- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden to travel to Middle East

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to the Middle East next month.

The White House announced Monday that Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, will visit the region the week of March 8.

Mr. Biden will meet with key leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

The Obama administration has been working to encourage Israelis and the Palestinians to resume peace talks. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday during an appearance in Doha, Qatar, that she foresees a possible breakthrough soon.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to discuss jobs on Ga. visit

President Obama will talk about jobs and the economy when he travels to Savannah, Ga., on March 2.

The president will meet with workers, small-business owners and local leaders to discuss ideas for creating jobs and growing the economy. It will be the third trip of its kind that Mr. Obama has taken outside of Washington to highlight administration efforts to bring down unemployment, which remains high at 9.7 percent.

Mr. Obama made similar trips to Allentown, Pa., in December, and to Elyria, Ohio, last month.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama, Oval Office wax models unveiled

LAS VEGAS | A wax museum on the Las Vegas Strip is unveiling a statue of President Obama in a replica of the Oval Office just in time for Presidents Day.

The display was shown Monday at Madame Tussauds.

The museum says the Oval Office model is its only replica of the room west of the Mississippi River. It says the model of Mr. Obama standing behind his desk with his arms folded cost $300,000.

Mr. Obama is expected to visit Las Vegas later this week.

SENATE

Hayworth launches challenge to McCain

PHOENIX | Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth on Monday kicked off a campaign challenging John McCain, setting up a showdown between well-known Republicans that promises to be the Arizona senator’s toughest re-election battle.

Mr. Hayworth, a conservative talk-radio host, held a rally before several dozen supporters in the parking lot outside his campaign headquarters in Phoenix and was set to start a three-day statewide tour.

“Arizona needs strong, reliable, conservative leadership … to stand up to the Democrats’ leftist agenda and offer the conservative solutions we need to get our country moving again,” Mr. Hayworth said, as he positions himself as the race’s reliable conservative.

Conservatives in Arizona have long been skeptical of Mr. McCain, in part, for working with Democrats on such issues as campaign-finance reform and immigration. Mr. McCain has, however, evaded political threats from the right and lately has staked out solidly conservative positions.

Mr. McCain took a swipe at his challenger at his own campaign event in nearby Tempe around the same time as Mr. Hayworth’s, reminding listeners of questions that were raised about the former congressman’s dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Referring to Mr. Hayworth’s alignment with the “tea party” movement, Mr. McCain praised it as a powerful initiative with strong supporters who “fought against these earmark projects that Mr. Hayworth so proudly proclaimed that he would get for his congressional district.”

“Unfortunately, that practice led to corruption, people like Abramoff and other members of Congress who went to jail,” Mr. McCain said.

ECONOMY

Temps no longer augur steady jobs?

When employers hire temporary staff after a recession, it’s long been seen as a sign they’ll soon hire permanent workers.

After the 1990-91 recession, for instance, gains in temporary hiring starting in August 1991 led almost immediately to stepped-up permanent hiring. And after the 2001 recession, temporary hiring rose for three straight months in the summer of 2003. By September, employers were adding full-time jobs each month.

This time around, companies have hired more temps for four straight months. Yet they remain reluctant to make permanent hires because of doubts about the economic recovery’s durability.

Even companies that are boosting production seem inclined to get by with their existing workers, plus temporary staff if necessary.

MICHIGAN

Baseball executive: Not seeking office

LANSING, Mich. | A Major League Baseball executive says he won’t seek the Democratic nomination for Michigan governor.

Robert Bowman, the chief executive of baseball’s online and interactive media operations, said in a statement Monday that he could not commit to the race at this time.

Mr. Bowman works in New York, but has a summer home in northern Michigan. He served as Michigan’s state treasurer and is the president of the Michigan Education Trust.

Mr. Bowman formed an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial run last week.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama eyes funds for nuke reactors

President Obama will announce on Tuesday plans for the government to help finance the construction of two nuclear reactors - the first in nearly 30 years, a top government official said.

Mr. Obama, who has advocated reducing foreign energy dependency and cutting back on greenhouse gases, will use a 2005 law that authorizes the Energy Department to guarantee loans to projects that help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Obama “has long believed that nuclear power should be part of our energy mix,” said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The $18.5 billion in existing loan-guarantee authority will be used to help finance the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a Southern Co. plant in Burke, Ga.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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