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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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Democrats upbeat about Senate prospects

Back-to-back surprises — Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe is retiring and former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey is running again — have given Democrats a burst of optimism that they can hold on to control of the Senate, a goal that seemed to be slipping from reach just weeks ago. The decisions this week by Snowe, a Republican, and Kerrey, a Democrat, put two seats Democrats were prepared to write off in 2012 back into play. Those developments, combined with positive indicators for Democrats like an improving economy and President Barack Obama’s higher standing in polls, have some sensing a shift in
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Michigan, Arizona primaries give Romney a needed boost

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney regained frontrunner status in the tangled race for the Republican nomination for President Tuesday with wins in the Michigan and Arizona primaries. But the wins — while significant — still show Romney has a long fight ahead in his pursuit of the nomination. His win in Michigan — his self-declared “home” state — was a narrow one, just three percentage points over former Senator Rick Santorum while he scored a more impressive victory of 20 percentage points in Arizona. The remaining two contenders — former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron
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Bitter Olympia Snowe leaving Senate

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, saying she is tired of “wasting precious time” in a bitter divided Congress, announced Tuesday she will not seek re-election in November. “We could have done so much,” Snowe told Capitol Hill Blue. “The Senate could have done some big things.  We should have had an energy policy.  We should have had tax reform.  We should have had regulatory reform.  Americans have a right to expect and demand an end to the partisan gridlock and they are understandably shocked by the Senate not being able to come together.” The 65-year-old Snowe, despite threats of a challenge
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Ron Paul’s delegate strategy not paying off yet

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the only GOP Presidential contender without at least one victory in a primary, admitted Tuesday that his quest to “win delegates, not primaries” isn’t going as well as he had hoped. Paul failed to pick up any delegates in the Michigan or Arizona primaries Tuesday and told CNN he “wished” he could have done better. “Paul hoped to win some of Michigan’s delegates but it didn’t work out that way,” GOP activist Larry Wilson told Capitol Hill Blue. In front of cheering crowd of supporters in Springfield, VA, Paul sounded more upbeat. “Everyone keeps asking me
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Primary results showcase a crippled Republican party

Mitt Romney‘s narrow win in Michigan is unlikely to ease lingering doubts about his candidacy or head off the possibility of a long and divisive presidential nominating fight that is damaging Republican chances in November’s general election. The close result in Michigan at least temporarily returned Romney to his frontrunner status and averted an outbreak of panic among Republicans worried that staunch social conservative Rick Santorum could doom the party in the November election. But Romney’s struggle to narrowly capture the state where he was once a big favorite highlighted questions about his own inability to connect with voters, and
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