Cain clarifies abortion comments as Santorum continues attack

Herman Cain issued a statement Thursday clarifying comments on CNN in which he said abortion "ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family."

Cain was scrambling to defend himself as opposing abortion rights after the comments raised eyebrows with conservatives, who generally support government restrictions on abortion procedures. Rick Santorum sent a fundraising appeal to supporters Thursday night, saying he was "absolutely floored" by Cain's comments.

"Herman Cain’s pro-choice position is similar to those held by John Kerry, Barack Obama and many others on the liberal left. You cannot be both personally against abortion while condoning it — you can’t have it both ways. We must defend the defenseless, period," Santorum wrote.


Romney says Obama deserves credit for Gadhafi killing

Mitt Romney said Thursday that President Obama deserves some credit for the death of Moammar Gadhafi, breaking with other Republican candidates who had steadfastly refused to offer the president praise after the killing.

A reporter at an appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa asked Romney if Obama deserved some credit.

"Yes. Yes. Absolutely," Romney said, according to CNN.


Poll: Majority of voters blame Obama for economy

A majority of American voters believe that President Barack Obama deserves blame for the country's economic troubles, a USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday said. It is the first time since the president's election that a majority of voters feel that way.

24 percent of Americans believe that Obama deserves a "great deal of blame" - a rise of 10 percentage points since mid-2009 - while 36 percent think that former president George W. Bush should get the majority of the blame. Bush's numbers show a decline of 7 percent over the same period, showing that voters are increasingly unwilling to blame current economic conditions on the previous administration.

{mosads}The shifts may complicate the White House's ability to sell the president's new jobs plan - even amongst Democratic allies - and show discontent with the implement of Obama's stimulus package.

Worse for the president is that eight in ten believe the economy is in a recession, and six in ten do not believe that the economy will improve by next year.

The troubling economic news is battering the president's popularity, which has sunk below 40 percent in the latest McClatchy-Marist poll.

The same poll showed Republican challengers gaining on the president in head-to-head matchups.


Haley: No 2012 VP run

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won't consider the second spot on the Republican ticket in the 2012 elections.


Nebraska attorney general steps in race for Sen. Ben Nelson's seat

Nebraska's attorney general officially announced his candidacy for Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) seat Wednesday.

Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning, who started an exploratory committee for a Senate run just after the Nov. 4 midterms, officially announced his candidacy for the Senate, challenging the centrist Democrat.

“I filed paperwork with FEC today making my candidacy for U.S. Senate official. We’re in! Formal announcement will follow in a few weeks,” Bruning wrote Wednesday on his Twitter account.

Nelson, one of the most conservative Democrats currently serving in the Senate, has been one of the GOP's main targets to beat in 2012. Bruning is the one of the earliest Republican challengers hoping to win Nelson's seat.

Nelson, nominated to the Senate in 2000, has made no official announcement on whether he will run again, but The Omaha-World Herald has said he is leaning toward another run.


Capitol Hill quiet on Election Day: Piled up mail and 'I Voted' stickers

Life on Capitol Hill came to something of a standstill on Election Day with only a fraction of staffers in their offices and fewer tourists than usual grazing the Capitol’s halls.

A day’s worth of newspapers and mail piled up outside the doors of several vulnerable Democrats, including Reps. Bob Etheridge (N.C.), Mark Schauer (Mich.) and Harry Mitchell (Ariz.).

Of the staff that remained, many donned “I Voted” stickers; several Republicans sported big red “Fire Pelosi!” stickers on their collared shirts. The cafeterias were sparsely used, though gaggles of teenage House pages collected in the Longworth eatery, somewhat removed from the partisan shifts that were afoot at the polls nationwide on Tuesday.


Shadegg (R): 'I would support single payer' over individual mandate

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), one of the most conservative members of Congress, raised some eyebrows today when he seemed to offer support a single-payer health insurance system.

Shadegg blasted the for-profit health insurance industry during an appearance on MSNBC today, finally declaring, "I would support single payer."

He quickly clarified his comment, saying he would simply like to see health insurance companies have more competition.

"I would support forcing American healthcare companies to compete right," he said "Now they have a monopoly."

That's similar to the argument Democrats have made for the public option, and in a statement to The Hill, Shadegg's office said a public option would be better than requiring individuals to buy insurance from the for-profit sector.

