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TEXAS

Poll: Perry's ratings down as governor after failed run

AUSTIN | A new poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry's approval rating in his home state at a 10-year low and more than half of Texans don't want him to run for another term as governor.

The telephone survey of 806 Texans conducted Jan. 21 to 24 was paid for by a group of Texas' largest newspapers.

The poll shows 40 percent of Texans approve of the job he is doing as governor, a 10-point drop from a year ago. Another 40 percent said they disapprove.

The poll found 53 percent said they don't want Mr. Perry to run for a fourth full term in 2014, and 45 percent said his failed campaign for president hurt Texas' image.

ENERGY

Panel: Time is now to replace Nevada nuclear waste dump

A presidential commission says the United States must immediately start looking for an alternative to replace the failed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada that cost an estimated $15 billion but was never built.

The report says the government also must prepare for the eventual large-scale transportation of spent nuclear fuel from storage sites across the country to the new site or to interim storage facilities yet to be built.

The 15-member panel says the U.S. urgently needs a new strategy on nuclear waste. The battle over the Yucca Mountain site 90 miles outside Las Vegas has dragged on for three decades. The Obama administration canceled the project and cut off funding for it.

The commission says local support for any nuclear storage site is crucial.

STATE

Clinton finding it 'odd' to be out of campaign

As secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton is barred from partisan politics, and she acknowledged that it is unusual not to be participating in this election process. But she said she is enjoying being away from the fray.

"It is a little odd for me to be totally out of an election season," she said. "But, you know, I didn't watch any of those debates."

Mrs. Clinton said she expected the campaign for November's election to "suck up a lot of the attention" normally devoted to foreign policy issues, but she joked that that might actually help the State Department.

"The good news is maybe we can even get more done if they are not paying attention, so just factor that in," she said.

SENATE

Lawmakers OK Giffords bill to fight smuggling

A day after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' emotional departure from Congress, the Senate on Thursday passed and sent to the president the final legislative act sponsored by the Arizona Democrat who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt a year ago.

The legislation, passed by voice vote, increases penalties for those flying ultralight planes to smuggle drugs into Giffords' home state and other states along the border.

The bill "will not only help to secure our Southwest border, but it also affords us the opportunity to honor an incredible colleague," said Sen. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat, a sponsor of a Senate counterpart measure.

The House passed the legislation on a 408-0 vote Wednesday, minutes after Ms. Giffords formally submitted her resignation surrounded by hundreds of House members gathered to pay tribute to their wounded colleague.

A year ago, Ms. Giffords, 41, was shot in the head by a would-be assassin who opened fire at a meet-and-greet event outside a Tucson supermarket, killing six and wounding 13. Ms. Giffords, who is undergoing speech and physical therapy, said she wanted to devote all of her time to her recovery.

WHITE HOUSE

100-year-old arrived too late for mention

A 100-year-old man who was supposed to get a shoutout from President Obama on Thursday for his long life and lengthy marriage arrived too late and was dropped from the president's prepared remarks.

But Wilbur Faiss, who was supposed to be featured at the top of Mr. Obama's remarks at an event in Las Vegas, said he has been assured that, to make amends, he will be invited to the next presidential appearance in Vegas.

Mr. Obama's prepared remarks had him hailing Mr. Faiss and his wife, Theresa, who are getting ready to celebrate their 79th wedding anniversary. "Wilbur, you're clearly doing something right," Mr. Obama said in his advance text.

But when Mr. Obama actually spoke, there was no mention of the centenarian or his spouse.

Mr. Faiss said in a phone interview from his home in Vegas later that by the time they found out about the event they weren't able to get there in time.

SENATE

Former governor leads in fundraising for race

Republican Linda Lingle has amassed $1.7 million in her bid to represent Hawaii in the Senate, nearly three times the amount raised by her closest Democrat competitor, Rep. Mazie K. Hirono.

The $1.7 million was raised by Mrs. Lingle in less than three months, with her campaign reporting that 44 percent of the donations camefrom in-state contributors. The Hirono camp raised $624,000 during the same period, for a total of about $1.5 million over six months.

"In these difficult economic times, I am honored and humbled to have so many local donors and such a significant amount of contributions from voters across the state," Mrs. Lingle said in a statement.

The former two-term governor, Mrs. Lingle is the rare Republican who has shown she can compete in Democrat-dominated Hawaii. She said earlier that she expects to raise a record $8 million to $10 million for her bid for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Daniel K. Akaka.

Mrs. Hirono is vying for the Democratic nomination against Rep. Ed Case, who has not yet released his fundraising report. Mrs. Lingle is competing against former state legislator John Carroll in the Republican primary.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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