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Mitt Romney attacked as out of touch over $10,000 TV bet attempt December 12, 2011

Mitt Romney was accused of being out of touch with working-class America on Sunday, after the Republican presidential candidate tried to make an impromptu $10,000 bet during a TV debate.

The slip, at the time of high unemployment and a growing poverty divide, could damage Romney three weeks before the first of the Republican contests in Iowa.

His critics said the issue was not that he offered the bet but the size of it, consolidating Romney’s reputation as a very rich man seeking to buy his way to power.

Even before the bet offer, Romney, one of the favourites to win the Republican nomination to take on Barack Obama in November’s White House election, had been slipping in the polls. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now the front-runner.The gaffe came when a rival candidate, Texas governor Rick Perry, claimed Romney had supported national healthcare reform in a passage in his book that was excised from the paperback edition.

Romney – who brought in healthcare reform in Massachusetts that was similar to Barack Obama’s, in a move unpopular with conservatives – denied he supported the measure nationwide or that the passage had been in the first edition.

“Rick, I’ll tell you what: $10,000 bucks? Ten thousand bet?,” Romney said, extending his hand to shake. Perry, a Christian evangelical who may have a principled stand on betting or maybe because he was wrong about the book, declined.

“I’m not in the betting business but I will show you the book,” Perry said.

It was the first time that a bet has been offered in more than 50 years of televised political debates in the US.

Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for another candidate, Michele Bachmann, told ABC, who hosted the debate: “For someone to go and throw around a $10,000 bet, just goes to show even more that he’s not the same level as the people of Iowa or the country.”

Bill Burton, who is helping to organise Obama’s re-election campaign, wrote on Twitter: “Not a lot of 99%’ers are out there making $10,000 bets.”

Romney has struggled to win over Republican voters, failing to get his poll support much above 25%, partly because of suspicion of his Mormonism among the Christian right but also because of his wealth. In the 2008 campaign, he spent $42m of his own money.

Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s press spokesman, tried to laugh the incident off, saying it was not a serious bet. “I’ve made bets with friends and family for $1m,” Fehrnstrom said. He added that Romney had made the bet because he knew Perry would not take it. “This guy was wrong. It was a phoney allegation.”

The Republican race has been one of the most mercurial in recent history, as candidates have emerged only to fade after a few weeks. Polls show two-thirds of Republicans are undecided, dissatisfied with the entire field or prepared to switch. On Sunday a poll gave Newt Gingrich double-digit leads in South Carolina and Florida.

Gingrich, as frontrunner, was the main target in the Saturday night debate in Des Moines, the 13th so far, with one more scheduled before Iowa. His rivals focused on his alleged work as a lobbyist, his three marriages and his views on the Middle East.

Who is the wealthiest of them all?

Mitt Romney: The wealthiest candidate: in his last financial disclosure, during his 2008 White House bid, he put his personal wealth at between $190m and $250m, most of it from his time in business. About $42m has to be deducted from that, the amount of his own cash spent on the failed bid.

Jon Huntsman: Although at the bottom of the polls, he is runner-up in terms of wealth. He listed his personal assets this year as between $15m and $66m, much of it from a chemical company set up by his father.

Newt Gingrich: His finances appear shambolic, with his assets changing dramatically from year to year. He earned $2.5m last year, mainly, he says, from speeches and books but also, controversially, from his own consultancies, which his rivals say are for lobbying, a charge he denies. His consultancies have earned an estimated $100m over the past decade.

Ron Paul: His assets are between $2.29m and $5.3m, based on his disclosure in the 2008 White House race.

Rick Santorum: His personal assets, based on his financial disclosure when he was in the Senate in 2006, put him in the range of $522,000 to $1.8m.

Michele Bachmann: She is worth $1m to $2.5m, mostly profits from a therapy clinic (where gay people can allegedly pray to be “cured”). A family farm brings in $5,000 to $15,000. She is carrying $350,000 in debts: a $250,000 mortgage and a $100,000 business loan.

Rick Perry: A spokesman for the Texas governor’s office put his wealth as of 2009 as $896,000, held in a blind trust. He has made his money mainly from buying and selling houses. He has debts of about $70,000, including a car loan for a Mercedes.

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Gingrich Surging in Iowa Poll as Cain Exits December 4, 2011


December 4, 2011

by legitgov

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Gingrich Surging in Iowa Poll as Cain Exits 03 Dec 2011 Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia has opened up a lead in the latest poll in Iowa, the state where the first votes in the Republican Party’s presidential nomination race will be cast a month from now. Gingrich has the support of 25 percent of likely caucus participants in the latest Iowa Poll from the Des Moines Register newspaper.

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Herman Cain ‘reassesses’ campaign November 29, 2011


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Ginger White: “There were threats of people coming out with their version”

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “reassessing” his White House campaign amid a claim he had a 13-year affair, he has told aides.

A 46-year-old woman, Ginger White, said on Monday that she had a relationship with Mr Cain, who is married.

In recent weeks Mr Cain has also faced a series of allegations of sexual harassment dating from his time as head of a restaurant lobby group.

Mr Cain has denied Ms White’s story and all claims of sexual harassment.

Before the accusations began to emerge, the Georgia businessman had enjoyed a lead in several opinion polls.

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We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud”

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Herman Cain

But since then he has seen his ratings slip, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has surged ahead.

In a conference call with campaign staff on Tuesday, Mr Cain once again denied that he had ever had a sexual relationship with Ms White.

“I deny those charges, unequivocally,” he said.

“That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment,” he added.

“We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth.”

He concluded by telling his team: “If a decision is made, different than to plough ahead, you all will be the first to know.”

