- - Monday, July 23, 2012

Mitt Romney is preferred over President Obama on the economy, despite attacks on his record at Bain Capital, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll.

By more than 2-to-1, 63 percent to 29 percent, those surveyed say Mr. Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.

The findings raise questions about Mr. Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Mr. Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2 percent unemployment rate are costing the president.

The poll of 1,030 adults was taken Thursday through Sunday and has a margin of error of 4 percent.


CALIFORNIA

Australian official meant no harm by ‘in decline’

SAN FRANCISCO — Australia’s foreign minister says he wasn’t criticizing America when he spoke of a nation “in decline” during a private conversation with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr told Mr. Romney in San Francisco on Sunday that the nation is “just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline.” Mr. Romney says Mr. Carr “led the talk of America being in decline,” which is a stronger sentiment abroad than in the U.S.

The meeting was kept secret until Mr. Romney shared the conversation during a fundraiser Sunday evening in San Francisco. He was using Mr. Carr’s comments to criticize a lack of “real leadership” in Washington.

Australian officials said Monday that Mr. Carr was trying to praise the American economy.

IOWA

Vilsack: House must pass drought help in farm bill

DES MOINES — Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack says Congress has no more important work now than to pass a farm bill that reinstates expired disaster assistance programs. Farmers are experiencing the worst drought in decades.

Programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill have expired and can’t be reinstated unless the House approves a bill passed by the Senate. But House Republican leaders have not scheduled a vote.

Mr. Vilsack toured drought-stricken Iowa farms Monday. He says farmers will be allowed to expand use of acres placed in a conservation program to grow hay and graze.

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