorum as a "serial hypocrite" with "a record of betrayal."

In a state known for brutal campaign tactics, the savaging has only just begun.

Mr. Romney's wins in the first two contests set up a now-or-never situation for opponents desperate to deny him the presidential nomination.

South Carolina voters weigh in Jan. 21.

SENATE

McCain raps high court's campaign finance ruling

Sen. John McCain says the Supreme Court ruling that led to formation of super PACs was "one of the worst decisions I have ever seen."

Mr. McCain, whose name has been synonymous with the push for campaign finance reform, also says, "I predict to you that there will be huge scandals associated with this huge flood of money."

Mr. McCain was referring to Citizens United, the court's 2010 ruling against limits on spending by independent organizations. The justices based their decision on freedom of speech principles.

A super PAC supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ran negative ads against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Iowa. Mr. Gingrich says the spots substantially harmed his campaign. And Mr. Gingrich now is benefiting from similar spending by a group running anti-Romney ads in South Carolina.

From wire dispatches and staff reports