- - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

President Obama’s campaign is launching a new ad against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, building on Mr. Obama’s attack against his rival’s economic record as Massachusetts governor.

The ad picks up where a campaign commercial left off last week. It accuses Mr. Romney of leaving the state’s debt and employment in worse condition than he found them. It says Mr. Romney presided over a state with the highest debt in the country and says it ranked 47th in the country in job creation. Mr. Romney was governor from 2003 to 2007.

The ad airs in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The ad is selective in its economic data. The Massachusetts economy improved slightly while Mr. Romney was governor, but its average employment growth was among the nation’s worst.


Lawmakers confirm jurist to 9th Circuit

An Arizona Supreme Court justice was confirmed as a U.S. appellate judge Tuesday, despite complaints from conservatives that he influenced the Roe v. Wade ruling while a law clerk four decades ago.

The Senate confirmed Andrew David Hurwitz by voice vote, elevating him to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals serving Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California and Arizona.

Republican conservatives took the unusual step of criticizing Judge Hurwitz as a young law clerk in 1972, raising the issue of how far back senators should go in judging a nominee’s qualifications for the federal bench.

At that time, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Jon Newman of Connecticut, who wrote two opinions that were the forerunners of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, argued, “If we start doing that sort of thing, then we can vote down anybody for anything,”

Mr. Leahy mocked the opponents Monday when the Senate debated - and then decided - to move forward with Tuesday’s confirmation:

“Oh, when they were 11 years old, they stayed out late one night,” he said. “We can’t have a judge on our court who disobeyed the rules, the laws laid down by their families, and they were out late.”

Mr. Leahy added that law clerks provide judges with background information on the law related to a particular case, but judges make up their own minds on the outcome.

The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, offered a second reason for opposing the nomination - arguing that Judge Hurwitz’ record indicates he opposes the death penalty.

He cited a case a year ago, where Judge Hurwitz was the lone dissenter in a decision that refused to give a convicted murderer a new trial.


First lady gets daughters approval on new book

Michelle Obama gets a rare thumbs up from her adolescent daughters for publishing her first gardening book.

The first lady said daughters Sasha, 11, and Malia, 13, were pulled in by the beautiful pictures and eventually read “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.”

Mrs. Obama spoke to a bookstore crowd at an anything-but-typical book signing, which required hundreds of attendees to stand in line for hours last week to get a wrist band, then go through security clearance and again line up for a few hours before Tuesday’s signing at a downtown Barnes & Noble bookstore.

The book, released last month, traces the story of the vegetable garden on the South Lawn and community gardens around the country.


Romney to FOX News: Teacher criticism ‘absurd’

ORLANDO — Mitt Romney says it’s “absurd” to think he wants to reduce the number of teachers, firefighters and police officers.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee told Fox News that President Obama’s charges to the contrary are “strange.”

Last week, Mr. Romney told an Iowa crowd it’s time to cut back on government and specifically cited firemen, policemen and teachers. The Obama re-election campaign seized on the comment as evidence that the Republican wants to cut middle-class jobs.

Mr. Romney told Fox News that the criticism is “completely absurd.” He says that the federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firemen or policemen.

While that’s technically true in most cases, state and local governments depend on federal aid to supplement their budgets.

Mr. Romney campaigned in Florida on Tuesday.


Officials allow campaign donations via text message

Federal election officials say small-dollar donors may use their cellphones’ text-messaging to contribute to political campaigns.

The Federal Election Commission ruled unanimously Monday in favor of a Democrat-leaning group and campaign-finance watchdogs that had asked the commission to allow the contributions.

The new rules allow supporters to send a text message to a campaign, which would deduct the donation through the donor’s cellphone bill. A similar practice was used following the Haitian earthquake to contribute financial assistance.

The president of the political advertising firm Armour Media, Mark Armour, who helped usher in the change, calls the decision a game-changer for political contributions.


Obama, family headed to Chicago for weekend

President Obama is headed home again.

Mr. Obama, his wife and their two daughters will travel to Chicago on Friday night for the weekend, the White House said Tuesday.

The president is expected to leave from Chicago on Sunday for the G-20 summit in Mexico.

Mr. Obama has not spent much time in his hometown during his presidency, but that has changed lately.

He returned to Chicago for the NATO summit in May, and he was also back in the city early this month for a fundraising trip, during which he spent a rare night in his own house.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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