- - Thursday, August 16, 2012

CHICAGO — Barack Obama first kissed the woman who would become his wife outside a Chicago ice cream shop — and now there’s a plaque to prove it.

The managers of a shopping center in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood installed the 3,000-pound granite marker this week with a plaque reading, “On this site President Barack Obama first kissed Michelle Obama.”

The plaque includes a picture of the first couple and a quote taken from an interview the president gave to O magazine describing their first date.

“On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate,” the plaque reads.

The sweet smooch happened in 1989 when the president treated the first lady to ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins, which is now a Subway restaurant. The boulder sits in a flower bed next to the shopping center.

“It’s a marker for the community, for posterity and tourism, too,” said Jonelle Kearney, a spokeswoman for Mid-America Asset Management, which manages the shopping center.

The Obamas will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in October. They have a home in the city’s Kenwood neighborhood, not far from the shopping center.


Reid to Romney: Show us the tax returns

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t taking Mitt Romney’s word on whether the Republican presidential candidate paid income taxes.

In a statement Thursday, Mr. Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, says that until Mr. Romney releases his tax returns for several years, people will continue to wonder what he’s hiding. The statement said Mr. Romney will be believed when he shows Americans his tax returns.

The Reid statement also insisted that Mr. Romney do what his father did — release his tax returns.

The statement came shortly after Mr. Romney told reporters he’s never paid less than 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade.

Mr. Reid has claimed that Mr. Romney has paid no taxes for some years. Mr. Romney has said that was “totally false.”


Henrichsen slams Democrats for neglecting state races

CASPER — The Democrat running for Wyoming’s congressional seat says fellow Democrats are neglecting the party’s homegrown candidates even as they raise money for out-of-state races.

Chris Henrichsen aired his dissatisfaction with the state party on Twitter on Tuesday night after a fundraiser in Jackson for candidates including Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. He called for new leadership next year.

Mr. Henrichsen told the Casper Star-Tribune that he and Colorado congressional candidate Sal Pace were introduced at the event by treasurer Leslie Petersen and that she said they were hoping to get some “crumbs.”

Ms. Petersen confirmed that but said she said it jokingly.

Mr. Henrichsen, who’s challenging Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis, said he did get one donation for $500 at the event.


Biden, Ryan taking spot in limelight

Joseph R. Biden and Paul Ryan are playing growing roles in the race for the White House.

The Democratic vice president and Republican Wisconsin congressman have been crisscrossing the country this week to help their No. 1s.

This is the first week both presidential candidates have running mates. Mitt Romney formally tapped Mr. Ryan on Saturday.

Mr. Biden is seen as more effective than President Obama at courting white working-class voters. Mr. Ryan is a favorite of the Republican Party’s conservative base, a group that long has been skeptical of Romney.

But they sometimes create headaches. Mr. Biden this week told a Virginia crowd that included hundreds of black people that Romney’s plans for Wall Street would put them “back in chains.”


Romney’s pick wealthier than most Americans

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney found a running mate wealthier than most of us. Although not nearly as rich as Romney, Rep. Paul Ryan has a net worth of about $4.5 million and earned at least $344,000 last year, putting him in the top 5 percent of income earners. Most of his money comes from his marriage and inheritances.

At a glance, Mr. Ryan’s finances reflect an upper middle-class family: Mr. Ryan mortgages his home — six bedrooms with 5,700 square feet on less than one acre — though it’s no gilded mansion. He and his wife, Janna, support three children, and she’s now a stay-at-home mom.

But a review of Mr. Ryan’s financial statements by the Associated Press shows he is in the wealthiest percentiles of Americans. His income is between $344,000 and $1.4 million. Much of his money comes from a trust fund set up following his mother-in-law’s death, as well as investments in natural resources. He also earns an annual salary as a member of Congress of $174,000.

Mr. Romney’s choice of Mr. Ryan could be a lightning rod for Democrats who have criticized Mr. Ryan for his proposed cuts to federal programs for the poor and sick. Mr. Ryan’s supporters said his budget plan is a serious discussion about government’s relationship with Americans and tough medicine for a Washington that for years has spent more than it collects. The Romney campaign declined to discuss Mr. Ryan’s assets, saying his financial statements speak for themselves.

Much of Mr. Ryan’s wealth includes his wife’s assets and her family’s businesses in Oklahoma, where her family members are Democratic heavyweights.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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