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Political Notebook

Huntsman strongly backs strategist

August 5, 2011

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SALEM, N.H. - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman stood by his controversial chief strategist John Weaver yesterday following reports of inner turmoil in the campaign.

“John Weaver is a critically important part of our team,’’ Huntsman told reporters after speaking to members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce at Southern New Hampshire University. “He’s our strategist. Has been from day one and he will be. He’s a great friend, and he’s indispensable to this campaign.’’

A story on the Politico website outlined what it called a “blistering internal feud’’ among Huntsman campaign officials.

Huntsman business acquaintance and former campaign adviser David Fischer shared e-mails with Politico illustrating tensions among staff members, mostly revolving around Weaver. Huntsman’s campaign manager, Susie Wiles, resigned July 21. The Politico story says at least four staffers, including Wiles, left in part because of Weaver.

Politico sources, including Fischer, said Weaver was difficult to work with and verbally abusive to staff. The story also details concerns by Huntsman’s family members and Huntsman himself over the early direction of the campaign.

Huntsman declined yesterday to comment on how he thinks his campaign is progressing, except to say he is happy to be a candidate and share his vision.

Around the time Wiles resigned, the Huntsman campaign laid out a new strategy, which it described as “tighter, faster, more aggressive.’’ Huntsman described the retooled campaign yesterday as “firing on all cylinders.’’

Asked whether more changes were planned, he said, “Any organization, you’re always looking at fine tuning and perfecting, whether a business, campaign, your family. Why wouldn’t you look for ways to improve here and there?’’

Weaver has a colorful political history. He helped John McCain win the 2000 New Hampshire primary but left McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007 after an internal campaign power struggle.

Weaver worked for independent candidate Timothy Cahill in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race in 2010 but quit that campaign in September 2010, saying Cahill was too far behind. Cahill said Weaver left the campaign because Cahill refused to follow his advice and go negative.

Cahill later sued Weaver and three other former aides, claiming that the aides breached their contracts and conspired with national Republicans to hurt his campaign. The suit was settled with no admission of liability.

— Shira Schoenberg

Romney vows to back push against gay marriage Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has signed a pledge opposing gay marriage.

The pledge, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, commits candidates to supporting an amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman; defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court; appointing judges and an attorney general “who will respect the original meaning of the Constitution;’’ appointing a commission to investigate harassment of gay-marriage opponents; and introducing legislation giving Washington, D.C., residents the right to vote on same-sex marriage.

GOP candidates Michele Bachmann, representative of Minnesota, and Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, also signed the pledge.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty did not. “The governor and first lady chose to express their commitment to the institution of marriage using their own words in a video about their values and faith,’’ said campaign spokesman Alex Conant, referring to a video posted at pawlentyfaith.com.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams called the promise a “straightforward pledge that reaffirms Governor Romney’s support for traditional marriage.’’

Romney has opposed gay marriage in his presidential campaigns both this year and in 2008. But he said in his 1994 Senate campaign against Democrat Edward Kennedy that he would be a greater advocate for gay rights than Kennedy.

Shira Schoenberg Kerry restates desire to keep his Senate seat John Kerry reiterated yesterday that he is planning to run for a sixth term in the Senate, saying he has begun fund-raising for his 2014 campaign.

“This is the job I want. This is the job I’m enjoying doing,’’ the 67-year-old said, dismissing rumors he was positioning to be appointed secretary of state if President Obama is reelected next year.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she does not plan to stay on for a second term.

Kerry, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 1984.

— Associated Press

Lawyer admits making illegal gift to Edwards LOS ANGELES - A prominent Los Angeles attorney could face six months in federal prison for making illegal contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Edwards.

The US attorney’s office says Pierce O’Donnell pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of making illegal campaign contributions and agreed to a six-month sentence and a $20,000 fine.

O’Donnell said he provided some $20,000 to Edwards’s 2004 campaign by reimbursing straw donors.

— Associated Press

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