- - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marking a first for Hispanics, the Democratic party has chosen the mayor of San Antonio to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

The party announced Tuesday that Mayor Julian Castro would deliver the high-profile, prime-time address on the convention’s opening night. First lady Michelle Obama will also address the convention delegates — and a television audience across the country — on the same night, Sept. 4.

Mr. Castro, 37, is the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city and the first Hispanic selected to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic convention.

President Obama is banking on Hispanic support in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada as he seeks to break away from Republican rival Mitt Romney. The race remains deadlocked just more than three months from Election Day, though polls show Mr. Obama with a sizable lead over Romney among Hispanic voters.

The late-summer party conventions will set the tone for the fall campaign blitz. Mr. Obama will accept his party’s nomination in Charlotte, N.C., the first week in September, while Mr. Romney will get the Republican nod in Tampa, Fla., a week earlier.


Governor moving to mansion after announcing split

DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and his wife are separating.

The governor and his wife, writer Helen Thorpe, issued a joint statement Tuesday announcing the move. They say they remain close friends, spend time together as a family and sometimes attend social events together.

Mr. Hickenlooper says he will be moving into the governor’s mansion, but he also will continue to spend time at the family home with their son.

The couple said they sought marital counseling before making their decision. They didn’t state a reason for the separation but said neither had an affair and pointed out that the split had nothing to do with the tragic events Colorado has experienced lately.

Mr. Hickenlooper, Ms. Thorpe and their son will take their annual vacation together this week as planned.


Security threats, China topping Clinton’s agenda

Growing security threats from Islamist militants and China’s increasing influence throughout Africa are topping the agenda as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins an 11-day swing around the continent.

Mrs. Clinton departed Tuesday for her latest marathon overseas journey, which will take her to at least six African nations, including the world’s newest country, South Sudan, as well as Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa.

She will start the tour in Senegal, where U.S. officials say she will give a speech warning African states about the potential perils of Chinese investment, which many development experts claim enriches China at Africa’s expense. She will say that proper development will blunt the appeal of extremist groups that are gaining power in Nigeria and Mali and still threaten Somalia.

Without mentioning China by name, Mrs. Clinton will urge African leaders to carefully consider projects proposed by foreign countries that do not demand complete accountability and may encourage corruption to the detriment of the people of some of the world’s most impoverished nations, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview the speech.


Income up, spending remains stagnant

Americans spent no more in June than they did in May, even though their income grew at the fastest pace in three months.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending was flat in June following a 0.1 percent drop in May. Income rose 0.5 percent.

Americans cut back on spending this spring, reflecting rising uncertainty about the economy and jobs. In June, they spent slightly more on services. But they cut back on autos and other long-lasting manufactured goods. They also spent less on nondurable goods, such as clothing, food and gasoline — although some of that may reflect lower gas prices.

The big rise in income and no increase in spending translated into a jump in the savings rate, to 4.4 percent in June, highest in a year.


Camp keeps close eye on third-party challengers

President Obama’s re-election effort is paying close attention to two candidates mounting third-party campaigns for the presidency, believing they could draw votes from Republican rival Mitt Romney and help Obama win a few tightly contested states.

One candidate is Virgil Goode, a former conservative Virginia congressman who is running as a member of the Constitution Party. The other is Gary Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico who is the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee.

Mr. Obama’s team has scenarios whereby Mr. Obama can win states, such as Virginia and Colorado, with less than 50 percent of the vote, with an assist from Mr. Goode and Mr. Johnson.

Romney aides say his supporters are too committed to defeating Mr. Obama to vote for a third-party candidate.


Memo says keep spending despite budget cuts

The White House is telling agency officials to “continue normal spending and operations” even as they face what the administration is calling “highly destructive” across-the-board budget cuts in January.

Acting White House budget chief Jeffrey Zients says President Obama remains confident that lawmakers will act to address the automatic spending cuts, which would slash the Pentagon budget by about 10 percent and also slam domestic programs if the cuts were allowed to take effect Jan. 2.

Mr. Zients said in a memo to agency heads that the budget office will be consulting with agencies on how the spending cuts would have to be implemented if Congress and Mr. Obama together fail to avert them.

The automatic cuts were set up to prod last year’s deficit supercommittee to reach an agreement.


Lawmaker plans to retire over colleague frustration

PAINESVILLE — Republican Rep. Steven C. LaTourette of Ohio, a nine-term lawmaker and a close confidant of House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, said Tuesday he was frustrated with the political stalemate in Washington and won’t seek re-election.

Mr. LaTourette told reporters in his district northeast of Cleveland that the political environment in Washington works against compromise.

“It’s been my experience that compromise, cooperation, getting something done, is not rewarded,” he said. “The group of people that are interested in that type of result — the circle’s becoming smaller and smaller.”`

Mr. LaTourette cited in particular his support for a bipartisan budget compromise, known as Simpson-Bowles, which got 38 votes in the 435-member House.

“There’s only so many times you can run your head into a cement wall,” he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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