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Inside Politics: Medical marijuana battle journeys to Arkansas

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The home state of Bill Clinton, the president who didn't inhale, has become an unlikely front in the battle over medical marijuana.

This fall, Arkansas will be the first Southern state to ask voters whether to legalize medical uses for pot. The move offers supporters a rare chance to make inroads in a region that has resisted easing any restrictions on the drug.

Top elected officials and law enforcement agencies oppose the idea. But legalization groups hope the referendum shows that medical marijuana is no longer solely the domain of East Coast or Western states.

So far, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form. Massachusetts voters are expected to vote on it in November, and another measure could appear on North Dakota's ballot.

NORTH CAROLINA

Convention viewing shifts away from TV to Web

CHARLOTTE — TV viewership for last week's Republican National Convention dropped sharply from 2008.

But the convention was a hit online and on social networks, the latest evidence of the political conversation's gradual migration from traditional media to the Web.

There are many reasons this year's conventions may be less compelling than in 2008. Four years ago was a historic election that saw Democrat Barack Obama become the first black presidential nominee and then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin emerge as a Republican Party star.

Hurricane Isaac drew at least some attention away from the largely surprise-free GOP gathering in Tampa, Fla., last week.

Little news also is expected at this week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, where Mr. Obama will be nominated for a second term.

NEW YORK

GOP lawmaker faces questions over donations

NEW YORK — Rep. Michael G. Grimm got a lot of financial help in his first campaign thanks to an Israeli rabbi.

But that fruitful association is turning into a big headache for the Republican from New York's Staten Island. There are now allegations of illegal donations and potentially embarrassing associations.

In mid-August, FBI agents arrested an Israeli businessman who had helped Mr. Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from the rabbi's followers.

The FBI also has been investigating claims that other followers made illegal contributions to Mr. Grimm. FBI agents have recently been requesting records and interviewing people who were on the campaign staff.

Mr. Grimm, himself a former FBI agent, has acknowledged raising a lot of money from the rabbi's supporters but denied any knowledge of improprieties. He says he followed fundraising rules.

PENNSYLVANIA

Ivy League class requires convention attendance

PHILADELPHIA — A communications class at the University of Pennsylvania has an unusual requirement: Students must attend the Republican or Democratic national convention.

The course called "Campaigns, Debates and Conventions" is taught only once every four years by David Eisenhower, the grandson of former President Dwight Eisenhower.

It's co-taught by Marjorie Margolies, an ex-congresswoman who happens to be Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law.

Mr. Eisenhower says attending a convention is an unforgettable experience that will stay with students their whole lives.

After the conventions, students return to the Ivy League university in Philadelphia for a semester of lectures, readings and research papers. They'll also study the presidential debates.

The course ends just after Election Day on Nov. 6.

MICHIGAN

Secret Service recovers truck with Biden supplies

DETROIT — The Secret Service says it has recovered a stolen rental truck that was carrying equipment for Vice President Joseph R. Biden's Labor Day visit to Detroit.

Agency spokesman Ed Donovan tells the Detroit News that the U-Haul truck stolen early Sunday outside the Westin Book Cadillac hotel was found Monday in a parking lot about three miles away.

Mr. Donovan had said the truck had equipment but no weapons on board. He declined to say whether any of the equipment was stolen.

Messages seeking information were left for Detroit police on Monday.

Mr. Biden addressed a union rally Monday to mark Labor Day. The rally site is near the hotel.

NORTH CAROLINA

New Obama ad makes appeal to middle class

CHARLOTTE — President Obama's campaign is running a new television ad claiming Republican Mitt Romney's policies would "hit the middle class harder."

The ad says Mr. Romney wants to extend tax cuts for millionaires at the expense of middle-income earners.

Mr. Romney has called for an extension of tax cuts first approved by George W. Bush for all income earners. Mr. Obama wants to let the cuts expire at the end of the year for families making more than $250,000 a year.

The ad says Mr. Romney doesn't see the "heavy load" the middle class is carrying.

The new spot is airing as Democrats open their party convention in Charlotte, where they'll focus on Mr. Obama's economic plans for the middle class.

The ad is running in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, key battleground states.

Responding to the ad, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said Mr. Obama is the only candidate who wants to raise taxes, while Mr. Romney has a plan to lower rates, help create jobs and boost take-home pay.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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