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Unions plan to spend big to re-elect Obama

Unions say they are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for labor’s survival. Under siege in state legislatures around the country – and fearing the consequences of a Republican in the White House – union leaders say they have little choice as they try to beat back GOP efforts to curb collective bargaining rights or limit their ability to collect dues. “People are digging deeper,” said Larry Scanlon, political director of the country’s largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County
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Poll: All GOP contenders lose to Obama

A surging Rick Santorum is running even with Mitt Romney atop the Republican presidential field, but neither candidate is faring well against President Barack Obama eight months before Americans vote, a new survey shows. Obama tops 50 percent support when matched against each of the four GOP candidates and holds a significant lead over each of them, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. Republicans, meanwhile, are divided on whether they’d rather see Romney or Santorum capture the nomination, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul lagging behind. It’s a troubling sign for the better-funded Romney as the GOP race heads toward
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Obama’s scaled-down American dream

This time around, President Barack Obama’s message can sound decidedly down-to-earth. Four years after winning the White House, Obama is dealing with a different economic and political reality as he seeks re-election. He’s focused less on a lofty vision for overcoming divisions and remaking Washington, and more on the most basic building blocks of middle-class economic security: a job, a house, a college education for the kids, health care, money for retirement. What Obama describes as the American Dream can seem a spare, fundamental aspiration, tailored for a campaign that looks to be fought over who is best equipped to
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Lies, damn lies and the auto bailout squirm

Michigan has become squirm central for Republican presidential candidates who are trying to explain their opposition to the auto bailout before the big primary in the home of automakers. Their tale is terribly tangled, and President Barack Obama isn’t telling it straight either. Obama, in taking credit, and Republicans, in assigning blame, have ignored one driving force behind the love-it-or-hate-it bailout: George W. Bush in the waning days of his presidency. Moreover, GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum would have people believe the United Auto Workers union runs General Motors and the government “gave” it away, neither true. The
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Super pacs: The new power base for the GOP

An unmistakable dynamic is playing out in the money game among Republican presidential candidates: New “super” political action committees are growing more powerful than the campaigns they support. For two of the GOP front-runners, their supportive super PACs raised more money and have more cash left in the bank than the candidates’ own campaigns. Helping their efforts are major financial gifts from wealthy business executives, whose contributions can be essential to the groups’ continued operations. Mitt Romney-leaning Restore Our Future and Newt Gingrich-supportive Winning Our Future raised a combined $17 million last month and spent nearly $24 million during that
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Santorum finds campaign gold in social issues

Philosophical differences between the top two Republican presidential candidates are becoming starker as Rick Santorum drives harder on religious and social issues that Mitt Romney rarely discusses in detail. In recent days, Santorum has questioned the usefulness of public schools, criticized prenatal testing and said President Barack Obama’s theology is not “based on the Bible.” On Monday, he likened Obama to politicians who spread fear about new oil-extraction technologies “so they can control your lives.” The remarks contrast sharply with Romney’s even-tempered emphasis on jobs, the economy and his resume as a can-do corporate executive. The differences give Republican voters
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Santorum tops Romney in latest nationwide poll

White House hopeful Rick Santorum has opened an eight-point lead over presumptive frontrunner Mitt Romney among likely Republican voters nationwide, a new poll showed Sunday. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said they supported the Christian conservative, while 28 percent said they preferred the former Massachusetts governor, according to the latest results from Gallup’s daily tracking poll. Less than a week ago, Romney was leading Santorum, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, by two points, putting the two candidates in a statistical tie. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich trails the two leaders with 13 percent, while veteran libertarian Texas congressman Ron
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Why Rick Santorum connects with voters

Sporting his signature sweater vest and telling stories of his coal miner grandfather, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has struck a chord in the Rust Belt that is helping propel his once long-shot candidacy. Although he is a millionaire, Santorum has found a common touch that has helped put him atop opinion polls in the industrial states of Michigan and Ohio and raised serious doubts about whether longtime front-runner Mitt Romney can win the Republican nomination to take on President Barack Obama in the November 6 election. Santorum’s portrayal of himself as the blue-collar Republican has managed to overshadow Romney’s
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FBI sting nets terror suspect who planned to bomb Capitol

The Moroccan man accused of trying to blow up the U.S. Capitol told acquaintances that America’s war on terrorism actually was a war on Muslims and they needed to be ready for battle. Then the 29-year-old unemployed man started preparations of his own — and he thought everything was going according to plan. A man brought him an automatic weapon. He got a suicide vest, scouted out targets and practiced setting off explosives. On Friday, Amine El Khalifi’s goal to detonate the vest at the Capitol ended with his arrest in an FBI sting, said U.S. authorities who had been
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Tax cut extension passage ends long, bitter battle

Congress ended a three-month battle on Friday by passing legislation to extend a tax cut for 160 million workers, a boon for both the economy and Democratic President Barack Obama in this election year. The outcome for Republicans and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner is far more murky. While Boehner has put behind him a bill that has been nothing but political heartache, nearly 40 percent of his rank-and-file voted against the measure he advanced by compromising on a core Republican cause – deficit reduction. In quick bipartisan votes on the bill that also extends long-term jobless benefits, the
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