- - Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tampa, Fla., has hosted four Super Bowls, but the protesters expected to cram into the city for the Republican National Convention will be a different sort of crowd.

Police are trying to be ready. Tampa police have spent about $13.6 million so far on big-ticket security items, including 200 bicycles, 13 electric all-terrain vehicles and one armored truck for the Aug. 27-31 gathering.

In 2008, thousands of protesters arrived in St. Paul, Minn., for the RNC. Some smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles in a confrontation with pepper-spray-wielding police. Hundreds were arrested over a few days.

Congress has given Tampa, as well as Charlotte, N.C., the location of the Democratic National Convention - $50 million each in taxpayer money to try to ensure everyone is safe for the political gatherings.

SENATE

Wyden letter outlines excessive surveillance

In an unusual acknowledgment, the Obama administration says the government’s surveillance efforts in the war on terrorism have exceeded legal limits on at least one occasion.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence made the observation in a letter to Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.

Mr. Wyden is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Oregon Democrat has suggested that the government may be reviewing the emails and phone calls of law-abiding Americans in the U.S. who are at the other end of communications being monitored abroad by the U.S. government.

Without specifying what the issue is, the ODNI told Mr. Wyden that the administration has addressed any concerns and that the government’s efforts in the intelligence realm undergo close scrutiny from Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

WHITE HOUSE

Port expansion on fast track before election

The Obama administration is speeding up expansion projects at five major U.S. ports, including two in politically important Florida, as part of a broader plan to accelerate public works projects across the country during a weak economic recovery.

The White House announced the expedited work Thursday as President Obama flew to campaign in Florida, including Jacksonville, one of the port cities that would benefit from the plan.

White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that accelerating such projects was a recommendation from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Presidential challenger Mitt Romney has criticized Mr. Obama for not meeting with the jobs council for six months.

Other modernization projects: the Port of Miami, the Port of Savannah, the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the Port of Charleston.

SENATE

Netanyahu deflects Romney support question

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu skirted U.S. politics Sunday by refusing to endorse either presidential candidate, but openly lamented that Iran’s nuclear program remains intact four years since the last election.

Mr. Netanyahu said he would discuss Iran with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney when they meet Saturday, just as he discussed the matter with Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate in 2008.

Mr. Romney and the American-educated Israeli leader have a long-standing friendship stemming from their brief overlap in the 1970s at Boston Consulting Group. But when asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether he would be more comfortable with Mr. Romney than Mr. Obama as president, Mr. Netanyahu parried the question.

“We extend bipartisan hospitality to both Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

TEXAS

State’s working poor stuck in middle of political storm

BROWNSVILLE — The working poor of Texas stand at the center of a debate over President Obama’s health care overhaul, which could have expanded Medicaid coverage to many of the state’s nearly 5.6 million uninsured people.

But Republican Gov. Rick Perry says he will not widen the program because it would cost too much.

Nowhere did Mr. Obama’s health care law hold more promise than in Texas, which leads the nation in the portion of its population that is uninsured. A quarter of Texans have no coverage, many of them families considered among the working poor.

Mr. Perry was not alone in his decision. Several other GOP governors made the same move or are contemplating doing so, saying they can’t afford to expand the joint state-federal program or that they disagree with it philosophically

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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