- - Monday, January 2, 2012

WHITE HOUSE

Obama ends vacation, prepares to campaign

HONOLULU — With an eye on his re-election campaign, President Obama wrapped up a low-key Hawaiian vacation and planned to get back in front of voters quickly.

After spending 10 days on the island of Oahu, the president and his family are scheduled to touch down in Washington on Tuesday morning.

Republican candidates will be squaring off hours later in the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest of the presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama plans to make his presence in the campaign known after more than a week out of the spotlight.

He will host a live Web chat with supporters in Iowa as the caucuses unfold.

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will travel to Cleveland for an event focused on the economy. Obama aides said the president will seek to draw a contrast with his GOP challengers during the trip to Ohio, a swing state sure to factor prominently in the presidential election.

Mr. Obama also returns to Washington facing further debate on extending payroll-tax cuts, the same issue that consumed Washington in the final days before the holiday recess.

CAMPAIGN

Super-PAC funding unleashed in Iowa

The onslaught of ads in Iowa from outside political groups is giving voters a preview of what’s in store for the presidential election.

A Supreme Court case that opened the floodgates to outside money in American politics is expected to have a major impact in the Republican primary contests and the general election as new super-PACs spend millions of dollars attempting to unseat President Obama.

Such unlimited funds already have made a dent in the GOP campaigns, and some groups have spent more than the very candidates they support.

The high court ruling in 2010 lifted restrictions on corporate and union spending in elections. Campaign watchdogs say the effect of that decision is a worrisome trend.

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