- - Thursday, October 18, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The evangelical group run by the Rev. Billy Graham no longer believes Mormonism is a religious cult.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed Mormonism from its list of religious cults this past week.

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ken Barun, the association’s chief of staff, told the Observer. “We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

Scientologists, Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others, also were listed as religious cults, according to Mr. Graham’s association.

The move comes after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney met with Mr. Graham last week, with the aging evangelist pledging to do “all I can” to help the GOP nominee win the presidency.

CAMPAIGN

Ann Romney: No more campaigns if they lose

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife says her husband will not run again if this race doesn’t turn out the way they hope.

Ann Romney told ABC’s “The View” Thursday that it was “a very hard thing” to put her family through another White House bid after he lost the 2008 Republican primary. She said she agreed because she thinks her husband can bring economic prosperity to America, but they “absolutely” will not do it again if he loses.

Also appearing was the Romneys’ son Josh, who was asked about brother Tagg’s joke after this week’s contentious debate that he wanted to “take a swing at” President Obama.

Josh Romney said, as someone who’s been slugged by Tagg, he can assure Mr. Obama he has nothing to worry about.

DEMOCRATS

DNC chairwoman mum on 2012 convention fundraising

RALEIGH, N.C. — The head of the Democratic National Committee distanced herself Thursday from the effort to raise money for her party’s 2012 convention in Charlotte, which fell millions of dollars short despite breaking a pledge to forgo cash from special interests.

At a campaign event in North Carolina, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz said she knew nothing about the sources for the $24 million raised by the convention’s host committee, an amount well short of its $36.7 million goal.

To make up the gap, organizers spent $5 million donated by corporations to rent the convention hall and borrowed nearly $8 million more from a credit line underwritten by a corporation, according to financial disclosure reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

MISSOURI

McCaskill calls Akin extreme; he links her to Obama

CLAYTON — Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill cast herself as a moderate and portrayed Republican challenger Rep. W. Todd Akin as an extremist in their final debate of a contentious Senate race in Missouri. Mr. Akin repeatedly linked Mrs. McCaskill to the policies of President Obama.

The candidates took opposite strategies.

During Thursday night’s debate at a high school in suburban St. Louis, Mrs. McCaskill touted her work with Republican senators to limit earmarks and cap federal spending while Mr. Akin tied her to Mr. Obama’s policies on health care, spending and federal deficits.

The debate remained largely cordial but closed with some personal charges. Mrs. McCaskill claimed women have been paid less in Mr. Akin’s congressional office. Mr. Akin claimed Mrs. McCaskill’s family has benefited from $39 million in federal housing subsidies paid to her husband’s business interests.

REPUBLICANS

GOP says it raised nearly $55M for convention

The group that hosted the Republican National Convention says it raised $55.3 million for the GOP’s festivities in Tampa, Fla.

Financial documents filed Wednesday show hundreds of individuals and corporations contributed to the August GOP convention.

High-dollar donations included $5 million from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has poured tens of millions of dollars into the presidential race. More than $100,000 apiece in contributions came from household names including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The party conventions raise money to pay for tony political shindigs beyond what taxpayer dollars fund.

DEBATE

CNN: Obama spoke longer, Romney spoke more

NEW YORK — President Obama spoke longer in the first two presidential debates, but rival Mitt Romney spoke more.

CNN said Thursday that Mr. Romney spoke more words in both debates than Mr. Obama, even though the network’s on-air clock showed Mr. Obama had more speaking time. Some of the Republican candidate’s supporters questioned why the president had been given more time.

During the first debate, Mr. Obama spoke for 42 minutes, 50 seconds, compared to 38:32 for Mr. Romney. But CNN said Mr. Romney got in 7,802 words and Mr. Obama spoke 7,294 words.

Same thing during Tuesday’s debate: Mr. Obama’s time count was 44:04 and Mr. Romney’s 40:50. Mr. Romney said 7,984 words and Mr. Obama 7,506.

CNN said the count was done by a computer program.

MASSACHUSETTS

Sen. Brown sorry for remark on Warren ad

BOSTON — Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown has apologized for suggesting Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren used paid actors in political ads defending her work in an asbestos lawsuit.

The Taunton Daily Gazette reported that Mr. Brown was asked how Mrs. Warren got family members of asbestos victims to appear in her ads.

Mr. Brown said that “a lot of them are paid.” He also said “we hear that maybe they pay actors.”

Mrs. Warren called the comments “shameful.”

Mr. Brown’s campaign immediately issued a statement from Mr. Brown saying he was wrong “to have jumped to those conclusions.”

IOWA

Humane Society hatches bid to unseat lawmaker

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has little use for the Humane Society, particularly when it comes to laws designed to give calves, pregnant sows and hens a little more freedom on the farm.

The organization’s political arm is devoting most of its campaign budget this year — nearly $500,000 so far — to its effort to see that Mr. King doesn’t return for a sixth term.

Mr. King is running against Democrat Christie Vilsack in a district that has become less conservative because of redistricting.

The Humane Society’s ads focus on his votes regarding dogfighting laws while ignoring their disagreements over laws concerning the treatment of farm animals.

Mr. King’s campaign says the Humane Society is going after him because he’s an effective advocate for farmers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports