In a rare moment of unity at the CNN-sponsored debate in Jacksonville, Fla., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich strongly sided with Israel, but each candidate took a slightly different method. Romney blamed President Obama and Gingrich blamed the Palestinians for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
The former governor said Mr. Obama "disrespected Benjamin Netanyahu," for announcing a major policy change the day before a bilateral meeting in the White House.
"I think he threw Israel under the bus with regards to defining the '67 borders as a starting point of negotiations," Romney said.Continue »
A question from an audience member about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at Thursday night's CNN debate turned into a slugfest between House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The two Florida front-runners hit each other over investments and relationships to the mortgage giants taken over by the government at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
"We should have had a whistle blower not a horn tooter," Romney said about the former House speaker, who worked as an adviser to Freddie Mac, the smaller of the two organizations.
Gingrich accused Romney of "cheerfully" making attacks "inaccurately," noting that he was not a registered lobbyist for the firm.
Gingrich turned the table back on the former Massachusetts governor for his investment portfolio.
"We discovered to our shock, Governor Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made a million dollars off of selling some of that," Gingrich said.Continue »
Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Thursday defended her tense exchange with President Obama on an airport tarmac, saying she was "very gracious" to the president as he stepped off Air Force One in Phoenix Wednesday.
"I was trying to be very, very gracious. I respect the office of the president and I would never be disrespectful in, in that manner," Brewer said.
The exchange on the tarmac has received a lot of media coverage after reporters on the scene noticed an animated exchange that involved terse body language, including Brewer waving her finger at the president. What was said could not be heard.
The White House sought to downplay the incident. Spokesman Jay Carney called the media coverage of the tarmac exchange "overblown" and said "it's not a very big deal at all."
But Brewer conducted numerous media interviews about the exchange to say she did nothing wrong and called Mr. Obama "thin-skinned."Continue »
In the key swing state of Florida, Mitt Romney would be a stronger candidate than Newt Gingrich against President Obama in the general election, according to a new Suffolk University/7NEWS(WSVN-Miami) poll of Florida voters.
The former Massachusetts governor leads Mr. Obama among likely Florida voters 47 percent to 42 percent, which is just outside the 4 percent margin of error. Gingrich didn't fare nearly so well. Florida voters would choose Mr. Obama over the former House Speaker by 9 percentage points.
Gingrich's challenges are event greater with independent voters. Only 19 percent of Florida independents had a favorable view of the former House speaker, and independents would favor Mr. Obama over Gingrich 56 percent to 29 percent.
"Newt Gingrich is weak among Florida independents and likely Democratic voters compared to Romney," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. "If Florida is one of six key states that swings the national election, independents in Florida hold that key, and this poll suggests that Newt won't be able to secure Florida for his party."
Romney fared much better with independents, with 44 percent of Florida independents having a favorable view of him. One-fifth of voters in Florida are registered as independent.
Meanwhile a CNN/Time/ORC International Poll shows a tight race between Gingrich and Romney for Florida's Republican primary Tuesday. According to the poll, 36 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they would support Romney while 34 percent say they would support Gingrich.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul are running a distant third and fourth, polling at 11 and 9 percent respectively.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is looking beyond next week's Florida primary, releasing an ad (shown left) attacking rival Newt Gingrich for his work as in adviser to mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac in Nevada, home to the highest foreclosure rate in the country.
Nevada's caucus is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, the next contest after voters head to the polls in Florida Tuesday.
"While Nevada families lost everything in the housing crisis, Newt Gingrich cashed in," a serious, deep-voiced narrator says while a picture of Newt Gingrich appears on the screen.
Gingrich worked as adviser for Freddie Mac, the government sponsored mortgage entity that backs millions of American mortgages and was taken over by the Bush administration in late 2008 as losses from bad mortgages mounted.
"Gingrich was paid over $1.6 million by the scandal-ridden agency," the ad says.Continue »
Updated 5:35 p.m. ET
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pulled a Spanish-language radio ad critical of opponent Mitt Romney on immigration after complaints by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
"This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It's inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn't belong in this campaign," Rubio told The Miami Herald.
"Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community," added the freshman Florida senator, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, speaking about both Romney and Gingrich.
Following the remarks, Gingrich's campaign cancelled the ad.
"We respect Senator Rubio tremendously and will remove the ad from the rotation," Jose Mallea, Gingrich's Florida campaign head and former Rubio campaign director, told the newspaper.Continue »
The four remaining Republican presidential candidates responded to President Obama's State of the Union with strong statements casting him as an ineffective, divisive leader.
But in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney gave some credit to President Obama in calling some of his ideas "interesting." But the praise stopped there and Romney said the American people "want someone who knows how to fix things; they want someone who knows how to get the economy going again."
On the same day Romney released his taxes, which shows he paid less than 14 percent in taxes on $21.7 million of income in 2010, he dismissed Mr. Obama's proposed "Buffett Rule" to require millionaires to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, including on investment income.
"We need to encourage people to invest," Romney said.
