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Longtime GOP maverick Arlen Specter dead at 82

For most of his 30 years as Pennsylvania’s longest-serving U.S. senator and prominent moderate in Congress, Arlen Specter was a Republican, though often at odds with the GOP leadership. He helped end the Supreme Court hopes of former federal appeals Judge Robert H. Bork, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Decades later, he was one of only three Republicans in Congress to vote for President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus. His breaks with his party were hardly a surprise: He had begun his political career as a Democrat and ended it as one, too. In between, he was at the
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Obama campaign claims four million donors

President Barack Obama’s campaign says it has surpassed 4 million donors, a record for a presidential campaign. The president’s field director Jeremy Bird announced the total in an email to supporters Saturday night. Obama’s campaign has relied on small donors to boost its fundraising totals through the summer and fall. The campaign raised $181 million in September, its biggest haul of the cycle. Republican Mitt Romney‘s campaign has not yet announced its September fundraising numbers. (c) Copyright 2012 The Associated Press
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New numbers show Romney closing gap in Ohio

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is recovering ground in the critical swing state of Ohio as he rises in the polls and crowd numbers swell after his strong debate performance last week against President Barack Obama. Despite pundits and pollsters dismissing Romney’s chances in the state in late September, the Republican is now either tied or just barely trailing Obama in Ohio ahead of the next presidential debate on Tuesday night. At an event with thousands of Ohioans on Friday night, Romney boasted of “a growing crescendo of enthusiasm.” He has spoken to several large audiences in Ohio this week.
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Who offers the best tax plan? That’s a very good question

Good luck figuring out whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would cut or raise your taxes if he’s elected president. President Barack Obama promises tax reform, too, but precious little detail. Unlike Romney, Obama wants to make sure any tax reform produces a big new chunk of revenue to address the deficit. Yet it’s difficult to do that and not hit the middle class. It’s Romney’s far more ambitious tax plan, however, that has become front and center in the presidential campaign. Romney promises a 20 percent cut in tax rates, but he won’t say which deductions he’ll kill to
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Obama cites auto bailout as a reason for re-election

President Barack Obama sought on Saturday to sustain momentum from Vice President Joe Biden‘s strong debate showing by touting the benefits of one of his signature actions, the rescue of the U.S. auto industry, as he prepared for his next debate with Republican Mitt Romney. “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.” The president will drop from view for several days to prepare for his second debate with Romney on Tuesday. By
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Congress expands probe into meningitis outbreak

Lawmakers on Friday widened their investigation into the deadly meningitis outbreak to include the role state regulators played in monitoring the pharmacy that produced steroid treatments blamed for killing 14 people in six states. The U.S. House of Representatives‘ Energy and Commerce Committee called on the Massachusetts pharmacy board to tell congressional staff what it knew about the New England Compounding Center before the recall of more than 17,000 vials of injectable steroid treatments for back and joint pain from health facilities in 23 states. Separately, New England Compounding, which voluntarily gave up its license in Massachusetts after it was
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Shots fired at Obama campaign office in Denver

Denver police say someone has fired a shot through the window of President Barack Obama’s Denver campaign office. Police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez says people were inside the office when the shooting happened Friday afternoon, but no one was injured. A large panel of glass was left shattered at the office on West Ninth Avenue near Acoma Street. Lopez says investigators are looking at surveillance video but have not yet confirmed a description of a vehicle that might be linked to the shooting. Police didn’t immediately release other details while detectives pursue leads. Lopez says she isn’t aware of any previous
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Foreign policy dominates vice presidential debate

Vice President Joe Biden challenged his rival Paul Ryan on Thursday to show how a Republican administration would alter U.S. foreign policy in a dangerous world, but extracted few new details on issues including Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. Biden and Ryan spent almost half the time in their only debate sparring over foreign policy, with each side hoping to score points on issues that have surged to the foreground as the U.S. presidential campaign tightens in its final weeks. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has sought to portray President Barack Obama as a weak steward of U.S. power. Ryan accused the
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Truth takes a holiday, skips vice-presidential debate

Anyone who paid attention to a hearing in Congress this week knew that the administration had been implored to beef up security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya before the deadly terrorist attack there. But in the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Joe Biden seemed unaware. “We weren’t told they wanted more security there,” the vice president asserted flatly. During a night in which Biden and Republican rival Paul Ryan both drifted from the facts on a range of domestic and foreign issues, that was a standout. A look at some of their claims: BIDEN: “Well, we weren’t told they
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What viewers didn’t see in Thursday night’s veep debate

Most voters watching the debate from home didn’t get to see what happened before and after Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan went on stage Thursday. Even then, some exchanges were lost in broadcast. Here’s what those voters missed: ___ BEFORE THE DEBATE In the minutes leading up to the debate, moderator Martha Raddatz took her seat with her back to the audience. She joked that she is used to reporting from war zones, a place where she seldom turns her back on anyone. After a few awkward moments of silence, she spun around in her chair
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