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Mr. Norquist’s private briefing for lawmakers and staff comes as President Obama and Congress are gearing up for battle over whether to extend trillions in tax cuts that expire in January, and whether the entire tax code should be overhauled. The Thursday session also comes with some Republicans saying the pledge is too confining at a time of mammoth federal deficits.

Nearly every House and Senate Republican has pledged to oppose efforts to raise tax rates and to use any elimination of deductions or credits to lower rates.

Mr. Norquist says the pledge is doing fine, and that he wants to help Republicans communicate its meaning.


Kerry to be Romney stand-in for Obama debate practice

President Obama has tapped the Democratic presidential nominee from 2004 to stand in for his Republican rival when he starts preparing for three televised debates this fall, a Democratic official said Monday.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the choice had not been formally announced.

John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts politician like Mr. Romney, knows both the rigors of a presidential debate as well as Mr. Romney’s record as a former one-term governor of their state.

Role playing in debate preparations is a key that helps candidates anticipate likely rebuttals and charges, as well as prepare for the long and potentially treacherous media event. In 2008, Mr. Obama used Washington attorney Greg Craig to play Republican rival John McCain.

Mr. Romney’s campaign would not comment who would play Mr. Obama during Mr. Romney’s debate preparations.


Supreme Court sides with prosecution in DNA case

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a rape conviction over objections that the defendant did not have the chance to question the reliability of the DNA evidence that helped convict him.

The court’s 5-4 ruling went against a run of high court decisions that bolstered the right of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them.

Justice Clarence Thomas provided the margin of difference in the case to uphold the conviction of Sandy Williams, even though Thomas has more often sided with defendants on the issue of cross-examination of witnesses.

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