Aegis Chronicle

All against Cain: Upstart targeted in GOP debate

In News, Politics, Republican on October 19, 2011 at 9:02 am
Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participants

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

By KASIE HUNT, AP

Republican presidential contenders attacked upstart Herman Cain‘s economic plan as a tax increase waiting to happen Tuesday night, moving swiftly in a fiery campaign debate to blunt the former businessman’s unlikely rise in the race for the party’s nomination.

Old animosities flared, too, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry swapped criticism in unusually personal terms. “You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking,” Romney declared as the two men interrupted one another repeatedly in a disagreement over immigration, one of several vigorous clashes they had.

In a bow to Nevada voters, who will be among the first to choose among the candidates early next year, no one said he wanted to open a proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in a remote part of the state.

The fifth debate in six weeks ranged over familiar and contentious territory — from immigration and health care to the economy and energy, often in antagonistic terms. The candidates engaged each other more directly and sometimes more heatedly than in previous debates.

Romney’s Mormon faith also came up, and Perry said he disagreed with a pastor and political supporter who described the religion as a cult. “I can’t apologize any more than that,” the Texan said.

“That’s fine,” responded Romney.

But Cain’s unlikely rise from asterisk in the polls to contender was clearly on the minds of his rivals on stage in a hotel along the Las Vegas Strip.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota led the verbal assault moments after the debate began, saying his call for a 9 percent federal sales tax would only be the beginning, with the rate rising later.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania wasn’t nearly as gentle, citing one analysis that found that taxes would go up for 84 percent of the nation’s households if Cain’s proposal went into effect. “We’re talking about major increases in taxes,” he said, adding that a single person and a couple with children with the same income would pay the same tax under Cain’s proposal.

Undeterred, Cain insisted the charges were untrue. He said he was being criticized because lobbyists, accountants and others “want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million- word mess,” the current tax code.

Cain’s proposal is for a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

The former pizza company CEO is the latest and unlikeliest phenomenon in the race to pick a Republican rival for President Barack Obama. A black man in a party that draws few votes from Africans Americans, he had bumped along with little notice as Romney sought to fend off one fast-rising rival after another.

That all changed in the past few weeks, after Perry burst into the race and then fell back in the polls. However unlikely Cain’s rise, Tuesday night’s debate made clear that none of his rivals are willing to let him go unchallenged.

“Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out,” Perry said to Cain. “Go to New Hampshire where they don’t have a sales tax and you’re fixing to give them one,” he said, referring to the state that will hold the first primary early next year.

The debate was the fifth since Labor Day, and the last scheduled for nearly a month in a race that is fluid in more than one way.

While polls chart a series of rises and falls for various contenders — Romney remaining at or near the top — the schedule is far from set. Florida’s decision to move up its primary set off a scramble as Iowa maneuvered to make sure its caucuses are the first real test of the race and New Hampshire works to protect its half-century distinction as host to the first primary.

It was Perry who instigated the confrontation over immigration, saying that Romney had no credentials on the issue because he had once hired an illegal worker, the “height of hypocrisy.”

Romney denied the charge, saying he had hired a company to mow his lawn and did not know that it had an illegal immigrant on its payroll.

The two men talked over one another, and at one point, Romney placed his hand on Perry’s shoulder.

“It’s been a tough couple of debates for Rick. And I understand that so you’re going to get testy,” he said.

As Perry continued to speak, Romney stopped him: “You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking, and I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you’ve got to let both people speak,” he said.

On a more substantive level, Perry said he opposed repealing the portion of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that says anyone born in the United States is automatically a citizen.

Bachmann, Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas all sidestepped the question.

Cain found himself on the defensive on two others issues during the two-hour debate.

He apologized for earlier remarks about building an electric fence on the Mexico border that could kill people trying to cross illegally.

And he said he wouldn’t be willing to negotiate with terrorists, even though he suggested he might be in an interview earlier in the day.

Foreign policy took a secondary role in the debate, and the new strain of Republican isolationism quickly surfaced.

Paul said U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Korea — where they have been stationed for more than 50 years — and foreign aid to Israel cut.

Perry said it was “time to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations.”

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman skipped this debate, saying he was boycotting the Nevada caucuses in a dispute over the primary and caucus calendar. He is campaigning exclusively in New Hampshire in hopes of a victory that can move him into the thick of the race.

Not only Republicans, but Obama was also critical of Cain’s economic plan during the day.

In an interview with ABC News, Obama said it would be a “huge burden” on middle-class and working families.

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
 
 
 

Israeli soldier ‘very excited’ to go home

In Israel, News on October 18, 2011 at 9:46 am
am 11 01 2009 — Brei...

Pro-Israel-Demo in Berlin ( Photo via Wikipedia )

An Israeli soldier freed after five years of captivity by Hamas militants says he is “very excited” to be headed home.

In an interview with an Egyptian TV station, Schalit says he was told about a week ago that he was being freed. He says he feared he would remain in captivity for “many more years” and remained afraid that “things may go wrong.”

Schalit said he missed his family and friends and now has a lot to do.

Israel’s army has confirmed that Schalit is now on Israeli soil, after Hamas militants in Gaza transferred him to Egypt earlier Tuesday.

Israel is freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

In this image from Egypt TV Tuesday Oct 18 2011 Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is seen at an undisclosed location in the Gaza- Egypt border area accompanied by Hamas guards as he is moved in to Egypt from captivity in Gaza beginning an elaborate prisoner swap deal in which hundreds of Palestinian inmates are to be freed in return for the captured tank crewman. (AP Photo/ Egypt TV) TV OUT NO SALES

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s army spokesman says captured soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit “has returned home” after more than five years in Hamas captivity.

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told a news conference on Tuesday that “Today, Gilad Schalit is with is.”

Mordechai says Schalit is being accompanied by senior military officials to a base, where he will undergo some medical tests and talk to his family.

Israel is freeing more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Schalit, who was captured by Hamas militants in June 2006 and held in the Gaza Strip.

Source:  Associated Press.

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Republican Presidential Candidate: Herman Cain

At debate, focus is on fast-rising Herman Cain

 

By KASIE HUNT, AP

Herman Cain has risen fast. Now the question is: Will he fall?

As Republican presidential hopefuls were preparing for a debate here Tuesday night, Cain has been facing more and more intense scrutiny as his poll numbers have jumped upward.

Now that he’s in the national spotlight, he’s already had to apologize for comments he made over the weekend calling for an electric fence on the Southern border with Mexico.

At a campaign stop Monday in Arizona, Cain appeared with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an aggressive anti-immigration proponent. “It was a joke,” Cain said emphatically during a news conference. “I apologize if I offended anyone. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.”

Cain told an audience in Tennessee on Saturday that the fence is “going to be electrified. And there is going to be a sign on the other side that says, `It will kill you.'”

Immigration already has flared on the campaign trail — and contributed to the sinking of another fast-rising GOP candidate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has struggled to explain why he signed a law giving in-state tuition breaks to illegal immigrants at Texas universities. When he first entered the race, he was at or near the top of many national polls. He’s fallen back since, and Cain has emerged as the more popular alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Also participating in Tuesday’s debate are Romney, Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Missing is former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who’s boycotting the Nevada caucuses in defense of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. Nevada has scheduled its contest for Jan. 14, and Republican officials are pressuring Romney and other Republicans to join Huntsman’s boycott if the state refuses to hold the caucuses later in January.

Also potentially at issue on Tuesday is the foreclosure crisis. So far, it’s been almost forgotten on the campaign trail, but the candidates will probably have little choice but to address it. Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, a statistic that’s driving the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. It’s the root of the economic crisis, but it barely has been discussed as issues like immigration and vaccines for children have dominated the GOP primary.

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Obama seeks action on jobs bill pieces this week

In Barak Obama, Jobs, News on October 17, 2011 at 9:31 am
President Barack Obama addresses the House Dem...

President Barack Obama addresses the House Democrats ( Photo via Wikipedia )

By JULIE PACE, AP

President Barack Obama will urge Congress to get to work this week on passing pieces of his larger, now-defunct jobs bill during a three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia, two southern states that could be critical to his re-election campaign.

The two-state swing, which kicks off Monday in Asheville, N.C., is Obama’s latest attempt to combine campaigning for his jobs bill with campaigning for his re-election. While he has pledged to travel the country pitching his plans to get Americans back to work, his stops have focused heavily on political swing states, underscoring the degree to which what happens with the economy is tied to Obama’s re-election prospects.

The bus tour comes as the fight over Obama’s jobs proposals enters a new phase. The president’s efforts to get his entire $447 billion bill passed were blocked by Senate Republicans, leaving Obama and his Democratic allies to push for the proposals contained in the bill to be passed piece by piece.

That means the president’s rallying cry this week could go from “Pass this bill” to “Pass these bills.”

“Although Congress is adopting a piece-by-piece approach, the president believes that every single piece should pass, and that at the end of the day we should have all of the components of the American Jobs Act passed through the Congress so the president can sign them, even if that means that he has to sign multiple pieces of legislation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Despite Obama’s calls for urgency, it appears the lawmakers may not take up individual components of the president’s bill until November, at the earliest. The Senate is set to debate appropriations bills this week, and lawmakers have a scheduled vacation at the end of the month.

Earnest said Obama wants Congress to first act on a provision calling for $35 billion in assistance to states and local governments to hire or prevent laying off teachers and first responders. He also wants lawmakers to pass $50 billion in new spending on infrastructure.

Obama’s stops on the bus trip are designed to highlight those aspects of his plan, including his first stop at the Ashville Regional Airport, where the White House says government funds could be used to renovate a runway and create construction jobs.

The president will also speak at community colleges, high schools and a firehouse as he travels through North Carolina and Virginia this week.

Both states are traditionally Republican leaning, but changing demographics and a boost in voter turnout among young people and African-Americans helped Obama carry them in 2008.

But nearly three years after his historic election, the president’s approval ratings in both states are sagging, in line with the national trend.

A Quinnipiac University poll out earlier this month put Obama’s approval rating in Virginia at 45 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The same poll showed 83 percent of Virginians were dissatisfied with the direction of the country. In North Carolina, Obama has a 42 percent approval rating, according to an Elon University poll conducted this month. Most national polls put Obama’s approval rating in the mid- to low-40s.

The president will be ditching Air Force One for much of his trip this week, traveling instead on a $1.1 million bus purchased by the Secret Service. The impenetrable-looking bus is painted all black, with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights. Obama first used the custom-made bus during a similar road trip in August, when he traveled through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
 
 
 
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