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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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White House asks Supreme Court to block suit of man arrested for criticizing Cheney December 11, 2011


December 11, 2011

by legitgov

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White House asks Supreme Court to block suit of man arrested for criticizing Cheney By John Burton 10 Dec 2011 Last Monday, at the Obama administration’s request, the Supreme Court accepted review of a lower court decision which allowed an opponent of the Iraq war, Steven Howards, to sue agents of the United States Secret Service for arresting him after a brief verbal confrontation with then-Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney. As with many other cases this term, the Obama administration is lining up with law enforcement and seeking a Supreme Court ruling that curtails or eliminates suits to enforce democratic rights. Reichle v. Howards will be argued next March or April and then decided before the current Supreme Court terms ends in late June.

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Herman Cain drops White House bid December 3, 2011

 

 

 

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Picture emerges of White House shooting suspect November 19, 2011

(CNN) — Weeks before his arrest on a charge of attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama, an Idaho man taped a video pitch for Oprah Winfrey — expressing his contempt for government, offering secrets to solving global problems and proclaiming himself to be “the modern-day Jesus Christ.”

The video, released Friday to CNN by Idaho State University, features a man dressed in all black, with brown hair, a beard and a crucifix hanging around his neck.

“My name is Oscar Ortega from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I feel like I am the perfect candidate to get cast on your show because not only do I have a solution to make a huge impact on this world with small changes to our daily lives, I also have with me the answer to worldwide peace,” he states.

The previous Friday, a witness in Washington described to investigators hearing about “eight sounds of popping noise” and seeing “puffs of air” from a car that was registered to Ortega. One bullet hit a window on the White House but was stopped by bulletproof glass, the Secret Service said, while another was found on the White House exterior.

The president was in California that day, traveling with first lady Michelle Obama later that night to Hawaii.

The suspect, identified in court records as Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho Falls, was arrested Wednesday in western Pennsylvania.

Many questions remain unanswered about the young man who faces the rare charge of trying to kill the president of the United States.

Public and court records shed some light on Ortega’s background, as does a story that appeared Friday in the Post Register in Idaho Falls. So, too, does the video shot by Idaho State student Ramon Bailey in September, according to CNN affiliate KIFI.

In the video, Ortega alludes to having had “a taste of gang life … as a child,” suggesting he’s moved on.

He segues to a rant against the U.S. government, which he claims bullies other nations and has “deceived the American people so that (it) can steal other countries’ goods, which is the oil.”

“I have never felt so sure about something in my whole life. I’m willing to defend these words with my heart, my soul, flesh and bones,” Ortega says. “Please do not take me as a joke or as a deception. I have never felt so sure that I was sent here from God to lead the world to Zion.”

Later, he adds, “It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern-day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for” — before “begging” Winfrey to put him on her show.

The “Oprah” show went off the air last spring. Still, Winfrey remains involved in the OWN network she helped create, and its website features “casting calls” for people who might want to get on air.

Ortega left his home in Idaho Falls in a black Honda a month ago, telling his family he was going on vacation for a week, according to the Post Register. The next time his family heard any news of his whereabouts was when investigators in Pennsylvania arrested him.

His sister, Yesenia Hernandez, told the Post Register that she noticed that her brother’s appearance had recently changed. He used to cut his hair once a week, she told the paper. That’s a contrast to the image of a young man with an unruly beard who has appeared on television screens across the country.

With long, tangled hair and a beard, Ortega wore a white jumpsuit and was handcuffed, his legs chained, as he entered a courtroom this week guarded by U.S. marshals.

“That’s what started making me think there was something wrong,” his sister told the Idaho newspaper. “I’d ask, ‘Is it for the (mixed-martial arts) fighting?’ He said, ‘No. I’m just trying something different.’ It was weird. Now he looks like, I guess, like a terrorist. It’s like he’s trying to play out the part.”

Ortega’s mother, Maria Hernandez, also saw changes in her son but told the Post Register that they were of a more positive nature.

Before, he would party a lot, and before his recent departure from Idaho, had been spending more time with his son, whose name is tattooed on his neck, his mother said. Ortega mentions his son in the video.

“A year ago, every Friday and Saturday night, he was out partying with his friends and not coming home at all,” Maria Hernandez told the newspaper. “He started staying home on the weekends with his little boy.

“It was not like he was acting violent or getting drunk and all drugged up.”

Ortega’s relatives did not respond to CNN interview requests this week.

Public records show that Ortega had a series of run-ins with the law going back into his teen years. Some charges were for minor infractions, like failure to affix tags to a dog’s collar and seat belt violations. He was charged at least twice with battery, but those charges were dismissed. In 2010, in connection with one of those incidents, he was convicted of resisting arrest.

Other charges included minor-in-possession of alcohol charges and even more traffic violations. In some cases, he was found guilty and paid fines, and others were dismissed.

According to an FBI affidavit, one witness — identified only as “W-4″ — told investigators that Ortega “has increasingly become more agitated against the federal government, and is convinced that the federal government is conspiring against him.”

He “wanted to ‘hurt’ President Obama and referred to him as ‘the anti-Christ,’ ” the witness said.

Another witness, identified as “W-6,” also quoted Ortega calling Obama “the anti-Christ.” This witness told agents Ortega told him he “needed to kill him.”

A third witness, “W-7,” told investigators Ortega owned an “AK-47 like gun.” His “opinions and comments regarding the government and President Obama have gotten worse” over the past year, the witness told agents.

“W-7 stated that Ortega-Hernandez believed President Obama is ‘the devil,’ and that Ortega-Hernandez ‘will not stop until it’s done.'” the affidavit said. “W-7 also reported that Ortega-Hernandez stated President Obama ‘needed to be taken care of.’ “


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White House shooting suspect ‘obsessed with Barack Obama’ November 17, 2011

A man was arrested on Thursday after bullets were fired from an assault rifle at the White House, cracking a window in the first family’s living quarters.

The US secret service said Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez had been arrested in Pennsylvania after a four-day search. The 21-year-old, from Idaho, was captured at a hotel after a receptionist there recognised his picture.

Ortega was due to make his first appearance in a federal court in Pittsburgh on Friday. Authorities are studying the man’s mental health. They said there were indications that he believed attacking the White House was part of a personal mission from God, one official said.

There were also indications that the man had become obsessed with Barack Obama and the White House, two other officials said.

The shots were believed to have been fired at the building last Friday night from a car. Agents discovered on Tuesday that one of the two bullets hit the outside of the building and the second cracked a window on the second floor residential level. It was stopped by protective ballistic glass.

The president and his wife were in California without their daughters, Malia and Sasha, at the time of the incident. The White House had no immediate comment on the shooting or who may have been in the building at the time.

This is not the first time the White House has come under attack. In the past 40 years, the landmark has faced threats ranging from a stolen helicopter that landed on the grounds in 1974 to a man who wielded a sawn-off shotgun on a pavement outside in 1984.

In 1994, there were five threats including a plane crash on the lawn and a suspected drive-by shooting. Another man fired at least 29 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon, with 11 of them striking the White House.

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