- - Sunday, July 1, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul will hold a free rally for thousands of supporters at the University of South Florida Sun Dome on the day before the Republican National Convention.

Doors will open at 11 a.m. Aug. 26 for the noontime rally, which is open to the public. The Sun Dome seats 10,400, and organizers expect a crowd.

“We’re going to have a good speaker lineup, we’re going to have music, we’re going to have Dr. Paul, we’re going to have our delegates and we’re going to set a great tone for our delegates to go get involved in the convention,” Paul campaign Chairman Jesse Benton said Friday.

Mr. Paul is no longer actively campaigning, but his supporters have continued to fight for delegate seats in Tampa, encountering resistance and counter-maneuvering that has punctuated a few state GOP nominating conventions with fractious confrontations.

The tone that Mr. Paul’s rally will seek to set for delegates will be “positive, respectful and constructive,” Mr. Benton said. “I think they’re going to be very positive and very upbeat and are going to make sure that what we believe in is represented in the platform.”


Clooney to raise money for Obama in Geneva

Actor George Clooney is offering more help to President Obama’s re-election campaign by headlining a European fundraiser this summer for Americans living abroad.

An invitation posted on Mr. Obama’s campaign website says Mr. Clooney will be the special guest at an Obama fundraiser in Geneva on Aug. 27.

Tickets start at $1,000 per person, and dinner for two costs a cool $30,000.

Mr. Clooney held a gala fundraiser at his Los Angeles home in May that raised nearly $15 million. He typically spends time during the summer at his villa on Italy’s Lake Como.

Mr. Obama’s campaign has held fundraising events overseas to raise money from U.S. citizens living abroad.


Five more states granted NCLB waivers; tally now 24

Five more states have been granted relief from key requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law, bringing the total to 24 states given waivers, the Education Department said Friday.

Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia will be freed from the No Child Left Behind requirement that all students test proficient in math and reading by 2014, a goal the nation remains far from achieving.

In exchange, the states and all others granted waivers must develop accountability plans that set new targets for raising achievement, advancing teacher effectiveness, preparing all students for careers and college, and improving the performance of low-performing schools.


Western conservatives rally in wake of high-court ruling

DENVER — Still reeling from Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, Western state conservatives gathered over the weekend to lick their wounds, shake their fists and vow to strike back in November.

Speakers told the 1,300 attendees Saturday at the annual Western Conservative Summit to move beyond their anger at the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act and use the only remedy left to them: electing Republicans in November who will repeal the law.

“You’re mad as hell. OK, so am I. But it’s time to channel it. It’s time to channel it into action,”

“The American people made a terrible mistake in electing Barack Obama,” said former Education Secretary Bill Bennett. “Let’s hope they have seen it, and let’s hope they will correct it. While we’re mad, let’s channel it, and let’s channel it into a positive direction this fall.”

Colorado state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, who’s running for Congress against Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, said the court’s decision had changed the tenor of the November election.

“The Roberts court may have turned this election into a referendum on Obamacare, or should I call it ‘Obamatax,’ and a referendum on the sovereignty of every state government and every citizen,” Mr. Lundberg said.


Romney ad uses ‘08 criticism of Obama by Hillary Clinton

NEW YORK — Mitt Romney’s campaign has launched a new attack ad against President Obama that uses then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s words against the president.

The Romney ad is running in Ohio and several other battleground states. It’s a response to a commercial run by the Obama campaign suggesting that the Republican presidential hopeful’s longtime private-equity firm has sent jobs overseas.

The Romney ad calls the allegations false and says Mr. Obama used unfounded attacks on Mrs. Clinton when the two vied for the Democratic nomination in 2008.


Scott still considering Medicaid expansion

TALLAHASSEE — For a second day, Gov. Rick Scott sidestepped questions about whether Florida would begin implementing the federal health care law now that it has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Florida has yet to set up health care “exchanges,” an Internet-based system for buyers to shop for private insurance plans.

The state also must decide whether to participate in a planned expansion of the Medicaid program. The expansion could add more than 950,000 people to Florida’s Medicaid rolls, with the federal government covering most, but not all, of the cost.

Mr. Scott said Friday he will have a plan in the coming weeks.

“What I’m concerned about is that what happened with that bill being declared constitutional is the fact that it’s going to be bad for patients, bad for taxpayers, bad for businesses,” he said Friday after a speech in Tampa.


Obama welcomes mom who lost legs in twister

An Indiana woman who lost both legs shielding her children from a tornado walked arm-in-arm with President Obama into the Oval Office on Friday.

The visit by Stephanie Decker came just under four months after the twister wrecked her home in Henryville, Ind. She had tied a blanket around the children and thrown herself on top of them when falling debris crushed her legs.

“We planned this a few months out, and here we are,” Mrs. Decker said in an interview after the 15-minute visit.

When not using a wheelchair, Mrs.Decker, 37, is able to walk for extended periods using prosthetic limbs. She said her goal is to be able to spend eight to 10 hours a day on those limbs. “I’m a pretty active person,” she said.

Mrs. Decker was joined by her son Dominic, 9; daughter Reese, 6; and husband Joe, 42, for the Oval Office visit, which came just before Mr. Obama flew to Colorado to view damage from the state’s wildfires.

It followed a handwritten letter from Mr. Obama and a follow-up phone call from the president while she was in the hospital.

Mrs. Decker said on Friday she and Mr. Obama discussed an improved prosthetic model being developed by the military, and a foundation she and her husband started that trains children with artificial limbs to play sports.

Mrs. Decker said the rebuilding in Indiana has been slow, but her White House visit will be an encouragement. “To have the president know and (take) the time to talk to us, it gives us motivation,” she said.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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