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Political Notebook

Bachmann compares herself to Thatcher

GOP presidential hopeful Representative Michele Bachmann spoke at the American Legion’s national convention. GOP presidential hopeful Representative Michele Bachmann spoke at the American Legion’s national convention. (Tom Olmscheid/Associated Press)
September 2, 2011

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MINNEAPOLIS - Republican Representative Michele Bachmann compared herself yesterday to a female world leader with firm resolve - former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher - while trying to convince American veterans that she would make a strong commander in chief.

Bachmann offered a glimpse at her foreign policy views in a speech to the American Legion’s national convention in her home state of Minnesota. President Obama addressed the convention earlier in the week.

She harkened back to hard-willed efforts by former president Ronald Reagan to confront the Soviet Union and communism and pointed to the strong campaign Thatcher headed to regain control of the Falkland Islands.

“It took two very strong leaders on the world stage, one a woman and one a man, to reverse the course of their respective countries,’’ Bachmann said. “We should heed the lessons that they hold for those who seek to wreak havoc on peace and on democracy across the world today.’’

Much has changed since the days of Thatcher and Reagan. US troops are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and terror threats pose a different kind of challenge for leaders here and abroad.

Bachmann, a third-term congresswoman, emphasized her role on the House Intelligence Committee as evidence that she knows pressing threats, including fears about Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Bachmann sounded a similar note as GOP presidential rival Governor Rick Perry of Texas about when and how US troops are sent into battle. Perry told the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ convention on Monday that America needs to avoid a foreign policy of “military adventurism.’’

Bachmann echoed that.

“We should never put troops into harm’s way unless there is first a clear and vital United States mission. We never will half-heartedly commit our troops to battle without a true end plan, without knowing our enemy and also knowing our mission,’’ she said.

Bachmann, who was making her first public appearance in Minnesota in more than two months, mostly avoided reporters as aides rushed her into private meetings with veterans.

Bachmann said her references to Thatcher were meant to spotlight a transformational figure of her era. “We’re in a similar time period and we need to have strong, viable leadership to see that return again today, both with the military and with the economy,’’ she said.

The comparison to the woman, known as “The Iron Lady,’’ was not lost on veterans in the audience such as 23-year Navy veteran David Meaney of Atkinson, N.H.

“I think a woman could handle the job. It’s probably time,’’ said Meaney, who has not settled on a 2012 candidate but wants to see Obama go. “She’s trying to say, ‘Although I’m a woman, I think I can do this.’ That’s what I got from it.’’

— Associated Press

Policy before SEC requires fund-raising transparency WASHINGTON - A proposal before the Securities and Exchange Commission that would require public companies to disclose political contributions has drawn some favorable comments from investors, but it will not go very far in meeting the demands of those advocating for more transparency in political fund-raising.

A group of 10 law professors filed a petition asking the commission to require corporations to list political contributions in annual proxy statements sent to shareholders. The professors cite a growing interest among shareholders for disclosure of political contributions.

“Many shareholders recognize that the interests of executives and directors with respect to political spending might differ from those of shareholders,’’ said Lucian Bebchuk, a Harvard Law School professor who cochaired the group of professors seeking the new rule. “Such shareholders are naturally concerned when, as is commonly the case, their company provides them with no information about its political spending.’’

The agency has posted several comments from other outside observers supporting the rule, including the International Corporate Governance Network, which represents institutional investors with a combined $18 trillion in assets.

The issue has come to the fore after the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in early 2010, which legalized independent corporate political spending. In the majority opinion, the justices wrote that shareholders are responsible for controlling the actions of executives in charge of the corporate purse, opening the door for new rules, as long as they do not violate the First Amendment.

Advocates for transparency have been pushing various ways to force interest groups to disclose their financial backers. So far, none has been enacted.

The proposal at the SEC would leave out private companies, which have provided the bulk of corporate political spending.

— Washington Post

Huntsman replaces his N.H. campaign manager CONCORD, N.H. - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has replaced his New Hampshire campaign manager as the candidate begins a six-day swing through the state.

Huntsman has made New Hampshire, the first primary state, key to his strategy, ignoring the early-voting state of Iowa to focus his attention on New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. So far, he has not gained traction here, remaining in the low-single digits in polls. The replacement could signify an attempt to revitalize the campaign.

Sarah Crawford Stewart, who was former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty’s New Hampshire campaign adviser, will replace Ethan Eilon, campaign officials said. The Union Leader reported that Eilon was fired, though a campaign aide said the departure was “amicable.’’

Crawford Stewart worked for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2000 and 2008 in New Hampshire. Eilon worked for US Senate candidate Ken Buck in Colorado but did not have New Hampshire experience.

The news came as Huntsman continued to show the emphasis he is placing on New Hampshire by releasing his jobs plan in a speech here Wednesday. He told an audience yesterday that “We’re going to win this primary in New Hampshire,’’ and he has planned eight events here through Monday. He has already hired about 20 staffers in New Hampshire, which strategists say could be the largest New Hampshire campaign staff ever for a Republican primary.

— Shira Schoenberg

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