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Ohio: The perfect political microcosm for campaign 2012?

Ohio’s Super Tuesday primary is proving to be the perfect microcosm of the nation’s unruly race for the Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney is spending lots of money, Rick Santorum is aggressively courting conservatives and Newt Gingrich is counting on big ideas to swing votes his way. Of the 10 states weighing in on Tuesday, Ohio offers the hottest contest. And with its diverse population, reputation as a presidential battleground and preoccupation with the same economic worries that nag the nation at large, Ohio seems destined to foreshadow the shape of the campaign as it heads toward November. “You seem
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Campaign promises: No, you can’t have it all

Is there any impulse greater in politics than to promise people the sun and the moon? Each in their own way, the Republican candidates heading into Super Tuesday primaries are telling Americans they can have “it all” — plentiful energy without pain at the pump, jobs without deeper debt, thriving factories like the days of yore, a renaissance at every dusty turn. Call it the can-do spirit or, as Barack Obama liked to put it, “Yes we can.” But, seriously. No independent economist believes manufacturing will come rushing back against the global economic tide if the government merely backs off
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Santorum’s handlers struggle to keep him on message

Rick Santorum‘s advisers outlined a new strategy for staying on message in the hours after he lost to Mitt Romney in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary. Just as quickly, the strategy fell by the wayside. It was a victim of the disorganization that’s marked the Santorum campaign and raised questions about his ability to compete against Mitt Romney over the long haul. “They could be much better on discipline,” said Republican operative Michael Dennehy, a top aide for Sen. John McCain four years ago. “They’ve been very open about their change in messaging after Tuesday’s election. It lasted about 12 hours.”
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Obama steps into Limbaugh ‘slut’ controversy

Stepping into an emerging culture clash over women, President Barack Obama made a supportive phone call Friday to a law student who testified before Congress about the need for birth control coverage, only to be called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh. For Obama, it was an emphatic plunge into the latest flare-up on social issues. Democratic officeholders and liberal advocacy groups have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” because of GOP stances on contraception and abortion rights, and Limbaugh’s tirade on his radio talk show was seen as an escalation. In addition to her call from the president,
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More hypocrisy from Rick Santorum

As he presses for the conservative votes he needs to overtake GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum is hammering away at the role state and federal governments play in running schools. Santorum plays up how he and his wife have home-schooled their seven children and says parents should be the ones responsible for educating their kids. Yet back when Santorum was a senator from Pennsylvania, he got a Pittsburgh-area school district to help pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for his children to receive online schooling. It’s a bit of history that’s unknown to many voters outside
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Federal judge in hot water over racist joke

A federal judge in Montana who used official court email to circulate a racist joke about President Barack Obama has acknowledged the indiscretion and initiated a misconduct complaint against himself, court officials said on Thursday. The scandal prompted government ethics watchdog group Common Cause and the Montana Human Rights Network to call on Thursday for the resignation of the Billings-based judge, Richard Cebull, the chief judge for the U.S. judicial district in Montana. The email in question came to public light when it was published on Wednesday by the Great Falls Tribune, which received a copy forwarded to the newspaper
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Arizona sheriff claims ‘proof’ Obama faked birth certificate

A tough-talking Arizona sheriff, already embroiled in a Justice Department bias investigation, waded deeper into controversy on Thursday with an assertion that a probe by his office found President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery. Most Republican critics of Obama have given up pursuing such widely discredited “birther” allegations. But the investigation by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, carried out by what he described as five-member volunteer “posse,” was prompted by a request last August from a group of conservative Tea Party activists in the Phoenix area. The White House has denied repeated claims that Obama was not born
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Right-wing gadfly Brietbart dead at 43

Conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, an influential voice in Republican circles known for his online media attacks on liberals, died unexpectedly of natural causes in Los Angeles early on Thursday, his family said. He was 43. Breitbart, the founder of a news website named after himself, was walking late on Wednesday near his Los Angeles home when he collapsed, said his father-in-law, actor Orson Bean. “He collapsed on the sidewalk and the paramedics were there very quickly and they couldn’t revive him,” Bean told Reuters in a phone interview. A friend of Breitbart told Reuters he had a history of heart
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Can Romney find a way to connect with voters?

His two latest victories aside, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is working to connect more personally with voters and refocus his campaign on the protracted fight for convention delegates as he tries to recover from a difficult month and answer key questions about the strength of his candidacy. Yet, even as Romney launched his effort to address his vulnerabilities, the former Massachusetts governor found himself creating a fresh controversy — and irking conservatives anew — by equivocating on a Senate bill on insurance coverage of birth control. It was an ill-timed hiccup just as Romney — the nominal GOP front-runner
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Santorum hoping for help from Gingrich

Short on money and staff, Rick Santorum needs help to remain a viable threat to front-runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. One strategist hopes it will come from another rival, Newt Gingrich. Top adviser John Brabender says Santorum’s future may depend upon Gingrich leaving the race. The former House speaker is showing no signs of bowing out, certainly not before next week’s Super Tuesday voting. “If we could ever make this where we have all the conservatives and tea party supporters behind us as one candidate against Mitt Romney, we’ll win the nomination,” Brabender said
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