‘Consensual conduct’

Ms White said in an interview on Monday evening with an Atlanta-based TV channel that her alleged relationship with the presidential hopeful had been “pretty simple”.

“I was aware that he was married,” she said. “And I was also aware I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.”

Ginger White claims Herman Cain paid for her flights to meet him around the US

She also said their relationship ended about eight months ago, shortly before Mr Cain announced he would be running for the White House.

Hours before her interview was due to air, Mr Cain appeared on CNN and denied the allegations pre-emptively.

He acknowledged that he had known his accuser for some time and had helped her financially, but maintained their relationship had never been romantic.

“Here we go again. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Mr Cain said.

However, a statement from Lin Wood, the candidate’s lawyer, did not attempt to deny Ms White’s accusations.

It said: “The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries, and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.”

He described the woman’s story as “an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults”, which was not a “proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public”.

Ms White’s allegations follow accusations from four women that Mr Cain sexually harassed them during his tenure as head of a restaurant lobby group in the 1990s.

He has admitted that a financial settlement was reached with one of his accusers, Karen Kraushaar.

Another woman, Sharon Bialek, went public with her accusation that Mr Cain groped her when she asked him for help finding a job.

Mr Cain has said all the allegations are “baseless” and that they were a “smear campaign” designed to sabotage his lead in opinion polls.

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Report: Ron Paul Leads the Field in Iowa Poll November 24, 2011


November 23, 2011

by legitgov

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Report: Ron Paul Leads the Field in Iowa Poll 23 Nov 2011 A poll commissioned by Revolution PAC, a super PAC supporting Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s candidacy for president, shows that Paul is in first place in Iowa. Preliminary results posted on the PAC’s website show Paul leading with 25-percent support from Republicans, independents and disaffected Democrats. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scored at 21 percent and businessman Herman Cain at 20 percent.

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Security focus for 2012 hopefuls November 23, 2011


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The possibility of almost $1tn of defence and domestic spending cuts was criticised by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry (Footage courtesy of CNN)

The eight Republican presidential hopefuls have traded blows on national security at a wide-ranging debate in Washington DC.

Before an audience of foreign policy experts, candidates were probed on domestic and foreign issues including defence cuts, Iran and border security.

The latest debate put former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the spotlight after a recent surge in opinion polls.

The first Republican nominating contest will be on 3 January 2012 in Iowa.

Mr Gingrich is the latest in a series of Republican contenders to join former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at the top of the polls.

Analysts say the conservative Republican base is dissatisfied with the prospect of Mitt Romney as their nominee, and has been searching instead for a known conservative candidate capable of taking on Barack Obama in November 2012.

With few of the candidates boasting significant foreign policy experience, the latest debate offered a new challenge for the leading contenders.

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Real, substantial differences between the candidates were exposed. There was something of a sorting of the grown ups from the kids”

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Mr Romney criticised the defence cuts triggered by the failure to reach a deficit-reduction deal and mounted a strong defence of Israel, while Mr Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry both spoke out on the emotive issue of immigration.

Ron Paul – a consistent anti-war voice – called for an end to US military adventures overseas, and former China ambassador Jon Huntsman, trailing in the polls but with with foreign policy experience, said troop levels in Afghanistan should be cut quickly.

Mr Huntsman found more speaking opportunities than usual, but Herman Cain, a confident voice on domestic economic issues, was less prominent than in recent debates.

‘Too nuclear to fail’

The likelihood of almost $1tn of defence and domestic spending cuts, now in prospect after Congress’ failure to reach a deficit deal, was roundly criticised by most candidates.

Mr Romney said the potential costs of Mr Obama’s healthcare bill matched the level of cuts to the Pentagon budget.

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“We need to protect America and protect our troops and our military and stop the idea of Obamacare,” he declared.

Mr Perry, once seen as Mr Romney’s chief rival but whose campaign gaffes have seen him lose support, said Defence Secretary Leon Panetta should resign in protest at the cuts his department could face.

Mr Gingrich, though, took a contrasting view. “It’s clear that there are some things you can do to defence that are less expensive,” he said.

On Pakistan, Mr Perry and Michele Bachmann sparred over US involvement with Islamabad.

Mr Perry said he would “not send them a penny” as the country has shown the US “time after time they can’t be trusted”.

Ms Bachmann cautiously said she would continue sending aid to Pakistan, because they were still sharing intelligence. Pakistan, Ms Bachmann said, was “too nuclear to fail”.

But Mr Romney described Pakistan as being in need of urgent development. “We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century – heck, into the 20th Century.”

Afghan pullout debate

There were few sharp exchanges between candidates in the debate, which was staged and moderated by CNN.

In a rare back and forth, Mr Huntsman and Mr Romney argued about the planned US troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

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We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century – heck, into the 20th Century”

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Mitt Romney
Former Massachusetts governor

Mr Huntsman said US troops should come home sooner than planned, with some acting as trainers to the Afghan army and a “drone presence” maintained in the country.

Mr Romney disagreed, arguing that leaving Afghanistan early would leave it open to more violence. The two former governors also argued over the president’s role as commander-in-chief.

On Iran, Mr Gingrich said Tehran’s leaders could be gone within a year if fuel supply to the government was restricted. A peaceful change of government in Iran would be vastly preferable to a war or military strikes, he said.

Mr Romney also said that his first international trip as president would be to Israel, to show US support for its long-term Middle Eastern ally.

On the question of the Arab Spring, Mr Huntsman said the US “did itself a dis-service” by acting too soon in Libya.

“Our interests in the Middle East is Israel and preventing from Iran from going nuclear,” he said.

Mr Perry, who declared support for a no-fly zone over Syria earlier in the day, appeared to soften his line somewhat, saying it was just one of several actions that could be taken against the Assad regime.

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