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Increasingly confident Romney enters mop-up phase

After a three-month struggle, Mitt Romney edged into the mop-up phase of the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, buoyed by Newt Gingrich‘s decision to scale back his campaign to the vanishing point and Rick Santorum‘s statement that he would take the No. 2 spot on the party ticket in the fall. Romney campaigned by phone for support in next week’s Wisconsin primary while he shuttled from California to Texas on a fundraising trip, praising Gov. Scott Walker, for “trying to rein in the excesses that have permeated the public services union.” The governor faces a recall election
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Americans unhappy with Obama over gas prices but blame others

In an interesting anomaly, two-thirds of Americans are pissed at President Barack Obama over high gas prices yet most say they don’t blame him for their pain at the pump. A new Reuters/Ipsos online polls shows 68 percent of those who responded disapproving of Obama’s handling of the gas price issue with both Democrats and Republicans saying the President isn’t doing a good job of dealing with the situation but while they feel he should do more they blame oil company greed and other factors.  Thirty-six percent blamed the oil companies and another 26 percent cited “other factors” as responsible
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Gingrich fires third of campaign staff, cuts back on schedule

With his struggling campaign strapped for cash and his failed message failing to resonate with even the GOP fringe, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich is firing a third of his staff — including his campaign manager — and cutting back on his schedule. Campaign manager Michael Krull is gone, replaced by longtime advisor Vince Haley.  Sources tell Capitol Hill Blue Haley is working for expenses only. “The campaign is broke,” one campaign aide said. “We’re out of money and out of steam.” Gingrich dropped a hint early Tuesday that changes were coming, saying “money is very tight obviously.”  A few
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Supremes zero in Obamacare’s insurance mandate

The heart of the Obama administration‘s health care overhaul hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court is turning to whether the rest of the law can survive if the crucial individual insurance requirement is struck down. The justices also will spend part of Wednesday, the last of three days of arguments over the health law, considering a challenge by 26 states to the expansion of the Medicaid program for low-income Americans, an important feature toward the overall goal of extending health insurance to an additional 30 million people. The first two days of fast-paced and extended arguments have shown that
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Democrats politicize death of Florida teen

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday blasted police handling of a racially charged case in which a neighborhood watch volunteer shot dead an unarmed black teenager in Florida, accusing local law enforcement officials of botching the investigation. The lawmakers, speaking at a congressional forum attended by the parents of the slain teenager, called for the immediate arrest of 28-year-old George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26 in what Zimmerman said was self-defense. Florida law enforcement officials have faced intense criticism in recent weeks from civil rights activists and others for not arresting Zimmerman, who remains at
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Record number of Americans oppose Afghan war

With soldiers burning Qurans and a deranged Army staff sergeant charged with blowing away 17 Afghan civilians the failing U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has turned into the most unpop0ular American war since Vietnam. A new CBS/New York Times poll shows 69 percent of those surveyed opposed to the war — a record number.  Just 23 percent believe America is “doing the right thing” in the conflict. “Afghanistan is Barack Obama‘s Vietnam,” a disgruntled Democratic consultant told Capitol Hill Blue Monday. “He’s in a no-win situation.” Obama inherited the Afghan war from previous President George W. Bush but chose to
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Supremes plunge into the health care debate

As demonstrations swirled outside, Supreme Court justices signaled on Monday they are ready to confront without delay the keep-or-kill questions at the heart of challenges to President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul. Virtually every American will be affected by the outcome, due this summer in the heat of the election campaign. On the first of three days of arguments — the longest in decades — none of the justices appeared to embrace the contention that it was too soon for a decision. Outside the packed courtroom, marching and singing demonstrators on both sides — including doctors in white coats,
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Historic Supreme Court hearing on Obamacare opens today

President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is front and center at the Supreme Court for three days of hearings to determine the fate of a law aimed at extending health insurance to more than 30 million Americans. The justices will hear arguments beginning Monday in a highly partisan legal fight between the Obama administration and the 26 states that are leading a challenge to the largest expansion in the nation’s social safety net in more than four decades. A decision is expected by late June, in the midst of a presidential election campaign in which all of Obama’s Republican challengers
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Obama sells access to the White House

President Barack Obama is using privileged access to one of America’s greatest landmarks to reward his most generous financial supporters in ways that Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum can’t match: More than 60 of Obama’s biggest campaign donors have visited the White House more than once for meetings with top advisers, holiday parties or state dinners, a review by The Associated Press has found. The invitations to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which are a legal and established practice from incumbent presidents, came despite Obama’s past criticisms of Washington’s pay-for-access privileges and mark a reversal from early in the president’s
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GOP budget plan: A hot campaign issue

The new debt-slashing budget plan pushed by House Republicans heated up as a presidential campaign issue Sunday as the proposal’s architect, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, sparred with top Democrats over its political fallout and downplayed the possibility he could be tapped as a vice presidential candidate. Senior White House adviser David Plouffe dismissed the GOP plan Sunday as “a lot of candy, not a lot of vegetables,” and charged that it would be “rubber-stamped” as law if leading Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is elected. “This is really the Romney-Ryan plan,” Plouffe said, adding that its mix of across-the-board
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