- - Sunday, July 15, 2012

WOLFEBORO, N.H. — Republican Mitt Romney is talking about his presidential campaign with Oprah Winfrey.

The presumptive GOP nominee and his wife, Ann, met with Miss Winfrey on Friday for an interview that will be published in O, The Oprah Magazine. Romney aides late Saturday said the conversation took place as the Romneys were ready to begin a leisurely weekend at their lakefront house in Wolfeboro, N.H.

The aides would not discuss the interview topics or tone before its publication.

Miss Winfrey in 2007 broke her long-standing rule against supporting politicians and came out for Barack Obama. She became one his strongest advocates and helped him win over female voters.

The former queen of daytime talk shows still supports the Democratic president, but doesn’t plan to revive her role for him as he seeks re-election.

CAMPAIGN

Obama tops $100M for TV spots in target states

President Obama’s campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall.

In a reflection of campaign strategy, more than one-fifth of the president’s ad spending has been in Ohio, a state that looms as a must-win for Mr. Romney more so than for Mr. Obama. Florida ranks second and Virginia third, according to organizations that track media spending and other sources.

About three-quarters of the president’s advertising has been critical of Mr. Romney as Mr. Obama struggles to turn the election into a choice between him and his rival, rather than a referendum on his own handling of the weak economy. Mr. Obama’s television ad spending dwarfs the Romney campaign’s so far by a margin of 4 to 1 or more. It is at rough parity with the Republican challenger and several outside GOP-led organizations combined. They appear positioned to outspend the president and his allies this fall, perhaps heavily.

The latest attack ad, released Saturday, includes Mr. Romney singing an off-key rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Pictures and signs scroll by that say his companies shipped jobs to Mexico and China, that Massachusetts state jobs went to India while he was governor, and that he has personal investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Democrats and even some Republicans agree the effort to cast Mr. Romney as an unfit steward for the economy shows sign of making some headway. Yet GOP strategists hasten to add that Mr. Romney has ample time to counter, particularly with recent signs of a struggling economy and the fall campaign yet to begin.

WISCONSIN

County DA: Voter-fraud allegations unsubstantiated

RACINE — Authorities who investigated allegations of voter fraud in the Wisconsin Senate recall election that went to a recount say they have found no evidence of criminal activity.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department and prosecutor’s office spent a month looking into the claims. Complaints included the discovery of voter-registration documents in a garbage can and allegations that absentee ballots were mishandled.

The complaints arose after Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard lost a recall election last month to Democratic challenger John Lehman.

The Journal Times of Racine reports that the authorities released a statement Friday saying they conducted a “thorough inquiry” and found nothing that rose to the level of criminal activity.

EPA

Agency drops proposed rule on reports from livestock farms

The Environmental Protection Agency won’t adopt a proposed rule that would have required large livestock farms to report information about their operations.

The EPA announced late Friday that it instead would collect information on concentrated animal-feeding operations from other state, local and federal sources.

Some of the largest operations have tens of thousands of animals and generate more sewage than many cities but aren’t required to tell the EPA how much waste they are generating or how it’s handled.

The EPA agreed to propose the rule as part of a settlement agreement with environmental groups that said the agency doesn’t have enough information to carry out its duties under the Clean Water Act.

Industry groups had threatened to sue if the rule were adopted.

CAMPAIGN

Green challenger faces Romney for second time

A doctor who ran against Mitt Romney for Massachusetts governor a decade ago won the chance to challenge him again Saturday, this time as the Green Party’s presidential nominee.

Jill Stein, an internist from Lexington, Mass., blasted both Mr. Romney and President Obama, saying both had become too dependent on donations from corporations in order to acquire office at the expense of the nation’s citizens.

“We need real public servants who listen to the people — not to the corporate lobbyists that funnel campaign checks into the big war chests,” Ms. Stein told applauding supporters at a Holiday Inn in Baltimore. “That’s what brought me to the Green Party, the only national party that is not bought and paid for by corporate money.”

Ms. Stein acknowledges that her candidacy is a super long shot. Still, she notes that a growing number of people are expressing frustration with the two major political parties and she cites the Occupy Wall Street movement as an example of that.

“We are in it to win it, but we’re also in it to build it, and those are both wins in my book,” Ms. Stein, 62, said in an interview before her acceptance speech at the convention.

Ms. Stein won 193.5 delegates, compared with 72 for comedian Roseanne Barr, who did not attend.

Ms. Stein hopes the party will qualify in at least 40 states, but the total now stands at 21 and does not include the state hosting the convention. Ms. Stein also notes that the Green Party has qualified for federal matching funds for the first time in its 11-year history.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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