GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Pawlenty: 'Mr. President, stop apologizing for America'

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) criticized President Obama on a range of issues during a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, demanding Obama "stop apologizing for America."

Pawlenty said Obama's foreign policy undermines allies like Israel and Britain, while "we appease and accommodate Iran and Russia."

"Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right," Pawlenty said, comparing Obama to former President Jimmy Carter.

The former governor also took a strong stand against raising the debt ceiling, telling the crowd, "We should not, we should not, raise the debt ceiling."

"I know there may be some Democrats in the room, so I'll say this real slowly. We can't spend more than we take in," Pawlenty said, drawing out each word for effect.

After Pawlenty's 2010 CPAC speech, which was widely panned as lacking energy, observers  closely watched the former governor's performance. The early read is that he received a much better response and delivered a stronger performance Friday.

The former governor didn't address his timetable for announcing a 2012 presidential run, but he tested out a few potential stump speech lines, telling the crowd, "We need more common sense and less Obama nonsense."

He also rebuked so-called "birthers," noting, "I am not one who questions the existence of the president's birth certificate. But when you listen to his policies, don't you at least wonder what planet he's from?"

Pawlenty said he wants to "throw the tax code overboard," and proposed that every member of Congress be forced to complete their tax returns "without the help of a tax preparer, accountant or lawyer. Let them experience firsthand the moronic, burdensome, intimidating beast that our tax system has become."

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Missouri Sen. Kit Bond in no rush to endorse

Outgoing Sen. Kit Bond (R) is taking a wait-and-see approach to endorsing anyone in the Missouri Senate GOP primary. 

"We'll wait and see," Bond told The Ballot Box when asked if he plans to endorse in the 2012 race. Bond is retiring at the end of this Congress.

The four-term senator's blessing could be helpful in what's expected to be a crowded Republican field.

Former Treasurer Sarah Steelman was the first to jump into the race for the nomination to face Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Her recent announcement that she plans to run has Missouri Republicans worrying about the consequences of a hard-fought primary.

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner are also said to be considering runs.

Bond wouldn't say who else he thought would get into the race. "They'll have to make the announcements," he said.

The senator recently made headlines for becoming the latest Republican to express trepidation about Sarah Palin running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

"I have reservations about anyone who quits as governor halfway through the term," he told the Kansas City Star in an interview.

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Gov. Jindal: Palin 'absolutely' electable

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) defended Sarah Palin against suggestions by some Republicans she's unelectable as president.

"It's up to her to make the case to voters," Jindal told Bloomberg Television’s Al Hunt.

Jindal was asked about a recent column by former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough (R), who wrote that it was time for Republicans to "man up" and recognize that Palin, who has published two books and has a reality TV show, cannot be elected.

Jindal said it's "absolutely" possible for the former Alaska governor be elected president.

"I think there are several strong contenders," he added, stopping short of endorsing the former vice presidential nominee.

Jindal has ruled himself out of the 2012 GOP presidential field, saying he is seeking a second term as governor in 2011.

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Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum debate JFK

President John F. Kennedy’s views on the separation of church and state are the target of fresh criticism from Sarah Palin and other prominent conservatives.

In her second book, America by Heart, Palin called Kennedy’s Houston speech on how his Catholic faith shaped his policy views "defensive … in tone and content."

Palin faults Kennedy for not "telling the country how his faith had enriched him," according to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who noted the passage in an op-ed in The Washington Post

Kennedy’s September 1960 speech contained the famous lines, "Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic." 

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has also taken aim at Kennedy’s views on religion and politics. He was scheduled to be in Boston on Saturday for a speech rebutting Kennedy's call for "the separation of church and state [to be] absolute."

Santorum and Palin are both considered contenders for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination. Their remarks may help endear them to religious conservatives, a strong Republican voting bloc.

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Obama spends day before election behind closed doors

President Obama has no public events scheduled for the day before the election, but he will do some radio interviews and call activists in various states, according to a White House pool report.

The radio interviews will air throughout the country (the specific stations/programs haven't been announced yet).

Obama will spend the evening calling activists and organizers in key battleground states, including Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Hawaii.

Otherwise the president will spend the day in the West Wing, in closed-door meetings with advisers.

The president voted by absentee ballot last week and spend the weekend attending various get-out-the-vote rallies.

UPDATE: One of the interviews will be with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, who hosts "On the Air with Ryan Seacrest," a nationally syndicated radio show.

Seacrest tweeted Monday: I'm interviewing President @BarackObama and want to ask him YOUR questions, political & otherwise: http://on.fb.me/AskObama

UPDATE II: Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Obama's radio interview schedule: "This afternoon, the President will do a live interview with Michael Baisden and taped radio interviews with Ryan Seacrest, Russ Parr and Steve Harvey that will air on Tuesday. The President did local radio interviews this morning with hosts in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia – and has interviews scheduled with hosts in Honolulu and Miami this afternoon."

-- This post was updated at 1:02 p.m. and 3:03 p.m.

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Romney: Obama 'one of the most divisive in history'

Conservative activists gathered in Washington are arguing the country's economic woes stem from an "assault" on traditional values from congressional Democrats.

"Washington is assaulting America's values," former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) told attendees at the Values Voter Summit Friday. "These values include the sanctity of life and the preservation of marriage."

He called President Obama the "one of the most divisive in history."

"The American people have finally see Obama liberalism for what it is," he said. "We have an administration whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona."

Many of the speakers and attendees have repeated the message that Democrats have wrecked the economy and steered the country away from its traditional cultural values.

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Palin to GOP leaders: Get over it

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who provided a last minute boost to conservative commentator Christine O'Donnell in Delaware's race for Senate with her endorsement, said Wednesday that GOP leaders unhappy with O'Donnell should "buck up."

"How about those upsets in the primaries yesterday?" Palin said Wednesday, according to the Tulsa World newspaper. 

Palin, speaking in Tulsa at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Liberty Gala, aimed her comments at Republicans like Karl Rove, who has called O'Donnell unelectable in wake of her primary win against Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.). 

"We have to be able to utilize these new people and new ideas and new energy," she said. 

Palin recorded a robocall for O'Donnell and her endorsement less than a week before the primary provided a major last-minute boost of attention for Delaware's GOP primary. 

Initial reports late Tuesday night suggested that the National Republican Senatorial Committee would not offer backing to O'Donnell in the general election after she defeated Castle, one of the committee's top recruits. 

But on Wednesday, NRSC Chair John Cornyn (Texas) said the committee was fully behind the nominee and touted the $42,000 the NRSC is sending O'Donnell.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said Wednesday that he plans on donating to O'Donnell's campaign through his political action committee. 

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