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September 25, 2012

Obama continues his efforts to woo Hispanics with new ads

President Obama is continuing his intense effort to woo Hispanic voters.

Obama's campaign is unveiling new Spanish language TV and radio ads in the swing states of Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Just weeks before Election Day, the ads encourage Hispanics to register and vote.

The TV ad accuses Republican Mitt Romney and his runningmate, Paul Ryan, of supporting policies that would make it more difficult for Hispanics to attend college. For example, according to Democrats, policies would disproportionately impact Hispanics since they are twice as likely as white students to receive Pell grants.

Continue reading "Obama continues his efforts to woo Hispanics with new ads" »

Obama: Get the refs "back on the field"

President Obama generally walks straight into the White House after landing on the South Lawn after a trip. But he was apparently peeved enough by bad football officiating that he stopped to share his thoughts after a reporter shouted to "Packers" to him -- in reference to the team's controversial loss to the Seahawks after a call by replacement referees.

"Terrible!" Obama said of the game, pausing before continuing. "I've been saying for months, we've gotta get our refs back."

Press Secretary Jay Carney had earlier tipped reporters off to Obama's outrage, saying he wanted to discuss a "pressing matter that kind of transcends all else for most Americans."

Continue reading "Obama: Get the refs "back on the field" " »

Criticized for no meetings with world leaders at UN, Obama squeezes one in

Republicans -- and newspaper headline writers -- have hammered President Obama for not holding any one on one meetings at the United Nations this week.

But the administration notes he squeezed in a last minute bit of diplomacy, after wrapping up his speech. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Obama paid a courtesy to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the current President of the U.N. General Assembly, Vuk Jeremić.

He also dropped by a meeting that Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan was having with President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi of Yemen. Rhodes said Obama thanked Hadi "for the steps he’s taken to secure our embassy and our diplomats in that country."

Obama at the UN urges tolerance abroad and patience at home

Invoking the U.S. diplomat slain in Libya, President Obama Tuesday delivered a defense of his policies and sought to put much of the blame for the recent unrest in the Middle East on what he called an offensive anti-Muslim video.

The administration has sought to play down suggestions that the attack that killed J. Christopher Stevens was a pre-mediatated terrorist attack, and Obama spent considerable time denouncing the video, and defending free speech to explain why the U.S. can't ban such content. He also vowed that the U.S. would do "all we can" to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.

His prepared remarks are below the jump:

Continue reading "Obama at the UN urges tolerance abroad and patience at home " »

Romney rips Obama foreign policy, offers new foreign aid strategy

Mitt Romney sharply criticized Obama administration policy in the Middle East, and suggested a new approach to foreign assistance could be an important way of easing tension in troubled nations.

“Many Americans are troubled by the developments in the Middle East. Syria has witnessed the killing of tens of thousands of people. The president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our Ambassador to Libya was assassinated in a terrorist attack. And Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability. We feel that we are at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events,” the Republican presidential candidate was to tell the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

“I am often asked why, and what can we do to lead the Middle East to stability, to ease the suffering and the anger and the hate,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery. “Religious extremism is certainly part of the problem.  But that’s not the whole story.”

He quickly pivoted to his foreign assistance plan.

The initiative is the latest Romney effort to build a more muscular foreign policy while emphasizing economic programs at the same time.

The campaign argued that aid programs "do not fully take into account that foreign aid no longer makes up the majority of capital flowing into the developing world as it did decades ago."

Worldwide foreign aid is small compared to trade with the developing world and foreign direct investment.

"But too often, our foreign aid programs try to supplant private enterprise. And they concentrate too greatly on delivering social services instead of seeking policy reforms and building institutional capacity so that societies can afford to pay for critical social services over time," the Romney paper said.

"To be effective, our aid programs must leverage private investment and trade to foster environments conducive to job creation. Free enterprise and institutions that support political freedom, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are critical ingredients for progress. If developing nations grow strong private sectors, they will become strong trading partners and friends of the United States."

