Club targets Republican congressional candidates
Club for Growth's political arms on Tuesday launched a media attack against three moderate Republican congressional candidates in battleground states, accusing them of failing to live up to conservative fiscal principles.
Club for Growth Action is running television advertisements against House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for U.S. Senate. Club for Growth PAC is airing TV spots against Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania.
The ads will run for about two weeks and collectively cost more than $500,000.
Club for Growth, an influential conservative anti-tax group, has blasted Mr. Upton for his support of the Wall Street bailout in 2008 and for his vote this summer to raise the federal debt ceiling. Club for Growth Action's 30-second TV aid airing in his western Michigan district calls him a "liberal congressman."
"Michigan Republicans can do better than a congressman who has consistently voted to balloon the size of our already bloated government," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "After 25 years of Fred Upton and his liberal policies, it's time for a change."
The group is launching two 15-second TV spots in Texas accusing Mr. Dewhurst of supporting higher taxes and for expanding the state's participation in federally sponsored health care. The Club for Growth PAC has endorsed primary rival Ted Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general, for the seat.
In Pennsylvania, Club for Growth PAC ads blasted Mr. Murphy for his support of legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize chapters and for "billions in wasteful earmark spending."
"Tim Murphy owes his constituents an explanation," Mr. Chocola said.
Club for Growth hasn't been shy to criticize Republicans it pegs as too liberal. The group in December accused Senate candidate Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin — a former Badger State governor and a Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush — of supporting President Obama's health care reforms and pro-union causes.
Men plan guilty pleas in Palin attorney case
ANCHORAGE — Two Pennsylvania men accused of harassing Sarah Palin's attorneys in Alaska by phone plan to forgo trial and again plead guilty, this time without the benefit of a plea agreement.
A federal court judge in December rejected plea deals for 20-year-old Shawn Christy and his father, Craig Christy, and ordered them to stand trial.
Craig Christy is set for a plea change hearing Friday. His wife, Karen Christy, says her son indicated that he also intends to plead guilty without a deal with prosecutors.
The Christys were arrested in Pennsylvania in August. Prosecutors say the men were upset about state restraining orders issued on behalf of the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate.
The restraining orders were issued after Mrs. Palin left office.
No decision made on Yemeni leader's visa
The White House says it is still considering a visa request for Yemen's outgoing autocratic president.
Spokesman Jay Carney said the request is being considered for the sole purpose of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's travel to the U.S. for medical treatment. Mr. Carney said he has no timeline for when a decision will be made.
Mr. Saleh's aides said over the weekend that he had reversed his plans to leave Yemen and would be staying in the country. However, a senior administration official said Tuesday that the U.S. had not heard from Mr. Saleh about any changes to his request to come to the U.S.
The official requested anonymity, citing no authorization to speak publicly.
Regular forecasts planned for interest-rate changes
In a major shift, the Federal Reserve will start updating the public four times a year on how long it plans to keep short-term interest rates at record lows, according to minutes from its December policy meeting.
The first forecast will be included in the central bank's economic projections after its Jan. 24-25 meeting, the minutes said.
The change is the Fed's latest move to make its communication more open and explicit. It could help assure investors, companies and consumers that rates won't rise before a specific time. This might help lower long-term yields further — in effect providing a kind of stimulus.
The Fed has left its key short-term rate near zero for the past three years. In August, it said it plans to maintain that rate until at least mid-2013, unless the economy improves.
After its Dec. 13 meeting, the Fed issued a policy statement that portrayed the U.S. economy as improving slightly. The central bank declined to take any additional steps to boost growth.
In January, the Fed will release an interest rate forecast for the fourth quarter of 2012 and for the next few calendar years, the minutes show. It will update that forecast four times a year.
The minutes also suggest the Fed could be poised to launch a new step to invigorate the economy. Some members favored bolder action, but said they wanted to wait until the more explicit communication policy was in place.
Romney starts Florida ad campaign
DES MOINES — Mitt Romney's campaign is going on the air in Florida.
Hours before Iowans started the first test of Republican candidates, the Romney campaign announced it will begin running an ad in Florida that touts him as a leader of "steadiness and constancy." It also highlights his 42-year marriage to his wife, Ann.
The campaign has aired the same ad in Iowa and other early voting states.
The decision to go on Florida's airwaves shows Mr. Romney's confidence and that he's already looking beyond Tuesday's contest in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary a week later. The Florida vote is scheduled for Jan. 31.
Mr. Romney has said he thinks he will win the Republican presidential nomination.
Carter's tells Obama: Stop alienating voters
ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter has some advice for President Obama as he gears up for the November election: Don't alienate voters with controversial positions.
The Georgia Democrat told the Associated Press on Tuesday that just about everything he did alienated voters, such as sealing a treaty to hand over the Panama Canal and establishing diplomatic ties with China.
Mr. Carter said: "If your main goal is to get re-elected, avoid a controversial subject as much as you can in the first term."
Mr. Carter faced Democratic opposition from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy during his 1980 re-election bid, which he said was a big handicap that Mr. Obama won't have.
He made the remarks as Iowa residents held the first contest of the presidential race to help determine Mr. Obama's Republican opponent.
From wire dispatches and staff reports