- - Sunday, September 30, 2012

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has weighed in on the U.S. presidential race, saying he prefers President Obama.

The Venezuelan leader said in an interview televised Sunday that “If I were American, I’d vote for Obama.”

If Mr. Obama came from a working-class Caracas neighborhood, he would “vote for Chavez,” the socialist president claimed.

“Obama recently said something very rational and just: Venezuela is not a threat to the interests of the United States,” Mr. Chavez said, calling the U.S. president a “nice guy” and that Venezuela would like to have “normal” relations with the U.S. government.


Blunt: Voters’ desire for change gives Akin hope

Sen. Roy Blunt said Sunday that Missouri voters are so fed up with the status quo in the Senate that Rep. W. Todd Akin may win his race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in spite of the congressman’s “legitimate rape” comment.

“Todd very well may win,” the Republican senator said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“At the end of the day, that race does largely become a debate about the majority in the Senate. Harry Reid is the majority leader,” the Missouri senator said. “[Akin is] on a ticket at a time when people are looking at a Senate that is not doing its work, and the only way to change the Senate is to change the majority.”

Mr. Blunt was one of several leading Republicans who urged Mr. Akin, for the good of the GOP, to drop out of the race after his comments.


Ryan: Explaining tax plan math too time-consuming

Paul Ryan says it would take too long to explain the numbers behind the tax plan he and Mitt Romney are proposing.

The Republican vice presidential nominee said he and Mr. Romney want a 20 percent cut in all income tax rates. He said they would pay for those cuts by closing loopholes and deductions.

President Obama and Democrats have hammered Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan for refusing to say until after the election which tax loopholes they would close.

Mr. Ryan told “Fox News Sunday” that “it would take me too long to go through all the math.”

Mr. Ryan said he and Mr. Romney would start by closing loopholes for higher-income Americans.


Letterman insists he’s an independent

David Letterman, who’s made mocking Mitt Romney a staple of his opening monologue over the last year, on Friday insisted the candidate make an appearance on “The Late Show” before Election Day.

“If he’s not here in 39 days, don’t vote for him,” the talk show host jokingly told his audience on Friday.

Mr. Letterman has been milking a “feud” with the GOP presidential candidate since the secretly recorded “47 percent” videotape surfaced almost two weeks ago. On the tape, Mr. Romney cites “The Late Show” and “The View” as “high-risk” programs where the hosts are anti-Romney.

Since then, Mr. Letterman, who inevitably refers to the Republican nominee as “Mitch” Romney, has insisted he has no bias toward President Obama.

“We just make fun of everybody. It just happens that Mitch is funnier than Obama. It doesn’t mean anything. You can go online and check I’m a registered independent,” Mr. Letterman said.


Senators form drone caucus

A bipartisan duo of U.S. senators has formed a drone caucus, saying they feel the need to help educate themselves and their colleagues on the issues surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Federal policies and legislation relating to unmanned systems are still in its infancy and concerns of the platforms need to be addressed,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who along with Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, formed the caucus, officially known as the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus.

“This caucus will help develop and direct responsible policy to best serve the interests of U.S. national defense and emergency response, and work to address any concerns from senators, staff and their constituents,” Mr. Inhofe said.

Many members of Congress were surprised to learn that a bill they passed earlier this year had cleared the way by 2015 for use of drones in U.S. airspace currently reserved for piloted aircraft.

In the wake of that bill, some news reports said that could mean tens of thousands of drones flying — though government officials have disputed those numbers.

The House of Representatives has had a drone caucus for three years, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group for the drone industry, which said the Senate caucus is a welcome addition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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