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Bachmann plunges into race

Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman with deep tea party appeal, was ready Monday to officially plow into the Republican presidential primary with a conservative and often freewheeling message honed to the party’s base. Greeted in her native Iowa with a new poll predicting she’ll be a force in the state that opens the GOP nomination contest, Bachmann hopes to reshape both the 2012 GOP field and how she’s viewed in the eyes of voters. After the formal Iowa kickoff, she planned to shift her focus to New Hampshire and South Carolina, other states with cherished traditions of separating the viable
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Huntsman: It’s issues, not religion

Huntsman spoke to reporters in Nevada during an hour-long campaign stop at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where the Reno Rodeo was about to begin. Three days after formally announcing his candidacy, the former ambassador to China said his list of priority states includes the early caucus swing state of Nevada, where Republicans sided with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008. Romney also is Mormon. So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said earlier this week he’d pick Huntsman over Romney if he had to. Polls show many voters have reservations about electing a Mormon president. But
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It’s a gay time in New York

It was a weekend of wedding proposals, wedding plans and earnest thanks. The hard-won right to same-sex marriage in New York state gave way to joyous thoughts of trips down the aisle becoming a reality, not just a dream, for many thousands of gay couples. “New York has sent a message to the nation,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday before the colorful extravaganza that is New York City‘s annual gay pride parade. “It is time for marriage equality.” When Cuomo signed the gay marriage bill just before midnight Friday, New York became the sixth and largest state in the country
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Can Obama salvage stalled debt limit talks?

Struggling to break a perilous deadlock, President Barack Obama took direct control Friday of national debt-limit negotiations with both Republicans and Democrats. With the White House warning the nation’s economic stability is at stake, it’s one of the most severe tests yet of Obama’s presidency. The key disagreement is over taxes. Democrats, including Obama, say a major deficit-reduction agreement must include tax increases or the elimination of tax breaks for big companies and wealthy individuals. Republicans are demanding huge cuts in government spending and insisting there be no tax increases. Absent an agreement that cuts long-term deficits, Republicans say they
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Romney, Bachmann lead GOP field in Iowa poll

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann led a closely watched presidential poll of Iowa Republicans, the state that holds the first contest in the nomination battle. The Iowa caucuses, often held on a frigid winter night that can limit turnout to those most committed, often serves to winnow the field of candidates. Whoever captures the nomination in the unsettled Republican field is expected to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 general election. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, led the poll of likely caucus-goers with 23 percent, followed by 22 percent support for Bachmann, who
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House rebukes Obama on Libya war

Challenging presidential power, a defiant U.S. House voted overwhelmingly Friday to deny President Barack Obama the authority to wage war against Libya. But Republicans fell short in an effort to actually cut off funds for the operation in a constitutional showdown reflecting both political differences and unease over American involvement. In a repudiation of their commander in chief, House members rejected a measure to authorize the Libya mission for a year while prohibiting U.S. ground forces in the North African nation, a resolution Obama had said he would welcome. The vote was 295-123 with 70 Democrats abandoning the president just
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Cantor walks out on budget talks

Efforts to find a bipartisan agreement blending huge budget cuts with a must-pass measure to increase how much the government can borrow have entered a new phase after Republican negotiators pulled out of talks led by Vice President Joe Biden. The exit of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from the talks on Thursday means the most difficult decisions have been kicked upstairs to GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and President Barack Obama. The Biden-led group had made solid progress in weeks of negotiations but was at an impasse over taxes. Cantor, R-Va., said that the Republican-dominated House simply
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Bin Laden wanted to improve al-Qaida’s image

As Osama bin Laden watched his terrorist organization get picked apart, he lamented in his final writings that al-Qaida was suffering from a marketing problem. His group was killing too many Muslims and that was bad for business. The West was winning the public relations fight. All his old comrades were dead and he barely knew their replacements. Faced with these challenges, bin Laden, who hated the United States and decried capitalism, considered a most American of business strategies. Like Blackwater, ValuJet and Philip Morris, perhaps what al-Qaida really needed was a fresh start under a new name. The problem
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Democrat’s nightmare: ‘Let’s make a deal’ Obama

As negotiations on raising the debt limit go down to the wire, House Democrats claim their real problem isn’t hardline Republicans or even the gaggle of tea party freshman. Their real problem lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: President Barack Obama and his willingness to make a deal with the GOP leadership. Liberal House Democrats grumble that Obama is too willing to cut deals that destroys the goal of the party. “What I’m concerned about — it’s not that I don’t trust them — is they [the White House] figure ‘Let’s get this thing the hell out of the way, and
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Democrats push spending, tax cuts

In a sharp role reversal, Democratic leaders in Congress Wednesday called for both spending and tax cuts as a way to jump start the sagging economy but their conversion to spending less comes when a new report claims the nation faces more of a debt crisis unless taxes are raised. The Congressional Budget Office report warns America faces a “European-style” debt crisis unless taxes are raised along with sharp spending cuts and adds more pressure on Congressional negotiators who are trying to work out a deal to raise the debt limit before the government runs out of money. Which creates
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