His Prosperity Pact Program would be an "integrated strategy that links trade policy with development policy."

Development, the paper says, "is driven by economic liberalization. Mitt Romney will ensure that our policies reflect that relationship. Working with the private sector, the program would identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations."

"In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations would receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights."

A major part of the program will be backing new financing structures for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Such enterprises, the campaign says, will "allow developing nations to reach the global market and create an enduring cycle of growth. "

 

Republicans hit Obama ahead of UN speech

With President Obama about to hit the stage at the United Nations, the Republican National Committee is up with a web video that accuses him of a "crisis of leadership."

Republicans said the White House gave "inconsistent information" about the attacks in Libya and "offered no defense" of security levels.

"President Obama promised that he would restore America's moral standing in the world. Yet, for the last four years, instead of standing up for America's interests and values, this president has led from behind," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

President Obama at the UN: Stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon

President Obama today will pledge continued U.S. involvement in the turbulent Middle East and vow that the U.S. will do "what we must" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

In remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, Obama will call the attacks in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere "not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded."

According to remarks prepared for delivery, Obama will say that if the body of nations is "serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis. Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common."

And he'll summon the memory of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the assault on the consulate in Bengazi, Libya, saying "we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations."

He will also decry the anti-Islamic video that the administration has said is a factor in the riots, saying there "are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan."

Obama will also say that the U.S. wants to resolve Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon "through diplomacy" and believes "there is still time and space to do so.

"But that time is not unlimited," he is to say. "We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

September 24, 2012

Obama gives advice on anti-Islam movie: Ignore it

President Obama is in New York for the annual United Nations' General Assembly -- but his only public remarks about world events today might have come from a taping of ABC-TV's chat show, The View.

Asked whether he believed the attack on the consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya was a terrorist attack, Obama told his hosts: "There's no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn't just a mob action. What's clear is that, around the world, there are still a lot of threats out there."

Obama, who appeared for the interview with first lady, Michelle Obama -- the pool report notes they held hands during most of the taping -- added that "The overwhelming majority of Muslims, they want the same things that families here want. They want opportunity, kids want an education, they want jobs, they want peace. But there are extremist strains that are there."

But he said, "There's never an excuse for violence," he said, adding that "The best way to marginalize that kind of speech [in the anti-Islam movie} is to ignore it. You don't make yourself bigger by putting other people down."

Continue reading "Obama gives advice on anti-Islam movie: Ignore it " »

Carney: Republicans' 'bump in the road' attack is desperate and offensive

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that attempts by Republicans to tie President Obama's "bumps in the road" comments to the recent Libyan attacks is "both desperate and offensive."

Carney said Obama -- on '60 Minutes' -- was speaking about the transformations in the region, not the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya.

"The president, as you know, is not minimizing what we all recognize as historic transformations taking place,'' Carney told reporters at the White House Monday. "And the president is certainly not minimizing the challenges that those transformations are facing, as these countries in the region that have experienced or are experiencing democratic transitions move forward with them, move forward to systems of government that are hopefully more responsive to their people’s aspirations -- more democratic, fairer and better for their people.''

Carney said he knows Republicans "are searching for reeds to grab onto, but I think the president’s views on these matters are very clear and very strong." 

"There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage, and in this case that’s profoundly offensive,'' he said.

Pew: "Voters offer tepid ratings" of 2012 presidential foes

Voters don't much like the presidential candidates.

"Voters offer tepid ratings of the 2012 field," a new Pew Research Center analysis found Monday. Its new survey found 54 percent very or fairly satisfied with the White House choices, while 40 percent said they are not too or not at all pleased.

Those satisfied represent a lower number than at any presidential election in 20 years.

Pew found:

"In September 2008, far more voters (72percent) said they were satisfied with the presidential choices that year. More voters also were satisfied with the candidates in the 2004 (66 percent), 2000 (64 percent) and 1996 (61 percent) campaigns."

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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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