The other three candidates released statements in response to the president's speech.Continue »
In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, President Obama expanded on a tax plan he has been discussing for several months: the "Buffett Rule."
In his address, he called for people making more than $1 million per year to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate.
Taxes and tax rates have been a hot-button issue in recent years as a way to pay for an increase in government spending and a rising deficit and debt. And in recent days, tax rates have gotten even more attention due to the release of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns which show he paid less than 14 percent in taxes on $21.7 million of income in 2010 because his income came from investments rather than a salary.
"Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes?" Mr. Obama told the Congress. "Most Americans would call that common sense."Continue »
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, in the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, acknowledged that the president was not responsible for the recession, but said Mr. Obama has "held back" the economy and is making the U.S. debt situation "radically worse."
In a speech that lasted less than 15 minutes, Daniels delivered the Republican rebuttal from the auditorium stage of the Indiana War Memorial building in Indianapolis.
"The president did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight. But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades. One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today," Daniels said.
"The president's grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery. He seems to sincerely believe we can build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars. In fact, it works the other way: a government as big and bossy as this one is maintained on the backs of the middle class, and those who hope to join it," Daniels said.Continue »
In an early release of some portions his Republican rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels attempts to paint Mr. Obama as a divisive figure in Washington while also criticizing his decision to block the construction of a trans-national oil pipeline.
The two-term governor sharply criticizes the president's decision to hold off on the construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that would transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Western Canada to the Gulf Coast.
"The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy," Daniels will say.
Republicans have promised to make sure Keystone is a thorn in Mr. Obama's side as he seeks re-election this year. In addition to Daniels' speech highlighting the pipeline, House Speaker Boehner invited four proponents of the 1,700 mile project to sit in his reserved seats in the House gallery for the president's speech.
In the speech, Daniels also attacks Mr. Obama as being a political operative failing to listen to Republican ideas.Continue »
House Speaker John Boehner's guests at tonight's State of the Union address include proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline that President Obama rejected earlier this month.
Boehner's decision to invite backers of the controversial $7 billion, 1,700 mile underground oil pipeline is meant to hammer home Republican opposition to Mr. Obama's decision to block the construction of the trans-national pipeline, which would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Republicans say the TransCanada Pipeline would create 20,000 jobs (though that figure is hotly contested) and lessen America's dependence on foreign oil. They vowed at their annual Republican retreat last week to keep up the pressure on Mr. Obama to approve the pipeline.Continue »
The next big date in the road of the Republican nominating process is January 31 when Florida Republicans determine their preference to take on President Obama. But a lot could be determined before the last day of January as voters in Florida are already casting their votes.
Polling stations opened in all 67 counties in the Sunshine State on Saturday, even before South Carolina picked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over opponents Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
With Gingrich's last minute surge and win in South Carolina, Florida's primary became a lot more relevant, said Brian Hughes, spokesman for Florida's Republican party.
"The South Carolina outcome put it all in play," Hughes said.Continue »
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET
The New Yorker article, published Monday, described in detail a president who had big legislative aspirations but is also concerned with protecting his image.
"The White House staff memos show Obama scaling back his proposals in the face of the business lobby, designing a health-care bill to attract support from doctors, rejecting schemes from his aides that could be caricatured by the right, and in dozens of other ways making the unpleasant choices of governing in a system defined by its constraints," reporter Ryan Lizza wrote in the piece.
White House Spokesperson Jay Carney had little to say in response. "Let history judge the results," he said.
Lizza notes the choices Mr. Obama faced: working to enact his campaign promises despite adversarial Republicans or working to garner consensus in Washington, also a campaign promise.Continue »
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is celebrating his first win of the primary season tonight. But in his South Carolina victory speech, he also admitted a stark reality: he is low on cash.
He asked his supporters for money and help as his campaign heads to Florida for that state's primary on January 31.
"If anyone here knows anyone in Florida, please contact them tomorrow," he asked the crowd. "I need people to donate, to get involved. I don't have the kind of money" necessary to run a large-scale campaign in Florida.
Shortly after the results came on Saturday evening, he asked his 1.4 million Twitter followers for campaign donations. "Thank you South Carolina! Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida. Join our Moneybomb and donate now," was the message sent from his Twitter account.
Standing on stage with his wife Callista by his side, he cautiously predicted that he will become the Republican nominee.Continue »
Walking into chants of "we pick Rick" from an audience at the military academy The Citadel, Rick Santorum vowed to continue his journey to the Republican nomination after finishing third in South Carolina Saturday. Santorum politely congratulated his opponents, saying "Newt kicked butt," referring to the winner in the Palmetto state's primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In an interview with CNN before those remarks, Santorum was less charitable toward Gingrich.
"Those who worked with congressman Gingrich know what's in store if he's the nominee of our party," he said, referring to his rival's reputation as an erratic leader.
Santorum sought to put the best spin on his third place finish in South Carolina, where his message of social conservatism is more welcome than it was in New Hampshire.Continue »