- - Monday, January 16, 2012

CAMPAIGN

Paul fights frugal image, flies first class on trips home

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has been spending large amounts on airfare as a congressman, flying first class on dozens of taxpayer-funded flights to his home state. The practice conflicts with the image that Mr. Paul portrays as the only presidential candidate serious about cutting federal spending.

His congressional staff says Mr. Paul chose not to buy economy tickets at a fraction of the price because they aren’t refundable or as flexible for scheduling.

A review of Mr. Paul’s congressional expenses and average airfares found that Mr. Paul charged taxpayers nearly $52,000 on the more expensive tickets, or $27,621 more than the average Continental airfare for the flights between Washington and Houston.

Mr. Paul portrays himself as the most frugal and serious deficit hawk in the race.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Santorum claims PAC is telling lies about his record

COLUMBIA — Republican Rick Santorum complained bitterly Monday that a political action committee that supports presidential rival Mitt Romney is lying about his record. He called on Mr. Romney, the front-runner in the nomination race, to ask the group to edit or remove its advertisements from the air before Saturday’s pivotal primary in South Carolina.

“He has a long track record of sending out his henchmen … to go out and not talk about himself but try to spread disinformation,” Mr. Santorum said at a news conference Monday.

Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, is trying to emerge as the preferred conservative in the primary, where evangelical conservatives — for whom Mr. Santorum is making an aggressive pitch make up an influential bloc.

A political action committee not affiliated with Mr. Romney’s campaign, but led by his former top political aides, is airing television advertisements in South Carolina attacking Mr. Santorum for, among several things, supporting voting rights for felons.

Mr. Santorum said he was urging Mr. Romney to “ask his super PAC to take that down and I hope he does.”

Mr. Santorum supports allowing felons who have completed their sentences, including parole, to apply to have their voting rights restored, as is the law in almost every state, including Massachusetts, where Mr. Romney was governor.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Santorum mixes academia into campaign trail pitch

HILTON HEAD ISLANDRick Santorum is running for president but his campaign speeches can sound like he’s working toward tenure.

The Pennsylvania Republican quotes Irish statesmen and French historians. He traces word origins and explains Islam to the Christian conservatives who have great sway in South Carolina’s GOP presidential primary. He recommends books, cites academic studies and doesn’t shy from footnoting his own unscripted remarks. At times, Mr. Santorum’s events more closely resemble a somber college lecture than a raucous political rally.

A longtime footnote in the race, Mr. Santorum is relishing his new relevance ahead of Saturday’s first-in-the-South primary. His strong finish in Iowa elevated him for the moment as the chief conservative rival to Mitt Romney but he stumbled in the New Hampshire primary. Now he’s looking to rebound in conservative South Carolina.

STATE

WikiLeaks case lawyer wants to depose Clinton

An attorney for an Army intelligence analyst charged with leaking classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks wants to question Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before his client is tried.

David Coombs, an attorney for Pfc. Bradley Manning, included a request to question Mrs. Clinton as part of a redacted document posted Monday on his website and also sent to Army officials. Mrs. Clinton’s name is obscured in the document, but it is clear from context that she is the person he wants to question.

Mr. Coombs failed in his attempt to call Mrs. Clinton as a witness at Pfc. Manning’s preliminary hearing last month. The Army is still deciding whether the 24-year-old native of Oklahoma, who is accused of causing the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, should stand trial.

ALASKA

Lawmakers to weigh how much to save

JUNEAU — One of the major issues facing state lawmakers this session will be how much to spend on immediate wants and needs and how much to save for the future.

The debate isn’t new. In recent years, majorities in the House and Senate, as well as the governor, have each taken credit for socking away money while still passing robust spending plans. For some lawmakers, though, those attempts at fiscal prudence haven’t gone far enough.

At least two bills pending before the Legislature would put billions of dollars into the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is far more difficult for lawmakers to access than other state savings accounts. Another bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would cap spending and compel future savings.

The Legislature reconvenes Tuesday for a 90-day session.

WEST VIRGINIA

Former Gov. Hulett C. Smith dies in Arizona at 93

CHARLESTON — Former West Virginia Gov. Hulett C. Smith, who signed bills that abolished the state’s death penalty and implemented its first strip mining laws, has died. He was 93.

Mr. Smith’s family announced Monday that the former governor died Sunday in Arizona, where had moved to an assisted living facility last fall.

Mr. Smith, a Democrat, was elected in 1964 at a time when governors were limited to a single term.

During his tenure, the West Virginia Legislature enacted measures to control air and water pollution and to protect human rights.

Mr. Smith was born on Oct. 21, 1918, the offspring of a political family. His father, Joe L. Smith, served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1929 to 1944.

From wire dispatches and staff reports