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Jobless claims up as weak economy continues

The slowdown in the economy persisted early in the third quarter as factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted in July for a third straight month and new claims for jobless aid surged last week. Other reports on Thursday showed home resales slumped to their lowest level in eight months in June and a gauge of future economic activity slipped last month. “The data confirm that the economy has cooled off pretty considerably late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter from the pace we saw earlier in the year,” said Omair Sharif, an economist at
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Will racial or religious bigotry determine the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election?

A question discussed privately by political strategists on both sides of political aisle focuses on the concern that bigotry — either religious or racial — could decide who wins the Presidency of the United States in November. Republican and Democratic strategists confide to Capitol Hill Blue that focus groups and some polling show resentment of either incumbent President Barack Obama’s race or Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s Mormonism could be a deciding factor in a close race. “It may come down to which base fear is more dominant: Fear of blacks or fear of Mormons,” says a senior Democratic strategist, who
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Did Ron Paul call on Romney to release his tax returns or not? That is the question

Ron Paul, the last Republican challenger to presumptive nominee Mitt Romney appeared to have a message for the former Massachusetts governor:  Stop stalling and release your tax returns. Or did he? Romney has refused to release tax returns than 2010 and has come under fire from both the campaign of incumbent President Barack Obama and fellow Republicans. Said Paul in an interview with Politico: Politically, I think that would help him, In the scheme of things politically, you know, it looks like releasing tax returns is what people want. Still, Paul called the controversy “a charade,” adding “I think it’s
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Romney on the attack as tax return debate haunts his campaign

Mitt Romney plans to stay on the attack in the race for the White House, but growing pressure from across the political spectrum to release his personal tax returns threatens to stunt the Republican presidential candidate’s momentum as he courts voters across key Midwestern battlegrounds. The former Massachusetts governor takes his fight against President Barack Obama to Ohio on Wednesday, building off fiery speeches in Pennsylvania the day before in which he accused his Democratic opponent of believing the government is more vital to a thriving economy than the nation’s workers and dreamers. “I’m convinced he wants Americans to be
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Will Romney outspend Obama? Sure looks like it

Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to raise more than $100 million in a month and in 2008 was the first to forgo public money for his campaign. Now, he faces the very real threat of being the first president to be outspent by a challenger. Obama, who four years ago broke just about every fundraising record for a presidential hopeful, has now been forced to look his supporters in the eye and confess he might not keep pace with Republican Mitt Romney. It’s a sobering realization for his campaign, which had imagined an unlimited budget for ads, offices
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States could face blowback if they reject Obamacare

For Gov. Rick Perry, saying “no” to the federal health care law could also mean turning away up to 1.3 million Texans, nearly half the uninsured people who could be newly eligible for coverage in his state. Gov. Chris Christie not only would be saying “no” to President Barack Obama, but to as many as 245,000 uninsured New Jersey residents as well. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling gave governors new flexibility to reject what some Republicans deride as “Obamacare.” But there’s a downside, too. States that reject the law’s Medicaid expansion risk leaving behind many of their low-income uninsured residents
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Palin, Paul & Trump: Three potential nightmares for the Republican convention

Republicans have a problem Actually, they have three problems. Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Donald Trump. Three personalities from the party’s fringe, three extremists with rabid followings, three potential troublemakers who could turn the Republican National Convention into a political nightmare. So far, convention’s controlling authority — the Republican National Committee — has not extended speaking invitations to Palin, Paul or Trump and the followers of each consider that a snub. The party shudders at the thought of Trump bringing the birther issue to the floor of the convention or Palin throwing out verbal bombshells.  Of the three, Paul brings
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Stalled budget talks could put two million more Americans out of work

Automatic cuts in federal spending will cost the economy more than 2 million jobs, from defense contracting to border security to education, if Congress fails to resolve the looming budget crisis, according to an analysis released Tuesday. The study, obtained by The Associated Press, was conducted for the Aerospace Industries Association, but it examined the shared pain for defense and domestic programs from the across-the-board reductions slated to kick in Jan. 2. The cuts would reduce the nation’s gross domestic product by $215 billion next year while consumer confidence would plummet, said the report by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George
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Romney’s promised education reforms never happened in Massachusetts

Mitt Romney took over as Massachusetts governor in 2003 with a sweeping plan to overhaul the state’s public college system to cut waste, reduce costs and boost efficiency. “This is my opportunity to be bold,” he said in announcing the plan. But when Romney left office four years later, not a lot had changed. His strongest mark on higher education was for a merit scholarship program he championed for top high school students. Romney’s restructuring plan was stymied by a Democratic-run state Legislature where many lawmakers were irked about his bitter public feud with William Bulger, the University of Massachusetts
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Romney unleashes counter-attack on Obama charges

A counterattacking Mitt Romney is seeking to shift political attention away from his business tenure and his tax returns with a fresh assault on President Barack Obama’s record. Obama, anxious about losing a financial edge in the contest, is turning to Republican-tilted Texas to raise money from gay, Latino and big-dollar donors. Romney planned to campaign in the Pittsburgh area Tuesday, stepping up his criticism of Obama in a state that has proven to be a tough presidential battleground for the Republican Party. Romney is accusing Obama of engaging in cronyism, citing federal grants and loan guarantees to alternative energy
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