- - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DAYTON, Ohio — President Obama came to see March Madness, but he also got lobbied by Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on developing natural gas in the state.

Mr. Obama flew here on Air Force One on Tuesday with British Prime Minister David Cameron to watch an NCAA men’s basketball game between Western Kentucky University and Mississippi Valley State. They were joined by Mr. Kasich and sat in the student section behind one of the baskets at the University of Dayton arena.

During the game, Mr. Kasich talked to the president about the development of shale gas in Ohio. ?He’s concerned about the environment,? Mr. Kasich said. ?We can do it where it’s environmentally sound, and we can get the jobs.?

Asked if they discussed gas prices, Mr. Kasich said, ?A lot of this is having a chance to spend some time. I don’t want to get into all the details of what we talked about.?

The president ate a hot dog at the game, chatted with students and appeared to be explaining the finer points of basketball to Mr. Cameron.

At a cost of roughly $180,000 per hour to operate Air Force One, the trip cost taxpayers at least $365,000, not including the staff costs and other expenses.


AFL-CIO plans to go door-to-door for Dems

ORLANDO — The AFL-CIO is endorsing President Barack Obama’s re-election bid and says it will mount a big door-to-door effort for Democratic candidates to counter the flood of outside money that conservative groups are pouring into the campaign.

The labor federation said Tuesday its strategy is to spend less money on political parties and candidates this election cycle and place more emphasis on old-fashioned, get-out-the-vote shoe leather.

AFL-CIO officials say up to 400,000 union members will be manning phone banks and knocking on doors to persuade voters to support federal, state and local candidates.

A 2010 Supreme Court case allows union campaign workers to visit the homes of any voter, not just those of union members. The same ruling allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited cash in support of candidates.


Santorum picks Corbett adviser for state blitz

HARRISBURG — Rick Santorum is naming Gov. Tom Corbett’s top political adviser as director of the Santorum campaign in Pennsylvania, but Mr. Corbett says he remains neutral in the Republican presidential race.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that Brian Nutt will head up his campaign in the state. Pennsylvania’s primary is April 24.

Mr. Nutt managed Mr. Corbett’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign but left the administration after a few weeks to work for Mr. Santorum’s longtime media consultant in Pittsburgh, John Brabender.

State Republican leaders who have endorsed a candidate in the presidential race have passed over Mr. Santorum, and Mr. Corbett has made it clear that he’s not taking sides either — at least for now.


Republican mistakenly speak at Democrats’ meeting

ALBIA — A Republican congressional candidate said he has learned to double check his campaign schedule after he mistakenly spoke at a Democratic convention in Iowa.

Dan Dolan told the Quad-City Times he arrived early Saturday at the county courthouse in Albia for a Republican convention. He said his staffer asked the crowd if he could speak, and when he finished, ?a guy raises his hand and says, ‘I think you want to talk to the Republicans.’?

Turns out, Democrats were meeting in the same place two hours before the Republican event was to start.

Mr. Dolan, of Muscatine, Iowa, said everyone was nice about the mix-up, but he now asks ?Is this the Republican convention?? before he starts talking.

Mr. Dolan is running for the GOP nomination for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District seat.


Facing job loss, Turner to join GOP Senate race

ALBANY — U.S. Rep. Bob Turner, facing possible elimination of his New York City congressional district, said Tuesday he will join the already crowded field of Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

Mr. Turner’s announcement came just three days before New York Republicans will meet in Rochester to consider Senate candidates. There already are three other Republicans seeking the nomination, setting up a possible primary among two or more of them.

Mr. Turner gained national attention for his upset win in September to represent the Queens and Brooklyn seat formerly held by Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who resigned after admitting he sent women lewd text messages and photos of himself. Mr. Turner, a veteran businessman and political newcomer, won in a district where Democrats have a 3-to-1 registration edge.

A federal judge involved in New York’s redistricting process has proposed eliminating Mr. Turner’s district. Mr. Turner had planned to run for re-election, but said in a statement that it appears his district will be eliminated.


Unemployment rates fell in 45 states in January

The unemployment rate fell in 45 U.S. states in January, a sign that nearly all of the country is benefiting from an improving economy and job market.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that only New York state reported a higher unemployment rate in January than the previous month. Unemployment rates were unchanged in four states.

That’s better than December, when rates fell in 37 states, were unchanged in 10 and rose in three.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January from 8.5 percent in the previous month. Employers added 284,000 jobs, the second-highest total in six years.


American Samoa GOP ready to caucus at bar

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — What do you get when 50 or so Republicans gather in a restaurant-bar? In American Samoa, you get a presidential caucus.

The U.S. territory, located about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii, got its chance Tuesday to participate in the presidential selection process.

Republicans planned to meet at Toa Bar & Grill, choose delegates to the Republican National Convention and vote on a presidential candidate. The six delegates picked at the caucus will join three American Samoa superdelegates at the convention.

Only registered Republicans can vote in the caucus, and that’s why so few attend. It’s rare in American Samoa for anyone to officially register as a Republican or Democrat because local elected officials don’t run along party lines.

From wire dispatches and staff reports