- - Sunday, June 24, 2012

They shrug at President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. They’re in no hurry to decide which one to support in the White House race. And they’ll have a big say in determining who wins the White House.

One-quarter of U.S. voters are persuadable, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, and both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney will spend the next four months trying to convince these fickle, hard-to-reach individuals that only one has what it takes to fix an ailing economy.

WHITE HOUSE

President slams Romney over outsourcing of jobs

TAMPA, Fla. — President Obama sought to discredit rival Mitt Romney’s business background Friday, pointing to investments by Mr. Romney’s former private equity firm in companies that moved jobs to low-wage countries. “We don’t need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama’s campaign has tried to undermine Mr. Romney’s case to voters that his background in business would help him jump-start the nation’s economy, which has been hampered by weak job growth, high unemployment and uncertainty over European countries struggling to resolve a debt crisis that has roiled the global economy.

ARIZONA

Shooting survivor holds ‘Congress on Your Corner’

TUCSON — A newly sworn-in congressman who was injured in a mass shooting last year along with then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords held his first “Congress on Your Corner” event with southern Arizona constituents Saturday.

Ms. Giffords conducted 21 of the informal meet-and-greet events during her more than four years in office, including one on the day of the shooting — Jan. 8, 2011. The rampage left six dead and 13 wounded, including Ms. Giffords and her then-district director, Ron Barber.

Ms. Giffords relinquished the seat in January to concentrate on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Mr. Barber, a Democrat, won a special election to replace her earlier this month. He was sworn in Tuesday in the District.

About 300 people showed up at Saturday’s event outside a Tucson grocery store as temperatures topped 100 degrees, Barber spokesman Mark Kimble said. Visitors ranged from other survivors of the mass shooting and well-wishers to people who had concerns about their federal student loans or veteran’s benefits, he said.

CAMPAIGN

Pawlenty: Look elsewhere for potential vice president

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday he’s told Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to look elsewhere for a running mate.

Mr. Pawlenty, who competed briefly last year for the GOP nomination before dropping out and endorsing Mr. Romney, said he thinks he could serve the Republican ticket better in other ways.

Being asked to run as vice president with Mr. Romney would be an honor, Mr. Pawlenty said, but he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he’s “encouraged people who asked this question in the campaign to look at other prospects.”

TENNESSEE

Critics blast state’s ‘no holding-hands bill’

NASHVILLE — Spurred by a classroom demonstration involving a sex toy, Tennessee recently enacted a pro-abstinence sex education law that is among the strictest in the nation.

The most debated section of the bill bars educators from promoting so-called “gateway sexual activity.” But supporters seemed too squeamish during floor debate to specify what that meant, so critics soon labeled it the “no holding-hands bill.”

One thing missing from the debate in the legislature was a discussion of whether the law signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month really would help reduce Tennessee’s high teenage pregnancy rate. Experts say it won’t and warn that it leaves teenagers inadequately educated about sexuality and prevention of pregnancy and disease.

State Rep. John J. DeBerry Jr., a Democrat, supported the new limits on what can be covered in sex-ed class as a way to help teenagers from going too far.

CALIFORNIA

City of Stockton, out of cash, weighs bankruptcy

FRESNO — Stockton, the California city with the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate, is facing a decision on whether to become the biggest city to file for bankruptcy, as a deadline for talks between the city and its creditors approaches late Monday.

City officials are still hoping to reach a deal that would restructure millions of dollars of debt under a new state mediation law designed to help municipalities avoid bankruptcy, City Manager Bob Deis said.

On some nights, negotiations with the 18 creditors have stretched past midnight and remain confidential. But Mr. Deis said that to avoid bankruptcy, any deal would have to result in sufficient savings to make the city solvent.

Meantime, officials have made preparations in case mediation efforts fail. The Stockton City Council is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to adopt a special budget, which would cover the city’s projected $26 million deficit in case of a bankruptcy declaration.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports