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Iowa straw poll provides first test for 2012 wannabes

After months of laying the groundwork, the first test of the Republican presidential candidates‘ viability is finally here. Saturday’s Iowa Straw Poll marks the first time Republican voters weigh in on the GOP presidential field with ballots and comes just as Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was to enter the campaign during a visit to another early nominating state. The nonbinding results in Ames, Iowa, were likely to foreshadow the coming months here in the leadoff state. “The Iowa Straw Poll is the first measurable proving ground for our Republican candidates for president,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn
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Obama meets with big biz honchos

President Barack Obama met Friday with top executives at marquee US firms like American Express and Johnson & Johnson, with the country’s economy struggling and global markets prone to wild swings. “The president appreciated the thoughtful exchange of ideas and the private sector’s shared commitment to improving our economy,” the White House press office said in a statement after the hour-long, closed-door discussion. The group included top executives at Xerox, American Express, US Bank, BlackRock, Silver Lake Partners, Wells Fargo, US Steel, and Johnson & Johnson, according to a White House official, who requested anonymity. Obama’s bid for reelection in
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Pawlenty, Bachmann tear into each other in GOP debate

Minnesota rivals Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann sparred bitterly Thursday night during an eight-candidate Republican debate, trying to break out of the GOP presidential pack ahead of an Iowa test vote with huge consequences. Each seeks to become the main challenger to Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Their efforts were newly complicated by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who stole some of the spotlight from afar by making it known hours before the debate that he was running for the GOP nomination. Romney, a multimillionaire businessman who casts himself as a jobs creator, made his own stir earlier in the day when,
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As usual, facts get lost in fog of GOP debate

Michele Bachmann cast her opinion as a settled fact when she told the Republican presidential debate Thursday that a key element of President Barack Obama‘s health care law is unconstitutional. And Mitt Romney danced around an attempt to learn why he stayed largely mum on the epic debt limit standoff between Obama and Congress. The first big GOP debate of the primary season brought viewers a flurry of claims and counterclaims, not all built on solid ground. A look at some of those claims and how they compare with the facts: BACHMANN: Spoke of “the unconstitutional individual mandate” several times,
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Rick Perry could be real threat to Romney

The biggest rumblings in the Republican presidential campaign are coming from Austin, Texas — 1,000 miles from the leadoff caucus state where front-runner Mitt Romney and seven opponents squared off ahead of an important test vote this weekend. Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent word that he would join the race, casting a shadow over the debate Thursday night and threatening to upend the race. Back in Iowa, Romney emerged unscathed with his leader-of-the-pack status intact after two feisty hours; his two Minnesota rivals — Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty — sparred repeatedly as each sought advantage ahead
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White House photos of returning troop remains shows hypocrisy

A White House photographer was allowed to take and widely distribute a photo from the ceremony Tuesday for the return of the remains of 30 American troops killed in a weekend helicopter crash in Afghanistan despite the Pentagon’s claim that any public depiction of the scene would violate the wishes of bereaved families. News media coverage of the ceremony had been banned by the Pentagon over the objections of several news organizations. Pentagon officials had said that because 19 of 30 of the American families of the dead had objected to media coverage of the remains coming off a plane
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Partisan panel picks prompt pessimism

Republicans named a mix of partisans and pragmatists on Wednesday to the new congressional committee charged with striking a debt-cutting compromise. While members of both parties expressed urgency over controlling surging budget shortfalls, others were pessimistic that the bipartisan panel would overcome deep political divides. With nine of the committee’s 12 members selected, Washington began calculating whether the faltering economy and chaotic financial markets could spur the panel to produce a bipartisan plan trimming $1.5 trillion from the government’s debt over the coming decade. Failure — a real possibility, considering GOP opposition to tax increases and Democratic hostility to cuts
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Watching tragedy unfold through a camera lens

People look at some news photos shot on Sept. 11, 2001, and wonder how those who took them could bear to keep working in the face of such tragedy. Richard Drew said his lens acts as a filter: “The things are happening over there, on the other side.” Another Associated Press photographer, the late Marty Lederhandler, put it this way: “I let the camera absorb all the disaster or the sadness of an event. It protects ME from the event.” For AP photographers working on Sept. 11, none knew the big picture of what was going on. All knew only
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Bachmann’s claim: ‘I’m a real person’

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann says she’s “lived a real life” and isn’t a politician. “I didn’t go to Washington to be a politician,” the Minnesota congresswoman said Wednesday. “I’m not a politician. I’m a real person who believes in America and job growth and job creation.” Although she was elected to Congress in 2006, Bachmann cast herself as an outsider at a time when voters across the country are angry at Washington and looking to punish anyone connected to it. She made the comment after touring a business when one worker asked her how she could distinguish herself from
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Iowa straw poll: Part politics, part circus, all hype

There’s a hefty dose of circus mixed with deadly serious politics in the Iowa Republican straw poll. The event Saturday will mark the first time Republicans in Iowa indicate publicly whom they want as their 2012 presidential nominee. It’s a test vote of sorts that comes months before the precinct caucuses that kick off the party’s presidential nomination fight. And it could send an early signal about who is showing potential in the race — or it could mean nothing at all. Despite its name, however, the “straw poll” is not a poll at all — and it’s certainly not
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