- - Monday, July 23, 2012

Mitt Romney is preferred over President Obama on the economy, despite attacks on his record at Bain Capital, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll.

By more than 2-to-1, 63 percent to 29 percent, those surveyed say Mr. Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.

The findings raise questions about Mr. Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Mr. Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2 percent unemployment rate are costing the president.

The poll of 1,030 adults was taken Thursday through Sunday and has a margin of error of 4 percent.


Australian official meant no harm by ‘in decline’

SAN FRANCISCO — Australia’s foreign minister says he wasn’t criticizing America when he spoke of a nation “in decline” during a private conversation with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr told Mr. Romney in San Francisco on Sunday that the nation is “just one budget deal away from ending all talk of America being in decline.” Mr. Romney says Mr. Carr “led the talk of America being in decline,” which is a stronger sentiment abroad than in the U.S.

The meeting was kept secret until Mr. Romney shared the conversation during a fundraiser Sunday evening in San Francisco. He was using Mr. Carr’s comments to criticize a lack of “real leadership” in Washington.

Australian officials said Monday that Mr. Carr was trying to praise the American economy.


Vilsack: House must pass drought help in farm bill

DES MOINES — Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack says Congress has no more important work now than to pass a farm bill that reinstates expired disaster assistance programs. Farmers are experiencing the worst drought in decades.

Programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill have expired and can’t be reinstated unless the House approves a bill passed by the Senate. But House Republican leaders have not scheduled a vote.

Mr. Vilsack toured drought-stricken Iowa farms Monday. He says farmers will be allowed to expand use of acres placed in a conservation program to grow hay and graze.

Farmers also may sell hay from conservation land for the first time to help neighbors desperately in need of cattle feed.

The government also has asked crop insurers to forego interest charges on unpaid premiums through Nov. 1.


For first lady, Olympic trip is ‘dream come true’

First lady Michelle Obama says she’s excited about leading the U.S. delegation to the London Olympics this week but remains “heartbroken” by the Colorado movie theater shooting.

In a conference call with reporters, she said Americans have “come together as one family” over the shooting. And though she says the trip starting Thursday is a “dream come true,” she’s remembering the people of Aurora, Colo., in her prayers.

While in London, Mrs. Obama will have breakfast with the U.S. Olympic team and attend a reception at Buckingham Palace. She’ll also host a “Let’s Move!” event with American and British children and the children of U.S. troops as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. She says she want to “turn the spirit of the games into action.”


Biden speaks to police about theater shootings

MANALAPAN — Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Monday the country weeps for the victims of the Colorado movie theater shooting, but that the stories of heroism that have emerged from the rampage “remind us of the goodness” of the American people.

In a speech at the annual convention of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mr. Biden recounted the actions of multiple individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to help others inside the theater.

“There’s a hell of a lot more good out there than the evil you’re sworn to take on,” he said. At another point, Mr. Biden said: “We must sing of the courage and the heroism that was on display.”

Mr. Biden devoted nearly all of his 18-minute address to Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colo., which killed 12 people and injured dozens more. He said it didn’t “seem appropriate” to talk about policy, as he originally had planned.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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