Here's the full statement, followed by the video of his interview today:

Congressman Shadegg believes health insurance companies should have to compete for our business as individual consumers.  Forcing them to compete, even through a public option, would be better than an individual mandate which will not work.  Specifically, on MSNBC he stated his position as follows:
“I would support forcing American health care [insurance] companies to compete…It is immoral in this society to say if you get health care from your employer, it’s tax-free.  But if you want to go out and buy it yourself, you work for a lawn mowing company in Arizona in my district, and you want to buy your own health insurance, you’ve got to buy it with after-tax dollars and this bill doesn’t fix that.  This bill says to that poor lawn man, you must buy health insurance, or your government is going to fine you, and you must buy it from the same for-profit companies that are not doing a very good job of holding down costs right now.”


S.F. mayor pulls out of Calif. governor's race, leaving Jerry Brown

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pulled out of the California governor's race Friday in the face of blistering poll and fundraising numbers against Jerry Brown, now the last major Dem standing (and one who hasn't even officially announced his candidacy) to replace term-limited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 elections.

Newsom said in a statement:

"It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

...I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply — universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens."

Is Newsom really done? There's speculation that he may have stepped aside to set himself up for a lieutenant governor spot on a ticket alongside Brown. But his announcement definitely opens the door even wider for current attorney general and former Gov. Brown to waltz back into the governor's mansion -- or roller stake, as Californians like to remember the Linda Rondstat-dating governor of the late 1970s. Brown outraised Newsom nearly 7-to-1 in the first half of the year, and a Field Poll earlier this month showed Brown 20 points ahead of Newsom with Democrats (a quarter still undecided).

That poll also showed Brown, also a former mayor of Oakland, with a 31-point lead in Southern California, which seems to be out in the cold, so to speak, when it comes to the Democratic nomination. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brushed off the long-held notion that he would run for governor in a north-south showdown in June, but Newsom's withdrawal brings up new questions of whether Villaraigosa will throw his hat back into the ring. Sure, Newsom and Villaraigosa both have their Achilles' heels -- namely, respective sex scandals -- but Villaraigosa's performance in this year's mayoral race brings concerns of its own. Villaraigosa upset sitting mayor James Hahn in 2005 to become L.A.'s first Latino mayor, but this March Villaraigosa won re-election with just 55 percent of the vote in a field of unknowns -- like Walter Moore, the ultimate L.A. grass-roots candidate, who got 2.7 percent of the vote in 2005 but got 26 percent against Villaraigosa in 2009.

Even on the GOP side, though, it's still a SoCal shutout: former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, former congressman Tom Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner all hail from the Silicon Valley.


Hannity: 'I would run for office at some point in my life'

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity isn't ruling out a more formal life in politics, according to some remarks he made on his television show Thursday night.

Appearing on a discussion panel, Hannity made reference to a report on the conservative website WorldNetDaily that he may run for president.

The bombastic anchor didn't address those rumors directly, but left the door open to elected office.

"I would run for office at some point in my life," he said. "Yes, I would."

Hannity had said that he would let divine providence guide him as to whether or not he'd run for office when questioned about a run for president.

"I've never made a decision in my life without -- whatever destiny God has you've got to fulfill it," Hannity said. "I'm not sure that's my destiny."

Interestingly, Hannity appeared on the panel alongside former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who'd mulled running for Congress as a Republican against Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) for a short amount of time before ruling out a challenge.

Watch a video of Hannity's remarks, flagged by the liberal group Media Matters for America, below:


Momentum builds for appointment to Kennedy seat

Massachusetts lawmakers are beginning to rally behind a plan that would allow for a special appointment to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D) seat, giving Democrats in Washington the votes they need to advance their agenda.

State law requires a special election to fill a vacancy, to be held between 145 and 160 days of a vacancy occurring. The law was changed in 2004, when Sen. John Kerry (D) sought the White House and Republican Gov. Mitt Romney (R) held the power to appoint a replacement.

Were a special election to occur, virtually all of the state's ten Democratic members of Congress have been mentioned as potential candidates, along with several widely-known officials who have held office in the state.

But with healthcare legislation and the rest of an ambitious Democratic agenda hanging in the balance, support is growing for a quick legislative fix, which would give Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the power to appoint a temporary replacement.

It is an idea Kennedy himself urged on his home state legislators. In a letter last week, Kennedy told Patrick and leaders in both chambers on Beacon Hill he supported changing the law.

Democratic leaders expressed willingness to push forward with such a proposal, but it would take time to work its way through the state legislative process, which could delay any possible appointment significantly and perhaps make the effort moot.

Patrick told a local radio station Wednesday that he would support such a change, and state Senate President Therese Murray has reportedly warmed to the idea after giving it a cold reception.

Patrick said he would urge the State Legislature to adopt the change.